Daily News Links shared by Florida Public Employees.
March 16, 2014
Tampa Bay Times: School choice bills spark debate, controversy in Florida
Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican and vice chairman of the House K-12 Subcommittee, said school choice is a priority for the Republican caucus because “it provides opportunities for families to get out of generational poverty.”
REUTERS: Democrats seek ways to limit Obamacare fallout after Florida defeat
President Barack Obama and his Democrats face the challenge of limiting fallout from Obamacare and drumming up voter enthusiasm in the November congressional elections, problem areas exposed by the loss of a Florida candidate who had led in the polls.
Daily Commercial: Lawmakers’ bills aim to makes students safe enroute to schools and in class
The Lake County School Board could have the ability to designate a school employee or volunteer to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds if State Sen. Alan Hays’ bill passes the Florida Legislature.
Tallahassee.com: Jeff Burlew: State-worker issues at fore to Capitol reporter
It’s not as easy as it used to be for government workers to pick up the phone and call a reporter — or even their elected representatives — to speak out about issues. At least that’s what I’ve read in anonymous emails and letters I get from time to time and what I’ve heard in the halls of the Capitol. Some don’t want to rock the boat, for fear of retaliation and losing their jobs.
nwfdailynews.com: Santa Rosa schools to eliminate corporal punishment
Paddling was suspended at the beginning of this calendar year, effectively eliminating its use until more formal steps to do away with it can be taken, Santa Rosa County Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick said.
CBS Miami: Public Records Bill Clears State Senate Panel
This legislative session, Florida lawmakers are considering a number of bills which deal with public records.
Miami Herald: Gov. Scott: DCF funding on the rise
The Department of Children & Families has been under fire — and not for the first time — for a spate of child deaths in families that had come to the attention of the child welfare agency. DCF is charged with protecting those children. It has one of the hardest jobs in Florida government.
March 15, 2014
Aside from Miami-Dade County’s lay off of 21 employees in the last couple of months to help deal with what Mayor Carlos “Not So Golden Boy” Gimenez says is a bulging budget shortfall, the incoming cops of new police officers has been cut in half from four academy classes to two.
Although the county has more than 500 vacant budgeted positions — salaries that are never collected though the expenditures are reflected in the 2014-2015 budget — Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has laid off almost two dozen county employees so far this year.
TBO: Rubio works on his comeback
Like many of her fellow tea party activists, Toby Marie Walker of Waco, Texas, became disillusioned with Marco Rubio last year when he helped push an immigration reform bill that they considered “amnesty” through the Senate.
New York Times: As Living Standards Fall for Seniors, Some See Signs of ‘Silver Revolution’
BEFORE Boston police detained Ann A. Stewart last August, she had a clean record. But she vows not to wait long, certainly not another 89 years, to become a repeat offender.
The Florida CURRENT: Report: Florida had second-highest property insurance rate hikes last year
At first glance, the report would seem to contradict a recent analysis from Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty showing that rates are “trending downward” in the state.
The discrepancy between the two reports is due to timing and the types of companies analyzed.
Miami Herald: Gov. Rick Scott promotes cancer center funding plan in Miami
Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Friday to tout his budget proposal to spend $80 million helping Florida cancer centers qualify as National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated facilities.
YouTube: Herald Online – Deputy Involved Shooting
DASH CAM VIDEO: York Co. Deputy Sheriff shoots man reaching for cane.
March 14, 2014
Miami Herald: Report: Florida’s private-sector job growth slows
The state added 10,840 private-sector jobs last month, down from 11,610 in January and 25,230 in December. The figures were reported by payroll processing company ADP and compiled by Moody’s, and they do not take into account government jobs like the monthly U.S. Labor Department reports do.
HUFF Post: Government Is Missing in Job Creation
We know now why job creation has been so weak in the recovery from the Great Recession, or Lesser Depression, as some have called it. Governments have lost too many jobs, and that mostly includes public safety and healthcare workers, as well as some 300,000 teaching jobs lost due to the Great Recession.
The Florida CURRENT: Sen. Evers: This year’s FRS overhaul will not make the cut
Flanked by members of the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, Evers, R-Crestview, said the only way changes could be made to FRS was with the unrealistic prospect of 50 percent raises for the roughly 621,000 public employees in the plan.
In the wake of this week’s GOP victory in a much watched special congressional election, a senior White House official acknowledged the need to rev up voter turnout.
ABC News: Florida Police ‘Ticket’ 2-Year-Old Girl Driving White Convertible
The driving infraction against Za’Dariyah was given in fun by a few good-natured officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who were responding to a call at the same apartment complex where Za’Dariyah lives with her family.
The officers saw an opportunity to defuse the situation when they saw Za’Dariyah cruising around the parking lot.
Sun Sentinel: Flood insurance vote brings relief to Florida
To the relief of thousands of Florida homebuyers and property owners, a steep increase in flood insurance rates will be scaled back under legislation that clearedCongress on Thursday.
FOX NEWS: Deadly Nile crocodile captured in Florida Everglades
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino says they believe the 5 1/2-foot croc may have escaped from a facility in Miami-Dade County.
FOX NEWS: Florida man accused of shooting movie-goer for texting sent text moments before
A former police officer accused of killing a man in a movie theater during a dispute over texting had used his own phone to send a message to his son moments before the incident, according to documents released Thursday by Florida prosecutors.
Tampa Bay Times: Capitol Buzz: 5 things to watch today in Tallahassee
It’s the end of the second week of the legislative session and Tallahassee is splitsville. No lawmakers are left in town. Even the governor and attorney general have headed south. Although legislators face a funding ban during session, the governor and members of the Cabinet do not. Here are five things to watch fo
NPR: Oil Industry Gets An Earful As It Eyes Florida’s Everglades
As oil production goes, Florida isn’t much of a player. The state produced less than 2 million barrels last year, which is how much oil Texas pumps from its wells each day.
That’s about to change as the revolution in oil drilling technology comes to Florida.
Tallahassee.com: Tuition measures fly at Capitol
Almost everyone in Tallahassee, from Gov. Rick Scott to House Speaker Will Weatherford to Senate President Don Gaetz, wants to keep tuition low in this election-year session. But reaching agreement on how to do that is proving to be complicated.
March 13, 2014
Tampa Bay Times: Weatherford proposes more spending on education
The biggest headline is that Weatherford’s proposed $10.8 billion in pre-K-12 education is $165 million more than what Gov. Rick Scott’s proposing in his proposed budget and $335 million more than this year. In higher education, Weatherford is hoping to spend $3.6 billion, or about $500 million more than Scott.
TBO: Fla. Supreme Court tosses medical malpractice caps
Caps placed on how much money people can receive in cases where a doctor’s mistakes led to a patient’s death were declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday.
If SB 968, sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla passes: Will we see more school shootings?
Better yet, who will be responsible for the consequences of shootings that when the dust settles and investigated are ruled unjustified? I’m speaking of the type of shootings resulting from emotions generated by heated encounters, personal fears, biases, and/or misperceptions?
TBO: Sinkhole repair bill clears latest committee despite lingering concerns
A Senate panel Wednesday cleared a bill to create a sinkhole repair program for Citizens Property Insurance customers despite lingering concerns it wasn’t needed or wouldn’t be effective.
The editors of the Bradenton Herald pointed out just how flawed that teacher Value Added Metrics (VAM) based on test scores have proved to be:
Miami Herald: Florida teen accused of poisoning teacher’s drink
A Florida teenager is accused of trying to poison his teacher by putting hand sanitizer in her Diet Coke.
New York Times: Reubin Askew, a Former Progressive Florida Governor, Dies at 85
Reubin Askew, a progressive “New South” Democrat who promoted racial equality and ethics reforms as a two-term governor of Florida in the 1970s and campaigned briefly for the presidency in 1984 and for the Senate in 1988, died early Thursday in Tallahassee. He was 85.
Miami Herald: Miami-Dade School Board: Don’t let principals, others carry guns into schools
The Miami-Dade County School Board joined teachers unions and parents Wednesday in opposition of legislation moving through the state capital that would allow designated school employees or volunteers to carry guns on campus.
Florida Senate: FLORIDA SENATE EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE MOVES LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING FLORIDA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
Today, the Florida Senate Subcommittee on Education Appropriations, chaired by Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), passed Senate Bill 790, Education; SB 1148, Postsecondary Education; and SB 1642, Education Accountability. The three bills are part of a comprehensive effort to expand economic opportunity through education.
March 12, 2014
Florida Senate: FLORIDA SENATE EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE MOVES LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING FLORIDA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
Sun Sentinel: Legislature approves crackdown on sexual predators
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed what lawmakers touted as “historic legislation” that would make Florida the nation’s most inhospitable state for child molesters and rapists.
Tampa Bay Times: Florida lawmakers have few plans to address unemployment website crisis
In early January, as Florida’s new $63 million unemployment website continued to struggle to pay claims on time, state lawmakers considered taking action.
News Chief.com: Bill Protecting Trauma Centers Advances in The Florida House
A Bradenton hospital and two others operating controversial new trauma centers would be shielded from legal attacks under legislation that advanced in the Florida House Tuesday.
nwfDailyNews: BP pays Walton more than $7.63 million (DOCUMENTS)
As a result of a recently negotiated settlement in a three-year lawsuit, the County Commission has received a check for $3,356,219.14 and the Tourist Development Council has gotten one for $4,280,983.66.
Bradenton.com: Proposal to take politics out of Florida court pick gets predictably political
The proposal by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon and chairman of the committee, on its surface looks like a simple attempt to clarify Florida law that now raises questions about whether an outgoing governor or his incoming successor is entitled to make the appointments to the Florida Supreme Court when the vacancy occurs on inauguration day.
Tampa Bay Times: Gov. Rick Scott launches $2.2 million statewide ad buy and has book on way
Starting Thursday, Scott’s face returns to TV screens as his re-election campaign spends $2.2 million on a TV ad that appears designed to humanize him. He’s dressed in a casual shirt and is photographed from a side angle discussing his impoverished childhood.
MSN: Florida mayor seeking 20th term at age 93 faces run-off election
A 93-year-old Florida man believed to be the country’s oldest mayor remains in the running after Tuesday’s election for a record 20th term in office in a central Florida city where he faced opposition for the first time in over a decade.
Jacksonville.com: ‘Florida G.I. Bill’ passed Tuesday; land to be bought around Mayport to stave off BRAC
Three weeks after the Pentagon announced major cuts to the active military and state National Guard forces, Florida’s Legislature took steps to ease the impact, offering education help, improving National Guard armories and providing more educational reimbursements to guardsmen.
Washington Post: Takeaways from Florida’s 13th Congressional District special election
David Jolly eked out a win with less than 50 percent of the vote over now two-time election loser Alex Sink in a special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. We should not make more of it than there is, but here are some specifics regarding this election:
Highlands Today: Firefighters, city reach contract agreement
Union members who work to save lives, prevent fires and put their lives on the line daily got an increased pay rate and the City of Avon Park’s pension liability should decrease. – See more at: http://highlandstoday.com/hi/local-news/firefighters-city-reach-contract-agreement-20140312/#sthash.z6uYHio8.dpuf
CNN U.S: Barry Layne Moore, mayor of corrupt Hampton, Florida, resigns — from jail
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Moore shortly after the arrest. But state lawmakers, including Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Charles Van Zant, are pushing to dissolve Hampton, saying the city, notorious for its speed trap along U.S. Highway 301, is too corrupt to govern itself.
FOX NEWS: Republican David Jolly beats Alex Sink in Florida special election
With nearly 100 percent of the vote counted, Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Sink’s 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent.
Sun Sentinel: Margate plans to remove its red-light cameras
The cameras have been at two intersections, both on State Road 7 — at Margate Boulevard and West Atlantic Boulevard — since October 2011. The city saw a dramatic decrease in crashes from 2011 to 2012, but crashes actually increased at one of the intersections between 2012 and 2013, according to a city memo.
Florida Today: Brevard fire official warns of service cuts without tax increase
Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Larry Collins says there could be service cuts in the future unless the County Commission raises fire services assessment fees paid by residential and commercial property owners.
March 11, 2014
Sunshine State News: Senate Bill Would Give Guns to Teachers
The bill, SB 968, sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, would allow military veterans or retired police officers with concealed weapons and special training to bring guns to Florida’s schools. Principals or school officials would appoint those meeting the requirements as designees to carry guns on campus.
Naples-News.com: Legislature passes military bill with changes for tuition, charter schools
State lawmakers Tuesday sent an omnibus military bill containing language aimed at promoting charter schools on military bases to Gov. Rick Scott, who says he plans to sign it.
CBS 2 News: DeSoto school closed after child brings mercury to class
School officials were forced to close down DeSoto Middle School Tuesday after a student brought mercury to school.
Officials say the school will also be closed on Wednesday, and further closures will be decided on a day-by-day basis.
Miami Herald: Miami Dolphins owner wants to swap $4 million tax bill for stadium renovations
The Miami Dolphins want to stop paying property taxes for Sun Life Stadium in exchange for privately funding a $350 million renovation, a deal that would put South Florida in the running again for Super Bowls but also endanger about $3.8 million that funds schools, libraries and other government services, according to people familiar with the talks.
Credit Union Times: Florida Credit Union Competitors Announce $700M Merger
The $299 million State Employees Credit Union has agreed to merge with its competitor $408 million First Florida Credit Union. If approved by members and regulators, the combined institution would rank among the state’s top 20 cooperatives in the Sunshine State, with more than $700 million in assets, 15 branches and nearly 60,000 members.
Palm Beach Post: Citizens audit clears $525 per hour lawyer deal despite ‘subjective’ fee standards, critics not assuaged
No other bidder came near the $525 per hour fees of West Palm Beach lawyer Scott Link when his firm won a sped-up, “expedited” contract to serve as coordinating counsel for claims lawsuits, bidding records examined by The Palm Beach Post showed. The closest was $360 among 18 bids for two Citizens contracts his firm won since 2012.
Sunshine State News: Backing Rick Scott, NFIB Unveils 2014 Legislative Agenda
The NFIB’s program for Small Business Days included a reception at the governor’s mansion with Scott on Monday night and the group left no room for doubt that they backed the Republican for a second term. Bill Herrle, the executive director of the Florida chapter of the NFIB, praised Scott on Monday, saying the governor was good for small businesses. Herle also expressed support for Scott’s call to cut business retail taxes by $100 million, which is one of the governor’s chief goals for the current legislative session.
Times?Herald: Scott, Fernandez discuss their ties and ‘$100 million’ campaign
When Gov. Rick Scott peered up at the House visitors’ gallery in his State of the State speech last week, he saw his wife Ann, their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. Seated close by and joining in the applause was Mike Fernandez, a wealthy Cuban-American health care executive from Coral Gables and one of Scott’s leading fund-raisers.
POLITICO: The Jolly-Sink showdown: What to watch
For Sink to win, she’ll most likely need to receive a plurality of support from those early birds. That’s not outside the realm of possibility. Republicans make up 42 percent of those who’ve cast ballots, with Democrats pulling in just behind at 38 percent and independents making up the remaining 20 percent. Democratic operatives, who’ve been drilling down into the early vote figures, are confident Sink can win a strong majority of the Democratic vote, pull a plurality of independents and also peel off some Republican support.
TBO: Rivera associate says not guilty in election case
An associate of former U.S. Rep. David Rivera pleaded not guilty Monday to four campaign finance violations involving tens of thousands of dollars in alleged illegal contributions to a previously unknown candidate.
March 10, 2014
wjhg.com: Rep. Southerland Kicks Off Campaign Locally
Rep. Southerland and his supporters formally kicked off his campaign at the new headquarters off Highway 77 in Lynn Haven. The event gave residents in District 2 the opportunity to voice their concerns.
Orlando Sentinel: 2 Republicans face off in primary to fill Precourt’s House seat
Republican voters in southwest Orange County will pick a nominee Tuesday for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives — a choice that eventually could have implications for the rest of the state.
Miami Herald: Florida spent millions on flawed fingerprint system
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s troubled 5-year-old automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is experiencing technical problems that are causing delays in investigations and arrests across the state. It has also cost far more to maintain than it did to design and build.
HT POLITICS: On Tap in the Capital, March 10
PANEL WILL CONSIDER GUNS FOR SCHOOL EMPLOYEES: The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up a bill (SB 968), filed by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, that would allow school principals or superintendents to designate trained employees who could carry guns on school campuses or in district administrative buildings. (4 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
News-Press.com: Florida House members hope to strengthen laws related to sex offenders, guns
Lawmakers will spend much of the session’s second week doing the often-grinding work of moving bills through committees.
The House, however, also will take up a high-profile package of bills aimed at strengthening laws dealing with sexual predators. Most of the work will happen early in the week.
Sun Sentinel: Boca Raton election fundraising shatters 2005 record
The 10 candidates running for four open seats in Boca Raton, including the mayor’s chair, have collectively raised $548,410.
All that cash is being aimed at getting jobs that pay a fraction in comparison. The annual salary of a Boca City Council member is $7,500, plus a $5,400-a-year car allowance, health insurance and a payment made on their behalf toward the Florida public pension system. The mayor gets the same benefits, with a salary of $9,000.
Mail Online: Bid to wipe out the most corrupt town in Florida – where there is one heavily-armed cop for every 25 residents
The audit found that Hampton officials were guilty of 31 misdeeds and mishandling of funds that were as egregious as $132,000 in charges at the BP convenience store next door to City Hall.
Miami Herald: Marc Caputo: Rick Scott’s ‘awful’ poll numbers make Florida Republicans queasy
“There’s no way to sugarcoat this: It’s awful,” said a top Florida Republican, one of a dozen who provided or confirmed with the Miami Herald the crosstabs, presentations or individual slices of the above-mentioned polls, six in all, which were taken in advance of the lawmaking session. The Herald agreed to protect sources; they fear retribution from the governor’s office and campaign, which freezes out those perceived as naysayers or who aren’t yes-men.
March 9, 2014
Tallahassee.com: Jeanette Wynn: On pensions, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
A retired teacher can expect about $33,000 per year after a 30-year career in the classroom. The average teacher’s pension is about $16,000. Nor are the benefits crippling the state’s budget, as some Chicken Littles in the state Capitol would have us believe. In fact, Florida has a $1.2 billion surplus this year.
Miami Herald: Gov. Rick Scott says Medicare rate cuts will affect seniors’ ability to keep their doctor, hospital and prevention services
In an online ad created by Scott’s campaign, he speaks in a testimonial style to the “wonderful seniors in our state” who depend on Medicare. Scott, and his likely Democratic opponent former Gov. Charlie Crist, will compete for the senior vote in the November election. Here’s part of the script:
Naples News.com: Feds, state not working out disagreement over Florida jobs site
A plan proposing fixes to Florida’s unemployment compensation system remains unsigned five months after it was written, and no changes have been made despite untold thousands of people facing benefit delays and denials.
Florida Public Employees: “Big Allies Push Voucher Plan”
In response to “Big allies push voucher plan”, the public must become aware and educate themselves as to what the public education system already offers. It is my hope and dream that they can see through the “illusion” that politicians, especially Jeb Bush and Rick Scott, wish to the public to believe. Their goal is to not improve public education but to destroy it.
Palm Beach Post: Will child killings stop?
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, which has already shepherded four sexual predator bills through the Senate on its first day last week, will hold a hearing on three of its own bills.
Florida Times-Union: Lethal Justice: State Attorney Corey far outpaces Florida’s prosecutors in sending people to Death Row
Since taking office in 2009, Corey has had the chance to speak to a lot of people trying to get their loved ones’ killers sentenced to death. She has put more people on Death Row than any other prosecutor in Florida.
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