Sam Turken

After living in North Carolina the past four years, Miami native Sam Turken is back in the city he’s always called home.

Sam is a proud Miami Beach Senior High alum and a recent graduate of Duke University where he studied journalism, public policy and history. He caught the public radio bug three years ago when he covered a gun buyback in Miami while on his spring break. Since then, he’s produced audio pieces on race, social justice and public housing. He enjoys using sound to tell rich and intimate stories.

A former managing editor of The Duke Chronicle, Sam has digital experience covering a range of other topics. He’s investigated the absence of female managers in Duke men’s basketball program and reported on enrollment imbalances within public schools in Durham, N.C. He’s also interned with WBUR in Boston and Fusion, written for the Raleigh News & Observer and worked for the Duke Reporters’ Lab.

When Sam isn’t doing journalism things, he enjoys the outdoors. He runs, plays tennis and soccer and spends time around the bay and ocean—something he wasn’t able to do while in college. You may also spot him riding his bike around Miami’s streets.

Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened on Tuesday to sanction Airbnb over what he called the home-sharing platform's anti-Semitic move to cease its operations along Israel's West Bank. The company has removed more than 200 listings in Israeli settlements in recent months, due to the dispute the homes have fueled with Palestinians.

Flanked by South Florida Jewish community leaders at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton, DeSantis said Airbnb's decision violates a state law that prohibits Florida from working with companies that boycott Israel.

Daniel Garcia-Barbon’s wish when he was a teenager was to become an air traffic controller. The fast-paced, mistake-free environment of the work seemed thrilling.

Now, 10 years since fulfilling his dream, Garcia-Barbon’s job is failing to support him, his wife and two children. The air traffic controller in Miami, who’s working without pay due to the partial government shutdown, says he will now use his savings to pay a mortgage. Spending on other luxuries is no longer an option.

As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was sworn in to a second term on Thursday in Caracas, nearly a hundred Venezuelan-Americans and exiles protested in Miami against his recent reelection, calling it a sham.

The demonstrators held signs and yelled outside Venezuela’s consulate in Downtown, saying the election was just the latest corrupt action by Maduro's dictatorship. Already, more than a dozen countries across the world have refused to recognize his presidency.

A Broward judge has refused to set a trial date for the case against the confessed Parkland school shooter, despite state prosecutors' calls for closure on the case. 

Nikolas Cruz, who's facing the death penalty for the school massacre that killed 17 people last Valentine's Day, appeared in court on Tuesday for a routine status hearing. Prosecutors argued the case is fairly straightforward and that Cruz's defense has enough evidence to move forward with a trial. 

Preparations are underway for a long-anticipated reservoir project meant to help restore the Everglades and prevent toxic blue-green algae outbreaks around Florida’s coasts.

The South Florida Water Management District has started surveying areas where it can expand canals that run south of Lake Okeechobee. The canals will help move lake water south to an Everglades reservoir.

The city of Miami announced on Tuesday more than 30 new public infrastructure projects, the initial phase of a multi-year plan to increase the supply of affordable housing, quell flooding and make other city improvements.

South Florida Democrats said Monday the U.S. must increase pressure on the Venezuelan government to end a devastating humanitarian crisis that has forced millions of people to flee the country.

Rampant inflation and corruption has left Venezuela with dire shortages of food, water, medical supplies and electricity. During a roundtable discussion with Venezuelan community activists in Sunrise, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the U.S. has given the crisis limited attention.

Broward County’s new elections supervisor welcomed an audit of his office and reassured commissioners on Tuesday that he will not make it harder for county residents to vote.

Commissioners have expressed concerns that Peter Antonacci, a Republican, could reduce early voting days, eliminate polling locations and purge voter rolls of eligible voters to reduce turnout in the overwhelmingly Democratic county.

But during a brief appearance in front of the commissioners at their final meeting of the year, the appointee said, “there will be no diminution of service.”

After deciding over the summer that adding a train system in South Dade is unnecessary, Miami-Dade County’s transportation board voted Thursday to approve a new train line to the north.

The proposed elevated train will run along Northwest 27th Avenue up to the Broward County line. Much uncertainty lingers as there's no timetable for the project. The county must still determine how to fund it and decide what form of an elevated train to add—the commissioners noted the train may not be like the Metrorail.

After months of pleas and protests by contracted workers in Broward County for higher pay, the county commission is expressing support for an increased living wage. But disagreements over a countywide minimum health insurance requirement have sucked away worker's joy about the raise.

The Broward County Commission on Tuesday directed the county attorney to review whether Gov. Rick Scott’s recent decision to replace elections supervisor Brenda Snipes is legal. 

Commissioner Steve Geller said Scott does not have authority to permanently suspend Snipes and appoint Peter Antonacci as her successor. Rather, the senate must approve Snipes' removal before the position becomes officially vacant, he said. 

Vice President Mike Pence emphasized his support for Israel at an Israeli-American national conference in Hollywood and pledged to combat all forms of anti-Semitism and hatred.

In a half-hour speech to hundreds of people at the Diplomat Beach Resort on Friday, Pence said defending Israel and Jewish people is not a partisan issue. He also touted recent foreign policy moves by President Donald Trump like recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement.

Confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was back in Broward County court on Tuesday for routine proceedings as his defense team and state prosecutors prepare for his trial late next year.

Cruz sat between his lawyers in a red jail suit looking down throughout much of the hearing. He is facing the death penalty for murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. 

For Guildere Guerilus, Thanksgiving was like any other weekday.

The wheelchair attendant at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport clocked in at 3 a.m. before working eight hours. He then took a two-hour nap in his car at the airport before starting a second five-hour shift. He didn’t return home until later in the evening.

"Imagine how hard it is," Guerilus said. "I got to do it everyday. Otherwise I can’t provide for my kids, my family or myself."

Broward County finished its election recount on Sunday, ending a week-long process that saw three statewide races contested and subjected the county to constant criticism of its ballot counting process. 

 

This story was updated at 6:20 p.m.

After initially saying earlier Wednesday that it met a state deadline to recount three statewide races, Broward County issued a stunning reversal later in the afternoon.

Facing continuous criticism over its vote-counting process, the Broward County Elections office said Wednesday it has finished sorting the first pages of election ballots and is more than halfway done with the recount mandated by the Florida Secretary of State in three races. 

“We will probably transition sometime this afternoon or this evening to the Election Day recount,” said Joseph D'Alessandro, the director of election planning and development for Broward County. 

Broward County's embattled elections supervisor said on Tuesday she may not seek another term in office. 

Facing a tight deadline to submit votes to the state, Broward County started recounting ballots Tuesday morning, days after the Secretary of State ordered a state-wide recount for three races.

A Broward County judge on Monday ordered three additional law enforcement officers to oversee the county’s ballot tabulation process and called for an end to explosive rhetoric about election fraud.

Circuit Court judge Jack Tuter considered a motion filed by Gov. Rick Scott’s senate campaign for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to impound vote-counting machines and ballots when votes are not being counted at Broward’s election office.

A heated controversy over Broward County’s vote-counting process intensified over the weekend as the county met a noon deadline on Saturday to send the state its final election results. 

With three tight statewide races now headed for recounts, dozens of Democrats flocked to the Broward elections office on Saturday to demand that every vote be counted. They confronted Republican demonstrators who, without evidence, have accused embattled election supervisor Brenda Snipes of election fraud.

A backlash to the tightening governor and senate races grew on Friday as dozens of angry Republican voters rallied outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office where provisional ballots were still under review.

Dozens of concessions, security and other contracted workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport protested on Thursday for Broward County to raise its living wage to equal that of Miami-Dade County.

Chanting and holding signs that read, “Pay us right,” in front of the airport's terminals, the employees said Broward’s living wage has not kept up with the cost of residing in the county.

Many workers live near or below the poverty line, and they want the living wage to be at least a dollar more.

Donna Shalala, a Democrat, won a long-held Republican congressional seat in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday, giving her party a crucial win in its bid to retake the House of Representatives.

Shalala defeated Maria Elvira Salazar, a well-known television journalist, by about six percentage points in a race that attracted national attention.

Although more people in Palm Beach County cast ballots this year during early voting than previous midterm elections, turnout at a new voting site at Florida Atlantic University appeared to fall short of expectations.

Palm Beach saw nearly 175,000 people pass through 14 polling places during two weeks of early voting. The FAU site, however, recorded ballots from just 4,410 voters, the second fewest among early voting locations in the county.

With only three days before Election Day, former president Barack Obama stumped for Florida Democrats in Miami on Friday with a message that voting blue could help create unity across the state.

With less than a week before Election Day, Donna Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar remain locked in a tight congressional race in Miami-Dade County that will have a critical impact on deciding which party controls the future U.S. House of Representatives.

Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis sparred over each other’s personal integrity as well as issues like health care and immigration in a heated debate on Wednesday that underscored the fierce divide between the two gubernatorial candidates with less than two weeks before Election Day.

Broward County’s election warehouse is often full of voting equipment. In one section of the building, dozens of vote-scanning machines sit in rows, waiting to go out to polling places for elections.

During a tour of another area of the facility, Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes points to voter check-in machines that look like black chests. They’re called EViDs, and Snipes says they help protect voter registration data.

A town hall in Wynwood on Monday night involved an issue that has flooded the minds and neighborhoods of many South Florida residents—rising sea waters.

The event, hosted by WLRN, was open to the public and featured artists, scientists, and policymakers who spoke about the threat of sea level rise in South Florida and what communities can do in response to it. It was a conversation attendees said they were eager to have.

But one area that was not up for debate was the science.

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