Topher Forhecz

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News. 

He formerly freelanced for WNYC in New York City. He holds a master's degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Email: tforhecz@wgcu.org

Coffee-colored water gurgles near the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam. It flows down the Caloosahatchee River, roughly 30 miles from Fort Myers.

 


Carlos Beruff can pinpoint the day when the bottom fell out from under his real estate business.

“It was the Friday before Labor Day of 1991,” he said with a laugh. “The bank called me up and said ‘We’re not giving you any more money.’”

The southwest Florida homebuilder, then in his early 30s, was about $20 million in debt.

It’s hurricane season. Although it’s been a quiet one so far, one study says if a storm does come through people may not take it as seriously if it has a feminine name.

State economists recently said a potential ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana could bring in millions in sales tax revenue.

Florida conducted its first Florida black bear hunt in more than two decades this year. The goal was to kill 320 bears. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wanted to control a population that rebounded after 41 years of conservation efforts.

Animal advocates called the hunt “immoral.” They said recent bear-human conflicts were the result of habitat loss and depletion of food sources. Activists tried to stop it in court, but lost.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s Sarasota Chapter sued the city and its police department recently. The suit is on behalf of six homeless men. It alleges local ordinances discriminate against the homeless. 

Florida doctors can soon order medical marijuana for their patients. The law goes into effect at the start of next year.

But so far, only a few dozen doctors have signed up.

CLARIFICATION: The lawsuits were settled between the state and Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews.

Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials recently settled multiple lawsuits that claimed they violated the state’s public records law.

But, the AP reports at least one member of the state Senate was not pleased with the way in which the state used some of the funds for the settlement.

The governor discussed the settlement at a press stop in Naples on Friday.

When Tampa was announced as the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, law enforcement expected thousands of protestors to arrive with it.

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported part of law enforcement’s preparation included undercover officers infiltrating protest groups and working their way up into leadership roles.

Staff writer Richard Danielson wrote that story for the Times.  Danielson spoke with WGCU about how he found out about the story and what he learned about the operation.  


Gov. Rick Scott ordered the state to immediately investigate all Florida Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions on Wednesday.

The order comes after the release of secretly recorded videos. They show Planned Parenthood officials talking about tissue from aborted fetuses used for research.