U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood has not commented, but information released by his agency reveals that airlines made mega-billions off baggage and reservation fees last year. A total of $2.7 billion was collected for baggage fees, with Delta Airlines at the top with $482 million. $2.4 billion was collected from passengers who changed their reservations. Flying is good.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won a victory on behalf of a Tallahassee man, Rob Brayshaw, who was arrested in 2008 after criticizing Tallahassee Police Officer Annette Garrett. He posted her home address, cell phone number and age on the website. A 40-year-old Florida law prohibits the malicious distribution of law enforcement officers’ personal information. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Smoak ruled that the law goes too far, and has struck it down.

More than 141,000 Florida residents have used up their state and federal emergency unemployment benefits. More people are being added to that list every day, according to the state’s Agency for Workforce Innovation. Florida’s unemployment is at a record high at over 12 percent, with 1.4 million people out of work. Florida's maximum unemployment checks are $275 a week, plus $25 from federal stimulus money. It’s happening around the country, and Gov. Charlie Crist has a bill sitting on his desk that would provide some relief by extending those benefits. A bill in the U.S. Congress is stalled due to politics. People are suffering, the likes of which many alive today have never before witnessed. Crist, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, must act, and without further delay.

Florida State Rep. Richard Glorioso, R-Plant City, has sponsored a bill to ban convicted sex offenders and predators from coming within 300 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children are likely to be. Members of the Florida State Senate voted unanimously in support of the bill, and it is now headed to the governor to sign into law. In this election year, the measure was easy for politicians to support, but is it wise, or even realistic? No one supports sickos who prey on children, or anyone else for that matter, but these unwanted elements of society will have to be somewhere. It is easy for politicians to pass such laws, and then campaign about protecting our children. Many cities and counties, such as Broward and Miami-Dade counties, have already passed similar ordinances, which they are struggling to enforce.

Palm Beach County

Ben Lubin, the 32-year-old son of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, was arrested on Friday, April 30, after allegedly stealing a sign from Jim Whelan, a man who was protesting police pay freezes in the city, during the SunFest event. Whelan is not a police officer, but supports their cause. Lubin was charged with one count of strong-armed robbery, but Whelan says he will accept a public apology to end the incident.

Sign of these troubling times: The city of Boca Raton’s housing authority has over 400 vouchers that can be used to subsidize rent payments for people who qualify throughout South Florida. People can apply online, and do not have to live within the city’s limits, but they must meet various income criteria to qualify for the assistance. The city began accepting applications on Monday, May 3. Within minutes after the process opened, more than 3,000 people converged on the website, Even more began calling and showing up at the housing authority’s offices to apply. Housing authority officials say applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday, May 14. Call 561-206-6200 for additional information.

Miami-Dade County

Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of customer marketing, has announced that FedEx will no longer be the sponsor of the Orange Bowl. The relationship lasted 21 years, and was the longest sponsorship of any Bowl Championship Series event. Taking over where the Fox Network left off, ESPN will begin broadcasting BCS games in 2010. The cable broadcaster is evaluating offers from other firms to sponsor the event. Analysts say ESPN is seeking at least $20 million annually, as well as other advertising from the eventual sponsor in a multi-year deal. In its last two games, the Orange Bowl has had some of the lowest-ever ratings of any BCS game. This is likely due to the matchups of Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati, and Iowa vs. Georgia Tech, in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Lawrence Davenport, vice president of a California consulting firm; Stacey Franklin Jones, vice president of Benedict College in South Carolina; and Lester C.
Newman, vice president of Lane College in Tennessee, have been named as finalists to head Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. The final selection to fill the president’s position will take place in June 2010. The winner will take over for interim president Sandra T. Thompson, who was appointed after former president Karl S. Wright was fired in August 2009.

Broward County

Roland Foulkes serves on numerous educational and civic boards, including the Broward School District’s Diversity Committee and the governor’s Florida Statewide/Local Advocacy Council, which evaluates public facilities in the state. After Blanche Ely High School Principal Karlton Johnson gave Foulkes a tour of the Pompano Beach school, Foulkes fired off a scathing letter to the governor, school officials, fire marshals and others. He is warning that some of the school’s facilities are dangerous, with stored chemicals, unsteady structures, and no fire sprinklers or alarms. District officials have yet to respond, but if just some of his concerns are true, then heads should roll.

Lauderhill police are seeking the whereabouts of Shawn Edwards, 31, of Tamarac, related to the senseless Monday, April 26 shooting death of Kevin Manning. The incident happened at an apartment complex in the 5900 block of Northwest 19th Street in the early evening hours. Police say the two argued over access to the complex’s entrance. Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.

Shawn Hooper, 18, of Coral Springs, was arrested at his home on Thursday, May 6 on possession of child pornography charges. A special task forced tracked numerous images to his home computer. He is charged with over 30 counts, and is being held on a $300,000 bond. Book’em, Dano!

Instead of leadership, Deerfield Beach has come down with a bad case of leaderless blacks. The condition sends black leaders into hiding, as they are being scrutinized for possible fraud and criminal activity. The scrutiny stems from complaints made by blogger Chaz Stevens about grant funds the leaders and their charities received from the city. The complaints led city commissioners to hire Michael Kessler, president of the New York-based forensic auditing and investigative firm Kessler International, to dig into the matter. The results raised all sorts of questions, prompting a criminal probe by the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Vice Mayor Sylvia Poitier wants the city to sue the company for its findings. But her fellow commissioners on Tuesday, May 4 approved spending another $100,000 so the firm can look into other departments and city-funded events, including the popular Mango, Brazilian and Founder’s Day festivals.­­