Tom Flanigan

Program Director for News

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, with a focus on covering local news personalities, issues and organizations.  He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and  covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas and his home state of Maryland.  In between, he spent a number of years in corporate communications for a few private firms, time that he calls “invaluable” for giving him a greatly expanded media perspective.  During the relatively rare times he’s not racing to cover various community events and activities, Tom enjoys reading and playing guitar (He was a professional drummer in a previous life and is trying to expand his musical horizons). Follow Tom Flanigan on Twitter: @flanigan_tom.

Did you ever see the mid-80s movie “Children of the Corn”?

It was a Steven King story, so it was creepy and scary.  Much of the action involved homicidal young people who hid out in a big corn field.  But most cornfields are neither creepy or scary.

Agriculture is still Florida’s number two industry, right behind tourism.  And corn makes up a large part of the state’s farm production.  Some cutting-edge research is underway that could make corn even more of a cash crop. And that’s sparked the interest of aspiring food scientists.

It’s been almost three months since the actual Florida Legislature wrapped up this year’s session and left Tallahassee.  But the Capitol was again the scene for policy disputes, bill debates and political intrigue.

In a legislative committee room, the action was hot and heavy as a group of "lawmakers" set to work amending and voting on proposals that could eventually become law. Moments later, the Speaker of the Florida House gave an informal news conference in a nearby hallway to bring reporters up to speed on all the bill action.

T.Flanigan / WFSU

Thanks to Florida State University’s most recent student dance marathon, Big Bend Hospice will be able to help more young people deal with grief.  Tom Flanigan reports the check presentation took place Tuesday morning at the FSU College of Medicine.

“I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to the college, said Associate Dean Dr. Alma Littles.

The reason for the occasion was a$20,000 check presentation to Big Bend Hospice.  Jake Poteet was one of the more than 1500 FSU students who raised the money through the school’s last Dance Marathon.

Young professionals sometimes complain there’s nothing going on in Tallahassee.  Tom Flanigan reports some of them changed their minds after hearing people connected with the Knight Creative Communities Institute.

While many parts of Florida’s economy remain somewhat sluggish, there’s one area that’s going great guns.  Tom Flanigan reports it’s the state’s number one industry – tourism – and things are expected to keep getting better.

Despite the worldwide economic slowdown, political uncertainties, terrorist fears and almost every other negative you can think of, U-S Commerce Secretary John Bryson sees the number of international visitors to the United States growing….

More than 300 of the Capital City area’s movers and shakers gathered at Florida State’s University Center Club Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports they were eager to hear the winners of this year’s Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Awards.

 “This is the 27 th year of our awards ceremony to recognize entrepreneurship, businesses, the commerce of our community and individuals that I hope you’ll agree are the backbone of this community to keep everything moving forward,” said Chamber President Sue Dick.

WFSU

The parade of local candidates to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office has begun.  Tom Flanigan followed one Tallahassee City Commission hopeful who was turning in his paperwork Monday.

City Commission Seat One Candidate Daniel Parker delivered a big box of petitions to an elections office clerk, allowing him a place on the ballot.  He also has an endorsement, from former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff.

“And I know him to be an effective student and advocate for strong growth management, environmental protection, intelligent urban design…”

Wakulla.com

A Wakulla County grade school teacher is one of five statewide finalists for Florida “Teacher of the Year” honors.  Tom Flanigan reports the surprise honor was announced Friday morning at a Tallahassee department store.

This is Law Week and three of Tallahassee’s more prominent legal minds will be recognized Tuesday evening.  Tom Flanigan reports the honorees have made distinguished contributions to their profession.

Florida State University College of Law Professor Paolo Annino has spent years urging state lawmakers to reconsider the cases of very young offenders.  For that, he’ll receive the Joy Aukema Taps Children’s Advocate of the Year Award.

Florida State University

For half-a-century, Florida was the center of gravity for America’s manned space program.  Now that program is essentially on hold.  Tom Flanigan reports the push is now on to redirect all the Florida resources once dedicated to the manned space effort to more earthbound uses.

Today, former Florida Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan is Chancellor of the State University System.  But he vividly recalls something that fired his imagination when he was a little boy.

Schimpf Confectionary

The man now in charge of what’s believed to be America’s oldest family-run business was in Tallahassee recently.  Tom Flanigan sat down with Warren Schimpf to talk about his “sweet success”.

Warren Schimpf and his wife Jill were already in Florida when they popped into Tallahassee’s Lofty Pursuits soda fountain and candy store in Market Square.

CNN.com

Friday was the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  That also fell two days before Earth Day.  Those events come at the same time the debate over the future of oil is ramping up.  Tom Flanigan talked with people on both sides of the issue and filed this report.

How the U.S. should deal with Iran on that country’s nuclear aspirations is a hot topic right now.  Tom Flanigan reports a true expert on that issue was in Tallahassee this week and wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts…

Brian Katulis is senior fellow at the progressive-leaning Center for American Progress in Washington D-C.  He says he visits someplace in the Middle East at least once a month.  That gives him a unique perspective on the state of relations between Iran and pretty much the rest of the world.

Fire heavily damaged a Tallahassee quadruplex overnight. Investigators say the cause of the blaze appears to be malicious.

The early legislative session has left many Tallahassee eateries hungry for springtime customers.  Tom Flanigan reports nearly two-dozen local restaurants are offering special deals starting this Thursday to lure more diners into their establishments…

Many people in Florida’s Capital City didn’t seem to mind that state lawmakers were in town two months early because of redistricting this year.  But Visit Tallahassee head Lee Daniel says the time shift left the local hospitality industry with a bleak springtime outlook…

In the past, public school lunchrooms haven’t always been known for serving tasty food that’s also healthy food.  But Tom Flanigan reports there’s a major move in Florida to serve students good-tasting meals that are also good for them.

Springwood Elementary School looks a little bit like a set from the Food Network.  Various yummy menu ingredients are stacked on a table.  Some students are talking about their most and least favorite foods.
  

A Tallahassee small business has made it to the semi-finals of a nationwide contest sponsored by the National Retail Federation.  Tom Flanigan reports Polka Dot Press is competing with nineteen other firms in hopes of winning a large cash prize and national bragging rights….

Go to the National Retail Federation’s web site and click on the link to the “This is Retail” contest.  You’ll see twenty videos produced by small businesses from all over the country.  Including this one….

 

Florida’s Department of Children and Families was making lots of news this week.  In the past, such a statement might be the lead-in to a negative story about the department.  But Tom Flanigan reports that was not the case this time…..

It seems the Capital City area is just swimming in vacant commercial real estate.  Tom Flanigan reports there’s a new move afoot to connect all that empty space with occupants.

Tallahassee/Leon County Economic Development Council Chair Karen Moore says it’s simply a fact of life….every business has to have somewhere to call home.

“Businesses that need to have space to grow, businesses that want to come into our economy and invest in this community, we welcome…we want you!”

Legal Services of North Florida hosts its yearly “Jazz for Justice” fund raiser this Sunday.  Tom Flanigan reports this will also be the final major event at one of Tallahassee’s landmark eateries.

Legal Services of North Florida Executive Director Kris Knab says this will be Jazz for Justice’s fifteenth year:

One of America’s most respected and best-known travel advisers comes to Tallahassee this week.  Tom Flanigan reports Rick Steves will be sharing his tips on how to see Europe like a native at Ruby Diamond Auditorium this Thursday evening…

Steves, whose travel show airs on public TV and radio stations across the country, says he is no “Ricky Come Lately” to European exploration:

The well-known magazine “Southern Living” is doing a story about a Tallahassee business.  Tom Flanigan reports the feature spread should appear sometime this summer…

For the past few lawmaking sessions, a true artist has been laboring in the fourth floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports there’s a reason Sculptor Michael Jernigan is creating his latest project in one of the Capitol’s busiest places…

WFSU News

One of the biggest disputes of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session has involved the Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” reform issue.  The House and Senate bills addressing that issue are still far apart.  And as the session winds down, Tom Flanigan reports supporters of the House bill, including Governor Rick Scott, are ramping up the pressure….

With just a single day left in the regular session, Governor Rick Scott called reporters into his office to meet with him, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty:

With the end of the regular legislative session in sight, the Florida Senate was in high gear Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports the chamber dealt with a total of sixty bills in the morning session alone.

The blistering pace was set right out of the box.  On Monday, debate on the surplus lines insurance bill took up nearly two hours of senate time.  On Tuesday, Representative Garret Richter introduced that bill for the third and last time…

Richter: “As we debated yesterday, this bill allows surplus lines companies to remove policies from Citizens Property Insurance.”

Pages