Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Redlining alive and well in America

Redlining, the illegal and discriminatory practice of fencing off neighborhoods, is alive and well in America:

Habitat for Humanity will be building a wall around affordable homes in Collier County. The nonprofit has gotten the go-ahead to build 116 new affordable homes in East Naples, as long as a concrete wall separates them from nearby communities.

The new homes would be completely surrounded by either lakes, preserves, or other land. But, nearby neighbors wanted more, so Habitat for Humanity agreed to built 8-foot concrete walls around parts of the neighborhood. Those walls would be connected by a chain-link fence.

“I’m not going to judge, but I’m just glad they’re going to have the wall for the other people who feel like their privacy is getting invaded,” neighbor Cynthia Ellis said.

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The TV graphic literally shows the fencing as a red line

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What can be done to cure Florida of its parking addiction problem?

Repairs to a  parking garage for state senators and their staff, costing $28 million, are nearly complete. The underground parking garage holds 210 cars.

So the cost? $133,000 per space.

Just across the street, a parking garage with room for 100 cars sits virtually empty.

The spending is taking place as the Department of Corrections is cutting a like amount, $29 million, from substance abuse treatment. The cuts will close some programs and send some offenders to prison.

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Here is a safety tip for cyclists in Florida. When stopped by the police, do not perform a side-dismount, by putting both feet down on one side of the bike. The officer may interpret that as an intent to flee, making you eligible for summary execution:

The dashcam video shows that Stephens looks back, then continues about 20 more feet to his friend’s house, where he gets off the bike. Lin is now even more convinced that Stephens is about to take off on foot, not because he got off the bike, but because he put both feet over the same side to do so.

“The manner he stopped and got off his bicycle was consistent with someone who had run from me in the past,” Lin said in a deposition: a “rolling run” where someone jumped off with both feet on one side and just kept going.

Four seconds later, Officer Lin shot the cyclist four times, leaving him paralyzed. An internal investigation cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

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Behold, the “ultimate” highway widening. Seriously, that is actually the word Florida DOT officials used to describe it, and they may not be exaggerating:


This highway engineering nightmare is the new-and-improved I4. It is where the Obama Administration once tried to build a new high-speed rail line. Governor Scott killed the train idea, because he said it would cost Florida taxpayers too much (even though it was fully funded by the Feds).

The I4 widening will cost a whopping $2.1 billion for just 21 miles. And whereas Florida taxpayers would not have had to pay anything for the train, they will pay at least half the cost of the highway project. The rest of the funding is supposed to come from a PPP tolls. And given the dismal record of PPP-funded highways, taxpayers should expect to pay even more.

A giant highway overcrossing is a great place to a street fair!

A giant highway overcrossing is a great place for a street fair!

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A recent FDOT project on Hwy-40 in Ormond Beach provides a lesson in how not to do bike/ped improvements:

The beautification project along Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach was designed to slow down motorists while making it more attractive for pedestrians, businesses and others.

Signs soon began popping up along the newly paved section of the busy thoroughfare urging motorists to share the road with bicycles.

Jack Gonzalez, though, says he finds himself these days riding in the gutters. “It used to be a lot safer, you would at least have some space,” said Gonzalez, who owns The Bike Shop on nearby Yonge Street.

Gonzalez isn’t the only one concerned about bicyclists riding on the main road through the city’s downtown. One elected city official believes there is a potential for disaster. “It’s a tragedy in the making, I just hope and pray it doesn’t happen,” said City Commissioner Troy Kent, whose zone includes downtown and who recently took up biking.

Earlier this year, crews transformed a section of State Road 40 from Washington to Beach Street by narrowing the lanes and adding medians in an attempt to slow traffic and make the road more pedestrian-friendly.

To be precise: what the FDOT did was to add a median barrier. It is a highway engineering solution to increase the throughput on a major arterial. Medians encourage drivers to go faster, without worrying about oncoming traffic. To make room for the median, the outside lane was reduced to 11′. Previously, cyclists had a wide outside lane, but now they have to ride in the middle of 35 mph traffic. But don’t worry — FDOT added Sharrows so now it is more bike “friendly”.

If FDOT had actually been serious about slowing traffic, they would have implemented a road-diet.

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I am shocked to discover Florida Highway Patrol may have an unwritten policy of not issuing traffic tickets to Legislators:

A state trooper who said he was “trying to be nice” stopped a state legislator for speeding on I-10. But instead of writing Rep. Charles McBurney a $250 speeding ticket, the trooper, in his own words, “cut him a break” and offered him a much cheaper alternative of a $10 fine for not having proof of insurance. As a result, he got fired.

McBurney said he was not going 87 miles per hour as Trooper Charles Swindle alleged, and that his cruise control was set at 75. The lawmaker also said he did have proof of insurance, which he said Swindle didn’t request. Outraged by the trooper’s conduct, the lawmaker complained to Col. David Brierton, head of the Florida Highway Patrol — and last week the FHP fired Swindle for violating department rules, including conduct unbecoming a public employee.

Swindle has hired a lawyer and is challenging the firing and claims the patrol has a long-running unwritten “quid pro quo” policy of not issuing traffic tickets to state legislators.

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Here is another outrageous story from Florida of a police officer acting with complete disregard of the law:

WFTV obtained more video Friday that shows an Orlando police officer hitting a pedestrian with his squad car. Police will only say he’s under criminal investigation, but Officer Michael Fiorentino-Tyburski is still allowed to patrol the streets.

It’s been almost three months since the pedestrian was hit at Hughey Avenue in downtown Orlando.

An investigator concluded in January that the officer was at fault for leaving the scene. The video shows the victim, Tetris Nunn, rolling over Orlando patrol car No. 8128 with Fiorentino-Tyburski behind the wheel.

On Friday, Channel 9 obtained the 911 calls and radio transmissions in the case. On the radio transmission, Fiorentino-Tyburski can be heard dodging questions his own department was asking him.

The conversation with dispatch went like this:

“Ten-four. We just got a caller for a Signal 4 at Hughey and Washington and we’re just trying to figure out if that was you,” the dispatcher said.

“I’m not there anymore. Who called it in?” asked Fiorentino-Tyburski.

“Signal 4” is code for a crash and it was the victim who called it in on an witness’ cellphone. He said the officer hit him and left the scene.

“Did the officer say he was coming back or why did he leave if he hit you?” asked the operator.

“Uh, he just hit me and, you know what I’m saying, he was, he blamed it on me and he just took off,” said the victim.

Here is video footage of the incident. Investigators say the victim was jaywalking. Unfortunately, the ped signal isn’t visible in the video, although it does appear he was walking with a green light. The Google Streetview location of the intersection is here.

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Florida’s Speeding Cops

What is it about Florida that their government officials don’t feel the need to obey the speed limit?

A three-month Sun Sentinel investigation found almost 800 cops from a dozen agencies driving 90 to 130 mph on our highways.

Many weren’t even on duty — they were commuting to and from work in their take-home patrol cars.

The extent of the problem uncovered by the newspaper shocked South Florida’s police brass. All the agencies started internal investigations.

“Excessive speed,” Margate Police Chief Jerry Blough warned his officers, is a “blatant violation of public trust.”

The evidence came from police SunPass toll records. The Sun Sentinel obtained a year’s worth, hit the highways with a GPS device and figured out how fast the cops were driving based on the distance and time it took to go from one toll plaza to the next.

Speeding cops can kill. Since 2004, Florida officers exceeding the speed limit have caused at least 320 crashes and 19 deaths. Only one officer went to jail — for 60 days.

A cop with a history of on-the-job wrecks smashed into South Florida college student Erskin Bell Jr. as he waited at a red light in Central Florida three years ago, hitting him at 104 mph. Bell is now severely brain-damaged.

“Every day, you pray for a miracle,” said his father, Erskin Bell Sr. “Had this officer’s behavior been dealt with, maybe he would not have run into our son.”

Law enforcement officers have been notoriously reluctant to stop their own for speeding, and the criminal justice system has proven no tougher at punishing lead-foot cops, records show.

That sense of impunity infuriates many Floridians. Those concerns erupted in October, when a state trooper clocked Miami Police Officer Fausto Lopez driving 120 mph through Broward County on his way to a moonlighting job.

“They think that they have carte blanche. Who’s going to catch them? Who’s going to do anything about it?” said state Sen. Steve Oelrich, a Gainesville Republican and former sheriff.

“Something needs to be done.”


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