Archive for August 2009


Watchdog Report Vol. 10 No.13 August 23, 2009

Miami-Dade Florida

Vol. 10 No. 13 August 23, 2009

Daniel A. Ricker, Publisher & Editor

Est. 05.05.00  I go when you cannot & A community education resource & news service

Celebrating My Tenth Anniversary & Former,


Argus Report: U.S. Senators Nelson and Martinez to interview three U.S. Atty. candidates Sept. 2, more federal vetting after the selection is known

Florida: Races for state Gov. & AG & CFO pits a range of veteran politicians in both parties primary; indicted Speaker Sansom had $756,000 net worth through 2008

Miami-Dade County: Women administrators’ majority at county hall, will they have same rate of corruption as men? & Commissioner Jordan had $1.9 million net worth through 2008

Broward County: Commission workshop all day affair, will furloughs be the answer? & Commissioner Rodstrom first elected 1992, had $2.4 million net worth through June

Palm Beach County: Commissioner Vana in the spotlight, former state legislator has $170,000 net worth through 2008

Pinellas County: Gov. Crist today appointed Robinson and Tabicman: State Retirement Commission

Hillsborough County: Gov. Crist today made the following reappointments and appointment: Benton-Glmore, Burt and Nicolette to River Basin Board

Monroe County: State Rep. Saunders back in the leadership saddle, had $703,000 net worth through 2008

Public Health Trust: Four incumbent trustees, four new names: Ayala, Grossman, Rosenbaum, and Ruiz move forward for six slots on trust board

City of Miami: Ethics commission report on Miami leaders pay and perks, Mayor Diaz is paid $150,000

City of Hialeah: Strong Mayor form of government, Mayor Robaina makes over $155,000

City of Miami Beach: Ruiz, a city division director gets named to PHT trustee slate, but what about her real job?

City of Aventura: Aventura Mayor Gottlieb gets $10,000 in compensation; Commissioners get $7,500 a year

City of Coral Gables: Tuesday’s commission meeting important to residents, will you attend or watch on the web

Florida City: Strong Mayor Wallace runs city incorporated in 1914, gets over $132,000 in that capacity

Editorials: The Miami Herald Watchdog story today shows how dysfunctional Miami-Dade County can be; what was Mayor Alvarez thinking?

Letters: Reader on name mix up — Reader on Watchdog Report anniversary

Sponsors – Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.

>>> Clarification: In last week’s Broward County story on former state Sen. Steve Geller, state Sen. Dan Gelber’s name was used instead in part of the story and that was incorrect.

>>> I was on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM, Wednesday on Joseph Cooper’s Topical Currents, to listen to the program go to

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

Senators Nelson and Martinez to interview three U.S. Atty. Candidates Sept. 2, more federal vetting after the selection is known

U.S. senators Bill Nelson, D-Fl and Mel Martinez, R-Fl will be interviewing the three finalists to fill the opening at the U.S.  Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida on September 2. The shortlist of three candidates includes David Buckner, Wilfredo “Willy” Ferrer, and Daryl Trawick. However, once a selection is made the justice department also gets to weigh in on the candidate and includes further vetting before being sent to the senate for conformation. Knowledgeable people on the process suggest the office will not be filled before early next year.

Martinez has announced his retirement from the world’s most exclusive club of 100 early and Gov. Charlie Crist (net worth $466,000) is looking very carefully for someone to fill the seat until the 2010 general election where he is a Republican primary candidate for the job. Crist’s only significant challenger is former Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami and Crist has a major fundraiser advantage with over $4 million in his campaign war chest. Crist has been reviewing names for the senate appointment, as has been reported in the Watchdog Report in the past and , and U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami has taken his name out of play and he will stay in the house where he is the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee. Crist has recently said he would try to have the appointment nailed down in the coming week, states The Herald.

What about U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami?

Meek, (net worth around $62,000 in 2002) the likely Democratic candidate for the senate in 2010 is being challenged by former North Miami Beach mayor Kevin Burns, and the congressman recently filled in for Crist at a event with the Latin Builders Association and he was semi well received by the generally Republican crowd. Meek who followed in his mother’s footsteps, U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami in the House in Jan. 2003 had been a state senator and is a former Florida Highway patrol captain. At the event generally attended by Cuban Americans, Meek blasted Crist for ‘why this community and this state is in such bad shape.’ However, while polls show Crist dropping slightly he is still highly popular with many Florida voters, but his recent moves away from the center to the right will help him in the closed Republican primary against Rubio but may come back to haunt him in the general election. In Meek’s case he has to deal with the $20 million Wackenhut lawsuit against Miami-Dade after a critical audit of the company’ security services showed millions in over billings claimed by the county. Meek, his wife Leslie and mother have all been lobbyist for the security company since the 1990s and the elder Meek continues in that capacity after Miami-Dade County Commissioners granted her a conflict of interest waiver recently.

>>> Press release: Zogby Interactive Poll: President Barack Obama’s job approval rating has sunk to a record low of just 45%, the latest Zogby Interactive poll shows. Fifty-one percent of likely voters now say they disapprove of the President’s job performance. “None of these numbers looks counter-intuitive to me. Gallup, NBC, and Pew all have Obama at record lows. Rasmussen also shows low approval. Things are volatile out there and news travels fast. There is a lot of anxiety over healthcare,” said Zogby International President and CEO John Zogby. “The President let it get away from him and voters are scared right now. They are experiencing sacrifice overload and feel more threatened than empowered. The President is being forced to play defense and he is much better when he is in possession of the ball. But do not underestimate Obama. Last August he was toast.”

The Zogby Interactive survey of 2,530 likely voters nationwide was conducted Aug. 18-20, 2009, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points. Zogby International also uses a four-point scale of job performance. Using that measure, this latest survey finds 16% rate his job performance as excellent and 27% as good. Another 11% gave him a fair rating while 45% said his job performance is poor. Both scales show a significant drop from a Zogby International telephone poll conducted July 31-Aug. 4, which showed 53% approving of Obama’s job performance, and 38% disapproving. At that time, 51% rated his job performance as excellent or good and 48% rated it as fair or poor. Zogby’s last survey showed an improvement over a Zogby Interactive survey conducted July 21-24. Then, 48% approved and 49% disapproved. In that same poll, on the four-point scale, 47% gave Obama excellent or good grades, and 53% chose fair or poor.

While this latest poll shows Democrats continue to overwhelmingly approve of Obama’s job performance (84%), just 6% of Republicans say the same. Most independents (59%) now disapprove of the job the President is doing. “He has lost support among political independents, that’s the biggest change from our last survey. He is also starting to lose support he had picked up among investors and frequent Wal-Mart shoppers — who both are on the conservative side but where Obama had been making gains,” Zogby said. “Remember, Zogby polling has generally been ahead of the curve during the past three administrations.” For a complete methodological statement on this survey, please visit: Please click the link below to view the full news release:

>>> Thanks to my supporters, the Watchdog Report celebrates its Tenth Anniversary

Over the past ten years there have been so many stories and here are just a miniscule few that have been in the past 410 Watchdog Report’s that each has had almost three dozen stories or announcements per week, and that does not include around 100 Watchdog Report EXTRAS over this time. Back in September 2000, then county manager Merrett Stierheim gave the Watchdog Report the gift of a lifetime when I wrote he would be retiring by Feb 1 and he responded with a official county memo to the mayor and commissioners titled Rumor Control blasting my assertion that later became true. Other stories broken were that Miami Police Chief John Timoney was joining Miami in Jan. 2003 and that there was a man in Italy claiming to be a Miami vice Mayor and being wined and dined by Italian officials even though the city does not have such an office. Over the years I have covered almost every significant story regarding Jackson Memorial Hospital, the school board and county and sent a EXTRA from the PAC construction committee in the summer of 2003 noting the arts centers would be 20-months delayed and needed immediately over $60 million in new funding that ultimately came in at $472.9 million.

In addition, I have covered the Miami-Dade ethics commission and the Office of the Inspector General since there inception and over the years have done dozens of stories on people busted by both agencies since then. For me it is difficult to reflect sometimes on past stories because there have been so many and generally once I have done it I move on to the many other news stories that develop every day and spring up like weeds every week. I have tried to be the news contrarian, and if there is major media at an event, I will move on unless I have something significant to add, and given the size of our public institutions, something is always going on somewhere else. We may just not be aware of it. >>> A convenient form at the end of this report gives instructions on how to financially support the Watchdog Report and me.

>>> See what was said about the Watchdog Report in the Miami New Times 2003 — Best of Miami — BEST CITIZEN  — Daniel Ricker –

Three years ago, we said Ricker was our Best Gadfly. Given his dedication and perseverance, this new honor, Best Citizen, is well deserved. Ricker goes to 2500 mind-melting meetings annually, from the Public Health Trust’s purchasing subcommittee to the Efficiency and Competition Commission to the Alliance for Human Services’ nominating council to the school board’s audit committee. Sometimes he’s the only public observer. Object: to be the Public Citizen for all those out there who can’t attend, and to connect and serve as an information bridge among the special-interest-dominated Miami-Dade governmental institutions that seem so problematic and indifferent to the democratic process.

This month his e-mail newsletter, The Watchdog Report, celebrates its fourth anniversary. In a former life Ricker made a handsome living as an international salesman of heart pacemakers. As the hard-working publisher of Watchdog Report, though, he’s struggling financially — this despite the fact that his weekly compendium of meeting summaries, analysis, interviews, and commentary has become essential reading for anyone involved in public affairs. What his written work may lack in polish, it more than makes up for in comprehensiveness. So raise a toast to the man whose official slogan says it all: “A community education resource — I go when you cannot!”


Races for state Gov. & AG & CFO pits a range of veteran politicians in both parties primary; indicted Speaker Sansom had $756,000 net worth through 2008

The race for the Florida Attorney General is shaping-up and the Democrats are fielding two candidates, state senators Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, (net worth $973,000) and Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres and their opposition are Republicans Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp (net worth $2.2 million) and Jim Lewis state’s the Florida elections web page.

What about the Florida CFO race?

Two Republicans have entered the race for 2010 for the office that is being vacated by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink (net worth $8.6 million) and they are state Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-Melbourne, (net worth $1.66 million) president of the body and Pat Peterson. The chief financial officer for the state is a powerful position but Sink is shooting higher and will be taking on Republican Florida attorney general Bill McCollum (net worth $1.2 million).

>>>State senate District 36 in the 2010 primary is pitting state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-S. Miami, (net worth $661,000) against former county Commissioner Miguel Diaz de la Portilla. The two men have led the charge on a number of issues over the years and in the legislature, Robaina has been relentless in trying to help people owning condominiums and how the association boards are run. Diaz de la Portilla at the county was a champion of creating an Office of the Inspector General in the 1990s.

What is going on with indicted House Speaker Sansom?

Indicted former House Ray Sansom, R- Walton Beach,  is back in the news after charging $170,000 on purchases from Harrods in London, TGI Friday’s, and Best Buy on his state Republican Party issued credit card and the story has exploded onto the political landscape and some politicians are ducking for cover. and returning any such issued cards.

What about Sansom’s finances?

Sansom through Dec. 2008 lists a net worth of $756,000 and lists $250,000 in household goods. His Jeep is worth $5,200 and a GMC truck is worth $14,500. He owes creditors $144,000 for a mortgage, a credit union loan is $18,200 and another is owed $50,000. He filed a joint IRS 1040 with his wife and their total listed income for the year was $191,206 and the $29,504 he paid in taxes was short and he paid another $3,801 plus a $206.00 penalty states his 1040.


Women administrators’ majority at county hall, will they have same rate of corruption as men? & Commissioner Jordan had $1.9 million net worth through 2008

After decades of men running county hall, a gender shift has finally occurred and women are now the majority in the senior management that runs county government. Yes, Mayor Carlos Alvarez (net worth $1.66 million) and Manager George Burgess (annual salary $345,000) are still at the top but the many senior administrators that are under them are mostly women and it shows how the demographics are changing in this new century. Further, many of these women’s salaries have been getting press, and after years of salary disparity’s versus men at the county. They have reached salary parity to a great extent but with the down economy, some of the pay seems a bit rich for both genders, to many people outside government.

What about the issue of corruption and women?

The Watchdog Report in the past has asked the question if women would have the same rate of corruption as men and in South Florida, ex Palm Beach Commissioner Mary McCarty is the most recent high ranking official now in federal prison. Here locally we had a Hialeah Gardens mayor wanting her husband murdered a few years back and ex county Commissioner Miriam Alonso was removed from the commission in 2002 and eventually she went to prison. Ironically, when Alonso was there, women were the majority on the body.

What about Commissioner Jordan?

County Commissioner Barbara Jordan (net worth $1.91 million) is in the spotlight this week, she was first elected in November 2004, and she replaced Commissioner Betty Ferguson on the dais. Jordan represents commission District 1 and she was a former assistant county manager for years and was the liaison for the Public Health Trust at the end of her service in the county administration. Ferguson backed Jordan in her first election and she easily won reelection in 2008.

What do we know about her finances?

Jordan through Dec. 2008 had a net worth of $1.91 million, lists $135,000 in personal goods and has total assets of $2.27 million. The commissioner’s assets include two cars valued at $80,000, her residency is worth $96,000, a home co owned with her daughter is valued at $193,000 and a four unit residential property in Key West is valued at $1.08 million, and a rental house in St Petersburg is worth $147,000. She lists liabilities of $282,000 with TIB Bank, a mortgage is owed $50,800, DCFCU is owed $24,768 and credit cards are owed $2,210. Her income for the year was $39,197 as a county commissioner, she got $137,800 from the Florida Retirement Fund, Nationwide Retirement Solutions kicked in $11,625 and Social Security provided $18,443.

>>> Commissioner Sally Heyman (net worth $426,000) at a PHT nominating council Monday told attendees when it comes to the media. She is refractory to any of their comments or recommendations and essentially said the press has no affect on her or her decisions.

>>> OIG Memo on up-coming budget:
Memorandum to the Board of County Commissioners Regarding the OIG’s Proposed Budget for FY 2009-2010, dated August 19, 2009.

>>> Press release: Governor Crist Appoints Gladys Perez to Miami-Dade County Court

Governor Charlie Crist today appointed Gladys Perez of Miami to the Miami-Dade County Court. Governor Crist also swore in Judge Perez today during a ceremony at the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center in Miami. “Gladys’ public service has given her an in-depth understanding of a broad variety of issues,” Governor Crist said. “I am confident she will serve the people of Miami-Dade County with fairness and impartiality.”

Perez, 38, is a sole practitioner in Miami. Previously, she served as assistant general counsel to both Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Crist from 2005 to 2008, assistant attorney general in the Fort Lauderdale office from 2003 to 2005, and senior staff attorney in the Fourth District Court of Appeal from 1998 to 2003. Perez was also a sole practitioner from 1997 to 1998. She earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Nova Southeastern University. “I am humbled by the confidence that Governor Crist has entrusted in me throughout the years,” said Judge Perez. “I am excited to serve the people of Miami-Dade County.” Perez will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Ada B. Pozo.

>>> The Watchdog Report is running unedited excerpts from a report done on the 35 municipalities in Miami-Dade and leaders compensation and benefits while in public office by the Miami-Dade Ethics and Public Trust Commission last year. This week I will publish the compensation and benefits of leaders in Aventura, Coral Gables, Florida City, Hialeah and Miami.

>>> Press release: July 2009 Unemployment Rate was the Highest Recorded in the Region

New data showed the jobless rate in the South Florida Workforce Region rose to its highest recorded level in July 2009.  The unemployment rate for the Region rose to an unprecedented 11.4 percent during July 2009, nearly double the year-ago rate of 5.9 percent.  The Region’s unemployment rate was also 0.4 percentage points higher than the state’s unemployment rate of 11.0 percent during July 2009.

In overall numbers, the July 2009 unemployment rates for the two counties that comprise the South Florida Workforce Region were 11.6 percent in Miami-Dade County and 6.6 percent in Monroe County. The unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County increased 5.7 percentage points over the year while the unemployment rate in Monroe County increased 2.4 percentage points.  Out of a total labor force of 1,299,110, there were 148,295 unemployed residents within the region. The data also showed that during the same period, total nonagricultural employment in the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall metropolitan division declined by 33,100 jobs over the year in the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall metropolitan division.  Trade, transportation, and utilities      (-8,000 jobs) lost the most jobs, followed by mining, logging, and construction (-7,400 jobs); professional and business services (-6,400 jobs); manufacturing (-3,000 jobs); government   (-2,400 jobs); financial activities (-1,700 jobs); information (-1,400 jobs); other services          (-1,300 jobs); leisure and hospitality (-1,100); and education and health services (-400 jobs).


Commission workshop all day affair, will furloughs be the answer? & Commissioner Rodstrom first elected 1992, had $2.4 million net worth through June

A Broward County Commission workshop Tuesday stretched through the day as commissioners and the administration worked on over $100 million in budget cuts for the coming year that begins Oct. 1. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti (net worth $642,000) came to the workshop and brought with him a memo detailing $21.3 million in department cuts after taking a hard line saying he could not reduce his office’s budget and a face off developed over the past months that seems to be changing. His memo details an $8.3 million in law enforcement reductions, $9.7 million is being saved at the corrections department, and there is $3.2 million in new revenue coming in to get to the new number.

Commissioner Stacy Ritter (net worth $329,000) chaired the meeting since she is the mayor this year. Bertha Henry, the county’s Chief Administrator said the administrations proposals included “five furlough days” in the proposed budget and if commissioners did not want to layoff employees, the saving per “furlough day [to the county] is about $6.3 million per day” and that would be one of the ways to keep the pain down. Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Jr., (net worth $676,000) said he could not vote for layoffs, because “I know what it is like to not have food, I have been hungry” and will “not support cuts” especially in an economic climate “where no jobs are to be found,” the district 9 commissioner said. >>> County Commission Budget Workshop Available for Viewing  The August 18 workshop held by the Board of County Commissioners to discuss the 2010 workshop is now available for on demand viewing. In addition, the workshop will be cablecast in its entirety on participating cable channels beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 23. More…

What is going on with Commissioner Rodstrom?

Long serving county Commissioner, John Rodstrom, Jr., is in the Watchdog Report spotlight this week and in his business life, he has sold bonds, many times for counties, municipalities and in Miami-Dade for the MDX Expressway Authority. Rodstrom represents commission District 7 and he has been a long serving board member since first being elected in 1992.

What do we know about his finances?

Rodstrom through June 2009 had a net worth of 2.4 million, and he lists $125,000 in household goods. His home is worth $1.35 million, a vacation home in North Carolina is valued at $290,000, there is $100,000 in cash, securities account for $141,665, and additional assets are valued at $827,236. His only liability is $303,693 owed to Bank of America. His income for the year was $93,305 as a county commissioner, Wachovia Bank kicked in $520,459 and his grand total of assets comes in at $2.7 million.

Press release:  Governor Charlie Crist today announced the following appointment: District Board of Trustees, Broward College (Senate Confirmation Required)

Sean C. Alveshire, 39, of Plantation, director of business development for Stiles Corporation, succeeding Lourdes Garrido, appointed for a term beginning August 21, 2009, and ending May 31, 2013.


Commissioner Vana in the spotlight, former state legislator has $170,000 net worth through 2008

County Commissioner Shelly Vana is in the spotlight this week and she also missed the political blood bath that rocked the county when the majority of the old commission ended up in federal prison with Commissioner Mary McCarty earlier in the year being busted along with her husband. Vana a former state legislator is also a teacher and represents commission District 3.

What do we know about her finances?

Vana through December 2008 had a net worth of $170,900 and she lists $75,000 in household goods. A home in Lantana is worth $165,000, a second home is valued at $119,000, there is $55,122 in an IRA, a Lincoln is valued at $11,800, and she has $3,229 cash on hand. Her liabilities are $64,252 with Bank Atlantic, Wachovia is owed $132,278 and $5,444, Chase auto is owed $8,800 and there is another roughly $43,000 in other liabilities. Her income for the year was $34,652 from the school district, $26,888 came in as a state legislator and the commission kicked in $11,366.

>>> PBC web page: Shelley Vana was elected to serve as Palm Beach County Commissioner District 3 on November 4, 2008.  She was sworn in and took office November 18, 2008.

She was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2002.  She represented Florida State House District 85, which included various cities in Central, and Western Palm Beach County. She served as Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation from 2007-2008. Commissioner Vana was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania.  She attended at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and received a BA in psychology.  She is married and has two children and a granddaughter.   Shelley has been a teacher in Palm Beach County for 24 years, teaching at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Jupiter High School and serving as a resource teacher for the County.  As President and CEO of the Palm Beach County CTA, Shelley has served on the School District Audit Committee, Education Commission, Education Foundation and the Charter School District Advisory Board.

Commissioner Vana has been involved with Public Television and Radio for the past ten years as on-air talent.  She hosted AIDS 101, the first weekly public affairs TV show addressing the AIDS epidemic.  She also hosted and produced First Issue, a weekly public affairs radio program. As an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives, District 85 Shelley Vana was appointed to serve on the Education K-20 Committee, Education Appropriation Subcommittee, Education PreK-12 Subcommittee, Health Care Committee and the Health Care Standards Subcommittee.   While serving in the Florida Legislature, she continued to perform her responsibilities as CTA President and her work with both Public Television and Public Radio. During her years of service, Commissioner Vana has received many awards from organizations such as: Freshman Legislator of the Year from the School Board Association Friends of Education Parks & Recreation Pharmacy


Press release: Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Randy Donnelson, Director of Air Operations for Miami Air and Marine Branch, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP AMO), Matthew Zetts, Chief Patrol Agent, U.S. Border Patrol, and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announced the results of an 18-month investigation that targeted a Palm Beach County criminal organization that used stolen credit card numbers to defraud local businesses out of  hundreds of thousand dollars. The defrauded businesses included Murphy Oil, Wal-Mart, and a number of independently-owned businesses and gasoline stations throughout Palm Beach County.

Fourteen individuals had been indicted as a result of the investigation, and 13 of them already have pled guilty to access device fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029.  Yesterday, in federal district court in West Palm Beach, two remaining defendants, Eldis Julian Diaz, 42, and Ricardo Ruiz, 45, pled guilty before United States District Court Judge Kenneth Marra.  The other defendants who have been convicted in the case are Javier Alonso-Gomez, 19; Felix Medero Garcia, 29; Juan Edel Dominguez, 26; Alcides Cabrera Toledo, 38; Yoanky Lopez Jorge, 25; Damian Luna Rodriguez, 36; Felix Armas Luna, 38; Oscar Montiel Martinez, 30; Yunier Garcia Olivera, 27 and brother, Osmany Garcia Olivera, 32 and Daniel Yanes Hernandez, 24.  At sentencing, each defendant faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years.  Felix Montesino-Castillo, 30, also indicted in the case, remains a fugitive from justice. According to documents filed in the case, ICE special agents in West Palm Beach initiated this investigation following a November 14, 2007, alien smuggling event that resulted in a death at sea.  The goal was to identify and dismantle the alien smuggling organization.  During the investigation, agents uncovered the massive credit card fraud and fuel theft ring described in the Indictment.

As explained during court hearings in the case, the organization’s leaders obtained stolen credit card numbers from internet wholesalers and from local confederates using credit card “skimming” devices.  The credit card numbers were then encoded on to gift cards, credit cards, drivers’ licenses, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security work authorization cards which members of the organization used to purchase large quantities of fuel and other items such as cars, trucks, speedboats, trailers, jet skis, and other consumer goods.  Some of the vehicles that members of the organization used were outfitted with illegal fuel tanks.  For example, a van that one of the defendants had been driving had over 700 gallons of fuel stored on board in four containers. “Credit card fraud victimizes innocent people and, as this case demonstrates, is often a gateway to further criminal activity.  The fuel thefts committed using stolen credit card information recklessly risked victimizing even more Palm Beach County residents,” said Acting United States Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman.  As reported during court hearings, law enforcement officials working with the Murphy Oil Criminal Investigations Division obtained video evidence of the defendants’ criminal activities. During a two-week period in September 2008, for example, the defendants stole thousands of dollars of fuel from certain Palm Beach County Murphy Oil fuel stations.  Following the arrest of the defendants, two semi-tractor trailer trucks and one pickup truck were seized from members of the organization.  Financial losses caused by the defendants’ fraud totaled approximately $750,000. “This organization not only jeopardized public safety by illegally transporting huge amounts of explosive fuel in makeshift containers, they also indiscriminately used people’s good credit to support their criminal activities,” said Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Miami.  >>> Mr. Sloman commended the efforts of investigators from ICE’s Office of Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John McMillan. >>> A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on


Press release: Gov. Crist today appoints Robinson and Tabicman: STATE RETIREMENT COMMISSION (Senate confirmation required)

Hugh Robinson, 45, of Palm Harbor, deputy sheriff with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, succeeding Alice Myers, appointed for a term beginning August 24, 2009, and ending December 31, 2011.

Len Tabicman, 65, of Holmes Beach, self-employed mental health counselor, succeeding Ernest Doster, appointed for a term beginning August 24, 2009, and ending December 31, 2009.


Press release: Gov. Crist today made the following reappointments and appointment: Benton-Glmore, Burt and Nicolette to the Hillsborough River Basin Board (Senate confirmation required)

Renee Benton-Gilmore, 51, of Temple Terrace, president of Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance Inc., reappointed for a term beginning August 19, 2009, and ending March 1, 2012.

George Burt, 74, of Auburndale, self-employed investor, reappointed for a term beginning August 19, 2009, and ending March 1, 2011.

John Nicolette, 47, of Dade City, owner, Crooked Creek Ranch, succeeding Gary Reckart, appointed for a term beginning August 19, 2009, and ending March 1, 2011.


State Rep. Saunders back in the leadership saddle, had $703,000 net worth through 2008

State Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Monroe is in the spotlight this week and the veteran state legislator is now the minority leader in the House. Saunders an attorney returned to the legislator a few years ago and represents House District 120 which includes south Dade and the Keys.

What do we know about his finances?

Saunders through 2008 had a net worth of $703,000 and he lists $15,000 in household goods. He owns three houses and his home is worth $410,000, another is worth $225,000 and the third is worth $195,000. His mortgage is owed $72,000 and he owes a loan $70,000. The Attorney’s income for the year states his financial disclosure form was $31,740 from the state and another $20,000 came in from his law practice.

>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist today appointed Dr. Joseph Burke of Rockledge as Monroe County Superintendent of Schools. He will serve as Interim Superintendent during the suspension of Randall Acevedo Sr.  The Governor’s appointment honors a resolution unanimously passed by the School Board of Monroe County requesting the Governor to appoint an interim superintendent from outside of the county. “Dr. Burke possesses the experience and expertise to move Monroe County schools in a positive direction,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident that students will have the best opportunity to learn and achieve under his leadership.” Dr. Burke, 58, has served as the executive director for the Florida Department of Education, Region 3, since August 2008 where he was responsible for implementing Florida’s differentiated accountability model and reviewing and approving school improvement plans for schools in 10 school districts in Central Florida. He previously served as Superintendent of Schools for Springfield, Massachusetts, from 2001 to 2008.

For 16 years, Dr. Burke served in various leadership roles within Miami-Dade County Public Schools:  district administrative director of math and science from 1997 to 2001, region director for personnel and labor relations from 1992 to 1997, region director for exceptional student education and federal programs from 1989 to 1992, and principal of Thomas Jefferson Middle School from 1985 to 1989. He began his career as a classroom teacher at Miami Killian Senior High School in 1974. Dr. Burke earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, a master’s degree in education supervision from Florida International University and a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

State Road 5 (U.S. 1) between Card Sound Road and 344th Street in Florida City

One northbound lane of U.S. 1 will be closed between Card Sound Road and 344th Street in Florida City, August 10, 2009 through Friday, October 2, 2009. Work is scheduled for the non-peak daytime hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and non-peak nighttime hours of 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday. One lane of traffic will be maintained at all times and access to businesses will be provided. Please note this schedule is tentative and may change due to bad weather and/or unforeseen circumstances. Motorists are encouraged to call 511 before they drive, or log on to to get real-time traffic and lane closure information. For more information, please contact Abbie Kelley at 305-481-1186 or via email at

>>>A collective bargaining negotiation session between Monroe County and the International Association of Firefighters, Local Union 3909, will be held as follows: Monday, August 24th, 2009 commencing at 10:00 a.m. at the Monroe County Fire Rescue Headquarters in Marathon, 490 63rd Street Ocean. In accordance with Sec. 286.11, Florida Statutes, this session is open to the public. Dated at Key West, Florida this 15th day of July, 2009. Roman Gastesi, County Administrator


Four incumbent trustees, four new names: Ayala, Grossman, Rosenbaum, and Ruiz move forward for six slots on trust board

The PHT nominating council convened all day Monday and four candidates from a list of 13 made the cut for essentially two trustee spots on the 17-member trust board that includes two county commissioners. The candidates that made the cut are Gladys Ayala, Jack Grossman, M.D., Judy Rosenbaum, and Maria Ruiz. There are four incumbent trustees up for renewal, the bulk of the board’s leadership, and they are John Copeland, III, the PHT chair, Marcos Lapciuc the treasurer and Georgena Ford, R.N. is the board’s secretary along with past board chair Ernesto de la Fe all seeking reappointment.

The PHT Nominating Council is made up of Miami-Dade Commission Chair Dennis Moss and he chaired the council that included Commissioners Sally Heyman and Katy Sorenson, state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-S. Miami and PHT trustee Saif Ishoof. Both Grossman and Rosenbaum had applied the previous year and the council was impressed with the quality of many of the applicants that had applied. The eight name slate will now go to a commission committee where it is expected to be waived on and commissioners could approve the six names needed by the Sept. 15 BCC meeting when they are expected to vote on the candidates. It should be noted the attendance record for the current trustees has been excellent and the board is working very well together on some very tough issues.


Ethics commission report on Miami leaders pay and perks, Mayor Diaz is paid $150,000

>>> Ethics Commission report:  In the City of Miami, Resolution R-05-0745 establishes the salary and compensation for the Mayor.  Specifically, Section 2 of this resolution states that “Mayor Manny Diaz shall be paid an annual salary of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150,000).”  Thus, for calendar year 2007, the Mayor was paid a taxable salary of $149,999.91, according to the W-2 information provided to the COE.  On November 4, 2003, Charter Amendment No. 2 was passed increasing the compensation of each City Commissioner from $5,000 to $58,200 annually, to be paid in monthly installments.  Resolution R-03-1133 officially accepted Charter Amendment No. 2, which was adopted by the City Commission on November 13, 2003.  Therefore, the W-2 information provided to the COE by the City’s Finance Director, Ms. Diana Gomez, showed that each City Commissioner received an annual salary of $58,200 for the year 2007.

With regards to taxable annual expense allowances, the Mayor and City Commissioners each receive taxable annual expense allowances as follows: Separate vehicle allowance in the amount of $10,800; Cell phone allowance of $3,600; and, Other expense allowance of $30,000. Lastly, the Finance Director stated that the Mayor and City Commissioners are not issued government credit cards nor do elected officials receive a travel allowance.  Travel reimbursements are paid when the travel expenses are incurred and reimbursement is requested by the elected official.  Such expense reimbursements are non-taxable.

>>> Press release: Mayor Manny Diaz Announces Changes in His Administration >>> Miami Mayor Manny Diaz today announced the departure of his Chief of Staff, Suzanna Valdez, who will be joining the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County as Vice President of Advancement. She will be replaced by Javier Fernandez, who previously served in this capacity. “Suzanna’s extensive experience and deep commitment to public service has been instrumental in advancing key policy initiatives for the city as well as advancing the urban and environmental goals of my administration,” said Mayor Diaz. He added that “while I’m delighted that she will continue working to develop our community’s arts and culture agenda at the Arsht Center, she will be greatly missed at City Hall.”

The return of Javier Fernandez to City Hall, provides an experienced hand in managing the staff through the remainder of the Mayor Diaz’s term. “I’m delighted to welcome Javier back to City Hall and look forward to his contribution in completing the ambitious agenda I have set out for the remainder of my term, in addition to other pressing matters of great importance to our residents.” Valdez has served as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff since February 2007. “I would like to thank Mayor Diaz for the opportunity to serve the residents of the City of Miami. His tireless work ethic has set the bar high for future mayors and has gone a long way in building and strengthening the public trust in Miami City Hall,” said Valdez. Fernandez previously served in the City of Miami in a variety of capacities from December 2001 to December 2004. His tenure in the City of Miami culminated with his appointment as interim Chief of Staff for Mayor Diaz from August to December of 2004. “It is an honor to rejoin the Mayor at the close of a very successful administration.  I look forward to aiding him and the incoming administration during this important transition for the City of Miami,” said Fernandez. Fernandez, a Law Clerk in the Land Use practice group at Akerman Senterfitt since 2007, holds a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and a B.A. in Government & Spanish from Colby College, where he was awarded the Ralph J. Bunch Scholarship.  In addition, he has completed the Senior Executives in State & Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government & was named a Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence (CUREx) Fellow for 2005-2006. Fernandez will join the Mayor’s Office on August 24.

>>> The following e-mail was sent  to Mayor Manny Diaz using his e-mail address on his extensive city web-page on Sept. 13, 2008 at 9:38 a.m. and to date there has been no answer from the mayor.>>> “Mayor Diaz, I wanted to ask you in the chamber today but not in front of Chair Joe Sanchez. My question is where did the extra $400,000 in the 2007 disclosure form come from? I will run what ever you respond unedited but I would appreciate closing this issue, as I am sure you do. Sorry but I have to ask.  Best to all. Dan”  >>>> The Watchdog Report through Dec.7 has yet to get a response or catch-up with Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz on where he got the extra $400,000 in cash listed in his 2007 financial disclosure forms. To see what CBS 4 reporter David Sutta’s take on this issue and the other city leaders financial disclosures go to Blogs . >>> Readers should stay tuned and catch the meeting on the city’s cable station channel 77. >>> Stream Channel 77, for all City of Miami meetings, (Commission, Village Council meetings, Waterfront, Zoning, PAB, Code, etc. hearings)


Strong Mayor form of government, Mayor Robaina makes over $155,000

Mayor Julio Robaina, elected mayor in Nov. 2007 is a strong mayor in the county’s second largest municipality and he replaced former Mayor Raul Martinez who was the top leader of the city for decades. Robaina has a different style of leadership than Martinez but you hear very little dissent from the council members, or even the press and media regarding the City of Progress. Below is what the county’s ethics commission found when it came to compensation and benefits for these officials.

>>> Ethics commission report: In 2007, the City of Hialeah’s Mayor received a taxable salary of $154,655 in 2007 and the Council Members received a taxable salary of $2,474 each.

The City provides an “unvouchered” expense account to its Mayor and each City Council Member, which is included in the elected official’s taxable income. In other words, this amounts to a “non-accountable” system for expense allowances. In 2007, the total taxable unvouchered expense account for the Mayor was $68,928. For Council Members, the unvouchered expense account included in each Council Member’s taxable income was $40,161. Additionally, the Mayor received a taxable travel allowance of $38,237 in the year 2007 and is provided with a leased vehicle paid for by the City.  The Mayor does not receive a cellular phone allowance; rather, the City provides the Mayor with a Blackberry and pays the monthly invoice.  The Mayor is also issued a government credit card, but any expenditure incurred and paid for by the City is deducted from either the Mayor’s unvouchered travel or expense allowance.  Lastly, the Mayor does not receive a personal public relations budget.

Council Members do not receive a cellular phone allowance; rather, the City provides each official with a Blackberry and pays the monthly invoice.  Council Members are not provided with a vehicle allowance or a leased vehicle, nor are they provided with a government credit card or a personal public relations budget. The City Charter of the City of Hialeah, Section 2.02 (e), Compensation, and Hialeah Code, Article I., Section 30-1, Compensation, sets forth the policy governing compensation and expenses incurred by the City’s elected officials.  Section 2.02 (e), states that:  “The annual salary of city council members shall be approved as an annual budgetary item…”   Additionally, Hialeah Code Section 30-1, Compensation, states the following: “The salary compensation of the mayor shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, and shall be payable biweekly in equal installments. All expenses incurred by the mayor in performing official duties for the city shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, approved by the city council, payable biweekly in equal installments. The salary compensation of the members of the city council shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, and shall be payable biweekly in equal installments. All expenses incurred by the city council members in performing official duties for the city shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, approved by the city council, payable biweekly in equal installments. In addition, per diem and traveling expenses of elected officials, public officers and employees shall be governed by State law.”

According to the City Clerk, state law governs the per diem and traveling expenses of all elected officials, public officers, and employees (Section 30-1 of the Hialeah Code.)  In October 2006, the Mayor of Hialeah issued a memorandum to all Council Members stating that if the elected official attends a convention, conference, seminar, meeting or training program as part of their government related position, the City would pay for the registration fee charged to the elected official.  However, expenses for all other activities incurred while attending such be payable biweekly in equal installments. All expenses incurred by the mayor in performing official duties for the city shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, approved by the city council, payable biweekly in equal installments.

The salary compensation of the members of the city council shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, and shall be payable biweekly in equal installments. All expenses incurred by the city council members in performing official duties for the city shall be set each year by the adoption of the annual budget, approved by the city council, payable biweekly in equal installments. In addition, per diem and traveling expenses of elected officials, public officers and employees shall be governed by State law.” According to the City Clerk, state law governs the per diem and traveling expenses of all elected officials, public officers, and employees (Section 30-1 of the Hialeah Code.)  In October 2006, the Mayor of Hialeah issued a memorandum to all Council Members stating that if the elected official attends a convention, conference, seminar, meeting or training program as part of their government related position, the City would pay for the registration fee charged to the elected official.  However, expenses for all other activities incurred while attending such programs are not reimbursed by the City as such expenditures are to be paid using the official’s unvouchered travel and/or expense account. The City Clerk also advised that there are no written policies and procedures for the payment of government officials’ expenses nor are elected officials required to complete a travel expense form in order to receive the expense or travel allowance, as this is included in taxable income as either a travel or unvouchered expense allowance.


Ruiz, a city division director gets named to PHT trustee slate, but what about her real job?

Maria L. Ruiz a long serving and dedicated employee of Miami Beach has made the finalists cut to be on the Public Health Trust board and if she is appointed by the county commission. She will have to spend over 30-hours a month in this capacity. Ruiz’s interview with the PHT nominating council last week was impressive but it did not dawn on the Watchdog Report until I got her card that she was a municipal employee on the Beach. Ruiz is a Division Director in the Neighborhood Services Department and I do not know if she is planning to retire from the city, or take vacation time to do this voluntary activity. The Watchdog Report e-mailed Ruiz, Manager Jorge Gonzalez and a media representative last week but did not get a reply back by deadline. However, Ruiz might consider getting a ethics commission ruling on this because Miami Beach taxpayers deserve a full time employee and as many trustees say, being on the “Trust is like having a second job,” and attendance is important. The last time something like this happened was when PHT trustee Joe Arriola in 2003 was made the manager of the City of Miami and he then resigned from the health trust board.

Candidates continue to jump-in as Nov. election draws near, Mayor Bower still unopposed

Clerk’s office candidate up-date — NOVEMBER 3, 2009 GENERAL ELECTION >>> The following individual(s) have submitted Form DS-DE 9 (Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository for Candidates) >>> Mayor (Mayor Bower’s Seat)   Matti Herrera Bower;   Group I (Commissioner Libbin’s Seat)   Jerry Libbin, Oduardo Segui; Group II (Commissioner Gross’ Seat) Roger Abramson, Fred Karlton, Jorge Exposito, Sherry Roberts; Group III (Commissioner Diaz’s Seat) Alex Fernandez, Michael Gongora, Gabrielle Redfern, Luis Salom,  Martin Shapiro, * David Sugarman  — Withdrew >> *denotes latest change


NOTICE IS HEREBY given that the New World Symphony will hold a Program Charrette for the design of Lincoln Park  on Monday, August 24, 2009, at 6:30 p.m.  in the Banyan Room at  the Miami Beach Botanical Garden,  2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, Florida. Lincoln Park, which is bounded by Washington Avenue on the east, Drexel Avenue on the west, Lincoln Lane on the south and 17th Street on the north, is being developed by the New World Symphony on behalf of the City of Miami Beach to serve as a high end urban park and to compliment the New World Symphony’s Campus Expansion project which is currently underway.   One or more members of the Miami Beach City Commission may be in attendance and participate in discussions. All interested parties are invited to attend.  Inquiries concerning the meeting should be directed to Matthew Barry, Hines at (305) 535-6284.


Tuesday’s commission meeting important to residents, will you attend or watch on the web

The Coral Gables Commission is meeting Tuesday and as the clock ticks on regarding the city’s up-coming budget, adjustments, and cuts that will be made there was never a more important time for voters and taxpayers in the City Beautiful to get involved and let your elected leaders know their thoughts. Municipal governments are in some ways ground zero when it comes to self-governance with local people running for office and winning that are known to neighbors, friends and foes. Mayor Donald Slesnick, II found that out when the city was pounded by hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 and residents jumped down his throat verbally with the attendant loss of power that followed the storms. Back then, Slesnick told the Watchdog Report he was really reconsidering running for office again and possibly only the lack of hurricanes in subsequent years caused him to decide to run again. The e-mail traffic I get from people in the city is quite intense and with the public budget hearings coming in September. Public civility during these hearings must be adhered to and people should make their argument using the strength of the argument, and not the stridency of their voice. To watch the commission meeting on line go to

>>> Ethics Commission report: The City of Coral Gables’ Mayor receives a salary of $32,000, the Vice Mayor a salary of $28,000 and each of the City Commissioners a salary of $26,000.  All increases in compensation for elected officials are tied to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers from the preceding July, and shall be ratified by the Commission at a public hearing, with such increase retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year. Each Commissioner receives an expense allowance of $400 per month ($4,800 per annum), and the Mayor receives an expense allowance of $500 per month ($6,000 per annum). The travel allowance for each Commissioner is fixed at $1,200 per annum, and travel expenses for the Mayor are fixed at $1,800 per annum.  In 2007, the Mayor incurred and was reimbursed for $1,591.48 in travel expenses.  The Mayor was the only elected official who received reimbursement for travel. The Mayor’s office allowance for secretarial, telephone, postage and like expenses is fixed at $100 per month.


Aventura Mayor Gottlieb gets $10,000 in compensation; Commissioners get $7,500 a year

Ethics Commission report: The City of Aventura’s Mayor receives a base salary of $10,000 per fiscal year.  The City Commissioners receive compensation in the amount of $7,500 per fiscal year. The Mayor and Commissioners receive reimbursement for authorized travel and per diem expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties in accordance with State law. In 2007, the Mayor received $4,662.56 in taxable expense reimbursements.  Commissioners received taxable expense reimbursement ranging from a low of $1,169.79 to a high of $4,702.56.


Strong Mayor Wallace runs city incorporated in 1914, gets over $132,000 in that capacity

Florida City, one of Miami-Dade’s oldest cities incorporated in 1914 was originally called Detroit after so many people from the northern city moved there originally years before the city municipality came to life. The government is a strong mayor form of governance and Mayor Otis Wallace receives over $132,831 in this capacity.

>>> Ethics Commission report, 2008: Florida City’s “strong mayor” makes a base salary of $127,231, as set by the charter and resolution. He also receives an annual expense allowance of $5,600, which is taxable, for total compensation package of $132,831. The Mayor also has a cellular phone plan with unlimited minutes, a City vehicle and a City credit card with a $3,000 spending limit.  All of the Mayor’s expenditures are reviewed by the City’s Finance Director. Florida City Council Members receive annual pay of $5,600 and an expense allowance of $3,600 – for a total package of $9,200 each.  That amount is treated as taxable income.  The charter establishes that compensation of elected officials is set by resolution and fixed in the annual budget. The expense allowance system utilized appears to be of the “non-accountable” type.

Council Members must submit their own deductions for expenses when they file their tax returns with the IRS each year. As for non-taxable items, the City pays $48.88 for a monthly cellular phone plan containing 1,000 minutes for each Council Member. If the Council Member exceeds that allotment, the cost of any overages is deducted from the Council Member’s salary. Council Members must share a single vehicle and do not receive a separate car allowance. Another $7,000 was budgeted for public relations events in fiscal year 2008. This line item is set aside for all Council Members and must be approved during Council meetings. Funds are also budgeted for travel which is controlled by the City’s Finance Director. In addition, Council Members are issued City credit cards with a spending limit of $1,500, used mainly for travel.  There is no written policy, but the Finance Director personally reviews all expenditures to ensure they are legitimate City business.  Officials can not make themselves loans or cash advances with the cards.


Press release: Campaign Seminar offers assistance, advice & advancement

Candidates and their staff members can brush up on election and fundraising regulations and attorneys can earn Continuing Legal Education credits at the Campaign Skills Seminar sponsored by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust next Wednesday, August 26, 2009, in Hialeah.  The seminar will provide essential information to declared candidates, individuals considering running for election or anyone who wants to understand the legal and ethical obligations of seeking public office.  Speakers include representatives of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, the State Attorney’s Office and the Elections Department. The event is free and open to the public.  >>> Campaign Skills Seminar, Wednesday, August 26, 2009 6:30 p.m., Victor Wilde Community Center, 1701 West 53 Terr., Hialeah, FL  For the convenience of South Miami-Dade residents, a similar event will be held in Homestead City Hall on September 16th. >>>For more information or to reserve a seat, call Robert Thompson at 305-350-0630 or e-mail >>> The Ethics Commission was created in 1996 as an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers.  It is composed of five members, serving staggered terms of four years each.  Through a program of education and outreach, the Commission seeks to empower the community and bolster public trust.

>>> August 26 – 3:00 PM: Celebrate Women’s Equality Day – 89th Anniversary of Womens’ Right to Vote Will be followed by a reception at 6:00 PM followed by a screening of the film “Iron Jawed Angels” Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Drive, Call – 305-673-7105

**August 26 – 10:00 AM: Opening reception of a student exhibit – A Selection of Women Who Have Broken Barriers in honor of Women’s Equality Day The exhibit, co-produced by The Women’s Park and students in the Miami- Dade Public School’s Ancestral Voices Summer Program, showcases women who have been a “first” in an accomplishment, or profession, and have demonstrated outstanding leadership for all women. The Women’s Park in the Roxcy O’Neal Bolton Women’s History Gallery -10251 West Flagler St, For more information or to RSVP for the opening reception 305-480-1717.

>>> September 2 – Noon: Fair Immigration Summit>>> Join Miami-Dade Elected Officials, Immigrant Advocates and Community Leaders along with the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board and City of Miami Community Relations Board Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW 1st St, Second Floor Chambers of the Board of County Commissioners To unite our diverse communities around agreed upon priorities for legislative reform that will uphold our common commitment to equal treatment and due process for all immigrants RSVP – (305) 375-5730.

>>> Press release: ETHICS AND THE MEDIA — “Principled Journalism and Government Relations in a New Era”

A one-day conference for South Florida journalists, government officials and public relations professionals sponsored by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics, the School of Communication at the University of Miami and the South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists >> FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2009 – 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., School of Communication, University of Miami, 5100 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, Florida >> Keynote Speaker: Syndicated Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., Other conference presenters include: The Hon. Lynda Bell, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Esq., Helen Aguirre Ferre, Howard Finklestein, Esq., Dwight Lauderdale, Michael Lewis, The Hon. Harvey Ruvin, Chief John Timoney — Workshop Topics include: Media, Law and Public Access; The Revolving Door between Government and Media Government Information: Presentation and Perception, The Appearance of Impropriety >>> The $20 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and a panel discussion on Political Smears and Media Manipulation >>> For more information contact the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics at 305-350-0631 or .


Herald Watchdog story today shows how dysfunctional Miami-Dade County can be; what was Mayor Alvarez thinking?

A Herald Watchdog story today on the salary increases in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s office staff is unbelievable and shows how out of touch and insulated county leadership is from the community as a whole. Gov. Charlie Crist and many other elected leaders and their respective staffs get a whole lot less pay, and at county hall the definition of public service for some seems to have gotten lost over the decades. In the 1970s, working in government did not result in high pay but you did get a decent retirement plan as compensation but that has been super sized when it comes to the pay now and that bleeds into the overall pension and retirement costs.

Alvarez, the proponent of a strong mayor form of government that would lead to more effective governance and better services once told me when I asked if this form of government would lead to less corruption. He said, “Probable not,” and I thought lets not raise the bar to high at the time. However, this issue is different since not only was misinformation passed on to county commissioners, but also the smugness of some of the people when asked about the matter gives one a transparent look inside their minds. They don’t care how it looks to the hurting general public, they are county employees, and in their on world and internal culture. A culture that for decades has been immune to a true transformation as the entity grew to the public colossus it is today with 29,372 employees. The bloom is coming off the flower when it comes to Alvarez and since he is termed out he is almost on political auto pilot but the mayor will still have to deal with the next round of cuts when the 2010-2011 budget rolls around, when there will not be the $23 billion in new property values from new development that has almost stopped for the nest budget year. And if one is to lead by example Alvarez has made a considerable blunder, for it sets a bad example that will keep on giving, because it shows nothing has changed at county hall even with a strong mayor, and that is the real tragedy about the paper’s investigative story today.

>>> PAST WDR: Mayor Alvarez net worth goes to $1.66 million; Chair Moss comes in at $461,000 inched up from $461,000

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commission Chair Dennis Moss are in the spotlight this week and Alvarez’s net worth jumped from $1.5 million to $1.66 million through March 2009, and Moss’s inched from $$461,000 in 2007 to $477,941 through 2008. Alvarez’s only liability is $20,000 for child support, the mayor’s salary was $245,000, and he received another $42,000 from an expense account. He lists $535,000 in CD’s, there is $678,000 in a retirement account, there is $161,000 in a Florida retirement account, another $162,000 in another retirement investment account, and there is $61,191 in a checking account states his yearly disclosure. Alvarez is a decade’s long county police officer that rose up the ranks to be director of the department prior to his run for countywide mayor in 2004, and he was re-reelected again in 2008. He is termed out in 2012.


>>> You mixed up Gelber and Geller, your item is about Steve Geller, but you mention Gelber at times. Keep up the good work.


>>> Just a quick hello, but stopping by to let you know what an important contribution you Continue to make to citizen participation and keeping us “in the know”.  You are So appreciated and thank you for your hard work.  I look forward to saying hello in person but please celebrate your Watchdog anniversary with assurance that We depend on your insightful reporting!



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The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you.   The Watchdog Report is in the fourth year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 250 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.


I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to

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>>> Watchdog Report is expanding as a new service and this content is now available to other news media, no longer exclusive to The Miami Herald

The Watchdog Report is no longer exclusively with The Miami Herald, and excluding the one story a week that is printed in the paper on Monday in the Metro & State section by me. The rest of the 20 or so news stories weekly sent out Sunday in the Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at for further information.

>>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years.

Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL)


Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL)


Published on January 20, 2003, Page 1E, Orlando Sentinel, PAPERWORK TIGER, Miami’s citizen watchdog piles up government files in his quest to keep the “little people” informed.

>>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources

Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride.

Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column  –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership. The Southern Media Landscape (PDF)  Daniel Ricker. Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter. … circulation, 134,269. Dan Hoover leads the. publication’s – 574k – View as html

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