Archive for September 2011


Watchdog Report Vol.12 No.21 September 25, 2011 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot!


Argus Report: Dr. Ziff requesting name change on Arsht Center Ballet Hall built largely with public dollars creates dilemma for arts community leaders

Florida: State Atty. Fernandez-Rundle takes hit with dropped charges for Miami Commissioner Spence-Jones case; will it play into her 2012 reelection campaign?

Miami-Dade County: Commissioners come to resolution, pass $6.18 billion budget, but give out $400,000 in discretionary money to non-profits and eyebrows raised

Miami-Dade Public Schools: There he goes again, Arts & Minds founder Alonso-Poch in the spotlight with public school district for charging parents 26 inappropriate fees

Public Health Trust: CEO Migoya gets vote of confidence from FRB with budget, UM medical service contract most important one, “permeates” the whole organization says Chair Lapciuc

City of Miami: Sarnoff defends his 5-year record in second Dist. 2 candidate debate, but with four challengers, he takes some verbal hits, how low will this go?

City of Miami Gardens: Two Miami Gardens residents charged with fraudulently obtained forms and tax refunds

City of Miami Beach: Mayoral debate verbal rumble with Mayor Bower fighting back against three challengers

City of North Miami: Local cop is slapped by ethics commission for security work for mayor

City of Coral Gables: Mayor Cason hears residents concerns and works the crowd at luncheon on Monday at John Martin’s

City of Homestead: Ex manager settles complaint but gets Letter of Instruction, not a resume builder

City of Doral: Mayor Bermudez goes to Washington, meets with key President Obama advisors, and U.S. Senate Minority leader McConnell

Town of Miami Lakes: Ethics commission issues letter saying public speaking at meetings is “valuable but not obligatory” under state Sunshine Law

North Bay Village: Mayor slapped with ethics fine and a Letter of Instruction for incomplete financial disclosure form

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Broward mortgage fraud sentences for five people with up to 43 months in the federal Big House

City of Coral Springs: Mortgage broker and bogus purchaser charged in $2.8 million mortgage fraud scheme

Palm Beach County: With 2.1 million invalid driver’s licenses, state Rep. Slosberg continues his crusade to get them off Florida highways

Pinellas County: Gov. Scott renames Burke and Gibbons and taps Robert J. Fine Jr. and Timothy O. North to the District Board of Trustees, St. Petersburg College.

Hillsborough County: Gov. Scott taps James T. Burt II and Andrew V. Pittman Board of Trustees of Hillsborough Community College.

Pasco County: Gov. Scott names Edward C. Blommel, John J. Finnerty, David B. Lambert, and Emile A. Laurino to the Pasco County Housing Authority.

Valencia County: Gov. Scott names M. Bertica Cabrera-Morris and Lewis “Lew” M. Oliver III to Board of Trustees of Valencia Community College.

Community Events: Margulies Collection openings – Good Government Initiative at UM luncheon Oct. 12 features Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez – Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, Miami, Oct. 19-23 Shark tagging, coral reef and Everglades exploration, a deep-freeze collection…

Editorials: PAST WDR: JUNE 2007: Floridians want government to work but keep within a budget, public service is a privilege – not a right

Letters: The Children’s Movement wins competitive grant – Reader on Herald reporter Haggman leaving paper – Reader on role of Watchdog in community

Sponsors – Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text

>>> 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 for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media within the University of Miami’s School of Communication 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 has celebrated its 12th Anniversary May 5, 2011.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Dr. Ziff requesting name change on Arsht Center Ballet Hall built largely with public dollars creates dilemma for arts community leaders

The Adrienne Arsht Center is at the center of a potential controversy now that Stanford Ziff is asking to have the name changed on the Ballet Opera House that bears his now deceased wife’s name Dolores and changed to his new wife’s name since he remarried nine months after her death. Ziff made a $10 million donation years ago when the complex was just being designed and he and Dolores were at the last girder installation of the hall and the project for them was a real labor of love of the arts. However, significant public money was involved in the massive project that is the largest performing arts center built in the last three decades, and it originally was going to cost $255 million but actually, after over $100 million in change orders back in the summer of 2004, came in at $472.9 million and was 20 months late in its opening and reported extensively in past Watchdog Reports and in my weekly column in The Miami Herald back then.  Further, early PAC management team made a number of critical mistakes costing Miami-Dade taxpayers millions as the center blew holes on its early operating budgets. And one such example was when then CEO Michael Hardy told Miami-Dade county commissioners that the reason the complex had such a high energy bill over what was budgeted was because they used the square footage number rather than the actual cubic square feet figure to calculate the air-conditioning cost causing a significant difference in the massive halls.

The early years of the center also saw lower attendance and that initial drain on county coffers was causing political concerns for a number of Miami-Dade commissioners, especially those living in the western part of the county. However, since then two new top directors have revived the flagging attendance and a host of popular programs have proven successful and made skeptics into believers but this issue with Ziff is an interesting dilemma that asks the question while he and his past wife made this donation. Does such an act allow someone to change the name of a largely funded public performing arts center at any time in the future and the Watchdog Report suggests the physician reconsider this request. For it could ignite once again the debate about public money going into such an endeavor and now that it has proven itself. Ziff is playing with fire when it comes to this and could tarnish some of the past successes and his stature and reputation in the community for it is a great honor to have a complex named after you. And it would be a shame to have that honor diminished in anyway.

What about the free Monday & Saturday tours?

The general public and students interested in the arts complex can go on free tours on Monday and Saturday at noon and includes inside information about the centers history, architecture and performers. They will walk through all the theaters, peek into stars dressing rooms and lounges not open to the public and will get to see the dramatic views of Biscayne Bay and Miami skyline states a flyer on the program. The tours take about an hour, it is free and no reservations are necessary and are conducted in Spanish and English. If you have more than 20 people please call 786.468.2326. For more information go to Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County The Center is the foundation on which resident organizations build their programs and extend their reach. The Arsht Center serves as both a showcase and …

>>> So this is what it is like to be 60, life flies by when you are having fun, but almost was cut down in Feb. 2010

I turned 60-years this past week and I would like to thank all of the people and organizations that believed in what I was trying to do back on May 5, 2000 and have supported me financially the last 12-years that I have been publishing the Watchdog Report solo. Over that time many things, some 14,000 stories have occurred and been reported about and last February in 2010. I had the ultimate scare when I “was a flip of the coin” whether I would survive during an emergency surgery at 4:00 a.m., done at South Miami Hospital by Jorge Rabaza, M.D., a vascular surgeon and his partners back then. I obviously survived, but lost a lot of weight and have another medical issue but I have been grateful of that fact since then, and such an event gives one a certain clarity about life and what is important while one is alive. To all of you who have helped me over those years.  I give you a Tip of the Hat, hope I have earned your respect in this endeavor and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the help in so many ways.

>>> To read a national story run in the Tribune papers on my life and how this all began done by Orlando Sentinel featured reporter Maya Bell go to: 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. …

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


>>> State Atty. Fernandez-Rundle takes hit with dropped Miami Commissioner Spence-Jones case, will it play into her 2012 reelection campaign?

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, the long serving countywide Miami-Dade elected official is in the spotlight and she assumed the seat after Janet Reno in 1993 became the nation’s attorney general for President Bill Clinton. Fernandez –Rundle a Democrat has had a wide array of cases during her time with the 11th Judicial Circuit including public corruption cases, that in one case ended with Miami Commissioner Art Teele, Jr., committing suicide in the lobby of the Miami Herald and more recently, the dropping of the corruption charges for suspended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones after a critical witness recanted. The long serving state attorney has part of a street named after her and has been an ardent advocate for the need to pay starting state attorneys and public defenders a decent salary rather than the around $40,000 a year starting rate now. She also has supported Kristi House and a host of other organizations trying to help victims and also trying to cut the recidivism rate for South Floridians released from the jail system.

However, over the years, it is the issue of public corruption cases that has always caught the public’s interest and in the 1990s I was told there were some 300 such cases being looked at and her spokesman Ed Griffith at the time remarked that was a lot of cases in his opinion. Since then she has had success prosecuting a variety of elected leaders but she also gets dogged by conflicts of interest such as when the office recused itself years ago when then state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami was facing a over $300,000 election violation fine in front of Judge Ed Newman. And the case was handled by another county’s state attorney’s prosecutors who lost their case against two local veteran defense attorneys. Now with the high profile Spence-Jones case going down in flames people are questioning the prosecution and the role of public corruption prosecutor Richard Scruggs, now assigned to another unit after the felony case was dropped.

This issue of the Spence-Jones could be important for the veteran state attorney is up for reelection in 2012 and over the years she has had some tough, and other more easy races over the years, but this prosecution misfire may fan the flames for challengers and she may find the partisan race is more intense than in the past. Especially given the mood with the public that is sick to death of all the corruption, fraud, waste and abuse rampant in South Florida.

What do we know about her finances?

Fernandez-Rundle through Dec. 2010 had a net worth of $1.75 million and she lists $515,000 in household goods. She lists $480,000 in deferred income, her home is worth $900,000 and lists extensive stock, bonds and other investments and her total assets are $1.89 million. Her listed liabilities are $202,000 owed to a bank, Silver Grove Inc. wants $450,000 and she owes $6,000 on credit cards. Her income for the year was $150,000 as the state attorney, a state car is worth $14,100 and other smaller income came in through dividends, rent and interest.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott picks John W. Rollins and J. John Wortman to the Board of Governors, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

Rollins, 41, of High Springs, is the president of Rollins Analytics Inc.  He previously served as vice president of AIR Worldwide Corporation from 2007 to 2009, director of corporate analytics at Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2007, consulting actuary at Watson Wyatt Worldwide from 2004 to 2006 and chief actuary and manager, strategic planning at Florida Farm Bureau Insurance from 1999 to 2004.  He was also president of Rollins Research from 1995 to 1996. Rollins has authored several prize-winning papers in the journals of the Casualty Actuarial Society.  He is also a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and member of the American Academy of Actuaries.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his master’s degree from the University of Florida.  Rollins succeeds William P. Corry and is appointed for a term beginning September 20, 2011, and ending July 31, 2014.

Wortman, 70, of Ponte Vedra, has been the chief executive officer of Wortman Capital Associates since 1997.  Previously, he served as chief executive officer of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation from 2007 to 2010, chief executive officer of Anthem Property and Casualty Insurance Companies from 1995 to 1997, chief executive officer of Michigan Mutual and Amerisure Companies  from 1989 to 1995 and chief executive officer of American Mutual Insurance Group from 1986 to 1989. Wortman is currently the president of the North Florida School of Special Education and has been a member of their board since 2001.  He has served as a board member of the National Council on Compensation Insurance and was chairman from 1991 to 1992.  Wortman has also served as a board member of the Insurance Services Office, Alliance of American Insurers and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Washburn University.  He succeeds Sherrill W. Hudson and is appointed for a term beginning September 20, 2011, and ending July 31, 2014.


>>> Commissioners come to resolution, pass $6.18 billion budget, but give out $400,000 in discretionary money to non-profits but eyebrows raised

Its over, the county commission approved Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s reorganization budget and a tweaked version of his $6.18 billion proposed budget, after the 13-member commission deliberated until 2:48 a.m., Friday morning after five hours of discussion and horse trading from the dais that included earlier some commissioners trying to deplete their office funds to the tune of $400,000 before the budget deadline. During the public hearing, that was about half the number of people from a year ago, members of organizations spoke of their need for county funding assistance. Here is just a small sample of the over 125 speakers that had the determination to discuss how their county tax dollars are being spent.

>>> The Children’s Museum noted through some of this past funding that there is a reduced admission fee throughout the month of September and help fund 540 field trips for the kids in the prior year.

>>> Cultural Affairs activists pleaded for the $668,000 funding for the arts that had former Cultural Affairs Chair Adolpho Henriques saying he “did not envy the decisions the commission had to make.” But said the money for the cultural grants program would “save a hundred jobs and this investment was modest,” but had a “big job multiplier for us” and for every public dollar to the arts, around $11.00 would be generated.

>>> Bob Brennan highlighted the importance of agriculture to south Florida and when it comes to new pests. “A new bug is found every month” and currently the “red beetle” is killing the avocado tress” and if you like guacamole you may be in trouble he warned.

>>> John Rivera, the head of the Miami-Dade Police Union and whose organization’s employee’s concessions negotiations discussions are said to be the most difficult in the coming weeks and has Gimenez saying while he did not want to let cops go. He would have too if no concessions were made by Nov. 1. Rivera called the police “those that are brave enough, proud enough and the best officers,” in the nation. He highlighted that things were fiscally tough before speaking further, by giving the mayor $2.00 in cash for batteries for an inoperative clock in the chamber. He showed a poignant video of what law enforcement faces in the field everyday and his supporters wore black tee shirts with white lettering saying. “We Fight What You Fear,” and he noted government’s “first responsibility is to provide safety for its citizens” and when you need the police. “It will take that much longer to get to your constituents,” if the cuts are made, he intoned.

>>> Ann Taylor, a Miami businesswoman spoke in favor of the Mom & Pop grants that are used to stimulate small business. She noted that such a grant was how she started her Little Havana located company and for many people “these are the only means of financial support” and such grants have been given out to 6,000 businesses since the program’s inception, she said. >>> The mayor in the budget change memo restored 90 percent of the funding cut.

>>> Farm Share, an organization that gives out excess food to the tune of 500 million dollars of food since its inception and feeds tens of thousands of “people who depend on us,” pleaded for funding help said organization head Patricia Robbins. The program head said “we perform and deliver real value,” with “our limited resources,” and the funding should not be cut, especially now since there is such “great demand” for food.

>>> Miami-Dade Redistricting public hearings for the new 13 commission districts after the 2010 Census are still being lightly attended by the public with three of them having less than three people attending and one had no public in the audience just county staff. This lack of interest by the public is a serious issue but it has been traveling under the community radar and the process is moving forward with or without public input. >>> PAST WDR: County public redistricting meetings range from over 60 attending to none, one suggestion by resident is for people to move into less populated districts. The county has been holding public County Commission Redistricting hearings for the 13 commission districts over the past weeks and public turnout has been atrocious, and the people that do attend many times don’t understand the process done every ten years after the nation’s Census. The top attendance was around 60 people, another around 19 residents participated and at one community meeting, no public attended with only county staff at the event. Some of the questions asked by the public shows the fundamental lack of knowledge about the process. For one person suggested only property owners should be factored into the new commission districts and another person suggested people move to the less populated commission districts and if that happened the 13 districts would not have to be changed at all. However, that is not the case and the districts will have to be redrawn to adjust for the population shift, which can be seen below.

>>> County’s webpage: County Commission Redistricting >Following the release of the 2010 Census data, Miami-Dade County is in the process of updating the Commission District boundaries to comply with Federal, State and local requirements. Re-apportionment >There was a double-digit population growth in eight commission districts with District 9 leading the list at 33.1 percent, District 11 following at 20.4 percent, and District 8 third at 18.0 percent. These changes in commission district population will have ramifications on the boundaries of future commission districts. In particular, Figure 3 shows that over half of the current districts, assuming near equal apportionment, will be significantly different from those based on the 2000 Census data.

>>> Upcoming county commission redistricting meetings

•  District 10 – September 28, 2011 7:00 PM, Commissioner Javier D. Souto, West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way

•  District 8 – September 29, 2011 6:00 PM, Commissioner Lynda Bell, South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th St, >>> For more information, please visit the County’s redistricting website at or call the County’s 3-1-1 information line.

>>> Ethics commission press release: No probable cause was found on a complaint (C 11-23) filed by a security supervisor for Miami-Dade Transit who accused the agency’s chief of security and security manager of whistle blower retaliation and exploitation of official position.  Charles Wellons, Jr., claimed he was suspended for five days after complaining about security breaches within the department.  However, the investigation found that the disciplinary action was taken because Wellons was insubordinate and that the supervisors followed the recommendation of the County’s Office of Civil Rights and Labor Relations.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott reappointment’s Benjamin Leon III to the District Board of Trustees, Miami Dade College.

Leon, 43, of Coral Gables, has been the president and chief executive officer of Leon Medical Centers since 1996. In 2006, he served as the co-chair of the transitional team for the Department of Elder Affairs.  Leon has been a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of the United States (CAMACOL) since 2004 and he received his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 22, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> New M-DC CRB leadership take their posts in commission chamber ceremony

The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board founded almost 50-yars ago has new leadership when the gavel was passed last week in a ceremony done in the county commission chambers. The incoming CRB officers are: Chair, Dr. Walter T. Richardson; Vice Chair, Mr. Reinaldo Valdes; Secretary, Ms. Vickie Smith Jackson and Executive Committee members, Mr. Ronald Fulton, Mr. Edward Shohat, Dr. Harold Vieux, and Dr. George L. Yap.


>>> There he goes again, Arts & Minds founder Alonso-Poch in the spotlight with public district for charging parents 26 inappropriate fees

There he goes again, Manny Alonso-Poch, an attorney, past county bond salesman is once again under the Miami-Dade Public Schools district administration’s microscope for charging parents around two dozen different fees for the children attending the school, a no-no. Poch, the founder of the Arts and Minds Charter School Academy located on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove in 2003 has been the subject of numerous past Watchdog Reports since then and prior to this latest Sept. 21 communication. The issue of the school’s governance was in the spotlight. However, in the district letter last week to the charter school written by Tiffanie Pauline, the district’s administrative director’s memo for Charter School Operations titled Non-Compliance and Collection of Student Fees. She notes there were 26 cited fees that are inappropriate and should not have been collected from the school’s student’s parents. She demands a complete listing of who paid the fees, how much, their names with email accounts and immediate action is being demanded if the nation’s fourth largest public school district is not to start “withholding FTE payments” that also could result in the “possible termination of the school contract,” the district supervisor wrote. She is asking for this student/parent  information from the 2007 to 2012 school years and the district is demanding a “action plan” on how the school will “reimburse these funds” to the affected individuals who paid the “student fee assessments.”

Poch, a politically well-connected man with extensive ties to a host of politicians including Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and his daughter Raquel, a school board member whom he gave campaign contributions to both campaigns from 2009 and 2010 seems to feel immune to the concerns the public school district has. But with this latest letter, he should be feeling the heat, especially since this is just another example of his organization pushing the administrative envelope, as has been detailed in past WDRs. Further, this week there is another school board Audit Committee meeting and given the board’s past involvement reviewing A&M. The members will not say much about it since it is an active case but I am sure they are interested after all the exposure the members have had with the charter school. I contacted the school district on Friday asking for a comment and Pauline wrote back, “Thank you for contacting my office to gain clarification on this matter. However, due to the pending investigation of this charter school, the District is unable to comment on this matter at this time,” wrote the Charter Schools Administrative Director. And for one long time reader that had a child at the school years ago and was a parent representative in the past that I passed the letter on too. He wrote, “Wow! It looks like I will receive a check in the near future! Thanks.” >>> Here is a recent video of the Sept. 22 governance board meeting re the Non-Compliance letter:

>>> PAST WDR: AUG. 2011: “Grove charter school board meeting video gives insider peek inside governance and debate of Florida Sunshine laws.”

A parent of a local charter school in Coconut Grove started in 2004 and run by the building’s owner Manny Alonso Poch filmed a governance board meeting and the discussion allows the public to get an idea of what and how some of the 80 plus such schools are governed in Miami-Dade in the public  sunshine. The Arts and Minds Academy Charter School has been a frequent topic of the Watchdog Report since the school first went through and its creation was approved by the nation’s fourth largest public district because of this “related transaction” as it is called when a facilities owner also runs the school. In this case, the rent for the building jumped back in 2006 from $29,000 to $69,000 and currently now when maintenance is included is well over $80,000 per month. The school while academically doing well has gone through four school directors and has been the object of stories in The Miami Herald and Miami New Times along with other blogs. Here is what was sent to me last week by the person that took the video.

>>> “I have uploaded the videos of the last 2 A&M Governing Board Meetings. The first meeting on 7/14 was adjourned when they realized I was videotaping. I showed them the law, explained, etc and they did not feel comfortable going forward. On the meeting on the 28th you will find a lot of interesting footage. If you do not have much time, at least view the Q and A portion. You will get a kick out of it. It is funny as they do not even know who is on their Governing Board and it is only a six member Board. All of the videos are ready. You can click on the following link and then look at all of the videos that were uploaded. There are a total of 8 (2 for the 7/14 meeting and 6 for the 7/28 meeting): You can also go to youtube and search aandmgbvideos and they will all come up. Videos 5 of 6 and 6 of 6 for the 7/28 meeting is the question and answer portion.”

>>> PAST WDR: MAY 2011: Grove Arts & Mind Academy parents, in six page blistering letter to school district, light up school’s governance and criticize building owner and school founder Alonso-Poch

Parents of students at the Arts & Minds Academy located on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove fired off a blistering highly critical letter of complaint to the Miami-Dade Public Schools administration concerning how the charter school is being run and governed that seems to only benefit financially the building’s owner and school founder Manny Alonso-Poch. The May 2 six-page letter signed by the A&M PTSA Executive Board President Carlos Deupi and other senior board members and parents to Tiffanie Pauline, the Administrative Director of charter schools in the nation’s fourth largest school district. The letter details a long list of issues, including the fact that he owns the building the school is housed, and uses it for other activities including having his law office at the site. The school created in 2004 was flagged by the Watchdog Report back then because of the building ownership issue that is known as a “related transaction.” The original monthly rent paid by the school district was $29,000 but when it expanded in 2006, that same rent jumped to around $69,000 a month, and caught the eye of the district’s inspector general and the school board’s audit committee. Poch, an attorney, at a past school board audit committee meeting explained to audit board members why the new rent was fair, but his explanation did not fly and had audit board Chair Frederick “Buck” Thornburgh, an attorney noting there “was a lot of fairy dust in the room,” after the explanation he thought.

>>> PAST WDR MARCH 2009: The Arts and Minds Academy Charter School was in the school board’s audit committee spotlight this week and the founder and owner of the building housing the school was called out Tuesday at the meeting. Four restaurant/bars surround the school located on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove and when school ends in the afternoon. The kid’s mill around the streets running through passing traffic, yet there are no signs indicating it is a school zone. The school, created a few years ago has been expanding, adding students, but that rate of student growth has dropped to 351 students and the institution is trending toward having another deficit, like the previous year. Manny Alonso-Poch, the owner of the building housing the academy founded the school and runs a restaurant at night at the location as well.

Alonso-Poch was grilled by audit committee members about whether the school will close the year with a deficit and he said it would not. He told them he would cover any shortfalls when the budget year concludes June 30 and it would be a “gift.” However, since the school is a not-for-profit that could be a tax deduction for Alonso-Poch and since he is getting over $69,000 in rent a month covering the potential estimated $150,000 shortfall would be no problem. The public school district funds the school based on student count and the audit committee voted to increase the scrutiny on the school including district auditors “monitoring in a more aggressive capacity.”

Betty Amos, the chair of the audit committee asked Alonso-Poch if he would reduce the high rent he charges for the school but the owner disagreed saying he “did not agree the rent was too high.” Audit committee member Frederick “Buck” Thornburg, Esq., said after the school’s discussion there “is a lot of fairy dust running around here” in the room he thought and scrutiny of the school’s finances are now front and center with the nation’s fourth largest public schools district’s auditors. Readers should stay tuned to see how this all pans out in the future.


>>> CEO Migoya gets vote of confidence from FRB with budget, UM contract most important one, “permeates” the whole organization says Chair Lapciuc

In a vote of confidence for President & CEO Carlos Migoya and his management team, the Financial Recovery Board (FRB) passed a new Annual Operating Agreement with the University of Miami’s Miller Medical School that the public hospital has had an affiliation with since 1952. The university is making concessions and is taking a $16.5 million hit to their budget that began June 1. The health trust is also asking the medical school to work on finding $36 million in cost savings through initiatives, that will also cut time patients spend in the hospital and the discharge plan will start to be developed as soon as the patient is admitted. Migoya, a banker with no experience running a health system has brought together a new team experienced in the field and the FRB board’s vote was a signal of support for Migoya who came on board in May. The agreement between UM and Jackson involved heated talks that went to midnight and had FRB member Joe Arriola saying he “was doubtful” an agreement could be hashed out but “something happened” that changed the negotiations. UM Miller Medical School Dean Pascal Goldschmidt M.D. a cardiologist said, “I am proud and not happy but proud of the work.” The physician said they had hammered out a “decent and constructive agreement” though he noted if it had been financially more. Their “priority would have to shift to trying to save UM as an organization,” though that has not happened and regarding the AOA the only thing left is to “define the doctors,” for Jackson, he said. He also challenged the perception there would be a “break up of this marriage” saying it was in “peoples imagination” and their goal was “how can we deliver the best medical care to the residents of Miami-Dade.” And while UM “is losing money providing care,” over the years the institution’s physicians “have never reduced the quality of care,” he noted.

Goldschmidt also addressed head on the issue of UM doctors moving paying medically insured patients from Jackson to the university’s own hospital across the street. He said any “Physicians that do that will be reprimanded” and “proper sanctions” will be applied to these doctors. FRB chair Marcos Lapciuc also told board members the UM agreement is “probable the most important contract Jackson has and totally permeates the whole organization.” He noted that the issue of the university’s hospital has to be in the equation and “has to be differentiated” not by “using incendiary language” but the issue of the hospital has to be addressed. The chairman also noted since the PHT is working on an affiliation agreement with Florida International University’s new medical school. He believes Jackson must “understand the relationship FIU has with Baptist Health South Florida and iits impact on this board.” Lapciuc concluded by saying “I believe a strong and hearty relationship is in the best interest of us and the community” and I want to be “clear” on that fact. >>> The final approval on the UM AOA agreement with the PHT will be voted on by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

>>> No show FRB applicants for mayor interview not a resume builder

The FRB is a seven-member board with currently six men on it. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has committed a women will be appointed to the oversight board and when I asked him about it on Tuesday after a county commission meeting. He said there had been two women set to interview with him but they forgot about the meeting and “one was in Chicago,” he said. A note to any candidates applying, if you really want to be on this premiere citizen based board (though in this case it includes state Rep. Michael Bileca, (R-Miami). You should be able to keep your commitments if you wish to serve. For to have kept Gimenez waiting for you before the county budget and reorganization hearings was to occur, plus the fiscal challenges that the PHT faces leaves the Watchdog Report speechless. And only truly committed people, whatever their gender should apply and have the time to do the heavy lifting that is required if one is to be selected for this crucial board and critical to the health of all Miami-Dade residents.


>>> Sarnoff defends his record in second Dist. 2 candidate debate, but with four challengers, he takes some verbal hits, how low will this go?

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, Esq. looked slightly pensive before the Miami Commission District 2 debate at The Downtown Bay Forum luncheon Wednesday that had him sitting at the end of the table with the other four challengers on his right as he faced the audience. Sarnoff with over $377,000 raised for his reelection campaign is facing Williams Armbrister, Kate Callahan, Ph.D., Donna Milo (she is the only one that does not live in Coconut Grove, but resides in the Upper Eastside of the city, and is a general contractor) and Michelle Niemeyer, Esq. in the race and a previous debate held in Coconut Grove was a heated affair with verbal charges flying. This luncheon moderated by Sean Foreman, Ph.D., a professor at Barry University was a more staid affair and he took written questions from the audience and peppered the candidates on where they stood on a wide variety of issues.

Sarnoff first elected in Nov. 2006 and getting a full four year term in 2007 stood when he spoke and moved in front of the table since he could easily do that given his end spot. He took a sharp verbal barb from Milo who objected to him using the commission dais to campaign after the earlier debate where he referenced some of the comments and representations he considered inaccurate from the seat. That verbal action at the Miami commission dais has resulted in Callahan filing an elections campaign complaint against Sarnoff with the Federal Elections Commission but the race has also split the Grove into five different political camps. The Grove is important because that has historically been his political voter base in what is generally a low turnout election being held on Nov. 1 with a likely runoff election in this race.

Armbrister said he would be “the Energizer Bunny” for all of Miami since he is retired and carped that the Village West part of the Grove “gets no representation” at the city by Sarnoff. Callahan with a Masters in public policy said there “was no excuse for Miami to have a $105 million deficit last year,” and for it to be “$62 million this year,” she said. Milo said she “knows when to make hard decisions” and said it was wrong when candidates “make statements here but cannot be clarified on the dais” like Sarnoff did and challenged the commissioner’s claim of a one stop shop to start a business, that is only used for “special events,” but had Sarnoff shaking his head that the statement was incorrect. Niemeyer took a different tact saying, “residents and stakeholders need confidence and are frustrated with city government.” She said during the last five years with the incumbent “things have gotten worse and there was a need to look at job creation.” She went for the throat when she noted she was “a fluent Spanish speaker and the commissioner does not speak that language.”

Sarnoff in response to the verbal pummeling noted elections were a “Democratic process” and one of the challenges that a commissioner faces representing the shoreline city district is that it accounts for “78 percent of the tax base” of Miami and has “the other [four] commissioners tapping into this money,” he said. The maritime attorney said the city’ homeowners and commercial property values have fallen “49 percent”, and that is an unprecedented number since the Great Depression, and has some big cities “turning off 2,600 street lights to save money.” He is in support of a convention center in downtown Miami, notes there is a new movie studio in operation and “all are labor intensive industries.” And when it came to developer Jorge Perez’s three-condominium massive towers project that was shot down near Vizcaya a few years ago. He “stood up” to the man and noted when he “was sued by the developer” that his credit rating dropped from around 800 to the 400 range. And when it came to the firing of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito the reason for the action “seemed to be a pretext” and he believed it “exposes the city to a lawsuit” and said Miami Manager Johnny Martinez “did not handle” the firing well. Further, he also supports getting someone for the Police Department who is “a healer” and from the outside. He thinks the department is “fractured” and there are a “number of other factions” and why he thinks the new chief should be “someone external from the city and could bring [the department] together.”

The debate went on for well over an hour but one thing was clear to the Watchdog Report, and that is Sarnoff has a political fight on his hands and the only upside for him is that he has massively more money then the under funded candidates, none of which have broken the reported $100,000 fundraiser mark yet. Further, while all the other candidates had campaign materials on the tables, there was none for Sarnoff and in looking at local mailings in the Grove his campaign material has been rare, suggesting he is waiting until the last few weeks to unleash his effort to get voters attention, counter any political charges against him, and to conserve this campaign money for any runoff that might occur. However, when he first ran he was a political neophyte and a local community activist who was grateful for voters support, but since getting a full term some people have called him “arrogant” and “vindictive,” to people that get in his way and he has a habit of making fun of other people at their own expense, which is a terrible dangerous trait for a politician to have.

Sarnoff also claimed he was the grandson of a Great One, Gen. David Sarnoff the founder of NBC and made RCA a corporate powerhouse in the late 1930s and onward but when The Miami New Times a few years ago contacted the man’s library in Princeton N.J. They indicated they did not know who Miami Commissioner Sarnoff was and said he was not related to the Great One’s family. It is this enigma about who Sarnoff is and his many personal traits, that seem to have voters confused, and his past supporters in a quandary about the leader after the past five years. And it will be who gets out the vote that ultimately counts, which in his case does not have the grassroots political passion of his supporters as was seen in his past two races.



>>> Press release: Two Miami Gardens charged with fraudulently obtained and using tax refunds

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and John E. Brooks, Chief, Sunrise Police Department, announced that defendants Latoya Balsh, 23, and Meshanto Elizor, 18, both of Miami Gardens, Florida, were charged in a Criminal Information today with one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a) and 2.

According to the Information and court documents, identities of numerous victims were used to electronically file fraudulent tax returns using a commercially available tax software program.  In this way, the defendants obtained money cards containing IRS refunds based on fraudulent tax returns.  The defendants used these cards to obtain money orders and cash at a retail store in Sunrise, Florida. If convicted, the defendants each face a term of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. >> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service and the Sunrise Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz. An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


>>> Mayoral debate verbal rumble with Mayor Bower fighting back against three challengers

The mayoral debate at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club was packed and the questions flew. I contacted David Kelsey who organizes the event and asked him what his take was on the debate between Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower and challengers Steve Berke, David Crystal and Laura Rivero Levey. The organization has become a real sounding board for candidates and shows the benefit of civic involvement by residents when it comes to local governance and issues a city may face. Kelsey in an email wrote back, “Matti is a fighter and she can hold her own against anyone, but the two guys (Steve and Dave) were quite a match for her.  Laura Levey is too uninformed to be taken seriously.  We had a good crowd (about 200 people) and the question and answer period was quite lively.  I think the boys showed that they had what it takes to be mayor, but Matti probably came out ahead,” wrote Kelsey.

>>> PAST WDR: City Clerk’s office: NOVEMBER 1, 2011 GENERAL ELECTION

The following individual(s) have submitted Form DS-DE 9 (Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository for Candidates) Mayor (Mayor Bower’s Seat) Matti Herrera Bower, Steve Berke,

David Crystal, Laura Rivero Levey*:  Group IV (Commissioner Wolfson’s Seat)

Jonah Wolfson; Group V (Commissioner Tobin’s Seat) Edward Tobin; Group VI (Commissioner Weithorn’s Seat) Deede Weithorn and Maria Carmen Meruelo

*denotes latest change

>>> Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club PRESS RELEASE Meeting Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s Café II, 1654 Meridian Ave., South Beach >> Dr. Martin Karp, School Board Member for District 3, a district that includes Miami Beach, will be the guest speaker at the September 27th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. >>> Dr. Karp is in his second four-year term and will be running for re-election in 2012.  Dr. Karp is a graduate of the University of Miami where he earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, a Master of Science in Education, and Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing.  He also earned a Masters degree in a joint M. S. and M. B. A. program from Syracuse University’s School of Public Communications.  Dr. Karp is the Chair. of the School Board’s Instructional Excellence and Community Engagement Committee, and is a member of the School Support Accountability Committee.  He is a strong advocate of needs-based learning.  He is a resident of Miami Beach and he and his wife have three young children. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator for the Breakfast Club.


>>> Press release: PONCE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION P.O. Box 141651 Coral Gables, FL  33114 – “Keeping you abreast of the pressing issues affecting Coral Gables.” – We meet the first and third Mondays of the month at JohnMartins restaurant (253 Miracle Mile – 2nd floor) at noon.  Lunch is $20 for members and $22 for guests.

James Cason – Mayor of the City of Coral Gables — Please join us this Monday, September 26th, our speaker will be James Cason, Mayor of the City of Coral Gables.  We meet at noon at JohnMartin’s restaurant (253 Miracle Mile – 2nd floor). Elected this past April, Mayor Cason is a retired career U.S. Foreign Service officer over 40 years of national and international public service.  A Fulbright Scholar, the Mayor is a graduate of Dartmouth and John Hopkins University.  Mayor Cason will be speaking about the current state of the “City Beautiful”. Please RSVP for our luncheon at For upcoming events and our monthly newsletter visit us at

Please forward this email to any business or individual that would be interested in attending. Richard Martin, President

>>> Be A Good Citizen — Get Engaged and Stay Informed -Gables Talk: -Gables Home Page:
Gables Gazette: -Enjoy your quality time in Coral Gables and stay tuned to this channel for more Great Gables Events. Robert A. Burr, editor Great Gables – a guide to the City Beautiful – Great Gables Events – a weekly list of events reply to: web site: www.GreatGables/Events.html


>>> Local cop is slapped by Ethics commission for security work for mayor

Ethics commission press release: The Ethics Commission found Probable Cause that a police officer in North Miami violated the ethics code by profiting from security measures taken at City Hall.  According to the complaint (C 11-30), Officer James Mesidor, who also owns a security company, subcontracted work to install cameras in Mayor Andre Pierre’s office with one firm and conduct security sweeps of the building with another company.  Mesidor submitted invoices from his company, but was told that, as an employee, he could not do business with the city.  The investigation found that Mesidor had his nephew submit the invoice under a different company’s name and deposited the payment in its account.  Officer Mesidor received a check from the third company, from which he paid the subcontractors, and then earned a profit of $1,688.


>>> Ex manager settles complaint but gets letter of instruction, not a resume builder

Ethics Commission press release: A former Homestead city manager has settled a complaint (C 11-21) that charged him with “exploitation of official position” when he ordered reductions in bills generated by the city’s electric utility.  In one case, Sergio Purrinos told the general services director to “clear the account” of a customer who owed nearly $10,500 for electricity that was stolen by use of a meter-by-pass device.  In another instance, Purrinos ordered the lien on a house for unpaid utility bills to be reduced by one thousand dollars at the request of the realtor handling the sale.  As part of the settlement, Purrinos agrees not to contest the allegations of Count 2 of the Complaint. The Ethics Commission will dismiss Count 1 and waive the fine but will issue a Letter of Instruction.


>>> Mayor Bermudez goes to Washington, meets with key President Obama advisors, and Senate Minority leader McConnell

As part of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Fall Leadership Meeting in Washington, D.C., Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez of the City of Doral met with key advisors of President Barak Obama’s Administration. The meeting was attended by Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council for the White House, and David Plouffe, Assistant and Senior Advisor to the President. Mayor Bermudez was also part of a group of Mayors that met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to discuss the USCMs jobs plan “A Common Sense Jobs Agenda.” The four areas of recommendations in the plan are: I. Invest in Infrastructure Jobs Now; II.  Provide Immediate Relief to Employers and Workers; III. Stimulate Manufacturing, Trade and Tourism;

IV. Maintain Smart Investments in Key Domestic Priorities (such as CDBG and COPS).
“The USCM’s jobs proposal cuts to the core of what our constituents’ main concern today is: how do we get Americans back to work,” said Mayor Bermudez. “We are here to make sure our representatives in D.C. know that we have a solid plan to get our citizens back to work.” >>> About the U.S.C.M.: The United States Conference of Mayors was established in 1932 as the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,200 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official — the Mayor. The U.S.C.M. promotes the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthens federal-city relationships; ensures that federal policy meets urban needs; provides Mayors with leadership and management tools; and creates a forum in which Mayors can share ideas and information.


>>> Ethics commission issues letter saying public speaking at meetings is “valuable but not obligatory” under state Sunshine Law

Ethics commission press release: The Ethics Commission issued a Letter of Instruction regarding citizen comments at public meetings to be broadly distributed to all elected officials in the County.  It stems from a complaint (C 11-27) that was filed against the mayor of Miami Lakes and dismissed last month as not legally sufficient.  Rather than limit the advice to one municipality, the Commission determined that a recent ruling from the First District Court of Appeal should be shared.  It explains that public participation at regular meetings of officials is valuable but not obligatory under Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law. Allowing time for public comment is only mandated for public hearings when a governing body is adopting a law or ordinance.


>>> Mayor slapped with ethics fine and a letter of instruction for incomplete financial disclosure form

Ethics commission press release: NBV Mayor settles ethics violations -The mayor of North Bay Village today settled charges filed by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) that she violated the County Ethics Code by filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms two times. The investigation of the complaint (C 11-22) found that a year ago, Corina Esquijarosa filed a Statement of Financial Interests for 2009 along with qualifying papers to run for the mayor’s post, which she eventually won.  Investigators found that she listed a property owned by her and her husband, but failed to report the rental income from the downtown Miami unit.  She also neglected to list the mortgage in the “liabilities” section of the form.  After being contacted by Ethics Commission investigators in April, Mayor Esquijarosa filed an amendment to the form, but that, too, was erroneous and incomplete because it didn’t list the rental income or the mortgage.  As part of the agreement, COE will dismiss Count 1 of the complaint while Mayor Esquijarosa admits to Count 2.  She will pay a fine of $500 and accept a Letter of Instruction.



>>> Broward mortgage fraud sentences for five people up to 43 months in the federal Big House

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Addy Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Tom Grady, Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, announced today that five defendants involved in a Broward mortgage fraud scheme were sentenced by United States District Judge James I. Cohn at the Fort Lauderdale court house. The defendants sentenced and the corresponding sentence are as follows: Matthew Gulla, 35, Davie, Florida – 35 months in prison: Rene Rodriguez, Jr., 37, Plantation, Florida – 43 months in prison: Jacqueline Trumbore, 39, Margate, Florida – 3 years probation: John Velez, 37, Plantation, Florida – 42 months in prison: Joseph DeRosa, 35, Coral Springs, Florida – 37 months in prison

The Indictment charged the defendants with one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, eleven counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, thirteen counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and eight counts of making a false statement to a government agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.  Two defendants are charged with obstructing justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512.  Not all defendants were charged in all counts. According to the Indictment, the defendants engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by fraudulently causing real property in Broward and Palm Beach Counties to be bought and sold by submitting, and causing to be submitted, false and fraudulent documents to mortgage lenders in order to obtain the loans.  The total dollar amount of the loans secured under the scheme was in excess of $16,000,000 dollars. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FDLE, USPIS, and the State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laurie E. Rucoba, Jeffrey Kay and Michael Patrick Sullivan. >> 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

>>> 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 to view the new agenda.


>>> Press release: Mortgage broker and bogus ourchaser charged in $2.8 million mortgage fraud scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Tom Grady, Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, announced today that defendants Jinnie Mathurin, 42, of Coral Springs, Florida, and Guhier Florvilus, 36, of Sunrise, Florida, were charged by Information in connection with their participation in a mortgage fraud scheme.        The defendants were charged with one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. If convicted, each defendant faces up to thirty years’ incarceration on the wire fraud charge.

According to the charging documents, defendant Jinnie Mathurin was a mortgage broker licensed by the State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation and defendant Guhier Florvilus was a straw buyer.  These defendants and others engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by fraudulently causing real property located in Broward County, Florida, to be bought and sold through straw buyers who obtained high value mortgages based upon fraudulent mortgage loan applications and closing statements. In addition, documents were submitted to the mortgage lenders reflecting significantly inflated values for the real properties. Both defendants also received wire transfers from the closing agency responsible for the property closings, with defendant Guhier Florvilus receiving a wire transfer of $382,101.00 for his participation in the scheme as a straw buyer. Based on the false documents submitted to the financial institutions, mortgage lenders issued approximately $2,835,000.00 in loans to the defendants and others.  The case involving defendant Jinnie Mathurin has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra in West Palm Beach, while the case involving defendant Guhier Florvilus was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T.K Hurley, also in West Palm Beach. >> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service and Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz.  An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


>>> With 2.1 million invalid driver’s licenses, state Rep. Slosberg continues his crusade to get them off Florida highways

The Sunshine State with around 14 million drivers suffers from another nightmare and an estimated 2.1 million of them are driving a car with a suspended license or no license at all. A former state trooper for decades said the “crazies” are those people that speed and are DUI when they are at the wheel are the ones most likely to have a invalid license in his experience over the years. The issue of suspended or no license  has been a driving crusade for state Rep. Irving “Irv” Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) since he lost his daughter Dori in a car crash and sponsored legislation to increase funding for driving education with the state’s younger drivers and trying to get the illegal drivers off Florida highways. Further, since these people without valid licenses will also not have the $10,000 PIP insurance required on legal cars. Any car accident that requires medical care will go uncompensated in many cases further straining hospital fiscal resources and here in Miami-Dade that is no small number. For more on the legislator:



>>> Press release: Gov. Scott reappointments Kenneth P. Burke and Deveron M. Gibbons and the appointments of Robert J. Fine Jr. and Timothy O. North to the District Board of Trustees, St. Petersburg College.

Burke, 51, of Seminole, has been the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Pinellas County since 2005. He is currently a member of the St. Petersburg College Alumni Association Board of Directors and National Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges.  From 2001 to 2007, he was a member of the National Board of Directors for the Association of Community College Trustees and served as chairman from 2005 to 2006. Burke was also appointed by former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the United States Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and served on the workforce committee from 2005 to 2006. Burke received his associate degree from St. Petersburg College and bachelor’s degree from University of South Florida.  He has served on the District Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College since 1999 and is reappointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2015.

Gibbons, 38, of St. Petersburg, has been the vice president of public affairs at Amscot Corporation since 2005.  Previously, he was senior government affairs advisor at Holland and Knight from 2003 to 2005 and director of government affairs for the Department of Community Affairs from 2000 to 2001. Gibbons received his bachelor’s degree from University of Florida and master’s degree from University of South Florida.  He has served on the District Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College since 2006 and is the board’s current vice chair.  He is reappointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014.

Fine, 46, of St. Petersburg, has been president of Admiral Farragut Academy since 1998 and has served in various positions at the school since 1989.  He has been a member of the Florida Council of Independent Schools since 1989 and served on the board of directors from 2005 to 2009.  Fine is currently a member of the Southern Association of Independent Schools and National Association of Independent Schools.  He is also past president of the Bay Area Association of Independent Schools.  Fine received his bachelor’s degree from Carroll University and master’s degree from National Louis University.  He succeeds Richard Johnston and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014.

North, 49, of Belleair, is the president and chief executive officer of AmeriLife.  Previously, he served as a board member and past chair of the finance committee for the Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA).  North received his bachelor’s degree from University of the South.  He succeeds Evelyn Bilirakis and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2015. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps James T. Burt II and Andrew V. Pittman Board of Trustees of Hillsborough Community College.

Burt, 55, of Tampa, is the managing member of MacDill Capital Partners L.L.C.  Previously, he was the president of Capstone Group Inc. from 1999 to 2009.  He has served on the board of trustees for Jesuit High School and was a member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce.  From 1990 to 2011, Burt was a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and law degree from the University of Florida.  He succeeds Rodrigo Jurado and is appointed for a term beginning September 22, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014.

Pittman, 41, of Tampa, is the managing member and co-founder of ASAP Capital Partners L.L.C.  He has been a member of the Institute for Private Advisors since 1998 and received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University.  He succeeds Andrew Graham and is appointed for a term beginning September 22, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Edward C. Blommel, John J. Finnerty, David B. Lambert, and Emile A. Laurino to the Pasco County Housing Authority.

Blommel, 62, of Dade City, is the director of community relations for Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco. He succeeds Leonard M. Trubia and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending September 12, 2015.

Finnerty, 64, of Dade City, is the chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco. He succeeds Regina M. Mirabella and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending August 30, 2014.

Lambert, 39, of Spring Hill, is the manager of member relations at the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative. He succeeds Wilton E. Simpson and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending August 31, 2013.

Laurino, 69, New Port Richey, is the chief executive officer for the Center for Independence. He succeeds Joan M. Spitrey and is appointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending September 13, 2013.


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names M. Bertica Cabrera-Morris and Lewis “Lew” M. Oliver III to Board of Trustees of Valencia Community College.

Cabrera-Morris, of Orlando, has been a self-employed public relations and governmental affairs consultant since 1993.  Previously, she was an administrator with Orange County Public Schools and held positions at SunBank and AmeriFirst Federal. Cabrera-Morris attended the UCLA Banking Academy of Los Angeles and is currently the vice chairman of the District Board of Trustees of Valencia Community College.  She has been a member of the board since 2005 and is reappointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2015.

Oliver, of Orlando, is a founding partner at Quiñones and Oliver P.L.  Previously, he was an assistant city attorney for the City of Orlando from 1986 to 1992.  From 2008 to 2011, Oliver was a member of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stetson University and law degree from Georgetown University. He has been a member of the District Board of Trustees of Valencia Community College since 2002 and is reappointed for a term beginning September 23, 2011, and ending May 31, 2014. >> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.



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.

>>> The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami Invites you to its third Community Conversation and Luncheon >> Wednesday, October 12th Northern Trust, 700 Brickell Avenue, 9th Floor, 11:30 a.m. registration, 12 p.m. lunch, 12:30 p.m. panel begins Featuring:  Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Mayor Gimenez will share his vision for the future of Miami-Dade County and for restructuring county government. Host:  Katy Sorenson, President and CEO – The Good Government Initiative – Ticket Prices: $30 Individual Ticket; $50 GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $20 donation) $500 Table of 10; $15 Student/Concerned Citizen. Checks should be made payable to: Miami Foundation, Credit card payments can be made via PayPal (no account necessary to use PayPal) *There are a limited amount of seats available. Registration will close on October 5th. NO payments will be accepted at the door.

Please click on “register now” button below for registration and payment. Register Now! – If you would like more information, please contact: Lourdes Lurigados, The Good Government Initiative, 305-689-8210.

>>> Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, Miami, Oct. 19-23

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: JUNE 2007: Floridians want government to work but keep within a budget, public service is a privilege – not a right

Public Service is a privilege not a right and local elected leaders and government workers must realize that fact, for the recently passed property tax cuts makes non productive government workers a thing of the past. Public institutions do not react or adjust well even when it is clear that the funding revenue stream will be changing and it takes this type of blowtorch approach to get any reaction. Over the years, the Watchdog Report has called for a hiring freeze at county hall for example but that approach also applies to the other 34 municipalities because money is tight and squeezing the most out of every tax dollar is the order of the day. Further, contrary to what County Commissioner Sally Heyman said when she took $150,000 out of a county department budget last year for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, there is no “surplus money” and leaders need to remember that fact.

Government is not the private sector but people, especially after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina want there public institutions to actually work and produce results and the public is very tired of hearing that everything is before someone’s time and thus has no responsibility for what occurred in a previous watch. The public constantly hears it was before my time when local institutions lurch from one disaster after another, the quick excuse that no one is perfect should no longer be a get out of jail card, and accountability is the new public watchword. This accountability will become even more important with the property tax cuts that hits Miami-Dade to the tune of $376 million and Broward gets whacked back by $113 million and this is just the first pass.

Leaders have been warned over the years that a revolt was brewing among taxpayers but these signs were locally ignored and public institutions continued taking the increased revenues without the necessary structural changes. Now, all Floridians will see what the ripple effects will be throughout the state and the affects will be different for the larger counties but time has run out for a local solution and the Florida legislature has pulled the trigger. We now will see what these changes have brought but there is one form of mitigation that has yet to be tried, having civil servants work at a higher performance level, something all residents hope will be in the future cards because they are working like dogs in the private sector.


>>> We just found out that The Children’s Movement of Florida won the 2011 Inktel Direct Innovation Grant. That means we will have the means to upgrade our ability — “our” meaning you and all of us — to reach our elected representatives more easily and effectively on mobile devices. Our staff put together a good plan, but it was Movement followers, via our website and Facebook, who gave us the votes to enter the finals. More details to come….

Dave Lawrence
The Children’s Movement of Florida

>>> Reader on Herald reporter Matt Haggman leaving the field —He will indeed be missed as he leaves The Miami Herald. Matt was the epitome of a muckraker.

Roland Sanchez-Medina Jr.

>>> It was good to meet you and thanks for including me.  Non-partisan watch dogs are an integral part of our system, esp. after so many media cutbacks.

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

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & Initial sponsors since 2000



THE MIAMI HERALD (2000-2008)


WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)


LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)



>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year





>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year




LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.



>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less


















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 550 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

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 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. … >>>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

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 -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column –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.

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


Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

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

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

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