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An update from the Florida Bar condo task force, voting rights leader Desmond Meade, and the film ‘Gringa’

Desmond Meade speaks at a podium with four people standing on either side of him in the background
(Sam Navarro/Miami Herald via AP, File)
In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, talks about Amendment 4 during a news conference at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office in Miami.

A Florida Bar task force has presented proposals on how to make condo living better and safer after Surfside. We meet the man who was central to helping Florida felons get their voting rights back. And a dramedy film about a Cuban-American woman packing for a family trip to Havana.

On this Monday, Oct. 25, edition of Sundial:

Surfside condo task force proposes changes

Shortly after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, the Florida Bar formed a task force to look at condo laws. The group recently published a report of proposals to change condo laws in order to improve safety.

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Lawmakers will review these proposals as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session in January.

Bill Sklar is chair of the Life Safety Advisory Task Force. He’s also a professor at the University of Miami School of Law. Sklar has taught condominium law for more than 40 years. He said the Florida Bar requested a task force, but not to investigate the cause of the collapse.

“But to look into the laws and regulations governing condominiums and suggest changes to mitigate or prevent such a tragedy from happening again,” Sklar said.

Sklar added that many condominiums do not have “professional governance.” That doesn’t necessarily mean these buildings are mismanaged.

“In residential condominiums, there is no standard for maintenance, there is no maintenance protocol,” said Sklar. “There is no inspection requirement and we focused on that.”

Miami-Dade and Broward counties have a recertification process on the 40-year mark of occupancy. Sklar said the task force doesn’t want those inspections to only occur once every 40 years.

Surfside condo task force proposes changes
People came to mourn on July 2, 2021, for loved ones who died in the Champlain Towers South building collapse.

Voting rights leader Desmond Meade

During the 2018 midterm elections, more than 60% of Floridians voted in favor of passing Amendment 4 — which restores voting rights to formerly incarcerated people.

A leading figure behind the passing of Amendment 4 was Desmond Meade. He was once a convicted felon, but now he’s known as one of the most prominent voting rights activists in the country.

Meade is the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. He was recently named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow for 2021. This fellowship is commonly referred to as the “genius” grant.

WLRN’s Danny Rivero spoke with Meade to talk about the impact of Amendment 4 and his MacArthur fellowship. You can read the full story here.

Voting rights leader Desmond Meade

The film "Gringa"

Have you ever packed for a trip at the last minute?

That’s how the dramedy short film ‘Gringa’ begins. A Cuban-American woman is rushing home to pack for a family trip to Havana.

But her grandfather has other plans. He already hijacked all of the family suitcases and filled them with medicine and clothes for those on the island.

The flight leaves in a few hours. And her grandfather has a mission for her that must take precedence over packing cute outfits —finding a car part to take to Cuba.

“This is a part for a car that's called a Lada. It's a brand of car that they make in Russia and they drive in Cuba, and nobody really drives them here,” said Claudia Murray, the director and co-writer of the film. “I realized that there are whole stores in Hialeah and surrounding areas in South Florida that sell only leather parts for cars. They don't drive here because people buy them here and send them back to Cuba for their family members.”

She added that it was important for her to weave comedy into the story even if some of the themes are dark because those moments of humor reflect Cuban culture.

You can watch the movie for free here.

The film 'Gringa'

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.