In the News- Southeast- Jan. 2003
Broward County -- Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant's troubles continued to mount after a county audit found she mismanaged and overspent her budget, violated state accounting laws and engaged in an ethically questionable arrangement for an employee to rent a house from her. The Broward County Commission put off discussion of the politically charged issue when the audit was released in November, saying it would take it up this month.
Broward County's building construction oversight board will hire a team of structural engineers to review plans for nearly three dozen homes under construction to determine if increased wind resistance requirements are being met. The move follows a Miami Herald report in August that questioned the practice of taking home designers' assurances at face value.
Fort Lauderdale -- Historic preservationists rallied to save Fort Lauderdale's only major art deco building but will have to live with a compromise that allows the western portion of the 66-year-old Lauderdale Beach Hotel to be demolished and replaced with a 29-story condominium tower.
Newly re-elected state Sen. Mandy Dawson will undergo outpatient drug treatment as part of a yearlong pretrial intervention program to avoid charges for allegedly altering a prescription for painkillers in October. Dawson, who used painkillers to cope with the effects of spinal surgery, is accused of changing a prescription for 60 pills to 160. Dawson intends to serve her term in the Senate without interruption.
Hollywood -- The non-profit environmental group Save Our Shoreline has sued to reverse the commission's decision to approve a 38-story, 250-unit condominium complex on Ocean Drive. City officials believe the luxury units will help to revitalize the beachfront. Environmentalists complain the project violates density limits and will interfere with hurricane evacuation efforts.
City commissioners have tentatively agreed to allow construction of a 22-story condominium and retail complex as part of the planned Arts Park redevelopment project in downtown Young Circle.
Palm Beach Gardens -- Investment company Wyndcrest Holdings LLC has made a $158-million offer -- $4.15 a share -- to acquire San Jose, Calif.-based Netro Corp., which makes equipment for high-speed wireless internet access.
Stuart -- The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council voted down two proposals to change the county's long-term growth plan to allow private wastewater plants outside the city's primary services district and a 397-home community in Palm City. Martin County commissioners say the wastewater plants are needed to accommodate golf course clubhouses, but planning council members believe the change would contribute to low-density sprawl.
West Palm Beach -- County officials have agreed to purchase a private school campus in Palm Beach International Airport's flight path and allow the school to buy county-owned land slated to become part of a public sports complex and relocate there. The unusual accommodation, which has the county paying $3 million more for The King's Academy property than an initial appraisal said it was worth, was detailed by the Palm Beach Post as a "glimpse into how government deals get done in Palm Beach County." The newspaper raised questions about the deal between airport Director Bruce Pelly, whose daughter attends the school, and former county engineer Herb Kahlert, who represented the school.
A SAFE MOVE
Southeast Florida is home of two of the top five counties in spending on public safety.
Per Capita Municipal Government
Public Safety Expenditures
CountySpendingMartin$544.25Marion 528.77Collier 474.98Orange 466.81Palm Beach 447.45State avg. 365.80
Note: Public safety expenditures include law enforcement, fire control, protective inspections, emergency and disaster relief, ambulance and rescue services, medical examiners and consumer affairs.
Sources: Florida TaxWatch, Florida Department of Banking and Finance
BROWARD COUNTY -- Broward County lost more jobs than any other metropolitan area in the state from October 2001 to October 2002, according to figures released by the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. The agency's report shows 698,100 Broward County residents employed as of last October -- 6,200 less than a year earlier.