pres-barack-obama_web.jpgSICK POLITICS
The debate over President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan is underway.  Those who support it, and those who are opposed to the re-tooling of the American healthcare system, are holding rallies and town hall meetings around the country.  But instead of having meaningful debate and candid discussion, some organized groups are turning these meetings into chaotic yelling matches.  On any given day, you can go to any clinic and see waiting rooms full of people. Sometimes, there are even lines where people wait for hours to get medical attention or for their children to see a doctor.  Healthcare is a critical issue, and regardless of one’s view, something must be done.  It is a disgrace for the organized yahoos to disrupt, instead of debate, at these meetings. It is an example of what ails American politics, and it’s sickening.
Gov. Charlie Crist will soon make one of the biggest decisions of his political career –appointing someone to complete the term of retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.  Crist is running for the seat himself, and whomever he selects will be the incumbent.  That person may not want to give up the coveted position.  That could mean Crist would be running against the person he thought was the best choice for the job.  Expect a surprise.

Florida Power and Light (FPL) wants to increase its rates by $1 billion in 2010 and another $1 billion in 2011, but the company is refusing to release details about its executives’ salaries and bonuses.  Refusing to release the information may be a violation of state law, according to some members of the Public Service Commission, which regulates and must approve any rate increases.  Nancy Argenziano, who sits on the Public Service Commission, is questioning FPL’s refusal to release the information, and this is good.  According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, FPL Group Chairman Lew Hay makes $11.5 million annually, and FPL President Armando Olivera pulls down $3.6 million a year.  In its most recent filing, FPL reported net profits of $370 million during the second quarter of this year, which is a 77-percent increase over the $209 million the company reported during that same period a year ago.  FPL should be forced to give rebates, reduce its rates, and not get a cent more.  While this electrical shakedown looms, there is a power failure at the top, in political circles. Where is the “people’s” Gov. Charlie Crist, and where is Sen. Bill Nelson on this mess?

Broward County

When citizens in Deerfield Beach are upset about trash not being picked up, when they question a water bill, or inquire about the goings on at city hall, many will fire off an email to the mayor and commissioners.  It’s their civic right, but be aware that in Deerfield, these emails are screened by several departments prior to reaching representatives.  At the city’s website, residents can no longer send emails directly to commissioners; instead they all go to the same generic email address:  The site is monitored by the city manager’s office and city clerk’s office.  City Manager Mike Mahaney did not respond to emails about this change, why it was implemented, or whether residents should be informed about exactly who reads the emails they send to their commissioners.

According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, robbery was the motive in the murder of Tikkitress “Tikki” Johnson, 39, of Lauderhill, whose body was found inside on the floor of the Taco Bell restaurant at 593 E. Oakland Park Blvd., where she was the manager.  She had worked there for nearly 20 years. Co-workers found her body when they arrived at work on Monday, Aug. 10.  There are several leads in the case, but no one has been apprehended.  This is so sad, and let’s hope BSO catches those responsible for it.  Anyone with information about this murder is urged to call Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.

There’s trouble in the land! Six church members, including Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, the daughter of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church founder D. James Kennedy, have been ousted from and ordered not to set foot on the church premises.   They were campaigning to have the man who succeeded Kennedy, the church’s late senior pastor, step down or be removed.  The Rev. W. Tullian Tchividjian, a 37-year-old who is also the grandson of evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, now heads the church.  The congregation voted him in on March 15, 2009.  He then merged his old church, New City Church, which was located in Margate, with Coral Ridge.  Kennedy passed away in September 2007.

Miami-Dade County

Marcelo Matus, 34, was arrested on Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Aventura Mall. He was charged with video voyeurism, a misdemeanor that could bring up to a year in jail.  Customers allege they spotted Matus using a cell phone to record images under the skirts of unsuspecting women while they were in fitting rooms at Bloomingdale’s.  Police seized his cell phone and store surveillance video.  The practice is called “up skirting,” and the videos are posted on Internet sites.  A law passed in 2004 makes the practice a crime.

On Saturday, Aug. 8, Opa-locka police charged Stanley Raphael, 16, with one count of manslaughter for allegedly shooting and killing 18-year-old Caesar Romero Ervin Jr. The incident happened at a town house in the 14000 block of Northwest 17th Ave.  Ervin was shot one time in the head with an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle.

Palm Beach County

In a ratification pushed by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the 302 members of the West Palm Beach Police Department voted Aug. 7 to support a merger with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.  City commissioners must still approve any merger, and none have expressed a position on it.  Like other municipalities, West Palm Beach has budget shortfalls, and union officials believe a merger would save $5 million annually.

Delray Beach is in dire financial straights, and cuts are on the way. City Manager David Harden has informed commissioners and employees that his budget calls for freezing 13 vacant positions, laying off 39 full-time workers and 20 part-time employees.  Delray Beach faces a $10.4 million revenue shortfall, and Harden’s budget is a worst-case scenario, according to Commissioner Fred Fetzer.  The plan would also cut funding to the Martin Luther King Day events, the Spady Museum and numerous programs.

On Monday, Aug. 10, Stacy Ramsey, 24, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after she admitted stabbing her husband, Michael Ramsey, 28, in the shoulder and leg. The stabbing happened as the New Orleans couple walked near the intersection of Belvedere and Haverhill roads in West Palm Beach, where they fought over $1,250 she said belonged to her, and didn’t want her husband to spend.

Photo: President Barack Obama