Month of January 2012

 
 

Watchdog Report Vol.12 No.39 January 29, 2012 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Tables turn in Fla. as Romney surges up in the polls, Gingrich drops, but GOP race is far from over

Florida: Sen. Bennett & Rep. Artiles try to have stadiums shelter homeless, should instead ask professional sports to donate to local homeless service providers

Miami-Dade County: And they’re off, BCC Chair Martinez throws his hat into 2012 mayoral race against Mayor Gimenez

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Five flagged charter schools come back to Audit Committee, concerns remain and a good read on how schools operate

Public Health Trust: FRB Member Khagan demurs on UM Law school, will stay and “fulfill my commitment to FRB”

City of Miami: MESA approves MOU with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, deferred at commission meeting; critics want “holistic approach” to environmentally sensitive Virginia Key

City of Miami Beach: Commissioner Wolfson faces public, point of spear in drive to oust Beach Mgr. Gonzalez

City of Coral Gables: DMV comes to Gable library Feb. 13, easy way to get a drivers license

City of Opa Locka: Former vice Mayor Pinder settles with ethics commission for “exploitation of official position”

Village of Palmetto Bay: Dust–up over “Cone of Silence” procedures will change municipal law

Town of Bal Harbor Islands: Building official Lee did not exploit his office

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Absentee voters dwarf 11,000 early voters; closed GOP presidential primary has candidates seeking some of the party’s almost 400,000 voters

Palm Beach County: There he goes again; Gov. Scott suspends Boynton Beach Mayor Rodriguez for corruption

Orange County: Gov. Scott taps Bigney and Tynan to county court.

Duval County: Gov. Scott names Scott Mitchell to County Court.

St. Lucie County: Gov. Scott goes with Kavanagh and Sansom to the Florida Inland Navigation District.

Pinellas County: Gov. Scott taps Gilzean to the Pinellas County School Board.

Osceola County: Gov. Scott names Rodriguez to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Community Events:  — Casa Valentina’s 5th Community Appreciation luncheon – South Dade Cultural Arts Center hosts 8th Black History Month events

Editorials: PAST WDR OCT. 2010: What about elected leaders perks at the local level?

Letters: Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the state’s top performing school district according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis – Local physician on Miami Herald story

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 www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up quickly and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>> RED ALERT: I NEED FINANCIAL HELP IF THIS IS TOO CONTINUE AFTER 12-YEARS AND HEADING INTO 13-YEARS IN MAY:  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.

>>> I was on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM http://www.wlrn.org/radio/programs/topical-currents/archive/

Monday Jan. 23 onTopical Currents hosted by Joe Cooper, and on Friday Jan. 27 at noon on the Florida Round-Up show,  where I was on a radio panel moderated by WLRN/Miami Herald host Phil Latzman discussing the Republican primary and other state legislative issues. To listen to the shows go to:  http://www.wlrn.org/radio/programs/florida-round-up/

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Tables turn as Romney surges up in the polls, Gingrich drops, but GOP race is far from over

It’s Showtime in Florida with Republicans going to the polls to pick their champion Tuesday and after a surge from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in past polls, after some devastating attack ads; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is shooting back into the lead, state recent polling results around the Sunshine State. Romney slowed the Gingrich freight train at Thursday nights CNN debate hosted by Wolf Blitzer and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas affectively sniped at the other two men with Santorum from the Keystone State hoping to be the alternative conservative candidate. While it looks like Romney will take the day Tuesday with his campaign’s massive get out the absentee vote campaign that should ensure the state’s 50-winner take all delegates will fall his way. He still is not connecting when it comes to passion with voters and seems detached versus the firebrand Gingrich who also proposes new ideas at every turn, though some suggest “these big projects,” are nonsense or over the top.

Further, after Florida, there is a month on very little political electoral activity leading up to Super Tuesday in March. Romney with a nationwide campaign and the money that goes with it will have the edge, but Gingrich should not be counted out given Romney’s tepid likeability with the GOP electorate. And Gingrich continues to attack the “Republican Establishment” being against him because his populist campaign is resonating with the Tea Party folks that has die hard establishment conservatives questioning if the former congressman can defeat President Barack Obama in the General Election and for them. Defeating Obama is such an intense mantra that any personable traits or character flaws of their candidate fall by the wayside. But what is clear is the race will continue and the only next change in the pack may be Santorum who went back to Pennsylvania at the end of the week because his daughter is in the hospital and to do his taxes.

However, Both Romney and Gingrich have considerable baggage and with the nation having 40 percent of independent voters. They have to address these inconsistencies, like in the case of Romney, his 14 percent tax rate (versus the 30 to 35 percent most people pay to the IRS). And with Gingrich, the three marriages and the $1.6 million he got from Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac offering “strategic advice” and being these organizations “Historian.” For the Republican Party core, they can live with these issues but for the nation’s swing voters now a majority since Democrats account for 31 percent of voters to the Republicans 27 percent. The men will have to address these questions because while the GOP sees a bright line in the political sand. The question still remains if these independents are as militant in their passion for or against the president and if these people will actually turnout to vote.

>>> MONDAY IN Miami Beach & Miami: Ros-Lehtinen & S. FL Colleagues Mario Diaz-Balart & David Rivera ~ To Speak Before Transportation Subcommittee Field Hearing On The Castro Regime’s Dangerous Oil Exploration Scheme; Ros-Lehtinen Has Also Scheduled National & Local Media Interviews On News Of The Day & The Republican Presidential Primary In FL

Press release: On Monday, January 30th at 10:00 am, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) as well as her South Florida colleagues, Mario Diaz-Balart and David Rivera, will speak on the dangerous oil exploration plans of the Cuban dictatorship during a field hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The hearing titled “Offshore Drilling in Cuba and the Bahamas: The US Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Readiness and Response Planning” will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Ocean Point (The Atlantic Room) located at 17375 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach. Note that there are other witnesses scheduled to testify before the hearing. Said Ros-Lehtinen, “This dangerous oil drilling scheme by the Castro brothers will breathe life into a decrepit and illegitimate regime by providing the aging dictators in Havana with the dollars they so desperately seek. It can also have very negative effects on our South Florida environment and the national marine parks that attract thousands of tourists and boaters to our shores. This is why I have introduced legislation in the US House to deny US visas to any person or entity that helps the Cuban dictatorship advance its oil drilling plans.

This is a disaster waiting to happen and the Obama Administration has abdicated its role in protecting our environment and national security by allowing this plan to move forward. It confounds me how the Administration says no to our ally Canada with the rejection of the Keystone pipeline, yet it barely took action to prevent the Castro regime from drilling for oil 50 miles from Key West. The Cuban dictatorship knows its time is running out and that the thousands of barrels a day it receives from Hugo Chavez are dependent on too many unknown factors. The US should be doing everything in its power to make sure that Fidel and Raul Castro do not become the oil barons of the Caribbean and that they do not advance their oil exploration plans.” Cong. Rivera said, “The Castro dictatorship has as much regard for environmental safety as it does for human rights.  An oil spill originating in Cuban waters could have a detrimental effect on state and local economies all over the Atlantic coast, hurting businesses and costing American jobs.  That is why I introduced the Foreign Oil Spill Liability Act, which makes the responsible party for a foreign-sourced oil spill liable for cleanup costs and claims for oil that reaches American waters and shores—tripling the liability if the spill originates from the waters of a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

We must continue to discourage companies from doing business with the totalitarian Cuban dictatorship by taking the necessary steps to ensure that American taxpayers are not made to pay for an environmental disaster caused by a terrorist regime.  I continue to be disappointed that the Obama Administration has not used the resources available to it, including imposing sanctions against Repsol, to discourage collaboration with a State Sponsor of Terrorism. However, I believe it is important to remain vigilant and to be prepared in the event of a spill.  A readiness and preparedness plan for this possible eventuality is a responsible and necessary precaution.”

>>> Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement in observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“Today we especially remember the victims of the Nazi regime’s senseless brutality, and honor their courage in the face of the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. “As we struggle to heal the scars of the past, we must remember our twin promises never to forget the events of the Holocaust, and never to allow such atrocities to occur again. We must remain vigilant, and we must implement robust Holocaust education programs to promote the values of tolerance, understanding and respect as an antidote against senseless hatred and aggression.

“Most of all, we must continue to work to right the enduring wrongs of the Holocaust, and ensure that no one may profit from the Nazi’s cruelty and crimes.  Holocaust survivors have waited almost seven decades for justice from insurance and rail companies that continue to evade responsibility for their Holocaust-era actions.  The time is now to correct these wrongs.” >> NOTE:  Ros-Lehtinen is the author, with her Florida colleague Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), of H.R. 890, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2011.  This bipartisan measure would allow survivors to avail themselves of state laws passed to allow them to have their day in court and to require European insurance companies conducting business in those states to disclose Nazi-era insurance policy information.  The measure also establishes a federal right of action to recover proceeds due under the covered policies.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service, yet I do have to live, thank you! Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times, twice in The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel which ran as a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003 and UNC Chapel Hill naming me one of the top columnists in Florida in a  multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade. Further, I am a frequent guest on WWW.WPBT2.ORG on Helen Ferre’s show Issues, and have also appeared on  Eliott Rodriguez’s show News & Views.

FLORIDA

>>> Sen. Bennett & Rep. Artiles try to have stadiums shelter homeless, should instead ask professional sports to donate to local homeless service providers

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and state Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, (Net worth $196,000) have the right idea when it comes to getting professional sports teams to pitch in financially when it comes to the homeless population in these teams cities where public funds were used to build the stadiums. The legislators note that over the years some $271.5 million www.miamiherald.com in Florida tax dollars have gone to these six private enterprises around the state and the facilities receive monthly subsidies of around $166,000. The two politicians want to force the teams to take in the homeless people when the facilities are not being used but that is the wrong tack to take. A more effective solution would be to require the team’s management to contribute to the local homeless shelter programs around the state like the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust for example, that is a national model for the activity and is a public/private partnership.

Putting homeless people in a stadium setting is a recipe for disaster as Hurricane Katrina demonstrated in New Orleans and the Super Dome stadium fiasco, and these homeless organizations have extensive experience in keeping these shelters safe, clean for the residents that many times include families with children. The Watchdog Report agrees professional sports teams should contribute to the communities they are in, if public funds are involved, and while the two legislators have the right idea. The more elegant solution would be for the teams funding these not for profit service providers that would also benefit the team. Since the contributions would be a tax deduction, a win win for all.


Bennett

Artiles

>>> Press release: A statement from Dominic M. Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch:

“Florida TaxWatch commends Senator Jeremy Ring and Representative Marlene O’Toole on the introduction of SB 1498 and HB 1215, legislation that provides a strategic vision for state Information Technology (IT) aimed at operational efficiencies and cost savings for taxpayers.  For the first time in its history, Florida has an opportunity to consolidate the planning, usage, and purchasing of all state government IT needs, eliminate the silos of decision-making, and provide a platform to drive wise and cost-effective consolidation. Technology is a critically key element in the positive, effective, and efficient transformation of any organization, public or private.  Technological advances can be one of the primary weapons used by the state of Florida to drive its costs down while dramatically increasing its organizational effectiveness to deliver more efficient services to its constituents and taxpayers. >>> Florida TaxWatch is committed to finding the most effective and efficient ways for the state of Florida to provide necessary services to the taxpayers, and this bill will go a long way towards reaching that goal.”

>>> Governor Rick Scott reappoints David Lawrence to the Children and Youth Cabinet.

Lawrence, 69, of Coral Gables, is the president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation.  He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2012, and ending August 27, 2015.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> And they’re off; BCC Chair Martinez throws his hat into 2012 mayoral race against Mayor Gimenez

Joe Martinez, (net worth $238,000) the Miami-Dade County Commission Chair pulled the trigger this week and has announced he is running for mayor with the primary election this August. He is facing incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $923,000) who won the office in late June beating Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in a runoff election. Martinez, a former Miami-Dade police lieutenant was first elected in 2000 to Commission District 11 in southwestern Dade and he followed now state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami (Net worth $486,000) in the seat when the senator ran a failed bid as Miami-Dade mayor back then. Martinez had said in the past that he would run but now, it is official.  And it will be interesting watching the two men butt heads on the dais while also campaigning for the top countywide slot around the county.

Gimenez has raised around $600,000 in a political committee for his campaign war chest and Martinez aligned with another political committee has raised around $58,000 www.miamiherald.com and the former cop will need significantly more than that for his campaign. However, he has the bully pulpit of the commission at his disposal as well, and with so many others running for the office. It will be the anticipated runoff to be held in November’s General Election that will be the real battle and will determine which candidate carries the day. The other 11 other candidates include Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez who has $49,700 for his campaign and the ten lesser-known people have raised no real significant money to date. Gimenez has responded that he is standing by his decisions since in office and while both men are Republicans in the bipartisan race. Gimenez is more liberal when it comes to social issues than Martinez, but both men respect each other and have worked on a number of past issues together and have even played golf a few times.

What will be an issue with county voters?

However, Gimenez after he was elected. He appointed a variety of vice mayors to his office to do many of the functions of managing the county’s sprawling around 27,000 workers and these people were paid top dollar in the $200,000 to $250,000 range and while the mayor justifies it as getting the best people he can and he did cut his own salary. But for many voters, these rich salaries were a slap in the face after the recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and suggested Gimenez, a former Miami manager and fire rescue chief had a tin ear and was not following his campaign promises to change county hall. Further, Commissioner Xavier Suarez (Net Worth $328,500) has been verbally sniping at the mayor about county hall pay calling for a $150,000 cap in employee compensation. And he recently submitted a sliding percentage salary cut plan that would hit the highest paid harder when it came to cuts in pay when trying to fill a gaping budget hole and he has worked the local media on the matter quite extensively. >>> For more go to Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez officially files to run for mayor – Miami-Dade – MiamiHerald.com


Gimenez

Martinez

Suarez

>>> Press release: There have been rumors, speculation, and outright deception in an attempt to siphon support for my candidacy for the Office of Mayor representing our great County.  It is time to end those rumors.  Today, I have filed papers declaring my candidacy for Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County is not alone in facing a recession that has left our country reeling in unemployment, foreclosures, and an overall feeling of despair. We even had the largest recall of an elected official in U.S. history.  Many took advantage of this opportunity for personal ambition.  I could not.  I followed the advice of my father to “Finish what I start”.  The residents of District 11 elected me to do a job.  My colleagues then chose me to represent them as Chairman of the Commission.  As such, I placed my personal ambitions aside for the betterment of the community.  However, there is and has been a void in leadership.  Miami-Dade County does not need a bureaucrat running the County. What the residents of Miami-Dade County need and deserve is a leader.  A visionary; someone who will lead this County and place it among the greatest counties/cities in the world.  For too long bureaucrats have been attempting to lead our County and have failed.

As Mayor, my primary objective is to continue with my commitment to maintain a low tax rate, streamline County processes and procedures, improving efficiencies and improving the standards of service.  The County’s success depends on the prosperity of its residents and I will continue my efforts in attracting new industries to the County in an effort to stimulate job creation in the real estate market, create a more efficient and cost effective means of public transportation, and to find ways to clean up obsolete ordinances that continue to impede and cause road blocks in small business development. I promise to listen to the needs of the residents and respond with honesty and humility. >> By announcing my candidacy for Mayor, the Commission District 11 seat will have a vacancy. Therefore, I encourage residents who have a passion for public service and wanting to make a difference in the community to put their name on the ballot.

>>> Press release: Don’t Forget to Vote! Important County Reform Questions on January 31st Ballot.

Currently, all the news media attention is being focused on the Presidential Primary candidates, but there are critically important County Charter Reform ballot questions that you, the voter, must decide upon.  For your convenience, we are providing you with the actual language that will appear on the ballot itself.

A HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT RELATING TO SALARIES, SERVICE, AND TERM LIMITS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT, AS OF JANUARY 31, 2012, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SHALL: * DEVOTE FULL-TIME SERVICE TO THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND HOLD NO OTHER EMPLOYMENT; * NO LONGER RECEIVE THE $6,000 ANNUAL SALARY ESTABLISHED IN 1957, BUT RECEIVE INSTEAD THE SALARY PROVIDED BY STATE FORMULA, ADJUSTED ANNUALLY (CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY $92,097); AND * SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS IN OFFICE EXCLUDING TERMS OF SERVICE PRIOR TO 2012?

CHARTER AMENDMENT RELATING TO INITIATIVE PETITIONS AND ELECTIONS ON CHARTER AMENDMENTS SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO INCREASE FROM 60 TO 120 DAYS THE TIME ALLOWED TO CIRCULATE INTIATORY PETITIONS, AND TO PROVIDE THAT ELECTIONS TO AMEND THE CHARTER, EITHER THROUGH INITIATORY PETITIONS OR BY BOARD ACTION, BE HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NEXT SCHEDULED GENERAL ELECTION RATHER THAN WITHIN 60 TO 120 DAYS, AS CURRENTLY REQUIRED?

Early voting has already begun in Miami-Dade County.  For your convenience, we are providing a link from the Miami-Dade Elections Department listing all of the early voting sites that are open throughout the County. http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/wait-times.asp

>>> Press release: Chairman Martinez to announce the review of the County ordinances to facilitate business growth Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 2 p.m.

In an effort to make Miami-Dade County more business friendly, Miami-Dade County Chairman Joe A. Martinez has joined forces with Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Law to review the Miami-Dade County Code in order to identify provisions that delay, impede or hinder the manner in which business and industry interact with the county.  The details of the code revision initiative will be presented at FIU’s College of Law on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 2 p.m.

“Bureaucracy is the impediment to progress, which is why I have made it my goal to turn our local government around,” said Chairman Martinez.  “This endeavor will ensure that code provisions and requirements facilitate the interactions between the County and the business industry.  Facilitating an economic renaissance for Miami-Dade that will certainly foster job creation.” For more information please contact Chairman Martinez’ office at (305) 375-5511. WHO: Miami-Dade County Chairman Joe A. Martinez, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, FIU Law School officials and students WHAT: Launch of a Code Revision Initiative Press Conference WHEN: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 – 2 p.m.

WHERE: Florida International University College of Law, Large Court Room (RBD 1000) 11200 S.W. 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199.

>>> Press release: THE BEACON COUNCIL INVITES YOU TO A ONE COMMUNITY ONE GOAL ACCESS SERIES BREAKFAST EVENT TO UNVEIL THE TARGET INDUSTRIES REPORT

The Report, the second in a series of four One Community One Goal Reports, recommends a list of Target Industries and their niche sectors for the future of Miami-Dade County’s economic development and growth. We also will discuss the findings of the next report, the Education Assets Inventory. Thursday, February 2nd | 8:30 am at THE BEACON COUNCIL 80 SW 8th St, Suite 2400

Miami, Florida RSVP via the web at www.beaconcouncil.com/events Price Per Person: $25.00 All ACCESS Series events will also be accessible via webinar with Live Internet question-and-answer opportunities.

>>> GMCVB press release: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG ― GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKS #4 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR), #4 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR) AND #4 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY FOR JANUARY – DECEMBER 2011 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS ~ For the year 2011 (January–December), Greater MIAMI and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2010, ranking #4 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $115.65,  #4 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 75.6% and #4 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $152.95 among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S.  Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).

Top 25 Hotel Markets Revenue Per Available Hotel Room [Rev Par] January – December 2011
$ % Change vs. 2010
1.  New York $198.52 + 6.0%
2. Oahu Island $133.46 +13.7%
3. San Francisco $122.54 +19.7%
4. MIAMI $115.65 +14.1%
5. Boston $105.11 +8.2%
Top 25 Hotel Markets Average Daily Occupancy January – December 2011
% % Change vs. 2010
1. New York 81.2% +0.5%
2. Oahu Island 80.9% +3.4%
3. San Francisco 79.0% +5.1%
4. MIAMI 75.6% +7.4%
5. Los Angeles 71.7% + 5.9%
Top 25 Hotel Markets Average Daily Room Rate January – December 2011
$ % Change vs. 2010
1 New York $244.55 + 5.5%
2. Oahu Island $165.05 +10.0%
3. San Francisco $155.14 +13.8%
4. MIAMI $152.95 +6.2%
5. Boston $147.80 + 4.4%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Five flagged charter schools come back to Audit Committee, concerns remain and a good read on how schools operate

The Miami-Dade Public Schools Audit & Budget Advisory Committee is meeting Tuesday and will be taking up the concerns the internal auditors have had with five local charter schools. The schools were denied going forward to the school board Dec. 6 because of a variety of concerns and while some issues have been resolved. Balere Language Academy, Oxford Academy of Miami, and three Lincoln Marti schools in Hialeah, Little Havana and its International school all have issues outstanding with the nation’s fourth largest public schools auditors. The creation of Charter Schools in the early 1990s around the state of Florida has given students and parents a choice of not going only to public or private schools. Since charters get public funding from the school district based on the number of students attending the organization. The schools can be run as either a for-profit or a not-for-profit and while many do a great job. There is a subset of schools that have had problems, mostly financial and many of the over now 90 or so such schools in Miami-Dade over the years have closed there doors.

However, critic’s carp that some of the schools are only created to make a profit, the public schools do not own the assets even though public money is supporting the operations and is seen as a way for vacant building owners to cover their mortgage by opening their own school, called “a related transaction.” Further, over the years questions of board governance has reared its head and has been reported in past Watchdog Reports. However, these five schools issues show a wide diversity of questions and while state legislators want to give the Charter Schools a further edge. It is clear more oversight and controls should also be considered, especially after a www.miamiherald.com extensive investigative series on some of the schools around the state. To read what the district has found with these five go to: http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/Jan_31_2012/item3.pdf

>>> Press release: Working collaboratively, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) and United Teachers of Dade (UTD) have developed a strategic agreement through the creation of a Joint Labor/Management Healthcare Sub-Committee which resulted in a Conceptual Agreement with UTD for 2012 Healthcare.  Provisions of the agreement include:

•           Continued free healthcare option for employee-only coverage.

•           Agreement that the District will fund 100 percent of healthcare increases for January – March, 2012 in order to provide time for the healthcare sub-committee to do its work ($16 million).

•           A $28.3 million savings as a result of plan design changes, which will become effective April 1, 2012.

•           Shared responsibility for dependent healthcare cost increases with the District subsidizing dependent premiums in 2012 in an amount of approximately $78 million annually.

•           Increased District contribution toward agreement of $36 million including $16 million for January – March, 2012 premium increases and an additional $21 million for premium increases from April – December, 2012.

•           Agreement to educate employees on wellness issues including identifying health risks through annual physicals and/or biometric screenings and online Health Risk Assessments.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> FRB Member Khagan demurs on UM Law school, will stay and “fulfill my commitment to FRB”

The Watchdog Report got a shock last week when the Miami-Dade Ethics and Public Trust gave an opinion that new Financial Recovery Board Member Mojdeh Khaghan, Esq., could not stay on the FRB if she was hired by the University of Miami’s Law School. I contacted the only woman on the seven member board and she responded by email, “No, I intend to fulfill my commitment to the FRB and will not be applying to UM Law School,” the attorney wrote back. Khaghan, a Columbia University undergraduate and law school graduate has been a welcome addition to the board and was appointed by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and that would have complicated the situation since he is up for reelection in 2012 and is facing Commission Chair Joe Martinez who was instrumental in creating the FRB last spring.

>>> Here is the M-DC Ethics Commission opinion: The most recent member appointed to the Financial Recovery Board (FRB), which oversees operations of the Public Health Trust, is seeking a full-time teaching position at the University of Miami Law School.  However, because the creation of the FRB included a heightened standard of ethics for its members that prohibits relationships that could be perceived as conflicts, Ethics Commissioners responded to a Request for Opinion (RQO 12-01) by Mojdeh Khaghan by ruling that she could not serve in both capacities.   According to the opinion, if Khaghan accepts employment at UM, she would be a stakeholder and would have to resign her position on the FRB.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> MESA approves MOU with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, deferred at commission meeting, critics want “holistic approach” to environmentally sensitive Virginia Key

The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA) Tuesday afternoon voted 9 to 1 to approve a Memo of Understanding with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium allowing it to move to the city commission meeting Thursday, but with such short notice. On Thursday, Miami Manager Johnny Martinez requested the legislation be deferred. The agreement between the authority and friends will be taken up at a later date, but the clock is ticking with $3 million at risk of county GOB funding shifted to the restoration included for the Dade Heritage Trust in the 2004 $2.9 billion bond. And the proposed deal if approved by the commission using MESA as the agreeing party allows the commission to circumvent the Miami Charter and the so called Joe Carollo Amendment that requires a public vote on anything related to leasing public land on the city’s water front. The iconic stadium needs $30 million to restore it to its original condition before Hurricane Andrew slammed into it on August 1992 and it has laid abandoned since then and is a magnate for graffiti artists and corrosion of the concrete support beams. The board of Friends includes the original stadium’s architect Hilario Candela and Donald Worth and they made their pitch to the authority’s members saying the agreement would give them some standing when it came to fundraising efforts. They believe the restoration could benefit by getting “$6 million in Historic Tax Credits” along with the county bond money and would be great seed money. Further, Mayor Tomas Regalado said the quickness of approving the agreement was important for an organization in February was coming to Miami to review the restoration process.

But there is an under current of concern about the agreement’s land foot print, that public space is at risk and is not being looked at in “a holistic fashion,” after a Master Plan for all of Virginia Key was approved that had extensive public and environmental members participating that includes a proposed Marine Museum as well. Greg Bush, an environments and parks green space advocate at the meeting said the “Island needs to be developed with oversight of all the area. We are talking about an entire island that needs to be planned,” he said. And MESA member Nathan Kurland, the lone no vote. He said “his problem was we are being asked to vote” on something we were “not able to study” but did  acknowledge there is “not one of us that doesn’t want the stadium resurrected,” but he objected to the quick decision on the matter the board was being asked to make. In addition, the proposed initial nine-member steering committee membership is expected to be expanded to include two MESA members on it along with probable two members of the public and possible a county representative in its final reiteration that would be brought back to the commission in the future.  For more on Friends got to: http://www.marinestadium.org/board

>>> Miami Mayor Regalado settles ethics charges

>>>M-DC Ethics Commission ruling: Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has agreed to settle charges with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) by admitting that he filed financial disclosure forms in 2010 and 2011 that were incomplete, inaccurate and which failed to properly disclose assets.  According to the Ethics investigation, in the 2010 disclosure form that was filed 29 days after the July first deadline, Regalado failed to note the value of his home or the value of his household goods and personal property.  On his 2011 form, the mayor left blank both spaces where the required home value and personal goods should be listed.  As part of the settlement to the complaint (C 11-34), Mayor Regalado will pay a fine of $1,000, file revised disclosure forms and accept a Letter of Instruction from the Ethics Commission.

>>> Will the second time be the charm? Commission starts over to find an auditor

The Miami Commission is starting over in its quest to find a new commission auditor after three finalists dropped out, there was confusion about the qualifications of the remaining candidates, and if they fit, the education and experience criteria described in the Miami Charter. Commission Chair Francis Suarez (Net worth $81,131) in a telephone interview Sunday, he said the goal was to advertise the position again and select one of the applicants within the next sixty-days. The commission lost its Chartered auditor when Victor Igwe, Ph.D., was not granted a new contract last spring and he is now suing the city.

>>> Press release: FORMER EXECUTIVE OF MIAMI-BASED OCEAN BANK PLEADS GUILTY TO PARTICIPATING IN BRIBERY SCHEME AND TO FILING FALSE TAX RETURNS

A former executive of Miami-based Ocean Bank pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami to participating in a scheme to accept bribes and to failing to report the income on federal income tax returns, the Department of Justice announced. Danilo P. Perez, a former vice president of Ocean Bank, pleaded guilty today to felony charges filed on Jan. 18, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Miami. The charges against Perez stem from his accepting nearly $500,000 in cash and other items from unnamed co-conspirators in connection with his supervision of certain unnamed customer business with the bank.

According to court documents, as vice president, Perez generally oversaw Ocean Bank’s lending relationships with corporate customers of the bank.  The department said that beginning in or about February 2001 and continuing thereafter through on or about April 25, 2007, Perez accepted bribes, including payments for expensive watches, Super Bowl Tickets and other items for his personal use, as well as substantial amounts of cash. Perez accepted the payments intending to be rewarded and influenced in connection with his role in approving Ocean Bank’s issuance of letters of credit, loans and overdraft privileges to his co-conspirators. The court documents also show that he failed to report income from the bribes for the tax years 2005, 2006 and 2007, resulting in lost tax revenue of approximately $91,000 to the federal government.

Perez was charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit or demand money and other things of value to influence an employee of a financial institution and three counts of tax offenses. The conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 criminal fine. The tax charges each carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and $250,000 fine. The maximum fine for each count may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine. >>The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation in Atlanta and Miami, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Anyone with information concerning anticompetitive conduct in the banking industry is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office at 404-331-7100 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Commissioner Wolfson faces public, point of spear in drive to oust Beach Mgr. Gonzalez

Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson is facing the public on Tuesday and the reelected unopposed official last November is the point of the spear when it comes to whether Manager Jorge Gonzalez stays or goes. Wolfson an attorney in the past pushed for a public review of the manager’s performance since Gonzalez has been at the helm of the city the past 11-years. The Watchdog Report originally thought Wolfson had a good shot at having the manager replaced, but I have become more cautious in that assessment after watching a past commission meeting where he and Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower verbally went at it on the dais.  And the public can hear his side of the story on Tuesday at a weekly public affairs breakfast organized by local activists that has been a must attend event for candidates and elected officials including the county mayoral candidates and a state Senator over the years. >>> Miami Beach city Commissioner Jonah Wolfson will be the Breakfast Club speaker, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 8:30AM – 10:00AM, David’s Cafe II, 1654 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> DMV comes to Gable library Feb. 13, easy way to get a license

Press release: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), in partnership with the Miami-Dade Public Library System, will bring motorist services to the Coral Gables Branch Library – 3443 Segovia Street in Coral Gables – on Monday, February 13, 2012, from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Mini-FLOWS are a convenient way to renew a driver license, change a name or address on a driver license, get an identification card, and renew vehicle registrations.  To find out what documents are required, visit www.GatherGoGet.com or call 850.617.3995. Cash, personal checks, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards are accepted. To learn more about the DHSMV and their services, visit www.flhsmv.gov. For library information, visit www.mdpls.org

CITY OF OPA LOCKA

>>> Former vice Mayor Pinder settles with ethics commission for “exploitation of official position”

M-DC Ethics Commission press release: A former Vice Mayor and City Commissioner in Opa-Locka has agreed to settle accusations that he misused his government-issued credit card for expenses unrelated to official business.  Terence Pinder was accused of charging approximately five thousand dollars for non-city expenditures from December 2004 through June 2006.  To settle criminal charges, Pinder agreed not to contest the complaint (C 12-04) of “exploitation of official position” by the Ethics Commission and will pay a fine of $500.  He has already reimbursed the city $1,400 and promises to pay another $3,000 to Opa-Locka to cover the unauthorized expenses.  Additionally, Pinder agreed to pay $500 each to the Ethics Commission, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department for investigative costs.

VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY

>>> Dust–up over “Cone of Silence” procedures will change municipal law

M-DC Ethics Commission ruling: A conflict between the procurement code and the “Cone of Silence” for the Village of Palmetto Bay is prompting a change in that town’s laws.  It was triggered by a complaint (C 11-37) against Village Manager Ron Williams and two Park and Recreation officials, Fanny Carmona-Gonzalez and Kirk Hearin, regarding a Request for Proposals for management of the Coral Reef Park Tennis Center.  A selection committee rated one proposer as most qualified, and the manager recommended award of the contract last September, noting that pre-award negotiations had taken place.    The town attorney had advised that such communication was permissible under Palmetto Bay’s procurement code, but later discovered that advice to be in conflict with the Cone of Silence rule.  The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause that the manager violated rules, but did find Probable Cause that the other employees did.  Since Carmona-Gonzalez and Hearin followed the guidance of the town counsel, no charges will be filed, but a Letter of Instruction will be issued to the city.

TOWN OF BAL HARBOR ISLANDS

>>> Building official Lee did not exploit his office

M-DC Ethics Commission press release: No Probable Cause was found to a complaint (C 11-35) filed against Dale Lee, the Chief Building Official of the Town of Bay Harbor Islands, who was accused of exploiting his official position.  A resident charged that the owner of the building in which he is a tenant was allowed by Lee to use an unlicensed contractor to make certain repairs.  The investigation showed that the repairs were made properly under building codes that allow an “owner/builder permit,” and there was no evidence that Lee received any benefit for approving the permit.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Absentee voters dwarf 11,000 early voters; closed GOP presidential primary has candidates seeking some of the party’s almost 400,000 voters

With early voting ending Saturday, only roughly 11,000 voters opted to participate in that activity but that number does exclude the tens of thousands in absentee ballot voters that have come into the elections office run by Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes (Net worth $614,000) in the Democratic Party dominated county. The state’s second largest county has only the GOP presidential primary on the countywide ballot that also has some local municipal elections including Ft. Lauderdale and there are 397,239 Republican voters that can participate in the closed party race.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> There he goes again, Gov. Scott suspends Boynton Beach Mayor Rodriguez for corruption

There he goes again. Gov. Rick Scott (Net worth $103 million) suspends Boynton Beach Mayor Jose A. Rodriguez for bribery on Friday and it is another notch in the fight to end the state’s “Culture of Corruption.” The governor follows the tradition of past governors that had both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Charlie Crist doing a brisk business of removing elected leaders in office, almost on a monthly basis during their time in office. Bush given his two terms leads the pack in these removals of office but Scott has a clip going as well and it is a sad commentary on our political institutions and its officials charged with governing the community. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/01/scott-suspends-boynton-beach-mayor-accused-of-corruption.html

Rodriguez

>>> Gov. Scott tapped Judge Gregory M. Keyser, of Boca Raton, to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court.

Judge Keyser, 56, has served on the Palm Beach County Court since 2011. Previously, he practiced with Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro and Ramsey from 2002 to 2011. His additional private practice includes Gay, Keyser and Berkowitz from 2001 to 2002; Gay, Ramsey and Warren from 2000 to 2001; Sachs, Sax, and Klein from 1997 to 2000; Paxton, Crow, Bragg, Smith and Keyser from 1988 to 1997; Marchbanks and Feaman from 1987 to 1988; Paxton, Crow, Bragg and Smith from 1981 to 1987; and MacMillan, Newett, Strawn, Stanley and Botos from 1980 to 1981. Keyser received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from the University of Florida. “Since serving on the county bench, Judge Keyser has gained invaluable insight into the patience and fairness needed in the judicial process,” Governor Scott said. “His previous 30 years of practicing law have given him a good understanding of the issues facing the people of the Fifteenth Circuit.” Judge Keyser will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Karen L. Martin.

ORANGE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Jeanette D. Bigney and Greg Allen Tynan to the Orange County Court.

Bigney, 38, has been a sole practitioner since 2005.  From 2004 to 2005, she was Of Counsel with Bigney and Orth and practiced with Rigdon, Alexander and Rigdon from 2003 to 2004.  She served as an assistant state attorney with the Ninth Judicial Circuit from 1999 to 2003. Bigney received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from Nova Southeastern University. “Jeanette displays the work ethic, knowledge and temperament expected of a jurist,” Governor Scott said. “I am confident she will interpret and apply the law in a fair and unbiased manner.”

Tynan, 42, has served as an assistant state attorney with the Ninth Judicial Circuit since 2001 and from 1995 to 1999.  From 1999 to 2001, he practiced in the private sector, first with the Law Office of W. Riley Allen and later with the Law Office of Kevin Cannon. Tynan received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a law degree from Nova Southeastern University. “As a prosecutor, Greg has demonstrated his willingness to carefully review and analyze the details of every case and the laws relating to them,” Governor Scott said. “His commitment to examine the facts and come to a just decision will serve the people of Orange County well.” Bigney will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Heather L. Higbee to the Ninth Judicial Circuit. Tynan will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge John E. Jordan to the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

DUVAL COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Scott Mitchell to County Court.

Mitchell, 54, has been a sole practitioner since 2010.  Previously, he practiced with Lester and Mitchell from 1995 to 2010, with Moran and Mitchell from 1993 to 1995, Coxe and Mitchell from 1989 to 1993, and with Coxe and Schemer from 1986 to 1989.  He served as an assistant state attorney with the Fourth Judicial Circuit from 1982 to 1986.  Mitchell received a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and a law degree from Florida State University. “During his 29 years of practicing law in Duval County, Scott has handled cases reflecting a broad spectrum of the criminal justice system,” Governor Scott said. “His experience in both public and private practice have given him the perspective to make decisions in an unbiased manner and according to the rule of law.” Mitchell will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Tyrie W. Boyer to the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

>>> Governor Rick Scott announced today the appointments of Kevin S. Doyle and Matthew J. Falconer to the Board of Directors, Workforce Florida Inc.

Press release: Doyle, 40, of Jacksonville, is the founder and president of the Wexford Strategies Group.  He previously worked for U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, first as regional director and later as state director, from 2004 to 2009.  Doyle graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Florida.  He succeeds Timothy Lyons and is appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2012, and ending March 21, 2015.

Falconer, 50, of Windermere, is the president of Falcon Development.  He is currently a member of the Government Efficiency Task Force and the International Council of Shopping Centers.  Falconer graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  He succeeds Mark Wilson and is appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2012, and ending March 21, 2015.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott names Gail Kavanagh and Jerry H. Sansom to the Florida Inland Navigation District.

Kavanagh, 69, of Port St. Lucie, is the executive vice president of Treasure Coast Builders Association.  She is reappointed for a term beginning January 26, 2012, and ending January 9, 2015.

Sansom, 64, of Rockledge, is the executive director of the Organized Fishermen of Florida.  He is reappointed for a term beginning January 26, 2012, and ending January 9, 2015. >> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

PINELLAS COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Glenton G. “Glen” Gilzean to the Pinellas County School Board.

Gilzean, 29, of St. Petersburg, has been the executive director of Educate Today Inc. since 2009. Previously, he was a regional field director for the Florida Department of Education from 2006 to 2009. Gilzean has served on the Florida Department of Education School Choice Parent Advisory Committee and as chair of the Hillsborough Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council. He served on the legislative staff for U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and district staff for State Representative Ed Homan. His additional board membership includes the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Florida Attorney General’s Gang Reduction Task Force and the Florida Afterschool Network. Gilzean is a member of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Cornerstone Family Ministries. He received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida. “Glen’s commitment to education was instilled in him by his parents, who came to this country from Jamaica,” Governor Scott said. “He has dedicated much of his life to ensuring Florida students have the opportunity to learn and achieve in the classroom.” Gilzean fills the vacancy created by the death of School Board Member Lew Williams and will serve until November 19, 2012.

OSCEOLA COUNTY

>>> Gov. Scott names Heather Pinder Rodriguez to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Rodriguez, 38, has been senior counsel for Holland and Knight’s national Construction Industry Practice Group since 1998. In 2008, she received the Florida Bar Young Lawyers’ Section Pro Bono Award for her leadership and advocacy leading to the release of American citizen Cuc Foshee, who had been imprisoned for more than a year in her native country of Vietnam without charges, medical care and access to legal counsel. Prior to becoming an attorney, Rodriguez served in several staff positions with the Florida Legislature from 1994 to 1997, including session secretary for the Florida Senate Majority (Republican) Office, law clerk and session staff aide for the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee and director of the Florida Legislature Mobile Home Study Commission. Rodriguez received bachelor’s degrees in international affairs and Russian and a law degree from Florida State University. “Heather’s commitment to the rule of law has been strengthened by the opportunities she has had to witness firsthand the atrocities possible without it,” Governor Scott said. “Her dedication to her community and willingness to work hard will serve her well on the bench.” Rodriguez will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Stan Strickland.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Please join us for Casa Valentina’s Fifth Annual Community Appreciation Luncheon! You are invited to help us celebrate our successes over the past five years, and to hear our plans for the next five years and beyond… Wednesday, February 8, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, Elizabeth Virrick Park Gymnasium, 3255 Plaza Street, Coconut Grove *Walking tour to Casa Valentina following lunch. Our new Program Director, Karen Haag, will discuss how Casa Valentina’s new program for young mothers aging out of foster care with babies will help these youth to form secure attachment relationships with their children. If you are able to attend, please RSVP to info@casavalentina.org by Friday, February 3. Special thank you to our sponsor: Fare to Remember Creative Catering!

>>> SOUTH MIAMI-DADE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER AND delancyhill LAW FIRM PRESENT 8TH ANNUAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION

The Langston Hughes Project featuring The Ron McCurdy Quartet and celebrity Spoken Word artist Malcolm Jamal-Warner

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) celebrates Black History Month with a presentation of the Langston Hughes Project, Ask Your Mama, Twelve Moods for Jazz on Thursday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m. on the main stage. The performance features the Ron McCurdy Quartet with celebrity spoken word artist Malcolm Jamal-Warner. As part of this special evening, delancyhill law firm will host their 8th Annual Black History Month Celebration with a VIP reception honoring Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis C. Moss at 6:00 p.m. in the Black Box Studio. Proceeds from the VIP Reception will benefit SMDCAC’s education and outreach programs. Tickets to the performance are $30, $20, $10 ($5 tickets CultureShockmiami.com), $5 off orchestra level seats for students seniors and active military service members. Tickets to the VIP reception are $50 and includes entrance  to the performance. The public should contact SMDCAC’s Box Office at 786-573-5300 or visit www.smdcac.org. SMDCAC is located at 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay.

EDITORIALS

>>> PAST WDR OCT. 2010: What about elected leaders perks at the local level?

Elected leaders need to realize they must govern by their  actions in many ways and I thought of this when U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fl, pulled up to Miami City Hall last week and he was a passenger in a average looking black Nissan sedan, with no security. The same thing recently occurred with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, and U.S. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami and you see it all the time with many other local state or federal legislators but at the county and in certain cities. Some elected leaders travel with an entourage and people should keep a perspective of the true status of the political office they are holding. For ultimately they are just a caretaker of the office and will eventually be replaced or die and how they did and lived in public office will forever be their legacy, and living the political highlife in today’s world is not where a elected leader wants to be given the “new normal,” that these same leaders lament is now falling upon local and county governments.

LETTERS

>>> Press release: Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is the state’s top performing school district according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. “No big district in Florida has done better in boosting the percentage of students passing the FCAT in reading and math…,” the paper reported. This analysis stands in stark contrast to the school district rankings released by Florida’s Commissioner of Education earlier today.

The Tampa Bay Times analysis points out that M-DCPS has experienced sustained long-term improvement, and in reading progress, Miami-Dade is ranked No. 2 among all 67 districts, while St. Johns, touted as number 1 by the state comes in at 16th. While recent rankings released by the Florida Department of Education list St. Johns County as the No. 1 performing school district, the Times report analyzed ten years’ worth of data from the FCAT for all 67 school districts in Florida and found that M-DCPS has demonstrated consistent improvement in student academic performance. In reading, the percentage of students scoring at grade level or above jumped from nearly 34 percent in 2001 to almost 58 percent in 2010. Likewise in math, the percentage of students scoring at grade level or above increased by nearly 27 points, from 38 percent in 2001 to nearly 65 percent in 2010. The Times analysis also considered factors such as district size, poverty and demographics.  The entire article may be viewed at http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/the-best-school-district-in-florida-it-all-depends-on-how-you-slice-the/1211882

>>> POSTED ON MY BLOG http://floridadocs.blogspot.com Attached a link http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/22/2601913_p3/hospitals-hiring-doctors-to-get.html to an interesting article  written by John Dorschner titled “Hospitals hiring doctors to get ready for reform” highlighting the growing trend of hospitals purchasing physicians practices. Its of interest to note that executives at Baptist and Holy Cross say ” the physicians’ practices on their own do not break even after being purchased, but ancillary income from such measures as diagnostic tests boost the bottom line.” But more diagnostic tests and procedures also means more health care expenditures! At Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade’s public hospitals, the unaudited financial statements for fiscal 2011 show that the doctors’ practices lost $4.4 million!
One employed physician argues that he likes this arrangement because he doesn’t have to spend time dealing with all the business aspects of a private practice. But understanding the business of medicine is exactly what we need to prevail in the rapidly changing health care environment. We cannot pretend that we can practice medicine in splendid isolation and to leave the “dirty” business to others. That’s a prescription for certain marginalization and disempowerment. We must acquire knowledge and skills to master the business of medicine in order to practice medicine more efficiently. What do you think?

Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD, FAAFP, FASAM

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr.

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION  www.knightfoundation.org

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

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

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY  www.miamidade.gov

UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org

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

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

RON BOOK

LEWIS TEIN  www.lewistein.com

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

WILLIAM PALMER

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

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

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI  www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.cph.org

THE STATE OF FLORIDA    www.myflorida.gov

GREATOR MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY  www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschoolsnews.net

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM   www.jhsmiami.org

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA    http://www.firstgov.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

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.

LETTER POLICY

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

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

Est. 05.05.00

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

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

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

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources

Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

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

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

Any amount $

Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133

Fax 305-668-4784 -To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net