elgin_jones_web_13.jpgEJones@SFLTimes.com

IRRESPONSIBLE VETO
At a time when we have widespread prison overcrowding, mostly related to petty offenses, Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed a bill that would have let nonviolent prisoners get their sentences reduced after successfully completing rehabilitation programs. This veto makes no sense and it is a mistake. It serves to benefit only the private prison-related industry.

LOSING GROUND
The Republican Party is well on the way to nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as its presidential candidate and that step may doom the party as we know it. Romney has been running for president essentially for the past seven years and is the best organized candidate seeking the party’s nomination. In short, Romney is a polyester fake conservative who has adopted the positions of the fringe elements of the GOP. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, the embrace of Romney is already changing the party of Lincoln. Rev. O’Neal Dozier, a black pastor in Pompano Beach, says he is considering leaving the party and switching to Independent if Romney gets the nomination. Other once-loyal Republicans are making similar whispers and it should make for an interesting election season.

CONSUMER CAMS
Police have used so-called “dash cams” in squad cars for nearly two decades. These are dashboard-mounted cameras that are turned on when the squad car’s blue lights are activated. Video footage from dash cams have led to a number of controversies around the nation, including police officers being fired or criminally charged after video captured their misconduct. Today there are a number of companies that sell dash cams for consumers to install inside their cars. These consumer dash cams are growing in popularity and video of law enforcement officers’ actions are being put on display more often. Consumer dash cams come in a variety of sizes and can be installed to blend with a vehicle’s interior to avoid detection. Many law enforcement officers are unaware of the consumer dash cams or that their actions are being recorded.

Palm Beach County

FURLOUGHS
Mayor James DuBois announced the two-square-mile town of Lake Park is facing a $500,000 shortfall in its $9 million budget. Full-time employees were forced to take a one-day furlough this week without pay to help close the gap.

POOL FIGHT
Federal regulations requiring public and private pools, spas and hot tubs to install lifts to accommodate the disabled were scheduled to kick in on May 21, but members of Congress such as Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West convinced the Justice Department to delay implementation until Sept. 21. Hotels, school districts and municipalities say the cost could be crippling and want the regulation rescinded. Proponents argue the requirement will eliminate discrimination against the disabled.

ANIMAL CRUELTY
Luc Jean Baptiste, 48, of Belle Glade has been arrested on felony animal cruelty charges after being accused of using a handsaw to cut off a dog’s injured leg, according to Palm Beach County animal control officials. An unidentified witness told authorities Baptiste tied the dog up and taped its mouth shut and then cut off its injured leg. Animal control officers removed seven pit bull dogs from his home.

Broward County

STANTON FOR HIRE
Susan Stanton is the former Lake Worth city manager who was fired last December and recently hired by the City of Fort Lauderdale as an accountant. Stanton works in Fort Lauderdale’s Housing and Community Development division which receives state and federal funds. Her job could end up being audited by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over concerns her work in the division may not involve accounting, as indicated.  City Manager Lee Feldman says he doubts her work assignments are an issue.

TROUBLE BREWING
The Broward County School District is getting an onslaught of complaints from current and former employees in its Special Investigations Unit which functions as its police department. Several former employees, including Lynda Daher, have filed complaints with the EEOC alleging they were laid off because of their race and gender. Others are alleging they are being denied promotion because of their race. Lawsuits may not be far behind. Among other things, some are alleging most of those laid off in the division over the past two years have been females over the age of 40.

GUESS WHO?
Broward Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Sgt. Mary Guess is the target of a Broward State Attorney’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal investigation. Even so she remains in her job and has not been reassigned as is customary. Guess is conducting interviews and taking statements in cases, including that of Deputy Mitchell Kogod, who has been reassigned while his off-duty work with the Miami Dolphins is under investigation. To have Guess, who was not reassigned, conducting investigations raise serious concerns.

Miami-Dade County

NAACP COMPLAINT
Lois Jones, a board member of the Homestead Housing Authority, has filed a complaint with the NAACP alleging systemic bias and discrimination in the manner in which the agency provides services, as well as in its hiring practices and operations. It is the latest in a series of controversies involving the troubled agency.

POLICE SCANDALS
Charles J. Hurley, chief of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Department, is the subject of several harassment and discrimination complaints from police officers. The federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission is currently investigating several complaints and has already found reason to believe at least one employee’s allegations has merit. The complainants are in the process of retaining counsel, after which the specific allegations will come out.

MARLINS PROTESTS
During a recent interview, first-year Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen expressed love and respect for Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro. His words have started a firestorm. The Marlins, as well as Guillen, issued apologies for his comments but protesters want him fired.  He was suspended for five games. Some groups say they may boycott Marlins games if Guillen is not fired or resigns.

MOTHER KILLED
Kit Durant, 16, confessed to killing his mother and leaving her body in her bedroom for two weeks. During that time he had friends over at their North Miami Beach apartment and went about his daily routine. The body of Renette Emile, 35, was found after her boyfriend did not hear from her for several days, prompting a police visit to her apartment. Police have not released a motive in the case.