Posts tagged with "Fort Lauderdale"

Blood, sweat, and tears: Reopening gyms is tearing a South Florida city apart

May 21, 2020

Gym rats in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are earning a reputation as municipal pests, now that their patience is running out and they want to get back to the athletic club, The Daily Beast reports.

For two months, Ken Averett Clark couldn’t lift weights at his local gym in Fort Lauderdale—the city with the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida. But by late Monday, May 18, the buff 55-year-old was closing in fast on pumping iron in public once again.

“For me, going to the gym is one of the pillars of my mental and physical health,” Clark told The Daily Beast. “I really feel like there is something missing in my life. I understand some people see it as a luxury that I can do without, and could do a home exercise regimen. For me, it’s not the same.” 

On Friday, May 15, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis decided that exercise junkies like Clark could return to their workout spaces—announcing that commercial health clubs were among the nonessential businesses that would reopen this week with new safety precautions.

But there was one major problem, The Daily Beast notes: Trantalis’s move to reopen gyms came in spite of officials in Broward County—which includes the city—insisting gyms remain closed, at least for now.

At a Monday afternoon press conference in a hotel lobby attended by more than two dozen people, Trantalis asserted that Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis’ executive order allowing gyms to reopen trumped Broward’s directive. “It is our position that gyms can be opened,” Trantalis told reporters. “There is a dispute between the county and the city with regard to that order. As far as we are concerned, we should be able to resolve it by tomorrow.”

When asked if Fort Lauderdale gym owners who moved forward with reopening should be concerned about being shut down or arrested by county law enforcement, Trantalis replied, “No one is going to be arrested.”

But Broward Vice Mayor Steve Geller told The Daily Beast it was “possible” Broward code enforcers and sheriff’s deputies would go to Fort Lauderdale to make sure gyms remain closed until the county says otherwise. County Commissioners voted to send the city a warning letter on Tuesday. “We don’t need to have a confrontation,” Geller said. “I am sure we can work it out. This requires compromise from both parties and not just the county giving in.”

In the Sunshine State, working on one’s summer body is the stuff of obsession. Last week, more than two dozen people performed squats and push-ups sans face masks outside a courthouse in Clearwater, a city in central Florida, as part of a reopening protest. The gym crowd, in other words, is starting to get fed up, and health experts worry that could turn gyms into high-risk contamination zones even as the state’s COVID-19 outlook remains murky at best.

Still, there are Floridians who prefer safety to squatting. Stephanie Lavender, a 56-year-old artist and designer, told The Daily Beast that she was shocked and disappointed Trantalis was moving to reopen gyms ahead of the county’s timeline. “When this first started, the mayor took initiative when others did not,” she told The Daily Beast. “Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach were among the first cities to do stay-at-home orders and then required masks. I felt safe.” 

She also questioned how gyms would be able to keep equipment clean after every use. “Gyms have the most touch points, even more than a restaurant or bar,” Lavender said. “And people are breathing hard. It’s a strong exhale. I know we have to get back to normal, but this doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the reopening.”

Meanwhile, between May 16 and May 19, Fort Lauderdale recorded 22 new coronavirus cases—bringing the city’s total to 1,465. Overall, Broward saw its total number of cases jump by 121 over the same three-day period. Those are relatively modest totals, but the city’s proximity to the state’s number one hot zone—in Dade County, currently beginning its own reopening process—was not exactly cause for reassurance.

Clark, who is a member of Powerhouse Gym, said he would likely wait a week until after his health club reopened to resume his workout routine. A realtor and a professional actor, Clark said he polled people on his Facebook page about gyms reopening. “I got about 60 responses and almost every single one of them was no,” he said. “I was surprised.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

FBI carries out predawn raid, arresting Roger Stone and searching his home

January 28, 2019

In a predawn video by CNN, armed FBI agents and local police were shown arriving at the home of longtime Trump adviser and associate Roger Stone to arrest him—in a marked departure from how Special Counsel Robert Mueller is known to have handled other players tied to the Russia probe.

According to CNN reporters stationed outside of Stone’s residence in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the authorities announced their presence while knocking on the door. The FBI agents also reportedly said they had a warrant to search the home.

President Donald Trump commented on Twitter, “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?”

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN, “This has nothing to do with the president and certainly has nothing to do with the White House. This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”

Meanwhile, CNN clapped back, tweeting, “CNN’s ability to capture the arrest of Roger Stone was the result of determined reporting and interpreting clues revealed in the course of events. That’s called journalism.”

Based on the same report, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram commented,”There’s a reason” why the FBI arrested former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone “at the crack of dawn with agents fully armed,” even if the reason for that is unknown as of now. 

“This is a standard procedure to arrest someone when you don’t have a belief that they’ve come in voluntarily,” Milgram told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday morning. “… they clearly wanted the element of surprise.” 

A copy of the indictment by the Grand Jury for the District of Columbia was posted on The Hill. Stone is facing seven charges, including five counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, and one count of witness tampering.

“It’s clear that the Trump campaign was acting in a coordinated fashion to try to undermine this election and to try to get this information into public circulation,” Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

“It’s pretty stunning to read these indictments … and compare them to the constant pronouncements the president has made. Clearly he has a distant relationship with the truth, but in this case he’s getting his wall: Unfortunately, it’s the wall that’s being built around him,” Kildee added.

Stone is the sixth associate of President Trump to be charged in connection with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

A federal magistrate ruled that Stone could be released on a $250,000 signature bond. CNN reported that Stone told the judge that he does not have a current passport.

In a statement following the indictment, Stone said that would not plead guilty to the charges and believes that they are politically motivated. He also reinforced that he would not testify against the president.

Research contact: @davidgshortell