One of the issues that the Commission has been working hardest to address over recent weeks concerns the proposed oil well that Kanter Real Estate LLC has applied to construct and operate in the Broward County Section of the historic Florida Everglades. To be perfectly clear,
I do not want to see any oil drilling take place in the Florida Everglades. Furthermore, I sponsored a discussion about the proposed oil well on the August 11th agenda, and was happy to hear that each one of my fellow commissioners reiterated their opposition to oil drilling in the Everglades.
Beam Furr at Everglades Holiday Park, Broward’s Gateway to the Everglades.
If you missed the
discussion, the video can be
What can Broward County do about this project?
Broward County has already sent letters to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and several other state agencies outlining our concerns about the risks posed by Kanter’s proposed activity. The Broward County Attorney’s office has also pointed to a series of County Permits and Variances that would be required in association with this project. First and foremost, the proposed drilling site is designated as Water Conservation Area in the County’s Land Use Plan, and it is zoned at the strictest zoning category, Conservation. Oil drilling is not considered a permissible use of that land; before they begin drilling, Kanter Real Estate LLC must apply to Broward County.
What is Broward County’s Role in permitting Oil and Gas Drilling?
Unfortunately, Broward County does not have permitting authority over oil and gas drilling. Kanter Real Estate LLC applied to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for a permit, and depending on the size of the project they may have to obtain an additional permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers before any drilling can begin.
However, I believe that those who want to drill for oil or gas should have to apply to Broward County if they want to drill within our borders. In fact, Florida State Statute says that oil and gas drilling may only be permitted within a municipality when the municipality has approved the application. Yet, this language only includes applications to drill within an incorporated City, Town or Village. I made a motion to include an amendment to this statute in the County’s legislative program, clarifying that in unincorporated areas, the County acting as the municipality also has this permitting authority.
Perhaps, the most important thing to take away, right now, is that Broward County is taking this matter seriously, and we are considering every available option in order to ensure that no drilling takes place in our County’s section of the historic Everglades.
When is Uber coming back to Broward?
On August 11th, the Broward County Commission voted to revisit our Motor Carrier Ordinance in order to make it easier for TNCs such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Broward County. I consider this to be a good thing, and I am happy to support these common sense solutions. For public safety, we will still insist that drivers for TNCs undergo background checks, vehicle inspections and carry the necessary insurance before getting on the road. However, the County should be flexible in allowing the private sector to partner with our regulators in achieving these goals. The simple fact is companies like Uber provide a valuable service at an affordable price. Furthermore, there are real advantages that we can bring to our regional public transportation by partnering with ridesharing services in order to help solve the “first mile/last mile” problem. That is to say, Uber and Lyft may be the best way to ensure that more commuters can use services like Tri-Rail, All Aboard Florida, BCT buses and other fixed route services.
Thinking about the long term, it will be important for the County Commission to continue to embrace new ways to solve old problems. This will involve re-thinking and re-configuring the way we approach regulation. For now, I will make sure to keep you up to date on when we expect this issue to come before us again. There will be at least one more vote by the County Commission and a Public Hearing before any changes are finalized. However, once the changes are finalized, I fully expect that Uber and Lyft will turn their apps back on, and we will all be riding again.
Library Card Month
On Tuesday, August 25th a Broward County Library Card application was given to each student in our elementary schools. This means 100,000 Broward County students can now apply for their first library card. That is pretty amazing, and it required months of coordination between the Broward County Libraries Division and the Broward County School Board. It makes sense that every student in Broward County should have access to the resources of the Broward County Library, and yet many never sign up for a library card. This is a first step toward bridging that gap. If you are the parent of a student who received that form make sure to fill it out and send it back as soon as possible.
Children’s Services Council Back To School Backpack Giveaway and Community Extravaganza
I am so proud of the Children’s Services Council for organizing phenomenal back to school events throughout the County. I attended one this past Saturday, August 15th at Pines Middle School. Each year thousands of students in Broward return to school without proper supplies or clothes. This is why the Children’s Services Council of Broward organizes a community-wide effort to help all students and teachers get what they need to have a successful school year. Through Broward's Back to School Community Extravaganza, community donations go to outfit a child with a uniform, shoes, backpack and supplies. Then, the leftover school supplies help stock the shelves in the Broward Education Foundation's Tools for Schools Broward, a FREE store where teachers from Title I schools can get free school supplies for their students in need.
Beam Furr with Children’s Services Council President/CEO Cindy Arenberg Seltzer at the Back to School Community Extravaganza in Pembroke Pines
Book Suggestion – How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
I came across an excellent book recently by author Paul Tough, called How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. In it, Tough encourages parents, educators and policymakers to shift their focus from the traditional measures of IQ and test scores in early childhood development to indicators of hard work and determination when predicting future success. Too often, Tough argues, our school systems and education policy has treated early measures of cognitive function – that is IQ tests, pattern recognition tests, calculation skills – as fixed traits. However, Tough finds that most of the academic literature on long term student success suggests that there are greater factors at work. Tough suggests that the most successful students, throughout life, are those who exhibit the greatest willingness to work through failure, not the ones who never fail.
This is a book that will change the way you look at early childhood education.
If you would like to borrow this book from the Broward County Library, you can find it here:
Budget Public Hearings
Last but certainly not least, the County Commission is working on the County Budget for the upcoming year, and we want to hear from you. We will hold two budget public hearings in September for the public to give testimony and tell us how they feel that our tax dollars can best be spent. The first public hearing for the budget will be held on Thursday September 10th at 5 PM, and the second public hearing is held the next week on Thursday September 17th also at 5 PM. The public hearings will be held in the Broward County Commission Chambers at 115 S. Andrews Ave. Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301 Room 412. If you are planning to attend, you are welcome to park at Governmental Parking Garage at 151 SW 2nd St. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, and you can validate your parking in the lobby.
FYI – September 1st through September 3rd Johnson Street will be Closed at the FEC Railroad Crossing for Maintenance and Improvements
If you use Johnson Street to cross the FEC Railroad Tracks (next to Dixie Highway) as part of your daily commute, please note that All Aboard Florida is going to be doing maintenance and improvement work on that section of rail, closing the east-west crossing from 6 AM September 1st through 12 Midnight September 3rd. Please plan your route accordingly.
Our district office is conveniently located in the lobby of the Hollywood Branch of the Broward County Public Library at 2600 Hollywood Blvd, next to Hollywood City Hall. This office is open for your convenience Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you would like to schedule an appointment, or you have a great idea, suggestion or an issue that needs my attention feel free to call me at 954-357-7006 or send me an email at