Argus Report: Republican Presidential Candidate Huntsman says, “Biggest emerging strategic challenge” for decades to come will be “China”
Florida: Scott sticks to his guns, signs state employee pension contribution law, will save over $2 billion this year alone he says
Miami-Dade County: It’s Showtime, electorate go to polls as Gimenez & Robaina duke it out on the airwaves, but what of the turnout for mayoral race costing $4.4 million
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Board Chair Hantman asks board members to sit in audience at Audit meetings, only Feldman the one voting member is allowed at table
Public Health Trust: New management team getting advice on local ethics laws, quite different landscape from the private sector
City of Miami: Commissioners looking for ways to get some of their cash back, after payouts to Spring & Mgr. Crapp
City of Miami Beach: Ethics letter to compliant Gonzalez, reminder “disclosure under such circumstances increases transparency and helps to remove even the appearance of impropriety.”
City of North Miami: Local man arrested and charged with bank robbery
City of Coral Gables: Quesada getting along fine with Mgr. Salerno and trust’s his judgment & numbers but “verifies,” the data
City of Opa Locka: Mayor Taylor gets hit with probable cause complaint for voting on item benefiting her
City of Doral: Mayor Bermudez joins over 200 American mayors calling for the need to create local jobs
Village of Key Biscayne: Gov. Scott taps Rodriguez to Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Committee
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Local woman sentenced to 108 months in federal big house for wire fraud
Palm Beach County: Gov. Scott signs Silver Alert Bill to Protect Vulnerable Seniors, similar to Amber Alert for abducted children
Hillsborough County: Gov. Scott tapped Michael A. Babb to the Governing Board, Southwest Florida Water Management District for the Hillsborough County seat.
Pasco County: Gov. Scott goes with Tim H. Holladay as chair of the Florida Elections Commission
Union County: Gov. Scott chooses Rebekah “Becky” Raulerson to the Union County School Board.
Seminole County: Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission – Gov. Scott picks Schmudde and Kirsheman for body
Monroe County: Gov. Scott names Karl D. Borglum as new Monroe County Property Appraiser.
Community Events: Elephant Forum features state Sen. Anitere Flores June 27 at Rusty Pelican Restaurant on Virginia Key — Downtown Bay Forum luncheon June 29 @ 11:30 a.m. Topic: 2011 Legislative Roundup – Progress or Regression? – Speakers Steinberg, Lopez-Cantera, Flores
Editorials: Will second financial shoe to drop be county & municipal ballooning securities payments?
Letters: State Sen. Diaz de la Portilla on story concerning IG report on brother Renier, a public schools board member
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.)
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>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to 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.
>>> Burnett, Padgett, Ricker and host Latzman on Florida Roundup on WLRN/NPR Herald show Jun. 24 – The Florida Roundup on WLRN The race for Miami-Dade mayor nears the finish line. Is it closer than the polls indicate? Our towns & cities face budget shortfalls, mismanagement, and public ire. One panelist says: “We need to build a real economy so we can afford corruption.” Has Rick Scott decided to be a 1-term governor? Phil Latzman talks with Time magazine’s Tim Padgett, the Watchdog Report’s Dan Ricker, and the Miami Herald’s James Burnett.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Republican Presidential Candidate Huntsman says, “Biggest emerging strategic challenge” for decades to come will be “China”
Jon Huntsman, the most recent Republican Presidential contender in the 2012 Republican primary race took a road trip to Miami and held an early morning fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel Thursday. About 100 of the local GOP faithful and others attended the closed press event but afterwards the Watchdog Report got an exclusive interview with the former Ambassador to China in the President Barack Obama Administration. Huntsman, the former Gov. of Utah jumped into the pack of Republicans last Monday looking to lead the party against Obama and believes he has a unique set of credentials that sets him apart from the others. He says he wants to take the high road in the political debate, when it comes to the campaign and too inject “civility” and the nation’s issues first, rather than wrestle in the political and negative campaign mud of running for the highest office in the land. Huntsman, the son of a billionaire businessman who invented the Big Mac clamshell Styrofoam package, among other things, is a new face in the crowd. But is getting criticism for some of the campaign’s organization’s mix-ups initially that kicked off days earlier with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, a tactic President Ronald Reagan used when he ran for office.
Huntsman, 51, has been busy throughout his public service career and was the Ambassador to Singapore years ago and he was the youngest ambassador in 100 years at the time and appointed by President George H. Bush in 1991. The popular Utah governor from 2004 to 2010, when he resigned after being confirmed to the China post by the U.S. Senate, won reelection in 2008 when he got 78 percent of the statewide vote and his popularity in the state is off the charts; however, his name is not well known around the nation. The Eagle Scout at 15 also is a strong family man with seven children, of whom two are adopted, one from China, the other from India and he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in International Politics.
What did he say about China?
Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, and another dialect, after learning it years ago in Taiwan while being a Mormon missionary was considered an astute choice by Obama say China hands and his posting to the Middle Kingdom came at a time the Communist nation is an export powerhouse, but also a major holder of U.S. Treasury debt coming in at almost $1 trillion and only growing in size on the global scene. When I asked about his candidacy and China experience. Huntsman said, “I think people will be interested in someone that understands the world, it is not going to get any easier to figure out, any less murky, but [voters might want] someone that specifically understands our largest trading partner, which China will be for many decades to come, but also understands what will be the nation’s biggest emerging strategic challenge, which will be China,” he concluded.
>>> Sen. Nelson trying to assist JMH through two federal programs, says new CEO Migoya has “business sense & business acumen”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL gave the Watchdog Report an exclusive interview before he jumped into a staffer’s red Mini Cooper Monday and later went to MIA after a second television interview at the Alamo after meeting with new Jackson Memorial Hospital CEO Carlos Migoya. He said he was impressed with Migoya, a banker, because of the “business sense and business acumen that Carlos brings to Jackson” that includes his enthusiasm and commitment to outreach to a broad segment of the community, including trying to get private insurance companies to send patients to Jackson medical facilities. The senior Florida Senator is working with Jackson officials to participate in a federal grant program “already set up for distressed [public] hospitals” and another grant will accelerate the health trust’s ability to comply with new reimbursement criteria in 2014. At that time said Nelson hospitals will be “incentivizied to have lower readmission rates, by increasing quality and with higher standards.” He believes with the federal assistance that it will, “help hospitals [like Jackson] achieve that lower admission rate,” in the coming years, he said.
What about the looming $14.3 trillion national debt limit deadline on Aug.2?
Nelson said he was “part of a bipartisan small group of Senators right now trying to work out a [legislative budget] package but it is made-up of just 10 or 12 Senators” which does not mean the others will go along with our recommendations “because you have to get 60 votes” for anything like this to pass. He noted there are “concurrent talks” going on between the “Senate and House leadership,” but the clock is ticking and “something has to be done so government can pay its bills after Aug. 2,” he closed.
What about Nelson’s finances?
Nelson in this year’s financial disclosure forms lists getting $42,000 in retirement income from Florida and he has two pieces of undeveloped property in Brevard County including one piece estimated worth $5 million. He lists three gifts for the year for free admission to events, and one includes him going to an event at the Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
>>> Press release: Diaz-Balart: My Amendment is a National Security issue, a Human Rights issue, and a Freedom issue Prevents Hard Currency from reaching a Terrorist Regime in Cuba
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) issued the following statement on the passage of his Amendment during an Appropriations Committee, Financial Services Subcommittee mark-up. Diaz-Balart comments: “Today, we won an important vote in the House Committee on Appropriations to deny hard currency to the terrorist regime in Cuba. The amendment that I proposed prohibits any funding for enforcement of Obama’s regulations regarding Cuban-American travel and remittances. Our amendment replaces those regulations with those that were in place during the Bush Administration.
““While my amendment does not eliminate Cuban-American travel and remittances, it curbs the abuse that help fund the Castro regime. Tourism travel is the number one source of revenue for the regime. “An American aid worker Alan Gross continues to rot in prison, political prisoners are tormented and some murdered, and repression on the island intensifies, I cannot stand aside as abuse of the current regulations channel millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the terrorist regime in Cuba. This amendment is a national security issue, a human rights issue and a freedom issue. “I appreciate the strong support of my colleagues on this important amendment, many of whom spoke in strong support of my amendment, and I look forward to continuing to work with them until this language becomes law.”
>>> GT executive Chair Alvarez says tension higher among Hispanic communities far from Miami; ethnic group buys 12 % more on line than average
Prominent Miami Attorney Cesar Alvarez, the Executive Chair of the law firm Greenberg & Traurig headquartered in Miami, in his capacity as Chair of the Commission on Hispanic Legal Right and Responsibilities for the American Bar Association under ABA Presidency Steven Zack of Miami. He thanked state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami (Net worth $1.75 million) Thursday for his work in stopping a harsh Florida illegal immigration law from passing in the past legislative session that ended in early May. Legislators in Central and the Florida Panhandle along with Gov. Rick Scott (Net worth $218 million) had been pushing for a law something like Arizona passed last year that has put legal and illegal immigrants into the cross hairs of law enforcement. Lopez-Cantera said he believed it was a “federal” issue but Alvarez made a statement that should give people in South Florida pause.
He said Miami because of its predominately-Hispanic culture is a bubble of tolerance, but around the nation. He found that was not the case everywhere when ABA meetings on this issue were held around America to hear what Hispanics face in many communities. He said one statistic was telling and it was that “12 percent more Hispanics” order goods over the internet than the general public, and they spend about $30.00 more with these online purchases than the average person does. He said it was hard to quantify why, especially since Hispanics were thought to have less access to the internet. And he suggested it might be because these people were afraid to venture out in their local communities and thus went on line more to get their goods. However, that fact should not be forgotten in today’s world and while here in Miami, Hispanics are over 60 percent of the population, that is not the case in many other parts of the United States were local ethnic tensions among its residents are also simmering.
>>> M-DC Circuit Court Judge Schwartz staying around until 2012, despite rumor he was leaving in 2011
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Schwartz (Net worth $1.47 million) is laughing at a rumor that he is retiring at the end of 2011, after someone heard part of a cell phone conversation he was having, and they then sent emails 20 minutes later to people letting them know he planned to step down early. However, Schwartz says that is not the case and while he plans to retire. He plans to leave the bench at the end of 2012.
>>> Herald columnist Burnett says sayonara to Miami, heading to the Boston Globe with his family
James Burnett III said sayonara on Friday to The Miami Herald after two years of being a featured weekly news columnist and he covered a wide swath of South Florida stories over the six years he was a news reporter. On Friday the paper ran his last column and did his final local radio gig on WLRN (see above to listen to the show) with myself, host Phil Latzman, and Tim Padgett and he reflected with us on his time in colorful, but fickle Miami in all its dimensions of good, evil and the corrupt.
Burnett is moving to The Boston Globe where past Herald reporters Dan Savage (Who won a Pulitzer Prize a number of years ago for stories on the explosion of the number of earmarks being passed by Congress) and Noah Bierman and where the Herald’s executive editor Marty Baron went in the early 2000s. Burnett is selling his house, and he and his wife and small baby will probable live in a suburb of the city. He will be doing cultural and other topical pieces for the paper and the Watchdog Report gives him a Tip of the Hat, and I wish the Burnett family all the best in their new city. To contact him go to James Burnett on Twitter.
>>> Repeat of national Tribune paper profile, a blast from the past of Watchdog’s life back in Jan. 2003, and 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.
>>> Scott sticks to his guns, signs state employee pension contribution law, will save over $2 billion this year alone he says
Gov. Rick Scott is making some changes in his administration after five months and to replace his chief of staff, he is tapping Senate President Mike Haridopolis’ R-Melbourne (Net worth $233,000) chief of staff Steve MacNamara. Scott lagging in the polls in the high 20s is causing concern with other Republicans who have to either run for office in 2012, or a higher office. And Scott trying to bolster his image and poll numbers is offering support form letters on a webpage to mail to the media, which is considered somewhat odd. But the governor listens to the beat of his own drum and why one die hard Democrat on Friday on www.wlrn.org The Florida Rundown said while he disagreed with Scott’s policies. You have to “respect” the guy for sticking to “the platform that he ran on” that drew on “Tea Party support,” said the caller. Further, Scott at a judicial conference in Orlando is being quoted in the Daily Business Review saying he wanted the state’s judiciary to get adequate funding to operate efficiently, believing the backlog in the courts of home foreclosures cases is crippling the state’s economy from bouncing back sooner. He said he is committeed to working with the legislature to find a reliable funding source so this branch of government can function efficiently next year.
>>> Press release: Governor Scott Signs Legislation to Begin Securing State and Local Government Pensions Modernizes Florida Retirement System and protects Florida taxpayers
Keeping his promise to make sure Florida is no longer the only state in America that does not require government employees to contribute to their pensions; Governor Rick Scott today signed Senate Bill 2100, pension reform legislation that will save taxpayers and participating employers $2 billion next year. The reform ensures that retirees can continue to depend on the Florida Retirement System for decades to come. Beginning July 1, 2011, state workers and other participants in the Florida Retirement System will contribute three percent of their salaries toward their pensions. The required contribution applies to all active members of the Florida Retirement System or one of the optional retirement programs sponsored by the state universities and colleges. The bill signed today achieves the following savings by employer groups:
School Boards $ 819.4 million
Counties $ 597.7 million
State $ 356.8 million
Others $ 108.8 million
Universities $ 66.2 million
Colleges $ 56.4 million
Total $2,005.3 million (over $2 billion)
Governor Scott was joined by representatives of the Florida League of Cities and Floridians for Sustainable Pensions, a diverse group of citizens, civic and business organizations concerned with Florida’s unsustainable government sector pension plans. In addition to aligning pension contributions with those in other states, Governor Scott also signed Senate Bill 1128 that protects the retirement benefits for local governments by preventing surplus cash from being used for other purposes. Local governments must also disclose the present value of defined-benefit retirement plans and make the information available on the Florida Department of Management Services’ website. “Without reform, Florida’s government pensions and retirement system put a heavy burden on our state’s taxpayers. As a result, dedicated public servants were forced to face the uncertainty of future retirement benefits,” said Governor Scott. “The steps we are taking this year move us closer to modernizing the system and ensuring it will be around decades down the road for future retirees. As we work to strengthen our retirement system even more, I look forward to working with the Legislature and all Floridians to make sure the retirement system is fair to both retirees and taxpayers.” In March, Governor Scott launched the website FloridaHasARightToKnow.com that shed light on state pensions with annual benefits of $100,000 or more.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott today announced the reappointment of Cari L. Roth to the Environmental Regulation Commission. Roth, 53, of Tallahassee, is an attorney with Bryant Miller Olive P.A. She is reappointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending July 1, 2013. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Gov. Scott press release: South Florida Regional Planning Council, Region Eleven appointments
Patricia B. Asseff, 64, of Hollywood, is a Commissioner with the City of Hollywood. She is reappointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending October 1, 2013.
Paul R. Wallace, 67, of Miami, is an attorney and partner with Hinshaw & Culbertson. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending October 1, 2012.
>>> Press release: Scott today announced two appointments to the Florida Citrus Commission.
G. Ellis Hunt Jr., 57, of Babson Park, is the president of Hunt Brothers Inc. He is appointed for a term beginning July 1, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014.
Vernon C. Hollingsworth III, 50, of Arcadia, is the manager of VCH Management Inc. He is appointed for a term beginning July 1, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> It’s Showtime, electorate go to polls as Gimenez & Robaina duke it out on the airwaves, but what of the turnout for mayoral race costing $4.4 million
With the clock winding down to Tuesday’s mayoral election, the candidates, Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $871,000) and Julio Robaina (Net worth $8 million) are putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to getting voter turnout on Election Day. Gimenez picked up some flack early in the week by limiting the debates he would do since Monday after he did 26, and while Robaina is firing back. The former mayor of Hialeah also passed on some of these debates as well in the past, partially he says because all of the initial 11 candidates were not invited to the forums. However, both men did another televised debate Friday and the show ran Saturday moderated by featured reporter Jim DeFede www.CBSMIAMI.COM and it was one last chance for the two candidates to make their case on English media. Though DeFede asked one oddball question at the end, which was when was the last time either men had been drunk. Robaina said when he was in College and Gimenez joked a decade ago after a particularly testy Miami commission meeting when he was the city manager from 2000 to early 2003. Gimenez up in a poll commissioned by The Miami Herald last weekend with a 50 percent response with voters seemed on a roll. But insiders think the race will be tighter than some might suspect and overall voter turnout will be key, with a lower turnout helping Robaina with his hardcore block of voters that may account for 12 to 15 percent of the county’s total 1.2 million county voters.
What about voter turnout?
An estimated 27,000 votes are expected to come in through early voting, another 40,000 voters are expected to be cast on Election Day, and of 126,372 absentee ballots mailed out, as of Friday 77,155 had been returned to the county elections department state’s www.miamiherald.com . However, Miami-Dade with 1.2 million voters will be suffering a civic tragedy with this low turnout and this level of voter apathy, partially created by some elected leaders hypocrisy and acts over the decades is a corrosive force and dangerous to our local community’s political health.
>>> Commissioner Jordan jokes first time she serves with father and son on elected board, Suarez squared
Barbara Jordan (Net worth $1.97 million), at Thursday’s Metropolitan Planning Organization said she had never been on an elected board with a father and son team, now that County Commissioner Xavier Suarez (Net worth $328,000) and his son Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez both sit on the 23-member MPO board that does regional transportation planning.
What about graffiti around the county?
Commissioner Javier Souto (Net worth $790,000) at the MPO meeting Thursday afternoon demanded that graffiti in neighborhoods and on expressways be cleaned up and it creates a terrible impression with tourists and suggests the area might be dangerous and infested with “gang” activity, he said. Commission Chair Joe Martinez (Net worth $245,000), a former police officer concurred with Souto’s assessment along with Commissioner Barbara Jordan and all noted the eye pollution suggested an area might be a crime haven and people should be on their guard. The county administration along with FDOT is looking for ways to eradicate this ongoing community blight in the neighborhoods, along the freeways and the turnpike.
>>> WDR takes another look at Suarez’s financials, no pension or rent listed on disclosure forms
The Watchdog Report took another financial look at newly minted District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez after I reviewed some of his actions back in 1997 and 1998 when he was briefly mayor of Miami, while also holding that post from 1985 to 1993. Suarez on his financial disclosure forms on file with the county does not list receiving any pension from his time as Miami mayor, nor does he list any income from the properties, excluding his home, that he owns jointly with his wife, and perhaps no income came in from these sources but the commissioner needs to clarify this issue in the future and the Watchdog Report will inquire in the coming days to see if I can get an answer.
>>> Ethics Commission press announcement & rulings: Executive Director named
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) today named Joseph Centorino as its finalist for the position of executive director, following a series of interviews with commission members and staff. Centorino has served as chief of the Public Corruption Division of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office since 1995 and was a prosecutor within the organization an additional nine years. A contract will be negotiated once a thorough background check is complete. “I want to thank the excellent candidates who came forward to apply for this position,” said Commission Chair Dawn Addy. “They all had special strengths they would have brought to this job, and it was a difficult decision.”
Centorino will succeed Robert Meyers who has held the post since the Ethics Commission was established more than 13 years ago. Meyers announced his resignation earlier this year, but will assist in the transition over the next several weeks.
>>> The Ethics Commission found NO probable cause that a Miami-Dade County roofing inspector and construction manager underreported outside income in violation of the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance. According to the Complaint (C 11-12), Frank Zuloaga’s company reportedly earned at least $3,600 by providing expert witness and consulting services during 2009, but in the financial statement he filed for the year, Zuloaga declared earning $800. Evidence showed that he did not directly receive any additional income.
>>> A Miami-Dade lobbyist who registered to represent Life Systems, Inc., in April of 2009, but did not submit the required expenditure statement by the deadline of July 1, 2010, had faced a complaint (C 11-17). But since Giselle Garcia complied after the action was filed and paid $50 in processing costs, the complaint was dismissed with prejudice.
>>> A complaint (C 11-18) was filed against a member of the City of Miami’s Equal Opportunity Advisory Board in 2008 who failed to file the required Source of Income statement by the July 1, 2009, deadline. But, it was found that Luis Meurice had not received the notices. Once he did, he complied, and so the action was dismissed.
>>> Requests for Opinion (RQO)
An attorney in the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) who also works as a political consultant was told two years ago (RQO 09-29) that he could not serve in that capacity with any municipal client with which WASD had a contract while he was responsible for negotiating agreements with cities. Now that Douglas Pile has moved to the New Business Division of WASD where he drafts service agreements with residential and commercial developers, he has asked the Ethics Commission to revisit the restrictions in that opinion. In response to RQO 11-15, the COE opined that Pile may serve as a consultant to municipal candidates, political action committees or community organizations as long as they are not comprised or primarily financed by developers with whom he is negotiating agreements, nor should he represent a developer who has or may run for public office or with whom he had any negotiations within a two-year period. Pile was told he should continue to provide the department with a quarterly listing of his clients to be evaluated for any potential conflicts.
>>> In another reference to an earlier opinion, Nifah & Partners Consulting Engineers, Inc., asked whether the firm may bid on a contract to provide architectural and engineering services for a runway rehabilitation project at Miami International Airport. That company was a subconsultant to URS, which developed the project book that provides specifications regarding the planned improvements. In RQO 10-26, the Ethics Commission opined that URS could also bid on the subsequent runway project. Today, in response to RQO 11-16, members ruled that Nifah and Partners may also bid on the project. The opinion notes that the Ethics commission has consistently held that a firm is not precluded from bidding on a project because it performed planning studies or related work on an earlier phase, as long as the work does not involve oversight or review of the prior work.
>>> A management consultant for non-profit organizations who wrote several grants in response to a request for proposal to the Children’s Trust, Bernice Matalon Roth, questioned (RQO 11-14) whether it was appropriate to have staff members on the review panels and if those reviews were public meetings. The Ethics Commission stated that as long as the staff members do not violate any provisions of the County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance, they may participate and vote on grant proposals. The board also ruled that those meetings do fall under the Government in the Sunshine law, but fulfilling that notice does not necessarily require it to be on the Children’s Trust website.
>>> M-DC Press release: Today, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter M. Rogoff informed Miami-Dade Board of County Commission Chairman Joe A. Martinez that next week the FTA will be releasing $65 million to Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) in federal reimbursements, and will reevaluate the process by which the MDT Department may resume restricted drawdown of federal funds. The details will be made available next week in a formal letter to be sent by the FTA. The announcement came on the heels of a visit by Miami-Dade Board of County Commission Chairman Joe A. Martinez and Miami-Dade County Manager Alina T. Hudak’s to high-ranking FTA officials in Washington D.C., where County officials expressed the urgency of having the federal funds reinstated, and assured the FTA that MDT is addressing all areas of concern pointed out by the FTA, including those with the department’s financial and procurement processes. “For thousands of residents, Miami-Dade Transit is the only means by which to commute and it is my responsibility to make certain these services aren’t affected.” said Chairman Martinez. “The release of these funds comes at a crucial moment for our County and while the process towards full drawdown privileges is long and tedious, I am confident Miami-Dade County will continue taking the necessary steps to achieve that goal.” “We will continue making a compelling case to FTA and facilitating them with any and all information they require in order to have all necessary funding reinstated.”
Since September 2010, when the FTA suspended the department’s drawdown privileges, financial experts from various County departments, including staff from Finance and the Office of Strategic Business Management, have been laboriously working with MDT staff to address the FTA’s concerns, particularly those that pointed to the department’s lack of financial controls. “Our staff has been working arduously to have our federal funds reinstated. And while we still have a long road ahead of us for full restoration of our federal funding, the release of these funds is setting us on the right path to begin restoring the FTA’s confidence in our processes, demonstrating that we are diligently watching how our local, state and federal dollars are spent,” Hudak said. Assistant County Manager, Ysela Llort, who was appointed in April 2011 to oversee the department’s daily operations while a new Transit director is appointed, said she credits Chairman Martinez and Ms. Hudak for their leadership. “With our new processes in place, it’s important for the FTA, and our community, to know that we are doing all we can to be good stewards of our federal, state and local funds. Every penny we receive counts, and with our new standard operating procedures, we hope to demonstrate, even more clearly now, that this money is being managed and spent responsibly,” Llort said.
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Board Chair Hantman asks board members to sit in audience at Audit meetings, only Feldman the one voting member is allowed at table
Perla Tabares Hantman (Net worth $7.75 million), the chair of the Miami-Dade Public Schools Board nine-member Board is offering a solution to non-voting school board members speaking at the district’s school board audit committee meetings after an incident last month where one school board member addressed parents of a charter school in the meeting audience. That discussion had audit committee member Isaac Salver challenging why these non-voting members should be part of the meeting and a discussion of this issue was put on this Tuesday’s audit committee agenda. However, Hantman in a Jun. 22 memo to school board members has fired back asking any board member attending to sit in the audience’s chairs, not at the committee’s board table to avoid any confusion of who is the voting member from the school board. She writes a past discussion at a May meeting on the subject was valid since it could “lead to a false perception that all Board members present are part of the committee.” And while the veteran board member notes that is not what the board’s rule states, this while a “perception, it is a legitimate concern to committee members,” she wrote.
Currently, the Board’s voting member is Lawrence Feldman, Ph.D. (Net worth $2.52 million) and the ten-member board is the community firewall overseeing the district’s $4.3 billion yearly budget. To review the memo and see what is on the June 28 audit committee agenda go to
What brought up this change?
At this May meeting, Board member Raquel Regalado spoke to parents from a charter school in Coconut Grove sitting in the audience and the discussion went on for a while before the Audit Committee Chair Frederick “Buck” Thornburg shut it down, that had other committee members grumbling as well. Since the parents had sent a blistering letter to the school district on the school’s governance, and if some of the charges were true. It could be a “criminal” matter and something that required limited discussion from the audit committee and its members until the issues were fully investigated.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> New management team getting advice on local ethics laws, quite different landscape from the private sector
With PHT CEO Carlos Migoya’s new management team in place from the private sector, these senior vice presidents past business relationships or companies they are involved in are running smack into the county’s conflicts of issue codes and they are looking for guidance on how they can avoid running afoul in their administrative duties with the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission. People coming from the private sector many times are surprised what it is like to work in the public sector, especially given Florida’s open record and public meeting laws. Migoya brought in two top people, Donn Szaro to be the Strategic Policy guru and Fernando Salgado is the Transformational Officer for the 11,180 employee public healthcare system. Szaro formerly was a global director of Ernst & Young and headed up their healthcare section, Salgado did stints at IBM, Westinghouse and GE, and these seasoned executives are running into unexpected surprises when it comes to working in the public sector.
Szaro at a Financial Recovery Board (FRB) meeting recently discussed the disadvantages of the Sunshine Law that allowed competitors to have a pretty decent idea what the health trust was planning in the future, and said. “There is an issue with dealing with the Sunshine” laws and while the organization can live with it, “but it is more complicated.” He also said when it came to “affiliations” with other healthcare organizations or physicians the open record laws makes it an “obstacle” since “not all these organizations want to operate in the Sunshine,” he said.
What about the $1 billion in infrastructure needs at Jackson?
Migoya on June 16 during this discussion said one of the primary missions was to “generate working capital” and when it came to the massive infrastructure needs. “We don’t need $1 billion today” as has been reported in the media but more likely “over the next five to seven years,” he said. The veteran banker also noted the health trust had to gain the confidence of the investment community before any new bonds or other financing could be issued because “We have to show them when we are going to pay it back and how we will pay it back,” he told the six member oversight board members.
What about the next board meeting?
The FRB is meeting June 27 at 3:00 p.m. in the Miami-Dade Commission Chambers and the televised meeting and on line at www.miamidade.gov is open to the public. To see the agenda go to June 27, 2011 – Televised Meeting
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Commissioners looking for ways to get some of their cash back, after severance payouts to Spring & Mgr. Crapp
On Tuesday, assistant city manager Johnny Martinez was confirmed by a 4-1 vote by the commission with only Commissioner Frank Carollo voting no after challenging some of the policy recommendations Martinez has made in the past to the commission. Martinez a 20-year FDOT veteran, later joined Miami-Dade County to run its $2.1 billion Capital Improvement Program passed by voters in 2004 a few years ago, and he joined the city last year to do a smaller version of the same job there when Manager Carlos Migoya recruited him from the county, after firing his predecessor. Rumors of former manager Tony Crapp, Jr., leaving have circulated around city hall for weeks and Mayor Tomas Regalado (Net worth $5,000) accepted his long serving protégé’ resignation letter on Monday and the mayor felt it was imperative to replace him immediately. Since the city is in the process of preparing next year’s 2011-2012 budget where there is an expected $54 million hole in that year’s budget.
However, on Thursday at the commission meeting the severance package of former CFO Larry Spring (in his case about $62,000 in severance pay) was the talk of the day and in the case of Crapp. Commissioners told the administration to hold off on cutting the severance check for Crapp and also see if it was possible legally to get back part of Spring’s $125,000 payout from the beleaguered general fund. Further, commissioners were blown away by the fact that 200 people (though mostly part time summer workers) had been hired even though there was a “hiring freeze.” And Commissioner Marc Sarnoff (Net worth $2.17 million) was right when he said these kind of decisions in the future “land right on commissioners backs,” and he felt that was wrong they got the blame or had to deal with issues, just because commission policy was not being followed and why the city lurches from one crisis to another over the past decades.
>>> Press release: The Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an agency of the City of Miami providing independent citizens’ oversight of the Miami Police Department, seeks qualified volunteer members. Members must be either permanent residents of the City of Miami, own real property, work or maintain a business in the City, have a good reputation for integrity and community service and shall not have a record of a felony conviction, nor be a current or former City of Miami police officer. Interested persons are to submit a completed CIP application form and include a biography or resume. Application forms may be downloaded at www.miamigov.com/cip, obtained from the CIP office at 970 SW 1 St., Suite 305 or by calling 305-960-4950/fax 305-400-5399. Completed applications are to be mailed or delivered to the CIP address listed above. Recruitment will remain open until a sufficient number of applications are received. For more information contact, Carol Abia, Interim Executive Director, Civilian Investigative Panel, (305)960-4952 or email email@example.com
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott today announced the appointment of Maurice A. Ferre to the Florida Transportation Commission.
Ferre, 75, of Miami, is the former mayor of Miami. He succeeds Marcos Marchena and is appointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending September 30, 2014. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Ethics letter to compliant Gonzalez, reminder “disclosure under such circumstances increases transparency and helps to remove even the appearance of impropriety.”
A month after the Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint (C 11-14) 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 Board today issued a General Letter of Instruction to all city officials. The couple had 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. The Letter notes that the practice has been on-going for about ten years and there had been confusion over the issue. However, in 2006, the city attorney advised that the Florida State Ethics Commission (FSEC) opined that the companion’s airfare must be reported as a gift. Gonzalez failed to do so in a timely fashion, but has since complied. While the COE declined to set a hard rule about gifts to a spouse of a public employee, the Letter does “…instruct all government officials that they must comply with the FSEC’s opinion … to be in compliance with State law.” The Letter notes that “disclosure under such circumstances increases transparency and helps to remove even the appearance of impropriety.”
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI
>>> Local man arrested and charged with bank robbery
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that Jeffrey Harrington, 27, of North Miami, was arrested yesterday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with a bank robbery. On June 21, 2011, Harrington was charged in a criminal complaint with bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2113(a). Harrington made his initial appearance in court this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow. A pre-trial detention hearing is scheduled for June 30, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. before the same magistrate judge. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on June 21, 2011, Harrington entered the Bank of America located at 801 Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Hallandale Beach, Florida, wearing a dark business suit. Harrington approached a teller and presented a note directing the teller to fill envelopes with money and warning the teller not to set off the alarm because it would trigger an explosive. The note also said: “Remember the money is insured[.] Don’t be a hero.” Harrington also orally demanded money and indicated that he had an explosive detonator.
The teller handed an envelope containing money to Harrington. Harrington left the bank and entered a parked taxicab. Law enforcement learned that the taxicab picked Harrington up that morning near his home. After the robbery, the taxicab dropped Harrington off at the barbershop where he works. A barbershop staff member said that he saw Harrington at the shop placing a large amount of money in his pocket. Further investigation confirmed that Harrington was the person who robbed the Bank of America. The FBI arrested Harrington on June 22, 2011. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the South Florida Violent Crimes Task Force for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Linder. A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 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.
CITY OF OPA LOCKA
>>> Mayor Taylor gets hit with probable cause complaint for voting on item benefiting her
M-DC Ethics Commission: In other action today, the COE issued a finding of probable cause to a complaint (C 11-16) against the mayor of Opa-Locka, alleging that Myra Taylor violated the Ethics Code through a voting conflict and by exploiting her official position. The investigation found that in late 2009 and early 2010, then-Vice Mayor Taylor engaged in voting conflicts by promoting a funding resolution that benefited the non-profit corporation she heads and improperly influenced city officials to support a special event. It was later learned that some of the proceeds from the Civil Rights Supper, which was held at Florida Memorial University on February 27, 2010, were used to pay more than $2,600 in expenses to an entertainment company owned by Taylor’s daughter that officially went out of business five months earlier. While profits were supposed to go to local daycare centers, several hundred dollars were also carried over for other events run by Taylor’s foundation, including an Hispanic Heritage Day Festival held in October 2010 and hosted by Taylor while she was campaigning for mayor.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Quesada getting along fine with Mgr. Salerno and trust’s his judgment & numbers but “verifies,” the data
Newly minted Commissioner Frank Quesada stopped into a fundraiser breakfast Thursday for announced Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman at the Biltmore Hotel and the Watchdog Report asked him how it was going with city Manager Pat Salerno who is feuding with Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, Jr. Quesada said regarding the Salerno and Cabrera spat he could not comment and that was going on before he arrived in April along with Mayor Jim Cason and he said his relationship with the manager was fine. However, he noted that while he “trust’s [the manager] I also verify,” the numbers and issues to take a phrase President Ronald Reagan used when it came to disarmament talks with the Soviet Union’s leaders in the 1980s. Quesada, an attorney, at around six feet four inches is an imposing person on the dais and represents the new younger generation of leaders in the City Beautiful.
>>> Gov. Scott press release: Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission – taps Cantero & Sayfie
Raoul G. Cantero, 50, of Coral Gables, is a partner with White and Case LLP and former Florida Supreme Court Justice. He succeeds Matias Dorta and is appointed for a term beginning July 2, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015. Since 1995, Cantero has been Board-certified by the Florida Bar in appellate practice. Appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 2002 by then-Governor Jeb Bush, Cantero was the first justice of Hispanic descent and one of the youngest ever to sit on the Court. In his six years as a justice, he heard hundreds of appeals and authored more than 100 majority, concurring and dissenting opinions, by definition involving precedent-setting areas of law. In 2007, Mr. Cantero was honored by the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) with the creation of an endowment in his name, the Justice Raoul G. Cantero, III Diversity Enhancement Scholarship at Florida State University. Before his Court appointment, he was in private practice for 14 years in South Florida, specializing in civil and criminal appeals. He also chaired the City of Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board for four years. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and his law degree from Harvard Law School. Cantero is appointed from the list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar.
>> Justin J. Sayfie, 42, of Miami, is a founding shareholder of Blosser and Sayfie P.A. He succeeds Timothy Koenig and is appointed for a term beginning July 2, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015. Prior to co-founding Blosser & Sayfie in August 2001, Sayfie worked as a senior policy advisor, spokesman and chief speechwriter for Governor Jeb Bush from 1999 to 2001. In 2001, Sayfie was appointed by Gov. Bush to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, and in 2003-2004, he served as a Co-Chair of the Commission. From 2005 to 2009, he was chairman of the Southern District Conference of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, appointed by then-U.S. Senator Mel Martinez. From 1995 to 1998, he practiced environmental and land use law at the Miami office of Greenberg Traurig. He publishes an internet website SayfieReview.com and SayfieNews.com, which cover Florida and national political news, respectively. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his law degree from the University of Miami.
CITY OF DORAL
>>> Mayor Bermudez joins over 200 American mayors calling for the need to create local jobs
Press release: City of Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez joined over 200 of the nation’s mayors in Baltimore for the 79th Annual Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) where local economies and the need to create jobs topped the mayors’ agenda. Mayor Bermudez is an active member of the United States Mayor’s Conference, serving on the Conference’s Advisory Board, as well as the International Affairs Committee and Transportation and Communications committee. During the gathering, held from Friday, June 17 to Monday, June 20, mayors from all over the country came together to discuss public policy issues impacting cities. Job creation, transportation, homeland security, immigration and energy efficiency topped this year’s agenda. During the last day of the meeting, the mayors debated and voted on policy recommendations to present to the Obama Administration.
One of the resolutions approved was introduced by Mayor Bermudez, affirming policy in support of an increase to the cap on Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) public services expenditures from 15 to 25 percent. “This legislation would give cities greater flexibility to serve their neediest residents during this time of economic uncertainty,” said Mayor Bermudez, who, as President of the Miami Dade County League of Cities, presented the resolution on behalf of cities in Miami Dade County. In the midst of a fragile economic climate that has led to states passing budget woes onto cities, a central focus of the meeting was on job creation and preserving local services. On Monday, the Conference released an economic report projecting that by the end of the year, 75 metro areas will have double-digit unemployment rates, and 193 (53%) will have rates higher than 8%. View report here: http://www.usmayors.org/metroeconomies/2011..“Close to 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in cities, and this is where we need to create jobs,” affirmed Bermudez. “We ask the Federal Government to work closely with cities to create jobs for our residents.” Mayor Bermudez also took the opportunity to address United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Ron Kirk, regarding the progress of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in Congress. Mayor Bermudez relayed the importance of the agreement for the City of Doral and all of Miami Dade County. The latest adopted resolutions and policy of the Conference can be found at www.usmayors.org.
VILLAGE OF KEY BISCAYNE
>>> Gov. Scott taps Rodriguez to Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Committee
Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez, 49, of Key Biscayne, is the managing member of McDonald Hopkins LLC. She succeeds Marcos Jimenez and is appointed for a term beginning July 2, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015. Rodriguez has more than 25 years of extensive experience counseling clients on a wide variety of government, business and litigation matters. From 2002 through 2006, she was General Counsel to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In that capacity, she worked on some of the most complex and urgent issues facing the state, as well as counseled Governor Bush with respect to over 200 judicial appointments at all levels of the Florida judiciary. Prior to her work in the Florida Governor’s office, Rodriguez was executive director of the London-based MULTILAW, Multinational Association of Independent Law Firms. She also practiced with Greenberg Traurig LLC for six years and McDermott Will & Emery LLP for four years. She earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Miami.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Local woman sentenced to 108 months in federal big house for wire fraud
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, announced the sentencing of Jeannette Lee a/k/a Janet Bailey, 43, of West Park, Florida. Lee was convicted of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, for her role in a corporate embezzlement scheme. Today, United States District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Lee to 108 months in federal prison. Lee was the Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of Structured Cable Products, Inc., a global manufacturer and supplier of low voltage cable and accessories, headquartered in Tamarac, Florida. Over about an eight-month period in 2009, Lee used Structured Cable Products’ corporate bank account to fund wire transfers and cashier’s checks made payable to either her personal creditors, family members, cash, or other companies and bank accounts that she controlled. Lee defrauded the company of over one million dollars.
Later investigation revealed that Jeannette Lee, who claimed to be a United States Citizen born in New Jersey, was really a citizen of Jamaica who is facing deportation at the conclusion of her prison term. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the United States Secret Service as well as officers with the United States Customs and Border Protection Field Operations Division. This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton. 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: Gov. Scott taps John A. Benz and Sean C. Guerin to the District Board of Trustees, Broward College.
Benz, 60, of Hollywood, is the senior vice president and chief strategic officer of Memorial Healthcare System. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014.
Guerin, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, is the chief executive officer of U.S. Imaging Solutions. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending May 31, 2015. The appointments are 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 signs Silver Alert Bill to Protect Vulnerable Seniors, similar to Amber Alert for abducted children
Governor Rick Scott today signed into law the Florida Silver Alert Plan, which helps protect Florida’s vulnerable senior citizens. Silver Alerts assist local law enforcement in the rescue of a missing elderly person with a cognitive impairment. The alerts broadcast important information via the media and highway message signs to enlist citizens in the search for an endangered senior.
Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 664 at the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office with representatives of law enforcement agencies and the Alzheimer’s Community Care Inc. of Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties in attendance.
Since 2008, 44 seniors have been recovered directly due to activated Silver Alerts, out of a total of 321 alerts. With almost one-quarter of Florida’s population age 60 and older, this law ensures resources are in place to safeguard their health, safety and well-being. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of those with Alzheimer’s will wander and become lost at some point. While most who wander do so on foot and are ultimately found within a few miles, those who become lost while driving a vehicle may wander much further from home, underscoring the importance of Silver Alerts. Established in 2008 by Executive Order, the majority of Silver Alerts have been issued for individuals recovered outside of the county where they went missing. ”The Silver Alert has proven to be an effective way to get vulnerable senior citizens who are missing and possibly in danger back to safety,” Governor Scott said. “I am proud to sign Silver Alerts into law and ensure our state protects elderly Floridians when they need our help.” Citizens can sign up to receive free Silver Alert e-mail messages at www.elderaffairs.state.fl.us and www.fdle.state.fl.us.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott tapped Michael A. Babb to the Governing Board, Southwest Florida Water Management District for the Hillsborough County seat.
Babb, 33, of Tampa, is the president of Two Rivers Ranch Inc. He succeeds Maritza V. Rovira-Forino on the Governing Board and is appointed for a term beginning June 23, 2011, and ending March 1, 2014. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott goes with Tim H. Holladay as chair of the Florida Elections Commission.
Holladay, 59, of New Port Richey, is an agent with State Farm Insurance. He succeeds Jorge Cruz-Bustillo and is appointed for a term beginning June 23, 2011, and ending January 5, 2015. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott chooses Rebekah “Becky” Raulerson to the Union County School Board.
Raulerson, 35, of Lake Butler, is a research coordinator for the University of Florida Agricultural Education and Communication Department. She succeeds Sandra Floyd and is appointed for a term beginning June 22, 2011, and ending November 19, 2012.
>>> Press release: Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission – Gov. Scott picks Schmudde and Kirsheman for body
Lee G. Schmudde, 61, of Celebration, is the vice president of law and environmental affairs for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He succeeds John Alpizar and is appointed for a term beginning July 2, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015. Currently the most senior attorney employed by Disney worldwide, he has represented the company at every court level, including the Florida Supreme Court and the First District Court of Appeal. Schmudde joined Disney in 1978 after clerking for Chief Judge Joseph McNulty of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell College and his law degree from Duke University School of Law.
>>>April S. Kirsheman, 46, of Winter Park, is general counsel for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. She succeeds Kirk Kirkconnell and is appointed for a term beginning July 2, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015. Prior to joining the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in 2010, Kirsheman was general counsel for Sydgan Corporation from 2007 to 2009. She was an assistant state attorney with the State Attorney’s Office, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, from 1995 to 2007. Kirsheman serves on the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee for the Florida Bar and has previously served on the Bar’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee, the Evidence Committee and the Judicial Administration, Selection, and Tenure Committee. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Kirsheman is appointed from the list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Karl D. Borglum as new Monroe County Property Appraiser.
Borglum, 58, of Marathon, is the assistant property appraiser for Monroe County. He succeeds Ervin Higgs and is appointed for a term beginning June 21, 2011, and ending January 7, 2013.
>>> Elephant Forum Jun. 27 features Republican state Sen. Flores
The Elephant Forum Monday June 27th luncheon is featuring state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami (net worth $163,000) as the organization’s key note speaker. Flores was elected to the state senate in 2010 after serving a number of years in the Florida House. She is an attorney and works for FIU. For more information or to make reservations contact Mary Ellen Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.377.9187.
>>> Downtown Bay Forum luncheon June 29 @ 11:30 a.m. Topic: 2011 Legislative Roundup – Progress or Regression? – Speakers include state Reps Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami and the event is hosted by Helen Ferre. The location is the Wolfson Auditorium at Temple Israel at 137 N.E. 19th Street and to make reservations contact Mathew Schwartz at 305.256.4130 or Fax 305.754.2015. www.downtownbayforum.org
>>> Will second financial shoe to drop be county & municipal ballooning securities payments?
The state’s counties and municipalities besides their unfunded pension costs or current or future pay raises for public employees also face the issue of all the bonds and securities that have been floated over the decades. And the ones issued from 2003 to 2007 many times used a standard boiler plate explanation of the entities capacity to pay off the obligations, and much of that was predicated on decades of continued growth and property appreciation that seemed infinite, but has since withered on the financial vine. However, this past bond debt has to be serviced every year and in the coming years these payments will get more difficult given the lagging economy and you just have to look at the outstanding bonds issued by the Broward School District and Miami-Dade Public Schools and while some modifications of the terms of these financial instruments has been attempted. These bond payments are bleeding cash from other aspects of the public institutions and when it comes to public schools that translates into deferred maintenance of the almost 400 schools in Miami-Dade that includes for example, roughly 197 Elementary Schools.
People ask why these payments cannot be put off but that would throw the public institutions into default, and potentially moving these securities into junk bond status that not only makes them unattractive as investments to investors, but also makes the public entity pay top dollar interest rates when they do seek outside financing further bleeding precious public tax dollars. Readers should stay tuned to this matter for it is not just the city of Miami’s problem (which is undergoing a SEC investigation from bonds sold in 2006-2008) but applies to a number of other public institutions around South Florida. And if you thought all the fiscal challenges were related to public salaries and pensions, you would be wrong. For these institutions do have bankers and investors that have to be answered to and the one thing I know about finance houses around the globe. It is that they want their money when it is due, if they are not to leave the financial dance floor where public institutions that have will sit lonely in the corner with a empty fiscal dance card. And that will not be a good thing.
>>> State Sen. Diaz de la Portilla on last week’s WDR story on brother Renier on the school board
Your article on my brother Renier [Diaz de la Portilla] ignores 7 indisputable facts: 1.The State Attorney’s Office looked into the mailer and found no violation of any law or rule; 2.. The School Board Attorney approved Renier’s mailer, including it’s target audience, before it was mailed out; 3. The Diaz de la Portilla name is well known in Senate District 36 given that Alex Diaz de la Portilla represented District 36 for 10 years and as the Senator for District 36 at the time could have sent out a newsletter, survey or mailer from his District 36 account at ANY TIME, including the time when Renier sent his survey. It just defies common sense to continue to advance the stupid notion that Renier’s survey in any way was “needed” to boost name recognition. That ridiculous notion was floated by [state Rep. Julio Robaina [R-South Miami] and is completely asinine; 4. I created the Office of Inspector General when I was a county commissioner to fight corruption, but it appears that the IG is more interested lately in perpetuating itself and growing it’s bureaucracy. Mr. Mazzella’s salary and benefits alone amount to over $400,000 per year. You say it has “saved taxpayers over $1 million” but that number is misleading at best considering how much money the IG has cost the school board and the fact that it can’t account for the recovery of any misspent dollars whatsoever.
How much money has the IG COST Miami Dade Public Schools and how much has it “saved” the system? The facts will SHOCK taxpayers; 5. This whole wild goose chase was instigated as a political vendetta by the discredited (and illiterate) Julio Robaina who tried to use the IG as a political tool; 6. It was the superintendent’s professional procurement staff that handled the invoicing and billing of the mailer; 7. There is nothing overtly political about Renier’s mailer. In essence it is pretty much the same as the newsletters sent by all school board members, county commissioners, state reps, members of congress, etc. This whole thing is a tempest in a teapot created solely by political opponents and fed by ignorant and biased “media.” It’s a bunch of nonsense. This so called story has no substance.
State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami
Renier Diaz de la Portilla
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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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Fax 305-668-4784 -To contact the Publisher please e-mail email@example.com