Month of December 2010

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.11 No.32 December 26, 2010 Est. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Best of WDR: South Florida ground zero for Climate Change, sea level is rising, but can it be mitigated in time?

Florida: Gov. elect Scott slow in forming administration, asks senior officials stay 90-days, but many Libertarian Party ideas percolating in the background

Miami-Dade County: Now there are three, Mayor Alvarez first, then Commissioners Seijas and Barreiro may be going to ballot after voter recall signatures certified by Clerk Ruvin

Broward County: PAST WDR: JUNE 2010: Rothstein gets 50-years by feds, Broward is rich in other schemes, and politicians beware of tainted money

Palm Beach County: Gov. Crist today taps Gregory M. Keyser of Boca Raton to the Palm Beach County Court.

Highland County: PAST WDR: Dec. 2010: There he goes again; Gov. Crist suspends Carlson for DUI manslaughter, #44

Kissimmee County: PAST WDR: May 2010: Gov. Crist suspends county commissioner Irizarry after domestic violence charge, #39 removal for governor

Okeechobee County: Gun dealer pleads guilty of machine gun sales

Monroe County: Past WDR: Southern most county in nation is hit with 12 % property tax reduction, taxable value drops to $19.6 billion

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Out of 82 charter schools, five under microscope because of “conflicts of interest or questionable business arrangements”

Public Health Trust: PHT to “sever” relationship with FHS on Tuesday at special executive committee meeting

City of Miami: Will Migoya be part of PHT leadership mix? Banker, philanthropist, exotic car enthusiast, and bon vivant

City of Miami Beach: PAST WDR JUNE 2010: Mayor Bower and tourism industry get pledge; of no violent convicts in county Corrections hazzemet suits will clean tourist beaches

Coral Gables: Mayor Slesnick will debate challengers if “invited,” and qualifying dates are Feb. 21- 25 and election is Apr. 12

City of Doral: The Doral Trolley Offers an Extended New Year’s Eve Schedule

Village of Miami Shores: Governor Charlie Crist taps Judge Darrin P. Gayles of Miami Shores to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court.

Community Events: 26th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference, January 6-9, 2011 – Renewal of Life for the Everglades: Moving Forward Together — THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE

Editorials: PAST WDR: MAY 2010: Cool and creative minds needed when crafting solution on PHT financial survival — Sept. 2003: PAST WDR: It is some ones money, government leaders and their administrations should remember that!

Letters: Reader on healthcare issues – M-DC MPO message – Reader on Watchdog Report

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.

>>> May you and your family have a great and safe New Year and let us hope that next year, a new decade will be better than the past ten-years, that has profoundly changed the world and the planet we all inhabit. Further, I would like to thank all the people and organizations that have financially supported me over the almost past 12-years, and while this particular year was tough for me between a medical emergency that almost killed me to a reduction in peoples support. For those that did step up during this time of need, I will never forgot your generous support that allowed me to be writing and still living today.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Best of WDR: South Florida ground zero for Climate Change, sea level is rising, but can it be mitigated in time?

Global Warming was the topic of the day Wednesday at the Miami-Dade County commission chambers with a wide range of speakers on the topic from representatives of the President Barack Obama administration on down the political food chain. There are more than 20 federal agencies involved in studying this climate change activity, while seeking solutions and these organizations come together as the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, and here locally Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin (Net worth $1.5 million) chaired the local task force, and on the commission, Commissioner Katy Sorenson (Net worth $1.34 million) has been the point of the ecological spear here in South Florida. Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., a marine ecologist and environmental scientist and the first female NOAA administrator said the Obama administration when it came to climate changes had a “sense of hope, yet urgency” and the administration was not sitting on the sidelines when it came to the subject.

She noted numbers coming out of NOAA concerning the temperatures of land and seawaters are “the warmest on record going back to the 1880s,” she noted. The scientist also said there would be record “reductions in snow and ice” in the decades ahead and when it came to the Deepwater Horizon ongoing spill in its 69th day. “It is an extremely difficult time” as the widening spill hits new state shorelines and while the residents and BP are “doing what they can to mitigate” the ecological disaster. “The health of our local community, in this case the Gulf of Mexico,” has been severely impacted, and dramatically highlights the role nature and our oceans play regarding life on the planet and local communities.

>>> PAST WDR: Congressman Meek and Greene go at it, one mother is in campaign ad, and another is a lobbyist

The two U.S. Senate candidates for the Democratic Party came out swinging this week during the first live debate by U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami (Net worth around $62,000 in 2002) and Jeff Greene. Greene, a political unknown, is a billionaire who bet in financial markets that the nation’s real estate market would tank and he made a fortune when the investment worked, and it is a legal activity www.miamiherald.com or www.wpbt.org . Meek spoke of his long ties with the party and is not an interloper like Greene who had run years before as a Republican in California. But Greene fired back at the veteran congressman first elected in 2002 that his mother, Carrie Meek, 83, a former ten-year congresswoman and now a lobbyist was the problem. He cited the scandal surrounding a proposed biomedical park in the Overtown area that never materialized with developer Dennis Stackhouse, now facing charges and awaiting trial in Miami. The two candidates, neck and neck in the polls will ultimately face off on Aug. 24 and Greene has said he will spend tens of millions of his own money to get his new political message across to the party faithful. To watch the Meek and Greene debate on line go to www.palmbeachpost.com

What about Rubio and Crist’s U.S. Senate race?

Marco Rubio, (Net worth $8,351) the former speaker of the Florida House led an insurgent campaign that toppled Gov. Charlie Crist (Net worth $466,000) who a year ago had a lock on the Republican nomination for the nation’s most exclusive club. However, Rubio worked hard at the local level where many Republicans at first bulked at the anointing of Crist by national party leadership as the chosen one, and that discontent later spiked after Crist gave President Barack Obama the hug in Tampa, and the governor’s support with hard core Republicans dried up forcing him to become an independent. Crist has tacked to the political center and he is trying to woe voters from either party, with an eye to the key 20 percent of voters that are no party affiliation, and in a three-way race will likely be the deciding factor on who is victorious.

>>> Best of WDR:  Emergency surgery keeps publisher out in the field, last February through May a tough time for the WDR, but made it >> PAST WDR: MARCH 2010 >> I have been in the hospital after emergency surgery, one more procedure to go, need the community’s financial help to keep at this!

I have not communicated or sent out a Watchdog Report since the end of January because I had a catastrophic medical issue that required one emergency surgery and another in a few weeks after about two months of convalescing at the hospital and home. I would like to thank surgeon Jorge R. Rabaza, M.D., and the rest of his vascular surgery team of Verdeja, Rabaza, Gonzalez, P.A., who practice at South Miami Hospital www.baptisthealth.net &  http://www.miamihope.com/doctors/index.asp. I went to the emergency room Feb. 8 and later in the evening at 4:00 a.m., the operation was done, and it was touch and go. I also want to thank all the nursing and support staff located in the forth floor annex of the hospital who took care of me for well over a week after the operation and your kind manner and medical attention was deeply appreciated. I have not had the strength and mental clarity to write until the last few days and to say I need a miracle is an understatement regarding my financial survival. I have been unable to send invoices to past supporters and just paying my rent currently is a big deal and hope you will consider doing what you can to keep me out in the field and reporting back after I get back on my feet and I am feeling better. The support form is at the bottom of this truncated issue for your convenience and if high definition transparency of what your public institutions are doing is important to you. Please help and support me financially during this particularly rough patch.

>>> PAST WDR:  I have included two past WDR stories that have since come true. One is the next U.S. attorney for the local federal district and the Public Health Trust, which is fighting for its financial life, but was predicted back in June 2008 by then President Marvin O’Quinn at a joint county commission and health trust meeting in the commission chambers.

>>> PAST WDR: JULY 2009: Three finalists make local federal top cop choice, Buckner, Ferrer and Trawick

There are now three finalists to fill the open U.S. attorney general’s slot after R. Alexander Acosta left the office to become the dean of Florida International University’s law school. Former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey is the chair of the federal judicial nominating commission and the finalists are David Buckner, Wifredo “Willy” Ferrer, an assistant county attorney and Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Daryl Trawick. The Watchdog Report months ago predicted that Ferrer would make the cut and had a good shot at getting the appointment. Now, it is up to U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-FL and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL who is the senior senator to chose who will become the local top federal cop that ultimately has to be confirmed by the U.S. senate. The U.S. Southern District of Florida is one of the busiest in the nation and has become a legal anchor when it comes to Medicare fraud prosecution, which hit over $1 billion in just over a year. At the time, the Watchdog Report asked Acosta if South Florida was the “graduate school” for fraud and he sadly concurred that it was.

>>> WHITE HOUSE press release: February 24, 2010: President Obama Nominates Four U.S. Attorneys

Today, President Obama nominated Laura E. Duffy, Wifredo A. Ferrer, Alicia Limtiaco, and John B. Stevens, Jr. to serve as U.S. Attorneys. President Obama said, “These distinguished men and women have shown extraordinary commitment and integrity in their pursuit of justice. I am confident they will serve the American people wisely and effectively as United States Attorneys.”

Laura E. Duffy: Nominee for U.S. Attorney, Southern District of California Laura Duffy has been with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California since 1997, where was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Narcotics Enforcement Section until 2007 when she became the Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section. Prior to that, Ms. Duffy worked for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice from 1993 until 1997, first as a trial attorney for the Money Laundering Section until 1994, and then as a trial attorney for the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section.  Ms. Duffy is a graduate of Iowa State University (1988) and from the Creighton University School of Law (1993).

>>> Wifredo A. Ferrer: Nominee for U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida

Wifredo Ferrer currently works as an Assistant County Attorney and as Chief of the Federal Litigation Section in the Miami-Dade County’s Attorney’s Office, where he has been since 2006. From 2000 until 2006, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. Prior to that, he had been Counsel and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the United States Attorney General from 1995 until 2000. From 1994 until 1995, Mr. Ferrer was White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. From 1991 until 1994, he had been a Litigation Associate with Steel Hector & Davis. From 1990 until 1991 Mr. Ferrer was a law clerk to the Honorable Stanley Marcus of the United States District court for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Ferrer is a graduate of the University of Miami (1987) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law (1990). Editor’s note: Ferrer was ultimately tapped for this important local federal post and is in office.

>>>PAST WDR: JUNE 2010: Elected officials at all levels must be compliant with property tax obligations, documents are public, wayward officials with problem are in a mine-field

Elected officials at the municipal and county level should be sure their own property taxes have been paid, before they set the millage levels for those they govern. It also applies with state lawmakers that has former House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami (Net worth $8,351) and state Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami (Net worth $301,000) almost losing a joint property they own in the state capital for unpaid taxes and was reported in www.wfor4.com Friday night. For all these property tax records are public and with all the elections in August and November. Candidates beware when it comes to running for public office when you have not complied with all the laws and obligations one might have in your personal or public life.

I write about this as a heads-up to leaders for there are people across the political spectrum that are looking at these documents, breaking the news themselves or passing it on to the Watchdog Report or other media, and some of the documents coming in are not pretty, and I wonder why some people think they should be running for public office.

>>> 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. elect Scott slow in forming administration, asks senior officials stay 90-days, but many Libertarian Party ideas percolating in the background

Let the “Great Experiment” begin as one veteran political operative said, but Gov. elect Rick Scott (Net worth $219 million) is taking his time getting out the leadership gate, with just this past week. His choosing a chief of staff and a few other top staffers and some of the recommendations coming out of the transition committees Scott formed are causing a stir, but the governor elect is charting a new course for Florida, that has many residents still holding their collective breath where he will take the nation’s fourth largest state, soon to get two new congressional districts after the 2010 Census. Scott during the campaign says he wants to create 700,000 private sector jobs www.miamiherald.com and is wanting to slash 6,000 state positions and is suggesting consolidating some major state departments, such as merging Health and Elder Affairs with ACHA, and Persons with Disabilities into a new organization called the Department of Health and Human Services, state’s the paper.

One person studying some of the transition committees reports believes there is a spirit of the “libertarian Party” in some of the recommendations, and how this man’s tenure turns out over the next four years could be a bell weather for the way other governors around the nation take their state’s that are facing massive budget deficits, that were only kept afloat by federal stimulus dollars, that have now run out and hard choices must be faced. In Florida, the budget is shaping up to be around $3.5 billion less from the previous year and that is no small hole to plug. Scott, a former healthcare executive, is methodically looking at the state government and recently terminated four people in the governor’s office assigned to oversea drugs in the state that has the highest number of pill mills in the nation. www.miamiherald.com and it is unknown how far he will take this Neutron Bomb approach, of leaving buildings standing but the state people will be gone.

>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist today announced the following reappointments and appointments: Board of Directors, Florida Fund for Minority Teachers Inc.

Dr. Piyush C. Agrawal, 74, of Weston, president and chief executive officer of APS Technologies Inc., reappointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

Dr. Kenneth R. Dose, 61, of Wilton Manors, professor at Nova Southeastern University, reappointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

Dr. Charles P. Ervin Jr., 68, of Tallahassee, associate professor at Florida A&M University, reappointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

Dr. Charles L. Evans Sr., 65, of Tallahassee, professor at Florida A&M University, reappointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

Dr. Diane B. Briscoe, 62, of Tampa, director of Student Academic Services for the College of Education at the University of South Florida, succeeding German Munoz, appointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

Dr. Benjamin B. Cowins Sr., 71, of Miami Gardens, retired educator for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, succeeding Ami Porzio, appointed for a term beginning December 20, 2010, and ending June 30, 2013.

>>> Press release: Statement of Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch Calls for Thorough Review of Hospital Special Taxing Districts:

“Florida’s current Hospital Taxing District System is in dire need of reexamination by experts and our elected officials to find if this model is the most effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Florida TaxWatch has found that the traditional purpose of these taxing districts to provide indigent care and ensure access to quality hospital facilities is no longer their primary focus as they have expanded their roles to subsidize government-operated hospitals to compete with non-tax supported, and in some cases, tax-paying, hospitals – many of which provide significant levels of care for the poor and for which they are not compensated. There is little accountability for most of these taxing district boards, and yet they enjoy both taxing power and the ability to use those taxes to support entities in a competitive marketplace.  This lack of accountability combined with the inordinate power that comes with both the power to tax and the ability to control billions of dollars of public spending incentivizes predatory operating practices, over-taxation and other practices the taxpayers are forced to subsidize.  This merits a review, and we support an organized, public process for this to take place,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida TaxWatch, a non-partisan, non-profit state and local government watchdog and public policy think tank based in Tallahassee.

“Throughout Florida and the nation, there are many teaching and safety net centers of excellence that are not operated by taxing districts – such as Tampa General and Shands Hospital here in Florida, both of which were previously government-operated and are now a shining beacon for other hospitals in the state.  An objective, third party panel should be created to conduct a comprehensive review of government-operated hospitals under these districts to find more cost-effective alternatives to the current system that promote rational business decisions with built-in oversight and accountability to the marketplace. Florida TaxWatch commends Governor-Elect Rick Scott’s Transition team report related to government-run hospitals and its recommendation to create a panel to conduct the TaxWatch recommended review. Hospital taxing districts have changed and so have the health care needs of Florida.  It is time to see whether the laws and practices of these special hospital taxing districts need to change as well,” said Calabro. >>> Florida TaxWatch has been diligent in following the important issue of Hospital Taxing Districts for several years. The most recent report, Florida’s Fragmented Hospital Taxing District System in Need of Reexamination, found that indigent care dollars should “follow the patient” instead of going to a single provider and recommends an evaluation of whether government should be operating the hospitals and instead have districts simply reimburse all providers for indigent care. For more information, please visit www.FloridaTaxWatch.org/research.

>>> March 8th: First Day of the 2011 Legislative Session

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Now there are three, Mayor Alvarez first, then Commissioners Seijas and Barreiro may be going to ballot after voter recall signatures certified by Ruvin

It has begun in earnest, now that 95,499 recall petitions signatures collected with the help of a campaign funded by billionaire Norman Braman were certified to put recalling Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez (Net worth $1.74 million) to the electorate in the next 90-days and the clock started on Dec. 21 when County Court Clerk Harvey Ruvin (Net worth $1.38 million) signed off on the petitions. Further, on Thursday a group trying to recall five of the eight commissioners that approved a property tax roll back rate, but saw taxes rise for some residents, called Miami Voice, succeeded in getting enough district signatures to add County Commissioner Natacha Seijas (Net worth $617,000), a fixture on the board for almost two decades, and Commissioner Bruno Barreiro (Net worth $728,000) to the recall list as well. The group’s head, Vanessa Brito told the www.miamiherald.com they would file signed petitions Friday to recall Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and that occurred, but they were unable to get enough voters in the districts signatures for a recall of Commissioners Dennis Moss, Audrey Edmonson (Net worth $281,000), and Barbara Jordan (Net worth $1.97 million) by this deadline.

In Seijas’ case, the group had 4,373 certified as valid by the clerk, but only 3,591 were needed, and Ruvin found only 66 of the petitions were “questionable.” Seijas over the years has been a thorn in the side of environmentalists and any one that is her political enemy and her verbal tongue-lashings of public speakers and county employees is long and distinguished in their sharpness. Back in 2002, in the final commission budget hearing that ran to 6:30 a.m., the next day. Seijas made a comment late in the night to then county Commission Chair. Gwen Margolis (Net worth $5.1 million) that if she did not shut up, she would leave the dais in a “body bag,” but it is forgotten that a few hours earlier in a discussion of the county Medical Examiners office budget. Representatives of the office said they had people in the morgue, “stacked in body bags” and the office needed another examiner to handle the workload, but this fact rarely gets reported. However, she did question the size of the state manatee herd in 2004, suggesting it was to large and that drew a significant backlash and she can be Machiavellian as well, like when she wanted to put the election of a countywide property appraiser on a Friday, since one of the  candidates was her nemesis now state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami and that happens to be the Sabbath for Jewish worshipers, but that election date did not pass muster with other commissioners, but it shows she plays political hardball.

The commission must now call an election for the three and it is unknown if there will be two separate elections, with a countywide elections costing about $4 to $5 million and a commission race is $500,000. But Seijas, elected in 1993 to District 13 and the subject of a past recall that failed, is likely to not want to run with Alvarez on a ballot that has spawned a recall passion among voters never before seen since the early 1970s. And one knowledgably person said out in the community and airwaves, they weren’t just upset with Alvarez. He said people had been whipped into such a fever that he is now “hated” by many county residents and voters thanks to the Spanish media, they thought. Further, Moss has called a special commission meeting for Wednesday, but the only listed issue is setting the date for the recall election for Alvarez, but not Seijas or Barreiro. And the two veteran commissioners have a couple of options, ask for a separate election from the mayor, or resign and not face a recall vote, and then just run again in the election to fill the  commission district vacancies.

>>> Commission Chair Moss calls special BCC meeting Dec. 29

The Commission Chair Dennis Moss has called a special commission meeting on Dec. 29 states the county’s webpage calendar. Here is the information on the public commission-meeting item. >>> A special meeting for the purpose of 1. calling a county-wide special election in accordance with Section 8.02 of the Home Rule Charter on the question of whether to recall the Mayor; and 2. calling a county-wide special election in accordance with Section 9.07C of the Home Rule Charter on question of whether to amend the Charter to make alternative provision for continued exercise of some or all of the Mayor’s nondelegable powers and responsibilities during any vacancy in the Office of the Mayor December 29, 2010 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Stephen P. Clark Center 111 NW 1st Street Commission Chamber Miami, FL 33128 http://www.miamidade.gov/COB/downloadsandlinks.asp


Alvarez

Moss

Seijas
>>> Seijas press release: Commissioner Seijas Responds to Notice of Petition Certification

Today the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Mr. Harvey Ruvin, has announced he is satisfied with the petition process for my recall and has certified there are a sufficient number of valid voter signatures to require a special election in my district. It does raise concerns that the Clerk’s office was able to complete this rigorous process in just a couple of days – right before Christmas.  My review of his hasty work will begin in earnest after the holidays. As the first Cuban-American woman elected to the governing body of Miami-Dade County, I have served with integrity and am proud of my efforts to address the needs of the elderly, the working poor, victims of domestic violence, abused and neglected children, and all who rely on quality social services. Every time a victim of wage theft benefits from my legislation and recovers money owed to them, I am rewarded. My integrity as an elected official has never been questioned.

As a Cuban-American woman, I accept that there are elements of this community who resent my presence on the board.  Though I have worked with my colleagues on the commission to build bridges throughout our diverse community, there will always be those who reject such overtures.  I confess that I am deeply disappointed that Norman Braman financed this effort against me.  Mr. Braman has visited my office, he has been treated with respect, and I have shown him the courtesy every citizen deserves.  His animosity toward me is simply unfathomable. Fortunately, since this ordeal began, I have been receiving heartfelt messages of support from dear friends in my commission district and throughout the county.  During this Christmas season, their kind words are appreciated.  I have assured them that my office will continue to serve their needs without interruption as this process works through its natural course.  My sincere wishes to all for a healthy and peaceful new year. For additional information regarding this process, please contact my attorney, Mr. Kendall Coffey.

>>> Press release: Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust - January 2011 Meeting January 04, 2011 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Biscayne Building Conference Room 820-10 – 19 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130 Rachelle Cedeno-Ross, 305-579-2594 If you would like to receive the Draft Agenda and Meeting Summary contact Rachelle Cedeno-Ross at 305-579-2594 or email at cedeno@miamidade.gov

>>> Press release GMCVB: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG—GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKED #3 IN OCCUPANCY, #3 IN  REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR) AND #5 IN HOTEL ROOM RATE FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER 2010 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS >> For the month of November 2010, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2009, ranking #3 in Hotel Occupancy at 72.3%, #3 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $96.54, and #5 in Average Daily Room Rate at $133.60 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 Occupancy

November 2010

TOP U.S. MARKETS: % % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York 80.2% +5.1%
#2.  Oahu Island 75.2% +5.0%
#3. Miami 72.3% +8.6%
#4.  San Francisco 68.0% ­+3.3%
#5. New Orleans 66.8% +17.2%
Revenue Per Available Room

November  2010

TOP  U.S MARKETS: $ % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York $218.52 +16.5%
#2.  Oahu Island $113.74 +9.7%
#3.  Miami $96.54 +14.3%
#4.   San Francisco $90.38 +5.6%
#5.   Boston $88.04 +11.0%
Average Daily Room Rate

November 2010

TOP  U.S MARKETS: $ % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York $272.42 +6.9%
#2.  Oahu Island $151.22 + 4.4%
#3.  Boston $140.92 +5.0%
#4.  Washington $139.04 -0.5%
#5.  Miami $133.60 +5.3

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> PAST WDR: JUNE 2010: >>> Rothstein gets 50-years by feds, Broward is rich in other schemes, and politicians beware of tainted money

It is over, Scott Rothstein got a 50-year sentence in federal court last week for his organized $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that shocked South Florida and continued the trend of being ground zero when it comes to get rich quick buck artists. The number of politicians ranging from Gov. Charlie Crist to local elected leaders all embraced the man and his ostentatious life style that was created seemingly out of thin air. Now his law firm is defunct, partners are defending themselves having lawyered up, and Rothstein’s number two also felt the weight of the federal government last week as well.

However, not just Ponzi schemes define some of the corruption that exists in Broward as the press release below shows from the local U.S. Attorney’s office. Medicare and mortgage fraud are also rampant, human smuggling is very much in play and creating fraudulent immigration papers has created a cottage industry of people creating new identities for themselves throughout South Florida. Elected leaders in the future should reflect on who these people are who want to give them campaign cash. For we have seen it can come back to bite officials, and while political campaigns are expensive. The candidates should remember you cannot be a little bit pregnant when it comes to tainted money, and that is not a way to start or continue a political career. Since starting that activity may take you to a rendezvous with destiny. A destiny that involves state and federal prosecutors and that is not a good thing, when it comes to a political career. 

>>> 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

>>> Gov. Crist today taps Gregory M. Keyser of Boca Raton to the Palm Beach County Court.

“Greg’s extensive legal knowledge and patient demeanor have served him well throughout his 30-year career,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident he will bring those attributes to the bench, where he will serve the people of Palm Beach County with fairness, impartiality and integrity.” Keyser, 55, has practiced privately since 1980 with the following firms:  Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro and Ramsey, since 2002; Gay, Keyser and Berkowitz from 2001 to 2002; Gay, Ramsey and Warren from 2000 to 2001; Sachs, Sax and Klein from 1997 to 2000; Paxton, Crow, Bragg, Smith and Keyser from 1988 to 1997; Marchbanks and Feaman from 1987 to 1988; Paxton, Crow, Bragg and Smith from 1981 to 1987; and MacMillan, Newett, Strawn, Stanley and Botos from 1980 to 1981. He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. Keyser will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge James Martz II to the Fifteenth Circuit Court.

HIGHLANDS COUNTY

>>> PAST WDR: Dec. 2010: There he goes again; Gov. Crist suspends Carlson for DUI manslaughter, #44

There he goes again; Gov. Charlie Crist suspends Highlands County Commissioner Jeffrey Carlson after the official was charged with “DUI boating manslaughter,” a felony. Crist has been removing officials around the state since he took office at a decent clip with Broward and Palm Beach Counties still seeing elected officials biting the dust for a variety of reasons, including public corruption. Since taking office in Jan. 2007, the governor has removed 44 elected officials since that time, but with only a month to go in office, will this be his last suspension?

KISSIMEE COUNTY

>>> PAST WDR: May 2010: Gov. Crist suspends county commissioner Irizarry after domestic violence charge, #39 removal for governor

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

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY

>>> Gun dealer pleads guilty of machine gun sales

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, announced today’s entry of guilty plea of defendant Edward Todd Basile, 47, of Okeechobee, Florida, on federal firearms law violations, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a)(6), and transfer of unregistered machine guns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861 (e). Basile changed his plea to guilty in federal court in Fort Pierce earlier today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch, Jr.  According to in-court statements, Basile worked for Gun Smoke Enterprises, a federally licensed firearms dealer based in Okeechobee, Florida, that sells firearms at southern Florida gun shows and over the Internet.  As stated in presentations in open court, Basile met on multiple occasions with a cooperating witness who was a convicted felon, and sold the informant firearms and parts to construct M-16 fully automatic rifles. “Fully automatic” weapons are defined in federal law as those firearms that will repeatedly fire more than one shot, when the trigger is pulled only once.

According to the in-court statements, Basile instructed and assisted the cooperating witness in preparing false federal firearms transaction forms, using someone Basile thought was a third person, or “straw buyer,” to pretend to be the actual buyer of the firearms. The person portraying the straw buyer was, in fact, an undercover ATF agent.  In addition, Basile on multiple occasions delivered to the informant parts designed to convert an otherwise lawful, semi-automatic rifle, such as the AR-15, into a fully automatic machine gun, such as the military’s M-16 rifle.  Federal law requires such parts to be registered, as well as the law restricts their creation, possession and transfer. Basile delivered parts that were not numbered or registered. Basile is scheduled to be sentenced in federal Court in Fort Pierce by United States District Judge José E. Martinez, on Thursday, February 17, 2011. >>> U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal law enforcement agency that investigated this case.  In addition, he commended the assistance of both the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of this case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> PAST WDR: JUNE 2010: Southern most county in nation gets hit with 12 % property tax reduction, taxable value drops to $19.6 billion

As with all the counties in Florida, Monroe when it comes to property tax values got a solid whack and the overall value dropped around “12 percent” wrote Roman Gastesi the County Administrator last week after the numbers were released. The county’s property values dropped from $22.3 billion in 2009 to an estimated taxable value of $19.6 billion (less new construction) his staff wrote in an e-mail exchange.

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Out of 82 charter schools, five under microscope because of “conflicts of interest or questionable business arrangements”

The school board auditor in a Dec. 2 memo to the school board audit committee                   details what is going on at some of the 82 charter schools found in the nation’s fourth largest public school district, and five of nine schools being monitored, good governance and “related transactions” are being scrutinized closely. The school district has the most charter schools in the state, and these have proliferated in South Florida, but some people have pushed the limits by starting a school at a site they own, or having a wife or other relative on a governing board or working at the school, which is a no no. The district has worked with some of these charter schools on their “corrective action plans” and these plans have been submitted to state education officials, wrote Chief Auditor Jose F. Montes de Oca. He also notes the district is watching Balere Academy that is in a “ distressed financial position” and while some actions had occurred, the school’s net assets have “worsened from the previous year to deficits of $86,121 and $245,241” over the past two years. He also closed the analysis writing the school has had operational and academic problems, and received an “F” grade in 2010 under the state’s academic evaluation system and “failing substantially out of compliance in regard to its facilities in October 2010,” he wrote. While the auditor looked at this one school, he notes that at the next audit committee, the other four questionable charter schools will be reviewed at the upcoming Feb. 1 meeting and representatives of the schools will be in attendance to explain their positions.

>>> Press release: As proposed by School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, District 4, the Miami-Dade School Board voted unanimously to promote and encourage participation in the 2011 Miami National College Fair, scheduled for February 20, 2011, at the Doubletree Miami Mart Airport Hotel (formerly Sheraton Centre). “The College Fair provides parents and students with excellent information about educational opportunities and choices,” said Ms. Hantman, who has co-chaired the fair’s local committee for 15 consecutive years. “It is a wonderful way for them to become informed and discover their options for post-secondary education.” Representatives from more than 150 colleges and universities will be at the fair to provide information about admissions, financial aid, entrance exams and other related topics.  The fair will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Doubletree Miami Mart Airport Hotel, 777 N.W. 72nd Ave., Miami. For more information, visit the fair’s website, www.nacacnet.org or call the College Fair Hotline at 305-995-1739.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> PHT to “sever” relationship with FHS on Tuesday at special executive committee meeting

The health trust board is passing legislation that will “sever the relationship with Foundation Health Services (FHS) for management of the International Health Services” program at a special executive committee meeting on Tuesday, and the Ad Hoc Committee for International Health Services made the recommendation last week that fulfills a Miami-Dade County Commission mandate to break ties with the organization by Jan. 31. Ernesto de la Fe chaired the committee and this will end the tension between the Jackson board concerning the FHS operation, part of its philanthropic arm that got a critical audit on how some of the money was spent, and what the return on the investment was since about $7 million in public dollars went to the organization. The committee at a number of meetings last week heard presentations from FIU, UM, and others on ways to form a new international services marketing arm, that is hoped to work together. Since collectively the organizations are interwoven so extensively, that will also try to maximize the market penetration, yet at a reasonable cost.

>>> Public notice: Executive Committee – Angel Medina, Jr., Chairperson, John H. Copeland, III, Marcos L. Lapciuc, Georgena D. Ford, RN, Jorge L. Arrizurieta,

Joaquin del Cueto, Ernesto A. de la Fe, Abraham a. Galbut, Martin g. Zilber

Commissioner Javier Souto — Ex-officio Members Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D. and John A. Rock, M.D. >> Please be advised that a special Executive Committee meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 28, 2010 from 12 noon to 2:00 p.m. in the West Wing Board Room – The purpose of the special Executive Committee meeting is as follows: 1. Report out of the International Ad Hoc Committee as to interim progress and proposed resolution regarding Change in Oversight and Management of the Jackson International Program

2. Approval of resolution regarding the Settlement Agreement with Qorval

3. Approval of resolution regarding the finalization of a Mediation Agreement regarding a medical liability case

>>> PHT to settle Qorval lawsuit by half of what was demanded, now $103,000

The PHT board and administration, rather than fight a lawsuit that might be lost filed by the firm Qorval, LLC for professional services, an agreement expected to be signed by the PHT and the company is settling the suit by paying $103,000 to the company rather than the $206,000 Qorval was demanding. The dispute has been going on for months and some public discussions by PHT members on the subject, had more than perhaps should have been said at the time. And county attorney’s representing the board asked trustees to keep their comments to a minimum, that most agreed to. If the settlement agreement is approved the matter is disposed with.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Will Migoya be part of PHT leadership mix, banker, philanthropist, exotic car enthusiast, and bon vivant?

Carlos Migoya, 59, the departing Miami manager may be moving on, but will he also end up as a candidate to run the Public Health Trust, now that President & CEO Eneida Roldan, M.D. is saying sayonara in the coming months. Migoya a few months ago in a conversation with the Watchdog Report at city hall said he thought the health trust could be turned around in “six months,” he estimated. He is a man with a “good memory” he once quipped during a city commission meeting, and he has put in his time in this pro bono capacity paying one dollar after Mayor Tomas Regalado brought him in to replace former Manager Pete Hernandez in late February. He crafted the 2010-2011 city budget that began in October, and part of that involved putting a blowtorch to union contracts and pensions cutting the employees benefits back, that is currently being challenged in court, and may not be the slam-dunk for the city many are anticipating.

Migoya, a formidable force when it comes to fundraising was co-chair of the United Way of Miami-Dade’s one-year fund drive years ago and a knowledgeable insider said he did a great job. He also has been chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, is a former banker by trade and is an avid cyclist, that includes riding in Europe, and he recently returned from a trip to the Czech Republic. He also loves exotic cars and owns a new Ferrari grey/silver coupe (That just after he picked it up last week was rear ended by a women in a Porsche, and while it was not extensive damage, any on such a car is a big deal), a Maserati and a black Mercedes Benz are part of his car collection.

What about his financial life?

His financial disclosure forms for the year don’t show any financial numbers but he does list a condominium on Brickell Key Drive and another on Franklin Avenue, on the fourth floor in Coconut Grove that is a condominium complex over Calamari Restaurant on the ground floor. He was previously a senior banking official with Wachovia Bank, and is on the board of Auto Nation, a post he has held since 2006. His assets are stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit with U.S. Century Bank, and he owns Auto Nation stock. He lists only a liability with Citi Corp. but not how much that is. He was married back in 1992 to Christina Cuervo, a former aide to Miami Manager Cesar Odio who later went to federal prison but he is divorced now, and has been seen frequently at condominium topping off parties over the boom years of Miami with a variety of women.

I write in more detail about Migoya because the PHT is a big jump, and someone’s temperament is important, in a job race that also has Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess looking at possible getting tapped. After the PHT does a national search for a new top leader and while incoming County Commission Chair Joe Martinez said he would not support Burgess in such a move. County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez told me last week he didn’t think Migoya was the person for the job either, so the community will have to wait and see how this all plays out.

What about his personality?

Migoya, who gives the impression he is above any fray, also has a tendency to make fun of others at their expense, something Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff does as well, and that is a verbally dangerous habit, especially in such a high profile position such as the PHT with a $2 billion budget, 12,000 employees and blows through $4.5 million in cash a day, while giving over $700 million in charity care.


Migoya

>>> See what Miami New Times wrote on Migoya http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/03/new_city_manager_carlos_migoya.php

>>> Gifts pour into city hall, cases of wine, frozen turkeys, and almost very nice gift baskets

During the Holiday’s, the presents and gifts just rolled into Miami City Hall for elected leaders and staff the last few weeks, and the Watchdog Report was there to watch some of it come in and keep a little inventory of the goodies. One organization’s representative told me the “city has been very good to us” and just wanted to thank them as she wheeled in three cases of wine, and another man rolled in about ten frozen turkeys, and days earlier about a dozen very nice gift baskets were dropped off. The city has a $100.00 gift disclosure requirement and these are probable under that number, as noted in a past ethics commission study a few years ago, that showed no gifts being disclosed over numerous years by Miami officials.

>>> Commissioners Gort, Sarnoff, and Suarez all running again in 2011

Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez filed his candidate papers with the clerk’s office last week for the Nov. 2011 election for District 4 that had only two years on the term after Mayor Tomas Regalado ran for mayor, but left only two years of the term. If Suarez wins again, it will be for a full four-year term, and he has no challengers yet. In addition, Commissioner Wilfredo “Willy” Gort has to run again for his commission District 1 seat again, and his only challenger is Mike Suarez. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is also up that same year and the District 2 commissioner has yet to draw a challenger, and has raised hundreds of thousands for the campaign war chest, trying to dissuade people from taking him on at the polls.


Suarez

Sarnoff

Gort
>>> PAST WDR: MARCH 2010:  Chair Sarnoff says trouble with Miami is it acts “like a snail” but eats public dollars “like a goat” after grim budget briefing

As the Miami commission met Thursday in the commission chambers it was clear to the Watchdog Report that this was deja vue of the worst kind when it came to the city’s dwindling cash reserves that will be raided another $54 million just to cover last year’s budget deficit and even more cash will be required for the current shortfall with parks, police and fire budgets over by more than $20 million. The commissioners got the financial budget briefing in the morning and the conversation was grim. The city of “Miami acts like a snail” when it comes to delivering municipal services but when it comes to spending public money it “eats like a goat,” said Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.28 million) describing what he had just heard. He also noted that the city was coming dangerously close to insolvency declaring the city manager, who is the person who contacts the governor’s office if such a state exists, should call a “state of financial emergency”. Further, Frank Carollo, the commission vice chair said paychecks for two old employees gone since November are still arriving at his office and questioned the city’s paycheck controls that clearly need attention.

Mayor Tomas Regalado (Net worth $5,000), who gave his first state of the City speech Friday, cautioned commissioners about calling a financial emergency believing they were not there yet. He said changes were being implemented regarding city spending that would stem some of the financial hemorrhaging being implemented by new city Manager Carlos Migoya, a former banker working for free in the interim during the tough budget negotiations, including dealing with the city’s three unions.

What about the state appointed financial emergency oversight board?

For five-years that ended in Nov. 2001, the city of Miami had a state appointed financial oversight board made up of high profile community leaders that did not live in the city. Regalado and Commissioner Willy Gort both politically lived under this mother may I scrutiny that kept a fiscal blow torch on leaders and the administration that saw revolving door managers through the late 1990s after ex manager Cesar Odio, after years in that capacity went to federal prison. This board also had the added firepower of the governor’s inspector general attending these meetings and during the bulk of the time when then Gov. Jeb Bush held office. The state IG was Marcia Cooke, now a federal district judge and she kept a close eye on some of the ideas the commissioners had while helping the municipality financially right itself. Cooke, it should be noted is well over six feet tall and would periodically start to get up at meetings when something was being discussed and essentially said, “don’t go there,” to the city’s elected leaders that attended these meetings.

>>> Press release: Red Light Cameras will be Reporting Infractions Starting January 1st, 2011

(“The City’s red-light camera program is not yet active/operational and cameras are not issuing citations yet, although many have already been installed and may appear to be functioning,” said José R. González, P.E. Office of the City Manager/Transportation. The City of Miami Police Department will officially begin issuing citations for red-light violations captured by cameras on January 1st, 2011. For more information on the  red-light camera program please contact Miami Police Dept. at (305) 603-6710.

>>> 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, PAB, Code, etc. hearings)    http://videos.miamigov.com/

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> PAST WDR JUNE 2010: Mayor Bower and tourism industry get pledge of no violent convicts in county Corrections hazzemet suits will clean tourist beaches

Mattie Bower, the Miami Beach mayor is not happy when it comes to county prisoners possible being part of a clean-up crew if tar and oil hits the local beaches. Last week she called county Commissioner Sally Heyman who chaired the county committee and proposed the legislation asking the mayor to “prepare a plan” that would require anyone “eligible” doing the activity to wear a hazmat suit states a county memo on the subject. The idea has since been modified to include only people that owe fines, or are required to do public service in their sentence and would not involve violent prisoners incarcerated. The Beach mayor, like many others in the community when they heard about the proposal believed international tourists would only hear in the media that criminals are on the beaches and that was the last thing South Florida tourism needed at the time.

Tourism officials at a county commission meeting that approved the amended legislation noted prisoners would not be mobilized for the tourist beaches clean-up activity and the legislative body’s members understood the concerns, while noting the high unemployment rate warranted local residents get the jobs rather than people incarcerated. Tourism official William Talbert, III said during the commission discussion that if he heard it right. “There would not be any circumstances where county prisoners would be on our beaches with the tourists,” and the attended perception that would have on international tourists and the media, he said.  Further, even with the changes county commission Chair Dennis Moss and Vice Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz voted no on the legislation along with two other commissioners believing it was a good opportunity to employ the unemployed in the county.

What did Mgr. Burgess’ June 15 memo say?

George Burgess in a memo to the commissioners on this subject writes BP has already “arranged for over 500 contractors” that have the “proper credentials” and while residents are urged not to pick the oil up, they can become “beach spotters” pointing out where oil and tar has come on shore. He also notes there could be up to 15,000 volunteers from Hands on Miami that could be mobilized. However, he writes finding and using “Eligible inmates” is no easy task, with many of the

less dangerous inmates working in the kitchens, sanitation, laundry etc., sates the document. There are further challenges as well when it comes to gear, anyone involved in this will have to take “four hours” of hazmat training, and it is unknown at the time where the hazmat suits and other equipment will come from. The manager concludes that DERM “is working on a solid mitigation plan” and  if it is necessary, any use of inmates will be “in concert” with DERM and Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.

>>> Press release: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 – 8:30 AM – Meeting Place:     David’s Café, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach >>> Russell Galbut, Managing Principal of Crescent Heights, the developer of the high-end shopping center proposed for the west side of Alton Road running north of 5th Street, will be the guest speaker at the December 28th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club .  The City Commission recently had an item on their agenda dealing with a change of zoning for the portion of the project site where the closed North Shore Hospital stands – to change the zoning from hospital to commercial.  Such a change will involve a change to the Comp Plan and will need Design Review and Planning Board approvals.  Since Russell’s last appearance at the Breakfast Club to discuss this project Crescent Heights has purchased the dormant Vitri site, the 1st block north of 5th Street , giving them the possibility of a three block long shopping center. There is no charge and everyone is welcome to attend. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Mayor Slesnick will debate challengers if “invited,” and qualifying dates are Feb. 21-25 and election is Apr. 12

Mayor Donald Slesnick,II while celebrating the Holidays is also working voters in the tony City Beautiful and he is trying to win his fifth term in office since his election in April 2001, along with Commissioners Maria Anderson and Ralph Cabrera, Jr., in a sea change race that unseated the long time mayor and two commissioners from office. Slesnick, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel (Ret), served in Vietnam, labor attorney and Miami Senior High graduate in 1961 is giving it another shot for a two-year term and he is facing Tom Korge, an a attorney and James Cason, a retired diplomat with the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.           www.miamiheald.com It is a three-way race so far and all that is needed to win is a one-vote edge over the other candidates state’s the city charter for Coral Gables. The Watchdog Report caught up with Slesnick last week and when I asked if he would participate in debates. He said, “Yes, he will attend debates if invited and there is no conflict with other commitments,” he said. Slesnick, who asks people to call him “Don,” rather than just mayor, his running again for another term caught some city voters by surprise, but he is polling well and with a split vote. He could garner another term, a record number in the tony city.

CITY OF DORAL

>>> The Doral Trolley Offers an Extended New Year’s Eve Schedule

Press release: Ride the Doral Trolley this New Year’s Eve! In an effort to promote the restaurants establishment in Doral and the safety of our residents and guests, the City of Doral Economic Development and Public Works Departments have teamed up in conjunction with the Doral Business Council to offer Doral Social Fridays Friday, December 31 until 1:30am. The Trolley will depart from the Doral Park Country Club, 5001 Northwest 104 Avenue, at 8:00 pm and will be in its usual run stopping at restaurants and hotels, many of which are offering New Year’s Eve Specials. As always, the Doral Social Fridays trolley service is free. The service will stop at 1:30 am on January 1, 2011. Doral Social Fridays take place every Friday, when the Doral Trolley will run from 8 – 11 pm along a designated route with a concentration of restaurants and other nightly entertainment. The route will include stops at the City’s hotels where trolley route maps will be available listing other Social Friday points of interest. For more information about Social Fridays in Doral contact our Economic Development Department at 305-593-6725 ext 7007.

VILLAGE OF MIAMI SHORES

>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist taps Judge Darrin P. Gayles of Miami Shores to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court.

“Judge Gayles is widely known for his professionalism, fairness and effective administration of justice,” said Governor Crist. “His respect for the law, as well as for all who appear in his courtroom, will contribute to the Eleventh Circuit in a meaningful way.”

Judge Gayles, 43, has served on the Miami-Dade County Court since 2004.  Previously, he served as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 1999 to 2004 and as assistant district counsel for the United States Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, from 1997 to 1999. He was an assistant state attorney for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from 1993 to 1997. He received his bachelor’s degree from Howard University and his law degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Judge Gayles will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Ronald M. Friedman.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Press release:  Alison Zemanski, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332 or 202.384.8762, azemanski@npca.org >> Richard Gibbs, Everglades Foundation, P: 305.251.0001, ext. 235 or 305.606.6407, rgibbs@evergladesfoundation.org – 26th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference, January 6-9, 2011 – Renewal of Life for the Everglades: Moving Forward Together — This year’s Everglades Coalition Conference will bring together business leaders, elected officials, and community and environmental activists to discuss the many opportunities and challenges we face for restoring the Everglades’ unique ecosystem. Community leaders and lawmakers will discuss their positions and pledge their support for restoring the Everglades. Conference sessions will focus on topics such as Florida’s role in advancing restoration, clean water and wildlife concerns, wetlands regulation and the economic benefits of Everglades restoration. The Coalition will also announce its essential restoration priorities and goals for 2011 at the conference. Confirmed participants include: Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Executive Director John Hankinson, Region IV EPA Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming, and former Senator Bob Graham.  Thursday, January 6 – Sunday, January 9, 2011 >>> *PRESS CONFERENCE: The Everglades Coalition will announce essential restoration priorities and goals for 2011 on Friday, Jan. 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Additional details to follow.* Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Resort and Spa  250 Racquet Club Road, Weston, FL 33326 – P: (954) 616-1234Website: http://bonaventure.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp?null >> The Everglades Coalition Conference is the largest annual forum for Everglades conservation and restoration, bringing together the Coalition’s 53 allied organizations with local, state and federal partners. The 2011 conference theme is “Renewal of Life for the Everglades: Moving Forward Together,” and the event is hosted by Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation. Building on recent successes, panelists and attendees will discuss strategies for advancing Everglades restoration through strengthened and new partnerships. For additional information, please visit our website at: www.evergladescoalition.org/conference.htm. For complimentary media registration, please contact Julie Hill-Gabriel, (305) 371-6399 x 136; C: (786) 246-2903, jhill-gabriel@audubon.org.

>>> Press release: THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE IS OPEN DURING THE HOLIDAYS -The collection visiting hours are every Wednesday – Saturday from 11:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. Holiday Hours: Tuesday, December 21st to Thursday, December 23th and Tuesday, December 28th to Thursday December 30th 11 am-2 pm – AFRICA: Photography and Video – JENE HIGHSTEIN: Large Stone Carvings -MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO: Broken Mirror Painting … >>> 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 Contact: Curator, Katherine Hinds

591 NW 27th Street, Miami, FL 33127 p: 305.576.1051 / f: 305.576.4963 / mcollection@bellsouth.net

EDITORIALS

>>> PAST WDR: MAY 2010: Cool and creative minds needed when crafting solution on PHT financial survival

The Public Health Trust’s future is on the community’s lips and a group of alpha men and women in our community have sent a message in www.miamiherald.com to the leaders of Miami-Dade County and the PHT board that there is great public support for the institution but something must change if the public hospital system is to survive and be a vibrant state of the art global medical center. The 41 people supporting the recommendations is a broad swath of community leaders and over 15 of them are readers of the Watchdog Report. I mention this because I first arrived at a PHT meeting in 1998 and have never stopped following what was going on at this important and special public institution and reporting back.

Over these years, the PHT board has evolved but much of the drive for different changes came from the county commission itself. In the 1990s, then Mayor Alex Penelas chose the PHT nominating council that was chaired at the time by former PHT chair Jose Cancela and they chose, over time, the 21-member board’s citizen trustees. Further, in 2000, during the September final budget hearing at the county, the shifting of $65 million in county costs to the health trust was the first financial raid, allowing the expansion of county general funding into other community activities like art and cultural programs. This also was the last time the health trust was able to easily balance its $1 billion plus budget back then as the cost of the rising medically uninsured in the community started to skyrocket beginning to outstrip the revenue coming into the public hospital that now also has $800 million in infrastructure needs that have been deferred over the years.

And in 2002 under the direction of county Commissioner Dennis Moss the PHT board was downscaled to 15 citizen trustees plus two voting commissioners (Currently Commissioners Dorrin Rolle and Javier Souto) and joint meetings between the two bodies were required twice a year. However, during all this time the role of the county commission in the background is profound and when it comes to the business model and how Jackson will survive getting the mayor and commissioners involved is no sure bet to success of the gigantic medical enterprise that employs 12,000 people and generates abut $3 billion in economic activity in the community. And I for one do not have the silver bullet to solve this vexing problem but I do know shooting from the hip, or taking actions out of frustration and being impatient when it comes to Jackson should be resisted, because when a hospital becomes like its patients, and is on a financial respirator, cooler minds must always prevail if we are not to lose the organization as a whole. And that is something Miami-Dade cannot live without.

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

At the city of Miami Beach Special Commission meeting last week, one commissioner discussing the BayLink project said that how they voted was no problem since it was not the city’s money.  Well commissioner, it is someone’s money and elected leaders and their administration should remember that fact.

The most egregious example of that thinking occurred back in 1999 at county hall when during a commission meeting former county aviation director Gary Delappa told county commissioners that concerning a $1.2 billion overrun and change in scope and plans at Miami International Airport that they needed not to worry since “its not county money.”  At the time, the Watchdog Report publisher spoke as a citizen and said that I came from the private sector and if it had been me, I would have been on my knees begging to keep my job.

Months later at a Metropolitan Planning Organization, when Delappa kept making the reference that it was not county money that had been lost.  Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez finally cut him off saying, “Well Gary it is someone’s money and you had better find out whose it is.”

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

LETTERS

>>> A recent article in Wall Street Journal, Health Studies Cited for Transplant Cuts Put Under the Knife, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703395204576024213729831704.html, highlights the looming issue of cost control.
Faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs,  states will be forced to make tough decision on care allocation and coverage. Arizona already has taken drastic steps to drop Medicaid coverage for some organ transplants as the state tries to plug a $1 billion gap in its health-care budget for next year. The state agency that recommended that Arizona stop paying for transplants of lungs and, for certain patients, hearts and livers, has defended the move by citing studies and figures that it says demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the procedures. But the state agency has gone a step further by selecting studies that proves the point that certain transplants are ineffective. To make its case for cuts, the Arizona agency cited several sets of numbers. In dropping coverage of liver transplants for patients with hepatitis C, the state said liver recipients suffer recurrence of the disease at a rate of 100%. And the state argued that candidates for lung transplants would live just as long with other medical care, citing data from university studies. Several transplant experts, however, point to flaws in the data and the way the state’s Medicaid agency, called the Health Care Cost Containment System, has used the figures.

Arizona “used data that were outdated or data that made no sense, or they misinterpreted or misrepresented what experts said,” says Michael Abecassis, director of Northwestern University’s comprehensive transplant center and president of the surgeons group. For lungs, a crux of the state’s position was a 1995 study of 49 patients at the University of Washington, 25 of whom received transplants; the rest were waiting at the time of the study. The study concluded that transplant recipients would live half a year longer than those who didn’t get a new lung, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant—in part because the sample size was so small. Also, researchers didn’t wait to track patients’ survival, instead extrapolating long-term mortality rates from deaths and sickness in the short run. So, what’s the solution? States should not be permitted to arbitrarily decide what services can be covered under the states Medicaid program. Instead, they should follow evidence-based data and, most importantly, comparative effectiveness research data. Otherwise, we will revert to the Pollice verso (thumbs turned) used in ancient Rome by the crowd to indicate if the defeated gladiator should be condemned to death. Soon we do not need gladiators to revive this custom. We just need legislators who will decide the fate of condemned Medicaid recipients.

Bernd Wollschlaeger, M.D.

>>> Good Morning, Check out and feel free to share the following video, which was produced by the Miami-Dade MPO and Miami-Dade Transit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Eh3fU1BHQ Enjoy!

Elizabeth Rockwell

Public Involvement & TD Manager

Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization

>>> Dan same to you. Wish you more success in 2011.

Grady Muhammad

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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.

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