Oct 30, 2014
(image courtesy of the Daily Signal)
Allow us to introduce you to Nancy Black
Black is a marine biologist, researcher and educator who loves the leviathans of the sea, whales.
Black is well respected and has done a great deal to not only protect whales, but to teach people more about those magnificent creatures. Black’s company takes people on cruises to observe whales in their natural habitat with the goal of educating the public.
Black’s work is well known and respected. In 2004, Black was working on a research vessel from the Jacques Cousteau Society. While an orca whale was feeding, the crew stuck a camera at the end of a pole, allowing researchers to see how whales attack and eat. Black expanded on the technique as you will see.
Fast forward to 2005 where columnist George Will picks up the story:
Black, 50, a marine biologist who also captains a whale-watching ship, was with some watchers in Monterey Bay in 2005 when a member of her crew whistled at the humpback that had approached her boat, hoping to entice the whale to linger. Back on land, another of her employees called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ask if the whistling constituted “harassment” of a marine mammal, which is an “environmental crime.” NOAA requested a video of the episode, which Black sent after editing it slightly to highlight the whistling. NOAA found no harassment — but got her indicted for editing the tape, calling this a “material false statement” to federal investigators, which is a felony under the 1863 False Claims Act, intended to punish suppliers defrauding the government during the Civil War.
A year after this bizarre charge — that she lied about the interaction with the humpback that produced no charges — more than a dozen federal agents, led by one from NOAA, raided her home. They removed her scientific photos, business files and computers. Call this a fishing expedition.
She has also been charged with the crime of feeding killer whales when she and two aides were in a dinghy observing them feeding on strips of blubber torn from their prey — a gray whale.
To facilitate photographing the killers’ feeding habits, she cut a hole in one of the floating slabs of blubber and, through the hole, attached a rope to stabilize the slab while a camera on a pole recorded the whales’ underwater eating.
Oct 30, 2014
The interjection of social media into local politics has had some interesting and ironical aspects. If you abhor the advent of negative political ads in state and local politics, you will be very unhappy see it has now permeated local political campaigns.
You would think that people in the small community, who see each other in stores and at community events, would have civility and respect for one another. But the politics of power and influence changes the game in a world where personal decorum is out of style.
In addition to being very well funded, two Cocoa Beach commission candidates, Mike Miller and Dee Dee Sheffield, have been the beneficiaries of a network of outspoken nasty commentators using Facebook groups to demean good people.
One such group “Wake Up Cocoa Beach” is owned by candidate Sheffield’s employer. Thinly veiled political advocacy, one might conclude. Some of the most frequent posters say very little about Miller and Sheffield but are truly vicious and mean spirited in their comments about Ann Herzog, Skip Williams and Mary Nail. If Cocoa Beach does “wake up”, it will see the stream of selective negativity spewed by those that never learned manners as children.
No such affinity group exists for a candidate like Anne Herzog. In her singularity, she has been involved at her children’s school, active in the PTA, Art’s Festival and the CB Citizen Academy. She doesn’t have snipers taking cheap shots at her opponent. She doesn’t have big donors or out of town interests funding her campaign.
Oct 30, 2014
We mentioned the other day that the Satellite Beach United Methodist Church was having their annual Pumpkin Patch sale.
We drove past the pumpkins yesterday and there is still a great selection of pumpkins that are looking for a new home – at least temporarily.
The church still has lots of sizes of pumpkins just waiting to be carved for Halloween or made into the yummiest pumpkin pie you can imagine.
Decorative gourds are also available.
Stop by and take a look at the pumpkins and see if one can’t find a home on your house.
Not only will your home smell wonderful, look festive, fill your stomach, but you’ll be helping a good cause. The pumpkin patch is located on the western edge of the church property at the corner of Lee and Avocado or Grant and Avocado and is open Sunday – Friday 12 PM – 7 PM and 10 AM – 7 PM on Saturday.
Oct 29, 2014
Mike Gautreaux of Cocoa Beach had a letter to the editor in the Tuesday Florida Today noting the same thing we have in regards to the Cocoa Beach City Commission Seat elections.
Follow the money.
Questioning out-of-city donations to candidates
To date, two of the five candidates for the Cocoa Beach City Commission each have raised more than $12,000 for their campaigns, almost three times more than any of the other city commission candidates.
Thousands of those dollars have come from out-of-city contributors, largely from real estate and investment groups and political action committees in Orlando.
As a voter in Cocoa Beach, you might want to ask yourself why outside investors would contribute to our little election. After you ask yourself that question, you also might want to consider the answer when making your decision on Election Day. Please check the facts yourself from the
candidate treasurer reports posted on the city of Cocoa Beach website at www.cityofcocoabeach.com/citylife/election/General_Election_Info/2014_General_Election_Info.html
Oct 29, 2014
Three incidents involving law enforcement have caught our eye recently.
The first is the ambush of two Pennsylvania State Troopers. A manhunt is on for the alleged assassin who killed one trooper and wounded another. The outpouring of support for the victims and their families has been a sight to behold.
A Muslim on the streets of New York attacked two cops without provocation. The man was wielding an ax and cut the arm of one officer and fractured the skull of a second before being shot and killed. Once again, the reaction of support for the officers was nearly universal.
Finally, a twice deported man shot and killed two deputies in Sacramento, California. The man’s wife was also arrested in the death of the two officers. The community rallied around the officers and their families.
Contrasting that is the constant comments on websites and social media claiming all cops are pigs, jack booted thugs, the Gestapo, and almost every name you can think of. Sites like CopWatch.com take the attitude that there are no good cops and ignore the good things that police across the country do.
On the other hand, sites like PoliceOne.com has never met a cop that wasn’t a hero or a role model.
How can there be such extremes in viewing law enforcement?
Taken together, are we looking at mourning the deaths and actions of jack-booted thugs who are heroes?
For years we have been watching this and see the dichotomy of reactions as a circle. People have a negative interaction with the police, so they go on social media and claim cops are bad. Their encounter feeds people who then push against cops when they encounter an officer and project the attitude of “you’re not the boss of me!” in all situations. The cops then pushes back leading to civilians pushing back harder and suddenly the police and civilians are at each others throats rather than working side by side to keep the community safe.
To be sure, and we want to make this perfectly clear, there are bad cops. There are cops who should not be cops. Painting all officers with a broad brush is as illogical as saying all citizens are crooks because a 7-11 was robbed.
The question then “is how should cities and police departments deal with the impression citizens have of police?”
Whatever the answer is, don’t look toward the City of Baltimore as an example.
Baltimore is in the midst of a police relations nightmare. The statistics alone are horrifying:
Oct 28, 2014
Is the city of Cocoa Beach for sale? Is our sleepy seaside community on the verge of an extreme makeover? Our interest was more than a little piqued when a concerned citizen brought up the issue of out-of-town campaign contributions during public comments at last week’s city commission meeting, so we decided to do a little investigating.
According to the Campaign Treasurer Reports on the city website, two candidates, Dee Dee Sheffield (seat 4) and Mike Miller (seat 5) have received over $12,000 each in campaign contributions this election cycle. Their donors read like a “Who’s Who” and include a realty investor’s PAC, firefighter’s union, attorneys, developers, Brevard lobbyists, a major media CEO, and a corporate giant, the majority of which are from outside Cocoa Beach. In addition, the list includes sitting members of the city planning board, one of which sued the city several times on behalf of outraged property developers after a huge majority of voters overwhelmingly approved restrictions for building height and density limits, not once but four separate times. Both candidates insist that they don’t want to make any changes to height and density, but if that’s the case, why are so many power players lining up behind Miller and Sheffield? Might it have something to do with the loophole in the legalese regarding “height and density” found by a sitting planning board member?
“Height and density” are at the heart of this election. At the March 3rd planning board meeting, the same member spoke passionately about driving a stake to gut the height and density regulations for our city, voted overwhelmingly in favor of four times by the city’s residents. Sheffield and Miller both serve on the planning board, a board that has worked for months to gut the 5/0 commission height and density exceptions’ legal requirements. Both Sheffield and Miller were two of the five unanimous votes to eliminate the Land Development Code (LDR) from the Comprehensive Plan, a backdoor attempt to do away with any commission authority regarding height and density in the future. This is supposedly the Trojan horse for which the former city planner was fired last year. The reason Miller and Sheffield currently say what they do about height and density is because if elected, the first agenda item in and order of business in December will be to approve and transmit the 2015 new Comprehensive Plan to Tallahassee gutted of the LDR (that speaks to height, density, and all land use permitting requirements).
Oct 28, 2014
We have talked about background checks as requirements for school volunteers before. While it seems like a great idea, the fact of the matter is that past behavior is not a prediction of the future.
Furthermore, while parents and volunteers pay to have background checks to participate in their own child’s classroom and activities, background checks do not catch teachers who have nefarious intent and actions on their mind.
For example, take the case of Symone Greene, a 22 year old certified teacher who performed a sex act on a 17 year old the first day of her working as a teacher at a Washington, DC charter school.
THE FIRST DAY!
A 22-year-old substitute teacher at a D.C. charter school for at-risk youth was arrested Tuesday and charged with having oral sex with a student football player behind the teacher’s classroom desk, according to police and court documents.
The 17-year-old 11th-grader at Options Public Charter School secretly recorded part of the encounter Friday afternoon, which police said happened at the end of an English class in Room 266 while other students and faculty members were at a pep rally to cheer on the Options Panthers before a game against Perry Street Prep. Police said the student showed the video to five of his football teammates and a childhood friend.
The student and teacher then texted each other throughout the weekend, and the teacher sent him a clothed picture of herself while urging the student to “chill” because she could get in trouble for the relationship, police said.
When the police began to question Greene, she quickly texted the alleged victim and then blamed him for not keeping his mouth shut. (The irony of her not keeping her mouth shut and her hands off the student’s zipper is not lost on us.)
Oct 27, 2014
A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John discusses some pretty dumb facts about dessert.