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Tampa Bay Times’ Baker Act Investigation, Top 2019 Environment Stories & South Beach Jazz Festival

South Beach Jazz Festival
The 2018 South Beach Jazz Festival at the Colony Theatre.

Happy New Year Sundialers, here’s a rundown of the Thursday, Jan. 2, episode of Sundial:

Tampa Bay Times’ Investigation Looks At The ‘Baker Act’

The Tampa Bay Times recently released an investigation about the ‘Baker Act,’ the Florida law that allows families to involuntarily institutionalize people considered impaired because of mental illness. The investigation revealed that the law is impacting children as young as 6 throughout Florida. 

“Inside schools, officials are invoking the Baker Act more readily as increasing numbers of young people fall into depression or attempt suicide,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. 

Reporters Megan Reeves and Jack Evans spoke with many local law officials, parents and kids over the course of their reporting. They joined Sundial to discuss why they decided to look into the law and what they learned during their reporting. 

The Top Environment Stories of 2019

In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that would fund efforts to address toxic algae and the Everglades. He also called for the resignation of the entire South Florida Water Management District, and established an office dedicated to sea-level rise. This year, Miami tied with the years 2015 and 2017 for the hottest year on record. And these huge environmental developments led to a galvanized youth activism community who have protested and created action plans in hopes to save the planet. The end of a decade has come to a close and Sundial spoke with WLRN environment reporter Jenny Staletovich about the top stories of the year.

South Beach Jazz Festival

Percussionist Sammy Figueroa was exposed to the vibrant jazz and world music scene while he lived as a child with his grandparents in Puerto Rico. 

There, he attended music school — per his grandparents request — and gravitated toward the drums. He fell in love with the syncopation of the instrument, practiced constantly and performed around town. His passion led him to New York, a six-decade long career, and to perform with icons in the world of jazz and rock-n-roll, including David Bowie, Chaka Khan and Mariah Carey. Figueroa moved to Miami Beach two decades ago.

“In those years, Miami just starting to sizzle. It was a town that they still didn't know what they wanted to do.” Figueroa said on Sundial.

Sundial host Luis Hernandez talked with Figueroa about the evolution of the jazz music scene in Miami and his excitement to perform at the 4th annual South Beach Jazz Festival, which kicks off this weekend.