Month of November 2010

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.11 No.28 November 28, 2010 Est. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Camillus House turns 50, Hope is where the heart is, served 440,000 hot meals in 2009

Florida: Gov. Crist taps Emas for 3rd Dist. Court of Appeal, joins Shepard & Wells along with others after voters retain them on court

Miami-Dade County: Dec. 1st becomes big day, Alvarez, Ruvin and Braman get day in court; Alvarez faces public at lunch and resigning PHT CEO Roldan speaks at Greater Miami Chamber event

Broward County: Commissioner Wexler chafes under new ethics code, vice Mayor Rodstrom says go with the flow

Palm Beach County: Vice Chair Marcus in spotlight, dodges political purge, had $138,000 net worth through Dec. 09

Sarasota County: Gov. Crist taps Christine Robinson of Venice to the Sarasota County BCC

Monroe County: FDOT Public meetings scheduled for Keys & Miami-Dade, residents and public asked to get involved via a number of ways

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Miami CRA gets land from district for movie sound stage, but will low frequency waveform propagation vibrations doom project in the end?

Public Health Trust: Wanted: Miracle Worker capable of keeping trust afloat, gives $700 million in charity care, 30 bosses, not for the inexperienced or feint of heart

City of Miami: Mayor Regalado staying mum on commission top spot, Gort the likely successor to Sarnoff

City of Miami Beach: Gongora sponsored leaf blower ordinance gets nod from commission, not as contentious an issue as in Coral Gables

Coral Gables: Gimenez gives low down at county hall, seriously “thinking about running for [county] mayor”

Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum Dec. 1 Forum luncheon speaker County Mayor Alvarez — The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Dec.1 is featuring Public Health Trust President Eneida Roldan M.D., as its featured speaker — Mango Strut upcoming events

Editorials: Jackson CEO Roldan says sayonara after constant sniping by county officials, highlights governance flaw with 30 oversight people weighing in – PAST WDR: MAY 2004:  It is easy to hate different peoples, but it takes a great nation to understand different cultures – PAST WDR: MAY 2004: The world & Miami-Dade would be better off with more press coverage

Letters: Jackson Memorial Foundation on CEO Rodriguez’s role in international marketing arm – Reader on Miami Omni CRA – Passing of Dekle, CEO of SFRPC

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 to financially support and maintain my webpage.

>>> 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 will start its 12th Anniversary on May 5.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Camillus House turns 50; Hope is where the heart is, served 440,000 hot meals in 2009

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado (Net worth $5,000), Commissioner Francis Suarez, and newly minted county public schools board member Raquel Regalado spoke and participated in the annual Camillus House Thanksgiving Holiday feeding celebration Thursday morning that showed the wide variety of faces of the hungry and homeless here in Miami and our nation. Camillus is celebrating a 50th Anniversary after its founding in 1960 and it has expanded over the decades, including more effective clinical involvement in the well-being of many of the needy. Over 200 volunteers came together cooking and serving almost 100 turkeys originally cooked at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown, and carved up by Carnival Cruise Lines volunteers earlier and another 300 lbs of turkey was sent to Radio Paz, to be given out to the needy people gathered at the Spanish radio station and thousands of residents will be fed.  Ocean Bank has been the sponsor of the Brothers of the Good Shepard Camillus House Jubilee Thanksgiving celebration states a press handout. The organization serves more than 1,200 meals a day, and in total “is providing more than 440,000 free hot meals in 2009.” >>> For more information go to www.camillus.org

The Watchdog Report last week ran a past story on Camillus House and the organization’s board chair Bob Dickinson sent me the following e-mail. “Thanks for the publicity on Camillus House. Since last year’s article, we have raised $30 million in pledges (vs. $23 million last year) toward our capital campaign and the CRA has pledged $10 million, but now the issue is convincing banks to lend us $17.6 million for 4 years.  The banks seemed unconvinced that the CRA will fulfill their obligation — which represents $8 million of the payback  We have been shovel ready for 6 months, with 300 primarily-neighborhood-sourced construction jobs on hold, waiting for the banks…,” wrote former Carnival Cruise President Dickinson.

>>> On Thanksgiving Day, a broad variety of organizations volunteers feed their local homeless or people in need population be it through their church or religious organization or just with a small group of other people trying to make the day a little better for these people.  The Watchdog Report gives all these people a Tip of the Hat for your charity and giving of your time to help the less fortunate.

>>> ZOGBY Press release: American Dream Wounded, But Endures

You forget most things you learn in college, but some of it sticks for life and shapes how you think about it. So it is with something Father John Cantillon SJ at LeMoyne College said to me about Jesuit philosophy: “God writes straight with crooked lines.” That thought struck me as I compared our Zogby Interactive data about belief in the American Dream from polls taken just after the 2008 and 2010 elections. The percentage of people who believe we can no longer achieve either a material or spiritual American Dream has jumped by nine and now comprises one in five likely voters. Yet, despite what may become the new normal of 10% unemployment, two-thirds still believe they can achieve it. The American Dream remains resilient (and changing), but we are in a very rough patch.

Read all of John Zogby’s column at Forbes.com

>>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service yet 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

>>> Gov. Crist taps Emas for 3rd Dist. Court of Appeal, joins Shepard & Wells after voters retain them on court

Gov. Crist press release: “Judge Emas’ 14 years of experience at the trial court level will be of tremendous benefit to the appellate court and all who present cases before him,” said Governor Crist. “He has established a solid record of integrity, careful analysis and commitment to judicial leadership.” Judge Emas, 52, has served on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court since 2001 and on the Miami-Dade County Court from 1996 to 2001. Previously, he practiced with Thornton, Rotham and Emas from 1989 to 1996 and with Fine, Jacobson, Schwartz, Nash, Block and England from 1983 to 1989. He was an attorney in the Office of the Public Defender for the Eleventh Circuit from 1982 to 1983. Judge Emas earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Miami. Judge Emas will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gerald B. Cope.

>>> PAST WDR: Emas through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $838,708 and he lists $40,000 in household goods and jewelry. He has $23,000 in cash, there is $4,500 in Savings Bonds, an IRA has $374,000, his home is valued at $600,000, cars are worth $50,500 and his total assets for the year are $1.14 million. His liabilities are a mortgage owed $242,000, Chase Bank is owed $26,353 and two other liabilities are owed about $30,000. The judge’s total liability for the year was $302,773, income for the year was $141,333 as a jurist, and the University of Miami kicked in $3,000. He lists one gift valued at $1,000 coming from his parents.


Judge Emas
>>> What about the 3rd District Court of Appeals judges on the Nov. 2 ballot and their retention?

On November 2, Miami-Dade and Monroe County voters got to weigh in on a couple of these judges on the Appeals Court and Judge Frank A. Shepard (Net worth $1.45 million) was retained on the court with 66 percent of the voters saying he is doing a good job, and Appeals Judge Linda Ann Wells (Net worth $1.9 million) garnered 76 percent of the two county vote, that in her case was just under 300,000 votes. The court is made up of a number of jurists and the court’s web page says Judge Juan Ramirez is the Chief Judge of the appeals court.  http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Judges/Judges.shtml Here are all the judges that have served on the court as of July 1, 2009. Juan Ramirez, Jr., Chief Judge, Gerald B. Cope, Jr. – retired, David M. GerstenLinda Ann Wells, Frank A. Shepherd, Richard J. Suarez, Angel A. Cortiñas, Leslie B. Rothenberg, Barbara Lagoa, and Vance E. Salter

>>> State Rep. Bovo in the spotlight, former Hialeah Council president, had $475,599 net worth through June 2010

State Rep. Esteban Luis “Steve” Bovo, R-Hialeah is in the spotlight this week and he was first elected to the state house in 2008. He represents House District 110, which includes Hialeah where he was previously a member in the Hialeah City Council from 1998 to 2008 and was the council president from 2005-2008. He retained his seat in the Florida legislature when he won unopposed in August.

State Rep. Bovo: For more information go to http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4460&SessionId=66

What do we know about his finances?

Bovo through June 2010 had a net worth of $475,599 and he lists $55,000 in household goods. His home is worth $353,000, a second home is valued at $62,810 in Palmetto Bay and there is $4,699 in his savings account. The lawmaker lists liabilities of $225,000 with Chase, two BAC Home loans are owed $126,000 and $111,000, Best Buy wants $2,200, an auto loan is owed $21,125 and American Express debt is $8,000. His income for the year was $105,000 from Miami Children’s Hospital and the state of Florida kicked in $31,932 state his annual financial disclosure forms.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Dec. 1st becomes big day, Alvarez, Ruvin and Braman get day in court, Alvarez faces public at lunch, and PHT CEO Roldan speaks at Greater Miami Chamber event

Who knew Dec. 1 would be such a controversial day with Circuit Court Judge Israel Reyes holding his hearing on the lawsuit brought by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez (Net worth $1.74 million) against County Clerk Harvey Ruvin (Net worth $1.38 million) and billionaire Norman Braman for the way petition language was approved and signed for by the clerk’s office. Ruvin had his number two sign off on the petition language over a month ago and was the same method done when the mayor was getting county voter signatures for a strong mayor form of government that voters later approved. However, back then, the sign off issue was never challenged in court until now.

This is a high stakes political game for Alvarez for his term in office to 2012 is at stake, but the controversy seems to only make recall supporters more bolder as the mayor tries to explain why taxes went up, for some 60 percent of property owners, even though property values continue to plunge, and why it was necessary to give county workers $132 million in raises, now sending the electorate through the roof since they in the private sector have rarely gotten raises and most saw a reduction in their salaries. >>> Editor’s note: Ruvin did an opinion piece Sunday on the petition process and how the signatures will be counted in www.miamiherald.com


Ruvin

Alvarez

Braman

Ricker


What else is happening?

Alvarez will be speaking at the Downtown Bay Forum luncheon the same day and I will be moderating the essentially town hall meeting that will have the mayor making a case for his side before I open it up to questions from the attendees and public and media turnout is expected to be high to listen to Alvarez’s response to the questions. For more information go to www.downtownbayforum.com -

THE CASE FOR A RECALL WHAT EFFECT WILL THIS HAVE ON MIAMI-DADE? -  SPEAKER: MIAMI-DADE MAYOR CARLOS ALVAREZ & MODERATOR: DANIEL A. RICKER WATCHDOG REPORT >> MARRIOTT HOTEL–1633 N. BAYSHORE DR., MIAMI, $5.00 Valet Parking Available at Marriott Hotel Call ANNETTE EISENBERG (305)757-3633 Fax (305)754-2015 -

MARRIOTT HOTEL–1633 N. BAYSHORE DR., MIAMI – $5.00 Valet Parking Available at Marriott Hotel – Reservations required.

>>> And finally, Jackson Memorial System President & CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D., is the featured speaker at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Dec. 1. She has just announced she is stepping down June 1, after being pounded in the press and the 30 people she ultimately has to report to including the trust board, the county mayor, commission, and also the county manager, plus an independent IG watching as well. Her remarks are expected to be provocative to say the least and given the circumstances may offer some new insight of what it is like to run such a challenging operation, with 12,000 employees and blows through $4.5 million in cash a day while giving over $700 million in charity care to the residents of Miami-Dade County.

>>> Former Miami-Dade Commissioner Rolle settles ethics complaint, hit with $1,750 fine and gets “public reprimand”

Ethics commission press release: Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dorrin Rolle (Net worth $1.09 million inserted by the WDR) has settled charges he violated the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics ordinance by seeking public funds for the James E. Scott Center (JESCA) when he served as its president and chief executive officer.  The complaint (C 10-14) accuses the recently ousted District Two Commissioner of meeting with officials of the County Manager’s Office and Parks and Recreation Department in 2007 to help provide money for JESCA’s Senior Center, violating two sections of the code – “exploitation of official position” and “actions prohibited when financial interests are involved.”  When he became a County Commissioner in 1998, Rolle was advised by the County Attorney’s Office that he would need to recuse himself on issues involving JESCA.  Rolle plead no contest to all four counts of the complaint and will pay a fine of $1,750 as well as accept a public reprimand.


Rolle
Other county ethics cases heard last week and ruled on by the Ethics commission

>>> A man who registered as a lobbyist in Miami-Dade County in 2007 but didn’t file Lobbyist Expenditure Statements as required by July first of the following year, resolved the issue.   After failing to respond to reminders and notices sent by the County Clerk’s office and the Ethics Commission, a complaint was filed against Domenic Massari (C 10-32), who represented SolarDiesel Corporation.  After filing the required forms and appealing to the Ethics Commission, the fine was waived and the complaint dismissed.

>>> A complaint (C 10-38) filed by a buyer in Miami-Dade County’s Enterprise Technology Services Department against a special assistant to the deputy director was dismissed as legally insufficient.   Orlando Martinez complained that Pedro Cacicedo intimidated him into violating the County’s procurement policies, thereby misusing his official position.   The Ethics Commission determined that the complaint concerns management issues outside its jurisdiction.

>>> In other action today, members voted to appoint Vice Chair Dawn Addy, Director of the Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University, to interview employees of the Commission on Ethics about an anonymous complaint submitted against Executive Director Robert Meyers.  The findings of Prof. Addy’s inquiry will be discussed at a future meeting. >>> The Ethics Commission was created in 1996 as an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers.  It is composed of five members, serving staggered terms of four years each.  Through a program of education, outreach and enforcement, the Commission seeks to empower the community and bolster public trust.

>>> Beacon Council press release: Miami-Dade’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increases to 13 percent in October 2010, up from 12.9 percent in September 2010.

Miami-Dade County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October 2010 was 13.0 percent. This was a slight increase of 0.1 percent compared to September 2010 (12.9%) which illustrates that the unemployment rate has remained statistically flat. Compared to October, 2009 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased 1.5 percent (11.5%).

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate (not taking in consideration seasonal fluctuations in the labor force) was 13.1 percent in October 2010, unchanged compared to September 2010. In October 2009, the seasonally unadjusted rate was 11.8 percent. Miami-Dade County is the only county in Florida that has seasonally adjusted rates. Therefore the following data is not seasonally adjusted. The October 2010 unemployment rate for the State of Florida was 11.6 percent. This was a decrease of 0.5 percent compared to September 2010. The United States unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in October 2010, a decrease of 0.2 percent from September 2010.

For neighboring Broward County, the unemployment rate in October 2010 was 10.1 percent. This was a decrease of 0.5 percent compared to September 2010 and an increase of 0.1 percent compared to October 2009. For Palm Beach County, it was 11.7 percent. This was a decrease of 0.7 percent compared to September 2010 and an increase of 0.2 percent compared to October 2009. The overall unemployment rate for the tri-county area in October, 2010 was 11.8 percent (12.1 percent in September, 2010). The South Florida region (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA) added 3,800 nonagricultural jobs between October, 2009 and October 2010.

Non-agricultural companies in Miami-Dade County added 1,900 jobs between October 2009 and October 2010, an increase of 0.2 percent. Between September 2010 and October 2010, 5,200 new jobs were added or 0.4 percent increase. Major sectors that added jobs between October 2009 and October 2010 included Wholesale Trade (2,400 new jobs or 3.6%), Retail Trade (1,300 new jobs or 1.1%), Air Transportation (500 new jobs or 3.6%), Professional and Business Services (2,000 new jobs or 1.6%) Hospitals (500 new jobs or 1.2%) and Leisure and Hospitality (2,700 new jobs or 2.7%) Other sectors still saw losses year over year, including the construction sector (2,000 jobs lost or -5.8%), Financial Activities (3,000 jobs lost or -4.7%) and Total Government (2,300 jobs lost or -1.5%). At the same time, there are a few sectors, as detailed below, that have gained jobs between September 2010 and October 2010. This indicates companies have begun hiring, albeit cautiously.

Sector            September 2010 – October 2010 Job Change (% Change)

Leisure & Hospitality             1,300 (+1.3%)

Local Government                         1,300 (+1.1%)

Hospitals                                     700 (+1.7%)

Manufacturing                         400 (+1.2%)

Wholesale Trade                         400 (+0.6%)

State Government                         300 (+1.7%)

Finance & Insurance             300 (+0.7%)

Air Transportation                         100 (+0.7%)

As pointed out in today’s Miami Herald by Juan Del Busto, Regional Executive for the Federal Reserve in Miami, the economy has changed forever when it comes to unemployment. He further pointed out that the hiring climate has been fundamentally altered by Florida’s worst down turn since World War I. We also believe, as does Del Busto, the problem of significant under-employment, which is not necessarily reflected in these numbers, adds to the economic woes our community is experiencing. While we are seeing some positive growth in the employment picture, it is our belief the effort to substantially lower unacceptable high unemployment will be a long, slow process. Our community must make job retention and creation a top priority. The Beacon Council continues to aggressively work on attracting new companies to our community and working on the expansion and retention of existing business. We promote Miami-Dade County as a global business center through our “Miami: Where Worlds Meet” campaign. We strongly urge that a top focus of both the public and private sector continues to be on the retention and recruitment of new jobs. www.beaconcouncil.com

>>> GMCVB press release: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG—GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKED #4 IN HOTEL ROOM RATE, #5 IN OCCUPANCY AND # 6 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR),   FOR FIRST TEN MONTHS OF 2010 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS

For the months of January – October 2010, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2009, ranking #4 in Average Daily Room Rate at $141.10,  #5 in Hotel Occupancy at 70.0% and #6 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $100.80 among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).

Hotel Average Daily Room Rate

(January – October 2010)

TOP U.S. MARKETS: $ % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York $223.07 +7.4%
#2.  Oahu Island $147.41 -1.6%
#3. Washington $145.00 -1.5%
#4.  Miami $144.10 ­+2.9%
#5. Boston $143.04 +2.2%
#6. San Francisco $136.81 +1.3%
Hotel Occupancy

(January – October  2010)

TOP  U.S MARKETS: % % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York 81.3% +5.9%
#2.  Oahu Island 78.3% +8.1%
#3.  San Francisco 77.1% +5.6%
#4.   Boston 71.4% +11.2%
#5.   Miami 70.0% +8.2%
#6.   Washington 70.0% +4.0%
Revenue Per Available Room (January – October 2010)
TOP  U.S MARKETS: $ % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York $181.40 +13.6%
#2.  Oahu Island $115.44 + 6.3%
#3.  San Francisco $105.46 +7.0%
#4 . Boston $102.12 +13.6%
#5.  Washington $101.40 +2.5%
#6.  Miami $100.80 +11.2

The Hotel Room Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate and RevPar our hotels are able to command based on the popularity of the destination and the outstanding hotel and service product we feature continues to be among the highest in the nation showing continuing high demand for travel to Greater Miami.

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Commissioner Wexler chafes under new ethics code, vice Mayor Rodstrom says go with the flow

Commissioners Lois Wexler and John Rodstrom (Net worth $2.45 million) got some ink in the Sun-Sentinel Friday www.sun-sentinel.com concerning the new county ethics legislation that recently kicked in, that Wexler thinks is draconian in its restrictions. She is quoted as having a ‘stupid list’ of things she has had to refuse that includes saying no when it came to getting a Mentos mint offered by a consultant and is taking a ‘zero tolerance’ approach when it comes to the new restrictions imposed on commissioners. Rodstrom has taken a more up beat approach, is taking them in stride, and believes it will only help reestablish the trust between voters and their elected officials.


Wexler

Rodstrom
These new laws came about after a number of high profile arrests and jailing of public officials in Broward, including Sheriff Ken Jenne, a county commissioner, a couple of municipal commissioners and others have also been charged and stepped down from the county commission and school board. Commissioners running the state’s second largest county in the past would sit on county procurement selection committees and vote, many also worked as lobbyist or sold bonds to other public institutions in and out of Broward and that activity is ending. Commissioners, paid around $92,000 must now curtail some of this questionable activity and one of the expected causalities will be the private lunch the body holds after they have voted on their new leadership on the dais, and includes about 30-senior county employees. I tried to attend one of these affairs a few years back after Wexler was named the chair but restaurant staff stopped me saying it was a closed “private event.” However, the affair was held in a glass enclosed room and I just got a table outside and watched the proceedings, which had Wexler pointing to the port director as if she was telling him to do something at the port, and this celebration is a dangerous gathering given the Florida Sunshine Law.

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

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> Past WDR: July 2010:  Vice Chair Marcus in spotlight, dodges political purge, had $138,000 net worth through Dec. 09

Commissioner Karen Marcus, the body’s vice chair is in the spotlight this week and she has survived the political purge the past few years when it came to public corruption and a rendezvous with federal prosecutors that has sent a number of her past peers to prison. Marcus has been active in her commission District 1 and the Watchdog Report has not heard of anything negative concerning the elected leader over the years.

What do we know about her finances?

Marcus through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $138,000 and she lists $60,000 in household goods. Her home is valued at $242,000, a rental property is valued at $98,000, and her two cars are worth $8,500 and $9,000. Her liabilities listed are mortgages owed $99,247, and $200,000. Her income for the year was $96,956 as a commissioner, and $300.00 came in from the Palmer Water Control District.

>>> Commission web page: Commissioner Marcus serves as a member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, representing District One. She has also served as President of the Florida Councils Association and was President of the Florida Association of Counties from November 2000 to June 2002.  Commissioner Marcus has served on the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council since first being elected to the County Commission.  For many years, she chaired the School Advisory Council for Palm Beach Gardens High School, during the time her daughters attended the school, having graduated from there herself. For more information go to: http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/district1/biography.htm

Commissioner Karen Marcus: 301 North Olive Ave. Suite 1201, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 – (561) 355-2201 – 877-930-2201 (Toll Free outside the West Palm Beach calling area) Fax: 561-355-6094 Send an e-mail Commissioner Karen Marcus >> Board of County Commissioners

SARASOTA COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today tapped Christine Robinson of Venice to the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners.

“Christine’s experience as a college trustee and as a small-business owner has given her unique insight into decisions she will face as she serves as a county commissioner,” Governor Crist said. “I am confident she will work to make Sarasota County a better place for the residents and visitors of today and tomorrow.” Robinson, 36, has been a self-employed attorney since 2004. She served for three years on the Manatee Community College Board of Trustees beginning in 2007 and on the Sarasota County Planning Commission for four years beginning in 2008. Previously, she served as an assistant state attorney in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit from 2001 to 2004, and in the Eleventh Circuit from 1999 to 2001. She received her bachelor’s degree from Niagara University in New York and her law degree from the University of Miami. Robinson is appointed for a term beginning December 16, 2010, and will fill the vacancy created by the resignation by Shannon Staub. Robinson will serve on the commission during the remainder of Commissioner Staub’s term.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> FDOT Public meetings scheduled for Keys & Miami-Dade, residents and public asked to get involved via a number of ways

This year there will be a new way to participate in the Florida Department of Transportation’s Work Program Public Hearing. It will be streamed online so interested persons will be able to participate by e-mailing or phoning in comments or questions. Please help inform the public of this opportunity. There will be a link to the Work Program on the FDOT construction website www.fdotmiamidade.com where viewers will be able to preregister beginning November 26 to participate online, and where all related materials will be available. Your opinion is important to the department. FDOT project managers will be on hand to hear your thoughts and answer your questions. Those who attend the public hearing online will be able to view two-minute pre-recorded segments on major FDOT projects, as well as the live portion of the public hearing. Online participants will have the opportunity to submit questions or comments via e-mail or phone.

>>> Miami-Dade County Public Hearing, Thursday, December 2, 7 p.m., FDOT District Six Auditorium -1000 NW 111th Ave., Miami – Online Public Hearing can be viewed Thursday, December 2, 7 p.m. at www.fdotmiamidade.com/workprogram

>>> Monroe County Public Hearing Wednesday, December 8, 6 p.m., Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, (Mile Marker 50), Marathon

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Miami CRA gets land from district for movie sound stage, but will low frequency wave propagation vibrations doom project in the end

The school board Wednesday approved the selling of some land and building to the Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (Omni CRA) for $3.1 million but not without some controversy. The development agency representatives say they will build a movie sound stage, after gutting the interior. However, people supporting the purchase at CRA meetings also have benefited by past CRA financial help and the property is located next to FEC railroad tracks that has critics crying foul when it comes to the issue of low frequency wave form propagation and making the building vibration free will be no easy task without a major financial commitment, if that is even possible. The critics of the land acquisition that spoke were Andrew Nathanson, on the land’s possible higher value then the current selling price, and Al Crespo, a member and activist within the movie industry questioned the suitability of the location. Pieter Bockweg, the CRA executive director told the school board members the “Intent of the CRA was to develop the property to benefit the community,” and it would benefit the school district where interns were hoped to get actual experience on a sound stage.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said only one bid came in and the district’s procedures had been followed. “Only one entity sent an offer in” and we are bringing it “to you today” for the board’s consideration he said before the vote. The administration also believed the selling price “reflects fair market value at this time,” and the appraisals were done back in March or April, said staff. There had been a concern that with property prices rising slightly that it was being sold on the cheap and the CRA and Miami was getting a bargain. The board voted to accept the offer but school board Member Marta Perez (Net worth $2.18 million) said when it came to her yes vote. “I will vote but under protest,” she said.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Wanted: Miracle Worker capable of keeping trust afloat that gives $700 million in charity care, 30 bosses, not for the feint at heart

Wanted – Miracle Worker, capable of keeping the nation’s second largest public hospital system’s lights on with PHT President & CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D., M.B.A. announcing she was throwing in the leadership towel after taking over in June 2009 and would not seek a renewal of her contract when it comes up in six-months. Roldan has been under the gun ever since she took over and with the health trust giving over $700 million in charity care a year, blows through $4.5 million in cash a day, with around 12,000 physicians, nurses and medical staff, and financially surviving has been no easy task. She has been faced over the last two years with significant adjustments in the amount of cash and solid payable accounts plunged, after past accounts previously thought to be good, turned out to be trash when it came to collecting actual cash. Roldan, a physician trained at Jackson, was proposed there by her husband, also a physician, said she knew what she was getting into when she took over in 2009. But recently skirmishes with the county commission and the hospital’s philanthropy problems concerning the international operation that was to get over $7 million in public funding pushed her credibility to the edge with Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $871,000). On Friday a week ago, he had a discussion with her and concluded he could no longer trust her and this challenge to her ethics and honesty was the last straw wrote Roldan in a Nov. 22 five-page memo to PHT Chair John Copeland, III. –  www.miamiherald.com

>>> Roldan says sayonara in June or earlier

Roldan, the CEO on the job since June 1, 2009, and unanimously endorsed by the PHT board back then wrote these “accusations of dishonesty” by Gimenez could not go unanswered. She noted since she took over the troubled hospital system “my management decisions are constantly second guessed” and while the trust has a 17-member board, in fact she is “accountable” and has to deal with 30-people if you include the 13-county commissioners, the mayor and manager in the oversight equation, that also includes the county Inspector General’s that has an office on the campus. Because of the commissioner’s accusations and the overall climate she feels. “I must firmly draw the line at having my personal integrity and moral fiber called to question” and why she will

not seek renewing her contract up at the beginning of June, she wrote.


Copeland

Dr. Roldan
Copeland on Nov. 24 sent a memo to Miami-Dade Commission Chair Dennis Moss (Net worth $ 342,000) and commissioners that there will be a smooth transition at the Trust. The chair noted, “Despite many challenges [over the past few years] we have continued to operate a world class facility that is continually recognized for its medical excellence” and he pledges the trust will work through this current leadership hic-up.

What about finding a successor?

The Watchdog Report discussed the issue of finding a replacement for Roldan with a number of people that have reviewed the issue of Jackson or were in a hospital administrative position as well as some people with no involvement in healthcare. Many outsiders in the community seem to think that running Jackson was not the challenge that it is being made, and shows the veneer of our community knowledge that others say is incredible “challenging” and unlike anything, government does when it comes to its “complexity” in the fast changing world of healthcare, while also saving peoples lives. Further, government services are usually a monopoly, that is not the case with healthcare where there are active competitors, and consumers have a choice where they are treated. Some critics say the current governance structure has tainted hiring any competent healthcare executive after Roldan’s resignation but others said that was not the case and “they [a new top administrator] would take the money” (Now $665,000) but they would leave in a year or two, it was thought. Further, all these internal political battles and other meetings are all public, and any candidate would easily be able to see the governance landscape minefield that they would be entering, if they agreed to run the health trust.

What about county Manager Burgess?

County Manager George Burgess’ name has surfaced as a possible choice to run the health trust and while a past mentor called him “brilliant” this is unlike any challenge he has ever taken on. Burgess has spent almost all his professional life with the county, excluding the short time he spent as the CFO of the Miami-Dade Public Schools with Superintendent Merrett Stierheim but came back to the county in June of 2003 when he replaced former County Manager Steve Shiver at the helm. His name surfaced before after PHT President Marvin O’Quinn left but he has not indicated if he has any willingness to take on this new headache, and a world unlike he has ever had to deal with before in his career.

>>> The new and incumbent PHT trustees will be sworn in on Monday at the monthly trust board meeting being held at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, it is televised and can be watched on www.miamidade.gov and it begins at 3:00 p.m. Incumbent trustees being sworn in are Angel Medina and Gladys Ayala and the new members are Mark Rogers, M.D., Robin Reiter-Faragalli and Stephen Nuell. The old and new members have officially already done the oath of office, the documentation is on file with the Clerk’s office, and this is the ceremonial investiture.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Mayor Regalado staying mum on commission top spot, Gort the likely successor to Sarnoff

Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report last week that he will select the new commission chair after this year’s last commission meeting Dec. 16. When pressed to give up a name he said the Watchdog Report would have to wait but I still suspect it will be Wilfredo “Willy” Gort (Net worth $185,000 in 2000), the most experienced commissioner on the dais since he served on the body in the 1990s up to Nov. 2001 before running for mayor and losing. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.17 million) is the current chair and while he gets to chose what gets on the agenda, the chair’s office does not have much more power than that, and it is time consuming for whoever is in the top commission leadership spot.

>>> County Ethics complaint against Sarnoff & Guadix not sustained

County Ethics Commission press release: Also dismissed as not legally sufficient was a complaint (C 10-39) filed against Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and Sergio Guadix, Director of the City’s Code Enforcement Department.  Al Crespo accuses the Commissioner of conducting official business from his private office and operating his private office illegally, according to city regulation of businesses, and charges that Mr. Guadix has overlooked the violations.  The Ethics Commission found that no law is violated by Sarnoff sending city-related e-mails from his private office and that it has no jurisdiction over the City’s business licensing.  The board also ruled there is no evidence that Mr. Guadix has inappropriately interpreted or enforced city codes.

>>> 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 (Net worth $1.8 million), 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

>>> Gongora sponsored leaf blower ordinance gets nod from commission, not as contentious an issue as in Coral Gables

A new wind is blowing into Miami Beach now that a enhanced leaf blower ordinance passed on second reading at the past commission meeting. The legislation was the brainchild of Commissioner Michael Gongora and it is an attempt to stop lawn services from putting cuttings and other waste in the city’s stormwater drains that already are taxed when it comes to removing standing water in the streets after a deluge that occurs frequently on the Beach with its low elevation to the water table. The law makes it “unlawful” for any “person to use leaf blowers or other means to sweep any type of debris into a gutter drain sewer on any public property,” states the backup material.

Gongora, an attorney wrote back last week when I asked about the legislation wrote back. “I am pleased to say that the leaf blower ordinance passed unanimously.  Leaf blowers pollute not only our environment but also give off noise pollution.  We have tightened up our litter ordinance to provide for harsher penalties to those that blow their debris into our waterways, our storm drainage system and into our neighbor’s yards,” wrote the commissioner.

What about Coral Gables?

Coral Gables also had a somewhat similar discussion concerning banning leaf blowers last month but there; it was highly contentious and went to a city task force to study the issue before it is brought back to the body. Commissioner Ralph Cabrera had proposed the ordinance but also ran into a citizen buzz saw that included a number of heated confrontations with residents but on the beach that was not the case.

>>> Press release: NOVEMBER 1, 2011 GENERAL ELECTION – The following individual(s) have submitted Form DS-DE 9 (Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository for Candidates) – Mayor (Mayor Bower’s Seat) *Matti Herrera Bower, David Crystal – Group IV (Commissioner Wolfson’s Seat) Jonah Wolfson - Group V Commissioner Tobin’s Seat) Edward Tobin - Group VI Commissioner Weithorn’s Seat) Deede Weithorn *denotes latest change

>>> Press release: The North Shore Park Youth Center’s 6th Annual Winter Wonderland!

The winter holiday season is a time when families and friends come together to partake in the joys of giving, sharing, loving and caring, as well as to enjoy the food, fun and festivities. On Friday, December 3, 2010, the City of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department will present its 6th Annual Winter Wonderland at North Shore Park from 6 – 9 p.m. Miami Beach residents and guests are invited to join the fun as the lawn will transform into the biggest “Snow Village” on Miami Beach, with rides, food, games and our famous 50 TONS OF SNOW scattered throughout the wonderland!  Mr. & Mrs. Clause will make a special visit from the North Pole to take pictures with everyone. Children from the City of Miami Beach’s after school programs will light up the stage with holiday performances and caroling throughout the event. Make sure to bring your snow mittens and show your holiday spirit with the City of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department as we welcome the holiday season. For more information, please contact the North Shore Park and Youth Center at 305-861-3616. Look for future events and other Miami Beach Parks and Recreation programming in your Recreation Review, call our offices at 305-673-7730 or visit our website at www.miamibeachparks.com.

>>> Press release: Meeting Date:         Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s Café, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach >> Miami Beach City Commissioner Jonah Wolfson will be the guest speaker at the November 30th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Commissioner Wolfson will be discussing his legislative agenda for the coming year.  He is in his first term as a commissioner. 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 TuesdayMorningBreakfastClub@Yahoo.com

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Gimenez gives low down at county hall, seriously “thinking about running for [county] mayor

Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez who represents District 7 spoke at the Ponce Association luncheon Monday at John Martin’s restaurant and he detailed how he thought county government ran, what some of the problems were and some of his suggested solutions. Gimenez, elected to the 13-member county commission in 2004 was a former Miami manager and Fire Rescue chief before retiring and going into politics. When he first ran for the commission, he faced former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez but bested the attorney, and was reelected in 2008 unopposed. The former firefighter’s manner is somewhat blunt and abrasive when he drills into people and recently caused a flap with Jackson Hospital CEO Eneida Roldan M.D. He shares the Gables with District 6 county Commissioner Rebeca Sosa and he was instrumental in helping get the city’s trolley system going a few years ago. He is married and one of his sons, Carlos, an attorney, is also a municipal lobbyist with a prominent law firm.

Gimenez, opened his talk saying the county commission passed a budget in September as required but the document also caused “60 percent of [home] owners with a Homestead Exemption” to get a increase in their property taxes and he voted against the mayor’s proposed budget back then he said. He noted he objected to the county employees getting a three percent raise costing “$132 million” noting  while he “belonged to a labor union for 28-years” and understood there importance. “I am a fiscal conservative,” and could not go along with this pay bump, he said. Gimenez said the county is entering, a “very turbulent time” over the next six-months that had an incumbent recently defeated for the first time since 1994, which is something very unusual, and also includes a recall effort of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and five commissioners that voted for the new budget. He said if Alvarez is recalled and a new election is called, there “will be a real domino effect on the entire community” with many leaders on the commission and others throwing their political hats in the ring.  He also predicted the next budget was not going to be any better fiscally, and was especially worried about the county’s fire rescue department that is “totally property tax dependent.”

Gimenez also took a shot at salaries of high ranking county administrators saying when he was the city of Miami manager he made $120,000 and the low government public servant pay in the past was made up by great benefits but that formula is out of whack he thought. He also criticized the size of the county bureaucracy saying there were around 60 departments at the county, yet the state only needed “25 departments,” and that did not seem right. He likened what is going on in the community and the taxpayer outrage as a “rubber band” pulled tight, and it has suddenly “snapped back,” and why Norman Braman, a billionaire is leading the charge to recall the mayor because he “has the resources to do something about it.”

He said he was in support of incorporation since Coral Gables has some areas that could be annexed from Miami-Dade like High Pines, Ponce Davis, and Little Gables but this activity has been stalled in recent years. The commissioner also believes the electorate gets the leaders they deserve and only by electing “good people” would the process change considerable. He also believes the commissioners should be paid a decent salary, like $92,000, and supports term limits of only two-terms. Gimenez indicated to the crowd that he was “seriously thinking about running for mayor,” though he noted. He voted against the strong mayor form of government, because if it is a “good person,” that form of government is “very good.” But if the mayor is a “bad person” that could be “very bad” and devastating given the $7.3 billion county government.


Gimenez
COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Downtown Bay Forum luncheon Dec. 1, noon – Marriot Hotel – Speaker, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and moderated by Daniel Ricker, publisher of the Watchdog Report. For more information go to www.downtownbayforum.com

>>> The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Dec.1 is featuring Public Health Trust President and CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D., as its featured speaker. For more information and to register for the event go to https://www.wliinc8.com/miamiflcoc/external/wcpages/wcevents/eventregistration.aspx?eventID=307P0M8E

>>> Elephant Forum – December l3 – Monday – Rusty Pelican – $25 – Mary Ellen Miller 305-377-9l87 – they are inviting all recently elected Republican Members of the Florida legislature – to be introd by the chairman of the Delegation Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

>>> Mango Strut meetings >> Mango Mixer/Meeting with the Coconut Grove Jaycees (The Original Mangoheads) Wednesday, December 1st at 7pm Monty’s, 2550 South Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove. The Strut will be held Dec. 26 on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove.

>>> Press release: THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE OPENS TO THE PUBLIC NOVEMBER 10TH, 2010 TO APRIL 30TH, 2011 WITH NEW EXHIBITION – The collection visiting hours are every Wednesday – Saturday from 11:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. – Extended hours during Art Basel and Art Miami: Tuesday, November 30th through Saturday December 4th 9 am- 4 pm, Sunday December 5th 9 am – 2 pm — AFRICA: Photography and Video – JENE HIGHSTEIN: Large Stone Carvings -MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO: Broken Mirror Painting -CONTEMPORARY PAINTINGS 1980-2010: Selections from the Margulies Collection including Vincent Desiderio, Oliver Dorfer, Jonathan Meese, Tal R, Christian Eckart, John Torreano, Massimo Antonaci and Fabian Marcaccio -BRIAN ALFRED: Digital Animation -NEW SCULPTURE: Chris Astley, Martin Boyce, Huma Bhabha, Mark Dion, Max Frisinger and Will Ryman – PERMANENT LARGE SCALE SCULPTURE:  Magdalena Abakanowicz, Williem de Kooning, OlafurEliasson, Antony Gormley, Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Joan Mirό, Isamu Noguchi, George Segal, Richard Serra and Tony Smith >>> About the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse – The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is a not-for-profit institution in Miami dedicated to the presentation of exhibitions and educational initiatives that explore contemporary art.  Since its inaugural exhibition in 1999, the Warehouse has presented seasonal exhibitions of sculpture, photography, and video and installation art from the renowned collection of Martin Z. Margulies. The Warehouse is operated and funded by the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, a thirty year resource for the study and enjoyment of the visual.  The longtime curator of the collection is Katherine Hinds. Visitors are welcomed at the door for the price of a donation to the Lotus House Shelter for Homeless Women and Children. Adults $10.00, Miami Dade students are free of charge. For further information please call 305-576-1051 or visit our website at www.margulieswarehouse.com

EDITORIALS

>>> Jackson CEO Roldan says sayonara in June after constant sniping by county officials, highlights governance flaw with 30 oversight people weighing in

The old adage that too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup applies to what has happened at Jackson Memorial Health system last week when it comes to its governance and top leadership. Months ago the Watchdog Report wrote about the massive new oversight from a variety of elected leaders and the county administration being thrust on the Public Health Trust and whether the hospital managers were able to right the institution while keeping the hospital functioning yet still fulfilling endless requests for new reports and other information. Since 1998 I have been the only independent person that has watched what was going on at the health trust at ground level consistently (that included being at hundreds of 8:00 a.m. PHT committee meetings over the past 12 years), and included my writing almost 40 featured news columns in The Miami Herald www.miamiherald.com over four-years about Jackson. And at the time many people asked me why I covered the public hospital so much even though it gives world class healthcare, employees about 12,000 people and is a $1.9 billion medical enterprise, with two medical school affiliations, that most major communities around the nation would almost kill for to have available to their residents.

Since that time in the 1990s, much has changed but the governance model has not, and any independence associated with a Trust is only illusionary in many ways despite what many Miami-Dade County Commissioners say. Commission Chair Dennis Moss a month ago commented that commissioners were being accused with interfering with the running of the nation’s second largest public hospital and that was “cr…,” he said. However, since the 1990s, the trust board has been reduced from 21 people with no voting county commissioners, to 15 citizens plus two voting commissioners since around 2003 and the independence contraction continues with Jackson firmly under the county’s thumb.

Now with PHT President & CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D. announcing she will not seek a renewal of her contract originally paying $665,000 (It was to be $666,000 but that number has a religious connotation and was changed to the lesser number at the PHT compensation committee meeting back in June 2009) in many ways takes the institution back a step. After she had brought on her own management team and this news just adds to the turbulence of keeping the hospital afloat. Some in the community see Jackson in simplistic ways saying they know precisely what needs to be done, but sniping and arm chair quarterbacking is easy, versus being in the trenches where healthcare professionals are actually treating and helping patient’s day in and day out while the institution goes through $4.5 million in cash a day.

Roldan is right when she writes about the “30” people she has to report to and while the Watchdog Report does not have the answer. As I told former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson when she asked what governance model should be in place? I said I did not know but I did know the current governance structure was not working, and Roldan’s bailing out of the job only validates that belief. Now with this new leadership challenge, the community’s residents should watch what their elected leaders do and how they handle this transition for much is at stake for the 2.4 million county residents who do not walk the halls of county government with the powerful that also have great healthcare insurance available to them. And the question is will political rhetoric rule the day or will keeping the lights on at the health trust be the mission and the community will have to wait to see the outcome. For if there ever was a time for statesmanship it is now. Let’s hope county commissioners get that memo, for some of them act like Nero playing a fiddle while Rome is burning, and the medical needy in the county desire more than lip service, but will leaders step up to the challenge? That is the real question in the weeks ahead.

>> PAST WDR: MAY 2004: It is easy to hate different peoples, but it takes a great nation to understand different cultures

Some United States citizens and residents that are Moslem are bracing for the backlash that they expect to come after the recent atrocities seen and done in Iraq by U.S. military authorities and local Iraqis terrorists to U.S. armed forces in the country.  However, all Americans must steel themselves to fight this feeling of hate for someone of another religion or culture because tolerance of others beliefs is one of the primary reasons we as a nation are in Iraq. The U.S. is sometimes quick to pick on another culture, peoples or religion and in the late 1980’s.  Americans were focusing on the Japanese because we had such a large trade deficit with that nation and it was perceived American jobs were being stolen.  However, blind prejudice because someone or some culture is different gets the world nowhere and reminds one of what Mahatma Gandhi said about an eye for and eye only leads to a world of blind people.

The United States must always look to our nation’s core values of tolerance and understanding especially if we are to be the true beacon of the world regarding freedom and the rule of law.  The nation with the Iraqi prison revelations has taken a hit, but how we collectively respond and go forward is what we must be focused on, not attacking our neighbors that might have a different faith.  For it is these ideals and beliefs that took the U.S. into Iraq and we should all remember that fact.

>>> From Watchdog Report Vol.4 No.32 – The world & Miami-Dade would be better off with more press coverage

The Watchdog Report’s future story about The Miami Herald has had me thinking about the critical role the media and press plays in a democracy and in the nations of the world.  The profession is one of society’s centerboards keeping us semi-straight and under control as we try to govern ourselves in today’s world. In Miami, people constantly complain that we have only one general circulation newspaper and if you can believe it, there is even newspaper envy, by the smaller weekly or monthly publications.  This is not surprising because the information business has changed and all newspapers are under tremendous financial pressure while also completing their charge of educating the public and watching over our public institutions.

Who could have expected the role the inter-net would play in getting news out to the community and in the case of the Watchdog Report, now that my laptop is back in business.  Readers can be informed of critical or important events literally 20 minutes after it has occurred because of this technology. What the community and world should be focused on is the need for more press and media coverage because we are spread way to thin to do the job right and with the depth that our community deserves.  For, government is based on a check and balance system if it is to work right and the media is a vital tool in this regard and the public should nourish it and have it flourish.  For once a large paper or even a smaller one is gone; a hole in the community’s information net is created and never is refilled.

People working in the media are always at risk

People love stories written about others but hate stories about themselves generally and that is the rub concerning the business of the media.  Columnists are loved or hated but that is their job to point a spotlight on a hot issue, not caring who is burned, but there is also risk in journalism. Last year there were 36 journalists world wide killed covering stories, including 13 in Iraq and the public should remember these people who sacrificed their lives covering our troops overseas and in harms way. Journalists in countries around the world face a multitude of challenges trying to get news events out to the public and with the New Year; the Watchdog Report thanks them for their dedication and courage during these trying times.  For if the world is to move forward in a positive and constructive way, the media will have played a part in it and that is something we all should realize and celebrate.

LETTERS

>>> Based on your role, I thought it important that you know some key facts so you can be prepared with full context of the situation. Rolando Rodriguez did have a 2-year FHS consulting contract, which ended on Sept. 30, 2010.   The important point is that his original contract had a severance clause that took effect upon the non-renewal of the contract, which called for $52,500 to be paid to him in equal installments until Sept. 30, 2011.  So if the board chose not to renew, or FHS closed down, he would be due these payments.  The difference between the two contract terms is that in the current extension, he was to be paid the entire lump sum if FHS closes or JHS chooses not to renew the FHS operations contract.  That was based on the fact that there was no way to guarantee payment to him if FHS closes, and thus JMF could potentially be liable for the payment.

We became aware that the minutes of the FHS board meeting were discussed on Univision radio Friday, particularly as it relates to Rolando’s contract renewal.  The OIG asked for these minutes and they were subsequently marked prominently  as “Draft Minutes/Not final until approved by the Board”, and sent to the OIG on November 10.   All FHS documents are public in any case. We hope you find this background helpful.

Larry Clark

Director of Marketing & Communications

Jackson Memorial Foundation

>>> Given the reality of the history of the Miami Omni and Overtown CRAs, and their use of the tax increment Trust Fund money as a slush fund for elected officials who cannot tell the difference between their responsibilities as a member of the City Commission and as a member of the CRA Board of Commissioners. I would even support the County terminating the CRAs and letting the projects be handled as part of the general fund–after all–CRA money is not new money, but just transferred ad valorem tax revenue. And, now the CRA overhead is huge.

Frank Schnidman

Miami

>>> In case you hadn’t heard, Carolyn Dekle, Executive Director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, passed away Sunday at Hollywood Memorial Hospital. A great loss for our community….

Gabino Cuevas, P.E., LEED-AP

Chief Executive Officer

Cherokee Enterprises, Inc.

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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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