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7 posts from July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013

Traffic camera records red-light runner crashing into car carrying Miami-Dade mayor's son (w/ video)


One of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's adult sons, Carlos J. Gimenez, was traveling in a car in the wee hours Thursday morning that was hit by a driver who ran a red light.

The crash was caught by the city of Miami's traffic cameras facing northbound and southbound at the intersection of West Flagler Street and LeJeune Road. The controversial cameras have been in the news recently as city commissioners debate whether to create a special board to hear ticket appeals.

They have also become a political issue in the mayoral campaign between incumbent Tomás Regalado, who supports the cameras, and Commissioner Francis Suarez, who opposes them. Regalado's supporters quickly disseminated video of the accident involving the younger Gimenez.

Miami has temporarily suspended the issuance of red-light tickets, pending the commission's decision. But the cameras are still on -- and they captured footage of the accident. As it happens, Carlos J. Gimenez for years lobbied on behalf of American Traffic Solutions, the company that runs Miami's cameras. He stopped representing them in February.

"Working for them all those years, I've seen a million of those videos," Gimenez said. "But living through it was a totally different experience."

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SEC charges city of Miami, former budget director with civil securities fraud

@PatriciaMazzei @jayhweaver

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged the city of Miami and its former budget director with civil securities fraud for engaging in questionable budget transfers that misled bond investors.

The SEC’s enforcement action also charged the city with violating an existing cease-and-desist order entered in 2003 based on “similar misconduct.’’ The agency said it’s the first time the SEC has alleged further wrongdoing by a municipality already under an existing cease-and-desist order.

The charges, filed in federal court in Miami, allege that the city and former Budget Director Michael Boudreaux “made materially false and misleading statements and omissions” about internal fund transfers leading up to three 2009 bond offerings totaling $153.5 million. They also are accused of including “false and misleading” information in the city’s 2007 and 2008 financial statements distributed to bond investors.

The investigation, which began in 2009 after a Miami Herald report, revealed that Boudreaux transferred $37.5 million from the capital budget that pays for big-ticket construction items into the general fund to reduce gaping holes in the operating budget as the local economy soured. At the time, he justified the transfers by saying the projects were no longer necessary.

More here.

Trayvon Martin's parents: "President's comments give us greath strength"

The statement from Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin:


New York, NY – July 19, 2013: We are deeply honored and moved that President Obama took the time to speak publicly and at length about our son, Trayvon. The President’s comments give us great strength at this time. We are thankful for President Obama’s and Michelle’s prayers, and we ask for your prayers as well as we continue to move forward.
We know that the death of our son Trayvon, the trial and the not guilty verdict have been deeply painful and difficult for many people. We know our family has become a conduit for people to talk about race in America and to try and talk about the difficult issues that we need to bring into the light in order to become a better people.
What touches people is that our son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, could have been their son. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy. 
Trayvon’s life was cut short, but we hope that his legacy will make our communities a better place for generations to come. We applaud the President’s call to action to bring communities together to encourage an open and difficult dialogue. Our family is committed to this dialogue through the work of the Trayvon Martin Foundation. 
We seek a future when a child can walk down the street and not worry that others see him as dangerous because of the color of his skin or the clothes on his back. We seek a future where our children can grow up and become the people God intended them to be.


Dream Defenders gain allies as it continues to gather at Capitol

Dream Defenders, a statewide group of college students and young professionals that met Thursday night with Gov. Rick Scott, won’t be abandoned as they continue to push for a special session to end racial profiling, said Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP during a Friday rally at the Capitol.

“As this movement progresses, we call on all our allies in the state to join us,” said Obi Nweze, naming local ministers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Service Employee International Union. “We’re going to show leadership to our youth and show them how it’s done.”

Flanked on the steps of the old Capitol by Phillip Agnew, director of Dream Defenders, and lawmakers Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, Nweze said those seeking changes to the state’s racial profiling wouldn’t leave until Scott approves a special session.

After meeting with Agnew and six other leaders of Dream Defenders, Scott said he wouldn’t call a special session and voiced support for the state’s “stand-your-ground” law. Many blame that law with creating a mindset that made the shooting death of Trayvon Martin possible.


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President Obama talks Trayvon, says country needs to do "some soul searching"

From the AP's Julie Pace at the White House ...

Looking for positive lessons to draw from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama said Friday the nation needs to do some "soul-searching," look for ways to bolster African-American boys and examine state and local laws to see if they encourage confrontations like the tragedy in Florida.

"Where do we take this?" Obama wondered aloud in an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room. "How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?"

The president said it's time "for all of us to some soul searching," but he also said it's generally not productive when politicians try to orchestrate a conversation.

On the positive side, he said race relations in the United States actually are getting better Looking at his own daughters and their interactions with friends, the president said, "They're better than we are. They're better than we were."

The president declined to wade into the detail of legal questions about the Florida case, saying, "Once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."

But he said state and local laws, such as Florida's "stand your ground" statute, need a close look.

Click here for transcript of Obama's remarks, courtesy of the Washington Post


Business groups endorse Internet sales tax legislation

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Federation, Associated Industries of Florida and Florida TaxWatch have banded together to endorse closing the online sales tax loophole. They want Florida lawmakers to follow Congress's lead by considering legislation that would require online remote retailers, such as Amazon.com, to charge sales tax.

"We are glad to see the Congressional legislation move forward and would hope that our state Legislature will take up the issue during this upcoming 2014 legislative session to ensure that we collect the revenues that are lawfully and rightfully owed to the state of Florida," said TaxWatch president Dominic Calabro.

The business groups held a joint press conference today to endorse a nationwide study that concluded Internet sales tax revenue would be a boon to states. In Florida, the report says, closing the loophole would create 10,474 new jobs and $34.9 billion in additional economic growth.

Click here to read the Times' article about the study.

Click here to read the entire report funded by the national Marketplace Fairness Coalition.

Video: Gov. Rick Scott's meeting with protestors over Stand Your Ground


Full story here.