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Items filtered by date: July 2020

While COVID-19 forced the closure of many of our region’s family nature-related activities, the Historic Mound House, on Fort Myers Beach at 451 Connecticut Street and on the National Register of
Historic Places, still offers several outdoor events for all ages, complete with COVID-19 precautions. The Mound House itself, however, is closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

Friday, August 7: “Family Fun Kayak Tour”: Age 6 & up weather permitting at 9 a.m.

Fun for the whole family on a specially-designed Environmental Educator-guided kayak tour! See birds, dolphins, manatee, and other wildlife as we paddle through the Estero Bay mangroves. Your family must have children between the ages of 6 to 11 to qualify, with advance registration necessary. $25-per-person age 13 & up; $15-per-person ages 6 to 12. The Mound House provides all equipment, with CDC and Social Distancing in place; All Participants MUST wear a mask on land! Maximum of 8 people per program.

Saturday, August 8: “Mangroves by Kayak Tour”: Ages 12 & up weather permitting at 8:30 a.m.
Explore the winding mangrove creeks and the hidden waters of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve as only a kayaker can on this Environmental Educator-guided tour of the ancient realm of the Calusa! Witness birds, fish, manatee and dolphins as you paddle through the natural beauty of Estero and Hell Peckney Bays in a tandem kayak. All paddling & safety equipment provided, with kayak tours in accordance with Florida Society of Ethical Ecotourism guidelines. $45-per-person; Mound House members $15. Advance reservations necessary; private tours available. CDC and Social Distancing guideline in place & All Participants MUST wear a mask on land! 8 paddlers per tour.

Saturday, August 8: “Gardens of the Mound House Outdoor Tour”: All ages weather permitting at 11 a.m.
See what is blooming and growing in the Mound House Gardens that make them a great place for local wildlife! Perfect for families and adults, with CDC and Social Distancing in place and All Participants MUST wear a mask! $5-per-person, Mound House members Free.

Tuesday, August 11: FREE “Newton Beach Park Guided Beach Walk”: All ages weather permitting at 9 a.m.
This twice-weekly free outdoor nature program is different every single time, as the “Guided Beach Walks” have a simple premise – the groups walk roughly a half-mile down the beach and back, discussing whatever you find that particular morning, with the wind and waves dictating what comes up each day. Newton Beach Park is mid-island at 4650 Estero Boulevard; meet at the thatched hut closest to the beach, with CDC and Social Distancing in place and face masks MANDATORY. In addition to your face mask, bring sunscreen, shoes to get wet, sunglasses, and hat if necessary. No reservations necessary; while free, parking is $3-per-hour, with one hour generally enough.

Tuesday, August 11: “Gardens of the Mound House Outdoor Tour”: All ages weather permitting at 11 a.m.
See what is blooming and growing in the Mound House Gardens that make them a great place for local wildlife! Perfect for families and adults, with CDC and Social Distancing in place and All Participants MUST wear a mask! $5-per-person, Mound House members Free.

Wednesday, August 12: “Mangroves by Kayak Tour”: Ages 12 & up weather permitting at 8:30 a.m.
Explore the winding mangrove creeks and the hidden waters of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve as only a kayaker can on this Environmental Educator-guided tour of the ancient realm of the Calusa! Witness birds, fish, manatee and dolphins as you paddle through the natural beauty of Estero and Hell Peckney Bays in a tandem kayak. All paddling & safety equipment provided, with kayak tours in accordance with Florida Society of Ethical Ecotourism guidelines. $45-per-person; Mound House members $15. Advance reservations necessary; private tours available. CDC and Social Distancing guideline in place & All Participants MUST wear a mask on land! 8 people per tour.

Thursday, August 13: FREE “Newton Beach Park Guided Beach Walk”: All ages weather permitting at 9 a.m.
This twice-weekly free outdoor nature program is different every single time, as the “Guided Beach Walks” have a simple premise – the groups walk roughly a half-mile down the beach and back, discussing whatever you find that particular morning, with the wind and waves dictating what comes up each day. Meet at the thatched hut closest to the beach, with CDC and Social Distancing in place and face masks MANDATORY. In addition to your face mask, bring sunscreen, shoes to get wet, sunglasses, and hat if necessary. No reservations necessary; while free, parking is $3-per-hour, with one hour generally enough.

Thursday, August 13: “Gardens of the Mound House Outdoor Tour”: All ages weather permitting at 11 a.m.
See what is blooming and growing in the Mound House Gardens that make them a great place for local wildlife! Perfect for families and adults, with CDC and Social Distancing in place and All Participants MUST wear a mask! $5-per-person, Mound House members Free.

Friday, August 14: “Family Fun Kayak Tour”: Ages 6 & up weather permitting at 9 a.m.
Fun for the whole family on a specially-designed Environmental Educator-guided kayak tour! See birds, dolphins, manatee, and other wildlife as we paddle through the Estero Bay mangroves. Your family must have children between the ages of 6 to 11 to qualify, with advance registration necessary. $25-per-person age 13 & up; $15-per-person ages 6 to 12. The Mound House provides all equipment, with CDC and Social Distancing in place; All Participants MUST wear a mask on land! Maximum of 8 people per program.

For reservations, updates and a program schedule, call 239-765-0865 or see www.moundhouse.org.

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Published in Outdoor

When Americans cast their votes for president, they are in reality directing other people — called electors — to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes in their state. The political party of the winning candidate in each state then sends its preselected electors to the state capital to vote. This is the Electoral College, and its members elect the president and vice president of the United States.

Why does this process exist? The framers of the Constitution established the Electoral College in the Constitution to forge a compromise between those who wanted the president to be elected by members of Congress and those who wanted a president elected by a popular vote.

Today, 538 electors constitute the Electoral College. Each state is allocated electors equal to its number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives (currently a total of 435) plus its two senators (a total of 100). The District of Columbia is also allocated three electors. These numbers can change every 10 years, based on the results of the census. State laws differ on how electors are chosen.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have a winner-take-all policy that the Electoral College must follow. That means that a candidate who wins, say, 51% of the state’s popular vote is awarded 100% of the state’s electors.

Since the nation’s founding, hundreds of proposals to reform or eliminate the Electoral College have aimed to change how Americans elect a president. But since the process is defined in the Constitution, only an amendment can change the system. Passing a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Representatives and in the Senate plus the approval of three-quarters of the states, or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures (which has never happened).

Maine and Nebraska allow electors to be split between parties, proportionally to how their candidates won in different parts of the state. However, a selection of mixed-party electors has happened only twice: in Nebraska in 2008 and in Maine in 2016.

Five times in our history has a president has been elected by winning the Electoral College vote but not the popular vote. This happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.

Two times in our history has presidential election been decided in the House of Representatives because of a tie in electoral votes. This chamber of Congress elects the president if no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes and did so in 1800 and 1824.

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Published in Politics

Town of Fort Myers Beach resident Chris Patton, with financial support from the Lani Kai Island Resort, (Robert Conidaris, owner of Lani Kai, told The News-Press last year he would help fund Patton's legal fees.) dropped their latest lawsuit to halt the proposed Margaritaville Resort late on Wednesday, August 5.

This came after Town Council’s Monday, August 3, meeting, where the elective body, supported by numerous island residents in “Public Comment,” resolved to take firm action against the controversial Fort Myers Beach hotel known for its extensive emergency response calls from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, culminating in a murder on its beachfront early on Wednesday, July 15, as well as its protracted lawsuits to stop the Margaritaville construction.

While not an agenda item, the Lani Kai was the meeting’s preeminent topic. Seventeen residents addressed Council during “Public Comment,” all in favor of the Town taking strict measures to regulate the Lani Kai, including the establishment of a Nuisance Abatement Board to curtail criminal and other unwanted activities.

Mari Torgerson, wife of Margaritaville Board Chairman Tom Torgerson, spoke first, saying that “the Second District Court of Appeals dismissed their appeal on July 8 and on July 9, they filed another lawsuit! Our taxpayers are concerned about the amount of money spent on these frivolous lawsuits, so we ask Council to finally end this fiasco once and for all, as these delays are simply a personal agenda. Margaritaville will be a tremendous asset, as the people of Fort Myers Beach deserve better.”

Marty Harrity, co-owner of several area restaurants including The Whale, directly across from the Lani Kai, added that “‘frivolous’ seems to be the word of the day! Margaritaville received 100% approval from three Town Councils, including this one. It will fix the decaying entrance to the island, except for these frivolous lawsuits. All one has to do is just look at the police reports for the last 18 months of what’s going on in Town. For the past 23 years, I owned and operated The Whale, and watched my sales deteriorate to the point that my partner and I are looking at other options for The Whale. I ask this Council to do whatever it takes to stop these lawsuits and to put a stop to the lawlessness at the Lani Kai!”

Dawn Thomas, who lives near the Lani Kai, said that “since January 2019, our neighbor has had 1,345 LCSO calls, ranging from battery, sexual assault, grand theft, indecent behavior, domestic violence, narcotics, wanted criminals, hit-&-run, stabbings, and now murder. It’s time to clean up this property and hold them responsible.”

Captain Andrew Prisco of the LCSO informed Council that the Sheriff’s Office will establish a Community Response Unit near the Lani Kai by mid-August, but not to confuse that for a LCSO Substation.

Mayor Ray Murphy acknowledged that the Patton has yet to serve him with the July 9 lawsuit. Town Attorney John Herin, Junior, stated that the lawyer can wait 120 days before serving the Mayor, as a delaying tactic. Council unanimously instructed Herin to accept the lawsuit on the Town’s behalf, to move forward the process as quickly as possible.

Council member Bill Veach doubts that a Nuisance Abatement Board will be effective against the Lani Kai, but may be beneficial in future situations, while admitting that the number of emergency calls to the Lani Kai is “quite stunning!” Council member Jim Atterholt noted that in addition to the LCSO Lani Kai calls, the FMB Fire Department made more stops there over the past four years than any other island address, agreeing that “the numbers are stunning! Fort Myers Beach taxpayers are in affect subsidizing their business model and this must stop now; enough is enough so let’s roll!” Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros would like Council to put together a strategy with the LCSO “to take stronger action in regard to that property.” Council member Dan Allers believed the Nuisance Abatement Board would be “a step in the right direction but will not solve all the issues. We must do everything in our power to end this sooner rather than later.” Murphy noted he met with the Lani Kai ownership “and I see a positive resolution coming down the road!

Let’s see how this thing develops over the next week or so.”

During Council’s Agenda items, they unanimously approved a “Solid Waste Interlocal Agreement” with Lee County; a “Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Agreement” for an Old San Carlos BoulevardTraffic Signal for $695,000; a Matanzas Pass Bridge FDOT Maintenance Agreement for $21,317; will not allocate $54,640 to fund half the pay for the Beach Elementary School Resource Officer; named Murphy as the 2020 “Florida League of Cities” Voting Delegate; and appointed Veach as the “Estero Bay Agency” Management Representative.

 

Published in Business

The U.S. Census Bureau's new deadline to finish the decennial headcount likely ensures census undercounts in Florida that could cost the state billions over the next 10 years and douses its long-shot hopes of picking up a third new congressional seat.

The deadline to finish the count, which determines federal and state allocations for the next decade, now is Sept. 30, four weeks earlier than planned since spring.

The bureau reported Monday that 93 million households, nearly 63 percent of all households in the nation, have self-responded to the census and at least 60 million households remain uncounted. They will need to be ferreted out by 500,000 door-knockers the bureau said it is dispatching to the streets this month.

More than 41 percent of households in Florida failed to self-report and remained uncounted as of late July, Census Bureau Assistant Regional Manager Marilyn Stephens told the Capitol News Service.

“So Florida’s not pleased with where it is right now, and that’s why we are working so hard on this push to get more households to self-respond,” Stephens said.

Areas with undercounts face significant repercussions in not receiving their share of $700 billion in annual federal funding – a projected $1.5 trillion through 2030 – to be distributed by census-based formulas.

An estimated 200,670-person undercount in the 2000 census cost Florida about $225 million annually, or more than $2.5 billion over the decade, according to the bureau.

An estimated 1.4 million undercount in Florida’s 2010 census – the third-highest in the nation – cost the state more than $20 billion in federal allocations this decade, the bureau estimated.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic skewered the Census Bureau’s timelines and the headcount was accelerated by a month, an Urban Institute study predicted Florida’s Hispanic and Black populations would be undercounted and its white population overcounted, making the state’s census among the nation’s most inaccurate.

The Washington-based nonpartisan think tank outlined three scenarios in its census projections, with anywhere from 97,000 to 320,000 people – roughly the population of Orlando – going uncounted, at least.

Urban Institute researchers concluded the census will fail to count about 2.4 percent of Black Americans and 2 percent of Hispanic Americans while slightly overcounting second home owners and seasonal residents, who tend to be seniors and white.

Florida ranks 11th among states in Black residents who comprise about 18 percent of the state’s population and sixth in total Hispanic share of the population, 27 percent.

Florida was slow to gear up for the census. After maintaining for months the headcount was best left to the bureau and more than 120 local committees across the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez in January to lead a 19-member Florida Complete Count Committee.

Unlike California, which has spent nearly $200 million preparing for the 2020 census – New York City spent $40 million and Illinois spent $29 million – Florida did not allocate money for the census.

What may have spurred DeSantis to join 45 other states in lending executive assistance to the headcounters was the outside potential of qualifying for a third new congressional district.

The bureau estimated in January that Florida’s population was 21.48 million, which means the state virtually is assured of adding two members to its 27-member Congressional delegation and gaining two votes in the Electoral College.

Virginia-based political consulting firm Election Data Services, however, projected Florida was about 172,000 people away from adding another seat, nearly 200,000 people closer to qualifying for a third new congressional district than it was in 2018.

John Haughey
The Center Square

Published in Politics
Friday, 07 August 2020 17:11

Pick of the Week: Summerlin Cafe

I decided to check out a new restaurant that bravely opened up DURING THIS PANDEMIC ... It's called The Summerlin Cafe.

I asked if the owners were in and met with John & Nick Drivas, they have been in restaurant business some 30 years, starting and growing up in the family business up in Tampa... now open for Breakfast and Lunch at this time and are scheduled to add dinner in October... God willing.

Serving breakfast all day with coffee, tea or juice included... offering specialty skillets, omelets, pancakes, French Toast, Crepes, Waffles and all the traditional dishes as well. They post daily breakfast and lunch specials everyday on their Facebook page, the day I was there they had Crunchy Coconut French Toast as their breakfast specials. (see picture) Salads come with a free bowl of soup, always made from scratch and all sandwiches come with one side..

coconut curnchy french toast sm

They purchased the building that the old Sunflower Cafe Restaurant was in, and spent months remodeling, the location feels squeaky clean and wide open ... Located at 11370 Summerlin Square Dr. on the very outer edge of Fort Myers Beach on the road that parallels

Summerlin Road by the new Wal-Mart and they want everybody to know that they are practicing all CDC guidelines and social distancing.

John and Nick are Greek so you'll find some great traditional Greek dishes like Gyros, Traditionally cooked on premises or my all time Greek
favorite .... Chicken Souvlaki, (see picture below) a chicken shish kabob marinated in lemon, garlic, oregano and Greek Seasonings, laid over pita bread with tomatoes & onions with homemade tzatziki sauce on the side. and many others dishes with an added Greek flair.

siyvkaki sm

So come on out and help support this new venture....

Mention you saw this article and get 1 BOGO Mimosa or Bloody Mary for breakfast or lunch.

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Published in General/Features

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