Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott signed 44 bills into law Thursday

Gov. Rick Scott signed 44 bills into law Thursday afternoon, including one allowing concealed weapons to be carried without a permit during emergency evacuations and another that will shield police body camera videos from public record laws.
The concealed carry bill is a favorite project of Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who says the change in law will allow lawful gun owners to avoid criminal citations for simply carrying their belongings with them while evacuating from a hurricane or other disaster.
Opponents have said there should be fewer guns on the streets during emergencies, not more.
The body camera legislation, sponsored by Sen. Chris Smith, R-Ft. Lauderdale, is intended to protect people’s privacy when police officers enter homes, hospitals, mental health institutions and anywhere else where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Open-government advocates say that law enforcement agencies can use the language to shield video that is in the public interest, particularly now that video is being used more frequently in broader debates over the role of police in society.
But supporters argue that privacy protections will encourage more agencies to use body cameras.
Here's the full list, courtesy of Scott's office:
SB 144 --    Public Records/Impaired Practitioner Consultants - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain personal identifying information related to impaired practitioner consultants, their families and employees.
SB 158 --    Civil Liability of Farmers - This bill expands an exemption from certain civil liabilities for farmers.
SB 172 --    Local Government Pension Reform - This bill makes several reforms regarding local firefighter and police pension requirements.
SB 184 --    Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot - This bill expands the permitted uses of federal write-in absentee ballots.
SB 248 --    Public Records/Body Camera Recording Made by a Law Enforcement Officer - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for a body camera recording made by a law enforcement officer in certain situations. 
SB 252: --  Insurance - This bill provides that the absence of a countersignature does not affect the validity of a policy or contract of insurance.
SB 278 --    Downtown Development Districts - This bill relates to the Miami Downtown Development District.
SB 290 --    Carrying a Concealed Weapon or a Concealed Firearm - This bill allows a concealed weapon or firearm to be carried for 48 hours during a mandatory evacuation order declared during a state of emergency.
SB 296 --    Diabetes Advisory Council - This bill relates to the Diabetes Advisory Council membership and a report on the impact of diabetes-related activities.
HB 361 --   Relating to Military Housing Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions - This bill provides for an ad valorem tax exemption for property used to house military personnel.
SB 378 --    Juvenile Justice - This bill increases the number of times a law enforcement officer may issue a civil citation.
SB 396 --    Florida Historic Capitol - This bill creates the Florida Historic Capitol Museum Council.
SB 408 --    Designated Areas for Skateboarding, Inline Skating, Paintball, or Freestyle or Mountain and Off-Roading Bicycling - This bill removes the requirement for government entities to obtain written consent from parents or legal guardians before a child under the age of 17 can engage in skateboarding, inline skating or freestyle bicycling in designated areas operated by that government entity.
SB 450 --    Pain Management Clinics - This bill requires the Department of Health to continue to regulate the registration and inspection of pain management clinics.
SB 466 --    Low-voltage Alarm Systems - This bill provides that no permit is needed to install, maintain, inspect, replace, or service a wireless alarm system.
SB 570 --    Service of Process of Witness Subpoenas - This bill allows service of a subpoena on a witness in a civil traffic case to be made by US mail.  
SB 596 --    Craft Distilleries - This bill allows craft distilleries to sell an increased number of branded bottles directly to consumers.
SB 604 --    Consumer Protection - This bill creates the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,” which requires website owners posting certain content to provide identifying information on their website. Read letter from Attorney General Pam Bondi HERE.
SB 608 --    Real Estate Brokers and Appraisers - This bill provides greater flexibility to real estate brokers and agents and removes current requirement that there must be a written agreement between Florida and other states for the reciprocal licensing of out-of-state appraisers.
SB 620 --    Emergency Management - This bill allows Florida government employees providing assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to be reimbursed for expenses by the state requesting assistance at that state’s authorized rates.
SB 642 --    Individuals with Disabilities - This bill creates the Florida ABLE program for individuals with disabilities to save money in a tax-free savings account for future services without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits.
SB 644 --    Florida ABLE Trust Fund/State Board of Administration - This bill creates the Florida ABLE Trust Fund, which will hold appropriations and moneys for the Florida ABLE program.
SB 646 --    Public Records/Information Held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., and the Florida ABLE Program - This bill provides exemptions from public records requirements for certain personal financial and health information held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., the Florida ABLE program, or an agent or service provider.
SB 672 --    Service of Process - This bill allows service of a criminal witness subpoena requiring the witness to appear for a deposition to be posted to his or her residence if one attempt to personally serve the subpoena has failed.
SB 676 --    Voluntary Contributions to End Breast Cancer – This bill requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to include language on vehicle registration, driver license, and identification card applications for a voluntary contribution of one dollar or more to be distributed to the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition Research Foundation, Inc.
SB 694 --    Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign - This bill makes revisions to the Florida State Employee Charitable Campaign.
SB 716 --    Public Records/Animal Medical Records - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain animal medical records held by a state college of veterinary medicine.
SB 778 --    Local Government Construction Preferences - This bill prohibits local regulations from restricting competition for the award of a construction contract in which 50 percent or more of the cost will be paid from state funds.
SB 806 --    Regulation of Financial Institutions - This bill streamlines several Office of Financial Regulation regulatory processes.
SB 836 --    Florida Insurance Guaranty Association - This bill revises the levy of assessments on insurers by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association.
SB 904 --    Home Health Services - This bill revises the requirements for main and satellite offices for home health agencies and nurse registries.
SB 954 --    Notification of Involuntary Examinations of Minors - This bill requires immediate notification to a student’s parent if the student is removed from school, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act.
SB 982 --    Florida Civil Rights Act - This bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in public lodging and food service establishments and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
SB 1094 -- Relating to Flood Insurance - This bill allows insurers flexible flood insurance coverage for the peril of flood that may include water intrusion coverage and differs from standard or preferred coverage.
SB 1312 -- Relating to Restricting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation - This bill expands restrictions on lawsuits that are filed in retaliation against a party engaged in otherwise free speech to include suits filed by a person.
SB 7008 -- OGSR/Licensure Examination Questions/Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services - This bill provides an exemption from public meeting requirements for portions of meetings of the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services during which licensure examination questions or answers are discussed.
SB 7010 -- OGSR/Examination Techniques or Procedures/Office of Financial Regulation - This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for information that would reveal examination techniques or procedures used by the Office of Financial Regulation under the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.
SB 7012 -- OGSR/Credit History Information and Credit Scores/Office of Financial Regulation - This bill provides a public records exemption for credit history information and credit scores obtained for the purposes of licensing loan originators, mortgage brokers, and mortgage lenders.
SB 7016 -- Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Minor Identifying Information - This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption that protects identifying information held by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel or the Justice Administrative Commission pertaining to records identifying minors waiving parental notice requirements.
SB 7024 -- State Board of Administration - This bill repeals restrictions on investments in institutions conducting business with Northern Ireland and establishes conditions for the transfer of any balance in the Fund B Surplus Funds Trust Fund.
SB 7028 -- Educational Opportunities for Veterans - This bill provides out-of-state tuition fee waivers to eligible spouses and dependents of veterans who live in Florida.
SB 7032 -- Public Records/Reports of a Deceased Child - This bill amends an existing public records exemption of certain identifying information collected during the investigation of a deceased child held by the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee or a local committee from the public record and meeting disclosure requirements.
SB 7034 -- Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Stalking Victims Identifying Information - This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption for personal identifying information of stalking victims held by the Attorney General or in election records.
SB 7078 -- Child Welfare - This bill amends and clarifies the investigation of and response to allegations of abuse and neglect of children related to last year’s child welfare bill, SB 1666.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Conversation With Hillary Clinton May 29th 10:00am

Join Us Below is the link to RSVP and donate the $2,700 attendee contribution for our upcoming event in Broward.
Posted by Hillary For Florida on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Former Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian Dies At 70

Legendary Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian — a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team — passed away from brain cancer Friday morning, his wife confirmed to the Associated Press.
His death was first announced late Friday night on Twitter by Beasley Reece, a former NFL safety who is president of the Philadelphia chapter of NFL Alumni and CBS 3 sports director in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I predicted before the acquittal of Zimmerman, he would be better off with Prison

I predicted before the acquittal of Zimmerman, he would be better off with Prison and get out and lead a normal life, otherwise he will have a miserable life where eventually he would be shot or take his own life
As reported by
Police investigating a Florida roadway shooting involving George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murder in the 2012 death of unarmed black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, said on Tuesday they recovered three handguns but have not filed any charges.
The incident on Monday in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary left Zimmerman with minor injuries from flying glass after being shot at in his car by Matthew Apperson, authorities said.
The two men had a previous roadside dispute in 2014 when Apperson accused Zimmerman of threatening to kill him but declined to press charges.
Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said it was too early to say whether criminal charges will be filed in Monday's incident.
Investigators are asking for witnesses to come forward, Gillett said, noting that the shooting occurred on a busy road during lunchtime.
Police said they recovered Zimmerman's Glock pistol as well as two handguns in Apperson's vehicle, another Glock and a .357 revolver with one expended shell in the cylinder.
Police also released a 911 emergency telephone call from a person who spoke with Apperson after the shooting.
"A guy right here just said he had to shoot at someone through his window so he wants police to come. ... He said it was George Zimmerman," the caller said.
Depending on the facts, Apperson could be charged with attempted murder or shooting into an occupied vehicle, said Miami defense attorney David Weinstein, who is not involved in the case.
Weinstein called it "the modern version of a Wild West showdown," adding that under Florida law a person may use deadly force in self-defense if they have a reasonable fear of death or severe harm.
Monday's incident was the latest brush with law enforcement for Zimmerman, 31, since Martin's death. Zimmerman shot Martin in nearby Sanford in what Zimmerman said was self-defense.
Lawyers for Zimmerman and Apperson provided different accounts of what happened on Monday.
Apperson's lawyer Mark NeJame told Reuters the incident stemmed from a chance encounter as the two men found themselves driving side-by-side on the road.
Zimmerman brandished a gun at Apperson, leading Apperson to shoot, NeJame said.
"To me, it's good, old-fashioned self-defense," NeJame said.

Zimmerman's attorney Don West said Apperson followed and yelled at his client, honking his horn. Zimmerman pulled into a parking lot, and Apperson pulled up next to Zimmerman and shot, West said.

House Republicans Shortchange Critical Domestic Priorities in Florida

This week, House appropriators will consider the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, one of the first to be considered under the Congressional Republican budget framework. With several appropriations bills, as well as funding allocations for the remaining bills, now available, it is becoming increasingly clear how House Republicans plan to budget at discretionary funding levels that are the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation. Their appropriations bills and funding targets would shortchange programs that support the middle class and weaken ladders of opportunity for those seeking to reach the middle class. While some Republicans have started talking the talk about issues like inequality and poverty, their budget shows they are not walking the walk.

Overall, according to the Subcommittee, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill reduces funding by about $9.7 billion, or 15 percent, below the President's Budget, which both reverses sequestration and proposes a long-term, fully-paid for surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The bill would:

Reduce Access to Affordable Housing: Compared to the President’s Budget, the House bill funds 100,000 fewer Housing Choice Vouchers, reducing opportunities for low-income households to find decent, safe housing in the private market. Not only does the Subcommittee bill fail to restore the 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequestration, it is also insufficient to renew 28,000 existing vouchers. As a result, approximately 1,300 fewer Florida families would receive Housing Choice Vouchers in 2016, compared to the previous year, and even more would lose out relative to the President’s Budget. These cuts are even more problematic in light of new research released just last week that found large positive effects of housing vouchers on long-term educational and earnings outcomes for young children.

Set Back Efforts to End Homelessness: Compared to the President's Budget, the Subcommittee bill reduces funding for Homeless Assistance Grants, supporting 15,000 fewer homeless or at-risk families with rapid rehousing and 25,500 fewer units of permanent supportive housing targeted to the chronically homeless. In January 2014, there were 41,500 homeless individuals in Florida – including roughly 21,700 who were unsheltered – but only 15,700 permanent supportive housing beds. House Republican cuts would further strain states and communities and would set us back in meeting the President’s ambitious goals for ending chronic, family, and youth homelessness, while jeopardizing the progress we have already made in ending homelessness for veterans.

Cut critical transportation programs: The highly successful, competitive TIGER grant program allows the Federal government to invest in transit projects that can have a transformative impact on a region or a metropolitan area. Over the past three years, Florida received $84.6 million for these projects, which spur innovation and propel economic mobility by helping connect people to jobs in communities across the United States. The House mark would slash TIGER grant funding to nearly 80 percent below its lowest level ever, despite the fact that the program is vastly oversubscribed.  The House bill also cuts locally planned transit capital investments by more than 40 percent and shrinks funding for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities to the lowest level in fifteen years, worsening traffic delays and hampering FAA’s ability to keep our airspace safe.


Beyond their inadequate support for transportation and housing, House Republicans have indicated that they would return our economy to the same top-down economics that has failed us before: cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires, while slashing investments in the middle class that we need to grow the economy, like education, job training, and manufacturing. While House Republicans have not yet released most of their other appropriations bills, they have provided Subcommittee allocations that show where and how they will need to cut under a return to sequestration levels. Compared to the President’s Budget, the House Republican budget framework would have the following impacts on Florida1:

Head Start: More than 1,890 fewer children in Florida would have access to Head Start services, representing a permanently missed opportunity to help these children enter elementary school ready to succeed.

Teachers and Schools: Florida would receive $83.0 million less funding for disadvantaged students, an amount that is enough to fund about 180 schools, 1,140 teacher and aide positions, and 125,500 students.

Education for Children with Disabilities: Florida would receive $24.1 million less in funding to provide educational opportunities for students with disabilities, representing an approximately four percent cut and shifting the burden for meeting these children’s needs to Florida and its local communities.

Scientific and Medical Research: Support for path-breaking research and discovery in Florida would be put in jeopardy.  Nationwide, the Republican budget framework would lead to 1,400 fewer new research grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and roughly 350 fewer research grants at the National Science Foundation (NSF), adversely affecting research essential to the future health, innovation, and economic competitiveness of the Nation. In 2014, Florida received $476 million in competitive NIH awards, as well as NSF competitive research awards that supported 1,880 researchers and scientists, including graduate and undergraduate students.

Veterans: Nationwide, funding for VA medical care would be cut by more than half a billion dollars, negatively impacting veterans’ care. In 2014, 494,900 Florida veterans relied on the VA for care.

Job Training and Employment Services: 138,900 fewer Florida residents would receive job training and employment services, including help finding jobs and skills training.

National Parks: Construction and renovation projects would be prevented or delayed at the following two national parks in Florida: Biscayne National Park and Castillo De San Marcos National Monument. 

IRS Customer Service and Preventing Tax Fraud: IRS taxpayer services in Florida would continue deteriorating below already unacceptable levels, and efforts to investigate fraud and reclaim taxpayer dollars would be further hampered.  Since 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has already been cut by roughly 17 percent, adjusted for inflation, despite the fact that, between 2010 and 2014, the number of individual tax returns filed in Florida increased by 539,800.  Meanwhile, the IRS estimates that the reductions in enforcement staff as a result of budget cuts that have already occurred will lead to a loss of $7 billion to $8 billion in lost revenue in 2015 alone.  The House Republicans’ budget could lead to the lowest level of IRS funding in decades.
Services for HIV-Positive Individuals:  Florida would receive roughly $2.1 million less in base funding from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for providing critical antiretroviral treatments through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.  In 2015, Florida received $85.7 million from ADAP to help patients receive the drugs and treatment they need.


The President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense. The President's Budget reverses sequestration, replacing it with commonsense spending and tax reforms. It brings middle-class economics into the 21st Century and makes the critical investments needed to support our national security and accelerate and sustain economic growth.

The choice could not be more clear or the consequences more stark. Thanks to President Obama and the resilience of the American people, the economy is growing again. The President’s Budget builds on the progress we’ve made and shows what we can do if we invest in America's future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America. House Republicans would put that growth at risk and limit opportunity for the middle-class and those seeking to join it.

1/ Where available, comparisons are between the President’s 2016 Budget request and proposed levels in the House’s FY 2016 appropriation bills.  Where proposed levels are not yet known, comparisons are based on House 302(b) allocations and assume that cuts or increases from FY 2015 are distributed equally within bills.  Actual cuts relative to the President’s Budget could be larger or smaller depending on how the appropriations Subcommittees distribute their funding allocations, but smaller cuts to some programs would require larger cuts to others.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Joan Geller, mother State Representative Joe and former Florida Senator Steve Geller died Tuesday. She was 84.

Joan Geller

Joan Geller, mother of a former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City, currently a candidate for Broward County Commission.and longtime fiancee of a legendary political leader, died Tuesday. She was 84.
She died of natural causes, said one of her sons, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City, currently a candidate for Broward County Commission.
Her oldest son is state Rep. Joe Geller of Aventura, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Mrs. Geller was also the longtime fiancée of the late legendary Broward condo leader Amadeo "Trinchi" Trinchitella, who died in 2005.

Source Sun 

Florida was added to the Military Exercise known as Jade Helm 15

An Army release about the training exercise in March described “Jade Helm 15” as a routine, multi-state operation taking place from July 15 to Sept. 15. The release noted that the training exercise is in a class apart from other operations due to its “size and scope.”
“The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas,” the release read. “The most noticeable effect the exercise may have on the local communities is an increase in vehicle and military air traffic and its associated noise.”
The release also stated that communities hosting the exercise could expect economic benefits from the Army’s fuel and food purchases and hotel lodging.
But in terms of staging, plans for the training exercise have apparently changed significantly since that statement was issued in March. California, Colorado and Nevada were all initially reported to be hosting parts of the exercise -- and were depicted on a map “leaked” by conspiracy theory website All News Pipeline that labelled Texas as “hostile” territory -- but are no longer involved. The states currently expected to host the operation are Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, according to an updated Army press releasedated April 20.
The most detailed information available on the training exercise itself comes not from either of those releases but from a slideshow prepared by US Army Special Operations Command. Local radio station WTAW made available both the audio and visual presentation that Army representatives gave to the Commissioners Court of Brazos County, Texas in February while seeking their approval for the training exercise

The slideshow explained that the exercise would involve Army special forces in addition to Navy SEALS, Air Force special operations command, Marines special operations command, and the 82nd Airborne Division. It also listed 17 participating areas within Texas, although officials in Victoria and Gilead counties have since said the military canceled plans to hold part of the training exercise there:
The slideshow also spelled out why the Army specifically approached communities in Texas about hosting "Jade Helm 15," citing the state's rural landscape as well as its historic support for America's troops:

Tom Meade, an Army spokesman and retired Green Beret, explained in the accompanying audio presentation why "Jade Helm 15" is considered an "unconventional warfare" exercise. Meade said that while US special forces have been conducting unconventional warfare -- assisting and supporting insurgency -- for over 50 years, troops had adopted a counter-insurgency role over the last 15 years in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're bringing these guys back and we're dusting off the skills that they already have -- because every Green Beret learns unconventional warfare when he leaves the qualification course," Meade said. "A lot of these guys haven't practiced it in the last few years so we're bringing those skills back to the forefront for them."
The "leaked" version of the slideshow posted by All News Pipeline, the conspiracy theory website, differed somewhat from the one Meade presented to the Commissioners Court of Brazos County. That version contained a slide that said the training exercise offered "the opportunity to work with civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues." Another slide said local residents could expect some individuals to "conduct suspicious activities designed to prepare them for complex environments overseas" or "be wearing civilian attire and driving civilian vehicles."
Those slides, which are not included in the presentation posted by WTAW, were widely cited in conspiracy theory blog posts on "Jade Helm 15." While the conspiracy theories themselves lack real evidence, there’s something to the concerns about soldiers blending in with the general population for the purposes of the training exercise.
A realistic military training exercise took a deadly turn in 2002, when a Moore County, North Carolina sheriff’s deputy pulled over what he thought was a suspicious-looking truck and shot two soldiers, killing one and wounding another. The soldiers were participating in an exercise similar to “Jade Helm 15” known as “Robin Sage” and had believed that the sheriff’s deputy was playing a role in the operation, too.
The Army runs “Robin Sage,” which is akin to a final exam for Green Beret candidates, multiple times a year in a staging area off Fort Bragg that encompasses several counties. That 2002 incident led the Army to immediately alter the way it conducted that exercise, including ordering participants to wear their uniforms and ending the practice of allowing local law enforcement officials to role-play alongside the soldiers.
Separately, Reason magazine's Jesse Walker, writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, pointed to a 1999 exercise in Oakland, California that posited the "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theories were an extreme manifestation of the current backlash against police militarization in the U.S.
The exercise, known as "Operation Urban Warrior," attracted vocal opposition. Twenty-two demonstrators were arrested for storming then-Mayor Jerry Brown's office and demanding a meeting to protest his embrace of the Marines' urban combat simulation. One detained protest organizer told the San Francisco Chronicle that the group was "angry at the impact the Marines are having on the community -- the noise, the intimidation, the message it sends."
That sounds a lot like the complaints raised at an April 27 meeting at the Bastrop County, Texas courthouse, where over a hundred residents gathered to pepper Army Lt. Colonel Mark Lastoria with questions about "Jade Helm 15." Residents' responses ran the gamut from "would the court be offended if I told the colonel I didn't believe a single word that he just said?" to "I appreciate the explanations you've been given because it's alleviating a lot of our concerns."
"You may have issues with the federal government. You may have issues with the administration," Lastoria told the denizens of Bastrop County. "So be it. But this institution right here has been with you for over 240 years. Period."


Broward County 800 Million dollar School Bond Oversight is falling apart

Buddy Nevins at is reporting and sourcing  the 800 Million dollar School Bond Oversight is falling apart

The $800 million school bond program has suffered another jarring change.
Three organizations are dropping out of the Bond Oversight Committee, the group that was created to insure that the spending of the bond proceeds are on the up-and-up.
Two leading minority organizations – the Broward County Minority Builders Coalition and the Urban League of Broward County – are out. So is the Engineering Contractors of South Florida.
From Buddy Nevins Blog BrowardBeat:
Here is the memo:
From:           Benjamin Leong  May 6, 2015 4:07:22 PM
Subject:        Bond Oversight Committee Status
Cc:             Leslie M. Brown Derek Messier

School Board Members and Superintendent Runcie,
We are in contact with Florida TaxWatch periodically to facilitate and schedule the first meeting of the Bond Oversight Committee. During our most recent conference call, Florida TaxWatch informed us that the Urban League of Broward County intends to withdraw from the committee, in addition to  Broward County Minority Builders Coalition and Engineering Contractors of South Florida, who have already withdrawn.  Our next scheduled call with Florida TaxWatch will be after the May 19 School Board Meeting so that we can review and discuss the Adopted District Education Facilities Plan and the GO Bond first issuance.  

Ben Leong
Chief Financial Officer
The School Board of Broward County, Florida
Tel:  754.321.1990
Fax: 754.321.1999
 See more at:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Kelley Mitchell, a veteran South Florida newswoman, died today at age 58.

Kelley Mitchell, a veteran South Florida newswoman, died today at age 58.
With her trademark low voice and special reporting style, Mitchell has been a staple on the Miami news front since the 1990s.
In addition to her most recent work with NPR radio station WLRN, and WPLG-Local 10, long time area residents will also remember Mitchell s Rick Sanchez’ co-anchor from WSVN-Channel 7.
The details surrounding her death today were not immediately clear.
Mitchell has been struggling with her health for a number of years.
In 2003 , she took her battle with breast cancer public and shared her story with viewers WPLG viewers.
And then a year ago, she spent a couple of weeks at North Shore Medical Center after suffering from a collapsed lung.
In January of this year, after three years with Miami’s WLRN-91.3 FM, Mitchell was fired from her drive-time news spot on the NPR station.

Daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro sponsored a blessing ceremony for gay couples

Cuba gay rights (1).jpg
Mariela Castro, center, daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro, takes part in a parade with Cuba's LGBT community in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, May 9, 2015. A day before Cuban President Raul Castro visits the Vatican, his daughter sponsored a blessing ceremony for gay couples on an island where gay marriage remains illegal. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro sponsored a blessing ceremony Saturday for gay couples on an island where gay marriage remains illegal.
Nearly two dozen gay couples held hands or embraced, some crying, as Protestant clergymen from the U.S. and Canada blessed them as part of official ceremonies leading up to the Global Day against Homophobia on May 17.
Castro's daughter Mariela heads Cuba's Center for Sex Education, which has been pushing for gay rights in a country with a history of persecuting homosexuals.
While she was careful not to call Saturday's ceremony a wedding, the event had most of the trappings of matrimony.
Luis Enrique Mederos and his partner for 14 years, Alain Morales, approached clergyman including Troy Perry, founder of Los Angeles' gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, and held hands beneath a canopy while the pastors blessed their relationship.
"Luis, I give you my life," Morales said, as the crowd of 300 applauded and cheered.
"It's a step to strengthen our relationship because we're both religious, believers," said Mederos, a 47-year-old graphic designer. He said he saw the ceremony as an important step toward the eventual legalization of gay marriage in Cuba.
"It's a dream for the Cuban gay and transgender community that one day it won't be just a symbolic and we can get married, because we're also part of this changing world," he said, embracing Morales, 38.
Uruguay, Argentina and a string of U.S. states, along with several in Mexico, have legalized gay marriage or civil unions.
Homosexuals were hounded and persecuted during much of the presidency of Fidel Castro. After handing power to his brother Raul, the elder Castro said he regretted his treatment of gays, and Cuba has been granting increasing rights to gays in recent years.
Mariela Castro, who is the most visible gay rights advocate on the island, uses her position as a member of Cuba's ruling family to push for reforms. Last year, as a member of parliament, she voted against a workers' rights bill that she felt didn't go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities.
It was an unprecedented action in an assembly that uniformly votes unanimously in favor of government proposals.
Castro did not attend the blessing ceremony, but headed a colorful gay rights march by more than 1,000 people along one of Havana's main streets.
A few minutes after Mederos and Morales, Belkis Gonzalez and Maria de los Angeles Machin stepped up to receive their blessing. A couple since 1989, they raised Machin's son and Gonzalez's daughter together.
"This blessing means a lot to us," said Gonzalez, a 48-year-old screenwriter. "It's a reaffirmation that we have a relationship of love and we aren't hurting anyone. If God put us together, it's because we wanted us to be united."
The event came a day before another manifestation of changed times in Cuba: Raul Castro's visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The church and the Cuban government were in a state of open hostility in the years after the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power. But a thaw began in the 1990s. Cuba removed a constitutional clause declaring the country an atheist state, Pope John Paul II paid a momentous visit in 1998, Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2012, and Cuba made Good Friday an official holiday.
Raul Castro was expected to discuss both diplomatic talks with the U.S. and the pope's planned September visit to Cuba when he visits the pontiff on Sunday.

Friday, May 08, 2015


Description of Incident:

Despite serious effort, an armed man fails to hide his face from surveillance cameras and fails to get any cash during a botched gas station robbery early Sunday morning in Weston. Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives are asking the public to help identify this would-be robber.

At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, Regia Obas was working at the Mobile gas station on Weston Road when she noticed a man as he stood outside the door. His face was obscured by a bandana and a hoodie. The cautious clerk did not buzz him in until he removed the bandana and hoodie in sight of the security camera. Upon entering, the man covered his face again and brandished a handgun. He demanded the money from the register, but once it was clear that the clerk would not come out of the safety enclosure, he left with nothing. The man fled in a black car which was parked near a gas pump.

Anyone with information is asked to contact BSO Detective Mark Copley at 954-321-4738 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477) or online A reward of up to $3,000 is available for information leading to an arrest.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Making College More Affordable In Florida

Making College More Affordable In Florida
Tomorrow at Lake Area Technical College in South Dakota, the President will underscore the importance of making community college available to all responsible students as part of his America's College Promise Campaign, one of several major proposals that build on the historic investments the President has made in college affordability and quality.

Nearly a century ago, a movement that made high school widely available helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world.  A quality higher education continues to be the single most important investment students can make in their own futures and that we can make in the future of our nation.  But other nations have matched or exceeded the United States’ investment in higher education.  Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy without having to take on decades of debt before they even embark on their career. 

Since taking office, the President has made historic investments in college affordability and quality. Over the past six years, the President and Congress have:

·         Increased Pell Grant funding, the government’s primary scholarship program, in Florida by approximately 90% since 2008, from around $1 billion in aid in 2008-09 to $2 billion in 2015-16.  Across the country, Pell funding has increased by 70 percent, and the maximum award has increased by $1,000 to a maximum of $5,775 since 2008.  As of 2015-16. Pell Grants will have helped more than 2 million additional students per year.

·         Created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), providing up to $2,500 per student, per year to help cover the cost of tuition, fees and books. Under the AOTC, students and families in Florida will receive $1.2 billion in tuition credits in 2016, an average benefit of $1,570 for every family claiming the credit.  Nationwide, families benefitting from the creation of the AOTC will receive an additional $1,000 on average per year compared to the tax credits available prior to its enactment.  Combined, the AOTC and the Lifetime Learning Credit will provide families with more than $20 billion of assistance in 2016, an increase of about 170 percent value relative to the value of education tax credits in 2008.

In part as a result of these investments, and despite deep cuts to higher education in many states, the net price students pay – tuition after scholarships and tuition-based tax credits – has actually fallen at four-year private colleges and remained constant at community colleges.  At community colleges, the average full-time student could save $3,800 per year under the President’s America’s College Promise Proposal, which would make two years of community college free for responsible students.

Many states responded to the recession and resulting budget shortfalls by cutting funding for higher education. As a result, public four-year colleges faced significant cuts to their state funding. The President’s investments in higher education, including Pell Grant funding and AOTC benefits, have helped fill the gap so that students can still afford the rising costs at public four-year universities.

This year, President Obama proposed to build on this progress with a bold plan to make community college free for responsible students, ensure that the Pell grant is never eroded by inflation, and simplify, expand and make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit. He is also working to make student loans more affordable – including expanding current regulations that cap student loan payments at 10 percent of income – and encouraging innovation and competition to bring down the cost of college.

Republican Budget Agreement Turns Back the Clock

Despite these hard-fought gains in college affordability, Republicans in Congress have proposed a budget that slashes these and other investments that benefit students and their families.  The budget blueprint agreed to by House and Senate Republicans last week would eliminate $90 billion in dedicated Pell Grant funding and let the American Opportunity Tax Credit expire after 2017 – resulting in a tax increase on millions of students and families. 

In Florida Republican cuts to Pell funding would put financial aid in jeopardy for approximately 562 thousand students who rely on Pell grants to help afford college.

Meanwhile, the approximately 779 thousand students and families in Florida receiving an average AOTC of $1,570 would pay higher taxes under the Republican budget, which fails to extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit after 2017. By ending this tax credit, the Republican budget would increase the net cost of tuition and some 10 million students and families across the country would face an average tax increase of more than $1,000.

Continuing a Record of Success

The Administration’s success in making college more affordable through Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit are part of a broader agenda to open the doors to a quality college education.  Since taking office, the President has taken steps to expand federal support to help more students afford college, to make student loan debt manageable by capping payments as a percentage of income, to help students understand their college choices, to hold schools accountable for student outcomes, and to test new approaches to help disadvantaged students succeed in college, all while calling for a shared responsibility among states and higher education institutions in tackling rising college costs.  Key achievements and proposals to build on these steps include:

·         America’s College Promise: The President’s Budget calls for making two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.

·         Keeping Interest Rates Low: In 2013, the President and Congress enacted a bipartisan plan that allows millions of borrowers to continue to benefit from low interest rates in the marketplace, guarantees that borrowers can lock in these rates over the life of their loans, and protects future borrowers by capping interest rates, which saves the typical undergraduate student $1,500 over the life of the loans.

·         Making Student Debt Manageable: The President has created and expanded student loan repayment options that help borrowers manage their student debt responsibly and ensure their payments are manageable.  Because of these efforts, all new borrowers can now cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes so that repayment is affordable and they can responsibly meet their obligations. As directed under a Presidential Memorandum issued last June, the Department of Education has also started the process to expand its regulations to as many as 5 million more borrowers by allowing all Direct Loan student borrowers to cap their payments at 10 percent of their incomes, with new regulations expected in December 2015.

·         Help Students Succeed in College: For a college education to fulfill its promise, students need to persist and complete their degrees and programs.  Too many students - particularly low income students - struggle to succeed in college.  That is why the Administration created the First in the World Program, which provides grants to colleges and universities to test new approaches to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students.  The goal of the program is not only to improve student outcomes today, but also to build a stronger evidence base of what works so that all colleges and universities can better shape their programs. The first $75 million in grants were awarded in 2014 to 24 colleges and universities. This year, the President proposed increasing the First in the World program’s funding to $200 million. This and other key investments are possible only because the President’s Budget reverses the harmful effects of sequestration, providing resources for the investments we need to strengthen the economy and expand opportunity.

·         Measuring College Quality: The Department of Education continues to develop new metrics for measuring student outcomes at colleges and universities.  These metrics will help students and families make informed college decisions and move toward a system where institutions of higher education are held accountable for delivering the high quality education that our students deserve and our economy demands. The Department plans to publish the new college ratings by the 2015-2016 school year, recognizing institutions that excel at enrolling students from all backgrounds, focus on maintaining affordability, and succeed at helping all students graduate with a degree or certificate of value.

·         Partnering with the Private Sector on a Call to Action on College Opportunity: Last December, the President, Vice President, and First Lady joined college presidents and leaders of non-profits, foundations, and other organizations to announce over 600 new commitments to produce more college graduates. Community colleges made commitments individually, and in partnership with neighboring school districts and four-year institutions, to build seamless transitions among institutions, develop clear educational and career pathways, implement strategies to increase student completion of STEM programs, and establish more accurate measures of student progress and success. 

·         Making Job Training More Demand Driven: Training America’s workers with the skills they need for a good job can help middle class families obtain better employment and help American businesses grow our economy. Through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program more than 1,000 institutions have received nearly $2 billion in federal funding to design education and training programs  Working closely with employers and industry, the grants allow community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education to improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that will help job seekers get the skills they need for in-demand jobs in industries like information technology, health care, and energy.   Alongside efforts to make our training system more demand-driven through implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the President has proposed a new American Tech Training Fund to support the expansion of innovative, evidence-based job training programs as well as new investments in apprenticeships and industry-recognized credentials.

Through the numerous and historic investments that he has made in higher education since taking office, the President has expanded federal support to help more students and families afford college and enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to succeed.