Broward County Remembers The Parkland 17

Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen with Parkland and Coral Spring Mayors joined together to remember those who lost their lives and those who are still recovering as the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School draws near. 
At the Broward Commission meeting today, Mayor Bogen was joined by Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, Coral Springs Mayor Pro Tem Joy Carter and city officials to read the names of the victims and to pause for seventeen seconds of silence in memory of those who were murdered at the school shooting on February 14, 2018.

“In two days, it will be February 14th.  Everyone can remember what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on that date one year ago,” said Mayor Bogen, whose district includes parts of Coral Springs and northwest Broward cities adjacent to Parkland.    

“It's hard for others to comprehend the depth of our loss. Thursday, we ask that everyone remember that long before they became victims, they were people.  Happy people with families who loved them. Some respected educators, coaches and figures on the school campus. All of the victims were beloved sons and daughters, excellent students, neighbors, athletes, artists, dancers and musicians.  They were ambitious and leaders with bright futures and a desire to make a difference in the world. If you knew any of these seventeen people, please try to recall the good times and maybe just maybe a smile will be able to break through our tears on February 14th,” said Commissioner Michael Udine, whose district includes Parkland and previously served as Parkland Mayor and a City Commissioner for thirteen years.

Commissioners also named February 12th, 2019 as Coral Springs Museum of Art, City of Coral Springs and City of Parkland Appreciation Day in Broward County.  The proclamation recognizes the collaboration of the three entities who were chosen to receive a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge Grant.  This grant will go toward creating five large scale public art projects centered around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, gun violence and healing.  The goal of the art projects is to help the community find comfort and heal.  Proclamations were presented to Mayors Hunschofsky, Carter and Coral Springs Museum of Art Executive Director Julia B. Andrews. 

“Please remember the victims who are still living. While their physical scars are starting to heal, the emotional trauma of the entire northwest Broward County is still there one year later. I ask everybody to keep them in their prayers,” said Udine.

Broward County will conduct 17 moments of silence on Thursday, February 14th. The Broward School Board, through a collaboration with local municipalities and communities, is following the lead of MSD High School by honoring those lost with a Day of Honor in Service and Love and is encouraging everyone to participate.

Not sure what you can do? Any act of service or love is welcomed. You can volunteer at an animal shelter, donate food for the hungry, organize a drive to collect clothing and toiletries for the homeless in our community, or host a toy drive.  A moment of silence will be observed at 10:17AM. You'll find more at the Broward School's website.

Anthony Borges who was shot five times Feb. 14 during the school massacre.

This is Anthony Borges.
He saved the lives of 20 of his Parkland classmates. He used his body to keep the shooter from coming in to kill them.

Anthony Borges who was shot five times Feb. 14 during the school massacre. The photo features him shirtless with his surgical scars exposed while wearing a colostomy bag.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified to Congress. in A Nutshell

  • Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified to Congress under oath on Friday that he has not taken action to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • In tense questioning led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Whitaker also denied ever speaking with President Trump or anyone in the White House about the Mueller probe. [NYT / Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, and Charlie Savage]
  • In a confusing statement last month, Whitaker said the Mueller investigation was “close to be[ing] completed.” This contradicted other accounts that Mueller needed more time to finish the probe. [Politico / Andrew Desiderio and Darren Samuelsohn]
  • Democrats on the panel asked about a range of topics, including whether Trump had lashed out against Whitaker over federal charges against Michael Cohen, how Whitaker even became acting AG, and whether he believes the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.” [The Hill]
  • “Bring your popcorn,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the head GOP in the committee, calling the trial mere “political theater.” Collins even called to adjourn the hearing, but Democrats outvoted the move. [CNN / Jeremy Herb and Alex Rogers]
  • A snapshot of the contentious hearing: “Mr. Chairman, I see that your time is up,” Whitaker said to Nadler when asked if he ever approved actions taken by the special counsel. The Democratic panel responded with laughter at Whitaker’s avoidance of the question. The comment was also a breach of protocol — as chair, Nadler is the one who sets the talking time, not Whitaker. [Vox / Aaron Rupar]
  • There was even doubt that Whitaker would show up to testify; he refused on Wednesday to come to questioning unless Democrats promised they wouldn’t subpoena him, which Nadler eventually agreed to. The set of exchanges symbolizes the tense relationship between the Trump administration and the Democratic House. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky]


House Unanimously Passes Deutch, Meadows Bill to Protect Veterans from Scams

(Washington) Just now, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 417-0 to pass the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Congressman Mark Meadows (NC-11) to protect our nation's veterans from targeted scams and financial predators.

Currently, it is against the law for unauthorized agents to charge veterans a fee in exchange for assistance with claims or appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, this crime carries no penalty. Financial predators pursue veterans, luring them with false offers to expedite their claims or benefits and charging them exorbitant costs.

The Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act would impose a fine or imprisonment up to five years or both for defrauding veterans. This legislation has twice passed the House of Representatives unanimously, in the 115th Congress (H.R. 506) and the 114th Congress (H.R. 4676). A one-pager can be accessed here.

"After veterans and their families have made such sacrifices for our country and our national security, it is so deeply reprehensible that people would seek them out to defraud them with these scams," said Congressman Deutch. "Congress must put a penalty to the crime so we can discourage this predatory behavior. Let's close this despicable loophole and protect our veterans from pension poachers and fraudsters."

“Congress has both a responsibility and an obligation to step up and protect our Veterans against financial predators," Congressman Meadows said. "Closing loopholes in existing laws and providing law enforcement with additional tools to crack down on criminals targeting Veterans’ benefits will be a needed reform to the process. It would send a loud and clear message of support to those who have served our country so faithfully and guard them against any effort to rob them of their hard earned benefits. I thank all my colleagues for their support and want to thank the gentleman from Florida, Ted Deutch, the lead Democratic cosponsor, for his leadership on this important measure.”

Deutch Invites Manny Oliver as State of the Union Guest

Ted Deutch (FL-22) invited Manny Oliver to be his guest at the President's State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, February 5.

Manny Oliver started the organization Change The Ref in memory of his son Joaquin, who was lost in the 
tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

"It's been almost one full year since the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas, and the status quo has been shaken up," said Congressman Deutch. "The strength of the Parkland families had made a lasting impression on Washington and the entire country. I'm honored to have my friend Manny join me at the President's address. Manny and Patricia carry on the memory of their son and the 16 others lost on February 14 through their masterful artwork, passionate activism, and unyielding commitment to change. I hope the President will take note of how the American people voted to send a gun safety majority to Congress, and live up to his previous promises to stand up to the NRA and support meaningful policies to make our communities safer."

"I am enormously grateful that Congressman Deutch has invited me to attend the State of The Union," said Manny Oliver. "I look forward to listening for and hoping that the President will address the 40,000 gun deaths that steal the lives of so many Americans, including children like my son Joaquin. To date, we are disappointed by the President’s position on ending gun violence and changing the national control of the irresponsible gun culture."

The Stoneman Douglas community will be represented at the State of the Union by other guests as well. Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg who was killed in the attack and founder of Orange Ribbons for Jaime, will attend as a guest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cameron Kasky, a co-founder of the Never Again MSD group, will attend as a guest of Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15).

According to the website, "Change The Ref was formed to empower our Future Leaders. CTR gives the kids of today the tools they need to be empowered to make changes to critical issues that affect our nation, through education, conversation, and activism. It uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic. It also brings focus to the NRA’s corrupt maneuvers to buy lawmakers, while forcing solutions which are essential to healing mass shooting victims’ families’ lifelong grief. Change The Ref’s ultimate goal is to give the young generation of survivors and victims a disrupting voice to help lead the way to change – a more peaceful future. #NeverAgain."

Mayor Trantalis January Newsletter

January 2018
Following on the success in December of closing the encampment next to the main library, the community initiative to end homelessness has launched its next phase.
Recently, Chief Judge Jack Tuter began a community court program at City Hall that deals with homeless people who are charged with minor offenses. The specialized court addresses the root causes of homelessness by offering alternative sentencing for certain misdemeanor offenses.
Instead of going to jail, the homeless are connected with essential health, rehabilitation, and social services, as well as housing. They also are required to complete community service. This compassionate approach will reduce jail costs, provide life-building assistance and reduce homelessness in our community.
The city worked with Judge Tuter and others for almost a year to create the community court. It is the first of its kind in Florida. Judge Tuter traveled out of state to observe the operation of similar programs before starting ours.
The city and the judiciary were concerned by the revolving door of homeless going through the court system.
Arrested on charges such as panhandling and camping in public, homeless individuals filled precious court time and expensive jail space. The underlying issues of why they were homeless went unaddressed. Released from jail, they were back on the street in Fort Lauderdale. They frequently found themselves returning to court and jail.
We have witnessed incredible results in a very short time from the homeless coalition that the city formed with Broward County, the business community and social service providers.
Almost 70 individuals from the downtown encampment have either been provided services along with either permanent supportive housing or temporary housing. We continue to recruit landlords to offer apartments for the program’s use. If you know any landlord willing to participate in the housing program in which market rate rents are paid to house these individuals, please contact my office.
More action is yet to come.
The United Way is negotiating with the Salvation Army and Hope South Florida to provide day respite programs for the homeless. A meal-sharing program is also being developed. 
Last November, several companies began offering motorized scooters for rent across Fort Lauderdale. Residents and tourists have since used them thousands of times as an alternative to driving. But numerous accidents have occurred, and the city has been deluged with complaints about how they are used and where they are parked.
The city is committed to ending the dangerous conditions.
Our staff is reviewing regulations from other communities and expects to discuss the options with the City Commission in early February.
The city agreed last summer to allow four companies to offer dockless scooters and bicycles for rent. Scooters have become prevalent in many American cities in recent years, and our goal was to be proactive in establishing regulations based on national standards and best practices.
The hope was that the scooters would provide some relief to the heavy traffic that drivers often face on our streets. Many of the users over the last couple months have used them for short trips downtown or along the beach. Those are trips that typically would have occurred by car.
Unfortunately, our streets and sidewalks have become the Wild West. Public safety has suffered.
Emergency room doctors and dentists report numerous cases of people injured using scooters. Despite general traffic regulations and the city’s rules regarding scooters, it is not uncommon to see scooters swerve in and out of traffic or multiple people using one scooter. People are texting while riding scooters, and children and teens are using scooters despite age restrictions.
Where scooters are left by their riders has also become a significant concern.
Our rules say they must be left upright with four feet of clearance on the sidewalk. Also, they cannot be left on private property or block business entrances, fire hydrants or handicapped ramps. The reality too frequently is the opposite.
City staff believes there are ways to better regulate the scooters. I’d like to see them remain an alternate mode of transportation, but the current situation is untenable. If solutions cannot be found, the City Commission will need to reconsider the program entirely.



Trump Sidelines Shutdown

Day 35 The impact of the Trump's federal shutdown, the longest in US history, reached full crisis today -- finally forcing the President to succumb to a temporary deal to reopen the federal government.

pic: Getty
For a full five weeks Trump has held the nation, and government funding, hostage over his demand for $5.7 billion for a wall at the US-Mexico border.

Over 800,000 federal employees have been forced to go on unpaid leave or work without pay, stopping or significantly affecting delivery of critical government programs, funding and services under nine US departments and other agencies.

The consequences have been catastrophic for the nation's economic stability, infrastructure and security, and brought home daily reminders of the devastating impact on everyday Americans who serve in, and rely on, our federal government.

"For years the right has vilified federal workers as nameless, faceless bureaucrats, but the truth is they're air traffic controllers, food inspectors, they're transportation security officers and law enforcement ... our veterans. Many of these people are fighting for our country right now, and we are not paying them."
-- Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson

This morning the Federal Aviation Administration, citing safety concerns stemming from a shortage of air traffic control staff, halted all incoming traffic to New York's LaGuardia Airport. 

Outgoing flights at LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington, Newark and other major airports have been delayed by hours. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Shutdown
FBI Director Christopher Wray: "It takes a lot to get me angry, but I'm about as angry as I've been in a long, long time." (Click) 
Today FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a rare public statement, released a video condemning the government shutdown and its impact on the agency. In a direct message to FBI employees, Wray emphasized the work being done behind the scenes to get them paid, while praising their commitment and dedication.

"We are now five weeks, and two missed paychecks, into this mess .... I know tons of you are feeling the anxiety and the emotional strain of this shutdown. And 100% of you are feeling the financial strain. Making some people stay home when they don't want to, and making others show up without pay -- it's mind-boggling, it's short-sighted, and it's unfair."

This afternoon at 2:20pm, President Trump announced a three-week deal to reopen the federal government -- without funding for the border wall.  He threatened, however, that if his wall funding was not secured by February 15th, then he would take adverse action.

"We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shutdown on February 15th, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency."

South Florida Democratic Delegation Calls on FL Senators to End Shutdown

The delegation is made up of Reps. Hastings (FL-20), Frankel (FL-21), Deutch (FL-22), Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Wilson (FL-24), Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), and Shalala (FL-27).

(Washington) House Democrats have passed ten separate spending bills, and given House Republicans eleven opportunities, to re-open the federal government. With the government shutdown now running over one month, 800,000 federal employees will once again not receive their paychecks tomorrow.

Ahead of the Senate's vote this afternoon on bills to re-open the government, the South Florida Democratic Congressional delegation urges Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Scott to end this government shutdown by voting for the clean spending bill that will re-open the government and provide disaster assistance.

House Democrats are prepared to work with Senate Republicans and President Trump on funding effective border security proposals, but not while holding the government hostage.

House Democrats support robust border security solutions, including:
• Increased infrastructure investments at our ports of entry, including additional ports and roads;
• Advanced technology to scan for drugs, weapons and contraband at ports of entry;
• New technology to detect unauthorized crossings; and
• More immigration judges and customs personnel.

Since the first day of the 116th Congress, House Democrats have voted on eleven bills to fund the government, with ten passing:
  1. Jan. 3 – House Democrats passed a package of six appropriations bills that have all previously passed the Senate.
  2. Jan. 3 – House Democrats passed a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8.
  3. Jan. 9 – House Democrats passed a funding bill to reopen the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service and provide employees with back pay.
  4. Jan. 10 – House Democrats passed a funding bill to reopen the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration and provide employees with back pay.
  5. Jan. 10 – House Democrats passed a funding bill to reopen the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and provide employees with back pay.
  6. Jan. 11 – House Democrats passed a funding bill to reopen the Environmental Protection Agency, national parks, and museums and provide employees with back pay.
  7. Jan. 15 – House Democrats voted for a short-term funding bill to reopen closed federal agencies through February 1 (this bill did not pass).
  8. Jan. 16 – House Democrats passed legislation that included disaster relief funding and a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8.
  9. Jan. 17 - House Democrats passed a continuing resolution for all government agencies through February 28.
  10. Jan. 23 - House Democrats passed a package of six appropriations bills.
  11. Jan. 24 - House Democrats passed a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security through February 28.

Deutch Cosponsors Bill to Protect Federal Workers & Families from Impacts of Shutdown

Thirty-three days into the partial government shutdown, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) cosponsored the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) to protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.

The bill addresses the real threat of federal workers losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay. Modeled after the Servicemembers Relief Act, the Schatz-Kilmer legislation will prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans. The bill would also empower federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.

"Families in South Florida are suffering from the very real pain of this shutdown," said Congressman Deutch. "I've heard from constituents who are struggling to pay their bills and medical expenses because they haven't received a paycheck in a month. Why should federal workers and their families be punished for the President's stubborn refusal to reopen the government? We can and should have a debate on border security, but not while 800,000 workers and their families are struggling to make ends meet. This bill will provide important relief for these families as we continue to push the President and Republicans to reopen the government immediately."

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act would safeguard workers impacted by a shutdown from the following:

• Being evicted or foreclosed;
• Having their car or other property repossessed;
• Falling behind in student loan payments;
• Falling behind in paying bills; or
• Losing their insurance because of missed premiums.

The protection would last during and 30 days following a shutdown to give workers a chance to keep up with their bills. This partial government shutdown hurts more than 800,000 federal workers in all 50 states.

Deutch, Buchanan Reintroduce Bill to Criminalize Animal Abuse

Deutch, Buchanan Reintroduce Bill to Criminalize Animal Abuse

The bill has 139 additional original cosponsors.

 Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL-16) reintroduced the "Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act" to criminalize certain acts of animal cruelty.

In 2010, Congress passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which made the creation and distribution of animal crushing videos illegal. However, the underlying acts of cruelty against animals were not included. The PACT Act closes this loophole by prohibiting certain cases of animal abuse. A fact sheet for the PACT Act can be found here.

Last Congress, the PACT Act (H.R. 1494) received 284 cosponsors. The Senate companion (S.654) passed by unanimous consent.

"This is common sense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws," said Congressman Deutch. "For many Americans, animal welfare is an important policy issue, and the idea of animal abuse is abhorrent. By building on state and local laws, Congress should act to guarantee a level of protection for animals across the country by criminalizing these inhumane acts. We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos; now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well."

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Congressman Buchanan said. “Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I look forward to working with Congressman Deutch on this important issue.”

“Decades ago the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans. All 50 states have felony provisions for animal cruelty and so a parallel federal statute is long overdue to crack down and fill gaps in the law. Representatives Deutch and Buchanan are tremendous advocates for animal protection, and we are grateful to them for seeking to eradicate malicious cruelty” said Sara Amundson, President, Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Gov. DeSantis reverses SOE Snipes Suspension

Image result for Gov. DeSantis reverses Snipes Suspension

On the day he suspended Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, Governor Ron DeSantis rescinded former Governor Rick Scott's suspension of Brenda Snipes. Instead, Governor DeSantis accepted Snipes' resignation as Broward Supervisor of Elections. The Executive Order claims the court battle initiated by Snipes would cost too much money and time to defend.


FPL Pledges 30, Million Solar Panels

Image result for florida solar panels
FPL says it is planning to install 30 million solar panels across the state by the end of the next decade. Laid end-to-end, the 30 million solar panels would wrap around the Earth one and a half times.
It would be the largest installation of solar panels by a regulated utility in the world and provide a 67-percent fleet-wide reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rates by 2030 as compared to the national average, according to FPL.
FPL is the Sunshine State’s largest solar producer, generating ten times as much solar power in 2018 than it did in 2016.
FPL and its sister company, NextEra Energy Resources, are already the world’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun and, when this plan is completed, FPL expects to be the largest utility owner and operator of solar in America.
“FPL is not your traditional electric company,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “We’re a technology company that delivers power, and we’ve long believed in making smart, forward-thinking infrastructure investments to produce tangible, long-term benefits – cleaner air, lower electric rates and reliable service – for our customers and our state. Now we’re taking our long-standing clean energy commitment to the next level. Bottom line, this bold, innovative plan is the right thing to do for our customers and for our fast-growing state and we look forward to working with local and state officials and our regulators to make this vision a reality.”
“I am supportive of programs that will provide Floridians with greater access to affordable, clean energy which will help propel the State to a healthier future,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.  “We live in the Sunshine State and solar energy is a natural resource that should be seriously considered. FPL’s initiative is important. As Florida’s energy needs continue to grow at a rapid pace, it is important that we diversify our energy resources. This is vital to the economic well-being of our State and quality of life for residents.”
FPL has studied solar technology for decades and already operates 18 large solar power plants and hundreds of other universal solar installations across Florida.
FPL’s first solar power plant in Miami-Dade County is scheduled to come online early this year.

Source CBS4