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Donald Trump names Floridian Heather MacDougall to OSHA Review Commission

Heather MacDougall

President Donald Trump has named employer relations expert Heather MacDougall of Melbourne to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Since January, MacDougall has been acting chair of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama nominated her to the Commission in 2014, unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

MacDougall brings 20 years of experience in labor, employment, occupational safety and health law, most recently with Akerman LLP law firm based in West Palm Beach.  In addition, she served as Chief Counsel to OSHRC Chair W. Scott Railton in 2002-2003 under the George W. Bush administration. OSHRC is the independent federal agency as an administrative court deciding contested OSHA citations. MacDougall also served as associate general counsel of a Washington, D.C. trade association standing for human resources executives of Fortune 500 corporations.

Earlier in her career, MacDougall was Associate General Counsel to the HR Policy Association, a public policy organization that advocates for human resource officers of major employers, where she stood for the association as amicus curiae in U.S. Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court cases. As a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), MacDougall also gave expert guidance to employers on all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.

She received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School.

Local investment in public safety communications infrastructure pay off during Florida disasters

Last year, Floridians endured one of the most active hurricane seasons in more than a decade. During Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, those impacted received only a taste of what has earned our state the reputation of being a hot spot for tropical weather.

Thankfully, the loss of life and damage was extremely minimal and the state’s emergency response went off without a hitch.

What you didn’t read following the storms were stories about first responders’ inability to communicate. That’s because local communities, especially in rural areas, have spent the last decade investing heavily in the communications infrastructure necessary to create stability and additional capacity during normal times and times of crises.

One of the companies that have been integral to this success is Aviat Networks, a California-based microwave provider that is working in several Florida counties and local municipalities with the technology they need to communicate when residents depend on them the most.

Aviat provides microwave technology – the network that transmits data and voice communications for first responders and other public safety users – in Miami-Dade, Broward and West Palm Beach counties, as well as for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, and the South Florida Water Management District. All of these entities had a role in keeping South Floridians safe and prepared during Hurricane Matthew, which was at one point a deadly Category 5 storm.

Beyond Florida, Aviat’s microwave is the backbone for 25 statewide public safety networks across the country and is deployed in every one of the 50 states.

Aviat’s microwave has been chosen by Florida cities and counties because of its proven reliability and security. According to the Aviat website, their solutions lead the industry in a key technology attribute known as ’output power‘ – which allows microwave signals to transmit further and more reliably through weather effects such as rain. This means public safety communications stay up during the harshest of conditions including severe hurricanes. Beyond this according to Aviat, the technology enables agencies to reduce the total lifecycle cost of microwave by up to 50 percent through the deployment of smaller antennas and fewer towers.

These are added bonuses for Floridians since the costs, and communications tower needs will undoubtedly increase as Florida’s NIMBY populations continue to grow.

If you’ve ever experienced a Wi-Fi outage at your home or business, it’s a mere inconvenience. But for public safety agencies, it could be a matter of life or death. That is what local governments have been putting a premium on reliable and secure microwave technology during a time when Florida has enjoyed a relatively inactive tropical weather period.

For all of Florida’s success in developing its public safety communications infrastructure in recent years, challenges remain. As we have seen with the recent wildfires in Collier County, responding to emergencies requires significant coordination among government at the local, state and federal levels. In rural areas, the success of traditional fiber optic technology may be limited, and the real solution for tomorrow’s technology lies in building smarter microwave networks that can fully integrate with local agencies’ networks. And most importantly microwave technology has built-in security safeguards.

Companies like Aviat are on the forefront of helping Florida prepare and respond to future emergencies. With hurricane season set to start June 1, the next test may be here before we know it.

St. Pete fire crews called to Collier in wildfire fight

Nearly 7,000 homes are covered under mandatory evacuation orders in Southwest Florida as wildfires continue to rage just outside Fort Myers.

On Sunday, a St. Petersburg Fire Rescue crew was dispatched to Collier County to help battle the spread of fires in the area.

The Tampa Bay Reporter writes the St. Pete crew is part of a Bay Area Strike Team – composed of a district commander and five fire engines from the Tampa Bay area. Either three or four firefighters will staff each engine, and they are expected to work in Collier for 72 hours.

Accuweather reports the 30th Avenue fire is only 10 percent contained and has burned 5,500 acres so far. Fires destroyed nine homes.

Disgraced Sen. Frank Artiles paid Hooters, Playboy models as ‘consultants’

Artiles hired Heather Thomas (left) and Brittney Singletary (right) as campaign consultants

A newspaper is reporting that a Florida state senator who resigned this week after using a racial slur hired a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience to be consultants for his political action committee last year.

The Miami Herald reports Saturday that state records show that Frank Artiles‘ PAC, Veterans for Conservative Principals, had paid former Hooters model Heather Thomas $2,000 and former Playboy model Brittney Singletary $1,500. They were listed as consultants.

Artiles’ political consultant David Custin refused to answer the paper’s questions. Singletary said she did fundraising for the PAC. Thomas declined to comment.

Artiles, a Republican, resigned Friday after he used vulgarities and a variation of the N-word in a barroom conversation with two black colleagues earlier in the week.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Marco Rubio: With ‘higher standard’ for lawmakers, Frank Artiles was right to resign

Marco Rubio has ‘no doubt’ state Sen. Frank Artiles‘ did the right thing by resigning from the Florida Legislature Friday in the wake of a racist and sexist outburst against two lawmakers.

Elected officials are rightfully “held to a different standard,” Rubio said.

“You hold a public trust, you are a representative of those districts, and you are going to be held to a different standard, and people should know that coming in,” the U.S. Senator from Miami told host Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida.”

First reported in the Miami Herald, Rubio’s interview will broadcast in full Sunday on WFOR-CBS 4.

“No one forces anyone to run for office,” Rubio, a former state representative and House Speaker, added, “And no one forces you to run in the state Senate.”

“I know Perry Thurston. I know Audrey Gibson, actually very well,” Rubio said, about the two lawmakers involved in Artiles’ comments Monday evening at the Governors Club in Tallahassee.

“She served with me in the House. We’re good friends. And I’m sorry she found herself in that position, because I know that is not what she is in Tallahassee to do. She didn’t seek this out.”

Artiles comments were obviously “unfortunate” and “inappropriate,” Rubio said.

He explained: “My understanding is that he resigned, and, in the end, what people don’t realize is the legislative bodies, the Senate and the House, they are the judge of their own members’ qualifications. They can remove members from their seats. And it sounds like that is where the Senate was headed.”

That said, there was “no doubt” Artiles made the right choice, Rubio said.

“It had gotten in the way of, I think, the Senate being able to function in Tallahassee, and, ultimately, I think, gotten in the way of his ability to continue to serve effectively,” he added.

“You know, I think it happens, and when it happens it has to be dealt with,” Rubio said. “For the most part, people need to recognize that when you are in public office, the words you use, your behavior, is held to a different standard.”

With a “collegial body” like the Florida Senate, Rubio pointed out the need “to work with 39 other people in Tallahassee” to get things done.

“How you comport yourself with your colleagues has a direct impact on your effectiveness,” he said. “Obviously, the terminology that was used is inappropriate in any setting. I think people, for the most part, know that.”

When a person makes “horrible mistakes or decisions horrible things,” Rubio said they need to understand that “they’re not — you’re not going to be treated, nor should you be, like anybody in some other job.”

Elected officials “hold a public trust,” he said. “You are a representative of those districts, and you are going to be held to a different standard, and people should know that coming in.”

Blake Dowling: Look out for hackers (and the government)

U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) with gavel and dog.

What now? More breaches. More leaks. Internet carriers selling your data? Hackers coming at us like United Airlines security?

(For an interesting read, see Nader v. Airlines 1972)

So you are worried about hackers, and — of course — the National Security Agency is watching (and logging) you surf on PredictIT.com or Lolcats.com. Or are you stressing because you might be in the World-Check database (bet on it — just by being an elected official, because it may consider you bribable, and, yes, this site was also breached/leaked recently).

Yes. All of that, and much, much more.

The Internet of Things and the Cyber Renaissance (or apocalypse, depending on your point of view) that we are experiencing in 2017 truly has us going where no one has gone before.

This past weekend, I used a vending machine that would not take cash. ACK! Since I only had cash, no Mountain Dew for me.

Is it too much tech? Too much internetting? Too much exposure?

Last week, one of our elected officials had something to say about the internet. U.S. House Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, had some truly amazing advice for his constituents: you don’t have to use the internet if you don’t like it (according to TheRegister.com). Hmmm.

In today’s world, that’s about the same as saying if you don’t like the air don’t breathe it, same with roads and driving.

Hopefully, Jimbo was just hitting the Hendricks a little hard the night before and was having a fuzzy day. If not we have problems. As the powers that be in D.C. look to an era of deregulation, we are going to potentially see internet providers that have very little oversight. With customer service rankings right there with our pals at United Airlines.

We have a lot to watch out for.

The new law Jimbo was defending involved the ability for national internet carriers to sell customer info/history.

Advocates for digital privacy are outraged, as they should; this is the real deal. I don’t want my info sold to anyone, and if ol’ Jimbo is my advocate, it’s not looking good. Don’t we get harassed enough? Say I visit Solider of Fortune Magazine online a couple of times, and I mysteriously get emails wanting to sell me night vision goggles.

I mean I love some good NV hardware but get outta my business.

As consumers, we are constantly stalked digitally. Jimbo and the gang need to get their heads out of their … err … sand and look out for Mr. and Mrs. Citizen.

The big 5 (Comcast, Charter (now Spectrum), Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T) have control over approx. 80 percent of the market; most Americans have only 1 or 2 providers to choose.

Some parting words from Dunder Mifflin’s Corporate office, that is practical advice for all things: tech, driving, politics, social media, business, talking, lawn care, etc. … while staying off the internet for a 73-year-old congressman with aides and assistants galore may be practical; it ain’t so good for you and me, peeps.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlinb@aegisbiztech.com

Ethics Commission clears Pam Bondi over Donald Trump contribution

Florida’s ethics commission is throwing out complaints filed against Attorney General Pam Bondi over her decision to ask Donald Trump for a contribution to help her re-election campaign.

The Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday voted to reject several complaints filed against Bondi by a Massachusetts trial attorney.

One of the complaints questioned Bondi receiving a contribution around the same time her office was being asked about a New York investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University.

Bondi asked for money from Trump in 2013 and got a $25,000 check for her political organization on Sept. 23 of that year. Emails from the same time period show that her office was being asked about the New York allegation.

Bondi has said repeatedly that she did nothing wrong.

As Frank Artiles departs, Dwight Bullard contemplates return to Senate

Dwight Bullard, the Senate Democrat unseated by Frank Artiles last year, may be looking to return.

Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida reports that former Sen. Bullard is “seriously considering” a run after Artiles resigned Friday morning after the fallout from a racist and sexist tirade he made Monday at Tallahassee’s Governors Club.

“I’d be lying if I said interest wasn’t there,” Bullard said, “but I still need time to process it all and make a final decision.”

In 2016, Bullard had lost re-election in Senate District 40, a district that went 57-40 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Although Bullard had support from the Florida Education Association, which gave $825,000 to his campaign, Artiles won 50-41 percent.

Bullard said his loss to Artiles came after the Cuban-American Republican catered to the Latino majority in the newly redrawn (and Democratic-leaning) district, while “patently ignoring” black voters.

It was “ironic” that pressure from black Senate colleagues caused Artiles to step down for using a slang form of the “N-word” about white GOP senators, he added.

“That same community that he chose to ignore are the ones who led to his demise,” Bullard told POLITICO. “That should resonate with anyone thinking about running for the seat, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican.”

If Bullard, a Miami public school teacher, should run again, he hopes the Republican Party doesn’t spend “almost a million dollars … to tell everyone that I was a terrorist sympathizer, since that was the approach they took in that campaign.”

“They painted me out to be the boogeyman to a group of people who didn’t know who I was, to begin with,” he explained. “And so that was the narrative that won.”

Jim Kennedy endorses Barclay Harless to replace him on St. Pete Council

Jim Kennedy, the current St. Petersburg District 2 City Council member, is endorsing Barclay Harless to be his replacement.

An advocate for maintaining strong reserves and keeping spending in check, Kennedy was appointed to the seat in October 2007 and twice elected by strong margins.

In a statement Friday, Kennedy said the district he will have represented for nearly 10 years has many opportunities ahead, needing strong leadership and a fresh perspective. Over his tenure, Kennedy worked to revitalize the area, and now he is ready to pass the torch.

“We need to keep trust in local government and Barclay will be a budget watchdog, an independent thinker and bring a fresh perspective to city council,” Kennedy said. “Barclay has a clear vision that spending must be in-check and priority projects come first, not frivolous projects.

“We must continue to make transportation improvements in the district, including the Gandy Boulevard work and the San Martin Bridge,” he added. “I stand with Barclay in his campaign and I support him as my successor.”

Harless responds: “I have watched Jim lead with a grounded conviction to fiscal responsibly and I am thankful for his support and advice. Jim knows district 2 and cares about the many neighborhoods here and around the entire city. I’m ready to roll-up my sleeves and continue Jim’s legacy in addition to being a voice for the northern area of our city.”

Harless plans to focus on finding “common-sense solutions” to issues important to the St. Petersburg area: The Pier, Tropicana Field, and the city’s wastewater systems. He said he is committed to growing small, local businesses and engaging his district to better understand their concerns and priorities.

“Barclay continues to lead in fundraising month after month and he is garnering support in his race from local businesses, community leaders and now a key endorsement from the twice-elected Jim Kennedy to replace him – thus sending a strong message to District 2 voters,” said Harless campaign manager Nick Janovsky.

A fifth-generation Floridian, Harless has been involved in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. After graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in history, he went to work in the Midtown area of St. Petersburg for State Rep. Darryl Rouson during the height of the economic recession.

Harless has served on the board of R’Club Childcare, Inc., is a member of Equality Florida’s advisory board for the Competitive Workforce Act and has been on the Louise Graham Center for Regeneration board for three and half years. He also served as the state policy chair in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and on grant boards for the Suncoast United Way.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates call Frank Artiles’ resignation ‘right thing’

Democratic gubernatorial candidates and potential candidates are declaring Friday that Frank Artiles did the right thing and one is wondering why Gov. Rick Scott stayed out, after Artiles resigned his seat in the Florida Senate because of his vulgar comments to comments earlier in the week.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, an announced candidate, called Artiles’ resignation the “right move for Florida.”

“The kind of hurtful rhetoric that Senator Artiles used, while still far too common, only serves to divide us against each other,” Gillum said. “From every corner of our state, we know that there is a lot more that we share in common than what separates us. Now we must refocus our attention on the issues that can help the most people: creating good paying jobs, reinvesting in public education, and ensuring access to health care for all.”

Orlando businessman Chris King, an announced candidate, questioned the silence of Scott on the Artiles matter, after the senator accosted two black, Democratic colleagues in a private club Monday night with a tirade of vulgar and racist comments.

“While it’s gratifying so many Floridians across the state came together to demand accountability, there was one conspicuous absence — Rick Scott,” King said in a release. “The Governor of our great state should be the first voice to demand racism is never normalized, not duck and hide from leadership. Governor Scott’s refusal to stand with the well-meaning people of Florida is a result of the arrogance that comes with decades of one-party rule, and an important reminder of the need for change.”

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who is exploring a candidacy, declared, “After doing all the wrong things, Sen. Artiles finally did the right thing by resigning.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, who is exploring a candidacy, tweeted her reaction:

“I’m proud of @SenAudrey2eet & @SenatorThurston for standing up to a bully. Their strength is why Artiles’ hate is leaving the Senate.”

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