Tag Archives: Florida

Florida County Sues Companies For Aiding Opioid Crisis

(DCNF) Palm Beach County in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday against major corporations alleging some of their business practices led to the rise of the opioid crisis.

The county in the lawsuit accuses corporations like Walmart, CVS and Walgreens for using “unfair” marketing techniques to “reverse” common understanding of opioids, which led more people to be prescribed them, reported The Palm Beach Post.

“Defendants, through a sophisticated, highly deceptive and unfair marketing campaign that began in the late 1990s, deepened around 2006, and continues to the present, set out to, and did, reverse the popular and medical understanding of opioids,” the complaint alleges. “Chronic opioid therapy—the prescribing of opioids to treat chronic pain long-term—is now commonplace.”

The opioid crisis has spiked over the past few years and Palm Beach County has been particularly affected by the crisis. A November 2017 report named the county as the “epicenter” of the crisis in the state as there were 571 heroin overdoses in the county in 2016.

“The thousands of Palm Beach County families struck by this epidemic deserve to hold someone accountable for deceptive, unscrupulous practices involving opioid dispensing, advertising and prescribing,” Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay, a Democrat, noted in a statement about the lawsuit.

A total of 29 defendants are named in the lawsuit. One defendant released a statement pushing back against the lawsuit and its accusations.

“Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated. Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation,” John Parker, SVP, Healthcare Distribution Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Walmart, CVS and Walgreens did not return request for comment in time for publication.


Written by Amber Randall


This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.


Florida Bans So-Called Campus ‘Free Speech Zones’

(DCNF) Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Sunday eliminating “free speech zones,” which are known for restricting free speech on campuses to a certain location.

SB 4, which also enables students to levy state lawsuits against public universities that violate students’ rights to expression, cleared the Florida Senate in a 33-5 vote after passing the state House in an 84-28 vote, reported the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a free speech nonprofit group.

“Students at public colleges and universities in Florida should not have their free speech quarantined by overly restrictive policies,” FIRE legislative and policy director Joe Cohn said in a press release. “Now that Florida’s Campus Free Expression Act is law, these egregious policies of censorship must be rescinded immediately.”

Florida is the ninth state to ban “free speech zones” and FIRE’s executive director Robert Shibley mentioned in a press release his hope that the U.S. would proceed with a nationwide ban on the policies restricting student speech.

FIRE has cataloged how friendly 13 Florida universities are to free speech, judging them with a colored system in which a green light signifies a full embrace of free speech and a red light indicates significant resistance in terms of policies. The nonprofit rates the University of Florida and the University of North Florida with green lights, the University of Miami and Florida State University with red lights, and the remaining seven schools with yellow lights.

“Today is a huge victory for current and future college students across the Sunshine State who will no longer be discouraged from fully expressing their ideas and beliefs,” Demetrius Minor, Florida’s coalitions director for center-right young adult advocacy group Generation Opportunity, said in a press release. “We thank Governor Scott, as well as Speaker Corcoran, Senate President Negron, Rep. Rommel, Sen. Baxley and others who fought hard to ensure that Orwellian “free speech zones” are a thing of the past in Florida.”

Written by: Rob Shimshock
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This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

BREAKING: Florida Shooting Near City Hall Leaves Three Dead

INGLIS, Florida, October 1, 2015– Around 6:00 Eastern this evening, responders found multiple victims shot to death at a home near the Inglis, Florida City Hall. The shooter, currently unidentified, killed two and injured another before shooting himself.

Police found two male bodies outside the house. One man had died from injuries, and the other was life-flighted due to life-threatening injuries. Meanwhile, police saw a man in the widow on the property. Moments later, they heard a shot fired. Upon entering the house, police found the man dead from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound and an additional deceased female victim.

No other details are currently available.

The shooting occurred approximately 12 hours after a mass shooting at an Oregon community college that left at least 10 dead and another 20 injured.

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Couple Faces 15 Years in Prison for Having Sex on the Beach

Washington D.C.- A couple in Florida is in hot water after being convicted of ‘lewd and lascivious exhibition’ Monday for having sex on a public beach in front of families.

Following a video showing the two moving in a ‘sexual manner’ in broad daylight, it took the Manatee County jury about 15 minutes on Monday to find 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez and 40-year-old Jose Caballero guilty of lewd and lascivious exhibition.

Witnesses testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them.

VIDEO: Florida Deputy Pursues, Shoots Unarmed Man Holding Cellphone

On Thursday, dashcam video was published by WPTV, which depicted an encounter between 20-year-old Dontrell Stephens and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adams Lin that left Stephens paralyzed from the waist down in September 2013.

The video shows Lin trailing Stephens, as Stephens rides on his bicycle while talking on his cellphone. Stephens pulls off to the side of the road, gets off of his bicycle, walks towards Lin and out of the dash cam’s frame, with his cellphone in his right hand.

Four seconds later Stephens reappears in the video and Lin opens fire, shooting Stephens four times.

WPTV noted that Stephens has a criminal record for possessing cocaine, and that the release of the video is part of a joint investigation into police shootings as part of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

A second Deputy arrived at the scene, and the video shows Lin defending himself, saying, “He starts backing away. I said, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground.‘”

The other deputy replies, “I got your back man. I got your back. Hey, you hear me?

WPTV reported that Lin was “cleared to return to work four days later,” and that months later, “investigators from the State Attorney’s Office and PBSO ruled the shooting justified.

On the day of the shooting, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw defended Lin’s actions. “Stop what you’re doing and comply with us,” Bradshaw said. “There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait to find out what this is to get killed.”

Jack Scarola, an attorney in West Palm Beach, told WPTV that he is suing the sheriff and the deputy on Stephens’ behalf, and that after viewing the video footage and listening to the audio recording from the encounter, he has discovered issues with Lin’s story.

There are no records of any commands ever made to Dontrell Stephens,” Scarola said. “The deputy’s recorded statements following the shooting were absolutely false.  Internal affairs completely ignored that evidence.


Jeb Bush’s Massive Email Release includes Florida Residents’ Private Info

On Tuesday, Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and rumored 2016 GOP Presidential candidate, released 250,000 of his emails from his time as governor. Included in the release were the home addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers of several Florida residents, who are now at risk for having their identities stolen, following Bush’s “transparency inspired” release.

In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here,” Bush wrote on a website created to archive the emails titled Jeb Bush Emails.

Email kept me connected to Floridians and focused on the mission of being their governor,” wrote Bush. “Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration.

The Verge was the first to report that while Bush’s massive email release “seems like a great idea in the name of transparency,” the emails were not redacted beforehand, and the fact that some of the messages contained the “email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents” was not discovered until afterwards.

Richard Harrison, a private attorney in Florida told The Verge that while Florida’s freedom of information laws are broad, social security numbers are both “confidential and exempt” from public disclosure and can only be released for “limited purposes” under Florida law.

It doesn’t matter how an agency or official obtained the information,” said Harrison. “Once obtained it is a public record and the SSNs are confidential and exempt under the law.”

According to Harrison, the blame for the release of the confidential information does not fall on Bush, but on Florida’s legal custodian of records. The Verge noted that if found responsible, the custodian “might get off with just a scratch,” due to the fact that his or her violation is considered a “noncriminal infraction,” which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The Associated Press reported that along with contact information, Bush’s emails “offer up potentially harmful information about Floridians’ employment disputes, health issues and legal troubles.

Given the uproar that followed over the release of the residents’ private information, Bush’s spokesperson released a statement to Buzzfeed saying that Bush and his team have chosen to redact the emails:

Last year, we requested the State specifically comply with Florida statute regarding exemptions and redactions. We have redacted personal identifying information from two emails brought to our attention. We are doing an electronic search for any additional emails that may fall into this category and will do the same.

New bill proposes a ban on body armor

A new bill has been introduced to the House which could make civilian ownership of body armor illegal.

The bill, called the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, would strip the right of civilians to purchase or own body armor. The bill reads, “It shall be unlawful for a person to purchase, own or possess enhanced body armor.”

Enhanced body armor, as defined by the bill, is “body armor, including a helmet or shield, the ballistic resistance of which meets or exceeds the ballistic performance of Type III armor…” Type III armor protects against most standard issue rifles as well as many rounds used in handguns.

However, there is an exception to the bill. The bill reads all body armor will be illegal to possess unless the person in question is a government employee. All personnel who work for the various government agencies, departments, or “political subdivisions” are exempt from this potential new law as the bill is currently written.

The bill also reads any person who buys body armor before the bill would take effect would be able to possess their body armor in a similar manner as those government employees who are exempt.

Finally, if the bill were to pass and someone was caught wearing or owning any restricted body armor, the bill reads the person would receive a fine, possible jail time, or both as punishment.

The bill was introduced by California Rep. Mike Honda (D) and is co-sponsored by Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Danny Davis (D-I.ll).

Currently, the bill is still being reviewed by the House Judiciary. You can follow the bill’s progress here.

Florida sees an abundance of same-sex marriages after legalization

Tuesday marked the first day same-sex couples could get married in Florida, and the state saw hundreds of people come out to receive their marriage licenses.

Florida became the 36th state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage at the stroke of midnight between Monday and Tuesday. Some courthouses wasted no time and began to marry couples immediately.

One judge in Miami saw no reason to wait till midnight and began marrying people on Monday, when it was still technically illegal to do so. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel holds the honor of performing the state’s first same-sex union on Monday afternoon, according to the AP. Still, other counties held off until Tuesday.

Howard Forman, the clerk of courts in Broward County, wed 20 gay and lesbian couples at the same time in a five-minute ceremony at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times. As Forman announced the new marriages, cheers erupted from the surrounding crowd of family and friends who were present.

“We had been together so long, we hadn’t put a lot of importance in it,” said Cory Morton, a same-sex marriage license recipient. “It seemed so far-fetched…I found myself getting a little nervous on the way here,” Morton said, according to the Miami Herald

However, not all Florida counties were celebrating with supporters of same-sex marriages.

Duval County Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell shutdown the courthouse chapel to all people who wished to receive marriages license, whether they be same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. A few other counties in northern Florida, where more conservative citizens live, also closed down their courthouses so as not to allow any marriages to take place.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is pursuing an appeal of the decision to allow same-sex marriages to be legal in the state. In 2008, Florida had put a ban on same-sex marriages, and Bondi wants to uphold this previous ruling.

The political framework was ignored by many though as they gladly received their licenses.

“I’m elated,” said William Jones, describing his marriage to Aaron Huntsman. “Overjoyed that I am finally legally recognized with the man I have loved for 12 years now.”

Breaking: Florida Police Officer Shot And Killed

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office said a Florida police officer was shot and killed early Sunday morning. The shooting occurred at 3 A. M. when the officer was responding to a noise complaint in the town of Tarpon Springs.

The male suspect has been placed in custody. A news conference is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

High school prostitution ring broken up in Florida

A high school teenager in Florida has been arrested and charged with human trafficking after she allegedly organized a prostitution ring consisting of students from different high schools.

Alexa Nicole De Armas a student at Sarasota High School, was arrested Friday after four students told the administration of Venice High School how De Armas approached them to join the ring.  De Armas, according to the Herald Tribune, used the social media website Facebook to plan and orchestrate the exchanges and meetups.

Why pimp out old hoes when I have fresh young hoes I can give up for money?” reads one Facebook post between De Armas and a business partner in the operation.  “As long as I’m getting paid I’m trafficking all these (expletive).”

This faceless partner said they would invest $200 to get the business off the ground.  De Armas then set prices between $20-$70 as well as $100 to have sex with a virgin, according to the NY Daily News.  The profits would then be split and the girls would be given 40 percent.

One of the known exchanges reportedly involved a 15-year-old student and a 21-year-old man.

The man, named John  Michael Mosher, has been arrested alongside De Armas.  He reportedly gave De Armas $40 and a bottle of liquor as payment to have sex with the 15-year-old student.

According to WFLA, De Armes planned for the 15-year-old to have sex with Mosher in August, but when the girl and Mosher met, she reportedly no longer wanted to participate.

A police report reads, “She stated she told Mosher she did not want to have sexual intercourse with him to which he disregarded and forcefully held her against the wall of the pool shed building, restricting her movement and ability to flee,” 

Mosher however pushed the girl against a nearby wall, and he forced her to have sex with him.  Mosher is currently being charged with sexual battery on a victim older than 12-years-old.

Students told officers De Armas had setup at least three other deals using Facebook, and more arrests are expected.

Police Surprise Middle School Students With Guns Drawn During Active Shooter Drill

Winter Haven, FL- An unannounced active shooter drill that took place at a Winter Haven middle school Thursday led students and parents to believe there was a genuine threat in the school after two police officers entered classrooms at Jewett Middle Academy, one carrying an AR-15 and one carrying a Glock .45-caliber pistol.

Parents were upset that there was no prior notification of the drill; the school sent e-mails about the drill after it had already occurred. Several students sent text messages to their parents alerting them that there were armed officers moving through the school.

The pistol was loaded and carried by the school’s resource officer, who regularly carries the weapon loaded while on duty on the campus. Police noted that the AR-15 the other officer was carrying was not loaded.

“We actually thought that someone was going to come in there and kill us,” said Lauren Marionneaux, a seventh grade student at the school. Marionneaux’s mother, Stacy Ray, said “It’s very scary, especially from a parent’s perspective. You hear all this horrible stuff on the news and you think it might be happening at your child’s school.”

Another parent, Charise Tate, said that her husband rushed in his car to the school at speeds of up to 130 m.p.h. after he received a text message from their son.

One parent, Heidi Calvelage, said it was surprising that other parents were upset about the school’s concealment of the drills, and believed that students alerting their parents about the situation “shouldn’t be using their cells in class in the first place.”

Some school districts offer advance notifications to parents and students before a fire drill or lockdown drill, but others believe such drills will be taken more seriously if they are conducted without warning. “It’s very important that when you do your drill, you do it without everyone knowing that it’s a drill,” said Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird.  “It really is to protect the children and at no point in time would we endanger any of the children.”

According to ABC News, there have been two other lockdowns at the school that were not drills. One lockdown was prompted when someone reported hearing a gunshot, but that report was unsubstantiated. The other lockdown occurred after a “seemingly threatening” note was found in a trash can.

Winter Haven police stated that future drills will take place without officers carrying weapons.

90-Year-Old WW2 Vet, 2 Christian Pastors Facing Jail Time for Feeding the Homeless

“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” said 90-year-old World War II veteran and anti-poverty crusader Arnold Abbott to WPLG Local 10 in the above-embedded video as he described the moment before police charged him with violating Fort Lauderdale’s new effective ban on publicly feeding the homeless. The Florida city recently enacted an ordinance subjecting churches and non-profits that feed the homeless to a maze of regulations, enforced through criminal charges, aimed at preventing them from publicly offering meals to Fort Lauderdale’s destitute.

On Sunday, soon after the law went into effect, Arnold Abbott held a public event to feed the poor and was joined by two Christian pastors, Dwayne Black of The Sanctuary Church and Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church. Police were dispatched to the scene and halted the newly-criminalized charitable activity, charging Abbott, Black, and Sims with an infraction that carries a $500 fine and a 60-day jail sentence.

According to Fox News, Arnold Abbott launched his non-profit Love Thy Neighbor, Inc. after his wife Maureen passed away 23 years ago, in an effort to continue her lifelong quest to feed and support the poor. In 1999, Abbott won a lawsuit against the city’s ban on feeding the homeless on public beaches. He said, “I’m going to have to go to court court again to sue the city of Fort Lauderdale, the beautiful city. These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. Don’t have a roof over their head, and who could turn them away?”

Abbott plans to feed the homeless on the beach on Wednesday in what would be yet another violation of the city’s ordinance. He says he is prepared to face arrest if necessary.

The new rules ban the sharing of food with homeless people within 500 feet of residential property and require a permit and the pricey installation of portable toilets, driving costs up in what critics call an effort to prevent charities and churches from feeding the poor. Said Abbott, “I have tried to abide by their regulations, but we just are not able to provide a port-a-potty.”

Fort Lauderdale Police Department detective DeAnna Greenlaw defended the new law in comments to Fox News, “The ordinance allows for legal, clean and safe distribution of food to the homeless. For example, if a minister, priest or member of clergy wishes to provide food to the homeless at their establishment, they can do so if the proper facilities, as listed in the ordinance, are in place.”

New Times Broward-Palm Beach quoted Cal Deal, a local supporter of laws cracking down on feeding the homeless, as saying, “The people feeding them are enablers, and they enable the homeless by making their lives easier.”

Abbott acknowledged the fact that Fort Lauderdale’s weather attracts homeless people. He said, “The homeless people come here for the weather. They know they won’t freeze to death in Fort Lauderdale.”

Pastor Mark Sims, who believes that criminalizing feeding the homeless is the wrong approach, told Fox News, “It’s not an easy issue, not cut and dried, but what is cut and dried is that people deserve to eat when they are hungry. And people of faith are compelled to reach out to people who are in need… We need to work harder to solve the problem, rather than just shutting it down.” Fox News cited a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless noting that, since 2012, 13 cities have enacted ordinances cracking down on feeding the homeless.

“We believe very strongly that Jesus taught us that we are to feed his sheep,” said Pastor Dwayne Black.

According to KHON-2, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler addressed the issue by saying, “We enforce the laws here in Ft. Lauderdale.”

Midterm Elections Determine Marijuana Legalization in Several States

Among the issues decided by the ballots cast in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters are determining the fate of marijuana legalization for recreational use in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of Maine, and for medical use in Florida.

Yahoo News reported that ballot measures in Oregon and Alaska “would set up a network of regulated pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington State after twin landmark votes in 2012,” and that a measure in the District of Columbia “would allow possession but not retail sales.”

According to NBC News, “Most Americans support plans to legalize marijuana in theory,” and Tuesday’s election will show “a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington.

The Communication Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, said that his group, which is working to increase marijuana legalization among states in 2016, has high hopes for the midterm elections.

Win or lose, we expect to see more support and more dialogue about the issue than ever,” Tvert said.

According to Yahoo News, polls in Oregon “have shown a narrow majority favoring legal pot,” and polls in Alaska, “a Republican-leaning state with a libertarian streak,” have been inconsistent.

The Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said that he is not worried about the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon.

If we lose in Oregon, it will shift the national frame a little bit. But it doesn’t change the strategy and it doesn’t change the tactics,” said Nadelmann. “A generation from now people will still step back and look at the prohibition of marijuana and say, what the heck was that about?”

Despite the narrow polls, Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Alaska’s campaign for legalization, is confident.

We’re going to win,” said Williams. “It’s been a true grass roots campaign, pun intended, a true bipartisan, door to door effort, and our own polls show us 10 points ahead.

Yahoo News reported that the measure D.C., which would “allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants,” has been favored by a two-to-one margin.

Maine is following Washington D.C. in adding semi-legalization to the ballot. According to the Sun Herald, voters in the cities of South Portland and Lewiston “will vote on ballot initiatives that would legalize possession of marijuana.”

Tuesday’s elections will also determine whether Florida becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

TIME reported that the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana “has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right,” and has been “an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race.”

According to NBC News, although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, advocates argue that legalization is a “common sense policy,” due to the fact that it would “raise tax revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, and undercut Mexico’s violent drug cartels.

Live coverage of the Elections will be provided on the homepage of Benswann.com, beginning at 4:00 pm edt.

Poll Shows Crist, Scott Tie and Libertarian Wyllie With 13 Percent


According to a recent poll, Libertarian candidate for Florida Governor, Adrian Wyllie, is polling at 13 percent.

In a new poll released by Optimus, Democrat Charlie Crist received 40 percent of votes, and incumbent Republican Rick Scott is at 39 percent.

A blog post by the Miami New Times pointed to Wyllie as a possible election spoiler. “The political press has noted Wyllie, a man with no previous elected political experience, as a potential spoiler candidate, and his percentage in the polls has only grown thanks in part to his coverage (his previous high mark was 8 percent). Though, no one can quite agree who Wyllie’s candidacy may end up spoiling,” reported the Miami New Times.

Wyllie got 13.3 percent of Republican voters, 11.1 of Democratic voters and 17.8 percent of independents.

The Miami New Times said that Wyllie appeals to the “Reddit voter-style” leanings, meaning that he’s in favor of gay marriage, pro-choice and legalized marijuana but is for small government and low taxes. That “style” appeals to youth and those disenfranchised by the negative campaigning of Crist and Scott.

Apparently, the Miami New Times is unfamiliar with the Libertarian Party and continues to use the term “spoiler” instead of highlighting the fact that voters are tired of the stagnant ideas of the two major parties.


Inmate Found Dead After Recounting Threats From Correctional Officer

Ocala, FL- Latandra Ellington, an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution, was found dead on October 1st, ten days after writing a letter to a family member expressing fear that she would be harmed by a correctional officer.

In a letter to her aunt written September 21st, Ellington identified a correctional officer only as “Sgt. Q” and wrote that “he was gone [sic] beat me to death and mess me like a dog.”

“He was all in my face Sqt. Q then he grab his radio and said he was gone bust me in my head with it…” Ellington wrote. Ellington’s aunt called Lowell Correctional Institution September 30th to relay the information, and Ellington was placed in “administrative confinement” in response to the allegations. She was found dead the next day.

Ellington, a 36-year-old mother of four, was serving a 22 month prison sentence for falsifying tax returns and had seven months remaining before her scheduled release.

An independent autopsy performed on October 4th found that Ellington had suffered abdominal hemorrhaging “consistent with punches and kicks” and the sustained injuries played a part in her death.

Florida DOC has acknowledged that the The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the death of Ellington. Jessica Cary, spokeswoman for Florida DOC, said in a statement that “Ms. Ellington was located in administrative confinement at the time of her death because the Department took seriously her and her family’s concerns about alleged threats to her safety, and immediately took appropriate action to move her to a secure location and investigate the allegations. That investigation is ongoing.”

Attorneys Daryl Parks and Benjamin Crump, along with the NAACP, have requested that the Department of Justice launch an investigation of Ellington’s death. “When you have an inmate saying she feels threatened by a guard and then within 18 hours … she’s found dead, that is something that warrants the civil rights division of the justice department,” Crump said. “It warrants the attention of the Attorney General and that’s why attorney Parks and I sent that letter.”

Ellington’s death marks a second request this year from civil rights groups asking the Justice Department to investigate the death of a prison inmate. In June several groups asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the death of Darren Rainey, a 50-year old mentally disabled prisoner who died in Dade Correctional Institution after being locked in a shower and scalded with water that burned his skin off of his body. As of August, an investigation of Rainey’s death has not yet concluded.

Facts About Marijuana at Republican Forum Countered with Satirical Article

Broward County, FL – Last week, the controversy over Florida’s Amendment 2, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana, came to a boiling point at a meeting of the Broward Republican Executive Committee.

Neill Franklin, a speaker from the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), attended the meeting, to speak in favor of the amendment.

Franklin is a retired major from the Maryland State Police, who spent over 30 years working in narcotics. His own personal experience in the field led him to change his stance on the subject.

According to NBC 6 in Miami, Franklin is “one of the nation’s leading voices on legalizing marijuana,” and while at the GOP meeting, he “cited FBI data from the 22 states that have legalized marijuana, as well as other federal sources.”

In the states that have moved forward with medical cannabis, they have lower overdose death rates for opiate medicines, pills, and heroin. That says something,” Franklin said.

Franklin’s appearance at the meeting did not go over well with the majority in attendance, who were quick to voice this criticism:

Neill Franklin was invited to speak at the Broward Republican Executive Committee meeting, to establish a counter-argument, after Tea Party activists in Fort Lauderdale handed out a document condemning Amendment 2.

The document cited an article from The Daily Currant, a well-known satirical website, which claims that its stories are “purely fictional.”

The article said “37 people were killed” across the state of Colorado on the first day Marijuana was legalized.

It quoted a Dr. Jack Shepard, saying, “By next week the death toll could go as high as 200, maybe 300. Someone needs to step in and stop this madness. My god, why did we legalize marijuana? What were we thinking?

While regular subscribers to The Daily Currant, recognized the satire, and realized that the article was false, the Tea Party Activists in Fort Lauderdale used the information from the article as factual evidence to support their case:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 6.53.21 AM

The handout from Tea Party activists in Fort Lauderdale also contained quotes from Dr. Lawrence Wilson, which claimed that “marijuana is just as addictive as cocaine and heroin, for some people, especially teenagers.”

Wilson’s website says that he received his M.D. degree from the University of Guerrero, Mexico, in 1979, and that instead of a medical residency, he studied under Dr. Paul Eck, a “mineral researcher and founder of Analytical Research Laboratories,” in Phoenix, from 1979 to 1982.

Although Wilson is not a practicing doctor, he does give seminars on “nutritional balancing science” and “hair mineral analysis.

Wilson’s claims regarding medical marijuana, according to the handout, are provided in a copy below:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 7.53.04 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 7.53.58 AM

The debate on the legalization of Marijuana has grown to be a hot topic, not just in Florida, but all over the United States.

Investigative Journalist Ben Swann took the time to research medical marijuana, the testimonies from those who have used it, and the U.S. government’s involvement with its classification:

Congressional candidate Mark Wichern says, “I want to expose the Federal Reserve Fraud in Congress” in exclusive interview

Mark Wichern is running for public office in Florida’s 1st congressional district. According to his campaign websiteMark started his small business with only “$500 in his pocket,” and now it is a successful business with more than 20 employees. 

Wichern is serious about ending the Federal Reserve system and replacing it with a sound monetary system. 

Wichern told BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook that he believes the Federal Reserve system is causing inflation which is essentially a hidden tax on the American people. (Listen to Mark Explain the Federal Reserve system here.)

Cook asked Wichern, “Why did you want to run for U.S. Congress?”

“I had a choice, my business was doing really well. I had the choice of sitting back and watching my business prosper and at the same time watching our entire country go under. Let’s face it its not going in the right direction,” said Wichern.

“…I understand what the problems are with this country and more importantly how to fix it. So I had a choice: sit on the sidelines and be prosperous myself, or do something and go fight for our country.”

Though Wichern was inspired by Ron Paul’s Republicanism and Austrian economics, he decided to run as an independent candidate. He believes that the duopoly of the Two-Party system is part of America’s problem.  Wichern identifies with the Tea Party which advocates for lower taxes and limited government and recently received the endorsement of the local Libertarian Party.

According to the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party’s website:

“After meeting with members of the NFLP and completing a questionnaire, it became apparent Wichern’s support for individual rights, free markets and limited government largely coincides with Libertarian views of the same topics, and the NFLP wishes him luck in his quest to reach the Congress.”

This was the first time in history that the NFLP endorsed a candidate other than a member of the Libertarian Party.

Mark Wichern on the Issues. (Click link to jump to each section.)

What are “free markets?”

On the IRS

Wichern on Ron Paul / END THE FED

The Problem of the Two Party System

“I’m a 2nd Amendment guy.”


Listen to full interview here and check out Mark’s Facebook page.

Mayor Ejects Man from Meeting over Pledge of Allegiance Refusal

According to the Sun-Sentinela 51-year-old activist named Joseph Richardson was kicked from a Winter Garden, FL City Commission meeting by Mayor John Rees after he refused to stand during an invocation and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance last Thursday. Reports indicate that Richardson is a member of the Central Florida Freethought Community, a group working to “keep religion out of government in Central Florida.” Officials say that he has protested the invocation and pledge at previous meetings.

To kick off the meeting, Mayor John Rees ordered citizens in the room to stand while a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance were recited. Richardson refused. As Commissioner Bobby Olszewski began offering his prayer, Mayor Rees ordered him to stop and indicated that the prayer and pledge would continue after everyone in the room took their feet. As the only individual not standing, Richardson said, “Sorry, are you waiting for me?” After Mayor Rees acknowledged that he was, Richardson replied, “I don’t have to.”

After the prayer, Mayor Rees took a harder line, ordering Richardson to stand during the pledge or be ejected from the room. When Richardson continued his protest, Mayor Rees said to Winter Garden Police Chief George Brennan, “Chief, ask him to either stand or please escort him out till we get through the pledge.” In the above-embedded video, Chief Brennan can be seen approaching Richardson, asking, “What are you going to do?” Richardson then left the meeting.

Mayor Rees, who felt that Richardson’s protest was “not fair to our troops,” defended his actions by saying, “It wasn’t premeditated. I just reacted. It hit me. I said it. I gave him an option. … Life will go on.”

In the past, Richardson had emailed complaints to officials about the inclusion of a prayer at city meetings, saying, “As a resident of Winter Garden, I would like our city to be known for its inclusiveness for all points of view and its respect for all individuals.” American Civil Liberties Union of Florida representative Baylor Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel, “People are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance or a sectarian prayer or any kind of compulsory expression just to attend a public meeting.”

According to the Facebook page of the Central Florida Freethought Community, the group intends to stage a larger protest at an upcoming September 11 Winter Garden City Commission meeting.

Florida Police Officers Blow Whistle On Their Chief

Waldo, FL- Four officers in the Waldo Police Department revealed to the city council last Tuesday that the department’s chief was assigning required quotas for writing tickets. The information was brought forth while discussing other complaints about activities in the department.

Quotas are illegal according to Florida state law.

Officer Brandon Roberts explained to city council members that Chief Mike Szabo ordered the officers in the department to write 12 tickets in a 12-hour work shift in order to keep their jobs. Roberts used printed emails from Szabo to validate his claims.

One such email read “Looks like you have some work to do when you come in,” written by Szabo to an officer who had issued four speeding tickets.

“We’re doing this with a heavy heart,” said Roberts. “We would never want to go against our fellow officers but we have no faith in our chain of command.”

“It’s very stressful driving through there. I mean you’re always- they’ll pull you over for anything,” said Cheryl Griffis, a Waldo resident.

In a poll conducted by the National Motorists Association regarding the worst speed traps in the country, the town of Waldo ranks third. Waldo is home to about 1,000 people.

According to Waldo documents, about half of the town’s $1 million budget relies on “police revenue”. The American Automobile Association (AAA) classified Waldo as a “traffic trap” that uses “unfair, unethical or illegal law enforcement tactics or traffic control devices.”

Waldo city manager Kim Worley suspended Szabo on August 12th after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated “an alleged violation of police procedure”. It is unclear if that investigation is related to the allegations from Roberts and the other officers as city officials have been disclosing little information, but a document from Worley stated that an investigation is underway.