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Monday Briefing: It’s All About Sea Ray

| March 16, 2015

Sea Ray's plant, glimpsed from the Intracoastal. (© FlaglerLive)

Sea Ray’s plant, glimpsed from the Intracoastal. (© FlaglerLive)

The weather today: sunny and mild, high of 78, low tonight of 59. Details.

The big story today is Sea Ray, Sea Ray and Sea Ray. The boat manufacturer goes before the Flagler County Commission this evening to seek a land-use change that will enable the company to build a new parking lot, expanding the footprint of the plant but not, its officials insist, its environmental impact. The company stresses that it’s nothing more than a parking lot expansion. Residents of nearby Lambert Avenue and the Flagler Beach City Commission are opposing the land-use change, claiming it’ll damage the town’s quality of life. The item is last in a relatively busy meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. at the Government Services Building. Also on the agenda: the commission will likely approve buying three buildings in foreclosure at the Flagler County Airport, for $2.75 million, approving taking out a loan for that amount.

See Also:

At the Florida Legislature today:

Guns on Campus: The Senate Higher Education Committee takes up Senate Bill 176, filed by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on the campuses of state colleges and universities. The full meeting packet is available here. (2 p.m.)

Drones: The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee considers House Bill 649, filed by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, that would prevent the use of drones to conduct surveillance of people or private property. (4 p.m.)

School start date: in an issue of concern to the Flagler County School Board, which wants to move up the first day of school to early Au=gust–but has been barred from doing so by state law–the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a Senate Bill 688, filed by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, that would allow public schools to open one week earlier than currently allowed. The bill would allow districts to start classes 21 days before Labor Day each year. The meeting’s full agenda is here. (4 p.m.)

In the Press:

The golf industry’s slump continues: Earlier this month Palm Coast City Council member Bill McGuire asked for a presentation from KemperSports, the private company that runs Palm Coast’s troubled Palm Harbor golf course and its tennis center, to find out how it will break even or turn a profit, something Kemper has long promised but never delivered. It may still not: in a story that reverberates in Palm Coast, the Tampa Bay Times examines the deepening slump of the golf industry: “Like a weekend hacker with a bad slice, the golf industry both locally and nationally is in deep rough. Tough economic times, coupled with a glut of golf courses, have produced losses for the industry for much of the past decade, industry people say. In that time, the game has lost 5 million players, according to industry figures. The 462 million rounds played in 2013 is the lowest since 1995’s 441 million and down from the peak of 492 million in 2000-01, according to Golf Datatech. [… Rick Lucas, director of Clemson University’s PGA golf management program] said the nation now has just fewer than 15,000 courses. Industry figures show more courses have closed than opened for eight straight years with an average of 137 closing annually since 2011. Lucas said another 500 to 1,000 will have to close within the next decade without new growth in golf’s popularity.” From the Tampa Bay Times.

Marco Rubio’s house of horrors: “The brick-fronted tract house with a satellite dish and a yellow fire hydrant in front looks like many middle-class homes in Florida’s capital, except for the two names on the deed. Marco Rubio: U.S. senator and would-be presidential candidate. David Rivera: Scandal-plagued former congressman under investigation in a federal campaign-finance probe. In many ways, it has been a house of horrors for Rubio, a financial and political liability heading into the 2016 election. While he and Rivera were state legislators, they paid way too much for it in 2005, only to see it go embarrassingly into foreclosure for a spell during Rubio’s 2010 Senate race. At another point, a tropical storm flooded the entire neighborhood so badly that neighbors used canoes to get around.Now, the three-bedroom property stands as a stubborn symbol of both a politically problematic friendship and lingering questions about Rubio’s personal finances, which dogged him on the campaign trail in 2010 and may do so again. The friendship has frayed in recent years, friends say, as the fortunes of Rubio, 43, and Rivera, 49, have diverged. Last week, they put the 1,228-square-foot house up for sale. The list price is $125,000 — $10,000 less than what the two men paid for it a decade ago.” From Politico.

Public agencies’ checkered response to public records requests: “Throughout the last year, some newspapers and private citizens have encountered jaw-dropping fees for records such as a $399,000 quote to search five months’ worth of a South Florida police agency’s emails for gay slurs, a $45,000 estimate for a database of complaint and disciplinary records involving North Florida police officers, and a $700 estimate for Ebola reports in a state where there were no documented cases of Ebola. Sometimes it’s not the cost — but the time it takes to produce the records — that raised concerns. The State Attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit serving the Jacksonville area took four months to produce a simple phone directory and Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it would take four years to fulfill the gay slur email search. […] As part of the audit, 10 Florida newspapers reviewed how agencies throughout the state respond to records request. The newspapers asked for the same records in each part of the state from police agencies, school superintendents, mayors, county administrators and elected state attorneys — paying close attention to cost and delivery-time estimates. The exercise showed that agencies throughout the state vary widely on whether they charge and how much they charge for similar types of records. A lot of the cost difference was driven by how long each agency said it would take to go through records to redact potentially exempted material.” From The Times-Union.

Also:

Facebook today will explain what it bans and why.

Click here for the weekend’s Flagler County jail bookings.

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