Friday, April 06, 2012
Saturday, September 10, 2011
As together we approach the tenth anniversary of the attack on our country, the loss of those who lives ended on 9/11/2001 is no less heartbreaking.
As a participant in the 2996 project, I was assigned the privilege of memorializing Brian D. Sweeney, a passenger on United Flight 175.
Of Viking Heart was written in tribute to a man I never met but came to know only by his passing, through the voices of his friends and family.
Today, I will think of those he left behind much too soon and their loss that never ends.
And I'll think of Brian, 38, who claimed to be part Viking and part Leonardo da Vinci.
Others remember Brian here.
We will never forget.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Will this ever end?
Residents of a gated community in southwest Orange County are voting on whether to prevent registered sex offenders from living there — a move that attorneys are calling highly unusual.
The new homeowners-association rule would bar offenders from living in Keene's Pointe, a community of about 1,000 single-family homes just south of Windermere.(...)
The proposed rule would prevent a sex offender from living within 2,500 feet of a playground or a school bus stop — limits that would keep offenders out of the entire community. The rule would not keep offenders from owning property in Keene's Pointe, however. It would not be retroactive and would apply only to future property transactions.
The new rule would be "very rare" for homeowner associations, said Tara Lyn Barrett, who specializes in community association law for the Orlando firm Brown, Garganese, Weiss & D'Agresta.
In most cases, residency rules for sex offenders are "regulated enough by state and local ordinances," Barrett said. "We represent about 60 associations, and not one of our convenants says anything in regard to that."
Blackwell said the idea came about when residents discovered that a sex offender was living in the community, even though no incidents took place.
"There are a lot of children in Keene's Pointe — a lot of playgrounds and bus stops," he said.(...)
A Third District Court of Appeal ruling in May 2010 found that a Miami-Dade County ordinance prohibiting offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school was "not invalidated by Florida law and therefore remains in full force and effect."
"The Legislature has not clearly pre-empted local regulation of the field of the post-conviction conduct of sexual predators," the ruling stated.
Results of the vote are expected November 17.
Read more here.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
A Delaware criminal case presently before the courts may define what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The American Civil Liberties Union this week filed a brief in Delaware v. Michael D. Holden, urging the state justices to uphold a lower court ruling that essentially bars police from using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to track people without a court-approved warrant.
Holden, 28, of Newark, was suspected of dealing drugs and was electronically tracked for more than 20 days by police without a warrant, ending with his arrest after police discovered 10 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle after he visited a suspected drug distribution house. The judge in the case tossed out the drug evidence, ruling that the lengthy warrantless tracking of Holden amounted to an illegal search.
With GPS devices in nearly all cellphones and in many cars and with the popularity of online applications with which users broadcast their locations to others in real time, Letang and others said the definition of what is private and what is public may have shifted. They also believe the permission that consumers have to give companies such as Apple and Google to use their equipment makes GPS tracking more common and potentially available to police if they subpoena those companies."It is tough to carve out an expectation of privacy when everyone else knows where you are," Letang said.
A comment by Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden back in December sums up what many civil rights libertarians have predicted for years: "The advance of technology will continue ad infinitum. ... An Orwellian state is now technologically feasible. Without adequate judicial preservation of privacy, there is nothing to protect our citizens from being tracked 24/7."
The case may make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, dependent on if the ruling is limited to the Delaware state constitution.
Read details of the case here.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Legislative fiscal responsibility need not apply to the Book family.
It pays to be the daughter of a super lobbyist, but things can get complicated.
In the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers amended a bill to protect children from sexual abuse that gave $1.5 million to Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit run by the daughter of Ron Book, the Tallahassee uber-lobbyist from Miami.
The problem is, according to all accounts, neither of the Books asked for the money. The bill, HB 215, says the money must be used to finance a 24-hour abuse hotline and pay for sexual abuse prevention education in schools — programs already offered by Lauren's Kids without state funding.
The money the Books did ask for but did not receive: $3 million to finance the cost of relocating victims of sexual assault who are too threatened to remain at home. Instead, the late-session allocation was tacked onto a bill victim advocates had worked on all year. Among other things, the bill limits a defendant's access to child pornography evidence, allows the admission of prior sexual crimes as evidence and ensures the HIV testing of sex offenders.
If anyone knows who came up with the idea of steering the money to Book's hotline and community awareness program in a year when $3.8 billion was being slashed from the budget, they are not saying. Nor is anyone claiming credit.
Friday, February 25, 2011
When one of the very few good Florida policies go south...and fast.
The St. Petersburg Times, 2/25/2011:
"I don't believe that any felon should have an automatic restoration of rights," said Bondi, a former Tampa prosecutor elected in November. "I believe you should have to ask, and there should be an appropriate waiting period."
Bondi's proposal, set to be formally discussed at a March 9 Cabinet meeting, would reverse a major change that took place in April 2007 at the urging of former Gov. Charlie Crist, who said the civil rights restoration process in Florida was too cumbersome and cruel to many ex-offenders.
Bondi outlined her proposal abruptly at the end of the first meeting of a revamped Board of Clemency, at which officials showed a general reluctance to grant pardons or civil rights restorations, even in cases in which the Parole Commission staff recommended they be granted.
In more than a dozen cases, Scott said: "I deny the application." He said later: "The decisions today were very difficult to make."
Poor baby. Being governor is sooo hard.
According to one commenter to the St. Pete post, what Bondi suggests hurls the state back to a policy that dates back to just after the Civil War.
More than 100,000 Florida applicants await review of clemency applications.
Bondi's recommendation appears to be what those in the private sector would call an immediate reducer of the workload. It's backward, narrow and unfair and would likely be overturned in federal court.
(Here's an idea. Wouldn't it be just as timely to automatically restore civil rights as allowable by law? (Read more about who can make application here).
All this prehistoric nonsense from a woman who tied up the court system in attempt to hang on to a dog that was rightfully owned by a couple of Louisiana kids.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Wait long enough and what goes around, will eventually come around.
As reported in an exclusive by The Daily Pulp, the FBI is focused on lobbyist Ron Book.
In Broward and Tallahassee politics, influence peddling comes in countless forms. Here's one currently under investigation by the federal government:
A powerful lobbyist, seeking to curry favor with a state senator and benefit a major client, helps to secure the senator's boyfriend a job at the development firm the lobbyist represents. The boyfriend also happens to be a Housing Authority honcho who goes on to oversee two new multimillion-dollar publicly financed projects with the very developer who hired him.This is one scenario that sources say the FBI is currently investigating as part of a major probe that involves recently convicted GOP fundraiser and lobbyist Alan Mendelsohn, who had deep ties to numerous politicians, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Senate President Ken Pruitt, embattled Congressman David Rivera, and state Sen. Eleanor Sobel. The same federal investigation also involves several figures from the massive Mutual Benefits Corp. Ponzi scheme, including MBC fraudster Joel Steinger, who is awaiting trial on federal charges himself.
Here are the players in the scenario:
The lobbyist: Ron Book, who represents a host of governments, including Broward County, and private clients, including the Miami Dolphins, as perhaps the most powerful lobbyist in Florida.The senator: Muriel "Mandy" Dawson, a controversial Democratic legislator who was term-limited from office in 2008. She has longstanding close ties to Book and was implicated in federal court records with having received $87,000 in secret payments from Mendelsohn through her former Senate aide, Veronica Blakely.
The boyfriend: Scott Strawbridge, director of development and facilities at the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority. Strawbridge began dating Dawson in 2006, and they have since broken up.
The firm: Miami-based Carlisle Development Group, which built the $16 million Housing Authority project at Dixie Court and is slated to demolish and redevelop Dr. Kennedy Homes, the historic public housing development on the south side of Broward Boulevard. That project calls for another $21 million in federal funds. Heading Carlisle is Lloyd Boggio, the former principal of the Cornerstone Group, another major player in the government-subsidized affordable housing industry.
Check out the Book denial over at Bob Norman's blog here.
This Frog is not surprised by the above intermingle. As many who frequent this blog well know, Ron Book utilized his lobbyist ties as the steamroll to legislate residency restrictions for those persons designated as sex offenders by the state of Florida, going as far to use his position of Chairman of the Miami Dade Homeless Trust to segregate persons so classified to live beneath the span of the Julia Tuttle Causeway--a scenario which by any other demographic, let's say restricting the mentally ill to live as legal ordinance would indicate--would have prove a huge conflict of interest by anyone actually paying attention.
As an aside, The Miami Herald ran a story Friday, 2/11, tying Book to what would appear to ordinary mortals as yet another obvious conflict--his hiring by a developer to lobby the city he already contracts as a lobbyist.
A letter from City Attorney Lynn Whitfield to Book notes that his lobbyist agreement with the city “specifically states that you avoid any representation or relation which would create a conflict of interest.”
Book did not return calls for comment. Whitfield’s letter says Book’s relationship with Biscayne Landing developers “constitutes a direct conflict of interest” and “can be considered a breach of your contract with the City.”
No where to run to, baby.
No where to hide.