Legislators hear some crazy things from their constituents. No matter the issue, there are three sides to it: two logical, differing opinions, and then a third opinion you just can’t wrap your head around. So it is with Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s “violence prevention unit.”
Except this time, I really can’t wrap my head around the opinion that this program is a progeny of Nazi Germany. As a Jewish member of the community, likening the proactive ideas of our sheriff to Nazi Germany is not only offensive to all parties, but quite confusing. However, that is just a distraction. The real focus should be on the standard the governor uses for his veto: “What is the return on investment?”
Legislative bodies are paralyzed by the fear of the National Rifle Association. As a result, our law enforcement agencies have not been able to implement any meaningful plans to curb gun violence. Sheriff Bradshaw and his team have designed a program that will make it easier for members of our community to alert law enforcement to potentially violent individuals. Just as important, the program will increase access to mental health treatment at the most volatile and important moment in a patient’s life: on the verge of a violent breakdown.
When I met with Gov. Scott and he asked about the $1 million allocation in the budget for Sheriff Bradshaw’s program, I said I wasn’t sure what the return might be. How can one value expanding access to critical mental health care? How can you value proactive efforts to combat a spreading problem? How can you value innovation that seeks to assist rather than incarcerate? I closed my meeting by saying certain things are not quantifiable in dollars and cents, but in this instance the return on investment could be priceless. I applaud Sheriff Bradshaw and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for their commitment to keeping our county safe.
REP. DAVE KERNER
Editor’s note: Dave Kerner represents Florida House District 87. He is a former police officer.
Sheriff’s plan would mimic tax collector
Regarding two adjoining articles in Friday’s paper (“Sheriff’s hotline plan under fire” and “Vacation rentals targeted for taxes”): Has anyone noticed that Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is being lambasted for wanting to institute the same “report and knock” procedures that Tax Collector Gannon already proudly employs?
Sheriff Bradshaw’s desire to establish “a 24-hour hotline where neighbors and friends can anonymously report individuals …” is likened to the tactics of both Nazis and Big Brother. Ms. Gannon, excellently chasing down tax deadbeats, notes that “residents who live in communities are often happy to report neighbors who are renting short-term …” The sheriff notes, “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ ”
Ms. Gannon notes, “’We knocked on a lot of doors’ … Officers went door to door … even if no one answers, … often her officers get the information they need.” I hope that these two constitutionally elected officials, one pursuing violence and the other taxation, rely on more than someone’s phone call before knocking.
West Palm Beach
Byrds likely knew mangroves protected
Regarding the editorial about the mangrove destruction case (“Jupiter needs tree muscle”): If I had been a fly on the wall at the negotiating table with the Byrds, the seller and real estate agent, I’m sure I would have heard the subject of trimming or cutting down the mangroves. The likely answer would have been, “Oh, no, you can’t remove the mangroves,” but arrogance prevailed. Also, a savvy purchaser of waterfront property would have known that mangroves are protected. I may be wrong, but I always thought that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Jupiter had no right to fine couple
The editorial “Jupiter needs tree muscle” may have been emotionally satisfying but it was not legally sound.
Jupiter’s legal fees in the mangrove destruction case should be apportioned so that the Byrds pay the part that the city spent toward assessing the $15,000 fine. That amount could be zero, because the Byrds might can claim that they would have paid that fine.
As for the city trying to impose a fine on something where only the state has jurisdiction, the circuit court ruling is correct. An appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal would be a further waste of money, even if it cost only $5,000, and the city could end up paying the Byrds’ legal fees for the appeal.
Writers could spin new Goodman yarn
It shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that Roy Black and his associates are leaving John Goodman’s team. After all, how many different scenarios can one group of brainstormers come up with to address the facts in this case?
I suggest that a legal team comprised of John Grisham, Scott Turow and Stephen King could come up with a variety of explanations of what happened on that fateful night sufficient to keep Goodman ensconced in his mansion for another few years.
Editor’s note: John Goodman’s lawyers have asked that he be freed from house arrest now that a new trial has been ordered.
Florida doesn’t appreciate teachers
Regarding Gov. Rick Scott visiting schools to talk about a raise for teachers and “Teacher Appreciation Week”: You will forgive most of us for feeling less appreciated now than we have at any time in our careers.
Our pay has been frozen or has fallen for years. Our health care costs have soared, and two years ago we suffered the added insult of a 3 percent pay cut — a new contribution to our pension — in order to balance the state budget. Did anyone offer that back this year when the Legislature budgeted a surplus? Of course not, and to top it off my “raise” this year after rising health care premiums and the 2-percentage point Social Security increase amounted to an $80 a month decrease in my take-home pay.
A friend of mine who teaches and who is the son of teachers forbade his children from teaching. Why live poorly and waste a college education? I did. Teacher appreciation in Florida is a lesson in irony.
BOYD C. ALLEN
Editor’s note: Boyd C. Allen teaches at William T. Dwyer High School.
Smoking a tough habit to kick
Regarding the coverage of the tobacco lawsuit in Palm Beach County: When I started smoking at age 17 it was the thing to do. Cigarettes were everywhere. Ads like “I’d Walk A Mile For A Camel” made me feel it was okay to smoke. Smoking was allowed everywhere.
By the time tobacco companies began putting warnings on their packages, I was too far gone. There is no way to make a person stop smoking. It’s something smokers have to do because they want to stop. As far as sending the wrong message by awarding the widower of a smoker $1.5 million, I believe the cigarette companies should have sent the right message about the dangers of smoking a long, long time ago. I do my best to tell anyone who smokes what could happen, starting with what happened to me — lung cancer, chemotherapy, radiation and 24/7 oxygen.
More school police a misuse of funds
The Palm Beach School District’s plan to spend $1.6 million dollars to hire 24 additional police officers in elementary schools is a misuse of funds.
As a retired teacher (24 years in this system) I have seen sharing teachers of speech, blind, hearing-impaired as well as drug-sniffing dogs, but never sharing police officers. The ratio of one security officer to three schools is like having no officers.
The school board’s proposal to ask help the sheriff’s office to work in the schools would put extra burden on that agency, whose officers should be in the communities. A better plan would be to upgrade protection at all schools with more secure fences and the installation of high-tech systems allowing personnel to see and know the purpose of all visitors. An emphasis on policing should not be the main purpose of our educational system.