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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,712

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Florida is the only state where more people are dying of COVID now than ever before. What went wrong

A few months ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican of Florida, declared his hands-off approach to COVID-19 “a tremendous success.” Politico announced that he had “won the pandemic.”

But then came the hypercontagious Delta variant, which continues to hit Florida harder than anywhere else in the country.

The result? DeSantis just added another, less flattering distinction to his résumé. When COVID first surged across the Sun Belt last summer, the average number of Floridians dying of the disease every 24 hours peaked at 185, according to the New York Times’s state-by-state COVID database. The same was true over the winter.

A few days ago, however, Florida’s daily death rate cleared 200 for the first time, and today it stands at 228 — an all-time high.


Donald Rumsfeld, Architect of War in Afghanistan, Is Laid to Rest

In a quirk of timing, the two-time former defense secretary’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday seemed to serve as a kind of coda to America’s 20-year lost war.

WASHINGTON — A horse-drawn caisson with a flag-draped coffin passed slowly through the gates of Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, a hushed tableau against a city loud with recriminations about the lost war in Afghanistan.

The cortege carried Donald H. Rumsfeld, the hard-charging, two-time secretary of defense and one of the war’s chief architects, whose burial on a sweltering August afternoon served as another coda to the 20-year conflict.

Mr. Rumsfeld died on June 29, at 88, of complications related to multiple myeloma. The date for his interment and an earlier private funeral service on Monday at Fort Myer, Va., had been set long before, but the timing meant that Mr. Rumsfeld was laid to rest during the same kind of shell shock as on Oct. 7, 2001, when the United States launched its first airstrikes in Afghanistan.

And yet, the ceremonies seemed to take place in a contained, parallel universe, sealed off from the strife of Washington. “This was very much about the man and his times, and not any particular issue of the day,” said Larry Di Rita, a top deputy to Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration.


'They Were Bullies': Inside the Turbulent Origins of the Collapsed Florida Condo

The team that developed Champlain Towers managed to build the condos despite checkered pasts, internal strife and a last-minute change that infuriated leaders in Surfside, Fla.

It was in the middle of summer in 1980 when developers raising a pair of luxury condominium towers in Surfside, Fla., went to town officials with an unusual request: They wanted to add an extra floor to each building.

The application to go higher was almost unheard-of for an ambitious development whose construction was already well underway. The builders had not mentioned the added stories in their original plans. It was not clear how much consideration they had given to how the extra floors would affect the structures overall. And, most galling for town officials, the added penthouses would violate height limits designed to prevent laid-back Surfside from becoming another Miami Beach.

At one point, the town building department issued a terse stop-work order. But records show that in the face of an intense campaign that saw lawyers for the developers threaten lawsuits and argue with officials deep into the night, the opposition folded — and the developers got their way.

Frank Filiberto, who was on the Town Commission at the time, recalled feeling as if the developers regarded him and the other officials as “local yokels.”


More than half of Florida's students now go to schools mandating masks in defiance of DeSantis

More than half of Florida’s students are now enrolled in public school districts with mask mandates despite threats of sanctions from the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who decreed that only parents can decide whether their children wear masks.

On Tuesday night, two school districts — in Orange and Indian River counties — approved mandates to try to stop the spread of the delta variant of the novel coronavirus. They joined eight other districts that recently moved to require a medical exemption from a doctor to opt out.

The state is a hot spot for coronavirus cases, with a positivity rate for new cases at nearly 20 percent as hospitals keep filling with patients.

Two of the 10 districts that voted for strict mandates — Indian River and Sarasota — supported Donald Trump for president in 2020. DeSantis is counting on voters in these districts for support in his bid for reelection next year. The others — Miami-Dade County, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Alachua, Palm Beach, Orange and Duval — supported Joe Biden.


Democrats just launched a missile at the GOP's fortress of minority rule

Behind all the messy maneuvering in Congress right now is a hidden story: To an underappreciated degree, Democrats just launched a broadside against the edifice of minority rule that Republicans are busy constructing, in every way they possibly can, as a bulwark against our democratic future.

After House Democrats passed the $3.5 trillion blueprint to move the ”human infrastructure” bill’s process forward on Tuesday, they also passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Tucked inside that bill are provisions that take direct aim at minority rule, but not in an obvious way. We often talk about individual features of our system — voter suppression, extreme gerrymanders, the electoral college — as anti-majoritarian. But we don’t talk enough about how various features interlock to create anti-majoritarian structures that are more impregnable than the sum of their parts.

The Lewis act’s key provisions restore federal preclearance requirements for changes in voting rules, and make it easier to challenge discriminatory voter suppression measures, both responses to the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, in 2013 and this year.


Tampa to be first city in bay area to require city worker vaccinations

Mayor Jane Castor said her decision might not be a popular one, but it is the right thing to do.

TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said her decision to require the city’s 4,700 workers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30 likely won’t be popular, but it’s the right thing to do.

Castor formally announced her decision in a news conference Wednesday morning, following on the heels of a late memo to city workers Tuesday night.

The mayor didn’t consult with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has issued orders banning local governments from enacting local rules to combat the coronavirus pandemic before her decision. And hasn’t spoken to the governor or his staff about it, she said.

“That’s my hope,” Castor said when asked if she thought her order would survive a governor’s action. “It’s my job to look out for the health and well being of all our team members here in the city of Tampa. So I need to be able to make those decisions in their best interests.”


Let's see how DeSantis reacts to this.

Hundreds of Bay County students and staff under COVID-19 quarantine after 2 weeks of school

PANAMA CITY — Hundreds of students and staff in 20 Bay County schools are under quarantine for COVID-19 after two weeks into classes for the new year.

According to Bay District Schools statistics, as of Friday a total of 587 students and staff were under quarantine after the report of 114 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the school system. Of the people quarantining, 312 were reported directly by the school district, while the rest are self-reported because they had close contact with a family member or someone outside of school with COVID-19.

The current school year started on Aug. 10.

Lyndsey Jackson, supervisory school nurse for BDS, said that for the most part, there hasn't been an interruption in operations in the school district despite the large number of quarantines. She also said there hasn't been a huge distinction on what grade levels have been affected by COVID-19 — it has been pretty even.

According to Jackson, a few classrooms have had to close down for a few days, but they mainly have been ones for pre-kindergarten students. She said that by the nature of pre-school, it is hard to reduce close contact between students.


Sarasota urgent care centers seeing "unprecedented surge" amid COVID-19 spike

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System's urgent care centers are seeing an "unprecedented surge in volume" amid the current spike in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Laura McGill said in an interview released Tuesday.

Noting that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine now has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, McGill said "now’s the time” for the unvaccinated to get the shot.

"If you had fears, Pfizer has gotten the FDA approval... so it has the data supporting it's safety, so now's the time if you're not ill to get vaccinated," said McGill, a Sarasota Memorial urgent care doctor.

McGill offered advice about when to seek treatment at an urgent care center, saying problems such as chest paint, trouble breathing or a fever that lasts longer than five days are among the symptoms that should prompt individuals to seek medical attention.


House passes $3.5 trillion budget plan, aims to vote on infrastructure package by late September

Source: Washington Post

House Democrats on Tuesday approved a roughly $3.5 trillion budget that could enable sweeping changes to the nation’s healthcare, education and tax laws, overcoming internal divisions in a debate that could foreshadow even tougher battles still to come.

The 220-212 outcome came after days of delays as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) scrambled to stave off a revolt from her party’s moderate-leaning lawmakers. With the frenzy resolved, the chamber averted what would have been a political embarrassment to take the next step in enacting President Biden’s broader economic agenda.

The budget debacle also paved the way for the House to hold a vote on a second economic package -- a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes and ports -- by September 27. The new commitment cemented a deal to win over skeptical centrists, who feared the infrastructure bill otherwise would have been mired in significant setbacks.

The $3.5 trillion budget enables lawmakers to begin crafting a fuller legislative proposal, which Democratic leaders hope to adopt next month. The package is expected to expand Medicare, invest sizable sums in education and family-focused programs, and devote new funds toward combating climate change — fulfilling many of Democrats’ 2020 campaign pledges.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/08/24/house-democrats-budget-infrastructure/

Behind The Florida Condo Collapse: Rampant Corner-Cutting

Inadequate waterproofing, thin columns and faulty concrete emerge as leading possibilities in Champlain Towers South tragedy

SURFSIDE, Fla.—A startling discovery awaited an engineer who drilled into the ground-level concrete slab at Champlain Towers South last year. He could find no waterproofing in two separate sections, the engineer wrote in a letter to the condominium board.

Without that essential layer for a high rise facing the punishing Atlantic Ocean, rainwater and salty sea spray likely had seeped in for decades, slowly weakening the steel rebar and concrete holding up the condo building. Indeed, the engineer reported at the time seeing significant concrete deterioration.

Less than a year later, in the early hours of June 24, part of that slab dropped into the parking garage below. Within minutes, the east wing of the 13-story tower collapsed, killing 98 people in a disaster without modern precedent in the U.S.

Since then, a picture has emerged of a tower that was hobbled from the start. The people who oversaw its planning and construction some 40 years ago made cost-saving choices that generally met the building codes of that era but may have created long-term safety risks, a Wall Street Journal investigation found.


Paywall. Sorry.
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