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Rally by NL-worst Marlins falls short against White Sox for fifth loss in a row

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 19:41

MIAMI (AP) — Drew Thorpe threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, Nicky López doubled twice and drove in two runs and the Chicago White Sox beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Friday night.

Luis Robert Jr. had two hits, two walks and two stolen bases for the White Sox, who won their first opening game of a road series this season. They were 0-14 before Friday.

“I thought we hit the ball extremely well,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We had some good at-bats. They just made some pitches when they needed to keep the runs down. Good baseball game all the way around.”

The Marlins lost their fifth straight and dropped to an NL worst 30-58.

In his fifth major league start, Thorpe (3-1) pitched into the seventh for the first time since being promoted from the minor leagues June 11. The rookie scattered three hits, walked two and struck out five.

“I felt everything was working, mixing the speeds,” Thorpe said. “I just stuck to the game plan and tried not to do too much.”

Thorpe also considered it an important career milestone extending his outing into the seventh.

“It means a lot,” Thorpe said. “We had a bullpen day the other day and you get to save them. I just tried to extend as much as possible. That’s what I needed to do coming in. I wanted to finish (the seventh), but it is what it is.”

The White Sox struck quickly against Marlins starter Bryan Hoeing on López’s run-scoring double in the second.

Martín Maldonado’s RBI double against reliever Roddery Muñoz in the fourth made it 2-0 before López hit another run-scoring double in the fifth.

John Brebbia relieved Thorpe after Dane Myers’ one-out double in the seventh and allowed a run scoring single by Xavier Edwards. Miami loaded the bases against Brebbia with two out when center fielder Robert tracked down Bryan De La Cruz’s drive at the wall to end the threat.

“Not many guys can make that play,” Grifol said. “I don’t know what the catch probability on that is.”

The Marlins rallied against closer Michael Kopech in the ninth. Vidal Bruján reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to third on Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s two-out single and scored on De La Cruz’s single. But Kopech retired Josh Bell on a groundout for his eighth save.

“Tough day offensively,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Thorpe was good. We couldn’t get to the changeup even when we sat on it. We couldn’t hit it. Just a lot of weak contact. I thought we had some really good at-bats against their bullpen.”

Hoeing (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Jacksonville on Friday, gave up one run, five hits and struck out four in three innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: INF Yoán Moncada (left adductor strain) will be used as designated hitter in games at the club’s rookie complex in Arizona next week.

Marlins: Optioned Kyle Tyler to Triple-A Jacksonville for Hoeing’s spot on the roster. …RHP Sixto Sánchez (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session at the club’s spring training complex in Jupiter.

UP NEXT

LHP Garrett Crochet (6-6, 3.02) will start for the White Sox on Saturday against Marlins’ RHP Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 3.77).

Records tumble as dangerous heat wave scorches the US West and beyond, with the worst yet to come

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 15:12

By CLAIRE RUSH, REBECCA BOONE and SCOTT SONNER

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Records tumbled across the West as a slow-moving heat wave of potentially historic proportions tightened its grip from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona on Friday, sending many residents in search of a cool haven from the dangerously high temperatures.

The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. were also sweltering, with oppressive heat and humidity expected to last through Saturday or beyond.

One of the hottest places on Earth, California’s Death Valley, shattered the previous record high for the date by 5 degrees — with the mercury climbing to 127 Fahrenheit (52.8 Celsius). The old mark of 122 (50 C) last was tied in 2013.

There was also a record high for the date of 118 (47.7 C) in Phoenix, where highs of 115 (46.1 C) or hotter were forecast through Wednesday. In Needles, California, where the National Weather Service has records dating to 1888, the high of 122 (50 C) edged the old mark of 121 (49.4 C) set in 2007. It was 124 (51.1) in Palm Springs, California.

The worst was yet to come across much of the West, with triple-digit temperatures likely — between 15 and 30 degrees (8 and 16 degrees Celsius) higher than average into next week, the National Weather Service said.

“The duration of this heat is also concerning as scorching above average temperatures are forecast to linger into next week,” the weather service in Phoenix said.

“This type of heat is dangerous to all without adequate cooling or hydration,” the service said Friday night in Las Vegas, which saw a high of 113 (45 C). “Numerous climate sites face high probabilities of breaking daily as well as all-time temperature records.”

In Gresham, Oregon, a Portland suburb that also tied a previous record, of 98 (36.6 C), Sherri Thompson, 52, was waiting in her car with her 14-year-old chihuahua Kiwani for a cooling center to open in the late morning.

Thompson has lived in her car for three years and can only run its air conditioning for about 20 minutes at a time or else the engine overheats. She said she has been hospitalized for heat stroke in the past.

“I have anxiety and panic attacks, and I get worried. I don’t want to have another heat stroke, and everything just triggers my anxiety a lot,” she said.

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, there have been at least 13 confirmed heat-related deaths this year, along with more than 160 other suspected heat deaths are still under investigation, according to the county’s most recent report.

That does not include the death of a 10-year-old boy earlier this week in Phoenix who suffered a “heat-related medical event” while hiking with family at South Mountain Park and Preserve, according to police.

More extreme highs are in the near forecast, including 129 (53.8 degrees C) on Sunday at Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, and then around 130 (54.44 C) through Wednesday. The hottest temperature ever officially recorded on Earth was 134 degrees (56.67 C) in Death Valley in July 1913, though some experts dispute that measurement and say the real record was 130 recorded there in July 2021.

In Bullhead City, Arizona, the temperature had already reached 111 degrees (44.4 C) by 11 a.m. Friday on its way to a high of 118 (47.7 C)., and officials opened a pair of cooling centers for older adults and others.

“While this is a heat wave and we urge everyone to be cautious, we typically don’t see large attendance at our cooling centers unless there are power outages,” city spokesperson Mackenzie Covert said. “Our community is hot every summer. Our residents are kind of aware of it. They all tend to have working air conditioners.”

Figure skaters were out at the Reno Ice Rink in Nevada starting at 6 a.m. before the high topped out at 102 (38.8 C), general manager Kevin Sunde said. By the time the rink was to close at 10:30 p.m., Sunde expected nearly 300 people would have visited, with more parents hanging around to watch kids’ hockey practice than usual.

“They may not be getting on the ice themselves, but enjoying the cool,” Sunde said. “We’re the only sheet of ice within about an hour’s drive.”

In Norfolk, Virginia, Kristin Weisenborn set up her table at an outdoor farmer’s market to sell sourdough bread. The air was hovering just below the triple digits, but the 58% humidity made it feel more like 114 (46 C), according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s so hot, I just hope there’s a lot of people here that can buy my bread,” said Weisenborn, 42, whose Krid’s Crumbs bakery is based in Virginia Beach.

“Otherwise we’re just standing here sweating,” she said, adding that unsold bread will be donated or frozen.

Despite the sweltering air, people were already buying her loaves as the market got underway.

“It’s hot, but it’s July,” Weisenborn added. “Better than snow, I guess.”

___

Boone reported from Boise, Idaho, and Sonner reported from Reno, Nevada. Associated Press journalists Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; John Antczak in Los Angeles; Rio Yamat in Las Vegas; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; and Ben Finely in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed.

Fewer hurricanes in July? Here’s how Hurricane Beryl and dust could affect storms

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 14:36

Now that Hurricane Beryl has traveled across the Atlantic and broken numerous records, such as being the earliest Category 5 storm in recorded history, what’s next for hurricane development in the Atlantic?

The good news is that powerful hurricanes such as Beryl often consume heat energy, and can create upwellings of cool water. That cooler water then curbs storm formation.

But Beryl may not play out that way, said climate researcher Brian McNoldy with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science.

McNoldy checked his data points and said that sea-surface temperatures had cooled slightly in the southern Caribbean, but that he had not seen any significant cooling in Beryl’s wake just yet.

“My hunch, because of where it tracked, and because it was moving quickly, I don’t think it will leave much of a cold wake,” he said.

McNoldy cited four factors that go into creating a nice, cold wake: Storms should be wide, slow moving, very intense, and travel over water where the surface is hot, but the deeper water is cold.

“Even though Beryl was certainly very strong, it wasn’t especially large, it was moving pretty quickly, and the warm water (in the Main Development Region for hurricanes) is really deep,” he said.

There may not be much of a cool wake, but there is an abundance of something else that could cripple storm formation — dry Saharan dust.

Dust blowing off the desert areas of North Africa and traveling over the tropical Atlantic, where hurricanes often form, is a pretty regular occurrence every June and July, said Cameron Pine, of the National Weather Service. “As the African Monsoon comes into full swing, we get these big plumes of dust that come off Africa and they can extend over a great swath of the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.

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The plumes usually travel at an altitude of around 18,000 feet, and can hamper storm development.

“For tropical development, one of the main ingredients is ample moisture in the atmosphere. If you have an increase in the Saharan air layer, that creates dry conditions that are a negative for tropical development,” Pine said.

“Dust can put a brake on things for a while,” McNoldy said.

After checking the latest satellite imagery of the current dust plume, McNoldy said, “It’s really substantial out there now.”

He said, not only does the dry air curtail hurricane formation, but if it’s a fairly thick plume, it actually absorbs a decent fraction of the sun’s energy before that energy reaches the ocean and heats it. In other words, the dust, if thick enough, can help the oceans cool a bit, and make hurricanes in the remainder of July less likely.

“That’s fine by me,” said McNoldy.

Panthers announce development camp roster, schedule including open scrimmage

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 14:26

The Florida Panthers announced their 39-man roster and schedule for its Development Camp, which takes place July 8-11 and culminates in a scrimmage open to the public.

The open scrimmage will be from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday at Baptist Health IcePlex in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida’s roster of prospects is made up of 22 forwards, 11 defensemen and six goaltenders. It features selections from the Panthers’ last five NHL drafts and additional invitees ranging from ages 18-25. The prospects are getting their first taste of practice in a NHL facility coming from the NCAA, junior leagues and Florida’s minor-league organizations.

Gracyn Sawchyn, the Panthers’ most recent first-round draft selection in 2023, will attend camp after spending last season in the Western Hockey League. Joining him is forward Jack Devine, a two-time NCAA Champion who just finished his senior season at the University of Denver. Kai Schwindt rounds out the top end of the roster after scoring 23 points in 33 games this season in the Ontario Hockey League.

Maybe the most notable aspect of the roster is who’s excluded: 21-year-old forward Mackie Samsokevich. He’s expected to play his first full season with Florida this year after the Panthers’ look to fill gaps in their lower lines. Bypassing development camp could be a sign of confidence from the team.

Development camp doesn’t indicate who will make Florida’s roster in the fall, but could earn young players an invite to training camp with the full team. It will also serve as a chance for hockey-hungry fans to see potential future Panthers on the ice.

Textbook authors told climate change references must be cut to get Florida’s OK

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 14:22

Textbook authors were told last month that some references to “climate change” must be removed from science books before they could be accepted for use in Florida’s public schools, according to two of those authors.

A high school biology book also had to add citations to back up statements that “human activity” caused climate change and cut a “political statement” urging governments to take action to stop climate change, said Ken Miller, the co-author of that textbook and a professor emeritus of biology at Brown University.

Both Miller and a second author who asked not to be identified told the Orlando Sentinel they learned of the state-directed changes from their publishers, who received phone calls in June from state officials.

Miller, also president of the board of the National Center for Science Education, said the phrase “climate change” was not removed from his high school biology text, which he assumed happened because climate change is mentioned in Florida’s academic standards for biology courses.

But according to his publisher, a 90-page section on climate change was removed from its high school chemistry textbook and the phrase was removed from middle school science books, he said.

The other author said he was told Florida wanted publishers to remove “extraneous information” not listed in state standards. “They asked to take out phrases such as climate change,” he added.

The actions seemed to echo Florida’s previous rejection of math and social studies textbooks that state officials claimed include passages of “indoctrination” and “ideological rhetoric.” And they fall in line with the views of many GOP leaders, who question both the existence of climate change and the contributions of human activities to the problem, despite a broad scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is transforming the earth’s environment.

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that stripped the phrase “climate change” from much of Florida law, reversing 16 years of state policy and, critics said, undermining Florida’s support of renewable and clean energy.

The bill did not address public education nor the state’s science standards, which were adopted in 2008 and spell out what students should learn in science instruction from kindergarten through 12th grade. But SB 1645 altered Florida’s energy policy, removing the goal of recognizing and addressing “the potential of global climate change,” Senate staff wrote in an analysis of the bill.

DeSantis has said the new legislation, passed by Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature, was “restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”

The Florida Department of Education did not respond this week to a request for comment about the science books nor to earlier questions in May and June about when its approved list of science textbooks for elementary, middle and high school science classes would be released. Florida’s school districts use the list to purchase books for their schools and had been told the state would release the science list in April.

Late Tuesday, the department posted the list on its website. Miller’s and the other author’s books were among those approved. The texts have not yet been printed so the Sentinel was unable to review them.

But there are no textbooks for high school environmental science classes on the approved list, though three companies submitted bids to supply books for that class, according to documents on the department’s website. Course material for that subject typically includes significant discussion of climate change.

“How do you write an environmental science book to appease people who are opposed to climate change?” asked a school district science supervisor, who is involved in science textbook adoption for her district. She asked not to be identified for fear of job repercussions.

She and other educators, the textbook authors and science advocates said the state’s actions will rob students of a deeper understanding of global warming even as it impacts their state and communities through longer and hotter heat waves, more ferocious storms and sea level rise.

Florida had already earned a D — and was among the five lowest-ranked states in the country — in a 2020 study that graded the states on how their public school science standards addressed climate change, said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the center for science education, which was a partner in the study.

Excising the phrase from science textbooks  will “make Florida climate education even worse than it is,” Branch said. “These ill-considered actions are going to cheat Florida students.”

Branch said it was especially troubling the decision seemed based on “ideological grounds” and ignored the “rock solid” science that has documented climate change and its impacts.

Brandon Haught teaches environmental science at a Volusia County high school and was active in efforts to include evolution — another controversial science topic — in the standards adopted 16 years ago.

His ninth graders know almost nothing about climate change because it is not taught in the lower grades, he said. He spends at least a week on the topic but is covering only “the basics,” he said.

Florida students need more information on the subject not less, he added. “Florida is one of the most impacted by the impacts of climate change, and oh my goodness Gov DeSantis, why?”

The state’s push to get publishers to remove “climate change” from some science books seems similar to its actions in 2022 and 2023 when it rejected some math and social studies textbooks publishers wanted to sell in Florida.

In those cases, the department announced it had rejected textbooks in press releases that claimed the books contained “critical race theory” and “social justice” topics, which were prohibited by state laws and rules. Some of those textbooks were later approved after the publishers made changes.

In contrast, the list of approved science books was posted to the department’s website without an accompanying press release. Judging from past practice, science textbooks that were rejected, such as those for environmental science, could later be approved if they were altered to meet Florida’s requirements.

Some school districts, including those in Orange and Seminole counties, were poised to buy new science books as soon as the state list was released. But districts can continue to use older books for a while, and some districts now may not purchase new science books immediately because the list was released months later than expected.

There were 146 textbooks submitted for consideration. About 75 books from a total of about 10 publishers were approved for middle and high school classes, with four publishers also approved to provide science books for kindergarten-to-fifth-grade classes, according to documents on the department’s website.

Textbooks can be rejected for failing to match Florida’s standards or failing to provide content that is accurate, among many other issues.

Science textbook publishers were told in advance to keep “critical race theory,” “social emotional learning” and other “unsolicited strategies” out of their textbooks. However, the “rubric” used to evaluate the books made no mention of “climate change.”

The Sentinel could not reach for comment the three publishers — Cengage Learning, McGraw Hill and Savvas Learning Company — that submitted environmental science books that did not make the approved list posted Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

Heat first-rounder Kel’el Ware has the basic orders of fill out and fit in

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 13:50

MIAMI — The early instructions have been rather rudimentary for Miami Heat first-round pick Kel’el Ware: fill out and fit in.

If nothing else, it allows the 7-footer taken last week at No. 15 out of Indiana to appreciate where he stands.

No sooner was Ware drafted than the 20-year-old himself noted the need to bulk up to NBA standards, with his college coach, Mike Woodson, in agreement.

“At Indiana, that’s when I started taking it serious, getting more in the weight room,” Ware said Friday of his second collegiate season, after playing as a freshman at Oregon. “I’ve already been in contact with the strength coaches here, telling me that I’m going to be in the weight room with them a lot. So basically just trying to get my upper body strong.”

It is a process that is ongoing, with Ware three days into training in San Francisco with a Heat summer roster that opens play Saturday against a similar roster of rookies, draft picks and young free agents from the Golden State Warriors at 6:30 p.m. Eastern (ESPN) at Chase Center.

“My draft weight I think was at 230,” he said. “I think the weight that they want me to be at is more of just where I’m comfortable at, but I would say like 240, 245.”

Then there is the matter of another adjustment.

The last Heat first-round pick to start on a regular basis from the outset was Dwyane Wade in 2003. Since then, it has been wait and watch for the likes of Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa, Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

“Oregon was my first year of coming off the bench, just because I was coming in as a freshman,” the Arkansas native said of what sets up as an adjustment. “Even if I did that this year, it would be the same thing, I’d be coming in as a rookie.”

While the Heat hardly are loaded in their power rotation, Adebayo, Jovic, Kevin Love and Thomas Bryant all are returning.

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“So it’s just adapting and learning,” Ware said, “and trying to learn everything I can.”

After the opening session of summer camp, returning Heat forward Cole Swider called Ware a “physical monster.”

That has the guards on the summer roster with a plug-and-play dunk threat.

“Having that kind of threat on the floor just opens up everything,” said undrafted Florida guard Zyon Pullin, who is on a two-way contract. “I think it’s going to make us a great team just having that threat.”

Guard Alondes Williams, who is back with the Heat after closing last season on a two-way contract with the team, offered a further take Friday on the fury of the Heat first-rounder.

“He talks big while he be dunking on everybody,” Williams said with a smile. “He’s aggressive. He’s knocked down open shots. So it’s been great.”

Such talk drew a smile Friday from Ware.

“I don’t think it’s much of like trying to prove myself,” he said. “It’s just going out there and playing the basketball I’ve been playing and just keeping up with what I’ve been doing.”

For now, Ware said, it’s mostly been summer schooling.

“Right now,” he said, “we’re just trying to figure out the team and figure out what role everybody’s going to be playing. So trying to go through the system.

“Some of it is the same being at Indiana, but the play calls are different.”

Waiting game

Like Swider, Williams arrived to summer camp with a qualifying offer for a Heat two-way contract but also aware that all three such spots currently are filled.

Like Swider, Williams said he would leave the math to others as he again attempts to prove himself.

“I’m trying to work toward getting a contract, getting that solidified spot in the NBA,” he said. “They just want to see me keep playing hard-nosed defense, like the culture is, just keep making the right reads, getting the turnovers down a little bit, just keep being me.

“And whatever happens, happens.”

Trump legal team cites US Supreme Court immunity ruling, asks Florida judge to pause classified documents case

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 13:30

As legal observers predicted, Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon for a partial pause of the government’s classified documents case against the former president so she can weigh how it might be impacted by the Supreme Court’s fresh ruling on presidential immunity.

Trump has argued that his decision to move documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach before he left the White House in January 2021 was effectively an “official act” he undertook as president and falls under the broadened immunity umbrella against prosecution that the U.S. Supreme Court now says exists for past, present and future presidents.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon was asked Friday by lawyers representing Donald Trump to partially pause the government’s classified documents case against the former president so she can decide how the U.S. Supreme Court’s new ruling on presidential immunity might apply to the proceedings. (Southern District of Florida via The New York Times)

In a filing with Cannon’s court in Florida on Friday, the defense requests that the court pause all proceedings in the case except for a motion by Special Counsel Jack Smith to change the conditions of Trump’s pretrial release by restricting his public remarks about federal agents and their search for documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The defense wants Cannon to set hearings for the two sides to argue over the application of the high court’s 6-3 decision, which was rendered on Monday.  They want deadlines for filings that would extend into September, and also asked a halt in months-long arguments over how sensitive papers in the case should be handled under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

The 10-page filing on Friday also seizes on the concurring opinion by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, who wrote that lower federal courts should closely examine the validity of the appointments of special counsels such as Smith. It was a timely opinion that squares neatly with Trump’s argument that Smith’s appointment was illegal because he was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The issue was the subject of two days of hearing before Cannon in late June. She has yet to rule.

“Resolution of these threshold questions is necessary to minimize the adverse consequences to the institution of the Presidency arising from this unconstitutional investigation and prosecution,” wrote Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise.

Trump faces 40 counts of improperly handling classified documents and then obstructing government efforts to retrieve them  Two of his employees, Waltine Nauta, a personal valet, and Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago property manager, are accused of assisting the former president in his efforts. All three have pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon was asked Friday by lawyers representing Donald Trump to partially pause the government’s classified documents case against the former president. At issue is the appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP file)

The former president’s lawyers already have succeeded in leveraging the Supreme Court ruling to delay Trump’s sentencing for his conviction in a New York State court for falsifying business records in the so-called “hush money” case. New York State Justice Juan Merchan has agreed to consider a defense motion to overturn the verdict and rule by Sept. 6. If necessary, sentencing would be rendered Sept. 18.

U.S. response pending

In their filing, Blanche and Kise told Cannon they “conferred in a good faith effort to resolve the issues herein, but were unable to do so with respect to President Trump’s stay motion.”

They said Smith’s office requested that the defense include the following statement in the filing “The Government objects to a stay and requests an opportunity to respond to any stay motion within the time the Local Rules provide.”

Ex-Miami-Dade congressman wants to go to Venezuela for presidential election. But Miami indictment in his way

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 13:01

David Rivera, a former Miami-Dade congressman who built his reputation on bashing the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, wants to travel to Venezuela for work as a consultant for an opposition candidate challenging Venezuela’s socialist president in the upcoming election.

But the Republican has a slight problem.

Rivera has been indicted in Miami on charges of being an unregistered foreign agent for President Nicolas Maduro’s government, stemming from his work as a consultant to help the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, improve its tarnished image in the United States. A Miami federal judge now will have to decide whether Rivera can make the trip, a request that prosecutors will strongly oppose.

Go to Herald.com for the full report.

How timeshare presentations earn me cheap travel

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 12:36

By Craig Joseph | NerdWallet

The most avid travel hackers often shoot me a skeptical glare when I utter the words “timeshare presentation” as a way to get discounted hotel stays and piles of points to use toward future travel.

The deal is pretty simple: receive a heavily discounted hotel or resort stay and other perks in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation — better known as a sales pitch.

The last email offer I received was in March 2023 from Hilton Grand Vacations. It dangled a three-night stay in Las Vegas plus 50,000 Hilton Honors points in exchange for $149 and sitting through a 90-minute talk.

Having attended four timeshare presentations over the last decade, I find that the discounted hotel stay and extra perks — like hotel points and discounted spa treatments or amusement park tickets — are worth my time. All you have to do is attend the presentation and say “no” (sometimes several times) if the timeshare is not right for you.

Here’s how to get nearly free vacations with timeshare presentations.

Determine the value of the promotion, then negotiate

I’ve successfully negotiated the terms of a timeshare presentation in the past, so I called Hilton to see if it could sweeten the deal with upgrades like more travel rewards points or food and beverage credits.

After reviewing the terms of my promotion — and with some very polite back and forth — I requested an increase to 100,000 points and a waiver on the additional resort fees of $34 per night. After a long wait, the sales representative’s supervisor approved the deal if I accepted it on the spot, which I did.

According to NerdWallet’s valuation, Hilton points are generally worth about 0.5 cent each, giving the 100,000 points an approximate value of $500. The nightly room rate over my travel dates was $249, plus $34 per night in resort fees. That gives this deal a value of over $1,300 in exchange for 90-minutes of my time and the $149 I paid for the package.

Understand the restrictions and limitations

Certain hotels require attending the presentation with a spouse, while others may have specific income requirements. Ask about blackout dates, package expiration dates and any other hidden fees (like those pesky resort fees).

For Hilton, I had to verbally confirm my income was above a certain threshold and attest that I hadn’t participated in another Hilton-based timeshare presentation over the past six months.

Once I purchased the package, Hilton gave me 12 months to use it. After my reservation in Las Vegas was booked, Hilton assigned a set date and time for the timeshare presentation. If you miss it, the company can charge the full cash rate for the stay and revoke any perks offered.

Also be aware that you won’t earn hotel points or elite night credits with the host brand for the promotional stay.

Know what to expect at the sales pitch

The pitch usually starts with an introduction to your salesperson and a general video or presentation about the company’s timeshare program. You’ll then be whisked away to an office, where the salesperson asks about your finances and travel habits. You’ll be introduced to a rubric of costs to stay at different tiers of properties — costs that may fluctuate seasonally or during periods of high demand.

Many timeshare companies, even Disney, have transitioned to a points-based system, where you buy points used to make reservations after you’re an “owner,” but be aware these points are independent of the chain’s loyalty program.

Once the salesperson estimates the cost required to live your best timeshare life, they’ll take you on a tour of a model property. You’ll then return to the office and be introduced to the “closer” — the person who ran the numbers and tries to pressure you into signing.

The sales professionals will tug at your emotions with aspirational travel fantasies while making you feel like family. Remember, they are incentivized by commissions to make you buy a timeshare through signing a contract that can last the rest of your life.

Timing the pitch using my phone allowed me to politely tell the salesperson their time was up once the required duration under the promotion elapsed (usually 90 to 120 minutes).

Be in the ‘no’

Timeshares are big business, with $10.6 billion in domestic sales in 2023, according to a 2024 study by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), a trade association for the timeshare industry. For comparison, that’s similar to the annual revenue of Major League Baseball in 2023.

Hospitality companies wouldn’t offer these lucrative promotions unless enough people were buying what they’re selling.

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Jason Gamel, president and CEO of ARDA, says that approximately 2 in 10 people decide to buy after a sales presentation. And that purchase, of course, comes with a financial commitment. The average purchase transaction was $24,170 in 2023, according to the ARDA study, with average annual interest rates near 15%.

This amount covers the initial cost to join the timeshare and the financing of the balance but does not include ongoing costs such as membership dues, maintenance fees or other required resort operation expenses.

If you’re not in the market for a timeshare, no sales pitch should persuade you to get one. Before the pitch, think (or talk) through the process of saying “no,” and if you have a spouse who’ll be attending, include them in the conversation.

Later, if you change your mind and decide to sign a contract, a state’s rescission laws could allow the contract to be canceled within a certain window after signing — usually between five and 10 business days.

“I think that’s important because it does help people evaluate whether they’re making the right decision for them, and it gives them a very easy way to say no after everything is said and done,” says Gamel.

Simply pack up and go

Despite skepticism from my travel-hacking cohorts, timeshare promotions allow me to save money on travel now and earn rewards to use for free travel in the future. The process won’t be for everyone, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a couple of hours and know the power of saying “no,” it could do the same for you.

More From NerdWallet

Craig Joseph writes for NerdWallet. Email: cjoseph@nerdwallet.com.

Daily Horoscope for July 05, 2024

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 21:00
General Daily Insight for July 05, 2024

A newfound emotional equilibrium opens doors for everyone. The nurturing Moon supports disciplined Saturn, encouraging us to embrace dedication and stay grounded, as well as advising us on making long-term decisions for ourselves without feeling rushed or uncertain. The New Moon then rises in Cancer at 6:57 pm EDT, as the Moon joins with the confident Sun to build a scaffolding for new beginnings, one where we can see the possibilities of expanding comfort zones and healing hearts. Create space for inner renewal.

Aries

March 21 – April 19

You can manifest something that lasts, but you can’t do everything at once. Be aware of your potential to spread yourself too thin attempting to keep up with everything, without giving much of yourself to any one person or project. It’s important to recognize where your energy is going at this time, because the more that you can extend your energy to the parts of your life that are really meaningful to you, the more likely you are to find success there.

Taurus

April 20 – May 20

Your passions are coming to the forefront. You might have felt like you had to set aside past dreams in order to achieve some more down-to-earth responsibilities. Thankfully, once you get more time to yourself and the New Moon offers you inspiration, you can take those dusty dreams off the shelf for the attention they deserve! You can also get others excited about the projects that bring you joy, so don’t be afraid to announce your ideas. Walk proudly into this new era.

Gemini

May 21 – June 20

The progress that you’re making might remain underground. The positive steps that you’re taking won’t always be immediately obvious, which can be frustrating when you want to analyze the results of your hard work. Even if your finish line is pretty subtle, if you take a closer look, the effort you’ve put into making beneficial changes should become clear. Have faith in what you’re trying to do, because some of the best things in life take time to come to fruition.

Cancer

June 21 – July 22

You’re outgrowing your shell, Cancer, but don’t worry. The universe is offering you a better one that’s perfectly suited to this new and improved you. It doesn’t have to be too different from the old you, but you need space to grow. You might be invited to learn through a book, class, or mentorship, and there may even be opportunities to travel to places you’ve always wanted to see. This growth period could feel awkward, but becoming your best self will be worth it.

Leo

July 23 – August 22

Making decisions with the future in mind is easier in theory than in practice. You may not feel totally sure about what you want from this time in your life, especially if your intuition is pulling you in opposing directions. Rather than giving up and going with the flow, turn your attention to things that will increase in value over time. This could be an investment of your time or money, a personal commitment, or a significant career decision. Be intentional about your choices.

Virgo

August 23 – September 22

The great unknown is calling your name. You might be worried that you’re not prepared or savvy enough to take the next step in your journey, but what you’re not able to do yourself, you can probably do with a little support from the people around you. This doesn’t just have to be people who are already in your life. It can refer to the greater community, or even people around the world. Reach out — you never know who might reach back!

Libra

September 23 – October 22

Your direction might feel more solid than it has in a while. An uncertain chapter in your life may be coming to a close, opening up a chapter where you’re not simply interested in a person or project — you’re all but magnetized toward the object of your attention. Since it can feel strange to have such a clear knowledge of what you want, it could be tempting to self-sabotage to avoid rejection or failure. Go to what’s calling you, don’t run away from it!

Scorpio

October 23 – November 21

You could be the support that someone needs. You might have a loved one who hasn’t yet quite reached the heights that you know they can. Take up the cause of being there to offer them a helping hand, whenever they reach out for it. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship or business partnership, especially if you are willing to be a mentor as well as a supporter. The encouragement and kindness you show now should return to you someday.

Sagittarius

November 22 – December 21

Road work ahead — and you’re on the construction crew. While the road to the success you’re seeking looks daunting, the easy road would have its own pitfalls. They’re simply not as obvious at the beginning. You may have even taken the simple path in the past and realized that it just didn’t take you where you needed to go. Buckle down, find the grit that you need to work past the hardest parts, and go from there. You’ll likely be glad you did!

Capricorn

December 22 – January 19

Speak up, Capricorn! You deserve to be heard. You might often act as the responsible “mom friend” who sacrifices so that others can run wild, but it’s your time to have some fun of your own. This chapter of your life is full of exhilarating potential for you to be fruitful and full of creativity — as long as you tell others that that’s what you want. The more that you communicate your desires, the more likely you are to manifest them into reality.

Aquarius

January 20 – February 18

Your heart is driving you through the day. You might usually lead with your head, trusting in the combination of logic and experience to get you where you’re trying to go, but your heart is calling out with painful clarity. Seize this moment to trust that what feels right actually is the right path to take, and have faith that you can rely on another person or trust your intuition. Doing so is easier said than done, but it’ll be worth it.

Pisces

February 19 – March 20

You can be the authority figure you need. At times, you might feel like you’re waiting for someone with more power than you to tell you what to do with your life, potentially by looking to see what your parents or grandparents did when they were your age. You are meant to step into your Piscean power and follow your soul’s directions. This is the time for you to be creative, take risks, and speak your truth with authority, so no self-minimizing!

Fun on the Fourth in Davie | PHOTOS

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 20:40

Red Sox make hay in extra innings to hold off Marlins, complete sweep

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 15:00

MIAMI (AP) — Automatic runner Romy Gonzalez scored a go-ahead run on David Hamilton’s RBI groundout in the 12th inning, Tyler O’Neill added an RBI double and the Boston Red Sox beat the Miami Marlins 6-5 on Thursday for a sweep of the three-game series.

Gonzalez advanced to third on Ceddanne Rafaela’s single against Matt Andriese (0-1) and then raced home on Hamilton’s grounder to third. O’Neill followed with a shot to the warning track in center field that scored Rafaela.

Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. It was broken up by a two-out triple from Jesús Sánchez, who missed the cycle by a single.

Zack Kelly (3-1) threw two innings of relief. Greg Weissert closed, holding the Marlins to Jonah Bride’s sacrifice fly in the 12th for his first major league save.

The Red Sox squandered two leads before securing their fifth road sweep this season.

“We did a good job, they did a good job,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Baserunning today was outstanding. We grinded with them and never stopped playing.”

Run scoring singles from O’Neill and Enmanuel Valdez in the top of the 11th put the Red Sox ahead 4-2. But Sánchez tied it in the bottom half with a two-run homer on the first pitch by Kelly.

“It’s an extremely hard sport to play. Guys get on base,” Pivetta said. “Sanchez — he took a good swing on a fastball and hats off to him. I think more important today is that we pulled off a win as a team and I think that was really good.”

After Sánchez’s triple off the wall in center, Pivetta ended his outing by striking out Jake Burger. Pivetta walked two and struck out 10, matching his longest start of the season.

“He was really good,” Cora said. “Pounding the strike zone, had a good fastball. The sweeper was good. He was in command. Gave us what we needed.”

Rafael Devers drove in two runs and had three walks while Hamilton singled, walked and stole two bases for the Red Sox, who won their fourth straight.

Boston’s Connor Wong went 0 for 2, ending his hitting streak at 17.

Burger struck out five times and became the third Marlins player to do that in a game.

The Marlins had a chance to win it in the ninth but Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran threw Sánchez out at the plate as he attempted to score from second on Xavier Edwards’ single. The throw and catcher Reese McGuire’s tag at the plate prevented the Marlins from their ninth walk-off this season.

“I just tried to make sure to stay smooth to the ball and not try to rush it too much,” Duran said. “I knew that if I put a good throw on it that I was going to have a chance to get him.”

The Marlins unsuccessfully challenged that McGuire blocked Sánchez’s path to the plate.

“If he was not blocking the plate there, I could have had more possibility to make it and score,” Sánchez said. “It’s part of the game. We didn’t feel frustration because we understand the game, but you’ve got to keep going and try to win the game and that’s our mentality.”

Kyle Tyler limited Boston to two runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings. In his third major league start, Tyler walked three and struck out three.

“It was a good come from behind – I wish I could say win – but a really good comeback,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Fun baseball game. Just unfortunate we couldn’t come away with the win.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Marlins: Placed INF Otto López (lower back inflammation) on the 10-day injured list and recalled Bride from Triple-A Jacksonville. … Optioned RHP Anthony Maldonado to Jacksonville and selected Andriese from the same minor league club.

UP NEXT

Marlins: Have not announced a starter for the opener of their three-game home series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday. RHP Drew Thorpe (2-1, 4.43) will go for the White Sox.

Brazilian police indict ex-President Bolsonaro in undeclared diamonds case, sources say

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 14:21

By GABRIELA SÁ PESSOA and MAURICIO SAVARESE

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s Federal Police have indicted former President Jair Bolsonaro for money laundering and criminal association in connection with undeclared diamonds the far-right leader received from Saudi Arabia during his time in office, according to a source with knowledge of the accusations.

A second source confirmed the indictment, although not for which specific crimes. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has yet to receive the police report with the indictment. Once it does, the country’s prosecutor-general, Paulo Gonet, will analyze the document and decide whether to file charges and force Bolsonaro to stand trial.

This is Bolsonaro’s second indictment since leaving office, following another in May for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. But this indictment dramatically raises the legal threats facing the divisive ex-leader that are applauded by his opponents but denounced as political persecution by his supporters.

Bolsonaro did not immediately comment, but he and his lawyers have previously denied any wrongdoing in both those cases, as well as other investigations into the former president. One is probing his possible involvement in inciting an uprising in capital Brasilia on Jan. 8, 2023 that sought to oust his successor from power.

Last year, Federal Police accused Bolsonaro of attempting to sneak in diamond jewelry reportedly worth $3 million and selling two luxury watches.

Police said in August that Bolsonaro received cash from the nearly $70,000 sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia. Brazil requires its citizens arriving by plane from abroad to declare goods worth more than $1,000 and, for any amount above that exemption, pay a tax equal to 50% of their value.

The jewelry would have been exempt from tax had it been a gift from Saudi Arabia to Brazil, but not Bolsonaro’s to keep for himself. Rather, it would have been added to the presidential collection.

The investigation showed that Mauro Cid, Bolsonaro’s former aide-de-camp who allegedly falsified his COVID-19 records, in June 2022 sold a Rolex watch and a Patek Philippe watch to a store in the U.S for a total $68,000. They were gifted by Saudi Arabia’s government in 2019. Cid later signed a plea bargain with authorities and confirmed it all.

Flávio Bolsonaro, the former president’s eldest son and a sitting senator, said on X after Thursday’s indictment that persecution against his father was “blatant and shameless.”

In addition to Bolsonaro, police indicted 10 others, including Cid and two of his lawyers, Frederick Wassef and Fábio Wajngarten, according to one of the sources. Wassef said in a statement that he didn’t have access to the final report of the investigation, and decried selective leaks to the press of an investigation that is supposed to be proceeding under seal.

“I am going through all of this solely for practicing law in defense of Jair Bolsonaro,” he wrote.

On X, Wajngarten said police have found no evidence implicating him. “The Federal Police knows I did nothing related to what they are investigating, but they still want to punish me because I provide unwavering and permanent defense for former President Bolsonaro,” he said.

Bolsonaro retains staunch allegiance among his political base, as shown by an outpouring of support in February, when an estimated 185,000 people clogged Sao Paulo’s main boulevard to protest what the former president calls political persecution.

His critics, particularly members of his rival President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s political party, have cheered every advance of investigations and repeatedly called for his arrest.

Psychologist Deborah Santos watched news of Bolsonaro’s indictment in a bakery in Sao Paulo’s up-market Vila Madalena neighborhood.

“This is great, because it breaks a pattern. Bolsonaro supporters love to say how honest he is; everyone else is dishonest, but them,” said Santos, 52. “There you have it: the police think he steals diamonds. That should end any politician’s career.”

The 69-year-old former army captain started his political career as a staunch advocate of Brazil’s military dictatorship, and was a lawmaker for nearly three decades. When he bid for the presidency for the first time, in 2018, he was widely dismissed as an outsider and too radically conservative. But he surprised analysts with a decisive victory, in no small part due to his self-portrayal as an upstanding citizen in the years following a sprawling corruption probe that ensnared hundreds of politicians and executives.

Bolsonaro insulted adversaries since his earliest days in office while garnering critics with his divisive policies, attacks on the Supreme Court and efforts to undermine health restrictions during the pandemic. He lost his reelection bid in the closest finish since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985.

Carlos Melo, a political science professor at the Insper University in Sao Paulo, believes Brazil’s Supreme Court and the justice overseeing several investigations targeting Bolsonaro, Alexandre de Moraes, will not risk sending the former president to prison or imposing other harsh measures with any haste. The objective, he said, is to avoid instigating supporters of the far-right leader and so make cases against him more politically sensitive to prosecute.

“This is a year of mayoral elections. Moraes and his fellow justices know that prosecuting a former president who remains a popular man would be even tougher in a year like this,” Melo said. “This indictment is another piece of the puzzle. It gives one more problem to Bolsonaro. There will be more.”

Last year, Brazil’s top electoral court ruled that Bolsonaro abused his presidential powers during his 2022 reelection bid, which rendered him ineligible for any elections until 2030. The case focused on a meeting during which Bolsonaro used government staffers, the state television channel and the presidential palace in Brasilia to tell foreign ambassadors that the country’s electronic voting system was rigged.

Bolsonaro is expected to meet Argentinian President Javier Milei this weekend at a conservative conference in Balneario Camboriu, in Brazil’s south.

Cole Swider not sweating higher math as he battles for Heat spot in summer league

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 14:02

MIAMI — This is about as simple as math gets in the NBA:

— The league allows teams to have up to three players under two-way contracts at a time.

— The Heat have three players already under such contracts at the moment.

— Forward Cole Swider is coming off a two-way contract and has a qualifying offer in place for another Heat two-way contact, even with a no-vacancy sign out when it comes to such a Heat opportunity.

So, no, the math doesn’t feel quite right, with the Heat essentially extending a promissory note to the second-year shooting specialist for something that doesn’t quite exist at the moment.

“I’m just worried about just developing,” Swider said Thursday after completing the first practice of the Heat’s summer program, “I can’t control what contract I’m going to sign or not going to sign. Obviously the Heat have my rights as a restricted free agent. I want to be here. But, at the same time, it’s all about the things that I can control.”

What makes two-way contracts unique, beyond paying half the standard NBA minimum scale and limiting players to 50 games on the active roster over the 82-game regular-season schedule, is that they can be swapped out at any time.

Swider also is aware of that, having played summer league a year ago with the Los Angeles Lakers on a two-way contract only to be stripped of that deal in the middle of the summer.

For now, the Heat’s two-way contracts are held by Dru Smith, Zyon Pullen and Keshad Johnson, the latter two a pair of undrafted prospects.

In addition to Swider, the Heat also have a two-way qualifying offer in place to guard Alondes Williams, who also finished this past season on a Heat two-way contract.

Ultimately, clarity for Swider could come with a shift to a standard contract, a move that Heat can make at any time, as they can with Williams or any of the players on two-way contracts.

For now, instead of sweating the math or a contract, Swider is in the midst of attempting to make an impression in the Heat’s workouts in San Francisco ahead of Saturday’s summer-league opener at the California Classic on the court of the Golden State Warriors.

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“I try just to focus on my daily progression,” said Swider, who appeared in 18 games last season with the Heat, otherwise spending time and thriving with the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. “When you start worrying about all the other things that might be going on around you, it’s tough. I definitely learned the business the hard way last year getting cut. So I’m able to understand teams are going to do the best things that they think are for themselves.

“I think the next step for me is just to continue that development. And if that leads to a contract, that leads to a contract. If that leads to a two-way opportunity here or somewhere else, then that’s the path that it’s going to be. But as of right now, I’m just focused on helping this team and continuing my development during the summer league.”

Two of a kind

The Heat’s opening practice Thursday at Chase Center created a reunion of Arizona teammates Pelle Larsson and Johnson. Larsson was drafted at No. 44 by the Heat, with Johnson signed in the immediate wake of the draft.

“Me and Keshad, we got here in camp, we kind of talked about it a little bit and had some conversations about just how far we’ve come,” Larsson said. “I got some texts about it on draft night, so I was really happy when they told me. Me and Keshad had a really good year together at Arizona. So I’m really happy that he’s here. It’s a really cool thing.”

Strong impressions

Swider offered positive reviews about the opening practice with Larsson and Kel’el Ware, the center taken out of Indiana at No. 15 in the first round of the draft.

“Those guys are super talented, super athletic. Both have a good basketball IQ,” Swider said. “They seem like they’re hungry and eager to learn, which is always good for first-year players. So I’m excited.

“Kel’el is a physical monster. You can throw the ball anywhere, he’s going to catch the ball and finish. He reminds me a lot of (Mavericks center) Dereck Lively and what he was able to do this year. He has all the measurables and definitely wants to learn and get better.

“And Pelle has unbelievable talent. You can tell he has a great nose for the basketball. And he’s deceivingly athletic. When he was throwing down some dunks today, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is underratedly athletic.'”

Lauderhill, Miramar seek donations for Hurricane Beryl victims in Caribbean

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 11:13

Days after Hurricane Beryl left a path of widespread destruction in Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean and left at least seven people in the southeast Caribbean dead, Lauderhill and Miramar officials are collecting donations for victims in the coming days.

Lauderhill Mayor Ken Thurston and commissioners, one of who was born in Jamaica, are asking residents in the city and surrounding areas to drop off the following supplies at John Mullin Park, located at 2000 NW 55 Ave., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Sunday. The city has a strong Jamaican and Caribbean presence.

Needed items include:

  • New blankets, sheets, sleeping bags and cots
  • Yard waste bags and work gloves
  • Unexpired canned and non-perishable foods
  • Industrial sponges
  • Solar-powered lights and flashlights
  • Tarps
  • Personal hygiene kits
  • Professional first-aid kits
  • Wash clothes
  • Diapers and baby wipes

Miramar officials are asking residents to donate the following items at four different fire stations. They will not accept clothes or linen.

  • Tarps and trash bags
  • Sleeping bags
  • Work gloves and boots
  • Non-perishable food
  • Personal hygiene items and toiletries
  • First-aid kits

The fire stations collecting donations are:

  • 6700 Miramar Parkway
  • 9001 Miramar Parkway
  • 11811 Miramar Parkway
  • 14801 SW 27th St.
  • 2800 SW 184th Ave.

Beryl’s eye wall brushed by Jamaica’s southern coast Wednesday afternoon knocking out power and ripping roofs off homes. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said on Wednesday afternoon that nearly 500 people were placed in shelters.

By evening, he said that Jamaica has not seen the “worst of what could possibly happen.”

Several roadways in Jamaica’s interior settlements were impacted by fallen trees and utility poles, while some communities in the northern section were without electricity, according to the government’s Information Service.

Hurricane Beryl to make landfall in Mexico, reach Texas Gulf coast next week

Jon Porter, chief meteorologist at AccuWeather, told the Associated Press said Beryl was “the strongest and most dangerous hurricane threat that Jamaica has faced, probably, in decades.”

Jamaica was under a state of emergency as the island was declared a disaster zone hours before the impact of Hurricane Beryl. Holness said that the disaster zone declaration will remain for the next seven days.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Questionnaire: Woody Clermont, candidate for Broward County Court, Group 10

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 10:59

Name: Woody Clermont
Date and place of birth: June 2, 1970, Brooklyn, New York
Office sought: Broward County Court Judge, Group 10
Campaign website: https://woodyforjudge.com/

List in reverse chronological order each college, university and law school and indicate years of attendance.

Mayville State University, Mayville, North Dakota (Fall 2018-Spring 2020) – Awarded Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, Utah (March 2019-August 2020) – Awarded Master of Science, Data Analytics.
Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, Utah (September 2017-August 2018) – Awarded Bachelor of Science, Business – Information Technology Management.
University of the People, Pasadena, California (November 2014-January 2018) – Awarded Associate of Science, Computer Science.

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida (Fall 2011-Fall of 2014) – Awarded Double Master’s Degrees. Master of Business Administration. Master of Science in Economics.
Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, New York (2003-2005) – Awarded Associate of Science in Science, Math, and Technology.
University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, Florida (Fall 1995-1998, Fall 2001-Fall 2002) – Awarded Juris Doctor.
Binghamton University, Vestal, New York (Fall 1988-Fall 1992) – Awarded Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
My Academic Honors, Awards, and Achievements are listed below:
• Elected to ΔΕΙ (Delta Epsilon Iota), Academic Honor Society, FAU Chapter, September 2014. Charter Member.
• Elected to ΟΔΕ (Omicron Delta Epsilon), The International Honor Society in Economics, Epsilon Chapter, February 3, 2014.

• Elected to ΦθΚ (Phi Theta Kappa) Honor Society, Alpha Delta Rho Chapter, November 14, 2012.
• Won First Place in the First Year (1L) Moot Court Competition, with partner Gerald Chen- Young, for arguments in Juan Ortiz v. American Protection Co., University of Miami School of Law in the Spring Term of 1996 right after completing the Legal Research and Writing II course.
• The Society for Collegiate Leadership & Achievement, Mayville State University Chapter, 2020-2021.
• Western Governors University, “Programming in Python Excellence Award”, presented for Exemplary work in the Python Programming Task.

PROFESSIONAL

List in reverse chronological order your work history for the past 15 years.

Assistant City Attorney II / Municipal Prosecutor City of Miami Beach, May 2022 to Present
Medicaid Fair Hearing Officer, Agency for Health Care Administration Oct 2021-Apr 2022
Commission Aide and Legislative Director to Commissioner Kionne McGhee, (former House Minority Leader 2018-2020)
Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, Nov 2020-Sept 2021
Senior Trial Court Staff Attorney / Senior Law Clerk, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, Jan 2010 to Nov 2020
Divisions
• Appellate Division – 1/2010-12/2010 (12 months).
• Family and Probate Division – 1/2011 to 2/2011; 1/2013 to 11/2013 (12 months).
• Criminal Division – 3/2011 to 12/2012 (22 months).
• Complex Business Litigation Division – 11/2013 – 12/2014 (13 months).
• Appellate Division – 12/2014 – 11/2020 (59 months).
College Instructor (Instructor in Quantitative Methods, Statistics, and Economics), Miami-Dade College, Jun 2014 – Dec 2017
Employed with the School of Business at Wolfson Campus and North Campus.
Courses Taught
• Business Statistics (QMB 2100)
• Introduction to Macroeconomics (ECO 2013)
• Introduction to Microeconomics (ECO 2023)
College Instructor and Blackboard Consultant, Key College

Jun 2010 to Dec 2017
Courses Taught
• Administrative Law (PLA 2483)
• American Government (POS 1049)
• Contracts & the Uniform Commercial Code (PLA 1425)
• Criminal Law and Procedure (PLA 1303)
• Law Office Practices (PLA 2764)
• Legal Terminology (OST 2252)
• Property Law and Real Estate (PLA 2610)
Adjunct Faculty
Southern New Hampshire University
Nov 2011 to Dec 2014
Courses Taught
• Administrative Law (JUS 496)
• Criminal Law (JUS 375)
• Criminal Procedure (JUS 376)
• Juvenile Justice (JUS 331)
Assistant State Attorney
Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office (SAO11)
Mar 2005-Dec 2009
Leadership Positions Held
• County Training Attorney (2005)
• Assistant Chief of DUI and Traffic Prosecution (2006)
• Division Chief of Juvenile Division (2007 – 2008)
Titles
• C level Prosecutor (2006)
• Sexual Battery Prosecutor (2007 – 2008)
• B level Prosecutor (2008 – 2009)
• A level Prosecutor (2009)
Associate
Law Offices of William F. Souza
2004-2005
Previously served as 5-20 All Lines Insurance Adjuster for various rental car companies, insurers, and adjusting companies between 1994 and 2004
Work Honors:
• Going the Extra Mile (G.E.M.) Award at Administrative Office of the Courts, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, November 2012. I was nominated by Chief Judge Bertila Soto. I worked with Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola, Judge Stan Blake, and Judge Nushin Sayfie on Post-Conviction Cases (e.g., Rule 3.851, 3.852, etc.) which were under a Final Death Warrant of Execution signed by the Governor. See Pending Death Warrant Filings at https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/NewsMedia/Death-Warrant-Cases.

As a lawyer, judge, or both, what types of cases you have typically handled?

I have handled many different kinds of cases. As a state prosecutor in county court I prosecuted cases such as DUI, battery, trespass, theft, driving while license suspended, driving with no license, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana. As a state prosecutor in circuit court I prosecuted cases such as DWLS HTO, DWLS with death, LSA with serious bodily injury or death, DUI with serious bodily injury, DUI manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter,
narcotics possessions, narcotics sales, narcotics trafficking, sexual battery, armed sexual battery, strongarm robbery, armed robbery, manslaughter, armed manslaughter, felony murder, second degree murder, kidnapping, armed kidnapping, L&L molestation, false imprisonment, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, etc. While working as a senior law clerk and Staff Attorney, I worked in different areas of the law. Sometimes I worked in criminal, and in particular I worked on death penalty, death warrants, and post-conviction motions, rule 3.850, 3.800, etc. While in complex business litigation cases, I worked on multiple plaintiff and multiple defendant complex civil cases. Some of those cases were class action cases where I had to review under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.220 for the judges whether the elements were met in terms of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy. Also necessary for review would be whether factual matters would avoid inconsistent adjudications, whether the class was injunctive or declaratory in nature, and whether the common issues of law predominate over issues affecting individual class members to avoid the litigation devolving into a matter of mini-trials which would burden the class.
I worked on some family matters as a senior law clerk, the most prominent of which involved the case of Billie v. Stier, in which I advised the circuit court judge that it had jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody, Jurisdiction, and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) after it conducted an evidentiary hearing and that based on the mother’s filing in the Tribal Court, that the Tribal Court decision stripping the father of his rights without proper notice, without a full fair hearing, and without a meaningful opportunity to be heard, did not substantially conform with the UCCJEA jurisdictional requirements. I did not follow the case in the press, but my coworkers alerted me the case was in the news. The mother who was a member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians sought a writ of prohibition with the Third District Court of Appeal, but the decision of the circuit court judge was found to be correct and the writ was denied. Billie v. Stier, Case No. 3D13-3180 (Fla. 3d DCA, Apr. 23, 2014). So, I would assume I gave proper advice.
I worked on regular civil matters as well, which could involve many causes of action such as material misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, promissory estoppel, unconscionable contract, unfair/deceptive acts, negligent supervision, unjust enrichment, replevin, civil theft, and so forth. I recall performing a lot of work on a particular a civil case which involved application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), DDU Express, Inc. v. ABC Distributing, LLC. My original analysis of this case is contained in a memo at https://www.kappanuques.com/lawarticles/0007.pdf. The case involved four plaintiffs, and five defendants. The causes of action involved RICO (requiring enterprise, predicate acts, relationship, pattern, open-ended and closed-ended continuity, sufficient victims, sufficient schemes, privity, etc.), conspiracy to commit RICO, recission, fraud in the inducement, conspiracy to commit fraud, and so forth. I drafted an order for Judge Scott Silverman ruling on several numerous motions to dismiss brought by ABC Distributing, Michael Nunez, Victoria Ranger, David James Holt, and Luis Peleja. A copy of this order is on Westlaw, at 2010 WL 8742285 (Fla. 11 Cir. Ct., Jun 22, 2010). The order granted dismissal as to certain counts, and denied dismissal as to other counts, and allowed for the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint if they so choose. Judge Silverman indicated that it was quite the long order and asked me if it
was the right decision. I replied yes, and he signed it because he read it and trusted my work. Judge Silverman left the bench sometime thereafter and the successor judge just decided to vacate Judge Silverman’s prior order without warning, and just dismissed everything. The plaintiffs appealed, and the Third District Court of Appeal reversed and chided the new judge for failing to honor the prior judge’s “detailed and considered rulings.” Gemini Investors III, L.P. v.
Nunez, Case No. 3D10-2946 (Fla. 3d DCA Oct. 5, 2011) (“Here, the successor judge did not articulate any reason for revisiting Judge Silverman’s detailed and considered rulings.”) (emphasis added); 78 So. 3d 94 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012) (Third DCA withdrew the prior opinion and substituted this as a rehearing opinion where it changed the opinion language but still reversed the decision of the new judge holding that total dismissal of all causes of action was inappropriate).

If you are an attorney, how many cases have you tried in the past five years? Of those cases, how many were tried before juries to verdicts and how many were
tried before a judge?

I have not been trying cases in past five years before May 2022, which is when I joined the Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office. Since May 2022 of cases tried to verdicts, I have tried nine (9) bench trials (before judge) and one (1) jury trial.

If you are a judge, how many jury trials have you presided over that resulted in verdicts and judgments?
I am not a judge, so this is not applicable.

Have you been a party to a lawsuit, including bankruptcy or foreclosure? If so, provide details, including case style, jurisdiction and details of disposition.
• Miami Dade County, Jose Milton vs Woody Clermont, 1998-13447-CC-23, Complaint for breach of contract, Defendant, Final judgment $143. This matter is paid in full and resolved. Matter had been settled and judgment satisfied as of date of final judgment 9/14/98.
• Broward County, Woody Clermont vs Tiffany Clermont, FMCE01022055, Dissolution of marriage and child custody, Petitioner, I obtained default judgment against Tiffany Clermont, venue transferred to Miami Dade County.
• Miami Dade County, Woody Clermont vs Tiffany Clermont, 2003-003289-FC-04, Dissolution of marriage and child custody, Petitioner, Final judgment obtained based on marital settlement agreement and child custody agreement. No new activity on case since final judgment.

• New York City, Brooklyn, New York. Kings County, Rosana Clermont v. Marceau Clermont and Woody Clermont. Index No. 2013-16364. Defendant. Case has been dismissed, no further action pending.

Have you been charged or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including adjudications of guilt withheld? If so, provide charges, dates of conviction and terms of sentence.
No.

Have you ever been disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court as a result of a recommendation by the Florida Bar? If so, provide details.
No.

List three cases in which you were lead or co-counsel and why they are significant.
(1) State of Florida v. David Montanez (Lead), Case # F06032644, 11th Jud Cir Ct. Charges: Second Degree Murder by Firearm. Significance: I began on the case second chair and worked my way up to first chair. At the time I took over the case, the key witnesses had been lost and forensic testing was incomplete. I located the key witnesses (including an illegal immigrant who was detained by ICE for deportation proceedings) and secured their attendance by writs of bodily attachment/material witness warrants. I perpetuated the testimony of the key witness who was an illegal immigrant prior to his ultimate deportation. State had filed notice of intent to seek enhanced penalty due to defendant’s numerous career criminal designations and I felt that my involvement prior to leaving the case, has strengthened the case to the point, that the case would be tried fairly on its merits despite its previous evidentiary problems. Another Assistant State Attorney inherited the case after I left the office, and took the case to trial with a Division Chief I had previously worked with, and convicted the defendant as charged for second-degree murder, assisted greatly by my efforts including the video of the perpetuated testimony I took from the main witness who was deceased at the time of trial. That prosecutor who tried the case is now himself a county court judge in Miami.
(2) State of Florida v. Harolsen Delisca (Co-counsel), Case # F08025041, 11th Jud Cir Ct. Charges: Second Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Firearm.
Significance: I found myself in a strange position, because the prior first chair, was dismissed (fired/terminated) by the State Attorney, seven days before trial. A strategic decision was made to not take a continuance. I recruited a Division Chief Assistant State Attorney who I never worked with before, to become the new First Chair. I worked night and day with the new First Chair, teaching him the case (which I had only learned a week prior) and pre-trying the witnesses. We went to trial as scheduled and the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. I introduced a great deal of the evidence through physical evidence and testimony, while the first chair focused on the legal arguments and the closing arguments. This trial involved my first direct examination of a Deputy Chief Medical Examiner.
(3) State of Florida v. Scott Saint Jean, Case # F08022810A, 11th Jud Cir Ct. Charges: Armed Burglary, Aggravated Assault on Law Enforcement Officer.
Significance: Police-involved shooting case. I moved and entered roughly 50 exhibits into evidence, pre-tried nearly 28 witnesses and put on the testimony of well over 15 witnesses. The case was a great test of my ability to manage time and coordinate schedules as well as organize case presentation. This case demonstrated my mastery of jury selection, direct examinations and cross-examinations, and I spent a lot of time teaching the second chair, who was a new felony C level Assistant State Attorney. Because this was a police-involved shooting, the major detectives on the case were themselves homicide detectives. When I was in county court, I had served as the supervisor of the defense attorney (before he left the SAO), during my time as a County Training Attorney in the Jail Division. He had been a young ASA working in jails – so the trial involved some familiarity among counsel.

If you have provided any significant pro bono legal services in the past 10 years, please provide details.
As I have served as a public service employee/lawyer the entire 10 years, pro bono is not required during this time period.

List current and former memberships in civic, fraternal, legal or social organizations.
Cuban American Bar Association (CABA).
Haitian Lawyer Association (HLA).
Jamaican American Bar Association (JABA).
Gwen Cherry Black Women Bar Association.
Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association.
Broward County Bar Association.
National Bar Association, Virgil Hawkins Chapter.
T.J. Reddick Bar Association (served on Judicial Diversity Initiative committee 2022 and Elections committee 2022).
Caribbean Bar Association.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.
 International Lifetime Membership
 Second District (NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD) Conference Lifetime Membership.
 Seventh District (AL, FL, GA, MS) Conference Lifetime Membership.
 Florida Statewide Organization Lifetime Membership
Sigma Alpha Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, 2002-Present.

Kappa Nu Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, February 29, 1992-Present. President (Basileus) of Kappa Nu Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., November 2020-2023, Secretary (KRS),
November 2023-Present.
Federalist Society.
Heritage Alumni Group, Regis High School.
Hands On Broward, Volunteer.
United Way, Volunteer with MHPAT.

If you are or were an officer or director or engaged in management of any business enterprise other than a law practice, list its name and business activity, your duties and whether you intend to resign upon your election.

Arcana Arts, Inc. (online selling of products).

President Ophelema Teaching and Consulting (consulting as subject matter expert with clients on non-law matters), President.

I will resign both upon election.

PUBLIC OFFICE

Why are you running for this office?

The reality is, that I have applied numerous times to numerous judicial positions going through numerous judicial nominating commissions (JNCs) – see answers to the next question. I have not had any success through the political appointment process. Therefore, I am putting my faith in democracy, and taking my bid to become a judge to the People of Broward County. I believe that when the people review my credentials they will see how strong of a candidate I am, and why many tell me, “You have been ready for a long time, reality is just taking time to catch up to the truth.”
Ever since I was young, I have felt the call to one day serve my community as a judge. A bailiff named Gus one day, surprised me out of the blue, asking me to sit in a judge’s chair. I asked him why and he said, “Because I see you sitting in a similar chair one day, mark my words.” Another judge after I crafted a major order for her, told me out of the blue, “I would one day like to see you running for judge because you have it in you, and help in any way I can with your
campaign.” This judge was herself a county court judge, then circuit court judge, and now she is a judge with the Southern District of Florida, so I hold her opinion in high regard.

If you have sought appointment as a judge through a Judicial Nominating Commission, provide details, including year(s) and results.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Sixth District Court of Appeal (3d DCA), application submitted on April 16, 2024. Completed interview and process, not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (17th Jud. Cir.)., Dec. 15, 2023. Completed interview, not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Sixth District Court of Appeal (6th DCA), application submitted on July 11, 2023. Completed interview and process, not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Eleventh Judicial Circuit (11th Jud. Cir.). June 1, 2023. No interview scheduled due to recent applications. Not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Sixth District Court of Appeal (6th DCA), May 10, 2023. Interviewed by the JNC. Not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (17th Jud. Cir.). May 1, 2023. Interview before JNC was completed on 5/8/2023. Not nominated.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Florida Supreme Court. May 1, 2023. See https://floridaphoenix.com/2023/05/03/fl-supreme-court-vacancy-a-new-justice-will-join-a-conservative-bench-with-a-broad-agenda/?fbclid=IwAR1Evt0532wKiCB1D1s9admgPKijGaC_ftiW1KFfRyO5HHMBTlEwnZsmHUY. Interview was conducted on May 3, 2023. It was recorded on the Florida Channel, and is available at this URL for full viewing of my presentation and the JNC’s questioning:
https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/5-3-23-florida-supreme-court-judicial-nominating- commission/ (view from 56:30 onwards, it lasts 20 minutes). Did not make list of nominees.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Eleventh Judicial Circuit (11th Jud. Cir.). May 6, 2023. I was interviewed on May 10, 2023. No, name was not certified to the Governor’s Office, as of May 31, 2023, six nominees were named, and I did not make the list.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Eleventh Judicial Circuit (11th Jud. Cir.). June 14, 2021. No, name was not certified to the Governor’s Office.
• Judicial Nominating Commission Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (17th Jud. Cir.). March 9, 2010. No, name was not certified to the Governor’s Office for consideration.

Why should voters elect you instead of your opponent(s)?

The uniqueness of my background sets me apart from the rest.

Experience: With my background as an Assistant State Attorney, I have prosecuted cases and upheld the law within the judicial system, showing repeated committee to service to the public, contributing to the administration of justice. I have served in significant roles within government bodies, including my Commission Aide experience with the Board of County Commissioners under Commissioner Kionne McGhee (former House Minority Leader 2018-2020), where I played a pivotal role in recommending policy and governance. Additionally, I contributed my legal
acumen to the healthcare sector working with the Agency for Healthcare Administration, working as a Medicaid Fair Hearing Officer, where I adjudicated disputes and ensured fair treatment within the Medicaid system. I spent a decade as a Staff Attorney and Senior Law Clerk with the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of
Florida, where I worked with countless judges assisting them in matters of ethics, family, probate, complex business litigation, civil, criminal, and appellate law. Many of the judges I worked with, not only complimented my work, but likewise told me that they saw the path to a judgeship in my future, due to my skill in the law. Currently, I hold the position of Assistant City Attorney with Miami Beach, where I undoubtedly play a crucial role in working tirelessly on behalf of the city in the capacity of code enforcement, some civil litigation, appellate litigation, prosecuting municipal criminal ordinances, drafting legal documents, and navigating complex legal issues specific to the city.

Legal Publications:
I have published eight scholarly articles total. My articles were published in the (1) Florida Bar Journal twice; (2) St. Thomas Law Review; (3) Nova Law Review; (4) Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law; (5) Freedom Center Journal at the University of Cincinnati College of Law; (6) Thomas M. Cooley Law Review; and (7) Appalachian Journal of Law. Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge is encouraged to engage in
activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. Serving on Florida Bar Committees, teaching and writing are key activities to meeting this goal.

Teaching:
I have taught criminal justice courses at the Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), and paralegal studies courses in numerous areas at Key College, a college in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I have also taught college-level economics and statistics at Miami-Dade College.

Education:
Alongside my professional accomplishments, I pursued a rigorous academic path, culminating in the attainment of my Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. My business degrees including master’s degrees in economics and data analytics, have not only equipped me with a unique understanding of scientific, mathematical, and economic reasoning in judicial decision making as well as the economic impact of certain legal decisions. My academic background has equipped me with a rigorous scientific methodology as well as the necessary legal knowledge and skills to excel in his various roles within the legal and governmental spheres.

Bar Committee Service:

My commitment to the legal profession is further evidenced by my involvement in bar committee service, where I collaborated with peers to uphold ethical standards, helped with the coordination of technology for practitioners and law firms, and promoted professional
development within the legal community. In summary, my career trajectory underscores my multifaceted expertise, spanning from my tenure as an Assistant State Attorney to his current role as an Assistant City Attorney, all of which reflect my dedication to legal excellence and public service. I believe that the totality of my experiences will allow me to bring a very unique experience to the bench. My experiences as a criminal prosecutor for nearly half a decade taught me a lot. My more than decade of experience as Assistant General Counsel as well as Staff Attorney allowed me to examine the inner workings of the judiciary and work with so many judges. My degrees in mathematics, economics, data science, computer science have served to enhance my knowledge all the more
particularly in the realm of business and commercial litigation. My knowledge of information technology helped me to continue to use cutting edge software within the law. My service as a Medicaid Fair Hearing Officer, allowed me to serve in a magistrate-like capacity to adjudicate motions, and conduct final hearings to determine facts, rule on the application of law, and resolve expert evidentiary issues. My time on the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (RJA) was invaluable and as a 20-year attorney, I feel that I have the wisdom and temperament to make a great addition to the bench. Plus, if nothing else, my name is Woody. While this is my attempt at humor, I think Woody is a far more interesting name than Sam or Alex, having an interesting name ought to be
qualification.

What in your life experience best qualifies you to serve as a judge?

Canon 1 provides that a judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Canon 2 provides that a judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. Canon 3 provides that a judge shall perform the duties of office, impartially and diligently, and Canon 5 provides that a judge’s extrajudicial activities should be regulated to avoid conflict with a judge’s duties. I am very familiar with all of the canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct,
because during my time as a senior law clerk and Staff Attorney to more than thirty judges that I worked with, I provided them legal advice not only on the decisions they made in their courtroom, reviewing the evidence and the law with them, but I also answered numerous questions asked by them about whether certain activities would run afoul of the canons. On more than one occasion I had to review the opinions of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, to research unique factual scenarios, and to provide the best advice I could on decisions many judges would have to make. My unique time working with the judiciary, strongly prepared me for this kind of work. In addition, my time as a Medicaid Fair Hearing Officer, allowed me to review matters appealed
for jurisdiction, schedule hearings, request interpreters for claimants that did not speak English and conduct hearings using translation services, judge the credibility of witnesses, and make difficult decisions relying on evidence and the law. I had to write detailed orders making factual findings and legal conclusions, because every decision I issued could be appealed by each claimant to a higher court, the district court of appeal of the region the claimant lived in. Review
Florida Administrative Code Rule 59G-1.100 for the procedures of Medicaid Fair Hearings. All Final Orders had to be rendered within 90 days, findings of fact were based on a preponderance of the evidence, with a statement of the issues addressed, conclusions of law, and resolution of the issues. See Fla. Admin. Code R. 59G-1.100(18)(b)(“The Final Order shall be rendered within 90 days of the date of the request for a fair hearing, unless the time period is waived by the
recipient or extended by order of the Hearing Officer.”) & (d)(“The Final Order shall be in writing and shall include: a caption, specify the time and place of the fair hearing, list the parties and witnesses who appeared at the fair hearing, a statement of the issues addressed, findings of fact, conclusions of law, and, the resolution of the issues.”). I possess an understanding of justice with understanding, compassion, practicality, and fairness. I possess the proper judicial temperament, I am patient, and it is my belief, that as judge, I will ensure that everyone receives access to courts, proper notice, the ability to seek redress, to be properly heard and have the ability to present testimony and evidence, so that any person from any walk of life will be able to have his, her, or their day in court.

What are three major challenges facing the justice system in Broward County, Florida or the U.S.?
1. Funding. Trial courts are being funded with less and less which makes the administration of justice difficult. It is necessary to have a sufficient number of judges, support staff, tools and technology to administer justice efficiently.
2. Population Growth. As the population of Broward County begins to expand yearly, it becomes more and more difficult to handle these cases swiftly as a backlog of litigation and trials causes cases to linger far longer than they should. Additionally, some of the new population are non-English speaking immigrants, having the right interpreters is a challenge.
3. Health Hazards. The unexpected nature of coronavirus has made administering justice difficult, particularly when it comes to resolving cases and particularly jury trial cases. Moreover, we are not completely out of the woods, as sometimes there are variants and resurgences. Additionally, hurricanes can also cause safety concerns, as when Broward County is flooded, it is often not safe to make litigants and jurors travel through flooded roads. Although Zoom and teleconference technology help, they are not as useful in criminal cases where defendants insist on the right of physical confrontation of witnesses, or in jury trials, where it is important.

 

Federal gender identity rule blocked from taking effect in Florida

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 10:56

TALLAHASSEE — A federal judge Wednesday blocked a new Biden administration health-care rule that would clash with Florida’s attempts to restrict treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender people.

Tampa-based U.S. District Judge William Jung issued a 50-page decision granting a preliminary injunction to prevent the rule from taking effect in Florida. He wrote that Florida has “shown that it faces an imminent injury,” with plaintiffs including the state Agency for Health Care Administration, which runs the Medicaid program, and the state Department of Management Services, which manages the state-employee health insurance program.

“The plaintiff agencies and the healthcare providers they regulate must either clearly violate Florida law, or clearly violate the new rule,” Jung wrote.

The rule, which was scheduled to take effect Friday, is designed to help carry out a federal law that prevents discrimination in health-care programs that receive federal money. The law prevents discrimination based on “sex,” and the rule would apply that to include discrimination based on gender identity.

The state filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on May 6, shortly after the rule was finalized.

Meanwhile, a Mississippi federal judge on Wednesday also issued a preliminary injunction against the rule in a lawsuit filed by Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. That injunction is nationwide, while Jung’s decision was limited to Florida.

The rule and the legal battles have come after Florida and other Republican-controlled states in recent years have made controversial decisions to prevent or restrict treatments for transgender people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. That has included barring Medicaid coverage for treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers and preventing the treatments for minors.

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Florida has contended in its lawsuit that the rule improperly seeks to override restrictions on the treatments and would threaten lost money for the state and managed-care plans that help operate state health-care programs.

But in a brief filed last month, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued that the lawsuit is “premised on several misapprehensions” about the rule and said the preliminary-injunction motion should be rejected.

The brief said, for example, the rule “does not set a standard of care or require the provision of any particular service. Nothing in the rule overrides a clinician’s medical judgment as to whether a service is medically necessary or appropriate for any patient.”

But Jung wrote, for example, that the rule would require the Department of Management Services to “alter its policy against reimbursing managed care plan members for sex-change treatments.”

“This is not possible because DMS (the department) cannot amend its self-funded insurance plan without permission from the Florida Legislature, which is not in session and which has previously barred payment of tax dollars for gender transition treatment,” Jung wrote. “DMS will clearly suffer irreparable harm if the rule is not stayed.”

Jung also cited rulings by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in cases about gender identity, including a 2022 decision that upheld a St. Johns County School Board policy that prevented a transgender male student from using boys’ bathrooms at a high school. The Atlanta-based appeals court hears cases from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

The appeals court said the bathroom policy did not violate Title IX, a federal law that prevents discrimination based on sex in education programs. The new health-care rule is linked to an interpretation of sex discrimination under Title IX, Jung wrote.

“The final rule is stillborn and a nullity if Title IX does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity,’” Jung wrote. “The Eleventh Circuit has spoken on this point, clearly: Title IX does not address discrimination on the basis of gender identity. … Frankly, this ends the issue — the new rule appears to be a dead letter in the Eleventh Circuit.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also has joined Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina in challenging a new Biden administration rule on sex-based discrimination in education programs. That lawsuit alleges, in part, that the Biden administration has overstepped its legal authority in extending regulations to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

An Alabama federal judge held a hearing Monday in the education case but had not issued a ruling as of Wednesday evening on the states’ request for a preliminary injunction, according to an online docket.

Parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue to buy Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 10:38

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO

NEW YORK (AP) — The parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue has signed a deal to buy upscale rival Neiman Marcus Group, which owns Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, for $2.65 billion, with online behemoth Amazon holding a minority stake.

The new entity will be called Saks Global, creating a luxury powerhouse at a time when the arena has become increasingly fragmented with different players, from online marketplaces that sell luxury goods to upscale fashion and accessories brands opening up their own stores.

The new organization will comprise the Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks OFF 5TH brands, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as the real estate assets of Neiman Marcus Group and HBC, a holding company that purchased Saks in 2013.

The stores will continue to operate under their own brand names.

HBC has secured $1.15 billion in financing from investment funds and accounts managed by affiliates of Apollo, and a $2 billion fully committed revolving asset based loan facility from Bank of America, which is the lead underwriter, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Markets, and Wells Fargo.

The deal was announced Thursday after the two department store chains had been in negotiations for about a year. But the twist is Amazon’s minority stake, which adds “a bit of spice” to an otherwise anticipated pact, according to Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, a research firm. Amazon will be working with Saks Global to offer its expertise in logistics and personalization technology. Salesforce, a cloud-based software powerhouse, will also become an investor at closing.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the impending deal Wednesday.

“For years, many in the industry have anticipated this transaction and the benefits it would drive for customers, partners and employees,” said Richard Baker, HBC executive chairman and CEO in a statement. “This is an exciting time in luxury retail, with technological advancements creating new opportunities to redefine the customer experience, and we look forward to unlocking significant value for our customers, brand partners and employees.”

Marc Metrick, who is CEO of Saks’ e-commerce business, will become CEO of Saks Global. He told The Associated Press on Thursday during a phone interview that consumers are increasingly demanding more access to designer product, easier ways to shop and more personalized experiences.

“This type of combination was the next move to make in order to put Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman where they need to be for the consumer, ” he said.

Both Saks and Neiman Marcus have struggled as shoppers have been pulling back on buying high-end goods and shifting their spending toward experiences, like travel and upscale restaurants. The two iconic luxury purveyors have also faced stiffer competition from luxury brands, which are increasingly opening their own stores.

The deal should help reduce operating costs and create more negotiating power with vendors. The new entity will also give shoppers better access to more designers, particularly up-and-coming ones as it will have more financial flexibility. Shoppers will also see their experiences more personalized through improved use of artificial intelligence, Metrick said.

Saks Fifth Avenue currently operates 39 stores in the U.S., including its Manhattan flagship. In early 2021, Saks spun off its website into a separate company, with the hopes of expanding that business at a time when more people were shopping online.

Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020 during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic but emerged in September of that year. Like many of its peers, the privately held department store chain was forced to temporarily close its stores for several months.

Meanwhile, other department stores are under pressure to keep increasing sales.

Storied Lord & Taylor announced in late August 2020 it was closing all its stores after filing for bankruptcy earlier that month. It’s operating online. Macy’s announced in February of this year that it will close 150 unproductive namesake stores over the next three years including 50 by year-end.

Consumers have proven resilient and willing to shop even after a bout of inflation, though behaviors have shifted, with some Americans trading down to lower-priced goods.

A deal between the two luxury retailers does not resolve all the issues, especially when high-end shoppers are looking to buy luxury goods online or at luxury brands’ own stores, Saunders said.

“As a larger entity, negotiating power will be a little better with the brands, but even a combined chain would not match the heft and power of the global luxury conglomerates, which would still hold most of the cards,” Saunders said. “As such, there is a risk that the deal might end up creating an even bigger headache for Saks.”

Saunders noted that Amazon’s stake in the business makes sense, as it has ambitions to play more heavily in the luxury arena. Saunders said Amazon could use its ability to streamline logistics and e-commerce and create an advantage for the new entity in a market where online shopping has become more important to shoppers — especially younger ones, which both chains need to do more to attract, he said.

Saks Global will also include HBC’s U.S. real estate assets and Neiman Marcus Group’s real estate assets, creating a $7 billion portfolio of retail real estate assets in top-tier luxury shopping destinations. Ian Putnam, currently president and CEO of HBC Properties and Investments, will become CEO of Saks Global Properties and Investments, which will manage the company’s portfolio of assets.

Both Metrick and Putnam will report to Baker, who will serve as executive chairman of Saks Global.

Hot dog eating contest crowns Patrick Bertoletti as new men’s champion

Thu, 07/04/2024 - 10:30

NEW YORK — It is the Fourth of July in New York City, and that can mean only one thing. No, not fireworks, sweaty subway rides and family cookouts. It is time for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

The contest has long been a holiday mainstay in New York, and must-see midday TV across the country. But this year’s event, which tests “competitive eaters” on how many hot dogs they can frantically scarf down in 10 minutes, crowned a new men’s champion for the first time in almost a generation.

Patrick Bertoletti, 26, from Chicago, snagged the men’s title — or, in the parlance of Coney Island, the Mustard Belt — by eating 58 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

He took the title from Joey Chestnut, 40, who won the competition 16 times but was disqualified from entering. Bertoletti was the ninth-ranked eater before the competition, according to Major League Eating, and he bested several others competitors who event organizers had talked up as Chestnut’s potential successors.

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride,” Bertoletti said after his victory. “But today I am getting married.”

He described winning the competition as a life-changing event.

“With Joey not here I knew I had a shot,” he added, in reference to Chestnut. “I was able to unlock something and I don’t know where it came from.”

Indeed, despite his absence, Chestnut loomed large over Thursday’s proceedings. He was forced to part ways with the contest last month after he signed an endorsement deal with Impossible Foods, a rival to Nathan’s that makes vegan hot dogs.

Many viewers tuned in year after year just to watch Chestnut go through a pile of hot dogs like a wood chipper. News of his departure from the contest was met with the sort of public anguish one might expect for a major-league baseball player, not a man who ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes last July 4.

At the women’s contest on Thursday, Miki Sudo, 38, easily won the that title for the 10th time, besting a group of competitors, some of whom traveled to Coney Island from as far as Japan and South Korea.

She ate 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes, setting a new women’s record and exceeding her 2023 total of 39.5 hot dogs. The second-place competitor, Mayoi Ebihara of Japan, ate 37 hot dogs on Thursday.

After her victory, Sudo thanked her family and the dental school in Tampa, Florida, where she is studying to be dental hygienist, and reflected on the pressures of being a mother, a student and world famous hot dog eater.

“You feel like you’re juggling,” she said. “You try your best to balance everything.”

George Shea, the event’s larger-than-life emcee, described Sudo as a woman whose “soul shines like magnesium set afire against the dark mountain of night.”

In an interview last month, Shea, a charismatic showman who helped elevate this whole spectacle into the sort of event that is covered by The New York Times, said he was “devastated” by the Chestnut situation. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Brooklyn native, mourned what he called “‘impossibly’ hard-to-swallow news.”

Shea said Chestnut’s endorsement deal had left Major League Eating with no choice but to bar him.

“It would be like back in the day Michael Jordan coming to Nike, who made his Air Jordans, and saying, ‘I am just going to rep Adidas too,’” Shea said. “It just can’t happen.”

The competition, held outside Nathan’s Famous, the Coney Island stand that spawned a hot dog empire, will re-air on ESPN twice on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, the aspiring champions gathered in Midtown for the contest’s official weigh-in ceremony. (The contest does not separate eaters into weight classes, so it was not clear why anyone needed to be weighed.)

James Webb, one hopeful, said in an interview he began competitive eating “as a joke,” and is now a full-time content creator on social media, where he posts food videos.

Webb, a former professional soccer player from Australia, appeared delighted to be in New York, and said he hoped to someday have an eating career like Chestnut’s.

“Joey set standards that all of us are trying to beat,” he said. “Joey is like the Terminator.”

The hot dog eating contest is the sort of absurd public event for which New York City has long been known. Over the years it has developed its own lore, canon and epic heroes, of whom Chestnut was long the king.

According to outer-borough legend, the contest has been held each year since 1916, when Nathan Handwerker opened a hot dog joint on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island.

But like many legends, this one is mostly myth. The contest actually began in the early 1970s, and in 2010, one of its original promoters, Mortimer Matz, admitted that he had cooked up the origin story in “Coney Island pitchman style.”

In recent years, the event has been powered largely by the wiener puns and theatrical patriotism of Shea, who calls it “a celebration of freedom,” and by the star power of Chestnut.

The contest made him famous, and he in turn became synonymous with the event — which means his specter loomed over the proceedings this year. As the weigh-in ceremony began on Wednesday, Shea repeated the tale of Chestnut’s departure for the crowd, before reassuring them that he would be welcome to return to the Coney Island event at any time.

Representatives for Chestnut did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

For those who still wished to watch Chestnut eat an unsettling number of hot dogs on July 4, he was to travel to Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas, to compete against soldiers in a five-minute hot dog eating contest. The event will stream live on Chestnut’s YouTube channel at 5 p.m. Eastern.

He will also headline a hot dog eating contest on Labor Day that will stream live on Netflix, along with Takeru Kobayashi, another former July 4 hot dog champion who was ejected from the Coney Island contest in 2010 after a falling out with Major League Eating.

Chestnut’s trajectory may have taken him out of the Nathan’s competition — for now, at least — but Webb said on Wednesday that some version of his celebrity status is what everyone in the contest hoped to achieve.

That is why they spend the year training, eating and stretching their stomachs. (His method involves using a foam roller on his abdomen followed by a trip to a buffet, he said.)

“We are all weird,” said Webb, as a person in a giant hot dog costume danced nearby for TV cameras lined up beneath the Vessel in Hudson Yards. “We are all weird in our way. But we are hella competitive and pretty disciplined. And that’s kind of the part people don’t see.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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