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Spring break, rent vs buy, the legacy of Florida’s ‘titan’ death penalty lawyer

An image of the Colony Hotel lit up in neon in South Beach.
WLRN file

What is Miami Beach doing to handle a spring break season that's already busy? Plus, should you buy or rent in South Florida? A new study says, maybe the latter. And Marty McClain, a powerful advocate for people on death row died recently. We’ll learn more about his life.

On this Tuesday, March 15, edition of Sundial:

Spring break

It's that time of year that tourists love — and locals love to hate. Spring break season.

For the next couple of weeks, thousands and thousands of college students are here to enjoy the sun and sand.

As the pandemic continues, you can rely on WLRN to keep you current on local news and information. Your support is what keeps WLRN strong. Please become a member today. Donate now. Thank you.

Miami International Airport recorded its busiest day ever this past weekend. So the beaches will be full.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber joined Sundial to discuss what the city’s plans are for dealing with this busy season.

Spring break
Beachgoers take advantage of the weather as they spend time on Clearwater Beach Tuesday, March 2, in Clearwater, Fla., a popular spring break destination, west of Tampa. Colleges around the U.S. are scaling back spring break or canceling it entirely to discourage beachfront partying that could raise infection rates back on campus.

Rent vs buy

Owning a home has always been a big part of the American Dream. It’s supposed to be a sure-fire way to build wealth.

That might not be the case right now with the way our local housing market is looking.

“Historically, housing ownership has been the most available vehicle for the typical American to invest in, but now as more and more markets open up to us where we can invest in bonds and stocks, and we can do that through our local brokerage houses. This is a pretty easy thing to do. So we sat down to have a horse race, and it just turns out that for most of the last 40 years, renting and reinvesting wins on average,” said Ken H. Johnson, the associate dean of graduate programs for the College of Business at Florida Atlantic University.

It might be possible to build that same wealth while renting and reinvesting in the stock market, according to the Buy vs. Rent Index analysis by FAU and Florida International University.

“The cost of ownership is still outpacing the cost of renting. Now, we do not advocate renting and spending that difference on beer and cookies,” said Johnson, who is one of the authors of the Buy vs. Rent Index. “If you rent and you don't set aside the hundreds of dollars a month for taxes, insurance, maintenance, homeowners association, you don't set aside your down payment and reinvest it, you're not doing yourself any form of financial favor.”

Rent vs buy

The legacy of Florida’s ‘titan’ death penalty lawyer

The Florida legal community recently lost a respected advocate. Martin McClain, often remembered as Marty, died last week at his home in Wilton Manors.

He specialized in representing and advocating for Florida inmates on death row, and for some, getting their sentences overturned. He was also essential in eliminating the electric chair as Florida's only option for the death penalty.

"That was something he felt very, very strongly about, that he would, you know, he would see the end of the electric chair because … Marty felt like … we have got to make this stop," Linda McDermott said.

McDermott was Marty McClain’s law partner for over 16 years. She now serves as capital habeas unit chief for the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Florida’s northern district.

She met Marty at the very beginning of her career. She told Sundial Host Luis Hernandez that his view of the death penalty evolved over the decades he saw it change in Florida.

"Not that long ago, definitely within the past six months or so, he had indicated that he recognized, that his interest and what brought him into this area, had shifted in terms of why he was still doing it," McDermott said. "I can tell you… he just really felt that there was no system that could account for all of the injustices and errors to make it acceptable — and that it was his job to, in a case-by-case basis, to make sure, or to try and show, how those injustices and errors in that particular case should result in relief from the death penalty or a new trial or whatever it might be."

WLRN has done extensive reporting on the death penalty in Florida, in a 2017 documentary called Cell 1: Florida's Death Penalty in Limbo. McClain was an attorney for the inmate former WLRN Reporter Wilson Sayre followed in the making of the project.

The legacy of Florida’s ‘titan’ death penalty lawyer

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.