Florida Legislature Passes “Waldo Bill” To Outlaw Ticket Quotas

By on April 22nd, 2015 | Last updated: April 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Traffic ticket quotas for law enforcement agencies would be illegal under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature.

The House unanimously passed the so-called “Waldo Bill” (SB 264) on Wednesday and sent it to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott. The Senate had previously approved the bill.

The bill’s nickname comes from the city of Waldo on heavily travelled U.S. 301, once considered one of the nation’s worst speed traps. In 2014, Waldo police officers disclosed a quota system and it was reported that tickets accounted for nearly half of the city’s revenue. The police force has since been disbanded.

The bill also requires a city or county to report to state officials if traffic ticket revenue exceeds a third of the cost of operating its law enforcement agency.

Update: The Florida Senate’s official website reports the vote was 116-1, with three not voting, as opposed to the unanimous count previously reported.

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April 22, 2015: News In 90

By on April 22nd, 2015 | Last updated: April 22, 2015 at 11:22 am

Denise Robinson produced this update. 


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In The News: No To Genetically Modified Mosquitos, Gov. Scott Calls Special Session, Obama In Everglades, Changes In Gainesville Biomass Contract

By on April 22nd, 2015 | Last updated: April 22, 2015 at 10:30 am
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Gainesville Locals Win $15,000 To Start Music Education Program

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm
Gainesville band Flat Land performs during One Spark to raise funds to start a music education program. One Spark took place in downtown Jacksonville April 7-12.

Gainesville band Flat Land performs during One Spark to raise funds to start a music education program. One Spark took place in downtown Jacksonville April 7 through 12. Photo courtesy of Tyler Pierce Hale.

A group of 10 Gainesville musicians and marketers joined the world’s largest crowdfunding festival to raise funds for a music education project in Jacksonville earlier this month.

The festival, called One Spark, let artists, innovators and entrepreneurs showcase projects to raise funds and make connections. The local group raised money for Future Music Makers Youth Enrichment Program, the goal of which is to create music classes in established after-school programs to help kids learn how to create original modern music.

Out of 80 groups competing in the music category, the Future Music Makers Youth Enrichment Program project won a $15,000-prize.

The program is a collaborative effort between Gainesville-based band Flat Land, electronic duo Bells and Robes and Phairground, a local marketing and special events consulting firm.

Instead of raising money for an album, like some bands at One Spark, the group decided to focus on a music education project to benefit youth.

“We realized quickly that we could do something like this, and it would be great for the community and a great opportunity for us to do more music in our lives,” said Grant McLeod, Flat Land’s drummer.

The group might run some test programs in Alachua County but plans on starting classes in Duval County in fall 2015. McLeod said they want to return the investment they received from the Jacksonville community.

Dean Spaniol, a member of Bells and Robes, said the project comes at a time when funding for music education is being cut. He said the band members first picked up their instruments in music classes.

“To realize that these kids might not ever get that chance to pick up that instrument and to start creating and just to have the opportunity to express yourself through music is, for us, it’s scary,” he said. “We don’t know where we’d be without it.”

The classes would be taught once a week by the musicians. Both Bells and Robes and Flat Land create original sounds that stray from mainstream music heard on the radio. The classes are designed to help kids find their own sound and create original music.

The curriculum includes five classes made for elementary, middle and high school students: Group Rhythm and Percussion, Melody and Improvisation for Beginners, Intermediate Melody and Improvisation, Intro to Beat Making MIDI for Beginners and Advanced Production.

The group plans on using GarageBand on iPads to get students to create together.

Before One Spark, the project did not have any funding. The group is still deciding how they will spend the $15,000, but they said it’s good leverage for getting donations and connections. They have a business plan and are currently developing a strategy to get the project going.

Spaniol said they’ve received a positive response from educators and are now trying to form formal partnerships. They are targeting after-school programs that help prevent students from dropping out.

“It’s definitely very exciting, but it’s also a huge responsibility, and we take that very seriously,” said Fae Nageon de Lestang, Flat Land violinist and vocalist.

Tyler Pierce Hale works at Phairground and helped come up with the program idea. He said a big goal of the program is to allow students to have fun and express themselves.

“The biggest thing going in there is we’re teaching these kids how to communicate with each other, to put them all in a room and give them a common interest between everybody and actually let them enjoy their time,” Hale said. “Who knows the bonds or friends that they could make out of this group?”

The bands played a total of 15 sets at One Spark to get the word out about their project, but they credit their win to the bike stage.

Flat Land band performs on a stage being pulled by a bicycle in downtown Jacksonville during One Spark. The group used the moving performance to get attention and votes on their music education project.

Flat Land band performs on a stage being pulled by a bicycle in downtown Jacksonville during One Spark. The group used the moving performance to get attention and votes on their music education project. Photo courtesy of Tyler Pierce Hale.

Meredith O’Malley Johnson, the community and public relations director for One Spark, saw the group part a sea of festival-goers while performing on their 8-foot-by-8-foot trailer stage pulled by a bicycle.

“I’m not surprised they won because they were really great at performing and had really creative marketing,” she said. “People were paying attention to them.”

Hale said the program’s name comes from a line in the Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem mentioned in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”: “We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

Hale said the award will allow them to live and breathe the message.

“It’s interesting how it’s evolved because we are the future music-makers and the dreamers of dreams,” he said.

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Beville Creek Restoration Project Underway

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 6:06 pm
Oak Hall High School volunteers remove the wooden fence that Bevelle Creek’s previous owners built to stabilize the shoreline. The fence was removed to allow access to the creek during the restoration project.

Oak Hall High School volunteers remove the wooden fence that Bevelle Creek’s previous owners built to stabilize the shoreline. The fence was removed to allow access to the creek during the restoration project. Photo courtesy of Donald Musen.

Gainesville closed Cofrin Nature Park this April to restore the shoreline of Beville Creek, which runs through the park.

Due to the high cost of providing a man-made engineered solution, the city has opted for a more natural creek restoration process. However, Wetlands and Aquatic Systems expert and University of Florida professor Mark Clark said this may not be enough.

Although he prefers the park’s natural approach to the restoration project, Clark said shoreline erosion will continue to occur unless action is taken to fix where the creek drains out.

Beville Creek was developed before current storm water regulations. Clark said Cofrin Nature Park’s efforts are beneficial, but changes in the watershed may be necessary, which would require putting stone water basins in place or using low-impact development practices.

“Areas upstream are outside the control of the park itself,” Clark said. “When we build impervious surfaces like roads or houses or parking lots, the amount of water in the creek flows at a much more rapid rate, and that’s what causes the erosion.”

The creek is currently experiencing large collapses of sand due to this erosion and the instability of the previous owner’s attempts to stabilize the shoreline.

Previous landowners built a series of wooden wall structures along the shoreline before the city of Gainesville purchased Cofrin Park in 2003. Those structures have now subsided into the creek. They also inserted an iron culvert that goes under the trail. It was used as a bridge and changed how fast the water flowed, making it difficult for wildlife to come upstream, according to Habitat Naturalist Donald Musen, who is managing the Beville Creek project.

Musen said the park recently had high school volunteers from Gainesville’s Oak Hall School remove the wooden fences along the edge of the creek so his team can move forward with the restoration plans.

Instead of building a concrete wall, a combination of rock and wire baskets of rock will be used as edges along the creek, Musen said.

A series of inverted horseshoe shapes will be created in the creek bed to trap sand and create pools where wildlife can gather, which will raise the creek bed’s water level. And, the culvert pipe will be replaced with a pedestrian bridge.

“We have slotted 120 days,” Musen said. “We anticipate opening the park back up in the fall.”

The project’s funding will come from capital improvement dollars that were allocated by the city commission. The contractor’s bid is just under $200,000. Geoffrey Parks, Natural Resource Management Program Coordinator for the city of Gainesville, said without action the creek poses a safety issue for visitors. It also threatens park structures located near the creek such as picnic tables, the property house, driveways and fencing.

Without action, large quantities of sand flowing into the creek threaten to smother vegetation and burry its natural habitat.

Beville Creek flows from a lake in northwest Gainesville down through neighborhoods near Cofrin Nature Park, 4810 NW Eighth Ave, and then flows south by Sugarfoot Prairie Conservation Area. Parks said over such a great distance, Beville Creek is actually ditched or runs in concrete.

“Very little of that creek is actually natural in terms of an undisturbed undeveloped state that provides habitat for creek-side plants and animals, so that’s one real reason why Cofrin is important,” Parks said. “It is basically the one protected stretch of that creek where these plants and animals can exist.”

Clark said the park’s natural restoration solution can hold the creek for another 20, 30 or 40 years, however, it depends on what mother nature provides for weather. An extreme event such as a hurricane could cause new erosion or infrastructure damage.

“There have been a lot of stream restoration efforts that have been very successful throughout the United States and what the city is planning to do hits on a lot of those,” Clark said. “We’ll have to see how it goes.”

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Apr. 21, 2015: Afternoon News in 90

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Nestor Montoya produced this update. 

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Club Closure A Blow To Local Flow Arts Community

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm
NEEDS CAPTION. Bradley Williams / WUFT News

Aly Mueller, 23, spins hula hoops at an Ambience meeting at the Thomas Center. Ambience is a group for people who practice flow arts, which is a performance art involving spinning lights and objects to music. Bradley Williams / WUFT News

On March 29, The Motor Room closed its doors on seven years of trendy dance music, light-spinning and, to many, what felt like family.

The Motor Room, a Gainesville club originally named Spannk, was home to Saturday night’s Neon Liger. Neon Liger, a dance party that played whatever genre was on the rise, was its most popular event.

Jimbo Rountree, 28, co-owner and bartender at Motor Room, said various factors contributed to its closing.

“When this started seven years ago, there wasn’t many dance nights,” Rountree said. “Over time, the market got over-saturated. The bubble hit, and people were over dance nights in general.”

When it closed, The Motor Room was owned by Rountree, originally a doorman, and Vijay Seixas, who also deejayed.

Part of the club’s struggle was that its money only came from being open a few nights a week, as opposed to other bars that have daytime restaurants. Many properties in downtown Gainesville are also owned by people who manage multiple properties, unlike The Motor Room.

With its closing, the Gainesville flow arts community, which is largely centered around loud music and dark atmospheres, will be hit particularly hard.

Kyle Hoffman, 21, is a University of Florida student and the manager and leader of Ambience, a group focused on flow arts.

“You have this creative outlet,” Hoffman said. “You’re creating a link to the music and the people around you.”

Flow arts is a category of performance art that involves moving lights or objects to the beat of music. Some flow arts include hula hoops, gloves with LED lights in the fingers and poi, which is spinning objects like LED balls or fire on strings.

Aly Mueller, 23, is a member of Ambience and was a patron of The Motor Room for many years.

“A lot of places are small, and there’s just no room for flow arts,” Mueller said. “I’ve hoped for a new venue to come. I went to Neon Liger for five or six years. It’s my home. It’s my (electronic dance music) community.”

When Rountree and Seixas tried to negotiate their rent with the landlord through a third party, the landlord declined and said he could find another club to take its place, Rountree said.

“We had to leave a lot of things behind,” Rountree said. “Such as the bar and a few coolers and an industrial ice machine, so my understanding is that I’m sure the landlord is going to try to flip it to some other people who will try to turn it into a club.”

Hoffman, who grew up hearing his mom’s Moby CDs in her car, said Ambience will still have regular meetings and try to coordinate meeting up at friends’ houses.

“It’s a pretty constructive hobby,” Hoffman said. “Seeing other people’s progress is inspiring. I’ve been doing it for years, and I still get giddy seeing beginners getting the basics.”

Sam Booth, 18, said places like Orlando, Tampa and Daytona have clubs where people can go and practice flow arts, unlike Gainesville.

She said Simon’s, a Gainesville night club, only allows flow arts if a big show comes through town; however, it gets too crowded and people will walk right into the performance, ruining the flow art.

Rountree said he remembers knowing there was something magical about The Motor Room well before he became an owner. When he was a doorman, he said he saw people dancing on the AC units because the club was so full.

“People were having such a good time,” Rountree said. “It dawned on me at that point that this was way bigger than I thought.”

Though closing, not everything must go.

Seixas said he plans on keeping The Deep End, The Motor Room’s Friday night event, alive. The event focuses on a dark environment, deep house music and chill vibes.

“The Deep End will be mobile and will be once a month,” Seixas said. “It won’t be locked down to one particular venue.”

The first new Deep End event will be held at 2nd Street Speakeasy on Saturday, April 25.

“It’s really sad seeing something you poured so much into close,” Rountree said. “But at the end of the day, you think about it like, ‘How many years did you want?’ I’m so glad it happened to me and Vijay and the crazy nights we were a part of.”

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In The News: Romney Helps Curry Campaign, Florida Legislature Holds Emergency Budget Meetings, Presidential Campaigns Use Online Stores, Williams’ Killer Pleads Guilty

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm
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Tornado Damages Homes Near Ocala Monday

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm
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April 21, 2015: Morning News In 90

By on April 21st, 2015 | Last updated: April 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

David Jolley produced this update.

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