U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson tried but has given up hope of holding on to the $2.4 billion offered by the federal government for a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa. Gov. Rick Scott rejected the funds and Nelson wanted to form a consortium of local governments and Amtrak to build the line. Amtrak officials said there simply was not enough time to organize a plan before the April 4 deadline imposed by Washington. Now those funds will go to some other state, depriving Florida of a major transportation upgrade and thousands of jobs.
The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, and the Republican House majority killed several bills intended to bring relief to millions of families who are under-employed or unemployed. The Emergency Mortgage Relief Program would have helped homeowners with short-term federal loans to maintain their mortgages. It was quietly killed, along with other mortgage restructuring programs. President Barack Obama has threatened a veto but Republicans have vowed not to fund the programs.
Palm Beach County
Jorge Alvarenga, 48, of Lake Worth allegedly fired a handgun into a backyard fence during a confrontation with his daughter. He questioned the teenager about plans to meet up with a boyfriend, of whom he did not approve. When police arrived, Alvarenga denied having a gun or firing a shot, but police arrested him after finding a bullet hole in fence and spent casings on the ground. He was charged with aggravated child abuse and battery.
Riviera Beach police responded to a sexual assault call and they arrived to find Crystal Ivory behaving erratically. Ivory was handcuffed and placed into the back seat of a squad car. While officers gathered information, the handcuffed Ivory managed to get from the backseat and into the driver’s seat. She was able to drive off but was caught after a brief chase when she crashed the police car into a truck. Maybe it’s me, but something doesn’t add up with this.
FRANKEL TO CHALLENGE WEST
Outgoing West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, a Democrat, has announced plans to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West for his newly acquired congressional seat in 2012. Frankel served eight years as mayor and, before that, 14 years in the Florida House of Representatives. This will be her second run for Congress. Alcee Hasting defeated her in 1992.
Catrena Jones, 40, allegedly kidnapped her 7-year-old biological daughter during services at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach on Sunday. Police say Jones put a note in the prayer box asking that her family be reunited. In 2008, she relinquished custody and parental rights to her daughter’s father, Ricky Latson. The father then turned over his parental rights to another woman, Florence Williams, and custody of the child has since been in dispute. According to the police, Jones visited the church Sunday and told Williams she was the child’s aunt. She then somehow managed to slip away with the child in tow. When she was arrested about eight hours later, she had changed the child’s hairstyle and clothes, police said.
MURRAY, STEP DOWN
Broward County School Board Member Ann Murray used racial slurs about blacks while she was a transportation supervisor with the school district. An investigation confirmed that Murray made the comments. Superintendent Jim Notter did not take appropriate action and fire Murray, but he should have. Murray was since elected to the school board and her past has caught up with her. She now refuses to offer any apologies for the slurs. There are calls for her to resign. She doesn’t seem to grasp the depth of her actions and she should go.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti was appointed to the position in 2007 after his predecessor Ken Jenne was convicted of corruption. Lamberti vowed openness and full cooperation with media outlets and pledged to oversee an ethically run agency. Now, however, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is mired in numerous scandals. Southwest Ranches is preparing to sue the agency over a fire services dispute. Numerous deputies are the subjects of criminal investigations related to the agency’s off-duty work programs and other issues. Instead of being forthright, the sheriff’s office under Lamberti has become sullen and unprofessional, while refusing to answer questions. The issues continue to mount and it makes you wonder who is
advising the agency.
We Count and other community organizations protested outside the office of Florida State Sen. Anitere Flores in Miami this week. Organizers oppose pending illegal immigration legislation that mirrors Arizona’s controversial law. Flores chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and she introduced the bill that would give law enforcement agencies sweeping authority to investigate immigrants’ status. Protesters call the legislation racist and an invasion to privacy.
Former Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess will walk away with more than $500,000 after resigning following voters’ recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez last Tuesday. Burgess’ contract allows him to collect a full year's salary at $326,000, plus $160,000 in vacation and sick pay, as well as $40,000 in deferred compensation. This contract just proves voters did the right thing by recalling Alvarez, who was clearly out of touch.