AG OPPOSES HEALTH CARE PLAN
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said on Tuesday, Jan. 18 that a proposal which would require Americans to buy health insurance or face a government penalty is unconstitutional. He vowed to file a lawsuit if the measure is signed into law by President Barack Obama. McCollum is running for the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination, and critics are calling this a political stunt. U.S. Sen. George LeMieux asked McCollum for the legal opinion. A current health-care proposal pending in Congress would require citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty of at least 2 percent of their gross income. Federal subsidies would help some low-income people buy health care.
Within the next two weeks, 31 states and the District of Columbia will begin selling both the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets. Powerball is currently sold in 31 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mega Million is available in 12 states. Both games are known for their huge jackpots of hundreds of millions of dollars. Powerball is available in Florida, but Florida Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno and other Florida Lottery officials are not involved in any effort to bring the Mega Millions lottery games to this state, a spokesperson has said. Officials with the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are also working on a national lottery game that could have multiple jackpots, or one that could reach as high as $1 billion.
ADVISORY BOARDS REINSTATED
Led by Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman and Councilman Jimmie Williams, members of the Homestead city council voted to reinstate all of the civic and advisory boards, including the joint Homestead/Florida City Human Relations Board, that were reorganized, eliminated, or restructured by the previous city council.
FREE BUS RIDES
Beginning on Monday, Jan. 25 and ending on Friday, Jan. 29, commuters can ride nonstop from Miami-Dade County to Broward County and vice versa on a state-of-the-art, 60-foot hybrid bus at no charge. After that time period, the cost for the ride will be $2.35 each way. Initially, the bus will travel along the Interstate 95 express lanes from downtown Miami to the Fort Lauderdale Tri-Rail station, with one stop at the Sheridan Street Tri-Rail station. The service will run from 5:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., and from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays only. Other routes will be added in the coming weeks. The bus is funded by the Federal Transit Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation.
The Miami Dolphins have announced that their stadium will get its sixth name change in the 23 years since it was constructed in 1987. It will now be called Sun Life Financial Stadium, after the Canadian financial and insurance services company. Originally called Joe Robbie Stadium after the former owner of the Dolphins, under new owner H. Wayne Huizenga, it was renamed for sports apparel maker Pro Player in 1996, until that company went bankrupt. In 2005, it was renamed Dolphins Stadium, and later Dolphin Stadium in 2006. In 2009, new owner Steve Ross struck a deal to rename it Land Shark Stadium, after a beer produced by singer Jimmy Buffet’s company.
CITY MANAGER FIRED
At a special Jan. 15 meeting, Deerfield Beach city commissioners voted 3-2 to fire City Manager Mike Mahaney. After 33 months on the job, Mahaney was suspended Jan. 5 at the urging of Commissioner Bill Ganz, who complained about his leadership. Only Commissioner Joe Miller and Vice Mayor Sylvia Poitier voted to keep Mahaney, who often clashed with some of his bosses. Burgess Hanson, the city's director of information systems, is serving in the city manager’s post until a replacement is hired.
HOUSING PROJECT FACING DEMOLITION
Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority officials are continuing their effort to demolish the Dr. Kennedy Homes public housing projects so they can build a new development. Only a portion of the new buildings would be designated for low-income tenants who could face stricter requirements to qualify. This has Florida Atlantic University (FAU) professor Ralph Johnson, an expert on gentrification and the director of the FAU Center for the Conservation of Architectural and Cultural Heritage, concerned. Attorneys with Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. have filed court papers challenging the plan, arguing that current residents will be displaced, if not gentrified. Kennedy Homes was built in the post-Great Depression era, and is located along Broward Boulevard in the historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood. The city’s Historic Preservation Board has rejected the plan, and denied certificates to demolish and rebuild the property. Housing Authority officials are asking city commissioners to overrule that decision and approve their plan.
MORE EDUCATION CUTS
Broward School Superintendent Jim Notter has announced that the Broward School District may lay off as many as 475 additional workers in its facilities and maintenance divisions. The somber news came at a workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 19, where officials said they will have to cut an additional $47 million from the capital budget, the result of economic conditions and a halt to new school construction.
Palm Beach County
TENNIS MOM CHARGED
The mother of professional tennis star Anna Kournikova was arrested and charged with child neglect Tuesday, Jan. 19 after leaving her 5-year-old son alone at her Palm Beach home. Alla V. Kournikova, 46, allegedly left the child home alone for about an hour while she went to the bank and the post office. In her absence, the boy jumped from a second-story window to the ground, suffering bruises on his feet and lower back. He told police he then jumped into the pool because his feet hurt. An unidentified person spotted the boy wet and alone in front of the home. Police were called, and officers entered the locked house through the second-floor window, the same one from which the child had jumped. Police called the elder Kournikova, who was taken into custody when she arrived. Book’em, Dano!