Posts Tagged ‘Fort Lauderdale’

Broward’s new Community Court looks to keep non-violent offenders out of jail

Monday, October 8th, 2018

By Noreen Marcus
FloridaBulldog.org
Broward has launched a new court to help keep non-violent lawbreakers out of jail. The “community court” is getting a jump-start with a $200,000 grant from the Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit that supports outside-the-box solutions to problems within the justice system.
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Will Brightline passenger train survive as counties try to choke off funding?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

By Ann Henson Feltgen
FloridaBulldog.org
Brightline’s promise to extend its South Florida passenger train service to Orlando is in jeopardy again after two counties asked a judge this month to rescind federal approval of All Aboard Florida’s plan to issue $1.15 billion in bonds to fund the project.
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Bondi’s office ducks questions about Waste Management deal as Broward recycling contracts expire

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office is ducking questions about why she never alerted Broward cities and consumers about pricing and other protections secured for them in 2015 in exchange for not opposing Waste Management’s $525-million acquisition of Southern Waste Systems and Sun Recycling.
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Bondi’s office doesn’t want to answer questions about Waste Management antitrust probe

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Florida’s top antitrust attorney is seeking to quash a Broward subpoena that seeks to force her to answer questions about the state’s review of Waste Management’s $525-million takeover of Sun Recycling.
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As Broward recycling crisis boils, Bondi’s antitrust regulators kept a secret that could cost cities

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
State antitrust regulators who OK’d Waste Management’s $525-million buyout of the company that handles recycling for most Broward cities did so only after being assured that those cities would be allowed to renew their contracts this year on the same terms and conditions.
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As Waste Management tightens grip in Broward recycling becomes costlier, endangered

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Last month, Sunrise City Manager Richard Salamon fired off an ominous email to more than two dozen of his fellow municipal managers across Broward. The subject: solid waste disposal and single stream recycling. The urgent message: “most of us are facing the reality we don’t have anyone lined up to accept our recyclables in 2 ½ months.” That’s as of July 3.
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For Broward’s homeless, jail is often the lesser evil

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

By Noreen Marcus
FloridaBulldog.org
David Ortiz, 33, chose to spend New Year’s weekend in Broward County Jail rather than return to the streets of Fort Lauderdale.
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75 years later, U.S. refuses plea to bring home remains of fallen Broward war hero

Monday, December 4th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Nearly 76 years after Fort Lauderdale Medal of Honor winner Alexander R. “Sandy” Nininger Jr. was killed in action in the Philippines, the U.S. is refusing his family’s request to use DNA testing to identify Nininger’s remains and bring him home.
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Poor Fort Lauderdale neighborhood pays millions for city streetcar line that won’t reach it

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

By Joseph A. Mann Jr.
FloridaBulldog.org
What does sewage in the streets around western Sistrunk Blvd. (NW 6th Street) in Fort Lauderdale have to do with the $195- million Wave Streetcar line being developed for the city? Plenty, according to Marie “Ms. Peaches” Huntley, neighborhood resident, activist, businesswoman and candidate for commissioner in District 3 of Fort Lauderdale, as well as other critics.
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Brightline, Indian River County duke it out before House panel

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Brightline railroad supporters and Treasure Coast counties opposing the higher-speed train planned from Orlando to Miami debated their cases Wednesday before a Florida House committee, showing the high stakes of their fight.
Officials from the train company, and two other train companies, were joined by officials of one of the counties, Indian River for a panel discussion before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, pitting the local’s concerns for safety versus the companies assurances that safety already is addressed.
“This is going to be a tremendous benefit to the entire state of Florida,” Brightline General Counsel Myles Tobin declared.
“It is a railroad, and the cost of doing business is to make it safe,” declared Kate Cotner, assistant county attorney for Indian River County.
At stake is Brightline’s ability to upgrade a rail line and operate privately-run passenger trains from West Palm Beach to Orlando, which will traverse four counties at speeds up to 110 mph without actually stopping in any of them. Two of those counties, Indian River and Martin, are suing, and pushing the Florida Legislature for safety measures beyond what Brightline has deemed necessary.
That fight is a large reason why Brightline has thrown out its timetable for completing the construction and beginning the service. At one time the company anticipated being able to do so late this year. None of the construction has started, and now the service indefinitely delayed.
Also complicating matters are bills pushed by Treasure Coast lawmakers that would require some additional safety measures – universal four-arm crossing gates at all road crossings, strategic fencing, and other items.
The committee was not explicitly hearing House Bill 269, introduced by Republican state Reps. Erin Grall of Vero Beach and MaryLynn Magar of Tequesta. But that bill and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 386 from Republican state Sen. Debbie Mayfield of Melbourne were often cited by railroad officials as

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Florida looks to expand gun rights in wake of Pulse shooting

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Florida Republicans are more determined than ever to pass bills expanding gun rights in the wake of the deadly Pulse nightclub and Fort Lauderdale airport shootings.
They say law-abiding gun owners should be allowed to take their weapons to airports, government meetings and state universities, and would be in a better position to protect themselves and others if a mass shooting should erupt in one of those places.
“Anytime you create a gun-free zone, you essentially are creating a safe haven for mass shooters and the criminal element and you put law-abiding people at a disadvantage,” said Marion Hammer, who has lobbied for the National Rifle Association for more than 42 years.
There are about two dozen gun-related bills filed ahead of next month’s 60-day legislative session and the vast majority would expand gun rights so they can be carried, as one opponent said, “pretty much everywhere.”
“If it’s a reaction to the Pulse shooting and Fort Lauderdale, it’s a very odd reaction,” said Patti Brigham, a vice president at the League of Women Voters of Florida and co-chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s like bad gun bills on steroids.”
While Democrats have responded to the mass shootings by proposing more restrictions, including a ban on assault-style rifles and large capacity ammunition clips, they have virtually no chance of passing while Republicans dominate both legislative chambers.
Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, whose bill would ban assault-like rifles, said expanding areas where guns can be carried isn’t the right approach. “Their solution is, ‘We want guns everywhere, all the time, by every person,’ which is not going to address these problems. It’s going to make them worse,” he said.
Republican Rep. Jake Raburn of Valrico said many of this year’s Republican proposals were easily approved in the House last year and will

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Florida airport shooting suspect indicted on 22 counts

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

A federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment against the man accused of a shooting rampage at a South Florida airport that left five people dead and six wounded.
The indictment Thursday charges Esteban Santiago, 26, with 11 counts of causing death or bodily harm at an international airport, five counts of causing death during a crime of violence and six counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence. Santiago could face the death penalty if convicted in the Jan. 6 shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The indictment contains no terrorism-related charges despite Santiago’s claims to the FBI after the shooting that he was inspired by videos and chatrooms affiliated with the Islamic State extremist group, which agents have not been able to corroborate. Santiago also told authorities in that interrogation he was the victim of some form of government mind control, the FBI has said.
Santiago, an Iraq war veteran who lived in Anchorage, Alaska, is scheduled to enter a plea to the charges Monday. He is being held without bail.
The indictment adds no new details about the shooting but lays out the legal framework of the crimes Santiago allegedly committed and the names of each person who died.
“They have made the necessary allegations to seek the death penalty,” said David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.
The Justice Department has not yet announced whether it will seek capital punishment.
Investigators say Santiago legally brought a gun box containing his weapon and ammunition as checked luggage for a flight from Anchorage to Fort Lauderdale. Once on the ground, Santiago retrieved the box, took it to a bathroom, loaded the Walther 9mm handgun and came out firing.
After firing 15 shots, authorities say Santiago exhausted his ammunition and laid down on the floor where he was arrested. An FBI

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Airport shooting suspect gets public defender in court

Monday, January 9th, 2017

The Iraq war veteran held in the fatal shooting of five people inside Fort Lauderdale’s airport was appointed a federal public defender on Monday after telling a judge that he has no job and only $5 or $10 in the bank.
Esteban Santiago, 26, spoke clearly during a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Valle, who ordered him held until his next hearings.
Shackled in a red jumpsuit in the heavily guarded federal courtroom, Santiago answered mostly yes or no to questions, and told the judge he understands the charges, which include committing violence against people at an international airport resulting in death, and two firearms offenses.
She told him the death penalty could apply.
“We are telling you the maximum penalty allowed by law so that you understand the seriousness of the charges,” the judge said.
He said he had been in the Army, where he made about $15,000 a year. He mentioned expenses including $560 in monthly rent, plus phone and other utility bills. He said he owns no property and doesn’t have a vehicle. He said he had worked for a security company, Signal 88, in Anchorage, Alaska, until November, making $2,100 a month, but currently only had $5 to $10 in the bank.
Given his finances, the judge decided he’s eligible for government lawyers at taxpayer expense.
Valle set a detention hearing for Jan. 17, followed by an arraignment for entering a plea for Jan. 23.
More than a dozen officers kept watch outside the courthouse, carrying rifles and wearing bulletproof vests. There were also mounted police and K-9 units.
The charges don’t specifically use the word murder, but the effects of one of the gun charges and the airport charge are the same because they cover actions that result in a person’s death and can result in capital punishment, said former federal prosecutor

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Orlando grapples with Airbnb, other rental networks

Monday, November 28th, 2016

When Randall Baker began renting out a pair of College Park cottages through Airbnb, he says he thought he had done everything right. He had a business license through the state and tax receipts from the city and county.
But after a neighbor complained, Orlando code enforcement determined Baker was violating zoning rules. Though he boasts a perfect five-star rating through the online rental hub, he has since accrued more than $4,000 in fines, records show.
“I’m not the guy that went underground and tried to do this without (approval),” said Baker, 49, who lives next door to the rentals. “I’m the guy that did it right, and they’re messing with me like this. That makes me mad.”
Orlando is one of many cities across the country grappling with how best to regulate services such as Airbnb, HomeAway and FlipKey, which help homeowners rent out their property on a short-term basis to travelers seeking an alternative to traditional hotels.
Though there are hundreds of local listings on these sites in the Orlando area, the city and Orange County consider short-term rentals a code violation in the large majority of residential areas.
Both governments currently cite short-term renters only after receiving complaints. Coming up with a policy to more specifically govern these services is complicated by a 2011 state law that restricted cities’ abilities to regulate vacation rentals, officials say.
“The unintended consequence was that it ties the cities’ hands from passing new short-term rental ordinances,” said Orlando’s chief planner, Jason Burton. “… We can’t even have that conversation because the state has preempted us.”
In a statement, spokesman Ben Breit said Airbnb has “a very positive and productive working relationship with policymakers” in Orlando and Orange County, citing the company’s recent pact with the county to collect hotel tax from its users.
“About 110,000 people have been able

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Matthew forces airlines to cancel hundreds of flights in Florida

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights as Hurricane Matthew pelts the Florida coast with high winds and heavy rain.
The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and farther north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.
Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.
FlightAware said airlines had already canceled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday. Delta Air Lines said cancellations were likely to spread to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.
Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.
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Hundreds of thousands flee Florida coast to escape Matthew’s fury

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of anxious people boarded up their homes and businesses and grabbed a few belongings to flee inland as Hurricane Matthew gained strength and roared toward the Southeast seaboard on Thursday.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the state, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
As people hurried for higher ground, authorities in South Carolina said a motorist died on Wednesday after being shot by deputies during an altercation along an evacuation route.
Scott said Florida, its skies already darkening from early outer rain bands of the life-threatening storm, could be facing its “biggest evacuation ever” as Matthew menaces almost all the state’s Atlantic coast.
About 2 million people from Florida across Georgia to South Carolina were being encouraged to head inland and away from the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic coast in more than a decade. Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it sliced through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.
“This is a dangerous storm,” Scott warned. “The storm has already killed people. We should expect the same impact in Florida.”
Hurricane Matthew is barreling over the Bahamas and taking aim at Florida, expected to near the Atlantic coast starting Thursday night. The Category 3 storm has top sustained winds of 125 mph. Florida hasn’t been hit by a storm this powerful in more than a decade.
Florida emergency officials said 48 shelters in schools already have begun providing refuge to more than 3,000 people, some with special needs, mostly in coastal counties where evacuations both mandatory and voluntary were underway. Patients also were transferred from two Florida waterfront hospitals and a nursing home near Daytona Beach to safer locations.
Major theme parks in Orlando, central

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Obama briefed on federal hurricane preparations, S.C. town closes in preparation

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

President Barack Obama is being briefed on the federal government’s preparation for Hurricane Matthew as the Category 3 storm makes its way to the U.S. mainland.
The president says now is the time to “hope for the best but we want to prepare for the worst.”
Obama is at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters. FEMA has deployed personnel to emergency operation centers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. It’s also positioning commodities and other supplies at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and in Albany, Georgia.
Government officials are worried about complacency, especially in South Florida, which hasn’t seen a major hurricane in 11 years. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Matthew will remain a powerful storm at least through Thursday night.
***
Meanwhile, the beach town of Folly Beach on the South Carolina coast southwest of Charleston is closed to everyone except residents and essential personnel.
Police at a checkpoint at the bridge leading onto the island are turning back visitors and sightseers. But several pickup trucks could be seen carrying plywood onto the island. Several businesses in town and on the road leading from the mainland are boarded up.
The barrier island is subject to erosion and its beaches and a county park at Folly have been heavily damaged in storms in years past.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press
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Evacuations underway in 2 Florida counties

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Brevard County, and voluntary evacuations have been activated in St. Lucie County, but Gov. Rick Scott urged other coastal residents potentially in harm’s way not to wait to be told to leave.
The governor said during a Wednesday morning news conference that “if you’re able to go early, leave now.” The mandatory evacuations were scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The slow-moving storm was expected to drench the coast from the Keys through central Florida, storm surge up to 5 feet deep was expected along the Atlantic coast, and the hurricane could produce tornadoes. Even if Matthew doesn’t come ashore, its tropical storm-force winds could reach the state.
In his 5 a.m. analysis of the forecast models for Matthew’s track along the Atlantic coast, senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown wrote, “Only a slight deviation to the west of forecast track could result in landfall in Florida.”
“We must prepare to be hit by a devastating hurricane,” Scott said.
“This is a dangerous storm and it’s never too early to evacuate,” Scott said. “If you live in a low-lying area or on a barrier island, go ahead and leave.”
Republished with permission of the associated Press.
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Hurricane warning extended for Florida’s coast

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

The National Hurricane Center has extended the hurricane warning northward in Florida as Matthew heads toward the East Coast.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew is heading toward the Bahamas after hitting Cuba hard.
The hurricane center says the hurricane was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) south of Long Island, Bahamas. It has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph).
The hurricane center said there is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along Florida’s east coast from North Palm Beach to the Flagler/Volusia county line. There is the possibility of life-threatening inundation during the next 48 hours from north of the Flagler/Volusia county line to Fernandina Beach.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Nicole is moving west-northwestward over the western Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). It poses no threat to land.
The U.S. government says its disaster assessment teams are working to evaluate the effects of Hurricane Matthew a day after the storm blew across a portion of southwestern Haiti with winds of 145 mph (233 kph).
USAID official R. David Harden told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that it had pre-positioned emergency food and other aid in advance of the storm. The assistant administrator for the bureau for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance said the area was “hit pretty hard” but the agency has not yet completed an assessment.
Harden said the U.S. is offering $1 million in food assistance and $500,000 in non-foot items such as blankets, shelters and hygiene kits.
Western Hemisphere Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Kenneth Merten said on the call that it is up to Haiti whether it will go ahead with planned national elections on Sunday. He said the U.S. interest is only that they have fair and credible elections and that they be held either on Sunday or the “not too distant future.”
Republished with permission of

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9/11 terrorists, submersibles and an untold Fort Lauderdale story

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
On September 12, 2001, Fort Lauderdale businessman Bill Brown’s morning routine began like most others. After dropping his young daughter off at day care, the widower drove to work at his marine accessories store, The Nautical Niche. What Brown says happened next was anything but ordinary.
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Fort Lauderdale to use “poor people’s money” to subsidize transit for affluent?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

By William Gjebre
FloridaBulldog.org
Fort Lauderdale’s recent approval of a no-bid contract to update the plan for the troubled Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Heights Community Redevelopment Agency has raised concerns about a lack of public input amid a rush to add projects not in the current plan at the expense of community needs.
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Bob Sparks: Gwen Graham will soon reveal her 2016 intentions

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Down deep, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham may already know whether she will run for re-election next year. With the Florida House and Senate in agreement on the new look of her District 2 and Corrine Brown’s District 5, the writing (or map) appears to be on the wall.
Graham is doing the right thing by waiting until the court makes it official. Barring something totally unforeseen, a good chunk of her Democratic support in Tallahassee, Leon County and all of Gadsden County will be erased from District 2.
In the meantime, Graham is saying the right things by talking about seeking re-election. She told the Tampa Bay Times that at the right time she would “evaluate where I can best serve.”
“Where” could also include jumping into the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. Perhaps she is considering a run for governor in 2018. Neither would be an unknown endeavor for her family.
If Graham wishes to try to remain in the U.S. House of Representatives, she will have an important decision to make by September. In addition to evaluating her re-election plans, Graham must decide how she will vote on an issue of major concern to her constituents.
Next month the House will take up a resolution against the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry. The resolution is likely to pass, but not all members have made their intentions known. Graham has not revealed her position.
Her vote on the highly unpopular deal is likely to signal her intentions for 2016. A vote to join her Democratic colleagues in support of the Obama Administration’s agreement should be considered a decision to forego a return to the House.
Like Obamacare in 2010, the issue is likely to determine winners and losers in swing districts. Several

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