Vol. 12 No.4 May 29, 2011
Daniel A. Ricker, Publisher & Editor
Est. 05.05.00 I go when you cannot & A community education resource & news service
www.watchdogreport.net & Former Miami Herald independent news columnist
Florida: Gov. Scott takes sledgehammer to budget, cuts $615 million, but what of the social service, health, and conservation cuts?
Miami-Dade County: And they’re off, Robaina & Gimenez face off in mayoral race, how low will they go?
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Maestro Carvalho pulls $100,000 performance award for teachers out of his hat, Perez actually “commends” the job he has done since 2008
Public Health Trust: And away we go, FRB members get sworn in by Ruvin, televised in BCC chambers
City of Miami: Sarnoff kicks off campaign, has money to get to condominium voters, what will impact of incumbent be with squirrelly city voters?
City of Miami Beach: Mgr. Gonzalez and Beach officials get ethics letter of instruction regarding reporting gifts
City of Coral Gables: Full time Mayor Cason settling in, still learning, listening is “diplomacy” at municipal level, he says
City of South Miami: Vice Mayor Newman is hit with critical ethics commission letter of instruction; “tyrannical behavior” while not actionable “is inexcusable neverless.”
City of North Miami Beach: Council member Kramer tapped for 27 member county Homeless Trust board
City of Doral: Local woman convicted of health care fraud, could get up to 10-years in the federal big house
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: “Brazen Bandit” bank robber gets 52-years in the federal pen
Palm Beach County: Gov. Scott taps Keyser to 15th judicial circuit, had net worth of $205,947 through June 1 2010
Monroe County: Residents meeting schedule with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen changes for the Keys
Community Events: GMCC Goals Conference — Miami-Dade CAA board of directors meeting
Editorials: Miami-Dade in uncharted waters when county elections get such low voter turnout, corrosive to our society and Republic — PAST WDR: A brief history of the Watchdog Report over the past 12 years, but an odyssey that really started in late1997 when waste, fraud and public corruption flourished in South Florida
Letters: State Rep. Lopez-Cantera says $55 million for Port of Miami dredging – Readers on A&M charter school story – Readers on 12th Anniversary of the Watchdog Report
Sponsors – Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue
>>> CORRECTION: The Watchdog Report incorrectly reported last week that $55 million in state money was going for the port tunnel. In fact, state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami said it was for the dredging of the Port of Miami.
>>> 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 is celebrating its 12th Anniversary.
>>> On WPBT/Issues – DeFede, Elfrink, Padgett and Ricker discuss mayoral elections, what is ahead and Gov. Scott’s $615 million in cuts To see the show This Week on Issues – 05/27 & 05/29 – Special Election Results: On Tuesday, Miami-Dade voters advanced former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and former City of Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina to a June 28th runoff election for county mayor. We discuss this race and whether or not a robocall about Hialeah can sway the election. Guests: Jim DeFede, WFOR CBS4, Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, Tim Padgett, TIME Magazine, Daniel Ricker, Watchdog Report
>>> May you and your family have a safe, happy and reflective Memorial Day as we remember the blood and treasure sacrificed since 1776 for the freedoms and Democracy we so enjoy, in a very dangerous world. The Watchdog Report salutes those veterans that have served or are serving their country around the globe for your dedication to duty, honor to our country and the sacrifices and risks taken with your lives and you all are in our prayers.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Republican presidential candidate Pawlenty believes “Wall Street gets a handout;” average Americans “get their wallets out”
Republican Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota jumped into the 2012 presidential field when he announced during the beginning of the week he was running for president and he took a campaign road trip to the Historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Tuesday to do a Facebook town hall, met with reporters twice afterwards, and fielded questions. Pawlenty, known as “T-Paw” was first elected to the Eagan Council in 1989 and was elected to the state House in 1992 and won the Governor’s race in 2002 where he served two terms. He has been married for 20-years and his wife is a former district judge state’s the campaign webpage.
The former governor had spent the day before in Iowa and some of his policies such as ending ethanol subsidies were coolly met in the Hawkeye state. But he believes it has to be done because if “we can’t tell the hard truth to the country” from a political standpoint. He believes “if we don’t we may lose the country,” that has a $14.3 trillion debt that continues to grow. He believes tackling the fiscal problem the country has is not being addressed by the President Barack Obama administration and when it comes to retiring the nation’s debt. “We can’t shove the solution on those poorer or richer than us,” but the whole nation has to be part of the long-term solution if we are to succeed, he said. Pawlenty also said federal employees “can’t get a better deal” than regular folks in the job market and when it came to the Wall Street Banks. He said, “Wall Street gets a handout while taxpayers get their wallets out,” and believes the average American needs a voice and he wants to be their champion.
What about Medicare fraud in S. FL.?
Pawlenty thinks “Obama Care has to be repealed” and acknowledged “America does face a healthcare crisis” and while the president cited the need for “cost containment” what he really did was “focus only on expanding access/ not containing costs,” he said. When it came to Medicare fraud after the Watchdog Report in a question noted he was in the region that was the “graduate school” for Medicare and Medicaid fraud and what would he do differently. He said I “raised an important point” and when it came to the Medicare Plan proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Ohio he is going to roll out his own plan in the summer and “it has some similarities” as the congressman’s, “but it won’t be the same,” he said. He noted when it came to bilking Medicare it was not just a “South Florida issue” but that around the nation there is “disportionate amount” of fraud in small pockets saying parts of Texas, California, and New York City face the same issue and “we need to get these folks that are cheating” and “ripping off the system,” and when he is president that is what he will do, he said.
>>> Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act (H.R. 2047). This legislation will impose penalties against companies and individuals assisting Cuba in the development of its petroleum industry, including in waters dangerously close to the Florida Keys. You may click here to view bill text and click here to view a summary of the bill. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Desperate for new channels of funding, the Cuban tyranny will say and do anything to persuade others to invest in its oil sector in order to stay afloat. It is in our national security interests to deter others from participating in these reckless schemes.
“This legislation will deny U.S. visas to any individuals investing more than $1 million in Cuba’s petroleum sector, and makes it illegal for any U.S. citizen to help the regime explore for drilling opportunities in Cuban waters. “In addition to protecting American waters and coastlines, this bill will deny the Cuban regime an opportunity to fill its own coffers with oil money while they continue to oppress and abuse the Cuban people and undermine the security interests of the U.S. “We cannot allow the Castro regime to become the oil tycoons of the Caribbean. I will continue to work with my Congressional colleagues to prevent oil drilling by the Cuban regime, which poses a national security and environmental threat to the United States.” >>> NOTE: Original co-sponsors of this legislation are U.S. Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Connie Mack (R-FL), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL), and Allen B. West (R-FL). BACKGROUND: Ros-Lehtinen introduced the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act in the 110th and 111th Congresses.
>>> IBOPE Zogby Poll: Obama Approval Holds at 48%; Among Independents, 43% Approve Approval of Congress is 19%
President Barack Obama is holding on to the increased job approval rating he received from voters after the mission that found and killed Osama bin Laden. His approval rating went up to 48% after that mission, and holds at that level now.
Overall, do you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama’s job as president?
Obama Job Performance May
Approve 48% 48% 46% 41% 43% 42% 43% 46% 45% 47% 44% 46%
Disapprove 51% 52% 54% 59% 57% 57% 56% 54% 55% 52% 55% 53%
Not sure 1% 0% <1 <1% 1% 1% 1% <1% 1% 1% 1% <1% Totals may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website: http://www.zogby.com/news/2011/05/24/ibope-zogby-poll-obama-approval-holds-48-among-independents-43-approve/
>>> Hanks to be new commodore at Grove sailing club in July, new long term lease with the city in the works
The Coconut Grove Sailing Club is negotiating a long-term lease with the city of Miami for it’s over 50-year location next to Peacock Park after years of not having one. The sailing club does extensive community out reach such as teaching school children how to swim and sail and the Miami-Dade Public Schools runs some programs at the site. The Club that is open to Miami residents for about $250.00 a year is getting new leadership in July and veteran Miami Herald business reporter Doug Hanks is stepping up to the plate and becomes the club’s Commodore in July. Hanks is also an author and he keeps his sailboat, Nell, moored at the club. The Watchdog Report gives Hanks a Tip of the Hat and good luck in this new role in your private life.
>>> See what was said about the Watchdog Report in the Miami New Times 2003 — Best of Miami — BEST CITIZEN — Daniel Ricker –
Three years ago, we said Ricker was our Best Gadfly. Given his dedication and perseverance, this new honor, Best Citizen, is well deserved. Ricker goes to 2500 mind-melting meetings annually, from the Public Health Trust’s purchasing subcommittee to the Efficiency and Competition Commission to the Alliance for Human Services’ nominating council to the school board’s audit committee. Sometimes he’s the only public observer. Object: to be the Public Citizen for all those out there who can’t attend, and to connect and serve as an information bridge among the special-interest-dominated Miami-Dade governmental institutions that seem so problematic and indifferent to the democratic process.
This month his e-mail newsletter, The Watchdog Report, celebrates its fourth anniversary. In a former life, Ricker made a handsome living as an international salesman of heart pacemakers. As the hard-working publisher of Watchdog Report, though, he’s struggling financially — this despite the fact that his weekly compendium of meeting summaries, analysis, interviews, and commentary has become essential reading for anyone involved in public affairs. What his written work may lack in polish, it more than makes up for in comprehensiveness. So raise a toast to the man whose official slogan says it all: “A community education resource — I go when you cannot!
>>> 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 again, during the past 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 she 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.” >>> To read the section’s large 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
>>> 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.
>>> Gov. Scott takes sledgehammer to budget, cuts $615 million, but what of the social service, health, and conservation cuts?
With Gov. Rick Scott (Net worth $218 million) taking a sledgehammer Thursday to the $69.7 billion state budget passed by the Florida Legislature, and vetoing $615 million, South Florida in particular was slapped around when it comes to state appropriations cuts across a wide swath of organizations and projects. Scott’s staff at the budget signing ceremony made the event private after some protestors were spotted but he has alienated a number of Republican state legislators from around the state and there are questions concerning the political baggage these cuts will have in the upcoming 2012 elections with an electorate that is all over the place. Scott with a strong tea party base won his close race by only 60,000 votes and the political novice is having a difficult time playing with the Florida Senate and House leaders who were shocked at some of the cuts and the governor’s sudden interest in trying to fund education at a higher level. Though Republican House Speaker Dean Canon (Net worth $209,000) noted only a little over $100 million would be added to education and he was surprised Scott did not let the legislature know this was a priority, even though the governor wanted a lower figure than the legislature approved. www.miamiherald.com
Scott is finding his statewide popularity is tanking, coming in a poll at 29 percent when it comes to Floridians rating his job performance and as one high ranking Republican said on Tuesday. “The great experiment is not working out” and this governor is having trouble getting a handle on the job, he thought. Further, Scott in the course of his term will appoint roughly 4,000 people to a wide swath of boards and judiciary throughout the state and some of these appointments have been miss fires and withdrawn for consideration. It remains to be seen if any of these cuts get overturned that had the Florida Forever Fund get a $305 million whack, though critics say this is not really a cut since it involved selling certain state assets to pay for the program. But he also vetoed $165 million in college and university construction, and when it came to public radio and television; these organizations lost $4.8 million in approved funding.
>>> Press release: Governor Scott Vetoes $615 Million in Special-Interest Earmarks, Signs $69.1 Billion Budget -Calls on Legislature to Put Children First, Redirect Earmarks to K-12 Education
The Villages, Fla. – In keeping his campaign promise to make the tough choices needed to turn Florida’s economy around and get Floridians back to work; Governor Rick Scott today vetoed $615 million in special-interest earmarks and signed the 2011-12 state budget. Governor Scott called on House and Senate leaders to redirect the vetoed special-interest dollars into K-12 classrooms and schools so that state spending can remain at last year’s levels. After vetoes, the $69.1-billion budget meets government’s three fundamental obligations of protecting public health and safety, creating a business friendly environment and preparing Florida’s students to compete in the 21st century global economy. “I commend the Legislature for sending me a budget that reduces the size and cost of government and provides tax relief to individuals and business,” said Governor Scott. “Special interests probably aren’t happy with the tough choices I made, but I am confident everyone can agree that funding for our children and students is more important than pleasing Tallahassee’s special interests.” >>> Click here to see Governor Scott’s veto message. >>> Click here to see the complete list of vetoes. For more information on the 2011-12 budget, visit www.FLGov.com/budget/.
>>> Press release: Statement from Chairman Joe A. Martinez on Governor Rick Scott’s veto of $615 million of State’s budget
MIAMI, Fl – “In light of Governor Rick Scott’s veto of $615 million to fund numerous social services, I urge our State Legislature to confer with the Governor and revisit these issues in an effort to minimize the impact on humanitarian services in our community. While I understand that governments everywhere are tightening their belts, programs such as Farm Share and the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers assist thousands of our most vulnerable residents.
“In many cases, these programs actually save money and address invaluable essential needs. Farm Share offers food to the poor while granting farmers who donate with tax breaks and providing an ecological solution to crops, which would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. The Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers also improve quality of life for seniors by organizing activities, health services and hot meals to people who are isolated and economically disadvantaged. These organizations, as well as other vital social programs facing budget cuts, depend on State funding as a lifeline. “As a representative of Miami-Dade County, I want to continue to be able to work with these organizations for the benefit and well-being of our residents.”
>>> Press release: (Homestead, FL) – Governor Rick Scott today made a huge cut in funding for Farm Share, the largest food bank in Florida that provides millions of dollars worth of fresh fruits and vegetables to Florida’s poor each year, at no charge. The vetoed line item in the Florida Department of Agriculture’s budget for $750,000 is 50 percent of Farm Share’s total budget.
“Florida is now in the height of its farming season and there is plenty of excess produce to help feed the hungry,” said Co-Founder and Board Chairman Patricia Robbins. “But without any state funding for Farm Share, fresh fruits and vegetables now going to Florida’s poor will go directly into the land fills and be plowed back into the fields – a true waste of nutritious food.” Farm Share has provided Florida’s poor with produce, donated by local farmers, for 20 years. It has provided almost a half a billion dollars worth of food since it was first founded.
Florida’s farmers get a tax credit for donating their extra food to Farm Share who then delivers it to churches, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other non-profit groups serving their local communities. Last year Farm Share distributed 15.5 million pounds of food to 430,000 less fortunate families. Farm Share is a non-profit organization working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious foods to those who need it most. To learn more about Farm Share and its impact on communities, visit www.FarmShare.org.
>>> And they’re off, Robaina & Gimenez face off in mayoral race, how low will they go?
And they’re off; former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina (Net worth over $8 million) and former Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $871,000) clear the 11-candidate field with Robaina getting 34.7 percent of the vote to Gimenez’s 28.8 percent of the 15.9 percent of the county’s 1.2 million voters that turned out, a worse turnout than the March 15 recall election that brought out only 18 percent of the vote. The runoff race ends Jun. 28 and early voting and absentee ballots will start sooner than the electorate expects but with July 4 looming days after. Voter turnout will be a key factor and given the demographic split of voters participating. The role of minorities like African American and Haitian voters could tip the scales in a low turnout race. Robaina had $1.2 million in his campaign war chest versus Gimenez’s $450,000 for Tuesday’s election. The two men will not only put a blowtorch to their fundraising efforts in the days ahead but buying up blocks of media time which will be relatively cheap given June is a slow month for advertisement revenues versus during a national election cycle.
What about the controversial robocall disparaging to Hialeah residents?
A robocall by a women slamming Robaina and the City of Hialeah is also causing controversy and was discussed on www.wpbt.org/issues over the weekend and it portrays the City of Progress and its residents in an offensive manner and is causing a firestorm on Spanish radio and television. Gimenez says he had nothing to do with the robocall but one of his campaign team is on the board of the PAC that produced the piece. However, the Watchdog Report predicts this is nothing compared to what the Miami-Dade community will see in the way of political attack ads in this final leg for the next county mayor, race that will be redone in Nov. 2012.
>>> The third time is the charm, Suarez captures BCC Dist.7 seat over Robaina, and Judge Thomas has $102,600 net worth
Xavier Suarez referred to himself as a political Lazarus www.miamiherald.com Friday and he won over former state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-South Miami in the county Commission District 7 race where the results were suppressed until the local appeals court threw out Circuit Court Judge William Thomas’ vote tally embargo of the Election Day results. Suarez, won when it came to the absentee ballot vote and to say he has had a colorful political career over the decades is an understatement. The long serving former Miami mayor last left office in 1997 after a judge removed him from office after massive voter fraud was found to have occurred during the election and Mayor Joe Carollo was put into office back then. However, he was never charged in the voter fraud scheme. Since then, the Harvard trained attorney ran in the Miami mayor’s race in 2001, and the county commission District 7 race in 2004 and lost both of those races. However, the third time seems to be the charm but it remains to be seen if he has jettisoned some of the past quirks he is known for, whether he can work well with the 13 member county commission, and he remembers why voters elected him one last time though they are wary, and he is up again in Sept. 2012.
What do we know about Circuit Court Judge Thomas’ finances?
Thomas through July 1, 2010 had a net worth of $102,600 and he lists $16,000 in household goods. His condominium is worth $220,000, there is $15,000 and $7,000 in checking accounts, and there is $154,000 in a retirement account state his financial disclosure forms for the year. His debts include $72,000 in student loans, a mortgage is owed $224,000, American Express is owed $3,000 and Bank of America is owed $57,000. He lists no gifts and the only income listed is $142,000 as a circuit court judge.
>>> Executive Director candidates narrowed to seven
Ethics commission press release summary: A screening committee of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) today reviewed 39 applications for the position of executive director and narrowed down the list to seven candidates. They are (in alphabetical order): Joseph Centorino, Esther Jacobo, Richard Lober, Val Screen, David Weinstein, Erica Wright and David Young. The list will be furthered narrowed after telephone interviews next month and the final candidate will be selected during a future meeting of the full Ethics Commission.
>>> A County Parks employee has settled a complaint (C 11-07) that she misrepresented the hours she worked and used sick leave on days she was at an outside job. Carol Bernier, who is a Public Facilities Manager at Zoo Miami, also held a part time position at Baptist Health South Florida. COE investigators confirmed several dates during 2009 when the hours she worked at the hospital directly conflicted with the time she reported at her County job and made false claims for sick leave on two different days she worked at Baptist. As part of the agreement, Bernier will be issued a Public Reprimand. In addition, the Parks Department suspended her for 20 days and ordered her to resign from her second job.
>>> The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause to an allegation that a licensed roofer, Gregory Pierce, had a conflict of interest by serving as a member of the Miami-Dade County Board of Rules and Appeals while also being retained as an expert witness by several plaintiffs in civil litigation against a roofing company and utility. The investigation of the complaint (C 11-13) determined that Pierce did not participate in any board action relating to the roofing company and, therefore, had no conflict, and so the complaint was dismissed.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Michael A. Hanzman of Coral Gables to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court.
“Michael has handled many challenging and complex cases during his 25-year career and consistently demonstrated thorough analysis and preparation for each and every one,” Governor Scott said. “I am confident he clearly understands the importance of a fair, impartial and efficient bench.”
Hanzman, 50, has been of counsel with Ackerman, Link and Sartory since 2008. Previously, he practiced with Hanzman and Criden from 1994 to 2007; with Zack, Hanzman, Ponce, Tucker, Korge and Gillespie from 1990 to 1994; and with Floyd, Pearson, Richman, Greer, Weil from 1985 to 1990. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. Hanzman will fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Maynard “Skip” Gross.
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Dawn V. Denaro of Miami to the Miami-Dade County Court.
“Dawn has devoted her legal career to serving the people of Florida with diligence and an admirable work ethic,” Governor Scott said. “She understands what it means to be truly dedicated to the pursuit of justice and will serve this Court with dignity and fairness.” Denaro, 44, has been an assistant state attorney with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office since 1993. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. Denaro will fill the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Darrin Gayles to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court.
>>> GMCVB Press release: #1: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG ¯ GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKS #1 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY, #2 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR) AND #2 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR) FOR JANUARY – APRIL 2011 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS
For the first four months of 2011 (January – April), Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2010, ranking #1 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 80.6%, #2 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $144.03 and #2 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $178.79 among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).
Top 25 Hotel Markets
January – April 2011
% % Change vs. 2010
1. Miami 80.6% + 4.5%
2. Oahu Island 80.1% +7.6%
3. New York 73.3% – 2.3%
4. Orlando 73.0% +8.4%
5. San Francisco 71.6% + 6.8%
Top 25 Hotel Markets
January –April 2011
$ % Change vs. 2010
1. New York $152.48 +3.4%
2. Miami $144.03 + 7.1%
3. Oahu Island $128.69 + 19.0%
4. San Francisco $101.39 + 19.3%
5. Washington, D.C. $92.60 – 0.5%
Top 25 Hotel Markets
Average Daily Room Rate
January – April 2011
$ % Change vs. 2010
1. New York $208.13 + 5.8%
2. Miami $178.79 +2.5%
3. Oahu Island $160.61 + 10.6%
4. Washington, D.C. $147.17 +0.8%
5. San Francisco $141.64 + 11.8%
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Maestro Carvalho pulls $100,000 performance award for teachers out of his hat, Perez actually “commends” the job done since 2008
Supt. Alberto Carvalho pulled another rabbit out of the hat last week with his announcement of rewarding high performing teachers the potential to earn up to $100,000 as part of a Race to the Top federal grant award won by Florida. Carvalho who I have dubbed the “maestro” for his uncanny ability to work with the past contentious nine-member school board when it came to past superintendents has survived and flourished since being appointed in Sept. 2008 to head the nation’s fourth largest public district. However, with the economic downturn that has cut $2 billion from the district’s funding since 2008 he is still skating on thin fiscal ice and he has another $108 million to whack from the public schools $4.3 billion budget in the coming year, and money for capital and maintenance projects are in short supply and deferring these structural needs will cost the community, while also closing a number of the 390 schools including charters in the district. Miami-Dade like around the nation has seen its property tax base drop from $258 billion in 2008-09 to $192 billion in 2011-12 and that is a 28 percent drop in value over those years, state May 18 school budget workshop documents. Carvalho early on in 2008 took some steps to mitigate this financial meltdown versus in Broward where the administrator Jim Notter is stepping down, laying off over 1,400 teachers and the subject of a scathing state grand jury report suggested dissolving the school board if they could because it was so dysfunctional and political in nature.
What about Perez?
School Board Member Marta Perez (Net worth $2.18 million), a past vocal critic of superintendents for over a decade noted at the board workshop that “I want to commend the superintendent and his team for his work the last few years,” which is high praise given Perez’s past history. She even went on to say “I feel as a board member the freedom to ask questions” and Carvalho “makes an effort to be accommodating to board members,” she thought. For anyone that has followed the school board since the mid 1990s this is a refreshing change in board members attitudes about the administration. But the challenges remain immense in the future and it will take all of Carvalho’s skill and creativity in the months ahead, now that he has turned down the job to run the Broward district, that would have brought more money, but a totally unknown board to him.
>>> Press release: Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho today announced a performance pay plan for teachers, which gives Miami-Dade educators the potential to earn as much as $100,000 or more.
“In the midst of our national economic crisis, as school districts across the country are laying off teachers, Miami-Dade County will be the first school district in the state to reward teachers for their performance,” said Carvalho. The state does not require performance pay plans by school districts until 2014. Teachers can be rewarded at a school-wide level, by subject, and as an individual teacher.
Funding for the performance pay plan, up to $14 million this year, will come from a Race to the Top grant from the United States Department of Education. Carvalho chaired the Governor’s Working Group that developed a memorandum of understanding and a successful application that resulted in Florida receiving more than $700 million in Race to the Top funds that equated to $350 million for school districts across the state.
Carvalho signed the performance pay agreement with United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz, who has worked closely with him in supporting the district’s efforts towards Race to the Top. This bold new work is supported by the Miami-Dade County School Board, which has strongly maintained their commitment to local classrooms. Superintendent Carvalho has vowed that, despite a $108 million budget hole next year, the district will not make cuts to art, music, world languages, or physical education.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> And away we go, FRB members get sworn in by Ruvin, televised in BCC chambers
The Public Health Trust Financial Recovery Board becomes official Tuesday morning when Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin (Net worth $1.38 million) swears in the new board members which is the first order of business on the FRB agenda being held at 9:00 a.m. in the county commission chambers at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center (I suspect they are already sworn in and this is a ceremonial ceremony since the FRB has already been meeting and voting on items). The board’s chair is Marcos Lapciuc, Darryl Sharpton is the vice chair, Jose “Joe” Arriola is treasurer and Joaquin del Cueto is the board’s secretary. Rounding out the board that is one member short until a new county mayor is picked is state Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami and Stephen Nuell. Lapciuc, Arriola, del Cueto and Nuell have all been past PHT members but this group is expected to work more quickly and be more “nimble” than the past 17-member board that included two voting county commissioners.
What has the FRB been doing so far?
Since May 16 when the board voted on its leadership they have been meeting with new PHT CEO Carlos Migoya who is also getting the lay of the land of a large health system with around 11,100 employees since he stared May 1, but he is a banker by trade and is focused on getting a top notch chief operating officer that knows the healthcare world while he focuses on the hospital’s finances that has hemorrhaged losses for a decade while giving around $650 million in charity care last year. The health trust blows through about $4.3 million of cash a day, and has been trying to fiscally right itself and some looming cash challenges in July have become slightly mitigated and cash on hand is around 21 days, up from 14 days and it takes about 18 days of cash on hand to cover the organization’s monthly payroll.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Sarnoff kicks off campaign, has money to get to condominium voters, what will impact of incumbent be with squirrelly city voters
Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.17 million) kicked off his campaign to be reelected to the Miami Commission District 2 seat on Wednesday night with a fundraiser at Greenstreet’s Restaurant in Coconut Grove, and it was well attended but not as big a turnout as when he first ran for office back in 2006 when he faced incumbent Commissioner Linda Haskins, who had a over $700,000 campaign war chest at the time. Sarnoff went on to beat her by a two-to-one margin in a nasty and vicious race that featured political attack ads practically calling the candidates the devil. Sarnoff would serve out the rest of the term on the seat and he won a full term in November 2007 and is now up in November for his final four-year term. The attorney, who grew up in public housing projects in Brooklyn has been a Grove resident for some two decades and he faces four challengers, Kate Callahan, Michelle Niemeyer, Williams Armbrister and Donna Milo. Sarnoff has raised over $300,000 for the race while the challengers come in at $29,750 for Callahan’s war chest, Niemeyer has $25,187 through March 31 and Milo has $32,075 in the reporting cycle.
Sarnoff is a man of contradictions, supporters love him and their intensity is almost cult like, but he also has critics who are vocal, there are some blogs out there that almost track his every move daily, and that scrutiny had him moving his law practice from his town home complex in Center Grove to an office located in downtown Miami. He has been a supporter of reinstating the federal Brady Assault Rifle ban that sunset in 2004 yet he owns over 10 guns and shoots trap and skeet. He is married to Teresa (her second marriage), they have no children, they are avid car enthusiasts, and while he has been in office, he has had a range of vehicles including a Smart Car, a BMW 300 series convertible and a Mercedes Benz SUV. He has made ethics and transparency a high priority yet may change a local Grove BID meeting location at the last minute making a public meeting difficult to find and when it comes his giving a compliment. It sometimes comes out almost as an insult such as when he said ex commissioner Angel Gonzalez was a “jack of all trades and a master of none,” at a commission meeting before Gonzalez was forced to resign his seat after a plea deal with the state attorney’s office in the fall of 2009.
For this campaign, Sarnoff continues to use the orange and green colors for his posters used by Home Depot when he led the charge in 2005 to keep the mega store coming to the Grove. However, the company did build a store alongside U.S. 1 and Milam’s grocery store anyway, but that campaign began his political career and he used the race to be on the Coconut Grove Village Council as a test run and he and his supporters knocked on voter’s doors throughout the Grove. He came in first during that race and was the chair of the voluntary council created in 1992 by local activists spearheaded by now deceased Pan Courtelis. Sarnoff would later set his sights on the commission seat and the district that snakes along the city’s waterfront borders from Coconut Grove to Morningside in the Upper East Side of Miami. However, because the Grove is his base, many residents in the northern area of the district feel like they don’t get the same attention when it comes to city services, and may be one reason he opened his campaign office downtown. Since there are a huge number of new voters now living in the massive condominiums that went up during the city’s building boom.
Further, these new voters and residents are not easy to get to and that was reflected in the 2010 Census numbers where enumerators were unable to get into the condominiums to count residents because they were stopped by the building’s security and that same obstacle will face the candidates, and why having the money to buy television ads will be a major factor to who wins the race. Since the lesser funded candidates will not have that media edge to run ads with their less money than the incumbent will. At the kickoff event, there were street signs available and even license plate covers with Sarnoff’s name on it but no matter what. He is a five-year incumbent at a time incumbents are taking a beating in some elections and since he is no longer the David versus Goliath, but Goliath given his war chest. The other candidates are sure to try to portray him as part of the city’s problem and he is getting support from Mayor Tomas Regalado, and Commissioners Willy Gort and Francis Suarez who all attended the fundraiser. I emailed the commissioner last week and below is his response to my questions and I am running it unedited as I have done for the other District 2 candidates that have responded back.
What did Sarnoff say about the past five years in office?
“The last five years have certainly been challenging. When I entered elected office five years ago, the local economy was still booming and very quickly suffered a downturn the likes of which Miami hasn’t faced since the Great Depression. Throughout that period of time I’m proud to say we have been able to accomplish much and I have few regrets. My voting record stands on its own. Notably, I voted against the Marlins Stadium, which remains the single biggest disappointment in my five years as commissioner. I continue to feel that the city could have hammered out a better deal but we operate in a democracy and the majority of city and county leaders voted to move forward with the Stadium. Once that vote occurred it is our entire obligation to ensure the Stadium is on time and on budget.
From the beginning I’ve stood by my principles of fiscal conservancy and have tried my best to direct the city and the district to live within their means and to get the most bang for our tax dollars. Job creation and increasing the quality of life in the City of Miami have been my top priorities. The Port Tunnel project is a good example of an infrastructure project I voted for that serves both purposes: creating hundreds of good-paying jobs while setting the groundwork for
the Deep Dredge (now funded by Governor Rick Scott) by setting the table for thousands of well paid Port jobs and insuring the future easing of traffic congestion, safer roads and the future smart development of Downtown Miami.
Our District 2 neighborhoods are undergoing a wonderful transformation. On the Upper Eastside, we have spent or earmarked more than $22 million for better roads, drainage, parks and other quality of life issues. In fact, we have taken the lead in the greening of Miami. No other district has created more parks and green space than District 2, and we’ve been able to do that without borrowing money or
In your email, you asked about my broadened interests in Miami-Dade Schools and the Public Health Trust. I have always tried to keep abreast of issues and institutions that impact the citizens of Miami but it’s really the constituents who direct my attention and the people of Miami have told me loud and clear that they want better schools, better health care and more accountability from their public
institutions and their elected officials,” wrote Sarnoff.
>>> Press release: Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado (Net worth $5,000) is requesting that the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation contact Governor Rick Scott as soon as possible and ask the Governor to reconsider revoking funding for the Little Havana Activities Center and the Allapattah Community Center. “Eliminating funding for these programs is literally taking food from the mouths of our senior citizens”, says Mayor Regalado. Already hit hard by the elimination of CDBG funds, our least fortunate citizens will suffer at a disproportionate rate. “As the Mayor of the City Of Miami I can not stand by and let this happen without a fight”.
>>> Miami joins fight to protect kids from abductions
Mayor Tomas Regalado kicked off an event last week in the commission chambers that informs and teaches parents to take 25 minutes and teach their children to know what to do if someone tries to kidnap them or they get lost. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has a wide range of programs and this information will be available at city parks, Net offices and through police and fire rescue locations and personnel. For more information go to www.missingkids.com 1-800-the-lost and www.take25.org
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Mgr. Gonzalez and Beach officials get ethics letter of instruction regarding reporting gifts
>>> M-DC Ethics commission summary: During regular business this morning, the Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint that Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez violated the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics ordinance by failing to report travel expenses for his wife that were paid by the city. The couple has been part of a delegation that has visited Art Basel Switzerland every June since the international art show began holding an exhibition in Miami Beach in 2002. The Florida State Ethics Commission, which has a different standard, previously issued an opinion that a companion’s airfare must be reported as a gift, but Gonzalez failed to do so for trips taken with his wife in 2009 and 2010. Since being alerted to the Ethics Complaint (C 11-14), Gonzalez submitted the appropriate gift disclosure forms and the Ethics Commission decided to issue a general Letter of Instruction to all Miami Beach officials about gift disclosure requirements in this context.
>>> Press release: Hundreds of Miami-Dade County Goodwill Ambassadors to keep the peace over Memorial Day weekend — Volunteers to provide info and tips to 300,000 tourists visiting Miami-area this weekend
As flocks of tourists visit Miami for fun and sun on Memorial Day weekend, one group will be working hard to ensure that residents and visitors alike are having a safe and enjoyable experience – the Goodwill Ambassadors. Already in its tenth year, the Goodwill Ambassador Program, initiated by Miami-Dade’s Office of Community Advocacy, brings local volunteers together to work alongside law enforcement in order to provide information and directions to visitors, as well maintain crowd control. This year, approximately 300,000 tourists are expected to spend this weekend in Miami Beach and nearby areas. In preparation for such large crowds, the Goodwill Ambassadors are ready to provide an invaluable service to visitors while reducing tensions among partygoers, residents, and law enforcement. For the last several years, the presence of Goodwill Ambassadors during Memorial Day weekend has contributed to reductions in arrests on Miami Beach. In 2006, there were 1,010 arrests during the holiday weekend with 100 Goodwill Ambassadors patrolling the area. However, as the program expanded and volunteers continued to work with law enforcement, arrests dropped dramatically. Last Memorial Day weekend, there were only 341 arrests with 250 Goodwill Ambassadors out helping tourists visiting the area. Easily identifiable by their red t-shirts labeled “Goodwill Ambassadors,” the volunteers will be working from Thursday, May 26 until Monday, May 30 at various posts throughout Miami Beach.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Full time Mayor Cason settling in, still learning, listening is “diplomacy” at municipal level, he says
The Watchdog Report contacted newly minted Mayor James “Jim” Cason and asked how things were going for the former diplomat who now is an elected municipal leader after a month in office. In an email last week Cason wrote, “I have been spending my first few weeks getting to know the employees, city facilities and the many individuals, organizations, profit and non-profit, that serve our community. I am also meeting many citizens to hear their concerns, and meeting with community groups as well. We will be tackling our new budget in the coming months and that will be a main focus of our collective efforts. As promised, I am spending 8+ hours daily being a full time Mayor. This is a rewarding experience. I am still in the learning mode and in several months hope to have enough knowledge to begin making some proposals for constructive change. While the focus on the work is very different from that faced by professional diplomats, the process of learning through listening, dialogue and first hand encounters is much the same. There is a role for diplomacy at the municipal level as well as the international,” wrote Cason.
CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI
>>> Vice Mayor Newman is hit with critical ethics commission letter of instruction; “tyrannical behavior” while not actionable “is inexcusable neverless.”
The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against Vice Mayor Valerie Newman but the commission did issue a Letter of Instruction to the veteran municipal politician and here is a summary of the ethics commission action. >>> Following their dismissal of the complaint (C 09-11) against South Miami City Commissioner Valerie Newman last month, Ethics Commissioners today issued a Letter of Instruction to the politician. The charges, which originated in 2009 and were based on South Miami’s now-repealed Code of Conduct, accused Newman of bullying people inside and outside of city government. Even though the COE determined that proceeding with the case would not be a prudent use of resources, the Letter states that “Rude, boorish and tyrannical behavior by elected officials, while perhaps not actionable under an ethics code, is inexcusable nevertheless.” The Ethics Commission also states that “ethical behavior is not simply the doing what is right, but doing it the right way,” and hopes the Letter “impresses upon Commissioner Newman and all elected officials that they must be mindful that their behavior be at all times proper, honest, respectful, and professional…”
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI BEACH
>>> Council member Kramer tapped for 27 member county Homeless Trust board
Council Member Barbara Kramer is the new appointment on the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and she attended her first meeting Friday morning. Kramer was first elected to the Council in May 2009. The city’s leaders over the years has been a strong advocated for the elimination of homeless people in the city, said Trust Chair Ron Book last week when she was introduced to the board.
CITY OF DORAL
>>> Local woman convicted of health care fraud, could get up to 10-years in the federal big house
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Miami Regional Office, announced that a federal jury in Miami found Isachi Gil, 36, of Doral, Florida, guilty of health care fraud and making false statements related to health care matters. More specifically, after a three-week trial, the jury convicted Gil of five counts of health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347, and six counts of false statements related to health care matters, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1035. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2011 before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke. Gil faces a statutory maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment as to each of the fraud charges, and five-year imprisonment as to each of the false statement charges.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Gil was a registered nurse employed by thirteen separate Miami-Dade based home health care agencies. As part of her job as a home health nurse, Gil provided skilled nursing services to Medicare beneficiaries that were homebound, diabetic, insulin dependent, and so ill that they were unable to inject themselves with insulin. Under Medicare regulations, Gil was required to keep records of each time she provided a skilled nursing service to a Medicare beneficiary. Between March 2007 and July 2009, Gil completed hundreds of documents in which she claimed that she had injected Medicare beneficiaries with insulin two times a day, seven days per week. At trial, however, the evidence showed that at least two of the Medicare beneficiaries that the defendant claimed to be injecting with insulin were not diabetic. In addition, the evidence showed more than 160 instances in which the defendant was out of the country, including being in Panama, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic, during the dates that she claimed to be providing skilled nursing services to Medicare beneficiaries. As well, the defendant signed dozens of documents claiming that she was providing skilled nursing services when, in fact, she was attending classes at Florida International University. Also, the defendant claimed to be providing skilled nursing visits to two and three patients simultaneously, double and triple billing Medicare. The defendant’s false statements resulted in the submission of hundreds of thousands of dollars in false claims to Medicare for services that were either not medically necessary or provided to Medicare beneficiaries. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Bernstein and Robert J. Luck. 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 www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Press release: State Rep. Jeanette M. Nuñez, R-Doral and Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez will host a Homeownership Informational Workshop. The free workshop is open to the public and will take place on June 7, 2011, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Doral Country Club located at 5001 NW 104th Avenue.
During the workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to meet guest speaker Dalis Freixa the C.E.O. and Founder of the H.E.R.O. Foundation. Whether you are a homeowner who is interested in loan modifications, foreclosure prevention, a short sale or simply interested in purchasing your first home, the H.E.R.O. Foundation will explain all options in this very clear and compelling seminar. This educational seminar is just 60 minutes in length but it is focused on presenting 5 key topics that are critical in the Real Estate and Mortgage Industry stabilization and home retention. Everything from Florida laws in place to protect the homebuyer, to foreclosure prevention alternatives to programs available to homeowners who seek loan modification and short sale approvals, and mortgage fraud and predatory lending prevention. The homeowners will be introduced to the major key issues and be provided guidelines and resources of where to go from here… >>> For more information contact Kathy at the office of State Representative Jeanette Nuñez (305) 227 – 7630 or email email@example.com
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> “Brazen Bandit” bank robber gets 52-years in the federal pen
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, Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and Daniel C. Alexander, Chief, Boca Raton Police Department, announced today that Michael Anthony Price, 44, of Coconut Creek, Florida, was sentenced earlier today. U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch sentenced Price to fifty-two (52) years in prison, to be followed by five years supervised release. Price, dubbed the “Brazen Bandit,” was convicted of two counts of bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, two counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence, and possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony offense. According to evidence presented at trial, the first bank robbery took place on Friday, August 13, 2010, at the PNC Bank. Price, wearing a black baseball cap and sunglasses, entered the bank and approached a customer service consultant. Price stated he wished to open an account and then pointed a black revolver at the consultant. He then approached a teller station, placed a backpack on the counter, and pointed his firearm at a victim teller. He demanded money and told the teller that she had “fifteen seconds” to comply. While the gun was pointed at her, the teller placed the money in the defendant’s backpack. Price then left the bank. The second bank robbery occurred on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at the Amtrust Bank in Deerfield Beach. According to the evidence at trial, Price wore a black baseball cap, sunglasses, and a bandana covering his mouth when he entered the bank. He carried a black revolver in his hand. Price vaulted the teller counter and demanded money from multiple tellers at various stations, while brandishing the firearm. As Price was jumping back over the counter to flee with his loot, he shot a sixty-seven year old customer. After shooting the customer in the neck, Price left the bank, discharging two rounds from his revolver as he fled. The shooting victim is paralyzed from the neck down. Co-defendant Greg Bryan Senser, 29, of Boynton Beach, who was the get-away driver for each of the robberies, pled guilty on February 25, 2011 before Judge Zloch and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3, 2011. >>> A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Dr. Nabil El Sanadi to the Board of Medicine.
El Sanadi, 55, of Fort Lauderdale, is the chief of emergency medicine with Broward Health. He succeeds Steven Rosenberg and is appointed for a term beginning May 24, 2011, and ending October 31, 2014. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Gov. Scott taps Keyser to 15th judicial circuit, had net worth of $205,947 through June 1 2010
Press release: Governor Rick Scott today announced the appointment of Judge Janis Brustares Keyser of Boca Raton to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court.
“Janis’ diverse professional experience has provided her with a unique understanding of the judicial process and the resolution of disputes in a fair and impartial manner,” Governor Scott said. “I believe that her firm commitment to the law and to ensuring equal justice for all will be a great asset to this Court.”
Judge Keyser, 53, has served on the Palm Beach County Court since 2006. She was in private practice from 1986 to 2006. Judge Keyser served as a law clerk to Judge James Downey of the Fourth District Court of Appeal from 1985 to 1986. She was also a law clerk to Judge Jose Gonzalez Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida from 1982 to 1984. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. Judge Keyser will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Jack H. Cook.
What do we know about her finances?
Keyser through June 1 2010 had a net worth of $205,947 and lists $22,000 in household goods. There is $155,000 in a 401K, her jointly owned home is valued at $363,000 and a Toyota Camry hybrid is valued at $12,800. Her debts include a $265,000 mortgage, a second mortgage is owed $67,891 and Toyota credit is owed $12,834. She lists no gifts for the year and her salary as a judge was $133,128.
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott today announced the appointments of Dr. Angela M. Graham-West, Abdol Moabery and Dr. Julius “Butch” Teske to the Board of Trustees, Florida Atlantic University.
Graham-West, 51, of Plantation, is a financial advisor for Raymond James and Associates Inc. She succeeds Nancy Blosser and is appointed for a term beginning May 24, 2011, and ending January 6, 2016.
Moabery, 43, of Delray Beach, is the president and chief executive officer of GA Telesis LLC. He succeeds Rajendra Gupta and is appointed for a term beginning May 24, 2011, and ending January 6, 2016.
Teske, 65, of Vero Beach, is a retired assistant superintendent of human resources for the School District of Indian River County. He succeeds Robert Stilley and is appointed for a term beginning May 24, 2011, and ending January 6, 2016. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Residents meeting schedule with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen changes for the Keys
Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is announcing an important change to her staff’s Constituent Service Days for the Florida Keys. Starting in June, Ms. Kim Sovia-Crandon, Ros-Lehtinen’s Congressional Aide in Monroe County, will be available to meet with constituents on Tuesdays in Key West, Key Largo and Marathon. Ms. Sovia-Crandon will be in Key West on the 1st Tuesday of every month from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm at the same locale, the Gato Building located at 1100 Simonton Street, Suite 205. For Upper Keys residents, Ros-Lehtinen’s aide will be meeting with constituents on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, located at the Murray Nelson Government Center, Suite 211, Bayside at MM 102, Key Largo. On the 3rd Tuesday of each month, Ros-Lehtinen’s aide Ms. Sovia-Crandon will be in the Marathon office, located at the Marathon Government Annex at 490 63rd Street, Ocean Side, Suite 100.. Office hours remain the same, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Ms. Sovia-Crandon will be available to discuss any issue involving Social Security, veterans affairs, housing, immigration, Medicare, Military Service Academies, visits to our nation’s capital as well as White House tours, and any question regarding a federal issue. Constituents who wish to meet with Ms. Sovia-Crandon on any federal related issue can either visit these assigned offices on the designated Tuesday OR call 305-304-7789 to schedule an appointment. You may also contact Ms. Sovia-Crandon via email at Kim.Sovia-Crandon@mail.house.gov. Constituents are also encouraged to call our Miami District office at 305-668-2285.
>>> Press release: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend the 2011 Goals Conference, June 2 and 3, at the Hilton Miami Downtown.
• Workshop Sessions, Thursday and Friday — Nineteen of the Chamber’s committees in the areas of Governmental Affairs, Domestic Business, International Business, Leadership Programs and Marketing & Member Services focus on tackling the key issues facing our community and formulating the Chamber’s work plan for 2011-2012.
• Thursday, June 2 — The Chamber hosts the Transportation & Infrastructure Luncheon — Miami: Americas Logistics Nexus, featuring Port of Miami Director Bill Johnson; Miami International, Airport Deputy Director of Business Development Miguel Southwell; and Florida East Coast Railway Executive Vice President of Corporate Development Husein Cumber; and Mojitos, Martinis & More networking reception.
• Friday, June 3 – The General Session opens the day’s activities, celebrates the past year’s accomplishments under Chairman Maria C. Alonso, introduces the 2011-2012 Chairman Penny Shaffer and installs new board leadership. The M. Athalie Range, Miami Pioneer for Progress Award will be presented to the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation; as well as the Henry M. Flagler Award for Visionary Leadership to Telemundo Communications Group President, Don Browne. At lunch, the Chamber will present the South Florida Good To Great Awards® recognizing businesses that have demonstrated a transition from solid to great performance. Immediately following, there is a special session re-launching the One Community One Goal initiative. The Beacon Council joins with the Greater Miami Chamber, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the education community to launch a new blue print for economic development for Miami-Dade County. The conference closes with a reception held in honor of the Consular Corps and Foreign Trade Officials community in Miami-Dade County which features a keynote address by Gray Swoope, Florida Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida. Attached is the workshop/event schedule and special media registration form for those covering the conference.
>>> Press release: The members of the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency (CAA) Board of Directors will hold their regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. at the Overtown Transit Village, 1st Floor Training Room located at 701 NW 1st Court, in Miami, in the Historic Overtown community.
Originally, created in 1968 as a result of Federal Equal Opportunity legislation, the CAA Board of Directors became an official Board of the County pursuant to Ordinance 09-31. Under the Ordinance, the Board will continue to provide oversight over all programs and services provided by CAA to assist Miami-Dade County’s poor. These services range from providing child development services through a nationally recognized Head Start Program that serves over 6,700 children and their families; to services ranging from youth and family intervention; self sufficiency; housing assistance; emergency food and shelter; weatherization and energy conservation programs. The forty-five member, tripartite board is mandated by the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) guidelines. It is made up of representatives from sixteen Community Advisory Committees (CAC) in addition to representatives for each of the County Commissioners, a representative of Miami-Dade County’s Mayor and other stakeholders. These meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. Who: Miami-Dade Community Action Agency (CAA) What: Board of Directors Meeting When: Monday, June, 13, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. Where: 701 Northwest 1st Court, First Floor Training Room Miami -Why: To discuss local poverty issues and Community Action Agency Programs
>>> Miami-Dade in uncharted waters when county elections get such low voter turnout, corrosive to our society and Republic
Is it voter apathy or elected leaders hypocrisy in office that keeps people from voting because they just have seen to much and in today’s world almost no boundary has not been crossed by public officials, either elected or civil servants and since it never changes why bother to vote at all. I write about this because of the last two Miami-Dade elections, the one on March 15 that recalled county Mayor Carlos Alvarez (Net worth $1.74 million) and Commissioner Natacha Seijas (Net worth $617,000) where just 18 percent of the county’s 1.2 million registered voters turned out, and then this past Tuesday where only 15.9 percent of the county electorate showed up to express their will at the ballot box, even though it involved 11 mayoral candidates and some other races. The next election is the June 28 mayoral runoff race between former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and former county Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and turnout is expected to be even less with summer vacation in full swing and Independence Day just around the corner so only a small fraction of voters are expected to make the effort to vote.
This apathy is more than corrosive to the Republic and Democracy, it is dangerous and substantial political decisions are being made in a county that has a strong mayor form of government and a $7.3 billion budget, after voters shot down rescinding these powers from the mayor on Tuesday, that if approved would have strengthen the county commission like before the 2007 vote, that changed the county charter, and voters subsequently eliminated the county manager’s office effective in 2012. As a community, we are in political uncharted waters and the county’s voters need to wake-up from their hibernation and participate in the upcoming election for there is too much at stake across the board, the challenges ahead are large and financially difficult and a leader supported by a larger segment of the community is needed and only if voters turnout can that happen. As the Watchdog Report has written before, now what? You did not run yourself, will you at least vote?
>>> PAST WDR: A brief history of the Watchdog Report over the past 12 years, but an odyssey that really started in late1997 when waste, fraud and public corruption flourished in South Florida
In 2000 when I first started the Watchdog Report using a purple IMac armed with the power of the internet, my only goal was to create a public nervous system of information about what was going on at all the public institutions in South Florida in an attempt to reduce waste, fraud and abuse, while also trying to connect the general public with their public leaders and institutions. The decision to make the Watchdog Report free back May 5, 2000 was a conscious effort on my part and the fact I was single with no children also freed me up to do this on a full time basis, using roughly $500,000 of my own money over the years, everything I had. I also made the report free because I did not want to create a group of people, with inside information, but to make the public knowledge available to all, and when it comes to the Watchdog Report’s readership, that has been achieved. Since that time one of the unanticipated advantages of doing this is the people I have gotten to interview and ask questions too over the years. Ranging from current President Barack Obama (When he was a U.S. Senator), Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Mikail Gorbachev, Gov. Jeb Bush (who I actually almost saw weekly since he was from Miami) and hundreds of other people and events over the years.
When I have been on WLRN/NPR radio listeners from Palm Beach and other places ask why they don’t have a Watchdog in their community as well, and they may in the future but it takes an odd set of circumstances for someone to have the guts to try this. And in my case, it was a number of events including when federal officials extracted the young Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez that left the community in ethnic flames, combined with the widespread use of the internet back then, along with political corruption flourishing in the 1990s. Including some of these powerful people saying some really contemptible things, like “You little people, we are going to f….. crush you,” said one top political operative back then to me who later died from a heart anomaly. Though a number of people asked if I had killed him. I said no, I just told him when it came to long serving Miami Commissioner J.L. Plummer getting reelected after 29 years in office that it was going to be a tough race. Further, having lived in Japan, Sydney and spent extensive time in China and the rest of Asia where democracy sometimes is in short supply. It seemed here in South Florida there was a need for enhanced high definition transparency at public meetings and I attempted that assignment when no one else wanted to do it.
Now I am starting my 12th year as the editor, publisher, and I again thank all that believed in what I was trying to do, and actually financially supported me in this activity that really began back in 2007 but morphed in 2000 into a news service and community education resource. Further, People ask me all the time what and why I have the Argus Report section, and it is in honor of former Miami Herald Publisher Alberto Ibarguen who when I became a independent editorial columnist for the paper back in the summer of 2000. He told me to be the “community Argus.” At the time I emailed back, he and I were probable the few people who knew the Argus was a Greek mythical colossus with 100 eyes that protected the fawn Io, and would later morph in symbolism to the peacock’s feathers used by NBC for their logo. And I have tried to fulfill that Watchdog role in a small way, in this diverse and exciting community that I refer to as “colorful,” but is likely not to be repeated when I am gone and why for me, publishing solo for these dozen years with over 100,000 readers is a milestone, that I thank my readers and supporters to allow happen, and while it has not been easy. It was necessary for someone to have done it, I just did not think it would have to be me, but here we are today.
>>> Great report so far one observation below. Have a great day. He noted the delegation was able to secure $55 million for “the tunnel dredging and that should create around 30,000 new jobs,” – Should be “port dredging”
State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami
>>> Thanks for keeping this situation in the spotlight. I sent you a breakdown of the campaign contributions from Alonso-Poch to the Regalado’s. I could not believe [school board member] Raquel Regalado used bad judgment during the last [school district] Audit Committee meeting and now it is public record. She needs to learn when to be quiet and when to speak about matters involving family friends, especially when that friend operates a school in her district.
>>> I am on the PTSA board at A&M & was present at the Audit Committee meeting last week. You undoubtedly have a keen perspective on Miami’s happenings & I would like to stay as up to date as possible.
>>> Happy anniversary Dan!
>>> Happy Anniversary! Here’s too many more!
>>>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
***** LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & Initial sponsors since 2000
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WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)
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THE HONORABLE STANLEY TATE
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
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 email@example.com 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 >>> >>> 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 >>>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 – http:///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.
Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form
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