Archive for October 2011


Watchdog Report Vol.12 No.26 October 30, 2011 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot!


Argus Report: NASCAR Motor Heads coming to Homestead Speedway Nov. 18-20, $250 million economic impact, watched in 175 countries in 24 languages

Florida: Agriculture Commissioner Putnam in the spotlight, elected to U.S. House at 25, Fla. Cabinet member, net worth $8.83 million through 2010

Miami-Dade County: When it comes to destination casino gambling, BCC asks what’s in it for us?

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Public input wanted at Town Hall meeting on redistricting of school board member districts

Public Health Trust: Ryder Trauma Center under the gun with new centers opening, Kendall Regional Hospital already Provisional Class II

City of Miami: It’s Showtime, District 2 voters going to the polls Nov. 1, but absentee ballots will be the key ingredient for winning candidate

City of Miami Beach: Mayor Bower gives thumbs down to Genting Resort Miami Resort project, says it will suck life out of Beach, mayoral election making her testy

City of Coral Gables: Commissioner Cabrera optimistic regarding Biltmore Hotel talks, Anderson wants resolution by Nov. 8 commission meeting

City of North Miami: Will city police officer get $2,500 fine by ethics commission for installing cameras in mayor’s office?

City of North Miami Beach: Former Mayor Rosner gets deadlock vote from ethics commission, Gelber slams official for “make it happen” comment

City of Doral: New Mobile App for city services launched by Mayor Bermudez, at state of city address

City of Miami Springs: Historic Curtiss Mansion may cause council members to seek “exception to the rule” from BCC, ethics commission recommends

North Bay Village: Mayor Esquijarosa hit with second critical letter from Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, not a resume builder

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Former owners of airline fuel supply and flight management service companies sentenced by feds to the Big House

Palm Beach County: Gov. Scott makes four appointments to the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

Pinellas County: Gov. Scott names one reappointment and three appointments to the Juvenile Welfare Board

Community Events: Kristi House is holding its 12th Annual Touch a Heart Dinner & Auction on Nov. 4 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. – CLEO Project Launch Forum, Saturday, Nov. 5 @ Pinecrest Gardens, our new home. For more information go to – Good Government Initiative breakfast, features Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson and others

Editorials: Sarnoff scuffle blowback only further erodes good candidates running for office, shows civic immaturity — Speeding Miami cop gives city a black eye and another Miami Moment

Letters: Beach resident challenges Beach Mgr. Gonzalez’s comments on valet report

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.

>>> RED ALERT: I NEED FINANCIAL HELP IF THIS IS TOO CONTNUE: 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.

>>> Watchdog Report media tri-fecta, I am on; WPBT Channel 2, local CBS station four, and on WLRN.Org Wednesday

>>> I was on hosted by Helen Ferre on Friday and Sunday and to see the show go to to see the show, where we talk about the upcoming municipal elections.

Watch This Week’s Issues Here are the links to watch this week’s program on uVu. Friday, October 28 @ 7:30 PM and Sunday, October 30 @ 12:30 PM ISSUE ONE: Braman on Gambling ISSUE TWO: Local Elections Review Next Tuesday, voters in Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Homestead will cast their ballots for mayoral and commission seats. We gathered a panel to discuss these races and what to expect on Election Day, November 1st. Guests: Charles Branham-Bailey, SunPost Weekly Kevin McNeir, The Miami Times Daniel Ricker, Watchdog Report (Note this same panel will do an election recap this Friday and it will be the whole half-hour show).

>>> I was also on Elliot Rodriguez’s show News & Views on CBS 4 Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and we covered the elections in the four municipalities and Miami District 2 on the show and it should be on the station’s webpage Monday.

>>> I will also be on Joseph Cooper’s show Topical Currents on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM on Nov. 2 with Dan Christensen of The Broward Bulldog from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., and we will discuss election results of local municipal races being held in Miami-Dade on Nov. 1 and other topics. Readers should listen in if you get a chance.

>>> CORRECTION: I misspelled State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-West Palm Beach name in last week’s Watchdog Report.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> NASCAR Motor Heads coming to Homestead Speedway Nov. 18-20, $250 million economic impact, watched in 175 countries in 24 languages

Mathew Becherer, the president of the Homestead Miami Speedway told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce October luncheon attendees that NASCAR is having its final three races at the facility and the economic impact is equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl. He said races like this are different, a contract with NASCR is only for a year, and why they are looking to upgrade the facility and some of its amenities and why the organization is looking for public support. He said it was important for this last race of the season tradition to continue given its local economic impact and tourism draw of people from in and out of state and the country, he said.

The track was built after Hurricane Andrew in 1995 and is a public /private operation and this last race “is the number one watched spectator sport event that is seen in 175 countries and in 24 languages,” said the CEO originally from Detroit. He said hosting this “crowning event” is important and ends the season and the event is equivalent to $16 million in free publicity for South Florida. And the executive said overall the three-day race pumps $250 million into the local economy. He also noted that even when there are not races, people and organizations use the track to showcase their cars and at the time, 40 Jaguar drivers were in town for 10 days.

Becherer said the industry has evolved since the days “Ralph Sanchez built the track and the industry has evolved.” He is looking to build a new parking lot” that would be “a park like affair” and his organization is involved with the community and “local civic groups” to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars being given to organizations in Homestead. The track also allows local groups like the Boy Scouts to raise money at the events and in their case. The Scouts got “a new camper.” He then asked for help saying, “We need the community to support us” if the speedway is to reach its full potential. For more information about the speedway go to and for tickets to the race got to

>>> Ros-Lehtinen Chastises Clinton about Administration’s ‘Double Standard’ on Castro Regime

Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during a Committee hearing earlier today pressed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to justify the Administration’s stance on various rogue regimes such as Syria and Libya, including calling on various dictators to leave power, but continuing to engage the Cuban regime, seemingly minimizing the threat posed by the Cuban tyranny to U.S. interests and the Cuban people. (Click to view exchange) Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Madam Secretary, your administration has remained in opposition to many of the world’s tyrants, yet the U.S. continues to engage the Cuban regime.

“In March, you stated Qaddafi ‘should leave power’ In June 1, you said Saleh should ‘move out of the way.’ In July, you stated, ‘Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.’ “Yet in stark contrast, this Administration continues to engage the Cuban regime and provide the Castro brothers economic lifelines in the form of allowing increased travel opportunities and supporting their offshore oil drilling aspirations. Two weeks ago, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman confirmed to our Committee that the Department of State had recently met with the Cuban regime to discuss Alan Gross.

“Media reports have the State Department willing to offer concessions such as allowing convicted Cuban spies to return to Cuba or taking Cuba off the State Sponsor of Terrorism list in order to obtain the release of Mr. Gross. “The United States should not be negotiating with a State Sponsor of Terrorism, so I ask you, Madam Secretary, why is there a double standard with the Castro regime?”

>>> IBOPE Zogby Poll: 51% Disapprove of Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax Plan & 48% Believe It Would Raise Their Taxes ~ 63% of Republicans Approve, but are Split on Personal Tax Impact

Press release: A small majority of likely voters disapproves of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax reform plan, and 48% believe it would increase the total amount of taxes they pay. The IBOPE Zogby interactive poll conducted from Oct. 18-21 shows Cain’s plan to be much more popular with Republican voters, with 63% approving of Cain’s proposal to set both personal and business tax rates at 9% and to add a 9% national sales tax. However, Republicans are split as to how the plan would affect them, with 34% believing it would reduce their total taxes and 32% thinking their taxes would increase.

Independent voters are more likely to disapprove of the “9-9-9” plan, than approve (49%-43%), but believe it would raise their total taxes by a significant margin (49%-20%). Democrats both overwhelmingly disapprove of the proposal (73%) and believe they would pay more in taxes (76%). Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website:

>>> National profile of the publisher in The Tribune papers Jan. 2003 & UNCCH 2004 media study that cites Watchdog Report having 100,000 readers weekly

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. … >>> And to read a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill study on the media in the Southeast United States that mentions the Watchdog Report with 100,000 readers weekly, done back in 2004 and to read the Southern Media Study go to: 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 … – – Cached.

>>> 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.


>>> Agriculture Commissioner Putnam in the spotlight, elected to U.S. House at 25, Fla. Cabinet member, net worth $8.83 million through 2010

Adam Putnam, the 11th Florida Commissioner of Agriculture elected Nov. 2010 is in the spotlight this week and the former Republican five-term congressman’s state office is involved in a wide variety of services and policies. Putnam first served in the Florida House before catapulting to the congress at the tender age of 25 and he is a fifth generation cattle rancher from Polk County. He graduated from the University of Florida and is married with four children. He took office on Jan. 4 and is a member of the Florida Cabinet along with Gov. Rick Scott (Net worth $103 million), AG Pam Bondi (Net worth $472,000), and CFO Jeff Atwater (Net worth $1.55 million). His office has five offices throughout the state and there are 3,800 employees in 13 divisions involved in areas from agriculture to consumer protection. For more go to:

What do we know about his finances?

Putnam through Dec. 2010 had a net worth of $8.83 million and he has $147,975 in household goods (In 2000, his net worth was $714,727). The land and Buildings he owns are valued at $408,000 and there is $6.39 million in intangible property. The commissioner’s only liability is $122,895 owed to Bank of America. His assets include his interest in Putnam Groves valued at $2.35 million; there is $826,000 in a bank account and $6.39 million in a wide variety and types of investment funds, as well as $38,473 in the Stanley G. Tate Florida College Prepaid Plan. His income stream was $169,233 as a congressman, Putnam Groves kicked in $145,318, and his total income for the year was $423,000.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Brian S. Cunningham and Linda J. Pellegrini to the Board of Trustees, Florida Virtual School.

Cunningham, 49, of Fort Lauderdale, is the president of J Strategies. He succeeds Dr. Robert Williams and is appointed for a term beginning October 28, 2011, and ending September 10, 2015.

Pellegrini, 62, of Windermere, is the president of Pellegrini Homes Inc. She succeeds Kay Young and is appointed for a term beginning October 25, 2011, and ending September 10, 2015.

>>> Press release: You will be pleased to know that this has been our very best week so far for The Children’s Movement’s “Dream Prizes” promotion.

For those who have not yet participated, entry can be for as little as $25. Just click here (and have the chance to win one of eight great prizes). Our ability to fuel The Movement depends on getting many thousands of people to enter. We announce next year’s agenda this Monday. I will make sure you get an update early next week. Dave Lawrence Jr., Chair, The Children’s Movement of Florida


>>> When it comes to destination casino gambling, BCC asks what’s in it for us?

The Genting Group casino and retail project and destination gambling was the talk of the day at a commission committee meeting Wednesday and a video of provided commissioners with the size and scope of the massive gambling complex anchored at The Miami Herald site bought by the group for $236 million. But now with the state gambling legislation filed by state Rep. Eric Fresen R-Miami (Net worth $330,000) and state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff R-West Palm Beach (Net worth $568,000) Monday. The bill is causing howls with some Miami-Dade Commissioners for the lack of local control. Commission Chair Joe Martinez (Net worth $238,000) brought up the issue during a commission committee meeting on economic development chaired by Commissioner Rebeca Sosa (Net worth $439,000) and it is clear commissioners not only want more control of the process but also a significant slice of the financial pie for the county. Ultimately, no decision was made and county commissioners will wait to see what the final legislation is but gambling does have critics in the Florida House including House Speaker Dean Cannon R-Winter Park (Net worth $1.55 million) and possible Senate President Mike Haridopolos R- Melbourne (Net worth $233,000).

Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo Jr., (Net worth $25,800) a former state representative from Hialeah before being elected to the commission in June cautioned the commission that this is not a done deal, when it came to passing during the legislator’s upcoming session in January. He also noted while Fresen is a good friend, the state lawmaker, “missed the boat on this one.” He believed there is reluctance to the idea in some parts of the state and organizations like Disney World will be weighing in as well. The commission after the discussion decided to take a wait and see attitude to how the issue plays out, but it was clear from the audience. Casino lobbyist are not in short supply and they are all pushing the idea of large scale casino resorts touted as bringing in billions of dollars to South Florida and has been detailed extensively in .




>>> Mayor Gimenez’s school readiness taskforce, brings some of the top people in the field of childhood development

Mayor Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $923,000) in an exclusive interview with the Watchdog Report Wednesday afternoon said he convened the Mayor’s Taskforce on School Readiness in Miami-Dade County that will be studying early childhood education programs such as Head Start, to get their “recommendations.” on the right approach and how we deal with “our children’s programs.” He said the goal was to provide the best programs for the kids and “the priorities for the task force are what is best for the children of Miami-Dade County,” said Gimenez. And the large taskforce made up of some of the top people in this field, including service providers, and the recommendations, will be incorporated in how the county gives its “delegated Head Start slots,” to other agencies a year from now. And Gimenez believes this discussion allows the county to get the best input from experts on “how these programs should be dealt with in Miami-Dade,” he said. Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, a long time children’s advocate is also on the taskforce since she chairs the county commission committee that will deal with the new changes next year.


>>> Press release: The Taskforce will review the County’s early childhood programs and make recommendations on efficiencies and quality improvements

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez is convening a School Readiness Taskforce to assess the County’s early childhood education programs, including Head Start and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK), and provide recommendations on efficiencies and quality improvements. The group will be charged with developing a comprehensive plan on operating the highest quality programs for the County’s children and families. The taskforce, which includes a cross-section of stakeholders and professionals in the field of early childhood education, is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday, October 26, 2011. The group’s efforts will be coordinated by Lisa M. Martinez, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, along with Deputy Mayor Russell Benford. The initial meeting is the first step in a process that will culminate in the development of a concise plan that will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners along with the Community Action Board of Directors and the Head Start Policy Council in January 2012.

Miami-Dade County serves more than 26,000 children annually through its subsidized child care programs, and over 6,700 children and their families are served through its Head Start/Early Head Start Program, the largest in the southeast region of the United States. For more information about the Mayor’s Taskforce on School Readiness, please contact the Mayor’s Office at 305-375-2911. For additional information on the County’s early childhood development programs, including the Head Start/Early Head Start program and other services for children provided by the Community Action and Human Services Department, please call (786) 469-4600 or visit us on the web at

Ethics Commission: Requests for Opinion -A 35-year veteran of the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office sought a formal opinion (RQO 11-26) on whether he may represent a private client in eminent domain issues. Thomas Goldstein had served Miami-Dade in eminent domain matters before retiring in April 2010 and now wants to help a friend who owns property the County wants to acquire. The County Code prohibits former employees from lobbying the government for two years following their departure from service, but those engaged in quasi-judicial proceedings are exempt from that ban. The Ethics Commission advised Goldstein to avoid participating in compensation negotiations with County personnel, but ruled he may interact with County attorneys regarding eminent domain since that is a quasi judicial process that does not constitute lobbying.

>>> Request for opinion: May a member of Miami-Dade’s Planning Advisory Board who is also the chair of the Palmer Lake Charrette and a property owner in the study area participate in a discussion of that group’s final report and vote on it? The Ethics Commission responded to that Request for Opinion (RQO 11-28) stating that the member may take part in the discussion of the charrette study recommending infrastructure and zoning improvements. However, he could be prohibited from later voting on zoning or master plan changes if he will benefit financially from those changes.

>>> Press release: County Economist on M-DC South Florida Economy

This presentation by Dr. Cruz was delivered at the FIU Metropolitan Center’s Metro Forum, “The 2nd Annual State of the South Florida Economy”, October 17, 2011. It provides a look at the recent recession and recovery and it’s socio-economic impacts on Miami-Dade County. Current trends in monthly economic indicators are examined in the presentation, along with an assessment of economic prospects for Miami-Dade in 2012. >> Click HERE to view presentation.


Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry JOBS reached a RECORD high for September with an increase of +2.1% in September 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. This is the 16th consecutive month of increased employment in Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality industry. In September 2011, a RECORD 107,400 people were employed in Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality sector compared to 105,200 for September 2010.

September 2011 September 2010 % Change
107,400 jobs 105,200 jobs + 2.1%


>>> Public input wanted at Town Hall meeting on redistricting of school board member districts

The school board is having a public meeting to discuss the issue of the nine member’s board district maps that are being drawn for the 2012 election. The new districts will be drawn based on the 2010 Census results, the school district is using a professional demographer to create the maps, public input is being requested at the upcoming Town Hall, and interested residents should go to the event and make their voice heard.

>>> Press release: TOWN HALL MEETING REGARDING REDISTRICTING PLAN FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER RESIDENCE AREAS -WHO: School Board Members, district officials, and interested citizens WHAT: Town Hall Meeting WHEN: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 6 – 7 p.m. The meeting will be televised live on WLRN Channel 17. WHERE: School Board Administration Building, Auditorium 1450 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33132 WHY: To present the Redistricting Plan for School Board Member residence areas based on the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census. In accordance with Florida Statute section 1001.36, the School Board is required to update the School Board residence area boundaries to comply with federal, state and local requirements. A public Town Hall Meeting will be held to provide information and receive input from the public regarding the local redistricting process. CONTACT: For additional information, contact the Citizen Information Center at 305-995-1128. Send your questions and/or comments to


Culinary stars Michelle Bernstein and Douglas Rodriguez head up a stellar line-up of Miami’s top chefs who will be dishing out gourmet bites on Tuesday, November 1st from 7 to 9 p.m. at the DoubleTree Grand Hotel located on 1717 North Bayshore Drive. Tickets are 75 dollars and complimentary drinks are included. They are available online at “Cooking Up Dreams” benefits The Foundation for New Education Initiatives, supporting innovative programs for Miami-Dade Public Schools.


>>> Ryder Trauma Center under the gun with new centers opening, Kendall Regional Hospital already Provisional Class II

The success of the Ryder Trauma Center, a Class I Trauma Center is being challenged with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) opening its own (Provisional Class II) Trauma facilities around South Florida. HCA through an agreement with the University of South Florida has been working to create these new facilities with the first at Kendall Regional Hospital in Miami-Dade. The Florida Department of Health has recommended six new trauma centers in Trauma Service Area 19 which also includes Monroe County and the private hospital chain is expected to also open centers at there hospitals in Aventura and recently bought Mercy Hospital. The new facility at Kendall Regional will have a helicopter pad and proponents say the time saved from going to the downtown Ryder location will save patients lives.

However, University of Miami physician’s months ago warned Miami-Dade County Commissioners of the consequences if these other trauma centers opened and its impact on Ryder that operates 24/7 and is a 166,000- square-foot facility with well over 100 beds in a number of medical configurations and treats 5,000 trauma patients a year. The facility, the crown jewel of the Miller Medical School and Jackson Memorial Health System has six operating room suites, 24 hour X-Ray, CT Scan, and laboratory and includes 20 intensive care beds. Ryder since 1992 when it opened has become a magnet for the severely injured and draws patients from the Caribbean and South America as well. The organization also trains U.S. Army trauma physicians before their deployment and that began back in 2000 and has continued after 9/11.

The concern physicians that practice at Ryder is they will get the toughest medical cases like gunshot wounds and the other centers will get patients in car accidents and have generally at least $10,000 in medical insurance that is required if you own and drive a car in Florida. This current insurance funding has buffered some of the costs associated with treating these gun shot wound patients, many of which don’t have health insurance and having one site has allowed UM/Jackson to provide world class trauma care and that will be eroded when these other centers draw many of the paying patients to their facilities. HCA has been trying to get into this business for years and has been putting pressure on the legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. The governor was the former Columbia/HCA CEO but left the company in the late 1990s after building it into the largest chain of private hospitals with over 300 such facilities after he got a golden parachute in stock, but HCA later paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud, though Scott was not charged himself. Here is information on Ryder and here is press announcements from Kendall Regional on the subject: and

>>> UM Miller Medical School physicians and staff closer to getting sovereign immunity for medical care at Jackson Health System

The Miami-Dade County Commission’s Public Safety & Healthcare Committee Tuesday passed unanimously a new basic affiliation agreement with the University of Miami’s Miller Medical School and within the document is the broadening of sovereign immunity for the university’s physicians and other staff. The legislation has one more step to make and is expected to be approved by the commission at next full board meeting Nov.3. This new agreement submitted by the PHT Financial Recovery Board that oversees the hospital system updates a 2004 document and is part of an evolving evaluation of the services Jackson gets from the medical school. The Florida Legislature last year passed legislation that allows UM physicians to have sovereign immunity that limits medical malpractice lawsuits settlements and in the past years has cost the university well over $30 million in such settlements since the institution is seen having the deep financial pockets.

The new agreement includes an “indemnification clause,” acknowledgement of the “Florida Public Records Act” and that certain records will be public and the “expansion of the range of physicians as our agent,” and now includes “medical students and other healthcare professions,” said assistant county attorney Karon Coleman. She also noted the agreement also changed any reference in the document from Jackson Memorial Hospital to the more expansive Jackson Health System. Critics claim this will shield doctors when they make mistakes from being sued. But overall given Jackson’s financial challenges and how integrated UM is at the health system with a 60-year affiliation that makes the public health system one of the premier healthcare organizations in the nation. This new change has been considered as a critical component to having UM continue as a medical partner with the PHT. Here is the BCC Nov. 3 meeting legislation on the matter: 112106 PDF

>>> Press release: The Ethics Commission found no probable cause to a complaint (C 11-28) of whistleblower retaliation against three employees of the Public Health Trust (PHT). Thomas McCullough was Director of Physician Services for the PHT, overseeing contracts with groups that provide medical services at community centers, when he filed a written complaint with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in May over what he perceived as mismanagement of public funds. One month later, McCollough was told that his position was being eliminated and he was terminated from his job. The investigation found no evidence that his superiors were notified of his contact with the OIG or that the elimination of his position was anything other than the result of a departmental reorganization.

>>> FRB monthly meeting: In preparation for the October 31, 2011 televised PHT Financial Recovery Board meeting please see attached 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:


>>> It’s Showtime, District 2 voters going to the polls Nov. 1, but absentee ballots will be the key ingredient for winning candidate

The race for the Commission District 2 seat is getting downright vicious and has incumbent Commissioner Marc Sarnoff facing four challengers and he is trying hard to stop having to face a runoff election two weeks after the Nov. 1 municipal election. Sarnoff, first elected in 2006 is seeking a second four year term before he is term limited out and is pulling out all the campaign stops to win after raising over $417,000 in his campaign war chest dwarfing what his challengers have to run their own campaigns. But Sarnoff is either loved or hated and his challengers Williams Armbrister, Kate Callahan, Donna Milo and Michelle Niemeyer have verbally pummeled the commissioner at past community debates. However, he is counting on the television airwaves to make his case, especially with voters in the condominiums in downtown and Brickell and his political ads are running on a variety of media outlets. He also has a get out the vote machine, one woman in a white Jaguar was shuttling retired voters to city hall to vote and then back to their retirement home all this past week, and with voter turnout to be low, every vote will count. The race also involves a major use of absentee ballots with over 7,500 coming in to around less than 500 voters participating at the three early voting sites that includes Miami City Hall.

The race has split friends from Coconut Grove to the Upper East Side and the district’s voters into five candidate camps and polling shows Sarnoff at around 40 percent with the other candidates splitting the rest. Sarnoff a maritime attorney since being in office has generated controversy in a variety of ways and supporters are almost like a cult when it comes to the man and critics consider him as untrustworthy and the devil. He has also gotten flack for using the Miami Downtown Development Authority, that did a get out the vote mailing and he chairs the board. He said he was unaware of the effort but a DDA agenda shows it was discussed and people at the meeting have confirmed he was actively involved in the process and could come back to haunt after the race is concluded. Further, with this large field of candidates a runoff election is expected in the 50 percent plus one vote race.

>>> Here is what Miami New Times put together on Sarnoff:
Marc Sarnoff’s Five Biggest Lies: Fake Mortgages, …? With a $417,000 campaign war chest, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is the top rainmaker of the five candidates running in next week’s November 1 election. The incumbent from Coconut Grove is also the guy who tells the biggest whoppers. To honor his preeminent status, Banana Republican has compiled Sarn… @ Riptide 2.0
by Francisco Alvarado on 10/24/11.

>>> PAST WDR: What about the candidate’s temperament and egos?

For a municipal commission race, it is amazing how self absorbed some candidates become and how they change if they are lucky enough to be elected to public office. In this field, the most self absorbed person who also changed remarkable after he won a full term in 2007 is former community activist Sarnoff, followed by Callahan and lesser so Niemeyer and part of that is they live in the Grove where people seem to need inflated egos of their own importance and wear it own their sleeves and believe they are better than others in Miami. Years ago a realtor in the Grove said to me with a haughty authority, that he “was a Grove realtor.” And that was a big deal in his mind apparently and I responded the man’s “parents must be very proud,” but you get the idea (Editor’s note: There is also many great people in the Grove who have accomplished much in their life, but are generally more low key about it). Further, multiple people have complained to me that Callahan references her Masters Degree from Harvard way to much, including in robo calls, and that was seen when I asked the candidates for campaign statements a few months ago. At the time, she sent a long “rant” as one reader referred to it and the Ivy League university was consistently referenced and while she should be proud of her academic accomplishments. Voters are electing a commissioner not a professor. And in this regard, Milo and Armbrister are the most normal candidates. They speak their mind but also seem at ease with the general public and when this race is over it will be interesting to see how the losers lick their political wounds after this fairly viscous race.

What about Sarnoff as a person?

In past Watchdog Reports, I have detailed the issue about Sarnoff embellishing his linage claiming to be the grandson of “General” David Sarnoff who made RCA in the late 1930s into a powerhouse and was the founder of NBC. Sarnoff in his first inauguration speech in 2006 mentioned his grandfather a number of times along with MLK, RFK and JFK quotes throughout the speech but when reporter Francisco Alvarez of the Miami New Times in 2008 checked with the Great One’s library in Princeton N.J. The Sarnoff family members indicated they had no idea who he was and an attack campaign brochure on the topic hit voters mailboxes Friday featuring quotes from the story back then, including on one side that he voted at the end for the new Florida Marlins baseball stadium that after financing, comes in at $2.4 billion over the coming decades. Further, there are two videos of Sarnoff discussing the elder Sarnoff including one with local Miami historian Greg Bush discussing the subject. And Sarnoff learned all the bad things of campaigning from his first tough election against Linda Haskins who he beat by two to one in a runoff even though she raised over double of what he had in his campaign. He would later punish her supporters, and reward his, and when it comes being independent as an appointee on a board by the commissioner. Generally, it is the commissioner’s way or the highway a number of people have said over the past five-years he has been in office. >>> Here is the video with Bush where Sarnoff discusses his grandfather:

>>> Here is another take on the race: Commission challengers take new jabs at Miami incumbent Marc Sarnoff | Naked Politics

What about the campaign signs that usually dot Pan American Way Drive?

>>> On Monday, all the Miami District 2 campaign signs leading up to Miami City Hall were picked up by a city worker on golf cart after the Clerk’s office got a complaint from Michelle Niemeyer about these being on city property.

>>> Press release: The Ethics Commission considered a complaint (C 11-29) against Sereda White, who was a member of the City of Miami’s Equal Opportunity Advisory Board in 2009 but neglected to file the required financial disclosure statement, which was due July 1, 2010. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact her by the City Clerk and the COE, an Ethics Commission investigator finally reached the respondent last month. After being informed of the complaint, White immediately filed the necessary paperwork. As a result of her compliance, the COE dismissed the action.

>>> Executive gets 15-years in federal Big House for trying to bribe Haitian officials with state-owned telecommunications company ~ Longest Prison Term Ever Imposed in an FCPA Case

The former president of Terra Telecommunications Corp. was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison for his role in a scheme to pay bribes to Haitian government officials at Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. (Haiti Teleco), a state-owned telecommunications company. This is the longest sentence ever imposed in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The former executive vice president of Terra was also sentenced yesterday to 84 months in prison for his role in the bribery scheme. The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Special Agent in Charge Jose A. Gonzalez of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Miami Field Office. Joel Esquenazi, 52, of Miami, and Carlos Rodriguez, 55, of Davie, Fla., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida. Judge Martinez also ordered the defendants to forfeit $3.09 million.

Esquenazi and Rodriguez were convicted in August 2011 of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud; seven counts of FCPA violations; one count of money laundering conspiracy; and 12 counts of money laundering.

“Yesterday’s long prison sentences confirm the serious consequences of ignoring corporate ethics when doing business abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “The FCPA ensures that American businesses are not up for sale.” “This sentence – the longest sentence ever imposed in an FCPA case – is a stark reminder to executives that bribing government officials to secure business advantages is a serious crime with serious consequences,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “A company’s profits should be driven by the quality of its goods and services, and not by its ability and willingness to pay bribes to corrupt officials to get business. As yesterday’s sentence shows, we will continue to hold accountable individuals and companies who engage in such corruption.”

“These individuals created a sophisticated way to launder funds by creating shell corporations and false records to conceal bribe payments to foreign government officials,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Gonzalez. “No matter how sophisticated the scheme, IRS special agents will uncover it and unscrupulous individuals and businesses will be held accountable for their actions as indicated by these sentences.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Esquenazi was the president and Rodriguez was the executive vice president of Terra, which was headquartered in Miami-Dade County, Fla. Haiti Teleco was the sole provider of land line telephone service in Haiti. Terra had a series of contracts with Teleco that allowed the company’s customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. At trial, the evidence showed that the defendants participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from November 2001 through March 2005, during which time the telecommunications company paid more than $890,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to Teleco officials. Esquenazi and Rodriguez authorized these bribe payments to successive directors of international relations at Teleco. The purpose of these bribes, according to the evidence presented at trial, was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials for Terra, including the issuance of preferred telecommunications rates, reductions in the number of minutes for which payment was owed, and the continuance of Terra’s telecommunications connection with Haiti. To conceal the bribe payments, the defendants used various shell companies to receive and forward the payments. In addition, they created false records claiming that the payments were for “consulting services,” which were never intended to be performed or actually performed.

Four other individuals were previously convicted and sentenced for their roles in the bribery scheme.

On April 27, 2009, Antonio Perez, a former controller at Terra, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. On Jan. 12, 2010, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison, which he is currently serving. On May 15, 2009, Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering. He admitted to receiving more than $1 million in bribe money from telecommunications companies. On July 30, 2010, he was sentenced to 57 months in prison, which he is currently serving. On Feb. 19, 2010, Jean Fourcand, the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering for receiving and transmitting bribe monies in the scheme. On May 5, 2010, he was sentenced to six months in prison. On March 12, 2010, Robert Antoine, a former director of international affairs for Haiti Teleco, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He admitted to receiving more than $1 million in bribes from Miami-based telecommunications companies. On June 2, 2010, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison, which he is currently serving.

In a superseding indictment, Washington Vasconez Cruz, Amadeus Richers, Cinergy Telecommunications Inc., Patrick Joseph, Jean Rene Duperval and Marguerite Grandison are charged in a related scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from December 2001 through January 2006. No trial date is currently set. An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The government’s investigation is ongoing. The Department of Justice is grateful to the government of Haiti for continuing to provide substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation. In particular, Haiti’s financial intelligence unit, the Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF), the Bureau des Affaires Financières et Economiques (BAFE), which is a specialized component of the Haitian National Police, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security provided significant cooperation and coordination in this ongoing investigation. To learn more about the government’s FCPA enforcement efforts, go to 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


>>> Mayor Bower gives thumbs down to Genting Resort Miami project, says it will suck life out of Beach, mayoral election making her testy

Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower, fending off three challengers for mayor on Nov. 1 took a road trip to speak at a Miami-Dade County Commission committee meeting Wednesday discussing the issue of the proposed destination gambling resort to be built on the sold Miami Herald parcel and adjacent land. She told commissioners the project was so big she could “go there and never leave,” the place that will also have well over 5,000 hotel rooms. The planned resort would have seven million square-feet on The Herald property; another one million-square-feet would occupy the Omni site, and in a future Phase II project. Another over 1,000 foot tall building would be erected, possible on land now owned by the public school district but this other tower was not part of the video presentation by Genting Group architects to the commission and public.

She said the Beach’s commission has passed a resolution in the past against allowing gambling in the municipality but Commissioner Michael Gongora recently told the Watchdog Report if the Genting resort got approval. The commission he thought would reopen the discussion. The issue for the beach is would it suck the life out of tourism industry on the Beach, and significantly lower hotel room rates, that would hit the Fontainebleau especially hard after a $1 billion renovation was done last year. Casinos generally give free or subsidized room rates to many high rollers’ rooms and this activity could dig deep into room rates at the tony hotels on the beach like the beachside Ritz-Carleton Hotel.

What about the mayoral race?

Bower got into the Watchdog Report’s face after the committee meeting carping that I had written something nasty about her concerning her campaign disclosure forms. She indicated she was not getting campaign signs or other material free and these expenditures were on her campaign reports. She was also upset that one of the challengers had posted her date of birth and social security number on his web page and that it took two week’s before a city attorney helping her with this that the post taken down. Further, Helen Ferre who hosts an Univision radio show and had a testy exchange with the two-term mayor Ferre told me Friday and shows how this tough race is getting to her. She is facing in the race Steve Berke, Dave Crystal and Laura Levey. For more on the Miami Beach race go to

What do some locals say about the race and voter turnout?

The Watchdog Report asked two Beach activists their thoughts on what voter turnout was like and their take on the election. David Kelsey wrote back, “Early voting turnout is terrible; I do not see how it is worth the expense. Commissioner Deede Weithorn will undoubtedly retain her seat and Matti will undoubtedly get the most votes in the mayor’s race, but will quite likely be forced into a run-off (with Steve Berke) that she might actually lose, wrote Kelsey.

Frank Del Vecchio wrote back on voter turnout, “Based on info as of Oct. 28: 4,700 absentee ballots had been distributed and 2,100 returned, and approximately 1,000 early voters had voted, I updated my voting estimates to 14.4% turnout: 2,500 absentee, 1,400 early, 3,500 iVotronic = 7,400. Although prior elections showed a higher percentage iVotronic of the total, I scaled back, assuming a higher percentage of those casting votes this year will vote absentee and early versus on Election Day.” He also predicted that, “Commissioner Deede Weithorn will be reelected Nov. 1 by a wide margin, probably 80% to 85% of the ballots cast. And “Mayor Matti Bower will be reelected Nov. 1 by a majority of probably 55% of the ballots cast,” wrote the retired attorney and activist.


>>> Commissioner Cabrera optimistic regarding Biltmore Hotel talks, Anderson wants resolution by Nov. commission meeting

With City officials still in talks with the Biltmore Management, for past due rent the commission is still taking a wait and see attitude but for some of the commissioners their patience is ending after years of discussion. Gene Prescott of Seaway Corp that operates the facility since the early 1990s fired back in a letter to Neighbors section in The Miami Herald that the organization has poured millions into the facility, paid considerable rent over the years and wants the public and officials to understand the jewel of Coral Gables, that took eight months to originally build, is a maintenance nightmare.

I contacted city officials last week asking about where the city was after a contentious commission meeting recently. Commissioner Ralph Cabrera Jr., wrote back, “I remain optimistic that a solution will be reached in the next few days. At this juncture, there are only a few unsettled terms. Take care,” wrote the veteran commissioner. And Commissioner Maria Anderson wanted to conclude the negotiations as well. She wrote back, “I am optimistic that the City Commission will do all in its power to protect the interest of the city in this complex and protracted issue. I am also desirous of this reaching a resolution at the November 8 Commission meeting – the final deadline we have given Seaway Corp,” wrote Anderson elected in 2001 to the commission with Cabrera.


>>> Will city police officer get $2,500 fine by ethics commission for installing cameras in mayor’s office?

>>> Ethics Commission press release: Following last month’s finding of Probable Cause that a police officer in North Miami violated the ethics code by profiting from security measures taken at City Hall, three counts were filed against Officer James Mesidor. According to the complaint (C 11-30), 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. After Mesidor submitted an invoice, he 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. From that account, he paid the subcontractors and then earned a profit of $1,688. Under the ethics code, Mesidor could be fined as much as $2,500. The case will proceed to a public hearing.


>>> Former Mayor Rosner gets deadlock vote from ethics commission, Judge Gelber slams official for “make it happen” comment

Ethics Commission press release: After four partial days of hearings over the past several weeks, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) completed its action on complaints (C 09-02 & C 09-04) against former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner, but deadlocked on a two-two vote. It was alleged that Rosner, who was a licensed building contractor and a member of the Miami-Dade County Board of Rules and Appeals, proposed and completed several additions to his private home that required zoning variances. As a member of the City Council, Rosner discussed his displeasure about the variance process with the city manager at the time, who told his staff to resolve the issue. Building permits were issued for the improvements that violate the city code.

Two Ethics Commissioners voted that the evidence did not meet the “clear and convincing” standard required for finding Rosner misused his authority. One member recused himself from the proceeding. Two others believed Rosner should be found guilty of exploitation of official position. Commissioner Seymour Gelber, a former Miami Beach mayor and retired judge, issued a formal statement, noting, “When the mayor told the city manager ‘make it happen,’ he sent a message to his underlings. They knew what was expected of them and they made ‘IT’ happen. You don’t get smoking guns as evidence in these kinds of cases.” Referring also to the following complaint, Gelber said, “These acts will not be tolerated. Maybe both these cases will convince some public officials that their duty is not to themselves or friends but to the community as a whole.”

In the other case Judge Gelber referred to, the Ethics Commission approved a Letter of Instruction to the former Homestead city manager who 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 for two customers who sought relief from Homestead’s top politician. Noting indications that Mayor Steven Bateman pressured the manager to take the action, the Letter states that all public officials are “duty bound to act in an ethical manner.” It asserts, “Administrators and staff cannot allow themselves to be bullied or cajoled into committing questionable acts under the guise of keeping their elected officials happy.” The current city manager has since reinstated the accounts in question.


>>> New Mobile App for city services launched by Mayor Bermudez, at state of city address

Press release: Among the highlights of today’s City of Doral State of the City Address, Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez launched the new Doral e-Government application. The City of Doral developed a free Mobile App for iPhone and iPad that allows the Doral community (residents, businesses and visitors) enhanced access to city and community resources. The app puts City services at the fingertips of the residents and visitors bringing to life multiple initiatives spearheaded by Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, to improve services to the Doral community.

The app contains five major sections: •Website: A mobile version of the City’s Main Website is displayed on this tab. •Dashboard: The Dashboard is intended to provide our citizens with performance measures of governmental operations. It is a new tool to make government more transparent and to allow the public the ability to see and influence the direction of their city. •Doral311: Provides the Doral community one-on-one customer services. Doral 311 provides a fast and efficient way to deliver city services by allowing users to send a detailed message with specific requests. Messages can be sent with photo attachments and users can select to remain anonymous or provide their contact information for follow-up. •Maps: Provide the official zoning map and maps of the Doral communities. •Radio Station: The City’s Radio Station plays on this tab. This iPhone App is the first effort in providing a strategic mobile program and e-Government initiative for the City of Doral.


>>> Historic Curtiss Mansion may cause council members to seek “exception to the rule” from BCC, ethics commission recommends

Ethics Commission request for opinion: Funding for the restoration of the historic Curtiss Mansion was the subject of a Request for Opinion (RQO 11-27) on behalf of the City of Miami Springs, which wants to retain control but also take advantage of tax credits to rehabilitate and renovate the structure. To this end, the municipality planned to have each elected officer of the City Council sit as a member of the Board of Directors on one or more of the entities overseeing the project. The question is whether that would be a conflict of interest. Even though the council members would not personally benefit from their action, the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance prohibits elected officials from voting on matters if they have certain relationships, including officer or director, of the entity requesting action. The Ethics Commission said there is a conflict, but also suggested – because of the unique circumstances – the County Commission could offer an exception to the rule. The COE also stated there is no conflict if municipal administrators serve on the board that would seek the tax credits to help fund the Curtiss Mansion renovation.


>>> Mayor Esquijarosa hit with second critical letter from Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, not a resume builder

Ethics Commission press release: Another Letter of Instruction was approved for North Bay Village Mayor Corina Esquijarosa who last month settled charges (C 11-22) that she violated the County Ethics Code by filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms two times regarding a downtown Miami property she owned. The Letter states that “the citizens of North Bay Village have the right to be fully informed of the financial interests of a candidate for elected office or of an elected official in their city and as such, great care must be taken to provide true, accurate and complete information….”



>>> Former owners of airline fuel supply and flight management service companies sentenced by feds to the Big House

Press release: A former owner and operator of a Florida-based airline fuel supply service company and a former owner and operator of an Indiana-based flight management services company were sentenced today to serve prison time and to pay restitution for conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud in separate schemes to defraud Ryan International Airlines, a charter airline company located in Rockford, Ill., the Department of Justice announced today. James E. Murphy, the former owner and operator of a Florida aviation fuel supply company, was sentenced to 23 months in prison and to pay $42,500 in restitution. David A. Chaisson, the former owner and operator of an Indiana flight management services company, was sentenced to 16 months in prison and to pay $50,742.48 in restitution.

On Aug. 12, 2011, Murphy and Chaisson pleaded guilty in separate two-count felony charges in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for participating in different conspiracies with co-conspirators to defraud Ryan by making kickback payments to Wayne E. Kepple, a former vice president of ground operations for Ryan, in exchange for Kepple awarding their respective companies business. Ryan provides air passenger and cargo services for corporations, private individuals, professional sports teams and the U.S. government, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service. According to court documents, Murphy paid more than $130,000 in kickbacks to Kepple, who was responsible for procuring jet fuel for Ryan flights, in exchange for Kepple providing aviation fuel contracts to Murphy’s company and to two other aviation fuel supply companies where Murphy worked as a corporate bookkeeper. In a separate conspiracy, according to court documents, Chaisson paid Kepple more than $60,000 in kickbacks, including payments based on fabricated invoices submitted by Chaisson’s company to Ryan. Chaisson’s company was responsible for managing the ground operations for Ryan flights.

On Sept. 29, 2011, Kepple was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud in three separate kickback schemes to defraud Ryan involving Murphy, Chaisson, Robert Riddell, the former owner and operator of an airline security and ground service company, and others. On Oct. 17, 2011, Riddell pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla., for conspiring with Kepple to defraud Ryan. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20, 2011. The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office and the National Criminal Enforcement Section and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fort Lauderdale. Anyone with information concerning anticompetitive conduct in the airline charter services industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office at 404-331-7100 or visit

>>> 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: Gov. Scott taps four appointments to the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney (retired), 65, of Jacksonville, is the president and chief executive officer of Delaney & Associates. He is appointed for a term beginning October 28, 2011, and ending
July 1, 2015.

Major General Emmett “Buddy” Titshaw, 63, of St. Augustine, is the Adjutant General of the State of Florida. He is appointed for a term beginning October 28, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015.

Barbara A. Stewart, 65, of Avon Park, is a county commissioner for Highlands County. She is appointed for a term beginning October 28, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015.

Major General Joseph J. Taluto (retired), 63, of Palm Beach Gardens, is a former Adjutant General of the State of New York. He is appointed for a term beginning October 28, 2011, and ending July 1, 2015.


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names one reappointment and three appointments to the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.

Dr. James D. Sewell, 61, of St. Petersburg, is a self-employed management consultant. He is reappointed for a term beginning October 27, 2011, and ending August 11, 2014.

Brian J. Aungst Jr., 27, of Largo, is an attorney with Macfarlane, Ferguson and McMullen. He succeeds Martha R. Lenderman and is appointed for a term beginning October 27, 2011, and ending
August 7, 2014.

Raymond H. Neri, 74, of St. Petersburg, is a retired real estate broker and businessman. He succeeds John A. Milford and is appointed for a term beginning October 27, 2011, and ending
August 7, 2012.

Angela H. Rouson, 44, of St. Petersburg, is the marketing coordinator for Bayfront Health Systems. She succeeds Joseph A. Smith and is appointed for a term beginning October 27, 2011, and ending August 11, 2014. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.


>>> Kristi House is holding its 12th Annual Touch a Heart Dinner & Auction on Nov. 4 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. One special guest is actor and Grammy wining songwriter Carlos Ponce and for further information and to make reservations go to or call 305.547.6802.

>>> CLEO Project Launch Forum, Saturday, Nov. 5 @ Pinecrest Gardens, our new home. For more information go to

>>> The Miami-Dade County Commission for Women will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What: Miami-Dade County Commission for Women 40th Anniversary Reception When: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Coral Gables Country Club, 997 North Greenway Drive, Coral Gables, FL Cost: $25; cash bar, free parking – Speaker: Kim Stone, Executive Vice President of The Miami Heat and General Manager of the American Airlines Arena -RSVP: Laura Morilla at 305-375-4967 or at The 2011 Connections Directory of women’s organizations will be distributed for free at this event.

>>> The Good Government Initiative and The Launch Pad at the University of Miami Invite you to a Community Conversation breakfast moderated by Katy Sorenson and featuring panelists:

Mayor Shirley Gibson, City of Miami Gardens; Peter Schnebly, General Manager of Schnebly Winery & Brewery; Michael Spring, Director, Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs; Alexandra Villoch, Co-chair, One Community, One Goal – Friday, November 18th, BankUnited Center at UM, 1245 Dauer Drive, Hurricane 100 Room Breakfast 8 – 8:30 a.m. Panel Discussion 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Co-Hosts: Susan Amat, Executive Director, The Launch Pad and Katy Sorenson, President & CEO, The Good Government Initiative. Ticket prices: UM Students FREE (but must register!) $15 General Admission, $30 Contributing Admission, $300 Table of 10. Checks should be made payable to: Miami Foundation, Credit card payments can be made via PayPal (no account necessary to use PayPal) *Space is limited. Registration will close on Monday, November 14th. for further information.


>>> Sarnoff scuffle blowback only further erodes good candidates running for office, shows civic immaturity

Make it the strength of your argument, not the stridency of your voice, Mahatma Gandhi said and I thought of this because of an incident Saturday evening that occurred to Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff outside his home. It is being reported that he and another man with a black spray paint can got into a scuffle and the commissioner was covered in black paint. I don’t know if Sarnoff or the purported protagonist started the exchange but this is inappropriate behavior by both men and hurts all of us. And while Sarnoff in many peoples minds has a wide variety of evils and contradictions it does not condone people physically going after someone if this was the case. We live in a Republic and with elections going on voters get to weigh in on who they think is the best candidate but this incident is not the way to do it for either men and shows Miami has a long way to go when it comes to civility and politics.
I appreciate the passion many people might have during a campaign for one candidate or another. But the issue of taking it out this way is unacceptable and one of the reasons, people considered good candidates do not run themselves, because of the hassle and threats to them and their families. And that blowback is the tragedy for we will never get some of the best candidates that we could and if South Floridians wonder why we lurch from one crisis or scandal after another, this is one of the reasons. And this incident with Sarnoff is not about him. But the civic harm it does to the community as whole, and only results in us getting the politicians we deserve, as one low turnout election after another goes bye.

>>> Speeding Miami cop gives Miami a black eye and another Miami Moment

The video from a Florida State Trooper car cam of a Miami Police Officer going up to 120 miles per hour on the Florida Turnpike in Broward trying to get to a second off duty job in his patrol car is not only disturbing, but shows a total disregard to the danger of the activity and the lack of judgment, and is another Miami Moment. The Miami Police force has enough on its plate when it comes to controversy right now and this incident is just an example of entitlement by a public servant and is seen in a variety of other ways. Over the years, I have seen senior Miami employees in public settings speaking loudly in a vulgar way without a care in the world of how this looks to the public, and is a symptom of a feeling of privilege that seems to permeate many city of Miami workers. And gives the good ones only a black eye, because there are some great public servants in not only Miami but throughout Miami-Dade keeping the public safe and providing vital services. But these continued examples of abuse by government employees only continues the corrosive process of the public losing trust in their government workers and that is not a good thing. The Watchdog Report gives Trooper D. J. Watts a Tip of the Hat for a job well done for chasing down this drag racing Miami police officer and the driving public gives a sigh of relief his antics were stopped, before someone was hurt or killed. To see the video go to: Miami officer arrested at gunpoint, accused of going 120 mph on …


>>> You should read the 38-page study on the valet parking issue. If you don’t have a copy let me know. Jorge Gonzalez’s definition of “research” leaves a lot to be desired.

Stuart Blumberg
Miami Beach

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>>> 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

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