- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:


Nov. 4

The Key West Citizen on the Lower Keys’ need for help after Hurricane Irma:

It’s been almost two months since Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Florida Keys. Recovery started moments after the storm had passed and today, in some parts of our community, one can hardly tell a storm even hit.

Tragically, travel Big Pine to Big Coppitt and one would think the storm hit a week ago. While Irma left no part of the island chain untouched, the Lower Keys where the storm made landfall were affected much more than any other area.

The efforts to clean up this detritus across Monroe County have been monumental with many municipalities such as Key West and Islamorada all but finished.

Unfortunately, in the hardest hit area of the Lower Keys, many neighborhoods have yet to see their first trash removal truck. Literally, not one trash pickup to date. The piles of trash continue to grow as does the smell and there are still canals clogged with garbage, sunken boats and cars.

The debris removal trucks that have come made a cursory sweep of the streets picking up the easiest branches leaving the bigger piles and trees where they lie.

How did this happen? While the County had a contract in place for storm debris removal throughout the Keys, for some reason, the FDOT decided to take over cleanup of the Lower Keys at their cost. Cleanup progressed at a snail’s pace while FDOT’s crews were working, but now reports are that the FDOT has pulled out leaving the job far from complete. With FDOT out of the picture, the County has called on their contracted storm debris removal company to finish the job. The problem is that contractor doesn’t feel they should be obligated to clean up after FDOT’s crews and is suing the County to get out of their contract.

So where does this leave the area hit hardest by the storm? We are not sure, but a solution needs to be found and soon. In addition to the obvious hygienic and visual problems these piles of trash cause, an issue not readily apparent is the mental stress they cause the residents. In order to truly start the recovery process, residents need to see progress and a return to normalcy, which is simply not happening.

Imagine if you will the people and students who commute back and forth to Key West daily. They leave their war zone of a neighborhood and go to Key West which, to its credit, is for all practical purposes completely recovered. Then at the end of the day they leave Key West and go back to the depressing sight of their neighborhoods and streets that look as bad as the day after storm hit. There is no way this can’t have a serious effect on those residents young and old.

Unique to the Lower Keys among the other areas of Monroe County is that there are no significant County offices between Marathon and Stock Island. Additionally, the County Commissioner who represents the Lower Keys lives in Marathon. We have to wonder if a Commissioner or Senior County staff member lived among the piles of trash strewn throughout the neighborhoods more would be done by now, two months after the storm.

We urge every County Commissioner to take a ride through the neighborhoods of the Lower Keys and talk to their constituents. The problem is as obvious as a huge pile of trash sitting in the front yards that even our elected officials would be hard pressed to ignore. Let’s see what they can come up with as a solution since they are already two months too late.

Online: https://keysnews.com/


Nov. 6

The Florida Times-Union on rules to protect nursing home residents from power outages:

Gov. Rick Scott got overly ambitious with his administration’s rules to protect nursing home residents from power outages.

The tragic deaths of 14 residents at a Hollywood Hills nursing home in Broward County during Hurricane Irma shocked the nation.

Scott was right to act decisively to make sure that nursing homes have enough backup power in hurricanes. But his rules were unrealistic.

An administrative law judge ruled that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration did not have the authority to require all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to purchase generators and fuel by Nov. 15.

The judge ruled that there was no evidence that the tragedy at Hollywood Hills was representative of the entire nursing home industry in Florida. Hearings on the case are scheduled for January.

That doesn’t mean no action is the proper course.

The nursing home industry ought to be consulted in order to come up with a workable solution. Cost is a factor, as well. Many nursing homes operate on a slim profit margin. If installing expensive backup generators puts them out of business, then the people will suffer.

The fact is that nursing homes can’t just go to Home Depot, buy a generator and plug it in, representatives of the Florida Health Care Association told the Times-Union editorial board.

The association represents over 80 percent of the state’s nursing homes. The Hollywood Hills nursing home was not a member of the association.

A total of 1,500 nursing centers and assisted living facilities participated in 35 disaster training sessions conducted by the association in the 18 months preceding Hurricane Irma.

Each generator must be custom-built for each nursing home. Room must be found for gas tanks.

This takes time as well as money.

For a 60-bed facility, it could easily cost $200,000 and take 90 days to complete the installation.

The association proposes:

- Require all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators. This could include new, rental or supplemental power supplies.

- Maintain 96 hours of fuel through on-site storage or transportation arrangements.

- Ensure residents are monitored for heat complications and that staffers have a plan to transport residents to a safe facility if needed.

- Include homes with elderly residents to be specifically included in the priority list for power restoration. Today’s nursing homes are treating residents for many serious health conditions that require power.

Florida should be a national leader in protecting the health of its senior citizens. And so the lessons from Hurricane Irma should lead state leaders to do this right.

Online: http://jacksonville.com/


Nov. 6

The Miami Herald on the fate of Temporary Protected Status designees:

The Trump administration Monday upended the lives of 2,500 Nicaraguans and is on the cusp of doing the same with another 297,500 immigrants by ending the Temporary Protected Status designation that has allowed them to live and thrive in this country. It’s a shame that the administration didn’t wait, now that a group of congressional lawmakers is pushing legislation to create a pathway to legal residency for TPS recipients from Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador, too. Even though, it said it will continue to examine the needs of Hondurans here, the administration, unfortunately, seems determined to block that pathway.

Nicaraguan recipients were given 14 months to make arrangements to leave. Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans are scared and anxious. But they are also worthy of another chance to stay in this country and they should be granted another 18-month extension:

- They are here legally, with the blessing of the United States.

- They’ve been allowed to work - they are not a burden. They send millions in remittances to home countries, making life better for relatives. Ejecting them from the United States will be a counterproductive economic double whammy. Not only will they be forced to leave jobs, homes, and businesses they have crafted, but whatever economic well-being TPS grantees bring to their home countries will be wiped out.

- Many have children who were born and educated in America. These children are citizens. This administration has shown little concern about breaking up law-abiding undocumented families by deporting a mother or father. This is policy is stunning in its heartlessness.

- Conditions in their home countries are not as rosy or welcoming as the administration says.

- There is bipartisan legislation in Congress, introduced by a Miami lawmaker. It deserves a chance to be heard.

Congress created the Temporary Protected Status designation in 1990 for people whose countries are rocked by political or natural disasters. Haitians, for instance, were first granted TPS after an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people in 2010, leaving widespread destruction.

But TPS wisely was granted not to all comers. In the case of Haitians, only those who arrived in the 12 months after the earthquake struck, by January 2011, were eligible. This kept the population small, now about 50,000, preventing an unmanageable flood of people, however understandable their need to escape dire conditions.

Last week, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo introduced the Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees with Established Residency Act, which would establish a route to permanent legal status for some Haitians, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans who arrived in the United States before Jan. 13, 2011. Reps. Frederica Wilson, Alcee Hastings and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gamely are on board. In the Senate, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio want to at least see TPS extended, as it has been in the past.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed the Department of Homeland Security that conditions have improved so much in Haiti and Central America that its nationals no longer merit TPS. However, drug and gang violence still spills blood in Central America. As for Haiti, Hurricane Matthew, in October 2016, was the worst hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years, causing $2.8 billion in damage. Cholera, introduced by U.N. troops seven years ago, is diminished but still a killer; and almost eight years later, hurricane recovery remains an intractable challenge.

How is returning 50,000 Haitians now in the United States going to help?

The Trump administration should grant the 18-month extensions to all of these groups and let the legislation proceed. It’s time to abandon the narrative that immigrants have to leave for America to thrive. It’s a fallacy, and an insidious one.

Online: http://www.miamiherald.com/

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide