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Backgrounders
Category archives for: Backgrounders

PERT: Why Flagler Students Are Forced to Take the Stupidest Test You’ve Never Heard Of

| May 14, 2014

Why are a slew of high achievers at Matanzas High School and FPC who have already succeeded in various courses having to take the so-called Post Secondary Educational Readiness Test on top of all other tests? How many unnecessary, time-consuming tests are we going to continue to subject our students to?

Early Learning and KidCare Shortchanged as Children Take Back Seat in $77.1 Billion Budget

| May 9, 2014

Children’s issues were in the spotlight during the 2014 legislative session, frequently contentious and ultimately a very mixed bag. Given the size of the $77.1 billion budget — the largest in state history — many advocates said lawmakers could and should have done more for kids.

Supreme Court’s Decision Allowing Prayers at Government Meetings Reverberates Locally

| May 5, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today allowing explicitly religious prayers at local government meetings had two direct connections to Palm Coast and Bunnell. So the ruling had particular resonance locally—happily for some, not so happily for others.

Red-Light Cameras, Guns, Pot, Tax Cuts: Rating the 2014 Legislative Session

| May 5, 2014

Florida lawmakers ended the 2014 legislative session after passing a budget and a flurry of other bills dealing with issues such as child welfare and school vouchers. But hundreds of bills died as lawmakers headed home to gear up for re-election campaigns. Here are 10 issues that passed during the session and 10 issues that failed.

Turned Down for a Job Outside the Classroom, a Teacher Rediscovers Her Mission

| May 4, 2014

It’s a sad notion that administrators, school boards, human resources offices and so-called reformists have unfortunately inculcated in teachers over the years, this idea that if you want to be successful or be taken seriously, or make any sort of impact, that you must stop teaching to do so.

An Everlasting Horror Reenacted and Remembered as CRT Ends Season With 2 Holocaust Shows

| May 2, 2014

Adam Fisher’s “An Everlasting Name” and Charlotte Raspanti “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” give voice to children and survivors of the Holocaust in a pair of productions ending City Repertory Theatre’s third season at City Market Place, starting this weekend.

As Florida House Opens Schools to Guns, Lawmaker Declares Gun-Free Zones “The Most Dangerous Places in America”

| April 28, 2014

In a debate that showed sharp divisions about how best to protect children and teachers, the Florida House on Monday approved a bill, 71-44, that could lead to some public-school employees or volunteers carrying guns on campus.

Wings Over Flagler: Rockin’ the Runways Edition Flies In For Weekend of Roars

| April 25, 2014

Some 30 plans and a half dozen musical acts will highlight the revived and renamed Wings Over Flagler event at Flagler County Airport Friday and Saturday. The event wasn’t held last year, but a new partnership between WNZF, the county and Wings organizers ensured that returned this spring.

Jacksonville Symphony Returns for Sunday Picnics and Pops Concert, With a Prayer to the Rain Gods

| April 25, 2014

Last year’s Picnics and Pops concert in Palm Coast’s Central Park had to be cancelled because of rain. The Jacksonville Symphony is bringing essentially the same program that was rained out, under the direction of Morihiko Nakahara.

A Film Studio Grows in Palm Coast: 10th Voyage Nurtures Zombies and Ambitions

| April 21, 2014

Operating from a plain-looking office complex in Palm Coast’s Hargrove Grade, 10th Voyage Studio is the creation of three young men–Patrick Appolonia, Scott Nance, and Lenny Mosco–who believe that the days of bigness in film-making are over: they’re poised to make technology and versatility pay in a city with little competition.

A Rabbi, a Priest and a Bible Walk Into a Seminar: An Interfaith Class in Palm Coast Delivers Weekly Punchlines

| April 20, 2014

Every week since December at St. Thomas Church in Palm Coast, Rabbi Merrill Shapiro and Rev. Robert Elfvin have led an interfaith seminar, open to all, on the Bible as it is read through Jewish and Christian eyes. No ideas are out of bounds and some are off the wall, but participants find it bracing, eye-opening and overdue. Ezra Salkin reports.

Corruption Theorem: Money as Speech and the Supreme Court’s Death Blow to Democracy

| April 7, 2014

We’ve come a long way from the days of Lawton Chiles, who won his election for governor despite limiting contributions to $10 a pop. There is no longer any bidding limit on the vast auction block American politics has become since, writes Martin Dyckman.

As Baker Acting of Children Soars, Flagler School Board Grapples With Perceptions of “Outrage”

| April 3, 2014

Baker Acts involving children in schools has reached 32 so far this year, three times more than last year, prompting one school board member to call herself “outraged” at the police-led manner in which most such Baker Acts are carried out, even with teens and younger children.

Lifelong Republican Turned independent: Howard Holley Launches All-Business Bid For County Commission

| April 1, 2014

Howard Holley, a Hammock business executive, would face Flagler County Commissioner Frank Meeker in November if Meeker doesn’t have a primary opponent, no black candidate and no independent candidate has ever won a county commission seat.

Rick Scott’s Dilemma: Helping Undocumented-Immigrant Students Or Sticking to His Base

| March 31, 2014

While Scott has repeatedly said he supports a proposal to end annual 15 percent tuition hikes, he’s remained mum about the portion of the bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, or Dreamers.

Chris Christie’s Hormonal Problem

| March 29, 2014

Would someone please call Chris Christie and tell him that if he thinks he could be President of the United States, he doesn’t have a prayer. By insinuating that the lane closings were the handiwork of a woman suffering from a romantic setback, Christie’s lawyers have ensured that he will be scorned by every woman who has had to endure the canard that women are ruled by their hormones and their feelings.

As March 31 Deadline Nears: Going Without Health Insurance Will Likely Cost You At Tax Time

| March 26, 2014

If you thought you could get health coverage later this year, you may not get that chance until November, which means that you’ll most likely have to pay a penalty of 1 percent of your income at tax time, even if only a single member of your family is not insured. Penalties rise in subsequent years.

Now Leery of Old Courthouse, Bunnell Fears Money Pit and Talks of Giving It Back

| March 25, 2014

With two commissioners ready to give back the old courthouse to the county, Bunnell opted Monday to get more solid bids on what it would cost the city to turn the problematic building into its city hall, but the city administration drew a bleak picture of finances that cannot bear new burdens regardless.

Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory Council More PR Than Input as Few Citizens and Board Members Show Up

| March 21, 2014

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre created the Citizens Advisory Council to give residents’ complaints about the Sheriff’s Office a way to be heard directly and transparently. But two of the three council meetings were not advertised and none of the meetings has produced much more than PR for the sheriff.

Pit Bull Mix Bloodies 3- and 5-Year-Old Children and Their Mother In Two Vicious Attacks at Second Chance Rescue

| March 14, 2014

The 5-year-old girl and her 3-year-old brother were in a van at Second Chance Rescue, waiting for their mother, when the pit bull jumped through a window and attacked the children, and did it again after the children’s mother had dragged it away, jumping in through an open door. All three were severely injured.

Former Gov. Reubin Askew, Towering Force Behind Modern Florida, Is Dead at 85

| March 13, 2014

Reubin Askew, who died on March 13, led efforts to institute a corporate income tax, while reducing consumer taxes. He also spearheaded approval of what became known as the “Sunshine Amendment,” which opened government records and required public officials to disclose information about their financial affairs.

Daylight Saving Time Begins Sunday: A Brief History of a Long Annoyance

| March 7, 2014

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is controversial, annoying and mostly pointless, according to the evidence, neither saving energy nor reducing crime, as its supporters claim, but helping retailers sell more.

A 7-Year-Old Girl Is Baker Acted at Belle Terre Elementary; It’s Not Punishment, District Says

| March 4, 2014

The Baker Acting of a 7-year-old girl at Belle Terre Elementary last week, following a report of her allegedly lacerating the dean of students with thumb tacks, is one of three or four Baker Acts of students in the district every month, though they’re usually older. The district defends the Baker Acts as a necessary last resort that addresses underlying issues, and that must not be seen as retribution or punishment.

Angel’s Diner in Palatka: Radiant Relay

| March 4, 2014

Angel’s Diner in Palatka is reported to be the oldest diner in Florida, across the street from the stately Larimer Arts Center and a toast’s throw from the St. Johns River. It’s also proving to be the ideal relay on the way to a nuking.

On World Tennis Day, Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka, 16, Plays Madison Square Garden

| March 4, 2014

Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka, a top American junior tennis player, made it to one of the world’s premier sports arenas as he opened for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden Monday evening.

A Matanzas High Teacher Reveals Her Evaluation Scores, and the Absurdity of Florida’s “VAM” Scam

| February 26, 2014

What do my almighty “VAM” scores reveal about me, my students, the quality of my instruction or what goes on in my classroom? Absolutely nothing, writes JoAnn Nahirny, who deconstructs Florida’s new teacher-evaluation scores, hers among them, and shows why they have little basis in reality, though they may well define a teacher’s fate.

For Special Education Students in Flagler, a Program That Unlocks Barriers Through Art

| February 26, 2014

Now in its second year, Very Special Arts is an after-school program for students with learning disabilities that helps them find their talent and their place among peers. The program is under the leadership of Sue McVeigh, a former Flagler County schools employee of the year.

Baker Acts, Age and Social Responsibility: Sheriff Manfre’s Alert to Emerging Perils and Possible Solutions

| February 24, 2014

In a broad-ranging discussion before the Palm Coast City Council, Flagler Sheriff Jim Manfre described a deteriorating mental health landscape affected by age and other stresses, but also pointed to mental health courts and other ways to address the growing problem without turning to cops and jails.

Divisions Over Roving Vendors Again Place Flagler Beach’s Business Friendliness on Trial

| February 21, 2014

How the Flagler Beach City Commission finally got to a restrictive ordinance on mobile vendors divided the commission and the town’s business community and again put a spotlight, fairly or not, on the commission’s attitude toward small business. The controversy illustrates an underlying strain between city and business that has not been resolved, and that goes beyond the roving vendor issue.

Grim Reaping: Gov. Rick Scott Now Florida’s Record Holder For Most 1st Term Executions

| February 20, 2014

Juan Carlos Chavez’s execution last week was the 13th on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s watch — a record among first-term Florida governors since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and a record Scottt is smashing with yet more death warrants he is signing in his fourth year.

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