Sam Turken

After living in North Carolina the past four years, Miami native Sam Turken is back in the city he’s always called home.

Sam is a proud Miami Beach Senior High alum and a recent graduate of Duke University where he studied journalism, public policy and history. He caught the public radio bug three years ago when he covered a gun buyback in Miami while on his spring break. Since then, he’s produced audio pieces on race, social justice and public housing. He enjoys using sound to tell rich and intimate stories.

A former managing editor of The Duke Chronicle, Sam has digital experience covering a range of other topics. He’s investigated the absence of female managers in Duke men’s basketball program and reported on enrollment imbalances within public schools in Durham, N.C. He’s also interned with WBUR in Boston and Fusion, written for the Raleigh News & Observer and worked for the Duke Reporters’ Lab.

When Sam isn’t doing journalism things, he enjoys the outdoors. He runs, plays tennis and soccer and spends time around the bay and ocean—something he wasn’t able to do while in college. You may also spot him riding his bike around Miami’s streets.

The Weston City Commission Monday night rejected a state plan to build a park-and-ride meant to improve mass transit service from southwest Broward County to Miami, amid mounting public disapproval of the project.

The unanimous vote against the project rescinds the commission’s previous support of the proposal for the $11.4 million park-and-ride lot off Interstate 75 near Weston’s entrance. Members of the commission cited in their decision residents’ concerns that the project is unnecessary and could increase crime in surrounding areas.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam held on Saturday the first rally of his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, emphasizing his aim to restore the American Dream and arguing that his mayorship makes him especially ready for the presidency.

Standing onstage before more than 300 people at Florida Memorial University, Messam touted his background as the son of two Jamaican immigrants and said addressing climate change, eliminating student loan debt and reducing gun violence will be among his top priorities as president.

A massive residential and commercial project in Little Haiti received initial approval from the Miami City Commission early Friday morning, a step forward for a plan that has divided community residents over what is best for a neighborhood that has historically experienced disinvestment.

Attorneys for the confessed Parkland school shooter and Florida prosecutors continued to disagree on Friday over the state’s pace of releasing evidence to the defense.

During a status hearing with Nikolas Cruz present, public defender Melisa McNeill complained that Florida has not turned over all requested police body camera footage and other information from investigations related to the shooting. Prosecutors countered, saying the state has released all of the requested evidence it has.

First-term U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala says she is working to address climate change in South Florida by pushing for Everglades restoration, carbon fees and federal infrastructure improvements.

Lawyers for two black women involved in police altercations in South Florida are calling for criminal charges against officers, citing an excessive use of force. 

Dyma Loving says she was assaulted during an arrest on March 5 by a Miami-Dade Police officer after she reported that someone pointed a shotgun at her.

One week later, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper fatally shot Latasha Walton on March 12 as she drove away during a traffic stop. Both incidents were captured on video.

Mulling a run for president as an independent, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a speech at Miami-Dade College Wednesday that his presidency would be committed to bipartisanship and restoring civility and dignity in the U.S.

In front of more than 100 students and other invitees, Schultz criticized some Democrats for being too extreme and offered a glimpse of how he would campaign in South Florida.

Miami has the highest household vacancy rate among the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, according to a new study by the online loan marketplace, LendingTree.

Vacancies include housing that is for seasonal use or that is for sale or for rent and unoccupied. Using data recorded by the Census Bureau, LendingTree calculated that 17 percent of the Miami metro area’s 2.5 million households are vacant.

Russia is using propaganda to exploit American divisions on the turmoil in Venezuela in the same way it has on issues like race relations and gun control, according to foreign policy experts and Florida International University professors.

Jamie Fly, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan public policy think tank the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the efforts align with Russia’s support for the Maduro regime and ongoing strategy to manipulate American opinion.

Jewish and Latino college students from across the country gathered in South Florida over the weekend to discuss the societal challenges their communities face and how both groups can support each other.

From sessions about the Jewish and Latin American diasporas to discussions about anti-Semitism and discrimination against Latinos, the summit at the University of Miami highlighted the similar experiences of Jewish people and Latinos. Organizers and students stressed that in a period of polarization, both groups must connect with each other more to fight prejudice.

The chair of the state commission that investigated the Parkland school shooting told the Broward County School Board on Tuesday that school security improvements across Florida must happen faster.

During a three-hour meeting with the school board, Bob Gualtieri reviewed the recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission to enhance school security. Gualtieri, who is also the Pinellas County sheriff, urged board members and Superintendent Robert Runcie to put aside politics to better identify security threats and respond to them.

Maria Diaz was confident that Saturday would mark a major step toward the collapse of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

As she walked out of a community forum in Weston on Venezuela’s political turmoil early in the afternoon, Diaz—who’s Venezuelan—learned the opposition had successfully sent some humanitarian aid shipments into the country. Carlos Vecchio, the opposition’s ambassador to the U.S., was also at the event and cheered with hundreds of attendees upon hearing the news. He said pressure on Maduro would only intensify.

With a wife and five children, Colin Jackman was the only member of his family who was not a U.S. citizen. Then on Friday that changed, 35 years after emigrating from Trinidad and Tobago. 

"It's a beautiful experience. It's another chapter of my life," he said of his naturalization. 

Rosana Devita, an immigrant from Venezuela, has lived in the U.S. for about nine years. She said gaining her American citizenship is meaningful given the political instability in her home country. 

A Broward County judge wants the case against the confessed Parkland school shooter to head to trial in January 2020. 

Nikolas Cruz, 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of 17 counts of first-degree murder for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. He's been charged with another 17 counts of attempted murder.

A global conference on climate change resilience in Miami on Tuesday highlighted the city’s efforts to respond to sea level rise and other extreme weather events.  

Led by former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, representatives from the Global Commission on Adaptation toured the city’s flood prevention projects and met with Miami’s climate resilience leaders. Ban praised the city’s work to address sea level rise, saying Miami is a model for other places around the world under threat from climate change.

President Trump was in Miami Monday to declare to Venezuelan expats that he’s committed to the campaign to squeeze authoritarian Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro out of power. In his speech at Florida International University, Trump repeated his threat that U.S. military intervention is still possible.

Venezuelan exiles in South Florida say more aid is needed in Venezuela to alleviate the country’s devastating humanitarian crisis that has left millions starving. 

As Venezuela’s opposition and the U.S. continue to challenge embattled president Nicolás Maduro, basic food and medical supplies remain out of reach due to hyperinflation. Diseases are also becoming untreatable. 

As cars whizzed by and the sun faded, more than 80 people crowded together Thursday afternoon near a garden outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One by one, students recited poems they wrote about love, friendship and innocence lost.

Marisol Garrido remembered Helena Ramsay, who died trying to save another student.

“I am older than you will ever be now. But I still think of you as a friend who was a little bit more like a mom—always caring, always smiling, always giving me a hug in the hallway when I needed one. Helena, right now I need one,” she read.

The New York City-based Alvin Ailey Dance Theater held a public workshop Wednesday night, giving local dancers across South Florida a chance to learn some of the company’s iconic choreography.

During the nearly two-hour training session at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, more than thirty participants followed the steps and rhythms of two Alvin Ailey dancers. The workshop was a way for the theater—which is performing in Miami this week—to carry out the mission of its founder Alvin Ailey, said company dancer Jacquelin Harris.

Miami-Dade County’s energy grid is now relying in part on a new clean and plentiful source: the sun.

Florida Power & Light has finished installing nearly 300,000 solar panels at the new Miami-Dade Solar Energy Center in West Kendall. The utility says the solar farm will produce 75 megawatts of electricity, enough to power some 15,000 homes.

From a session on black women in the technology and media sectors to others on virtual reality, spatial computing and marketing, an annual festival in Miami this week aims to elevate people of color in the tech industry.

Attended by startup developers, government leaders and local high school students, BlackTech Week involves networking and discussions on how to create more opportunities for minority tech entrepreneurs.

President Donald Trump called on Tuesday for more bipartisan cooperation in his State of the Union address to a newly-divided Congress. In South Florida, Democrats and Republicans appeared no more unified after the 82-minute speech.

While conservative voters applauded his conciliatory tone on certain issues like infrastructure, progressives said polarization under Trump would remain the status quo. And as Republicans praised his continuing demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, liberals bashed him for demonizing immigrants.

South Florida’s Venezuelan expats welcomed Vice President Mike Pence to Miami on Friday to hear him rally them behind the Trump Administration’s campaign to dislodge socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power. Most were left feeling unusually hopeful.

Miami has renamed one of its Downtown waterfront parks after the city’s first-ever Latino mayor.

Museum Park, the 30-acre green space that neighbors Perez Art Museum and overlooks Port Miami, will now be known as Maurice A. Ferré Park. The city commission officially rededicated the park at a grand ceremony on Thursday after voting unanimously in December on the name change.

As Ferré, 83, now battles cancer, attendees praised him for making Miami into an internationally-renowned center.

A month after Miami leaders passed an affordable housing mandate for new residential buildings in parts of Downtown, a public redevelopment agency is launching its own efforts to address the city’s affordability crisis.

The Omni Community Redevelopment Agency is investing more than $3 million to help rehabilitate a dilapidated affordable housing complex in Overtown. The project known as 16 Corner is part of a plan to spend more than $100 million by 2045 to improve and increase affordable housing across the greater Omni area.

Last March, Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg spoke onstage at a gathering for the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations. He said that in a time of divisions, FIU must do more to promote discourse and relationship-building between people of different religions and cultures.

“If you give me a pile of stones, my responsibility and the responsibility of my colleagues at FIU with those stones is to build a bridge,” he said. “Now more than ever, we need those bridges.”

Linda Jones is running out of options.

A Transportation Security Administration employee working without pay during the government shutdown, Jones has burned through her savings, cut her food consumption and reduced how much she drives. Now, she questions whether she can keep her home.

“If this goes on, how do I pay my mortgage? How do I pay for the repairs? How do I pay the utilities? Am I just going to be in a house that doesn’t have lights or electricity?” said Jones, who works at Miami International Airport.

Kelsey Wright has been attending the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Liberty City for more than a decade. He says the parade is an outlet from daily worries. It also helps him connect with the man he grew up admiring. 

"I was in the era during that time when he came along, when he was still alive," Wright said. "Dr. King, he fought for rights for everyone."  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended Susan Bucher as Palm Beach County's supervisor of elections, abruptly ending the tenure of the elections chief under criticism for her handling of last year’s midterm election recounts.

As South Florida communities search for ways to combat sea level rise, efforts to improve flood drainage in the town of Jupiter have saved residents about $500,000 in flood insurance costs over the past year, according to the town’s utility services manager.

The National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System reduces flood insurance premiums in municipalities across the country that undertake floodplain management activities.

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