Finding New Leadership: Humboldt Harbor District Executive Director Steps Down

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- A change in leadership comes to the Humboldt Harbor District as Executive Director Jack Crider’s resignation was officially accepted during a public meeting of the commission today.

According to Commission Chair Richard Marks, the board is hoping to appoint a new leader by Mid-December. With that in mind, they assembled a list of names (including two current and some former commissioners) to join a selection/appointment committee that will seek out a successor for Crider. That list was formulated in a closed meeting earlier in the day.

That list, however, was not particularly well received by a number of community members who appeared at Thursday’s meeting. People like Kent Sawatzky took to the podium asking that the selection board be expanded to include a more diverse group of individuals with a vested interest in the harbor.

“We strongly support not having prior commissioners on this force. We’d like to see new blood, diversified.” Sawatsky said, “Everything from Bay Keepers to the local people who participate in the fishing industry. Everybody should have input on this process. It’s very important to Humboldt County and the future of our Bay.”

Sawatsky mentioned that a committee without diversity could be slanted, and make the community feel excluded. Commissioners argued that their original list was drafted with experience and efficiency in mind for its members. Still, they remained receptive to the messages left on the floor by Sawatsky and his peers.

After listening to public comment, the commission voted to wait on officially naming the final members of the selection committee. In the weeks to come they hope to have more eyes hit resumes and be involved in the interview process for a new executive director.

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After Losing In Court, Florida Anti-Death-Penalty Prosecutor Charts Way Forward

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala answers questions during a news conference Friday in Orlando, Fla.
John Raoux/AP

A Florida state attorney gained national attention when she announced last March that her office would no longer seek the death penalty, setting up a months-long legal battle with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

That’s a battle State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Orlando has now lost, following a decision Thursday from the Supreme Court of Florida that the governor does have the authority to reassign first-degree-murder cases to a different prosecutor.

“Florida’s Republican governor has taken more than 25 cases away from Ayala, and lawmakers slashed her budget,” WMFE’s Abe Aboraya tells our Newscast unit.

In a news conference Friday, Ayala stated that she respects the decision and is setting up a death penalty review panel in her office to independently evaluate whether to seek the death penalty. She argues that this removes the rationale for reassigning her cases.

“I don’t think at this point there’s any basis to remove cases because I’m following the law,” Ayala told reporters.

The panel will be made up of six prosecuting attorneys along with the attorney assigned to prosecute the specific case. If they unanimously determine that it is appropriate to seek the death penalty, they will make the recommendation to Ayala.

“It is worth noting that I have invested my authority into the review panel and have no intention of usurping that authority which I granted,” Ayala added.

NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported on Ayala’s motivations when the case began:

“Ayala, who took office in January in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, is the first black elected prosecutor in Florida. She says the death penalty is broken and does not achieve justice for victims’ families. She didn’t campaign on capital punishment, but once in office said she had determined through research that pursuing the death penalty ‘is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice.’ ”

The state Supreme Court opinion states that “Ayala’s blanket refusal to seek the death penalty in any eligible case … does not reflect an exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it embodies, at best, a misunderstanding of Florida law.”

It’s not clear whether Scott will continue to reassign cases. Spokesman John Tupps told The Associated Press that Scott will “continue to review” Ayala’s actions, adding that “the governor must be convinced that the death penalty will be sought as outlined in Florida law, when appropriate.”

Two Florida men, 16-year-old girl arrested for murdering MMA fighter Aaron Rajman

Two men and a 16-year-old girl have been charged with murdering a professional mixed martial arts fighter who was shot during a Florida home invasion in July, police said.

Roberto Ortiz and Jace Swinton, both 18, were arrested Friday along with high school junior Summer Church, for the death of Aaron Rajman, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

The three murder suspects, who were indicted by a grand jury on Thursday, face a first-degree murder charge and two counts of armed home invasion robbery with a firearm.

Church, who is 16, will be tried as an adult.

Rajman was shot dead on July 3 after “unknown males” went to his Boca Raton home, the Sun Sentinel reported.

An argument broke out and at least one shot was fired before the suspects drove off, the sheriff’s office said.

They made no mention of a female at the time of Rajman’s death.

Church, who was arrested Friday on her way to school, met the MMA fighter at a convenience store in January, her mother Judith Church told the Palm Beach Post.

Judith Church claimed her daughter, who was dating Swinton at the time, was held at gunpoint by Ortiz and three other men.

https://www.facebook.com/aaron.rajman

An argument broke out at Rajman’s home and at least one shot was fired, the sheriff’s office said

(FACEBOOK)

They forced the 16-year-old to call Rajman and let her out the car before they arrived at the MMA fighter’s home, according to Judith Church, who argued that her daughter’s murder charge was undeserved.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg issued a statement Friday.

“This was no random act of violence. Mr. Rajman was targeted by these defendants and we intend to seek justice for the victim and his family,” he wrote.

Rajman was a member of the American Top Team gym, and maintained an 8-1 win-loss record as an amateur fighter before he turned professional in 2014 with a 2-2 record.

The 25-year-old was a devout Orthodox Jew who often shared his religious beliefs and taught kids at a Jewish community school.

CHRIS SALAMONE

South Florida residents encouraged to get basic hurricane supplies

As a huge recovery effort is underway in Houston from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the next big weather disaster could be just around the corner.

Although it is too early to tell what path Hurricane Irma will take, residents are being encouraged to make sure they have their basic hurricane supplies ready by the middle of next week in case Florida ends up in Irma’s path.

Waiting until the last-minute can backfire, because often stores run out of supplies during days leading up to the storm.

And you should have these basic supplies on hand anyways during hurricane season.

Experts say within the next five days, you should make sure you have your basic emergency kit items.

Home Depot manager Jacob Tibbs says shoppers are already coming into the hardware store, picking up hurricane items: from generators to water.

Tibbs recommends people get their basic supplies like water, canned goods, batteries, and flashlights.

However, it is way too early to get out hurricane shutters and plywood.

Home Depot has hurricane supplies on stand-by at distribution centers during hurricane season months.

Tibbs encourages people to make sure their kits are ready.

Since Hurricane Matthew, Home Depot started ordering more water palettes, because they ran out so quickly last year.

Stay with our CBS 12 team of meteorologists who are tracking the storm, to get a better idea if and when you would need to get out your shutters and plywood.

 CHRIS SALAMONE

Medical marijuana advocate leaving Florida in hopes of better healthcare for her son

LITHIA, Fla. – A Lithia mother that has dedicated her time to helping pass medical cannabis laws will have to end her fight in Florida, as she will be relocating to Virginia with high hopes of finding better healthcare for her son.

Renee Petro has been caring for her 15-year-old son Branden since he was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called F.I.R.E.S.

“In the blink of an eye, my healthy child was taken away from me,” said Petro.

One diagnosis of the disease is frequent seizures, sometimes up to 100 a day.

After fighting to help pass legislation for medical cannabis in Florida, Petro says access for patients is limited.

Trulieve Medical Marijuana Treatment Center has worked endlessly to find the best strain of THC for Branden, but they need more access to research.

“We have to understand how much, when, how little, how will it interact with other medication,” said Petro.

Petro said there are too many restrictions to medical cannabis in Florida and there is not consistent access to products or how a patient can access it.

Because of this, Petro is stopping cannabis treatment and she will be taking Branden to an in patient care facility in Virginia that will give him medical and behavioral treatment.

Petro says cannabis is doing wonderful for some patients, but it isn’t for everyone until it can be researched for the correct forms for patients.S

 

CHRIS SALAMONE

Next execution in Florida set for October

TALLAHASSEE Florida is scheduled to execute its next Death Row inmate next month.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a new death warrant on Friday setting the execution of Michael Lambrix for 6 p.m. Oct. 5.

Lambrix was previously set to die in February 2016 but hisexecution was halted amid questions over the constitutionality of Florida’s death penalty law.

He has been on Death Row since 1984 after he was convicted in 1983 of murdering Aleisha Bryant and Clarence Moore Jr., following a night of drinking in Glades County.

Scott’s office described the crime as Lambrix having “lured Moore outside, and viciously attacked him with a tire iron, repeatedly hitting him in the head and fracturing his skull. Lambrix then called Bryant to come outside, where he attacked her, kicking her in the head and strangling her.”

But in an interview with the Herald/Times in 2016, Lambrix contended that Moore strangled Bryant and that he used a tire iron to fatally batter Moore in self-defense. He admitted that he and his girlfriend, Frances Smith, buried both victims in a shallow grave and that he refused to call police because he was a fugitive from that work detail.

RELATED: Who is Michael Lambrix? ]

Lambrix’s previously scheduled execution in 2016 was halted when the state Supreme Court issued a stay. Justices cited the uncertainty of how past cases should be handled in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January 2016 — known as Hurst v. Florida — which deemed Florida’s sentencing procedures unconstitutional.

The Florida Supreme Court in December cemented death sentences for nearly 200 prisoners — including Lambrix — whose sentences were finalized before a June 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling referenced in the Hurst decision.

The Legislature, meanwhile, quickly moved to fix the state’s death penalty law during the first week of the 2017 session this spring. The new procedures

This is the third death warrant signed for Lambrix. The governor who signed Lambrix’s first death warrant, Bob Martinez, left office in 1991.

The last Death Row inmate to be executed was Mark James Asay, who was put to death just eight days ago.

Asay’s death by lethal injection on Aug. 24 was the first time Florida had used a new anesthetic drug, etomidate. There were no reported complications.

 CHRIS SALAMONE

Florida senators bash Trump’s pick for NASA administrator

President Trump’s announcement that he would be nominating an Oklahoma congressman as the next administrator of NASA has been criticized by both the Republican and Democratic senators from Florida.

Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who currently serves on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, famously called for former President Barack Obama to apologize for allocating funding to climate change research.

“I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told PoLitico on Friday.

“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history.

 

“I would hate to see an administrator held up — on (grounds of) partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past — because the agency can’t afford it and it can’t afford the controversy,” he added.

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), echoing his Republican counterpart.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) both criticized Trump’s choice as a political one. They are seen together in 2014.

(JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES)

It remains unclear whether the two senators will vote for or against Bridenstine.

Bridenstine, who was elected to Congress in 2012, is a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

 

If confirmed by the Senate, Bridenstine would play a key role in Trump’s plans to add human exploration of Mars to NASA’s mission.

NASA is aiming to get astronauts to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

 

CHRIS SALAMONE