Enjoy your not so funny ha-ha moment of the day.
State rep Martin Kiar--who this blog supported (My Friendly Martin Kiar FL-97, 8/16/2006) in his run against the Ron-Book-endorsed then state rep Susan Goldstein (R-Weston)--found it distasteful to share the Broward County task force with a citizen impacted by the very restrictions his predecessor failed to institute through her proposed HB91.
Meet the person Kiar was none too anxious to meet.
Paul H., who asked that his last name not be published (''I've caused my family enough problems,'') was swept up in an Internet sting in 2007 in Polk County by a policeman posing as an underage girl. It was a first criminal offense for Paul, then 21, and his no-contest plea got him four years of house arrest, 11 years of probation.
He found a job, despite the electronic ankle bracelet. With his family's help, he purchased a house in unincorporated Broward County. But he worries that if the county adopts the meanest restrictions, he faces the prospect of house arrest without a house.
''I made one mistake. I didn't realize when I took the plea deal that I was getting a life sentence,'' he said. ``I didn't know I could be living under a bridge.''
As the task force has since met, Martin Kiar was forced to Face His Fear and come face to face with the human face of those impacted by residency restrictions. Ron Book's now infamous daughter, Lauren Book-Lin also managed to book (no pun intended) a reservation at the same table with a guest she'd prefer to depict as a monster.
From Broward Beat.com Buddy Nevins:
Miami columnist Fred Grimm said it best. The state will have to straighten out this whole mess.
Martin Kiar is pissed.
The youthful state representative is upset about one member of a newly-formed county commission task force – a registered sex offender.
The offender is part of a task force that will make recommendations about laws governing where sex offenders can live.
“I get concerned when sexual predators are put on county boards,” Kiar says.
Apparently Kiar is not alone.
A number of lawmakers in Tallahassee shook their heads in disbelief when they learned Broward County would appoint a registered sex offender to a board.
They chalked it up to more Broward County liberal foolishness.
The task force will contain one sex offender, two cops, home owners association and American Civil Liberties Union representatives, two members of the Broward League of Cities and representatives of a college and the state Department of Corrections.
The victim’s representative is Lauren Book-Lim. She’s lobbyist Ron Book’s daughter.
Book-Lin was molested by her nanny in a widely publicized case several years ago. She now runs Lauren’s Kids, an advocacy group for molested youths.
Information about Lauren’s Kids is here.
I personally don’t agree with Kiar.
Some of the people labeled sex offenders are not a wild-eyed predators that Kiar and everybody else rightfully fears. Those offenders should be controlled.
But others are stigmatized for life because of youthful indiscretions, usually made when they are drunk.
They get caught for urinating in public or being in an Internet sex chat rooms. Somewhat victimless crimes.
The offender appointed to the task force appeared at the commission meeting.
He said he had recovered. His victim appeared with him, according to Mayor Stacy Ritter.
Do people like this – who paid their debt to society — deserve input into laws governing their life?
“They are people too,” says Ritter.
It's just too bad this discussion came after the fact.
Our thanks to Paul and his involvement on the behalf of so many Floridians.
The task force charged by the Broward County Commission with finding a way out of the conundrum created by sex offender residency restrictions has listened to experts, crunched numbers and discussed a dismaying array of unintended consequences.
By its second meeting on Tuesday, none of the task force members were defending the notion that draconian restrictions actually protected children from sex offenders.
They discussed better solutions than laws that forced registered sex offenders into homelessness; that left parole officers with no alternative but to send them to live under a highway bridge; that encouraged sex offenders to cluster in neighborhoods with less restrictive ordinances.
They talked about the documented failure of these laws in other states.
They talked about laws, instead, that would keep sex offenders from loitering around places where children congregate. They talked about re-zoning industrial areas to allow sex offender housing.
They talked about restrictions that fail to distinguish between less dangerous offenders and sexual predators.
They pushed beyond the emotional stuff and dug for what made sense.
It was the kind of thoughtful examination needed to sort out a complicated and volatile problem.
Except, it comes too late. Most of South Florida's cities (and Miami-Dade County) have already passed 2,500-foot restrictions around schools, parks, day care centers, even school bus stops. The County Commission holds sway over less than three square miles of unincorporated Broward.
As for Martin Kiar?
We at Smashed Frog are keeping an eye on your continuing education.