FAC News Clips – August 18, 2017
JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The population in Jackson and other neighboring counties has been dropping for several years. Many say the lack of industry and dwindling agriculture has contributed to the decline. In Jackson County, the schools are feeling the effects of the decline first-hand. "Based on a preliminary count, in comparing first day last year to first day this year, our numbers are down about a hundred students," Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore said.
During the meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, Aug. 9 the Commissioners accepted a check in the amount of $19,917.45 from the Suwannee River Water Management District. Hugh Thomas, the new Director for the district presented the check as a payment in lieu of taxes. The Board passed the consent agenda, which consisted of the approval of a state-funded grant agreement for emergency management for $115,806. The Board also approved a federally-funded sub-award and a grant agreement for emergency management for $44,096.
Highlands News Sun
SEBRING — Highlands County Commissioners got $1 million closer Tuesday to cutting a $6.2 million deficit when Sheriff Paul Blackman volunteered to cut his department’s budget. In June, when County Administrator June Fisher proposed the $137.8 million Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget, it was $6 million higher than the current budget, so she proposed using $6.2 million from reserves.
Tampa Bay Times
BROOKSVILLE — The politically volatile idea of using a separate taxing district to fund Sheriff Al Nienhuis' budget is once again off the table. But while the sheriff doesn't have to worry about the taxing district, which most recently was suggested by the city of Brooksville, the County Commission has agreed to try the use of an additional mechanism to clear up questions about the way Nienhuis accounts for his money. During a short discussion at the end of their meeting last week, commissioners agreed to ask for a formal audit through the state Auditor General's Office.
BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Several groups with opposing views are planning to protest at a Confederate monument in downtown Bradenton. Manatee County commissioners are preparing to make sure it’s done safely and have called a special meeting for 3 p.m. Friday to address public safety concerns. The groups are expecting large showings with possibly hundreds of people Monday evening at the nearly century-old monument outside the Manatee County Courthouse.
DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - DeFuniak Springs is home to one of the second oldest Confederate monuments in the country and the first for the state of Florida. Sitting on the Walton County Courthouse lawn, many say it represents different meanings to different people. "All citizens of Walton County access the courthouse for many reasons and a Confederate flag flying at the steps is a symbol of white supremacy," said Margie Jordan, chairwoman of the Walton County Democratic Party.
Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening. Concern from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office over potential vandalism prompted the action, according to a statement from county spokeswoman Liana Lopez. The barrier is similar to those put up during public events to protect structures, according to the statement. County officials expect construction to be completed Thursday night.
Tampa Bay Times
It took private citizens less than 24 hours to do what their elected leaders in Hillsborough County could not for the past three months: Find the moral fortitude and the money to move a century-old Confederate war memorial from outside the county courthouse. Thursday's achievement was a lesson in leadership to county leaders and a message in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy that bigotry has no place in the public square and that all Americans can help shape their communities for the better.
MARION COUNTY, Fla. - In Marion County, Veteran’s Memorial Park is the home of a Confederate statue and along a historic trail a rebel flag that was once raised over the Capital Building in Tallahassee flies. They are the only two Confederate symbols displayed in the county, but in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, a local NAACP chapter has called for their removal. In a letter to the Marion County Commission, the NAACP urged leaders to remove the Confederate symbols because they promote “white superiority, xenophobia, racism, bigotry, intolerance, anti-Semitism and division.”
While advocates supporting the removal of a Confederate monument in Tampa were celebrating on Thursday afternoon after meeting a fundraising goal required to move the statue. proponents of keeping the monument where it is say the issue isn’t over yet. Save Southern Heritage Florida, the activist group that has been leading the charge to keep the monument as is, says it will file suit in federal court in Tampa on Friday to prevent the statue from being moved.
Sarasota Herald Tribune
MANATEE COUNTY — Florida is the only state with a mandate that a citizens commission be organized periodically to recommend changes to its constitution. On Thursday, the Manatee Tiger Bay Club learned about the weighty task of the current Constitution Revision Commission. Chaired by Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff, the 37-member panel includes 15 appointees of Gov. Rick Scott (including Beruff), nine appointed by the speaker of the Florida House, nine appointed by the Senate president, three appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court and Pam Bondi, the current attorney general.
Tampa Bay Times
It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council. Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed. Things went downhill fast Wednesday night as Ahern became a punching bag for all of the city's frustrations with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, the state's most vocal critic of cities and counties. It was Corcoran who led the charge for a referendum on a higher homestead exemption in 2018, who wanted to abolish tax-supported community redevelopment agencies and who supported an unsuccessful proposal to require cities to seek legislative approval for local ordinances that affect business and commerce.
There's a compelling case to be made that the government closest to the people serves the people best. Who knows a community better than the people who live there? Decisions made by accessible local officials — your neighbors — are almost always going to be more attuned to the needs and circumstances of your city or county than some one-size-fits-all rule handed down by distant bureaucrats. It's called home rule, and you'd think Florida Legislators would get it. After all, many of them chafe at federal regulations that come from Washington.
St. Augustine Record
Florida cities and counties are in a dilemma about pot. State lawmakers approved regulations in June that left city and county officials with a Hobson’s choice about the sale of medical marijuana in their communities. Local governments can either impose outright bans on medical-marijuana dispensaries or allow unlimited numbers of marijuana retail outlets, under an “all or nothing” approach approved during a special legislative session.
Unpaid Ambulance Bills
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Calling an ambulance will cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. But CBS12 Investigates learned some people are not paying the bill, costing the county millions in lost revenue. Palm Beach County Commissioners just approved writing of $11.8 million in what it calls “uncollectable emergency transport patient accounts.” In other words, ambulance fees generated when Palm Beach County Fire Rescue takes a patient to the hospital. “Some people are lying on the street injured that they transport who have no identification, so it’s impossible to know who they could go after,” Commissioner Steven Abrams said.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Last month in Fort Myers, state water managers joined scientists, environmentalists and representatives from agriculture in developing a plan to reduce excess nutrients flowing into the Caloosahatchee watershed. Years ago, such a meeting would have been happenstance. But thanks to the comprehensive water bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2015, meetings such as this one are about to become much more common around the state in the near future.