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Volume XXII Editor@flsentry.com

Phone Broward County (954) 532-2000 Fax 954-532-2002
Palm Beach County (561) 877-0727
Click Here to read Current Edition

Officials to spray for mosquitoes due to rain, heat

Wet, hot and itchy — welcome to Christmas in South Florida, where the heavy rains and abnormally high temperatures are prompting county officials to spray for mosquitoes on Friday.
Miami-Dade County is nearly 10 inches above normal, while the South Florida Water Management District shows Palm Beach County receiving 6.2 inches of rain already this month. That's 4.15 inches above the normal for December. Temperatures are running nearly 10 degrees above normal. The windy weather has also made it difficult for officials to get ahead of the mosquito problem.
Gary Goode, an environmental program manager with the Palm Beach County Mosquito Control Division, said the county sprayed late last week, but will go ahead with an unprecedented spray likely Friday because there is still water on the ground.

Florida killer asks for stay of execution

Lawyers for a 53-year-old convicted killer from the Tampa Bay area are asking the Florida Supreme Court to grant a stay of execution.
Oscar Ray Bolin is scheduled for execution on Jan. 7. He and his lawyers filed a motion Tuesday with the state's highest court, saying that he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Dec. 17, the state court denied Bolin's appeal based on alleged new evidence. The court ruled Bolin should be put to death for the December 1986 murder of Teri Lynn Matthews. Matthews was abducted in Pasco County, raped and then beaten and fatally stabbed.
In his recent motion for a stay, Bolin said an Ohio inmate confessed to Matthews' murder and that he will be bringing that evidence to the federal court.

Florida population tops 20 million

The population of Florida has now crossed 20 million.
Florida has surpassed the 20 million population mark while growing faster than California.
The Sunshine State, adding more than 1,000 people a day, is nearly up a half-million people on New York, which it surpassed a year ago to become the third most-populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.
Florida, with an estimated 20,271,272 residents as of July 1, is also growing faster than a year earlier, when 803 people a day were being added to the state’s head count.
“Governor (Rick) Scott is proud that more people continue to move to Florida,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said in a prepared statement. “Our hardworking businesses have created more than 1 million jobs in just five years, we have historic funding for education and we are in a 44-year low on our crime rate.”
The new numbers come as lawmakers prepare to deal with a wide range of issues affected by the growing population, including water issues.
Noting that Florida faces a projected 1-billion-gallons-a-day water shortfall by 2030, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has been pushing for proposed statewide water policy changes (SB 552 and HB 7005), which are expected to be among the first items lawmakers take up when the regular legislative session begins in January.
“Florida’s increasing population will continue to stress our critical water resources,” Putnam spokesman Aaron Keller said in an email Tuesday. “While Florida has made great progress in restoring the health of our water supply and conserving our water resources, we need to act now. We must invest more in water supply planning and alternative supply development to meet the needs of this growing population and continue to support a thriving economy while balancing the needs of our natural environment.”
More people also means eventually Florida will have a larger congressional delegation. In 1910, New York had 43 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to Florida’s four. Both states now have 27 seats.
Florida’s population was under 1 million in the 1920 census and was nearly 10 million in the 1980 census.
The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research estimated the state’s population at 19,691,538 as of April 1.
Part of the state’s growth is attributed to an exodus from the economically challenged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which the Census report said declined in population by 1.7 percent over the past year.
By contrast, Florida’s population grew 1.84 percent in the past year, trailing only North Dakota, Colorado and Nevada as the fastest-growing states.
In overall population, Florida remains behind California, now with 39.14 million residents, and Texas, with 27.5 million people.
Only Texas had more net population growth in the past year than Florida, growing by 490,036 residents to Florida’s 365,703. California added 352,527 people. Georgia was fourth with 117,728 new residents.
The nation’s population increased by 0.79 percent to 321.4 million, slightly ahead of the pace --- 0.78 percent --- of the prior year.
The Census Bureau bases its estimates on birth, death, administrative records and survey data. More than 1.1 million people were born in Florida and 950,117 Floridians died in the July-to-July timeframe.

Woman dies while being forcibly removed from hospital

A woman who refused to leave a hospital after doctors discharged her died after she was forcibly removed by police.
The Florida State Conference of the NAACP and Tallahassee attorney Daryl Parks told The Associated Press that 57-year-old Barbara Dawson collapsed Monday while being escorted in handcuffs from the Liberty Calhoun Hospital, where she went to seek treatment for breathing difficulties.
A police dispatcher who did not identify herself confirmed Dawson’s death Tuesday, but gave no details.
Blountstown Police Department chief Mark Mallory told The Tallahassee Democrat that officers arrested Dawson for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Parks is representing Dawson’s family. He said that doctors thought Dawson was stable and should be released. He said Dawson, however, felt like she was still having breathing issues and wanted to stay.

Union files complaint, contends bonus program discriminates

The state’s largest teachers union filed a complaint Monday over a program that rewards teachers for high scores on college admissions tests, saying the “Best and Brightest” bonuses discriminate on the basis of age and race.
The charges, filed by the Florida Education Association with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations, come weeks before lawmakers are set to consider extending the bonus program, which was added to the state budget during a June special session.
“Too many high-quality teachers in Florida were denied access to this bonus program because of the unfair and discriminatory rules and short timeline set up by lawmakers,” union President Joanne McCall said in a statement announcing the challenge. “This bonus plan wasn’t thought out very well and wasn’t properly vetted in the Legislature and that has resulted in many good teachers unfairly denied access to this bonus.”
The “Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program” gives annual bonuses of up to $10,000 to teachers who are highly rated and have SAT or ACT scores that rank in the top fifth of test results.
Lawmakers set aside $44 million for the program this year, but the spending plan only made it temporary.
During its regular session beginning next month, the Legislature is set to consider bills that would extend the program.
Until now, critics have mostly knocked the program for misusing SAT or ACT scores, which are generally used for college applications.
But Monday’s complaint goes beyond that, saying that the way the award is structured precludes older teachers from getting the bonuses, gives an unfair advantage to younger teachers and discriminates against African-Americans and Latinos.
For example, the union said there is no “percentile data” — used to determine the top fifth of test takers — for SATs or ACTs taken before 1972.
The association also claims that “teachers older than 40 years old” had trouble getting the required information about their test scores before an Oct. 1 deadline.
The program also exempts first-year teachers from the requirement that recipients be rated “highly effective,” something the union says is an unfair advantage.
Meanwhile, critics of the SAT and ACT have long complained that the tests are biased against African-Americans and Latinos.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, which was targeted in the charges along with the state’s school districts, said in an emailed statement that the agency hasn’t received the complaint the union “alleges it filed” against the program.
“The department has no comment other than to state that, as always, the department will cooperate fully with any required regulatory process or review,” spokeswoman Meghan Collins said.
Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who has pushed the Best and Brightest program, blasted the union’s complaint in a text message.
Fresen, who chairs the House committee that oversees education funding, said more than 5,000 teachers qualified for the award this year.
“It is unfortunate that the teachers unions constantly oppose any payment structure effort that is not based on time served,” Fresen wrote. “It’s akin to the infantile argument of ‘if I can’t have any neither can you.’”

Corps plans more walls to stabilize Lake Okeechoboee dike

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to install roughly 30 more miles of cutoff walls to shore up the aging earthen dike around Lake Okeechobee.
Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project manager Tim Willadsen said Monday that the plans drafted through a dam safety modification report could cost about $400 million. The plans include 24.5 miles of cutoff walls along the freshwater lake's western edge, from Lake Harbor to Moore Haven. Construction would begin in 2019.
Over 20 miles of similar walls already are installed along the lake's eastern edge, and a 6.6-mile expansion is scheduled for completion by 2020.
Willadsen says draft plans would "complete the fixes we need" to stabilize the erosion-prone dike. The corps ranks the dike as one of the country's most at-risk for imminent failure.

Juveniles Arrested Following Crime Spree On Palm Beach Island

Two juveniles, not even old enough to drive, were arrested for stealing a car from a posh condo on Palm Beach.
Surveillance photos show two girls stealing a car right out of a parking garage and breaking into another.
The crime is egregious enough but the age of the suspects is shocking.
Both girls, reportedly just 13-years-old, are seen in the garage of the Oasis Condominium along South Ocean Blvd.
Palm Beach Police say the two entered the building's parking garage through an unlocked door and stole a car with the keys in it right from under the owner.
But their crime spree at the Oasis was far from over.
A doorman working at the building noticed the two on surveillance cameras as they entered the property just 8 days later. He told investigators that "when he attempted to make contact, they ran towards the beach."
An officer nearby found the two hiding in the bushes and arrested them.
The girls are facing felony charges.
Police charged the juveniles with Burglary of a Dwelling, Burglary to a Conveyance, and Grand Theft. Only one of the girls was charged with Grand Theft Auto.

Man Trying To Time Travel Plows Car Into Florida Businesses

Three businesses are moving to new offices after a car attempting to time travel drove through two of them, police said.
A Dodge Challenger plowed through Advanced Tax Services, taking out a wall connecting to Pensacola Caskets. Both offices have been closed since the crash.
"It looked like a bomb went off," said general manager Emanuel Mores.
Mores said office chairs and debris were scattered everywhere.
On Monday, contractors boarded up the businesses. Mores told WEAR the tax and casket offices were empty when the car smashed through the building.
Police said the driver told them he was trying to "travel through time."
"I was mad, then eventually I was happy no one was hurt. You know, that was my biggest concern 'cause, you know, if anyone was hurt, anybody could have died or whatever," Mores said.
Mores told WEAR the tax office will move next door to 3844 Alcaniz St. and the casket business will move to 3842. Both businesses said they hope to be open after Christmas.
Pensacola police told WEAR the driver has been issued a citation for reckless driving and is in the hospital for evaluation.
Investigators are checking to see if they're connected to any other crimes.

Boynton Beach Christmas Tree Vandalized

The Boynton Beach Christmas tree has been dimmed a bit, thanks to a vandal.
Police arrested 19-year-old Samantha Presendieu on a criminal mischief charge.
Witnesses told police she grabbed a bunch of ornaments off the tree and smashed them on the ground.
The damage left the Christmas star and several rows of lights in the dark.
Presendieu has also been charged with trespassing on school grounds after a warning.
She's in the Palm Beach County Jail.

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