Cultural Arts Literacy Initiative
One of the principles that guides my work is the knowledge that decisions we make today create our future. By the time our children are three years old, there is already a thirty million word gap in the number of words to which they have been exposed if they are from a low income family compared to a family that is more affluent. Opportunities to have and talk about shared meaningful experiences early in their lives has a direct impact on a child’s later ability to read.
It is unfortunate that by third grade, 43% of our children are unable to read at
a grade level. A figure that is even more disturbing is the
fact that as that child continues in school, the impact of that gap widens. A whopping 76% of those children struggling to read at grade level in third grade, will not complete high school. Clearly, we must take action and we must do it early in a child’s life.
As Co-Chair of the Children’s Services Council’s Literacy Coalition, I am involved in bringing forth a variety of actions that will make a difference. We recently convened a roundtable discussion with some of Broward’s premier cultural arts organizations. We discussed an innovative program that has already made a positive impact on children and families in the cities of Denver and Tampa. In addition to admission at no cost to the selected families, this program offers strategies that extend family conversations about their shared experience beyond their visit. We can all be proud that 22 of Broward’s premier cultural organizations responded with an enthusiastic YES! to our invitation to participate in this effort.
We are working together with the Broward County Cultural Division, Broward County Libraries Division, Broward County Public Schools, the Children’s Services Council, and the Early Learning Coalition of Broward to make this happen. The research is clear. Rich early learning experiences, through young children’s introduction to cultural arts venues will have a significant impact on their brain development, and the ability to strengthen families by exposing them to these rich experiences together.
The County recently consolidated the 911 services throughout Broward County. There is now a new non-emergency number that can be used throughout the County. That number is
Up until 2013, each city effectively ran its own dispatch service for police, fire rescue and emergency medical services. This made sense when most 911 calls were made from land lines, as the call would go straight from the caller’s phone to the local dispatch office. Now, upwards of 80% of all emergency calls are made from cell phones. Instead, cell phone calls travel to the nearest cell tower before connecting to the call’s receiver. This created a problem, as the 911 calls were then routed to the dispatch office closest to the cell tower, not the office closest to the caller. So the County arranged with the cities to create three regional dispatch centers to be operated by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The South Facility is located in Pembroke Pines, and it serves the dispatch needs for the entire southern part of Broward County.
The goal of this consolidation is two-fold. The first goal is to end the need to transfer emergency calls from cell phone users between multiple city dispatch services. The second goal is to ensure that all dispatch employees in Broward County are using the best possible practices, equipment and software when handling emergency calls.
On September 3rd I took a tour of the South Facility in Pembroke Pines. I was highly impressed with the knowledge and the dedication of the staff. Much of that should have been expected given that all of the regional dispatch personnel spent years, if not decades, working in dispatch for the city of Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Miramar or working for
the Broward Sheriff’s Office before the merger.
However, several people expressed concern that it was more difficult than anyone imagined to transition from being an expert in the geography of a single city to learning all of the roadways and landmarks across the entire county. After all, even with the best software and resources, sometimes calls come into the 911 call center from visitors or tourists who are not familiar with their own surroundings.
I understand this concern, and I feel that it should be a priority of the County Commission to make sure that we set aside funds for a robust training/retraining program in the regionalized 911 budget over the next few years. This way we can ensure that our personnel have the best opportunity to succeed in handling an emergency.
September is Library Card Month in Broward County
As we mentioned last month, a lot of work went into coordinating between Broward County Public Schools and Broward County Libraries to ensure that Broward County Library Card applications were included with the first day packet for all of Broward County’s 100,000 elementary school students. To show our appreciation for the success of this effort, both the Broward County School Board and the Board of County Commissioners issued a joint-recognition of September 2015 as Library Card Month in Broward County.
Welcome to our Newest Citizens
On Friday, September 18th I was honored to give the keynote address to America’s newest citizens at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Naturalization Ceremony in Miramar. For those of us born in the United States, it is easy to overlook the struggles inherent in the immigrant experience. I have the deepest respect for those who come to this country in search of a better life, those who work hard, play by the rules and lend their skills and talents to the fabric of our society. To that end, I felt a profound sense of pride to greet our newest official citizens as “my fellow Americans.”
Puppy Mill Awareness Day
As a dog owner, I know that family dogs and cats are not pets, they’re family. Yet nothing hurts a family like watching a family member grow sick to the point where you can no longer care for them. Unfortunately, puppy mill breeders have put families in Broward County in this horrible situation too many times. I was happy to request a proclamation from Broward County for Puppy Mill Awareness Day. A lot of credit goes to Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Michele Lazarow, who has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to this issue every day. I hope that Broward County and the cities can continue working on this important issue as part of our goal to make Broward a “no-kill shelter” community.
For this reason, I was happy to work with Commissioner Lazarow to request a proclamation from Broward County, recognizing
September 27th, 2015 as Puppy Mill Awareness Day.
Broward Legislative Delegation & Constitutional Officers - Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice Public Hearing
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the Sunrise Civic Center, Ballroom at 10610 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Sunrise, 33351, the Broward Legislative Delegation is co-hosting a Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice Public Hearing with the Broward County Constitutional Officers. This means that you have the opportunity to let your State Representatives, State Senators, along with the Sheriff’s Office, Public Defender, Clerk of Courts, State’s Attorney and the Clerk of Courts
know how you feel about the current status of Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice in the State of Florida.
Sign up to speak -
Sign up here
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