FAC News Clips - October 21, 2019 -

Sun Sentinel

The ‘county brain’ will make your commute easier

With little room left to widen roads, Broward County is turning to artificial intelligence to reduce traffic tie-ups and shorten your commute. The county is building a network of cameras and sensors that will quickly adjust traffic signals to reduce delays as changing traffic patterns are detected. It’s also feeding that information — along with data from traffic apps like Waze and city information on road closures — into a “county brain.” That data repository will analyze what’s happening on the roads to help planners determine where turn-lane changes or other road projects could improve traffic flow.

US News

Public, Election Officials May Be Kept in the Dark on Hacks

If the FBI discovers that foreign hackers have infiltrated the networks of your county election office, you may not find out about it until after voting is over. And your governor and other state officials may be kept in the dark, too. There's no federal law compelling state and local governments to share information when an electoral system is hacked. And a federal policy keeps details secret by shielding the identity of all cyber victims regardless of whether election systems are involved. Election officials are in a difficult spot: If someone else's voting system is targeted, they want to know exactly what happened so they can protect their own system.

Opioid Epidemic

Fox 29

Tentative deal reached to settle opioid lawsuit, reports say

A lawyer confirms to AP that a group of drugmakers and distributors has reached a tentative deal to settle opioid lawsuit. The case is about the conduct of a group of companies in two Ohio counties, but far more than that is riding on the first federal trial on the opioid crisis. The counties are looking for money to help them fight and fix the epidemic, while families who lost loved ones to overdoses are seeking justice. The companies, meanwhile, say they followed the law and aren’t to blame for the crisis. "This is not your typical tort product liability case. It's really about an epidemic," said Carl Tobias, a professor in the law school at the University of Richmond. "There are so many different motivations among so many different players, it's virtually impossible to know what would be good."

Herald Tribune

Officials: Florida affordable housing fund is rarely fully funded

State legislators often use the dollars intended for affordable housing programs for other purposes. To the detriment of affordable housing programs in Northwest Florida and the rest of the Sunshine State, the state Legislature earlier this year took another massive bite out of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Such raids of the fund have been going on for years, with the money being used for a variety of purposes other than their intended ones, said Nitsi Bennett, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Okaloosa County. “It seems the Sadowski Fund is the catch-all for everything,” Bennett said. “Florida is one of the few states that need to have a balanced budget, and the Sadowski Fund keeps getting raided.”

Tallahassee Reports

Leon County Launches Water Resource Website

Leon County’s new water resource website debuted at the October 15th Board of County Commissioners meeting. During the meeting, officials demonstrated some of the information available on the website ahead of its launch. Through the website, “Your Source on Our Most Vital Resource,” users can access information like water quality reports and water laws and regulations in Leon County. The website was developed to inform Leon County residents about water-related issues as part of a series of initiatives to protect water sources and enhance public communication. “The public demands greater accessibility of information related to the health and condition of local water bodies, efforts to protect water resources,…” staff reports.

Apopka Voice

Florida to use $633 million federal ‘disaster mitigation’ grant for resilience planning

A new $6.875 billion federal grant program is banking that dedicating money upfront for “resiliency planning” will be a better “disaster mitigation” investment than spending billions on response and recovery. Florida is eligible to receive $633 million under the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program, created with June’s adoption of the $19 billion federal packages that addressed disasters nationwide between 2016-18. “The damage brought by recent hurricanes has made it abundantly clear that Florida must prioritize disaster mitigation projects to better protect our communities from future disasters,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement announcing the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will develop a “state action plan” to be submitted to HUD by February to secure the CDBG-MIT money.

News Chief

Nature of Things: Land-conservation programs help Florida’s ranchers, too

Two things that may seem unrelated are at the heart of the effort to push members of the Florida Legislature to quit trying to quash voter intent and restart Florida’s conservation land-acquisition programs. One is the importance of preserving Florida’s heritage as a major cattle ranching state. The other is the importance those wide-open spaces play in the preservation of important wildlife corridors for species such as the Florida panther and the Florida black bear, which have been pushed out of many former rural areas of Florida. Although many people associate cattle ranching with the western United States, Florida has been a leader in the ranch lands east of the Mississippi dating to the years when this part of the country was ruled by Spain.