Student Article: Welcome to the World Today

By Amanda Brooke from West Boca High
Take a look around you. Look at all the faces surrounding you as you sit in math class, or at the park. Are they happy? Are they smiling? They may appear happy, but perhaps that joy is only temporary. Around the world, millions of people face oppression within society on a daily basis.
Welcome to the world today, take a look at how the U.S. Government handles laws; we have bans on anti-discrimination. In what way does prohibiting kindness towards others make any logical sense? Is it not bad enough that fifty-five percent of students feel unsafe in school due to the harassment they receive for their sexual orientation, and thirty-eight percent due to their gender expression (GLSEN*)? They say we should keep distances between church and state, but then they turn around and deny gays services based on beliefs. The courts rule in favor of places such as Hobby Lobby, who won’t help their employees get proper contraceptives, yet Hobby Lobby is willing to give money to companies who support birth control. Why do we put religion before the greater good, if we have such freedom from religion?
Let’s talk about suicide and scarred up thighs; let’s talk about the grades that are dropping lower, as teens are getting higher. Transgenders have a higher risk of being murdered than soldiers in the Afghanistan war, one out of eight compared to one out of twelve. About 38% of the homeless youth are gays and lesbians who have been kicked out of their homes due to whom they love. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, there are 293,000 rape incidents every year, and those are just the ones that get reported. Of all those sexual assaults, 47% of the rapists were family members or acquaintances. What’s going on? How do we stop it? Welcome to the world today.
People in magazines tell us if we want a future, we need to be skinny, beautiful, and tall. Eyes all around are judging us based on looks, fashion, and behavior, but what about what’s inside of us? Doesn’t our personality count for anything? We live in a society where little kids can’t stand to look in the mirror, for fear of blemishes or having too much meat on their bones. Middle schoolers starve themselves to fit a size zero, while the others shove fingers down their throats, because ‘the calories don’t count if it’s not fully digested.’ The rate of eating disorders in ages fifteen to nineteen years old has increased every decade since the 1930’s, according to the National Eating Disorder Archives records. Unimaginable pressures are put on everyone to do their best, be the best, look the best, but what about our health? What about our sanity? Parents tell us that school is our jobs, that boys will be boys, but does anyone tell us it’s okay to be a little selfish? No, because grades are more important than our well being. Welcome to the world today.
When will Congress wake up and realize that people can no longer survive on minimum wage? Maybe in the 1960’s people could live off twenty dollars for a week, but now that will buy you a box of cereal and some apples. And how is it, exactly, that when a man does the exact same work as a woman, it’s decided he deserves more than her? I don’t remember a consensual discussion occurring in which it was deemed that a male’s labor is worth twenty-two cents more than that of a female’s. We give millions of dollars to celebrities and athletes, but what do they offer to the world? Nothing. We throw money at them like it grows on trees, meanwhile, there are hundreds starving on the streets; they just want to know when they’ll receive their next meal. Welcome to the world today.
We thank the lawyers for getting us out of jail, we thank the doctors for saving lives, but we never thank the teachers who taught them to be the incredible people they now are. No one just wakes up as the top lawyer in their state; they’ve all gone to school. So many people who deserve our thanks get overlooked. Without farmers, we’d have no food. Without teachers, we’d have no intelligence or understanding. Without journalists, we’d be disconnected from the world around us. Lawyers, doctors, businessmen, they are all wonderful, but we must not forget those who do the background work. Welcome to the world today.
What are we doing to our Earth? What is happening to our society? We twist the words of oppression to make everything disguised as being great. Nothing is truly great, we are all in major peril. We need to stand up and make a difference. We need to fight for freedom — for our true freedoms. We need to stand as one nation, for liberty and justice for all. Welcome to the world today.
*Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

If you are in need of assistance regarding a crisis of some sort, call the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Once you place your call, you will be forwarded to the center closest to your location. All calls are confidential and free!

"Penny" Sales Tax Increase Will Cost You $12,000

The average West Boca family of four will pay an additional $12,000 over ten years if the proposed sales tax increase is approved. These estimates follow from the numbers stated by speakers at Tuesday’s West Boca Community Council meeting.
Four speakers addressed the audience (note we covered a similar event in February: Avossa and Berger Speak). First up was County Administrator Verdenia Baker. Substantial details of the plan are available on the One County One Penny website.
Like the three speakers after her, Baker was tone deaf to West Boca residents. In her talk she described how the money that would come to “your area” but a closer look showed she was including all of Boca, Delray and Boynton Beach in that area. She also referred to money going to the City of Boca Raton as in “our area” even though most of West Boca is west of the city lines.
Baker indicated that the total amount of revenue they expect to raise from this tax increase is $2.7 billion. In our analysis, with 1.3 million county residents that works out to over $2000 per resident. For a family of four it’s $8000. With average incomes in West Boca higher than for the county, it translates to roughly $12,000 over the ten years. A typical West Boca family of four will spend an extra $1000 on sales tax in the first year, with the number rising to $1500 or more in later years.
Fifty percent of the money from the tax will go to the school district, thirty percent to the county and twenty percent to the cities.
She described a lengthy list of projects that the money is supposed to go to. We have seen this list before and over half the money goes to projects in West Palm Beach. A very small share will benefit West Boca.
Baker briefly answered questions from us toward the end of the event:

The next speaker was Mike Burke, CFO for the school district. He also described various “needs” in the district. To his credit he started off with a funny joke about the jail and he spoke well. But as with the other speakers he was somewhat tone deaf, focusing on projects far from West Boca and apparently not recognizing the difference between the city and the rest of us.
Our post-event conversation with him is below. It became a little uncomfortable in certain moments but we give him credit for his demeanor and his answers.

As a follow up to this conversation we found the report he mentioned. Contrary to what he said the document does not say that projects will be prioritized by need. That may be the intent but it’s not in there.
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Also the report’s descriptions do not match the apocalyptic tone set by Superintendent Avossa, Burke and others.

Finding #3: Of the 196 District schools and facilities assessed, the elementary schools are generally in fair condition (average FCI=15.2%), the middle schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 13.1%), the high schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 14.9%), and the ancillary facilities are generally in fair condition (average FCI = 23.1%). The overall District FCI average is 15.0%, which is in the “good” range, but borders on the “fair” range, which begins at 15.1%.

Finally with regard to the schools it should be noted that none of this money will go to hiring teachers or paying them more. It’s only for capital projects.
Next up was Sid Dinerstein, a long-time county Republican leader. After the two previous speakers took a full hour or more, Dinerstein was told he would only have 10 minutes. Dinerstein was also ignored when the event host announced various attendees and left him out.
Dinerstein was by far the most animated and interesting speaker of the four. We caught a brief clip of his speech but he had already left when we looked for him to answer questions at the end.

Dinerstein pointed out that the so-called “penny tax” is a 17 percent increase – from 6 percent to 7 percent. He dismissed the claimed needs asserted by the previous speakers and said the school district is “grossly overfunded”.
He suggested that the main needs of the county are really closer to $400 million rather than the $2.7 billion they are hoping to get from the sales tax increase. Dinerstein argued that it would make more sense to do a $400M bond issue with today’s low interest rates.
Dinerstein demonstrated the same disregard for the West Boca audience. Standing within arm’s reach of Ellen Winikoff he advocated for an extension of the Sawgrass Expressway from Broward into Palm Beach County, an idea that is widely hated here in West Boca. In describing the projects he viewed as necessary they all seemed to be in West Palm Beach, so his approach would do even less for West Boca residents.
The last speaker was Dave Kerner, a state representative who is now running for a county commission seat. He claimed (as did Baker) that 25% of the sales tax would be paid by tourists. If true that only adds to the burden imposed by the recently increased hotel tax to pay for a stadium in – where else – West Palm Beach. They seem unconcerned about or unaware of the risk of killing the goose that lays our golden eggs. If you raise taxes on tourism, tourists might come less often. He also repeated Mary Lou Berger’s February threat to raise property taxes if the sales tax increase is not passed.
Some other interesting details from the evening were:

  • The Lamborghini exemption – Baker said that the sales tax is capped at purchases under $5000, so if you buy a Lamborghini you won’t pay extra sales tax on most of that purchase.
  • Kerner and Baker both denied that sales tax is regressive. This is contrary to well established economic studies showing that sales taxes place a higher burden on the poor.
  • Taniel Shant, who is running against Mary Lou Berger, was in the audience. Shant opposes the sales tax increase.
  • In other news there has been some talk about developers buying the Boca Municipal Golf Course (north side of Glades west of the Turnpike) and building homes. Nothing has happened yet.
  • The proposal to build on the farm behind Home Depot is apparently making progress and may possibly resemble Delray Marketplace.
  • A new park or children’s playground has been built in Watergate Estates (aka West Sandalfoot) and will have a grand opening soon.
  • There has been an ongoing problem with trucks parking on swales on 66th Street (SW 66th we think) and PBSO is working to stop that.

Endorsement: Lisa Grossman for Judge

Before this election we had no opinion on Judge Marni Bryson. We do now.

Marni Bryson
Marni Bryson

Today in the mail we received a highly offensive mailer attacking Lisa Grossman, who is running against Bryson. The mailer identifies itself as being sent by “Keeping Citizens First, Inc.”, which is run by campaign consultant Rick Asnani. Asnani appears to be working for Bryson along with other judicial candidates.
The mailer and similar slurs on the internet and social media misuse personal photos from Grossman’s Facebook account and refer to personal matters that apparently took place thirty years ago. The mailer misleads readers by indicating that Grossman was “found guilty” of what are at worst minor campaign errors, and falsely suggests she has been convicted of crimes. It’s classic libel.
Judge Bryon’s decision to hire a dirty political consultant and participate in such nasty, below-the-belt campaign tactics renders her unqualified to sit as a judge.
As a result, we are endorsing Lisa Grossman for Judge.
Grossman has broad experience in health care and education. As an attorney she served as an assistant public defender, which is one of the hardest jobs in the law.

Car Burglar Arrested – Olympic Heights Alum Caught on Video

Hunter Brett (19). Mugshot from PBSO.
Hunter Brett (19). Mugshot from PBSO.

The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office arrested Hunter Brett (19) on two counts of car burglary. The arrest happened on Tuesday the 23rd. Brett is a former student of Olympic Heights High School.
On August 15th a reader forwarded us this video showing the car burglaries as they happened:

We posted the video on our Facebook page and commenters helped identify Brett as the likely burglar.
We reached out to the victim in this incident, who said the following:

We are grateful to the West Boca News and its readers for their help in catching this criminal. Let this be a lesson to other criminals that this is a tight knit community and we look out for each other.

Mr. Brett has developed a substantial court history in his short time as an adult. We don’t know what charges he may have faced as a juvenile. What we can see started in December of 2015 with two felony burglary counts and two misdemeanor counts. He was released on $6000 bond (usually meaning someone pays $600 to a bondsman). If you find yourself in a situation where you need a bondsman though, then it might be a good idea to check out a website like

While that was pending he was arrested in February in Broward facing five different counts including a first degree felony aggravated battery on a police officer, a felony resisting with violence and two drug felonies. He was released on $11,000 bond ($1100 to a bondsman).
For some reason we cannot explain, the pending burglary felonies in Palm Beach County were then resolved with “pre-trial diversion” which is usually a favorable result for a defendant – no jail time and a relatively clean record.
In June he was arrested again on drug charges, at least one of which was a felony. He was released on $5000 bond ($500 to a bondsman).
Now he’s been arrested for a fourth time. It’s not completely clear from the court records but we think bond was set at $23,000 this afternoon.
The last address we have for Mr. Brett is in the Lakes at Boca Raton (north of Yamato near Cain). He is being represented by public defenders on all the cases mentioned. For the first burglary case it appears he was rejected from the diversion program in August and the case has been reopened.
At this writing he remains in custody. Perhaps he will get out and resume visiting area cars again soon. Of course he is innocent until proven guilty. But since it seems likely that he will be doing significant state prison time, some might wonder why they keep letting him out. This soft approach to bail is commonplace in South Florida but unusual in other parts of the state.

Escape from Palm Beach County?

Del Boca County?

Palm Beach County, with greater Delray and Boca boxed in red; image and map data by Google with our annotations.
Palm Beach County, with greater Delray and Boca boxed in red; image and map data by Google with our annotations.

Residents of West Boca often feel left out of the county. Our tax dollars flow up to West Palm Beach and we don’t get much back. Most of the good jobs politicians brag about creating are created 45 minutes away from us. Large chunks of the proposed sales tax increase would go to buildings for the Sheriff, the courts, and the school district, all up there. In 2015 the county voted to waste $150 million of our money on a baseball stadium in, of course, West Palm Beach. And it’s only for spring training.
Meanwhile we hear a lot of complaints from residents about the county failing to take care of things here. Dangerous intersections do not get improved. Panhandlers continue to annoy locals. Repeat violent offenders menace the community unafraid of the Palm Beach prosecutor.
Similar problems plague our schools. The school bus system has been a disaster. Olympic Heights has had persistent trouble with its air conditioning for years with no relief.
Few residents west of the Turnpike have been to a county meeting, nor can they name their representative to the county commission (hint – Burt Aaronson hit his term limit in 2012 so it’s not him) or the school board.
Maybe it’s time for a radical solution. Palm Beach County is the largest county in the state. It’s too big. Those of us in the southern part of the county are just too far from our government. What if we formed a new county?
County and school district meetings would be 10 minutes from home instead of 45. The Del Boca school district would be able to focus on our local concerns rather than being distracted by problems all over such a large county.
We have discussed this with friends and there are some common questions.

  1. Why not just incorporate West Boca?
    This would just create another layer of government and would do nothing to get us away from the county taking our money up to West Palm Beach.
  2. Where would we draw the lines?
    That’s wide open. One simple way is to use the Delray-Boynton line. It’s also possible that the cities of Boca Raton and Delray Beach would rather stay in the county, so another option is to stay west of the Turnpike and include up to the Canyon development in West Boynton (which sends its kids to Olympic Heights). And it’s possible Parkland would want to join the new county to get out of Broward.
  3. Can this even be done?
    Yes. Article VIII, Section 1 of the state constitution gives this power to the state legislature: “Counties may be created, abolished or changed by law, with provision for payment or apportionment of the public debt.”
  4. Is it politically possible?
    It should be. One would expect that county insiders would oppose any such change. But the county is run by Democrats and the legislature is run by Republicans. If we want to go there, we would need help from the GOP. They might even enjoy the opportunity to stick it to the Democrats. Also, for our state representatives in the Florida House and Senate, they might be persuaded if their voters are motivated.

What do readers think of the idea? Please let us know in the comments here or on our Facebook post.

Another possible way to draw Del Boca County, west of the Turnpike and adding in Parkland (in black). Image and map data by Google, with our modifications.
Another possible way to draw Del Boca County, west of the Turnpike and adding in Parkland (in black). Image and map data by Google, with our modifications.

Why Sue the School District?

A recent post on our Facebook page lit up with comments from readers. We posted a Palm Beach Post article about Attorney Paul Kunz, whose child attends Addison Mizner Elementary (south of Palmetto east of I-95) sued the school district over class size issues. As we understand it, his 5-year-old child is in a kindergarten class with 21 students, 3 more than the maximum of 18 set in the Florida Constitution.
Some of the comments demonstrated a lack of understanding as to why Kunz is doing this.
For example, one commenter wrote:

Dad was looking to make a quick buck off his child. Sad!

If you read the lawsuit (bottom of this article), Kunz is not asking for any money at all. It’s possible that in a case like this he could get attorney fees but he did not even ask for them. He is very clearly not doing this for money.
Another popular sentiment is that suing is the wrong way to go about it. We contacted Kunz about this and he responded:

Filing a lawsuit is definitely the only way to get the issue addressed. Last thing I wanted to do was sue my kid’s school (district). But there is no way internally to get any relief. I wrote to superintendent twice: no response. I tried to deal with other administrators and was told: we can do it this way (basically because we say so).

If the government refuses to obey the law, there really isn’t another way to address it other than a lawsuit. If you do something the government doesn’t like, you get a ticket or arrested and they make you go to court. Why is it so shocking to sue the government? If the government can’t be sued, then they are effectively above the law.
I received similar criticism for challenging a checkpoint in Coral Gables, and I will be suing them soon. So I’m sympathetic to Kunz both in suing the government and in getting this kind of criticism.
Other commenters said larger class sizes are no big deal:

The horror. My kids up north had well over 20. The teacher handled it fine. They all learned to read and write quite well.

Another commenter responded:

This class reduction act was amended to the Florida Constitution in 2002 by getting over 2 1/2 million Floridians who voted to approve it. So, if you are against class limits, you are in the minority.

Whether class size limits are wise or effective, or perhaps too inflexible, is certainly a worthwhile discussion. We know parents who are worried that their school might add a teacher to address the class size problem and then split up classes that are going well.
We contacted the school district for comment on this story and received a very limited response:

We were just served with the lawsuit. We are in the process of reviewing the allegations.

On the larger issue of school budgets, we wonder how much could be saved if we didn’t waste so much money and time doing too many tests, buying textbooks that keep getting worse, and paying administrators who manage all of this testing and textbook waste. By saving there we could hire more teachers and pay them better.

Disclosure: The author has never met Kunz and had never even heard of him before this morning. Also, some of the commenters are personal friends of the author.

Kunz’ complaint in the case is below:
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Check Your Bill: The FEMA Flood Flop

Homeowners in flood zones (including most of West Boca and South Florida) should watch their flood insurance premiums closely. A recent policy change will cause most of us to face a surcharge of $25. But if you’re not careful the surcharge will be $250 instead.
Owners of single family homes and individual condo units will pay the $25 surcharge, but only if it’s their “primary residence” meaning they live there for 80% of the year, though more than 50% may be enough. Otherwise the surcharge is $250. We’re sure our snowbird readers will enjoy that.
Check your latest flood insurance bill to make sure you’re not getting hit with a big increase.
This was a bipartisan surcharge supported by our local congressman, Ted Deutch (D), and Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R). All three voted for this.
It gets worse. FEMA set this up in a way that is designed to screw people. They sent out a mailing that you’re supposed to respond to, proving that your house or condo is your primary residence. If you don’t get it or don’t respond, you pay $250 instead of $25.

In other words, the government assumes your home is not your primary residence and the burden is on you to notice the new rule and prove you live there.
Fortunately for us we noticed the increase and our insurer got us the form before the bill was due. We should have this resolved shortly. Here’s the form we were sent:
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For any readers who pay flood insurance, we recommend you check your latest bill and compare it to the previous year. Ours went up nearly $300, and it’s more than $200 higher than it should be under the new law.
You can be sure that if Citibank did this to its customers there would be outraged politicians calling for their heads. But when the government does it to us apparently it’s okay.
We heard from one of our regular readers, Angela Sapone-Brunelle:

Funny you should ask as my bill just came in today. Yes, the premium nearly doubled. In 2014 I paid $379 and the new bill states the policy costs $662. I was so excited because my overall homeowners insurance went down $200 this year…NOW I KNOW WHY!

OK, I figured part of this out. I have to sign an affidavit that states the house is my primary residence, then it will go down to $437…still a 15% increase, but not 75%.

And I thank you because if you wouldn’t have posted this, I may never had looked at my bill because it’s paid out of my mortgage escrow! My insurance co is making it really easy to turn in the affidavit, you just have to sign the form and upload it to their website with a copy of my drivers license.

We reached out to Congressman Deutch’s office and spoke with Communications Director Ashley Mushnick. She sent us the following statement:

Major hurricanes like Katrina and Rita left the National Flood Insurance Program with over $26 billion in debt, jeopardizing the only federal program that makes affordable flood insurance available to Florida homeowners. If we want affordable flood insurance to remain available at all in Florida, we must prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from going bankrupt. Yet when implementing reforms Congress passed in 2012 to improve the program’s fiscal footing, FEMA officials failed to keep rates affordable and thus undermined the entire purpose of the program. Some homeowners were informed that their flood insurance would cost more than $25,000 per year. That’s why we passed the Homeowners Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 to place limits on annual increases and require FEMA to maintain affordability into the management of the flood insurance program.
No one likes to pay an additional $25, but that is far more affordable than the multi-thousand dollar rate increases we were seeing before the Homeowners Insurance Affordability Act, and we must all share in the burden of restoring solvency to the vital National Flood Insurance Program.

From other conversation we understand the Congressman’s position (mirrored by our senators) that they’re saving us money because if they hadn’t acted our premiums would have gone up even more under the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012. But all three of them voted for Biggert-Waters in 2012. And Biggert-Waters would have increased premiums only for property owners who are not primary residents. It would not have affected most West Boca homeowners.
Congressman Deutch’s statement also ignores the careless manner in which FEMA and NFIP are hitting primary residents with a $250 increase if they fail to prove they are primary residents, as well as the $250 increase faced by snowbirds and others.

Congressman Deutch’s office added this:

It depends on when you bought the home, primary or not. People looking to buy a new home after the law took effect had to pay substantially more than the current homeowner. This made it very difficult for many people to sell their homes, and dissuaded people from buying homes. And, for primary residences re-categorized by the FEMA remapping process, the full-risk rate would be phased in over 5 years by 20 percent each year beginning at the end of 2014. And obviously, in South Florida with our large retiree population there are many non-primary residences, and many of them are not multimillion dollar beachfront second-homes. The bill language you pulled is from the short-term extension of Biggert-Waters – the bulk of the legislation is significantly longer and was tucked into a highway resurfacing bill (H.R. 4348 of the 112th Congress) as a miscellaneous section that passed in July 2012 as public law 112-141.

County Takes a Shot at Panhandlers – and Misses

Update: The County Commission passed the ordinance at its meeting on June 23rd. Here’s the pdf of the agenda item:
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The Palm Beach County Commission is getting closer to an ordinance that would ban panhandlers and others from standing in roadway medians. On the agenda for May 19th is a “preliminary reading” of the proposed ordinance. The full ordinance is at the bottom of this article.
We’ve taken a thorough look at the proposal. It’s a good try but falls short of what’s needed. There are two key sections that matter the most. First is the “Prohibitions” – what’s going to be made illegal:
In short it will be illegal for people to go on the “road” to display information, distribute materials or goods, or solicit business or charitable contributions.
The second key detail is in the definition of what’s a road:
The definition includes medians and traffic islands, which is where we mostly see panhandlers and others who might create traffic hazards.
This proposal has some things right but it also has some misses. For one thing it does nothing about people panhandling or otherwise disturbing traffic from sidewalks. While panhandlers will probably move from the medians, they’ll just go to the corners. That’s an improvement but it’s not a complete solution.
It also does nothing about someone who might stand in the median with no apparent purpose. This creates a problem for prosecutors who will have to prove that the defendant was engaged in one of the prohibited purposes. It may not be easy to prove that.
Back in October we wrote about how the City of Boca Raton deals with this, and at the bottom in an update we added a court decision that showed how Pembroke Pines does it. The Pembroke Pines approach included sidewalks and any other area within 200 feet of intersections.
The other thing Pembroke Pines did right, and this new proposal appears to get wrong, relates to a legal and constitutional concept called narrow tailoring. First, their ordinance focused on “right of way canvassers and solicitors”:

any person who sells or offers for sale any thing or service of any kind, or who seeks any donation of any kind, or who personally hands or seeks to transmit by hand or receive by hand any thing or service of any kind, whether or not payment in exchange is required or requested, to any person who operates or occupies a motor vehicle or any kind

It specifically exempted the mere display of information:

The term shall not apply to any person who merely holds or displays a sign lawfully permitted to be displayed by a person as long as there is no entry by such person or sign into any portion of the roadway or its median.

The Pembroke Pines ordinance was also limited to specific intersections which amounted to less than 10% of the city’s roadways. As the court put it in that case:

[T]he Ordinance is narrowly tailored …. It regulates only canvassing and soliciting, and it does so with regard to only six of the City’s roadways, or less than 10% of the City’s public roads. Significantly, only after “City staff analyzed each of the major roads within its jurisdiction” did the City identify the six streets “where canvassers could pose a particularly increased danger on traffic flow, driver safety and safety of the canvasser.”

It would have required some work, but the county could have followed Pembroke Pines by identifying specific intersections where pedestrians are at greatest risk and limiting the ordinance to those intersections. No one is worried about this problem at Glades and Cain, or at 441 and Atlantic. But there have been numerous accidents with pedestrian fatalities at key intersections on 441 including Sandalfoot and SW 18th, and we have personally observed pedestrians creating traffic problems at Glades and 441.
Based on these weaknesses, it is likely that the ordinance will be challenged on constitutional grounds and the county will lose. As taxpayers we will waste a lot of money on lawyers, knowing that we’re going to lose. And as residents we will continue to face traffic safety issues caused by this problem. More pedestrians will die because our county commission is getting it wrong.
It’s frustrating because I tried to get our commissioners and the county attorney’s office to at least read the Pembroke Pines decision. See my two e-mails below:
If all goes according to plan the hearing would be set for June 23, 2015. If it passes it will then take a month or two before deputies get the word out and really start enforcing it. And then within a year we should see constitutional challenges to the ordinances.
The full proposed ordinance is below.
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Tom Brady Is a Scapegoat: They All Cheat

Tom Brady 2011
By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The current obsession with alleged cheating by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is just another example of scapegoating. Did they cheat? Sure, they probably did. But cheating is commonplace in sports. It’s part of the culture. They all cheat.
Cheating has been an issue in sports for decades. You can read books about it, such as Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports and Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport, for example. It’s all over the internet – see this LA Times column.
It’s part of the culture of sports. You can see it in any game. Watch a basketball game, for example, and you’ll hear an announcer say: “That was a good foul.” That’s an oxymoron. A foul is a bad thing, so how can there be a good one?
The idea of the good foul is one version of how sports have become tainted by a culture of cheating. Sure tactically it may make sense to foul a bad free throw shooter, but it violates the spirit of the rules. Fouls are a bad thing. We shouldn’t cheer on people who do it.
Here’s another – one of Michael Jordan’s greatest moments. Watch this play and in particular watch Jordan’s left hand on the defender, 5 seconds into the clip:

He cheated. Jordan pushed off with the left hand and he got away with it. This is in an official NBA video of the 60 greatest playoff moments. They’re glorifying cheating.
Here’s another one – the Pacer’s Reggie Miller pushes Knick guard Greg Anthony down to the floor, and then intercepts a pass, leading to another score. But he got away with it. Another great moment in NBA history?

Disclosure – The author was a New York Knicks fan (now a Heat fan but with some residual love for the Knicks), is still a NY Giants and Miami Dolphins fan, and a Mets/Marlins fan. Yes, that Reggie Miller play still burns.

We’re seeing a lot of scapegoats lately. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are NFL scapegoats for domestic violence. The punishments those two have faced from the league are far beyond what should have happened under rules and precedent. But when the media shined a spotlight on those stories, the NFL overreacted to make it look as if they actually care about the underlying issue. They don’t. They care about public relations and the bottom line.
Let’s compare what happens when the media doesn’t make something a big issue. Back in the summer of 2013 two executives from the Denver Broncos were arrested for DUI.

Heckert and Russell
Heckert and Russell

Both received minimal suspensions. Matt Russell got a 7-month jail sentence. But he only got a 60-day suspension, and Tom Heckert only got a 30-day suspension. Both are still with the Broncos. Neither Peterson nor Rice did any jail time. But Rice was terminated by the Ravens and missed the entire season due to an NFL “indefinite suspension,” even though an arbitrator later overturned his suspension. Similarly Peterson missed all but one game of the 2014 season on an indefinite suspension that was overturned. Peterson is unlikely to return to the Vikings.
Another of the big scapegoats is Alex Rodriguez. Did A-Rod use performance enhancing drugs? Probably. But that’s been common in professional sports for a while now. Sure the leagues say they want to stop it, but at the same time they’re happy to make billions off the athletic performances. While so many athletes pretend to be apologetic and beg for mercy, A-Rod has the balls to stand up for himself and fight for his fair share of the billion-plus he’s made his team and MLB. Let’s face it – he’s being treated as an uppity negro.
Now look at Derek Jeter, who has been lauded for “doing it the right way.” Yeah, by cheating. He was caught cheating back in 2010, pretending he was hit by a pitch and even feigning injury. He got away with it and was even applauded by the other team’s manager:

Jeter, who stood doubled over while receiving attention from a trainer, confessed that the ball hit the end of his bat and he sold the call to Barksdale with a good acting job.
”He told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know,” Jeter said.
”It’s part of the game. My job is to get on base. Fortunately for us it paid off at the time, but I’m sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game.”
Maddon disliked the call but didn’t fault Jeter.
”If our guys had did it, I would have applauded that. It’s a great peformance on his part,” the Tampa Bay manager said. ”Several players are very good at that. And again, I’m not denigrating it. If our guy does it, I’m very happy with that if we end up getting the call. … Fortunately it didn’t cost us.”

When I was much younger I played basketball. I remember being taught how to cheat. Block out with your arms up, not low. You’re less likely to be called for a foul. Reach in with both hands instead of one and you’re less likely to get a foul. Several years ago I played in a charity golf event and we had a former NFL player in our foursome. I’ve never seen anyone cheat so much. They all cheat. There’s a culture of cheating in sports.
As for Brady and the Patriots, the game is over. The Pats beat the Colts 45-7. The balls didn’t matter that much. If anything should come of the incident, the NFL should accept its own responsibility and take custody of the game balls. But it’s far easier to point the finger at Brady and make him a scapegoat.

Disallowing guns doesn't improve safety

Professor Randolph Braccialarghe; Photo by Chad Moulder
Professor Randolph Braccialarghe; Photo by Chad Moulder

The issue is not guns on campus, but whose hands will hold those guns.
By Randolph Braccialarghe
The Florida Legislature adjourned without voting on a bill that would have repealed the law that prohibits adults with concealed-carry permits from possessing firearms on college campuses.
The well-meaning but naive assumption behind the current law is that if we outlaw guns on campuses, no one will bring a gun to campus to kill people. And if an armed killer ignores the law and goes to a campus to kill, his victims will be safer if they are unarmed, including those who have had background checks and possess concealed-carry permits.

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Opponents of repealing current law — i.e., advocates of victim disarmament — argue that repeal would result in drunken, immature students shooting each other, something current law does not prevent. Current law only disarms mature adults who could otherwise stop a killing spree before it gets started. The issue is not guns on campus, but whose hands will hold those guns — criminals intent on mass murder, or responsible concealed-carry permit holders who could stop the slaughter. All responsible gun owners are slandered when compared to the psychotic criminals that carry out these horrific crimes. Only responsible adults should be allowed the rights to hold a firearm, and all gun owners should have secure weapon storage to ensure that only the right people can put their hands on firearms.
This reasoning has gotten students, faculty and others killed or wounded not just at schools and colleges — Columbine, Sandy Hook, Appalachian Law School, Northern Illinois University, Virginia Tech, Florida State — but also at other public places where, knowing they will face no armed opposition, mass murderers have gone to wreak destruction.
Some examples include: Luby’s Restaurant, Killeen, Texas, Oct.16, 1991 (23 killed, 20 wounded); Colin Ferguson on the Long Island Railroad train, Dec. 7, 1993 (6 killed, 19 wounded); Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Nov. 5, 2009 (13 killed, 32 wounded — soldiers are prohibited from carrying loaded weapons on military bases); the July 22, 2011, mass killings at a Norwegian youth camp (69 killed, 110 wounded); the July 20, 2012, Century Theater in Aurora, Colo. (12 killed, 70 wounded); the Sept. 2013, Westland Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (67 killed, 175 wounded); and the Jan. 2015, Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris (11 killed, 11 wounded).
For those who think we can remove all guns from campuses or other public places, perhaps the most telling mass killing took place on Nov. 26, 2008, in the gun prohibition advocate’s paradise which is India, where it is so hard to get a permit that even the security guards at the luxury hotels are unarmed. On that day a handful of terrorists invaded Mumbai, India’s largest city, and went on a rampage killing at least 166 people and injuring more than 300. Since the citizens were unarmed, it was thought that there was no need for the police to be armed, and so when the police waived their bamboo sticks at the terrorists, the terrorists shot the police.
These tragedies were made possible by the same wishful thinking that animates Florida’s prohibition of guns on college campuses. Just because we ignore reality does not mean we can avoid the consequences. It is time for a change.
Randolph Braccialarghe is a law professor at the Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law in Fort Lauderdale. This opinion piece was previously published in the Sun-Sentinel. Professor Braccialarghe, a friend of West Boca News, gave us permission to republish it here.