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ASK IRA: Is it time to candidly consider Heat non-Lillard realities?

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 03:05

Q: I see that the Heat are being called a play-in team again if they don’t get Damian Lillard. How did Pat Riley let this fall apart? – Ina.

A: I’ve been getting a lot of this lately, amid the uncertainty with Damian Lillard, as if the Heat otherwise go from NBA Finals to hoping to avoid the lottery. There is a middle ground here, the type of middle ground the Heat typically pursue while placing the ultimate focus on the playoffs. And, if anything, there certainly should be lessons learned about how tenuous it got for the Heat in last season’s play-in round, when it took a fourth-quarter comeback against the Bulls just to advance to the playoffs. So it comes down to how much you perceive as being lost in Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, and how you view potential growth and development from Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and perhaps even Nikola Jovic and Haywood Highsmith. Boston and Milwaukee again set up as regular-season superior. Philadelphia and Cleveland also certainly have a depth of talent. But the Nets, Knicks, Hawks in now way are beyond the Heat’s regular-season grasp. So the sky is not falling. Lillard eases the math, but there otherwise still should be an equation for ample success.

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Q: I think this all has to do with the process of how it happened with Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers don’t want to make a deal with Miami. – Douglas.

A: The NBA personnel market is no place for foolish pride. If the Trail Blazers wind up with a superior offer elsewhere for Damian Lillard, then power to them. But if they bypass the Heat’s possibilities out of spite of Damian starting the process by saying he solely wants to go to the Heat, then I assume Joe Cronin’s ID badge soon thereafter will no longer work at Moda Center.

Q: Without Udonis Haslem, who sets up the Heat’s Dolphins outing? – Lance.

A: First, Udonis Haslem will be around plenty, even in retirement. Second, like many, athletes tend to be frontrunners. So if the Dolphins are winning, it will be the place to be. As it was, Erik Spoelstra was there Sunday.

A city much too generous to private developers | Letters to the editor

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 03:00

Your editorial about the need for more transparency with the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center project made me realize that little by little, our special city is being leased away to private companies.

Here’s jujst a short list of what I know about: In the city’s downtown, One Stop Shop will be another rock music destination. At Lockhart Stadium, we were promised a park. At Snyder Park, where the original donor explicitly denounced private use of his property, a total of 42 pickleball courts are planned.

And now, the latest and greatest is our beloved International Swimming Hall of Fame.

I will admit it: As a former Republican, I believed that the business of America was business and a private company can do anything better than the bureaucracy. I still believe it, but I trust that our cities, states, and the federal government can best oversee parks, security and beaches.

Where will this end? Let’s think about the many reasons people want to visit Fort Lauderdale and not sell it away. Every city has great restaurants. We also have a natural history museum with IMAX, a contemporary art museum with a fabulous director and new shows, and there’s always shopping.

My next rant will be about the city’s proposal to tear up Las Olas Boulevard. Can we slow down a bit before selling our city?

Joanne M. Snead, Fort Lauderdale

Poll dancing

Polls have devolved to untrustworthy propaganda. Polling .01% of registered voters populating the U.S. is a sham. Polling in the heart of red or blue states guarantees a skewed result. To say that polling 200 or 2,000 registered voters represents the views of 330 million people is ludicrous and a ploy to confuse and trick people.

I would guess that more than 90% of Americans want common sense gun control and a ban on assault weapons. But if I polled 2,000 sloppily drunk NRA members at a gun range at night, I would get the desired result the NRA, its political enablers and gun-toting, knuckle-dragging, irresponsible gun owners want, thereby eliminating patriotic, compassionate intelligent gun owners from having a true voice.

Call it poll dancing.

Jude Smallwood, Royal Palm Beach

Movie theater madness

For something different, I recently went to an afternoon movie theater.

No one was selling tickets at the box office, and I saw no other people in the huge theater. At the concession stand, the smallest box of popcorn cost $8.75 and a small Coke cost $6.75. No prices were advertised anywhere. The air conditioning was so cold I had to leave halfway through, because my neck froze up.

Americans will only go so far before they realize they’re being ripped off and then we just say no, which appears to be what’s happened to movie theaters. They have literally priced themselves out of the market.

Diane Miller, Plantation

Covering the migrants

When will the Sun Sentinel post an editorial decrying the invasion of migrants at our southern border?

Paul Ratje/The New York TimesVenezuelan migrants on the streets of El Paso wait outside a shelter run by a church during a visit by New York Mayor Eric Adams on Jan. 15, 2023.

Thousands of migrants are flooding our borders unabated every week due to lack of enforcement of immigration laws. Even Democratic “sanctuary cities” are finally feeling the economic pinch and chaos of handling migrants being sent to them, mostly by the Biden administration.

New York Mayor Eric Adams has said his city can’t handle the more than 110,000 migrants without federal help. The migrants entering our country illegally represent over 160 countries; most are not vetted.

A country without borders is not a country but a way station for anyone with or without good intentions. This invasion of migrants must stop along with deadly Fentanyl that’s killing our citizens, mostly young people.

Chuck Lehmann, Delray Beach

Swimming Hall of Fame complex in line for stunning $190 million makeover

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:51

A major $190 million makeover of the International Swimming Hall of Fame complex is on the way, with plans for an aquarium, rooftop restaurant, new museum and even a FlowRider surf simulator machine.

The project will spruce up the city-owned peninsula south of Las Olas with a modern five-story building on the east side just a block from the beach and a six-story building on the west overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

The project is expected to break ground in late 2023 and open in 2025. When it’s done, two new buildings both over 100 feet tall will sit like bookends on either side of the Hall of Fame pools and dive tower.

Fort Lauderdale’s Aquatic Center has already undergone a successful renovation to the tune of nearly $50 million, reopening to great fanfare a year ago. The center boasts one of the highest diving platforms in the world at 89 feet.

This new venture, the product of a developer’s unsolicited bid three years ago, will usher in a dramatic transformation of the Hall of Fame complex that will draw scores of locals and tourists in search of a new attraction with great views of both the ocean and the Intracoastal, supporters say.

The project is just what the barrier island needs, Commissioner Steve Glassman says.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said. “People are just waiting for this.”

Fort Lauderdale will be required to contribute $11 million a year over the course of a 30-year lease.

In the west building, visitors will be able to explore a new International Swimming Hall of Fame museum with an expansive display of aquatic sports history and an aquarium that will make you feel like you’re on the bottom of the ocean floor. They’ll also find an upscale rooftop restaurant, a cafe catering to the yachting community, a teaching pool, dryland training, diving grandstand seating and office space.

The east building will house a welcome center, FlowRider, rooftop terrace, shops and office space. Visitors will also find a cafe that serves lunch and dinner and turns into a bar in the evening, said Mario Caprini, CEO of Capital Group P3 of Florida.

The developer — CGHP Developments, a partnership between Capital Group and Hensel Phelps — also plans to build an Ocean Rescue headquarters for the city’s lifeguards.

Seawall improvements to protect the 5-acre peninsula against climate change are also planned.



  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Cambridge Seven/Courtesy)

  • A major $190 million makeover is planned for the eastern and western corners of the Swimming Hall of Fame block, on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center. (Architectonica/Courtesy)

Show Caption of


Commissioners approved the deal with Hall of Fame Partners on Tuesday in a 4-1 vote.

“Your approval of this project represents a rebirth of the International Swimming Hall of Fame,” Bill Kent, chair of the Hall of Fame board, told commissioners before the vote. “Our best is yet to come.”

Commissioner Warren Sturman, who cast the lone dissenting vote, says he agreed with critics who wanted the vote delayed to give the public more time to review hundreds of pages of documents released just days before the meeting.

Commissioner John Herbst said he had concerns about the agreement, which might leave taxpayers on the hook for another $3 million a year if the project flops.

“The city is taking on substantial risk in terms of guaranteeing the debt (on this project),” Herbst said. “If the rents are insufficient to cover the debt service, the city is responsible for that.”

Local activists also urged caution, saying the three-phase project will bring even more traffic to the already gridlocked barrier island.

“There’s a lot of wonderful things about this plan,” said longtime activist Mary Fertig. “But it’s also a potential outlay of $11 million (along with a potential) net loss to the city of $3.45 million a year. What is before you is a contract … the city will have to live with for decades.”

But Glassman predicts the project will be a rousing success.

“This is going to be an attraction that we really have not seen on the barrier island,” Glassman told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday. “These two buildings are going to bookend this peninsula in a spectacular fashion. It’s really going to bring the whole project together and that’s why it’s going to be so successful.”

The five-story east building will stand 108 feet high and the six-story west building will stand 134 feet high, according to plans submitted by the developer.

Last year, residents were told the west building would be five stories, said John Burns, president of the Venetian Condo Association.

The plans now show it’s six stories and 134 feet high, he told commissioners. Burns objected to the height of the buildings, saying they would impact neighboring views.

But Bill Brown, president of the Central Beach Alliance, urged the commission to move forward with the plan. He referred to the days when the Hall of Fame’s leadership was threatening to pull up stakes and leave for California.

“We almost lost it once,” he said. “Please, please let’s not put ourselves in the position of losing this again.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com. Follow me on X @Susannah_Bryan

Parking at the Broward courthouse is not as safe as you might think

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:39

When a Weston woman answered the call for jury duty, she never imagined she would become a victim. She parked her car, as hundreds do daily, in the Third Avenue garage adjacent to the Broward County courthouse.

And when her civic duty was done, she drove off without even bothering to walk around her car to make sure everything was okay. She was in the courthouse parking garage. What could go wrong?

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But the juror learned the hard way that parking in the courthouse garage comes with a risk that, for now, just can’t be avoided. Cameras installed in the garage don’t cover every inch of ground, and even if they did, the images they capture would not necessarily be of much help.

The would-be juror, a 57-year-old Weston woman, reported for duty on Aug. 7. She parked on the second floor, backing into a space with no one parked on either side of her white, 2021 Camry. Four hours later she walked back to her car and drove home, never noticing that someone had sideswiped the car and left her with $5,000 worth of damage on the passenger side of her vehicle.

Worse, she said, when she reported the incident, she learned that the cameras in the garage only capture images of vehicles entering the building and using the ramps between parking levels. No working cameras record what happens on each floor.

“What if there’s a crazy person in the garage, or if a serious crime takes place?” said the driver, who asked not to be identified but whose account was verified by court administration and county officials. “I just can’t believe there’s nothing to help if there’s another more serious incident in the garage.”

The Broward Sheriff’s Office handles calls and complaints about the garage. So far this year there have been 200 calls for service. The average over the past three years has been one a day. None have been for felonies, and the $5,000 damage to the Weston juror’s car appears to be among the most serious.

“I am not aware of any major security events that have occurred in that lot since I’ve been chief judge,” said Jack Tuter, who has been Broward’s top administrative judge since 2017.

Officials are not able to confirm the exact placement of cameras in the garage or how much ground those cameras cover — disclosing that kind of information can compromise security, and the state’s public records laws carve out an exemption allowing local governments to withhold that information from the public.

But the county, which oversees the courthouse and the attached garage, concedes that cameras don’t cover every square inch of ground.

“No camera system does that, anywhere,” said Scott Campbell, the county’s director of facilities management. “We unfortunately did not have camera footage of the incident that the juror described, but we are aware of her complaint.”

Campbell said camera improvements are already approved in the county’s budget. “We are in the process of making improvements in cameras and in coverage.”

Until then, witnesses, jurors, lawyers and others who choose to park in the garage need to be as careful as they would be anywhere else.

And even after new cameras are installed, Campbell warned, surveillance cameras don’t usually have the kind of high resolution that would enable them to capture the license tag numbers of cars that drive off after damaging other parked vehicles.

Tuter noted that jurors in criminal cases are typically escorted to the garage from the courtroom, especially in the winter months when most juries reach their decisions after sunset.

“That’s not a practice we intend to abandon anytime soon, regardless of how many cameras are installed or operating,” Tuter said.

Rafael Olmeda can be reached at rolmeda@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4457.

What’s Hot in Healthcare: More at-home tests for menopause, allergies, vitamin deficiency and UTIs

South Florida Local News - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 01:36

Advances in healthcare are coming fast, especially when it comes to medical tests you can do in your home. While at-home tests are nothing new, COVID-19 got people more used to the idea. There has been a recent increase in the number and breadth of at-home tests available. You can now test yourself at home for STDs, diabetes, and food allergies, as well as test your levels of hormones, vitamins, thyroid and cholesterol.

Some of the tests you can buy right off the shelves of South Florida pharmacies, or order them online. Some tests, like those for UTIs and STDs, can be at your home in as fast as 30 minutes from companies like GoPuff.com. Some tests may require a prescription from a doctor with whom you can do a virtual visit on various websites. Prices for at-home tests can range from $20 to $200 and they rarely are covered by insurance.

Lab testing performed at home, by consumers, is projected to be a $2 billion industry by 2025, and many big companies are starting to offer their products and services to meet the demand.

The biggest caveat is you have to follow directions carefully to get accurate results.

Here are some popular at-home tests and what a South Florida doctor says about them:

For menopause: Clearblue, known for its self-tests for pregnancy and fertility, now has a test that can assess which stage of menopause a woman is experiencing. The test measures levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in urine over five days and paired with an app to generate a personalized report. The results can tell you if you are in perimenopause, but it can be tricky because that stage can last for years. You are considered in actual menopause when you miss 12 consecutive menstrual cycles.

For allergies: More than a dozen types of at-home allergy tests are now on the market. While they are not a substitute for an in-office skin test, they still could be helpful. Instead of having blood drawn at a lab or clinic, you’ll receive a kit in the mail with everything necessary to take a sample. The majority of the tests use a simple finger-prick method to draw a blood sample for you to mail to a lab for testing. The lab will then expose your blood sample to the various allergens you want to test for and look for an antibody reaction. If blood makes you woozy, you can also use hair.  You can test for seasonal allergens, pet or insect allergens, and food sensitivities. Some of the companies that sell these tests are Test My Allergy, Everlywell and AccesaLabs.

For vitamin deficiency: LetsGetChecked and Quest Heath both sell tests that use a finger-prick blood sample that gets mailed to the lab. If you find you are deficient in a vitamin, and many people are deficient in Vitamin D, you can choose to schedule a virtual consultation with a healthcare provider to review your results (for an added cost).

For UTIs: Quest Health now sells a test that checks urine for possible presence of white blood cells (Leukocytes) and Nitrite, indicators of a urinary tract infection. When you’re ready to use your test, you’ll connect live with a telehealth proctor at eMed to walk you through collection instructions. If you need a medication, an eMed clinician can prescribe one. You also can buy over-the-counter UTI dipstick tests at your local pharmacy or online that check for white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. “If you follow the instructions, have symptoms and have Nitrite or white blood cells in the urine, you probably have an infection,” said Dr. Steven Reznick, a Boca Raton internist.

Overall he advises approaching at-home tests cautiously. “Are they approved by the FDA? What does your physician say about them?” he suggests you consider.

Reznick says you also want to make sure you aren’t using an expired test. “If you are going to do an at-home test, make sure you read the instructions and follow them. It should be common sense, but unfortunately it isn’t.”

Two South Florida friends create Accessory Drain Bags for Breast Cancer Patients

Longtime South Florida friends Pam Kelsky and Gaby Mann have come up with a comfortable and convenient method of managing post-operative surgical drains after breast cancer surgery. Kelsky, 48, wanted a way to wear surgical drains discreetly in public during the recuperation period after she underwent breast cancer surgery in February 2019.

She and Mann created soft polyester, waterproof bags that comfortably carry and conceal the surgical drains. An adjustable strap hangs around the user’s neck or shoulder to minimize the bag’s interaction with sensitive areas.

They founded bcalmed to make and distribute the bags. The nonprofit organization works with hospitals, clinics and surgeons to make the drain bags available for patients to wear home after breast cancer surgery. The organization is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic Weston’s Foundation to distribute the bags to patients free of charge. So far, 6,000 bags have been produced and are available to any cancer patient.

Versions of the bag are available for women and men.

“We hope that the bag will eliminate the concern for mastectomy patients of how to manage their drains.” Mann said.

In the future, they plan to produce a bcalmed kit that includes bags, a seat belt cushion, and a Post Op Top.

bcalmed founders present breast cancer drain bags to Cleveland Clinic Florida to be given to patients at no charge. Drain bags produced and distribued by bcalmed New helicopters will respond to emergencies in Palm Beach

While Broward County reels from the crash of one of its rescue helicopters last month, Palm Beach County Health Care District announced the delivery of the first of two Leonardo AW169 helicopters that will transport trauma patients.

The helicopters use the newest technology, a longitudinal roll-on stretcher system that minimizes patient movement during loading and unloading. The Trauma Hawk medical team will no longer need to transfer patients onto hospital stretchers at the helipad to take them to the one of the county’s two Level 1 trauma centers. This will save crucial minutes during lifesaving missions, according to the Health Care District.

“These state-of-the-art helicopters will provide swift and efficient air transportation to enhance patient access to critical medical services and improved healthcare outcomes,” said Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health Care District.

The Leonardo AW169 helicopters will replace the current Sikorsky S76-C+ aircraft, which have served the Health Care District and Palm Beach County since 1999. However, the existing helicopters will remain in service through the end of the year while the flight team and mechanics complete specialized training.

“These new aircraft are a leap forward in technology for both the pilots and the medical crews,” said Jay Mazzone, the Health Care District’s director of aeromedical transportation. “With advanced avionics, larger and brighter displays, and the added capability of night vision goggles, we are moving into the next generation of aircraft that will help us maintain and enhance our relentless focus on safety.”

Help is on the way for South Floridians prone to mosquito bites

Florida has been plagued by a recent rash of mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria, which surfaced this summer in Sarasota.

But now a team of researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will tackle the mosquito problem.

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the UF researchers will develop a low-cost mosquito trap to lure the insects using certain scents and fragrances. “We expect that our approach will capture a greater diversity of mosquito species,” said Yoosook Lee, assistant professor of entomology and nematology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

In addition to the trap, the researchers will create a web-based dashboard for all the states in the Southeast to map the presence of invasive mosquitos. The researchers believe the dashboard will improve mosquito surveillance by promoting data sharing and communication.

Every year, Florida faces challenges from mosquito-transmitted diseases like dengue virus, West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus, chikungunya virus and more recently, locally transmitted malaria. Researchers says Florida’s proximity to the tropics and climate conditions make it ideal for non-native mosquito species to end up in the Sunshine State. As many as 17 non-native mosquito species already have been identified in Florida. Researchers are concerned about the rate and frequency of new species in Florida. By identifying the species and their prevalence through improved surveillance, the researchers will know when new species have arrived to react faster and reduce potential health and safety risks.

This photo made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a feeding female Anopheles gambiae mosquito. The species is a known vector for the parasitic disease malaria. Health insurance for real estate professionals

RLTY, a real estate organization that fronts commission to agents, has created a statewide healthcare initiative for Florida’s real estate agents and contractors. Anyone in the industry considered a 1099 employee qualifies to participate. RLTY has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to help real estate professionals get healthcare coverage.

An agent who specializes in providing coverage to the self-employed will customize plans for individuals. “Instead of waiting in a queue to buy insurance on the open market, there will be no waiting and the person on the other end of the line will be a licensed insurance agent who can offer a wide range of plans and prices,” said Erynn McCabe,  vice president of operations, RLTY  “They will go step-by-step to help you apply.”

What’s Hot in Healthcare is a monthly feature of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. To submit content, contact health reporter Cindy Goodman at cgoodman@sunsentinel.com.

How to use a knitting machine

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 23:03

Knitting machines speed up the knitting process significantly, so they’re great for when you’re pressed for time. They’re also ideal for people who can’t knit by hand for any reason. However, before you get started, you’ll need to learn how to use a knitting machine.

All machines are different, so there isn’t just one way to use a knitting machine. While it’s possible to discover the basic idea of how these machines work, you’ll need to examine the manual for your exact model to learn the ropes.

Thread the machine

The first step is to thread the machine with your yarn. In some cases, you’ll just need to thread the end in place and turn a crank or move the carriage, but in others, there’s a good chunk of manual threading to do.

Place weights

Some machines have weights to secure the yarn and keep stitches even and consistent. These must be placed before you start knitting. They may also need to be moved throughout the knitting process, so check the instruction manual carefully.

Turn crank or move the carriage

Home knitting machines are usually manual rather than electric. They’ll have either a rotating crank or a sliding carriage. With the yarn and any weights in place, you simply turn the crank or move the carriage and the machine does the hard work of knitting for you.

Home vs. professional knitting machines

Home or domestic machines are in a different category from professional machines.

Flat vs. circular knitting machines

Some machines are flat and can only create flat pieces of knitting. Others are circular and can create either tubes only or tubes and flat pieces. Consider which is more useful for the garments or other items you want to knit.

Knitting machine gauges

Most machines are standard- or mid-gauge, but you can also find fine and chunky gauge options. Some are adjustable so you can switch between gauges. The correct gauge for you depends on what you want to knit and how you like the finish.

Best knitting machines

Walfront LK150 Mid-Gauge Plastic Domestic Knitting Machine ]

This flat tabletop knitting machine is operated using a carriage. It’s smooth, easy to use and great for large projects.

Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine ]

With 46 needles, this large circular knitting machine is a versatile choice, creating tubes and flat pieces. It has a simple hand crank to operate it.

Sentro Knitting Machine ]

Since it’s affordably priced, this machine is a great choice for occasional use or craft projects with kids. You can use it to knit tubes or flat pieces.

BZVV Circular Knitting Machine ]

All you need to do to work this machine is screw the yarn into the spindle and turn the hand crank. Then, its 32 needles make light work of simple knitting projects.

Addi Mega Pro Knitting Machine Set ]

In this kit, you get two knitting machines: one large 46-needle version and one smaller 22-needle version. It also comes with spare needles and a trio of pattern books.

Zeya Zezirdas Knitting Machine ]

This simple hand crank circular knitting machine has 48 needles. You can easily adjust the yarn to give you a tight knit, loose knit or something in between.

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Everything you need to know about Prime Big Deal Days

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 23:03
Prime Big Deal Days are almost here

Amazon holds several big sales events each year, with its biggest and best-known being Amazon Prime Day every summer. Its next best event is Prime Big Deal Days every October.

Both sales are essentially the same jam-packed and fast-paced event, where you need to be ready to go with a wishlist of items, such as TVs and coffee makers, so you can snag deals before they sell out. You also need to be part of Amazon’s subscription service, Amazon Prime. Otherwise, all you can do is watch your neighbor collect their discounted packages after the event.

The two key aspects

All you truly need to know is when the event is and how to sign up for Amazon Prime if you haven’t signed up already. Then you can shop as normal or poke around the event page once the event begins.

When are Prime Big Deal Days?

This year, Prime Big Deal Days are Tuesday, Oct. 10 and Wednesday, Oct. 11.

How to sign up for Amazon Prime

Because an Amazon Prime membership is required, here’s a quick breakdown of how to sign up if you aren’t a member already. By the way, you can take advantage of a 30-day free trial period to access the sale if you haven’t been an Amazon Prime member in the last 12 months.

That’s it. Quick and painless.

Invite-only deals

An interesting wrinkle about Prime Big Deal Days is your ability to request access to doorbuster deals — currently six of them, though more could be added — both before the event and once it begins. These deals are in short supply, though, so requesting them doesn’t guarantee your shot at being able to buy them.

If you’re a Prime member and you want to submit an invite request, all you need to do is go to the deals page and click the “request invite” button. Then, if you’re selected, you’ll receive an email during the sale that contains a unique link. This link is valid during the entire sale, so if you get it early on Day 1 you should have some time to decide if you still want to buy it or not.

There are no downsides to requesting a link or not purchasing should you get a link. If you’re even vaguely interested in any of the deals, go ahead and request an invite just to be safe.

The current invite-only Prime Big Deal Days items

Blink Outdoor Three-Camera System ]

This collection of outdoor cameras is a subtle way to defend your home, or to at least have evidence should the worst happen. You can also buy more cameras at any time should you want more coverage, although the sale is strictly for three cameras only. It’s on sale for 60% off if you’re invited.

Citizen Promaster Dive Watch ]

The Citizen watch brand is among the better ones in the low-cost but high-end market. This one is built for divers because it has sustainable water resistance at up to 200 meters or 656 feet. It’s on sale for 58% off if you’re invited.

Jabra Elite 7 Active Wireless Earbuds In Navy ]

Wireless earbuds are expensive as it is, but ones like these that are built for wearing during exercise are even more so. What makes them great for this purpose are the ShakeGrip tech that keeps them firmly in place and the water- and sweatproof construction. It’s on sale for 56% off if you’re invited, but only in navy.

Philips 3000 Series Air Fryer ]

With so many air fryers on the market, it’s wise to go with a trusted brand such as Philips. This model can hold up to 4.1 pounds of food, or enough to feed about four people. It has seven presets and the cooking basket is dishwasher-safe. It’s on sale for 56% off if you’re invited.

SodaStream Art Sparkling Water Maker Bundle ]

Sparkling water and soda makers have been a fun addition to home bars for a while now, but it’s costly to get started. This bundle that includes the maker, two bottles, two canisters of CO2 and two flavors is an easy way to get around the upfront cost. It’s on sale for 45% off if you’re invited.

Sony HTX8500 Soundbar ]

Most TVs, even the creme de la creme, don’t have the best speakers and sound is the second most important aspect of a home theater system after picture quality. This high-end sound bar is an easy fix with built-in subwoofers and Dolby compatibility. It’s on sale for 50% off if you’re invited.

Best holiday deals on Amazon

Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro Tablet ]

The Kindle Fire line of tablets is excellent for younger kids getting their first big piece of technology. It’s 30% off and comes with a case.

National Tree Company Artificial Christmas Tree ]

It’s never too soon to do some Christmas shopping, but you do need to think of where those gifts will go once they’re wrapped. It’s 48% off and can last years if treated properly.

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Inter Miami, again without Messi, lose grip of lead as Orlando City rally to draw

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 20:43

ORLANDO — Rookie Duncan McGuire scored the equalizer in the 66th minute to help Orlando City gain a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday night, extending the club’s unbeaten streak to 10.

Inter Miami (9-15-5) played without Lionel Messi, who was held out because of muscle fatigue. Messi missed a Sept. 16 match against Atlanta United for the same reason.

Neither team scored until David Ruíz found the net for a second time this season, scoring unassisted in the 52nd minute to give Inter Miami a 1-0 lead.

Orlando City (14-7-9) answered with the equalizer when McGuire scored his ninth goal of the season, unassisted in the 66th minute.

Pedro Gallese finished with four saves for Orlando City. Drake Callender stopped five shots for Inter Miami.

Orlando City has scored in 13 straight matches in all competitions, one off the club record set spanning the 2015-16 seasons. The club saw a four-match win streak at home end but it is still 6-0-4 in its last 10.

Inter Miami is 0-2-4 all-time in Orlando. Both losses were by one goal. Inter Miami has gone 9-1-5 in its last 15 matches in all competitions. The club had eight victories in its previous 28 matches.

Inter Miami returns home to host New York City FC on Saturday. Orlando City will host CF Montreal on Saturday.

Writers Guild and Hollywood studios reach tentative agreement to end strike. No deal yet for actors

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 19:23

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Union leaders and Hollywood studios reached a tentative agreement Sunday to end a historic screenwriters strike after nearly five months, though no deal is yet in the works for striking actors.

The Writers Guild of America announced the deal in a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations.

“WGA has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP,” the guild said in an email to members. “This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days.”

The three-year contract agreement — settled on after five marathon days of renewed talks by WGA and AMPTP negotiators that was joined at times by studio executives — must be approved by the guild’s board and members before the strike officially ends.

In a longer message from the guild shared by members on social media, the writers were told the strike is not over and no one was to return to work until hearing otherwise, but picketing is to be suspended immediately.

The terms of the deal were not immediately announced. The tentative deal to end the last writers strike, in 2008, was approved by more than 90% of members.

The agreement comes just five days before the strike would’ve become the longest in the guild’s history, and the longest Hollywood strike more than 70 years.

As a result of the agreement, nightly network shows including NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could return to the air within days.

But as writers prepare to potentially crack open their laptops again, it’s far from back to business as usual in Hollywood, as talks have not yet resumed between studios and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Crew members left with no work by the stoppage will remain unemployed for now.

“SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity on the picket lines,” the actors union said in a statement. “While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.”

The statement said the guild continues “to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”

The proposed solution to the writers strike came after talks resumed on Wednesday for the first time in a month. Chief executives including Bob Iger of Disney, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery and Donna Langley of NBCUniversal reportedly took part in the negotiations directly.

It was reached without the intervention of federal mediators or other government officials, which had been necessary in previous strikes.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement congratulating the two sides on the deal and said she is hopeful the same can happen soon with actors.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom did the same, saying writers “went on strike over existential threats to their careers and livelihoods — expressing real concerns over the stress and anxiety workers are feeling. I am grateful that the two sides have come together.”

About 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America walked off the job May 2 over issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence in the creation of scripts. Actors, who joined the writers on strike in July, have their own issues but there have been no discussions about resuming negotiations with their union yet.

The writers strike immediately sent late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live” into hiatus, and has since sent dozens of scripted shows and other productions into limbo, including forthcoming seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” HBO’s “The Last of Us,” and ABC’s “Abbot Elementary,” and films including “Deadpool 3” and “Superman: Legacy.” The Emmy Awards were also pushed from September to January.

More recently, writers had been targeting talk shows that were working around strike rules to return to air, including “ The Drew Barrymore Show,” “ Real Time With Bill Maher ” and “The Talk.” All reversed course in the face of picketing and pressure, and are likely to quickly return now.

The combined strikes made for a pivotal moment in Hollywood as creative labor faced off against executives in a business transformed and torn by technology, from the seismic shift to streaming in recent years to the potentially paradigm-shifting emergence of AI in the years to come.

Screenwriters had traditionally gone on strike more than any other segment of the industry, but had enjoyed a relatively long stretch of labor peace until spring negotiations for a new contract fell apart. The walkout was their first since 2007 and their longest since 1988.

On July 14, more than two months into the strike, the writers got a dose of solidarity and star power — along with a whole lot of new picketing partners — when they were joined by 65,000 striking film and television actors.

It was the first time the two groups had been on strike together since 1960. In that walkout, the writers strike started first and ended second. This time, studios opted to deal with the writers first.

The AMPTP first reached out to suggest renewing negotiations in August. The meetings were short, infrequent, and not productive, and talks went silent for another month.

ASK IRA: Hurt feelings? Get over it, report, do your job

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:05

Q: If Damian Lillard is traded to another team besides the Heat, should Tyler Herro request a trade? It seems clear that the Heat front office, coaching staff and Jimmy Butler do not see him as a difference maker. So why should Tyler try to fit into a team where he’s not wanted? – Oscar, Miami Beach.

A: Says who? Because you read rumors and gossip from some click-hunting trolls? In fact, while knowing that the timing of such an agreement would take Tyler Herro out of play for a trade last season, the Heat nonetheless still went ahead and extended their four-year, $120 million guaranteed extension before last season, one that kicks in this season. That hardly sounds like a franchise giving up on a player. It sounds more like a franchise willing to give a lot of money to a player (plus the chance for more, due to accompanying incentives). This is a team that has traded Glen Rice, Steve Smith, Rony Seikaly, Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones, Shaquille O’Neal and Goran Dragic. It happens. But it also is a team that did right by those players until those trades, and a team that even has brought back some who had been dealt away. The only thing that has changed is social media, which also tends to distort the reality of situations. If you can’t deal with rumors, scuttlebutt and innuendo, then you’re probably not in the right business. But if you enjoy the game, the lifestyle and the pay, then you accept that ancillary distractions as the price of having created an NBA identity. When your name has been linked to Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, then you hardly are in an undesirable place. Trolls will be trolls. But players at the NBA level need to be pros. Now, when Tyler Herro says he will refuse to cash a Miami Heat paycheck, then we will have a story worthy of click hunting.

Related Articles

Q: Ira, I think the loss of Gabe Vincent will hurt us the most if we don’t get Damian Lillard. Tyler Herro is a great player I think, but putting him at point guard limits his offensive game. – Erik, Plantation.

A: I find ironic that the Heat get eviscerated for overpaying developmental projects such as Duncan Robinson, but then also get eviscerated for failing to meet the market for players such as Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. I enjoyed Gabe Vincent very much as person and player, and appreciated his journey. But as with Max Strus, I also can appreciate setting a line. As it was, the Heat came awfully close to the numbers Gabe got from the Lakers. But that also is why you have cost analysis, so you can set a line. Wish Gabe well. But also appreciate it is not as if the Heat moved on from Stephen Curry or Luka Doncic at the point.

Q: Hi, Ira. What are the chances that Joe Cronin’s ego makes him trade Damian Lillard to another team even for a worse deal than Miami’s? In that scenario, could he be overruled by the rest of the front office and ownership? – Eddie.

A: First, I don’t see that happening. This is all about leverage. But also appreciate that what one executive considers a better deal might not be the view of another. So if Joe Cronin takes a deal that is perceived as lesser than what is learned the Heat ultimately offered, it could be that it was the view of Cronin and the rest of the Blazers’ front office that what Portland received was superior. Also, however, appreciate that what is reported as having been offered is not always what has been offered. It’s almost, amid this social-media era, where there is the expectation by fans that they have a right to know everything that goes on in their team’s house.

Preventing suicide means providing support and getting resources to those who need it | Opinion

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:00

Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24. Since 2018, Broward County has seen an increase of death by suicide among 18-25-year-olds.

With September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the community needs to reflect on how to openly discuss the topic to help reduce the stigma and support those who may be struggling.

The Broward Suicide Prevention Coalition was created in 2019 as a collaborative coalition with representation from some 50 local agencies, including mental health, law enforcement, education, hospitals and the business community. The coalition gathers key stakeholders across these sectors and fields to work together on a strategic mission of reaching a zero suicides in Broward County.

Kathleen Cannon is the president and CEO of United Way of Broward County.

This is all in the face of increased suicide attempts, incidents of self-harm and levels of depression and anxiety. A death by suicide affects more than the individual who tragically dies, including the family, friends and even the first responders who respond to these calls.

When a person is experiencing mental health challenges, they must have the help, resources and support necessary to guide them and move forward past those thoughts to receive help. Please take a moment to reflect and know the warning signs of suicide. These signs include seeing someone showing feelings of despair or hopelessness, loss of interest in things that used to give them joy, excessive drug/alcohol use, becoming withdrawn, isolating themselves or recently having experienced or sustained traumatic life events. The best way to find out if someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts is to ask them directly.

Mental health challenges can affect a person’s mood, behaviors and even their cognitive functioning. While some individuals can have healthy coping mechanisms, many people often struggle to find proactive methods for their emotional turmoil or unresolved trauma. For any stressful situation, talk about the feelings you have, provide an open dialogue, and promote the fact that it is OK to talk about feelings of stress, isolation and anxiety.

The United Way of Broward County has partnered with the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition and the Florida Department of Children and Families to prioritize mental health struggles in its county-wide “It’s OK to not be OK” initiative and the 988 hotline. The goal is to provide an outlet of support for the community facing challenges with mental health, or any feelings of stress, isolation and anxiety.

Let’s remember that the strength of a community lies in its ability to come together and support one another. By prioritizing and making these resources available for suicide prevention, we can create a safer and more compassionate society where everyone feels valued and heard. Together, we can make a difference and save lives.

Suicide prevention resources:

  • Call the 988 suicide and crisis hotline if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts. Trained counselors provide each caller with guidance and free resources that will help in most situations.
  • You can also contact 211 Broward Crisis and Suicide Care Support at 211-broward.org.
  • United Way of Broward County’s Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention’s website, drugfreebroward.org, also provides a support and prevention resource center with tool kits that provide support for mental and behavioral health issues.
  • Postvention Support for Suicide Survivors is available through the Local Outreach for Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team and provides survivor support groups and a Purple Packet Resource Guide. For more information, please call 954-746-2055, ext. 134 or email LOSS@mhasefl.org.

Kathleen Cannon is the president and CEO of United Way of Broward County. 

Attention employees: It’s time to make your company’s case for Top Workplaces 2024

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:00

What makes your company so great? More often than not, it’s the people who work there.

For the 10th consecutive year, private and public sector employees in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties will get a chance to tout their working environments in the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Top Workplaces of the Year program for 2024.

The voting will take place amid one of the more contentious labor-management climates in recent history as strikes, tough contract negotiations and stubborn inflation dominate the financial headlines.

Moreover, employers are trying to cope with a labor market where the retention and acquisition of talent is still a major challenge after the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically slowed economic growth in 2020-21. Managements and employees continue to struggle with the effects of the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” (becoming less psychologically invested in work), which still impact the employment relations scene.

How it works

In partnership with Energage, an Exton, Pennsylvania-based human resources consulting firm, the South Florida Sun Sentinel is inviting workers from around the region to tell us about their workplace cultures, and how management prioritizes employee recognition and appreciation.

The heart of the program is an employee survey that contains 24 questions related to how and why a company merits recognition.

There are no entry fees to participate and no obligations to purchase any product or service.

Companies will be surveyed from September 2023 through January 2024, with the nomination deadline Nov. 3. The results will be published at a date to be announced in the Spring of 2024, with the winners being recognized at a dinner hosted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Energage.

To enter, visit SunSentinel.com/Nominate or call 954-666-0786

The program is open to any employer with 35 or more employees in South Florida. Survey results are valid only if 35% or more employees respond; employers with fewer than 85 employees have a higher response threshold, requiring responses from at least 30 employees.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Top Workplaces 2024 program is launching this week for the 10th straight year. Once again, public and private sector employees will get a chance to share how their employers provide some of the best workplace environments in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

Energage tabulates the survey results, with employers grouped into small, midsize and large categories in order to compare similar employee experiences.

Employers earn Top Workplaces recognition if their aggregated employees’ feedback score exceeds national benchmarks. Energage has established those benchmarks based on feedback from more than 27 million employees over 17 years. They are ranked within those groups based on the strength of the survey feedback.

A recognition record

For the 2023 campaign, 3,929 organizations were invited to survey their employees, with a record 129 employers earning recognition as Top Workplaces.

Nationally, Energage surveyed more than 2 million employees in 65 markets, at more than 8,000 organizations in the past year.

In the current job market, companies continue to focus on recruiting, retaining and motivating employees. It’s more paramount than ever for companies to be intentional about a culture that prioritizes employee appreciation and recognition, Energage CEO Eric Rubino said.

“We really need workplaces that inspire employees,” he said. “You have to really acknowledge employees genuinely and consistently.”

The top South Florida finishers in each of the three categories in 2023 were:

Large category (400+ employees):

The Intercontinental Miami, which since 1985 has hosted leisure and business hotel guests on the edge of Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, has been a centerpiece for tourism and business events. The guests hail from all over the world.

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the 34-story hotel continued to operate, and as a result of a high level of consistency demonstrated by its staff, the InterContinental Miami finished atop the category for the fourth time in nearly a decade.

As the South Florida Sun Sentinel observed previously, “one senses that the hotel’s employees are carefully screened to ensure they possess, not just patience and eagerness to please the guests, but an instinct to help and protect each other. Encountering each other through the staff-only corridors, managers and prep cooks greet each other by their first names.”

Midsize category (125-399 employees):

Northwestern Mutual-The South Florida Group, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, is a financial planning company in South Florida with offices in Palm Beach Gardens, downtown Fort Lauderdale, downtown Miami, Coral Gables and Naples. With over 115 financial advisers, who have their own staff, and 60 full-time employees, the territory the company covers ranges from Vero Beach to Fort Myers and south to Key West.

“The mission of the South Florida Group is to lead and inspire others by aligning their vision, their values and their actions to achieve financial security, one community and one business at a time,” said M. Kevin Lawhorn, managing partner with Northwestern Mutual-The South Florida Group. “When we treat clients, we make the same recommendations that we would do for our own families.”

Small category (Fewer than 125 employees):

Century 21 Stein Posner, of Boca Raton, helps global colleagues for local buyers or sellers who want to buy or sell in, say, Paris. The firm’s mission: Treat customers and employees like your family, and the business will follow.

Today they have 90 agents, all independent contractors ages 18 to 75, who use the company’s leadership for mentoring, training and old-fashioned hand-holding. Century 21 Stein Posner conducts about 40 transactions a month, both buying and selling, according to the owners.

“Our message has always been the same: We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” co-owner Ron Posner said. “Real estate is our widget, but we are a human being company.”

To enter Top Workplaces 2024, visit SunSentinel.com/Nominate or call 954-666-0786 

Freedom means being free to pursue the education you choose | Opinion

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:00

Dear Gov. Ron DeSantis,

My name is Patricia Quimby-Moro. I am a 17 year old Spanish-American from Miami. I love reading, writing and researching, and for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to have a career in public service. My whole life I have been proud to call Florida my home. My beautiful state brings me mangoes every summer, flowers in the spring and beaches that know no seasons.

For the families of my friends and loved ones, my beautiful state brought refuge from authoritarian regimes that limited their personal freedoms and violated their innate human dignity. Florida, as a member of the greatest democratic union in the world, has always promised to protect my liberties and to recognize my dignity.

Governor, you and I both know that we do not exist in a world of democratic republics. You and I both know that all over the world and every day, authoritarian regimes commit crimes against the inherent dignity of the human person. Conflict is common and expansive. In the crosshairs of these conflicts and this senseless violence, women all over the world are caught in a continuum of violence that is often sexual in nature. In Rwanda in the ’90s, women were raped en masse as a tactic of ethnic cleansing. Today in Ukraine, violated bodies of women are being recovered daily. I know you have a beautiful wife, Casey, and a very sweet daughter, Madison. I know you understand that women need to be protected.

Patricia Quimby-Moro is a senior at Immaculata La-Salle High School in Miami.

I am writing to you because last year, you signed a bill that would make my future in serving these women around the world, a future in bringing resources to women who have been violated across the world, much harder. When you signed Senate Bill 266, you ended my choice to major in gender studies at a Florida public university, a major which would have facilitated my path for a future in geopolitical women’s issues. Contrary to public discourse, gender studies courses do not teach students “how to be transgender.” Instead, they can provide localized analysis of the situation and development of the rights (and lack thereof) of women in the developing world. Some of the biggest mistakes in public service come from a misunderstanding of the people and the region being served, which is something that a gender studies major could have potentially bridged for me. You have taken from me my choice to lead a future dedicated to helping women facing violence, in the same way that Franco took away my grandpa’s choice to study instead of serving in the military all those years ago.

Governor, I am writing to you because I love Florida. I love Florida because Florida has always been home. Because for so many of my loved ones, it has represented freedom from the evils of communism. And it is because I love Florida that I also understand that I have the right to study gender studies, and I deserve to have that option to facilitate my future career in public service.

I am asking you to think of the women who are being senselessly raped across the world, the women who are being refused the right to even the most basic education, the women who are
becoming victims of honor killings and femicide by the minute. I am asking you to think of Casey, of Madison, of me, instead of feeding a culture war that has gone on for much too long. I can only hope that when Madison is 18, she has the option to major in whatever she would like to because Florida is free and that is her right as an American. Florida is beautiful because it is free.

Patricia Quimby-Moro is a senior at Immaculata La-Salle High School in Miami.

Dr. Stacy Volnick is ready to lead FAU | Letters to the editor

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:00

Florida Atlantic University is extremely fortunate to have Dr. Stacy Volnick as its interim president. There could not be a better candidate to lead FAU’s future.

Dr. Volnick received her bachelor’s degree in communications and her master’s and doctorate degrees in education leadership at FAU and has more than 30 years of experience in higher education administration. Since 1991, she has grown with FAU.

As chief operations officer and vice president for administrative and operational units, she has served in numerous positions in financial and public affairs and as the university’s inspector general. Dr. Volnick is committed to enhancing the university experience for the FAU family and supporting the institution’s academic mission.

No one could be more prepared and experienced to step into leadership as FAU president. As the first generation college graduate in her family, she serves as a role model for others to achieve greatness and success in their lives.

As board members of the Advisory Council for the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and founders of the Feminist Fund Inc. at FAU, we are honored to support Dr. Volnick for president of Florida Atlantic University.

Sheila Jaffe, Delray Beach

Vouchers and numbers

As someone with a 45-year career in education who has written about this subject at length, I say it is Scott Kent of Step Up for Students who is wrong. He contradicts himself. First, he writes in a letter to the editor that 407,000 students were not “siphoned off,” then he agrees with Viewpoint writer June S. Neal and says, “407,000 students applied for and were found eligible to receive an education choice scholarship.”

Different words, same total.

If we add the 340,731 awarded vouchers Kent reports from both the FTC and FES-EO programs, and from the FES-UA program, 72,049, they total 412,780 — the increase from the 407,000 awards that both the governor’s office and Ms. Neal reported as of  Aug. 18.  All he did was categorize the awards to confuse us. That’s insulting to readers.

Perhaps he wanted us to forget the fine job June S. Neal did in reporting the truth behind the voucher program.

Arlene R. Ustin, Delray Beach

Cash bail’s hidden impact

A recent letter to the editor assailing the elimination of cash bail seemed to completely ignore its unconstitutional impact. It forces poor people merely accused of crimes to remain in jail for an interminable period while waiting for a court date, even though they have neither been tried nor convicted.

Sadly, the writer seem to miss the point that people in this country are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is a further degradation of the poorest among us.

The outrageous claim that cash bail deters crime is no more worthy than the claim of some that the death penalty or life imprisonment deters murders. It clearly does not. Nor does cash bail deter all manner of alleged petty crimes.

Harvey Starin, Boca Raton

Coco Gauff: A source of pride Special to the Sun SentinelCoco Gauff, center, with her grandparents, Dr. Deborah Wright and Milton Gauff (Special to the Sun Sentinel).

Tennis champion Coco Gauff’s other grandmother is Dr. Deborah Wright, who is a retired educator with the School District of Palm Beach County.

Dr. Wright is also a Zeta Phi Beta sorority sister who spent many years volunteering with its Delray Beach chapter.

Zeta Phi Beta sorority was established in 1920 on the campus of Howard University and is the third oldest Greek letter historically Black organization for women, and its official colors are blue and white.

Dr. Wright raised a stellar athlete with her son, Corey Gauff, who played college basketball for Georgia State University.

The athleticism gene also passed to Corey’s daughter, tennis star Coco Gauff, who won the 2023 U.S. Open making her family, the Zetas and Delray Beach proud.

Lori J. Durante, Delray Beach

Florida’s far-right schools activist is a well-kept secret | Editorial

South Florida Local News - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 03:00

Twenty-three days. That’s how long Florida took to provide the most basic information about a man pulling down a six-figure public salary and pushing a far-right agenda with two underlings on the public payroll.

What we wrested from official sources is meager: Terry Stoops’ salary, start date and and title as the head of a new state office that seems to exist only to support ultra-conservative school board members. Before we asked, the feisty Florida Freedom to Read Project dug up several months of calendars and of emails Stoops sent to selected school board members.

Terry Stoops and this new “Academically Successful and Resilient Districts” dept at the FLDOE seems ready to serve M4L-backed BM (and parents who interact with them) at @OCPSnews

Too bad none of the other Board Members in the district have received the same offer of support. pic.twitter.com/aRzNgUoeB6

— Florida Freedom to Read Project (@FLFreedomRead) July 20, 2023

The man

Stoops has left a trail that spells out his disdain for a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools” that voters wrote into the Florida Constitution in 1998. Right away, that put him at odds with Floridians’ stated priorities.

linkedin.comTerry Stoops.

Stoops’ background includes stints at the far-right John Locke Foundation, where he railed against a landmark 2021 North Carolina court decision that applied the same standards to school funding in that state, and found its Legislature deficient by $785 million that year alone. Stoops accused the judge of being “complicit in a scheme to extract billions of dollars in taxpayer money without approval from the legislature.”

Less than a year later, Stoops was grabbing some of that money for himself. In October 2022, his LinkedIn profile shows he left the Locke Foundation to be the “Advisor of Academic Research and Policy” to North Carolina’s elected education superintendent. Catherine Truitt won with the backing of the Locke Foundation and like-minded groups on a platform of giving more tax money to private and charter schools.

Stoops and his wife ran a charter school in North Carolina. The website of the North Carolina Democratic Party details his far-right anti-public school activism, including support for that state’s version of “don’t say gay” and “anti-indoctrination” laws.

Six months after joining Truitt, Stoops headed south for a job in Florida.

The money

According to Stoops’ LinkedIn profile, in April he became the first director of Florida’s new office of  Academically Successful and Resilient Districts in the Department of Education. But his name, and those of his two assistants, never showed up in a statewide database of state employees. Nor could we find any evidence that this office was ever authorized by the Legislature.

After Florida Freedom To Read uncovered Stoops’ mission and his existence, we tried to find out about the office. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Stoops’ salary was paid by a federal grant and administered through the University of South Florida. Salaries of state university system employees are not in the state employee database because the SUS has its own system, but Stoops isn’t listed there, either.

The source of the grant is a $69 million allocation to support educational opportunity in Florida, boost student health and safety and promote technology. Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress from Florida, should find out how Stoops’ well-paid new job meshes with that clear intention.

The mission

Stoops does a lot of schmoozing. As first unveiled by Florida Freedom to Read, he’s made the rounds of far-right education events, such as an April conference of The Leadership Institute, a think tank devoted to privatization of public education, and the Civics Alliance, which is pushing an alternative public school curriculum known as American Birthright.

He attended meetings of groups seeking to be alternatives to PTAs, and Florida Freedom to Read and our reporting uncovered a pattern in his correspondence. Though he describes his job as facilitating “partnerships with district leaders,” he only seems interested in leaders whose goals match the far-right, pro-privatization, anti-WOKE agenda that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Moms for Liberty have embraced.

“We would be happy to meet with the Conservative Coalition of School Board Members as a group to explore ways that our efforts may align,” Stoops wrote in an email to a Volusia County School Board member. He relayed his concern about sex education curriculum to Orange County School Board Member Alicia Farrant, a Moms for Liberty and book-banning ally.

The mystery

None of these actions will likely surprise Floridians who have followed the DeSantis administration. They know he diverts public money to serve his political agenda and his propensity for hiring inexperienced far-right propagandists.

But why is his office so secretive about Stoops? Both Florida Freedom To Read and the Orlando Sentinel have peppered multiple agencies with requests for documents. Only a few requests drew responses, and those were often terse deferrals that were never followed up on — clearly flouting Florida’s public records laws.

The limited Terry Stoops story reveals more about the outsized, arrogant thirst for secrecy that infests state government, and the utter disregard for Floridians’ rights to know how his office and others spent our money.

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Dan Sweeney, editorial writer Martin Dyckman and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinion of the Board and written by one of its members or a designee. To contact us, email at letters@sun-sentinel.com.

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