michael_steele_web.jpgREPUBLICAN CROSSROADS
Michael Steele was elected the first black lieutenant governor of Maryland and went on to become the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2009.

There, his efforts saw Republican candidates take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. Still, Steele was ousted as chairman and called a failure. Reince Prebus was elected the new RNC chairman and in the 2012 election cycle Republicans lost seats in the House, the Senate and governorships yet Prebus is considered a hero. Go figure. Here in Florida, Jennifer Carroll has quit as lieutenant governor. In Broward, former Davie Mayor Tom Truex has been elected chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee, with Levi Williams, a black attorney who served as its general counsel, coming in third place.  At present there are no blacks holding a prominent position in the local organization. The Republicans continue to make blacks feel unwelcome in a party that was founded to abolish slavery. Look for the capable and sensible Truex to try to remedy this prior to the 2014 elections. But will it work?    


Palm Beach County



South Florida sweet corn growers in Belle Glade and other areas of the state completed assessing damage from a March 4 freeze and, it turns out, the news wasn’t as bad as first feared. South Florida provides a significant portion of the nation’s wintertime vegetables. If growers had sustained 25 percent or higher crop losses from the freeze, it could have affected corn prices nationwide.


The Glades Utility Authority was created in 2009 to take control of the crumbling water and sewer systems in Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee. The utility provides water and sewer service to those cities, as well as unincorporated areas of western Palm Beach County. Its customers are some of the poorest in the state but the utility’s rates are among the highest in Florida. Palm Beach County Mayor Steve Abrams and the other county commissioners have moved to take control of the utility. Plans include $25 million in infrastructure and other upgrades, as well as a reduction in rates for its 10,000-plus customers.


Broward County



Gene Warren, 39, was shot and killed as he got into his car after making a purchase at the Troy’s Lounge liquor store located at 2990 W. Sunrise Blvd. on Saturday. A man got out of the back seat of a black Chrysler 200, shot Warren, got back into the car and drove off. Police are asking anyone with information about this shooting to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.


Former Dania Beach Mayor Robert Chunn began organizing residents to pick up trash and clean debris from city streets. Now the city’s current mayor, Walter Duke, is involved in the efforts where they regularly join groups of residents to pick up trash from city neighborhoods and parks. It’s an example of civic service that is rarely seen today. It is just one of many initiatives taking place in Dania Beach that are bringing new life, unity and cooperation to the city.


Coconut Creek officials will spend $300,000 to install license plate scanners at select intersections and locations. The money will come from confiscated funds and is intended to help fight crime. The system scans license plates and transmits data about the car and the owner in real time. If the installation is finalized, Coconut Creek will join Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Hollywood, Lighthouse Point and Hillsboro Beach as local municipalities that have installed license plate scanners.


Community Builders HDC is hosting a 10-week West African Yoruba Orisa dance and drum class series by Prince Emmanuel Abiodun Aderele. The classes will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturdays at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Cost is $15 for adults and $5 for children for each dance class. The drum classes are $25 each. For more information call 786-344-1153.


Miami-Dade County



Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan is continuing her Music in the Park series with a free jazz concert. It will be held in conjunction with the Sunshine Jazz Organization at Ives Estates Park, 20901 N.E. 16th Ave., in North Miami Beach on Friday, May 3. The festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Melton Mustafa, The Elements and spoken word artist Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughn. For more information call 305-474-3011.


Miami City Commissioner Willy Gort has announced the completion of phase 2 of the Park View Apartments affordable housing development in Allapattah. Applications are being accepted for prospective residents who meet the requirements. The two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath units will rent for $800 per month, depending on the number of people and their incomes. Those interested in applying for the townhouse rental should call 786-253-4044.


Monroe County



A recently released report by the nonprofit environmental coalition Ceres contends the insurance industry is avoiding certain Florida markets, like the Florida Keys, because of increased storm activity while doing little about climate change. Ceres’s 2012 Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey is based on 184 insurance disclosures provided to regulators. Ceres president Mindy Lubber said only 23 of the 184 companies had strategies in place that address climate change strategies.


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is proposing to mandate vessel monitoring systems (VMS) be installed on boats of all fishermen who catch certain types of fish like grouper and snapper. The VMS would allow authorities to monitor and track commercial fishermen’s whereabouts and activities.


Jacob Knapper, 20, of Agoura Hills, Calif., has been charged with stabbing three family members at their Islamadora home. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office report said two women were stabbed in the arm and a man in the stomach. All are expected to survive. Three children at the house at the time were unharmed. When deputies arrived, the report said, Knapper, who was unarmed, yelled for them to shoot him.