Resident says PBC has failed to control mosquitoes

Palm Beach County has not done enough to control a burgeoning mosquito population in rain-soaked northern neighborhoods, says a resident who claims the pests are more numerous now than they have ever been in her 38 years in the Caloosa subdivision northeast of Bee Line Highway.

Jean Bacon said the large lots of her neighborhood are dotted with standing water from recent rains that have spawned a bumper crop of bugs that are posing an increasing health threat to her and her neighbors.

» RELATED: Why do mosquitoes bite you, but not your friend?

(Getty Images)

“These are, like, totally uncontrolled,” Bacon said. “There’s just no intention from the county in spraying. Nothing’s been done.”

Environmental Resource Management Director Rob Robbins said the county has attempted to attack the mosquito population but has been stymied by the weather.

» PHOTOS: Palm Beach County Mosquito Control Workers Hunt Down the Pests

“We were able to get a partial aerial spray in on Tuesday, June 13, covering approximately the northern third of the county before thunderstorms closed in,” he wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post. “Since then, we haven’t gotten the weather window we need to fly and spray. Believe me, we have been wishing for it.”

Robbins said the mosquito numbers are, indeed, on the rise.

“We monitor the mosquito population, and we see the numbers climbing,” he said. “Weather looks more favorable this weekend beginning tonight. So, hopefully can get airborne and knock their numbers down.”

While Bacon has been critical of the county’s effort to combat mosquitoes, another resident, Anne Kuhl of West Palm Beach, has raised concerns about the type of chemical the county uses when it does spray.

“While I understand that a high mosquito population can pose health concerns, the unintended consequences of aerial sprayed chemicals and pesticides such as Naled may pose a greater risk to the population living in the area,” Kuhl wrote to county commissioners. “In the interest of public safety and transparency, I urge you to put an immediate hold on all aerial spraying for mosquito control until safety concerns of Naled or any other chemical used for aerial spraying in Palm Beach County are fully disclosed to the public and addressed.”

Robbins, directed by County Administrator Verdenia Baker to respond to Kuhl’s concerns, wrote that the chemical Dibrom, for which Naled is an active agent, has been approved by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Still, Robbins said, “by spraying well below the determined safety rate and still maintaining effective disease vector control, we are delivering the best balance of public safety available.”

PBC wants Trump administration policy change on animal breeders

Palm Beach County is expected to discuss a resolution Tuesday calling on the Trump administration to resume posting information on animal breeders who violate standards monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In an effort to shut down so-called pet mills, which critics contend house and breed animals in inhumane conditions, the county banned the sale of puppies and kittens at new pet stores. But existing pet stores were allowed to continue selling the animals as long as they were obtained from breeders who are licensed and not in violation of USDA standards.

» Trump administration’s policy change undercuts county puppy-sales law

In February, however, the USDA under the Trump administration removed from its website information on breeders with violations. That means neither the county nor pet stores know which breeders have violations.

The USDA change, along with concerns about the treatment of animals at Star Pups in Royal Palm Beach, has led to calls for the county to revisit its policy of allowing existing pet stores to sell puppies and kittens.

Twenty-seven pilots violated Trump air restrictions

012517-pbc-workshop-trump-6No fewer than 27 aviators violated flight restriction zones during the first three weekends President Donald Trump was at his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed.

The breakdown: 10 on Feb. 3-5, three on Feb. 10-12, and 14 on Feb. 17-20, the long Presidents Day weekend.

By edict of the Secret Service, any time the president is in town, a package of flight restrictions is in place.

They ban most operations at the Lantana airport and impose strict limits at other Palm Beach County airports that include requiring small plane pilots be cleared by authorities at other airports before they fly in.The restrictions have effectively shut down the Lantana airport’s estimated 200 daily operations.

President Trump visits to Mar-a-Lago a hardship for local airports, report states

Trump, then president-elect, spent the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at Mar-a-Lago, and has come three of his first weekends as president; he skipped this past weekend but plans to return this coming weekend.

Trump meets with Sheriff: they talk about reimbursing PBSO for presidential visits

The Secret Service said early on it would revisit the restrictions after it’s seen how a few weekends went, but hasn’t acted — or commented — since.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been asked about marine interdictions for violations of its zones, but, unlike the FAA, said that information must go through a Freedom of Information Act request, a process that will take weeks or months.

 

PBC Commissioner Kerner asks Secret Service to ease flight limits at Lantana: St. Rep. Berman asks Gov. Scott to lobby Trump; $45 in losses projected this weekend

Frankel (c) Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Berman (c) and Frankel (r) & PBC Commissioner Dave Kerner (r) Monday at Lantana airport . (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Lantana airport "fixed base" operator Jonathan Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)
Lantana airport “fixed base” operator Jonathan Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

With President Donald Trump likely to return to Mar-a-Lago on Friday for a third consecutive weekend, a state legislator has asked Gov. Rick Scott, who calls himself a long time friend Trump to “intercede any way u can” with the president in hopes of getting the Secret Service to tweak flight restrictions local aviation firms say might be running them out of business.

The Lantana airport is effectively shut down by the Secret Service during Trump’s visits to Palm Beach.

“While the safety of our President is the first and foremost concern of all citizens, I am hopeful that you will recognize the value and importance of maintaining jobs and the economic engine that helps fuel Palm Beach County, which in turn helps our entire state,” Rep. Lori Berman,. D-Lake Worth, whose district includes the Lantana Airport, wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. Her office hand-delivered it to Gov. Scott’s office in Tallahassee.

“Without the consideration of a slightly loosened TFR, our community will continue to feel these adverse effects on our local economy,” Berman wrote. “The potential loss of quality jobs to our area is too great to ignore.”

“TFRs” are temporary flight restrictions.

The Palm Beach Post has asked Scott’s office at least twice in recent weeks if he’ll intervene with Trump, but the office has provided responses unrelated to the question.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner, a Democrat whose district includes the airport, wrote his own letter Wednesday to the Secret Service, listing some of the proposed tweaks, which include a “corridor” allowing planes to come and go to the west and southwest, a plan they believe would not threaten the president’s security.

“The security TFR procedure presently in place will most certainly close the closure of several small businesses” at the airport, Kerner wrote, “and affect the livelihood and lives of thousands of Americans.”

Berman and Kerner agreed to draft their letter during a meeting Monday at the airport, organized by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, to talk to anxious businesses.

The businesses say Trump’s past two weekend stays have cost them tens of thousands of dollars, and their customers, worried about continued visits, already have fled to other airports. One business, the maintenance firm Palm Beach Aircraft Services, says it could lose at least $2 million a year in gross revenue.

Jonathan Miller, part-owner of the “fixed base” operator at the airport, said Thursday businesses estimated $30,000 in losses the first two visits and project $45,000 in losses during the upcoming long Presidents Day weekend..

Presidential visits to Palm Beach County are not unusual, with former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all making multiple visits for fundraisers, golf outings and campaign appearances. But those visits did not involve extended, and frequent, stays, as is the case with Trump.

 

 

 

Home caregivers: March 1 is deadline to get licensed in Palm Beach County

(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)
(Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post)

Those providing in-home care to seniors and other vulnerable adults have had a year to get licensed. That grace period ends March 1, and those without licenses face a $500 fine and up to two months in jail, according to Palm Beach County’s Consumer Affairs Division.

The Palm Beach County Commission voted in October 2015 to require caregivers who hadn’t already done so to submit fingerprints and undergo a national criminal background check. Commissioners said their goal was to make it harder for seniors and physically or mentally disabled adults to be abused by those purporting to care for them.

Those who have committed a serious criminal offense such as fraud, elder abuse or exploitation, homicide, burglary or theft will be ineligible for the license, which must be renewed every five years.

Home-care agencies that already require employees to undergo fingerprinting and a background check must provide the county with an affidavit attesting to that fact. In those instances, the employee would still be required to be photographed and obtain a physical license, which is expected to cost $20.

Others working independently must undergo the background check, fingerprinting and photographing at a cost of about $75.

 

Appeals court sides with Palm Beach County in Palm Tran injury lawsuit

PalmTranThe 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s tossing of a suit by a Palm Tran passenger saying he fell when the bus driver slammed on his brakes.

Altimon Palmer, in a suit filed Nov. 3, 2014, alleged that on the day before Christmas in 2013, he was boarding Palm Tran bus 716, heading down Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach, when the driver braked hard and Palmer fell.

In a memo Thursday to county commissioners, County Attorney Denise Nieman said county lawyers argued the Palm Tran bus was cut off and “there could be no negligence on the part of the bus driver under those circumstances.” She said lawyers for Palmer “argued that the issue of negligence should be left to a jury.”

On March 9, 2016, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo granted the county’s motion to dismiss, saying “there are no genuine issues of fact.”  Palmer’s lawyers appealed, and on Wednesday, the appeals court upheld the dismissal without comment, according to documents.

Attorney Nicholas Russo, whose West Palm Beach firm represented Palmer, in both the original case and the appeal, said Friday he’ll formally ask the appeals court for a rehearing.

“We think the case law out there is pretty clear that the ruling by the trial court should have been overruled,” Russo said.

Cong. Frankel to meet with Lantana aviation firms about losses from restrictions during Trump visits

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel
Frankel
trump
Trump

tfr02U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, is scheduled to meet Monday, at the Lantana airport, with Palm Beach County airport officials and some of the people whose aviation businesses are suffering because of flight restrictions imposed when  President Donald Trump visits his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago compound.

Business have reported some $250,000 in losses — with several not yet reporting — just from the president’s first visit last weekend. With Trump set to return again today for a weekend that includes talks with the prime minister of Japan, some firms have said repeated Trump visits could run them out of business.

Airport officials have stressed it is the Secret Service, not Trump, which imposed the restrictions. They all acknowledged the need to protect the president and said they recognize the Secret Service can’t afford to be 95 percent right. But they’ve said publicly, and in correspondence with both the Secret Service and the White House, that they hope the agency will find ways to both protect Trump and avoid harming businesses. Officials  also have called on Trump himself to lobby the Secret Service.

According to a memo from Frankel’s office, she’s set to meet with Palm Beach County Airports Director Bruce Pelly and Jonathan Miller, part-owner of Stellar Aviation, the “fixed base operator” and landlord at the airport, listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the nation.

County Commissioner Dave Kerner, whose district includes the Lantana airport, tweeted Friday afternoon that he’ll also be there.

Also invited: private aircraft owner Kelly Gottlieb; Florida Aero Paint manager Chris Cura; Palm Beach Helicopters owner Dan Crowe; Palm Beach Flight Training owner Marian Smith; Skywords Advertising owner Jorge Gonzalez; a representative of Sarasota Avionics; private aircraft owner Phil Valente; and Palm Beach Aircraft Services owner Dave Johnson, who also chairs the airport’s advisory board and is local representative to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents small plane owners nationwide.

 

 

Frankel’s scheduled to talk to reporters following the meeting.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County and its lifeguards union at impasse

092516-pbc-lifeguards-3Just weeks after the Palm Beach County Commission failed last month, in a 3-3 tie, to approve a collective bargaining agreement with improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, a new round of bargaining is at an impasse.

The sticking point is the same one on which the lifeguards and the county have deadlocked for years: “special risk.”

The sweeping agreement, reached in November and ratified by lifeguards, would have provided several employee benefits changes that lifeguards have sought for years. The county would have agreed to approve all applications by lifeguards to the state for “special risk” status, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier. Lifeguards have for years tried to get the county to grant them the status.

Union president Rick Poulette declared the impasse in a Feb. 2 letter to the county, saying the county had said it was “special risk” that is the sticking point.

“As you are aware, this is the main issue that brought us to the bargaining table in the first place and now brings us to the impasse stage that we are currently in,” Poulette wrote.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor McKinlay now chairs Solid Waste Authority

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McKinlay

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay is the new chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s governing board.

County commissioners who sit as the authority board selected McKinlay Wednesday morning at their regular meeting. The vote was 7-0.

The board then selected as officers two new commissioners; Mack Bernard as vice chair and Dave Kerner as secretary.

Mayor Paulette Burdick had nominated Bernard as authority chair but there was no second. Mary Lou Berger then nominated McKinlay.

McKinlay has been the authority board’s vice chair. She succeeds Hal Valeche, who also has been county vice mayor. By tradition, the county commission’s vice mayor heads the authority’s governing board.

Meetings of the governing board are held every other month at Authority headquarters, 7501 Jog Road, West Palm Beach. Call 561-640-4000 or visit www.swa.org.

Lantana Airport businesses: Trump’s weekend visit cost us as much as $50,000 in lost commerce

 

Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)
Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

The first visit by new President Donald Trump cost aviation-related businesses at Lantana Airport an estimated $50,000 this past weekend alone, and with Trump reportedly making another visit next weekend, a flight school that’s the airport’s biggest tenant already is looking to leave Palm Beach County, an airport manager said this week.

It’s not just this past weekend; “the question is ‘how many of those 3-day periods do you have?”” Jonathan Miller, CEO of Stellar Aviation, said late Monday.

Stellar Aviation is the “fixed base operator,” and the landlord of sorts, for several businesses that operate at the airport, which has been listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the country.

By edict of the U.S. Secret Service, any time the president is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, a series of flight restrictions are put in place. They’re much stronger than those in effect when Trump visited while president-elect, and effectively shut down the Lantana airport.

County Airport’s chief Bruce Pelly said late Monday that, with Air Force One having gone wheels up just hours earlier, it was too early to get a handle on the impact of the flight restrictions.

Bruce Pelly did say that he’s had no reports that any aircraft violated the concentric 1-mile, 10-mile and 30-mile restriction zones around what Trump has called his “winter White House.”

Pelly said he’s “still trying to get a head count” on flights that came through the area after getting security clearances at “gateway airports.”

Stellar’s Miller said Palm Beach Flight Training was shut down this weekend and company president Marian Smith suddenly is looking at a second dark weekend now that the president reportedly will be right back at Mar-a-Lago for talks with the prime minister of Japan.

“Her basic comment to me was that if this continues consistently and we’re shut down consistently, we’re going to have to move our opreaton out of the county complete.y.,” Miller said.

He said Smith already has told him some students have dropped out of the school. Smith couldn’t be reached late Monday.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.