FXE Jobs || Transportation Awards || Pet Stations
Venice of America
June 7, 2018 - In her May 2018 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Heather Moraitis Moraitis reviews the provisions of a Community Residences Ordinance approved at the April 17, 2018 City Commission meeting. It authorizes zoning regulations that govern the placement of Sober Homes within Fort Lauderdale. Until now, Federal law precluded local governments from regulating these Halfway Houses. While some are excellent, others are parasitically fraudulent and dangerous – and fuel the disintegration of residential neighborhoods.
|COMMISSIONER HEATHER MORAITIS|
Moraitis also provides a 24-hour Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line for residences and businesses near Executive Airport; encourages constituents to download the Neighbors application (i.e. Ring), to access a series of security cameras for safety purposes; reminds us to separate yard waste from bulk trash; promotes the the Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018, which restores the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship awards to their pre-recession levels; recruits volunteers to help in the Salvation Army kitchen; announces her impending Pre-agenda Meeting dates and locations and lists upcoming events. Unfortunately, she doesn’t explain why she detailed provisions in a Community Residences Ordinance, the dilemma it addresses or why its resolution warranted an obtuse reconfiguration of zoning laws.
|SOBER HOME IN FORT LAUDERDALE|
The Recovery Golden Goose
Over the past few decades, Recovery has grown from a niche business into a $billion South Florida industry, as local treatment centers offering an opportunity to clean up on a subtropical beach drew addicts from across the planet. Many decide to remain here after their rehab. The Recovery industry's explosive local growth was primarily fueled by two events.
When the FBI and local authorities collaboratively closed South Florida Pill Mills, it drove the street cost of oxycodone, Xanax and hydrocodone through the roof. Thousands of pill-addicted Floridians turned to cheap and readily available heroin, although the street smack was typically laced with a lethal menu of other chemicals, either to stretch the supply or enhance the effect. These chemical cocktails often included synthetic forms of heroin such as fentanyl (50% - 200% stronger than heroin) or carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer that’s a hundred times stronger than fentanyl. According to South Florida Medical Examiners, roughly half the skyrocketing overdose fatalities were attributed to these narcotic variants – and every survivor is a prospective recovery candidate.
|PILL MILL RAIDED|
The Recovery industry was also a major beneficiary of two federal laws. The Affordable Care Act and the federal Mental Health Parity Act passed in 2008 were intended to guarantee care for those disabled by addiction. Insurers are required to cover substance abuse treatment and barred from rejecting those with preexisting conditions. It also allowed children to remain on their parents' insurance through age 26.
The Florida Model
The standard treatment protocol traditionally accepted by carriers consisted of a 28-day inpatient program, after which patients would return to their homes. Driven by ideology and experience, a handful of Florida operators cited an alternative that could significantly lower the rate of relapse, holding that a managed step-down transition would better prepare addicts in early recovery to productively integrate with family, a work environment, and the community. Under this unprecedented “Florida Model”, inpatient detox and a month of intensive rehabilitation was followed by outpatient treatment while living in a Sober Home, ostensibly a Halfway House where patients would pay rent to live, sleep and eat, while reporting to nearby drug treatment centers for scheduled appointments with counselors and doctors. By efficiently controlling expenses, the new model would provide a more comprehensive course of therapy without increasing the cost to carriers.
The reputable operators who first developed the model made it work. The success of this new treatment modality attracted hundreds of physicians, clinical therapists, psychologists and nurse practitioners who specialize in Recovery Medicine. Unfortunately, it also drew scam artists seeking to exploit a well-insured vulnerable population – with plans to bag a windfall by using patients as cannon fodder.
The Relapse Dividend
While conceived to provide structure, rules and a supportive community to newly recovering addicts, Sober Homes run by unscrupulous operators brokered their tenants to insurance-hungry treatment centers for kickbacks, in violation of State Law. “Patient brokering” evolved into a cottage industry, as Sober Homes offered free rent, manicures, mopeds, cash, free cigarettes and other perks (including drugs) to attract insured tenants they could barter for payoffs.
More ambitious operators would buy or rent a multifamily property or a cluster of single family homes in a depressed residential neighborhood, and turn the residences into Sober Homes, reserving one for a cooperative drug dealer. “You have what are so-called ‘sober homes’ next to houses that sell drugs,” observed Sgt. Ed McCabe of the Delray Beach Police Department. In contrast with well-run, legitimate Sober Homes, which blend seamlessly in residential neighborhoods, clusters of those operated by their corrupt counterparts crash local property values, as unmanaged Sober Homes reconfigure the community into an active drug market.
|DELRAY BEACH POLICE SGT. ED MCCABE|
Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg summarized why Recovery scammers don’t consider relapse a setback, but an indispensable income stream, exclaiming “The incentive is to keep them in this relapse system, this gravy train that doesn’t end until the person leaves in a body bag or an ambulance. There’s no money in sobriety.” Since a relapse will trigger a new round of benefits for patients who graduate from a treatment center to a Sober Home, falling off the wagon can double – or triple – the insurance payout. To realize additional kickbacks, reprobate Sober Home managers will allow or provide drugs to their tenants, who are then brokered back to the high-bidding treatment center for another $30,000 round of rehabilitation. Patients caught in this revolving door were functionally reduced to commodities by treatment centers they mistakenly believed would save their lives.
|PALM BEACH STATE ATTORNEY DAVE ARONBERG |
|REAL LIFE RECOVERY OPERATOR ERIC SNYDER|
While billing exorbitant fees to the insurance carrier, the scam centers typically waive invoicing co-pays to the policy holder, for fear that the patient will be induced to leave the facility, ending the windfall. According to the FBI, an operation that includes the Real Life Recovery Delray treatment center and the Halfway There Florida home raked in almost $19 million by fraudulently billing insurance companies for $58 million over four years.
|FBI RAIDS REAL LIFE RECOVERY DELRAY|
Incredibly, shooting galleries masquerading as “Sober Homes” are notoriously difficult to evict or otherwise regulate, since these corrupt cankers are shielded by well-intended federal disability laws. Recovering addicts are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that it is illegal to craft zoning laws that discriminate against disabled groups. The federal Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination against the disabled, also trumping local zoning laws that would otherwise bar businesses from residential neighborhoods. Although enacted to protect legitimate recovery facilities from malicious local regulations, as an unintended consequence, it also shields fraud factories implicated in the overdose deaths of their own patients.
Attempts by cities to regulate Sober Homes have been systematically dismissed in Federal court, after which each municipality was successfully sued for discrimination by the targeted Sober Home. The City of Boca Raton spent $1.3 million in a losing effort to ban sober homes.
The corruption permeates most of the treatment centers as well. Historically, drug screening consisted of a $5 dipstick drug test that would occasionally be sent to a laboratory for confirmation when the results raised suspicions of tampering. Crooked centers and Sober Homes put in “standing orders” for near-daily drug screens and send each urine sample to a laboratory that charges the insurance up to $5000 per test, along with orders for unnecessary DNA and allergy tests that cost thousands more. In return, participating laboratories kick back much of the insurance windfall. When drug abuse in a treatment center was rampant, samples taken from employees were submitted for lab tests under the names of patients. Minutes-long counseling sessions were billed at $1800.
Ground zero for sober homes in Palm Beach County is Delray Beach, where an estimated 700 facilities house up to 7,000 people in recovery. Hundreds more sober homes are in nearby Lake Worth, Boynton Beach and West Palm Beach. Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein angrily lamented “These kids are just cycled through different houses. There’s no supervision. Many times, they’re supervised by convicted felons, people that are trafficking drugs while they’re supposed to be supervising kids in recovery.” Frustrated by the Federal handcuffs on State and local authorities, Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg remarked “It’s a total scam. Not only are taxpayers footing the bill, but people are dying unnecessarily because of this.”
|DELRAY BEACH MAYOR CARY GLICKSTEIN |
State Scratches the Surface
|FBI, COPS AT CHATMAN CENTER REFLECTIONS|
In preparing to prosecute the rampant fraud, and far more egregious crimes, but concerned about the sheer volume of bad players, the FBI needed a slam-dunk in court, followed by a sentence sufficient to intimidate future defendants into accepting plea deals. While investigating the fraudulent treatment centers and Sober Homes, the FBI concentrated most of their resources on putting an owner they considered “worst of the lot” behind bars. Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, a Sober Home operator who licensed a Margate Recovery facility called “Reflections” in his wife’s name to dodge a prohibition against convicts owning a treatment center, was sentenced to 27 years for running a recovery brothel (conspiracies to commit health care fraud, money laundering and sex trafficking) by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks, who threw out a 14-year plea agreement previously negotiated by Chatman's attorney. Characterizing his crimes as “never before seen in a federal court - turning his patients into prostitutes,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafaña trod out evidence of neglected patients who died in his facilities and young female patients kept in a drug-induced state of impairment while he placed internet listings to pimp them out.
|SCAM TREATMENT OPERATOR KENNY CHATMAN|
On May 3, 2017, after dragging his feet for years, Governor Rick Scott finally addressed the State’s astronomical overdose fatality rate when he signed Executive Order 17-146, classifying Florida’s opioid crisis as a public health emergency. The measure provided $54 million in federal funds for prevention, treatment and recovery services for the uninsured and under-insured in 2017 and 2018. The grant also funds overdose response training, behavioral-health consultants for child-welfare workers, peer-mentoring programs and other initiatives.
|SCOTT SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER 17-146|
Two days later, Scott signed bipartisan legislation on the recommendation of Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force, which released a scathing report on the recovery industry and suggested new regulations. The statute bans false advertising used to lure new patients, forces sober home telemarketers to register with the state, clarifies existing laws that make kickbacks illegal and requires background screenings for owners, directors and clinical supervisors of treatment centers that refer patients to Sober Homes. It also makes patient brokering a crime punishable under the state’s “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act”, or RICO. Like its Federal namesake, RICO empowers law enforcement to crack down on organized groups.
|DAVE ARONBERG’S SOBER HOME TASK FORCE|
Feds Slip us a Loophole
Last November, Federal guidelines released at the urging of U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-West Palm Beach) demonstrated how cities could regulate the clustering of sober homes within a neighborhood. A Joint statement by the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development detailed how a city can deny an accommodation request for a sober home by proving a strain on city resources. The guidelines also provide for new zoning laws that benefit addicts in recovery, consider the proximity of group homes to one another, and equally apply to all homes with a minimum number of unrelated residents. Cutting to the chase, the statement holds that the Fair Housing Act does not prevent state or local government from taking action in response to criminal activity, insurance fraud, Medicaid Fraud, neglect or abuse of residents, or other illegal conduct occurring at group homes.
|U.S. REP. LOIS FRANKEL|
Delray Beach, one of the cities in Frankel’s 21st Congressional District that requested her assistance, jumped on the opportunity. First, Delray contracted with Daniel Lauber, an attorney that specializes in zoning legislation, to compile a detailed sober home study of Delray Beach. By meticulously meeting the requirements for regulatory oversight spelled out in the new guidelines, Lauber developed a set of zoning regulations for sober homes that don’t conflict with Federal law.
|ZONING EXPERT DANIEL LAUBER|
For instance, to affirm that clustering hampers recovery, as conditionally required by the guidelines to justify imposing regulations, Lauber asserts that a community residence sheltering those disabled by addiction should emulate a biological family - and seek to normalize its residents and integrate them into the surrounding community. His study observes “Their neighbors serve as role models which helps foster the normalization and community integration at the core of community residences.” He then shows how clustering deprives recovering addicts of role models - nearby neighbors who successfully function without using drugs – and instead confines their exposure to others disabled by addiction, which impedes normalization and their integration into the community.
Lauber demonstrates how the suggested zoning requirements benefit recovering addicts, reduce the strain on city resources by reducing crime, and preserve the character of residential communities. Delray Beach crafted an ordinance that incorporated Lauber’s recommendations. In her May 2018 Newsletter, City Commissioner Heather Moraitis outlines how a similar city law, Ordinance No. C-18-11 approved in Fort Lauderdale, will mitigate clustering by Sober Homes. Following the Delray Beach playbook, in a February 13, 2018 Sober Home Study of Fort Lauderdale commissioned by the city, Lauber mirrors recommendations made to Delray Beach, albeit with a few minor changes. The Delray Beach Ordinance requires the separation of Sober Homes with 4 to 10 recovering residents by a standard city block of 660 feet. Since several Fort Lauderdale blocks are extremely long, the city law discussed by Moraitis requires a 1000-foot separation of sober homes with 4 to 10 persons. Residences with 11 or more recovering addicts must be approved by a Special Magistrate to warrant accommodation.
To help recovery candidates or concerned family members separate the wheat from the chaff, sober homes that seek certification by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR) must meet 37 standards (i.e. staff training, site inspections) before they are included in a list of approved facilities. Prospective patients who consult the list may avoid a deadly excursion to Motel Hell. Read on for District 1 Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ May 2018 message to constituents. – [editor]
From The Desk of
Commissioner Heather Moraitis
Community Residences Ordinance
The city passed an ordinance to regulate community residences commonly referred to as “sober homes”, in order to protect the residents of those homes, persons with disabilities who are in recovery, from concentrations that undermine the ability of community residents to achieve normalization and community integration, and to protect the character of the neighborhood. The ordinance generally is modeled after an ordinance recently adopted in Delray Beach.
|DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER|
In summary, the ordinance regulates Community Residences, by 1) defining “family” for purposes of regulating dwelling units; 2) defining Community Residences, including two types: Family Community Residences and Transitional Community Residences; 3) allowing Community Residences in the city residential zoning districts as either permitted or conditional uses, depending on the type of Community Residence; 3) requiring certification of all Community Residences by the state credentialing agency under Section 397.487, Florida Statutes; 4) establishing conditional use requirements for Community Residences; and 5) establishing a reasonable accommodation process, by special magistrate, necessary for Community Residences of 11 persons or more, and to allow modifications in the zoning standards.
|FOUR CLUSTERED SOBER HOMES IN FT LAUDERDALE|
Essentially, a family is defined as related persons, or up to three (3) unrelated persons. A Community Residence generally is a residential living arrangement for more than (3) unrelated individuals with disabilities, living as a single functional family to provide shelter in a family-like environment, which is important to their recovery. A Family Community Residence is a relatively permanent living arrangement, measured in years, for 4 – 10 persons. A Transitional Community Residence is a temporary living arrangement, measured in weeks or months, for 4- 10 persons.
|SOBER HOMES IN FORT LAUDERDALE|
All Community Residences must register with the City and be certified by the state credentialing agency, if one is available for the type of disability. Community Residences, of either type, are allowed in all residential districts as permitted uses if they are 3 persons or less. Community Residences, of either type, with 11 or more residents, are only allowed in residential districts if they receive a reasonable accommodation approval.
Family community residences (4 – 10 persons) are allowed in all residential districts as a permitted use if they meet 1000’ distance requirements from other community residences and community residential homes (SSRFs). If they do not meet distance separation requirements, they must obtain a conditional use permit, which includes additional standards for community residences.
Transitional community residences (4 – 10 persons) are allowed in single family residential districts by conditional use and must meet 1000’ distance requirements
Commissioner Heather Moraitis
Fort Lauderdale, District 1
Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line
Neighbors may call a 24-hour Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line at 954-828-6666.
Click Here to report excessively loud aircraft.
Neighbors App by Ring
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department encourages our neighbors to download the Neighbors application (iOS/Android), join their neighborhood and discover the power that can emerge from combining neighbors, cameras and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Visit www.flpd.org/ring to learn how to download the Neighbors app by Ring.
Residential Bulk Trash
Just a friendly reminder that no yard waste put out on the monthly bulk trash day is getting recycled! Please try and put as much as you can out in the weekly yard waste bins. Please click the link for additional information.
Residential Bulk Waste Collection Link
Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018
This ensures a bright future for our state and generations to come. The bill returns the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship awards to their pre-recession levels and will help even more Floridians in their pursuit of higher education. The bill expands the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover the full cost of tuition and fees, plus a stipend of $300 for books. The bill expands the Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) award to cover 75% of the full cost of tuition and fees. The bill also authorizes the use of Florida Bright Futures Scholarship awards for the summer term.
Kitchen Volunteers Needed
Salvation Army is in great need of volunteer Kitchen Helpers to assist their staff in prepping and serving meals for those in their shelter. Volunteers are needed Monday-Friday between 8:00 AM-12:00 PM. Please sign up via email by clicking the image above or call 954-712-2435.
Please Join Us For A Pre-agenda Meeting:
June 4, 2018 from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Beach Community Center, 3351 NE 33rd Avenue
June 18, 2018 from 6:00PM – 7:00PM at George English Community Center, 1101 Bayview Drive
Public Meeting for DC Alexander Park at May 21st, 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm. Please click here for more details.
Great American Beach Party on Saturday, May 26, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm. Click here for more details.
Please join us as w e honor those who served our great nation on Monday, May 28th at 9:00 am at Lauderdale Memorial Park Cemetery (2001 SE 4th Avenue) & American Legion Post 36 at 11:00 am (Sandy Nininger Statue at Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk). Click here for more information.
Resident Tree Giveaway on Saturday, June 2 at 8:30 am-12:00 pm. You can register by clicking here.
Links For Additional Information
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FXE Jobs || Transportation Awards || Pet Stations
Venice of America
April 25, 2018 - On April 17, 2018, District 1 City Commissioner Heather Moraitis delivered her second constituent Newsletter to the neighborhood association. Opening with a plan to exploit an opportunity created by a labor shortage in the world's fast-growing commercial airline industry, Moraitis connects Broward students with high-paying local jobs in Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE); urges constituents to nominate candidates for the 2018 Transportation Awards; equips residents near Executive Airport with the Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line; lists a series of upcoming municipal events and invites District 1 residents to attend her bi-monthly pre-agenda meetings.
|COMMISSIONER HEATHER MORAITIS|
Aviation Jobs and Transportation Awards
At the March 20 City Commission meeting, Moraitis declared March as “Women in Aviation Month” and capped the extended event by hosting a “Careers in Aviation Open House” on April 23, a program enabling high school students to network with airline businesses, military recruiters and local colleges with an aviation curriculum.
As observed by Moraitis’, the explosive 20-year demand for pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crews in the commercial airline industry has prompted Executive Airport aviation businesses to ramp up recruiting efforts and expedite training programs for mechanics and corporate cabin crews. Moraitis’ statistics are drawn from a 2016 Pilot and Technician Outlook study by Boeing Commercial Aviation Services.
While surging industry workforce needs are worldwide, the economic conditions and market opportunities in each global region drives local demand. For instance, the Asia-Pacific region, which comprises 40 percent of the global need, is driven by low-cost carriers, North America is benefitting from new markets in Cuba and Mexico, while growth in Europe is attributable to a strong intra-European Union market.
Referencing the 7th Annual Transportation Summit - a May 16 collaborative forum at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Huizenga Pavilion at 201 SW 5th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale) - wherein elected officials, regional experts, and industry leaders exchange best practices, share innovative ideas, and plan transportation infrastructure befitting the City's current and future needs, Moraitis describes two awards for community members who help the City achieve a safe, connected, multimodal, and sustainable community - Neighbor Champion and Outstanding Project or Program – which recognize innovation, advocacy, and excellence in transportation projects.
Pet Waste on the Galt Mile
At the April 19, 2018 Galt Mile Advisory Board meeting, Moraitis expressed her continuing support for neighborhood projects discussed at earlier meetings, such as replanting browned-out A1A medians with new landscaping, equitably balancing skewed water and sewer rates and placing pet stations along Galt Ocean Drive (as earlier approved by a unanimous vote of the Advisory Board). Moraitis exclaimed, “I noticed that the City has begun installing ‘Poo Pylons’ on Galt Ocean Drive,” referring to Pet Waste Stations equipped with a chamber that dispenses biodegradable plastic bags.
|PET WASTE STATION|
By electing to ignore Section 6-4(c) of the City’s Code of Ordinances, which requires the removal and proper disposal of their pets’ droppings, a few irresponsible pet owners aren’t just creating an irritating nuisance, but a significant health hazard. Pet waste that accumulates on the street, parking lot, sidewalk, association driveway or lawn is often carried by rainwater into a storm drain or catch basin that discharges the intestinal bacteria and disease-causing parasites into streams, lakes, canals or the ocean. Given South Florida’s porous karst limestone geology, these pollutants also reach groundwater and permeate the aquifer. Pet owners who think it clever to stuff the waste into a nearby storm drain instead of an appropriate receptacle are responsible for the recent on-street flooding caused by inevitable blockages.
In rejecting the prospect of relying on the city to refill depleted bag chambers in a timely manner, in exchange for receiving these free Pet Stations, adjacent associations will replenish the biodegradable plastic bags as needed. Hopefully, the pet stations will help reverse these adverse impacts while improving the appearance of our neighborhood.
Sun Trolley Galt Link
Recently named as Fort Lauderdale’s voice on the Broward County Planning Council, Moraitis also serves on the Board of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA) - parent of the Sun Trolley - where she is currently working to revive the suspended Galt Link. . She explained that participants at two March Sun Trolley Galt Link Public Workshops held at the Beach Community Center and the Galt Ocean Mile Reading Center helped map alternatives for a reconfigured Galt Link route. The new route is planned for implementation in May. Moraitis closes her monthly update with upcoming event reminders for a Wave Streetcar workshop, Broward Navy Days, the Fort Lauderdale Air Show and the little-known Cares Day. Read on for District 1 Commissioner Heather Moraitis’ April 2018 message to constituents. – [editor]
From The Desk of
Commissioner Heather Moraitis
District 1 is home to the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) and FXE is addressing the issue regarding the aviation workforce skills gap. There is a growing demand for workers in the aviation industry and the Executive Airport is home to a variety of businesses working hard to train a talented workforce.
|DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER|
Over the next 20 years, statistics show that globally there is a need and opportunity for people to pursue aviation careers:
Almost 40,000 new airplanes will be built in the next 20 years
Highly trained workforce will be needed – over 2,000,000 new aviation personnel
617,000 new pilots will be needed
670,000 new technicians will be needed
814,000 new cabin crew members will be needed
Students interested in careers in aviation can learn more from Broward College (BC): http://www.broward.edu/academics/programs/aviation/Pages/default.aspx. BC has a comprehensive program in a number of areas, which can provide students with information they can use to pursue aviation training.
On Monday, April 23, I am hosting an Aviation Career Night for high school students interested in aviation careers at FXE in partnership with Broward College and Banyan Air. The event flyer is below. Please contact my office if you would like more information or your high school student is interested in attending!
Commissioner Heather Moraitis
Fort Lauderdale, District 1
Seeking Nominations for the 2018 Transportation Awards
The City is accepting applications for the 2018 Transportation Awards. The awards will be presented in two categories – Neighbor Champion and Outstanding Project or Program – at the Transportation Summit on May 16. Past winners include Ronald Centamore, Tarpon River Civic Association, Frederic Stresau, and Mockingbird Trail. Neighbors can apply online at www.fortlauderdale.gov by April 27.
Links For Additional Information
Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line
Neighbors may call a 24-hour Aircraft Noise Abatement Reporting Line at 954-828-6666 to report excessively loud aircraft
Please Join Us For A Pre-agenda Meeting:
First Monday of each month from 6:00PM – 7:00PM at the Beach Community Center, 3351 NE 33rd Avenue
Third Monday of each month from 6:00PM – 7:00PM at Broward Health Imperial Point, 6401 N Federal Highway
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Neighbor Survey || District Projects || MSD Tragedy
Venice of America
March 24, 2018 - After being sworn in as Fort Lauderdale’s District 1 City Commissioner on March 20, 2018, Heather Moraitis released her first constituent Newsletter - an introductory edition slipped to the media a week earlier by her rookie Commission Assistant Melissa Coningsby. In her March / April 2018 Newsletter, Moraitis outlines her general objectives for the city drawn from a recent Neighborhood Survey, summarizes the progress of 14 Current Water and Sewer Infrastructure Projects in District 1, seeks to honor the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims by fighting for school safety and gun control, cites her intention to host District 1 Pre-agenda Meetings at 7 p.m. in the Beach Community Center and Imperial Point Medical Center – respectively on the first and third Monday of each month, and closes by providing constituents with assorted contact options for enlisting her assistance.
|COMMISSIONER HEATHER MORAITIS|
Sworn and Rolling
On Monday, June 12, 2017, Heather Moraitis set aside the joys of scaring up cash for the YMCA (Director of Capitol Development) and announced her intention to step into the District 1 Commission seat as Commissioner Bruce Roberts embarked on his ill-fated mayoral campaign. In delivering her "props", Moraitis said, “I was born here, and we have raised our family here, so I want to make sure the special way of life that we enjoy can continue for all residents. With over $1 billion in public infrastructure needs, congestion issues that will require smart solutions, and division over development, we can either work together to make things better, or kick the can down the road. I am running to make things better.”
Although city races are thinly veneered as non-partisan, political affiliations often determine the outcome. In Broward County – long ago christened the “killing fields” by Florida Republicans – this typically gives Democrats a leg up. However, District 1 residents in the Galt Mile and Coral Ridge communities seamlessly bounce between selecting Democrats and Republicans, opting for the candidate who seems most aggressively predisposed to deliver the municipal resources required to improve their neighborhoods and otherwise quell local concerns.
Having entered the race with a sterling legacy, as departing District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R - Fort Lauderdale) worked for years with Galt Mile officials to protect thousands of association homeowners who live in District 1. Reputed to be a talented organizer and workaholic, Heather is often credited with spearheading her husband's 3 tough biennial Statehouse campaign victories over candidates with intimidating resources and the support of party machines.
|REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE MORAITIS WITH GALT MILE OFFICIALS|
When former Statehouse Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff made her move to the Florida Senate, Broward's Republican Leadership hand-picked healthcare entrepreneur David Maymon to fill her shoes. In large part, Heather's kilometer-long contact list and access to resources helped enable George to beat Maymon in the Primary and Democrat Barbara Stern in the election. What goes around, comes around; with term limits winding down his eight-year Statehouse career – on January 22, 2018, George Moraitis was elected Chairman of the snake-bit Broward Republican Executive Committee.
|HEALTHCARE MOGUL DAVID MAYMON|
Heather snagged the District 1 Commission seat when the qualifying period ended on November 13, 2017 with no other hats in the ring. Since then, the Commissioner-elect synchronized her schedule with that of Roberts, attending District events that might deepen her insight into constituent concerns - including meetings with the Galt Mile Advisory Board and Presidents Council. Her reputation for hitting the ground running appears to be true, as she has already agreed to investigate or resolve a laundry list of Galt Mile agenda items that require City support or resources.
|SWEARING IN NEW COMMISSIONERS|
For instance, in addressing members at the January 18, 2018 Galt Mile Advisory Board meeting, Moraitis volunteered to help mitigate issues vetted during the previous meeting on December 14, including a parking shortage on the Galt, no lighting under the Oakland Park Bridge, lighting and median landscaping on A1A. Pleasantly surprised by her unsolicited offer, members piled on more pressing issues, such as expediting a solution to the failed lighting along Galt Ocean Drive, and leveling the outrageous rate disparity borne by multi-family homeowners for water and sewer services.
|NEW CITY BOARD'S FIRST COMMISSION MEETING|
After transitioning from Commissioner-elect to Commissioner when sworn in on March 20, 2018, Moraitis jumped into her first Commission meeting. The new city panel threw $10 million at Las Olas Marina, punked the Wave Streetcar project (which Trantalis, Glassman and Sorenson all promised to quash if elected), and pink-slipped City Attorney Cynthia Everett. Read on for Moraitis’ first message to constituents as District 1 Commissioner. – [editor]
|CYNTHIA EVERETT DISTRAUGHT|
From The Desk of
Commissioner Heather Moraitis
|GEORGE AND HEATHER MORAITIS|
It is an honor to represent you on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission! District 1 is more than my current home; it’s where I was born, work, play, and raised my family. I was born at Holy Cross Hospital, worked at Westminster Academy, paddleboard and walk along the Galt Ocean Mile beach, and raised two daughters (Alexis 19, Catherine 16) with George, my husband of 23 years.
|DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER|
On March 20, the new commission was sworn in and we are already hard at work addressing your issues, as we plan for the future of our city. The city recently conducted a neighborhood survey, which highlighted three areas of concern I am committed to improving: traffic flow, homelessness, and public education.
In District 1, Sunrise Boulevard from Gateway to I 95 has been identified as a top priority for improving traffic flow. The Sunrise Signal Retiming effort is underway with a consultant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), working with Broward County Signal staff, to retime all the signals for improved traffic flow. The schedule for implementing this plan is fall 2018. FDOT is also studying a flyover near Gateway Plaza to allow vehicles to move from Sunrise to US 1.
|SUNRISE BOULEVARD ROUNDABOUT AND FLYOVER RAMP|
According to the survey, 81% of us see homeless people throughout our community on a daily basis. The city, county, state, and federal government, along with numerous local nonprofits allocate resources, but we still have a homeless problem. The goal is to provide permanent housing, with support services, to ensure the cycle of homelessness is broken. As a community, we must collaborate at all levels to leverage resources and commit to expanding housing options at current shelters or new options.
As an educator, I value access to excellent public education from preschool to college. 19% of neighbors surveyed thought the quality of our public middle schools was good or excellent. I hear concerns from many friends and neighbors in our city about public school options for middle school. I am committed to working with our current public schools or exploring a charter school in Fort Lauderdale to provide excellent options for middle school.
District 1 Current Water and Sewer Infrastructure Projects
Coral Ridge Club Estates
The project includes the rehabilitation of Mainline Sewers, point repairs, minor road restoration and landscaping, the use of trenchless technologies to repair sewer system components such as lining of gravity sewers, manholes, and sewer laterals. Work also includes pre and post television survey, flow monitoring, traffic control and site restoration. This is part of the WW Conveyance System Long Term Remediation Program.
This project is for the relining of sanitary sewer collection mains and laterals. It includes the rehabilitation of mainline sewers, point repairs, minor road restoration and landscaping, the use of trenchless technologies to repair sewer system component.
This project is for the replacement of station pumps, valves, suction and discharge piping, reroute of discharge forcemain, new sump pumps, ladders, grates and hatches; new HVAC and electrical and control system. The work also includes repairs to the wet-well, and structural repairs to the station.
Security Gate Replacement
This project is for small water main improvements in Lake Estates. This project will replace existing water mains, which are undersized and deteriorated, with approximately 7, 000 linear feet of 6" water mains.
Rehab of 2 SCADA High Service Pump
Water Distribution Service
This project will replace the existing Water Pressure SCADA system with a new system that will monitor water system pressure, chlorine residual, pH, turbidity and conductivity. This system will interface with the existing water plant control system and have the data recorded. Eight new panels will be installed at various locations in the city's water distribution system.
Fiveash Water Treatment Plant Disinfection Improvements
Fiveash Water Treatment Plant Hydrotreators
This project includes the replacement of 30" diameter steel fabricated flanged fitting and associated valves and couplings, replacement of air release valves, replacement of sump pump and associated piping for Hydrotreators 3 & 4 at the Fiveash Water Treatment Plant.
Fiveash Water Treatment Plan Facility Concrete Restore
This project is to assess the concrete surfaces and structures at the Water Treatment Plants for failures. The work will create the bid specs for concrete repairs, oversee the bid process, and the construction inspection services.
Utilities Storage Building
Peele Dixie R&R
Peele-Dixie Treatment Plant - renewal and/or replacement of miscellaneous equipment, structures, pipes and other features critical to the continued safe, reliable, efficient, and compliant operation of the plant.
Coral Ridge Isles
The project includes the rehabilitation of the sanitary sewer collection system throughout Basin B- 13. This includes, but not limited to point repairs, minor road restoration, landscaping, the use of trenchless technologies to repair sewer system components such as lining of gravity sewers, manholes, and sewer laterals. Work also includes pre and post television survey, flow monitoring, traffic control and site restoration.
Remembering Marjory Stoneman Douglas
On February 14, our community mourned the loss of 17 students and teachers in Parkland. We cried, comforted those who lost loved ones, and came together to make plans for improving school safety.
|REMEMBERING MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS|
On Saturday, March 17, we brought the community together to discuss gun reform and school safety. We will continue to fight for these issues to keep our students safe.
Please join me from 6:00PM – 7:00PM for a District 1 Pre-agenda Meeting:
April 2 at Beach Community Center, 3351 NE 33rd Avenue (always first Monday of each month)
April 16 at Broward Health Imperial Point, 6401 N Federal Hwy (always third Monday of each month)
For More Information
An overview of current District 1 and Citywide Public Works Projects, including water & sewer infrastructure, can be found at http://gis.fortlauderdale.gov/LauderWorks.
Sign-up for Email Updates/Newsletters to get additional links to important city information, upcoming events, photos, commission agendas and meeting reminders for district meetings. Please contact District 1 Assistant Melissa Coningsby, firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-828-5033, to receive emails or to schedule an appointment.
Follow Commissioner Moraitis on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn @heathermoraitis
Learn more about District 1 at fortlauderdale.gov/district1
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Chuggling Chlorine Cocktails
City Chlorinates Water
March 14, 2018 - In late February, a few Galt Mile residents sent emails to the neighborhood association asking about the odd taste of their tap water. The inquiries are familiar, as they arrive several times each year, mostly from recent arrivals to the neighborhood. Occasionally, the messages theorize vandalism to the association's water supply or cross-contamination of the City's aging water / wastewater infrastructure. In fact, the perpetrator is the City of Fort Lauderdale - specifically - the Treatment Division of the Public Works Water and Wastewater Operations Section. In short, Water Services temporarily alters the chemical purification process as part of a regular system maintenance program.
On January 24, 2018, Commissioner Bruce Roberts sent a copy of his February 2018 Newsletter to Galt Mile officials for distribution to 29 member associations. The content included a constituent alert about the impending treatment of their domestic water with free chlorine. His message echoed a December 22, 2917 press release in the online City News entitled, "City of Fort Lauderdale to Chlorinate Water System". The article, in turn, summarizes a discussion of free chlorine posted by the Department of Public Works. While detailing the process and reviewing its impacts, the Public Works missive exhorts "Preventive Maintenance Scheduled for February 13 – March 20, 2018". The full text of the message is as follows:
|COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS|
Preventive Maintenance scheduled for February 13 - March 20, 2018
The City of Fort Lauderdale will temporarily return to using free chlorine in its drinking water system. This preventive maintenance procedure will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 13, 2018 and will end at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, 2018.
|CHLORINE ATTRACTING WATER|
Free chlorination is a common practice for water systems using combined chlorine disinfection. The chlorination period is anticipated to be transparent to water customers; however, some may notice a slight change in the taste or smell of their tap water. Some customers may also see water running from fire hydrants in their neighborhoods, which is part of the normal maintenance process.
This procedure will affect the City of Fort Lauderdale, as well as Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Port Everglades, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors, and sections of the Town of Davie, Oakland Park, and Tamarac (east of State Road 7/441).
The City of Fort Lauderdale maintains the highest standards to ensure that clean, high quality drinking water is delivered to its customers. The City's drinking water meets federal, state and local drinking water quality standards.
For more information, Fort Lauderdale utility customers may contact the 24-hour Neighbor Call Center at (954) 828-8000 or online at www.fortlauderdale.gov/lauderserv. Customers who receive a utility bill from other municipalities or entities should call their respective water provider’s customer service phone number for more information.
The City utilizes the same blend of chemicals to treat our drinking water on a regular basis. Altering the disinfection chemical mix is typically performed once or twice per year over a two to four week time period. This semi-annual treatment application is prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The disinfection of our treated water is normally achieved by adding chloramines (commonly formed when chlorine reacts with ammonia) at the treatment plants. The introduction of chloramines (chlorimination) reduces microbial growth (biofilm) on filter media that could increase filter head loss build-up (pressure). Although effective and safe, oxidation of the ammonia (nitrification) reduces it's effectiveness throughout the distribution system. Since a "dose" of free chlorine reverses the adverse effects of nitrification, Public Works regularly switches from chloramines to free chlorine to maximize its disinfectant impact.
The periodic switch to free chlorine effectively reduces biological re-growth in the distribution system and helps maintain chlorine residual levels at the extremities of the distribution system during the normal chloramine disinfection process.
It is not unusual for residents to experience a slight change in both the taste and smell of the water during this process. The water will remain safe for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other daily needs. For the vast majority of residents, adverse health effects are not expected.
However, while persons currently undergoing dialysis can safely drink chlorinated or chloraminated water, both chlorine and chloramines must be removed from water used in dialysis machines because this water comes into direct contact with blood. Anyone suffering from a compromised immune system can be more susceptible than others to harmful organisms in water. As such, transplant patients and people with AIDS should consult with their health care provider to determine whether the temporary change in disinfection chemistry will affect their treatment.
In addition, residents with a fish tank or pond, including grocery stores, restaurants and bait shops that use city water in their lobster tanks and fish containers, should contact a pet or aquarium professional to determine the need for any adjustments to their aquarium treatment procedures. Unless neutralized by products readily available from aquarium supply stores, chlorine and monochloramine can be harmful to fish because they directly enter their bloodstream through the gills and block the growth of beneficial bacteria in the fish tank.
For those of you skilled in aquarium maintenance, the City website describes two methods for removing or neutralizing chlorine and / or chloramines in fish aquariums using products available at local pet and aquarium supply stores. A Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration system is specifically designed to remove chloramines. Also, you can use a conditioner or additive that contains a de-chlorinating chemical for both ammonia and chlorine. However, fish owners are advised to verify which of these two methods is best for them by consulting with their pet store or aquatic/aquarium retailer.
Since it takes approximately two weeks for the chlorine to clear, any perceived changes to the taste and smell may persist through early April. At least, that's what the City wants us to believe. In 2014, an angry woman from L’Hermitage II insisted that political cockroach Roger Stone spiked the water!
|City Manager Lee Feldman|
City Manager Lee Feldman assures residents who call the city for information that "the Customer Service staff is educated on the chlorination process and is available to accommodate any inquiries." For more information about the City’s water quality, please visit http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/home/showdocument?id=21264 to view the City’s most recent Water Quality Report (2016). Bottoms up!
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Free Chlorine || Body Cams || Fire Station 54
Commissioner Bruce Roberts
February 7, 2018 - In his February 2018 Newsletter, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts welcomes Commissioner-Elect Heather Moraitis to step into his District 1 shoes, announces Mayor Seiler’s State of the City Address at the recently transformed South Side Cultural Arts Center, alerts municipal water customers to the temporary introduction of free chlorine into our drinking water to boost the disinfection process, reports how a city IT team sought to cure a glitch in the FLPD body worn cameras pilot program by exploring how their Orlando peers deployed similar equipment, updates constituents about the progress of District 1 infrastructure projects either completed, currently underway, or on the drawing board, including the long awaited construction kick-off of Fire Rescue Station 54. Roberts closes with a list of upcoming events, essentially commission meetings leading up to the March 13, 2018 municipal election - and the swearing in ceremony a week later.
|VICE MAYOR BRUCE ROBERTS|
Body Cameras: A Bumpy Start
Body worn camera programs are exploding across jurisdictions intrigued by their unique law enforcement benefits, such as obtaining evidence for criminal prosecutions, protecting officers from false allegations of misconduct, curbing overzealous enforcement, strengthening police accountability by documenting interactions with the public, and increasing Departmental transparency by providing the public with access to video evidence of police encounters. It has also been proven to reduce the number of shootings by Police Officers. However, in January of 2016, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission postponed a body worn camera (BWC) pilot program pending the development of guidelines to protect participants, the public and the Police Department.
Although similar programs were already underway in more than 60 police departments nationwide, including the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) and the Hallandale Beach Police Department, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler expressed concern about how the courts would react to the inadvertent recording of bystanders not involved in an incident, such as emergency room patients whose privacy rights are shielded by statute.
|BROWARD SHERIFF'S OFFICE BODY WORN CAMERA|
Commission concerns about judicial blowback weren’t without merit. Florida jurisdictions invested $millions in red light camera systems that largely became landfill fodder once their enabling ordinances were reversed in courts. When City Attorney Cynthia Everett told Commissioners “I don’t believe there’s any legal impediment to implementing this program, if that’s what you want to do. We’re going to have policies and procedures and training,” Roberts asked Everett to draft an official legal opinion about the body-worn cameras.
|CITY ATTORNEY CYNTHIA EVERETT|
Commissioners also expressed reservations about the cost of storing and managing an ever-growing evidentiary database of tapes, disks and/or flip drives. For instance, when lawyers, victims, suspects, the media, or members of the public file a public records request for a video, to mitigate prospective liability damage claims, the Department must first perform a costly legal analysis and redact any material subject to public records exemptions.
To shield members from lawsuits alleging a violation of privacy rights, the police union sought to amend its collective bargaining agreement with protection against potential personal liability for participating officers. Commissioner (and former Fort Lauderdale Police Chief) Bruce Roberts suggested soliciting input from the Citizens Police Review Board. Once the Commission concluded that the City should move ahead with a test program, Mayor Jack Seiler charged staff with identifying obstacles to the pilot program and customizing policy guidelines.
|MAYOR JACK SEILER|
BSO Chimes In
On March 22, 2016, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel announced that a pilot BWC program of 50 road patrol deputies in North Lauderdale, Central Broward County, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach, would soon be expanded to 1500 BSO officers. Despite his vow to enforce a BSO policy dictating when the cameras must be used, Israel’s disclosure that deputies would be allowed to manually turn the cameras on and off prompted Broward's Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes, Jr. to raise another program impediment, observing “An officer will never record his or her own misconduct.”
|BROWARD SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL|
A body worn camera (BWC) is always recording, but until the officer turns it on, the recording is regularly overwritten. As such, along with whatever is preserved after the system is turned on, events recorded prior to a specific incident are also available. How much of that prior video is also preserved will depend on the Department’s policy, and could range from one minute to one hour - or more. The program’s intuitive vulnerabilities suggest the critical importance of a bulletproof governing policy. Fortunately, a growing pool of policy resources has been made available to jurisdictions for this purpose.
|CHIEF ASST PUB. DEFENDER GORDON WEEKES|
Crafting a BWC Policy
In compliance with a Commission directive to craft an effective BWC policy, City Manager Lee Feldman solicited input from Law Enforcement agencies and private consultants authoritatively experienced with developing BWC best practices. With support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing (AKA COPS), the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) extensively researched the use of body-worn cameras by Law Enforcement. PERF reviewed dozens of BWC policies submitted by police agencies while interviewing scores of police executives with relevant expertise.
|CITY MANAGER LEE FELDMAN|
Compiling this research into a study detailing the factors that law enforcement agencies must address when formulating a body-worn cameras policy, PERF published “Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned.” While adapting a comprehensive set of policy recommendations to the available resources and statutory constraints of any law enforcement agency, PERF also exhorts jurisdictions to invite input from frontline officers, legal advisors and the community.
As city staff molded the PERF data into a draft policy, Feldman opened a dialogue with several U.S, cities that conducted independent studies. He also reached out to Bobcat Training and Consulting, Inc., a “Community Policing” consultant hired by the city to improve FLPD’s operational protocols.
Next, Feldman solicited feedback about the draft policy from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Fort Lauderdale Council of Civic Associations, the Broward County Urban League, the Fort Lauderdale Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Broward Dream Defenders and the City’s Citizens Police Review Board.
Lawmakers Mandate BWC Program Policies
While Feldman was framing a BWC policy, Florida lawmakers finally plugged a longstanding vacuum in state law. Driven by the controversial Palm Beach Gardens shooting death of Corey Jones, Broward Statehouse Representative Shevrin Jones (D – West Park) filed House Bill 93, which was signed into law on March 24, 2016. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty-four states (and Washington D.C.) have already passed body camera laws.
|SLAIN MUSICIAN COREY JONES|
The legislation requires jurisdictions to formulate policies prior to using body cameras, and specifies rules for storing audiovisual data that comply with Florida public records laws. The Florida BWC law essentially codifies PERF policy recommendations. Florida cities and counties seeking to add body cameras to their law enforcement arsenals will have to wade through the same policy options navigated by Feldman.
|STATEHOUSE REPRESENTATIVE SHEVRIN JONES|
During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers amended the 2016 Statute. Conceived and supported by Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA) lobbyists, Senate Bill 624 and House Bill 305 featured a single paragraph that allows police officers to review the recorded footage on their body cameras before writing reports or making statements. While proponents claim that the legislation will allow officers to provide a more accurate and detailed description of events, opponents decry providing an unfair advantage to officers when their recollection of events conflicts with those of other witnesses.
Aspiring to add context to the controversy, Analyst Matthew Feeney with the Washington D.C.-based Cato Institute said he is skeptical of such body-camera review policies, especially when they extend to the most serious kinds of interactions between law enforcement and the public, particularly shootings. Feeney explained, “The legality of use-of-force incidents often hinges on what an officer believed or thought at the time of the incident. The problem with these kinds of proposals is that they give officers an unfair advantage that is not given to citizens.” Despite related concerns raised by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the legislation was unanimously approved in both chambers.
|CATO INSTITUTE ANALYST MATTHEW FEENEY|
Policy Approval Uncorks Pilot Program
Having received ten (10) vendor responses for a proposed “turn-key solution to capture video from an officer’s perspective,” Feldman placed the issue on the December 6, 2016, Commission Meeting agenda, where he finally delivered the policy guidelines requested eleven months earlier.
On January 4, 2017, the city agreed to kick in $600,000, its share of a matching grant provided by the Federal Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program (through the Department of Justice / Office of Justice Grant Programs for Body-Worn Cameras). The funds will cushion the BWC Pilot Program’s $1.2 million burden on taxpayers. The $600,000 matching grant awarded to Fort Lauderdale was the third largest Florida distribution in 2016, after Broward County ($999,564) and Miami ($960,000).
With the Commission on board, city staff embarked on a collaborative effort with FLPD (and input from police union officials) to evaluate the vendor proposals. The review team included Assistant Police Chief Mike Gregory, a former FLPD liaison to the Galt Mile. By vetting the various systems - assessing each vendor’s technology, training regimen and support capabilities - the procurement team finally narrowed the field to three vendors by February 21, 2017, selecting the Body Worn Cameras (BWC) and Digital Evidence Management Systems provided by Motorola Solutions, Inc, Axon Incorporated (also referred to as Taser) and VieVu LLC. Two of the three would win a City contract.
|ASST POLICE CHIEF MIKE GREGORY|
When VieVu LLC failed to provide a Best and Final Offer (BAFO) by the May 22, 2017 deadline, they were dropped as “non-responsive”, prompting staff to recommend awarding the two pilot program contracts to Axon and Motorola on June 6, 2017. On November 13, 2017, FLPD announced that 35 of the more than 50 BWC pilot program volunteers would receive product training from the two vendors between November 27th and December 8th, “after which time, they would begin their patrol duties outfitted with the cameras.”
As explained by Roberts, shortly after pilot project officers concluded their training on December 8, and began using the cameras on patrols, they ran into problems with uploading and sharing their recorded video content. Although Roberts doesn’t disclose whether the problems afflicted the system provided by Motorola, Axon or those of both vendors, he mentions that the IT team sought to fix the problem by consulting with police officials in Orlando, having learned that their Digital Evidence Management System was free of glitches, and working perfectly.
Since Motorola underbid Axon while competing for the Orlando BWC contract in December 2016, the Orlando Police Department purchased 450 Motorola cameras and the Motorola video management system. Given the IT team’s decision to compare notes with Orlando, one might conclude that the Fort Lauderdale glitch resides in their Motorola hardware or software, or how either is being utilized. However, since a hiccup like this could damage the company’s credibility at a time that its poised to sell hundreds of similar systems across the planet, why couldn’t an army of Motorola technicians obliterate the glitch in short order? To peruse Commissioner Roberts’ February 2018 Newsletter in it's entirety, read on – [editor]
From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
|DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER-ELECT|
I would like to say it has been a pleasure serving you for the past 9 years. During that time, we have made great strides in making this City a better place to live, work and play. Some of those accomplishments have been within our District; others throughout the City. We all want the same end result – making sure the future of Fort Lauderdale remains a beautiful place to live and visit. I would also like you to join me in welcoming Commissioner Elect Heather Moraitis who will take over the position of District 1 Commissioner on March 20, 2018. She brings with her Melissa Coningsby as her Commission Assistant replacing Robbi Uptegrove who will be retiring after 17 years with the City.
|DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER|
BRUCE G. ROBERTS
STATE OF THE CITY SET FOR JANUARY 30: Join Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler and the Fort Lauderdale City Commission for the State of the City Address, Advisory Board Reception, and Ribbon-cutting Ceremony to celebrate the completion of the South Side Cultural Arts Center. The event will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, at 5:30 PM at South Side Cultural Arts Center, 701 S Andrews Avenue. The evening will begin with a networking reception at 5:30 PM to acknowledge Advisory Board and Committee members for their volunteer service to the City. A ribbon-cutting will occur at 6:30 PM to celebrate the completion of the restoration of historic South Side School, which has been transformed into the new South Side Cultural Arts Center. At 7 PM, Mayor Seiler will deliver his final State of the City Address, which will review many of Fort Lauderdale’s accomplishments and highlight opportunities that lie ahead. To RSVP, please email email@example.com or call 954-828-4741.
|SOUTH SIDE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER|
CITY TO CHLORINATE WATER SYSTEM: The City will temporarily return to using free chlorine in its drinking water system. This preventive maintenance procedure will begin at 9 AM Tuesday, February 13 and will end at 9 AM Tuesday, March 20. Free chlorination is a common practice for water systems using combined chlorine disinfection. The chlorination period is anticipated to be transparent to water customers; however, some may notice a slight change in the taste or smell of their tap water. Some customers may also see water running from fire hydrants in their neighborhoods, which is part of the normal maintenance process. The City maintains the highest standards to ensure that clean, high quality drinking water is delivered to its customers. The City's drinking water meets all federal, state, and local drinking water quality standards. For more information, Fort Lauderdale utility customers may contact the 24-hour Neighbor Call Center at 954-828-8000 or online at www.fortlauderdale.gov/lauderserv. Customers who receive a utility bill from other municipalities or entities should call their respective water provider’s customer service phone number for more information.
|CHLORINE ATTRACTING WATER|
POLICE BODY WORN CAMERAS PILOT PROGRAM: Pilot users have been recording and submitting videos to both the
Axon (Taser) and Motorola BWC systems since training concluded December 8, 2017. We have experienced several setup/configuration type issues that City IT and the vendors have been addressing. These include slow speeds and lockups when uploading videos as well as challenges sharing videos with detectives and the State Attorney’s Office. The implementation team has travelled to Orlando Police Department for a site visit and to discuss video management strategies. They are not incurring any upload timeouts or extraordinary delays. This was useful and as a result IT will be performing additional testing on the FLPD/City network.
UPDATE ON CITY PROJECTS IN DISTRICT 1:
DATES TO CALENDAR:
2/05/18: Pre-agenda Meeting – Beach Community Center - 6 pm
2/06/18: Commission Meetings - City Hall – 1:30 pm and 6 pm
2/19/18: Pre-agenda Meeting – Imperial Point Hospital, South Entrance – 6pm
2/20/18: Commission Meetings - City Hall – 1:30 pm and 6 pm
3/05/18: Pre-agenda Meeting – Beach Community Center - 6 pm
3/06/18: Commission Meetings - City Hall – 1:30 pm and 6 pm
3/13/18: GET OUT AND VOTE
3/19/18: Pre-agenda Meeting – Imperial Point Hospital, South Entrance – 6pm
3/20/17: SWEARING IN OF NEW MAYOR AND COMMISSION – 11AM – CITY HALL CHAMBERS
3/20/18: Commission Meetings - City Hall – 1:30 pm and 6 pm
OFFICE CONTACT: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.
EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.
Bruce G. Roberts
If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at RUptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.
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December 17, 2017 - Dispatched from each of the City's eleven Fire Stations, Fort Lauderdale firefighters annually respond to 55 thousand reported fires and medical emergencies. Anyone who enters a burning building to save lives is a hero. As a rule, the respect and admiration earned by our firefighters and Fire-Rescue EMS paramedics typically extends to the department’s leadership. Specifically, a Fire Chief who used to walk in their shoes.
Fire Marshals don’t rescue people endangered by fire, or provide those threatened by medical emergencies with a chance to survive a harrowing ordeal. In describing their “mission”, the City website observes how inspectors and investigators directed by the Fire Marshal “effectively utilize the principles of engineering, education and enforcement to protect our citizens, our workplace, our homes and our environment from the ravages of fire.”
In the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Fire Prevention Bureau is answerable to Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas, whose unique talent for engendering cooperation has manifested a sea change in Bureau operations. By crafting enforcement policies that incorporate the concerns of homeowners, merchants, neighborhood associations and civic organizations – while enlisting their assistance – Lucas has measurably limited the number and severity of fires in Fort Lauderdale, an achievement that merited official recognition by the City and his peers.
|FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS|
The Bureau’s Fire Inspectors are dually certified as fire-fighters and its investigators are among the most highly-credentialed professionals on the City payroll. Working seamlessly with the Building Department’s Design Review team, after FPB Fire Inspectors scrutinize all building plans submitted by permit applicants to enforce compliance with national, state and local fire and life-safety codes, they verify compliance onsite prior to approving a certificate of occupancy (CO) or completion.
|FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE INSPECTORS|
Each year, notices posted on association bulletin boards announce the annual fire safety inspection, when our Fire Marshal ensures the availability of proper egress and certifies that code compliant fire protection systems are being carefully maintained. Required for all structures in his jurisdiction with a certificate of occupancy, these annual inspections enable Lucas to keep our homes safe.
The Bureau’s Fire Investigation Unit (FIU) is charged with diagnosing a fire’s origin and cause. Five on-call fire investigators are available to an on-scene Incident Commander (IC) to help ascertain those conditions that triggered or contributed to a fire, and if intentional, provide insight into prospective motives. When their findings lead to a criminal investigation, they will work closely with FLPD arson detectives, and investigators from the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal, the Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). Teaming with emergency management agencies, the Unit also helps displaced families find lodging while helping to restore habitability to their decimated homes.
|FIRE CHIEF ROBERT HOECHERL|
Since his appointment less than three years ago, Lucas and Fire Chief Robert Hoecherl have transformed Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue into one of the nation's most formidable fire services. When Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hoecherl replaced the retiring Jeffrey Justinak as Fort Lauderdale’s Fire Chief, he launched a plan to upgrade the department’s Public Protection Classification (PPC), which insurance companies use to measure risk (and calculate premiums) for properties within the department’s fire district.
|FIRE CHIEF JEFFREY JUSTINAK|
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) uses factors included in their proprietary Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) to evaluate a fire department’s capabilities. While Hoecherl could address FSRS requirements for the adequate staffing of engine crews and ladder companies, deploy appropriate apparatus and equipment, improve training and communications, increase water supplies, and adapt the department’s organizational structure, he would need a savvy, impressively credentialed Fire Marshal to meet the rigorous FSRS Fire Prevention standards. Lucas was perfect.
At their September 1, 2015 meeting, City commissioners honored Fire-Rescue officials and City Manager Lee Feldman when Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue earned “ISO 1” – the highest Public Protection Classification offered by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) – and national accreditation by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. The top-level ISO 1 insurance rating would reduce citywide fire insurance premiums through the year 2020 by up to 2 percent for homeowners and up to 12 percent for commercial properties. At that time, only 32 of the nation’s more than 47,000 fire departments had achieved the ISO 1 rating. Of the 32, two other Broward jurisdictions met the uncompromising ISO-1 standard – the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue in Weston and Deerfield Beach. The nationwide list currently features 241 fire districts classified as ISO 1).
|FIRE CHIEF ROBERT HOECHERL, FIRE MARSHAL JEFF LUCAS|
CITY MANAGER LEE FELDMAN AND OTHER FIRE RESCUE OFFICIALS
The City Commission additionally recognized Lucas for having merited a Fire Marshal Designation from the prestigious Center for Public Safety Excellence in Chantilly, Virginia. Since the program’s inception, only 133 candidates worldwide have earned this unique accreditation. Evidently, hitting one’s mark is infectious in Lucas’ wheelhouse. A few months earlier, Assistant Fire Marshal / Battalion Chief Jo-Ann Lorber was named Florida’s Executive Fire Officer of the Year for 2014.
|ASSISTANT FIRE MARSHAL JO-ANN LORBER SNAGS AWARD|
Lucas proactively seeks opportunities to partner with local communities, inviting unfettered communications. When enforcing the Fire Code, our Fire Marshal works with area homeowners and merchants to maximize the level of fire protection each can afford. During emergencies, you’ll often find him at ground zero. When a broken water line threatened the fire protection capabilities of a Galt Mile association last year, they didn’t have to solicit a sub-grade excavation clearance from Sunshine State 811 and an emergency permit to tear up the street. Instead, when Lucas arrived, he personally took charge of locating an unknown control valve and ended the flooding.
In contrast with many of his peers, Lucas has proven fair-minded and forthright. Shortly after Fire Sprinkler association lobbyists circumvented State Law by engineering a Declaratory Statement exhorting high-rise associations that legally opted out of retrofitting a $multi-million fire sprinkler system to instead install a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System (which includes fire sprinklers), Lucas informed Galt Mile officials that he disagreed with the "revised" interpretation of the Fire Code, and observed “I would think if you opt out, then you opt out of all.” He suggested that associations “pursue this with the State”. Heeding his advice, Galt Mile officials are working to capsize this corporate extortion.
On November 9, 2017, the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association” named Lucas, “Fire Marshal of the Year”. Of course, this is the Venice of America, where those who distinguish themselves are often snatched up by another jurisdiction, or price tag their moral compass and disappear into the private sector. That said, Fort Lauderdale homeowners and merchants who meet with Lucas are usually struck by the same observation – “We’re lucky to have him.” As always – time will tell...
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