Argus Report: Feminist trailblazer Bolton honored on Women’s Equality Day, U.S. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen gives her enduring legacy a shout out
Florida: Gov. Scott dumps Buss after he stumbles in political mine field, governor getting mixed results with some new hires
Florida Supreme Court: Justice Labarga in the spotlight, tapped by Gov. Crist for top court in Jan. 09, had $638,000 net worth through 2010
Miami-Dade County: New sheriff in town, Mayor Gimenez gives unions until Nov. 1 to make concessions before significant cuts and layoffs hit public employees
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Regalado late closing out 2010-campaign report, elected in Nov. 2010, had $108, 450 net worth through Dec.
Public Health Trust: Migoya says without $296.6 million in concessions from unions and UM, Plan B kicks in with service cuts and layoffs
City of Miami: She’s back, Commissioner Spence-Jones suspension lifted, will fill District 5 seat again until Nov. 2013, Dunn just a “regular citizen” now
City of Hialeah: After years of no commission District 13 office, M-DC Commissioner Bovo opens two
City of Miami Beach: Commissioner Weithorn says “terrific resort tax collections” help with city budget, Memorial Day discussion this Thursday
City of Coral Gables: Cason says review of truck ordinance ban, upcoming budget hearings the only big new from the City Beautiful
City of Opa-Locka: Mayor Taylor is slapped with ethics fine after voting conflicts with non-profit she runs
Town of Miami Lakes: Ethics commission sends letter to Mayor Pizzi about allowing the public to speak at official meetings
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: State Sen. Rich in the limelight, elected in 2004 but could be termed out after reapportionment, had $1.16 million net worth
Palm Beach County: State Sen. Negron in the spotlight, first elected in Aug. 09, had $712,000 net worth through 2010
Pinellas County: Gov. Scott looking for new sheriff in town for Pinellas County, are you a candidate?
Monroe County: Key West angler pleads guilty to illegal harvesting activity
Community Events: Margulies Collection openings — Looking for a few good Mangoheads — Grove Chamber event features Commissioner Suarez Sept. 9 @ Mayfair Hotel — Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, Miami, Oct. 19-23 Shark tagging, coral reef and Everglades exploration, a deep-freeze collection…
Editorials: PAST WDR: SEPT: 2007: Public institutions and employees need to be careful when it comes to the web, not everyone has access or a Blackberry like them — PAST WDR: Sunshine violations for discussions among people on public boards is wrong and people will start getting busted
Letters: Reader on FairDistricts amendments and redistricting process in Florida — The Mayor’s budget reduces Beach Safety/Lifeguard Service to Crandon Park Beach and to Haulover Beach Park.
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 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.
>>> CORRECTION: Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter does not own a house in Kentucky as was reported last week in the Watchdog Report. On her required financial disclosure form for the year she listed “home” next to a loan owed $179,000 from a Bank in Kentucky and why that mistake occurred. I apologize for the error.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Feminist trailblazer Bolton honored on Women’s Equality Day, U.S. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen gives her enduring legacy a shout out
The Women’s Movement honored one of its own Friday Aug. 26 when friends and elected leaders saluted Coral Gables resident Roxy Bolton at The Women’s Park of Miami-Dade. Bolton a feminist activist since the 1950s was a vocal critic of people who denied women equality across the board when it came to women’s issues. She has been in ill health over the past few years but would periodically show up at Coral Gable Commission or county commission meetings and speak her mind frankly and loudly and in the Gables would just speak from the audience the last few years. The event for Women’s Equality Day was expected to have U.S Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) and former Florida CFO Alex Sink in attendance and speaking about their time in public service. Said Ros-Lehtinen in a press release, “If there is one person in South Florida who has tirelessly worked to advance women’s rights it is Roxcy O’ Neal Bolton. For this reason, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day than by honoring the lifetime work of Roxcy and the efforts she led that made it possible for women such as me and others to be leaders in our community.”
Women in America get only about 80 percent of the wages and compensation of their male peers and they have been fighting ferociously in the public and private sectors for that equality for decades. Here in Miami-Dade the county commission in 1992 passed legislation that county boards must have gender equality and the legislation was pushed by then County Commissioner Alex Penelas, later the Miami-Dade mayor from 1996 to 2004. The Watchdog Report’s mother, a president of a local school board in the Borough of New Hope and Solebury Township in the late 1960s experienced some of this backlash in public office when public school busing was going on, but she stood firm and is one of the reasons. I continue to write about issues facing women in our community, the state and the nation.
>>> Press release: MAYOR CARLOS A. GIMENEZ CELEBRATES WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY AND HONORS WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST ROXCY O’NEAL BOLTON
Today, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez participated in the presentation of the History Miami exhibit Formidable Adversary and Persistent Advocate: The Civic Life of Roxcy O’Neal Bolton at The Women’s Park, located at 10251 West Flagler Street, in Miami, in honor of Women’s Equality Day. “We are here to celebrate Women’s Equality Day and Roxcy Bolton, a Miami-Dade County resident who has been a leader in the fight to gain equal rights and treatment for women over the years,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Roxcy’s contribution to our community has been invaluable, and I’m honored to recognize her today.” The Formidable Adversary and Persistent Advocate: The Civic Life of Roxcy O’Neal Bolton exhibit is presented in partnership with the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department, HistoryMiami and the Commission for Women at the Women’s Park. The exhibit is a retrospective on Bolton’s civic activism and contributions in the field of women’s rights and is presented in honor of Women’s Equality Day on August 26. Women’s Equality Day was established by Congress in 1971 by Rep. Bella Abzug to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Women’s Suffrage Amendment, which gave U.S. women full voting rights in 1920.
>>> Press release: Ros-Lehtinen Praises Treasury on Penalties against J.P. Morgan Chase for Illegal Transactions with Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Liberia
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on an announcement by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that it had reached an $88.3 million settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase for what OFAC deemed “egregious” violations of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Liberia, as well as sanctions targeting support for terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “The revelation that J.P Morgan facilitated transactions for rogue regimes in violation of U.S. sanctions is shameful. These regimes kill their own people, and some of them sponsor violent extremism and pursue nuclear, unconventional and ballistic missile capabilities. Yet, J.P. Morgan turned a blind eye to these offenses.
“I applaud the Treasury Department, particularly the Office of Foreign Assets Control, for their success in holding J.P. Morgan and other institutions responsible for their violations of U.S. law. Additionally, harsher measures should be taken. The repeated disregard of sanctions by several banks is indicative of the fact that existing financial penalties are insufficient to deter their illegal and immoral activities in support of cruel dictatorships. “I urge the Treasury Department to impose the strictest penalties available against those who disregard U.S. sanctions against rogue regimes. I further call on other U.S. agencies, particularly the Department of State, to follow Treasury’s example and fully implement U.S. laws targeting these thugs.” NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen is author the Iran Threat Reduction Act (H.R. 1905) and the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act (HR 2047), which seek to strengthen U.S. sanctions against Iran and Cuba, respectively.
>>> McClatchy papers nationally taps Clark to cover White House, has done a great job covering nation’s Capital since Jan. 2006
Leslie Clark, the long serving Miami Herald reporter assigned to the nation’s capital for the South Florida paper in early 2006 has been assigned the White House gig for McClatchy Corp, the Herald’s parent company. Clark has done a remarkable job since being posted in D.C. and worked well with all the paper’s Florida political writers including Mary Ellen Klas, Beth Reinhard (now with the National Journal also in Washington) Marc Caputo and Patricia Mazzei to name a few of her peers. The Watchdog Report gives Clark a Tip of the Hat and good luck in your new national assignment covering President Barack Obama and the White House. Here is the Miami Herald’s bio on Clark: Lesley Clark – Washington Correspondent -Lesley Clark is the Herald’s national correspondent in Washington, D.C., keeping tabs on Florida’s two senators, its House members and federal issues and policies that affect the state. Before landing in D.C. in February, she spent four years in the Herald’s capital bureau in Tallahassee and two years in Miami, covering state government and politics.
And what about Helen Ferre?
Helen Ferre, the long time moderator at the monthly Downtown Bay Forum luncheon, an organization that has featured a host of topics and people over the decades is stepping down from that role because of increased duties in her professional media and journalism life. Ferre is also the chair of the board of trustees for Miami-Dade College and she hosts WWW.WPBT2.ORG/Issues a weekly television show that covers politics, and any other topic that has caught the imagination of South Florida, the nation or the world. In an email, I asked her about the change and she wrote back. “I have a daily 2 hour radio show with WQBA 1140 AM which is part of Univision that keeps me pretty busy with everything else. I have been a guest political analyst with Jorge Ramos national Sunday news show “Al Punto” and I am greatly enjoying the opportunity to work with strong journalists covering and analyzing the important stories of the day. As such, it is difficult to continue moderating the number of programs I did during the day so I pass the moderating baton of the Downtown Bay Forum to others who will enjoy and grow with the lively and important discussions brought to the table monthly. Have a good weekend (we were spared!),” wrote Ferre. Editor’s note: I have been a pinch in moderator and panelist of the Downtown Bay Forum and I have also appeared frequently on her television show Issues.
M-DC Bio: Helen Aguirre Ferré (Chair) is the Opinion Page Editor of Diario Las Americas, an independent Spanish-language newspaper founded in 1953 in Miami by her father, Horacio Aguirre. In television, she hosts Washington Watch in Washington, D.C. and moderates the monthly public affairs program Issues for the South Florida PBS station. She is a political analyst for the Telemundo channel in Miami and a frequent guest on the weekly Spanish-language program Actualidad for TV Martí, which airs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2007, she became the first community college trustee appointed to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. She was appointed to the Florida Energy Commission by Governor Jeb Bush, to the Florida Governor’s Mansion Commission by Governor Lawton Chiles, and to the Beacon Council, among others… www.mdc.edu
>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service yet I do have to live, thank you! Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times, The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel which ran as a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003 and UNC Chapel Hill naming me one of the top columnists in Florida in a multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade.
>>> Gov. Scott dumps Buss after he stumbles in political mine field, governor getting mixed results with some new hires
Gov. Rick Scott had a redo after he accepted the resignation of Edwin G. Buss, the state’s secretary of corrections after they had differences in policy and approach that led to a number of issues the governor and his staff took exception with www.miamiherald.com . Buss considered a corrections reformer in another state is said to have ignored the political minefield of Florida politics but for Scott it is another turnover of staff or senior appointments that did not make the long term cut. Scott, who took a workday working in a public schools cafeteria last week said the press release concerning the activity, has been trying to soften his persona after being clubbed in statewide polls on his performance to the tune of around 29 percent approval a few months ago. However, since then he has met with the state’s papers editorial boards, and other media outlets, and his approval rating is inching up after he realized while he may have won without using the press. He cannot govern without the media said astutely by Herald political reporter Mary Ellen Klas on WWW.WLRN.ORG a few weeks ago on the Friday radio show, Florida Roundup.
Scott continues to sometime baffle Floridians though he is trying to do what he said, which is gut state laws concerning the environment, regional planning and consumer protections, but that support for business interests gets blunted when it comes to pushing a strong illegal immigration law like Arizona passed. Where Watchdog Report sources say business interests in the state from a wide swath of enterprises fear and are expected to stop such legislation that passed in the Florida House last year but died in the Senate. Further, state Sen. J.D. Alexander, (R- Wales) questioned in his case if the law passed, who would “pick his blueberries?” and that attitude sums up the broad nature of interests opposed to any new legislation.
>>> Press release: Governor Scott named Charles T. Corley as Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA). Secretary Corley had been serving as the interim secretary at the department since June of 2010. As Secretary of DOEA, Corley manages the Department’s activities and serves as an advocate for the issues and programs that affect Florida’s 4.45 million seniors. Corley’s career in the health and human services field spans more than 30 years. He has served in the public and private sectors as both a direct service provider and administrator. Prior to his work directing the Department of Elder Affairs, he served the agency as a division director and bureau chief. From 1985 to 2000, he served at the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and its predecessor agency. Previously in the private sector, Corley held various leadership roles in hospital administration across the state and also served as a consultant for health care facilities. “Secretary Corley has shown me he has what it takes to continue leading the Department of Elder Affairs,” said Governor Scott. “He understands the importance of making sure our seniors have access to the services and information they need, while at the same time protecting the interests of the taxpayer.”
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced today that he has accepted the resignation of Edwin G. Buss as Secretary of Florida’s Department of Corrections.
Buss will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Ken Tucker. Tucker was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on June 2, 2006, and is a 34-year law enforcement veteran who brings significant experience and leadership to the position. As assistant commissioner Tucker has been responsible for providing overall agency management and policy direction for law enforcement operations statewide. He oversees the seven Regional Operations Centers, Investigations and Forensic Sciences Program Office, Forensic Services, and Field Services.
Assistant Commissioner Tucker joined FDLE in 1983 and has held various management positions including Special Agent Supervisor, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center, and Special Agent in Charge of the Jacksonville Regional Operations Center. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Commissioner, Tucker served as Deputy Commissioner for a year and a half. He began his law enforcement career with the Daytona Beach Police Department in 1977 after completing three years of military service. Assistant Commissioner Tucker is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and a graduate of the FBI National Academy. AC Tucker is also a past President of the Northeast Florida Law Enforcement Executives Association.
Regarding Buss, Governor Scott said differences in philosophy and management styles arose, which made the separation in the best interests of the state. The Governor appreciates Secretary Buss’s service to the state and wishes him well in his new endeavors.
>>>Press release: We’re just back from Key West — the final stop of our 17-city summer listening tour for The Children’s Movement of Florida… We already are going through the notes of what hundreds of Florida leaders had to say and recommend. What we heard will lead to a consensus on next steps for The Movement agenda in 2012. Here are a couple quick headlines on what we heard: A strong urging to add a K-12 component to our agenda — plus more emphasis on parent skill-building. And a widespread sense that The Movement must be more aggressive in insisting that children be Florida’s No. 1 priority. We’ll have much more to share in the month to come. Dave Lawrence Chair The Children’s Movement of Florida P.S.: Let’s hear it for the state Board of Education which earlier this week made solid recommendations to improve this state’s VPK quality .
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
>>> Justice Labarga in the spotlight, tapped by Gov. Crist to top court in Jan. 09, had $638,000 net worth through 2010
Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga is in the spotlight this week and the veteran jurist started out his legal career first as an assistant state public defender but later became an assistant state attorney in Palm Beach County. Labarga is a graduate of the University of Florida where he earned his undergraduate and law degree, is married and has two children. Gov. Lawton Chiles first appointed him to the local circuit court bench in 1996. Gov. Charlie Crist elevated him to the 4th District Court of Appeals and the governor later tapped him in January 2009 for the state’s top court. He is the 84th justice since 1845 and the Cuban American who came to America with his family when he was 11 to Pahokee is well respected and liked by his fellow colleagues.
What do we know about his finances?
Labarga through Dec. 1010 had a net worth of $638,000 and he lists $130,000 in household goods. His life insurance is worth $47,900, there is $87,200 in an IRA, there is $12,000 in U.S. Bonds and his home is worth $350,000. The jurist lists liabilities with B&A of $90,100, a Toyota is owed $4,072, a Mazda has a $9,680 loan and his total liabilities are$103,900 against total assets of $742,531. His income for the year was $155,884 as a judge, his wife brought in $30,640 working for Ann Taylor and he lists four gifts over $100.00 including some UF football tickets, and overall the disclosure is benign.
>>> Court’s web page Bio: Jorge Labarga was born in Cuba in 1952. He is married to Zulma R. Labarga, and they have two daughters. He arrived in the United States at the age of 11 where he initially lived with his family in Pahokee, Florida. He graduated from Forest Hill High School in West Palm Beach in 1972 and received his B.A. (1976) and J.D. (1979) from the University of Florida.
Justice Labarga began his legal career in 1979 as an Assistant Public Defender with the Public Defender’s Office in West Palm Beach, assigned to the appellate, misdemeanor and felony trial divisions. In 1982 he joined the State Attorney’s Office in West Palm Beach, where he tried cases ranging from theft to homicide. In 1987 he joined the firm of Cone, Wagner, Nugent, Roth, Romano & Ericksen, P.A., and specialized in personal injury trial work. In 1992 Justice Labarga participated in founding the law firm of Roth, Duncan & Labarga, P.A., in West Palm Beach, where he continued to specialize in personal injury litigation and criminal defense.
Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Justice Labarga to the Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, in and for Palm Beach County, in 1996… In that capacity, he served in the family, civil and criminal divisions. He also served as the administrative judge of the civil division. In December 2008 Justice Labarga was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. On January 1, 2009, he was appointed by Governor Crist to the Florida Supreme Court, where he presently sits as the 84th Justice to take office at the Florida Supreme Court since statehood was granted in 1845. Office Information
Justice Labarga’s phone number is (850) 413-8371, and his judicial assistant is B.J. Vickers. His staff attorneys are Janice Scott, Stephanie L. Varela, and Randall T. Porcher. The mailing address is 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee FL 32399-1925. Attorneys or law students interested in clerkships in this office should check our Law Clerk Recruitment Page. There also is information on Internships. For more go to http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/justices/labarga.shtml
>>> New sheriff in town, Mayor Gimenez gives unions until Nov. 1 to make concessions before significant cuts and layoffs hit public employees
When it comes to reforming county government, there is a new sheriff in town called Mayor Carlos Gimenez and on Thursday if concessions were not made by the over 10 unions by Nov. 1. He would make the necessary staffing adjustments so that Miami-Dade ended the new year with a balanced budget he said at the Committee of the Whole meeting. Gimenez, a former fire and rescue chief at the city of Miami, later city manager and county commissioner is in a face off with these labor groups and salary concessions of eight percent, and the elimination of a recent three percent pay bump for county employees is being demanded. Gimenez is faced with a over $400 million funding shortfall after the county commission in July set a property tax millage rate that rolled back homeowners property taxes to 2009-2010 revenue levels. He has had only from Jun. 28 when he was elected to craft the 2011-2012 budget that has the consolidation of 47 departments to roughly 25 and the mayor noted the cost saving and restructuring was “evolving” and would be occurring all through the year, he told the commission.
What did county commissioners say?
Commissioner Barbara Jordan suggested the “mantra” for this downsizing of county government be “efficiency and not elimination” trying to keep the human employee toll to a minimum. She also wanted to be sure that the numerous new senior staff Gimenez is hiring have diversity in gender and color reflective of Miami-Dade. Gimenez said that would be the case in his administration and currently is reviewing three women as his appointment to the Financial Recovery Board overseeing the Jackson Health System. Commissioner Javier Souto, a former state senator and representative before his election to the commission in the mid 1990s said voters have sent a message to the commission noting he was just reelected in Aug. 2010. He said while public financial resources are down it was not government money that paid for the buildings on Brickell and he noted in his district, that on Bird Road between the Florida Turnpike and 836 Expressway that banks are proliferating with “two new ones being built,” right now and “banks mean money,” he said. Commissioner Xavier Suarez said during the hearing that he thought there should be a “cap” on what county employees make of $150,000 and he took aim at the county attorney’s office where many long time lawyers make considerable more than that. Suarez said no one that is not in a “Constitutional Office” should make any more than this salary and this is the second time he brought it up. He said he is convinced younger and cheaper attorneys were available and the old timers might enjoy the “private sector” if their financial needs made making these salaries necessary, he suggested.
What about Commissioner Suarez’s Monday Sunshine meeting?
Newly minted County Commissioner Xavier Suarez held a public sunshine meeting Monday at noon and he detailed multiple capital improvement projects in his District 7 commission seat that includes parts of Miami and Coral Gables. Suarez, an attorney spoke for a hour and ten minutes in a almost monologue fashion, that gave the audience and media a verbal road trip of the color renderings of the numerous projects that ranged from Bicentennial Park improvements to a underground road to enlarge a park on Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables. However, people attending after about 30 minutes of this nonstop dialogue started to get antsy and some believed the commissioner should have just held a press conference, and at the end no questions were asked by the elected leaders in attendance and no gesture was given for questions from the audience by Suarez.
How odd was the event?
Suarez who periodically brings up his education as a civil engineer and Harvard University trained attorney and drops people’s names that graduated from “MIT” and other top universities on an ongoing basis. He said when it came to funding these projects, it would come from “my money” allocated for the district he once referred to “being like Texas” given its high percentage of the county tax base. His presentation included him being like an absent-minded professor after he misplaced the pointer he was using and was a counterpoint with the fiscal reality at county hall where over $400 million is on the block. People in the room questioned where the money would be coming from that had the Virrick Park swimming program closed a few weeks ago for lack of funding even though the kids have to pay $5.00 to use the pool. Suarez brought up the Grove park named after Elizabeth Virrick because he had drawings of major changes and enhancements to the facility he was proposing, but critics say the priority should be to keep what currently is in place countywide in good shape, given the economic climate where it is difficult enough to keep the public facilities usable and able to have programs.
Further, the event included his son Francis, a Miami commissioner, sitting in the front facing the crowd that filled the county commission’s press room and after a half hour of his father’s presentation he started to look uncomfortable as he saw the reaction from the crowd in the room. And while the father has a number of monikers that are not flattering over the years, a new one may be The Rambling Man after this performance. Further, Commission vice Chair Audrey Edmonson early into the dialogue left, after it seemed Suarez controlled how the public money would be used rather than the other 12 commissioners, and the mayor. And it remains to be seen how effective and accepted by his peers on the dais some of his proposals will be when it comes to fruition for there are competing interests throughout Miami-Dade. For these limited public general funds and the $2.9 billion GOB monies passed in 2004 that has the county already carrying $28 billion in debt www.miamiherald.com on Sunday.
What about the Coconut Grove Playhouse?
Suarez handed out a seven point “tentative agreement” hammered out on the disposition of the Playhouse that involves a “quitclaim deed back to the state/county” and should occur in the “next thirty to forty-five days, thus avoiding any compulsory proceedings by the State,” states the Aug. 22 memo from Suarez to Playhouse board representative Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney. The memo further states the mayor and commission “will complete quickly the due diligence required to accept title such that the county will not be in the position where liabilities running with the land are assumed,” states the memo. The county commissioner noted there is $20 million in county funding for the rehabilitation of the structure but Suarez said, “$30 million is necessary to do what we want to do to make it like the old Playhouse and preserve the structure,” he said. However, Suarez noted while this was good news it was “not fail safe” and not “100 percent certain” the changes would occur but believed “the components are there” to resolve the issues such as “leans and other impediments,” and to progress to get the long serving icon theater open after it closed suddenly in 2006, with considerable debt on its books.
>>> M-DC Ethics Commission press release: A lieutenant in the Miami-Dade Corrections Department has charged his agency with failing to provide all documents contained within a public records request he made. Aaron Jackson is suing the County for retaliation for filing a racial discrimination claim and requested all e-mails from several Corrections officials from February 1, 2010. While the department did provide documents, Jackson claims in a complaint (C 11-26) that he has copies of e-mails from that date that were not provided and asserts that they were intentionally excluded. The Ethics Commission ruled that since the complaint concerns the Citizen’s Bill of Rights, it may not proceed to a probable cause determination and should be dismissed. However, the COE will also provide a letter of instruction to the Corrections Department regarding Public Records Law.
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCOOLS
>>> Regalado late closing out 2010 campaign report, elected in Nov. 2010, had $108, 450 net worth through Dec.
Raquel Regalado is in the spotlight this week and the attorney and radio host was first elected to the nation’s fourth largest school board district in 2010. She represents District 6 and has a full four-year term that ends in 2014. She is the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, is divorced and has two children. She is a Miami native and graduated from Coral Gables High School, has an undergraduate degree from FIU and her law degree was earned at St. Thomas University. On Sunday, she got some ink in www.miamiherald.com for not closing out her 2010 campaign reports after the election by the deadline, and is now nine-months late and she faces possible fines. She also was her father’s campaign treasurer and authorities are looking at an $8,500 donation to the campaign in 2009 from people from the Dominican Republic.
In addition, while she told the Watchdog Report recently she had filed her state financial disclosure reports required on July 1 but with a grace period to September. Something must have happened the first time she sent the material in for the state ethics commission as of this week had not received the reports. I emailed Regalado Thursday noting the state still did not have them on file and she emailed me the forms directly Friday and indicated another set was going to the ethics commission. Below is what she filed for 2010 with the state.
What do we know about her finances?
Regalado through 2010 had a net worth of $108,450 and she lists $8,200 in household goods. She lists liabilities of $268,460, a mortgage with Wells Fargo, the Access Group is owed $66,000, her income for the year was $73,947 from Malloy & Malloy, a law firm, and the school board kicked in $3,701 states the state disclosure report.
Regalado Bio: http://district6.dadeschools.net/
>>> Press release: COMMUNITY DISCUSSION ON MIAMI EDISON AND MIAMI CENTRAL SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS’ INTERVENE STATUS — WHO: District administrators, staff, students, and parents of Miami Edison and Miami Central senior high schools WHAT: Community discussion of the “Intervene” status of Miami Edison and Miami Central senior high schools WHEN: Wednesday, August 31, 2011- 6 – 8 p.m. WHERE: Miami Edison Senior High School - 6161 NW 5th Court Miami, FL 33127 WHY: The community discussion will explore ways of dealing with the “Intervene” status placed on both schools by the Florida Department of Education, in order that the schools will not be placed in jeopardy of closure in the years ahead. CONTACT: John Schuster, Chief Communications Officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, at 305-995-1126.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Migoya says without $296.6 million in concessions from unions and UM, Plan B kicks in with service cuts and layoffs
Carlos Migoya, the PHT president and CEO told the Financial Recovery Board (FRB) on Wednesday afternoon that his proposed budget for 2011-2012 would result in a zero loss next year, but was dependent on major concessions from the health trust’s unions and with the University of Miami to avoid service cuts and layoffs of some of the organization’s 11,000 employees. Migoya told the six men on the FRB that the administration should know what path it would have to take in the near future. Marcos Lapciuc, the FRB board chair believed they would know in the “next two weeks” regarding these negotiations and if unsuccessful, Plan B becomes Plan A” because we have “no choice,” he said. In the case of Plan B, the administration would be forced to curb medical services and layoff employees because the public hospital cannot sustain itself on the current path that had the institution losing around $337 million over the past two years.
Migoya, 61, a former banked says a key issue is “that labor costs drop to 49 percent” and at other medical academic centers, the labor percentage cost is “around 42 to 44 percent,” he said. He also said the organization “was under collecting $50 million in revenue in Medicaid charges” and he believes another “some $150 million” could be saved and recaptured “over time could be achieved,” he thought. He also said the institution wants to “replenish its working capital” and have a cash position that was “190 days not 18 days” of cash on hand and why the administration is seeking to “generate revenues over the next five years” with an eye on looking at “return on investment” and believed there would be a “better [fiscal] focus in the 2012-1013 budget,” he predicted. He also believed “we have people who say Jackson should not make money” but without a positive margin there is no mission. Further, any profit is actually a cash reserve, something the county has stashed away for a rainy day and to keep a high bond rating, and that bulking up on cash reserves is what Jackson is shooting for over the next five-years, said Migoya.
The administration among other things is looking for $56 million in pension related savings initiatives, $188.3 million of labor cost savings and a reduction of UM Miller Medical School payments for contracted services by $52.6 million, state trust budget documents handed out last week. Migoya said under this budget there “were no service cuts or layoffs” and said “conversations with our labor partners” are ongoing and when it comes to the Annual Operating Agreement with UM that pays the university about $135 million. “Our team is having a very good conversation” with the university’s administration and the goal is for Jackson to only “pay for actual work they are doing,” he said.
However, the multi-page plan is based on “a lot of assumptions” and FRB member Joe Arriola said while it “was a wonderful presentation” he had never “done a budget with so many assumptions.” He believed it was a “very aggressive, ambitious plan” and he was concerned “there was no deal with labor and the University of Miami (Where Arriola prior to the FRB’s creation was the university’s appointee to the old PHT board, now dissolved for the next two years). Lapciuc said the immediate need was “to stop the hemorrhaging given we have 9.8 days of cash [on hand in August] and must stop the loss.” He said the challenge was to do all the changes “concurrently” and if we don’t, “we will just kick the can further down the road.” The long serving member since 2005 on the PHT board was the past chair and former treasurer. He said it is “critical we start thinking over the next five years strategically” if the health trust is to survive given the organization’s “meager resources.”
Further, state Rep. Michael Bileca, (R-Miami) appointed to the FRB by the Miami-Dade legislative delegation chair state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, (R-Miami) and someone with experience with running a healthcare enterprise. Bileca said when it came to the proposed budget, “we have to hit on all cylinders if the [institution] is to break even.” He said Migoya in his public budget hearings next month with county commissioners should put Jackson’s situation “in context with other hospitals” and “all the assumptions” the upcoming budget was based on, he thought. He likened the public hospital system being like the frog in water that slowly gets hotter and does not react to it, “and the frog thinks it is normal.” “I strongly recommend giving the board of county commissioners a heads up of what the [true] situation is.” And he noted, “This is a marginally acceptable [budget] in the healthcare world.” He also suggested telling elected leaders sustainability in the long term was the goal and many of the strategies and initiatives would be seen in “years two and three.” >>> The meetings scheduled in the weeks ahead are a Aug. 29 FRB meeting to consider the approval of the proposed budget, followed by Miami-Dade County Commission public hearings on Sept. 8 and Sept. 22 where the FRB’s final budget will be adopted along with the county’s new budget for the coming budget year that begins Oct.1. >>> Public meeting: A PHT Financial Recovery Board Public Budget Hearing has been scheduled for Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. in the Board of County Commission Chambers, located on the second floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 N. W. First Street, Miami, Florida 333128. In preparation for the August 29, 2011 PHT Financial Recovery Board Public Hearing regarding the FY 2011-2012 Proposed Budget please review the agenda and supporting documents on the Jackson Health System website. As of June 2011, the Public Health Trust Financial Recovery Board committee and board meeting agendas and other supporting documents are now available for download in PDF format on the Jackson Health System’s website accessible at the following link:
>>> See what Migoya said on WPBT2 on Issues http://ka.uvuvideo.org/_Issues-Interview-with-Jackson-Chief-Carlos-Migoya/video/1625351/86294.html
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> She’s back, Commissioner Spence-Jones suspension lifted, will fill District 5 seat again until Nov. 2013, Dunn just a “regular citizen” now
Parking spot name changed, check; picture on the outside wall of the commission chambers changed, check; name on the dais, check; name on the office door, check, her photo on city webpage, check; as formerly suspended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is reinstated by Gov. Rick Scott to her office last week after being suspended twice by Gov. Charlie Crist after being charged with diverting public money to a family business. She has maintained she was innocent of all charges. State attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle dropped the last grand theft charge last week after a critical witness, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Carey Shuler and Spence-Jones mentor recanted her statements after she was given immunity to prosecution. However, the state attorney still maintains she was right for her office to bring the Grand Theft charges but just cannot prove them now. The legal saga that went on for almost two years and saw the commissioner found not guilty at an earlier trial for another reason has sent past District 5 Commissioner Richard Dunn, II out the door. Though he is asking to be paid for the rest of his term that would have ended in Nov. 2013, but is likely to get little sympathy from the commission given the tough budget straits Miami is in with a $61 million budget hole. However, Dunn in Jan 2010 when he accepted the commission appointment knew when Spence-Jones was suspended that she could be back at anytime. If she was acquitted or the charges were dropped and she now gets back pay, around $180,000 since being out of office but will have to pay her own legal expenses since the second set of charges happened before she was a Miami commissioner, that already had the city picking up the around $120,000 in legal costs for the case when she was declared not guilty. Spence-Jones on Michael Putney’s Sunday show This Week In South Florida said she felt “exonerated” and wants too “put it behind” me and move forward she said on the show. She also said that she had no problem with Mayor Tomas Regalado and expects to have a good relationship with him when she is back on the dais. http://www.local10.com/index.html
Mayor Tomas Regalado said Spence-Jones on Friday was visiting city Manager Johnny Brown and she was planned to move back into her office on Saturday said the mayor. The Watchdog Report went bye city hall about 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and I could not verify that had happened but given how fast government employees move when it comes to elected officials. I suspect that on Monday she will be open for business and seeing constituents after her long absence from the five-member commission that has changed significantly since her departure at the end of 2009. Her new colleagues on the body are Commissioners Francis Suarez, Frank Carollo, and Willy Gort the commission chair and Regalado replaced former Mayor Manny Diaz in Nov. 2009. However, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is still there and the two commissioners have crossed swords in the past and it remains to be seen if they go after each other where they left off years ago and the community from all ethnic groups are holding their breath whether there will be a new round of fireworks on the dais. While the city tries to deal with a $61 million budget shortfall that had Miami declaring financial urgency and trying to force the unions into concessions, but time is running short. Since a balanced budget for 2011-2012 must be approved by Sept., 30 and the first budget public hearing will be Sept. 5. after 5:00 p.m. in the commission chambers.
>>> Miami Commission Candidate forum – Brickell Homeowners Association – September l4 – CITY OF MIAMI candidates at Miami Science Museum – 3280 S Miami Avenue for November election. Francis Suarez, Willy Gort and Marc Sarnoff on the ballot – jointly done with the South Miami Avenue Homeowners Assn, Miami Roads Neighborhood Civic Association and Brickell Area Association.
CITY OF HIALEAH
>>> After years of no commission district 13 office, Commissioner Bovo opens two
Press release: Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. announces the grand opening of two offices in District 13. Commissioner Bovo assured his constituency that if elected, he would open offices in Hialeah, a municipality located in the heart of his district, as well as in Palm Springs North, situated in the northern part of the district, in order to remain fully accessible to the residents. On Saturday, August 27, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Commissioner Bovo invites you to the Grand Opening of the Hialeah District Office where there will be an assortment of resources and information on County services such as the Golden Passport for seniors, hurricane preparedness, Miami-Dade Public Library system FREE Library cards and the JMH Mobile Unit which will be on site. Residents can also bring up to three (3) used light bulbs per home to exchange for energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) and up to two (2) used showerheads to exchange for water-efficient models. In addition, there will be refreshments, giveaways and an opportunity to take photos with Florida Marlins Mascot, Billy the Marlin. “I encourage all the residents of County Commission District 13 to visit the new district offices to obtain assistance with any county service or express their much-appreciated opinions and suggestions,” said Commissioner Bovo. Commissioner Bovo’s District Offices are located at: Hialeah District Office, 3794 West 12 Avenue 305-820-8424 Office 305-820-8430 Fax — Palm Springs North District Office 17687 NW 78 Avenue, Miami, Florida 305-820-8444 Office 305-820-8463 Fax
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Commissioner Weithorn says “terrific resort tax collections” help with city budget, Memorial Day discussion this Thursday
The Watchdog Report contacted the mayor and commissioners last week asking about the city’s upcoming budget and the Memorial Day Urban Beach Weekend debate and only Commissioners Deede Weithorn and Michael Gongora emailed back by my deadline Sunday. Weithorn, up for reelection in November and a CPA wrote that when it came to the city’s 2011-2012 budget that some of the pressure is off since some tax collections are up. The commissioner wrote, “We are confident we will have a balanced budget with no tax increase thanks to terrific resort tax collections.” Gongora sent his monthly email bulletin and here is the schedule for the next public meeting concerning the holiday weekend being held this week on Thursday down at city hall. >>> Commissioner Michael Gongora monthly newsletter: Speaking of events, the City of Miami Beach’s Joint Meeting of the Neighborhoods/Finance & Citywide Projects Committee s will be discussing the issue of Memorial Day at the September 1st meeting at 4:00 p.m. in the City Manager’s Large Conference Room at City Hall. Residents have spoken out against the increased crime, traffic, congestion, litter and nuisance during this weekend and would like to see events next year, which will help diminish these quality of life challenges. Many have suggested the City of Miami Beach program an event to commemorate our soldiers who have lost their lives fighting to protect our freedom – the true meaning of Memorial Day. Others have suggested programming diverse cultural events, which will attract a wide spectrum of visitors. Still others have suggested closing city streets and nightclubs to protect the residents during this weekend. Whatever your ideas or suggestions might be, please come to the Neighborhoods/Finance &Citywide Committee meeting and share your thoughts.
>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club: August 23rd, 2011 -Meeting Date: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 – Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach — Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District Five, Bruno Barreiro, will be this week’s guest speaker at the August 30th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Commissioner Barreiro is in his third term and will be running for re-election in 2012. With the county still reeling from the recall of County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, and the election of a new Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, as well as attempting to fill record budget shortfalls, the Commissioner’s analysis of the situation should be very interesting. There is no charge and everyone is welcome to attend. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club. Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Cason says review of truck ordinance ban, upcoming budget hearings the only big new from the City Beautiful
The Watchdog Report contacted Mayor Jim Cason and commissioners last week asking if they had any comment about the upcoming budget and the issue of trucks parking at night in the City Beautiful where the activity has been fought in the courts but was ruled a legal law a while back. Cason elected in April is a first term mayor and he wrote back last week. “Nothing new really. We will have a workshop to look at material we have received regarding our [legislation] and other truck ordinances to see what, if anything, needs to be done. Budget hearings will take public comment,” wrote the former diplomat. And Commissioner Maria Anderson first elected in the spring of 2001 wrote back, “Life is good in Coral Gables. We will be proposing a tax rate reduction despite decreased property valuations, which should make everybody happy! The rate reductions come as a result of two-years worth of hard work in pension reform, workforce decrease, and changes to the organization (ongoing) that are making it a more efficient and customer-friendly environment,” wrote the veteran commissioner.
What did Anderson say about the truck ban?
“As to the truck ordinance, I proposed in July that we take a look at our truck ordinance and consider modification that would permit non-commercial trucks. The original law in 1960 envisioned trucks as work vehicles; today’s trucks are expensive lifestyle choices preferred by many in our city. These folks I find are good, reasonable tax-paying people who do not want to have commercial vehicles in their neighborhood, but would like the opportunity to park their non-commercial vehicles in front of their homes. It comes before the City Commission in a workshop that we will have on the matter. It won’t be a public hearing, but it will be open to all to watch and listen. Should the Commission go forward with modifications, there will be opportunities for comment at public hearings where the discussions will surely be a lively one,” wrote the long serving commissioner.
CITY OF OPA-LOCKA
>>> Mayor Taylor gets slapped with ethics fine after voting conflicts with non-profit she runs
A public reprimand was issued today to Opa-Locka Mayor Myra Taylor, who last month agreed to pay a fine of $1,500 as part of a settlement with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE). The complaint (C 11-16) 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 in which she served as sole officer, founder and president. While recognizing the value of politicians involving themselves with worthwhile causes, the reprimand states that “public officials must exercise due care to separate the duties of public office from the activities of the non-profit or community organization… to avoid even the appearance of using the official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for other persons and organizations.” The letter notes, “There is no doubt that respondent had a personal interest in the Civil Rights Supper. In fact, she pontificated about such interest at the City’s December commission meeting.” The COE also chastises Taylor for ignoring the advice of her own city attorney, stating that if she “heeded that advice, we would not be reprimanding her today.”
TOWN OF MIAMI LAKES
>>> Ethics commission sends letter to Mayor Pizzi about allowing the public to speak at official meetings
A complaint (C 11-27) filed against the mayor of Miami Lakes was dismissed as not legally sufficient because it’s based on the Miami-Dade Citizen’s Bill of Rights, which the Ethics Commission has no authority to enforce. Alan Rigerman filed the complaint against Michael Pizzi claiming he was not recognized and not permitted to speak at Town Council meetings in June and July, despite registering to do so. Bill of Rights issues may only be resolved through a Circuit Court lawsuit. However, the Ethics Commission will issue a letter of instruction, reminding Miami Lakes officials of the value of citizen input at public meetings.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> State Sen. Rich in the limelight, elected in 2004 but could be termed out after reapportionment, had $1.16 million net worth
State Sen. Nan Rich, (D-Sunrise) is in the spotlight this week and she represents Senate District 34 that includes both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. She came to Florida in 1951, went to the University of Florida for a few years, is 69, and served in the Florida House from 2000 and 2004 and she was elected to the state Senate in 2004. However, she may be termed out if her district term is truncated during reapportionment in 2012 and she is the Minority Leader in the Senate. She is married and sits on a host of senate committees and during the recent redistricting public hearings in Miami-Dade. The veteran legislator was vocal in her concerns, especially the short time line between when new state senate and house district maps are approved and when candidates have to qualify to run for office that has election supervisors in the larger counties up in arms given the logistics they have to deal with.
What do we know about her finances?
Rich through Dec. 2010 had a net worth of $1.16 million and she lists $461,000 in household goods. Her home is worth $496,000, a condominium in the state capital is valued at $148,000, there is $171,000 in securities/IRA, the FRS has $71,100 in it and she owes Charles Schwab $191,900. Her income for the year was $11,663 from social security, GE sent $1,500 and the state of Florida kicked in $30,914.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Katherine P. “Katie” Leach and Donna P. Korn to the Broward County School Board.
Leach, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, is an educator at Nova Southeastern University. She will fill the at-large vacancy created by the resignation of Jennifer Gottlieb. She is appointed for a term beginning August 26, 2011, and ending November 19, 2012. A Broward County teacher from 1995 to 2001, Leach has directed autism consortium contracts for the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development at Nova Southeastern University since 2009. She is a member of the Autism Society of America and served as a board member of the organization’s Broward Chapter from 1997 to 1999. She also is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children. As an advocate for children, she has served on the boards of the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science, the SNAC Transition to Independence Committee, the YMCA of Broward County and the Children’s Services Board of Broward County. She has also served on the Education Advisory Board of Fort Lauderdale, Broward Schools Parent/Community Involvement Task Force and the Broward Schools Facilities Task Force. Leach received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in exceptional student education from Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, respectively.
Korn, 40, of Davie, has been a commercial real estate agent with Taylor and Mathis of Florida since 2009. She will fill the District 4 vacancy created by the resignation of Dave Thomas. She is appointed for a term beginning August 26, 2011, and ending November 19, 2012. A Broward County high school teacher from 1994 to 1997, Korn previously was a real estate agent with Colliers, Abood, Wood-Fay from 1997 to 2009. She has served in a leadership role for Broward County Schools on several occasions, including serving on the Community Budget Task Force Committee. She is a past chair of the Facilities Task Force and past member of the Site Review Committee and the Oversight Committee for Interlocal Agreement. Korn is the chair of the Children’s Services Board of Broward County and serves on the Early Learning Coalition of Broward County. A founding member and past vice-chair of Voices for Children of Broward County, she is a guardian ad litem for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and a member of HANDY Inc., an organization that supports Broward County’s foster care children and those placed under protective supervision. She is a member of the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Broward County. Korn received a bachelor’s degree from Emory University.
>>> 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
>>> State Sen. Negron in the spotlight, first elected in Aug. 09, had $712,000 net worth through 2010
State Sen. Joe Negron, Jr., (R-Palm City) is in the spotlight this week and given the redistricting process could be termed out as late as 2018 or 2020 for his Senate District 28 seat. The attorney, 49, first elected on Aug. 4, 2009 serves on a variety of committees and when he was a state representative from 2000- 2006. During this tenure, he chaired the appropriations committee in the lower house. He is married, has three children and has an undergraduate degree from Stetson University where he was editor in chief of the student newspaper. He later attended Emory University where he received a law degree and then Harvard University where he earned a Masters in Public Affairs. The Watchdog Report caught up with Negron after local redistricting hearings and he was not very chatty with the press as he went on his way to have some lunch in downtown Miami and essentially blew me off when I asked about any new illegal immigration laws during next year’s legislative session starting in January.
What do we know about his finances?
Negron through Dec. 2010 had a net worth of $712,000 and he lists $86,720 in household goods. A jeep is worth $26,200, there is $37,800 in a FRS account, his home is valued at $651,000, savings and checking accounts have $17,700 and $14,300 in them and his incorporated law firm is valued at $151,600. He lists a mortgage of $81,600, Chase Bank is owed $67,900 and GMAC wants $14,100. His income for the year was $69,486 from law firm Akerman Senterfitt, and another $127,000 came in from law firm Gunster Law and the state of Florida kicked in $29,682.
>>> Press release: FLORIDA OWNER OF CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS SENTENCED TO 60 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR EMPLOYMENT TAX FRAUD
Richard Rosaire Routhier, of Lake Worth, Fla., was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,243,574 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Justice Department and the IRS announced today. On April 25, 2011, Routhier pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to defraud the IRS. According to the information, Routhier and others conspired to defraud the United States and unlawfully enrich themselves by paying employees in cash and not withholding and paying over employment taxes to the U.S. Treasury. According to court documents, Routhier owned and operated Drymension Inc., a custom drywall installation and framing contracting company in Lake Worth. From 2002 through 2008, the defendant caused Drymension checks to be issued to several shell corporations. These entities, while purporting to be legitimate subcontractors, existed only on paper and did not do any work for Drymension. The checks written to shell corporations totaled approximately $9,132,516. The checks were cashed at local check cashing stores and Routhier used the cash to pay Drymension employees. Routhier neither withheld from the cash wages nor paid over to the IRS the employment and income taxes as required by law. >>> Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Tax Division, thanked the IRS Special Agents who investigated this case and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Matthew J. Mueller, Jason H. Poole and Assistant Chief Gregory E. Tortella who prosecuted the case. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Gov. Scott looking for new sheriff in town for Pinellas County, are you a candidate?
Press release: As Pinellas County Sheriff, Jim Coats prepares to step down to spend more time with his family, Governor Rick Scott is calling on qualified individuals to apply for the Interim Sheriff position. “As a life-long law enforcement officer, Sheriff Coats has been watching over the safety and security of Floridians for 40 years – with the last seven years as Sheriff of Pinellas County,” said Governor Scott. “Sheriff Coats is a good friend, and I wish both him and his wife all the best.” Sheriff Coats’ resignation takes effect on November 7, 2011. Governor Scott plans to make the Interim Sheriff appointment by October 15, 2011, for a term expiring January 7, 2013. Those interested may fill out the Gubernatorial Appointments Questionnaire at the following link:
Applications will be accepted through September 12, 2011
>>> Press release: Key West fisherman pleads guilty to illegal harvesting activity
Wifredo A, Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Tracy Dunn, Acting Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), Southeast Division, announced that DAVID P. HORAN, JR., 42, of Key West, pled guilty yesterday in federal Magistrate’s Court in Key West for having unlawfully harvested and sold black grouper in interstate commerce, without complying with Florida law regarding commercial harvest requirements and without holding valid endorsements and permits essential to the lawful harvest, possession, and sale of saltwater products, all in violation of the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A) and (a)(4), and 3373(d)(1)(A). U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow accepted Horan’s plea to the felony charge, and indicated that she would recommend Horan be formally adjudicated guilty by District Judge K. Michael Moore, who has been assigned the case. Judge Moore had referred the matter for hearing by Magistrate Judge Snow, and has set the case for sentencing on October 11, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. in the Sidney M. Aronovitz Federal Courthouse in Key West. Horan faces a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, a period of supervised release of up to three years, and a criminal fine of up to $250,000 in the case… >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the coordinated investigative efforts of the Special Agents of the NOAA-OLE. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald. 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.
>>> THE MARGULIES COLLECTION AT THE WAREHOUSE PRESENTS NEW EXHIBITIONS
Sculpture: Nancy Rubins, Bruce Nauman, Yuichi Higashionna, Kaz Oshiro, Izaak Zwartjes Photography: Mary Ellen Mark, John Baldessari, Jonathan Monk, Ed Ruscha, Isaac Julien Video: Hiraki Sawa, David Claerbout, Antonia Wright & Ruben Millares Painting: Gregor Hildebrandt, Lawrence Carroll, Lydia Gifford, Frank Stella, Justin Beal – Opens NOVEMBER 11, 2011 through APRIL 28, 2012- This November 11th, 2011 The Margulies Collection will open its 13th season of exhibitions. The exhibition will include new works of sculpture, photography, video and painting as well as the collection’s PERMANENT INSTALLATIONS of work by Ernesto Neto, Olafur Eliasson, Donald Judd, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Willem De Kooning, George Segal, Michael Heizer, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Isamu Noguchi, Tony Smith, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Will Ryman, Joel Perlman, Franz West and John Chamberlain.
>>> Looking for a few good Mangoheads
King Mango is starting his 30th birthday celebration early at the 3rd Annual Great Grove Bed Race on Sunday, September 4, 2011. The races begin at 2 pm on Grand Avenue and Commodore Plaza. Beds will line-up on Commodore Plaza starting at 11 am. The Great Grove Bed Race is an annual Grove tradition that raises money for a local organization. This year proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. Our Team name is King Mango Strut and we are registered for the Co-ed division which means we need at least two females for our team. We don’t race for speed but for maximum exposure! It’s all about the show, right? We do, however, want to win for the most hilarious team. We want to show ‘em that the King Mango Strut “Puts the NUT back in CocoNUT Grove”!
To see pictures of the last race the Mangoheads entered click http://www.magicalphotos.com/thegreatgrovebedrace/index2..html. They were Team Woomba: When 8 is Not Enough! The Team won most creative, came in dead last at 2 minutes and 17 seconds, got on the front page of the Herald and even delivered over 40 babies during the race! We need a total of five (5) racers including the person on the bed and at least five (5) pit crew members. We have Mr. Peer Everett in the regal role as King Mango riding on the bed and returning racer, AJ Nichols, of “Bringing Chubby Back” fame. We are actively seeking your participation in the race and your hilarious ideas for our team. We need a place for the bed in the Grove for the next 2 weeks. We also need help decorating King Mango’s royal bed, material, signage, racers, pit crew, and all the Mangoheads on earth to cheer on our team. In other words, King Mango needs an entourage of nutty proportions! If you are interested in joining King Mango for an early start of his 30th birthday bash email Len Scinto at email@example.com or King Mango at firstname.lastname@example.org.
>>> Grove Chamber event features Commissioner Suarez Sept. 9 @ Mayfair Hotel — Friday, September 9, 2011 – Commissioner Xavier Suarez, Miami-Dade County, District 7 is our Special Guest Speaker – Noon Networking Reception – 12:30 pm Lunch, MAYFAIR HOTEL & SPA, 3000 Florida Avenue, Coconut Grove – $35 Chamber Members, $38 Non-Members For reservations, info@CoconutGroveChamber.com 305-444-7270 coconutgrovechamber.com
Shark tagging, coral reef and Everglades exploration, a deep-freeze collection of biomedical samples from the ocean, rising sea levels, oil and water, an eco-fashion show… this is just a taste of topics and events waiting for you at SEJ’s 2011 Annual Conference hosted by the University of Miami. Register soon — SEJ’s ever-popular tours are filling fast! See the draft agenda, book your hotel, find a roommate or ride-share, advertise/host a reception and more.
>>> PAST WDR: SEPT: 2007: Public institutions and employees need to be careful when it comes to the web, not everyone has access or a Blackberry like them
Government organizations need to be careful when they tell people in a condescending way that all this information is on the government’s web page. For many people do not have access to the web or high-speed connections like many of these public servants, with their Blackberries and they should remember that. The web has proven to be a boon in so many ways but there is a technological divide and access to government must be available in a number of ways if all are to be satisfied with their request for information.
I write about this because it seems to be the catch phrase I hear constantly thrown out to mollify peoples request for information and public servants should be cognizant of that fact, and try to accommodate the request for information in a timely manner. For local government falls under the Sunshine Act and requesting parties have the law on their side, and practically every document falls under this government in the Sunshine and before a public employee gets into a snit when a request comes in. They should reflect that this is the way it is, and as much as they might want to ignore the request, it is the law and should be followed.
>>> PAST WDR SEPT. 2007: Sunshine violations for discussions among people on public boards is wrong and people will start getting busted
Sunshine violations at meetings are going to get increased scrutiny in the future and people on these public boards need to not have side bar discussions with other members for they open themselves up for criticism. People don’t know what is being said when these people come together for a chat, and that doubt does not help bring open and transparent government to the political process. In the past, especially at the county commission I have taken photos of elected leaders talking while proceedings are going on and they generally have gotten the message. However, in the future such as the charter review meetings, the Watchdog Report will be relentless in documenting these discussions regardless if someone is just discussing their children, or speaking about policy being discussed at the meeting. People on public boards should keep this in mind in the future for the public expects since you are in a leadership position representing them indirectly and with leadership comes this responsibility.
>>> Reader on FairDistricts redistricting and the legislator’s public hearings
For two months now, legislators have been traveling the state trying to appear like they are interested in how the people of Florida want them to draw new Congressional and legislative district lines. The truth of the matter is that their actions indicate that they are more interested in figuring out how they are going to get out of having to comply with the FairDistricts amendments! For example, they are holding hearings to take public comment – but they are offering no maps for the public to comment upon! They also have published a schedule that – if followed – will ensure that maps will be finalized so late that incumbents will have a huge strategic and financial advantage while challengers will not have the time to mount credible campaigns.
More disgracefully, they continue to spend our tax money to fight the new redistricting standards in court. Hundreds of citizens have attended these hearings to let the legislators know they are upset with the process and suspicious of their motives. Through their actions thus far, it is obvious that the Tallahassee politicians do not want to give up the power to draw districts to benefit themselves. Will you help us continue to educate Floridians about what is going on and ensure we have the resources to fight back? During hearings, we have seen Legislators on their Blackberry’s or iPads. Others talk among themselves. And the leaders who do talk often try to rebut public complaints with “factual data” – which investigative reporters have frequently found to be untrue.
>>> The Mayor’s budget reduces Beach Safety/Lifeguard Service to Crandon Park Beach and to Haulover Beach Park.
This reduction is $900,000. $450,000 for each park. The Beach Safety is now under the Fire Department. This will create serious shortages of lifeguards at the county’s busiest beach, Haulover Beach Park’s designated naturist beach. Suggest you look into petition campaign that is being forwarded to county commissioners by email. Also, the petition drive taking place at Haulover Beach. At Haulover Beach Park, the naturist beach draws over 1 million visitors annually. The parking lot for the naturist beach earns over $1.2 million annually. Naturists pay $6.00 per vehicle to park. However, the parking lot revenue does not go to support the lifeguard service or even Haulover Beach Park. The money goes to a general fund in the park department. If $1.50 per car of the parking revenue was allocated to the lifeguard service, they would have enough money to keep the beach safe by not cutting the budget.
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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
>>> 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 >>> 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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