rick-scott-web.jpgABSOLUTE FOOLISHNESS
Gov. Rick Scott’s education reforms include a ridiculous provision in which teacher evaluations, pay raises and job status will be based on a school’s score on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

This is particularly troublesome since courses like music, art and physical education are not subject to FCAT testing. Then there is the issue of Special Education teachers. This is an ill-advised policy and it should be scrapped, and quickly.

The speculation is over and former Gov. Charlie Crist’s political boat has been rocked. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has confirmed he is considering making a run for governor. Other possible candidates include Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink. If Nelson enters the race, it would open up all sorts of possibilities and the political storm clouds are gathering. I wonder if a Gov. Nelson would appoint Crist to his old U.S. Senate seat?


Palm Beach County

Herman McCray, the 72-year-old civil rights leader and founder of the iconic McCray’s Barbeque located in Riviera Beach, has been laid to rest. McCray was active in the civil rights movement since the 1960s and spearheaded numerous movements in Rivera Beach, where a bridge named in his honor was dedicated in 2010.

U.S. District Judge Kennedy Ryskamp criticized federal prosecutors for bringing tax evasion charges against 79-year-old Mary Estelle Curran. She contacted the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 to see if she owed taxes on an inheritance that was being held in a Swiss bank account. She paid more than $21 million in fines and back taxes but was charged with tax evasion anyway. She was convicted and Ryskamp sentenced her to 12 months of probation which he immediately terminated and said she should seek a pardon from the president.


Broward County

Sayyid Khan, 20, of Miramar is facing kidnapping, rape and other charges. According to police he forced a woman into a car at gunpoint outside a Pembroke Pines apartment complex. The woman was then driven to the Kings Manor Mobile Home Park in Davie where Khan tried to rape her. The victim was able to break free and call 911 while running away. Khan, who reportedly has confessed, was arrested near the scene and is being held without bond in the Broward County Jail.

The number of grocery store chains now competing for business in South Florida has increased and it’s good news for consumers. Competition means lower prices and some great deals. Walmart, Publix, Aldi, Winn Dixie, Okey-Dokey and Save-a-Lot are all opening new stores. It means jobs and opportunities, as well.

Cary Howard Aaronson, 31, of Margate is facing charges after a law enforcement task force raided his home and allegedly found more than 500 videos and pictures on his computer depicting children engaging in sex with adults. He was targeted after investigators tracked his computer activities to child pornography distribution over the Internet, authorities said.


Miami-Dade County

Early voting has begun in a referendum that would increase a hotel tax to give the Miami Dolphins $289 million over the next 30 years to help pay for renovations to Sun Life Stadium. Billionaire businessman Norman Braman is opposed to the plan and many others support his stance. They are lobbying state lawmakers against any state support for the stadium renovations.

Burger King CEO Bernardo Hees has left the company to take a job with the hamburger chain’s parent company H.J. Heinz Co., where he will be CEO. Hees’ last day was Tuesday. Hees, 43, had been CEO at Burger King since 2010. The move is not expected to impact the Miami-based hamburger chain’s headquarters. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway recently purchased a controlling stake in H.J. Heinz and other moves within senior management of the Heinz family of companies are expected.

Willie Barney was found guilty of attempted murder and other charges related to the shooting and robbery of an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer in September 2012. Barney, 19, along with Dedrick Brown, 20, and Travares Santiago, 20,  were accused of ambushing Detective Wislyn Joseph and

robbing him of his jewelry as he was leaving a church in northwest Miami. Joseph testified he left his gun in his car before  the attack. He was robbed and then shot point blank in the chest by Barney, he testified. Barney’s attorney, Robert Barrar, said his client never had any gun, it was a case of mistaken identity and he will appeal. Brown and Santiago are awaiting trial.

Monroe County

Tropical butterflies are disappearing in the Florida Keys and biologists are at a loss as to why. Marc Minno, an entomologist hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a survey of South Florida’s butterfly population, believes several species are now extinct. If confirmed, it will be only the fourth time in U.S. history that a species of butterfly has been known to become extinct – and the first time since the 1950s.

The U.S. Navy has launched a blimp and a drone to help combat the drug trade. The drone is battery operated, takes real-time videos and photographs and can remain airborne for two hours. The drone is intended to replace an aircraft that requires a crew of seven to operate. It also has the ability to quietly conduct surveillance of watercraft in hopes of catching smugglers throwing contraband overboard.

The Monroe County School Board voted 5-0 to maintain a policy that requires employees to take seven unpaid furlough days this school year. United Teachers of Monroe President Holly Hummell-Gorman questions the district’s claim that it is in a state of “financial urgency” and intends to continue opposition to the furloughs.