×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 222
Search - JEvents
Search - Categories
Search - Contacts
Search - Content
Search - News Feeds
Search - Web Links
Search - SunBay
Search - JComments

According to reporter Debra Heine, while the nation is focused on the 2016 Republican and Democrat presidential campaigns, “the Obama administration has been continuing its lawless policies on the Mexican border. Judicial Watch reports that the Department of Homeland Security has been "quietly transporting" illegal aliens from the border to Phoenix and letting them go without processing or issuing court appearance documents. JW's Border Patrol sources say that this week alone, the government transferred 35 "Other Than Mexican" (OTM) immigrants 116 miles north from Tucson to a Phoenix bus station. From there, they were allowed to go their separate ways.”

Judicial Watch was on the ground when one of the white vans carrying a group of OTMs arrived at a Phoenix Greyhound station.

The OTMs are from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and Border Patrol officials say this week’s batch was in custody for a couple of days and ordered to call family members in the U.S. so they could purchase a bus ticket for their upcoming trip from Phoenix. Authorities didn’t bother checking the identity of the U.S. relatives or if they’re in the country legally, according to a Border Patrol official directly involved in the matter. American taxpayers pick up the fare for those who claim to have a “credible fear,” Border Patrol sources told JW. None of the OTMs were issued official court appearance documents, but were told to “promise” they’d show up for a hearing when notified, said federal agents with firsthand knowledge of the operation.

A security company contracted by the U.S. government is driving the OTMs from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector where they were in custody to Phoenix, sources said. The firm is called G4S and claims to be the world’s leading security solutions group with operations in more than 100 countries and 610,000 employees. G4S has more than 50,000 employees in the U.S. and its domestic headquarters is in Jupiter, Florida. Judicial Watch is filing a number of public records requests to get more information involving the arrangement between G4S and the government, specifically the transport of illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to other parts of the country. The photo accompanying this story shows the uniformed G4S guard that transported the OTMs this week from Tucson to Phoenix.

Outraged Border Patrol agents and supervisors on the front lines say illegal immigrants are being released in droves because there’s no room to keep them in detention. “They’re telling us to put them on a bus and let them go,” said one law enforcement official in Arizona. “Just move those bodies across the country.” Officially, DHS denies this is occurring and in fact earlier this year U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske blasted Border Patrol union officials for denouncing this dangerous catch-and-release policy. Kerlikowske’s scolding came in response to the congressional testimony of Bandon Judd, chief of the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents line agents. Judd told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee that illegal immigrants without serious criminal convictions can be released immediately and disappear into the shadows. Kerlikowske shot back, telling a separate congressional committee: “I would not stand by if the Border Patrol was — releasing people without going through all of the formalities.”

Source Judicial Watch and PJ Media

The first international accord to end illegal fishing went into effect a few days ago in celebration of World Environment Day. The pact is now legally binding for the 29 countries and the European Union that have signed on to it, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO.
The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, adopted as an FAO Agreement in 2009 after years of diplomatic effort, reached its activation threshold of 25 countries last month, triggering a 30-day countdown to today’s entry-into-force.

 

From now on, foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter ports in Port State signatory countries must request permission in advance, transmitting detailed information on their identities, activities, and the fish they have onboard. Landings can only happen at designated ports equipped for effective inspections.
If inspections turn up evidence of illicit fishing activity, vessels will be shut out of those ports and reported as violators.
“This is a great day in the continuing effort to build sustainable fisheries that can help feed the world,” said FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva. “We hail those countries that have already signed on to the agreement and who will begin implementing it as of today. We invite governments who have yet to do so, to join the collective push to stamp out illegal fishing and safeguard the future of our ocean resources.”
World Environment Day this year focuses on ending the illegal trade of all wildlife, not just fish.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, released its inaugural World Wildlife Crime Report on May 24. This first report shows that 7,000 species were found illegally traded in more than 164,000 seizures affecting 120 countries.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said, “The global nature of this crime compels us to stand united and to promote global solutions to halt the catastrophic poaching and trafficking of wildlife.”
“Our Wildlife Report is helping by providing a global assessment that will allow the international community to design effective and efficient solutions,” Fedotov said, stressing that wildlife crime deprives people of a sustainable livelihood. “These crimes are also closely connected to fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, corruption and brutal violence, among other crimes.”
John Scanlon, who heads the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, said, “This comprehensive global report is rooted in the best data and case studies available, is backed by in-depth analysis, and demonstrates a heightened sense of rigor in the way in which we report on wildlife crime.
“Future reports will benefit from more and better data, with CITES Parties to submit annual illegal trade reports starting in 2017,” said Scanlon. “Hundreds of additional species of animals and plants, including 250 tree species, are being considered for global protection under CITES at its 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Johannesburg later this year.”
On World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, is encouraging everyone to “go wild for life” and take action to help safeguard species at risk for future generations.
“We have chosen this theme because damage from this trade has become so serious and so far reaching that urgent action is needed to reverse it,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a video message.

 

From now on, foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter ports in Port State signatory countries must request permission in advance, transmitting detailed information on their identities, activities, and the fish they have onboard. Landings can only happen at designated ports equipped for effective inspections.
If inspections turn up evidence of illicit fishing activity, vessels will be shut out of those ports and reported as violators.
“This is a great day in the continuing effort to build sustainable fisheries that can help feed the world,” said FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva. “We hail those countries that have already signed on to the agreement and who will begin implementing it as of today. We invite governments who have yet to do so, to join the collective push to stamp out illegal fishing and safeguard the future of our ocean resources.”
World Environment Day this year focuses on ending the illegal trade of all wildlife, not just fish.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, released its inaugural World Wildlife Crime Report on May 24. This first report shows that 7,000 species were found illegally traded in more than 164,000 seizures affecting 120 countries.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said, “The global nature of this crime compels us to stand united and to promote global solutions to halt the catastrophic poaching and trafficking of wildlife.”
“Our Wildlife Report is helping by providing a global assessment that will allow the international community to design effective and efficient solutions,” Fedotov said, stressing that wildlife crime deprives people of a sustainable livelihood. “These crimes are also closely connected to fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, corruption and brutal violence, among other crimes.”
John Scanlon, who heads the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, said, “This comprehensive global report is rooted in the best data and case studies available, is backed by in-depth analysis, and demonstrates a heightened sense of rigor in the way in which we report on wildlife crime.
“Future reports will benefit from more and better data, with CITES Parties to submit annual illegal trade reports starting in 2017,” said Scanlon. “Hundreds of additional species of animals and plants, including 250 tree species, are being considered for global protection under CITES at its 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Johannesburg later this year.”
On World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, is encouraging everyone to “go wild for life” and take action to help safeguard species at risk for future generations.
“We have chosen this theme because damage from this trade has become so serious and so far reaching that urgent action is needed to reverse it,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a video message.

 

SARASOTA, Fla. — The homeless so skillfully weave themselves into our urban landscapes that we sometimes don’t even notice they are with us. On Fort Myers Beach, they are easier to see since there is only one major thoroughfare – Estero Boulevard – and everyone is seen when they are on it. Everyday a steady trickle of homeless people walk to God’s Table at Chapel by the Sea to get a meal, some clean clothes and later hang out on the Lee Tran bench to smoke and converse. They are a fixure and some of them have been here so long we’d feel something was missing if we didn’t see them.

 
Fort Myers Beach is not the only place in Florida with a resident homeless population. Warm weather and a relatively rich and generous demographic of retired folks who can afford their homes near the water, make Florida a Meca for those who live on the streets of our communities.
While there is a general acceptance of the homeless here, elsewhere the way towns and cities treat these “hidden” residents is in flux.
Just a short drive away, in Sarasota an article was recently written about one homeless man - David Cross who has been on the streets so long that he is known as the “mayor.” For many years people going to and fro with their daily grind would see Cross sitting in Five Points Park, a greenway in the heart of this prosperous city.
Then the city decided to remove the park bench where he held daily court. Then the town’s wise fathers enacted a new panhandling ordinance making it illegal to beg for money in most areas around the city. And then, according to reports, “he was given a written infraction for sleeping outside.”
So, joining other homeless activists around the U.S., the 66-year-old Cross sued Sarasota, claiming the city is using the power of law and regulation to take his right to sleep and as his lawyers say “just exist.” By criminalizing homelessness, jurisdictions are making it punishable just to live without money or connections and that is just plain wrong, says Cross. And he is not alone in this view, the ACLU has taken several similar cases and there are also numerous social justice attorneys taking cases like his on a pro bono basis.
As Florida continues to grow and downtowns are revitalized, the homeless are increasingly viewed as conflicting with the ambiance of laid-back chic and stylized tropical living cachet sought by the influx of well-to-do retirees, tourists, working professionals and business owners. As once-blighted streets are renewed, many want the homeless gone and they are not above legislating that result. When the ongoing revitalization of FMB is complete it is likely that community will face similar issues and challenges in how they will treat the ever-present homeless population essentially living on Estero Boulevard in plain sight.
Meanwhile across America, cities continue to crackdown and enact wave after wave of new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. Authorities are mixed over how far social engineering can go, but most agree that such regulations do help preserve the renewed vitality, reduce crime, lower health problems and stop aberrant behaviors that trouble residents and disrupt the flow business.
 
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, conducted a study in over 187 cities that found between 2011 and 2014 “bans against sleeping in cars increased up 119 percent, laws against citywide camping went up 60 percent, anti-loitering laws climbed 35 percent and anti-begging or panhandling laws increased 25 percent.
Some legal actions became very controversial like the initiative in Miami that caused a minister to be arrested for distributing food to the homeless. Lee County residents will remember back in 2003-2007 when residents of Fort Myers Beach were sharply divided over allowing local churches to feed the homeless. Some felt it would attract a hard-core cadre of “bums” that would be a blight on the island community and others felt it was their “Christian duty” to provide for the less fortunate. In the end, the program – God’s Table – was allowed to operate but only after residents made it clear they did not want any public sleeping at the Church. God’s Table operates to this day providing for the Island’s homeless.
While the Beach may have partially embraced those living on the streets, other communities have made it illegal to sit or lie in public and, in one city, a ban on using blankets outdoors was passed though the law was eventually reversed after a strong outcry.
Cross and others who advocate for the homeless argue that passing laws making it harder to live in the only place available to many – public streets, is cruel and is a misguided attempt to sweep the homeless under the rug rather than addressing the root causes and finding a solution to the issue. To them, it further illustrates the well-publicized growing gap between America’s rich and poor.
“It’s not illegal to be homeless,” Cross said.
Over a decade ago, Sarasota was named the “Meanest City in America” by homeless advocates for the plethora of ordinances aimed at the homeless. Just an hour away from Lee County, the picturesque beach community has undergone several hard political fights between those who want the homeless gone and those that want to provide for them. It is a city that is seen by many as a test location in the battle between street poverty and Florida’s urban renaissance.
The city’s balmy weather has drawn a large homeless population. On the streets, the contrast between panhandlers shaking cups and shoppers clutching bags from upscale boutiques is jarring.
City officials deny the allegations in Cross’s lawsuit and say that the city has moved to a progressive approach on homelessness in recent years. Officials have created teams to engage the homeless, adopted a comprehensive plan to deal with homelessness and are looking to create new housing.
“We still have work to do but are making gradual progress,” City Manager Tom Barwin wrote in an email.
A nationwide fight

Homeless men and women bed down for the night outdoors in the alcoves of the Sarasota County Jail. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Similar legal fights are playing out across the nation as the homeless challenge anti-panhandling ordinances, anti-camping laws and the seizure of their belongings in sweeps.
In Virginia, more than a dozen homeless alcoholics represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state’s prosecutors in March, claiming Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law criminalizes addiction among those on the street and violates their constitutional rights.
The law allows prosecutors to ask the courts to designate someone a “habitual drunkard” if they have been shown to have a drinking problem. After the designation, the person can be jailed if they are caught with alcohol. Prosecutors say the law keeps drunks off the street. They have used the designation in more than 1,200 cases in recent years.
In Hawaii, the city of Honolulu was in the news again last week. Last fall, lawyers filed suit against the city on behalf of a group of homeless people, in response to what the mayor called a “war on homelessness.” According to officials with the mayor’s office, the suit was prompted by complaints from residents and tourists who said the number of panhandlers and visible homeless had reached “epidemic” proportions. In response the city passed laws banning sitting and lying on sidewalks, erecting “temporary shelters” and closed parks at night and dismantled one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.
“The lawsuit accused the city of illegally trashing medicine, identification papers and food storage during the sweep, leaving homeless children hungry. A settlement was recently reached that forbids the city from seizing certain items,” reported the Post.
From the perspective of social justice activists there have been some successes with the legal actions. When the homeless challenged broad anti-panhandling laws in Springfield, Ill., Oklahoma City, and Sacramento County, Calif., on grounds it violates freedom of speech grounds, the localities abrogated portions of their anti-homeless ordinances and in a few instances overturned the rules outright.
In response to the increase in laws aimed against the homeless and the ongoing legal battles across the Nation, The Obama administration has taken steps many see as supporting the social activists.
Just last August, the Justice Department filed a brief in a Boise, Idaho, lawsuit challenging that city’s camping ordinance. The case failed to reach a holding on the merits and was dismissed over an issue of standing, but federal attorneys argued that it was unconstitutional for police to cite the homeless for sleeping outdoors when there is insufficient shelter space. Since no ruling was ever made that considered these contentions it remains to be seen if this approach will sway courts in a future case.
Again, last fall, according to the Post, “the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would consider whether a municipality has implemented a strategy to prevent the criminalization of homelessness when awarding some grants.”
SARASOTA, Fla. — The homeless so skillfully weave themselves into our urban landscapes that we sometimes don’t even notice they are with us. On Fort Myers Beach, they are easier to see since there is only one major thoroughfare – Estero Boulevard – and everyone is seen when they are on it. Everyday a steady trickle of homeless people walk to God’s Table at Chapel by the Sea to get a meal, some clean clothes and later hang out on the Lee Tran bench to smoke and converse. They are a fixure and some of them have been here so long we’d feel something was missing if we didn’t see them.
 
Fort Myers Beach is not the only place in Florida with a resident homeless population. Warm weather and a relatively rich and generous demographic of retired folks who can afford their homes near the water, make Florida a Meca for those who live on the streets of our communities.
While there is a general acceptance of the homeless here, elsewhere the way towns and cities treat these “hidden” residents is in flux.
Just a short drive away, in Sarasota an article was recently written about one homeless man - David Cross who has been on the streets so long that he is known as the “mayor.” For many years people going to and fro with their daily grind would see Cross sitting in Five Points Park, a greenway in the heart of this prosperous city.
Then the city decided to remove the park bench where he held daily court. Then the town’s wise fathers enacted a new panhandling ordinance making it illegal to beg for money in most areas around the city. And then, according to reports, “he was given a written infraction for sleeping outside.”
So, joining other homeless activists around the U.S., the 66-year-old Cross sued Sarasota, claiming the city is using the power of law and regulation to take his right to sleep and as his lawyers say “just exist.” By criminalizing homelessness, jurisdictions are making it punishable just to live without money or connections and that is just plain wrong, says Cross. And he is not alone in this view, the ACLU has taken several similar cases and there are also numerous social justice attorneys taking cases like his on a pro bono basis.
As Florida continues to grow and downtowns are revitalized, the homeless are increasingly viewed as conflicting with the ambiance of laid-back chic and stylized tropical living cachet sought by the influx of well-to-do retirees, tourists, working professionals and business owners. As once-blighted streets are renewed, many want the homeless gone and they are not above legislating that result. When the ongoing revitalization of FMB is complete it is likely that community will face similar issues and challenges in how they will treat the ever-present homeless population essentially living on Estero Boulevard in plain sight.
Meanwhile across America, cities continue to crackdown and enact wave after wave of new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. Authorities are mixed over how far social engineering can go, but most agree that such regulations do help preserve the renewed vitality, reduce crime, lower health problems and stop aberrant behaviors that trouble residents and disrupt the flow business.
 
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, conducted a study in over 187 cities that found between 2011 and 2014 “bans against sleeping in cars increased up 119 percent, laws against citywide camping went up 60 percent, anti-loitering laws climbed 35 percent and anti-begging or panhandling laws increased 25 percent.
Some legal actions became very controversial like the initiative in Miami that caused a minister to be arrested for distributing food to the homeless. Lee County residents will remember back in 2003-2007 when residents of Fort Myers Beach were sharply divided over allowing local churches to feed the homeless. Some felt it would attract a hard-core cadre of “bums” that would be a blight on the island community and others felt it was their “Christian duty” to provide for the less fortunate. In the end, the program – God’s Table – was allowed to operate but only after residents made it clear they did not want any public sleeping at the Church. God’s Table operates to this day providing for the Island’s homeless.
While the Beach may have partially embraced those living on the streets, other communities have made it illegal to sit or lie in public and, in one city, a ban on using blankets outdoors was passed though the law was eventually reversed after a strong outcry.
Cross and others who advocate for the homeless argue that passing laws making it harder to live in the only place available to many – public streets, is cruel and is a misguided attempt to sweep the homeless under the rug rather than addressing the root causes and finding a solution to the issue. To them, it further illustrates the well-publicized growing gap between America’s rich and poor.
“It’s not illegal to be homeless,” Cross said.
Over a decade ago, Sarasota was named the “Meanest City in America” by homeless advocates for the plethora of ordinances aimed at the homeless. Just an hour away from Lee County, the picturesque beach community has undergone several hard political fights between those who want the homeless gone and those that want to provide for them. It is a city that is seen by many as a test location in the battle between street poverty and Florida’s urban renaissance.
The city’s balmy weather has drawn a large homeless population. On the streets, the contrast between panhandlers shaking cups and shoppers clutching bags from upscale boutiques is jarring.
City officials deny the allegations in Cross’s lawsuit and say that the city has moved to a progressive approach on homelessness in recent years. Officials have created teams to engage the homeless, adopted a comprehensive plan to deal with homelessness and are looking to create new housing.
“We still have work to do but are making gradual progress,” City Manager Tom Barwin wrote in an email.
A nationwide fight

Homeless men and women bed down for the night outdoors in the alcoves of the Sarasota County Jail. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Similar legal fights are playing out across the nation as the homeless challenge anti-panhandling ordinances, anti-camping laws and the seizure of their belongings in sweeps.
In Virginia, more than a dozen homeless alcoholics represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state’s prosecutors in March, claiming Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law criminalizes addiction among those on the street and violates their constitutional rights.
The law allows prosecutors to ask the courts to designate someone a “habitual drunkard” if they have been shown to have a drinking problem. After the designation, the person can be jailed if they are caught with alcohol. Prosecutors say the law keeps drunks off the street. They have used the designation in more than 1,200 cases in recent years.
In Hawaii, the city of Honolulu was in the news again last week. Last fall, lawyers filed suit against the city on behalf of a group of homeless people, in response to what the mayor called a “war on homelessness.” According to officials with the mayor’s office, the suit was prompted by complaints from residents and tourists who said the number of panhandlers and visible homeless had reached “epidemic” proportions. In response the city passed laws banning sitting and lying on sidewalks, erecting “temporary shelters” and closed parks at night and dismantled one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.
“The lawsuit accused the city of illegally trashing medicine, identification papers and food storage during the sweep, leaving homeless children hungry. A settlement was recently reached that forbids the city from seizing certain items,” reported the Post.
From the perspective of social justice activists there have been some successes with the legal actions. When the homeless challenged broad anti-panhandling laws in Springfield, Ill., Oklahoma City, and Sacramento County, Calif., on grounds it violates freedom of speech grounds, the localities abrogated portions of their anti-homeless ordinances and in a few instances overturned the rules outright.
In response to the increase in laws aimed against the homeless and the ongoing legal battles across the Nation, The Obama administration has taken steps many see as supporting the social activists.
Just last August, the Justice Department filed a brief in a Boise, Idaho, lawsuit challenging that city’s camping ordinance. The case failed to reach a holding on the merits and was dismissed over an issue of standing, but federal attorneys argued that it was unconstitutional for police to cite the homeless for sleeping outdoors when there is insufficient shelter space. Since no ruling was ever made that considered these contentions it remains to be seen if this approach will sway courts in a future case.
Again, last fall, according to the Post, “the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would consider whether a municipality has implemented a strategy to prevent the criminalization of homelessness when awarding some grants.”
SARASOTA, Fla. — The homeless so skillfully weave themselves into our urban landscapes that we sometimes don’t even notice they are with us. On Fort Myers Beach, they are easier to see since there is only one major thoroughfare – Estero Boulevard – and everyone is seen when they are on it. Everyday a steady trickle of homeless people walk to God’s Table at Chapel by the Sea to get a meal, some clean clothes and later hang out on the Lee Tran bench to smoke and converse. They are a fixure and some of them have been here so long we’d feel something was missing if we didn’t see them.
 
Fort Myers Beach is not the only place in Florida with a resident homeless population. Warm weather and a relatively rich and generous demographic of retired folks who can afford their homes near the water, make Florida a Meca for those who live on the streets of our communities.
While there is a general acceptance of the homeless here, elsewhere the way towns and cities treat these “hidden” residents is in flux.
Just a short drive away, in Sarasota an article was recently written about one homeless man - David Cross who has been on the streets so long that he is known as the “mayor.” For many years people going to and fro with their daily grind would see Cross sitting in Five Points Park, a greenway in the heart of this prosperous city.
Then the city decided to remove the park bench where he held daily court. Then the town’s wise fathers enacted a new panhandling ordinance making it illegal to beg for money in most areas around the city. And then, according to reports, “he was given a written infraction for sleeping outside.”
So, joining other homeless activists around the U.S., the 66-year-old Cross sued Sarasota, claiming the city is using the power of law and regulation to take his right to sleep and as his lawyers say “just exist.” By criminalizing homelessness, jurisdictions are making it punishable just to live without money or connections and that is just plain wrong, says Cross. And he is not alone in this view, the ACLU has taken several similar cases and there are also numerous social justice attorneys taking cases like his on a pro bono basis.
As Florida continues to grow and downtowns are revitalized, the homeless are increasingly viewed as conflicting with the ambiance of laid-back chic and stylized tropical living cachet sought by the influx of well-to-do retirees, tourists, working professionals and business owners. As once-blighted streets are renewed, many want the homeless gone and they are not above legislating that result. When the ongoing revitalization of FMB is complete it is likely that community will face similar issues and challenges in how they will treat the ever-present homeless population essentially living on Estero Boulevard in plain sight.
Meanwhile across America, cities continue to crackdown and enact wave after wave of new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. Authorities are mixed over how far social engineering can go, but most agree that such regulations do help preserve the renewed vitality, reduce crime, lower health problems and stop aberrant behaviors that trouble residents and disrupt the flow business.
 
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, conducted a study in over 187 cities that found between 2011 and 2014 “bans against sleeping in cars increased up 119 percent, laws against citywide camping went up 60 percent, anti-loitering laws climbed 35 percent and anti-begging or panhandling laws increased 25 percent.
Some legal actions became very controversial like the initiative in Miami that caused a minister to be arrested for distributing food to the homeless. Lee County residents will remember back in 2003-2007 when residents of Fort Myers Beach were sharply divided over allowing local churches to feed the homeless. Some felt it would attract a hard-core cadre of “bums” that would be a blight on the island community and others felt it was their “Christian duty” to provide for the less fortunate. In the end, the program – God’s Table – was allowed to operate but only after residents made it clear they did not want any public sleeping at the Church. God’s Table operates to this day providing for the Island’s homeless.
While the Beach may have partially embraced those living on the streets, other communities have made it illegal to sit or lie in public and, in one city, a ban on using blankets outdoors was passed though the law was eventually reversed after a strong outcry.
Cross and others who advocate for the homeless argue that passing laws making it harder to live in the only place available to many – public streets, is cruel and is a misguided attempt to sweep the homeless under the rug rather than addressing the root causes and finding a solution to the issue. To them, it further illustrates the well-publicized growing gap between America’s rich and poor.
“It’s not illegal to be homeless,” Cross said.
Over a decade ago, Sarasota was named the “Meanest City in America” by homeless advocates for the plethora of ordinances aimed at the homeless. Just an hour away from Lee County, the picturesque beach community has undergone several hard political fights between those who want the homeless gone and those that want to provide for them. It is a city that is seen by many as a test location in the battle between street poverty and Florida’s urban renaissance.
The city’s balmy weather has drawn a large homeless population. On the streets, the contrast between panhandlers shaking cups and shoppers clutching bags from upscale boutiques is jarring.
City officials deny the allegations in Cross’s lawsuit and say that the city has moved to a progressive approach on homelessness in recent years. Officials have created teams to engage the homeless, adopted a comprehensive plan to deal with homelessness and are looking to create new housing.
“We still have work to do but are making gradual progress,” City Manager Tom Barwin wrote in an email.
A nationwide fight

Homeless men and women bed down for the night outdoors in the alcoves of the Sarasota County Jail. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Similar legal fights are playing out across the nation as the homeless challenge anti-panhandling ordinances, anti-camping laws and the seizure of their belongings in sweeps.
In Virginia, more than a dozen homeless alcoholics represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state’s prosecutors in March, claiming Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law criminalizes addiction among those on the street and violates their constitutional rights.
The law allows prosecutors to ask the courts to designate someone a “habitual drunkard” if they have been shown to have a drinking problem. After the designation, the person can be jailed if they are caught with alcohol. Prosecutors say the law keeps drunks off the street. They have used the designation in more than 1,200 cases in recent years.
In Hawaii, the city of Honolulu was in the news again last week. Last fall, lawyers filed suit against the city on behalf of a group of homeless people, in response to what the mayor called a “war on homelessness.” According to officials with the mayor’s office, the suit was prompted by complaints from residents and tourists who said the number of panhandlers and visible homeless had reached “epidemic” proportions. In response the city passed laws banning sitting and lying on sidewalks, erecting “temporary shelters” and closed parks at night and dismantled one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.
“The lawsuit accused the city of illegally trashing medicine, identification papers and food storage during the sweep, leaving homeless children hungry. A settlement was recently reached that forbids the city from seizing certain items,” reported the Post.
From the perspective of social justice activists there have been some successes with the legal actions. When the homeless challenged broad anti-panhandling laws in Springfield, Ill., Oklahoma City, and Sacramento County, Calif., on grounds it violates freedom of speech grounds, the localities abrogated portions of their anti-homeless ordinances and in a few instances overturned the rules outright.
In response to the increase in laws aimed against the homeless and the ongoing legal battles across the Nation, The Obama administration has taken steps many see as supporting the social activists.
Just last August, the Justice Department filed a brief in a Boise, Idaho, lawsuit challenging that city’s camping ordinance. The case failed to reach a holding on the merits and was dismissed over an issue of standing, but federal attorneys argued that it was unconstitutional for police to cite the homeless for sleeping outdoors when there is insufficient shelter space. Since no ruling was ever made that considered these contentions it remains to be seen if this approach will sway courts in a future case.
Again, last fall, according to the Post, “the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would consider whether a municipality has implemented a strategy to prevent the criminalization of homelessness when awarding some grants.”
SARASOTA, Fla. — The homeless so skillfully weave themselves into our urban landscapes that we sometimes don’t even notice they are with us. On Fort Myers Beach, they are easier to see since there is only one major thoroughfare – Estero Boulevard – and everyone is seen when they are on it. Everyday a steady trickle of homeless people walk to God’s Table at Chapel by the Sea to get a meal, some clean clothes and later hang out on the Lee Tran bench to smoke and converse. They are a fixure and some of them have been here so long we’d feel something was missing if we didn’t see them.
 
Fort Myers Beach is not the only place in Florida with a resident homeless population. Warm weather and a relatively rich and generous demographic of retired folks who can afford their homes near the water, make Florida a Meca for those who live on the streets of our communities.
While there is a general acceptance of the homeless here, elsewhere the way towns and cities treat these “hidden” residents is in flux.
Just a short drive away, in Sarasota an article was recently written about one homeless man - David Cross who has been on the streets so long that he is known as the “mayor.” For many years people going to and fro with their daily grind would see Cross sitting in Five Points Park, a greenway in the heart of this prosperous city.
Then the city decided to remove the park bench where he held daily court. Then the town’s wise fathers enacted a new panhandling ordinance making it illegal to beg for money in most areas around the city. And then, according to reports, “he was given a written infraction for sleeping outside.”
So, joining other homeless activists around the U.S., the 66-year-old Cross sued Sarasota, claiming the city is using the power of law and regulation to take his right to sleep and as his lawyers say “just exist.” By criminalizing homelessness, jurisdictions are making it punishable just to live without money or connections and that is just plain wrong, says Cross. And he is not alone in this view, the ACLU has taken several similar cases and there are also numerous social justice attorneys taking cases like his on a pro bono basis.
As Florida continues to grow and downtowns are revitalized, the homeless are increasingly viewed as conflicting with the ambiance of laid-back chic and stylized tropical living cachet sought by the influx of well-to-do retirees, tourists, working professionals and business owners. As once-blighted streets are renewed, many want the homeless gone and they are not above legislating that result. When the ongoing revitalization of FMB is complete it is likely that community will face similar issues and challenges in how they will treat the ever-present homeless population essentially living on Estero Boulevard in plain sight.
Meanwhile across America, cities continue to crackdown and enact wave after wave of new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. Authorities are mixed over how far social engineering can go, but most agree that such regulations do help preserve the renewed vitality, reduce crime, lower health problems and stop aberrant behaviors that trouble residents and disrupt the flow business.
 
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, conducted a study in over 187 cities that found between 2011 and 2014 “bans against sleeping in cars increased up 119 percent, laws against citywide camping went up 60 percent, anti-loitering laws climbed 35 percent and anti-begging or panhandling laws increased 25 percent.
Some legal actions became very controversial like the initiative in Miami that caused a minister to be arrested for distributing food to the homeless. Lee County residents will remember back in 2003-2007 when residents of Fort Myers Beach were sharply divided over allowing local churches to feed the homeless. Some felt it would attract a hard-core cadre of “bums” that would be a blight on the island community and others felt it was their “Christian duty” to provide for the less fortunate. In the end, the program – God’s Table – was allowed to operate but only after residents made it clear they did not want any public sleeping at the Church. God’s Table operates to this day providing for the Island’s homeless.
While the Beach may have partially embraced those living on the streets, other communities have made it illegal to sit or lie in public and, in one city, a ban on using blankets outdoors was passed though the law was eventually reversed after a strong outcry.
Cross and others who advocate for the homeless argue that passing laws making it harder to live in the only place available to many – public streets, is cruel and is a misguided attempt to sweep the homeless under the rug rather than addressing the root causes and finding a solution to the issue. To them, it further illustrates the well-publicized growing gap between America’s rich and poor.
“It’s not illegal to be homeless,” Cross said.
Over a decade ago, Sarasota was named the “Meanest City in America” by homeless advocates for the plethora of ordinances aimed at the homeless. Just an hour away from Lee County, the picturesque beach community has undergone several hard political fights between those who want the homeless gone and those that want to provide for them. It is a city that is seen by many as a test location in the battle between street poverty and Florida’s urban renaissance.
The city’s balmy weather has drawn a large homeless population. On the streets, the contrast between panhandlers shaking cups and shoppers clutching bags from upscale boutiques is jarring.
City officials deny the allegations in Cross’s lawsuit and say that the city has moved to a progressive approach on homelessness in recent years. Officials have created teams to engage the homeless, adopted a comprehensive plan to deal with homelessness and are looking to create new housing.
“We still have work to do but are making gradual progress,” City Manager Tom Barwin wrote in an email.
A nationwide fight

Homeless men and women bed down for the night outdoors in the alcoves of the Sarasota County Jail. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Similar legal fights are playing out across the nation as the homeless challenge anti-panhandling ordinances, anti-camping laws and the seizure of their belongings in sweeps.
In Virginia, more than a dozen homeless alcoholics represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center sued the state’s prosecutors in March, claiming Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law criminalizes addiction among those on the street and violates their constitutional rights.
The law allows prosecutors to ask the courts to designate someone a “habitual drunkard” if they have been shown to have a drinking problem. After the designation, the person can be jailed if they are caught with alcohol. Prosecutors say the law keeps drunks off the street. They have used the designation in more than 1,200 cases in recent years.
In Hawaii, the city of Honolulu was in the news again last week. Last fall, lawyers filed suit against the city on behalf of a group of homeless people, in response to what the mayor called a “war on homelessness.” According to officials with the mayor’s office, the suit was prompted by complaints from residents and tourists who said the number of panhandlers and visible homeless had reached “epidemic” proportions. In response the city passed laws banning sitting and lying on sidewalks, erecting “temporary shelters” and closed parks at night and dismantled one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.
“The lawsuit accused the city of illegally trashing medicine, identification papers and food storage during the sweep, leaving homeless children hungry. A settlement was recently reached that forbids the city from seizing certain items,” reported the Post.
From the perspective of social justice activists there have been some successes with the legal actions. When the homeless challenged broad anti-panhandling laws in Springfield, Ill., Oklahoma City, and Sacramento County, Calif., on grounds it violates freedom of speech grounds, the localities abrogated portions of their anti-homeless ordinances and in a few instances overturned the rules outright.
In response to the increase in laws aimed against the homeless and the ongoing legal battles across the Nation, The Obama administration has taken steps many see as supporting the social activists.
Just last August, the Justice Department filed a brief in a Boise, Idaho, lawsuit challenging that city’s camping ordinance. The case failed to reach a holding on the merits and was dismissed over an issue of standing, but federal attorneys argued that it was unconstitutional for police to cite the homeless for sleeping outdoors when there is insufficient shelter space. Since no ruling was ever made that considered these contentions it remains to be seen if this approach will sway courts in a future case.
Again, last fall, according to the Post, “the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it would consider whether a municipality has implemented a strategy to prevent the criminalization of homelessness when awarding some grants.”
Soto has taken a pro-active approach to address what he says is a “bad problem for the city’s image. He also says there are those who think helping more will eradicate homelessness but based on what he says is “firsthand knowledge” – watching the street people every day –there is a dark side to their existence. To heighten awareness of the problems he has created a series of signs. One of them reads: “DON’T GIVE IN TO PANHANDLING...93% OF THE MONEY YOU GIVE GOES TO DRUGS & ALCOHOL.”
Some businesses are happy to display the signs, and Soto told the Post that he is “planning to pay people to hand out anti-panhandling fliers in hot spots for homelessness and collect money to give to established programs that help the homeless.”
“We are one of the most enabling towns in Florida,” Soto said.
On the other side of the issue, is Cross who says the City needs to do more to help those caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and anguish. He said he “hopes his lawsuit makes Sarasota officials take action.”
He said he’d like to see the city build a downtown emergency shelter. This was recommended by a consultant the city had hired in 2013. That project got bogged down in politics particularly over where the shelter would be built. One of the most difficult problems to address whenever building a new shelter is mentioned is that while most will superficially say they support the idea, most politicians not want it in the districts where their constituents live.
“It’s getting the city to do something,” Cross said of the lawsuit.
Meanwhile on Fort Myers Beach in Lee County, God’s Table continues to provide a wide array of services to the homeless and the community seems to be in stark contrast to Sarasota.
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 15:00

Unsung Heroes of Fort Myers Beach

Memorial Day weekend is an enormous holiday, attracting thousands of local residents to enjoy a beautiful day on Fort Myers Beach. Managing the influx of visitors at Lani Kai Island Resort is a challenging task requiring the coordination of dozens of employees in order to provide the best experience possible for guests. This past Memorial Day weekend involved a potential tragedy that was avoided due to the excellent response of Lani Kai’s staff.
 
As Staff Member Kevin Hamm made his scheduled safety checks around the Lani Kai Island Resort property, he saw something was very wrong by the pool area. Several people enjoying the pool failed to notice that a 2 year old girl had fallen into the pool and had been underwater for several minutes. Hamm investigated what he believed was someone underwater in the pool, discovered the girl’s body and immediately had her pulled from the pool. As Hamm called 911, a little boy who was the girl’s brother ran to the beach bar screaming “Help! My sister’s not breathing!”
 
At that moment, Wind and Water sports employees Joey Davis and Justin Vega jumped into action. At a dead sprint from the bar to the pool area, Davis and Vega discovered the girl, surrounded by people, hardly breathing and with a weak pulse. Both Davis and Vega assessed her condition immediately and started administering CPR procedure until the girl started to breath normally again. 
 
"I have trained for these types of situations and I am thankful that when I was actually involved in this situation that I knew what to do" Justin Vega responded.
 
After 300-400 CPR compressions, a Lee County Sheriff arrived with an EMT team and rushed the little girl to a local hospital.
 
“We were happy to be at the right place at the right time to do what we can do.” Joey Davis responded. “It’s a miracle that we were able to resuscitate her.”
 
"Words cannot describe how proud I am of Joey and Justin.  The heroic act they performed  saved the life of that young girl" stated Rob Ramadon, owner of Wind and Water Sports
 
Tasked with enforcing several rules in order to ensure guest safety, our Staff  Team covers dozens of roles including security, safety, information, communication, and direction of visitors on property. Many staff members are local residents, some have served in the military, and all are experienced with managing crowds of people and guest safety.
 
“Our staff is the reason that a young girl survived a potential tragedy” said Michael Ensor, Marketing Director at Lani Kai Island Resort. “We have an amazing team to thank - Kevin Hamm, Joey Davis and Justin Vega saved this little girl’s life.”
 
All three employees involved in the heroic rescue and resuscitation efforts are being nominated for an E-Award. E Awards honors excellence through extraordinary service and dedication in the hospitality industry.
 
“The goal of nominating an employee for an  E-Award is to increase public awareness of the outstanding customer service being provided by hospitality professionals in Lee County.” stated Ensor. “We are very lucky to have heroes on our team that put forth 110% for our guests and they will be celebrated for their efforts.”
 
All nominated employees are recognized at the annual E Awards breakfast in September as an Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards winner. A winner in each category will be announced with the Honor of Distinction awarded to one nominee who best represents the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel spirit of extraordinary customer service.
 
“We welcome families from all around the world to enjoy our beaches.” Ensor said. “As thousands flock to the beach to enjoy fun in the sun, it’s important to keep your young children in sight. Meanwhile, our staff will remain vigilant 365 days a year to ensure that our guests are enjoying our beach safely”.
 
The YMCA has pointed out how fast an incident can happen with a young child. If you cross a room for a towel (10 sec), a child in a bathtub can be submerged. Answering the phone (2 min), a child can lose consciousness. Signing for a package at the front door (4-6 min), a child submerged in a tub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage.
 
“I’m so happy the little girl is ok and would love a chance to meet her, speak with her, and give her the Elmo doll that I have for her” Hamm added.
 
“We are hoping to have a reunion with the family and little girl who has been on all of our employees’ minds and hearts.” Ensor included.
 
The family of the young girl who survived the potential drowning has not been available for comment at this time. If anyone is in contact with the family, please ask the family to contact Lani Kai Island Resort at 239-463-3111 and ask to speak with Michael Ensor.

Canada and the United States have identified eight substances in the water of the Great Lakes as chemicals of mutual concern under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. These chemicals are potentially harmful to human health or the environment or both.

Canada and the United States work together under the agreement to identify chemicals that are in the Great Lakes because of human activities and that cause mutual concerns.

After a comprehensive scientific review process and public consultations, Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the chemicals of greatest concern:

  • Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) – functions as a flame retardant in polystyrene foam, which is used as insulation material in the building industry.
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – used as flame retardants in a wide variety of consumer products such as furniture household appliances and electronics.
  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) – used in the manufacture of nonstick cookware
  • Long-Chain Perfluorocarboxylic Acids (LC-PFCAs) – both PFOA and long-chain PFCAs are industrial chemicals. PFOA and PFCA and their salts accumulate and biomagnify in terrestrial and marine mammals.
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) – used in industrial manufacturing of paper, plastics and textiles, in electroplating and in commercial firefighting foam, and in consumer products such as carpets.
  • Mercury – a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust that is released from the burning of fossil fuels. It is also found in consumer products including batteries and light bulbs.
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) – used in the manufacturing of electrical equipment and in heat transfer and hydraulic systems, as well as other specialized applications, until the late 1970’s.
  • Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) – used in rubber manufacturing, the formulation of metalworking fluids, and as plasticizers and flame retardants in plastics and products such as paints and sealants).

“A safe and secure water supply is critical for human health, the environment and the economy. Our joint designation of these chemicals of mutual concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is yet another example of Canada’s commitment to keep our Great Lakes great through collaboration and sound science,” said McKenna.

McCarthy said, “Designating these chemicals of mutual concern puts us on the road to reducing them to protect the public health and water quality of the Great Lakes region.”

Once a chemical has been designated, the two countries develop and implement strategies to address the chemical, reporting every three years on its status to each other and to the public.

“Together with Canada and the region’s partners,” McCarthy said, “we’re making the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement work hard for the tens of millions of people who live, work and play around these magnificent water bodies.”

TOWNSVILLE, Queensland, Australia, May 31, 2016 (ENS) – One-third of the corals in the northern and central parts of the Great Barrier Reef are bleached out and dying due to climate change, according to Australian researchers. The scientists have just finished months of intensive aerial and underwater surveys that documented the worst-ever bleaching event in the reef’s history.

“We found on average, that 35 percent of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” says Professor Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Bleached mature staghorn coral in February 2016 at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef , left, was dead and overgrown by algae by April 2016. (Photo by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says that this year the Great Barrier Reef recorded its highest-ever sea surface temperatures for February, March and April since recordkeeping began in 1900.

These record-breaking temperatures occurred because of the underlying ocean warming trend caused by climate change, the recent strong El Nino and local weather conditions, said the meteorologists.

The impact of the higher water temperatures changes from north to south along the 2,300 kilometer length of the world’s largest reef.

“Some reefs are in much better shape, especially from Cairns southwards, where the average mortality is estimated at only five percent,” said Hughes.

“This year is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we’ve measured before,” he said.

“These three events have all occurred while global temperatures have risen by just 1 degree C above the pre-industrial period,” warned Hughes. “We’re rapidly running out of time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, like heightened sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae. The loss of these algae causes the corals to turn white.

Bleached out corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonize them, otherwise the corals die.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says, “Approximately 93 percent of surveyed reefs on the Great Barrier Reef have bleached to some extent, ranging from severe through to moderate and minor bleaching.”

Dying coral colonized by seaweed at Lizard Island during current bleaching event. (Photo by Dorothea Bender-Champ / ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies)

“Fortunately, on reefs south of Cairns, our underwater surveys are also revealing that more than 95 percent of the corals have survived, and we expect these more mildly bleached corals to regain their normal colour over the next few months,” says Dr. Mia Hoogenboom from James Cook University.

Although fewer corals have died to the south, the stress of bleaching could temporarily slow down their reproduction and growth rates.

The reefs further south escaped damage because water temperatures there were closer to normal summer conditions than reefs to the north.

“It is critically important now to bolster the resilience of the reef, and to maximize its natural capacity to recover,” says Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Queensland.

“But the reef is no longer as resilient as it once was, and it’s struggling to cope with three bleaching events in just 18 years. “Many coastal reefs in particular are now severely degraded,” he said.

“In Western Australia, bleaching and mortality is also extensive and patchy,” says Dr. Verena Schoepf from the University of Western Australia.

“On the Kimberley coast where I work, up to 80 percent of the corals are severely bleached, and at least 15 percent have died already,” said Schoepf.

The scientists plan to re-visit the same reefs over the next few months to measure the final loss of corals from bleaching.

The recovery of coral cover is expected to take a decade or longer, but it will take much longer to regain the largest and oldest corals that have died.

Environment News Service (ENS) 2016.

Ed. Note: Worldwide loss of coral reefs is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Here in the South Florida Keys where the only living coral reefs in the continental U.S. are located, by conservative estimates over 80% of the reefs are dying or dead. Most studies point to agricultural runoff though climate change is also views as a causative factor for the declines. The biggest threat to the health of Florida's Coral Reef is the decline in water quality due to the reduction and quality of flow from the Everglades entering the waters where coral lives. Corals require clean, nutrient-free waters to thrive. A healthy coral reef has from 30-40% live coral coverage.  However, in the Florida Keys, coral coverage is now reduced to an alarming 3%.  Coral spawning has been reduced due to lack of healthy coral colonies and clean water.

. Number still low compared to arrivals.
The German government is claiming that it expects up to 100,000 undocumented migrants to leave the Teutonic nation
Monday, 06 June 2016 14:52

Sunnyland Trailer Court

Changes keep coming to San Carlos Island and the recent sale of Sunnyland RV Park on the corner of Main and San Carlos Boulevard is part of that transformation.

MAJB, LLC purchased the 33 unit park last week for one million dollars and the investor who bought it says he intends to keep it as an RV park but with “substantial improvements” to upgrade the area which is located on a prime corner right at the base of the Sky Bridge leading to Fort Myers Beach.

“Our immediate plan is to take out some trailers that are in bad shape, freshen up the paint, clean the lots and laundry room and weed out a few bad tenants,, said Scott McGuire, MAJB’s manager.

“Some have told us about some not-so-desirable dealings in the park and we intend to clean that up,” he added, referring to a long-standing reputation by some in the community over what has been mildly called “suspicious activities” over the years.

One resident of the park said a lot of the trouble has come about because of the adult club “Fantasys” right across the street. The club’s sign advertises itself as “Stopless Adult entertainment.

“Anytime you have a strip club, you’ll find drugs nearby, it’s just the nature of the beast,” said GY, who asked not to be named since he still lives in the park.

“If there’s drugs in the park, you can be sure we are going to get them out,” said McGuire.

The Sun Bay interviewed some of the current tenants and they seem well-pleased with the improvements being made by the new owners.

“For the few weeks Mr. McGuire has been here, he’s done really well,” said Ray Conley who has lived in the park for 15 years.

Conley also noted that Sunnyland has had a bad reputation in the past but that he feels the new owners are making great progress to reverse that perception.

“There was a time when you walked down the street here that you never knew what you’d run into – bums, drugs and just generally problems but now I’ve seen McGuire walking around at night and things are getting a lot better,” elaborated Conley

Sunnyland now also has an onsite person, Melonie Burton, who serves as the owner’s administrative assistant.

“We appreciate the facility the way it is and despite some rumors, we are just upgrading the park and have no plans to tear it down to build condos,” Burton said.

“It’s important to us to help build a sense of community here and to that end we plan to host barbeques and picnics several times a year,” she added.

The park will retain the name Sunnyland which it has been known by since George and Dennis Henderson from Trico Shrimp purchased it decades ago to serve as living space for their shrimp boat crews. Now that their fleets are a bit smaller and the affable partners are nearing retirement they decided to sell the park.

“George and Dennis have a lot of properties throughout Lee County and they’re looking to downsize and have little spare time to manage the property and just generally want to be free to enjoy life,” said Bob Beasley, the Realtor with Robert    Beasley Real Estate the company that handled the sale.

“Sunnyland is a great investment,” added Bob, “the park takes in about $12K a month and after all expenses probably spins off approximately $40 thousand a year.”

Sunnyland is one of several developments occurring on San Carlos Island. Just a bit further down Main Street is Bay Harbour Marina Village which is still in the permitting stage. Even further down, close to Salty Sam’s Marina is Ebb Tide which has already been permitted. Together, if the Bay Harbour project is approved San Carlos Island will undergo a much-needed facelift and the plans of the new owners to upgrade and improve Sunnyland will play well into the overall positive transformation planned for the small unincorporated Island community.

Just a few short years ago, Diversified Yachts built a large dry and wet storage facility near the Coast Guard Station on the west side of San Carlos. It is a noteworthy edifice and though initially opposed by some residents on the island, now is generally viewed favorably and stands out for its modern, cleanly finished architectural design.

While there are numerous businesses closed on San Carlos Boulevard, investment activity is increasing and there are several other properties rumored to be under contract. Besides being close to the Beach, the island offers great Back Bay waterfront views and direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. With new ownership, great plans and an obvious clean-up underway, it is starting to look like the Sun will soon be shining in Sunnyland.

Carl Conley

Colin Conley also contributed to this report

Monday, 06 June 2016 14:49

Alfredo Russo

“In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion.  In oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle.”

                                                                                         A treasured quote of Alfredo Russo: by Yukteswar Giri

                

Sunday was a day for mourning when Alfredo Russo a beloved and respected member of the Fort Myers Beach community passed away on Sunday, May 29th 2016 from complications following the rupture of an aortal valve.  Longtime restauranteur Russo had been an active member of the business community by preserving the historical and cultural landmarks of the beach.  Russo has been in the food business for over three decades while simultaneously operating many important lcons on the beach such as, Junkanoo, a site he took over in 1987 and Fresh Catch Bistro.  Mama Angie’s was just downstairs but closed in May of 2012.  Russo later opened two adjacent restaurants the Playmore Tiki Bar and Sunset Beach Grill, located in Times Square, recently renovated from the Top O’ Mast building. The original structure was located over on Sterling St., which was actually part of the first school on Fort Myers Beach in the 1930’s later moved in the 40’s using tree trunks, Russo told the Sun Bay back in December.  Russo also built the one of a kind “ship” restaurant in 1995 in Bonita Springs modeling the 16th century Spanish Galleon that was torn down in 2013.  He demonstrated his love for the beach community last December during the grand opening when he said “This is so wonderful” over the live music, “this is emotional, because this will be my last grand opening, this community has been supporting me for over 30 years, and here it is again.”    

            Russo was born in 1956 in a little town near Positano, Italy called Avellino, located beside the Mediterranean Sea on the Amalfi coast.  The Russo’s were a hardworking family of fisherman who made their livelihood catching fish daily for the seafood markets.  As a kid in Italy he felt the pressure of securing the “good fish” for his family, but his grandmother assured him that “Grandson its fresh fish! How can you screw it up?” Like he told the Sun Bay Paper in Issue 20 “fresh seafood, local ingredients, It’s as simple as that.”  Russo gave many jobs to people in our community including Executive Chef Pablo Felin at the Fresh Catch Bistro who only took the position after being a professional chef for over 30 years saying “I accepted it only because he gave me the latitude to be creative.” Ollie Curran, owner of Hair Etc. also said “Alfredo always had a big heart and loved employing people, my prayers go out for all those who worked for his businesses, but I’m sure his son will take care of them just like his Dad always did.”  Russo will be greatly missed by the entire community and remembered as a creative, generous and astute business man of many accomplishments.

A brief search of Russo shows just how many people he actually affected, with everyone extending their condolences and expressing the loss of a man loved by all.  Russo’s son, Franco Russo, a resident of California, received an unwelcome call but despite the distance he was still able to be with his father during his passing.  Too many people Russo was like family and will be sorely missed by his friends and family. As business associate Joe Orlandini said, “He was loved by so many.  Whatever he had was yours that is the kind of person Alfredo was. I’ve never known anyone like him.  He loved the beach and all its inhabitants.”  One of Russo’s favorite quotes used above, “In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion.  In oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle” reflects his wisdom and love for the beach.

The moment of his passing word spread down the beach like a tidal wave.  It wasn’t long before every news source was writing about him, that’s just how loved and well known he was.  The Fort Myers beach community has lost a man who encompassed the qualities of perseverance and generosity leaving behind an ocean of accomplishments that has rippled across the beaches.  I think we can all agree that Russo was a one of a kind person, entrepreneur, father, and friend.  To all those that knew him and are grieving the loss remember that he left behind a great legacy and lives on through family and friends.

There will be a Mass of Christian burial held Friday, June 3rd under the direction of Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Garden, Naples, FL.  A wake is to take place Thursday, June 2nd between 5:00pm and 8:00pm.  A friend of Russo, David Annaruma wrote Sunday “This planet has lost a true and amazing person today.  Alfredo was the first person that my baby daughter Victoria would allow to hold her.  That was 13 years ago.  He has been a blessing to me and my family for years.  He will be missed here on Earth; however he will be walking streets of gold with our lord and savior, my deepest condolences to Frankie and the family.  May god be with you all during this sorrowful time.”  

Monday, 30 May 2016 16:40

Support Councilwoman Gore

EDITORIAL: Support Councilwoman Gore
 
Ignore Biased Local Media and Government Officials Serving Special Interests
 
Charleton Heston once made a movie named “Soylent Green.” It was set in the not-to-distant future when man had destroyed the natural environment of the land so badly nothing would grow. People were surviving by eating food produced in the oceans. When Heston discovers that the oceans are in their final death throes and the people are being fed reconstituted human bodies he is hunted down and shot to keep him from disclosing the facts to everyone.  The powers that be have never liked us to know the truth; they believe with true arrogance that “The People” are incapable of thinking for themselves.
While this is a fictional account of a possible future, there is really no disputing that we are facing the collapse of our planetary biospheres at an unprecedented rate. Over 80% of our ocean fisheries are either fully exploited, over-exploited or already in collapse and now, just this week we’ve witnesses another massive Green Algae breakout on our own Caloosahatchee River. The problem is hitting home and while our elected officials shift the blame around and avoid real solutions because they are indebted or enamored with big agriculture and sugar growers, public utilities, mining and ranching interests –these very real boogiemen continue to squander our common heritage and quality of life for short-term profits. It is so bad that even the corporate media – our local Gannett paper, the News Press, ran a headline this week that read:
 
River Gunk: Algae Bloom Turns the Caloosahatchee Green
 
And all the while, most of our elected officials continue to try and deflect us from the most serious crisis in our community – the continued availability of clean, healthy water.
Just this past week in what should be a friendly environment of local council members meeting on Fort Myers Beach, the manipulations by the key players reached new heights. While hosting Kevin Ruane, mayor of Sanibel, and self-proclaimed people’s champion for proper environmental policies, one of the newly elected members of the Beach Council – Tracey Gore – tried to get some hard answers to her questions about why better, more effective policies were being avoided as the rivers and coastal areas turn green and brown with algae caused by known culprits. Rather than directly address her concerns, Ruane, aided by Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki, insulted Gore, saying she was the problem!
To add injury to insult the so-called “local paper” – The Island Sand Paper published a scathing editorial by its Editor Missy Layfield calling Gore to further task instead of defending their brave council woman’s persistence to get answers to legitimate questions. Most residents of Fort Myers Beach recently elected Gore by wide margins BECAUSE she is seen as a genuinely honest champion of the people in sharp contrast to some other local politicians that are ostensibly under the control of a few well-placed or well-heeled insiders like businessman Al Durett, the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Island Sand Paper itself. A newspaper that, co-incidentally derives a substantial portion of its revenues from Durrett or his shopping mall and marina interests.
Gore was opposed by these folks but was elected in spite of their opposition because the people want answers. They are sick of walking our beaches and seeing dead fish and disgusting algae; they are sick of reading about the bad water policies but seeing nothing done about it and they are angry that those they elect seem to fall under the spell of those with money to spend on protecting their special interests rather than looking out for the rest of us.
This is not just a local phenomenon as witnessed by the rise of outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson or those like Bernie Sanders that have social agendas never before popular in America. The people are waking up and they understand that much of the media and almost all of our governmental agencies are avoiding real solutions because those with the purse strings manipulate us to no end.
Unfortunately for those trying to stay below the radar as they manipulate, Fort Myers Beach has a very active and politically aware population living on its tiny Island jurisdiction. And they have awoken even more than the general population.
We take umbrage with the Island Sand Paper for publishing an editorial chastising councilwoman Gore. As the former Editor and Founder of the Sand Paper (I started and ran it from its inception in 2000 until sold in 2010) I have unique knowledge of how it makes money on the Beach. I find it quite disingenuous that Editor Layfield would take Gore to task for “lack of civility” while ignoring the underlying frustration Gore must feel from never getting direct answers to the very questions we elected her to ask. A true community paper should spend more time on ferreting out malfeasance and misfeasance in government and less time dispensing “kudos” to further ingratiate itself with Islanders. A newspaper should be a watchdog, not a lapdog.
As a former Chairman of the Board of the local Chamber, I have unique knowledge of how that organization pretends to be for the good of all but really just serves its own interests and the interests of those members that pay into its coffer.
And finally, as someone who has heard Mr. Durrett curse and slam public officials that don’t kowtow to his agendas and bow down to his money, I feel my opinion (if not fact) is well informed and grounded in knowledge certain gained from years of dealing with these people. It should also be noted that Durett is one of the biggest advertisers in the Sand Paper and also supports the Chamber.
Make no mistake the paper, chamber and moneyman have formed an alliance for their own sakes and Tracey Gore’s election has upset their apple cart.
One of the saddest things to witness is how many otherwise good locals are still being deceived by these special interests masquerading as “friends of the Beach”, whether by some paltry donations or “special recognition” or even in the name of art.
Council woman Gore is one of the true people’s champions I have seen in my long years researching, writing and publishing in South Florida. Do not be duped by media attacks or any other form of diversion. Stand by her, she will make you proud.
Caption: This photo shows what the water looks like in the Caloosahatchee River as it flows into our backyard. As our waters continue to sicken threatening the foundations of our prosperity and health, officials continue to ignore real solutions to the problem. In typical fashion, political infighting, diversion and finger-pointing at anyone who dares to address the root causes of our water quality decline - big sugar, agriculture, mining and ranching in complicity with the best elected officials these special interests can buy - continues unchecked and in most instances unchallenged. Even at the most local of levels, politics and business as usual is preventing sound policies from being formulated and implemented. (See the related Editorial in this weeks edition for one recent example of why it is so difficult to cut through politics and implement commonsense)

250x250

digital version