Month of November 2009

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.10 No.26 November 29, 2009

WATCHDOG REPORT

Miami-Dade, Florida

Vol. 10 No. 26  November 29, 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 since May 5thwww.watchdogreport.net & Former, Miami Herald independent news columnist


CONTENTS

Argus Report: Camillus House feeds 800,000 people in 2008, needs financial help on new 340-bed shelter; Mayor Regalado & Commissioner Sarnoff call for CRA expansion and duration extension

Florida: U.S. Sen. LeMieux tours Ryder Trauma Center, calls for national Medicare oversight czar, with South Fl ground zero with $1.1 billion in fraud in 13-month period

Miami-Dade County: Public opposition to chronic homeless after 15-years on the rise “and is coming back in a big way,” says UCF Prof. Wright

Broward County: Gov. Crist taps Republican Jones for BCC, how will he do in 2010 district race, in Democratic county?

Palm Beach County: Commission Chair Koons in the spotlight, had $14.6 million net worth through 2008

Volusia County: Gov. Crist Names Sandra Hogue of Ormond Beach as Point of Light for Adoption Awareness Month

Martin County: Gov. Crist makes appointment to Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board

Monroe County: Health Department continued its health advisory regarding dengue fever in Key West and launched an educational campaign.

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Board member Rivas Logan tapped for Nominating Committee for NALEO

Public Health Trust: Trustees must be at meetings to vote and count as quorum, county Atty. ruling applies to many other county board’s as well

City of Miami: Commission Districts 1 and 5 election called by unanimous vote on the commission, now who will enter these races?

City of Miami Beach: Commissioner Libbin hosts town hall on special assessments of condominium boards because of bank policies

City of North Miami: Now there are four candidates for manager, Olmedillo and Spring make the cut 

City of Coral Gables: Gables Ranks As Having 10th Lowest Millage Rate

Out of all the cities, towns and villages in Miami-Dade County

Community Events: – MAM Ball Dec. 5 – Children’s Home Society Holiday Toy Drive

Editorials: The elections are over, candidates need to pick up their old campaign flyers littering the landscape — Miami-Dade & Miami facing unprecedented financial challenges, adjustments must be done “sooner, rather than later,” says Mayor Alvarez

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.)

knight foundation

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding the University of Miami’s Knight Center of International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University’s School of Communication www.miami.edu assistance to rebuild my web site www.watchdogreport.net that is now on line again, since the previous one was shut down in July 2008. Past reports will continue to go on line in the future, potentially as far back as May 2000.  This institutional support is a major break through for me, and I am deeply appreciative of the help these two substantial international institutions have given me at a time the site was an unbudgeted expense and to keep the Watchdog Report a community education resource, while also being a decade old news service.

>>> One check came in this week, so if you think it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider becoming a supporter or sponsor. For there is no trust fund and I do have to live. A convenient form is at the bottom of this week’s Watchdog Report with all the instructions on how to support this decade old newsletter and news service. Thank you.

>>> CORRECTION and Clarification: I used the wrong first name in last week’s issue for U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fl,  and Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez says he did not talk to other Miami commissioners regarding the appointment of someone to former Commissioner’s Angel Gonzalez’s seat by the commission. http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2009/11/new_miami_commissioner_denies.php


ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Camillus feeds 800,000 people in 2008, needs financial help on new 340 bed shelter, Mayor Regalado & Commissioner Sarnoff calls for CRA expansion and life extension

Camillus House, in downtown Miami held its 12th Thanksgiving Feast for over 1,000 homeless and needy people on Thursday and 125 turkeys were used in the mass meal. An annual event held by the Brothers of Good Shepard, an order that founded the organization in 1960 dedicated to helping the homeless and poor in our community was larger than in the past given the tough economic times. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, (net worth $5,000) the city’s past representative on the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust attended along with Miami Commissioners Marc Sarnoff, (net worth $2.28 million) the body’s chair, and newly minted Commissioner Francis Suarez, and state Rep. Julio Robaina, R. South Miami (net worth $661,000). “Hope is where the heart is,” is the organization’s mantra and through the course of a year, more than 1,500 meals are served a day for a yearly average of 600,000 free hot meals in 2008. At this year’s event, over 160 volunteers participated and it involved massive planning with the swelling number of people.

>>> What about the new shelter near Jackson Memorial Hospital & VA?

Bob Dickenson, the Camillus House board chair told the crowd the organization’s goal was to be the nation’s “first major city to end homelessness” in the next ten-years in America. The former president of Carnival Cruises said it was important to get a new planned 340-bed facility, offering a variety of treatments at the shelter, funded and built. He said they have already raised “over $23 million” but that is short of the $40 million to be raised by the private sector. The past senior executive said Camillus “needs the help of Miami-Dade County” and the county commission to “expand the Community Redevelopment Agency, (CRA)” allowing some of that funding to go into the future project but is running into resistance at the county. Regalado said the new facility “is important and hopefully to this other site” that is so critical to those homeless especially those people that are a “family with children,” the mayor said.

Sarnoff, whose wife Teresa raised $35,000 for the outdoor feeding program recently, said it was “a little bit embarrassing” since “plans are all in place but we are a little stuck,” he said. The chair said two things needed to happen to make the new shelter facility a reality and it was to expand the boundaries of the CRA, and extend its duration of existence. “Tell County Hall it needs to be done now,” he said from a podium. >>> Camillus House Open the Door to Hope Capital Campaign >> Since its founding in the summer of 1960, Camillus House has served as a place of hope where our community’s compassion can come together to embrace those … http://www.camillus-odh.org/ – 9k – Cached >>> Links on “Camillus House” | Facebook All I have heard of Dr. Greer is that he is all heart. … Camillus House “Open the Door to Hope” — See how Camillus House is striving to end chronic…

>>> The Watchdog Report also on Thanksgiving Day stopped by St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove and they were also having their own feeding program that is done every year. As was the case at Camillus House, the number of people waiting in line for their fixings was larger than past years. I have been covering this annual activity at the two locations since 2000, and over the decade, you see the fluctuations in the economy through the number of people in distress and needing food assistance at these events that go on daily with little fanfare throughout Miami-Dade.

>>> What about the local 56th Turkey Bowl?

The Watchdog Report stopped by the 56th Turkey Bowl Thursday morning held on the football field of the Sts Peter & Paul High School, in The Roads area of Miami and former Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez continued his decade old duties as the game’s referee. Sanchez, on the commission since around 1998 ran for mayor this past November but was bested by Mayor Tomas Regalado overwhelmingly in the election that had about 22.3 percent city voter turnout.

What about the football game?

Paul George, Ph.D., the community’s local historian and chronicler of the games over the years wrote on Saturday. “So great seeing you at the 56th renewal of the Turkey Bowl and the seniors won in sudden death overtime, 18-12! See you at the Santa Clause Bowl Dec. 20,” wrote George.

>>> Press release: Ros-Lehtinen Builds Support to Continue Robust Defense Assistance for Israel

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is seeking support for a letter she will send to President Obama asking for robust funding for Israel.  Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “As our nation faces increasing challenges to our economy and our security, we must establish priorities for limited taxpayer funds.  Robust security assistance to Israel is and must continue to be a critical priority.

“Israel is the U.S.’s strongest ally in our war against violent Islamist extremists.  It is on the front lines of the struggle against such mounting threats, and has extensive experience battling militant extremists domestically, militarily, and diplomatically. “The U.S. and Israel are also confronted with the mutual threat posed by Iran’s activities, particularly its nuclear program. “We share regional security priorities and our efforts are mutually reinforcing. “I invite my Congressional colleagues to join me in a letter to President Obama requesting full implementation of our security assistance agreement with Israel and the allocation of the necessary resources to fulfill our commitment to our friend and ally.”

>>> Press release:  STATEMENT OF BENEDICT P. KUEHNE, November 25, 2009, Kuehne “thanks the Department of Justice for its confirmation of the importance of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.”

On this, the day before Thanksgiving, I am gratified beyond measure that the United States Department of Justice has decided to abandon all charges against me.  I have had throughout a deep and abiding belief that things would turn out well in the end.  However, I did not know the end result would come about by decision of the Department of Justice.  We are all fortunate to be able to say that we have a Justice Department whose goal is to try to do the right thing—not to win at all costs. Although I would have preferred not to go through this experience, I am also gratified that my case has been the occasion for an important precedent-setting legal ruling by the District Court, recently affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and embraced by the legal community, in preserving and protecting the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.  This ruling deals with an area of law that is close to my heart. It is to the right to counsel in criminal cases that I have dedicated much of my career at the Bar.

I want to, once again, thank the many members of our community who have, over the past two years, so consistently expressed their confidence in my innocence.
Throughout this period, I have continued to do what I have been trained to do, and what I love most, which is to practice law.  I am grateful to the many clients who have reposed their confidence in me by seeking to utilize my legal services. I am also grateful to my amazing lawyers, John Nields, Jason Raofield, and Laura Shores from Howrey in Washington, D.C., and my good friend, Jane Moscowitz, from Miami.  I wish to thank them for their skill, dedication, and commitment to me and my case. Finally, throughout this legal drama, my greatest strength has been the unsinkable spirit and love of my wife, Lynn, and our entire family.  I want to thank them for knowing who I am, and of my sincere dedication to the law.

>>> Thanks to my supporters, the Watchdog Report, celebrated its Tenth Anniversary on May 5th.

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.

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

watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

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!”


FLORIDA

>>> U.S. Sen. LeMieux tours Ryder Trauma Center, calls for national Medicare oversight czar, with South Fl ground zero with $1.1 billion in fraud in 13-month period.

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-FL, came to Miami Tuesday when he visited the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the morning and he is growing into the office, since his appointment a few months ago by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.  U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans in Congress also were there and Mario noted his four-year old child spent four months in the neonatal care unit when born, and he knows first hand the great treatment and medical services the health trust provides. Further, both brothers spoke of the great job LeMieux was doing in the senate and he was not just being a care taker of the office Crist is seeking in 2010. The Senator toured the trauma center with the congressmen, along with PHT Chair John Copeland, III, CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D., Miller Medical School Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D., and some senior trauma patient surgeons. Ryder since 2000 has also trained thousands of U.S. Army physicians and medical staff before their deployment overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the medical personnel have treated hundreds of thousands of patients over the past decade.

What about the issue of Medicare Fraud in South Florida?

LeMieux, an attorney and former number two in the Florida Attorney General’s office when Crist was the state AG said Medicaid fraud was one of their top priorities and back then, in the state alone. The number was a minimum of $1.2 billion in fraud statewide with $100 million in Miami alone he said. However, on a federal scale where one in seven Medicare payments are fraudulent, the number is $60 billion in fraud. Further, that number jumped to $1.1 billion alone here in south Florida over a 13-month period and the local U.S. Attorney at the time. R. Alex Acosta said, “Yes we are the graduate school for fraud,” he said responding to a Watchdog Report question. LeMieux, when discussing the issue of local rampant fraud became very animated about the issue, and he has found his legislative voice by calling for a new presidential appointment, a “Chief of Healthcare Fraud” czar whose only focus is on Medicare fraud. He said he had been talking with credit card companies who face the issue of attempted fraudulent charges everyday, but these companies have reduced it to “pennies on hundreds of dollars,” because unusual transactions are flagged and the same oversight should be applied to the federal program and he is sponsoring such legislation in the nation’s most exclusive club. He said the proposed legislation is called the 2009 Prevent Healthcare Fraud Act of 2009, and he believes the federal rip off is the result of “organized crime,” essentially done 10 to $20 million at a time. He said the current system of “Pay, chase, and prosecute,” is clearly not working, he said. The Senator wants that recovered money to go back to the federal program and why he is lukewarm on the national healthcare debate, believing the theft, waste, and abuse should be addressed first before creating a new federal bureaucracy. >>> See his Sunday interview with senior political reporter Michael Putney at Michael Putney – Station News Story – WPLG Miami Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of “This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney. … http://www.justnews.com/station/269244/detail.html – 50k – Cached

>>> What about the Crist vs. Rubio 2010 U. S. Senate race?

Crist (net worth $466,000) once considered a Republican shoe-in next year during the closed party primary has encountered a political obstacle in the form of former House speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, (net worth $8,351) and the younger legislator is working the state’s party faithful at full steam and is getting noticed nationally by party leaders and political pundits. On Friday, the Crist and Rubio race was the discussion on The McLaughlin Group http://www.mclaughlin.com/ Friday and only two of the commentators thought Crist would prevail with Republican Pat Buchanan saying he thought Rubio had the momentum with the state’s conservative Republican base in a closed party primary. However, Crist is fighting back and with the primary in August of next year. This race has plenty of months to go before Republican voters go to the primary polls and expect a escalation in political punches thrown at the candidates as their records are put under a opponents campaign microscope.

What about the Democratic candidates?

So far, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami (net worth around $62,000 in 2002) is the prime Democratic candidate to beat, and he is raising millions for his campaign nationally given his membership on the House Ways and Means Committee, a plum committee assignment. Meek, a former state senator was first elected to Congress in Nov. 2002 after his mother Congresswoman Carrie Meek, D-Miami retired suddenly after a decade from her District 17th seat, essentially allowing only her son time to run for the office given how close it was before the qualifying deadline.  Since then he has risen up the ranks in the lower body and when the Democrats took control of the House, his political career really took off. He has drawn two challengers in former Miami Mayor and county Commissioner Maurice Ferre, 74, and former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns.

However, Meek has some obstacles of his own in front of him and he, his wife and mother have all been lobbyists for Wackenhut Security in Miami-Dade County. Meek, the younger had that job from 1998 to 2002 and back then he earned about $92,000 for the community out reach position, his wife did the job from 2003 to 2004 and the elder Meek took the activity over later. This is only important because a critical county audit found the company had over charged Miami-Dade around $3.4 million and the controversy resulted in Wackenhut filing a $20 million legal suit against the county months ago. This suit triggered the mother to seek a conflict of interest waiver since she also gets up to $75,000 as a county federal lobbyist and the county commission over the summer granted the waiver.

>>> Press release: TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced the following reappointment: Florida Transportation Commission (Senate Confirmation Required)

Martha “Marty” Lanahan, 45, of Jacksonville, area president, Regions Bank, reappointed for a term beginning November 23, 2009, and ending September 30, 2013.


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

Public opposition to chronic homeless after 15-years on the rise “and is coming back in a big way,” says UCF Prof. Wright

A draft evaluation report on the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust Continuum of Care was included in the trust’s monthly board meeting agenda recently and one of the authors of the study. James D. Wright, Ph.D., spoke to trustees about its findings. The University of Central Florida professor said one issue discovered that has changed over the past year has been the “renewed visibility of people sleeping on the streets and is more visible than a year ago,” he said. He said some of these people only try a “half hearted treatment” while in the shelters and he is concerned about an “emerging backlash in our community.” The professor noted over the last 10 to 15-years there was “not a strong opposition culture” regarding the homeless but that has changed “and is coming back in a big way.” He also said, “People cannot languish in emergency shelters that essentially become permanent housing.” A final report will be released in the future but the draft report is a great read.

What about the beating and killing of homeless people on the street?

The rise over the years of homeless people being beaten or killed while living on the streets with teens many times being the aggressors shows the change in attitude that is slowly occurring in our local society and the trust has come up with a number of ways to keep the issue in the public eye. For more information about the trust go to www.miamidade.gov/homeless or the homeless helpline at 1.877.994.4357.

>>> Commissioner Martinez asks about county liabilities, with Miami financial instability and Marlins Stadium bonds

Joe Martinez, the county commissioner representing District 11 fired off a memo Nov. 25 to County Attorney Robert Cuevas, Jr., asking if the city of Miami’s financial woes will affect the different bonds that are being issued, for the Florida Marlins Stadium and the Port of Miami Tunnel by the municipality. The commissioner cites The Miami Herald www.miamiherald.com story done by veteran Miami beat reporter Michael Vasquez. The story concerned an audit done by the Miami commission auditor Victor Igwe that showed real financial problems. Martinez asks the question to the attorney, if the “various concerns that the findings of the audit may have a direct affect on Miami-Dade County” and if the city’s “ability to secure bonds has been compromised,” and if it is, “what is the potential impact on the Marlins Stadium project, the garage” and also the “impact to the Port Tunnel project,” he wrote. He then asks for an explanation of possible “legal consequences, if any, would be for both contracts,” he closed.

The Watchdog Report briefly reviewed the audit on Wednesday and there is enough in it to suggest concerns that also have brought in the SEC to look at the city’s books and how the city described its financial state when selling its municipal and GOB bonds during past offerings. The city further has been blazing through its reserves and have dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade. The rainy day fund had around $141 million back in 2003 but that reserve has since dropped to about $70 million this year, and monies for capital projects, $26 million was shifted to the city’s reserve account to hit that higher number. Manager Pete Hernandez has stated in the paper that these moves were “fine,” but the report has stirred–up some financial dust and readers should wait and see how this plays out, and any impact this has on the two mega-projects the city and county are involved in.

>>> Will county IG Mazzella say sayonara in Dec., diverse five-member selection committee would look at successor?

At Monday’s PHT presentation done by the county ethics and inspector general’s office I was reminded that Christopher Mazzella, the only IG the county has ever had is up for renewal in December. Mazzella, selected and confirmed in Sept. 1998 and a former FBI special agent had his four-year contract renewed in 2005 and it is unknown if he plans to retire or seek another term. I asked Mazzella months ago what his status in the future might be and he said, “You will be the first to know,” at the time. The office’s role has expanded from not just the county and it’s over 60 departments including MIA and the Port of Miami but also Miami-Dade Public Schools. That IG oversight agreement was reached on Dec. 2007 between the nation’s fourth largest public schools district to hire the IG’s services after the school district’s first IG did not work out.

The selection process of a new IG if Mazzella gives the job a pass involves a diverse group of people on the committee. County ordinance says people on the selection panel includes the local state attorney, public defender, ethics commission chair, President of the Miami-Dade Police Chief’s Association and the FDLE special agent in charge of the Miami field office, and the county commission either accepts or denies the choice.

>>> Next week’s Tuesday County Commission and » 9:30 a.m. – Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners Meeting, » 9:30 a.m. – Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP).

>>> Press release: South Florida Workforce to Host Community Forum >> The South Florida Workforce Investment Board is hosting a Community Forum on Monday, November 30th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the South Dade Regional Library in Cutler Bay. The event, called South Florida Workforce: Accelerate South Florida Community Forum, is free and open to all members of the community. The Forum is an opportunity for the community to learn about South Florida Workforce’s Accelerate South Florida Recovery and Action Plan and the employment and training services that are available to all eligible citizens, particularly those impacted by the economic downturn. “The current economic climate emphasizes the need for workforce training, which could lead jobseekers back on the pathway to employment,” said Rick Beasley, Executive Director of South Florida Workforce.  South Florida Workforce offers a host of training options, funded in whole or in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The agency is currently working closely with employers and educational institutions to offer not only in demand training, but potential entry-level positions to unemployed workers. >>> The South Dade Regional Library is located at 10750 S.W. 211th Street in Cutler Bay, Florida 33189.


BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Gov. Crist taps Republican Jones for BCC, how will he do in 2010 district race, in Democratic county?

Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Albert Jones to fill the county commission district held by Josephus “Joe” Eggelletion who has been charged with a variety felonies and is trying to make a plea deal with state and federal prosecutors, say sources. The governor has been getting heat for not replacing the suspended commissioner last September and the Broward while heavily Democratic, got a new Republican county commissioner. Crist picked someone that does not live in the district, he must move into it in the next 30-days and will be up for re-election in 2010, and Democratic Party challengers are expected to be numerous in the primary that is closed party affair. 

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist appoints Al Jones to BCC, is a Republican up in 2010

Governor Charlie Crist today appointed Dania Beach City Commissioner Albert C. Jones to the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. He will fill the vacancy created by the suspension of Josephus “Joe” Eggelletion. “Al’s broad range of service to his community gives him the necessary experience and insight to serve the people of Broward County with distinction and honor,” Governor Crist said. “His commitment to the community’s young people during his 40-year career as a coach and educator and his involvement on the board of Memorial Healthcare System, including serving as past chairman, has demonstrated his desire to keep the best interests of all residents in mind.”

Jones, 63, was elected to the city commission in 1993 for a four-year term and again in 2007 as vice mayor, an office he held for one year before serving as mayor for one year.  During his 40 years as an educator with Broward County Schools, he coached football and swimming while also teaching physical education at McArthur High School, was assistant athletic director at Everglades High School, directed programs for students with special needs and served as the dean of students at Everglades High School from 2003 to 2008. In 2006, Governor Jeb Bush appointed him to serve on the Broward County School Board for three months.  He has served on the board of directors for the South Broward Hospital District since 1999, serving as secretary-treasurer, vice chair and chair. He received his bachelor’s degree from Edwards Waters College in Jacksonville and his master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. “It has been an honor to serve my community, and I consider it an incredible privilege to have the opportunity to now serve Broward County as a whole,” said Commissioner Jones.  “I look forward to doing what I can to move good governance forward.” Jones’ appointment is the result of Governor Crist’s suspension of public officials due to criminal complaints filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on September 23, 2009. Jones’ term will begin on November 30, 2009.

>>> Press release: DAVIE HUSBAND AND WIFE CONVICTED IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING AND MORTGAGE FRAUD CONSPIRACY

Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, John Timoney, Chief, City of Miami Police Department, and James K. Loftus, Interim Director, Miami-Dade County Police Department, announce that a federal jury in Miami found defendants Garry Souffrant, 33, and Yvonne Souffrant, 33, husband and wife, both of Davie, FL, guilty of charges relating to their participation in a multi-million dollar money laundering and mortgage fraud conspiracy.  A third defendant, Gamaliel Souffrant, a/k/a Neal Souffrant, 44, Garry Souffrant’s brother, of Pembroke Pines, FL, was found not guilty. More specifically, the jury convicted Garry Souffrant on 46 counts, including conspiracy; conspiracy to commit drug money laundering; mail fraud; making false statements to mortgage lenders; bank fraud; bank theft; and receipt of stolen bank funds.  Co-defendant Yvonne Souffrant was convicted of conspiracy, and making a false statement to mortgage lenders.

According to the Indictment and evidence presented during the trial, from 2002 to 2008, defendants Garry and Yvonne Souffrant used their family business, called Progressive Real Estate of Broward, Inc., to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds through an extensive mortgage fraud scheme. The defendants assisted drug traffickers in purchasing homes and luxury automobiles, including a 2004 Rolls Royce Phantom.  To execute the scheme, the defendants arranged for and/or acted as straw buyers on behalf of the drug traffickers.  This allowed the traffickers to use their drug proceeds to purchase homes and lease automobiles, while concealing the source of the income.  The defendants also diverted several million dollars of mortgage loan proceeds to continue to fund the scheme and for their personal use. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 2, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. before the U.S. District Court Judge Paul C. Huck. At sentencing, Garry Souffrant faces the following potential maximum penalties: 5 years for conspiracy (18 U.S.C §371); 20 years for money laundering conspiracy (18 U.S.C. §1956); 20 years for mail fraud (18 U.S.C. §1341);10 years for receipt of stolen bank funds (18 U.S.C. §2113( c)); 30 years for making false statements to mortgage lenders (18 U.S.C. §1014); 30 years for bank fraud (18 U.S.C. §1344); and 10 years for bank theft (18 U.S.C. §2113(b)).  Yvonne Souffrant faces the following potential maximum penalties: 5 years for conspiracy (18 U.S.C §371); and 30 years for making a false statement to mortgage lenders (18 U.S.C. §1014). >>> Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the City of Miami Police Department, and the Miami-Dade County Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Patrick Sullivan, Todd W. Mestepey, and Kelly Karase. 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 www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.


PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> PAST WDR: July 2009: Commission Chair Koons in the spotlight, had $14.6 million net worth through 2008

Jeff Koons, the county commission chair is in the spotlight this week and he represents District 2 in West Palm Beach. Koons, a former state legislator, is the chair of the commission and made a fortune in the private sector before being elected to office. The commission has seven commissioners and for more information on Koons go to http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/district2/ .

What do we know about his finances?

Koons through Dec. 2008 lists a net worth of $14.6 million and he has $75,000 in household goods. His home is worth $530,000, there is $22,900 in a CD, a money market fund has $20,800 and another $134,000 is in bank accounts. His salary as a commissioner was $98,135 and $12.39 million is in a blind trust. His only listed liability is American Express, owed at the time $7,443.


VOLUSIA COUNTY

>>> Governor Crist Names Sandra Hogue of Ormond Beach as Governor’s Point of Light for Adoption Awareness Month

Governor Charlie Crist today recognized Sandra Hogue of Ormond Beach as this week’s Governor’s Point of Light for Adoption Awareness Month. “Sandra is a kindhearted and passionate volunteer who generously dedicates her time to securing permanent, loving homes for children in foster care,” said Governor Crist.  “Her commitment to children in foster care is inspiring and I am grateful for her compassionate efforts as she continues to make a difference for children throughout our state.” Sandra founded the All for Children Ministry at Calvary Christian Center with the support of her fellow church members and husband, Steve.  The ministry offers support services for foster and adoptive parents. As a parent to four adopted children and a foster parent, Sandra has worked to make the state-required Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training for prospective adoptive parents more readily available.  Through her church, she continues to coordinate several training sessions a year and thus far, more than 100 families have received training.

Sandra actively volunteers with Community Partnership for Children, a state contracted organization that provides child protection assistance in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam Counties. Among her efforts, Sandra assists with the group’s events such as the October Matching Event, a quarterly effort to bring prospective adoptive families together with children eligible for adoption; PAIRS post adoption training for adoptive parents; and a mentor program for teenage children in foster care. She also participated in last year’s National Adoption Day Celebration as a member of the planning committee and helped organize the venue and recruit volunteers. >>> AAA Auto Club South is the supporting sponsor of the Governor’s Points of Light Award. This program recognizes Florida residents who demonstrate exemplary service to the community. Award recipients are announced weekly.  A panel of judges comprised of leaders in the areas of volunteerism and service evaluate all nominations and make recommendations to the Governor.  Occasionally, the award is presented to outstanding organizations. The Volunteer Florida Foundation manages the program. For more information, or to submit a nomination, go to www.VolunteerFloridaFoundation.org.


MARTIN COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist announced the following appointment: Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board

Robert W. Stork, 58, of Vero Beach, engineer and chief executive officer of Communications International Inc., succeeding Bentina Terry, appointed for a term beginning November 24, 2009, and ending June 30, 2010.


MONROE COUNTY

>>> The Monroe County Health Department continued its health advisory regarding dengue fever in Key West and launched an educational campaign this week after receiving final results of a recent survey on the extent of dengue infection in Key West.

Results received at the department late Thursday showed that 99 of the 240 Old Town residents who donated blood to the survey – 41 percent – tested positive for the dengue virus or dengue antibodies, indicating that they had contracted the mosquito-borne illness at some point in their lives. Of the 99 residents who tested positive for the virus, eight are thought to have contracted the virus in Old Town Key West at some point within the three months preceding the survey. In addition, a review of local hospital records as part of the survey suggests that some patients admitted as far back as early July may have been experiencing dengue-like symptoms. The survey was launched after three confirmed cases of dengue surfaced in Old Town Key West in August, the first locally acquired cases of the mosquito-borne illness reported in the state in more than 40 years.

The process of notifying survey participants is underway.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health conducted the survey with help from the Monroe County Health Department and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District from September 23 to 27. “The results are significant in that they indicate the virus is present in Key West,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator Bob Eadie said. “To protect themselves and their families, individuals need to take responsibility for preventing exposure to this disease. It’s about taking preventive measures without rearranging your daily routine. Many cities in the world suffer from a great deal more exposure to the disease than Key West and yet continue to function normally.” In addition to the final survey results, the department confirmed that several more individuals had contracted dengue locally – including one in the Stock Island community of Key Haven – in the two months since the survey was conducted. Test results on three additional individuals are pending.

Anyone who reported dengue-like symptoms during and after the survey has fully recovered.

“It’s here, so we need to be extra vigilant with our mosquito control efforts,” Eadie said. “More importantly, it’s about people taking preventive measures themselves. Recommended steps are using insect repellent and installing screens.” The department is mounting an educational campaign on dengue with emphasis on the importance of individuals avoiding contact with and eliminating potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has expanded its control measures to include increased aerial and ground spraying and environmental surveys, as well as working with residents and businesses to locate and dump containers on their properties that hold water where mosquitoes can breed. Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito common to the southeastern United States and the tropics. Dengue is not spread from person to person; however, if a mosquito bites a recently infected person, the mosquito can acquire and spread the virus. More than 100 million people contract dengue annually worldwide. Some experience symptoms, while others do not. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, joint, bone, and muscle pain, minor bleeding such as nose or gum bleeding, easy bruising and sometimes rash. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek care from a medical provider. “Currently, the main focus is on controlling the mosquito population and dumping containers that collect water where mosquitoes can reproduce,” Eadie said. “In light of the recurring rains that we’ve been having in Key West lately, the health department and Mosquito Control are relying on everyone in the community to make a habit of emptying birdbaths, buckets, ashtrays, boats, tarps, gutters, tires and anything else on their property that collects water.”


MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Press release: Board member Rivas Logan tapped for Nominating Committee for NALEO

Educator and School Board Member Ana Rivas Logan was selected by President Sylvia R. Garcia of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) to the Nominations Committee of the NALEO Board of Directors. The Nominations Committee of the NALEO Board of Directors is responsible for identifying and recruiting new Board members.  The Nominations Committee nominates Board Members and Board Officers.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) is the leading membership organization that promotes the advancement of governance and policymaking success of Latino elected and appointed officials.  NALEO has been serving its members since 1976 with more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials across the country.  NALEO plays a pivotal role in the Latino civic engagement process and will be at the forefront of the Census 2010. “I want to thank our NALEO President for giving me the opportunity to identify and recruit new leadership to our organization,” said Ana Rivas Logan.


PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Trustees must be at meetings to vote and count as quorum, ruling applies to many other county board’s as well

A few PHT trustees attended an ethics, inspector general’s, and hospital compliance session Monday around 12:30 p.m., and six trustees sat through the almost two-hour meeting. Ethics Commission Executive Director Robert Meyers, Patra Liu, the IG’s office’s Assistant Inspector General/Legal Counsel and Diana Salinas, the PHT’s Chief Compliance Officer of the health system and others described what the rules and guidelines are when it comes to these subjects. And it was a shame that not more of the 15 member citizens based board did not attend though another such trustee meeting is planned in the future. The health trust is just one of many county organizations that fall under the watch full eye of these oversight groups. Further, Broward and Palm Beach Counties after being rocked by political scandals over the past few years are also looking at creating some form of these oversight institutions.

Liu, an attorney told of the first bust the IG’s office made and it was one of their own. A staff member was arrested for grand theft in 1999 when she failed to return phones and “converted them to her own use,” she said. She noted Christopher Mazzella the county IG always mentions this fact at these types of meetings because he believes, “accountability always starts at home,” Liu said.

>>> Trustees absent but on phone cannot vote or be counted as a quorum

At Monday’s trust meeting the board voted to delay including language in the bylaws that concerned allowing ‘telephonic participation” of Trustees at committee meetings. This issue of people on multiple county boards wanting to be able to call in, participate, vote and be included in the quorum number has been going on for months and has been reported in past Watchdog Reports. In the case of the PHT, the issue came to a head when state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-South Miami, last spring at a PHT Nominating Council meeting requested a official ruling from the county attorney’s office and it is no. People on these boards must be physically there to be included in the quorum and vote, and why the legislation was removed from the resolution that had three other changes in the bylaws.

>>> PAST WDR: Jan. 2004: President O’Quinn is getting to know county’s health problems – Updates County Commission

President Marvin O’Quinn continues to foster openness and transparency with elected officials and on Tuesday gave his monthly update to the Miami-Dade Commission at a committee meeting.  He also gave a presentation, called the Jackson Health System Quarterly Report and discussed the problem of having 538,000 county residents, of which over 100,000 were children without health insurance.  The report states that the trust with a $1.38 billion budget this year provided $400 million in charity care in 2002-2003 but did lose $22 million, its third year loss in a row.

One critical issue state health trust documents is that for every $1 we spend on disease management, we save $5-$6 from keeping these patients out of the emergency room and hospital.  Previous studies show that all the hospitals in Miami-Dade County will treat a million patients this year in their emergency rooms. The President has survived a little controversy recently and has five trustees up for re-appointment but the board has been supportive of his efforts since he joined in July 2003.  He is the highest paid county employee, receives $550,000 a year, and was chosen after a national search was done.


CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Commission Districts 1 and 5 called by unanimous vote on the commission, now who will enter these races?

At a special commission meeting Wednesday called by Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff, the commission now made up of three members voted unanimously to have elections to fill the two vacant commission seats previously held by Commissioners Angel Gonzalez ( net worth $843,000) and Michelle Spence-Jones (net worth $17,436). Gonzalez, in a plea deal with the state attorney resigned his District 1 seat recently and Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Spence-Jones from her District 5 office after she was charged with a felony by the state attorney and is awaiting her trial. She says she is innocent of any wrongdoing and is fighting the charges and she is expected to run again for the District 5 seat she won in November with over 82 percent of the vote.

What about the new commissioners?

Commissioner Frank Carollo was sworn in earlier in the month and Frances Suarez was sworn in Mayor Tomas Regalado’s second floor office on Wednesday around noon, through the ceremony was later repeated in the evening. Carollo a CPA at his first commission meeting said his piece on the issues but it was brief by political standards and was a nice touch for the new elected leader that had tried for state office in 2000 and 2006 but got the district voters nod for the commission without a runoff. Suarez also reflected on this first meeting and its historic nature for the commission and in his case. He could be on the dais for the next ten years he noted. Since he is filling an incomplete four-year term and could run for two more full terms. He will face voters again in 2011 and Carollo is up in 2013.

>>> Press release: A special municipal election will be held on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., in the City of Miami, Florida, at the polling places in the several election precincts designated by the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, at which election, the qualified electors participating therein will vote to elect City Commissioners to the offices of District 1 and District 5. Candidate qualifying will be held at the Office of the City Clerk, Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, Florida, 33133 starting November 30, 2009 and ending December 4, 2009.  The Office of the City Clerk is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We respectfully request of all prospective candidates to please call, in advance, in order to set up an appointment time for qualifying as a candidate. The Office of the City Clerk’s phone number is (305) 250-5360. Commission district qualifying fees payable by campaign check only: State Assessment Fee: $582 –City Qualifying Fee: $100 >>> Visit our website at http://www.miamigov.com/City_Clerk/Pages/Elections/Elections.asp for more information.

>>> Press release: MIAMI TAX RETURN PREPARER SENTENCED FOR FILING FALSE TAX RETURNS AND AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT

Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, announced that defendant Gary Bart Rosenfeld, 53, of Miami, was sentenced today before U.S. District Court Judge Alan S. Gold on tax and identity theft charges. Defendant Rosenfeld was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release.  In addition, the Court ordered restitution in the amount of $200,843.  Rosenfeld also faces the forfeiture of assets accumulated from his illegal activities. Rosenfeld previously pled guilty to aiding in the filing of a false tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).

According to court documents, defendant Rosenfeld operated a tax return preparation business, Taxing Solutions, Inc., in Miami, FL, from 2004 to 2007.  In 2005, Rosenfeld began filing fraudulent income tax returns for others, in which he misrepresented wages, income and withholding amounts, and fabricated tuition payments, education credits and childcare expenses on his clients’ tax returns.  The tax loss totals $177,588. Court documents reflect that, for tax year 2006, Rosenfeld filed numerous tax returns for his clients in which he directed the tax refunds to be paid to the taxpayer by refund anticipation loans on access device cards, without the taxpayer’s knowledge and consent.  A refund anticipation loan is money borrowed by a taxpayer based on the taxpayer’s anticipated income tax refund.  Rosenfeld provided his clients with tax returns showing that the refunds would be deposited into a bank account of their choice via direct deposit, but subsequently altered the tax returns to request refund anticipation loans prior to filing the tax returns with the IRS.  Rosenfeld then withdrew the refund anticipation loan funds from automatic teller machines in Miami.  In addition, Rosenfeld prepared and filed tax returns on behalf of other individuals without their permission. >>> Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Secret Service.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly S. Karase. 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 http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

>>> The following e-mail was sent  to (now former) 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 cbs4.com 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)    http://videos.miamigov.com/


CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Commissioner Libbin hosts town hall on special assessments of condominium boards because of bank policies

Press release:  URGENT MEETING NOTICE – “Dear Friends, You are receiving this e-mail from me because you share my belief that condominium owners are being unfairly forced to pay maintenance fees and assessments for banks on units that are in the slow process of being foreclosed.  These units for which the bank owns a first mortgage, and which they fail to foreclose on promptly, have burdened other condominium owners far too long. Last year we made efforts to get the Legislature in Tallahassee to modify the Florida Statute 118.116 which governs the liability of the First Mortgagee, also known as the Statutory Cap.  We all know that the Legislature DID NOT adopt any changes that are so desperately needed to prevent the continued onslaught of special assessments on condo owners who are being forced to pay the fees for those owners who are not making their mortgage payments and then subsequently also not paying their maintenance fees.

I am, therefore, hosting another Town Hall meeting on December 14th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Loews Hotel, located at 1601 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, to discuss our plans to bring about change in Tallahassee on this crucial issue.  It is imperative that condominiums send one member of the Board, along with a property manager to this meeting so that everyone can participate in the planning of this important process for the upcoming legislative session. I have commitments from each of the Legislators, who are sponsoring bills this year to be present at this Town Hall meeting on December 14th.  You will hear first hand how each of these bills can address this situation and you will be given a proposed resolution to be taken to Condominium Boards for consideration.

I am also asking for volunteers to participate in a demonstration in Tallahassee during this year’s session.  We will organize bus trips to demonstrate in Tallahassee to get the attention of the media and the legislators and attempt to force the leadership to adopt the strongest measures possible to help us. >>> Please RSVP by replying to this email or sending an email to jerry@miamibeachfl.gov on or before December 7th if you plan to attend this important meeting and let me know if you will be coming alone or with one other representative.  I recommend that Board Presidents, Property Managers and Legal Counsel attend. Please call our office at 305 673 7106 if you have any questions.  I look forward to seeing you once again at the Loews Hotel, located at 1601 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, on December 14th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.,” wrote Jerry Libbin, Miami Beach City Commissioner


CITY OF NORTH MIAMI

>>> Now there are four candidates for manager, Olmedillo and Spring make the cut

The city’s search for a new manager >>> Press release, Councilman Scott Galvin: City Manager Search Narrows to Four The search for a new City Manager in North Miami continues on pace for a replacement to be named by December 8th. At their November 24th City Council meeting, the Council selected 4 finalists to be interviewed for the job: Russell Benford, Guillermo Olmedillo, Larry Spring, Anita Fain Taylor. The Council members will hold private interviews with the 4 finalists on Friday, December 4th. That same day, at 1:00 pm, the Council will also hold public ‘panel interviews’ with the same candidates.  These panel interviews have been advertised and are being treated the same as a workshop.  No official action can be taken at that time, but continued questioning can take place. Finally, a City Manager is scheduled to be named at the City Council meeting of Tuesday, December 8th. It was originally expected the City Council would choose 5 finalists.  However, the Council stalemated when narrowing their list from 8 names, which included a “write-in” suggestion of former City Councilman Jean Monestime.  In the end, it was the top 4 whom the Council decided to interview. Others under consideration but not chosen were Garrison Brumback, Don Crawford, and Mark Kutney.


CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Press release: Gables Ranks As Having 10th Lowest Millage Rate >>>Out of all the cities, towns and villages in Miami-Dade County (excluding Islandia), Coral Gables residents benefit from having the 10th lowest millage rate for fiscal year 2010. It is worth noting that the City’s ranking did not change from the previous year. The information was derived from the Adopted Millage Rate Report released by the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s Office.

>>> Downtown To Offer Free Valet Parking >>For Patrons With Disabilities — The Business Improvement District of Coral Gables (BID), in collaboration with the City of Coral Gables, is launching a pilot program making free valet parking available for patrons with valid disabled permits. Set to launch December 1, the program will run for three months and will operate through the valet parking companies in Downtown Coral Gables. This program will benefit citizens with disabilities in order to make their shopping and dining experience in Coral Gables less stressful and more enjoyable. For more information, please contact the BID at 305-569-0311 or click here.

>>> Dine Under The Stars On Restaurant Row >> The City of Coral Gables encourages you to shop local, eat local. December 4 is the beginning of a monthly special event at Restaurant Row (100 block of Giralda Avenue between Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Galiano Street) where you’ll enjoy fine dining and live entertainment. During the first Friday of every month for the next six months, you can enjoy Giralda Under The Stars, a special time from 6 p.m. until midnight when the street filled with local restaurants will be closed to vehicular traffic, allowing pedestrians to enjoy an evening stroll under the stars. Ten Coral Gables restaurants and bars will extend their dining rooms onto the street in a celebration of Restaurant Row’s culinary options, offering live music and entertainment. For more information about Giralda Under the Star’s, including a list of participating restaurants, click here.

>>> Press release:  The Coral Gables Tree Lighting Ceremony is this coming Friday, December 5th, in front of City Hall.  The attachment has all the activities starting at 5:00 listed on the back: performances by children from Actors’ Playhouse on stage, kiddie rides, bounce houses, game booths, and so forth.  JOBIE, the Junior Orange Bowl mascot will be there as will WPBT’s Clifford, the Big Red Dog.   Santa Claus arrives right after 7:00 by fire engine and turns on the Christmas tree.


COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Press release: Miami Art Museum Ball Celebrates the Completion of Design and Development for the New MAM at Museum Park – MAM Ball -December 5, 2009

Miami Art Museum will hold its annual MAM Ball on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at the Fontainebleau, Miami Beach. This year’s gala celebrates the completion of the design and development of Miami Art Museum’s new 120,000-square-foot home in downtown Miami, scheduled to break ground in 2010.  National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts founder Lin Arison will serve as the honorary Ball chair and MAM trustee Solita Mishaan and Steven Mishaan as Ball chairs. Held annually since 1983, the black-tie ball is considered one of the top 10 fundraising events among art museums nationwide. The MAM Ball is Miami Art Museum’s main annual fundraiser.  Proceeds from the event sustain the museum’s exhibitions and educational programming. Miami Art Museum has the largest museum-based art education program in Miami-Dade County, and the largest art program outside the school system. During the past school year (2008-2009), the MAM & Schools program increased its audience levels by 30 percent, serving a total of 10,800 participants through the museum’s free program: free buses to visit MAM, free guided museum tours for students and their teachers, free classroom visits, free support materials for teachers at Teacher Workshops, and more. Individual tickets to the MAM Ball start at $750, and tables are $7,500 to $25,000. To purchase tickets or a table, contact Miami Art Museum’s special events department at 305.375.5935 or events@miamiartmuseum.org. >>> Miami Art Museum serves one of the most diverse and fast-growing regions of the country, where a confluence of North and Latin American cultures adds vibrancy and texture to the civic landscape. Miami Art Museum embraces its role as a cultural anchor and touchstone in a city that welcomes countless ethnic and age groups, lifestyles and ideas. Miami Art Museum’s far-ranging vision is expressed in the breadth and depth of its exhibition program, and education and public programs. The Museum continues to build its collection of holdings from the twentieth century through the present, as it embarks on a major new building and expansion project. The new Miami Art Museum at Museum Park, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is scheduled for completion in 2012. Miami Art Museum is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; with the support of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners. Miami Art Museum is an accessible facility. For sign language interpretation or assistive listening devices please call Miami Art Museum’s education department 305.375.4073 at least five days in advance. Materials in accessible format may be requested. >>> Miami Art Museum is located at 101 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Friday, 10am – 5pm; Saturday through Sunday, Noon – 5pm; and third Thursdays (JAM@MAM), 5-8:30pm. MAM is closed on Mondays. Admission is free for MAM members, children under 12 and students (with valid ID); adults $8; seniors $4; JAM@MAM $10 (non-members), and Second Saturdays are Free for Families. Parking is $5 at 50 NW 2nd Ave. Overflow parking is available at 270 NW 2nd Street. Miami Art Museum is accessible via Metrorail, Metrobus and Metromover through Government Center Station. For more information about Miami Art Museum, please call 305.375.3000 or visit miamiartmuseum.org. Media Contact: Tracy Belcher/ 305.375.1705/ TBelcher@miamiartmuseum.org

>>> Dear CHS Friends and Supporters: It is that time of the year again when we gather with family  and friends to celebrate the holidays. This year, while shopping for your loved ones, why not add a child in need to your list? The Children’s Home Society of Florida is conducting the Holiday Toy Drive for 2009 and your contribution—big or small—can help fulfill a child’s holiday dream. We welcome participation from all of your company employees, colleagues and friends. And we can provide you with wish lists. We have also updated our web site so you can see the lists of toys that kids love right now by age group—to help you select toys that will truly bring a smile to a child’s face. Here is a link to the web site with that information and more. http://www.chsfl.org/Locations/Southeastern/Holiday-Toy-Drive-2009 Our Holiday Toy Drive 2009 is also on Facebook. Join now for the most up-to-date information about our drive. Without your help and assistance from so many others like you, the Children’s Home Society of Florida would not be able to ensure that more than 2,000 children we serve receive toys this holiday season.


EDITORIALS

>>> The elections are over, candidates need to pick up their old campaign flyers from the landscape

Candidates and elected officials that ran in the November General Election or later faced a runoff in Miami-Dade municipal races need to be sure your campaign posters are picked up for this is eye pollution that should be removed after these races from our streets and neighborhoods. What is ironic is many of these political signs are for candidates who have lost their races and if I had lost a race. I would try to pick these signs up as soon as possible. For there continued presence only reminds people that these candidates were losers.

In the heat of a tough political campaign where candidates supporters maybe removing signs from other political camps and these signs are going up everywhere and anywhere but after the race. The candidates should make an extra effort to get the posters out of the public domain for during the election season is fine and is what our Republic is all about when it comes to civics and self governance but after the elections. The community as a whole would appreciate cleaning up the political debris that no longer should be littering up our community and the environment.

>>> Miami-Dade & Miami facing unprecedented financial challenges, adjustments must be done “sooner, rather than later,” says Mayor Alvarez

Local and county governments need to get going as the budget year clock continues to click away making any future cuts to achieve a balanced budget by Sept 30 only more devastating in the weeks and months ahead if some compromises with the different unions are not made in our new economic world, where just having a job is a big deal. The Miami-Dade Commission is meeting this Tuesday, and the Miami Commission has an upcoming meeting but the financial reality is only getting grimmer and next year property values could drop another 20 percent and to use a analogy. This community and Miami-Dade as a whole is on The Titanic and while you may have a great municipal suite on the ship. We collectively are in this together and that thought must frame the community dialogue that is only getting more intense along ethnic lines, which will get us nowhere in the long run.

We are about to enter the third month of the new budget year for the 35 municipalities and the state’s largest county out of 67 and the present budget   cut stalemate cannot continue. The number of cuts necessary when the process first was voted on by the county commission came to $444 million in September but with the passage of time, certain cuts have been made. But it is not enough to end the hemorrhaging of general funds which continues with overall funding across the board also flagging in value. When County Mayor Carlos Alvarez (net worth $1.66 million) says this must be addressed “sooner, rather than later,” he is not kidding, and the consequences of continued delay could result in unprecedented reductions in services and public employees. And the game of chicken to see whom will first blink must end for the ice burg can be dimly seen in the distance. The only question is will we have the time to turn the ship around in advance or will we all go down together as this economic meltdown touches us all.


LETTERS

>>> Thank you very much for writing about NAD.  It was truly a magical event. Happy Thanksgiving.

George A. Sarduy
Associate Administrative Judge
Juvenile Division
Juvenile Justice Center

>>> I just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed your Report for these many years. I will be retiring this next January from the court system after 37 glorious years in the Judiciary. I didn’t want to leave the system without thanking you for your Reports, they are very informative and fun to read. Take care and Happy Holidays.

Ruben O. Carrerou
Court Administrator
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

>>>Thanks for the up-date, keep them coming.

Ralph

>>> I am so pleased to finally be receiving the watchdog Report. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving  holiday.

Mary Louise


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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.


LETTER POLICY

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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Watchdog Report
Est. 05.05.00
Copyright © of original material, 2009, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> 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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net 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)

CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS
Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL)

MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED
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 http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

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 www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter -www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/dan_ricker/ >>> 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. www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald … circulation, 134,269. Dan Hoover leads the. publication’s ..www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf – 574k – View as html

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

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Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

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Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker/Watchdog Report

Send to
3109 Grand Avenue, #125
Miami, FL 33133
Fax 305-668-4784
To contact the Publisher please e-mail to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net