Tuesday, March 18, 2014

RPOF Complains To Election Officials About Crist Billboards

TALLAHASSEE, Florida - The executive director of the Republican Party of Florida has filed a complaint with state elections officials claiming that Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s image on a law firm’s billboards should be reported as an in-kind campaign contribution.

The billboards advertise Morgan & Morgan P.A.  The RPOF claims that the billboards exceed the statutory contribution limit of $3,000 per person.  The complaint was filed with the Florida Elections Commission.

"I guess it should be no surprise that trial lawyer Charlie Crist is being helped by his trial lawyer partners at Morgan & Morgan, but his campaign's failure to report their help is a violation of the law,” said Juston Johnson.

“Morgan & Morgan billboards with Charlie Crist's face on them while he was a declared candidate qualified as a reportable contribution. Failing to report the billboards is a clear breach of the law and a promise to work 'for the people.'"

Morgan & Morgan has not responded to an email request for comment.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Florida Announces New Test To Replace FCAT 2.0 and Common Core's PARCC

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – The state’s education commissioner announced on Monday that a research-based not-for-profit think tank has been selected to develop new English and math assessments for the 2014-2015 school year.

Commissioner Pam Stewart said that the American Institutes for Research were selected from three finalists to prepare the assessment to replace FCAT 2.0 and the Common Core-related PARCC.

“The new assessment will measure each child’s progress and achievement on the Florida Standards, which were developed with an unprecedented amount of public input,” said Stewart. “This assessment supports our new standards, which emphasize flexibility for teachers to make their own decisions in classrooms while preparing our students to analyze and think.”

According to a press release from the Florida Department of Education, “Governor Scott also set out eight goals for the new assessment to ensure the best outcome for Florida students. Among those eight objectives were an emphasis on prompt reports of results, no significant change in testing time for students, no significant increase in costs of the assessments and an assurance that testing dates be as close as possible to the end of the school year to maximize learning opportunities. This assessment meets those goals.”

This new assessment will be based on the Florida Standards, which were released in February and are based on the nationally-recognized Common Core standards.

The American Institutes for Research one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations, according to its website.


Friday, February 21, 2014

High School Students Meet First Lady Scott

MERRITT ISLAND – Members of the Academy of Hospitality Management at Merritt Island High School got a special treat during their tour of the Governor’s Mansion – a private visit with Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott.
Scott spent about 30 minutes with the six students – telling them the history of the mansion and the story behind the new painting “La Florida” that hangs near the front door.  They also met the curator of the mansion, the chef, and other staff members.  The group was provided with a copy of a new cookbook produced by the mansion staff that has favorite recipes of first ladies.

The students were in Tallahassee as part of the academy’s “FAM Trips Program”, where students visit many tourism-related sites to see hospitality-in-action.  They also met with officials at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to receive an update on legislation that might affect the tourism industry.
As well, the students toured Florida State University – seeing many classrooms, labs, and the Seminoles’ BCS National Championship Trophy.  They even saw Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston practicing with the baseball team.

This school year, the students have toured a Carnival Cruise Line ship, visited UCF’s Rosen College and hotels in Orlando, volunteered at several events sponsored by the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, and participated in job shadowing at the Cocoa Beach Hampton Inn.  Many students plan to be working at compensated internships this coming summer.
The Academy of Hospitality Management is a 10-12 grade choice academy, which means that students from around Brevard County are able to attend.  If interested in the academy, contact the high school at 321-454-1000.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Guns Allowed on College Campus After Court Ruling

COCOA, Florida – It is now legal to keep a concealed weapon in a vehicle on the campuses of Eastern Florida State College, according to college officials.
The policy change is in reaction to a December decision by the 1st District Court of Appeals that overturned a University of North Florida policy that banned guns in vehicles on campus.

“The change goes into effect immediately and is in compliance with the court ruling,” said John Glisch, the college’s Associate Vice-President for Communications.
This policy change comes one week after a shooting on the Palm Bay campus of EFSC.  Brevard Times has provided details of that incident and the court ruling at: http://news.brevardtimes.com/2014/01/self-defense-claimed-at-florida-college.html and http://government.brevardtimes.com/2013/12/court-florida-universities-cant-ban.html.

The Eastern Florida policy states:
“It is lawful and is not a violation of Florida Statutes or EASTERN FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE policy/procedure 112 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private vehicle (conveyance), without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. Nothing in this policy prohibits the carrying of a legal firearm other than a handgun anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use. [§790.115; §790.25; §790.251, Fla. Stat. (2013)]”


Friday, January 31, 2014

Merritt Island High To Name Basebal Field After Clint Hurdle

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida - The Merritt Island High School baseball team is hosting a dedication ceremony for the Clint Hurdle Baseball Field on January 31st at 6pm. The ceremony will be held at the Merritt Island baseball field.

The Merritt Island Baseball team chose Clint Hurdle to dedicate their field too. Hurdle won the Sporting News Manager of the year Award in 2013 while managing the Pittsburgh Pirates. There will be guests speakers at the ceremony and Clint Hurdle himself will be there. Coach Plecki, the head baseball coach, explains that Hurdle was chosen because he has done the most as far as baseball, with a successful baseball and managing career. 

Clint Hurdle is a Merritt Island alumni. He was part of the 1975 graduating class. After he graduated he was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the 9th pick of the first round in 1975 amateur draft. Hurdle played for the Royals from 1975 to 1981. His career in baseball had only just begun. After the Royals, he played with a few other baseball teams.

In 2011, Clint Hurdle became manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the first two years, the Pirates had two losing seasons. In 2013, things turned around for the Pirates. The team went to the National League Central with the best record in the major leagues. On September 23rd, 2013 the Pirates made their way to their first playoffs since 1992, as well as their 90th win. With this victory, Hurdle was announced manager of the year award.

In addition to baseball, Clint Hurdle also created the Wins for Kids foundation. The foundation raises funds to support Pirate Charity and the Pradar-Willie syndrome  program at the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. Clint started this foundation because of his 10-year old daughter, Maddie, has Pradar-willie syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that affects many body parts. To learn more about this foundation visit the website:

Merritt Island High School journalism student Leticia Barros contributed to this report.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vintage Plane Rides Available at Merritt Island Airport This Week

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida – Local groups are offering the opportunity for flights in a vintage 929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane this week at Merritt Island Airport.

Flights are available Monday from 1:00 – 5:00 pm and Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The cost for a flight is $75.00.
Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933. EAA’s model 4-AT-E was number 146 off Ford’s innovative assembly line and first flew on August 21, 1929. It was sold to Pitcairn Aviation’s passenger division, Eastern Air Transport, whose paint scheme is replicated on EAA’s Tri-Motor.

This particular airplane has been used in a passenger fleet, crop-dusting, barnstorming, smoke-jumping, military use, and has been in a museum.
The plane rides are being sponsored locally by Pan Am International Flight Academy, World Fuel Services, Phillips 66, and the Clarion Hotel.

For more information, call 877-952-5395.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BPS Superintendent First Draft Budget Includes $18 Million in Cuts; Potential Job Loss of 345 Positions

VIERA, Florida – Brevard Public Schools could save almost $18 million if the board accepted Dr. Brian Binggeli’s first draft of budget cuts for the 2014-2015 school year.  However, this budget would also eliminate 345 current jobs.

This list for 2014-15 does not include any school closures. 
Binggeli presented the list at Tuesday night’s BPS board meeting.  The board will vote on the budget in the summer.

He said this is a fluid list and will be reviewed by parent groups, community leaders, and others before it is finalized.
“We won’t know what the funding really looks like until May,” Binggeli said.  “We have had more input this year (on this list) than we have ever had before.  We must begin to prepare strategically if the November half-cent sales tax does not pass.”

However, Binggeli said that if the proposed half-penny sales tax does not pass in November, BPS may have to close up to four schools, outsource custodial services and force athletes to “pay-to-play” in 2015-16.
Also, he said that school and department budgets would be immediately cut by 5% in 2014-15 and sent to the capital budget for “failure needs” if the tax vote fails.

Included in potential job losses for 2014-15 are all elementary music, art, media specialist positions in the 55 BPS elementary schools.  Secondary schools would potentially lose media specialists and assistants, campus monitors, guidance service professionals, dual enrollment guidance counselors.
Binggeli noted that two line items will be cut regardless of funding levels.  He said that eliminating the practice of refunding unused after-school child care payments will save $1 million.  As well, a reduction of the fine arts budget by 15% saves the district $60,000.

As well, Binggeli said that a budgetary practice “new to BPS” would also be implemented.  Schools and departments will only receive 75% of their yearly funding at the start of the school year.  They would get the balance in January.
“Principals will need to throttle back their spending at the beginning of the year,” he said.  “We will borrow from ourselves to (make payroll and) avoid $600,000 in interest payments.”  He said that BPS paid that amount in 2007 when met with a budget shortfall because they borrowed money on a short-term loan.

He also said that if state funding is increased some previously cut items might be recovered, including an additional planning period for secondary teachers, summer school, and corridor busing.