Month of February 2010

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol. 10 No. 34 January 31, 2010

CONTENTS
Argus Report:
Politicians at disaster scenes travel at their own political peril, physicians, clinicians, search/rescue workers, water, food, and shelter must be first priority

Florida: State bounty on Burmese pythons also brings high tech into picture, transponders and aerial Infrared in use

Miami-Dade County: Frequent sunshine meetings between commissioners, independent Clerk tapes conversation, but synopsis should be created

Broward County: Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin getting some ink, she says, “There isn’t anything new.”

Palm Beach County: Ethics leaders’ discussion looking at Miami-Dade model created by voters in 1996

Orange County: Gov. Crist today made the following appointment: West Orange Healthcare District

Columbia County: Gov. Crist made an appointment to Lake Shore Hospital Authority of Columbia County

Madison County: Gov.  Crist today made the following reappointment and appointment: Madison County Health and Hospital Board

Monroe County: Gov. Crist today made the following appointments: Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board of Monroe County

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Friends of WLRN in the spotlight, must have an operating agreement with District in 60-days

Public Health Trust: Chair Copeland & CEO Roldan take community road trip, looking at almost $90 million loss for year

City of Miami: Commission taps Rev. Dunn for District 5, first city lobbyists go through ethics training

City of Miami Beach: City leaders scrambling after almost 500 Beach police officers won’t work “overtime and off-duty assignments”

Town of Sunny Isles: Ringleader of immigration benefit fraud scheme pleads guilty

Editorials: Nation must get control over $14.3 trillion debt; joint Congressional committee like used for base closing must be tried again

Letters: Watchdog Report referenced as future of journalism

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.

>>> 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 soon to start its 11th anniversary on May 5.

>>> Check out the wpbt channel 2 roundtable I was on discussing President Barack Obama’s State of Union speech on Friday, and the selection of Richard Dunn, II as Miami’s new commissioner for District 5. This Week on Issues – 1/29 & 1/31 : ISSUE ONE: Obama’s Tampa Town Hall and State of Union: U.S. President Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union speech on Wednesday and held a town hall promoting transportation stimulus dollars and his agenda in Tampa on Thursday.  We discuss these two events and how Obama’s visit to Florida courted independent voters and highlights our critical “swing” status in this year’s midterm election. Guests: Jennifer Reem, Nova Southeastern University, Daniel Ricker, Watchdog Report, Justin Sayfie, SayfieReview, Michael Williams, WFOR CBS4 >>> ISSUE TWO: Paying for Stadium Renovations? It was announced recently that Sun Life Stadium—or Dolphin Stadium as it is more popularly known—needs to undergo renovations to make it competitive with newer stadiums in other cities.  Michael Lewis from Miami Today shares his thoughts on whether taxpayers or tourists should be responsible for paying for upgrades.


ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Politicians at disaster scenes travel at their own political peril, Physicians, clinicians, search/rescue workers, water, food, and shelter must be first priority

Politicians need to be very careful when it comes to help being given to Haiti after the 7.2 magnitude quake devastated Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, killing well over 111,481 people as of Jan. 24 the U.N. is estimating www.miamiherald.com . The entourage of these political officials going to that devastated area includes former Presidential candidate John Edwards, a trial lawyer as well as local officials and during the first two weeks after a disaster of this magnitude. Every seat on planes going there should have only clinicians, search/rescue teams, medical supplies, food, water and tents for this is the critical time when it comes to finding survivors. Leaders will argue that it gives them a first hand look at the horror of the tragedy but given the circumstances and extensive press coverage. One does not have to go there to understand the magnitude and what is needed over the coming decade to rebuild the country and its people.

What about South Florida’s medical response?

Also, some elected leaders don’t seem to grasp that local hospitals mobilized literally moments after the quake and University of Miami Miller Medical School professor Barth Green, M.D., was in the country just a few hours after the event taking a private plane to get there. Further, the university after the disaster set up a 200-bed field hospital in the devastated capital and medical school Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D., told the www.miamiherald that ‘at least a couple of million [dollars will be spent] in the first month,’ he told the paper’s reporter John Dorschner. Also, other south Florida Hospitals jumped into gear as well, and these institutions response was not because of politics. But to provide medical help to the long struggling devastated nation. In addition, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Jackson Health System had 110 Haitian patients of which 38 were children being treated, said CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D at a luncheon last week.

What about The Miami Herald response?

Elected leaders and others that carp at The Miami Herald www.miamiherald.com coverage of the community, the paper’s response to the Haiti Disaster has been outstanding with the organization clearing the decks, moving reporters there in a very short time, and along with the Associated Press and other news outlets. People around the world got a first hand glimpse of the terrible tragedy that had some people no longer reading the paper’s story because the photos were so heart wrenching and graphic. The daily paper’s coverage yanked ones heart out, and its assistance in getting out the word of where people could donate money or supplies was beneficial to many around the world. The paper’s top leadership attended the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Jan.13 where the state of the media was the discussion. However, they were also working to get reporters and photographers on the ground, cash was being withdrawn out of the credit union located in the lobby, and many people going were given short notice as the paper ramped up its coverage of the disaster.

But what is the new controversy popping up with Gov. Crist?

However when it comes to patients at the UM field hospital the airlift of the sick and operated on patients has stopped until how the costs of these patients are resolved. WPLG-10 reported Saturday and www.miamiherald.com Sunday. There seems to significant confusion of why the departing flights were told to stand down and Gov. Charlie Crist says he did not make that decision to halt flights to Florida with patients, but he did ask how the medical care would be paid for that has Green telling the media. ‘This is a crisis. This is an earthquake. This is carnage like you have never seen before,’ he is quoted in The Herald and he closed with ‘It’s just not our finest moment right now.’

What did Gov. Crist say Monday at Jackson Monday?

The Watchdog Report attending the PHT monthly board meeting peeled off from that assignment when I learned that Gov. Charlie Crist was going to be at the Ryder Trauma Center to sign a bill allowing nurses from out of state that are credentialed as clinicians could come into the state and practice. This would allow Haitian nurses to travel to Haiti, where they also speak Creole and is a big issue for physicians and other clinicians treating patients in the country. I asked the governor who would help pay for the treatment of these patients and emphasized the fact Jackson’s payroll is 18 days of institution’s cash on hand and presently that number was at 21 days. He said essentially that he would try to cut through any federal red tape or bureaucracy when it came to that matter but could not be more specific at the time.

>>> Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today called on President Obama to make good on a promise made in last night’s State of the Union address to “strengthen our trade relations…with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.”  Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Free Trade Agreements between the U.S. and Colombia, Panama, and South Korea are pending at this very moment. “Each one of these agreements will create American jobs.  Each one of these agreements will increase U.S. exports.  Each one of these agreements will help spur U.S. economic growth.

“My South Florida Congressional district is just one that stands to benefit from increased free trade to Latin America.  Miami had nearly $6 billion in total trade with Colombia last year alone.  Panama is among Miami-Dade’s top 25 trading partners, and trade between Panama and South Florida has increased nearly 30 percent in recent years. “Yet, Democrats in Congress have refused to allow a vote on these agreements, costing the U.S. billions of dollars.  The President has refused to fight back. “If the President is serious about wanting to use free trade to help create U.S. jobs and bolster the American economy, it is time for him to get off the sidelines and fight for the passage of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.”

>>> ZOGBY POLL: A majority (53%) of U.S. adults does not support eliminating the U.S. Senate rule that requires 60 votes to close debate and bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Also, when asked which statement on cloture they most agree with, 50% felt the 60-vote rule insures broader support for legislation while 28% believed the rule was undemocratic. These results were part of a Zogby Interactive survey of 2,003 adults conducted from Jan. 15-18, 2010. The Senate cloture rule requiring 60 votes has been a key issue in the Democrats’ efforts to pass healthcare reform. This poll was concluded one day before Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Edward Kennedy’s seat, lowering the Democratic majority from 60 to 59. Since the Senate and House of Representatives have passed differing healthcare reform bills, losing that seat becomes critical to the Democrats’ ability to follow the usual procedure and pass a final bill produced by a House-Senate Conference Committee. Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website: http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1805

>>> 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

>>> State bounty on Burmese pythons brings high tech into picture, transponders and aerial Infrared in use

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is tracking female Burmese Pythons with transponders and using infrared devices to track them back to their nests from the air. The pythons have proliferated in the Everglades for decades and were introduced into the ecological treasure by snake owners that no longer wanted the up to 20 feet serpent. The commission has tried to put a bounty on the pythons but with well over 100,000 estimated in the Glades, there is a long way to go in reducing the numbers. Another problem has been the arrival of African rock Python, which is more aggressive than its Burmese relative and the possibility of a hybrid super python being born, is one of the reasons why the commission is being so aggressive in reducing the numbers. I learned about this activity from a Wildlife commission officer who had been a conventional police officer and when it came to his job. He said it could not be beat since you are outdoors in the Everglades and a far cry from working a municipal cop beat. Another, problem for the Everglades eco system is the Nile monitor, an almost meter long reptile and they can be spotted along canals including in Pinecrest and Cutler Bay areas. >>> Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Information and regulations on hunting, freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, boating safety, the Florida panther and http://myfwc.com/

>>> Press release: Governor Crist Releases “Optimistic” $69.2 Billion Spending Plan -Budget relies on uncertain revenue and using billions of dollars of non-recurring funds for recurring expenses

Governor Charlie Crist today released his budget recommendations for FY 2010-11, calling for $69.2 billion in spending – a $2.7 billion (4.0%) increase over the current year budget.  The size of the budget may be surprising to some given the talk of a multi-billion budget shortfall looming as legislators prepare to begin the 2010 General Session. The Governor is able to recommend the increased spending, as well as $100 million in tax cuts, by relying on federal assistance, money from the Seminole Gambling Compact, raiding the Lawton Chiles Endowment, and an assortment of trust fund sweeps and revenue diversions.  The budget contains a surprisingly low $200 million in spending cuts (only $95 million in General Revenue).  The Governor did not recommend any tax or fee increases. Click here to view the new Florida TaxWatch Budget Watch, which includes highlights of the spending plan and analysis of the revenue assumptions underlying the budget.  The report also includes a chart “How the Governor Balances His General Revenue Budget Proposal” on page 4.

>>> Recent press releases: Governor Crist Unveils $69.2-Billion Budget Recommendations for 2010-11 >>> Governor Crist Announces Additional $12.4 Million in Green Jobs Grants >>> Governor Crist Recommends $2.1-Billion Environment Budget, Revives Florida Forever >>>Governor Crist Unveils Record $22.7-Billion Proposed Budget for Pre-K-12 Education >>> Governor Crist Plans Bold Job-Growth Strategies with More Than $100 Million in Tax Relief >>> Governor Crist Proposes $32.6 Million for Commercial Space Launch, Urges Incentives to Build Florida’s Innovation Economy >>> Governor Crist Announces Education Investments to Promote Innovation And High-Wage Job Opportunities for Floridians

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today announced the following appointments and reappointment: Commission on Ethics (Senate confirmation required)

Susan Maurer, 53, of Fort Lauderdale, attorney at Panza, Maurer & Maynard, succeeding Larry Handfield, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending June 30, 2011.

Ivan Ford, 73, of Vero Beach, retired, succeeding Linda Conahan, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending June 30, 2011.

Roy Rogers, 72, of Lighthouse Point, president and chief executive officer of Roy Rogers and Associates, reappointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending June 30, 2011.

>>> Gov. Crist today recognized Marc Buoniconti of Miami as this week’s Governor’s Point of Light.

“Over the past two years, Marc has been a great public servant and has been a true advocate for persons with disabilities,” said Governor Crist.  “His tremendous work is making an impact across the state and I am truly grateful for his passion and dedication to this cause.” For two years, Marc has served on the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, a panel appointed by the Governor charged with advancing public policy for Floridians with disabilities.  Marc has also been instrumental in advancing research and treatment facilities for persons with spinal cord injuries as an ambassador for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  He also is the president of the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.  Marc’s activism has earned him a Volunteer of the Year award from the American Lung Association of Florida and the University of Miami’s Henry K. Stanford Award.  He is also a member of Iron Arrow Honor Society, the University of Miami’s highest community honor.  Previously, Marc has served as director of the Gloria Estefan Foundation, Points of Light Foundation, and National Institutes of Health advisory board. >>> AAA Auto Club South is the supporting sponsor of the Governor’s Points of Light Award.   Walt Disney World is an in-kind supporter.  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. The Volunteer Florida Foundation manages the program. For more information, or to submit a nomination, go to www.VolunteerFloridaFoundation.

>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist today appointed six members to the Florida Board of Governors during a board meeting at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The board is responsible for the management of Florida’s State University System. “I am privileged to appoint this distinguished group of Floridians to the Board of Governors,” said Governor Crist. “Each appointee is passionate about securing the best possible education for our students, and ensuring Florida continues to develop the talent required to compete in an innovation-based economy.”

The six appointees to the Florida Board of Governors include:

Ava Parker, 47, of Jacksonville, is a reappointment to the Board of Governors, having served as the vice chair of the board and chair of the facilities committee during her first term. She is the president of Linking Solutions Inc. and a practicing attorney at Lawrence & Parker P.A. Parker is also currently serving on the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and has previously served on the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees. She received her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida. Parker fills the seat created by the resignation of Lynn Pappas for a term ending January 6, 2012.

Richard A. Beard III, 66, of Tampa, has 36 years of experience in real estate development and has been the president and owner of R.A. Beard Co., a real estate investment company, since 1995. He has been member of the Board of Directors at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and the Florida Health Science Center at Tampa General Hospital. He is a current member of the Florida Council of 100 and is the founding chairman of the University of South Florida Board of Trustees. Beard received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. Beard succeeds Sheila McDevitt for a term ending January 6, 2017.

Dean Colson, 56, of Coral Gables, has been a partner with the Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson since 1981. He also currently serves as a special advisor to the Governor on higher education. Colson was a member of the University of Miami Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2009. He also served on the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee from 2002 to 2006. In addition, Colson served as law clerk to the Honorable Peter T. Fay in the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, and Justice William Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Miami. Colson succeeds John Dasburg for a term ending January 6, 2017.

Patricia Frost, 72, of Miami Beach, spent 28 years as a teacher and principal in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, retiring in 1993. She is currently a trustee at Florida International University and has served as chair of the Florida International University Board of Directors and as chair of the Florida International University Academic Policy Committee. Frost was named Educator of the Year for her work at Florida International University and with the Miami-Dade County and Broward County public school systems. She received her bachelor’s degree from Colby College and a master’s degree from Columbia University. Frost succeeds Zachariah Zachariah for a term ending January 6, 2017.

Morteza “Mori” Hosseini, 54, of Daytona Beach, has been the chairman and CEO of Intervest Construction Inc. for 29 years. He is the vice chairman of the board and chairs the Committee on Trustees and the Committee on Facilities and Capitol Planning for the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Board of Trustees. Hosseini is a member of the Florida Council of 100 and previously served on the Halifax Hospital Medical Center Board of Commissioners. He received an aeronautical engineering degree from the Chelsea College of Aeronautical Engineering in London, England, and his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Hosseini succeeds Carolyn Roberts for a term ending January 6, 2017.

John Rood, 54, of Jacksonville, has been chairman of the Vestcor Companies since 2007 and was previously chairman from 1983 to 2004. Rood was an Ambassador of the United States to the Bahamas from 2004 to 2007. Previously, he served as the vice chair, chairman and commissioner of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission from 1999 to 2004. Rood has also served as the commissioner of the Marine Fisheries Commission. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana. Rood succeeds Ava Parker, who is being reappointed to complete the term of another seat, for a term ending January 6, 2017.  >>> About the Florida Board of Governors >>> The Florida Board of Governors was established by a Florida Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in 2002 and is responsible for the management of Florida’s State University System. The board consists of 17 members – 14 appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation, plus the Commissioner of Education, the chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates, and the chair of the Florida Student Association.


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Frequent sunshine meetings between commissioners, independent Clerk tapes conversation, but synopsis should be created

There have been a series of sunshine meetings between different commissioners over the past weeks, I attended one between Commissioners Natacha Seijas, and Carlos Gimenez concerning a new “wage theft ordinance but not the others.” The gist of the conversation was how to prevent employers from not paying wages or giving a check that bounces to the laborers but then the employer is sometimes gone. The two commissioners were trying to get a take on what the other thought of the proposed legislation before it worked further through the commission process.  There were also others this past week and the use of these meetings by commissioners are a double-edged sword. The good news is a member of the Clerk’s office, a countywide elected post separate from the commission records what is said, but without the press there. It is very likely only a few people will be aware of what was being discussed and that is the danger. The Watchdog Report calls for some kind of meeting synopsis that can be available to the other commissioners and public because while all of this is legal. The information discussed should have a greater distribution in the community.

>>> Census workers enthused, but other public institutions say “more to worry about than the Census”

“We have more to worry about than the Census,” said a senior public bureaucrat last week, when I remarked how important the 2010 Census was to the community. Since we undercounted tens of thousands in 2000 when the count occurred during the Elian Gonzalez custody saga that had Miami-Dade in turmoil and left about $3 billion of federal money not coming down over the next decade. The Census department has been signing –up workers for the count and these representatives were at a Miami job fair this past Tuesday and while they and the county’s Complete Count Committee are enthusiastic about getting an accurate count. There are many people and organizations that don’t appreciate the importance of the count and census workers, public and private organizations must treat the count with almost a fanaticism approach. If we are to get our fair share of funding and Congressional representation.

>>> BCC agenda has mandatory reading with signed affidavit of ethics ordinance

The Commission is having its first monthly meeting Feb. 2, and the 46-page agenda has one ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Javier Souto, with co-sponsors Commissioners Sally Heyman and Rebeca Sosa that requires newly elected people to read the ethics ordinances and “agrees to comply with the provisions” of the law and sign an affidavit prior to being sworn–in. Souto had tried a number of other moves to bring more transparency to the political process and to reduce the “hank panky” and the “vote trading” he says goes on at county hall behind the scenes. However, the majority of the commission shot down these other legislative initiatives.

>>> Press release: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Dorrin D. Rolle will host a groundbreaking ceremony for affordable housing in Liberty City, Phase II of the Scott-Carver HOPE VI Development Project, on Friday, February 5, 2010, at 75th Street and NW 21st Avenue, at 10:00am.

“I am proud to say that in the very near future Phase II of the Scott-Carver HOPE VI Redevelopment Project will be creating more much needed affordable housing for our residents,” said Mayor Carlos Alvarez.  “In addition, this development will also create a green and sustainable community, thanks to a $16.6 million stimulus grant that was awarded to the Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency by U.S. HUD.” “This is the beginning of great things for the residents of District 2. This area has been waiting in great anticipation for this day, and I am glad that it has finally come,” said Commissioner Rolle. “Upon its completion, this project will serve as a clean, green, and environmentally-sound development for hundreds of residents who will soon call this place home again. I anticipate watching the project come to fruition and becoming one of Miami-Dade latest and greatest affordable housing successes.”

The HOPE VI Grant was awarded by US-HUD to Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency (MDPHA) on September 16, 1999 to redevelop the former Scott and Carver public housing developments. Phase I of the redevelopment was completed in 2008 with 57 single-family homes built by Habitat for Humanity. Forty-one of these homes were purchased by former residents of Scott-Carver. Phase II, being developed by McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), is planned as a mixed-income development and will provide 354 rental units; 177 public housing units, 107 low and moderate income units and 70 market-rate units. In 2009, US-HUD awarded MDPHA together a $16.6 million dollar stimulus grant to create a “green and sustainable community.” These initiatives, such as water-saving features and energy efficient appliances will be incorporated into the design. The Phase II development will be completed in two years. WHO: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dorrin D. Rolle, District 2, WHAT: Scott-Carver HOPE VI Groundbreaking Ceremony, WHEN: Friday, February 5, 2010 ,10:00 a.m. WHERE: 75th Street and NW 21st Avenue, Miami.

>>> Press release: MIAMI, Fl – Vice-Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz was appointed by Chairman Dennis C. Moss to sit on the newly-formed Compensation and Benefits Review Nominating Council.

The Compensation and Benefits Review Committee will consist of a nine-member board that will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the standing personnel policies and advise the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners in the development of policies to manage the growth of personnel costs related to employee compensation and benefits.  Members shall serve without compensation for a three year term and meet no less than four times a year. The Nominating Council is chaired by Commissioner Natacha Seijas, with Vice-Chairman Diaz as one of the council members who will select those who will take part in this committee. “It’s important for the County to remain transparent with the community, including all issues related to employee compensation,” said Vice-Chairman Diaz. “I encourage any qualified residents to apply to be a part of this council to bring their ideas to the table.” Qualified applicants for the Compensation and Benefits Review Committee should be Miami-Dade County residents; possess an outstanding reputation for civic pride, integrity, responsibility and business or professional ability; and shall have no financial interest, direct or indirect, in the compensation paid to County employees.  Membership on this Committee should be representative of the community at large and should have a demonstrated expertise in human resources, organizational design, public management, or related topics. >>> Applications may be obtained from the County Executive Office, 111 NW 1st Street, Suite 2910, or online at www.miamidade.gov. All applications must be received by Diane Collins, Assistant Director, Clerk of the Board, at 111 NW 1st Street, Suite 17-202, Miami, Florida 33128.  Applications can be e-mailed to clerkbcc@miamidade.gov or faxed to (305) 375-2484.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure electronic receipt of the application by calling the Clerk of the Board at (305) 375-1652.  For additional information regarding the application process, please call (305) 375-5427.

>>> Press release: From February 8-22, 2010, small business owners in Commission Chairman Dennis C. Moss’ District 9 will have the opportunity to apply for Mom & Pop Small Business grants up to $5,000.00 to assist their small business. Eligible business owners receiving grant awards may use the funds to assist their businesses by purchasing equipment, supplies, advertising/marketing, inventory, building liability insurance, security systems and/or to make minor renovations. To be considered, the applicants’ small businesses must be located in District 9 and meet certain criteria. Grant applications will be available for pick-up from Chairman Moss’ District North Office at 10710 SW 211 Street, Suite 206 (The South Dade Government Center) or District South Office at 1634 NW 6th Avenue in Florida City from Tuesday, February 8, 2010 to Tuesday, February 22, 2010 from 9am to 5pm. In addition, applications can be accessed online at www.miamidade.gov/district09. All applications must be properly completed and returned between Wednesday, February 23rd and Friday, February 25th, 2010 by 5pm ONLY at the District North Office / South Dade Government Center, Suite 206. >>> The Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program was created to provide financial and technical assistance to qualified small businesses that are approved for funding, and is an excellent example of how county government is attempting to help small businesses during these tough economic times. For more information regarding Chairman Moss’ Mom and Pop grant opportunities, please contact Mr. Dallas Manuel in the District 9 Office at 305-234-4938 or contact Ms. Finney at Neighbors and Neighbors Association (NANA) at 305-756-0605, Monday through Friday.


BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin getting some ink, she says, “There isn’t anything new.”

Commissioners Stacey Ritter and Diana Wasserman-Rubin have continued to get some press and in Wasserman-Rubin’s case. The most recent story was in The Miami Herald Sunday, though the commissioner is quoted saying “there isn’t anything new,” she told www.miamiherald.com. Further Bob Norman is keeping a reporter’s eye on both of them and to read his stories and other links go to http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/

>>> Two charged in Broward for armed robberies

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced the filing of federal criminal charges against Jeffrey St. Louis, 22, and Irving J. Roberts, 20.  The defendants have been charged with committing two armed robberies, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a).  A pretrial detention hearing has been scheduled for February 5, 2010 at 10 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer in Fort Lauderdale. According to criminal complaints filed against the two defendants, St. Louis, Roberts, and other individuals committed armed robberies of gas stations in Davie on December 14, 2009 and Plantation on December 24, 2009.  During each of the robberies, the gas station clerks were pistol-whipped and the defendants stole cash and other property. >>> A criminal complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S.  Secret Service, Miami-Dade Police Department, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Miami Police Department Davie Police Department, and Plantation Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Strider Dickson. 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 http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today appointed four members to the Board of Commissioners of the North Broward Hospital District. “The health of Floridians is always an utmost priority,” Governor Crist said. “I am confident that each appointee to the hospital district will work to ensure the ongoing health and well-being of the people of Broward County.”  The four appointees to the North Broward Hospital District include:

Joel K. Gustafson, 72, of Fort Lauderdale, a retired attorney, was a Florida state representative from 1967 to 1972 and appointed to the Florida Commission on Ethics by four separate Governors between 1978 and 2004.  He also served as district director for U.S. Representative Clay Shaw from 2002 to 2007. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gustafson is succeeding Robert Bernstein, appointed for a term beginning January 28, 2010, and ending June 27, 2013.

Clarence V. McKee, 67, of Parkland, is president and owner of McKee Communications Inc. in Coral Springs since 2008, and in Tampa from 1993 to 2004.  In the interim, he was a principal with Ruden McClosky Consulting from 2004 to 2008.  From 1987 to 1992, he was chairman and chief executive officer of WTVT Holding Inc. in Tampa. A former board member of Barnett Banks Inc. and Checkers Drive-in Restaurants, McKee received his bachelor’s degree from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, and his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. McKee is succeeding Daniel Gordon, appointed for a term beginning January 28, 2010, and ending December 13, 2012.

Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson, 43, of Fort Lauderdale, has served as the president and chief executive officer of United Way of Broward County since 2008.  Previously, she was the chief of staff at Florida Atlantic University.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the Florida State University, her master’s degree from University of South Florida and her doctorate degree from Florida Atlantic University.  Anderson is succeeding Maureen Jaeger, appointed for a term beginning January 28, 2010, and ending June 29, 2013.

Richard Paul-Hus, 40, of Fort Lauderdale, is the senior vice president of Hypower Inc. He is a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Construction Executives Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stetson University.  Paul-Hus is succeeding Rebecca Stoll, appointed for a term beginning January 28, 2010, and ending June 29, 2013.

>>> 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

>>> Ethics leaders’ discussion looking at Miami-Dade model created by voters in 1996

There is a real dichotomy between the efforts of Palm Beach residents and leaders versus in Broward to create an ethics commission and possible an inspector general’s office. Palm Beach leaders are still reeling form the federal prosecution and jailing of a majority of the old commission in federal prison the last few years back. The commissioners and others now are looking to Miami-Dade County as its model that had voters creating an Ethics and Public Trust Commission in 1996 that has proved very successful along with the county’s IG also created in the 1990s by the Miami-Dade County Commission. Ethics mavens in Palm Beach are likely to use a form of the job description crafted by the Miami-Dade ethics commission and with the IG. Both entities can serve as a prototype of how these offices can be created, there respective duties, and should cover oversight activities in the county’s municipalities. However, in Broward County’s case, there is a real push by one county Commissioner Stacey Ritter, to limit the independence of any new watchdog body saying the influence of lobbyists there is being overstated. >>> To read more on Ritter’s comments on the ethics commission discussion go to http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/


ORANGE COUNTY

>>> Gov. Crist today made the following appointment: West Orange Healthcare District

Michael G. Mercado, 52, of Windermere, physician and owner of West Orange Family Medical Care, succeeding Jorge Florin, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending September 24, 2012.


COLUMBIA COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist mad the following appointment: Lake Shore Hospital Authority of Columbia County

DeKoven “Koby” Adams, 52, of Lake City, broker and owner of The Adams Agency Inc., succeeding Jackson Berry, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending August 22, 2012.


MADISON COUNTY

>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist today announced the following reappointment and appointment: Madison County Health and Hospital Board

Shirley D. Joseph, 53, of Madison, coordinator of assessments with the Madison County School Board District, reappointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013

Karen A. Johnson, 38, of Madison, owner of Johnson and Johnson Transport Inc., succeeding Carson Lee Cherry, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and June 30, 2012.


MONROE COUNTY

>>> Press release:  Gov. Crist today made the following appointments: Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board of Monroe County

Stephen L. Hammond, 52, of Key West, realtor with Key West Real Estate Sales Inc., succeeding Magali Alvarez, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and ending September 12, 2013.

Cara A. Higgins, 38, of Key West, attorney with Horan, Wallace and Higgins LLP, succeeding Annette Mobley, appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2010, and September 12, 2013.

>>> Press release: MONROE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF ASSISTANCE

Monroe County Emergency Management is coordinating relief efforts for the victims of the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti. Monroe County Government Administration, Divisions and Departments personnel are actively involved in this effort, as the magnitude of this disastrous event calls for an overall humanitarian effort to assist those in need. Several County locations were identified as the “drop-off” sites and Monroe County Public Works personnel will transport all donated goods to designated sites in Miami-Dade for deployment to Haiti. Public Works will continue the pick-up and transport until January 29th, 2010

Citizens interested in donating towards this effort may do so at the following County locations Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm:

Key West                                          Marathon

Gato Building, Conference # 3          Monroe County Government Center

Harvey Government Center               Monroe County Government Annex (63rd Street)

Key West County Library                   Monroe County Library

Big Pine Key                                     Islamorada

Big Pine County Library                     Monroe County Library

Key Largo

Murray Nelson Government Center

Monroe County Library

Recommended Items: Cereals, bottled water, canned juice, soda, powdered milk, dry food, canned baby food, diapers, clothes, blankets, towels, socks (only items in good condition will be accepted), candles, flashlights, batteries, aspirin, band-aids, gauze, hygiene products, and calling cards. NOTE:  Items with expiration dates prior to April 1, 2010 will NOT be accepted. Monetary donations can be made at all First State Banks of the Florida Keys eleven locations as well as the  American Red Cross PO Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013, or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or to the Keys office at 5450 MacDonald Ave. #11, Key West, FL 33040. Donations can also be made online at www.floridakeysredcross.org For additional information contact the Monroe County Emergency Management, Ms. Alary Luttazi (305) 289-6018 or at luttazi-alary@monroecounty-fl.gov


MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Friends of WLRN in the spotlight, must have an operating agreement with District in 60-days

Alberto Carvalho, the district’s superintendent in a terse tone said when it came to seeing the financial records of Friends of WLRN. He was told it could only be done off site, he could not remove them or copy the documents while under the watchful eye of the not-for-profit’s attorneys and the documents did not fall under the state’s Sunshine Law. Carvalho said “these conditions were unacceptable” and he made these statements at the Audit Committee meeting on Tuesday and it stunned the committee members including school board vice chair Perla Tabares Hantman, the board’s voting member.

The superintendent said he has been reviewing all contracts and operating agreements and a memo from board attorney James Walter Harvey details the organizations institutional timeline, noting Friends is charged with nothing but raising money for WLRN’s radio and television stations. The representatives of Friends said they were not trying to stonewall the inquiry noting over the decades since 1974 the organization has worked well with WLRN and the school district. The station now has significantly more media outlets and the not-for-profit has been instrumental in helping fund that expansion. However, the issue of some employees salaries came-up as well as administrative costs that come in at about 40 percent and that is normal said the Friends representatives. Jose F. Montes de Oca, the district’s chief auditor asked about some of salaries that had people making over the years $269,000; $247,000 and $315,000 but Friends said that is based on money they raise and the commission is 10 percent. They also pointed out these employees are paid a small salary, brought in $3 million in underwriting and they do not get the commission “until the money is in hand.”

Further, Friends bylaws once had the superintendent signing off on any by law changes, and who ran Friends.  But that changed, but went unnoticed in 1998 and board Attorney James Walter Harvey in a Jan. 26 memo writes that “these significant, sea change amendments” were never approved by the superintendent and the school district administrative head was not “involved in the appointment process of Rick Lewis,” the current Friends president and CEO. Further, the attorney noted that the bylaws “have since been amended several times without superintendent approval.” Carvalho was instructed to create an operating agreement with Friends that would be due in 60-days and Friends representatives said they could comply with that time constraint and it will include inserting back that the superintendent will have to sign off on any bylaw changes in the future.


PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Chair Copeland & CEO Roldan take community road trip, looking at almost $90 million loss for year

John Copeland, III, the PHT chair and CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D. are working the community and government halls trying to make a case for the health system to get another source of funding that is leaving the trust with a projected $89 million loss for the current year. The two leaders spoke on Wednesday at the Downtown Bay Forum monthly luncheon moderated by Helen Ferre and listeners questioned how the health trust could have gotten into such bad financial shape and where was the county. However, the county has its own funding problems now and financial relief cannot be expected though Jackson also absorbed over $100 million in county unfunded mandates that were shifted to the PHT in 2000 at the last county budget hearing in September.

Roldan said the system had 12,000 employees, down from 12,500 cutting $4 million in the payroll and the total system has 5 million square feet of utilized space at the main campus its many satellite operations including Jackson North and South hospitals. Copeland said the trust was in a “financial ditch” and “we have a system that is broken” especially when it “gives $700 to $800 million in charity care” and revenues are insufficient to close “a $200 million shortfall.” Jackson also has $1 billion in infrastructure needs and while the county helped the trust with a $150 million bond the institution’s needs out pace this funding. Copeland hopes perhaps a special taxing district might be considered like in Broward County but he warned if something does not happen soon. The only choice would be to “drastically shrink the scope” and “the size of the system,” that is considered a community jewel, said Copeland.

>>> Please be advised that a special Executive Committee meeting has been scheduled on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in the West Wing Board Room.


CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Commission taps Rev. Dunn for District 5, first city lobbyists go through ethics training

The commission with the clock ticking at around 11:10 p.m., selected Rev. Richard Dunn, Il, Tuesday as the commission’s appointee to the vacant District 5 seat open after Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Michelle Spence-Jones for a second time, after a state attorney investigation suggested she diverted $50,000 in public grants to herself. Spence-Jones has said repeatedly that she is innocent, is fighting the charges, and has taken the validity of the governor’s second suspension to a circuit court judge that will hear the arguments Feb. 12. The commissioner wants the court to rule that she is innocent until proven guilty since she was re-elected after the first charges, and should be allowed back on the commission dais while she awaits trial that is said to be well over a year off.

Dunn, a previous appointment to the commission in the 1990s was the number two vote getter on Jan. 12 when a special election was held and commissioners long into the night listened to other candidates’ explanations on why they would be a solid choice for seat. However, after getting Dunn to promise not to run in the November election the four commissioners unanimously voted for the local reverend. The newly minted commissioner also held a town hall meeting Thursday night attended by about 60 residents and it was said to be a calm affair that included Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson being there for a dialogue about the healing of the community, that is split into different supporter camps. But Dunn seems to have left the door open concerning his running for the office again in November saying he would consider it if the other commissioners thought he had done a good job he suggested to www.miamiherald.com last week.

>>> First group of lobbyists go through ethics training, proudly show commissioners their FIU certificates

When it comes to the new Miami ethics ordinance passed by the commission recently the devil continues to be in the details, and a couple of dozen of the city’s lobbyist took the course on Tuesday and reported on in last week’s Watchdog Report. FIU Metropolitan Center professor Dario Moreno arraigned the course but the real teachers were assistant state attorney Joe Centorino who heads up the public corruption section and Robert Meyers, the director of the Miami-Dade Ethics and Public Trust Commission. Moreno talked about the history of corruption in South Florida (said to be not relevant, and he later left the seminar early) leaving the two men to do the class. The lobbyists that attended said they learned some things and found it to be worthwhile. However, the city ordinance requires these people to have to take the course yearly and that seems out of line and some suggested every three or four years might be a better time to have to renew ones certification by retaking the mandatory course.

>>> What about the mayor and commissioners regarding their ethics class?

The way the new legislation was drafted, technically none of the sitting Miami Commissioners or Mayor Tomas Regalado has to take the course until next year except for Commissioner Dunn who missed the deadline when he was sworn in Tuesday night. The Watchdog Report caught up with the mayor last week and he said he would take the class now and the whole commission is expected to join-in. However, given the number of city lobbyists, regular courses must be put into place and the commission might consider some kind of grace period to get this training formally set-up. Also, one of the newly certified lobbyist showed to commissioners at the Thursday meeting his ethics certification diploma validating it can be done but the process needs to be refined.

>>> Miami racks-up $200,000 in legal costs fighting ex city Attorney Fernandez

Jorge Fernandez, the ex city of Miami attorney who resigned his post in early 2008 is the gift that keeps on giving and the city has already spent $200,000 on litigation said Commissioner Francis Suarez at Thursday’s commission meeting. Fernandez was embroiled in a scandal that had him pleading no contest to two misdemeanors that involved his use of a public expense account but he is fighting for his severance pay.

>>> Commissioners should review how members are selected on important Civil Service Board, three members including Chair de la O leaving

The city’s Civil Service Board members are changing and current chair Miguel M. de la O is stepping down after years in that capacity along with two others and it is a great opportunity to review how people are selected on this important board where there is no screening nominating structure like with many other city boards. With the changing economic times, having a top notch board hearing these complaints brought by the administration and employees that also potentially impact the city’s general funds would be a good thing. And commissioners should create some qualification criteria for people that might apply for this important hearing board. >>> Clerk’s office: CIVIL SERVICE BOARD EMPLOYEE ELECTION, Pedro G. Hernandez, City Manager, has announced that on Thursday, March 4, 2010 and Friday, March 5, 2010, an ELECTION will be held for the City of Miami Civil Service Board Click here for more information

>>> 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

>>> City leaders scrambling after almost 500 police officers won’t work “overtime and off-duty assignments”

City leaders are scrambling as police officers along with the police union are refusing to work from Jan. 28, including over the Super Bowl weekend any “overtime” or “off-duty assignments” such as providing security at high profile restaurants. Jorge Gonzalez, the city manager in a Jan. 28 memo to the mayor and commissioners says “upwards of 500 e-mails from FOP” have come in saying the officers are “no longer able to work” these assignments through the end of the Boat Show. The manager will have met again on Friday with union officials says the memo and a media spokesman said there is a planned Commission meeting on Wednesday, and there could be a closed executive session regarding the FOP negotiations.




TOWN OF SUNNY ISLES

>>> Press release:  Ringleader of immigration benefit fraud scheme pleads guilty

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, announced that a Sunny Isles man that was posing as an immigration consultant and attorney in a scheme to defraud immigrants in obtaining immigration benefits pleaded guilty earlier today in U.S. District Court in Miami. Victor Abreu, 45, of Sunny Isles, entered a plea of guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke on a charge of conspiracy to provide false statements to a federal agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  He faces a maximum of five years in prison. On October 29, 2009, Victor Abreu was indicted along with five co-conspirators, three of whom have already entered pleas of guilty. In May 2007, ICE special agents in Fort Lauderdale began an investigation of Victor Abreu of Abreu & Associates, based on allegations that he was involved in immigration benefit fraud.  Abreu and his employees were allegedly preparing false boilerplate immigration applications for illegal immigrants, including applications for employment authorization and employment visas.

The defendants were charged with engaging in a scheme through which they solicited payments from illegal immigrants by falsely promising to assist them with immigration matters. The scheme involved the preparation of benefit applications for at least 300 individuals from Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Venezuela, and Mexico, among other countries.  After receiving payments, Abreu and his co-defendants prepared the false immigration documents. To execute the scheme, Abreu falsely purported to be an immigration attorney and consultant. As a result of the scheme, some of the illegal immigrants obtained legitimate work authorization cards and driver’s licenses to which they were not lawfully entitled. United States Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman said, “Immigration fraud undermines the public’s faith in our system, as it provides benefits to those who are willing to break the laws. We will continue to work to make our immigration system free from fraud.” “The filing of false applications to obtain immigration benefits for individuals that are not authorized to be present in the United States puts the security of our communities at risk,” said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Miami. “Immigration benefits like these could be exploited by dangerous criminals to obscure their identities and cover their tracks. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue and criminally charge individuals who would exploit immigrant communities for their own self interests.” >>> The case was investigated by ICE’s Office of Investigations in Fort Lauderdale and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine Tashman. 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.


EDITORIAL

>>> Nation must get control over $14.3 trillion debt; joint Congressional committee like used for base closing must be tried again

The failure of Congress to create a body to deal with reducing the $14.3 trillion debt the federal government now has with China and Japan with both being significant bankers for the nation but like oil dependence. Financial independence for the nation is necessary as well. The idea was to create a body in the House and Senate like the base closure committee that was able to close military bases no longer needed with the end of the Cold War in the 1990s. However, this current effort was shot down in the Senate recently 53-46, and failing to get the required 60 votes, and the House leadership says no way would they support such legislation but a solution must be found that has every American owing $45,000 in national debt to foreign countries. That in the case of China is a major power that is confronting the U.S. around the world and military security must be augmented with sound financial security if the nation is continue to be the global Super Power and this cant be passed down to future generations without some major mitigation for the interest payments are killers as it is.

The U.S. debt is something that every tax payer and homeowner can understand like their own family budget and the nation’s financial hemorrhaging is dooming our children and their children for decades to come, and while some national debt is okay in the scheme of the gigantic global economy.  It cannot continue and if Republicans, Democrats and President Barack Obama really want to look for compromise and areas all can work together this is it. For both parties over the past decade have helped balloon this number, and this issue has to be confronted, and sooner is better than later, as the number soars out of comprehension for many of us American taxpayers.


LETTER

>>> Your name came up at a function / presentation Tuesday, below, Seth Gordon and Ian McCluskey (in a good way). They used Watchdog Report as an example of the future of journalism.

Jack

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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

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Watchdog Report
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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

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