Month of July 2011

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.12 No. 12 July 24, 2011 Est.05.05.00 I go when you cannot!

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Clock ticking on raising national $14.3 trillion debt limit, leaders feverishly working to resolve, but is there still time?

Florida: Gov. Scott taps Barbara S. Feingold to the State Board of Education.

Miami-Dade County: The cutting of 11-trees in the Grove causes first firestorm for “new kid on the block,” county Commissioner Suarez

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Board Vice Chair Feldman tapped for Zoological Society board

Public Health Trust: Six FRB men about to get a woman on board, says M-DC Mayor Gimenez regarding the last appointment to 7-member oversight board for Jackson

City of Miami: Friends of Miami Marine Stadium upset at slow progress with city, trying to craft agreement and there could be no competitive RFP if MESA does it

City of Miami Beach: State Rep. Garcia challenges Congressman Rivera, Garcia speaks at TMBC

City of Coral Gables: Mayor Cason’s thoughts on upcoming budget, reduced millage rate “what our voters wanted”

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Former state Sen. Dawson indicted on tax evasion charges for a number of years

Flagler County: Gov. Scott taps Carlos E. Mendoza of St. Augustine to the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court.

Community Events: The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery goes through July Jul 29, photos of kids looking for parents heart wrenching — During the summer recess Miami-Dade Community Action Agency is providing free meals to children 18 years and younger at no cost.  The Summer Food Service Program began on June 13, 2011 and ends on August 12,

Editorials: State elected leaders play with political fire when not living in district they represent, voters not stupid

Letters: Reader on Fl lawmaker’s rejection of $50 million for Healthy Families Florida — Reader on call from Miami Commissioner Sarnoff campaign

Sponsors - Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding 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 and I hope you or your organization will consider helping in a small or larger way and help keep another voice on line 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 celebrated its 12th Anniversary May 5, 2011.

>>> Check out Tim Padgett’s Time Magazine story on Miami-Dade County, the mayor’s race and the civic state of our community where 16 percent of 1. 2 million voters elected new county Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Watchdog Report is quoted in the story. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2080904,00.html?artId=2080904?contType=article?chn=us

>>> The Watchdog Report will not be online Monday since my webmaster is dealing with a personal issue that trumps this activity. When she returns, any past reports will go back online. I wish her well in the coming days and a quick recovery.

>>> I got a significant cold on Friday, including a decent fever and this week’s Watchdog Report is shorter than normal and I expect to be back in full health next week. Further, I will be on WWW.WLRN.ORG Florida Roundup hosted by Phil Latzman on Friday starting at noon to 1:00 p.m. with a group of panelists. Listen in if you get a chance.

>>> CORRECTION: The Watchdog Report last week incorrectly stated the campaign funds in Miami Commission District 2 candidate Donna Milo’s war chest during the last reporting period last week. She in fact has raised $56,025.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Clock ticking on raising national $14.3 trillion debt, leaders feverishly working to resolve, but is there still time?

White House: Statement from the Press Secretary on budget discussions Saturday night

The President and Vice President met with Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Leader Reid and Leader McConnell in the Cabinet Room to discuss options for ensuring that the debt ceiling is raised and the United States does not default on its obligations for the first time in its history. The President restated his opposition to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling, explaining that a short-term extension could cause our country’s credit rating to be downgraded, causing harm to our economy and causing every American to pay higher credit cards rates and more for home and car loans.  As the current situation makes clear, it would be irresponsible to put our country and economy at risk again in just a few short months with another battle over raising the debt ceiling. Congress should refrain from playing reckless political games with our economy. Instead, it should be responsible and do its job, avoiding default and cutting the deficit. The meeting lasted approximately one hour. The leaders agreed to return to Capitol Hill to talk to their members and discuss a way forward, and conversations will continue throughout the day.

>>> Rep. Rivera back in the headlines, state attorney and now IRS looking into past business dealings

U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami after months flying below the headlines regarding possible underreporting income from a Casino deal in Miami is back on The Herald’s www.miamiherald.com front page and now the IRS is said to be involved. Rivera a rising Republican star has hit a setback politically including being given the cold shoulder by his GOP colleagues in the House. Further, a prodigious past fundraiser capable of raising over $1 million, in the current reporting period for his campaign his haul has dropped to a measly $33,500 of which $10,000 came from his mother and partner in the Magic City casino business deal where she and another women who owned a  company called  Millennium Marketing were paid $460,000 back in 2006.

>>> Space Shuttle hangs it up after 135 flights, program & technology spawned will be missed

The Watchdog Report says sayonara to the NASA Space Shuttle after 135 flights over three decades, though also involved two tragedies of other spacecraft Columbia and Challenger, but the ship and its crews over this time pushed the limit of technology and mankind’s ability to explore space. The shuttle was critical to building the International Space Station still in orbit and making the Hubble Space Telescope the premier space eye capable of looking deep  into the cosmos and the device has produced spectacular photos, but also has discovered planets similar to earth on a much wider scale then ever before known. The Watchdog Report once again says thank you astronauts for your work in exploring the heavens and the technology the program has created and being used in all walks of our lives. And that technology legacy since America first went into space is profound from the biomedical field to how we as humans communicate and the challenge will be to keep that cutting edge technology robust. For that technology has catapulted the world to new heights in many ways, some good and some bad. But America must persevere in this future research if we are not to be eclipsed by China, Russia and India all making major commitments to space exploration, but for now. NASA and the Shuttle program deserves our thanks and the program will be missed, but never forgotten for what was achieved.

>>> Minkow sentenced to five years in fed Big House for stock manipulation conspiracy

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 defendant Barry Minkow, 44, of San Diego, California, was sentenced today on one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud,  in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, for his participation in a scheme to manipulate the stock price of Lennar Corporation (Lennar) through false and misleading statements about Lennar’s business operations and management.  At today’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz sentenced Minkow to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  In addition, the Court ordered Minkow to pay $583,573,600 in restitution. According to documents filed with the court, Minkow operated Fraud Discovery Institute, a for profit fraud investigation firm based in California.  In this way, Minkow developed ties with federal law enforcement agencies as a purported fraud-finder.  During his plea hearing, Minkow admitted making false and misleading statements alleging wide-spread improprieties in Lennar’s financial reporting and business structure, and attacking the personal character of Lennar’s management.

According to court documents, Minkow was hired to put economic pressure on Lennar to pay money demanded by a business partner in a prior land deal.  To this end, beginning in January 2009, Minkow used the Internet, press releases, e-mail communications, Youtube.com videos, and the U.S. mail to broadcast false and misleading statements about Lennar, with the intent of artificially depressing Lennar’s stock price.  Minkow then used his relationship with federal law enforcement agencies to report false allegations of criminal conduct purportedly committed by Lennar and its management.  Once Minkow confirmed that his allegations had successfully induced law enforcement to open a criminal investigation, Minkow used that knowledge and information to trade Lennar securities for his own benefit. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the cooperative efforts of the Miami Regional Office and the Washington DC Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Cristina Perez Soto. 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.

>>> Reporter Ruiz-Velásquez says sayonara to WSVN, goes to TV & Radio Marti as news anchor & reporter

Vanessa Ruiz-Velásquez, a news reporter with WSVN Channel 7 has left the station “to begin an exciting new challenge as news anchor and reporter for TV & Radio Marti. I will continue to be based out of Miami, finding innovative and varied stories that will be broadcast to our neighbors in the Caribbean and Latin America. I look forward to maintaining a professional relationship with you, as I continue to work in delivering the most interesting and news worthy daily events coming out of South Florida. News, features, investigative pieces, human interest, entertainment and, yes, even sports….all content is welcome and encouraged,” wrote the veteran reporter last week.

>>> Press release: IBOPE Zogby Poll: Faith in American Dream Sinking As U.S. Adults Become Split Over Whether or Not They Can Achieve it

The percentage of U.S. adults who believe it is possible for themselves and their families to achieve the American Dream has dropped to 50%, down significantly from the 68% who said the same in November 2008. Faith in the American Dream falls even further when respondents are asked if it’s possible for middle class families to achieve it, from 62% in November 2008 to just 44% today. These latest results are from an IBOPE Zogby interactive poll conducted from July 15-18.

Do you feel it is possible for you and your family to achieve the American Dream, or would you say it does not exist?

Response July 2011 Nov. 2008

(Post election)

American Dream possible 50% 68%
It does not exist 30% 19%
Not sure 20% 14%

Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website:
http://www.zogby.com/news/2011/07/19/ibope-zogby-poll-majority-americans-dont-plan-vacationing-summer-those-who-do-will-spend-less/

>>> 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 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.

FLORIDA

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Barbara S. Feingold to the State Board of Education.

Feingold, 59, of Delray Beach, is an administrator for Dentaland Dental Centers and a vice president of MCNA Health Care Holdings LLC, a Medicaid and commercial dental insurance company based in Fort Lauderdale. She also serves on the Board of Directors of MCNA Dental Insurance Company. As a former speech and language pathologist in Broward County, Feingold has firsthand experience working with Florida’s education system.  In this role, she worked with elementary and middle schoolchildren, as well as with children having delayed development, mental retardation and Down syndrome. Previously, she also served as a school speech pathologist in Newark, New Jersey.

At Dentaland and MCNA, Feingold has fostered a corporate culture of community involvement through service with non-profit organizations. She sits on the board of directors for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Center. She is also a vice president of the Levis Jewish Community Center where she helped develop a program for children with special needs. During her term as president of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach, she helped create remediation programs for children, as well as an infant day care center. Feingold received her bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University. Feingold succeeds Susan Story and is appointed for a term beginning July 18, 2011, and ending December 31, 2013.  The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> The cutting of 11-trees in the Grove causes first firestorm for “new kid on the block,” county Commissioner Suarez

Xavier Suarez, the County Commissioner for District 7 that includes Coconut Grove got his first baptism of fire over the week, after county contractors cut down 11 large trees along 27th Avenue and Bayshore Drive. The tree cutting work began on Tuesday and created a local firestorm with Grove activists who say they were not notified of the decimation of the trees, part of a long ongoing 27th Avenue improvement program. Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his staff were unaware of the cutting activity and while there were public meetings on the proposed improvements a few years ago. The question of cutting down trees was not highlighted and activist say they would have objected to this hit to the local tree canopy.

What about the center median trees on US 1 through the Grove?

The Watchdog Report last week also counted dozens of small signs on trees planted a few years ago along the highways median, these trees seem to be marked for destruction as well, and tree activists should find out what the situation is for as the local community is finding out. Once the county process starts, it can be difficult to stop and generally ends with the cutting and removal of the trees with many residents only able to cry at the loss of this tree canopy, that already gets beaten up with every hurricane that decides now is the time to hit Miami and South Florida.

Howvere, since Suarez has gotten involved he was able to halt the cutting for the moment, but county staff say it was necessary to make room for an entrance into the boat ramp located next to Bay Shore Drive. The county commissioner’s staff member J.C. Garrldo attended a Central Grove meeting on Wednesday and he heard resident’s complaints and noted the county commissioner would be attending the Coconut Grove Village Council Meeting on Thursday where Suarez got an ear full. Suarez told the crowd he was unaware of the trees needing to be cut, and he would not have gone along with the project if that was the case, he said. www.miamiherald.com & www.coconutgrovegrapevine.com

Now another meeting on the matter is slated for Monday and details of it will be online at the www.coconutgrovegrapevine.com and there was a tree vigil on Saturday night after rain washed out a Friday event but Suarez seemed to handle the incident, once he got engaged fairly well, but his staff should have been on top of such a project. However, they are new and only came on board the last few weeks, since the Jun. 28 election that brought Suarez back to a political office, since going into local political exile in 1998. After his election as Miami mayor was nullified by a judge after widespread voter fraud was found. Suarez who is the “new kid on the commission” referred to his commission district “like Texas” and he is finding that is true and that constituent service had better be paramount to him if he is to be reelected again in Aug. of 2012. Further, local activists might have called County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the previous District 7 commissioner to get the cutting stopped faster since he has many of his same staff in his new office, as when he represented the district and they would be much more aware of the past discussions.

What about Suarez at the county commission meeting?

Suarez stayed for the opening of the Miami-Dade County commission meeting Tuesday morning but left the dais once the meeting really got going. I was unable to find out where he went but the attorney later did have lunch with some men at a tony restaurant across from the county courthouse, and he later came back to the dais in the afternoon to vote on setting the county’s proposed millage rate.

>>> Two men and a woman charged by feds in murder-for-hire scheme in Miami-Dade

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, and Addy Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Miami Operations Center, announced the arrest of defendants Christian Pereira, 22, Daniel Perez, 20, and Sophie Perlmutter, 21, all of Miami-Dade.  The defendants are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring to rob and murder a Miami-based drug dealer.  Specifically, the defendants are charged with one count of conspiring to affect interstate commerce by robbery (18 U.S.C. § 1951(a)), one count of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire (18 U.S.C. § 1958), and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)).  The defendants made their initial appearance in federal court today.  A pretrial detention hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 10:00 A.M.  If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of up to 20 years in prison on the interstate robbery count, up to 10 years in prison on the murder for hire count, and up to life in prison for the firearm count, which carries a five year mandatory minimum.

Today’s charges are the result of the ATF’s Street Terror Offender Program (STOP).  STOP is a multi-agency task force specializing in the investigation of violent crime associated with the narcotics trade in South Florida.  Using federal narcotics, robbery and firearms laws, STOP members target violent career offenders, with the goal of reducing violent crime in Miami-Dade.  According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, a confidential source (CS) alerted ATF/MDPD that he had been asked to assist in the robbery and murder of a marijuana dealer to whom defendant Pereira owed money.  During a recorded meeting with the CS, Pereira and Perez discussed the robbery and murder plan in detail.  The plan called for Pereira and Perez to meet the targeted victim at the victim’s residence under the pretext of paying their debt, confront the victim with a firearm, and then have the CS strangle the victim with a rope. Pereira and Perez promised the CS money in return for his strangling the intended victim. According to the affidavit, on the morning of July 21, 2011, the day of the planned robbery and murder, police surveillance units watched as Pereira and his girlfriend Perlmutter picked up the CS and traveled to meet Perez, who was waiting at a Publix near the intended victim’s residence.  Before Perez and Perlmutter reached their destination, they were pulled over by police.  Police officers discovered a semi-automatic firearm, gloves, plastic tarp and cleaning agents inside the car. Agents then found Perez at the Publix where he was waiting, but Perez attempted to flee on foot.  During the chase, Perez tried to discard his cellular telephone.  Perez was arrested and his phone was recovered.  When Perez’s car was searched, investigators discovered a backpack containing a piece of rope in the front passenger seat.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer noted, “Drug trafficking does not exist in a vacuum.  Rather, drug trafficking breeds other crimes, including, as in this case, robbery, illegal gun use, and even conspiracy to murder.  These defendants planned to rob and murder a drug dealer for their own profit.  Instead, they now face long prison sentences.  It is a good day for law enforcement when violent offenders and their guns are removed from our community before they have a chance to do harm.” “The removal of violent criminals and their guns from the streets of South Florida is a top priority for ATF. Today’s charges are the result of our commitment to work jointly with state and local law enforcement to do everything possible to ensure that our citizens and visitors are kept safe from harm,” said Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Miami Office.  “The message is clear:  if you seek to do harm through violence in South Florida, you will be found and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

>>> Gov. Scott taps Alonso, Balsera, Membiela and de Moya for Children’s Trust governing board of Miami-Dade

Maria Alonso, 56, of Coral Gables, is the chief operating officer of Citrus Health Network Inc. She is reappointed for a term beginning July 18, 2011, and ending March 17, 2015.

Dr. Miguel Balsera, 35, of Miami, is the assistant principal for Tropical Elementary School in Miami-Dade County.  He is reappointed for a term beginning July 18, 2011, and ending March 17, 2015.

Roymi Membiela, 54, of Coral Gables, is the assistant vice president of marketing for Baptist Health South Florida. She succeeds David Williams for a term beginning July 18, 2011, and ending March 17, 2014.

Lileana de Moya, 54, of Coral Gables, is the director of JAG Education Consultants Inc. She succeeds Yvette Aleman for a term beginning July 18, 2011, and ending March 17, 2014.

>>> GMCVB press release: HO$PITALITY JOB$…JOB$…JOB$:  GREATER MIAMI’S LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY JOB$ INCREASE AGAIN IN JUNE 2011

For June 2011, Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry employment increased +4.2% compared to the same period in 2010. This is the 13th consecutive month of increased employment in Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality industry. In June 2011, an average of 110,800 people were employed in Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality sector compared to 106,300 for June 2010.

GREATER MIAMI LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY JOB$

June 2011 June 2010 % Change
110,800 jobs 106,300  jobs + 4.2%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCOOLS

>>> Board vice Chair Feldman taped for Zoological Society board

Press release: Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, School Board Vice Chair, has been named to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the Zoological Society of Florida. His selection was made unanimously by the Society’s sitting Board of Directors for a term of three years.

The Board of Directors, which is comprised of an elite group of volunteers, is responsible for establishing policies and objectives, as well as for the financial health of the organization.  The Board members are the stewards for the Zoological Society and Zoo Miami. The Zoological Society of Florida is the non-profit support organization for Zoo Miami founded in 1956 when the Zoo was located in Crandon Park, Key Biscayne.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Six FRB male members about to get a woman on board, says Mayor Gimenez regarding the last appointment to 7-member oversight board

Mayor Carlos Gimenez Tuesday told the Watchdog Report that his appointment to the seven member Financial Recovery Board created a few months ago that has been vacant because of the recall and mayoral races will “be a woman.” He did not indicate who it would be but the county commission in 1992 passed legislation requiring gender equality on county boards and in the case of the FRB. Its six members are all men and multiple organizations including the Miami-Dade Commission on Women have complained and asked for this gender diversity, most recently at Tuesday’s board of county commissioners meeting during a presentation by the organizations chair. One possible choice considered is former PHT trustee Robin Reiter-Faragalli who came in one vote short in votes from the members of the county commission months ago and she was the former chair of The Beacon Council.

The smaller board that replaced the 17-member PHT board dissolved a few months ago for two years and included two voting county commissioners is moving at a faster pace than in the past and discussions in some areas are still in the Sunshine. However, new PHT President Carlos Migoya is now meeting with individual FRB members to answer any questions before the public meetings and discussions and this facilitates decisions moving at a faster pace with the new more nimble public board. However, the fundamental challenges facing the trust have not changed and cash on hand gets dangerously low in August at 10.4 days cash on hand and gets only moderately better in September where it is projected to be 14.6 days of cash on hand for the public hospital system.

>>> Press release: Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz organizes public meetings on Jackson Hospital Governance Task Force recommendations

Miami-Dade residents are invited to voice their opinions on recommendations made by the Hospital Governance Task Force to manage the County’s major public hospital, Jackson Health System.  The Hospital Governance Task Force was created by the Board of County Commissioners to study and present recommendations on the governance structure of Jackson.  A series of public meetings will be held throughout Miami-Dade County in which residents can learn more about the recommendations and state their opinions on the future management of Jackson Memorial Hospital. The current recommendations made by the Task Force touch on a number of topics, including the structure of Jackson’s Board of Directors, ethics standards, legal structure and governance, and responsibilities to be held by both the Miami-Dade County Commission and the Jackson Health System Governing Board. The meetings were coordinated by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who chairs the County’s Public Safety & Healthcare Administration Committee. All county commissioners were invited to submit dates, times, and locations for meetings within their respective districts.

>>> Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Victor Wilde Senior Center

1701 W 53 Terrace, Hialeah, FL 33012 (Commissioner Bovo’s District 13)

>>> Thursday, July 28, 2011 – 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Joseph Caleb Center  5400 NW 22nd Avenue Miami, FL 33142 (Vice Chairwoman Edmonson’s District 3)

>>> Wednesday, August 3, 2011 – 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Jackson North Medical Center

160 NW 170th Street, 2nd Floor Auditorium North Miami Beach, FL 33169 (Commissioner Heyman’s District 4)

>>> Thursday, August 4, 2011 – 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Jorge Mas Canosa Youth Center

250 SW 114 Street Sweetwater, FL 33174 (Commissioner Diaz’s District 12)

>>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011 – 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Hispanic Branch Library

1398 SW 1 Street Miami, FL 33135 (Commissioner Barreiro’s District 5) >>>

A copy of the recommendations can be viewed online at http://www.miamidade.gov/auditor/library/11-07-14_Outline_of_HGT_Recommendations.pdf. For more information, please contact Commissioner Diaz’s office at 305-599-1200.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Friends of Miami Marine Stadium upset at slow progress with city, trying to craft agreement and there could be no competitive RFP if MESA does it

The Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority (MESA) is getting a new executive director in Kirk Menendez an attorney working on intergovernmental issues in the city Manger’s office. He is replacing Tim Schmand, the executive director of the Bay Front Park Management Trust who for years has been taking up the administrative slack for MESA and that ends Aug. 22 said Mayor Tomas Regalado on Wednesday at the authority’s scheduled noon meeting. Schmand was given kudos by Regalado and others for the job he has done and will assist in the transition of projects on the front burner including getting a possible Heliport agreement negotiated and some resolution to the Miami Marine stadium issue.

What about the Miami Marine Stadium?

The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium are upset with the glacial speed the city’s administration is moving on getting their support to rehabilitate the iconic structure ravaged and out of use since Aug. 1992 when Hurricane Andrew blew into town. The structure has been out of use since then and is a structural nightmare since first designed by Hilario Candela, FAIA who is a member of the Friends board. The not for profit’s President Donald Worth and the architect signed a Jul. 19 letter to Mayor Tomas Regalado complaining over the last three years. They have asked for nothing in the way of money from the city but carp “over the past six months the city has imposed obstacle after obstacle to the preservation and future operation of the Marine Stadium,” the men wrote.

Mayor Regalado said he was “really disappointed” with the progress and had since met with members of Friend’s and believes it will be another “two weeks to look at the issues in the agreement the city provided.” The problem is the agreement would be required “to go to a RFP” and any project would be “competitively” selected and was contrary to what they wanted, and why “they were working with MESA” to “avoid all that,” along with the issue of revenue from “naming rights not go to the stadium but to the city of Miami,” said Regalado. He said Friends are expected to come back to the table in the near future and hopes to have something concluded by Aug. 15. And Commission Chair Willy Gort noted if something is concluded it could come before the commission on Sept. 15 and MESA would then later approve the final agreement, he said.

>>> Repeat alien smuggler gets 15 years in the federal Big House

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and Randy Donnelson, Director of Air Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing of defendant Hector Pena, 45, of Miami, on charges of smuggling illegal aliens into the United States.  U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Pena to 15 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Pena pled guilty on April 25, 2011 to all counts of a Superseding Information, charging him with multiple counts of conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens, including at least one minor, to enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard that such coming and entry was in violation of law.  Pena was also charged with multiple counts of attempting to bring in illegal aliens into the United States for personal profit.  The charges stemmed from a December 27, 2010 smuggling attempt, in which Pena and others were interdicted at sea 18 nautical miles west of Miami, carrying 17 Cuban migrants on board. Pena was also involved in various other alien smuggling operations.  For example, Pena was described as an organizer of a conspiracy to smuggle for profit more than 30 Cuban migrants into the United States in September 2008, resulting in the death of one of the migrants.  This smuggling venture involved multiple boats.  During the failed smuggling operation, the lead boat, which was overloaded with migrants, attempted to out-run the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island.  During the chase, one of the migrants suffered head trauma.  Notwithstanding the efforts of Coast Guard and other rescue personnel, the migrant died from his injuries. At sentencing, Pena was held responsible for his participation in five separate alien smuggling ventures between September 2008 and December 2010. Mr. Ferrer commended ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their work on this matter.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina Pérez Soto and Elisa Castrolugo. 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 MIAMI BEACH

>>> State Rep. Garcia challenges Congressman Rivera, speaks at TMBC

Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club – PRESS RELEASE- Meeting Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach – Luis R. Garcia, State House Representative for District 107, will be the guest speaker at the July 26th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. First elected to the House in 2006, Rep. Garcia is now in his last term as a State Representative, as terms are limited by state statute.  His plans for the future will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club. Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).

>>> Press release: Miami Beach Free Hazardous Waste Collection Annual Event will be Held on August 7, 2011 Event flyer: http://web.miamibeachfl.gov/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=65719

Miami Beach, FL – Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be “household hazardous waste” and can pose a threat to human health if not properly disposed.  The Public Works Environmental Resource Management and Sanitation divisions will be holding a free hazardous waste collection event. On Sunday, August 7 between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., residents can drop off any household chemicals or hazardous waste at 40 Street and Chase Avenue.  The purpose of this event is to encourage proper disposal of household hazardous waste.

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes consists of pouring these substances down the sink drain, on the ground, into storm drains, or in some cases putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but these wastes can pollute the environment. Examples of such products include paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, which contain hazardous ingredients that require special care when you dispose of them. For more information about the event, contact Lisa Botero at 305.673.7080 or lbotero@miamibeachfl.gov.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Mayor Cason’s thoughts on upcoming budget, reduced millage rate “what our voters wanted”

The Watchdog Report contacted elected leaders on their thoughts on the upcoming budget and last week newly minted Mayor Jim Cason responded by email. He wrote in response to the question, “I too am pleased with a budget proposal that reduces the millage rate while preserving essential services at a time of flat property values.  The city has been reorganizing various departments to produce greater efficiencies, and these are showing up now as reduced expenses.  We have deferred some capital expenses till next year, and have not had to cut more employees.  The City Manager has been reducing staff and payroll for the past several years, and that too allows us to reduce the millage rate.  This is what our voters wanted and what I conveyed to the City Manager, who has listened,” wrote the former Ambassador.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Former state Sen. Dawson indicted on tax evasion charges for a number of years

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the indictment and arrest of Muriel Amanda Dawson (“Mandy”), 54, formerly a resident of Broward County, Florida.  Dawson was arrested earlier today at her home in Volusia County, and is expected to make her initial appearance in federal court in Orlando this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald P. Dietrich.  Dawson is charged with tax evasion for tax years 2004 and 2005 (Counts 1 and 2), and failure to file tax returns for tax years 2006, 2007, and 2008 (Counts 3 – 5).  If convicted, she faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of up to 5 years on Counts 1 and 2, and not more than one year on each of Counts 3 to 5. According to the indictment, Dawson willfully attempted to evade the payment of $11,889 and $12,966 in taxes due and owing for calendar years 2004 and 2005, respectively.  Additionally, the indictment alleges Dawson failed to file income tax returns with the IRS for calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008.  During that period, Dawson was a Florida state senator representing sections of Broward and Palm Beach counties. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FBI.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Carlton and Julia A. Paylor. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. >>> 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.

>>> 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.

FLAGLER COUNTY

>>> Press release:  Gov. Scott taps Carlos E. Mendoza of St. Augustine to the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court.

Mendoza, 41, has served as the assistant city attorney for the City of St. Augustine since 2009.  Previously, he was an assistant state attorney in the Seventh Judicial Circuit from 2005 to 2009.  From 1997 to 2005, he was a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy in Norfolk, Virginia, being appointed to serve as Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2004.  Prior to that, Mendoza served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1989 to 1995.  As a reservist, he was deployed to serve in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.  He received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from West Virginia University. “As a career public servant with 14 years of courtroom experience, Carlos has proved his commitment to serve the people and the court.  I am confident that he will apply existing law fairly and consistently,” Governor Scott said.  “He is a first generation American whose parents instilled in him a great appreciation for and love of freedom and the opportunities available in America.” Mendoza will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Julianne Piggott.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery goes through July Jul 29, photos kids looking for parents heart wrenching

Welcome to the official Web site of The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery, a traveling, museum-quality exhibit featuring portraits of children in Miami-Dade’s foster care system who are available for adoption. This initiative is a collaboration between The Children’s Trust and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe. The Children’s Trust is embarks on its adoption awareness initiative for the fourth consecutive year. This year’s photos have a Mediterranean flare that accentuate the locations throughout Coral Gables that served as backdrops for the photo shoots, including the iconic Biltmore Hotel.

To see the photos or for more information go to http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/

>>> Press release: During the summer recess Miami-Dade Community Action Agency is providing free meals to children 18 years and younger at no cost.  The Summer Food Service Program began on June 13, 2011 and ends on August 12, 2011. A nutritionally balanced lunch and snack is served weekdays at 200 program sites throughout Miami-Dade County. A list of the participating sites is available to be downloaded from the Miami-Dade County web portal at www.miamidade.gov/caa. The program sites are approved in geographical areas where 50% or more of the children qualify for free and reduced price meals during the school year. Program sites are located in recreational centers, summer camps, churches, and community based organizations that provide services to children during the summer recess. It is the policy of Miami-Dade County that all children will be served without discrimination. Meals will be provided to all children regardless of race, color, sex or disability. According to Ruthe White, Nutrition Service Coordinator, “this summer we have seen a significant increase in the number of meals served compared to last year.”>> For additional information about the programs and services provided by the Community Action Agency please call (786) 469-4600 and for information regarding the Summer Food Service Program, please contact Rani Panchanathan at (786) 469-4789. Who: Miami-Dade Community Action Agency What: FREE meals for children during the summer recess When: Start Date: June 13, 2011 End Date: August 12, 2011 Where: 200 Program sites throughout Miami-Dade County Why: To provide nutritious meals to low-income children during the summer recess.

>>> State Redistricting Town Hall Meetings with State Senators and Representatives on August 17th August 17.  Miami Dade Wolfson Campus 10AM-2PM. FIU College of Law 6-9PM. There will be two town hall meetings featuring state senators and representatives discussing the plans for redrawing Florida’s political boundary lines. Here you will be able to voice your concerns about how redistricting will affect you and express how you feel our districts should be drawn. Both town hall meetings will be on August 17th; the first will be held at the Miami-Dade Wolfson Campus from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and the second will be held at the FIU College of Law from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Click here for more information.

EDITORIALS

>>> State elected leaders play with political fire when not living in district they represent, voters not stupid

There have been recent news reports over the past months of elected state leaders not living in their elected districts as required by law and these people must live in La La Land given the fact everyone in the world has a cell phone and can document them coming and going from their wayward homes. South Florida over the years has had a number of people that did not live in their district in a variety of elected offices and sometimes they even lived in Broward County or Palm Beach, and while it is legal if you are a congressional representative. Florida law demands a state senator or representative must live in the district he represents once elected and they run the risk of considerable fines as well as the backlash of the district’s voters during the next election cycle. Further, what is odder is the leaders’ dismissal of these accusations about their true Homestead even though neighbors in many ways track their every move, many times well before they get a knock on the door from the media. And that is what really bothers the voters and what these wayward officials should consider, is the fact it assumes the electorate is stupid and anyone that believes that should look at the political landscape strewn with incumbents that were thrown out of office recently. And for a politician, that is not a good thing.

LETTERS

>>> Reader on Fl lawmaker’s rejection of $50 million for Healthy Families Florida

The Miami Herald reports in today’s edition  http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/20/2323475/florida-spurns-50-million-for.html that Florida lawmakers have rejected more than $50 million in federal child abuse prevention money because its is being offered through the Affordable Health Care Act which lawmakers oppose for  “philosophical”, i.e. ideological,  reasons. The money would have paid, among other things, for a visiting nurse program run by Healthy Families Florida, one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation. And because the federal Race to the Top educational-reform effort is tied to the child-abuse prevention program that Healthy Families administers, the state may also lose a four-year block grant worth an additional $100 million in federal dollars!
Its of interest to follow the “reasoning” of a key lawmaker, State Senator Joe Negron, opposed to Healthy Families Florida. State Sen. Joe Negron, who chairs his chamber’s Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said he long has been philosophically opposed to Healthy Families, which he views as an intrusion into the private lives of parents. “I believe in providing basic information to parents at hospitals and medical settings,” said Negron, a Palm City Republican. “I am not persuaded that it is a good idea to show up at a family’s home year after year giving advice and guidance. I do not think that is a core, essential function of government.”
According to his “logic,” it’s OK for government to censure doctors free speech and to figure out by themselves, and under the threat of punishment, what  basic information to parents at hospitals and medical settings is relevant to prevent child abuse. Its also of interest to note that nobody wants to take responsibility for the rejection of federal funds. On Wednesday, leaders of the state House and Senate and the governor’s office all insisted they had nothing to do with rejecting the money.“The grant was included in [the state Department of Health’s] legislative budget request, but beyond that, the executive branch never advocated for it and a budget amendment was not submitted,” said Katherine Betta, spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon of Winter Park. Brian Burgess, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, said Scott did ask for the money. Burgess produced a budget request that has the proposal. “If there is to be finger-pointing,” he said, “it should be directed elsewhere.”
In contrast to previous posturing the Governor and Republican lawmakers seem to be odds at whom to blame (or to cheer) for rejecting the grant money.

Meanwhile, more children will suffer and some my even loose their lives.

As physicians, we are obligated to speak up!

Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD

>>> Reader on call from Miami Commissioner Sarnoff campaign

Just got a call from Sarnoff’s campaign that Janet fielded offering to “register us for early voting so we don’t have to stand in line,” preceded by their pitch for the candidate’s qualifications and accomplishments… I really find this process disturbing… when did this start; I will assume it is legal, etc… granted it is not STS taking us to MDW&S courtesy of Comm. Sarnoff, but it certainly approaches the demarcation of vote by sponsorship/ courtesy of… this is very wrong on many points though I’m sure common in churn areas…. interested in your opinion

B.M.

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

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2011, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> The Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information. 

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

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> 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.

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