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By JULIE KNIPE BROWN
Gov. Charlie Crist (Contact), who has kept himself at arm's length in the thorny debate over sex offender residency laws, inched toward a compromise on Wednesday, saying he would help "facilitate a solution."
However, he reiterated his position that the state would not overrule local laws -- even if the residency boundaries vary greatly from one municipality to another.
- And it has been said that none of the offenders under the bridge will leave, until the county laws are repealed, and you go back to a statewide 1,000 foot residency restriction, so this is going to get good. Like many have said, the 2,500 county residency laws is the root cause of the problem, it makes it impossible to find any place to live legally that can be afforded. All you would have to do is repeal all county laws and stick with the state laws, which is how it should be in the first place, then the problem would vanish almost 100%, but, the "tough on crime" politicians don't want to look "soft on sex offenders," because it would invite redicule and possibly harm their ratings, career or chance for re-election, and that is what it boils down to, no balls.
The controversy stems from the legal and political wrangling over a group of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami-Dade. The squalid camp of 70-plus convicted molesters have few options because residency laws prohibit them from living within certain distances of where children play or go to school.
- This reporter apparently did not do their homework, like most reporters. Not all offenders living under the bridge are molesters, like they lead you to believe. Anybody can look that up and confirm that what I am saying is a fact, if they wanted to actually know the truth!
Over the past few years, municipalities have passed a patchwork of inconsistent boundaries, and critics charge that the laws have forced sex offenders underground, making it harder for law enforcement to keep track of them.
Asked Wednesday if local government buffers have gone too far, Crist said: "Not necessarily. It's up to local government to make those decisions, and I wouldn't want to impose my will on them. I think they're doing what they believe to be responsible in their localities, and I want to be respectful of that."
His statement came after a Newsweek article spotlighted the camp, and Ron Book, chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust, railed at the governor for failing to help fix the problem. After meeting with the governor and his staff, he was clearly frustrated.
"I had to walk away. I was annoyed. They don't even have a clue of a solution," Book told Newsweek.
- I agree, but Ronnie, what is YOUR solution? You lobbied for these very laws and ordinances, and now that they are backfiring, you are doing what politicians usually do, blame others, and not offering a REAL solution!
On Wednesday, Book was more conciliatory. He said he called the governor and apologized for his Newsweek comments. The governor, he said, had become more proactive on the issue in recent days.
His staff, Book said, "Engaged in a dialogue with me as we explore what options there are . . . they recognize this as a problem; we don't have to point fingers."
- That is all you have been doing, blaming others for the very laws you lobbied for, a true hypocrite!
Meanwhile, Book is moving forward with plans to relocate the Causeway dwellers.
He is ready to move eight of them to a private apartment building in South Miami-Dade -- but he said they aren't happy about moving so far south, even though some of them have transportation.
"I concede it doesn't have a lot of mass transit opportunities," Book said.
"But you got people with cars, give me a break."
"The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilization. We must have a desire to rehabilitate into the world of industry, all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment." - Winston Churchill (United States Constitution)