Archive for May 2010


Watchdog Report Vol. 11 No. 4 May 30, 2010 Celebrating My 11th Anniversary


Argus Report: Will money rule in U.S. Senate & Governor’s  races or will voter fatigue kick–in after Greene and Scott first campaign commercial barrage?

Obituary: Federal jurist tough but ‘fair’ gentle giant, chief federal Judge Davis passes at 77, will be missed!

Florida: When it comes to women voters, “trust me” they will know “I am one of them,” says gubernatorial candidate Sink

Miami-Dade County: Mayor Alvarez’s remark about symbolism odd given his past profession in law enforcement

Broward County: Commissioner Gunzburger faces off against state Sen. Geller; how low will they go as election draws closer in Aug.?

Polk County: Crist appoints three jurists: Judge Beth Harlan, Judge Mark Hofstad and Wayne Durden to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court.  

Kissimmee County: Gov. Crist suspends county commissioner Irizarry after domestic violence charge, #39 political removal for governor

Volusia County: Gov. Crist today announced the appointment of Bryan A. Feigenbaum to Volusia County Court.

Charlotte County: Gov. Crist appointed John L. Burns to the Charlotte County Court.

Monroe County: Gov. Crist recognized Ciegler of Key West as a Governor’s Point of Light.

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho and founding GM MacCullough fire back at Friends of WLRN Chair Altman’s comments last week

Public Health Trust: Commissioner Souto & Dean Goldschmidt call for local businesses and county employees with insurance to use Jackson!

City of Miami: Budget worries continue to plague city, is bankruptcy in the wings since a tax increase is out of the question?

City of Miami Beach: Feds pop Beach hotel developers, get charged with tax fraud

City of Coral Gables: Will rental bike kiosks pop-up in the Gables, Deco Bike about to start on the Beach, Cabrera hopes so

Community Events: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, features former Fl. Senate president and state senate candidate Margolis — Women of True Grit and tribute to Roxcy Bolton –When:  Thursday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m., Where: Books & Books, Coral Gables

Editorials: Watchdog Report gives Miami Today a Tip of the Hat on paper’s 28th Anniversary June 2 — Sept. 2003: PAST WDR: It is some ones money, government leaders and their administrations should remember that!

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.)

>>> May you and your family have a safe and reflective Memorial Day and we remember those through the Centuries that have fought and died so that we all could have the freedoms we have today. Despite challenges, the Great Experiment called the United States has survived and we all should remember those serving our nation around the globe, allowing us to live our daily lives in peace and tranquility here at home.

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for funding the University of Miami’s Knight Center of International Media within the University’s School of Communication assistance to rebuild my web site 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.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Will money rule in U.S. Senate & Governor’s races or will voter fatigue kick –in after Greene and Scott campaign commercial barrage?

With Jeff Greene and Rick Scott on the statewide scene as political insurgents with one running as a Democratic party U.S. Senate candidate and the other for governor as a Republican. Florida voters will be asked if money is enough in today’s political arena to be elected to a substantial political office. Nationally voters are in a throw the bums out attitude in many cases, and here in Florida, a recent statewide poll shows independent voters are the most pessimistic voters when polled on the direction the state is going in, and it is the wrong way they say. In the last few weeks, state voters have been deluged with political campaign ads run by both Greene and Scott non-stop, and while these candidates are registering in this same polling. The question is how they will wear with the electorate, once they are better known, their past and of course, how they made their money. Greene is a billionaire, betting for house mortgages tanking and Scott is a former healthcare executive whose company later would settle after paying a well over $1 billion fine for Medicare and Medicaid irregularities.

Both men can be considered colorful and Greene is challenging U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami (net worth in 2002 around $62,000) and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, (Net worth $2.16 million) while Scott is challenging Bill McCollum, (Net worth $1.2 million). The Florida Republican attorney general and former congressman who lost two bids in a run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2004. The attorney general won his current statewide office in 2006 and if he gets past Scott, will likely face Alex Sink (Net worth $8.6 million) the state’s Chief Financial Officer. However, neither establishment candidates are firing up the electorate so far and the races are considered wide open with the party’s primaries in August.

The real issue is who are these two men, what do we know about them and when will they become accessible to the press and questioning rather than communicating through the airwaves, their platform, that has Scott pounding Obama on his lax immigration policy and supporting the recent controversial Arizona immigration bill that has been the talk of the nation. Greene has drafted his retired mother to weigh in on her son, and how hard he has worked over the years, but it is unknown how these kind of ads will wear with voters over the almost next three-months, that will also involve the press digging deeper in these men’s past looking for a hint how they might be in a elected office. A position that is far different from being in the private sector. >>> Here are two stories on these new candidates: Election 2010: Florida Governor – Rasmussen Reports™ Millionaire health care executive Rick Scott has bombarded the airwaves to launch his out-of-nowhere bid for governor of Florida, while both the … – 45k – Cached >>> Billionaire Jeff Greene to Run for Senate – So what if Mike Tyson … Billionaire investor Jeff Greene launched what promises to be a rather colorful campaign for Florida’s Democratic Senate nomination today, depicting himself … – 231k – Cached

>>> Downtown Bay Forum of Miami to offer debate between congressional District 25 candidates at end of June

The Downtown Bay Forum of Miami is planning a debate among candidates running for Congressional District 25 and it could be the first verbal debate from the candidates. People vying for their party’s nod are state Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami and Paul Crespo trying to represent the Republican Party and Joe Garcia, a member in the Obama administration is expected to be the Democratic Party’s challenger. Rivera, also Chair of the Republican Party of Miami-Dade is skilled at running campaigns and Crespo is a veteran Marine officer with a wide range of skills and is a good orator. Garcia tried for the district in 2008 against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami but was beaten back though the race was closer than two other congressional races taking place back then between his older brother Lincoln who bested former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez and Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami beat off Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo, who is now running for the county commission. The details of the debate will become public soon, but the luncheon event should come on the last Wednesday of the month, possible the 23third or the 30th of June and for more information go to

>>> White House press release Saturday night: Statement by the President on the Latest Efforts to Contain the BP Oil Spill

Today, I’ve spoken with National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and senior White House advisors John Brennan and Carol Browner regarding the ongoing efforts to stop the BP oil spill.  From the beginning, our concern has been that the surest way to stop the flow of oil – the drilling of relief wells – would take several months to complete.  So engineers and experts have explored a variety of alternatives to stop the leak now.  They had hoped that the top kill approach attempted this week would halt the flow of oil and gas currently escaping from the seafloor.  But while we initially received optimistic reports about the procedure, it is now clear that it has not worked.  Rear Admiral Mary Landry today directed BP to launch a new procedure whereby the riser pipe will be cut and a containment structure fitted over the leak.

This approach is not without risk and has never been attempted before at this depth. That is why it was not activated until other methods had been exhausted.  It will be difficult and will take several days.  It is also important to note that while we were hopeful that the top kill would succeed, we were also mindful that there was a significant chance it would not.  And we will continue to pursue any and all responsible means of stopping this leak until the completion of the two relief wells currently being drilled. As I said yesterday, every day that this leak continues is an assault on the people of the Gulf Coast region, their livelihoods, and the natural bounty that belongs to all of us.  It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimized by this manmade disaster are made whole.


Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Investigations, John F. Khin, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and John Corbett, Special Agent in Charge, NASA OIG, Office of Criminal Investigations, announced that defendant Juwhan Yun, a/k/a Jw Yun, 69, of Short Hills, New Jersey, pled guilty today to attempting to export RD-180 rocket propulsion system and technology to the Republic of South Korea without a license.  Sentencing is scheduled for August 20, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. According to court documents and statements made in court, as early as December 2008, Yun attempted to acquire RD-180 rocket propulsion systems, engines and related technology for the Republic of South Korea.  These items are classified as defense articles under the U.S. Munitions List.

According to court documents, Yun was previously convicted of conspiring to export Sarin gas in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and was previously sentenced to 39 months in prison.  As a result of today’s guilty plea, Yun faces a term of up to ten years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE’s Office of Investigations in Ft. Lauderdale, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and NASA OIG, Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as the assistance of the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Walleisa. >>> A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

>>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for no money came in over the last week and I do have to live, thank you! The report is also shorter and with less real content because I am still weak and do not have my past energy level that allowed me to write all day Saturday and Sunday as in the past almost 11-years  that I have been doing this. I ask for my readers understanding during this time. >>> Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times, The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel which ran as a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003 and UNC Chapel Hill naming me one of the top columnists in Florida in a  multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on Topical Currents on since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then and also the opportunity to be on Helen Ferre’s show Issues on numerous times over the past decade.

>>> PAST WDR: I have been in the hospital after emergency surgery, one more procedure to go, need the community’s financial help to keep at this!

I have not communicated or sent out a Watchdog Report since the end of January because I had a catastrophic medical issue that required one emergency surgery and another in a few weeks after about two months of convalescing at the hospital and home. I would like to thank surgeon Jorge R. Rabaza, M.D., (Recently honored and awarded the Person of the Year at South Miami Hospital) and the rest of his vascular surgery team of Verdeja, Rabaza, Gonzalez, P.A., who practice at South Miami Hospital ( I went to the emergency room Feb. 8 and later in the evening, the operation was done, and it was touch and go. I also want to thank all the nursing and support staff located in the forth floor annex of the hospital who took care of me for over a week after the operation and your kind manner and medical attention was deeply appreciated. I have not had the strength and mental clarity to write until the last few days and to say I need a miracle is an understatement regarding my financial survival. I have been unable to send invoices to past supporters and just paying my rent currently is a big deal and hope you will consider doing what you can to keep me out in the field and reporting back after I get back on my feet and I am feeling better.

>>> The support form is at the bottom of this truncated issue for your convenience and if high definition transparency of what your public institutions are doing is important to you. Please help and support me financially during this particularly rough patch. >>> Editor’s note: If you see people that represent these two organizations, let them know you appreciate how they helped me keeping this free news resource out in our community for all to read if desired.

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

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

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


>>> Federal jurist was tough but fair gentle giant, Judge Davis passes at 77, will be missed!

Edward Bertrand Davis, 77, passed May 24th and the highly respected federal jurist will be missed. A host of friends gathered at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Thursday evening and the grief was palatable, though lightened by the numerous stories being told about his decades on the federal bench rising to chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Davis an imposing 6’5” was a professional athlete earlier in his life, a U.S Army veteran before going into law and while many attorneys are bright, it was his even temperament that made him a judicial Great One. Judge Davis had an impact on me for over a decade and he and U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore during lunch over the years explained to me the size and role the southern district played in the community and why I write about the district to this day.

At the event in the historic hotel’s Granada Room were the cream of the legal community, including the bulk of the federal judges in South Florida, former U.S. Attorneys, and a cross section of current or past assistant federal attorneys, public defenders, and just long time friends who paused in front of the oil portrait done of Davis that usually was hanging in the Central Courtroom of the Dyer Federal Court House downtown in the large courtroom. His warm smile and gentle blue eyes belayed his ability to hand down a tough sentence if the crime warranted it, yet he was described as always ‘fair.’ After Judge Davis stepped down from the bench in 2000 he worked at AkermanSenterfitt and I used to spot him going into Miami City Hall where he had a couple of mediation cases. While many people knew Judge Davis better, he mentored and taught me many things that I hope I will carry through the rest of my life, and we will all miss you Ned. >>> The family asks donations in his memory to be made to Lakeland Center, 8400 La Amistead Cove, Fern Park, Florida 32730; 407.331.7226 and you can view the guest book at


>>> When it comes to women voters, “trust me” they will know “I am one of them,” says gubernatorial candidate Sink

Alex Sink, the Florida Chief Financial Officer dropped in at Miami city hall during a commission meeting Thursday, and the former banker is running for the shot to be the Democratic candidate for governor, a spot on the ballot she will likely get after the August primary election. Sink will face Bill McCollum, the state attorney general or Rick Scott a millionaire healthcare executive now retired. Sink and McCollum are close in recent polls but the CFO polls equal with women as McCollum and that suggests there is some confusion about her gender given her first name. The issue actually came up on Thursday in the lobby in city hall when someone heard that Alex Sink was coming to the commission meeting. The man in question said, “Where is he?”

The Watchdog Report caught up with Sink after her comments to commissioners on Hurricane preparedness and the growing Deepwater Horizon gusher that is hammering the wetlands in Louisiana and might impact Florida. I asked Sink about the confusion with her first name and the number of women voters splitting evenly in the polls when asked which of the two candidates they preferred. Sink said, “30 percent of the women don’t know I am a woman yet, but trust me,” by this summer, they will know me.

>>> Statement by Gov. Crist regarding Memorial Day

“This Memorial Day Weekend, I join all Floridians in remembering and paying tribute to the courageous men and women throughout our nation’s history who have given their lives to secure our freedom. Their selfless and patriotic service allows us to enjoy the liberties we know and celebrate as Americans today. “Since the Revolutionary War, America’s Armed Forces have defended our God-given rights and upheld the values that make our country the world leader it is now. Our military has established a legacy of raising the hopes of people held captive and oppressed around the globe.

“On Memorial Day, we honor the valor of our service members from the past and present. My heart goes out to the troops serving here and overseas, including our National Guard. Please join me in praying for safety and comfort for them and their families while we enjoy the freedoms they are fighting to protect. “I also encourage all Floridians to join Americans across our nation in participating in the Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time on Monday to reflect on the heroism of our Armed Forces and to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. “May God continue to bless Florida, our nation, our Armed Forces, our veterans and their families.”


>>> Mayor Alvarez’s remark about symbolism odd given his past profession in law enforcement

A Miami-Herald story about the cars elected leaders are driving down at county Hall is resonating with the general public, if the media has it right, and Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s (Net worth $1.66 million) commented that he will not relinquish his car perk that currently involves getting a new 500 series BMW because he does not believe in symbolic gestures. He told the paper ‘my answer to that is, I am not going to do something that is symbolic.’ The mayor does say eliminating the benefit during these tough economic times ‘is a legitimate question’ and suggests he would do it if others who got cars followed but that is an odd answer. Alvarez, a former director of the Miami-Dade Police Department has spent decades in a profession that is based on honor, ritual and symbolic ceremonies, especially fallen comrades and his belief it would not make a difference is an unusual response for someone that sought and got a strong mayor form of county government where he was to be the person in charge, and would lead by example. The mayor is paid $233,000, he gets another $97,000 in benefits, and this is not chump change in today’s new norm and given the well over $300 million in cuts in next year’s budget. He could have set a better example, or at least explained his reasoning in a more understanding tone when it came to the 29,000, other county employees and taxpayers as a whole.

>>> What about the Commission Rolle ethics complaints?

Last Sunday, the Watchdog Report reported that the county ethics commission hit County Commissioner Dorrin Rolle (Net worth $1.02 million) with four probable cause ethics complaints and while the punishment if the commissioner is found guilty is not that severe. The investigation leading to the charges is a great read and shows what goes on internally in county hall over a few years and how commissioners get the kid glove treatment, even if it could be in violation of the charter. The Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter created in 1957 states that while the commission is the controlling legislative body, especially when it comes to allocating the county’s budget. It is the administration that is charged with the management and running of county services and in this investigation. It is surprising that no one stepped forward to warn someone and say this interference was inappropriate, especially since every county employee since the late 1990s has had to go through ethics training. Check out the memo yourself: >>> Ethics Commission: PROBABLE CAUSE MEMORANDUM To: Commission on Ethics and Public Trust –From Michael P. Murawski, Advocate –Re: Complaint C10- (In Re: Dorrin D. Rolle)..Recommendation: A finding of Probable Cause [1] should be entered in the above captioned matter. Background and Investigation: Respondent is a Miami-Dade County Commissioner who represents District #2 on the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (BCC). At all times relevant to the complaint time frame, Respondent was employed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the James E. Scott Center (JESCA). [2] In approximately November 1999, JESCA purchased parcels of land in the 9200 block area to develop a Senior Center. In approximately September 2006 the JESCA Senior Center was still under construction. At approximately that time, Carolyn Gibson (Gibson), a Region 2 Manager for the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation department (PRD), happened to be meeting with Respondent in his JESCA office on an unrelated matter. According to Gibson,   Respondent told her that JESCA might not be able to line up funding for the Senior Center and proposed turning it over to the PRD to operate. Upon returning to her office, Gibson conveyed Respondent’s proposal to her supervisor, who at the time was Vivian Donnell-Rodriguez, the PRD director (Rodriguez). Rodriguez, in turn, conveyed the information to Assistant County Manager Alex Munoz (Munoz). Munoz replied via e-mail to Rodriguez saying: “What do you need in terms of positions and dollars… I am glad that u (sic) spoke to Commissioner but I need details for Manager …thank you very much.”

The Senior Center issue seemed to lie dormant for a while, however in March 2007, Munoz sent an “urgent” e-mail to Rodriguez and other county staff notifying them of a meeting to be held in Respondent’s office to discuss “JESCA options” for operating funds. A subsequent e-mail from Ray Baker (Baker) dated September 10 2007, indicates that County Manager George Burgess met with Respondent to discuss funding for the JESCA Senior Center some of this funding included funding for fixtures, furniture and equipment; the so called ‘FFE” funding. Subsequent e-mails between County staff, including but not limited to then Acting PRD Director Jack Kardys (Kardys), reveal that funding outlays ranging from $320,000 to $400,000 were being set aside to fund the JESCA Senior Center.  On or about March 13, 2007, Respondent met with Assistant County Manager Alex Munoz and discussed what Munoz described as “appropriate ways” by which the County could fund the operations of the JESCA Senior Center including, but not limited to funding for the FFE.  On or about September 11, 2007 Respondent spoke with County Manager George Burgess about securing funding for JESCA including, but not limited to funding for the FFE associated with the Senior Center. Respondent violated section 2-11.1(m) and (n) when he meet with County personnel, including but not limited to the County Manager, Assistant County Manager Alex Munoz and/or former PRD staff and sought County funding for, among other things, the James E. Scott Community Association (JESCA) Senior Center. JESCA receives funding from Miami-Dade County. When he first became a County Commissioner in 1998, Respondent was advised by the County Attorney’s Office that he would need to recuse himself on issues involving JESCA in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. Relevant Ordinances: -Section 2-11.1 (g) of the Miami-Dade County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics (the Code) entitled Exploitation of official position prohibited, states, in pertinent part: “No person included in the terms defined in Subsection (b)(1) through (6) shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others…” -Section 2-11.1 (m), entitled Certain appearances and payment prohibited, states, in pertinent part: “No person included in the terms defined in Subsections (b)(1), (5) and (6) [commissioners, departmental personnel and employees] shall appear before any County board or agency and make a presentation on behalf of a third person with respect to any …benefit sought by the third person. Nor shall such person receive compensation, directly or indirectly or in any form, for services rendered to third person, who has applied for or is seeking some benefit from the County…” -Section 2-11.1 (n) of the Code reads in pertinent part that: “ No person included in the terms defined in subsections (b)(1) through (6) shall participate in any official action directly or indirectly affecting a  business in which he or any member of his immediate  family has a financial interest.”[3]  >>> ran a local front-page story on Thursday concerning the Rolle matter with the county ethics commission and its investigation.

>>>PAST WDRs, OCT. 2003: At 11:40 a.m. during a committee meeting, commission chambers are totally empty

The county commission had a marathon series of committee meetings last week and some of the meetings were down right boring, but others were explosive with a major exchange-taking place between Commission Dorrin Rolle and Natacha Seijas.  Both commissioners are committee chairs and a sharp exchange occurred when Rolle objected at her government operations & environment committee that an item discussed had not been moved properly.

Seijas, chairing the committee said “Mr. Rolle we did move it” and stifled his protest of, “Madame Chair the item was not moved” a number of times and then she relented saying okay “were moving it now” and requested a second. Rolle visible annoyed at being cut off and her attitude and domineering tone after the vote said, “I know this is your meeting but we are supposed to be able to get our concerns,” answered and he had yet to get information from staff he had requested though it had been asked for months earlier.

>>> OCT. 2003: Seijas criticizes people that speak excessively, We talk, talk, talk

Seijas is becoming the dominate speaker at commission and committee meetings and after chairing her own committee that ran almost an hour late she noted it “was almost one o’clock and then blamed the late meeting on “We talk and talk and talk and don’t get the things done” and essentially blamed other commissioners for the long meeting.

Seijas also has become an ardent critic of practically any program that Mayor Alex Penelas supports and recently signaled out the funding for a juvenile crime program supported by the mayor.  The commissioner is likely not to face any opposition in her 2004 re-election campaign after she trounced former state Sen. Roberto Casas in 2000.

>>> OCT. 2003:  Not a single person was in the audience for an important committee meeting

The Budget and Finance Committee met Thursday morning and discussed a number of important issues, but at one point at 11:40 a.m., not a single person was in the chambers watching commissioners.  The committee system was created by the commission last year and it is here that the public gets to speak on issues, but people are not taking advantage of it and legislation is going through with little public tweaking. Commission Chair Barbara Carey-Shuler has tried to let the public know that it is at the committees where public input is welcome and not at a full board meeting.  The committees were set up to hear the minutia of a issue and offering greater discussion on a item but the general public still does not get this.

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist announced the appointment of Andrea Ricker Wolfson to Miami-Dade County Court.

“Andrea is a committed public servant with nearly 10 years of experience under her belt,” said Governor Crist.  “Her character and desire to serve will continue to be tremendous asset to the legal community and our state as she takes the bench.”  Wolfson, 37, has been an assistant state attorney with the 11th Judicial Circuit since 2001.  She previously taught legal writing as a teaching assistant at Chicago-Kent College of Law from 2000 to 2001.  Wolfson earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, master’s degree in biological sciences from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and law degree from the Chicago Kent College of Law. Wolfson will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Amy Karan. >>> Editor’s note: Wolfson is in no way related to the me.

>>> Recent reports done by the Miami-Dade Inspector General’s office: Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General releases its 2009 Annual Report. >>> Final Audit Report re: Audit of Miami-Dade County Metrozoo Commodity Purchases and Appendices, Ref. IG09-50A, May 19, 2010.


>>> Commissioner Gunzburger faces off against state Sen. Geller; how low will they go as election draws closer in Aug.?

The Watchdog Report did a quick review of the Broward Commission District 6 race that has long serving incumbent Commissioner Sue Gunzburger (Net worth $1.34 million) facing former state Sen. Steven Geller, D- Hallandale Beach (Net worth $1.24 million). Gunzburger has been a fixture on the commission for over a decade and Geller in the state legislature rose to become the Minority Leader in the senate. She works in real estate, he is an attorney and lobbyist, and his lobbying activities have drawn criticism over the years. The commissioner has raised $243,000 for her campaign war chest and she has spent $75,000 through April 7. The attorney has worked since 2008 to raise money for his campaign and through a similar time period. He has raised $145,000 and spent $18,000 through April 12.

Local political pundits believe the race will get nasty as the election draws closer and both are seasoned politicians and district voters should check out both candidates thoroughly for the stakes to your community have never been higher as Broward faces its biggest budget crisis since the county was formed. Since both candidates are Democrats, the real election will be Aug. 24 and Broward has over Democratic 544,000 voters, compared to 244,000 Republicans, and there is another 242,000 that are independents or other party affiliations bringing the total county electorate to 1,030,838 voters as of Friday.

>>> 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 to view the new agenda.


>>> Press release: Gov. Crist announced the appointment of Judge Beth Harlan, Judge Mark Hofstad and Wayne Durden to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court.

“Beth’s extensive legal knowledge from her more than 20 years practicing law both publicly and privately will be crucial as she takes the bench,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident her integrity and sense of fairness will serve the people of the 10th Circuit justly.”  Judge Harlan, 51, has served as a Polk County judge since 2006.  Previously, she was a sole practitioner from 1998 to 2006; an assistant Polk County attorney from 1985 to 1998; an assistant attorney general in the Lakeland office of the Attorney General from 1983 to 1995; and a research attorney with the Second District Court of Appeal from 1981 to 1983. Harlan earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida.

“Mark is a committed public servant with a high ethical standard and solid work ethic,” said Governor Crist.  “He is guided by a strong conscience and personal and professional integrity that make him well-equipped to take the bench.” Judge Hofstad, 57, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims since 2000. Previously, he was staff counsel to Fireman’s Fund Insurance from 1990 to 2000 and an assistant state attorney in the 10th Judicial Circuit from 1985 to 1990.  Hofstad earned his bachelor’s degree from Moorhead State College in Minnesota and law degree from McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in California.

“Wayne’s commitment to his community combined with his over two decades experience will be an asset to the people of the 10th Judicial Circuit,” said Governor Crist. “His determination, respect for the law and established career in public service will be invaluable as he serves from the bench.” Durden, 51, has served as an assistant state attorney in the 10th Judicial Circuit since 1987.  Previously, he practiced privately with Donald Kaltenbach P.A. from 1985 to 1987 and as an assistant state attorney with the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1982 to 1985. Durden earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and law degree at Stetson University. >>> Harlan, Hofstad and Durden will fill the vacancies created by the retirements of Judge Dick Prince, Judge Randall G. McDonald and Judge Robert L. Doyel.


>>> Gov. Crist suspends county commissioner Irizarry after domestic violence charge, #39 removal for governor

There he goes again, Gov. Charlie Crist (Net worth $466,000) has suspended Kissimmee County commissioner Carlos Irizarry after he was charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence violations. This is Crist’s 39th suspension since he took office in Jan. 2009 and has concerned the governor enough that a state grand jury is studying the state’s “Culture of Corruption” looking to see the prevalence and scope of wayward elected leaders. >>> Press release: Governor’s Executive Orders 10-116: Executive Orders 10-116, suspending Carlos Irizarry, Kissimmee County commissioner.


>>> Press release:  Governor Charlie Crist today announced the appointment of Bryan A. Feigenbaum of Ormando Beach to Volusia County Court.

“Bryan’s two decades of experience combined with his personal and professional integrity will serve him well as he takes the bench,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident Bryan will serve the people with fairness and compassion.” Feigenbaum, 44, has been an assistant state attorney with the Seventh Judicial Circuit since 1990.  Feigenbaum earned his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College in North Carolina and law degree from the University of Florida. Feigenbaum will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Roger Smith.


>>> Press release:  Gov. Crist appointed John L. Burns of Port Charlotte to the Charlotte County Court.

“John has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to carefully and fairly analyze and present evidence, and I am confident he will weigh each matter that comes before the bench in the same unbiased manner,” Governor Crist said.  “During his 15 years as a prosecutor with extensive courtroom experience, he has shown the highest level of integrity while interpreting and applying the rule of law.” Burns, 42, has served as an assistant state attorney with the 20th Judicial Circuit Court since 1995. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida State University and a law degree from the University of Puget Sound/Seattle University School of Law. Burns will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge W. Wayne Woodard effective August 31, 2010.


>>> Press release: Gov. Crist recognized Bonnie Ciegler of Key West as a Governor’s Point of Light.

“Bonnie’s dedication to preserving Key West’s natural resources sets a positive example of community leadership,” Governor Crist said. “Her service in promoting environmental awareness will continue to have an impact for many years to come.” For 19 years, Ciegler has been a volunteer at the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park in Key West. With extensive knowledge of plant and animal life and fort history, she has created many educational opportunities to visitors and staff at the park. Ciegler has also trained and led numerous groups in exotic plant removal projects. Her knowledge of landscaping and utility installation inspired her to create and cultivate a butterfly garden onsite. For more information on Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park please visit “Bonnie has been an integral part of Fort Taylor since 1991,” said David Foster, park manager of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park.  “She is a valued member of our park family and a tremendous asset, good friend and volunteer who epitomizes what the spirit of giving is all about.” >>> 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. Florida’s Foundation manages the program. For more information, or to submit a nomination, go to

>>> Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior Member of the Florida Congressional Delegation and a staunch opponent of off shore oil drilling, hosted a Tele-Townhall on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its implications for Florida’s economy and environment. Hundreds of residents from Monroe County took part in this forum organized by the Congresswoman.

Participants who took part in the Tele-Townhall included: Ray Dempsey, BP; Captain Pat DeQuattro, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West; Sean Morton, Superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; Dr. Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries for the South Atlantic Region; Rick Mossman, Incident Commander for the National Park Service; Dr. Bob Atlas, Director of  NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML); Mark Robson, Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Florida Fish & Wildlife; Dr. Hans Graber, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM); Dr. Peter Ortner, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM); Dr.  Patrick Rice, Dean of Marine Science & Technology, Florida Keys Community College; Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator; and Liz Compton, Office of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson.

Said Ros-Lehtinen, “I was pleased to host this Tele-Townhall because it gave residents in Monroe County the opportunity to ask direct questions from the participants who are all experts in the crucial areas related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Florida Keys have been lucky that oil has yet to wash ashore, but it is our responsibility to be prepared and ready for any eventual outcome. I appreciate the participation of all involved. I will continue to do my very best to make sure that we all receive the latest information on the oil spill.”

>>> Administrator Gastesi says come on down to Keys, “Water is extremely clear for diving”

The Watchdog Report contacted County Administrator Roman Gastesi. Please let everyone know that we are open for business, the water is extremely clear for diving, and the early season dolphin fishing is one of the best in many years…come on down,!” wrote the veteran administrator and former water czar for Miami-Dade years ago. For more information about what is going on in the Keys go to :>>> The Monroe County tourism council continues to update its <> website with information regarding the spill and its relationship to the Keys. On the website are NOAA forecast tracking maps, a map showing the spill site in relation to the Keys, links to area webcams and more. TDC social media sites include: http://www.keysvoices.com >> Spill-related websites, primarily focusing on affected areas, include:


>>> Supt. Carvalho and founding GM MacCullough fire back at Friends of WLRN Chair Altman’s comments last week

Alberto M. Carvalho, the school district’s superintendent has responded to Janet K. Altman, the chair of Friends of WLRN response last week reported in the Watchdog Report and he writes. “Throughout the last 20 months, the intent of this administration has been to be a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars.  When the whole issue of Friends of WLRN came before the Audit Committee, many questions were raised, and it became apparent that work needs to be done to ensure that the dollars raised in support of WLRN are doing just that—maximizing the benefits of public television and radio for the public,” wrote Carvalho.

Further, another knowledgeable Watchdog Report reader, Don MacCullough wrote the following: “You may remember that I was General Manager of WLRN for more than twenty years. Together with Bea Myers, Petey Cox and others I was part of the group that founded Friends and wrote its original bylaws, so I bring some special knowledge of the history and purpose of Friends to the discussion. As General Manager of WLRN from the 1970’s until 1995, and at the time Friends of WLRN was founded, it is distressing to read Friends Chairman’s comments on the relationship between Friends and the School Board. Friends was founded to be the vehicle to raise funds to support programming directed to the general community.  It has also become a vehicle for financial activity, such as funding new program initiatives that would be impossible for the School Board to carryout expeditiously.

Mrs. Altman’s emphasis on the “independence’ of Friends is misguided. Friends was never intended to have that degree of independence. It was intended only that Friends should be the fund raising arm of WLRN and a responsible repository for the funds raised from the community and from certain grants. Friends was not chartered to make decisions as to how the funds should be spent or for any other purpose. Friends is not to be compared to those “independent” local charities that raise funds based on the services they, themselves, provide. Friends, in contrast, provides no service other than to raise funds solely for WLRN and its fund-raising efforts are based entirely on services provided by WLRN Radio and Television. In fact, a very large proportion is raised by on-air appeals broadcast on those two stations. The obvious question is, “Would anyone contribute to Friends based on the intrinsic value of the service  it provides to the community?”

How those funds raised by Friends are to be spent is governed by the a national statement of policy,  Editorial l Integrity in Public Broadcasting,  adopted  nationally by public broadcasting station boards, and by the School Board in the late 1980’s. That policy dictates specific oversight, support, and fiduciary responsibilities to the Board including to employ a professional manager who shall have the sole authority, within Board Rule, to make programming decision and as to how funds shall be spent to support that programming. That policy insures that neither a funds raising organization, special interests, nor politics should have the capacity to influence programming decisions. Mrs. Altman’s’ perspective of Friends” independence” challenges the roles and responsibilities of the School Board and the General Manager and is wrong. Her statement that no funding request from the stations has ever been refused assumes that Friends has the authority to “refuse.” Friends was never intended to have that right, and. it is apparently an authority that the Friends Board has taken unwittingly, or perhaps with purpose, unto itself. This controversy should  be quickly ended with the  Friends Board of Directors entering into an operating agreement with Board that includes the requisite Board  oversight, and, that limits Friend’s  role to an efficient and low cost  fund raising effort and serving as the repository for the funds raised until they are needed to support the programming goals of WLRN. The Friends Board insists that is acting in the interest of the stations. Instead by pursuing a factually and historically unsustainable position, it puts at risk the good will that WLRN-Radio and Television have earned over more than twenty–five years,” wrote MacCullough, the WLRN Founding General Manager.


>>> Commissioner Souto & Dean Goldschmidt call for local businesses and county employees with insurance to use Jackson!

Javier Souto, (Net worth $856,000) the Miami-Dade Commissioner at Monday’s PHT board meeting made a remarkable recommendation about one way the public hospital system might be helped during these tough financial times for the institution. He suggested that business and more public workers who have health insurance should use the facilities and given there are some 29,000 public servants at the county alone, a massive outreach to these people could draw in new paying patients he thought. Souto said the perception in the community is “you only come here to die or after a tremendous accident” and while “that is the consensus out there [with many in the public], it is wrong,” he said. “Bring people here [to the main Jackson campus] give them some food and show them the campus” and show these business employees that “no one is killed here,” and it is “a safe area,” he suggested. The over 90-year old plus public hospital system is “owned by the people of Miami-Dade County and let industry” such as “banks and American Airlines bring there employees” here to see for themselves. He believes “some sort of engagement between the people and the hospital” was necessary and if this was not done. Jackson “will never be what it could be,” he intoned. Further, University of Miami Miller Medical School Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D., suggested one way to start this introduction to the health trust’s medical capabilities was to get “Miami-Dade County employees to get their healthcare here,” he suggested. >>> On Sunday, a full-page open letter to the Miami-Dade community ran in The Miami Herald signed by Jackson Health System’s Medical Executive Committee who represents the 2,000 members of the medical staff and their commitment to the health of the community and the medical strides the health trust has made over the years. This upbeat letter campaign must continue in the future, if the trust over time, is going to change the perception some in the community have, and that in fact Jackson is a community medical jewel.

What else happened at the PHT board meeting?

>>> Neurosurgeon Green is awarded UM President’s Medal for work in Haiti after devastating Jan. 12 earthquake

Miller Medical School Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D. told trustees and the public that for the first time in the University of Miami’s medical schools history. A member of the medical faculty, Barth A. Green, M.D. was awarded the prestigious UM President’s Medal for his work in Haiti after the Jan. 12 devastating earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of adults and children. Green spearheaded the setting–up of a field hospital and getting medical volunteers from around the world to come to the country and give aide and medical care. Barth a world-renowned neurosurgeon has spent his life studying paralysis seeking a cure, and he is co-founder of the university’s The Project to Cure Paralysis unit.

>>> Goldschmidt also said the university and hospital were working with physicians and hospitals in Latin America. He noted they “were increasingly interested in developing a relationship,” including Kidney and other organ transplants and they “would have partner in the U.S. The cardiologist also said the top medical schools for Spanish speakers were “Stanford University and the University of Miami.”

>>> The Dean also said the UM medical school recently graduated 155 new physicians at the commencement ceremony. He also noted the importance of research and the listing of the medical school in a national magazine and these rankings “have never been higher.”

>>> Second class of medical school has 43 students, Heart surgeon Harrison from Baptist Health is university’s chief of specialty service

Florida International University’s new medical school Dean John Rock, M.D., told trustees that the second class of new students had been selected, and 43 students would start their first year of training in August. He noted that 80 percent of the students were of minority status, and that 10 of the future physicians were from Miami-Dade. Rock recently brought on the medical school’s faculty, Lynn Harrison Jr., M.D. as the medical schools chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery and professor of clinical cardiovascular surgery. Harrison will give the keynote speech when this class of medical students participates in the White Coat Ceremony in August and he is Baptist Health’s clinical director of cardiac surgery .

>>> PHT board vice Chair Medina thanks Commissioner Joe Martinez for note

Angel Medina, the board’s vice chair noted the letter from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez thanking them for their service on the highly publicized organization was most appreciated. “This was a very fine letter” from the commissioner and he believed it was “nice to hear something good for all the work we do.” Martinez in his letter sent to all trustees, noted the board when they voted on issues was only as well informed as the administration allowed in the past, and he appreciated their commitment on the board. The trustees are just citizens who have volunteered, and most put in well over 30-hours a month on their duties and is why I am so demanding when one of their number is not pulling his weight. Medina, a former Regions Bank senior executive has really put in his time over the years, including being early at important meetings, and he and I frequently sat on the floor outside the West Wing Board room at about 7:30 a.m. waiting for it to become available over the years.

>>> Public notice: June 4: 10:30 a.m. – Miami-Dade County & Public Health Trust Mgmt. Team

Mayor Carlos Alvarez is meeting with top PHT management and the chair of the 17-member PHT board on June 4, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Conference Room 29A on the 29th floor of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center downtown. It is open to the public and press. A Sunshine Meeting between Miami-Dade County and the Public Health Trust (PHT) Management Team has been scheduled to review ‘Jackson Health Systems operational, budgetary and financial matters.’ The Honorable Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos Alvarez; County Manager, George Burgess; Assistant County Manager, Alina Hudak; President and CEO of Jackson Health System, Dr. Eneida O. Roldan, and Public Health Trust Chairman, John H. Copeland, III, will be in attendance.

>>> Press release: Jackson Health System Committed  to Training Reassigned Nursing Staff -Plan Includes Specialty Internships

Jackson Health System (JHS) is committed to providing the highest level of safe, quality care to all of its patients. JHS has several training programs in place to evaluate the competency and skills of its nursing staff. Jackson’s Department of Education and Development provides a variety of specialty internships for nurses, including critical care, medical-surgical, pediatric, operating room and emergency nursing. The internships vary in length from 12 to 16 weeks and are modified to meet the specific needs of the participants. The nurses take part in classroom didactic presentations and simulations, as well as guided clinical experiences targeted at the specific skills required for the clinical areas in which the nurse will be working. Nurse Educators on the units coordinate the clinical experiences to reinforce the knowledge gained in the classroom.

During this orientation process, the nurse is assigned a preceptor, or buddy, who has experience in the area. The preceptor works closely with the nurse to ensure mastery of the technical, interpersonal and critical thinking skills required to excel in today’s complex health care environment. Nurses are also offered psychosocial support throughout the process. The Jackson nurses who were reassigned to different positions within the health system, as part of the recent workforce reduction and bumping process per union contracts, are currently engaged in this orientation process. “Our nurses are recognized nationally and internationally for their healthcare expertise,” said Eneida O. Roldan, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., president & CEO of Jackson Health System. “The public can rest assured that they will continue to receive the excellent care that Jackson is known for.” On March 31, 2010, the first group of nurses impacted by recent position changes completed their re-training program.  The three-month program, coordinated by JHS Education and Development, included a comprehensive overview of medical-surgical topics and skills. Participants received classroom instruction, simulation exercises, clinical preceptorship, rounding and frequent support group sessions.  The nurses, who were primarily from Jackson North Medical Center’s mental health unit, rose to the challenge and demonstrated flexibility and resiliency.

Mary Ann Villanueva, R.N., says the orientation prepared her for her new position as a neurotrauma nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “The educators were very knowledgeable and helped make the transition very smooth,” said Villanueva, who formerly worked as a nurse at Jackson North’s mental health unit. “I still have great trust and faith in Jackson.” The mission of Jackson’s Department of Education and Development is to support the goals of the organization by strengthening the competency of the clinical staff. JHS believes that the dynamic nature of today’s healthcare environment requires that all employees engage in continuous learning. The evidence shows that this type of professional development is directly linked to effective performance, positive patient outcomes and the financial viability of the organization.

>>> Press release: JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL RECEIVES ITS FIRST DIRECT RESEARCH AWARD –Grant Aimed at Developing Model to Reduce Inpatient Suicide and Suicide Attempts

This week, Jackson Memorial Hospital received its first direct research award to plan a patient safety and medical liability reform initiative that targets in-hospital suicides and suicide attempts. The research, led by a psychologist and physician at Jackson Mental Health Hospital, is aimed at preventing and improving assessment of the risk of in-patient suicide in a large, public healthcare system, such as Jackson Health System. The $300,000 grant is being awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for a one-year period. “This is a significant accomplishment for Jackson Health System and is a testament to our commitment to improving health care in our community and beyond,” said Eneida O. Roldan, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of Jackson Health System. “I commend our highly trained staff at Jackson Mental Health Hospital for their hard work and dedication to patient safety.”

The investigators of this grant are Nicoletta B. Tessler, Psy.D., an attending psychologist at Jackson Mental Health Hospital, and Karin Esposito, M.D., Ph.D.,  associate chief medical officer of mental health and the interim associate chief medical officer and interim chief of service for ambulatory and corrections health at Jackson Health System. “Despite the enormous challenges facing JHS, this grant demonstrates to our patients and the community that we have not lost sight of our mission, which is to continually evolve as individuals and as a healthcare institution by remaining steadfast in our commitment to push ourselves to new heights,” said Dr. Tessler, who also serves as interim director of training and research at Jackson Mental Health Hospital, as well as the program director for adult outpatient service and the chair of the Suicide Prevention Committee at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “The utility of our research findings and procedures used to minimize suicide risk will have positive implications for improving clinical practice in healthcare institutions, such as saving lives and preventing medical errors.”

This grant will provide Jackson researchers with the opportunity to study the immediate need to develop and test an innovative model to reduce inpatient suicide. The new model, Initiative to Reduce Inpatient Suicide (I.R.I.S.), has four key components: staff and training, patient care, environmental safety and incident reporting. I.R.I.S. is aimed at effectively assessing, planning and treating at-risk patients so that patient safety and self-harm prevention is achieved, while also reducing medical liability that is directly related to inpatient suicide attempts and suicides. If successful, the study would implement a specific approach that could be replicated at various other healthcare facilities. To connect patient safety and medical liability, the proposed research proposes a parallel initiative, I.R.I.S.-Medical Liability Reform (I.R.I.S.-M.L.R.), to gather information through focus groups and surveys from internal and external stakeholders (legislators, accreditation bodies, insurance companies, lawyers and physicians). The goal is to generate options about how to reform medical liability and be more responsive to patient safety, to investigate major patient safety failures, to explore how the I.R.I.S. model can be used to reform medical liability and to create a plan to form workgroups across communities and health care systems to improve patient safety protocols.


>>> Budget worries continue to plague city, is bankruptcy in the wings since a tax increase is out of the question

The Watchdog Report last week was given a multi page document that described the city of Miami’s financial future and its liabilities, and the idea of having the municipality go into bankruptcy is not that far fetched, unless significant reductions in costs, across the board including cuts in the city’s pension payments are achieved in the months ahead. The document titled Budget Crisis Breakdown, state’s with the city dealing with a $90 million shortfall this year. If dramatic actions are not taken, with raising taxes out of the question, up to 800 public workers of the city’s 4,000 would be let go. Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.28 million) had the breakdown done and he continues to raise the fiscal alarm fairly consistently at commission meetings, along with the other commissioners that include attorney Francis Suarez; Frank Carollo a CPA; Willy Gort a financial investment banker, and Rev. Richard Dunn, the newest member on the five-member body. The new commission has been dealt a tough set of cards after former Mayor Manuel “Manny” Diaz (Net worth $1.8 million) left for office that had the city over a number of years spending more than was taken in, even with a red-hot economy and property tax base increase that jumped countywide to 21.3 percent a one point a few years back.

What is going on with Commissioner Sarnoff’s campaign?

Sarnoff, about ten days ago had a well-attended campaign fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell. The veteran commissioner, who started out as a Grove activist, is up for reelection in November 2011 and in the future. He will also have a hand in the shape of commission District-2 after the 2010 Census numbers are compiled. The Miami Commission will then draw new districts for themselves after the census numbers become available on March 2011. Sarnoff first won as an outsider beating appointed Miami Commissioner Linda Haskins in 2006 in a race that only can be described as viscous, and expensive with the losing commissioner spending over $700,000 in the contentious race that Sarnoff won by a two-to-one margin. For this upcoming contest, it is clear the commissioner will be doing some serious fundraising, a tactic that generally tamps down potential challengers from emerging.

>>> Press release: City of Miami Multi-Year Budget Analysis submitted by Public Financial Management (PFM) Information is used as source material:Public Financial Management Report For City of Miami Local Media has been very proactive reporting on this important issue and getting the facts to the public. Here are links to the coverage: NBC 6 Budget CoverageCBS 4 Budget Coverage

>>> 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. It currently goes to his new e-mail address.>>> “Mayor Diaz, I wanted to ask you in the chamber today but not in front of Chair Joe Sanchez. My question is where did the extra $400,000 in the 2007 disclosure form come from? I will run what ever you respond unedited but I would appreciate closing this issue, as I am sure you do. Sorry but I have to ask.  Best to all. Dan”  >>>> The Watchdog Report through Dec.7 has yet to get a response or catch-up with Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz on where he got the extra $400,000 in cash listed in his 2007 financial disclosure forms. To see what CBS 4 reporter David Sutta’s take on this issue and the other city leaders financial disclosures go to Blogs . >>> Readers should stay tuned and catch the meeting on the city’s cable station channel 77. >>> Stream Channel 77, for all City of Miami meetings, (Commission, Village Council meetings, Waterfront, Zoning, PAB, Code, etc. hearings)


>>> Feds pop Beach hotel developers, get charged with tax fraud

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General John DiCicco, and Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announced that defendants Mauricio Cohen Assor and his son, Leon Cohen-Levy, each with residences in Miami Beach, Fla., have been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and filing false tax returns.  Both defendants have been ordered detained pending trial. According to court documents, the two men and their co-conspirators used nominees and shell companies formed in tax haven jurisdictions, including the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to conceal their assets and income from the IRS.  In order to further conceal their assets and income from the IRS, court documents state the men also provided false and forged documents to banks, opened bank accounts in the name of nominees, titled their personal residences and luxury vehicles in the name of shell companies, filed false and fraudulent tax returns, failed to file other tax returns, suborned perjury in a civil matter pending before the New York Supreme Court by directing individuals to testify falsely under oath, and induced other individuals to make false statements to federal law enforcement agents. According to court documents, Mauricio Cohen Assor and Leon Cohen-Levy were the developers and owners of several residential hotels known by the trade name Flatotel International.  In 2000, the defendants sold one of their New York hotels and generated proceeds of $33 million.  The income earned from the sale of the hotel was never reported on United States tax returns by the Cohens or by any of their related entities.

According to court documents, among the assets and income the Cohens concealed from the IRS are a $45 million investment portfolio, a condominium at Trump World Tower in New York City that was worth as much as $10 million,  the personal residence of Mauricio Cohen Assor on Fisher Island in Miami Beach worth approximately $20 million, the personal residence of defendant Leon Cohen Levy in Miami Beach worth approximately $26 million, the personal residence of the daughter of Mauricio Cohen Assor in Bal Harbor, Fla., commercial properties valued in excess of $55 million in Miami Beach, luxury vehicles, including a Rolls Royce Phantom, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Bentley, a Ferrari Testarossa, a BMW Z8, a Dodge Viper, a limousine and a $1.2 million helicopter. >> A criminal indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  If convicted, the Cohens each face a maximum of 14 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, plus being ordered to pay tax, penalties and interest. Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Acting Assistant Attorney General John DiCicco commended the investigative efforts of the IRS agents involved in this case, as well as Senior Litigation Counsel Kevin M. Downing and Trial Attorneys Mark F. Daly and John E. Sullivan of the Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Neiman, who are prosecuting the case. More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or

>>> Press release: Memorial Day Weekend: Miami Beach Police Athletic League, 999 11 Street (Flamingo Park)  Miami Beach

Deployment of first team of Goodwill Ambassadors. This year, we have a record number of volunteers, about 300, that will serve as liaisons between the City of Miami Beach and the visitors. The ambassadors provide information and help visitors remain informed on pertinent laws and dispel any confusion working on eight-hour shifts throughout the weekend. The City of Miami Beach established the Goodwill Ambassador Program in 2001 as part of Miami Beach’s major events plan to assist City staff during major events and holiday weekends.  The City of Miami Beach works closely with Miami-Dade County’s Office of Community Relations to expand the program. Volunteers consist of City of Miami Beach employees, Miami-Dade County employees and members of the clergy (God Squad).

>>> City press release: Memorial Day Weekend 2010 – Miami Beach Community Information – Miami Beach will once again play host to many visitors over the holiday weekend. To ensure everyone’s safety, enjoyment and cooperation of quality of life issues, the City of Miami Beach will be implementing its Major Events Plan (MEP) that enhances staffing and services over the weekend. Click here > to read more about the plan and restrictions to traffic and parking. Click here <>  to read more about the plan and restrictions to traffic and parking. >>> Information hotline: 305.604.CITY >>> Tourism hotline: 305.673.7400 — COMMUNITY NOTICE:


>>> Will rental bike kiosks pop-up in the Gables, Deco Bike about to start on the Beach, Cabrera hopes so

Ralph Cabrera, Jr., the Coral Gables commissioner and avid bike rider suggested a plan Tuesday at the commission meeting that the city emulate what is about to be tried on Miami Beach in the coming months concerning bicycle rentals. The commissioner said that city commission last year passed and put out a RFP for a company to set up kiosks where bikes are available for rent at a number of popular locations where you need them to also return you to your starting point. Cabrera said this type of thing is being done all over Europe and it is very popular. On the Beach, the program is called “Deco Bike” and while not yet instituted said Nannette Rodriguez, a Miami Beach media spokeswoman. The city’s leaders are excited about the introduction of more bikes and less cars on the busy city streets. Cabrera also said the city hoped over a “24 month period” to bring in a projected $2 million in revenue but Rodriguez would not confirm that dollar amount as accurate.

What about the $155 million unfunded pension fund?

A reliable source last week told me the city’s unfunded pension obligation for the year was $155 to $160 million and even after arbitration and mediation no solution has been settled on between the administration and its union members.

>>> Press release: City Unveils Renovations At Riviera Park — The City of Coral Gables invites the entire community to attend a ceremony on Tuesday, June 1, at 5 p.m. to celebrate the completion of Riviera Park’s extensive renovations. Located at 6611 Yumuri Street, Riviera Park underwent renovations which began last June and included the demolition and removal of concrete walkways, new electric light poles, site furniture, new playground with synthetic flooring, fencing, landscaping and irrigation system. The park also has a new gazebo and exercise trail with stations. Funding for this project was made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program and approximately $135,000 from Miami-Dade County’s General Obligation Bond. After the ceremony, light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 305-460-5205.


>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club — Meeting Date: Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 -Meeting Time: 8:30 AM, Meeting Place: David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach

Gwen Margolis, past President of the Florida Senate, and current candidate for the open Senate seat of Dan Gelber, will be this weeks guest speaker at the June 1st meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Senator Margolis has had a long and distinguished career in Florida politics, starting with her election to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974, where she was subsequently re-elected to three additional terms.  Her career in the Florida Senate started in 1980, and in 1990 she became the first women in the United States to serve as President of any state Senate. In 1994 she was elected to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners , where she served six of her eight years as its Chairman.  In 2002 she returned to the Florida Senate, and today, in 2010, she is once again running as a Senate candidate in the August Democrat primary. >>> Everyone is welcome to attend. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club For more information contact David Kelsey.  To be placed on the Breakfast Club’s mailing list, contact Harry Cherry.  Both can be reached at Visit our new web site at: (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).

>>> Press release: Women of True Grit and tribute to Roxcy Bolton –When:  Thursday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m., Where: Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, 305-442-4408 – Cost: Admission is free –Reception Celebrating Roxcy Bolton’s inclusion in the new book: Women of True Grit Books & Books

Coral Gables Store, 265 Aragon Avenue; Coral Gables, FL   33134 –June 3, 2010 -7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. >>> Sponsored by the Women’s History Coalition of Miami-Dade County, Inc. (Prior to Edie Hand and Tina Savas’ presentation of Women of True Grit) In honor of Roxcy Bolton, Women’s History Coalition of Miami-Dade County, Inc. is sponsoring reception prior to the presentation of the book by its authors.  You are invited to meet Roxcy and enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar in the Coral Gables Books and Books  from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.  At 8:00 p.m., the authors, Edie Hand and Tina Savas, will discuss their book, Women of True Grit. Sponsored by The Women’s History Coalition of Miami Dade County, Inc.


>>> Watchdog Report gives Miami Today a Tip of the Hat on paper’s 28th Anniversary June 2

Miami Today’s 28th Anniversary is coming-up and that is something South Florida residents should celebrate since the media overall is in a recession and these celebrations are a big deal and a Tip of the Hat is deserved to Michael Lewis and his team of reporters. The weekly publication is free and is widely read by tens of thousands of leaders and community shakers and while light on in house investigative stories. The paper every week reports on a wide swath of news that should be of interest to many South Floridians.

I write about the paper’s longevity because it is important and means the final product is appreciated and fills a news niche at a time other papers and television heavyweights either scale back or just shut the door and close. Since the Watchdog Report is only 11 years old. I look at the age of The Miami Herald at 107 years, The Miami Times well over 80 years old, The Miami New Times about 30-years and then there is Miami Today founded on June 2, 1983 and like the Eveready news Bunny. The paper keeps on going in an environment that over the years throws up numerous obstacles in the way when it comes to survival as a business entity and Lewis and his team should be proud of that fact. For the sacrifices made over the centuries in American Blood and Treasure to ensure a free and vibrant press can only be sustained by the continuation of papers like Miami Today and I wish all at the weekly-continued success in bringing the news in an independent way to the residents of South Florida.

>>>PAST WDR: Sept. 2003: PAST WDR: It is some ones money, government leaders and their administrations should remember that!

At the city of Miami Beach Special Commission meeting last week, one commissioner discussing the BayLink project said that how they voted was no problem since it was not the city’s money.  Well commissioner, it is someone’s money and elected leaders and their administration should remember that fact. The most egregious example of that thinking occurred back in 1999 at county hall when during a commission meeting former county aviation director Gary Delappa told county commissioners that concerning a $1.2 billion overrun and change in scope and plans at Miami International Airport that they needed not to worry since “its not county money.”  At the time, the Watchdog Report publisher spoke as a citizen and said that I came from the private sector and if it had been me, I would have been on my knees begging to keep my job. Months later at a Metropolitan Planning Organization, when Delappa kept making the reference that it was not county money that had been lost.  Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez finally cut him off saying, “Well Gary it is someone’s money and you had better find out whose it is.”

Public money is everyone’s money and be it federal, state or local tax dollars that money belongs to all of us and elected officials and their administrations should always remember that important fact.   At a time, that security costs are going thought the roof, the frugal use of our tax dollars is even more critical and elected leaders must lift the bar in their stewardship of public funds and being more accountable for how this money is spent under their watch.  The public puts their trust in their governments and elected officials should remember that if voters are not to remind them later at the polls.

>>> Publisher’s Statement on the mission of the Watchdog Report and the special people and organizations that make it possible:  Government Subscribers/Corporate Subscribers/Sustaining Sponsors/Supporting Sponsors

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


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

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2010, 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 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

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

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

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

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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