Thursday Briefing: Tallahassee Junket, Cops’ Body Cams, and Bolton Wants To Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran
FlaglerLive | March 26, 2015
Today’s weather: Cloudy, high of 80, low 66. Details here.
Today’s fire danger is Moderate. Flagler County’s Drought Index is at 309
The weather at Thule Air Base, Greenland: cloudy, high of 8, low, -5. Details.
The Live Community Calendar
Today’s jail bookings.
In Flagler and Palm Coast:
Spring Break: Flagler County schools are closed for students this week.
The Flagler Beach City Commission meets this evening. Louis DeFazio will be recognized for his volunteer service to the city. The commission will likely authorize the East Flagler Mosquito Control District to conduct low-level flights for mosquito control services and discussion a proposed research collaboration between Lund University researcher Chad Boda and the city regarding Beach Management Plan. It’s a generally light agenda. (5:30 p.m., chambers at Flagler Beach City Hall.)
Flagler County Fire Rescue: Flagler County Fire Rescue’s marine rescue team will be practicing ocean rescue techniques on Thursday at Malacompra Road (north of 16th Road) at the beach. A Wednesday session was cancelled. A dozen rescuers will take part in the practice utilizing both the county’s jet ski and FireFlight helicopter. “Rescue swimmers will deploy from the helicopter and will be assisted by the Fire Rescue water craft creating both dynamic and realistic training,” said Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito. “The water is cold and rough, and the team will continue to train even if it’s raining. We’ve made rescues in this type of weather before.” The marine rescue team formed five years ago. Twenty-seven members of Flagler County Fire Rescue are certified for the team.
The Flagler County Commission, or a majority of its members, are heading to Tallahassee this week for Thursday’s Legislative Day hosted by the Florida Association of Counties. Commissioners George Hanns, Nate McLaughlin and Barbara Revels will attend as well as Deputy County Administrator Sally Sherman. The Florida Association of Counties hosts Legislative Day each year during the height of the Legislative Session. Despite the title, the event is held Wednesday through Friday. Commissioners and staff will lobby for Flagler County’s top legislative priorities: drainage of the Malacompra Basin, more money for the Florida Agricultural Museum, money for the old courthouse renovation, shore protection or renourishment, a Westside Drainage Master Plan, and help contending with the decrepit Plantation Bay Utility. More information about the 2015 Legislative Priorities is available here.
Flagler County Citizens Academy: The ninth Flagler County Citizens Academy Class will participate in a final session on Friday before a graduation ceremony on Monday, April 6. The Citizens Academy provides Flagler County residents a unique educational opportunity to learn about the intricacies of the county government and the array of services it provides. Topics include the County Administration, the Board of County Commissioners, tourism and economic development, land planning, emergency services and parks and recreation, among many others. During the most recent three-hour session on Friday, March 20, the 27 residents in the current Academy acted out a mock County Commission meeting taking place during July 2020, where the following year’s budget was discussed to determine how to fund needed projects. Each person was given information to play roles such as the County Administrator, members of the public with specific concerns or County Commissioners to make the activity more authentic. Those acting in the role of “Commissioners” were tasked with prioritizing issues like replacing a helicopter, replenishing reserve funds and park repairs. “We provided the participants with a role to play and some talking points, but some of them really went out of their way to do research for their part, so everyone really learned a lot,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. Further information about the next Academy starting in September will be available during the summer. For more information about the spring class, please contact Joe Mayer at 386-313-4007.Investiture of Circuit Judge Howard O. McGillin Jr.: Circuit Judge Howard O. McGillin, who was appointed to fill a judicial vacancy in the 7th Judicial Circuit, which includes Flagler, Volusia, Putnam and St. Johns counties. He’ll serve in St. Augustine. He will receive his judicial robe and be formally sworn in this afternoon. This is a judicial proceeding and the circuit judges will be sitting en banc, meaning with the full court participating. Last year, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill a vacancy created when Judge Carlos Mendoza was appointed to the federal bench. Judge McGillin presides over a unified family court division at the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine. He came to the court with a long career in public service – 24 years in the U.S. Army, including 15 years as a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General Corps, or JAG. He retired as a Colonel. While on active duty, his service included visits to the eastern European republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the republics of the former Soviet Union. “While serving in the military, I saw firsthand what happens when the rule of law isn’t followed,” said Judge McGillin. “Those experiences gave me a deep understanding of the importance of the rule of law and the special value of our Constitutional rights. I continue to hold true to those beliefs in my new position as judge.” He earned an undergraduate degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., a juris doctor from the University of Florida College of Law, and a Masters of Law in Military Law from the Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Va. Following a 24-year career in the U.S. Army, he went into private practice. (4 p.m., Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, 14 Granada Street, St. Augustine.)
Palm Coast Beautification and Environmental Advisory Committee meets this evening. Chief on the agenda is a landscape buffer plan for Flagler Palm Coast High School. The meting is chaired by Glenn Partelow. (5 p.m., city council conference room, 160 Cypress Point Parkway.)
Circuit Judge Michael Orfinger hears 17 injunction cases today and hears several non-jury trials. (9 a.m., Judicial Center Courtroom 101).
Circuit Judge J. David Walsh hears 21 cases in drug court. (9:30 a.m., Courtroom 401, Judicial Center).
County Court Judge Melissa Moore-Stens holds various hearing and mediation sessions. (10 a.m., Courtroom 404, Judicial Center).
The Florida Supreme Court releases opinions at 11 a.m. today.
Community Meetings or Events:
The Building Homes for Heroes Foundation welcomes Army Sergeant Kevin Sosa and his family to their new mortgage-free home to honor his three combat tours in Iraq. The public is welcome to attend. (Noon, 9 Birchshire Lane, Palm Coast.)
Palm Coast Community Band rehearsal, welcoming all skills, this evening. (7 p.m., band room, Palm Coast High School.)
At the Florida Legislature:
Gambling: The House Regulatory Affairs Committee holds a non-voting workshop to discuss major gambling-industry issues, including an agreement that allows the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer games such as blackjack at its casinos. (8 a.m.)
High School athletics: The House Education Committee considers PCB EDC 15-02 that would make wide-ranging changes in the Florida High School Athletic Association. (9 a.m.)
House Floor Session: The House holds a floor session and takes up a series of education issues, including a bill (HB 7037), sponsored by Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, about charter schools and a bill (HB 665), sponsored by Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, about maximum class sizes. (3:30 p.m.)
–Compiled in part with contributions from the News Service of Florida
Road and Interstate Construction:
Flagler County: County Road 305 between CR 2006 and Tangerine. IMPACTS: Closure in force 3/17/2015 for the 2nd box culvert replacement. Detours detour via CR 110 to CR 95 to CR 2006. Truck Detour via Bunnell (SR 100 – SR 11)
Palm Coast: Palm Coast Parkway between Cypress Point Parkway and Florida Park Drive. IMPACTS: Lane shifts and closures will occur and this may cause traffic congestion on this already busy roadway. Most construction work will occur between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. though weather and unforeseen issues may adjust the schedules. This project will be complete by December 2015.
Volusia County I-4 Closure:There will be an eastbound road closure on Interstate 4 near Daytona Beach for construction related to the ongoing widening project tonight. To accommodate the work, the Florida Department of Transportation and its contractor, The de Moya Group, scheduled an overnight detour 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. tonight, Thursday, March 26, into Friday, March 27. The I-4 eastbound lanes will be closed. The detour will route traffic onto US 92 east to Interstate 95 (I-95). Drivers can travel southbound on I-95 to reconnect with I-4. Times and dates could change based on weather conditions and other variables, updates will be provided if the schedule is modified. Message boards and detour signs will be in place throughout the work zone guiding drivers through the area. For the most up-to-date information on road and lane closures, go to www.cflroads.com and click on ‘Lane Closures.’
I-4 in Volusia: I-4 Widening from SR 44 to east of I-95, Monday & Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., EB/WB outside shoulder closures from SR 44 to I-95. Monday – Thursday 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. EB/WB intermittent lane closures.
I-95 in Volusia: I-95 widening from SR 406 to SR 44, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. EB/WB single lane closures on Maytown Road and Indian River Blvd./SR 442 at I-95 overpass.
- Palm Coast Parkway Project Website
- Florida Department of Transportation Road Project List
- County Road 304 Project Map and Description
In the Press:
With more police wearing cameras, the fight over footage has begun in Florida: Here in Florida, with one of the strongest public-records laws in the country, that frontier may soon be shaped by a couple of factors. One is a lawsuit filed by a Sarasota attorney against the local police department over fees for release of video footage. The second is a bill in the state legislature that would create new exemptions in the public records law when it comes to body cameras. The details of the suit and the bill are unique to the Sunshine State. But in the wake of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the Justice Department’s scathing report on biased policing in Ferguson, MO, as hopes for greater police accountability and improved community relations are pinned in part on wider use of the cameras, both warrant close attention. The lawsuit was filed by Michael Barfield, vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, who asked the Sarasota Police Department for the 84 hours of video recorded by officers wearing body cameras during a test of the equipment last year. Though some states grant police broad discretion over when to release video, the Sarasota department recognizes the footage is subject to disclosure under Florida’s records law. But local officials told Barfield he would have to pay $18,000 for DVD copies of the recordings. As the Sarasota Herald Tribune noted, that amounts to $190 per hour of video. The charge includes $5 for each DVD, far more than blank DVDs cost. But the real cost is in the 458 hours the police department estimates it will take to review the videos and redact anything that might be exempt from the records request—an estimate that works out to more than five hours of time for each hour of footage. […] Though the city’s proposed fee may not be reasonable, it is true that—as groups like the ACLU have noted—officer-worn body cameras present some unique issues, potentially bringing police accountability into tension with the privacy rights of private citizens (and depending on how they are deployed, police officers themselves).[…] Meanwhile, a bill currently making its way through the Florida Senate addresses those privacy issues, exempting from the public records law body-cam footage shot inside a private home, as well as anything shot inside a school or hospital or during a medical emergency. The bill also allows someone who is videotaped to get access to the footage. Those exemptions are understandable, according to Sandy Bohrer, a media law attorney in the state. (When I worked at The Miami Herald, Bohrer represented me on a number of occasions.)” From the Columbia Journalism Review.
To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran: John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations and current uber-hawk and occasional nut emeritus, echoes the old song of John McCain’s in a Times OpEd: “The Obama administration’s increasingly frantic efforts to reach agreement with Iran have spurred demands for ever-greater concessions from Washington. Successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, worked hard, with varying success, to forestall or terminate efforts to acquire nuclear weapons by states as diverse as South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. Even where civilian nuclear reactors were tolerated, access to the rest of the nuclear fuel cycle was typically avoided. Everyone involved understood why. This gold standard is now everywhere in jeopardy because the president’s policy is empowering Iran. Whether diplomacy and sanctions would ever have worked against the hard-liners running Iran is unlikely. But abandoning the red line on weapons-grade fuel drawn originally by the Europeans in 2003, and by the United Nations Security Council in several resolutions, has alarmed the Middle East and effectively handed a permit to Iran’s nuclear weapons establishment. […] The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed. Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.” In the Times.
Live-Streaming Battle: Twitter’s Periscope Debuts: “On Thursday, Periscope, which Twitter purchased in January for a little under $100 million, will make its public debut in Apple’s App Store. (Personal Tech columnist Joanna Stern has first impressions.) With just a few taps of the smartphone, users can start broadcasting their surroundings to the rest of the world. Like Twitter, this means Periscope has the potential to capture the mundane as well as the prolific moments. […] Periscope’s public debut comes amid a sudden fascination with–and acceptance of–live streaming. In the past month, a competing live-streaming app, Meerkat, has exploded on the scene, amassing roughly a half-million users and lighting up Twitter with tweets each time users begin broadcasting. Meerkat now counts celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and political big wigs like Sen. Rand Paul and Jeb Bush among its users.” From the Journal.