South Florida

Florida Law Requires Stadiums to Shelter Homeless On Off Nights; Not A Single One Has Complied

AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA

(DEADSPIN)   As is the case in most cities with professional franchises, the buildings that host Florida’s professional sports teams have been built with the assistance of taxpayer contributions. It’s played off as a symbiotic relationship (new stadium means new jobs, more revenue coming in, etc.) but most of the time feels parasitic. Well, destitute Floridians know a thing or two about that.

Under a Florida law, franchises that have received public benefits from the state are required to open their stadium doors for the homeless on non-event nights. It should shock absolutely no one to learn that not a single franchise has ever done so over the last 20 years.

State law now requires that any professional sports facility built with state money must be used as a homeless shelter except when the facility is being used for a specific event or activity.

But none of the 17 football, baseball, basketball and hockey arenas that relied on state money for construction have ever been used to house the homeless, according to Sen. Mike Bennett, who’s filed a bill that could cost counties and professional sports franchises big-time.

In total, Florida taxpayers have contributed over $270 million to the various professional franchises that play in the state. Dolphin Stadium (now Sun Life Stadium) has been the biggest beneficiary of the taxpayer subsidy, having received approximately $37 million in funding. Lest the Dolphins take all the heat, the Marlins, who prior to this year have been co-tenants with the Dolphins since their inception in 1993, are also on the list.

All the professional teams, in fact, are well-represented with over $30 million in benefits received, except the Miami Heat. They only received $27 million.

Florida state Senator Mike Bennett has decried the failure to comply with the law as “yet another example of how taxpayers are supplementing the super rich owners of sports franchises while the taxpayers of Florida are receiving very little in return.” Not only are they “super rich” as far you know, Mr. Senator, they are most likely far more wealthy than they have led you to believe.

Sen. Bennett’s bill would require the teams and counties that have received benefits to either begin compliance, or refund the money. While the homeless in Florida shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for their free shelter, on nights like tonight, they should at least consider themselves lucky for being homeless in Florida and not, say, New York.

SOURCE

Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets

(WTSP)   A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).

While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create. The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.

Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million.

“Red light cameras are a for-profit business between cities and camera companies and the state,” said James Walker, executive director of the nonprofit National Motorists Association. “The (FDOT rule-change) was done, I believe, deliberately in order that more tickets would be given with yellows set deliberately too short.”

The National Motorists Association identifies itself as a grassroots group that’s been advocating for drivers since 1982. It fought the national 55 mph speed limit and is now campaigning against red light camera technology, contending the technology primarily targets safe drivers who are victims of short yellow lights or safely roll through right turns.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND SEE THE VIDEO HERE

Poll: 7 In 10 Back Florida Medical Marijuana Plan

(MIAMI HERALD)   As many as 7 in 10 Florida voters support a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana — more than enough to ensure passage and possibly affect the governor’s race — according to a new poll from a group trying to put the measure on the 2014 ballot. Medical pot’s sky-high approval cuts across party and demographic lines, with Republican support the lowest at a still-strong 56 percent, the poll conducted for People United for Medical Marijuana, or PUFMM, shows. The outsized support of Democrats and independents brings overall backing of the amendment to 70 percent; with only 24 percent opposed, according to the poll obtained by The Miami Herald. Regionally, voters from the Miami and Orlando areas want medical marijuana the most.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Tolls On Two Expressways Could Go All Electronic In 2014

(CBSMiami)   Your SunPass will be working extra hard in 2014, if a plan to increase tolls on the Dolphin and Airport expressways goes through.

The plan would affect drivers on the two east-west highways, which link Interstate 95 to the airport. It is being proposed by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, the agency that runs five county toll roads, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

That means drivers from Broward and Palm Beach counties who head to Miami International Airport or Marlins Park could pay more to get there.

The tolls would take effect in the summer of 2014, and then be indexed to inflation annually.

The plan aims to add tolls in new locations and eliminate toll booths on both roads by collecting tolls electronically.

The extra revenue would help fund more than $400 million in construction, including a new congestion-busting direct ramp to I-95 from Northwest 12th Avenue.

It would relieve a huge bottleneck that occurs as commuters who work in the Civic Center area pour onto the eastbound Dolphin, then have to merge across three lanes to make the current left-hand ramp to northbound I-95.

Other improvements include adding lanes to the Dolphin between Northwest 57th and 17th avenues, eliminating the left-hand exits at LeJeune Road. Construction would begin in 2015 and take about two years to complete.

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/02/01/tolls-on-two-expressways-could-go-all-electronic-in-2014/

 

Myron’s Big (House) Adventure

(Stephanie Kienzle)   Now that I’ve had time to finish my lunch (I was a good girl, I ended up eating the salad instead of chocolate), I had time to really review the press release about Myron Rosner’s arrest. There are a few interesting things I want to point out.

The presser states, “In one instance, personal advertising messages were paid for from funds donated to the Myron Rosner Campaign Account which constitutes felony Grand Theft from the campaign account.” Turns out that had something to do with Myron’s freaking pre-campaign fake Happy Holiday bus benches that littered the North Miami Beach landscape from November, 2011 through January, 2012 and drove me absolutely CRAZY!

These are the very same fake Happy Holiday benches that miraculously turned into campaign bus benches on or about February 1, 2012 at the official start of campaign season. I had been trying to find out how Myron paid for those fake Happy Holiday bus bench ads, but had no luck. I simply assumed that he paid for them out of his own pocket since the signs sported a disclaimer that said, “Independent expenditure not paid with City Funds.” What I didn’t know, and what reporter David Ovalle wrote in his updated Miami Herald article Former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner arrested, was that Myron “paid $450 to R&D [Printing] from his campaign account” for that advertising, hence the FELONY GRAND THEFT charge. NICE WORK, GUYS!

But, wait! There’s MORE!

Read more: http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=6367

Former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner Charged With Grand Theft

(MIAMI NEW TIMES)   During Myron Rosner’s tumultuous reign as mayor of North Miami Beach, he weathered accusations that he retaliated against a local blogger, broke ethics rules, bent city regulations to work on his house, and violated campaign finance laws.

Now that he’s out of office, Rosner’s luck is up. Prosecutors charged him today with four felonies and five misdemeanors over allegations filed by local blogger Stephanie Kienzle that he misspent campaign money and took free advertising on bus benches.

Rosner’s attorney, Ben Kuehne, hasn’t returned a call and an email from Riptide to comment on the charges; we’ll update the post if we hear back.

Rosner’s troubles go back to a complaint filed with the Florida Elections Commission by blogger Kienzle, who alleged the former mayor failed to report the cost of dozens of bus bench ads he placed around North Miami Beach.
The ex-mayor also took free advertising from the same company “so the company would avoid losing the city bus bench contract,” prosecutors say in a release.
“I knew from day one there was something really fishy with those signs,” Kienzle says. “I became obsessed with those freaking benches. I was seeing them in my sleep. But I just knew he’d done something wrong.”
Rosner now faces a litany of charges: two felony counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior; felony counts of grand theft and worthless check; and misdemeanor counts of illegal campaign expenditures, false expenditure reports, illegal contributions, knowledge of unlawful campaign reporting and insufficient funds in a campaign account.
Though Kienzle and Rosner clashed repeatedly over her writing at votersopinion.org — including the mayor sending code enforcement to her house after a particularly scathing post — the blogger says her campaign wasn’t personal.
“I cannot stand corruption in government,” she says. “It’s a personal pet peeve of mine. I am so sick of corrupt politicians in this town.”

Andre Pierre’s Last Stand?

(Stephanie Kienzle)   Are handcuffs in North Miami mayor Andre Pierre’s future? We can only hope.

As Miami Herald reporter Nadege Green just published, North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre’s bus bench ads prompt investigation, Hizzoner is under the microscope for allegedly committing the same crimes that earned North Miami Beach EX-mayor Myron Rosner a trip to the Miami-Dade County Jail. Perhaps Andre will soon star in his own production similar to Myron’s Big (House) Adventure. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Actually, Andre even topped Myron in the Chutzpah Department. In addition to putting up pre-campaign, fake Happy Holidays bus benches and perhaps also bullying the same vendor into giving him the campaign bus ads at a deep, um, discount, Le Roi de North Miami also managed to obtain a huge “billboard ad that was erected on top of the City Inn Hotel…on the east side of Interstate 95″ near NW 61st Street. According to the Herald, the owners of the billboard (“the Burstyn family”) also own commercial property in North Miami, as well as manage a piece of property on which North Miami holds a second mortgage. Sweet! Pierre only reported paying an in-kind donation of $500.00 for the billboard ad.

Read more at: http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=6620

Stand Your Ground ruling upheld for man who confronted FPL workers

(MIAMI HERALD)   An appeals court Thursday agreed with the dismissal of criminal charges against a Miami-Dade County man who relied on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law after a confrontation with two Florida Power & Light workers on his property.

Ernesto C. Vino was sleeping in his mobile home on March 9, 2009, when two FPL workers used a ladder to climb over his fence because of unpaid electricity bills by Vino and a neighbor. The workers were supposed to try to collect money from the customers or turn off their power.

Vino, who had been a previous victim of crimes in his home, grabbed a rifle and went outside after being awakened by barking dogs. He confronted the workers with the gun and, though accounts differed, shot into the air as they left the property, according to a Circuit Court judge’s findings.

Prosecutors charged Vino with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, improper exhibition of a firearm and unlawful discharge of a firearm in public.

But Vino said his actions were justified by the Stand Your Ground law, which says people have a right to meet “force with force” if they reasonably believe such steps are necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm or to prevent a felony from being committed.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami on Thursday upheld a decision by Circuit Judge John W. Thornton, Jr., who found that the charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and improper exhibition of a firearm should be dismissed because of the Stand Your Ground law.

Also, however, the appeals court agreed with Thornton that Vino could be prosecuted on the charge of unlawfully discharging a firearm — because he shot the gun after learning the men worked for FPL and were not a threat.

The ruling noted that FPL has the legal right to enter customers’ property to do such things as cut off electricity, and said the utility filed a brief in the case.

It said FPL’s brief “expresses concern over the special burden this [Stand Your Ground] law places on its more than 3,000 field employees in the state for whom unlawful customer resistance in the field is a constant hazard. FPL has strict protocols concerning when and how it exercises its statutory privilege to enter onto customer property.”

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has become highly controversial during the past year because of a Seminole County incident in which neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot teen Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has claimed the Stand Your Ground defense.

The Martin shooting led to the creation of a state commission that has been studying the law.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/27/3024271/stand-your-ground-ruling-upheld.html

 

A Special Kind of Stupid

(Stephanie Kienzle)   Myron Rosner is in love with Stephanie Kienzle. Or, should I say, “Myron Rosner is OBSESSED with Stephanie Kienzle?” Either way, the very idea that he is so consumed with my existence is disturbing.  On so many levels. I always knew former North Miami Beach mayor Myron Rosner was a stalker, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  He’s known for driving around town, sneaking through alleys and taking random pictures of people and their back yards.  He is beyond creepy.

His creepiness continues…

As he threatened at the last city council meeting, his website is finally up and running.  Sort of.  It appears to be a site totally devoted to himself and how everyone in the City of North Miami Beach done him wrong.

Read more at:  http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=5654

We don’t need no stinkin’ sunshine Part Deux

(Stephanie Kienzle)   As much as I complain about North Miami Beach, at least we don’t cater to “special interest groups” like North Miami does.  Not anymore anyway.  When Myron Rosner was still the mayor, every person who came before the council with his hand out walked away with a “donation” of some sort.

For example, during the two fiscal years ending September 30, 2009 and September 30, 2010, the city gave in excess of $37,000.00 each year to Panzou Project, Inc., an organization dedicated to stopping Haitian gangs.  As I reported in La Maison de Pierre, two “non-profit” organizations, Center for Family Empowerment, Inc. and Social Harmony Foundation, Inc., both registered at the same address, received $10,000.00 and $4,000.00, respectively, from the North Miami Beach Police Department’s forfeiture fund known as LETF.  Both organizations are run by minorities with “special,” i.e., Haitian, interests.  Let’s also not forget the six digit price of several “multi” cultural festivals held during Myron’s tenure that were, for all intents and purposes, targeted for one specific culture.

Even though Haitians represent less than 20% of North Miami Beach’s population, they make up a large enough voting block for politicians to consider them an important “special interest.”  Myron knew that and pandered away.  He took advantage of this pandering during campaign time when he expected pay back in the form of campaign assistance, donations and, of course, votes.  Especially “absentee” ballots, of which Myron managed to get his hands on by any means necessary.

Once Myron was booted out of office, that vote buying scheme came to a screeching halt.  Much to the dismay of organizations such as Actions for Better Future, I might add.  Oh, darn.

Read more at:  http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=5581

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