Month of September 2010

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.11 No.20 September 26, 2010 – Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot!

CONTENTS

Argus Report: U.S. Ambassador Kirk tries to “thread a needle” around the nation for support to get three trade agreements through the senate

Florida: Sink has edge in polls over Scott, voters are still restless but coming to grip with candidates, but race will be tight

Miami-Dade County: Controversial property tax roll back rate passes commission 8-5, Braman ramps up recall efforts; $132 million in raises is what is setting off taxpayers

Broward County: State Rep. Porth draws Tea Party challenger Weakley, legislator had a $69,000 net worth through 2009

Palm Beach County: U.S. Rep. Deutch in the spotlight, newly minted congressional representative faces Republican Budd, leaders net worth through 2009 was $1.11 million

Leon County: Gov. Crist appoints three to Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission

Lake County: Gov. Crist taps General Magistrate Davis of Mount Dora to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court.

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Override of Rise Charter School by state education board shows flaw in state law for entities, also applies to “related transactions,” schools created by new school property owners

Public Health Trust: Stage set for 23 PHT trustee applicants interviews next week, must be best of the best, and truly committed, for it is “crisis management”, says Sorenson

City of Miami: It’s Showtime, Miami commission to vote on budget, are projected revenue streams true or a mirage?

City of Miami Beach: Mayor Bower says “tourists” are our trade to U.S. Ambassador Kirk at county hall

City of Coral Gables: Slesnick upbeat in state of city, longest serving mayor, two challengers for $32,000 job, filled with aggravation

Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum: Proposed constitutional Amendments 4 (“Hometown Democracy”) and 5 and 6 (“Fair Districts Florida”)
Citizens Crime Watch event –- Elephant Forum luncheon features Cardenas – Upcoming Margolis Collection 12th season

Editorials: Government should keep in mind of the digital divide, because not all South Floridians benefit by this technology windfall — Will Braman recall initiative galvanize S. FL., and fund need for more watchdogs if high definition transparency in government is to be achieved

Letters: Reader has a better headline on story — Readers on Watchdog Report contribution to S. Florida

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

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

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

>>> 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

>>> 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. I almost did not write this week because of my financial condition. And while I as so many others are facing tough times. I hope you or your organization will consider helping in a small or larger way and help keep another voice on line and in the media. A convenient form is at the bottom of this week’s Watchdog Report with all the instructions on how to support this newsletter and news service that started its 11th Anniversary on May 5.

>>> CORRECTION: Miami Herald political columnist Beth Reinhard will leave after the Nov. 2 general election and is covering all the major campaigns going on throughout the state until then for the paper.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Ambassador Kirk tries to “thread a needle” around the nation trying to get three trade agreements through the senate

U.S. Trade Ambassador Ronald Kirk was in town Thursday and he is trying to “thread a needle” when it comes to getting three free trade agreements passed by the United States Senate. Kirk in an exclusive interview with the Watchdog Report after meeting with community business, trade leaders and hosted by elected leaders Miami-Dade Commissioner José “Pepe” Diaz, state Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami and Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower including Miami Port Director Bill Johnson before going to a luncheon at Jungle Island given by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.  Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, in the elevator going down from the county government center meeting from the 18th floor said trying to get the trade agreements passed “was like threading a needle” around the nation. He said here in Miami, the Gateway to the Americas was ready to go and to just take off. “Cut the brakes,” lets go since he was told since trade is the lifeblood of Miami by “nature, culture and business necessity,” said the top trade negotiator.

He said the challenge is to get this message understood in “Detroit and Pittsburgh” and he needs South Florida’s “help to build a more compelling case” for these trade agreements stuck in legislative limbo as rust belt cities deal with massive unemployment and whole industries going over seas since NFTA first began in the early 1990s. Currently agreements in Columbia, Panama and South Korea are parked in the senate and when it comes to Korea. The issue is access for beef and automobiles where few are sold there but 700,000 cars are sold here.  Korea is an interesting country that over the decades was one of the young tigers of Asia but the nation has branched out and is now a significant global trading partner. Here in Miami, I went to attorney Bert Landry’s office 20-years ago because he served as the official consul for the nation down here and this local representation is important to the growth and understanding of other cultures and nations.

What tipped me off that something was going on at the county government center?

I knew something was up at government center when I saw two state trooper cars parked in the area usually reserved for commissioners and senior county staff cars in the backside of the Stephen P. Clark Center along with another black SUV with police lights for the ambassador’s use.

>>> United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk

As United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Kirk is a member of President Obama’s Cabinet and serves as the President’s principal trade advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on trade issues.

Ambassador Kirk was nominated to be United States Trade Representative by President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 18, 2009. During his tenure at USTR, Ambassador Kirk has led the office in developing trade policies that are proactive, responsible, and more responsive to American families’ interests – recognizing that trade can be a job-creating pillar of economic recovery in the United States and around the world. Highlights have included a new focus on trade policy that assists America’s small- and medium-sized businesses, increased enforcement efforts to bring home the benefits of existing trade agreements, and changes to move forward the Doha Round of world trade negotiations.

Ambassador Kirk draws upon more than 25 years of diverse legislative and economic experience on local, state and federal levels. As the first African American mayor of Dallas from 1995 – 2001, Ambassador Kirk expanded Dallas’ reach to the world through a range of trade programs, including numerous trade missions. Previously, he served as Texas Secretary of State under Governor Ann Richards; as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) and as chair of Texas’ General Service Commission. Ambassador Kirk also served as a City of Dallas assistant city attorney. Prior to joining USTR, Ambassador Kirk was a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP. He was named one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal in 2008, and one of the nation’s top government relations lawyers by The Best Lawyers in America from 2007-2009. Ambassador Kirk was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and sociology from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1979. He is married to Matrice Ellis-Kirk. He and his wife have two daughters, Elizabeth Alexandra and Catherine Victoria.

>>> Zogby Interactive: Democrats Take One-Point Lead In Congressional Generic Ballot; Obama Approval Goes Up to 49% -Increase in Support from Party Base Helping Dem Candidates

Democrats have taken a one-percentage point lead over Republicans on which party’s candidate voters intend to choose in the Congressional election; and President Barack Obama’s approval rating has increased to 49%. These results from a Zogby Interactive poll conducted from Sept. 17-20 are the first since mid-May that found the Democrats ahead in the Congressional generic ballot question. In an interactive poll conducted from Sept. 10-14, Republicans held a 47%-41% lead. In the Congressional race in 2010, for which party’s candidate do you intend to vote – Democrat of Republican?

Sept.
20
Sept.
14
Aug.
30
Aug.
23
Aug.
12
Aug.
4
July
26
July
19
June
28
June
7
May
17
Democrat 44% 41% 41% 41% 41% 38% 40% 41% 41% 41% 43%
Republican 43% 47% 43% 43% 42% 46% 43% 43% 43% 41% 41%
Neither 4% 3% 5% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 3%
Not sure 10% 10% 12% 13% 13% 13% 14% 13% 13% 16% 13%

Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website:
http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1896

>>> 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! 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 the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also the opportunity to be on Helen Ferre’s show Issues on issues@wpbt.org numerous times over the past decade.

>>> 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

>>> Sink has edge in polls over Scott, voters are still restless but coming to grip with candidates, but race will be tight

With Alex Sink (Net worth $9.22 million) leading slightly in the state polls against Rick Scott for the governor’s mansion www.miamiherald.com the heavy attack campaign ads cannons will be coming out and the Watchdog Report still believes the race will be neck and neck when the votes are tallied Nov.2. Sink, the state chief financial officer and a Democrat is facing Republican Rick Scott, whose insurgency campaign knocked off Attorney General Bill McCollum’ s (Net worth $1.45 million) bid for the top executive spot. Scott was in Coral Gables Monday morning and his invitation only town hall at the Biltmore Hotel while well attended, but went off script when a woman said she thought Sink was more knowledgeable when it came to the windstorm insurance issues. www.cbs4.com . The gubernatorial candidate also took a shot at how Jackson Memorial Hospital was being run and its recent problems reported in the press, but he got an answer back when PHT trustee Jorge Arrizurieta said he was on the organizational board and the solutions are not that simple. The PHT trustee also asked Scott if he was supporting the headquarters’ for the FTAA that Miami has been trying to get but is currently stalled.

Scott, who does not have a global grasp of how state government runs and the branches of power in some ways is very similar to attorney Bill McBride, Sinks husband who ran against Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002 and was decisively defeated after stumbling on the cost of a education initiative in a debate that he thought would cost over $20 billion. Bush called Scott on his primary night election victory celebration in August and is said to be helping behind the scenes in the campaign. But the biggest issue dogging the Republican champion is the $1.7 billion fine paid by Columbia/HCA to the federal government to settle Medicare fraud claims after Scott left the hospital chain he started. Scott when he departed got a golden parachute that ended up giving him a $218 million net worth.

Sink, is also stumping the state as well and her television ads are slowly sinking in with state voters, who now know she is a woman. A problem Sink was having initially but she said would be resolved by the time the race really heated up and that seems to be the case. She held a fundraiser in Coral Gables last week hosted by Mayor Donald Slesnick, II and a who’s who of Democratic Party supporters were on the local fundraiser invitation. However, Scott has raised a number of issues including investments the Florida retirement fund made that tanked, but a story in www.miamiherald.com checking the political facts of the matter suggest the accusations, that included bonuses for some of the senior executives was not directly under her control, or were done before she took office in Jan. 2007. Further, while Sink is beginning to make her case and has the party apparatus behind her when it comes to getting out the vote, Scott is no slouch either and beat McCollum with absentee ballots suggesting he is also capable of an effective ground game and getting ballots into the system on a statewide basis.

What about state Rep. Eduardo “Eddy” Gonzalez, R-Hialeah?

At Sergio’s Restaurant on Coral Way, Scott held another campaign stop Monday, it was Gonzalez that fired up the crowd, and he is said to have been very enthusiastic in his support of the healthcare executive and also Republican Marco Rubio and his campaign to be the next Florida U.S. Senator.

What do we know about Gonzalez’s finances?

Gonzalez who represents House District 102 is seeking his third term in the body since being elected in 2006. He still faces WRI candidate Cali Vellejo but is expected to win this perfunctory race in the Republican dominated district. The legislator has a number of income streams including a part ownership in a sports bar in Miami Lakes. His net worth for the year was $30,768 through May 2010 and he lists $40,000 in household goods. The legislator’s home is worth $325,000, a unit in Doral is valued at $136,000 and another asset is valued at $73,000. Gonzalez’s liabilities are loans owed $191,000 and $82,683, SunTrust is owed $203,000 and another bank is owed $65,544. He reports income from the state at $30,136 in his official capacity, Humana CAC kicked in $62,556, ESG  Enterprises paid him $23,500 and G. Consulting brought in $9,500, plus the bar ownership that has no value listed.

>>> For more information on Gonzalez go to http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4385&SessionId=64

>>> Will new strategy be tried to get UM doctors sovereign immunity, for Jackson patients?

The University of Miami has for years sought sovereign immunity from the Florida legislature when it came to the university’s physicians treating public patients that come into Jackson Memorial Hospital and possible limits on medical malpractice lawsuits since the institution has the deep financial pockets. The state’s trial attorney lobby has effectively killed this legislation in the past but another push may be coming this year, but with a different twist. Last week, I was talking with a Miami-Dade County commissioner staff member, state Rep Juan Zapata, R-Miami, termed out in 2010 and the delegation chair after a PHT Nominating Council meeting, and Zapata (Net worth $242,000) had a number of suggestions regarding the controversial issue and getting anything passed in the legislature. He noted the state has a $6 million appropriation for the medical school as a line item for the state’s first medical school already, but the more significant thing would be to protect physician’s liability when they treat Jackson patients on the PHT campus.

The state legislator thought the goal was to help strengthen and solidify the “UM/Jackson relationship,” if a compromise could be struck in the conservative legislature. But he also thought “more transparency” was necessary in understanding what UM was planning and doing now that they own the old Cedar’s Hospital next door from the Jackson/UM complex. He said the mission was to do it in a way that would convince state lawmakers in central and north Florida it was the right thing to do, especially given the new financial reality the state is facing. UM in the past has watched there medical liability payments soar through the roof from around $8 million in payments about eight years ago to more recently well over $30 million state university financial staff at public meetings at the PHT in the past.

>>> State Sen. Diaz de la Portilla says sayonara to Dist. 36, net worth drops from $286,000 to $31,000 – Brother Miguel picks up office

State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami is in the spotlight one last time since he is termed out in 2010 and did not run for any other political office. He was first elected to the Florida Senate on Jan. 27, 2000 and won reelection ever since and he represents District 36. He is the majority leader currently and was President Pro Tempore in 2002-2004. He was first elected to the state house in 1994 and he filled the senate seat after his predecessor in the office went to prison. He is a political consultant for the firm Winning Strategies Inc. and he has gone through a nasty divorce at the end of last year that generated some ink. http://www.miamiherald.com/2009/12/17/1385735/sen-alex-diaz-de-la-portilla-wife.html It is unknown what happened with that issue but he has seen a significant drop in his net worth from $286,000 in 2008 to $31,643 in 2009 states his financial disclosure form for 2009. He is being followed in the office by his brother Miguel, a former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and two time county failed mayoral candidate, who bested state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-South Miami (Net worth $661,000 in 08) in a bitter Republican primary race and he has other challengers but is expected to sweep the other candidates aside easily.

However, the expected newly minted senator in November, after he left office in 2000 after being the first Cuban-American County Commission Chair in the 1990s, is also a major county and city of Miami lobbyist, and is at the influential law firm of Becker & Polikoff.  He currently has 12 clients at the county ranging from AGI-Alliance Ground International to Venetia Condo Assoc and it is a diverse group of clients, and he recently was the lobbyist for the City of Miami on traffic red light cameras for the winning company. In the general election, Miguel is facing WRI candidates Luisa Artiles and Alberto Fortes for the senate seat.

What do we know about the senator’s finances?

Diaz de la Portilla through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $31,643 and he lists $100,000 in household goods. His home in Miami is valued at $160,000 and a home in the state capital is worth $795,000 state his financial disclosure for the year, that includes another almost $11,000 in different financial accounts. His liabilities are a $373,106 mortgage with B of A, another one is owed $632,000, his income for the year was $31,254 as a senator, and his consulting job brought in $36,000.

>>>Bio from Sen. Dist. webpage: Biographical Information Political Consultant, Winning Strategies, Inc. Attended University of Miami – Historical: Grandfather, Angel Pio de la Portilla, deceased, mentor and inspiration for social and political involvement. Paternal great-grandfather served in Cuban Senate, while two of his sons served simultaneously in the Cuban House of Representatives. Maternal great-grandfather served as Cuban Minister of Justice (Attorney General)

Long family history of political and civic involvement in Cuba and the United States, including brothers Renier, former State Representative, and Miguel, former Miami-Dade County Commissioner. For more information go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Legislators/index.cfm?Members=View+Page&District_Num_Link=036&Submenu=1&Tab=legislators&chamber=Senate&CFID=126754765&CFTOKEN=32780634

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today awarded $5.85 million in defense grants for projects to improve Florida’s defense economy for military installations and activities.

“Defense grants are an important element of Florida’s longstanding support for our nation’s military bases, their unique missions, and their brave and selfless service members and support personnel,” said Governor Crist. “These grants allow local communities in Florida to support our men and women in uniform and strengthen Florida’s defense economy.” The Florida Defense Reinvestment Grant Program and the Defense Infrastructure Grants are awarded annually on a priority project basis. Administered by the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development in coordination with Enterprise Florida Inc., the 2010-11 Defense Reinvestment Grants are awarded to nine projects in support of military base retention and economic diversification for a total of $850,000. Fourteen projects will receive a total of $5 million in Defense Infrastructure Grants to support local infrastructure projects.

Defense Reinvestment Grants

The Defense Reinvestment Grant Program assists communities in developing economic diversification strategies and implementing base growth and reuse programs. This program encourages communities to analyze their economic reliance on defense expenditures and formulate specific plans to respond to the nation’s defense priorities. The 2010-11 Defense Reinvestment Grants are awarded to Bay Defense Alliance, Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Orange County R&D/National Center for Simulation, the City of Jacksonville, Clay County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, The Beacon Council Inc., and TEAM Santa Rosa EDC.

Defense Infrastructure Grants

The Defense Infrastructure Program addresses the infrastructure needs of Florida’s military installations. Grants are provided to economic development organizations for projects associated with encroachment, transportation and access, utilities, communications, housing, environment and security. The 2010-11 Defense Infrastructure Grants are awarded to the Clay County Development Authority, the City of Fort Walton, Escambia County, Highlands County, the City of Jacksonville, Okaloosa County, the Orange County Research and Development Authority, Pinellas County, Santa Rosa County, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and the City of Tampa. >>>

About the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development: The Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED) formulates policies and strategies designed to promote economic growth and diversify the state’s economic base. OTTED provides executive direction, develops policies and advocates for economic diversification and improvements in Florida’s business climate and infrastructure by focusing on six economic drivers to unify state-wide economic development planning and action: 1) Sustainable growth, 2) Competitive business climate, 3) Multi-model infrastructure, 4) Research & development, 5) Entrepreneurial systems, and 6) World-class talent. For more information, visit www.flgov.com/otted_home.

>>> Press release: What a week for The Children’s Movement of Florida
Five days and five cities: Daytona Beach, Orlando, Fort Pierce, Tampa and Lakeland. The week before: Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee and Gainesville. We have been thus far with 6,000 energized and enthusiastic citizens of Florida.

The bus rolls on next week — St. Petersburg, Bradenton-Sarasota, Naples-Fort Myers, West Palm Beach…and onward. The message of children as the state’s No. 1 priority goes over splendidly. Great coverage in newspapers, TV, radio and via Internet. Much more to do to build a real movement embracing the future of all children…but off to the best sort of start. A strong call to action everywhere: That is, the people of Florida deserve to have the children of Florida as the focus of the first-ever gubernatorial debate. That will be Oct. 16 at the University of Miami with a statewide television hookup. Alex Sink has agreed to be there. Rick Scott has yet to agree to participate. What could be a more important topic than the children of our state? Both nominees need to be there. Thanks for believing…and doing. David Lawrence Jr., The Children’s Movement of Florida http://childrensmovementflorida.org/

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Controversial property tax roll back rate passes commission 8-5, Braman ramps up recall efforts; $132 million in raises is what is setting off taxpayers

After over 230 public speakers spoke at the last public budget hearing Thursday night, that had commissioners passing 8-5 the roll back property tax millage rate, a number that allowed the county to minimize what could have been massive cuts of employees and still give most employees $132 million in raises over the year. However, the issue of the raises in the $7.3 billion 2010-2011 budget is sending taxpayers through the roof since in general if people have a job. They have not seen such enrichment in their paychecks over the past few years, where employers have been cracking the whip when it came to work output, yet reduction in pay for the workers.

Further, in 2004 the county voters approved a $2.9 billion general obligation bond offering and the administration at the time assured commissioners and the public this would not cost taxpayers any more money then they were paying for a bond that was ending but with the plunging property values, that is no longer the case and to cover the obligation there is a bump in the tax bill for the issue. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $871,000), elected in 2004 went on Issues www.wpbt2.org >> Watch This Week’s Issues hosted by Helen Ferre and he blasted this increase the public was having to pay on the bond obligation, and the roll back rate in general, and the approval of $132 million in raises. He also said if the commissioners voting no for the budget. If they were penalized in their districts, considering the votes came from the five Hispanic officials. He said there would be severe repercussions if that route were attempted, he predicted on the show.

What about the 2002 PTP half-cent sales tax for transportation?

Last week the Watchdog Report wrote about the county administration’s desire to take $5 million in county sales tax funding designated for the 32 cities incorporated in the county before 2002 when the county voters passed the tax that generates around $175 million a year. Manager George Burgess feels the money for the three new municipalities created since then should come from the cities 20 percent share of the money with local managers crying foul. However, one factor may have been lost in this discussion, and it is a 2002 legal opinion given by then county attorney Robert Ginsburg.

The long serving attorney when asked by County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Cancio back then what would happen if new cities were created, and where any new money would come from? The attorney opined that the money would come out of the UMSA or unincorporated area budget that gets 80 percent of this transportation funding. Burgess at the time was not the county manager and he may have been at the school board as the district’s CFO at the time. But this opinion on the record is still out there in the public domain and while a number of cities are working on trying to mediate the issue with the county. This fact in the public record could strengthen the cities cases and there call to the manager to find the money somewhere else in the county budget.

What about Burgess?

Burgess and I passed on the escalator Wednesday afternoon while he was shuttling between commissioners and the “blank” look on his face when he looked at me showed the pressure he was under to craft a finished budget product in time. That included rumors flying around county hall that Commissioners Sally Heyman (Net worth $425,000) and Bruno Barreiro (Net worth $728,000) would vote against the higher roll back rate, causing the overall budget to unravel at the last minute if that vote change happened. However, both Heyman and Barreiro voted with the majority and that last minute crisis did not happen.

What about Braman?

Last week Norman Braman, the billionaire auto magnate told www.miamiherald.com that he is considering a self financed recall effort of commissioners who voted yes for the tax hike and pay raises, given the struggling local and national economy. He plans to give his decision and final details at a press conference Monday says the daily and Mayor Carlos Alvarez  (Net worth $1.74 million) and Commission Chair Dennis Moss (Net worth $342,000) seem impervious to any threat in this regard. Braman, over  the decades has picked up the gauntlet a couple of times and killed a new transportation tax initiative in 1999 when voters in July bulked at the idea shooting it down by two to one when it came to votes.

Since then he supported another half-cent-sales tax for transportation in 2002 because it was held on a general election day, and was well publicized and explained to the community what it was for. However, the county commission has since modified this tax, how it is used, and its oversight trust and Braman told the Watchdog Report a week ago, he was “wrong” in supporting that tax and should have fought it as well. Alvarez, termed out in 2012 has acted impervious to past attacks and criticism when his aides have gotten in trouble and he has a temper that periodically flares but he believes he is solid with his base, that gave him 65 percent of the vote back in 2008 over a totally unknown candidate. In Moss’ case, he said he was not afraid to run against himself and believes he will be retained on the body, despite what Braman tries to do. Readers should stay tuned and see how this plays out in the political landscape known as Miami-Dade. Editor’s note: readers should check out Braman’s and County Commissioner Katy Sorenson Sunday’s interview on the county budget passed on Friday morning. >>>Michael Putney – Station News Story – WPLG Miami Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of “This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney.” http://www.justnews.com/station/269244/detail.html >>> Also Braman is holding a press conference Monday at 10:00 a.m., at his car dealership on Biscayne Boulevard north of the Arsht Center.

>>> A legislative skirmish is over for the moment between Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Robert Meyers, the executive director of the Miami- Dade Ethics and Public Trust Commission over the independent organization’s budget. The mayor has been insisting that salary and  benefits cuts for the commission created by voters in 1996 be exactly the same five percent formula as the county employees because Meyers through furloughs and other means was able to meet the budget number for the commission but that did not satisfy Alvarez and his management team. The two men had had a couple of sharp verbal exchanges at commission meetings in the past that had the mayor demanding an apology at one point. Meyers, representing an entity unlike anything the county has since the commission is in the Home Rule Charter as a stand-alone organization, but does get the bulk of its funding from the general fund. Because of this dependency, the commission is looking for another way in the future to finance the organization to avoid this potential conflict since the mayor and commission all fall under the purview of the ethics body. Further,

Commissioner Barbara Jordan (Net worth $1.97 million) a former county employee, also was critical of the way the ethics commission was acting, noting being a county employee had its benefits, and everyone should be in this together. Meyers said last week when the Watchdog Report asked him about the issue. He said he had sent a memo to Alvarez saying the commission would essentially comply with his request, since the whole issue was becoming a “distraction” during the contentious budget hearings that were coming-up on Thursday.

>>>GMCVB Press release: TIME IS RUNNING OUT!  GMCVB’S MIAMI SPICE RESTAURANT MONTH RUNS THROUGH SEPTEMBER GMCVB’s annual Miami Spice Restaurant Month is a mouth-watering summer restaurant promotion showcasing the very best of Miami cuisine.  Through September, Miami’s top restaurants offer three-course meals (Lunch $22, Dinner $35) excluding tax and gratuity. This is the time to enjoy signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs. For participating restaurants, menus and reservations, visit www.iLoveMiamiSpice.com.

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> State Rep. Porth draws Tea Party challenger Weakley, legislator had a $69,000 net worth through 2009

State Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs is in the spotlight this week and he is termed out in 2012.  The prosecutor was first elected to the House District 96 in 2004, was a minority whip and delegation chair most recently in 2009. Porth, 40, just had his birthday Saturday and he is married, with one son, and received his law degree in 1995 from Nova Southeastern University after moving to Florida in 1992, and in the general election, he is facing Tea Party candidate Jason Weakley.

What do we know about his finances?

Porth through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $69,000 and he lists $75,000 in household goods. His home is valued at $346,000, there is $37,000 in different financial instruments, and he owes $375,000 on a mortgage and a car lease is owed $14,000. His income for the year was $75,000 as an assistant state attorney, and the legislature kicked in $29,000. He also filed his IRS 2009 -1040 and his joint return with his wife shows their total income for the year was $180,000, had $27,397 in taxes owed and over paid the estimate tax by $3,795 for the year.

For more information about Porth : http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4352&SessionId=64

>>> 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

>>> U.S. Rep. Deutch in the spotlight, newly minted congressional representative faces Republican Budd, leaders net worth through 2009 was $1.11 million

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D- Boca Raton, 44, is in the spotlight and the newly minted Florida 19th District congressional representative was elected to the House in April 2010 and is up again this Nov. 2. He is an attorney who went to the University of Michigan for his undergraduate and law degree and he is married with two daughters and a younger son. He was in the Florida senate for four years prior to going to Washington and has made national security, the Middle East, and foreign policy a major area of interest. He is facing Republican candidate Joe Budd and WRI candidate Stan Smilian in the general election.

What do we know about his finances?

Deutch through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $1.11 million and he lists $200,000 in household goods. He has $99,000 in a variety of stocks, there is $282,000 in banks, mutual funds account for $144,000 and his life insurance is worth 735,000. He lists two liabilities owed $301,000 and $6,000 and income for the year was $250,000 from his law firm Broad & Cassel, and the state kicked in $30,000 as a legislator. For more information about Deutch go to: http://deutch.house.gov/

LEON COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist appoints three to Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission

Linda G. Bond, 53, of Tallahassee, attorney with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, succeeding Tammy Cicchetti, appointed for a term beginning September 21, 2010, and ending July 1, 2014.

Donald M. Hinkle, 54, of Tallahassee, partner and attorney with Hinkle & Foran, succeeding Kenneth Sukhia, appointed for a term beginning September 21, 2010, and ending July 1, 2014.

Randolph P. Murrell, 59, of Tallahassee, Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Florida, succeeding Gary Hunter, appointed for a term beginning September 21, 2010, and ending July 1, 2014.

LAKE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist taps General Magistrate Heidi Davis of Mount Dora to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court.

“Heidi’s great respect for the bench, behind-the-scenes experience in the courtroom, and her knowledge of the law will help her serve with fairness and common sense,” said Governor Crist. “Her integrity and work ethic have made her an invaluable addition to the Fifth Judicial Circuit.” Davis, 45, has been a general magistrate in Lake County since 2004. Previously, she served as a judicial law clerk in Lake County from 2001 to 2004 and from 1998 to 1999. Davis was also an associate with Alvarez, Sambol, Winthrop and Madison between 2000 and 2001. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and her law degree from the Stetson University College of Law. Davis will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jack Springstead.

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Override of Rise Charter School by state education board shows flaw in state law for entities, also applies to “related transactions” schools created by new school property owners

The override by the state Board of Education of Rise Academy in Homestead closed by the Miami-Dade schools district recently highlights one of the flaws in the Charter School legislation crafted by the legislature. While the school performed an education miracle going from an F to A school last year but there were irregularities that the nation’s fourth largest public district could not ignore, including unsanitary issues, public access to the school and money is still owed the district. The state board chaired by T. Willard Fair and founder of the Liberty City Charter School in Miami in the www.miamiherald.com story says the school was not given sufficient time in front of the school board to state their case for not being closed.  Fair has been a consistent supporter of these schools that give an alternative to public school students attending district schools. There are over 80 Charter Schools in Miami-Dade and many of them provide great educational opportunities for children, but some also push the limit when it comes to using public tax money to cover a mortgage or taxes on a building that a founder of a school might own and is considered a “related transaction” by the district. To see the meeting agenda go to >>>The State Board of Education will meet tomorrow in Tallahassee.  The agenda and materials may be viewed at: http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/2010_09_21/agenda.asp.

>>> Press release: Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho will be honored with the Visionary Leader of the Year award, presented by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce during the chamber’s 21st Annual Salute to Miami’s Leaders awards luncheon on Friday, October 8, 2010, at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail.

Among other accomplishments, Superintendent Carvalho is being honored for Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ commitment to academic achievement. More than half of all public schools received an accountability grade of “A” based on performance reviews from the Florida Department of Education. Additionally, this school year the district unveiled several new innovative schools and instructional programs, including iPrep, a high school for the new millennium that offers rigorous curriculum with a technology-rich environment; Medical Academy for Science and Technology (M.A.S.T.) @ Homestead, a medical magnet offering advanced programs in the fields of Biomedical, Pharmaceutical Services, and Physical Therapy, and International Studies Preparatory Academy (I.S.P.A.) @ Gables, a program that provides students with an international curriculum in which students receive up to three hours of instruction in French, Spanish, or Italian.

“This is a wonderful honor – not only for me, but for every employee of our school district,” said Superintendent Carvalho. “Our laser-like focus on values-driven budgeting and innovation through efficiency demonstrates our commitment to providing a wide array of educational opportunities to our children despite economic uncertainties. This is an honor that I share with the School Board and an exceptional team of teachers and staff who are dedicated to excellence every day.”

>>> Press release: EXPERIENCED TEACHERS WANTED — Are you an experienced teacher? Do you want to work in a profession where the rewards are priceless? Miami-Dade County Public Schools has just the opportunity for you. Biology, chemistry, physics, and science teachers are needed at schools across the District. You must be highly qualified and have a valid State of Florida teaching certificate. Other requirements may apply. To learn more about how you can teach in Miami-Dade County Public schools, visit www.jobs.dadeschools.net and select Recruitment Information.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Stage set for 23 PHT applicants interviews next week, must be best of the best, and truly committed, for it is “crisis management”, says Sorenson

The PHT Nominating Council met Wednesday to revise and select the 13 questions that will be asked the 23 applicants who applied to be on the 15-member citizen board, plus two voting commissioners. The Council is chaired by County Commissioner Dennis Moss, along with Commissioners Sally Heyman (Net worth $425,000), Katy Sorenson (Net worth $1.7 million), state Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami and John Copeland III, the PHT board chair and there were 17 people in the conference room. This meeting had an unusual aspect since one of the applicants attended the public Sunshine meeting, something that has happened occasionally over the past 13-years. Heyman noted when it came to the discussions, we should be “mindful an applicant is in the room.” Since their was an applicant there, Moss decided to send all the others applying an information packet that would include the questions they will be asked at the Sept. 29 and 30th interviews. In the past, I would not run these questions but since all the applicants are getting them; the public gets to see them as well. Further, it was clear in the discussions that trustees selected and ultimately approved by the county commission must follow the party line, and stop trying to buck the commission when it comes to Jackson’s role in the political food chain of county government, and the PHT board is a creation of the county commission.

Further, one applicant will be calling from Egypt and when county staff said a couple of the people were not inter-net savvy and would have to get this information another way. Sorenson thought, “You need to function in the modern society if you want to be on this board.” Heyman also wanted to discuss the issue of attendance since the three incumbents attendance records were included in the information packet given out by staff. She said her review of all the trustees’ attendance was “deplorable in some cases.” However, Heyman a few years back did vote to keep Martin Zilber on the board even though his attendance and performance record on the health trust got him his own section every week in the Watchdog Report. Though to be fair Moss and Heyman did tell Zilber, an attorney who recently had a birthday, to pick up the performance pace after he was selected again but that has been spotty since then. He also for some reason is part of the interview process at the PHT for senior level positions. He was late a while ago to a fiscal affairs committee meeting saying he was “interviewing” a candidate applying to be the new vice-president of human resources, and he also interviewed another senior applicant for a real-estate slot at the trust. Sorenson mentioned this “meddling” of trustees with the administration in the past and the Council members appear willing to look at all the incumbent trustees in the future, and whether they are fulfilling their obligations for this voluntary position, that includes no salary or perks.

The county is currently checking these people’s background and Moss, staff and the Watchdog Report will have what is found concerning any of these individuals that have to be the best of the best of our community. They also have to live in Miami-Dade and be a registered voter in the county.

Here are the 13 questions?

>>> Why would you like to serve on the Public Health Trust Board? What special skills will you bring to the Trust? 2. Can you dedicate at least 40 hours a month to serving on the Trust? Do you have any schedule restrictions? 3. What do you know about the current challenges of the Trust and how would you go about addressing them? 4. What do you know about the vision of the Trust and the organization’s plans for the future? 5. What services need to be provided in order for the indigent of Miami-Dade to receive adequate healthcare? 6. How would you meet those responsibilities and obligations given the current financial constraints of the Trust? 7. How should the PHT be involved in addressing the JMH operating deficit? 8. Is there anything in your personal or professional background that could be a potential conflict of interest, including those arising from relationships in the healthcare industry or the Jackson Memorial Foundation? 9. Is there anything in your personal or professional background that would be a concern to the County? 10. What is your understanding of the following relationships: The Trust and the County? The Trust and the Jackson Health System administration? The Trust and the two major medical academic institutions, UM and FIU? 11. What are your thoughts concerning the Grand Jury Report? 12. What is your understanding of how Healthcare Reform will impact the Jackson Health System? 13. Is there anything else you would like to tell us that you feel is relevant to you candidacy?

>>> UM President Shalala taps Amos for PHT board, sharp, capable, with a good personal temperament

Donna Shalala, the University of Miami president has selected Betty Amos as the representative on the PHT board and she is an impressive choice. Amos, a businesswoman was most recently chair of the Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Audit Committee and she did an outstanding job looking over the district’s $4.3 billion operation with the other board members. She is also the chair of the university’s audit committee and Shalala introduced her to Commissioner Katy Sorenson recently at a social event said the commissioner Wednesday.

>>> PAST WDR: Who were the chosen trustee candidates for interviews?

After extending the application deadline, 69 people applied and 23 of them were selected to be interviewed Sept 29 and 30th. The people making the selection cut are Rene Alvarez, Gladys Ayala*, Sal Barbera, Hugo Castro, Mary Coombs, Marvin Diaz-Lacayo, Alan Erzin, Charles Fultz, Morrie Hollander, Saif Yamani Ishoof*, Clifford Kolber, Angel Medina*,  Noelia Moreno, Stephen Nuell, Kamlesh Oza, Robin Reiter-Faragalli, Manny Alejandro Rodriguez, Mark Rogers, Jonathan Rose, Roberto Saco, Kenneth Sellers, Frederick Thornburg, and Raul Valdes-Fauli. Editor’s note: A * indicates a trustee incumbent.

What should they do now?

Candidates should read as much as possible about what is going on at Jackson Memorial Hospital system including www.miamiherald.com & www.watchdogreport.net & Jackson Health System Purpose of the Public Health Trust … About Public Relations & Marketing … It is also home to the Ryder Trauma Center, Miami-Dade County’s only Level 1 …
http://www.jhsmiami.org/ >>> Public Health Trust In 2003, the Board of County Commissioners amended Chapter 25A of the Miami-Dade County Code that governs the Public Health Trust. http://www.jhsmiami.org/body.cfm?id=45

>>> Here are two reports that should be read. >>> >>> To read the Grand Jury report go to Miami Dade Office of the State Attorney, 11th Judicial Circuit …
>>> County IG Report: Final Report on OIG Review of the Jackson Health System Business Plan for Civica Tower, Prepared January 2010, Ref. IG09-89, August 26, 2010.   The Business Plan  or see the story in www.miamiherald.com

>>> Sept 29, 2010 – 8:30 am-5pm Sept 30, 2010 – 9am-5pm Nominating Council Convenes: Interview Finalists Select slate of nominees for presentation to Board

>>> October 19, 2010 – Final nominees presented to the Board for approval

***Request Waiver to BCC

>>> PHT Board meetings are moving from DTC after commission voted to change to BCC chambers

The PHT board is having one of its final meetings at the Ira C. Clark Diagnostic Center on the second floor after county commissioners last week passed legislation requiring the board to meet in the county commission chambers in the Stephen P. Clark Center rather than on campus like now. The board meeting starts at 3:00 p.m., is televised and can be viewed on Comcast in Miami on channel 76 or on line at www.miamidade.gov .

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> It’s Showtime, Miami commission to vote on budget, are projected revenue streams true or a mirage?

It’s Showtime Monday at 5:05 p.m. at City Hall when the last public budget hearing is being held and citizen and resident turnout is expected to be high. Miami, facing a $100 million plus budget hole is upping the cost of practically every fee, permit, or parking rate throughout the city as it reels from the Great Recession that has seen property values plunge in value at a unprecedented rate. The city is asking for more money from the Miami Parking Authority and also wants voters to approve it to dissolve and come under the city administration. The authority created decades ago and fiscally solvent and without scandal is fighting the maneuver but it will be up to voters on Nov. 2 to decide. Further, there is a $10.4 million transfer from the local CRAs and that is considered controversial and county manager George Burgess told the county commission last week the administration was monitoring this activity, waiting to see what city leaders actually did since the county has a say in a general way the organizations are run and what they fund. Further, new red light cameras are budgeted to bring in $8 million in next years budget but there is no history with this funding stream, and if scofflaws getting the $75.00 tickets appeal. Local Chief Circuit Court Judge Joel Brown says it could jam up the courts that are new set up to deal with this new task and reported in last week’s Watchdog Report.

>>> Miami CRAs CEO gets some ink

Further, the CRAs new director Pieter Bockweg got some critical press www.miamiherald.com concerning his proposed salary and other benefits that could bring his salary to over $ 210,000, a high pay rate given the financial challenges the city faces. The former Miami mid-level manager was paid about $73,000 a year in his past job after then manager Joe Arriola brought him in at a lower position years earlier. The manager in the paper is quoted he hired the kid, who is “smart” because he knew his dad and his new position is ‘like two world’s’ different then when he first signed on with the city. The CRA has a budget of around $80 million and 13 employees, the commission confirmed Bockweg but his pay was put off at the last board meeting made up of commissioners. However, it may come up at Monday’s CRA meeting starting at 3:00 p.m. in the commission chambers and readers should stay tuned.

>>> Press release: The Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an agency of the City of Miami providing independent citizens’ oversight of the Miami Police Department, seeks qualified applicants to fill two vacancies on its Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee interviews applicants for CIP membership and makes recommendations regarding persons who should be appointed to the CIP.  The vacant seats on the Committee are for City of Miami Commission Districts 1 and 3. Members must be either permanent residents of the Commission District, own real property, work or maintain a business in the district, have a good reputation for integrity and community service and shall not have a record of a felony conviction, nor be a current or former City of Miami police officer. Interested persons must submit a completed application and a biography or resume.  Applications may be downloaded at www.miamigov.com/cip, obtained from the CIP office at 970 SW 1 St., Suite 305 or by calling 305-960-4950/fax 305-960-4959.  Completed applications are to be mailed or delivered to the CIP address listed above.  Recruitment will remain open until a sufficient number of applications are received.

>>> 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 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

>>> Mayor Bower says “tourists” are our trade to U.S. Ambassador Kirk at county hall

Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower told the Watchdog Report last Thursday at county hall after being part of a meeting with U.S. Trade Ambassador Ronald Kirk that “tourists” are her community’s trade and they want more of it, she said. Bower elected a few years ago has a disarming persona and she acts like everyone’s doting grandmother but she is more clued in than she might suggest. She is up in November of next year and people on the Beach, especially her peers, a significant voting block, are still solidly behind her.

What about the meeting on PTP funds with county manager Burgess?

The Watchdog Report contacted Miami Beach Manager Jorge Gonzalez last week concerning the meeting of city managers meeting with Miami-Dade Manager George Burgess and the shifting of $5 million from the cities transportation money. The veteran city manager on the Beach wrote on the subject, “We had spirited debate. Lots of Cities represented. Cities are very united on this issue. We all support the new cities getting their PTP funds — we all want that [$5 million] to happen from the 80% Countywide portion,” he wrote.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Slesnick upbeat in state of city, longest serving mayor, two challengers for $32,000 job, filled with aggravation

Mayor Donald Slesnick II in his most recent state of the city sums up what he believes has been accomplished over the past almost ten years since his election in the spring of 2001. Slesnick, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, and labor attorney got the political bug about the same time the Watchdog Report was evolving in the 1990s and I have watched him from then to now. The mayor who tries to always be upbeat, and bristles at critical media stories, he believes are sometimes inaccurate, had a long running battle with the local Coral Gables Gazette that made a number of issues very personal, and would end with former Manager David Brown resigning after a scandal. A few months ago, I asked the mayor if he planned to run again with the election April 12, 2011, and he has already become the longest serving leader in the city’s history, but he was coy in his answer. He said he wanted to minimize the issue of being a “lame duck” at the end and he was still mulling the idea. Whatever his decision, two candidates have jumped into the race and they are new faces. James Cason, a former federal official and Tom Korge, a local attorney. Slesnick said Korge had contacted him before he made this decision and Korge’s brother Chris, is a high profile Democratic Party fundraiser, especially during the President Bill Clinton administration.

Events many times test local leaders and for Slesnick two of these crucible moments was after Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina in 2004 and 2005 that had the tony community’s residents hot and bothered when they lost power for weeks and vented their frustration to elected leaders with the mayor being ground zero of the complaint line. The mayor at the time, looking a little tired and weary reflected on what it was like to be a politician under these circumstances and wondered if it was worth the aggravation, since the pay is small and the time involved in the job is long but he continued to perseverance in office since then.

>>> Ethics study on salary & benefits, 2008: The City of Coral Gables’ Mayor receives a salary of $32,000, the Vice Mayor a salary of $28,000 and each of the City Commissioners a salary of $26,000.  All increases in compensation for elected officials are tied to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers from the preceding July, and shall be ratified by the Commission at a public hearing, with such increase retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year.

Each Commissioner receives an expense allowance of $400 per month ($4,800 per annum), and the Mayor receives an expense allowance of $500 per month ($6,000 per annum). The travel allowance for each Commissioner is fixed at $1,200 per annum, and travel expenses for the Mayor are fixed at $1,800 per annum.  In 2007, the Mayor incurred and was reimbursed for $1,591.48 in travel expenses.  The Mayor was the only elected official who received reimbursement for travel. The Mayor’s office allowance for secretarial, telephone, postage and like expenses is fixed at $100 per month.

>>> web page:  Coral Gables is ‘healthy & vibrant,’ mayor says in ‘state of the city’ keynote In his ninth “state of the city” address, Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick affirmed that Coral Gables remains “healthy and…

COMMUNITY EVENTS


>>> Tuesday, September 28, 2010: Downtown Bay Forum: Proposed constitutional  Amendments 4 (“Hometown Democracy”) and 5 and 6 (“Fair Districts Florida”)

Speakers: Amendment 4: Tom Connick, Esq., will make the argument for the
amendment, and Neisen Kasdin, Esq., will make the argument against it. Amendments 5 and 6: The amendments, and the arguments for and against them, will be summarized by Julie Simon of Fair Districts Florida. Moderator: Helen Aguirre Ferre. 11:30 am at the Marriott Hotel1633 N. Bayshore Dr., Miami. $5.00 Valet Parking  Available. To reserve, call Annette Eisenberg (305)757-3633, fax (305)754-2015. $22  lunch, member w/reservation. Others $26 if space available. $30 membership.
>>> Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade – 35th Anniversary Awards Ceremony – recognizing law enforcement and crime watch volunteers. Friday, October 1, 2010 – Doubletree – Miami Mart Airport Hotel – 777 NW 72 Avenue – Miami, Fl

Reception: 6:00 pm -Awards: 7:00 pm – Dinner: 8:00 pm -Tickets: $50.00 per person -Keynote Speaker: Director James K. Loftus – Miami-Dade Police Department Master of Ceremony: Eliott Rodriguez – Anchor CBS 4 News

For more information call 305-470-1670 for more information: www.citizenscrimewatch.org

>>> Elephant Forum luncheon: We are pleased and excited to announce that Al Cardenas, the Past Chairman of the Republican Party of the State of Florida, will be our Speaker at the next Elephant Forum meeting to be held on Monday, October 11, 2010, at 12:00 Noon, at The Rusty Pelican Restaurant on Key Biscayne. With the Elections on November 4th, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear our most informed, Al Cardenas, talk about Florida politics. Make your reservations early, and invite guests. Contact Mary Ellen Miller at 305.377.9187. or email at  memil@comcast.net

>>> Press release: the margulies collection at the WAREhOUSE -  Wynwood Art District, Miami, Fl – This November 10, 2010, the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse will open its 12th season of exhibitions to the public with the following : AFRICA Photography and Video JENE HIGHSTEIN Large Stone Carvings MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO Broken Mirror Painting CONTERMPORARY PAINTING  Selections from the Margulies Collection including William Beckman, Vincent Desiderio, Oliver Dorfer, Jonathan Meese, Chris Ofili and Tal R BRIAN ALFRED  Digital Animation PERMANENT LARGE SCALE SCULPTURE  Abakanowicz, de Kooning, Eliasson, Gormley, Heizer, Judd, LeWitt, Miro, Noguchi, Segal, Serra and Tony Smith

Pieter Hugo, The Hounorable Justice Unity Dow, 2005

About the 2010-2011 Exhibition:

AFRICA: Photography and video -This exhibition will present over 250 works of art by African artists as well as non-African artists whose subject is Africa. Produced over the past 60 years the works in the exhibition explore the complexities of daily life across the vast continent of Africa. Artists in the exhibition include:  Roger Ballen, Peter Friedl, David Goldblat,  Subodh Gupta, Pieter Hugo, Alfredo Jaar,  Seydou Keita, Zwelethu Mthethwa,  Arnold Newman, Jackie Nickerson, George Osodi,  Robin Rhode, Viviane Sassen, Malick Sidibe, Montsikelelo Veleko, George Rodger, and Lyle Owerko.

EDITORIALS

>>> Government should keep in mind of the digital divide, because not all South Floridians benefit by this technology windfall

The community’s digital divide continues to exist, and while young people have taken the technology to a new universe, there are many others in Miami-Dade that are left behind. I hear people in government all the time talk as if everyone has access to the internet and of course, it must be a high-speed connection. I thought about this after being inter net savvy was a new requirement to be on a prominent county board and since there are over 500,000 county residents not on line, does that mean their concerns or possible participation is made null. Over the years, there has been an attempt to have free countywide inter-net access but that idea did not come to fruition and while Miami Beach has it for residents and tourists, it needs to be countywide if all residents are to benefit by this technological windfall that unfortunately does not extend to all South Floridians.

>>> Will Braman recall initiatives galvanize S. FL., and fund need for more watchdogs if high definition transparency in government is to be achieved

>>> Norman Braman’s expected proposed initiative to recall some county commissioners and the mayor should also include creating a small but strong watchdog presence that cannot be achieved by local universities because of reporter turnover and why the Watchdog Report gets more informed every week in my relentless quest to figure out this diverse and complex community. And it is my almost 15-years of  detailed community history that is so important and why when people ask why I am not taking on interns or others, it is because they will never know all the people in a commission chambers for example or why the bulk of them are there at the hearing. I do not have an answer to Braman’s call for a recall of the eight commissioners that voted on the new county $7.3 billion budget submitted by Mayor Carlos Alvarez but I do know that if the community really wants to have better government.

Community leaders need to fund these people that many times through their writing and reporting kill many expenditures before these even get off the ground. Further, FIU recently got a $100,000 grant for a watchdog program but many times these watchdogs only bring things to light after the fact, and keeping a bad idea coming to fruition is actually easier many times and if the community and academic community really wants to make a difference. Being in the field where public policy is being made in the Florida Sunshine is where it is at and I can say from empirical observation, important stories the community should know about are low hanging fruit these days. The only question is will this galvanizing event finally wake-up people who constantly give lip service to good government but do nothing to help fund it. And after 11-years of writing a free publication, yet constantly financially strapped, the prognosis is not positive that things will ever change, and high definition transparency will only be a dream, rather than a reality.

LETTERS

>>> I think you did a poor job on this headline: You think the important thing is that Seijas chided Marquez?  How about the fact that Seijas was completely wrong and the accusation was baseless – that should be the point.  How about:

>>> Commissioner Seijas chides Herald editor Marquez on her property taxes based on erroneous or incorrect information or When a public official uses the bully pulpit to criticize a citizen, he or she better be 100% certain for not everyone is going to have the venue to disprove the allegations like Ms. Marquez.  In my humble opinion, you missed the point here.  In any case, keep up the good work.

RSM

>>> Keep up the good work. There are lots of us out here who support you and the wonderful work you do!

IK

>>> Thank you so much for including my presentation to the TMBC.  I hope all is well. Thank you for all you do,

GR

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

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 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 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.

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

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

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

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

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

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

Any amount $

Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to

3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133

Fax 305-668-4784 -To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net