January 20, 2017

Broward Sheriff's Office estimates cost of response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

FLL Airportswat DS


The Broward Sheriff's Office estimates that it has spent about $370,000 in response to the Jan. 6th mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

That includes the overtime costs for responding to the shooting that day and the increase in security at the airport since the shooting that left five people dead.

BSO has spent $261,082 on overtime between Jan. 6-13 and $100,000 on post-event security enhancements Jan. 14-25. The other expenses include $5,107 for fire/rescue overtime and $3,774 for meals. That brings the total tab to $369,963.

According to a BSO document, 509 employees responded to the airport shooting on Jan. 6th.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said he plans to seek more money from the county to cover security at the airport. However, no long-term security decisions are expected until the county writes an after-action plan that could take several weeks, if not months.

BSO is seeking reimbursement from the state and federal government.


January 17, 2017

Fort Lauderdale airport security meeting raises questions, but no answers

FLL Airportswat DS


The mass shooting at the airport in Broward County has raised several questions about security, but government officials who met Tuesday said it will take time to reach conclusions about any long-term changes related to firearms in airports, paying for security or other measures to protect passengers.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat whose district includes the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said one of the key questions is whether the U.S. should continue the policy of allowing guns in checked baggage. Wasserman Schultz met with law enforcement, aviation and government officials at the Broward Sheriff’s Office Tuesday to discuss airport security. The meeting was closed to the public, but officials spoke at a press conference after the meeting.

“There was no professional who was in the room today that said, ‘Oh, we definitely should continue to allow firearms to be checked in baggage traveling on airplanes,’” Wasserman Schultz said. “No one said that. In fact, there was pretty universal consensus that it needs to be addressed.”

When asked if the Transportation Security Administration wants to change the policy that allows guns checked in baggage, TSA Chief of Operations Gary Rasicot said “any changes to that I defer to the congresswoman and her colleagues.”

Providing more airport security comes at a price.

“We are all about saving dollars and we all have budgets, but I think we should be more about saving lives,” Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said during the press conference. “Whatever we need to make Broward County safe I will be asking for that money soon.”

In an interview with the Herald, Israel said that it cost his agency about $300,000 to respond to the shooting on Jan. 6th. Additionally, it will cost BSO about $100,000 a month in overtime to provide more security, he said.

“I will be going to the county asking to finance that bill,” he said.

Keep reading here.

Congressman Alcee Hastings boycotts Donald Trump's inauguration



U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings will not attend Donald Trump's inauguration.

Hastings will spend the day in his district instead, spokesman Evan Polisar said. Hastings, who lives in Delray Beach, represents portions of Broward, Palm Beach and Hendry counties. Hastings rallied African-Americans to support Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The other two Democrats who represent Broward -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton -- will both attend the inauguration. Wasserman Schultz will attend the Women's March on Washington Saturday and is co-hosting a breakfast before the march.

Here is Hastings' statement:

“I have decided to boycott the Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump and remain in my Congressional district in Florida. This decision is not a protest of the results of the Electoral College, but rather, an objection to the demagoguery that continues to define the incoming administration.

“President-elect Trump has done little to prove that he is ready to lead this country. Instead, he continues to champion divisiveness. The office of the President is not endowed with unquestioned loyalty, and it is the obligation of each and every American to speak out against injustices however big or small. I cannot play a part in normalizing the countless offensive comments that he has made throughout the past year.

“It is quite simply wrong for the President-elect to use his position of power to continue to make racist, sexist, and bigoted statements, to demean those who have spent their lifetimes championing civil rights, such as Rep. John Lewis, and to ridicule religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and anyone who looks different. President-elect Trump continues to denigrate the American intelligence community, jeopardizing the security of the American people, and has clear, undeniable conflicts of interest in violation of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, designed to prevent foreign influence over American elected officials. Make no mistake: these behaviors are not, nor can they ever be, considered normal.

“President-elect Trump has made it clear that when given the choice, he stands with Vladimir Putin. I choose to stand with Rep. John Lewis, and every American that expects our President to serve with compassion and humility. If the Trump administration continues to champion illegal, unconstitutional, or other ideas that put the safety of the American people at risk, it will find no harsher critic than me.”


Meet the South Florida protesters heading to the Women's March on Washington

via @harrisalexc

As the November election results came in and tears rolled down her face, Carrie Feit couldn’t stop thinking about her nieces.

Unlike her own 6-year-old daughter, Feit’s 12- and 14-year-old nieces were old enough to ask their mother about what they heard Donald Trump say on television. They wanted to know about the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, of crude groping language infamy.

“My sister had to wake up the next day and tell her daughters that he won,” Feit said. “That ‘we’ elected him, that he won, that this country was OK with all that.”

Feit, 42, turned her anger into action. Two days after Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton, Feit was area captain for the Miami-Dade County section of the Women’s March on Washington, a catch-all demonstration for a slew of liberal causes planned for Saturday, the day after Trump’s inauguration. It’s expected to draw some 200,000 people from across the country.

“I thought about my nieces and all little girls that we want to empower,” Feit said. “The idea that they and other girls would think they did not deserve as much respect as anyone else pained me to the core.”

A robust contingent of Florida women is headed to the march any way they can. One bus from Miami-Dade — a nearly 20-hour ride away — sold out weeks before the trip. For those who can’t make it to D.C., a simultaneous local rally is planned at Bayfront Park.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

January 16, 2017

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to meet about Fort Lauderdale airport security

FLL Airportswat DS


Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, will meet with law enforcement and aviation officials Tuesday afternoon to discuss airport security following the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.

The meeting at the Broward Sheriff's Office in Fort Lauderdale is not open to the public or press however officials will speak to the media after the meeting.

Other participants in the security roundtable include Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief, airport director Mark Gale, airport security director Frank Capello and officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and federal agencies including the Transportation Security Administration.

Broward County officials have made no long-term decisions about airport security changes. The county pays the Broward Sheriff's Office about $17 million a year to provide security at the airport. The money comes from fees paid by airlines and vendors and pays the cost for about 116 full-time employees. Israel and U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have sought federal money to help cover the cost of responding to the shooting. BSO is in the process of compiling an estimate for what it spent related to the Jan. 6 shooting which shutdown the airport for several hours.

Suspected gunman Esteban Santiago, who faces charges in the fatal shooting of five people and injuring six, will appear in court Tuesday morning.



Broward's Mitch Ceasar running for DNC vice chair



Broward County's former Democratic chairman, Mitch Ceasar, is running for vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

In 2016, Ceasar ended his 20-year reign as chair of Broward, Florida's county with the highest number of registered Democrats. A lawyer from Plantation, Ceasar lost a Democratic primary for Broward Clerk of Courts in August. 

"We are living in a political climate where the new normal is abnormal," Ceasar said about his quest for one of five vice chair positions. "I want to be part of the solution -- I will have time to devote to rebuilding the party. This is not going to be some glory job -- no more White House Christmas parties, no more perks. It is going to be a very tough four years to rebuild."

Ceasar said that he wants the party to focus on lower ballot races including state legislators who redraw state and Congressional district boundaries and he wants to use Florida Fair Districts amendment as a model.

The New York Times reported that at a forum for the national officer candidates in Phoenix Saturday, Democrats disagreed about how to respond to Donald Trump:

“We can complain all day about every stupid tweet, but the bottom line is that’s not going to change anything,” Ceasar said. “We have to have precision and be narrow in our scope.”

Ceasar is running for a male vice chair slot against three other men -- the number of males elected depends upon the gender ratio of those who win other positions. Ceasar is competing against New York state assemblyman Michael Blake, Adam Parkhomenko, co-founder of Ready for Hillary and served on Donna Brazile's DNC transition team and Rick Palacio, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party.

The DNC's approximately 447 members will elect their new leadersduring meetings Feb. 23-26 in Atlanta. Ceasar said he has made no commitment to back any of the chair candidates including State Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota or Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Ceasar has served on the DNC's executive board for about 10 years but that ended Saturday when the Florida Democratic Party held its election for officers including representatives to the DNC. Ceasar was nominated for a DNC position, but did not win and couldn't attend since he was at the national forum in Phoenix. Ceasar said it isn't a requirement to be on the executive board to run for the vice chair position.

The DNC members elected from Florida Saturday are Cynthia Busch, Terrie Rizzo, Nikki Barnes, Grace Carrington, Alma Gonzalez, Alan Clendenin, John Ramos, Ken Evans, Dwight Bullard and John Parker

-- Photo by the Sun Sentinel


January 13, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz confronts FBI's Comey at hacking hearing, per The Hill


The Hill is reporting that U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, confronted FBI director James Comey Friday during a closed-door briefing about Russian hacking.

The hacking at the Democratic National Committee led to Wasserman Schultz stepping down as national party chair in July on the eve of the convention. She went on to beat Tim Canova in her Democratic party and won re-election to her Broward/Miami-Dade seat in November.

From The Hill:

The former head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) confronted FBI Director James Comey on Friday during a confidential briefing on Russian hacking that left many Democrats calling for Comey’s scalp, several lawmakers told The Hill. 
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was forced to resign last summer as head of the DNC amid the hacking scandal, told Comey that he should have come to her directly once the FBI was aware of the breach, just as he had done with other hacking victims.
Comey, described by lawmakers in the room as unflinching and defiant, retorted that the FBI had properly notified DNC officials of the hacking.
"You let us down!" one Democrat yelled to Comey during the tense exchange, according to one attendee.

Keep reading from The Hill


Broward County will examine security after Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

FLL Airportpeoplerunning


The security at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has been beefed up in the short-term in response to the shooting but Broward County has made no decisions about any long-term changes to security.

The Broward Sheriff's Office provides security to the airport -- a $17 million expense that is paid from fees paid by airlines and airport vendors. Broward has enough money in that fund to pay for the overtime incurred by deputies since the shooting, County Administrator Bertha Henry said.

The bulk of the security budget pays for 116 full-time employees, according to a budget document. 

Airport and county officials are focused on handling the immediate aftermath of the shooting and have not made any decisions about long-term security changes. On Friday afternoon, the airport held a ceremony to honor the victims and reopen the area of Terminal 2 in the baggage claim where the shooting occurred. The area now has new carpet and the ceiling was painted leaving no physical signs of the shooting other than a sign inviting the public to leave memorials.

County Commissioners held a two-and-a-half hour closed-door meeting to discuss airport security Tuesday following the Jan. 6th shooting that left five people dead. Florida law allows public bodies to meet in private to discuss the security of government buildings.

If the county proposes an increase in funding, that will be brought to a future open county commission meeting, though no date has been set, Henry said. 

Airport stakeholders will hold a meeting next week to discuss lessons learned from the shooting, said director of airport security Frank Capello. Later, the county will undergo a formal review -- possibly done by an outside entity -- of the county's response to the shooting. After a 2013 shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport that left a TSA agent dead and others injured, officials with the help of a consultant wrote a 99-page report that included several recommendations to improve public safety. 

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson seeking federal reimbursement. On Friday, Nelson, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and several members of South Florida's Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson seeking federal dollars for Broward.

BSO is in the process of tallying the cost of the response and had no estimate for the Miami Herald Friday afternoon.


Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio seek federal money for Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

FLL Airportswat DS


U.S. senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and several members of South Florida's congressional delegation sent a letter Friday to federal officials seeking money for costs incurred by local law enforcement that responded to the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood international airport.

The politicians wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson following a letter sent by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to Nelson on Wednesday asking for his assistance in seeking federal reimbursement.

Here is the letter from the Senators and members of Congress: "Last week, the community of Fort Lauderdale experienced a horrific tragedy. On the afternoon of Friday, January 6, a gunman attacked the Fort Lauderdale Airport, murdering five and injuring dozens more in the shooting and fallout. We are writing to request that you commit all appropriate federal resources to assist law enforcement and the surrounding community in Fort Lauderdale after this attack. We urge you to review existing authority and expedite any requests from local and state authorities for grant funding or other assistance to respond to this tragedy. Federal assistance would help this community respond appropriately to the devastation. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request and your attention to Fort Lauderdale’s recovery efforts."

The letter was also signed by several Democratic members of Congress who represented Broward or have in the past including: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and Frederica Wilson.

The U.S. Department of Justice gave $1 million to Florida law enforcement agencies to help pay for overtime costs related to the Pulse nightclub shooting in June that left 49 victims dead. The justice department provided $500,000 to local agencies that responded to the 2015 San Bernardino attack that left 14 dead.

January 12, 2017

Obama names Broward supporter to Holocaust council


via @adamsmithtimes

President Barack Obama today named Coral Springs trial lawyer Andrew Weinstein, a top Democratic fundraiser, a member of U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, a position he will continue to hold after Donald Trump becomes president on Jan. 20. The president in 2013 appointed Weinstein to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.