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Tuesday Briefing: New Regimes For Red-Light Cameras and School Uniforms

| March 17, 2015

Changes ahead. (Mark Hillary)

Changes ahead. (Mark Hillary)

Today’s weather: Sunny, hot, high of 86, overnight low of 62.
Today’s jail bookings are here.

The Palm Coast City Council this morning is expected to approve an amended contract with American Traffic Solutions, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based private company that runs the city’s red-light camera program, and takes most of the program’s profits after the state’s share is skimmed off. The amendment calls for reducing the number of cameras from 43 to five, and reducing the amount of money Palm Coast earns from the cameras from $700 per camera per month to $350. ATS also pledges to provide legal representation to Palm Coast, among 30 other cities, in the class-action lawsuit Palm Coast faces from drivers ticketed under a system a Florida appeal court declared illegal last year.

The council, however, will have a choice of options this morning. ATS aside, the council is also approving a restrictive covenant with the Palm Coast Arts Foundation, enabling the foundation to start building in Town Center. And in accordance with its auditors’ findings, the council is changing the city’s reserve policy in so far as its garbage fund is concerned–from between 5 to 10 percent to between 10 and 20 percent of the budget–and eliminating the requirement that the tennis center and golf course funds have no deficits. The city has folded those troubled funds into its general fund, thus avoiding the annual embarrassment of showing a deficit in what should be self-generating, self-sustaining funds. The council meets at the Palm Coast Community Center at 9 a.m.

The Flagler County School Board meets in workshop at 5 p.m. this evening, and for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. The workshop focuses on the district’s latest revisions to its student wellness policy, with a focus on better nutrition. Board members will also talk about their strategic plan. The regular meeting features a Power of One Award to Cheryl Tristam, who’s led the Flagler Youth Orchestra’s development from an organization of a dozen students 10 years ago to upwards of 350 students today, with district and donor backing. Policy-wise, an item likely to draw more discussion is the district’s uniform policy, which the board is being asked to advertise again in view of further changes that would include a more liberal reading of the policy. Namely, that “9-12 students may wear school logo shirts, team jerseys, or club shirts each day.” That proposal was brought forward by the student board member, Michael Manning.

At the Legislature:

The Florida House this afternoon takes up a revamp of the state’s school testing system through several bills, including HB7069, a proposal that would reduce the number of tests students have to sit for. The same bill would allow school districts to move up their start date to Aug. 10, a proposal Flagler favors. (3 p.m.)

The Government Operations Subcommittee takes up Rep. Frank Artiles’ proposal to ban transgender use of public and company bathrooms absent strict proof that the individual is a transgender person. “As it happens,” Equality Floirida, the LGBT advocacy organization, states, “scores of citizen lobbyists from both Equality Florida, which strongly opposes the bill, and from other organizations that have historically supported anti-LGBT discrimination are in Tallahassee meeting with legislators today and Tuesday. Both groups are expected to attend Tuesday morning’s hearing. The bill has already been reported favorably by the Civil Justice Subcommittee, although one member who supported it suggested that the bill would need a number of revisions. The version to be considered Tuesday, however, does not appear to be substantially different from the one that was approved on March 4.”

In the Press:

Publix buying property: “Publix Super Markets went on a buying spree over the past year, bagging six shopping centers in Southwest Florida for $86 million. But the state’s largest grocery-store chain is hardly finished — it has earmarked $1.3 billion this year to buy more centers, build new stores and remodel others. The cash-rich company has become a major player in shopping center acquisitions, betting on the revival of the commercial real estate market here and across Florida. […] In the past year, it also acquired centers where it operates stores in Sarasota, Parrish, Englewood and Port Charlotte. Lakeland-based Publix now operates 1,098 stores, and roughly 20 percent sit in company-owned real estate, spokesman Brian West said.” From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Orlando is no longer a cultural wasteland: “Long derided as a cultural wasteland, Orlando’s restaurant and performing arts scene has grown up in recent years, and it is starting to attract attention from national arbiters of taste. Wine Enthusiast magazine recently named Orlando as one of the nation’s top wine travel destinations, and The New York Times singled out the city’s food scene when it placed the city at No. 13 on its list of “52 Places to Go in 2015.” Wise Bread, a website dedicated to penny-pinchers, calls Orlando the nation’s top city for frugal foodies, and the real estate blog Movoto ranked Orlando the nation’s No. 2 city for creative people. The rankings barely mentioned what the city is best known for: theme parks. […] Adding to the buzz about the cultural scene: a new $500 million performing arts center downtown, and an international hunt for a new symphony conductor that’s attracted some well-known names. […] Orlando used to be known as the chain-restaurant capital, a place where corporate restaurant companies would try out new concepts on the regular flow of tourists, and where every chain seemed to have planted a flag along the tourist corridor in the metro area’s southwest region. There always have been top chefs drawn to the kitchens at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and nearby resorts, but it has only been in the last decade that food entrepreneurs catering to locals have flourished, thanks to the low cost of setting up in Orlando, a vibrant food truck scene and the growth of local farms providing a variety of fresh meats and produce.” From the AP.

Israel votes: “So far, it appears to be the highest turnout for an Israeli election since 1999, when the Likud Party and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, lost out to Labor, led by Ehud Barak, who went on to be prime minister,” the Times reports. “There are 26 parties and a total of 1,281 candidates in Tuesday’s elections. Only 120 of them will win seats in Parliament, known as the Knesset, probably from fewer than a dozen slates. Even fewer candidates will play significant roles in deciding who becomes prime minister and what kind of governing coalition he (she is no longer a likely possibility) will have.”

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1 Response for “Tuesday Briefing: New Regimes For Red-Light Cameras and School Uniforms”

  1. Rob says:

    So much for closing down or selling those two losing propositions: the golf course and tennis center.
    They were losers right from the start. With an unrealistic projection shepherded by none other than the town manager.
    There must be something constructive that can be done with $300,000 per year than to perpetuate both of these entities. This condition has existed since they opened.
    Now that their folly has been exposed they have swept it under the rug.

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