February 08, 2017

South Florida Congressman Ted Deutch to host town halls

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, will host town halls in Broward this weekend.

The town halls will be held at E. Pat Larkins community center, 520 NW 3rd St., Pompano Beach at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and at The Pride Center at Equality Park, 2040 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Deutch represents District 22 which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Parkland, Margate and Boca Raton.

Deutch, who represents a solidly Democratic district, has been a vocal critic of the administration of President Donald Trump including Stephen Bannon's role on the National Security Council and his nominee, Neil Gorsuch, for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Deutch supported the Treasury department's recent sanctions against Iran. He opposed the Iran deal in 2015.


February 07, 2017

In response to Trump immigration ban, Broward passes resolution honoring diversity but avoids 'sanctuary' term



Following President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, the Broward County Commission passed a resolution celebrating diversity while avoiding the term “sanctuary” community.

The resolution declared Broward an “inclusive and welcoming county for all of it's residents and visitors irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin.”

The resolution sponsored by Commissioner Nan Rich of Weston praised immigrants for making “significant contributions to the economic and social fabric of the nation.”

Rich said in an interview that her resolution “had nothing to do with sanctuary cities.” Trump has said he will strip communities of federal funds that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants sought by federal officials. In response, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed the county's 2013 policy to stop honoring federal detention requests. Broward never had a sanctuary policy although the Broward Sheriff's Office has said that it will only honor federal detention detainers if there is a finding of probable cfause.

Rich said that immigration activists asked her to sponsor the resolution.

“We have to speak out when people are doing something that is in contradiction to our American values,” she said in an interview.

Rich, who is Jewish, said her grandparents emigrated from eastern Europe in the 19th Century.

“I’m particularly sensitive to the moral imperative to welcoming immigrants,” said Rich, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1999. “We know what happens when doors are closed and people die and they don’t find the refuge and the safety and protection.”

Immigrant and Democratic activists spoke in favor of the county’s resolution and bashed Trump’s actions related to immigrants.

The resolution passed 7-1 after commissioners struck a phrase about offering “refuge,” an early version of the minutes show. Commissioner Chip LaMarca, the lone Republican, cast the dissenting vote. He noted that the county already has an act banning discrimination.

He also said that the resolution wouldn’t do a “damn thing” to protect the county from the federal government taking away money.

LaMarca said in an interview that he didn’t want to risk losing federal funding for port, road and infrastructure projects.

“There have been direct threats from the federal government -- if we don’t do things a certain way they are going to withhold funding,” he said in an interview.

February 06, 2017

Broward meeting with security consultant after airport shooting

FLL Airportpeoplerunning


Broward County officials plan to negotiate with security consultants to write an after-action analysis related to the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport that left five people dead.

The county's purchasing division will hold a negotiation meeting with Ross & Baruzzini, a security firm, related to the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, at 8 a.m. Wednesday. A sunshine meeting notice included no additional details. No other firms appear to be under consideration.

In December, the county commission gave staff the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with the same security firm for protects at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The county commission is expected to act on the Port contract in February.

A. Celina Saucedo said that the county plans to negotiate with the firm to consult on the airport plan. County officials expect to wait to make any decisions about potential security changes until the plan is complete which could take months.

A key question is whether the county should beef up security in certain areas of the airport including the baggage claim where the shooting occurred. The Miami Herald requested documents from the Broward Sheriff's Office showing how many were assigned to the baggage claim when the shooting occurred, but BSO denied the request citing a state law that allows agencies to keep certain security information private.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel told the Herald in January that he plans to ask the county for more funding for security and that it will cost the agency about $100,000 extra a month in overtime for more security. However, BSO has not made any formal request to the county. BSO plans to give its budget request to the aviation department which then requests funds from the county as part of the normal budgeting process.

The county makes final decisions about the annual budget in September.


January 31, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says on Fox that Trump believes he was elected as a dictator



U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on Fox Business Network  Tuesday that President Donald Trump "believes he was elected as a dictator" and that the acting Attorney General Sally Yates is a "profile in courage."

Trump fired Yates after she refused to comply with his immigration ban.

Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, is no longer the Democratic National Committee chair but she remains South Florida's most outspoken basher-in-chief of Trump and his administration.

Here is a partial transcript:

On acting Attorney General Sally Yates recent actions:

“I think it’s important to note that she did exactly what she said she would do if she was given an order by the President of the United States, which she believed violated the law… Her answer to Jeff Sessions was that she would make sure that the Department of Justice followed the law. And frankly, because President Trump did absolutely nothing to consult the Department of Justice, his Secretary of Homeland Security, any members of Congress, the leadership of Congress, since they basically slapped this policy together in which they were barring immigrants and refugees for a period of time from countries, by the way, none of which had the 9/11 attackers come from.”

On President Trump’s tweet this morning regarding Democrats delaying his cabinet nominations:

“The President’s tweet this morning was very interesting and telling because it shows that he believes he was elected as a dictator. There is an advised and consent role in the United States Senate, and that is what they are doing. He doesn’t just get to have his nominations rubber stamped, and he has nominated some very disturbing individuals.”

On Steve Mnuchin:

“Mnuchin was a Goldman Sachs alumni, an executive at Goldman Sachs. He actually wants to roll back Dodd-Frank. He wants to undo all the consumer protections that have been put in place, that caused the crash in our economy, that allowed all the banks to make money unethically off of the backs of consumers.”

On the 2016 election:

“Look, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by nearly 3 million votes. The people did speak and Donald Trump would do well to listen to them.”



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