Uvalde’s Effect on Cruz’s Jury Selection, COVID and the South Florida Economy, and a Surfside-Inspired Law

Last week’s shooting at a Texas elementary school ended up in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom.

The Fort Lauderdale courtroom is where lawyers and a judge attempt to choose a jury to decide whether another school shooter lives in jail for the rest of his life or is put to death.

Nikolas Cruz admitted to killing 17 people and injuring 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

WLRN Broward reporter Gerard Albert III said the situation was not new to the court. This topic came up after the Buffalo shooting.

“Before the jurors were brought in, the defense attorney asked for a second to talk about it,” he said. “She was very emotional. She had to stop and stop several times to stop crying.”

The first group of jurors who came were not asked directly about the Texas shooting, but a potential juror brought it up and mentioned that they all knew what happened the day before, Albert said.

The trial is still expected to begin in the last week of June.

COVID on the rise again in South Florida, but what are we doing?

South Florida is expected to see record numbers of visitors for Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of rising COVID cases and hospitalizations in South Florida.

Cases are increasing and hospital capacity is decreasing. According to the CDC, there are high levels of COVID in South Florida and Monroe County. They advise taking precautions before things get worse.

The positivity rate at Miami-Dade is quite high at 20%. This means that nearly 1 in 5 tests will come back positive.

“That means it spreads quite easily, and that’s why the CDC recommends people wear masks indoors and in public, whether or not they’re vaccinated,” said Daniel Chang, healthcare reporter. from the Miami Herald.

The median age of people returning with confirmed cases is now around 44, but there are also large numbers of children and young adults also returning with positive tests.

Chang said about 13% of 5 to 17 year olds and 21% of young adults between 18 and 34. These figures were collected over the past few weeks.

According to the agency’s COVID-19 Community Level, South Florida is at a high risk level, and that comes with the recommendation to wear a mask indoors in public.

However, this is a recommendation, not a mandate, as local leaders decided not to enforce another mask requirement.

Chang spoke with Broward County Mayor Michael Undine and said he no longer believes in mask mandates and does not envision a return to masks. He also said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava also shared the sentiments.

However, the Broward County Administrator issued a memo in April urging people to wear masks in county buildings and on county property.

“Similar to other issues we’ve seen with the pandemic, people aren’t all speaking with one voice, and so it’s hard to decipher the message,” Change said.

South Florida’s Economic Future

Inflation has receded from its recent peak in April, but prices continue to rise at their fastest pace in more than a generation. This helps to raise interest rates. Borrowing costs have jumped, including for mortgages.

The unemployment rate is at historic lows, but fears of an economic recession are growing.

Raphael Bostic, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, is comfortable with the current pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. South Florida is part of the region that this federal bank oversees.

“We’re in really uncharted space in terms of how the economy is progressing and where it’s coming from,” he said. “And I think we’re moving towards a neutral stance away from our emergency posture much faster than we have over the past 20 years.”

Bostic is not entirely worried about a recession in the next 12 months due to the momentum in the economy. He said job growth, on a monthly basis, has averaged about 500,000 per month over the past 10 months, meaning a slowdown in that would still leave the economy in a strong position.

He hopes we have seen a spike in inflation in the United States. Bostic sits on the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve and sets interest rates. The committee said it has taken steps to reduce inflation in the economy and hopes to see it come down even more in the coming months.

Service and hospitality industries are dominant in the United States and South Florida, and Bostic said lower inflation would help narrow the gap between job demand and workers available. Closing this gap will help the hospitality industry continue to rebound.

Surfside-Inspired Condominium Bill Passes Florida Legislature

Nearly a year after the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapsed in Surfside, Florida lawmakers have responded. Florida condominiums will be subject to new inspections and new requirements for associations to set aside money for major maintenance.

For condominium buildings of at least three stories, they must be inspected 30 years after opening. For buildings located less than three miles from a coastline, it will be 25 years after their construction. And for each, an inspection will have to be done every ten years thereafter.

Once the inspection is complete, buildings will need to collect the necessary reservations for any structural element described in the reservation study, said Rep. Daniel Perez, the sponsor of that bill.

Part of this bill provides for the requirement of a study of the reserves every 10 years.

No study has been done on the financial impact on an average condominium owner in Florida because currently the Department of Business and Professional Regulation does not have an overview of how many buildings there are in each condominium association.

“In the bill, each corporation must notify DBPR of the number of buildings within its condo corporation that are within three stories or more,” Perez said.

This roll call will help DBPR hold condo associations accountable. However, they have not yet done so, so the individual financial impact cannot yet be stated.

Eric Glazer of Glazer & Associates believes this law, with one major flaw, did the right thing 30 years ago.

The main flaw he sees in the bill is that it removes the education requirement for directors and officers of condominium corporations to obtain certification while warning directors that if they do not meet the law, it will be a breach of their fiduciary duty. Glazer believes this education is necessary to save lives.

Besides the flaw in the bill, he sees the future of condominiums as worrying.

“We have an inflation problem, insurance rates are doubling or tripling…and what everyone forgets is that on January 31, 2024, your condo better have sprinklers or a lightweight security,” he said.

He also said the days of moving to Florida and living off your Social Security check are over. He also predicts that thousands of elderly Floridians will be seized in the future.

About Teresa G. Wilson

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