Baker Co. commissioner reaches out to McKinlay on opioids

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Baker County Commissioner Cathy Rhoden reached out to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay for tips on how to start an opioids task force, an email exchange between the two commissioners shows.

“Our county, Baker County, is heavy into meth addiction and now we are seeing heroin move in,” Rhoden wrote to McKinlay.

But Rhoden has a more personal motivation to get involved in the fight.

“With a daughter who is a heroin addict and a grandson who is in prison from meth addiction I would like to do whatever it takes to educate and help our community about this issue,” Rhoden wrote.

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The daughter of a former aide to McKinlay died of an opioid overdose in November, a day before The Palm Beach Post published a series of articles on the devastation the crisis has brought to the county.

McKinlay has become a vocal advocate for more state and local action to combat the crisis, which has not only devastated families but wreaked havoc on local budgets.

The commissioner pushed for Gov. Rick Scott to declare a public health emergency, a move he ultimately took. And McKinlay has asked the county attorney to research the possibility of bringing suit against pharmaceutical companies, whose potent products are at the heart of the crisis.

GENERATION HEROIN: Read The Post’s award-winning coverage

Delray Beach has decided to file suit against Big Pharma, a decision McKinlay shared Wednesday with other elected officials as they participated in a joint meeting between the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

Responding to Rhoden about forming a task force, McKinlay reached out to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Houston Park.

“He led the charge,” McKinlay wrote. “I’ll ask him to call you.”

McKinlay invited Rhoden to Palm Beach County to attend an opioid task force meeting and offered sympathy for her family’s struggles.

“Thanks for sharing your story,” McKinlay wrote. “I am so sorry your family has been dealing with this.”

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.

 

 

 

Scott meets with PBC officials, urges vigilance on Hurricane Matthew

After a briefing at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center Monday, Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians to remain vigilant as Hurricane Matthew bears down on Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

“If Matthew impacts Florida, the destruction will be catastrophic, and you will need to be prepared,” Scott said.

Matthew’s projected path initially had the storm staying well west of Florida’s coast, but recent updates now take the storm closer, heightening concerns about effects from a storm packing 140 mile per hour winds.

“These storms can change at the last minute,” Scott said. “They can change directions. They can get stronger.”

Scott met with a range of county officials, including county commissioners, County Administrator Verdenia Baker, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and Superintendent Robert Avossa. The governor, who has declared a state of emergency for every county and put the Florida National Guard on alert, praised Palm Beach County’s elected officials and emergency personnel, saying they work well together.

Much of Scott’s focus, however, was on urging Floridians to get prepared for the possibility that the storm could change direction and bring its drenching rains and devastating winds to the Sunshine State.

He said residents should be prepared to take care of their own needs for three days, as storm damage could make it impossible for emergency personnel to reach some areas.

Scott also underscored the importance of heeding warnings from emergency officials. With the storm still hundreds of miles west of Florida, no school closings have been announced, nor have any evacuation orders been issued. But that could change if the storm’s path changes.

Residents should evacuate if ordered to do so, Scott said.

“You must leave before it’s too late,” Scott said. “We can rebuild a home. We can rebuild a business, but we can not rebuild your life. Do not ignore the direction of local officials. This is serious, and your safety depends on you being prepared.”

In addition to warning Floridians about Hurricane Matthew, the governor reminded residents about an ongoing threat – standing water, which serves as breeding pools for mosquitoes that could carry the Zika virus.

With Matthew expected to bring heavy rains to the state, Scott asked residents to act now to get rid of standing water.

“Get rid of standing water,” Scott said. “Wear bug repellent. Wear protective clothing. We’ve got to continue to fight Zika.”

Gov. Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott

 

 

Palm Beach County: We’ve distributed 240,000 Zika info flyers

ERMZika

zika2Even as the state Friday revealed two new travel-related cases of the Zika virus in Palm Beach County, the county already has distributed nearly a quarter million flyers educating people about the crisis, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said Friday in an update sent to commissioners and staff.

“We are monitoring this very fluid situation and will take further actions, if necessary. Our goal is to keep our residents and visitors safe,” Baker said in sending the update.

Also Friday. Gov. Rick Scott said that, of 20,000 mosquitoes tested across Florida , not a one has tested positive for the Zika virus, this as the state and its federal partners continue to reduce the danger zone in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

Baker said Friday that Palm Beach County now has four 2-person crews applying chemicals on the ground, searching for and emptying water containers, and educating residents, and has a person on call in the Glades. She said workers will be armed with “newer, lighter and more effective backpack sprayers and hand foggers.”

Baker also said the county’s mosquito control hotline has received an “unprecedented” volume of calls. She said the county’s health department has begun training local medical professionals to conduct educational seminars with homeowner associations. And she said, several agencies have stepped efforts to find and get rid of illegally-dumped waste tires, which fill with water and become prime mosquito breeder sites.

Baker
Baker

 

Baker said some 240,000 flyers have been distributed. They’re being put in county water bills and sent to county libraries and other county locations as well as Palm Beach International Airport and the Port of Palm Beach. She said the county’s working with local cities and utilities to distribute the materials as well. The flyers include one from Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (left).

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

Palm Beach County distributes new Zika flyer; Gov. Scott: Not one local mosquito found to carry virus

Zika

ERMZikaOf 20,000 mosquitoes tested across Florida , not a one has tested positive for the Zika virus, this as the state and its federal partners continue to reduce the danger zone in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

“The only spot where we believe there is the risk of local transmission right now is Wynwood,” Scott told state legislators Friday afternoon in a 20-minute conference call.

Also Friday, Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management issued a new flyer reminding county residents how to help fight the spread of the virus (left).

 

On Thursday, in the Wynwood section, which researchers say is the source for the locally-contracted cases in Florida, a 10-block section to the northwest was declared clear of Zika mosquitoes.

But two new travel-related cases were found in Miami-Dade County, bringing the state’s total of those affected to 393, including 55 pregnant women.

Officials of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health have said the only way for a local mosquito to spread the disease locally is  to bite someone who has the virus, then transfer it as it bites a second person. Zika also can be transmitted sexually.

Philip
Philip

“We’re not surprised that we have local transmission,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip said in Friday’s conference call. But, she said, “If we can keep the

Scott
Scott

number of cases very low, that helps us do our part to protect pregnant women in our communities.”

 

Zika has been blamed for microencephaly, a condition in which a newborn’s head is smaller than expected, and the baby’s brain might not fully develop.

Scott and Philip also came in late June to West Palm Beach to huddle with Palm Beach County officials.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

ZIKA VIRUS: Read The Post’s complete coverage of the outbreak of the disease

Gov. Rick Scott hosts Zika roundtable in West Palm Beach

Caribbean_Mosquito_Virus.JPGov. Rick Scott today will gather with local officials in West Palm Beach for a roundtable on the Zika virus.

The event is set for 10 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Health Department, 800 Clematis St.

The Palm Beach County Division of Mosquito Control will spray Tuesday evening, in an effort to keep the mosquito population down for the Fourth of July weekend. But the county says that’s regular spraying for nuisance mosquitos and isn’t very effective against those carrying the Zika virus.

 

McKinlay asks governor to investigate incorporation of Westlake

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has asked Florida’s governor to investigate the incorporation of Westlake, a city that sprang to life on Monday with the support of only five voters.

McKinlay raised questions about the new city’s charter, which only requires that two of the five transitional council members reside in Palm Beach County. McKinlay, whose district includes Westlake, also noted that each of the five people who voted in favor of incorporation are listed in elections records as sharing the same address.

Property records show that address is for a set of offices owned by Minto Communities, the builder that plans to construct 4,500 homes and develop 2.2 million square feet of commercial space in Westlake.

Minto Vice President John Carter has said his firm backs incorporation in part because of difficulty in working with the county on such things as permitting.

In an interview with The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Roger Manning, a printing business owner who lives in unincorporated Lake Worth, said he agreed to be Westlake’s mayor at the request of Carter. Both Carter and Manning are board members of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.

McKinlay has questioned Minto’s role in the conversion of the Seminole Improvement District to the city of Westlake and points out what she sees unusual aspects of the new city’s charter.

“I understand that no law requires municipal officials to reside in the city they serve, but allowing a majority of the Transitional Council to live not only outside Westlake, but also outside of Palm Beach County, strains acceptable principles of representative government,” McKinlay wrote. “On behalf of the 40,000 residents of the Acreage and surrounding communities, I respectfully ask that you investigate the issue to ensure the voting process was lawful and coincides with the intent of the governing special district conversion legislation.”

Check back with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Loxahatchee health specialist named to state board for children

Cayson
Cayson

Elizabeth Cayson, a government relations specialist with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, is one of nine people named to the Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers.

Cayson, of Loxahatchee, who first joined the state agency in 2014, was one of three people reappointed, and six newly appointed, by Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday. Cayson’s new term runs through January 2019.

The state council helps public and private agencies implement early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and risk conditions.

Cayson, 46, has worked for the health care district for two decades.

The other eight people named to the state board are from central and northern Florida.