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Sundial

Everglades Restoration & The Trump Administration, 9/11 First Responders Dealing With COVID-19, Miami-Dade School’s Tech Woes & Banana Dog

Shih Tzu dog wearing banana pajamas.
Karsten Winegeart/Unsplash
Banana Dog was on the Miami-Dade County school’s online platform error page while students and teachers tried to log in.

On this Thursday, Sept. 10, episode of Sundial:

Everglades Restoration & The Trump Administration

President Donald Trump was in Jupiter Tuesday to discuss his administration’s environmental efforts.

He touted the extension of the federal moratorium on offshore drilling in the state and the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars will be allocated for Everglades restoration projects.

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The initiatives are part of the recently passed Great American Outdoors Act, which also includes funding for the protection of the state’s national parks.

“The president recommended $250 million for the next fiscal year coming out of Washington,” said Eric Eikenberg, chief executive officer of the Everglades Foundation. “This is significant funding. This is a bipartisan effort.”

Critics argue that the president’s actions on Florida’s environment have been mixed and that the state’s environmental issues are all interconnected.

“The Paris climate accord, he [President Trump] pulled out of that climate agreement and has basically not done much to address climate change,” said WLRN’s environmental reporter Jenny Staletovich. She adds that in the long run this can affect Everglades restoration.

We spoke with Eikenberg and Staletovich about the president’s efforts and history on environmental issues.

9/11 First Responders Cope With The Pandemic

Tomorrow marks 19 years since the September 11th terror attacks. Tens of thousands of survivors and first responders continue to struggle with health issues.

“It shouldn’t really surprise anybody that the 9/11 community is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus because think about it, what were the most common 9/11 illnesses? They were respiratory illnesses like COPD, pulmonary fibrosis but also 68 cancers,” said Attorney Michael Barasch, a managing partner of Barasch, McGarry.

He has spent the past two decades representing more than 20,000 members of the 9/11 community. About 2,000 of his clients live in Florida.

Richard Yodice is a 9/11 first responder now living in South Florida. He is dealing with sleep apnea, stomach issues and last year was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The coronavirus pandemic has made life even more difficult for him and others who share his experience.

“My immune system, they say, is not the same,” says Yodice. “My cousins are coming from New York next month and lucky they’re coming down for 6 to 7 weeks, so I say ‘well I won’t be seeing you for 14 days’ and they understand.”

We spoke with Yodice and Barasch about the impact of COVID-19 on 9/11 first responders and victims.

Students And Teachers Love To Hate Banana Dog

A small scruffy dog wearing banana pajamas is the visual representation of the Miami-Dade school district's rough start to the school year.

Students and teachers ran into plenty of technical issues last week as schooling from home began.

Banana Dog’s real name is Bella and she could be found on the error page for the county’s online learning platform.

TikToks, memes and tweets have circulated online showing that Bella is the dog that parents, teachers and students love to hate.

“She's so innocent and she has nothing to do with it. But people are taking their anger and frustration out on her, which I think is super funny,” said Karsten Winegar, Bella’s parent and the photographer behind the infamous photo.

Bella, or Banana Dog, can no longer be found on the platform anymore. After a marathon Wednesday meeting, the school board voted to cut ties with K12 online learning.

We spoke with Bella's parents, Winegar and his wife, Sarah Winegar, about how they’ve been handling their dog’s newfound fame.

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.