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5 posts from January 4, 2013

January 04, 2013

Critics, supporters weigh in on red-light camera report

After the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that accidents were down at intersections with red-light cameras, the Florida League of Cities and State Rep. Daphne Cambell, D-Miami, offered their opposing views.

The report emphasizes that traffic accidents are down at intersections with red lights. But it also states that crashes have decreased overall.

The study does not detail the extent to which accidents have decreased at intersections with or without the red-light cameras.

Here is the statement from the League of Cities.

Continue reading "Critics, supporters weigh in on red-light camera report" »

South Florida lawmakers bring back congressional 'Everglades Caucus'

For all the partisan bickering that cripples Congress these days, there is one thing that Florida lawmakers have generally been able to agree on: the need to restore the Everglades.

With a new congressional class coming in, two South Florida representatives — Miami Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Miramar Democrat Alcee Hastings — announced they are reintroducing the “Everglades Caucus” in the U.S. House. The goal is educate members and staffers about the Everglades and, of course, foster support for the projects and money still needed to complete the $12.4 billion restoration effort.

In a joint announcement, Diaz-Balart and Hastings said they would co-chair the caucus.

“The Everglades is one of the true ecological wonders of the world, and we must do everything we can to keep it thriving and healthy,” Diaz-Balart said. “We will work together with other members of Congress to support restoration efforts of this unique ecosystem.”

Hastings called the Everglades “a national treasure that provides Floridians with clean drinking water, and is home to many endangered and unique species. It makes up a large portion of my Congressional district, and therefore I am acutely aware of the vital need for its restoration.”


Democratic legislator files bill to end death penalty

Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, has filed a bill that would end the death penalty in Florida, saying there are better and more cost effective ways to prevent crime. She advocates for more sentences of life without parole, saying this option is less costly than executions. Rehwinkel Vasilinda also argues that executions aren't effective in preventing future murders.

From the news release announcing the filing of HB 4005:

The recent tragedies of Sandy Hook and Webster, NY have resulted in an urgent cry for improved methods and additional resources to prevent such heinous crimes. For neither of the perpetrators of the these horrible murders would the death penalty have been an effective deterrent as both predators killed themselves. The Florida Legislature will be working to find more effective ways to use all our resources  to prevent similar crimes. In fact, Florida schools are asking for two hundred million dollars to provide armed resource officers at every school

"The appropriate question for state government is how do we keep people safe from crime in the most cost effective way? When you analyze the numbers, state sponsored execution is not the correct answer," says Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

Executions are carried out at staggering cost to taxpayers.  In its 2000 report, “The High Price of Killing Killers,” the Palm Beach Post found that Florida spent approximately $51 million each year to enforce the death penalty.

Continue reading "Democratic legislator files bill to end death penalty" »

Fact-checking Marco Rubio's fiscal cliff claim about Social Security

The fiscal cliff negotiations are now over, but while they were happening, there were lots of accusations and finger-pointing.

President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans finally struck a deal early in the morning on New Year’s Day to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, with senators voting 89-8 in favor. But a much-talked about Florida senator with presidential aspirations voted no: Marco Rubio.

Amid home stretch negotiations, Rubio took to the online messaging service Twitter to tell people what was happening. On the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 30, he tweeted: "Report that #GOP insisting on changes to Social Security as part of #fiscalcliff false. BTW those changes are supported by @barackobama."

The next day, liberal columnist Paul Krugman said Rubio lied about the negotiations, and that "numerous reports tell us that McConnell did in fact make precisely that demand," referring to the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Krugman concluded that Rubio’s words revealed that a "grand bargain" between the two parties just won’t work: "You can’t make big deals with a totally untrustworthy negotiating partner," he said.

PolitiFact decided to sort out the controversy by investigating Rubio’s claim that the GOP did not insist on changes to Social Security as part of the fiscal cliff, and whether Obama actually supported those changes.

Alex Sink posts about late husband Bill McBride, thanks supporters

Alex Sink just posted a message on her Facebook page thanking the people who have offered words of comfort and sympathy in the two weeks following the death of her husband, Bill McBride. The 67-year-old former gubernatorial candidate died of a heart attack on Dec. 22 and was funeralized last week.

Sink's post today is the first time she updated her Facebook page since the death of her husband. Here is what she wrote:

Dear friends:
You have comforted and inspired me and our children by your support, love and prayers, and by your touching, heart-felt tributes to Bill, which continue to pour in, even now, nearly two weeks after his passing.
My daughter, Lexi, my son, Bert, and I, can’t thank you enough.
The remembrances and testimonials, coming from those of you who knew Bill well, less well, or from those of you who knew him simply by reading or hearing about him, are uplifting.
You noted how Bill’s life’s work was about helping others, and to make the world a better place for those struggling or less fortunate.
At the memorial service last week in Tampa, Bert also spoke of the invaluable lessons Bill bestowed on him about making the world a better place. And Lexi spoke so movingly about how Bill was such a devoted and wonderful father and family man.
In the media, in your calls, cards, emails and messages, either here on Facebook or elsewhere, we heard you talk about how “Bill believed that public service was a higher calling;” of “the selflessness he bestowed on friends and strangers alike, his cherished Florida and the causes that needed him;” and how Bill “wasn’t looking down party lines; he was looking at people and what they believed in and stood for and if they, too, believed in making Florida better.”
We heard you describe Bill as “always willing to listen, find a solution and help others … strong and courageous, gentle and compassionate.” We heard you talk about how “Bill's light shines bright today through those of us who were fortunate enough to know him.”
I will always recall, as will many other people who knew Bill, the words he almost always used to end his conversations … and Bill always meant them: “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Your words paint a loving picture of my husband, Bill McBride, and a wonderful legacy.
Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my heart.