Monday, February 28, 2011

Manatee County Commission to vote on prescription drug resolution

The Manatee County Commission last year passed local measures designed to at least slow the abuse of prescription drug abuse in the region, including new rules governing the operation of so-called "pain management clinics."

So perhaps it is no surprise that the commission is about to let the state knows where it stands on a proposal from Gov. Rick Scott to repeal a new law that would set up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

"The Board of County Commissioners supports the continued implementation of the prescription drug monitoring program and the associated database," reads a proposed resolution that commissioners will consider on Tuesday.

The proposed resolution lists several "whereases" to help make the county's case, including:
  • 60 people in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties died from Oxycodone overdoses in the first six months of 2010, and 55 died from Xanax overdoses during the same period.
  • The estimated cost of a drug monitoring program is $500,000, or less than one-thousandth of 1 percent of the overall state budget.
  • A monitoring program would provide a tool for doctors and pharmacists to determine if a patient is "doctor shopping" or has purchased an excessive amount of drugs.
  • Florida is the largest population state without some type of prescription drug monitoring program.
  • "Nationally, Florida is perceived in a negative light for its proliferation of pill mills and out-of-state users flocking to Florida for drugs."
The commission will vote Thursday on the resolution.
    Cross-posted at Political Watch.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    FBI offers reward for tips on St. Petersburg cop killer

    The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the identification of suspect or suspects in the shooting death late Monday of St. Petersburg police officer David Crawford.

    Tips can be reported to the St. Petersburg Police Department at (727) 892-5000.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Sr. Nora Brick is an institution in the Bradenton community

     Sr. Nora Brick was honored last month for her work with Project Light, which provides educational and other services to members of the local immigrant community. (Bradenton Herald photo)

    The Bradenton Herald usually doesn't publish the names of crime victims, except for those who are the victims of homicide or who are otherwise newsworthy enough for us to make an exception. After all, it's not like most victims did something deliberately to get their name into the paper or on

    Even though most police reports include the names of victims, we grant most of them a protection of anonymity.

    We made an exception this morning for Sr. Nora Brick, who Monday evening was attacked and seriously beaten by a man she had let into her home on 14th Street West in Bradenton for a drink of water. She knew the man -- Eliseo Ortiz, 51 -- and was able to identify him as her attacker, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

    The sheriff's office this morning put out a lookout for Ortiz.


    Brick, an 81-year-old Franciscan nun, is an institution in the community for her work with immigrants and other less fortunate residents. Her Stillpoint House of Prayer provides utility payment and other assistance to the needy, and just last month she was honored for her work with Project Light, which provides educational and other services for immigrants. Each year, she collects shoes for immigrant children about to go back to school.

    Reporter/columnist Vin Mannix -- who is reporting on the attack on Brick and the reaction of those who know her and the suspect for and Thursday's Bradenton Herald --  wrote this about Brick in a story just last month:
    BRADENTON -- It’s tough to say no to Sister Nora Brick.

    Luz Corcuera found that 10 years ago when she met the persuasive Franciscan nun from Ireland’s County Kerry.

    It was at Project Light Literacy Center, which Brick founded in 1995 in a humble storefront on 14th Street West to teach English to migrants.

    Corcuera, now president of its board of directors, chuckled at the memory after they honored Brick Tuesday.

    “You know how it goes,” said the program director for Healthy Start of Manatee County. “Sister Nora tells you, ‘My dear, could you give me a hand with this ...’ and then you can never get away from her."

    Ann Griffin, who, along with husband Ed, helped Brick start Project Light agreed.

    “You cannot say no, nor do you want to,” the board member said.

    “You want to emulate her,” said Monica Hubbard, a longtime Project Light teacher.

    A nun for 64 years, Brick was honored at the Project Light’s annual board meeting for being the founder and for her devotion to immigrants, no matter their race, since she came to Manatee County in 1989.

    “It’s a holy and wholesome effort,” the 81-year-old native of Tralee told her supporters. “You take on this wonderful, wonderful work to help people to get out from under abuse and become fully human. Education is the key.”
    Clearly, Brick is a giant in the community, so we decided it was important enough to report what had happened to her.

    -- Marc R. Masferrer, metro editor.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Manatee sheriff's office releases video of suspect who tried to attack girl

    The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says a man tried to sexually assault a 12-year-girl as she walked home from school.Thursday afternoon.

    On Friday, the sheriff's office released security camera footage that appears to show the girl and the suspect. Investigators say he also may be a suspect in attempted assaults on 15-year-old girls in November and again in January.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Recent accidents in Manatee highlight need for bike safety

    Two major bicycling related accidents in Manatee County in recent days, including one that killed a 66-year-old woman, should remind both motorists and bicyclists that they are not alone on area roadways.

    The web is chock full of sites with tips and other information about how bicyclists can be safer on the road.

    The information is always relevant, as in 2009 -- the most recent year for which statistics are available -- 630 bicyclists died on U.S. roadways, and 51,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    For example, Yield to Life, started by professional cyclist David Zabriskie, lists 10 safety tips for bicyclists, from riding with the flow of traffic to the farthest right possible to always wearing a helmet. Another site,, even includes drawings depicting some of the most common bicycle-vehicle accidents and tips on how to avoid them.

    As for tips for motorists trying to make their way safely passed bicyclists, Yield to Life has tips for them, too:

    1. Different but Equal

    In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for cyclists on the road. Treat them as you would any slow-moving vehicle.

    2. Patience, not Patients

    Patience, especially on the road, is a virtue, and can save lives.
    Your patience may involve:
    • Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle and refraining from tailgating.
    • Giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it.
    • Allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections.
    • Recognizing road hazards that may be dangerous for cyclists and giving cyclists the necessary space to deal with them. In conditions where there is not enough room for a cyclist to ride to the right, they are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and sometimes even in the lane of traffic.
    Never engage in conduct that harasses or endangers a cyclist. Above all: Be tolerant. Be understanding. Be careful.

    3. A Passing Grade

    Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. You should allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicycle and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger. If you pass too closely the drag from your car can pull a cyclist off course and cause the rider to swerve out of control.

    4. The Right Behavior

    Watch out for cyclists when you are turning right. A bicyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of the bicyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. The cyclist may be going faster than you think and, as you slow to make the turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.

    5. To The Left, to The Left

    Also look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists who are crossing straight through the same intersection in the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize. It is particularly dangerous on a descending slope, when cyclists pick up more speed.

    6. A Back-up Plan:

    Bicycles, and the people who drive them, come in all shapes and sizes. When backing out of your driveway always look to see if someone is riding in your path. Children on small bikes might be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.

    7. Egress Etiquette

    After parallel parking, make sure the coast is clear for opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside your car or fast approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and by turning around, a driver can spot an approaching cyclist and circumvent a disaster. A cyclist cannot anticipate when a driver will open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.

    8. Respect

    Cyclists have a rightful spot on the road. Cyclists also positively impact the environment with each revolution of their wheels by opting to ride rather than drive. Do not resent cyclists. Replace frustration with a smile every time to see a cyclist.

    9. Honing Your Horning Habit

    Do not to honk unnecessarily at cyclists. If the need does arise to honk your horn to alert a cyclist that you are about pass, do so at a respectable distance. If you are too close, the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings and create a hazardous situation for both you and the cyclist.

    10. Try it, You’ll Like it

    If you can’t beat them, join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment. At the very least, it will give you a better appreciation for the problems cyclists face everyday on the road with respect to motorists.