South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 26, 2018 · A9
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · A9

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 26, 2018
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pn Thursday, April 26, 2018 Sun Sentinel 9A Voices & Opinion SunSentinel ESTABLISHED MARCH 14, 1911 Nancy A. Meyer Publisher and General Manager Rosemary O'Hara Editorial Page Editor Julie Anderson Editor-in-Chief SUN SENTINEL EDITORIAL Corcoran's duplicitous ad on public education Two leading Democrats running for governor embarrassed themselves during a debate last week by not knowing how much Florida spends on public education. But the Republicans who run Florida should be far more embarrassed for having short-changed public schools again this year. After the Parkland school shooting, lawmakers patted themselves on the back for having found an extra $344 million for school security improvements and mental health programs. But die $101 per-pupil increase they celebrate which includes the school security money left just 47 cents more per student to cover other growing expenses, from fueling school buses to giving teachers raises. Worse, to find the school security money, lawmakers raided the state's affordable housing trust fund. They also shifted $56 million in school property-tax dollars from urban to rural counties. As a result, Broward and Palm Beach counties expect to have to forego teacher pay raises. And Broward may not have enough to add the special education teachers the district badly needs. "Schools should not have to make a choice between properly funding basic educational needs and providing safe schools and mental health services," Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie wrote in a March 9 op-ed for the Sun Sentinel. Runcie and other superintendents asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto the Legislature's education budget and convene a special session to properly invest in schools. But the governor quickly blew by the request and signed the budget before announcing his run for the U.S. Senate. But while Scott and other Republicans are quick to hail the $2L1 billion K-12 budget as the state's highest ever, they fail to note the state's $88.7 billion budget is the highest ever, up from $82.3 billion last year. So while these so-called fiscal conservatives grew the state budget by $6 billion, they short-changed public education. Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a likely Republican candidate for governor, pounced after last week's debate, when two Democratic candidates didn't know the budget for education. He tweeted an ad, based on the Jeopardy game show, mocking their flub. The ad shows the moderator asking: "How much are we spending on public education? "I know it's right in the billions, Craig," says former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. "I think it's in the multi-billions, Craig." Says former Congresswoman Gwen Graham: "Fifteen percent below what it needs to be currently." It is a fact that any candidate running for governor should know the outline of the state budget, including that a quarter is spent on K-12 education. But two candidates did get it right, something you'd never know from Corcoran's selective editing. Orlando businessman Chris King said he estimated the budget to be between "$21 and $22 billion." And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said the budget is in "the $22 billion range." Corcoran's ad flat-out claims the budget is $25.1 billion and taunts: "Democrats want to spend more money without knowing any of the facts." Hold your horses, Mr. Speaker. Gov. Scott's budget summary says the "total funding" for public education is $2L1 billion. According to Florida Politics, Corcoran's fuzzy math factors in multiple other unnamed programs. That said, it's good to see the outgoing speaker long a crusader for charter schools and privatizing public education recognize Florida public schools for having "the most improved math scores in the nation." For Corcoran famously calls public schools "failure factories." Corcoran also went after the teacher's union this year, requiring decertification of those chapters that don't have at least 50 percent membership. The requirement applies to no other public employee union in Florida At the same time, he pushed to arm teachers as the front-line defenders against school shootings. With or without guns, teachers have become our first responders to school shootings, plus a host of other societal problems, including drug use and homelessness. But instead of getting rewarded with steady wage increases that reflect the increasing cost of living, teachers are lucky if state leaders lob them a periodic bonus. Is it any wonder that colleges of education report a dramatic decline in the number of students who want to become teachers? Sure, most teachers get summers off, but to ensure their ldds can pass all the state-required tests, they're also dipping into their pockets to make sure they have enough paper, pencils and supplies. Florida's war on public school teachers won't be solved by duplicitous campaign ads and Tallahassee chest-thumping. It's time for voters to smarten up and start sending people to Tallahassee who will deliver the help schools need. Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O'Hara, Elana Simms, Andy Reid and Editor-in- Chief Julie Anderson. ANOTHER VIEWPOINT A streamlined procurement code will save taxpayers time, money By Michael Udine Broward County is one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the Southeastern United States. ' From large dollar infrastruc-ture projects, to basic pur-chases by one of our business vW agencies, the county, with its , !k M multi-billion dollar budget, has a huge opportunity to stimulate local economic development. The rules concerning these transactions are laid out by the procurement code. This past year alone, the county participated in over 33,000 different procurements. The complexity in dealing with layers of rules and regulations gives some pause in deciding whether to do business with the county. The difficulty with the process adds layers of costs and time. The delays and costs ultimately get passed on to taxpayers. Over the last few months, working with the Broward County purchasing staff, the County Attorneys office and the County Auditor, our office did an extensive review of the purchas ing process. Together we found ways to streamline the process making it quicker, more efficient and fairer. Many provisions of the code have not been updated in years. By modestly adjusting certain numeric thresholds, the time on basic purchases will be reduced. Straightforward and noncon-troversial bids will be expedited and streamlined. Minor changes here are enough to shave months off the process. This will make it easier for local small businesses to participate and saves taxpayer dollars. For the more complicated procurements requiring full-blown presentations and selection committees, basic elements of fairness were addressed and updated. Companies looking to do business with the county should be afforded the opportunity to fairly present their case. Presentations should be thorough, in compliance with the law and award calculations should be fair, transparent and properly justified. Modifications proposed will help ensure a higher level of fairness and transparency. Finally, if there are any contestable issues the protest process sets forth a full, fair review by an impartial hearing officer. This past week, we discussed these improvements at the Broward County Commission workshop. The process of streamlining and updating our county procurement rules and procedures are underway. County purchasing staff will start putting them into action and we can track the results. These commonsense, efficient updates should lead to cost savings, more local small business participation and a level playing field. Michael Udine serves as Broward County Commissioner, District 3. Many of the code have not been updated in years. ANOTHER VIEWPOINT Union's 'no confidence' vote is a 'political stunt' By Scott Israel The "no confidence" vote by the IUPA International Union of Police Associations labor union is a transparent political stunt intended in the middle of union contract wage negotiations to shamelessly use the Parkland tragedy to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise this year from our agency. Everything else that IUPA president Jeff Bell is complaining of today (police body cameras, vehicle parts supply contracts, the discontinued "loaner" gun program, etc.) occurred prior to IUPA endorsing me for re-election in 2016. In fact, Bell wrote on July 29, 2016: "Our members recognize the importance of strong leadership, morals and the continued commit ment to the community and law enforcement." So what has changed since July 2016? Bell's push for more money had been rejected. Since last fall, the union has been bargaining for a larger cost of living increase than the 3 percent I offered. This is in addition to the 5 percent steps that eligible deputies also receive. Since the Parkland tragedy occurred two months ago, Bell has continued to use the threat of a "no confidence" vote to extort more money. Since last fall, the union has been bargaining for a larger cost of living increase than the 3 percent ... offered. Bell also keeps throwing around an absurd claim that the Broward Sheriff's Office finished last year with $100 million not used. BSO is audited every year by the Broward County Commission. For the immediate past fiscal year, we returned $22 million to the county in general fund "regional services" unencumbered dollars. This represents roughly 4 percent of our total general fund regional budget, and is considered an appropriate, conservative and fiscally responsible management of our budget Even the dollars returned to the county come back to BSO. Under an agreement with the County Commission, the county retains 30 per cent of the returned dollars and 70 percent is held for one time capital improvements for the agency. We have used that money to replace aging helicopters, the outdated incident command vehicle, and other equipment This is a responsible use of these public tax dollars. As for what we pay our employees and I certainly wish I had the ability to pay everyone more BSO devotes 8L5 percent of our entire budget to personnel costs for all our employees. This no confidence vote is an appalling attempt to use Parkland to extort an unrealistic pay raise. Nothing more. Scott Israel is sheriff of Broward County. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Kids-at-work day an antiquated idea While I appreciate the information shared regarding career opportunities awaiting today's students, I suggest rethinking the push for this antiquated, non-inclusive national tradition. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day occurs every year on the fourth Thursday of April, a time when our public schools are dominated by high-stakes testing mandated by the state. School districts throughout the country have had to come up with an alternative date that doesn't interfere with ongoing state testing or valuable classroom instruction. The absenteeism rate in our schools for this chosen day is between 40 percent to 60 percent, depending on the grade level. Many of these students are not visiting their parent's workplace or having a day of organized fun learning about job skill awareness and career training. It is also difficult for teachers to continue with instruction, when half of their students are absent. Some forward-thinking districts have decided to do away with it completely and instead offer meaningful career opportunity awareness through in-school Career Days, which benefit every student. For those who still want to take their children to work, do it on first day of summer vacation. Carolyn Krohn, Weston Distracted driving isn't worth the risk; put the phone down Next time you are driving in your car, remember to "just drive" you may save your own life or the lives of others. In Florida, there were close to 50,000 crashes involving distracted driving in 2017, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These crashes resulted in more than 200 fatalities. Motor vehicle fatalities are up 6 percent nationally since 2015, according to the National Safety Council. This is a disturbing trend. April is Distracted Driving Month, and it should make us think about putting down our phones while driving, but we need to do more. We need to consciously practice not texting, talking or playing with phones or other applications while driving. Not eating while driving. And not reaching around for things or tending to other passengers while driving. Removing distractions even means working to block out our mental to-do lists and stresses from the day. When we're multitasking, our driving reaction time slows. If you look away from the road for just five seconds while driving at 40 mph, your vehicle has traveled more than 290 feet. A lot could happen in that time, and you may not be able to stop safely. If more drivers committed to just driving, lives would be saved and arguably the costs of auto insurance would decrease. Let's all please work to make focused driving the norm and develop lifelong habits that make our roads safer. Samantha Sexton, vice president of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida Read more letters See more reader opinions at SunSentinel.comopinionletters YOUR THOUGHTS? Send your 150-word letter to letterssunsentinel. com. By mail: 333 SW12th Ave., Deerf ield Beach, FL 33442. Include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and become property of the Sun Sentinel. nFMUFRV SUBSCRIPTION RATE PER WEEK Hr.. .?. ...nrn Broward County WITH UNLIMITED Miami-Dad. 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All subscriptions may include upto eleven Premium Issues peryear For rla. sales tax. each Premium Issue, your account balance will be charged an addtional fee up to S4.49 in the billing period when the section publishes. This will result in shortening Member Alliance the length of your billing period. Premium Issues scheduled to date: Pnme4118, Explore Florda 61018, Prime 7818, Explore Flonda 72918, Football Preview for Audited Media 82618, Gude to the Arts 9301 8, Pnme 11418, Best Of 12218. Dates are subectto change wthout notice. Vacation holdsdo not ertend your expiration date. A Tronc Inc. Company. U.S.P.S. 526520 ISSN 0744-81 39. Published every morning by Sun-Sentinel Company LLC, 333 SW 12 Avenue, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. Periodical postage paid at Fort Lauderdale, FL. Postmaster: Send address changes to Sun Sentinel, 333 SW 1 2 Avenue, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. For customer service, call 1 -954-375-201 8.

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