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Latest News: Judge revisits ruling on controversial immigration law

Published May 24, 2024 at 6:00 AM EDT

It's Friday, May 24, 2024.

🌡️ Check here for today's weather forecast.

On the WLRN website today:

    ⬇️ Scroll down for the latest news in South Florida:

    South Florida

    All Florida State Parks are waiving entrance fees

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 8:38 PM EDT
    The Oleta River is the only river not dredged and stripped of mangroves in Miami-Dade County. Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo had proposed a ban on planting new mangroves at city parks.
    Miami Waterkeeper
    The Oleta River is the only river not dredged and stripped of mangroves in Miami-Dade County. Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo had proposed a ban on planting new mangroves at city parks.

    All Florida State Parks are waiving entrance fees over Memorial Day weekend.  

    The 175 parks across the state will not charge admission starting today, May 24th, through Memorial Day Monday, the 27th.  

    Lance Kelly, a park manager at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, said the holiday weekend is a good way to introduce the parks to friends and family who may be new to the state. 

     “We are encouraging Floridians to get out into the resource in Florida State Parks, and this is a great opportunity for individuals to branch out and find state parks that maybe they haven't explored or haven't been to yet.," he said.

    Admission will be waived for both Florida residents and visitors.  

    For those who enjoy the parks this weekend, an annual Florida State Park pass costs $60 per person or $120 dollars for a family pass. 

    READ MORE: This forest off Old Cutler is a hidden green gem. A big grant will help it shine

    Government & Politics

    City Commission votes against LED billboards in downtown Miami

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 7:28 PM EDT
    A photo of the digital billboard outside the Pérez Art Museum Miami
    Al Diaz
    /
    The Miami Herald
    The digital billboard outside the Pérez Art Museum Miami has been the subject of ire from downtown Miami residents but touted as a new source of revenue for the nonprofit, as well as a work of art. On Thursday, May 23, 2024, Miami commissioners voted to repeal the 2023 law allowing its construction.

    The City of Miami commission has repealed a law that allows for massive LED lighting billboards in downtown. Those billboards have drawn scores of complaints from condo residents, saying they amount to light pollution.

    But for now at least, the billboard at Perez Art Museum will remain.

    "If there’s a path for the sign to come down, it should come down. And that’s what the residents are demanding," said Commissioner Damian Pardo represents downtown Miami. " There is a path to bring down the PAMM sign through our lease with the PAMM, in which they are in default."

    City commissioners on Thursday voted 4 to 1 for the city to seek court-ordered demolition of the sign based on the lease agreement. The Perez Art Museum said it cannot comment on allegations that it is violating the lease because it hasn’t received any paperwork yet.

    READ MORE: City of Miami settles racial gerrymandering lawsuit with voting rights groups

    Public Safety

    Boat safety tips that will keep keep you and your loved ones safe

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 6:18 PM EDT
    Jenny Staletovich
    /
    WRLN

    It’s expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, according to the American Automobile Association when they started tracking holiday travel.

    The National Safe Boating Council wants to remind boaters to brush up on their boat safety skills:

    First and foremost, have enough life jackets to go around for everyone and always file a float plan. A float plan lets others know where you’re going and when you plan to get back. Give your float plan to a family member or a friend with info on your boat and what equipment you have on board.

    Communication devices can be the most important piece of equipment. Be sure to have and know how to use at least two devices that work when wet, like satellite phones, VHF radios, and personal locator beacons (PLB).

    Also, take a safe boating course, and never boat under the influence.

    READ MORE: Most Florida boat operators in crashes haven't completed free safety courses, says official

    Education

    FIU's chief of police placed on leave after inappropriate conduct

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 5:12 PM EDT

    Florida International University’s police chief has been placed on leave after allegations of inappropriate conduct.

    In April, videos of FIU police chief Alexander Casas at an award ceremony circulated, appearing to show him inappropriately touching at least one employee. That’s according to WSVN.

    FIU has appointed Major James Mesidor as acting chief of the university’s police department.

    READ MORE: Undercover Messianic Jewish activist sought to entrap Muslim professors at University of Florida

    Immigration

    Judge backtracks on his own ruling over controversial immigration law

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 4:32 PM EDT
    Migrants who entered the United States illegally and turned themselves sit on a bus after they were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas
    Eric Gay/AP
    /
    AP
    Migrants who entered the United States illegally and turned themselves sit on a bus after they were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas

    A Florida federal judge has backtracked on his own ruling this week that blocked a key part of a controversial state immigration law. And it's causing a great deal of confusion among immigration lawyers and advocates.

    The law criminalizes anyone who transports undocumented immigrants into the state of Florida.

    The Miami Herald reports that just hours after Judge Roy Altman made clear that his injunction issued Wednesday was meant to apply statewide, he issued a separate, conflicting order in which he pondered whether his own ruling from a day earlier was too broad.

    He now wants a further briefing. Altman has invited the attorneys in the legal case challenging the new law to make arguments by June 6 about how widely the order should apply.

    READ MORE: Judge blocks Florida from criminalizing transport of immigrants

    South Florida

    Fort Lauderdale hosts a beach party for Memorial weekend

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 3:31 PM EDT

    Fort Lauderdale is kicking off Memorial weekend with a huge beach party tomorrow.

    Fort Lauderdale’s Great American Beach Party is a free, family-friendly event that features live bands, water slides and activities for kids.

    The party is a Memorial Day weekend tradition on Fort Lauderdale Beach. It will also feature a classic car show, a sand sculpting contest and a military tribute.

    City officials are encouraging visitors to take the city’s Water Taxi to avoid traffic.

    The taxi service, a fleet of boats painted taxi-yellow, shuttle people from Downtown to the beach every half-hour.

    Las Olas Boulevard between A1A and Seabreeze Boulevard will be closed from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

    READ MORE: Bridge emerges as preferred alternative for New River crossing at rare joint meeting

    Environment

    Messy boaters no longer allowed on Biscayne Bay's 'spoiled islands'

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 1:50 PM EDT

    Messy boaters have spoiled the fun on Biscayne Bay's so-called "spoil islands."

    The City of Miami says an excess of litter has forced it to temporarily close Osprey, Morningside, Pace Picnic and Willis Islands. All of them are man-made islands that have become popular destinations for South Florida boaters.

    "We have been seeing that plenty of people have been continuing to throw garbage and the images are disheartening," said city of Miami spokesperson Kenya Fayat in an interview with Local 10 News.

    Last weekend, the city launched its new "Leave No Trace" policy. The goal is to encourage people to take their trash with them instead of leaving it on the islands. 

    During the closure, anyone trespassing will be subject to arrest.

    " You're going to see a lot of marine patrol in the area — not just safeguarding our waters, but prohibiting people from onto the island," she said.

    The closure starts today and lasts until further notice. Meanwhile, the city of Miami Beach is closing down its popular Flagler Monument Island for the same reason — too much trash. But that's for the Memorial Day weekend, only.

    READ MORE: Do local environmental factors contribute to dementia? FAU researchers want to know.

    Government & Politics

    Officials urge Florida residents to prep now for a busy hurricane season

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 12:07 PM EDT
    Local resident Wayne Cox and friend Irma Parrilla, visiting from Orlando, brave gusty winds and drizzling rain to visit Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, Fla., Friday, Dec. 15, 2023.
    Rebecca Blackwell
    /
    AP
    Local resident Wayne Cox and friend Irma Parrilla, visiting from Orlando, brave gusty winds and drizzling rain to visit Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, Fla., Friday, Dec. 15, 2023.

    The official start of hurricane season is right around the corner, and scientists have already forecast more named storms in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season than ever.

    Pete Gomez, who directs the Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management, urged people to start making preparations now.

    "Make sure if you need medications you got your medications ready. All your important papers – have them packed up," Gomez said. "If you need to put them on a hard drive, get it ready so they can go with you."

    In case of an evacuation, Gomez said it's also important to keep your car halfway full of gas." That’s to evacuate as needed.

    People can sign up for emergency texts from counties across South Florida. The state also offers grant money through the My Safe Florida Home program for qualifying residents making hurricane-related home improvements. Applications are expected to open July 1.

    READ MORE: NOAA issues its busiest hurricane season forecast yet, warns: 'The big ones are fast'

    Law & Justice

    New evidence released in Fort Lauderdale BLM protest lawsuit

    Posted May 24, 2024 at 11:17 AM EDT

    New evidence in a lawsuit stemming from a May 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Fort Lauderdale suggests city police used force without provocation.

    New video appears to undermine claims by Fort Lauderdale police that they only confronted protesters after being violently provoked. That’s according to the Miami Herald.

    The lawsuit, which names the city of Fort Lauderdale and its police department, was filed by LaToya Ratlieff.

    Ratlieff was at the May 31 protest when detective Eliezer Ramos fired a projectile at the woman’s face, fracturing her eye socket.

    Ramos had claimed he was aiming for a protester behind Ratlieff who had thrown a tear gas canister. But video evidence shows that Ramos did not have a clear shot. Ratlieff has maintained she was protesting peacefully, which appears to be supported by video.

    According to the Herald, video evidence shows another officer, Steven Poherence, shoving a protester whose hands were raised while kneeling. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue this proves it was police who escalated the situation.

    READ MORE: Broward Public Defender keeps up drumbeat for better services for mentally ill inmates in jail

    Obituary

    Longtime South Florida lawyer and municipal judge dies at 101

    Posted May 23, 2024 at 2:52 PM EDT

    By all accounts, Jay Simons loved his work so much that he was still at it about two weeks ago at the age of 101.

    Simons, known in South Florida as a lawyer, Municipal Court Judge and finally as a court-appointed mediator died in his Weston home last Sunday.

    According to CBS News, Simons started his private practice in Fort Lauderdale in 1950, where he specialized in personal injury and medical malpractice. 

    Throughout his career, he also worked as a Hollywood and Cooper City municipal court judge in the 1960s and 70s. 

    READ MORE: Weeks after retirement, longtime Miami Herald Editorial Page Editor Nancy Ancrum dies at 67

    Transportation

    Spirit and Frontier Airlines scrap change and cancellation fees

    Posted May 23, 2024 at 1:48 PM EDT
    Spirit Airlines, which is entertaining buyout offers from Frontier Airlines and JetBlue Airways, is evaluating its summer scheduling so it can be better positioned to handle disruptions caused by bad weather and uneven staffing.
    Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda
    /
    Orlando Sentinel
    FILE: Customers line up at the counter at Spirit Airlines, which is entertaining buyout offers from Frontier Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

    Here's some good news for air travelers who fly with Spirit and Frontier Airlines: the two budget carriers say they are doing away with both change and cancellation fees, effective immediately.

    Changing a Spirit flight would normally cost travelers up to $119 in fees. Now, they’re entitled to full flexibility in changing their flight plans. Although, some modifications are subject to fare changes and travel credits.

    Frontier has eliminated change and cancellation fees for fares in its Economy, Premium and Business classes, but not in its Basic class.

    READ MORE: An audit recommends Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport create its own police force

    Development

    Florida's commerce department rejects plans for new Publix in Tavernier

    Posted May 23, 2024 at 12:41 PM EDT

    The Florida Department of Commerce, which regulates development in the Keys, is opposing construction of a new Publix in Tavernier.

    Monroe County commissioners passed an ordinance earlier this year approving a new zoning district that would have allowed for a Publix supermarket and liquor store at Mile Marker 92.5. The same proposal would’ve also created 86 units of workforce housing. 

    But the commerce department rejected it, stating the new zoning overlay district would have violated development standards set by the Monroe County Comprehensive Plan.

    The Keys Weekly reports that several Tavernier residents expressed concerns that the project would contribute to traffic issues and change the historic community.

    Developers have until June to appeal the decision.

    READ MORE: Pilot road elevation, drainage project to fight Florida Keys flooding is set to break ground

    Development

    Fort Lauderdale approves plan to redevelop mobile home park

    Posted May 23, 2024 at 11:34 AM EDT

    Fort Lauderdale commissioners this week passed an ordinance rezoning a mobile home park for mixed-use development.

    According to a November housing report, the 204 residents of the Pan American Estates Mobile Home Park were paying under $1,000 in rent. The property sits on McNabb Road, just west of I-95.

    Now, residents have to relocate to make way for a development that will house 1,200 people and some businesses.

    The report found that there was an “adequate supply” of housing options in Broward County for those displaced.

    However, those rents will likely be more expensive for those forced out. Most residents left when the owner offered money to help them relocate.

    As cities around South Florida look to increase housing stock by building taller, mixed-use buildings, communities like the mobile home park are becoming fewer and fewer.

    READ MORE: Family says their mother's apartment was taken. Now they're in court to get it back

    Government & Politics

    Some residents in Coconut Grove wish for a deeper community pool

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 7:49 PM EDT

    A meeting to present new designs for Virrick Park Pool is currently underway.  Completion may take a little longer after residents got their wish for a deeper design. 

    Coconut Grove residents have the chance to check out new plans for a deeper community pool that would accommodate competitive aquatic sports.

    As Coconut Grove Spotlight reports, Virrick Park Pool has become a source of community contention. That’s after original plans for redevelopment didn’t measure up to residents’ expectations. 

    Since the beginning of redevelopment in 2022, residents have wanted to increase the depth from just over five feet to nearly eight feet, which would allow for sports like water polo.

    Virrick Park Pool, originally built in 1970 and closed in 2020 because of the pandemic, is in West Grove, Coconut Grove’s historically Black Little Bahamas area. 

    City officials agreed to change plans, though it may delay completion of the pool. 

    READ MORE: After years of delays, Lake Worth Beach is one step closer to replacing its shuttered public pool

    Government & Politics

    Maps, lawsuits and billboards: Miami commissioners have a full agenda

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 6:31 PM EDT

    The May 23 City of Miami Commission meeting is a packed one — a high profile map settlement, a multimillion dollar lawsuit and a fight over billboards.

    Commissioners are expected to vote on a $1.5 million settlement in a lawsuit where the city was found by a federal judge to have racially gerrymandered its voting map.

    Commissioner Miguel Gabela wants to hire outside experts to manage the city’s most expensive lawsuits. Miami was recently sued by an insurance company for upwards of $5 million.

    City hall will also get a visit from Rep. State Representative Vicki Lopez to discuss a controversial billboard outside the Perez Art Museum Miami. Residents have criticized the digital billboard for being too large and too bright, and for disrupting downtown life.

    The commission meeting will take place on Thursday at 9 a.m.

    READ MORE: Doral mayor, council locked in legal battle with former city leaders over pension benefits

    Sports

    Florida Panthers advance to eastern conference final

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 5:48 PM EDT
    Florida Panthers' Gustav Forsling (42) celebrates after his go-ahead goal with teammates on the bench, including Vladimir Tarasenko (10), during the third period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Boston.
    Michael Dwyer
    /
    AP
    Florida Panthers' Gustav Forsling (42) celebrates after his go-ahead goal with teammates on the bench, including Vladimir Tarasenko (10), during the third period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Boston.

    For the second year in a row, the Florida Panthers men’s hockey team have made it to the eastern conference final.

    The Panthers now face off against the New York Rangers, and the first of several games takes place at 8 p.m. tonight in New York.

    The first team to win four games will move on to the 2024 Stanley Cup finals. Last season, the Panthers lost out on the Stanley Cup trophy, but it was the first time in 27 years that the team had made it that far.

    The Panthers will host games 3 and 4 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise.

    READ MORE: A South Florida hockey club carves out a space for women on the ice

    Government & Politics

    Hialeah officer accused of sexual assault released on 'good behavior'

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 4:36 PM EDT

    A former Hialeah Police officer accused of sexually assaulting young women and girls has been released early from prison — thanks to: “good behavior.”

    Jesus “Jessie” Menocal Jr. was arrested in 2019 on three counts of depriving women of their civil rights. Menocal was accused of offering women release from custody in exchange for sexual favors, and pressuring them into sexual acts, Miami New Times reports.

    Menocal was sentenced to three years in prison in July 2022, but was released on probation in April after less than two years. A judge denied Menocal’s request to be allowed to carry a firearm during his probation.

    READ MORE: Broward Public Defender keeps up drumbeat for better services for mentally ill inmates in jail

    Government & Politics

    New proposal in Fort Lauderdale would ban dogs from city parks

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 1:52 PM EDT

    If you’re a dog owner and you live in Fort Lauderdale, you might want to mark your calendar for June 18. 

    That's the day when Fort Lauderdale commissioners will debate whether to change a rule banning dogs from city parks outside of designated pet areas. 
     
    The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the rule change would allow dogs on a leash. And people would also have to keep their dogs away from bodies of water, playgrounds and athletic fields. 

    Fort Lauderdale officials estimate that investing in dog stations, waste bags and maintenance would cost taxpayers a combined $160,000 a year.

    READ MORE: A proposed bill in Florida would ban dogs from hanging their heads out of car windows

    Government & Politics

    West Palm Beach officials consider a 30% salary increase for themselves

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 12:58 PM EDT

    West Palm Beach city commissioners and Mayor Keith James could each get pay increases of more than 30%.

    That’s under a proposal that received preliminary approval earlier this week.

    The Palm Beach Post reports that the city commissioners are considering giving themselves their first raise since 2016, hiking their annual salaries for the part-time positions from $35,000 to more than $46,000. The mayor works full time and his proposed new salary would be about $198,000.

    The commission is expected to make a final decision on the raises May 28.

     READ MORE: Palm Beach County to hear plan on how to spend opioid lawsuit settlement

    Government & Politics

    Miami-Dade set to spend $10M on FIFA World Cup

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 11:46 AM EDT
    GOAT Gamble: Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with teammates and supporters after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
    Frank Augstein
    /
    AP
    Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with teammates and supporters after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

    The Miami-Dade County commission has agreed to spend over $10 million to help support events during the FIFA World Cup, which will be playing seven games at Hard Rock Stadium in 2026. That’s on top of at least $20 million in support from law enforcement.

    The matches will take place in the summer — the slow season for tourism. Commissioners said that they estimate the total financial impact of the World Cup will be worth at least several Super Bowls.

    "Tourism isn’t just about big hotels, it’s about regular people who live in Miami Gardens," said Chairman of the Commission Oliver Gilbert the Third. "They work in those hotels, they work in those restaurants. They drive those Ubers. They work in all those tourist related industries that we don’t even think about."

    The money will be managed by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

     READ MORE: Biden administration sides with promoter in bid to host European soccer games in Miami

    Education

    Monarch high school administrators resume roles amid investigation

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 10:41 AM EDT
    Monarch High School students conduct a walkout on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 after the principal, James Cecil, and other staff members were removed from their positions pending an investigation.
    D.A. Varela
    /
    Miami Herald
    Monarch High School students conduct a walkout on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 after the principal, James Cecil, and other staff members were removed from their positions pending an investigation.

    An investigation has cleared school staff members at a Broward County high school of wrongdoing for allowing a transgender girl to play on a girls’ volleyball team.

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the principal, assistant principal and athletic director at Monarch High school in Coconut Creek will resume their responsibilities today.

    Last November, they had been re-assigned to non-school sites pending the outcome of the investigation.

    A 2021 Florida law states that student trans athletes may only join school teams associated with their assigned sex at birth.

    Other aspects of the investigation — including the teenager's involvement in middle school sports — remain ongoing. 

    READ MORE: LGBTQ group denounces DeSantis as Broward high school is punished over transgender athlete

    Government & Politics

    Palm Beach County commission change public comment rules after antisemitic incident

    Posted May 22, 2024 at 6:48 AM EDT

    A Palm Beach County commission meeting last month spurred a push to change its rules of procedure. That’s after three men used public speaking time to spew racist and antisemitic remarks.

    Two of the speakers concluded their remarks with Hitler salutes.

    Now, the mayor can cut off individuals who speak on issues outside the commission’s purview. Speakers now must also acknowledge what issue they’ll be speaking to before offering comment.

    The incident comes on the heels of the Anti-Defamation League reporting an increase in antisemitic incidents in Florida with 463 incidents statewide in 2023, and 84 of those in Palm Beach County, according to the Palm Beach Post.

    READ MORE: Antisemitic incidents are up. What do we know about them?

    Education

    Broward schools discuss former superintendent's $200K exit package

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 6:09 PM EDT
    Peter Licata speaks to principals on Wednesday, June 14, 2023.
    Gerard Albert III
    /
    WLRN
    Peter Licata speaks to principals on Wednesday, June 14, 2023.

    The Broward County School Board today is discussing an exit package worth more than $200,000 for former Superintendent Peter Licata.

    On April 16, Licata announced he would retire at the end of the year, citing health issues.

    But, the school district chose his immediate replacement, Howard Hepburn, during their meeting that same day.

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that disagreements over whether the former superintendent voluntarily left his position — or was forced out — have caused delays.

    Under the current proposal, Licata and the district would agree that he quit his job on April 16. From then to July 1, Licata would be considered a “special advisor” to Hepburn, receiving the same, $350,000 salary and benefits he received as superintendent.

    Then, after July 1, Licata would work nine weeks as a consultant for a district bond construction program with the same salary but no benefits.

    An agreement between Licata and the board has not yet been reached.

    READ MORE: Broward schools appoint new superintendent as Peter Licata announces surprise retirement

    Americas

    Cuban government officials tour TSA facilities in Miami — without county permission

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 4:21 PM EDT
    A Transportation Security Administration officer works at a checkpoint at Miami International Airport
    Lynne Sladky
    /
    AP
    FILE : A Transportation Security Administration officer works at a checkpoint at Miami International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Miami.

    Five agents of the Communist Cuban government yesterday received a lengthy tour of TSA facilities at Miami International Airport.

    The Miami-Dade County commission unanimously condemned the Biden Administration for allowing the visit, which took place on Cuban Independence Day.

    Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said her administration was not consulted beforehand and that she is pressing the White House for an explanation.

    Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera called the incident "unacceptable."

    "There is the cultural sensitivity of it happening on Cuba’s original independence. But beyond that they fact that we would invite a country that’s on the State Sponsors of Terrorism — to tour our security, it’s just absurd. It makes absolutely no sense," Cabrera said.

    Over a dozen flights travel daily between Miami International Airport and destinations in Cuba.

    READ MORE: Can a Cuban video game’s subtle subversion be as powerful as loud protest?

    *For more Americas news and analysis from Tim Padgett, sign up for our newsletter here.

    Health

    Critics worry state website for pregnancy resources will promote anti-abortion propaganda

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 12:59 PM EDT
    A pregnant woman holds her belly.
    LM Otero
    /
    AP
    A pregnant woman stands for a portrait in Dallas, Thursday, May 18, 2023.

    Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that will require the state's health department to create a taxpayer-funded website for pregnancy and parenting resources.

    But the move is being widely criticized by reproductive rights advocates.

    The sponsor of the law said the website would simply be a way for expectant parents to access resources. 

    It would include information about maternal health services, financial assistance and educational and mentorship programs. 

    But the bill has become part of a larger debate about abortion rights in Florida.

    Two organizations that advocate for reproductive freedom argue that the website will promote anti-abortion pregnancy centers.

    And one of the groups, Progress Florida, called the measure “anti-abortion propaganda on the public dime."

    READ MORE: What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

    Law & Justice

    Ethics chief joins Miami-Dade State Attorney's team

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 11:51 AM EDT
    Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the state attorney for Miami-Dade County, speaks at Camillus House on January 25, 2024 on human trafficking.
    John Pacenti
    /
    Key Biscayne Independent
    FILE: Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the state attorney for Miami-Dade County, speaks at Camillus House on January 25, 2024 on human trafficking.

    Miami-Dade's State Attorney is responding to demands for reform within her office.

    The Miami Herald reports that Katherine Fernandez-Rundle has hired the county ethics chief to join her leadership team, and is considering a request that she create a prosecution integrity unit.

    Jose Arrojo is the executive director of the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. He announced that he’s resigning next month to rejoin Fernandez-Rundle’s office.

    Last week, a Miami group of criminal defense attorneys met with Fernandez-Rundle about what they describe as misconduct by prosecutors in criminal cases.

    READ MORE: Broward Public Defender keeps up drumbeat for better services for mentally ill inmates in jail

    Health

    Nurses question the role of AI in healthcare, FAU survey suggests

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 10:55 AM EDT

    A significant number of nurses are skeptical of the benefits of using artificial intelligence technology in their field.

    That’s according to a recent study by Florida Atlantic University’s College of Nursing.

    Out of 1,000 survey participants, almost 40% questioned the benefits of AI in healthcare settings.

    "More people were planning to remain in the profession, said professor and dean of FAU's Christine E. Lynne College of Nursing Safiya George. "So that is promising and reassuring. And more people are thinking about the role of AI in healthcare."

    While some of the respondents feel that artificial intelligence would help with efficiency in the nursing profession, others worry it will eliminate jobs or compromise data security.

    READ MORE: What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

    Government & Politics

    Dogs in hot, overcrowded Miami-Dade shelter are being relocated

    Posted May 21, 2024 at 6:04 AM EDT

    *This story was updated on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at11:12 a.m.

    Miami-Dade Animal Services are relocating dogs to another facility in response to overflow.

    According to CBS Miami, the dogs were moved to a shelter in Medley, which doesn’t have air conditioning. As the region continues to experience dangerously high temperatures, workers have resorted to cooling the animals using ice cubes, cold water and industrial fans.

    To reduce capacity, the Medley shelter also hosted an adoption event over the weekend and waived fees for prospective owners. In all, at least 152 pets were adopted last week.

    Kendall resident Keke Bihajlo adopted a pitbull at the event.

    "From the minute you adopted them he got a brand new bath, he got his nails trimmed, his ears cleaned and they gave us a big 60-pound bag of dog food for free," Bihajlo said.

    Even so, space in the facilities remains limited, and there are 800 animals still available for adoption.

    READ MORE: From 'bearsicles' to walking clubs, South Florida finds new ways to adapt to extreme heat

    South Florida

    Iranian exiles in South Florida react to death of Iran's president

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 5:54 PM EDT

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed, yesterday, in a helicopter crash in northern Iran. His death has Iranians abroad hoping more moderate leadership might now emerge in their home country, which is run by an often brutal Islamic fundamentalist regime.

    Florida is home to thousands of Iranian exiles. Among them is Mohammad Moghari of Miami, who owns the video and television production service Miami News Net.

    “I certainly think that something good’ll come out of this. I’m hopeful — something better than Raisi. This guy was so religious, radical hardliner," he said. " Y’know, every time I go home and I talk to my family, the young people — a majority of Iranians — are fed up. They can’t stand the regime.”

    Moghari said most Iranians here are glad to see Raisi is being replaced for now by his more moderate vice president, Mohammad Mokhber.

    READ MORE: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-liner who crushed dissent, dies at 63

    Transportation

    Transit officials warn of ramp closures on the Rickenbacker Causeway

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 4:34 PM EDT
    Aerial view of Rickenbacker Causeway connecting Key Biscayne and Virginia Key to Miami
    Theo Miller
    /
    KBI Photo
    A section of the William Powell Bridge connecting Miami with the barrier islands of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne is seen, May 19, 2023.

    There will be Rickenbacker Causeway ramp closures for overnight road work as part of the I-95 Ramp Improvement Project.

    From May 20 to the 21, the northbound ramp will be closed. Instead, you can take SW 26th road to the I-95 north entrance.

    And from May 22 to the 23, the Southbound US-1 ramp will be closed. You can take SW 26 road to South Miami Avenue to U.S. 1 South.

    This will not impact daytime traffic.

    READ MORE: Key Biscayne flyover closures in July will take at least 24 days

    Business & Economy

    State unemployment rate creeps up in April, holds steady in South Florida

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 12:35 PM EDT
    People work at a construction site, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Miami.
    Lynne Sladky
    /
    AP
    People work at a construction site, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Miami.

    Florida’s unemployment rate crept up last month to 3.3%. That is the highest in more than two years.

    But it was unchanged here in South Florida where the jobless rate is among the lowest in the country.

    Despite the small increase in joblessness, the Sunshine State continues to have stronger jobs data than the country as a whole. 

    While hiring has come from traditional industries like hospitality and construction, the education and healthcare fields have led the creation of new jobs over the past year.

    Hiring in South Florida picked up in April compared to a month before with about 10,000 new jobs. The regional unemployment rate was 2.7%. Monroe and Miami-Dade counties had the two lowest unemployment rates in the state.

    READ MORE: Your boss may not want to hear this: there's a small advantage to working from home

    Education

    Bomb threats will no longer trigger automatic evacuations in Broward schools

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 12:21 PM EDT

    Under a new directive for the Broward County school district, schools would no longer automatically evacuate over bomb threats.

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that, under the new rule, principals and law enforcement will first assess how credible the threat is.

    The school district's Safety and Security chief said the goal is to reduce campus disruptions caused by a recent spike in bomb threats.

    A group representing Broward school principals said the threat assessment should not be their responsibility.

    READ MORE: Some Broward students, parents push back against school district’s proposed changes

    Arts & Culture

    Prominent Latino Democrat, Luis Miranda Jr., to discuss new memoir in South Florida

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 11:48 AM EDT
    Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, sits with his father Luis Miranda, right, during a political rally held by the Latino Victory Fund, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla. The midterm elections are November 8.
    Lynne Sladky
    /
    AP
    Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, sits with his father Luis Miranda, right, during a political rally held by the Latino Victory Fund, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla. The midterm elections are November 8.

    Luis Miranda Jr. has long been one of the country’s most prominent Latino Democrats. The Puerto Rico native and New York strategist is also the father of Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    And now, he's published a memoir: Relentless: My Story of the Latino Spirit That Is Transforming America.

    WLRN asked him if he had advice for Democrats in South Florida, who’ve been losing a significant share of Latino voters to the Republican Party.

    "The one-size-fits-all national formula of politics doesn’t work for Latinos. And anything that sounds like government takeover won’t fly well in your part of the country — for Latinos who came from places where government intervention was not good,” he said.

    Miranda will discuss his memoir titled Relentless, this evening at 7 p.m. at the Coral Gables Congregational Church.

    READ MORE: Why Democrats will face even more challenges with Latino voters in the coming year

    *For more Americas news and analysis from Tim Padgett, sign up for our newsletter here

    Health

    Given high humidity, heat is especially dangerous in South Florida

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 10:48 AM EDT
    John Rohlfing, 38, takes a drink as he works on the construction of his new home Thursday, July 5, 2012, in North Aurora, Ill.
    Robert Ray
    /
    AP
    John Rohlfing, 38, takes a drink as he works on the construction of his new home Thursday, July 5, 2012, in North Aurora, Ill.

    Heat-related illness in South Florida must be taken seriously. People especially at risk include outdoor workers, athletes, military personnel and those with limited mobility.

    Compared to younger populations, older adults typically don’t start sweating until their bodies reach higher temperatures.

    "Your body’s ability to allow sweat to evaporate off your body is a very important cooling mechanism that doesn’t work as well when the relative humidity is over 75%," said Dr. Jason Mansour, the medical director for the emergency department at Broward Health Medical Center. "When you add the peak hours of the day with the heat, it’s just a one-two punch when it comes to setting yourself up for heat related illness."

    Over-exposure risks include heat rashes, cramps or body swelling and heat stroke, which can be deadly. Mansour recommends checking on older neighbors who live alone. And never, ever leave a person or pet in a hot car.

    READ MORE: Heat risks increase for workers in the South, new study says

    Americas

    Brazil will host the next Women's World Cup

    Posted May 20, 2024 at 6:24 AM EDT

    If you’re a soccer fan, get ready to samba in 2027.

    FIFA, the sport’s governing body, over the weekend, named Brazil the host of the next women’s World Cup. It will mark the first time the women’s event is held in South America.

    Brazil is arguably the most soccer-crazed country in the Americas. But its football federation said it hopes this World Cup will erase prejudices against female participation in the sport that still exist there. The federation also said the event will spotlight protection of the Amazon rainforest and other environmental issues.

    Brazil hosted the men’s World Cup in 2014.

    READ MORE: Spontaneous soccer: Where parks roar like stadiums

    South Florida

    Homeless Trust distributes supplies to people without shelter amid extreme heat

    Posted May 17, 2024 at 6:41 PM EDT

    The National Weather Service declared a heat advisory for Miami-Dade County this morning. And local advocates for people experiencing homelessness have been deployed to provide assistance in these potentially dangerous conditions.

    In a video posted on Instagram, a team member for the Homeless Trust is wearing a red T-shirt that says “excessive heat alert.” He approaches a man who appears to be living on the street near downtown Miami and hands him a bottle of water and a neck gaiter to help him stay cool.

    The Homeless Trust is a nonprofit that helps people in Miami who do not have permanent housing. The group recently launched a dry run of its new protocols for warning people without shelter about the dangers of extreme heat.

    Then, just hours after government officials declared the first heat advisory of the season, the group said outreach teams had passed out 15 cases of water, 85 gaiters and two boxes of electrolytes.

    READ MORE: From 'bearsicles' to walking clubs, South Florida finds new ways to adapt to extreme heat

    Education

    Broward schools warns a social media post about testing is fake

    Posted May 17, 2024 at 5:26 PM EDT

    The Broward County school district wants to correct the record after misinformation began spreading on social media about state testing.

    District officials learned of a social media post falsely claiming that students' scores on state exams had been invalidated and that students would be able to retake the tests.

    According to a spokesperson for Broward County Public Schools, it's unclear who posted the false information and on which platform it originated.

    READ MORE: FAFSA delays persist as college enrollment deadlines loom

    Development & Transportation

    Overnight closures on the Dolphin Expressway will detour drivers

    Posted May 17, 2024 at 1:34 PM EDT
    Cars travel along a highway.
    Wilfredo Lee
    /
    AP
    Cars travel along the Dolphin Expressway in downtown Miami.

    If driving through Miami-Dade County is part of your daily commute, there are some closures and detours we need to tell you about.

    An ongoing highway and bridge construction project in Miami is prompting overnight closures of one of the city's major thoroughfares starting this weekend. 

    According to the Miami Herald, eastbound State Road 836 from Northwest 17th Avenue to I-95 will be closed at night starting at 11 p.m. today.

    The closures will continue each night through next Friday morning.

    Also effected is the Northwest 12th Avenue entrance to the eastbound Dolphin Expressway.

    A detour will take drivers through Little Havana.

    READ MORE: Key Biscayne flyover closures in July will take at least 24 days

    Health

    New Broward healthcare center aims to fill gap in maternity care services

    Posted May 17, 2024 at 12:22 PM EDT
    FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus on Dec. 17, 2021, in Jackson, Miss.
    Rogelio V. Solis/AP
    /
    AP
    FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus on Dec. 17, 2021, in Jackson, Miss.

    A new healthcare center has opened up in a section of Broward County where top-notch care is sometimes hard to come by.

    A study shows that new mothers in Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Sunrise and Oakland Park had a high rate of premature births.

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel said that researchers linked those results to the limited number of physicians serving pregnant women in those areas.

    The new Maternity Care Center & Heart Community Resource Center in Lauderdale Lakes aims to provide a mix of services to help fill that gap.

    The center will offer telehealth appointments, group prenatal care and traditional exams.

    Classes in nutrition and breastfeeding will be offered. And there will also be a supervised playroom for children.

    The center will be fully open by the end of this month.

    READ MORE: 'Can we live here?': Lower Keys officials, residents anxious about medical care services

    Business & Economy

    Miami-area inflation cools in April, but still hotter than rest of nation

    Posted May 17, 2024 at 10:49 AM EDT

    Inflation cooled a little in April, but still remains higher in South Florida than the nation as a whole.

    Consumer prices rose 4.5% last month compared to a year earlier. That’s a slower pace than the previous annual inflation report for the region released two months ago by the federal government.

    The price hikes are the lowest in two and a half years.

    "Slower inflation is good news for consumers, but it’s important to remember we’re not talking about lower prices — just smaller price increases than the past couple of years," said WLRN’s Senior Economics Editor Tom Hudson. "And the cooler inflation last month was thanks mostly to cheaper energy. Stripping out energy prices, inflation was 5.2% higher than a year ago ... still very uncomfortable."

    Monthly housing costs and clothing prices saw the largest increases. Used car prices and electricity costs actually dropped in the past year.

    READ MORE: Why some Floridians are returning to the workforce after retiring