Archive for January 2011


Watchdog Report Vol.11 No.37 January 30, 2011 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot


Argus Report: U.S. Rep. Rivera continues to face criticism at home regarding finances; supporters say he must get ahead of issue by complete explanation

Florida: New state & congressional redistricting set for multiple court challenges, Gov. Scott withdraws request for federal review & approval

Miami-Dade County: As temperatures dip, Homeless Street count Thursday inches up to 880 people, but way down from over 8,000 in early 1990s

Broward County: HUD awards $9.58 million for supportive housing, shelter & care for homeless people

Palm Beach County: State Rep. Snyder chairs powerful Judiciary Committee, elected 2006, has $772,000 net worth through May 2010

Hillsborough County: Homeless organizations get $4.5 million in HUD awards, Safe Place largest recipient getting $839,000

Hernando County: State Rep. Schenck in spotlight, chair of House Health & Human Services Committee, had $100,861 net worth through 09

Monroe County: Homeless programs get $474,000 in HUD awards for the year

Miami-Dade Public Schools: 68 Charter schools are scanned and OK, say district auditors, one is A&M in Grove, and owner gets $69,597 monthly in operating plant rent

Public Health Trust: A Split board’s final choice for successor will determine PHT in highly competitive medical healthcare industry for the decade to come, will they chose right?

City of Miami: New super lobbyist state Sen. Diaz de la Portilla gets automatic deferment at zoning hearing because of state business

City of Hialeah: Local man guilty of conspiracy to own stolen fully automatic weapons and explosives

City of Miami Beach: From Beach commissioner to state Rep. Steinberg, making his mark in minority party, had $327,000 net worth through 2009

City of North Miami: Mayor Pierre taking a hit, must clear up 40-badge controversy, may have cost him vice chair slot on MPO

Coral Gables: Legal armada arrives to support zoning variance, Dougherty & Gibbs usually opposite, agree on need

Community Events: The Urban Environment League presents the Upper East Side — a tour of Miami’s newest hot neighborhood — THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE — 2011 Beneath the Waves Film Festival: Call for Submissions – Submit your environmental film now! Films must relate to or focus on marine or freshwater systems or subjects – from documentaries to interesting…

Editorials: Public employees must know obscene words in public do have consequences besides making you boringly crude

Letters: Number of people at Gables mayoral forum larger than 80 Mayor Slesnick referenced

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 for funding the University of Miami’s Knight Center of International Media within the University’s School of Communication 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.

>>> I will be on Topical Currents WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM on Jan. 31 at 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. hosted by Joseph Cooper and readers should listen in if they get a chance. – Station promo piece: Topical Currents begins with regular contributor Dan Ricker, publisher of The Watchdog Report, which chronicles South Florida government and politics. Topics include Miami Dade’s brewing recall election of its Mayor and a longtime County Commissioner, as well as an update on the Public Health Trust’s search for a new CEO.

CORRECTION: Possible PHT Trustee Joe Arriola, the UM designated appointee did not give Miami-Dade Commission Chair Joe Martinez a bear hug as was reported last week in the WDR at a PHT committee meeting.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> U.S. Rep. Rivera continues to face criticism at home regarding finances; supporters say he must get ahead of issue by complete explanation

The political and financial troubles for U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami will not go away and the controversy spilled over to a local Elephant Forum luncheon last Monday that had U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami as the featured speaker. Rivera’s situation and mounting press stories that continued Saturday in the have dogged his status as a newly minted member of Congress that now has U.S. House Speaker John Bonner, R-Ohio having to respond to questions from reporters last week on the Rivera situation. The House leader said that these questions occurred before Rivera was in the House and he would wait and see how the multiple state investigations ‘plays out,’ the new leader is quoted in the story.

Further, local prominent Republican Attorney Thomas Spencer, one of the 2000 election George Bush attorneys contesting the results back then sent a letter to The Herald saying the young congressman should release all his financial documents and clear up all these questions, and there is a dark cloud over the congressman’s past finances that needs to be dispelled. Spencer and I discussed the issue generally at the Elephant Forum when we sat next to each other and in his communiqué to the paper suggests this action should be done sooner than later and if that is a problem for Rivera, ‘he needs to step down.’ However, Rivera who filed and released his 2010 federal financial disclosure form early trying to dispel this controversy, in a press release states. He is focused on representing the interests of residents in his Congressional District 25 and that these financial reports are ‘a testament to his pursuit of complete financial transparency and accountability,’ and the attacks are ‘politically motivated,’ his office says in a statement to the media.

However, there is a spill over effect and other local Republicans including some past lawmakers are also concerned and are suggesting that until this matter is fully resolved. Rivera is politically damaged goods in Washington, and these critics appear to be starting a vigil on how long he will remain in the Congress, while this matter continues to percolate with prosecutors headed up by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s public corruption unit, and the Miami-Dade Police Department.

What does House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ros-Lehtinen say about the massive demonstrations in Egypt?

>>>Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on the situation in Egypt. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “For far too long the democratic hopes of the Egyptian people have been suppressed. Their cries for freedom can no longer be silenced. “I am deeply concerned about the Egyptian government’s heavy-handed response seeking to silence the Egyptian people.  It is imperative that all parties involved avoid violence. “I am further concerned that certain extremist elements inside Egypt will manipulate the current situation for nefarious ends.  “The U.S. and other responsible nations must work together to support the pursuit of freedom, democracy, and human rights in Egypt and throughout the world.”

>>> PAST WDR: Political and financial turbulence hit U.S. Reps. Rivera & Wilson, just sworn into Congress, but questions remain unanswered

U.S. Reps David Rivera, R-Miami and Fredericka Wilson, D-Miami were sworn into office last week but the GOB rising star is being pounded in The Miami Herald for his personal finances and his mother and godmother’s role with getting local gaming passed back in 2008. Rivera (net worth $301,000), says he will once again amend his required financial disclosure forms to reflect a sale of a condominium to Millennium Marketing that he says was to repay a ‘$132,000 in undisclosed loans’ owed the company run by the two women state’s the paper, and he has filed a new financial disclosure for the Congress months earlier than required but has not made the documents public, and these forms won’t become public since it is not required for months. His spokeswoman is quoted in the paper saying Rivera filed early ‘in order to dispel any speculation surrounding his personal finances.’

Rivera, the past chair of the Miami-Dade Republican Party all through his congressional campaign was dogged with financial issues and how he made his money and he was only reporting his around $30,000 salary as a legislator as his only income during many years. Further, he has now become an issue with new Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; from Virginia who is instituting a ‘zero tolerance’ ethics policy when it comes to wayward congressional representatives but when asked last week after the swearing-in ceremony. The paper reports Cantor would not make any comment, but the Miami-Dade state attorney is looking at the matter and the high-ranking federal lawmaker may find this will not go away.

Wilson, as has been reported in past Watchdog Reports over the past decade had a normal progression of a increasing net worth from 2001 to 2007 but in 2008 and 09 her financial disclosures are almost identical. She lists no rental income despite multiple properties including a duplex sold over the summer, and her listed value for the properties is at the peak of the real estate boom that has many properties in South Florida losing close to 50 percent of their value over the past three years. Next week the Watchdog Report will be contacting her congressional office and ask for an explanation about the lack of rental income, and the property values listed, that if adjusted would likely drastically reduce her listed $405,000 net worth for 2009.

>>> Rivera & Wilson update

At a second swearing in on Monday with the rest of the South Florida Congressional delegation, the Watchdog Report approached Wilson after the event while she was getting photos taken with supporters and friends. However, I did not want to rain on her parade so I gave her a miss, but she has a simple solution, with little downside. If she just updates her financial disclosure forms to reflect the past two years economic downturn in her assets and amends these required financial disclosure reports on file with the state Ethics Commission, for I will continue to dog this issue until there is a resolution to this financial discrepancy.



>>> Rivera continues to generate press and had a front-page story today on how he spent state Senate campaign funds, a campaign he closed in February when he decided to run for the Congress. However, he used this extra money for a ‘Thank You’ campaign says the paper, but since 2004 to 2010, he has spent $243,000 in such activity, the most of any state legislator. And this continued scrutiny of his finances is further drawing attention to his past financial blunders and misreporting on disclosure forms and his arrival to the House has been under a cloud. That he must quickly dispel if he is to be an effective legislator, and given his weight loss over the past months, may be affecting his health.

>>> Clock is ticking to enroll your kids in Florida Prepaid College Plan, enrollment ends Jan. 31, education bargain for Florida kids

Now is the time to sign up your new born and young children for the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program allowing them to lock in their College or University costs in Florida for when the time comes for their advanced education the program is a real education bargain for many families. The program to date has over 1 million children enrolled, has a number of plans to chose from, and it is the largest of its kind in the nation, the open enrollment ends Jan. 31 and for more information go to or call 877-205-9266.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> 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 since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade.


>>> New state & congressional redistricting set for multiple court challenges, Gov. Scott withdraws request for federal review and approval

Republican Gov. Rick Scott (Net worth $218 million) just after assuming office withdrew a request by former Gov. Charlie Crist (Net worth $461,000) to have the U.S. Justice Department review state redistricting plans after voters approved two constitutional amendments last November by over 60 percent of the voters, as required to have an amendment added to the state’s constitution. The act by Scott, which will likely end up in court caught some by surprise though both U.S. Reps Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami and Corrine Brown, D-Tallahasee are also fighting the results in federal court claiming it will reduce minority representation in the state legislature and congress. Florida is required to get federal approval for any changes after the Congress passed the Voters Rights Act back in 1965 for elected districts and how these are drawn by lawmakers. When Amendments 5 and 6 passed in November, it changed the redistricting equation making it less partisan for either party the drawing of districts more compact and contiguous and was championed by an organization called Fair Districts Now and the amendments got 3.1 million Floridians to vote for its approval.

What about the 2010 Census results?

Since this redistricting issue will end up in courts, Scott notes he is not trying to hinder the required redistricting process required to be completed for the 2012 state primaries. But some lawmakers and critics are questioning this logic noting it was the will of the people of the state and lawmakers should respect that vote, since “elections do have consequences,” said one state lawmaker. Further, Fair District has brought on former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach (Net worth $990,000) and a former Florida attorney general candidate last year to be the point of their legal spear, but with the Census data becoming available to state officials in March. The issue must be settled in the coming months if the first reiterations of districts are to be ready on time but historically are also challenged in the courts in the months prior to these primary elections making the time line even tighter.

Ironically, the every decade process does not always guarantee the political party that draws the lines will stay in power, as was the case in 1992 when Democrats controlled the state legislature. Back then, the new districts, through the use of gerrymandering snaked through different counties trying to ensure majority and minority representation that also had the incumbents from both parties almost guaranteed to win based on the political demographics. However, Florida became more conservative during the 1990s and led to Gov. Jeb Bush winning  in 1998 and Republicans gaining control of the House and Senate, and the party since has not looked back maintaining its dominance that grew even more dramatically in 2010, where Republicans have a super majority in both state legislative bodies.


>>> As temperatures dip, Homeless Street count Thursday inches up to 880 people, but way down from over 8,000 in early 1990s

While the temperature may have dipped in degrees for some South Floridians in their homes, the homeless people living on the county streets face a different reality, and the local trust street count Thursday night saw a slight up tick in the numbers on the street coming in at 880 people, a couple of dozen more than the last county count in September. The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust when it was first set-up in the early 1990s dealt with over 8,000 people living on the streets and over the past nineteen-years that number has diminished to this lower level but eradication of the social issue is the final goal for an array of entities that deal with the issue on a daily basis.

What about HUD SuperNOFA awards?

Once again, the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust led the state in federal grants for supportive housing, shelter and care projects and this year was awarded $28.07 million in funding and is up from $27 million the previous year, wrote David Raymond, the executive director in a Jan. 20 memo to trust members. The competitive awards reward communities around the nation that have successful homeless programs and Miami-Dade leads the way in the state of Florida.

>>> Hate Crime Summit considered a success in highlighting issues says CRB Chair Artecona

A Summit on Hate held at the commission chambers at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center Wednesday had a broad spectrum of speakers at the important event held by the county’s Community Relations Board started in the early 1960s. The Watchdog Report last week after the meeting ended in the afternoon contacted CRB Chair Mario Artecona and asked him to comment on the event and he wrote back. “Today’s Summit on Hate crimes and hate speech was a great success. Led by the CRB but in conjunction with many other organizations [we] held this event to address the increase in hate crimes and speech that we are experiencing in our community. We have seen Nazi symbols painted on synagogues, bullets fired at mosques, gay men beat up on the beach for no other reason than being gay.

There are, sadly, countless examples of violence caused by intolerance and ignorance.  The summit featured a keynote speech by Mark Potuk from the Southern Poverty Law Center followed by panels on hate crimes, led by David Barkey of the AntiDefamation League and Breezye Telfair from the Hate Crimes unit of the State Attorneys office.  A panel on hate speech  was led by  Marvin Jones , Law professor from University of Miami and Ms. Suzy Berrios from the School system. Finally, a panel on media responsibility was led by professor Tsitsi Wakhisi from UM School of Communications and David Lawrence. The discussion was lively, spirited and yielded some good ideas. It was a good use of the CRB and is only the first step towards addressing this ever-growing problem,” wrote Artecona.

>>> Will Mayor Alvarez goes on legal offensive this week?

The word is Mayor Carlos Alvarez (Net worth $1.74 million) will be filing more lawsuits this week through his attorneys and with the March 15 election deadline looming. He and Commissioner Natacha Seijas (Net worth $617,000) both on the same recall ballot are expected to do what they can to blunt this effort in court, and the mayor may have gotten a break with the reason he went along with the millage rate set by the commission after the killings of four police officers, two in Miami-Dade and two in St. Petersburg that highlights the dangers of being in law enforcement in today’s world, where felons and thugs are armed to the teeth. Further, the mayor is working on a strategy of his own to counter the expected television ads calling for his recall and (I am being told it may involve having former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla R-Miami (Net worth $286,000) helping out, but that is unconfirmed at this time), but the mayor is kicking in the after burners to try to fend off this challenge to finishing his second four-year term that ends in Nov. 2012.



What is going on in the mayor’s office?

Multiple sources are saying the mayor’s staff is almost “paralyzed” when it comes to running county government and there is almost a perceptual shift in power back to the county commission that is expected to more forceful now that Joe Martinez is the new body’s chair.

What about BCC vice Chair Audrey Edmondson’s job at the school district?

Now that County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson (Net worth $281,000) is in a senior leadership position on the 13-member commission the Watchdog Report checked out her employment status at the Miami-Dade Public Schools.  She works for Region III, and is an Exceptional Student Parent Liaison ensuring parents know what services are available for their children within the district. John Shuster, the school’s spokesman told the Watchdog Report last week that highly accurate and meticulous records are kept on her time working for the nation’s fourth largest school district and her salary is no higher than $57,450 per year, depending on the amount of time she is on the district’s clock, he said.


>>> MPO Taps Martinez & Gutierrez for leadership positions

The Miami-Dade MPO, a countywide transportation planning organization elected its new leadership on Thursday, County Commission Chair Joe Martinez (Net worth $245,000) was tapped as the chair, and Maritza Gutierrez was named vice chair after beating out North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre. County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa nominated Martinez with no opposition, County Commissioner Lynda Bell nominated Gutierrez, and County Commissioner Jean Monestime nominated Pierre.

Anything funny happen during the MPO leadership vote?

Outgoing MPO Chair Dennis Moss (Net worth $342,000) when the MPO vice chair ballot count was being done by staff and taking some time to get the count right joked, “Can we have some security over there,” adding a little levity to the voting drama playing out in the commission chambers.

>>> Press release: Standard & Poor’s (S & P), a leading worldwide provider of independent credit ratings, has issued its highest rating possible – “AAAf” fund credit quality rating – to Miami-Dade County’s Investment Portfolio.  It also received an “S1” volatility rating, meaning it has low sensitivity to changing market conditions.

The high marks come during a particularly difficult economic time.  During the last several years, the investment portfolio of many municipalities suffered from the financial crisis.  However, Miami-Dade County was able to continue to diversify its assets, generate interest income above its benchmark, and avoid losses.  These ratings indicate that Miami-Dade County’s investments are diversified, high-quality and managed prudently.  S & P said in a statement that “…the Portfolio’s holdings indicate an extremely strong level of protection against losses from credit defaults.” The Portfolio is governed in accordance with the Investment Policy set forth by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.  The primary objectives of the Investment Policy are to provide safety of principal, liquidity of funds, and maximization of investment income for its assets.  As of September 30, 2010, the total assets of the portfolio were approximately $4.5 billon.

Miami-Dade County’s holdings are typically comprised of highly rated securities such as U.S. Treasury bonds, Federal Agencies and Instrumentalities, highly rated money market funds, short-term money market instruments and deposits with Qualified Public Depositories.  The Portfolio uses the 180-day T-Bill as its benchmark and strives to maintain a weighted average maturity of one year or less. “The highest ratings from a world renowned leader of financial-market intelligence should provide a level of comfort to the public that we are managing assets in a conservative manner to ensure the safety of our funds,” said Carter Hammer, Miami-Dade County’s Finance Director.

>>> Press release GMCVB: For the year 2010, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2009; ranking #3 in Hotel Room Rate at $144.13 and #4 in Occupancy at 70.2% among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy and Average Daily Room Rate (ADR).

Average Daily Room Rate

January – December 2010

TOP  U.S MARKETS: $ % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York $ 232.29 + 7.5%
#2.  Oahu Island $149.67 – 0.3%
#3.  Miami $144.13 + 2.8%
#4.  Washington $143.39 – 1.3%
#5.  Boston $141.48 + 2.4%
Hotel Occupancy

January – December 2010

TOP U.S. MARKETS: % % Change vs. 2009
#1.  New York 80.9% + 5.0%
#2.  Oahu Island 78.2% + 8.1%
#3.  San Francisco 75.2% + 5.7%
#4.  Miami 70.2% + 7.9%
#5.  Boston 68.7% + 10.4%


>>> HUD awards $9.58 million for supportive housing, shelter & care for Homeless people

The county’s homeless programs for people needing supportive housing, shelter, and care got a boost when HUD awarded the state’s second largest county $9.58 million for that activity recently. These competitive awards by HUD are national, and Broward next to Miami-Dade is the largest recipient of this federal funding in the state. A breakdown of the funding has $1.4 million going to 100 units of permanent shelter and $1.2 million goes for another 88 units state HUD documents. Further, Inverrary Station is slated to receive $964,000 and other funding includes 15 other organizations receiving federal monies.

>>> Another past leader bits the dust on corruption charges

Former Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Cindi Hutchinson got busted last week and her arrest on accepting remodeling work done on her home for favorable treatment on the zoning and development issues with developers continues the full court press of elected leaders across the board falling from their exalted post, including elected leaders in the 31 municipalities in the county. For more information on her case go to www.miamiherald.comwww.sunsentenel.com

>>> Local man gets 10-years in tax fraud scheme

Press release:  Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division, and Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation Division, announced that defendant Michael D. Beiter, Jr., of Broward County, Florida, was sentenced to 10 years’ incarceration, followed by 5 years of supervised release after having been convicted by a Fort Lauderdale jury of tax and other charges.  On August 30, 2010, after a six day trial, the jury found Beiter guilty of corruptly impeding the IRS, sending fictitious financial instruments to creditors, and helping one of his clients evade federal income tax. According to court documents and testimony during the trial, Beiter marketed a debt elimination and abusive tax scheme.  The scheme was premised on the idea that individuals are  sovereigns  who can  declare their independence  from ordinary obligations, such as paying creditors and federal income taxes.  Beiter promoted the sale of abusive tax packages involving purportedly non-taxable pure trusts.   Beiter sold at least 100 of these packages.  One of his clients used his tax elimination package to avoid paying more than $900,000 in federal income tax.

According to evidence presented a trial, the defendant filed tax returns with the IRS for tax years 2004, 2005, and 2006 reporting  zero income and taxes, despite the fact that he had net taxable income in excess of $1,800,000.  Beiter also opened a number of bank and stock trading accounts with bogus taxpayer identification numbers.  The evidence at trial also established that Beiter attempted to intimidate IRS employees by contacting them at their homes. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “Tax evasion is a serious crime that impacts all members of society, young and old, rich and poor.  The United States Attorney’s Office stands committed to prosecuting individuals involved in tax related crimes.” “We continue to see the negative consequences of participating in abusive trusts schemes,” said Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation Division, Miami Field Office.  “Today’s sentence sends a positive message to honest taxpayers and further exhibits that the IRS and U.S. Attorney s Office are duty bound to protect the integrity of the U.S. tax administration system, and to make sure everyone complies with their tax obligations.” >>Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bertha R. Mitrani and John Gonsoulin and Tax Division Trial Attorney Jed Silversmith, who are prosecuting the case. 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 >>> for more information go to

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to to view the new agenda.


>>> State Rep. Snyder chairs powerful Judiciary Committee, elected 2006, has $772,000 net worth through May 2010

State Rep. David Snyder, R-Stuart, 58, is in the spotlight this week and the former law enforcement officer is chair of the Judiciary Committee and sits on the Appropriations Committee for the House. He was first elected in 2006 after decades in law enforcement, including two decades as a Miami-Dade police officer and he is living off his retirement accounts.


What do we know about his finances?

Snyder through May 21, 2010 had a net worth of $772,859 and he lists $40,000 in household goods. His home in Stuart is valued at $450,000; and another building in Hope Sound is worth $172,000. There is $11,000 in a checking and savings account, and a Health Savings Account has $3,000 in it. His income for the year was $29,773 from Florida and $53,122 came in from the Florida Retirement Fund. He lists liabilities of $112,000 on a Wells Fargo mortgage and Seacoast National Bank is owed $94,700, states his financial disclosures that include an amended version.


>>> Homeless organizations get $4.5 million in HUD awards, Safe Place largest recipient of $839,000

Organizations that deal with homeless people in the county got a boost with HUD awarding $4.5 million recently to programs that provide supportive housing, shelter, and care in the county. The SuperNOFA awards are competitively awarded throughout the nation and this the fourth largest award for this activity in the state. Some of the organizations that are being funded are $358,000 for the Hillsborough Womens Program, a Drew Park Transitional Housing Program received $403,000 and Safe Place was the largest recipient receiving $839,000.


>>> State Rep. Schenck in spotlight, chair of House Health & Human Services Committee, had $100,861 net worth through 09

State Rep. Robert Schenck, III, R-Spring Hill is in the spotlight this week and the legislator was first elected in 2006 and is the chair of the Health & Human Services Committee in the House as well as being on the Appropriations Committee. He represents House District 44 in Hernando County.


What do we know about his finances?

Schenck through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $100,861 and he lists $17,000 in household goods. His home is worth $170,000, a lot is valued at $12,000, and there is $32,300 in savings and checking accounts and another roughly, $16,000 is in different financial instruments. The young legislator lists liabilities of $131,000 with SunTrust Bank, car loans are owed $4,240 and $1,400 and a student loan is owed $6,700. The lawmaker’s income for the year was $30,116 from the state and $16,731 came in from Novo Group states his financial disclosure forms for the year.


>>> Homeless programs get $474,000 HUD award for the year

The county’s homeless programs for people needing supportive housing, shelter, and care got a boost when HUD awarded the nation’s most southern county $474,000 for that activity recently and these competitive awards are national. The money is slated for Don Moore Apartments, a supportive housing program, a project for homeless that are disabled and Sun Houses for the homeless state HUD documents.


>>> 68 Charter schools get scanned and OK says district auditors, one is A&M in Grove, owner gets $69,597 in plant rent monthly

At Tuesday’s School Board Audit Committee this week, 68 Charter Schools will be cleared and are considered operating in a proper order except for another four that are being watched by the district and will be addressed in the future. But one of the schools in the okay category is the Academy of Arts and Minds located on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove. The school’s location is important since restaurants and bars surround it, and when children are dismissed in the afternoon, they migrate into the street that also has parents waiting in their cars to pick-up the pupils on the small plaza street. The school caught the Watchdog Report’s eye back in 2004 when it was created by the owner of the building and is considered a “related transaction” by the school district that pays for the bulk of the cost for the school kids’ education now. The founder and building owner Manuel Alonso-Poch originally got about $28,000 a month in rent but in 2006 that number was bumped to $69,597 and the founder and attorney was grilled by a past audit committee about the excessive rent that Poch said was a competitive rate at the time, though others on the committee were skeptical.

The chair of the audit committee, attorney Frederick “Buck” Thornburg suggested at the time there was a “lot of fairy dust in the room,” he quipped after hearing the explanation for the high rent. The academy has grown since and now has 330 pupils states the schools two-audit reports that cover 2009 and 2010. The school’s operating budget is $3.31 million and $1.38 million is for instructional expense, and the operating plant is budgeted for $1.14 million last year. The building rent comes in at $928,000 for the year that does not include additional “rent expenses.”  The owner reduced his rent by $441,000 by a contribution to allow the school’s net assets to increase from $64,000 to $103,000 in 2010 after the school was on financial life support a few years ago and was put on audit watch by the district. However, since the school is a not-for-profit organization, it does not pay any taxes and in the case of Alonso-Poch’s contribution to its fiscal health, it is potentially a tax deduction for him. >>> To read the A&M audit and others go to

Who is on the A&M board?

Ruth Montaner chairs the board looking after the school and approving how the organization operates, and the other board members include Jose Noy, Ignacio Ortiz-Petit and Cecelia Holloman.


>>> A Split board’s final choice for successor will determine PHT in highly competitive medical healthcare industry for the decade to come, will they chose right?

It is clear that the PHT board and leaders in the community are split on what kind of new CEO the trust should hire to replace Eneida Roldan, M.D., in the top slot now paying around $665,000. which was the minimum that extended to almost $1 million. The salary range is going to be important for any candidate of high caliber is going to want top dollar when it comes to compensation, especially given the challenging political and financial minefield that person will face in the future given the hospital system giving $700 million in charity care a year. This split on the board is seen in a subtle way but all trustees agree that the next choice has to be right and will affect the health trust’s survival in the coming decade that must have Jackson and it’s affiliated UM Miller Medical School along with FIU new medical school dominating certain key research areas. If the nation’s second largest public health system is to be competitive globally and locally and draw paying patients looking for state of the art medical treatment. Stem Cell research is one area of critical research, along with a wide array of other medical specialties that has the University of Miami making a variety of major medical and treatment strides but these researchers also face stiff competition from physicians and scientists not only in America, but from around the globe.

>>> BCC Chair Martinez says Arriola must go through PHT Nominating Council

Commissioner Joe Martinez, the BCC chair appointed Commissioner Sally Heyman (Net worth $425,000), as the second voting member on the PHT Board from the county commission and Commissioner Lynda Bell and himself will be on the PHT compensation committee as well. Martinez is also on the PHT board and he will chair the PHT Nominating Council that has to meet off schedule to interview and move forward Joe Arriola as the University of Miami’s appointment to the 17-member board. Martinez told the Watchdog Report Thursday assistant county Attorney Eugene Shy told him that the Council had to be convened to interview Arriola, a former PHT trustee, Miami manager and businessperson. And if approved to submit the name for county commission approval that usually happens in October when PHT board members are removed, appointed or reappointed by the county commission.

The UM appointment representing the university has been open for almost a year after the previous member Stanley Arkin had to step down for a number of personal reasons after years on the board. The university has had a over 50 year relationship with the PHT and gets about $130 million for the medical services it provides via a Annual Operating Agreement that has the health trust in the rears with the medical school. Martinez said in deference to UM, he would try to move the process along but two to three months is the likely time line before Arriola can be on the trust, he suggested.




>>> CMS representatives’ drop-in on Jackson Memorial, continued approval vital to getting federal Medicare dollars

At Monday’s board meeting, CEO Roldan told PHT trustees that 27 surveyors from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had arrived on the sprawling campus, with over 30 locations, for a spot check of the medical care being given at the health trust and how it is coded for payment for public patients. The organization approves all federal payments under these federal programs, the payments are vital to the hospital systems finances, and staying in compliance with CMS is crucial. If the keys to the hospital are not to be turned over, and “the lights turned off,” said PHT CFO Ted Shaw serving in a transition leadership capacity with Roldan until a new successor for her is found.


>>> New super lobbyist state Sen. Diaz de la Portilla gets automatic deferment at zoning hearing because of state business

The Miami Commission deferred a zoning item Thursday because the applicant’s attorney, state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami was in Tallahassee doing state business and could not be there. The former county commissioner was in the political wilderness through the 2000s after he lost two bids to be the Miami-Dade mayor in 2000 and 2004 and has had a decent lobbying practice over the decade but since running for the state Senate. He is amassing a wide variety of clients from zoning issues to red light cameras allowing municipalities and the county to set up these devices at intersections and in the case of Miami. The red lights cameras are budgeted to bring in $8 million in the current budget year, but are likely to fall short when it comes to this revenue projection. The Watchdog Report only writes about Diaz de la Portilla because on the Democratic Party side, past Senate Dean Ron Silver, D-Miami-Beach also had this blending of politics and of being a lobbyist through 2002, when he was termed out of office. However, Silver still gets preferential treatment as was written about at a recent school board meeting.

>>> City’s new media director Zayon will be splitting time with Spanish media; will it cause conflicts?

Miami has a new Director of Communication, Angel Zayon, a member of the Spanish media here in South Florida. He was tapped in December by then Manager Carlos Migoya and splits his official Miami duties with his work at the station. He says his city salary has to be supplemented with this outside work since he has a family he told the Watchdog Report last week. However, the Watchdog Report cautioned him about this blending of media and city business and he must realize not only is he a public figure, he is a public servant when he accepts money from the municipality. And it remains to be seen what conflicts this presents either professionally with his other job, or with the interests of the city. He is supposed to represent in the months ahead.

>>> Commission urges state & federal leaders to ban assault rifles & jumbo clips of bullets

The city commission Thursday passed two resolutions supporting the reinstatement of the 2004 Assault Rifle Ban that expired back then and another limiting the size of clips for weapons after the recent shootings in Arizona and here in Miami-Dade and St. Petersburg that left four police officers dead. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.12 million), a gun owner pushed the item before the body broke for its lunch break.

>>> 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 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)


>>> Press release:  Local man guilty of conspiracy to own stolen fully automatic weapons and explosives

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced  that defendant Yanny Aguila Urbay, 24, of Hialeah, was found guilty today by a jury of conspiracy to possess stolen, fully automatic M-16s, AK-47s and silencers, and receiving grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  Sentencing is scheduled before U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks on March 22, 2011.  Urbay faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. According to the evidence at trial, in April 2009, an FBI confidential source told agents that two individuals, Abdalaziz Hamayel and co-conspirator Yanny Aguila Urbay, wanted to purchase large quantities of automatic weapons.  The confidential source then introduced an undercover law enforcement officer (UC) to Hamayel and Urbay as the purported supplier of fully automatic, stolen weapons.  At their first meeting with the UC in May 2009, Hamayel and Urbay requested 200- 300 fully automatic assault rifles, grenades and homemade bombs with detonation capability from a distance.

On June 11, 2009, the UC met with Hamayel and showed him examples of the weapons he  requested for purchase, specifically, an AK -47, two M-16s, two grenades, and two detonators for IEDs.  The UC explained that he had an engineer who made the IEDs.  On June 12, at Hamayel’s request, the UC provided a photo to Hamayel of what he had shown him the day before in order for Hamayel to show the buyers of the weapons. On June 19, 2009, Hamayel left the country.  When Hamayel returned to the United States on August 30, 2010, he was arrested by federal authorities.   He pled guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2011. United States Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “Individuals who seek to deal in illegal arms pose a danger to our national security and that of other nations.  We will investigate and prosecute these cases vigorously.” FBI Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies stated, “This case shows the FBI’s commitment to investigating those who conspire to traffic in illegal firearms that pose threats to US interests.” >> 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


>>> From Beach commissioner to state Rep. Steinberg, making his mark in minority, had $327,000 net worth through 2009

State Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach is in the spotlight this week and the attorney followed his father decades earlier in the Florida legislature when he won the House District 106 seat being vacated by former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach in 2008. Steinberg was first elected to the Miami Beach Commission in 2001, and he was a fresh face on the commission, got married while on the body and has evolved into an effective legislator, though his Democratic Party is currently out of power in Tallahassee.

What do we know about his finances?

Steinberg through Dec. 2009 had a net worth of $327,000 and lists $90,000 in household goods. His condominium is valued at $255,000 and there is $470,000 in stocks and bonds states his financial disclosures. His two liabilities are a Chase Home mortgage owed $228,000 and E Trade is owed $4,359. His income for the year was $30,124 as a legislator and $86,500 came in from his law firm.

>>> Elections update Nov. 1 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, * Steve Berke,  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

>>> Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Meeting Date: Tuesday, February 1st, 2009,  Meeting Time: 8:30 AM – Meeting Place:        David’s Café, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach – State Representative for District 106, and former Miami Beach City Commissioner, Richard Steinberg, will be the February 1st guest speaker at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Since his election as State Representative in 2008 Richard has made his priorities education, transportation and civic justice.  Join us as we learn his thoughts on the legislature’s key issues and challenges for the new year. There is no charge and everyone is welcome to attend. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club


>>> Mayor Pierre taking a hit, must clear up 40-badge controversy, may have cost him vice chair slot on MPO

Mayor Andre Pierre continues to be in the spotlight after a number of missteps over the past year including the delay of releasing donated disaster funds for Haiti after last year’s Jan. 12 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians, his driving around in a high end Porsche only recently disclosed as a gift,  and more recently his ordering of 44 official Mayor and Clerk gold badges, that resemble a police badge where 40 of these impressive items are unaccounted for, and frankly raises the issue of the city’s liability if one of the people having one of these badges uses it in an inappropriate way. The Herald in an editorial Saturday calls for Pierre to clear the air and explain where these badges are and who and why they got them and with a reelection in May. He needs to get in front of the issue and resolve it if he wants to stay in office.

What about the Miami-Dade MPO?

On Thursday afternoon, Miami-Dade County Commission Jean Monestime nominated Pierre to be the vice chair of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization running against Maritza Gutierrez for the number two slot. Had he not had this past and current controversy he might have had a shot at the post since he represents one of the county’s larger cities but did not get the votes and part of the reason is county commissioners know a elected leaders narrative and past follows them and given the dust-up. Gutierrez, a former chair of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority was a safer choice, and would cause less controversy.


>>> Legal armada arrives to support zoning variance, Dougherty & Gibbs usually opposite, agree on need

A request for a zoning variance for a mega home brought a legal armada of land and zoning attorneys to the chambers Tuesday and given the caliber of the lawyers involved, it was not a cheap legal date. The variance request involved a new home on Hammock Lake Drive and attorney F.W. Zeke Guilford made the pitch in front of the mayor and commissioners. He said that after the city modified some of its zoning code in 1996, there were certain areas of the city that were “case by case.” Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, Jr., questioned if the commission approved the variance would it be creating a “precedent,” that had city zoning staff objecting and noting. “It was not a minimum variance and was not in keeping with the harmony” of the area the staffer thought. Further, Guilford in response to Cabrera said, “I cannot make that statement,” to the leaders question about setting precedent.

However, other attorneys in support of passing the change included Gold Standard zoning and development attorney Lucia Dougherty and her usual attorney nemesis Tucker Gibbs who many times is her opponent in municipal hearings. However, in this case both of them agreed with the idea of every application should be considered on its own merits in the area saying there was confusion in the county code about what is considered in the property footage. The commission after hearing the arguments voted three to two (with Cabrera and Commissioner Maria Anderson voting no) to approve the variance but it was a great one hour or so legal show.


>>> Press release: The Urban Environment League presents the Upper East Side — a tour of Miami’s newest hot neighborhood.

Join the Urban Environment League on Friday, February 4th, for a guided tour of Miami’s Upper East Side to explore both new and enduring landmarks and sights.
Participants will enjoy a visit to the Little Haiti Cultural Center, stop by an actual urban farm, tour the MIMO District to see some of its collection of outstanding Miami Modernist Architecture, visit the Rubell Collection featuring exciting and often unseen contemporary art, and have lunch in one of the Wynwood District’s newer restaurants. The tour is available for only $35 and includes admission to all facilities, a comfortable ride in a modern coach bus and lunch. Meet at 9:15 at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 464 NE 16th Street. The bus will return at 2:30. Parking is available.  Payment can be made by Paypal at:<http//>  or by check mailed to UEL-Suite 114, 1000 NW North River Drive, Miami 33136. Seating is limited so don’t delay. When: February 4, 2011

>>> Press release: THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE 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 Contact: Curator, Katherine Hinds 591 NW 27th Street, Miami, FL 33127 p: 305.576.1051 / f: 305.576.4963 /

>>> Press release: 2011 Beneath the Waves Film Festival: Call For Submissions

WHAT Submit your environmental film now! Films must relate to or focus on marine or freshwater systems or subjects – from documentaries to interesting stories and research videos. Films with a conservation message are preferred, but not required. All films must be under 20 minutes in length. WHO Any amateur or professional videographer who is interested in preserving our ocean ecosystems for future generations is welcome to submit an entry. >>>

DEADLINE February 15, 2011. There is no cost for submitting an entry to the Film Festival; films will not be returned. WHERE The Beneath the Waves Film Festival this year will take place during the Benthic Ecology Meeting, March 16‐20, 2011 at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza & Battle House Hotel in Mobile, Ala. WHY Founded in 2009 by a group of concerned scientists focused on promoting their research, the Beneath the Waves Film Festival uses moving images to shed light and exact a powerful reactions from audiences. The goal is to motivate and stimulate the general public to protect and preserve our waterways. GUIDELINES Visit MEDIA CONTACT: Austin Gallagher Tel. 305‐421‐4536


>>> Public employees must know obscene words in public do have consequences besides making you boringly crude

On Thursday night, I saw some senior municipal staff not only let off some steam at the bar, but had one member giving a profanity laced tirade that not only seemed to go on forever, but was said so loudly that everyone in the public restaurant could not only hear it, but made it uncomfortable for one parent with his 12-year old daughter eating their meal. People working in pubic service which is what you are when you work for a public institution should realize that even off duty. They are a public figure under scrutiny, just like someone that is a journalist, or running a large organization such as a hospital system and any act done by the individual reflects not only on them, but the public entity and taxpayers that pay their salary and we should not accept such brazen and obscene public behavior.

All through this tirade, the person delivering this verbal trash talk used the F… word almost constantly and they seemed oblivious to the concern the loud words were having on the public in the restaurant, trying to enjoy themselves that even included a former state elected leader who could not believe what he was hearing and the intensity of the comments. Further, this was all done in front of me, where I could have easily videotaped the event since I had my press credentials and reporters vest with all my gear, but instead I just wrote some of the offensive comments down in my reporters notebook, with the time, date and who else was with the person. This kind of behavior may work in a fraternity or sorority house but not when you are on the public dime, and I am still shocked by the brazenness of the incident and suggest people in service to their community, paid with public dollars. That they realize that the job they have right now is a privilege and not a right and can be taken away for a variety of reasons including being totally out of control in a verbally abusive manner in public. Something I hope to never see again for the warning period is over when it comes to this kind of offensive and belligerent behavior.


>>> Number of people at Gables mayoral forum larger than 80 Mayor Slesnick referenced

In regard to your January 24th Watchdog Report, the attendance for our Candidate Forum Seat 1 (Mayor) for the Coral Gables City Commission totaled 156, substantially higher than the 80 you reported. [However] Several members noted that it was a quote from the Mayor that mentioned 80 people not you.

>> The Association will be sponsoring two more Forums, the dates scheduled are: February 15, 2011 for Coral Gables City Commission Seat 4 -Church of the Little Flower – Comber Hall – 2711 Indian Mound, 7:00pm to 9:00 pm

>> March 15, 2011 for Coral Gables City Commission Seat 5 Coral Gables Congregational Church – Fellowship Hall – 3010 Desoto, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Thank you – Ponce Business Association Forum Committee

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


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

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>>> Watchdog Report is expanding as a new service and this content is now available to other news media, no longer exclusive to The Miami Herald

The Watchdog Report is no longer exclusively with The Miami Herald, and excluding the one story a week that is printed in the paper on Monday in the Metro & State section by me. The rest of the 20 or so news stories weekly sent out Sunday in the Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at for further information.

>>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> Published on January 20, 2003, Page 1E, Orlando Sentinel, PAPERWORK TIGER, Miami’s citizen watchdog piles up government files in his quest to keep the “little people” informed.

>>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  —The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to

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

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

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

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