Two Bills Filed to Legalize Uber in Florida

Categories: News

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via Uber
Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have been trying to find a way to operate legally in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, while amassing penalty fees for doing so. But now two companion bills have been filed to establish guidelines for each service, though both differ in some of the details.

Earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Brandes filed SB 1326, while Rep. Matt Gaetz filed companion bill, HB 817. The bills propose statewide requirements for Uber and Lyft across the board, including background checks, minimum insurance coverage and a ban on drivers with three or more moving violations or a reckless driving conviction in the past three years. The bill would also have drivers with felony convictions, DUI conviction within the past seven years to be banned from driving for these and any other Transportation Network Companies.

See also: Palm Beach Cabbie Wants to Launch Ride App to Rival Uber

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Paris Hilton Went to Cuba and Had a Lovely Time

Categories: Politics

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Paris Hilton/Instagram
"Loving Old Havana," Hilton posted on Instagram.
Paris Hilton, the princess of crass capitalism visited Havana, the center of sinking socialism, in what is surely a sign that new policies between the U.S. and Cuba will tremendously benefit citizens of the Caribbean nation.

The 34-year-old heiress of Hilton hotel wealth, posted photos to her Instagram of herself enjoying a beautiful day in Havana and he seemed to be enjoying herself.

"There's some beautiful architecture here in Cuba," she posted, along with a photo of Havana's Teatro Nacional and an "OK hand sign" emoji.

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Florida Greyhound Association's Claims About Decoupling Are False, Says Greyhound Advocate (UPDATED)

Categories: Animal Planet

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Photo by AngMoKio via Wikipedia Commons

Update: Reached for comment by New Times, David Bishop, who does media outreach for the Florida Greyhound Association, has responded to Theil's comments.

"The Florida Greyhound Association fully supports reporting at-track injuries and deaths, but this is more than just gathering numbers," Bishop says. "We want conditions at the tracks improved to actually prevent injuries. The Florida Legislature should do more than just gather data to make it safer for the dogs at the tracks. Grey2K's agenda is to end greyhound racing. The fact that they support decoupling proves our case that, if passed, greyhound racing will end, three thousand jobs will be lost, and 13 pari-mutuel facilities will be converted into casinos."

Original post: Last week it was announced that Grey2K, USA, with the help of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Coral Springs Rep. Jared Moskowitz, would restart the fight to have greyhound racing decoupling in race tracks and casinos throughout the state.

But the Florida Greyhound Association has decided to fight back, claiming that decoupling would not only be costly to the state, but also increase gambling. The FGA also has said that decouplng would harm greyhounds, saying that Grey2K and other advocates have no real plan to take care of the dogs should they be released from their respective race tracks.

Carey Theil, Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, says the claims being made by the FGA are just plain false.

"The FGA has a right to fight for the continuation of dog racing," Theil says. "They do not have the right, however, to simply make things up."

See also: Fight to End Greyhound Racing in Florida is Back On


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Florida Fines West Palm Beach Health Spa After Claims of False Cancer Treatment

Categories: Palm Beach News

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BotMultichillT via wikimedia commons
This is what a real doctor looks like.
West Palm Beach's the Hippocrates Health Institute has been in operation since 1987, offering alternative medical practices on its swanky spa-like campus. But according to Canadian news reports, the institute and its top man, Brian Clement, are responsible for smooth-talking cancer patients away from traditional therapy, with disastrous results. One of the institute's patients -- an 11-year-old girl -- recently died. Now the state has hit Hippocrates with a fine.

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Gunman Kills Prospective Home Buyer During Showing (UPDATED)

Categories: News

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Photo by Tony Webster via Wikipedia Commons
Update: Broward Sheriff's Office homicide detectives have released the name of the victim as Kenol Jean, 51, of Pompano Beach.

A married couple were looking at a home in Washington Park they were interested in buying with their real estate agent when a gunman walked in and fired his gun, killing the husband.

According to BSO, the real estate agent was showing the newly renovated home located at 2729 N.W. 6 Ct. in Fort Lauderdale when an assailant described as a bearded man in his mid-to-late 50s with salt-and-pepper hair walked in and fired at them.

The shooter is still on the loose and is considered armed and dangerous.

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Florida's Biggest Corporations Avoid State Taxes, Study Says

Categories: Economy, News

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Ken Teegardin via Flickr cc
The biggest companies in Florida -- including Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation -- pay less in state taxes than the 5.5 percent rate they should. So says a new study released by the nonpartisan government watchdog group Integrity Florida. The study says that 13 of Florida's Fortune 500 corporations paid an average 2.7 percent rate in corporate taxes between 2011 and 2013.

This could be because Florida has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation. But Integrity Florida says this is something the public should know about and calls for disclosure of state and local tax revenue paid in certain situations.

In all, the 13 companies made $35.1 billion in estimated corporate profits during the period while paying $945.7 million in total estimated corporate profits taxes. In contrast, taxpayers paid more than $2.4 billion to ten of Florida's 17 top Fortune 500 corporations for state government contracts between those years.

Basically, therefore, taxpayers gave the largest, most profitable companies in Florida more public money through government contracts and subsidies than those companies paid back in state taxes.

See also: Florida Has the Second Least Fair Taxes in the U.S.

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Homeless Voice Wasn't Allowed Into News Conference About Cop Who Slapped Homeless Man

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Ray Downs
The Homeless Voice's Sean Cononie wasn't allowed inside.
Before the Fort Lauderdale Police Department held a news conference to address the video showing one of its own slapping a homeless man for no good reason, one newspaper wasn't allowed to attend: the Homeless Voice, Fort Lauderdale's long-running publication dedicated to homeless issues.

Sean Cononie, executive director of the Homeless Voice and one of the city's most prominent homeless advocates, says that when Captain Frank Sousa saw him, the news conference was moved indoors. And when Cononie tried to enter the building, Sousa refused to let him enter because he didn't have proper credentials.

"As soon as I got to the door, [Sousa] steps in front of me and says I can't come in. He said I have to be credentialed press," says Cononie, a prominent homeless advocate who has been at the helm of the Homeless Voice for 17 years running its newspaper and homeless shelter in Hollywood.

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Homeless Advocates to Call for Fort Lauderdale Officer Victor Ramirez to Be Fired

Categories: News

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via YouTube
Tensions in Fort Lauderdale have been on the rise since the city's commissioners implemented the homeless feeding ordinance back in November. Since then, we've seen a 90-year-old war veteran cited several times for feeding the homeless, advocate arrests, protests at the mayor's house, and national ridicule fall upon the city of Fort Lauderdale. And then things seem to have come to a head this week when a Fort Lauderdale Police officer was caught on video slapping a homeless man who wanted to use a public restroom. New Times reported on the video of officer Victor Ramirez, who has been suspended with pay for slapping 58-year-old homeless man Bruce Laclair on Monday, and the video has since gone viral.

Advocates have been warning the commission for some time that the public feeding ordinance would bring about tension throughout the community, and now there's a plan to not only protest the Fort Lauderdale Police Department but also to call for Ramirez's job.

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EPA Authorizes Controversial Pesticide to Fight Orange-Tree-Killing Bacteria in Florida

Categories: Environment

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Caitlin Regan via Flickr cc

According to a news release from Beyond Pesticides, the EPA yesterday granted Florida farmers a 2½-year emergency exemption to use a powerful pesticide known to have a side effect of killing bees.

Clothiandin is a neonicotinoid, a type of pesticide that has been linked to declines in honey-bee populations and suspended in the European Union.

The "EPA issued the 2½ year emergency permit without subjecting its decision to any public comment," Beyond Pesticides says.


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Florida Has Highest School Suspension Rate in Nation; Broward and Palm Beach Differ

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tncountryfan/flickr
You can always find a seat on a Florida school bus.
A new report about school suspension rates finds that Florida suspends students at a higher rate than any other state in the nation. Broward County, however, has gone against the state trend by lowering school suspensions. But the same can't be said for Palm Beach County.

The report, Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 3.5 million public school students were suspended at least once during the 2011-12 school year, including elementary and secondary schools.

"To put this in perspective, the number of students suspended in just one school year could fill all of the stadium seats for nearly all the Super Bowls ever played (the first 45)," the report says.

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