Month of April 2011

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.11 No.48 April 24,2011 Est.05.05.00 – Celebrating my 12th Anniversary May 5

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Repeat of national Tribune paper profile a blast of the past of Watchdog’s life back in Jan. 2003, not all that much has changed financially

Florida: Florida Petitions EPA on clean water standards

Miami-Dade County: Animal Services plans mega adoption called “Nothing like a Pet” next weekend

City of Miami: Mayor Regalado amps up efforts for federal CDBG waiver, that Sens. Nelson and Rubio call “earmarks” and give thumbs down too

City of Coral Gables: Former Mayoral candidate Korge’s message to supporters

City of Doral: Doral begins 90-day warning period for red light cameras

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Check out Tuesday’s BCC agenda

Palm Beach County: Gov. Scott taps George W. Bush Jr. and Scott W. Konopka to the Nineteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

Hillsborough County: Governor Rick Scott reappointment’s Carlos J. Alfonso to the Board of Trustees, University of Florida.

St. Johns County: Gov. Scott taps Lowry “Lad” Daniels and Charles “Chuck” Drake to the Governing Board, St. Johns River Water Management District.

Bay County: Gov. Scott appoints Shonna Young Gay of Panama City to the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Court.

Monroe County: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is urging BP to reconsider its denial of financial assistance for the Monroe County Tourist program

Community Events: May fourth Miami-Dade mayoral candidate debate at Downtown Bay Forum luncheon moderated by Helen Ferre

Editorials: S.FL digital divide of 30% should be of concern, what do you say to the elderly, poor, of all ethnic groups denied public services?

Letters: PHT CEO Roldan on last week’s health trust story and past savings of almost $200 million — Slesnick corrects the Watchdog Report on mayoral race voter numbers — Reader asks for some help with fighting county zoning variance request

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.

>>> No Watchdog Report next week since I am going to be moving, no easy task since I have rented my cottage since 1997 and it is a treasure trove of public documents, audio and video tapes of what our public officials have said and done since that time.

>>> I hope you and your family had a great, safe and peaceful Passover and Easter today, as we live in a turbulent world where knew challenges and threats seem to pop up on a almost daily basis, from Japan, the Middle East, Europe, to here in the United States.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Repeat of national Tribune paper profile a blast from the past of Watchdog’s life back in Jan. 2003, not all that much has changed financially

The Watchdog Report is going down memory lane today, during the moving process, and here is a national profile and story done by Maya Bell in the Orlando-Sentinel, but ran in all the Tribune papers around the nation on Martin Luther King’s Birthday back in Jan.20, 2003, after she spent about six weeks, off and on, experiencing the world I was living in back then, and nicely captured the reality of my life, that in many ways continues to today, which I wish was otherwise after now 12-years.

>>> `I Go When You Cannot’ – January 20, 2003|By Maya Bell – Orlando Sentinel – Miami Bureau Chief

Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. It’s not by choice. Miami’s self-anointed citizen watchdog depends on the people he writes for and about to finance his quixotic quest to attend nearly every government meeting in Miami-Dade County. That’s a lot of mind-numbing meetings — as many as 2,500 a year — but not a lot of income. So Ricker teeters on bankruptcy. He dashes to his post office box daily, hoping subscribers to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks.

Among them are managers with Florida Power & Light, the utility that regularly cuts power to Ricker’s Coconut Grove home, most recently while he was attending a legislative delegation meeting last month. But what Ricker, once a successful international sales executive, lacks in financial stability, he makes up for in credibility. When he walks into Miami-Dade’s government center, the county manager salutes him. When he runs into Miami’s first Cuban-American congresswoman, she greets him with a kiss. “He knows where the bodies are buried,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. “He knows the people behind the curtain. He knows the real wizard of Oz.”

Ricker, 51, is the black box of government, recording and reporting about every public nook and cranny. His motto is, “I go when you cannot,” and he does, attending the obscure but vital forums most have neither stomach nor stamina for. The Public Health Trust Purchasing Subcommittee meeting? He’s there. The Efficiency and Competition Commission? He drops by. The School Board Audit Committee? He attends. The nominating council for the Alliance for Human Services? He’s the only observer in the conference room, whispering into his “Saturday night special,” a micro-cassette recorder with an intimidating, oversized microphone.

“If you get good people on councils, you don’t have to watch them as much,” Ricker explained. A dapper man who wears faded but custom-made suits from his previous life, Ricker began watching local government in late 1997, just as corruption-plagued Miami sank into a $68 million financial hole. The son of activist Quakers — his mom was a school board president, his father a physician who founded the historical society in New Hope, Pa. — Ricker had spent 20 years selling pacemakers and other medical devices in Asia and Australia. It was a good living, earning him more than a quarter of a million dollars in his best years… >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american

>>> Press release: Most Previous Obama Voters likely to Vote for Him in 2012

One in Six Unlikely to Cast Another Vote for Obama

A poll of voters who chose Barack Obama in 2008 finds 17% are unlikely to vote for him in 2012 and 48% are less enthusiastic about his candidacy than they were in 2008. Most (57%) say fear of a Republican in the White House would be a greater motivator to vote for Obama again than the president’s job performance. The IBOPE Zogby Interactive poll of 1,085 likely voters who said they voted for Obama in 2008 was conducted from April 13-15.

How likely are you to again vote for Barack Obama in 2012?

Response Total
Very + somewhat likely 65% + 14% = 79%
Not very + not likely at all 4% + 13% = 17%
Not sure 4%

Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website:
http://www.zogby.com/news/2011/04/19/most-previous-obama-voters-likely-vote-him-2012-/

>>> Press release: WLRN RADIO TAKES 6 FIRST PLACE AP AWARDS
Last night was a landmark in the history of WLRN radio. We won six first
place awards in the Florida Associated Press Awards – the most of any
radio station (commercial or non-commercial) in the state.

Please join me in congratulating Dan Grech and his awesome news team and
Peter Maerz for his hard work, ingenuity and dedication. I am so proud of all of you that words alone cannot describe this accomplishment. Please accept my best wishes on a job well done.

John  Labonia

General Manager

WLRN/NPR

>>> Watchdog Report this week is shorter than normal for a number of reasons, health, wealth and future moving after over a decade in same rental cottage

This week’s Watchdog Report is shorter and not as thorough because I continue to face some personal issues, including my health, money and having to move after 14 years with a benevolent landlord. Who has now lost his job and is causing the change of my residency, including all my legal boxes of documents, with what people said at meetings all the way back to 1997, and is quite a treasure trove of information.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net 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 www.wlrn.org since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade.

FLORIDA

>>> Florida Petitions EPA on clean water standards

Press release: Governor Rick Scott today authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to file a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its January 14, 2009, determination that federally-imposed numeric nutrient criteria are necessary in the State of Florida. The petition also requests that EPA withdraw that determination before any further action is taken by their agency to propose, promulgate or implement numeric nutrient criteria in Florida.

“Florida is one of the few states that has a comprehensive program in place to address excess nutrients, and we continue to lead the nation in developing innovative tools to ensure the health of our state’s waterways,” said Governor Scott. “I look forward to working with the EPA to reach an agreement that will promote clean water standards in the way that makes the most sense for our state.” On December 6, 2010 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated Numeric Nutrient Criteria for lakes, rivers and streams in Florida.

On March 16, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Water, released a memo titled, “Working in Partnership with States to Address Phosphorus and Nitrogen Pollution through Use of a Framework for State Nutrient Reductions” detailing eight elements for effective State programs to manage nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.  The petition uses the eight elements in the memo to document the strength of Florida’s efforts to control nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

If EPA rescinds their January 14, 2009 “determination” that numeric nutrient criteria are needed to implement the Clean Water Act in Florida, they would be expected to subsequently repeal their numeric nutrient criteria for lakes, rivers and streams in the State of Florida, and halt their nutrient rulemaking efforts for Florida.  Florida would then be responsible for implementing its own nutrient reduction requirements.

>>> Press release: Ananth Prasad today was named Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) by Governor Rick Scott.  Prasad will be responsible for managing the $7-billion agency which oversees infrastructure projects that are vital to Governor Scott’s 7-7-7 Jobs Plan, including port dredging, highway expansion and maintenance projects.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary of FDOT, Prasad served as the Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Operations for the agency.  Prasad rejoined FDOT in July 2010 after a brief two-year stint as a vice president of a construction-services firm. Prasad has a total of 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, including 18 years with FDOT where he previously held the positions of the Chief Engineer and Director of Construction. He was responsible for implementing various innovative contracting techniques, including public-private partnerships. Prasad earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Animal Services plans mega adoption called “Nothing like a Pet” next weekend

Press release: Miami-Dade Animal Services, the Humane Society of Greater Miami, and The Cat Network, are holding the first community-wide joint adoption event, “Nothing Like a Pet”, on Saturday April 30th, and Sunday May 1st, from 11 am to 4 pm at a location near you. Adoptions will take place at Miami Dade Animal Services at 7401 NW 74th Street in Miami, the Humane Society of Greater Miami at 16101 West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach; and The Cat Network and Humane Society at 10700 SW 211 Street in Cutler Bay. Refreshments will be served, and there will be a chance to win some fun door prizes.  The Humane Society of Greater Miami will offer reduced fees for adoption on those two days.

WHAT: THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A PET MEGA ADOPT-A-THON — WHO & WHERE: Miami-Dade Animal Services Department, 7401 NW 74th Street, Miami, FL 33166 – Humane Society of Greater Miami, 16101 West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach, The Cat Network and Humane Society, 10700 SW 211 Street in Cutler Bay. WHEN: Sunday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1st, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The goal of the ASPCA partnership is to increase the live release rate of cats and dogs.  Events like “Nothing Like a Pet” will help the partners save more lives by finding permanent homes for the shelter pets.  There is nothing more gratifying than adopting a precious homeless dog or cat who is looking for a new loving home. It’s a “feel good” feeling that is hard to describe and never forgotten.

Since 2007, the ASPCA has been lending its support financially and through training and other human resources to communities around the country with the goal of helping them save more animals.  Miami-Dade County is proud to be an ASPCA partner community. For further information on the Mega Adopt-a-thon visit www.nothinglikeapet.org Miami Dade Animal Services is responsible for enforcing Chapter V, as well as Florida Statute 828, which deals primarily with animal cruelty issues.  Each year, the shelter impounds more than 36,000 pets.  The goal at Animal Services is to reunite lost pets with their families or find life-long homes for as many animals as possible. Related links: www.miamidade.gov/animals or call Miami-Dade’s Answer Center at 3-1-1.

The Humane Society of Greater Miami-Adopt-A-Pet is an adoption guarantee organization dedicated to placing every dog and cat in its care into a loving home, and to promoting responsible pet ownership and spay/neuter programs. Adoption guarantee means that every animal under its care is safe from the threat of euthanasia for as long as it takes to find them a forever and loving family.  More than 300 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are cared for every day in its shelter. For further information visit online at www.humanesocietymiami.org

The Cat Network, Inc. is dedicated to humanely reducing cat over population by educating the public about the need to sterilize their pets and strays; providing access to low-cost spay/neuter services for stray, homeless and abandoned cats; helping members in their efforts to place adoptable cats in loving homes; and advocating non-lethal population control and humane public policy.  For More information www.thecatnetwork.org

>>> Next week, readers will find out what Norman Braman, a Republican said at Monday’s Elephant Forum about his push for county Charter Reforms and the commissioners resisting some aspects he and attorney Victor Diaz, Jr., the former chair of the 2007 to 2008 Charter Review Panel are pushing.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Mayor Regalado amps up efforts for federal CDBG waiver, that Nelson and Rubio call “earmarks,” give thumbs down too

Miami officials are ramping up the community heat to get federal lawmakers to support and help grant a percentage waiver for federal Community Development Block Grants, like was done in the late 1990s, but is running into a road block in the Senate, though there is a champion in the House. Mayor Tomas Regalado and vice Mayor Frank Carollo had traveled to Washington D.C. to press their case a while back but the Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio believe this request falls into the “earmark” category. A verboten subject when it comes to the current $14.2 trillion deficit climate in the capital. The Miami leaders are holding a rally on Monday with some 1,000 people expected to attend the morning event at the Manuel Artime Theater. Some of this money goes to feeding elderly Miamians through a program called Meals of Wheels.

Regalado last week insisted this is “not an earmark,” since the funding does not change, but just a way to tailor the program for the local demographics Miami faces. However, Rubio’s office in emails from Cesar Conda, Rubio’s Chief of Staff to Carollo says they appreciate the nuance but the answer is still no. Here is the email traffic on the subject of the CDBG Legislation with the most recent April 11 from Rubio’s office being first. “While we understand that the language is not technically an earmark, it does change the CDBG formula to benefit a specific, demographic sector, and it does fit our office definition of an earmark. For that reason, Senator Rubio cannot introduce or co-sponsor the bill,” the Rubio aide wrote

Here is Carollo’s earlier email on the same day to Conda: “Thank you for your prompt response on this issue as it is the City’s top priority. Could you provide us with any specific concerns that the Senator has regarding the proposed legislation or with the draft language we provided during our recent meeting? When we spoke about this during that meeting, the Senator indicated that as long as the language was not counter to any of the principles he ran on, he would offer his support.

I understand that there is some concern in your office regarding whether this could be construed as an “earmark”; however, this is simply a matter of providing cities with greater flexibility to allocate funding, and does not in any way adjust the CDBG funding amounts provided by HUD to the cities. With regards to the House bill, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s staff has spoken with both House Leadership and the Financial Services Committee to confirm its compliance with current House rules regarding congressionally directed spending and has been deemed non-controversial and is likely to be approved by unanimous consent. Furthermore, the Senate Appropriations Committee has confirmed that this legislation would not be considered an “earmark”, reflective of the efforts to ensure this language was written to fall well beyond the bounds of the Senate’s definition of an “earmark”.

In addition, as you point out, the population parameters set forth in this legislation would permit 60 cities to apply but does not automatically give any of these cities instant approval; qualifying municipalities seeking this flexibility would still need to apply directly to HUD. I look forward to your response and again would like to stress the importance of this issue to the City,” wrote Carollo earlier.

Here is Rubio’s aide’s earlier response to the request: “Thank you for staying in touch regarding the CDBG public services cap — we appreciate your commitment to this issue. Senator Rubio has decided not to introduce or co-sponsor CDBG legislation at this time. We understand that there are 60 cities that would potentially be affected by a change in the CDBG law, and he is happy to continue the dialogue with you, Senator Nelson, and other interested Congressional offices, if they choose to introduce legislation on this topic. Furthermore, as Senator Rubio works on putting together appropriations bills for the current fiscal year, and for Fiscal Year 2012, the Senator will keep this issue on his radar.”

Before the above Carollo had written: “As you may already know, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen introduced the attached legislation, which would effectively provide for a temporary increase to the CDBG public service cap. The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee for further consideration, although we understand that the Committee has indicated that the bill is non-controversial and therefore may be able to move under unanimous consent.

On behalf of the City of Miami and as a follow up to our meeting with Senator Rubio, we would ask that the Senator agree to co-sponsor companion legislation in the Senate and support its expedited passage once introduced. This bill will provide the City, as well as numerous other municipalities, the opportunity to have spending flexibility required to provide our most at-risk residents, such as those in our senior centers, with essential services,” wrote the Miami vice chair.

>>> CITY OF MIAMI RALLIES FOR A CAUSE – Close to 1,000 seniors and children to gather in support of the preservation of federal CDBG funds

>>> Press release: City of Miami Mayor Tomás P. Regalado along with Commission Chairman Wifredo (Willy) Gort, Commissioner Frank Carollo, Commissioner Richard P. Dunn, II, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, and Commissioner Francis Suarez will join members of the U.S. Congressional delegation and other officials along with hundreds of children and seniors for a rally on Monday, April 25, 2011, 10 a.m., at the Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana, 900 SW 1st Street, to express support for the preservation of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). CDBG funds are federal dollars distributed to more than 1,200 communities nationwide in order to fund a wide range of public service and improvement activities to help meet the needs of low- and moderate-income persons. The City of Miami currently receives approximately $8.9 million a year in CDBG funding.  In Miami, CDBG funds presently help provide: meals for 1,378 elderly; daily after school care and youth services for 538 children; emergency counseling services for 30 seniors; programs for 20 adults with disabilities; the creation/retention of 24 jobs; the completion of 183 façade rehabilitations of small businesses and commercial spaces; and, technical and/or commercial code compliance assistance to 17 small businesses.

Some members of the federal government have proposed cutting CDBG funding by up to 65 percent nationwide in an effort to balance the federal budget. A cut of this nature would be devastating to communities that have large populations of disadvantaged persons and impoverished neighborhoods in need of revitalization. “The need to continue assisting low-income households under our nation’s present economic state is more important than ever,” said Mayor Tomas Regalado. “Many of Miami’s low-income residents and their families rely on this federal assistance to get them by, especially in a climate where jobs are scarce and the cost of living continues to rise. These CDBG dollars are crucial.”

The rally coincides with National Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Week, celebrated this year from April 25-29th nationwide. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program was created in 1974 and is funded under the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). For additional information, please visit www..ushud.gov. WHO: Mayor Tomás P. Regalado, City of Miami, Commissioner Wifredo (Willy) Gort, City of Miami, Commissioner Frank Carollo, City of Miami, Commissioner Richard P. Dunn, II, City of Miami, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, City of Miami, Commissioner Francis Suarez, City of Miami – Members of the U.S. Congressional delegation -WHAT: Special event recognizing public service agencies throughout the City of Miami that receive Community Development Block Grant funding and provide services to low-income residents. WHEN: Monday, April 25, 2011, 10 a.m. WHERE: Manuel Artime Theater, 900 SW 1st Street, Editorial Note: Members of the press interested in covering the event can park in the parking lot behind the Artime Theater.

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

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Former Mayoral candidate Korge’s message to supporters

Thanks to all my many supporters and friends who volunteered or contributed to our recent campaign for Coral Gables Mayor.  Although I lost the race, I feel like a winner.  I made quite a few new friends while contributing to an important debate about our local government.

Congratulations to my opponents, especially our new Mayor, Ambassador Jim Cason.  I hope everyone will rally around Jim not only to wish him well, but also to help his administration to be as successful as possible.  He will face some tough challenges during the next 2 years, but he has certainly displayed a willingness to work as hard as humanly possible to meet the challenge. Thanks to Mayor Don Slesnick for his 10 years of service as our Mayor.  Before running for office, I had never fully appreciated how time consuming public service can be.  My hat’s off to Don for his commitment of time and energy these past 10 years.

I also want to thank all the other candidates who participated in the election and to all the voters whether voting for me or one of my opponents.  You were very kind and gracious to me these past few months.  I hope I can return the favor and contribute in the future to help Coral Gables remain “The City Beautiful.”

Best personal regards, Tom Korge

>>> PONCE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION -Coral Gables > www.poncebusiness.com  We meet the first and third Mondays of the month at JohnMartins restaurant (253 Miracle Mile – 2nd floor) at noon.  Lunch is $20 for members and $22 for guests – April 25th - Carlos A. Gimenez - Candidate for Miami-Dade County Mayor

Please join us for lunch at JohnMartin’s on April 25th.. Our guest speaker will be Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, Candidate for County Mayor. Carlos was first elected to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in 2004.  As Commissioner for District 7 he represents numerous municipalities including the City of Coral Gables.  Commissioner Gimenez currently serves as the chair of the Government Operations Committee, which oversees delivery of basic services to County residents.  He is also vice-chair of the Transit Committee and sits on the Airport and Seaport, and Budget, Planning and Sustainability Committees. Prior to his election to the Board of County Commissioners, he was the manager for the City of Miami from 2000 to 2003.  During his tenure as City Manager, the tax rate dropped to its lowest in 50 years and Miami was able to establish more than $140 million in reserves.  Commissioner Gimenez also spent 25 years with Miami’s Fire-Rescue Department, the last nine as the Fire Chief. Commissioner Gimenez is a graduate of Barry University and completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Commissioner Gimenez will be discussing his candidacy for County Mayor of Miami-Dade.  The election will be on May 25, 2011Please reply to this message with your RSVP to poncebusiness@gmail.com — www.poncebusiness.com

CITY OF DORAL

>>> Press release: Doral begins 90-day warning period for red light camera safety program

In an effort to prevent dangerous accidents resulting from drivers running red-lights, the City of Doral announced that its intersection safety cameras will begin taking photos of red-light runners at designated intersections beginning on Friday April 1, 2011 and issuing warning notices during a 90-day period. These cameras will capture still images and video of red-light running violations. During a 90-day warning period, a warning notice will be issued to the vehicle’s registered owner. There will be no fine for this warning notice during this time. However, at the completion of the warning period, citations will be issued. Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Deaths caused by red-light running are increasing at more than three times the rate of increase for all other fatal crashes, and more people are injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other crash type.

The first safety camera will be located at the following intersection: Southbound on 79 Avenue and NW 36 Street. Throughout the following weeks, 10 additional safety cameras will be installed in the following intersections: Northbound NW 87TH AVE @ NW 36TH ST / DORAL BLVD; Eastbound NW 36TH ST / DORAL BLVD @ NW 87TH AVE; Westbound NW 36TH ST / DORAL BLVD @ NW 87TH AVE; Eastbound NW 36TH ST / DORAL BLVD @ NW 79TH AVE; Westbound NW 36TH ST / DORAL BLVD @ NW 79TH AVE; Northbound NW 97TH AVE @ NW 41ST Street/ DORAL BLVD; Southbound NW 97TH AVE @ NW 41ST Street/ DORAL BLVD; Westbound NW 41ST Street / DORAL BLVD @ NW 97TH AVE; Eastbound NW 41ST Street / DORAL BLVD @ NW 107TH AVE; Westbound NW 41ST Street/ DORAL BLVD @ NW 107TH AVE: Additional cameras could be added in the future. >>> The warning period will give the Doral community an opportunity to become familiar with the system. Drivers in Doral are encouraged to slow down and definitely stop on red before the actual citations begin. This is a public safety program, and the City of Doral’s goal is to deter red-light runners and prevent collisions and deaths resulting from these violations. Cameras will operate 24-hours a day and capture images of every vehicle running a red-light at the intersection. Warning signs alerting drivers to the intersection safety cameras have been installed prior to the warning period. The program is administered by American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS) with each violation reviewed and approved by the Doral Police Department prior to being issued. Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Deaths caused by red-light running are increasing at more than three times the rate of increase for all other fatal crashes, and more people are injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other crash type. Intersection safety technology is just one way the City of Doral will make local streets safer for everyone. For more information on the City of Doral’s Road Safety Program, visit www.CityofDoral.com.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> 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

>>> Press release: Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott taps George W. Bush Jr. and Scott W. Konopka to the Nineteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

Bush, 46, of Palm City, is a partner with Fox Wackeen Dungey Beard Sobel Bush and McCluskey LLP.  He succeeds Diana Forst and is appointed for a term beginning April 21, 2011, and ending July 1, 2011.

Konopka, 40, of Stuart, is a partner with Page Mrachek Fitzgerald and Rose P.A.  He succeeds Robert Christiansen and is appointed for a term beginning April 22, 2011, and ending July 1, 2011.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott reappointment’s Carlos J. Alfonso to the Board of Trustees, University of Florida.

Alfonso, 56, of Tampa, is the chief executive officer of Alfonso Architects Inc.  He is reappointed for a term beginning April 19, 2011, and ending January 6, 2016.

The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott today taps Lowry “Lad” Daniels and Charles “Chuck” Drake to the Governing Board, St. Johns River Water Management District.

Daniels, 72, of Jacksonville, is the president of Daniels and Associates.  He succeeds Michael Ertel and is appointed for a term beginning April 21, 2011, and ending March 1, 2015.

Drake, 52, of Orlando, is a hydrogeologist and senior manager for Tetra Tech Inc.  He succeeds Hersey Huffman and is appointed for a term beginning April 21, 2011, and ending March 1, 2015. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

BAY COUNTY

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott appoints Shonna Young Gay of Panama City to the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Court.

“Throughout the course of her legal career, Shonna has gained a vast range of experience that I believe will allow her to review every case she presides over with diligence, fairness and integrity,” Governor Scott said. “I am confident that her dedicated work ethic and conservative values will be a great asset to this court.”

Gay, 41, has been a civil traffic-hearing officer since 2009 and a sole practitioner since 2006. Previously, she practiced with Taylor and Gay from 2006 to 2007 and Staats and White from 2000 to 2006. From 1994 to 2000 she served as an assistant state attorney. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and her law degree from Cumberland School of Law. Gay will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Judy Pittman Biebel.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is urging BP to reconsider its denial of financial assistance for the Monroe County Tourist

Development Council. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill led many tourists to cancel their hotel and charter boat reservation in the Florida Keys under the false perception that oil had reached Keys waters.

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council had been in contact with BP seeking ways to procure financial assistance from the company but they were experiencing difficulties in getting a response from the oil exploration giant. Ros-Lehtinen’s office became involved in reaching a definitive response from BP and the Tourism Council was notified this week that BP would not support additional dollars for Keys tourism efforts. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen believes this is the wrong decision and she is asking that BP re-consider their decision.

Said Ros-Lehtinen, “One year after the horrific explosion that killed 11 oil rig workers and dumped millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, BP still refuses to acknowledge the economic damage the spill brought to the island chain community in the Florida Keys. I am incredulous that BP officials still do not understand the terrible economic toll caused by the false perception of oil reaching Keys shores. BP has a responsibility to reimburse the many hotel and charter boat owners who faced widespread cancellations and they have a responsibility to do the same with the innumerable commercial fishermen who saw a steep drop in the sale of seafood caught off the Keys.

I am urging BP to reconsider its decision of not providing financial assistance to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. That is the right thing to do for the countless persons and businesses in my Congressional District who are still suffering the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> The Downtown Bay Forum luncheon is featuring a debate between Miami-Dade mayoral candidates and Helen Ferre hosts the event. To make reservations for the May 4 event go to www.downtownbayforum.com

EDITORIALS

>>> S.FL digital divide of 30% should be of concern, what do you say to the elderly, poor of all ethnic groups, denied public services?

Bridgett Carey, the technology expert at The Miami Herald www.miamiherald.com wrote a great but sad front-page story today on the number of people in Miami-Dade and Broward County who do not have regular access to the internet, or even own a computer. A survey of the counties found 30 percent of South Floridians don’t have access to the technology on a consistent basis and 21 percent don’t even own a computer, and it gets worse. In Miami-Dade the story says 35.5 percent have “no regular access,” Broward came in at 23 percent and the national average is 22.7 percent “of Americans are without access.” Over the past 12 years, I have written about this issue extensively as I watched more and more government and other services go online but what do you say to the elderly and poor that are being left behind? The reporter’s story shows not only is poverty one major reason, but the older members of our community are left out in the cold and why I flinch when the issue comes up at government meetings where public employees assume everyone is wired. Since they all are but this study clearly shows in the case of these two counties, that is not the case.

The Watchdog Report does not have the answer for this digital divide that seems to advance exponentially sometimes but with these advances, more and more local residents will be left behind, as the world races ahead and government and public institutions are right to forge ahead with this changing technology. Howvere, they should also pause and weigh the price those residents left behind will pay, being unable to use the technology and information that might be exclusively online. For while they may not be connected, they still have to function in our society, pay their taxes, and be productive whatever their age. And serving these less tech savvy people cannot be denied or ignored and alternatives must always be available. If we are not to create a new segregated group of people that are only guilty of not being able to keep up in this technological whirlwind, that younger folk may find occurs to them as they age in the decades to come, while technology just continues too spurt ahead, and leaves them in the dust as well.

LETTERS

>>> PHT CEO Roldan on last week’s health trust story and past savings of almost $200 million

Thank you for acknowledging what my team and I have accomplished during my two year tenure. There has been a lot of hard work that at times is forgotten or taken for granted by many.

I am grateful and honored to have served this great institution for three years, two as its President and CEO and that has meant so much for 15 years of my professional life.

Eneida O. Roldan, MD, MPH, MBA
President & Chief Executive Officer

>>> Slesnick corrects the Watchdog Report on mayoral race voter numbers

You have your numbers mixed up on the race results for Coral Gables.  Don [Slesnick] got 2721 and [Tom] Korge 2088

Jeanette Slesnick

Coral Gables

>>> Reader asks for some help with fighting county zoning variance request

We are fighting a zoning variance in our neighborhood and we think the public would benefit by being made aware of a new precedence being made by Dade County Planning and Zoning Dept. A developer, Renzo Maietto and his attorney, Juan Mayol, filed  an application in December of last year for a Non Use Variance, allowing a commercial retirement home in a spec house he built in 2009 at 7400 SW 72 Court. The Zoning and Planning Dept. recommended approval and it goes before the Planning Council Wed. April 27 at 6:30 pm at the Kendall Village Center (hearing #10-195).

Mr. Maietto has never lived in this house and immediately upon completion; he put it up for sale.  At the same time, and continuously since, he has advertised it on the internet as “Hotel Villa Florence…available for catered events up to 300, film shoots and vacation rentals.”  He has been violating County code prohibiting the use of a residence for commercial purposes for the past two years. He is now in partnership with Genesis Care Centers. In fact, he already has it advertised on their website…to open a commercial high-end retirement home for 15 residents plus staff. When I asked a staff member at Planning & Zoning how this could be allowed in a single-family residential neighborhood he said it is setting new precedence and I should write the acting Mayor.  I should add that this is not a group home application.

There will not be a street or neighborhood intact in unincorporated Dade County if developers are allowed, after building oversized houses, to be granted commercial retirement homes in those houses. We, the neighbors, are fighting this with all our muster [to no avail]. I’ve been receiving your Watchdog Report for many years now and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to rant to you about this. Hoping this situation warrants your scrutiny.

Nora Denslow

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

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

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, 2011, Daniel A. Ricker

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

The Watchdog Report is no longer exclusively with The Miami Herald, and excluding the one story a week that is printed in the paper on Monday in the Metro & State section by me. The rest of the 20 or so news stories weekly sent out Sunday in the Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information.

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

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

>>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

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

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

Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter -www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/dan_ricker/ >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

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

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

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

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

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