Argus Report: PAST APR 2010 WDR: FBI opens up 2nd public corruption task force, “public fed up with corruption,” says FBI’s Gillies
Florida: Commissioner Putnam in the spotlight, elected to Congress at 25, new position in 2010, had $6.49 million net worth through Dec. 2011
Florida Supreme Court: Justice Pariente in the spotlight, tapped in 97 to high court, had $3.57 million net worth through 2011
Miami-Dade County: PA Garcia and state Rep. Lopez-Cantera verbally duke it out, how low will they go for countywide job paying roughly $169,000
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Vice Chair Feldman gets a second term unopposed, brings interesting perspective to board, had $2.54 million net worth through Dec. 2011
Public Health Trust: Transplant pioneer Dr. Ciancio tapped to be new director of Miami Transplant Institute at JHS
City of Miami: After Ira Katz scandal at Bayfront Park Trust in 2000, it now saves city over $1 million in general funds and has over $1 million in reserves
City of Miami Beach: Former UBS Client Sentenced to Federal Prison for Failing to Report $4 Million in Swiss Bank Accounts
City of Coral Gables: Commissioners have verbal rumble in the hall, but 3 to 2 vote keeps Mgr. Salerno in place for now
City of South Miami: Mayor Stoddard expects “to lower taxes again,” the question is “by how much”
City of Aventura: Gov. Scott taps police Chief Steinberg to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: PA Parrish reelected unopposed, has transformed the office, had $906,021 through Dec. 2011
City of Ft. Lauderdale: “Red Handed” Serial Bank Robber Sentenced to 12 1/2 Years Imprisonment
Palm Beach County: Commission Chair Vana gets challengers in Nov., missed 2007 political bloodbath after Newell goes to federal prison, had $69,632 net worth through Mar. 2012
St. Lucie County: Florida Tax Preparer Sentenced to Federal Prison on Charges of Stolen Identity and Tax Refund Fraud
Monroe County: State Attorney Ward gets challenger in general election, former Beach cop before being elected in 2008, had $266,000 net worth through Apr. 2012
Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum M-DC mayoral candidate debate — Kristi House event – Summer parks program
Editorials: Was anyone surprised SEC slaps Miami for juicing fiscal statements to sell municipal bonds? City may be only the tip of the iceberg — Check out the past national story in the Tribune papers: Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003 >>> And a 2004 UNC Chapel Hill study of the Southeast United States 15 states media outlet study where the Watchdog Report is listed as writing a “influential” column in Florida with over 100,000 readers: http://www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf
Letters: Vizcaya sky light installation going smoothly with photos – Sunshine meeting on new white heroin epidemic – Reader would vote for Ilene Lieberman for judge – Homestead exemption fraud crack down would help Miami in fiscal crisis
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 and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.
>>> To all those readers who say to me during the week they will contribute in the near future, now would be a great time if you can. All the information is at the bottom of the WDR.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> PAST WDR APR. 2010: FBI opens up 2nd public corruption task force, “public fed up with corruption,” says FBI’s Gillies
A Thursday press conference at Miami police headquarters downtown announcing the arrests of some officers and city staff, and the removal of a number of senior administrators continues to highlight South Florida’s fight against political corruption and incompetence. John Gillies, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) for the FBI said in his travels since arriving here last year from “Ft. Pierce to the Keys.” He said “the public is fed up with corruption” and he is pursuing a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to these wayward public officials. Gillies, a 27-year veteran with the agency said he has “opened a second public corruption task force” and he has around 460 special agents in his South Florida field office. He also thanked the public for the numerous “tips” about illegal activity and noted most law enforcement is doing their job “honestly”. He thanked his own federal agents for their work and “major commitment” to the “tough job” saying fighting “corruption matters” if a community is to be vibrant with politically healthy public officials and institutions watching over Americans taxpayer dollars and how these monies are being spent.
>>> What about the U.S. Southern District of Florida?
The Watchdog Report has been reporting on the local federal district since 2000 and I have watched many elected leaders and public servants go down either through the state attorney’s office, the federal authorities or both and it should be a wake-up call for politicians that it is not only the authorities that can cause trouble. For citizens and residents are not potted plants and with the proliferation of cell phones and other cameras these devices can easily document political leaders activities and any wayward transgressions. Further, it is not only public corruption that has had Gov. Charlie Crist suspend 36 elected officials since he took office in Jan. 2007, roughly one a month but fraud and a wide variety of other crimes have been associated with Florida elected officials. R. Alex Acosta, the former U.S. attorney when I asked about all the Medicare and Medicaid fraud that topped $1.1 billion over a 13-month period said yes at the time, “We are the graduate school for fraud.”
What about state and federal investigations?
State attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle (Net worth $1.34 million) is challenging a couple of the people arrested Thursday and in the media claims, the acts did not rise to criminality. However, the Miami Police Chief said a judge believed there was probable cause and signed the arrest warrant for the men who worked with a local community based organization. Further, there is a real difference between how the state prosecutors and federal agents work in many ways. Many of the state investigations are based on documents and peoples testimony, but the idea of offering money like in some of the federal stings is out of the question, since there is no spare money said one state attorney source. But for the federal agents, they have the financial resources to troll and see if someone is tempted to be brought over to the dark side and these individuals usually end up with a federal plea deal after they have been busted.
>>> GOP candidate Romney hits rough seas in Britain, Obama also finding rough sailing with new economic numbers
Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential nominee took a road trip to Great Britton this week but stumbled with negative comments about London’s security for the 2012 Summer Olympics drawing derision from the Brits. But it is an unnecessary distraction to his European trip to meet with country’s leaders and intelligence apparatus trying to shore up his boni fides when it comes to foreign policy. The Republican presidential candidate later is also going to Poland and Israel as well but he continues to create gaffes way to frequently during what should be safe political situations. The polls show he and President Barack Obama are neck and neck and both have made some political blunders over the past weeks but for Romney this is an unnecessary hit. And once the Games are over, and school begins to start in late August. With both campaigns only having 100 days until the Nov. 6 general election, both sides better get on their political game face. For the American people are looking for economic relief, answers and solutions to the most vexing problems this country has faced in decades, and attack ads alone will not play well with a fickle electorate, when deeds are required.
>>> Now there are two Democrats running for governor in 2014 against Scott
Jimmy Morales, the former two-term Miami-Dade Commissioner is running for governor in 2014 against Gov. Rick Scott, and the other Democrat running in the primary is state Sen. Nan Rich, D- Sunrise, but the candidate line is forming within the Democratic Party when it comes someone challenging Scott. The governor beat Florida CFO Alex Sink in a bruising race in 2010 where he spent over $72 million of his own money to win by one percentage point and Democrats want to turn the tables on him in this next gubernatorial race.
>>> White House Blog Post: Advance Estimate of GDP for the Second Quarter of 2012 and Annual Revision You can view the blog post by Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, HERE. Advance Estimate of GDP for the Second Quarter of 2012 and Annual Revision
Today’s report shows that the economy posted its twelfth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Over the last three years, the economy has expanded by 6.7 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 9.9 percent. While the economy continues to move in the right direction, additional growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the deep recession that began at the end of 2007.
With today’s report, the BEA also released its annual revisions back to 2009. While the revisions did not meaningfully change the pace of growth over that entire period, it is noteworthy that State and local government purchases were revised up in 2009, which is consistent with the Recovery Act cushioning the effect of the recession and helping to launch the recovery. Since the Recovery Act funds have been phasing out, however, declining State and local government activity has subtracted from GDP. Indeed, today’s report indicates that State and local government purchases have declined for 11 straight quarters, the longest streak ever recorded since the official record of quarterly data began in 1947.
To strengthen economic growth and increase job creation, President Obama has proposed to Congress a plan that would help State and local governments retain and hire teachers and first responders, assist the construction sector and economy of tomorrow by rebuilding and modernizing our Nation’s infrastructure, and would give small businesses tax cuts to encourage them to increase payroll. President Obama also proposed extending tax cuts to protect middle class families and virtually every small business owner from getting a tax increase at the beginning of next year. The Senate passed the President’s plan this week and President Obama has said that as soon as the House will act he will sign it right away in order to give certainty and security to middle class families. Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98% of American families and 97% of small business owners.
>>> Press release: House Foreign Affairs Committee: Chairman Ros-Lehtinen Joins Moment of Silence for Slain Olympians
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined other Members of Congress to honor the 11Israeli Olympians who were murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Leaders around the world continue to urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold a moment of silence for these Olympians on the 40thanniversary of the Munich massacre during the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Summer Olympics in London. (Click here for video) Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Our message to the International Olympic Committee is simple: Do the right thing.
“For 40 years, the IOC has refused to hold a moment of silence at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians—including an American citizen, David Mark Berger—murdered by violent extremists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. We have written repeatedly to the IOC to urge them to reconsider and re-reconsider their position regarding the moment of silence, and the response we received repeated the same meaningless excuses the IOC has clung to year after year. “We know why the IOC has refused: Because the murdered Olympians were Israelis and the IOC does not want to draw the ire of foreign governments who still object to the very existence of a Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people. Well, the leadership of the IOC needs to recognize that leadership is about doing the right thing, particularly when it’s not the easy thing. The Olympics are not about taking the path of least resistance. The Olympics are about overcoming obstacles and going the extra mile. “So to the president of the IOC, we say: Don’t compromise Olympic values by taking the easy way out. Overcome the political obstacles. Go the extra mile. Listen to the U.S., Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Israel. Listen to the hundreds of thousands of people who have supported this cause on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media. Most importantly, listen to the widows of the murdered Israeli Olympians, who have been waiting for decades. “There is still time to do the right thing—there is always time to do the right thing—and pay tribute to the Olympians whose lives were taken at the Olympics 40 years ago.
>>> The Miami-Dade County Commission recently honored Neighbors 4 Neighbors for its 20 years of helping the community by bringing offered resources to people and community’s in need. The organization within www.cbs4.com was founded right after Hurricane Andrew flattened South Dade in Aug. of 1992 and it has continued to help families in need ever since. For more information go to | web:neighbors4neighbors.org | web:cbs4.com/neighbors | twitter:canuhelp |facebook:neighbors4neighbors
>>> 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 and was Best Citizen in the 2003 Best of Miami of The Miami New Times, profiled twice in The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel ran a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003, and UNC Chapel Hill named 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 91.3 FM 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 on www.CBS4.com and The Florida Roundup on www.wlrn.org
>>> Commissioner Putnam in the spotlight, elected to Congress at 25, new position in 2010, had $6.49 million net worth through Dec. 2011
Adam Putnam, the former state legislator and Republican congressional representative at the tender age of 25 and now Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is in the spotlight this week. The family man is a fifth generation Floridian, and the department handles a broad range of issues important to state residents and taxpayers. Putnam’s youngish looking face belies his astute political ways that had him going to the halls of Congress back in 2000 and after five terms. He ran for this statewide post, he is very personable man, and easy to have a discussion with the Watchdog Report has found in the past.
What do we know about his finances?
Putnam through Dec. 2011 had a net worth of $6.49 million and he lists $140,000 in household goods. His land a building is worth $415,000 and intangible assets are valued at $6.05 million, and his home is valued at $174,000. His liabilities are $120,000 owed to Bank of America, and income for the year was $227,000 that came in from Putnam Groves and his salary as commissioner was $124,681.
>>> Webpage bio: Adam Putnam was elected to serve as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture on November 2, 2010, and was sworn into office on January 4, 2011. In this capacity, he is leader of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a state agency whose mission is to promote Florida agriculture, foster innovation in energy development, provide a safe and abundant food supply, manage the state’s forest resources and safeguard consumers. A fifth generation Floridian who grew up in the citrus and cattle industry, Commissioner Putnam understands Florida’s generational challenges. In his role as Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner Putnam is focused on protecting the quantity and quality of the state’s water supply, securing a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy, expanding access to Florida’s abundance of fresh produce and fostering the growth and diversification of Florida agriculture. Commissioner Putnam is a member of Florida’s Cabinet. Serving alongside the Governor, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner Putnam oversees 13 boards, commissions and departments.
Previously, Commissioner Putnam served five terms as Congressman for Florida’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Commissioner Putnam > http://www.freshfromflorida.com/commissioner/bio.html
>>> Rep. Campbell gets scrutiny by IRS, party leaders asking her to drop out of the House race
State Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami is in a tough primary race that just got tougher with The Miami Herald doing a front page story on a federal investigation about her reported income that is being investigated by the IRS. The first term legislator elected in 2010 has been drawing controversy since, but this most recent article it sure to embolden her Democratic Party challengers Alix Desuime and Pat Santangelo. For the new House District 108 that includes Miami Shores and the surrounding area. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/27/2916513/irs-targets-slaps-liens-on-rep.html Campbell has said in the past she is innocent but the newspaper story suggests Democratic Party leaders are urging her to step down and get out of the race. But given her continuous public relations barrage coming out of her office to the media, some suggest that is unlikely and she will hold on to the job to the bitter end, leaving only after charges are brought if that is the case.
>>> Press release: Governor’s Commission Recommends Strategies for Increased Job Opportunities for Floridians with Disabilities
In conjunction with yesterday’s 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities released its premier 2012 annual report today. “As we work to make Florida the best place for businesses to create private-sector jobs, we must also be sure that those persons with disabilities who want to work have the opportunity to do so,” Governor Scott said. “Having a job adds to any person’s dignity and purpose and opens doors to independence, which is especially important for Floridians with disabilities.”
Governor Rick Scott created the Commission through Executive Order 11-161 to study and find ways to address the disparity in employment for persons with disabilities relative to the general population. Charged by the executive order “to provide public policy solutions and strategies to the Governor and state policymakers,” the Commission provides three primary recommendations to serve as initial steps for advancing job and employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities: The Commission recommends streamlining information and identifying a single-point of contact for employers so they can easily navigate the disability system and expand their pool of qualified candidates. The Commission recommends the development of a long-term communications plan for the state to promote awareness among employers in order to address misperceptions of persons with disabilities.
The Commission determined persons with disabilities need to be given as many firsthand experiences as possible to participate and compete in the workforce. The Commission recommends state policymakers, business leaders, and community partners promote and utilize internship and work experience opportunities for individuals with disabilities as a key tool to improving perceptions and addressing the employment disparity confronting these individuals. The Commission will continue to hold periodic meetings around the state to seek input from employers in order to better understand how the state can assist businesses in establishing a corporate culture that is enthusiastic about hiring persons with disabilities. The goal is to fulfill Governor Scott’s top priority to ensure all Floridians are able to gain employment. The full report is available at http://www.flgov.com/gcjfd.
>>> Children’s Movement of Florida Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children.
Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
>>> Justice Pariente in the spotlight, tapped in 97 to high court, had $3.57 million net worth through 2011
Barbara Pariente, one of the three Florida Supreme Court Justices up for a statewide retention vote in November is in the spotlight this week and the respected jurist has carved for herself a powerful legal career over the years.
What do we know about her finances?
Pariente through Dec. 31 had a net worth of $3.57 million and she lists $200,000 in household goods. The jurist has no debt, a joint investment with her husband has $785,000 in it, there is an IRA with $760,000, her primary home is valued at $750,000 and two other properties are listed at $500,000 and $350,000. She filed her joint IRS 1040 for 2011, the total income for the year was $180,480, and her gift disclosures were benign in nature.
>>> Court’s bio: Justice Pariente’s legal and judicial career has spanned over 38 years. She has been a Justice since 1997 and served as Chief Justice from 2004 through 2006. She has been a Floridian since 1973, having been born in New York City in 1948 and attended public schools in New York and New Jersey. She graduated with highest honors from Boston University.
She then attended George Washington University Law School, where she graduated fifth in her class in 1973, earning highest honors and membership in the Order of the Coif. She moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1973 for a two-year judicial clerkship with United States District Court Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., of the Southern District of Florida.
After her judicial clerkship, Justice Pariente settled in West Palm Beach, where she joined the law firm of Cone, Wagner and Nugent in 1975 and became a partner in 1977. In 1983, she formed the law firm of Pariente & Silber, P.A. In both firms, she specialized in civil trial litigation. She earned certification by the Florida Bar as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer as well as nationally by The National Board of Trial Advocacy. She was awarded an AV rating, the highest available, by Martindale-Hubbell. During her eighteen years in private practice, Justice Pariente served on the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee, the Florida Bar Civil Rules Committee, and the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Nominating Commission. She was instrumental in organizing Palm Beach County’s first Bench-Bar Conference. She was a founding member and master of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the American Inns of Court, and was very active in the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, serving on its Board of Directors for many years… From 2000-2002, she was a member of the Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. In 1999, she served on the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Character Education, where she focused on promoting civic education… Justice Pariente speaks frequently throughout the state to promote better awareness of the need for increased focus on civic education, on topics ranging from professionalism, judicial independence, the unified family court, juvenile justice and crime prevention…. Read a Conversation with Justice Pariente by Jodi Wilkof, a Profile of Justice Pariente published in the October 2004 Bar Journal, and an article on her in the Bostonia alumni magazine. >>> Justice Pariente’s office may be reached in Tallahassee by phone at (850) 488-8421. Attorneys or law students interested in clerkships in this office should check our Law Clerk Recruitment Page. There also is information on Internships. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/justices/pariente.shtml
>>> PA Garcia and state Rep. Lopez-Cantera duke it out, how low will they go for countywide job, paying roughly $169,000
The Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s non-partisan race is heating up and has incumbent Pedro Garcia Jr., going head to head with challenger state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami and the legislator is hitting the airwaves early on with his campaign ads discussing his future accessibility to property owners if he is elected. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/29/v-fullstory/2916093/miami-dade-property-appraiser.html Garcia says he is just following the state laws when it comes to property valuations, and he is a professional who wants to limit the political aspect of the office. And focus on the true value of the property and to stamp out homestead exemption fraud, that is seen to be quite rampant say some activists and is depriving the county of tens of millions in property tax revenues. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/28/2918219/property-tax-cheats-facing-crackdown.html However, while the office has historically not been political and the post filled in the past by a county employee. That has changed since the property appraiser’s creation by county voters in 2008, and it has become an elected political position and Lopez-Cantera, an astute political campaigner is said to be pushing the political envelope to the maximum. Though Garcia is verbally firing back challenging some of the attacks on him and how he has run the office saying these are falsehoods.
Garcia, 74, when he was first elected a few years ago to the Charter Office created by voters had to first defeat state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami in a runoff after the elimination of a couple of other candidates in late 2008. Since then he has kept his head down doing the job and keeping his profile low in the community. However, as the Aug. 14 deadline approaches the race is getting more attention http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/21/2861962/candidates-for-miami-dade-property.html and at a gathering last week held by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce before the organization’s monthly luncheon. They worked the crowd along with a host of judicial candidates and one school board member candidate and both men are both good campaigners.
However, Lopez-Cantera, 38 is moving ahead in campaign fundraising and through the most recent reporting period. He has $176,600 in his campaign war chest to Garcia’s $89,770 and that can be an edge in getting out his message in a countywide race. The Florida House GOP majority leader is termed out in November, lost his first election back in 2002, but he won office in 2004 and since then he has moved up the political food chain, and he is getting the backing of auto magnate and civic activist, billionaire Norman Braman. However, Garcia is not taking the attacks in public forums lying down and he notes the department has saved money since he took it over and the property valuations are accurate and reflect Florida law.
What do we know about their finances?
Garcia through May 22, 2012 had a net worth of $1.05 million and he lists $90,000 in household goods. His two liabilities are with a Citibank mortgage owed $57,900 and Mercedes Benz wants $7,973. His home is valued at $360,000, an investment property is worth $213,000, and there is $161,800 in a CD. His income for the year was $137,031 as the PA, and social security kicked in another $24,455 states his 2011 IRS 1040.
Lopez-Cantera through Dec. 2011 had a net worth of $2.3 million and he lists $20,000 in household goods. His liabilities include debts with Home Financing of $298,000, Bank of America wants $55,640 and a loan for a Land Rover is owed $15,000. Income for the year came in from a variety of sources including $168,000 from Pan American Consulting, the state kicked in $29,697 as a legislator and there was other income with firms that are involved in real estate and construction.
>>> Commission races heating up, but what of Pena challenging incumbent Moss? She appears to be a radical candidate
With a television ad intoning that Miami-Dade Commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Barbara Jordan, Audrey Edmonson and Dennis Moss are the problem with Miami-Dade since all of them voted for the new Miami Marlins Stadium. It remains to be seen in the expected low turnout race on Aug.14 if they will overcome the media hit, or get reelected, which has usually been an incumbent cakewalk in past years. However, auto magnate Norman Braman who fought the new stadium deal, costing $2.5 billion when financed out over the decades, in the local courts, but he lost the case, is now helping in financing this recent media blitz. In the past 18 months, Braman has led a petition drive that led to the recall of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and the retirement of County Manager George Burgess who masterminded the stadium deal. And also removed Commissioner Natacha Seijas after she got caught in the recall crossfire organized by a local political activist Vanessa Britto.
However, Braman is backing a number of candidates that are running against the four incumbents but it is Alice Pena (who Braman is supporting) that is causing the most concern. Since she is considered a fringe neophyte candidate living in the 8 1/2 square mile area in western Dade and she is one of the candidates taking on Moss. And while Moss supported the new professional baseball stadium that makes him a target. He is considered a solid commissioner since first being elected in 1994 and Pena tends to refer to County environmental department employees as “storm troopers” and other German references from World War II. And if she was elected. Residents and voters in District 9 which encompasses part of deep South Dade could be in for a real ride in the future because of her very out spoken political views.
>>> Press release: Three Florida Men Sentenced to Federal Prison on Charges of Arson, Insurance Fraud and Mortgage Fraud
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announce the sentencings of Gerardo Wilhelm, of Miami, Juan J. Flores, of Ocala, and Alejandro Figueredo, of Miami, for their participation in a townhouse arson, mortgage fraud and insurance fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $500,000. On July 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced Figueredo to 40 months in prison and Wilhelm to 54 months in prison. Flores was sentenced on July 19, 2012 by Judge Williams to 60 months in prison. According to the indictment and statements made in court during the guilty pleas, Wilhelm, a real estate agent, Flores, a mortgage broker, and Figueredo, an insurance adjuster, engaged in a string of federal crimes involving a townhouse in Miami-Dade County. In early 2006, Wilhelm obtained mortgage loans to purchase the property by misrepresenting his and his wife’s employment and by falsely stating that they intended to use of the property as their primary residence. Wilhelm then rented the townhouse until it no longer generated income. In late 2007, after foreclosure proceedings were initiated against him, Wilhelm hired Flores and Figueredo to burn down the house. Figueredo received second and third-degree burns to approximately a third of his body from the explosion. After the fire, defendant Wilhelm submitted a fraudulent insurance claim for the damage, and received approximately $180,000 in insurance proceeds, made payable to the lender. However, Wilhelm forged the endorsement on the insurance check and kept the money…>>> U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the hard work of the Federal State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, with special commendation to ATF and Miami-Dade Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> GMCVB press release: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG ― GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKS #2 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR), RANKS #3 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR), AND #3 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY FOR JANUARY-JUNE 2012 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS
For January – June 2012, Greater MIAMI and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2011, ranking #3 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $140.99, #2 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $178.09 and #3 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 79.2% 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).
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Vice Chair Feldman gets a second term unopposed, brings interesting perspective to board, had $2.54 million net worth through Dec. 2011
Dr. Lawrence Feldman is in the spotlight this week and the school board vice chair was a principal before entering the world of school district politics in 2008. Feldman beat incumbent school Board Member Evelyn Greer, the former Mayor of Pinecrest and he had the backing at the time of the schools teachers union to help with the campaign. And he has settled into the position since then and brings an interesting perspective to issues; though it is clear he was a career educator and has a passion for students and learning. And he recently was granted a second four-year term on the board when he ran again unopposed for another term representing District 9 that snakes along the coast of South Dade down to Homestead.
What do we know about his finances?
Feldman through Dec. 2011 had a net worth of $ 2.54 million and he lists $25,000 in household goods. He lists real property valued at $90,796, investment accounts are worth $918,552, there is $1.25 million in Prudential Investment accounts and Feldman investments has $19,470. He lists no liabilities, the only income was $38,718, and interest from the investments was around $7,750.
>>> Press release: “Ethical Governance Day” wins the endorsement of Florida’s largest school system
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust’s declaration of October 12, 2012, as “Ethical Governance Day,” has won the endorsement of the School Board of Miami-Dade County. The goal of this premier event is to promote a greater appreciation of how responsible citizenship and increased participation promotes better government. It is timed to spotlight the important choices voters will face during the fall election that will have a significant impact on the future of our nation, state and local communities.
On Wednesday, July 18th, School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman sponsored the proposal to endorse Ethical Governance Day and encouraged all high school students — many of whom will vote in their first election the following month — to participate. With the District’s support and cooperation, the Ethics Commission will ask civic and community leaders, elected officials, academic experts, attorneys and other professionals to serve as guest speakers in American Government classrooms in every senior high school in the district on Ethical Governance Day. Their charge is to spark a dialog with students about the importance of practicing and recognizing honesty, civility, integrity and respect in citizenship and public service.
Also on October 12th, the Ethics Commission will invite all candidates running for national, state and local offices in the November 6th election (or in municipal races during the weeks that follow) to the Miami-Dade Commission Chamber, where they will each have the opportunity to explain their ideas for promoting ethical government. By televising and web streaming the forum, residents across the County will be able to learn more about the candidates seeking their votes and public trust. “We are asking all local governments to follow the lead of the Commission on Ethics and the School Board and adopt October 12th as Ethical Governance Day, as well,” said Ethics Commission Executive Director Joseph Centorino. “We also hope that local business and civic groups will promote Ethical Governance Day in their workplaces and provide staff members the opportunity to learn and reflect on incorporating high morals and values in their work and home lives,” Centorino added. For more information or to volunteer in the schools, call the Ethics Commission at 305-579-2594 visit www.miamidadeethics.com or e-mail email@example.com.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Transplant pioneer Dr. Ciancio tapped to be new director of Miami Transplant Institute at JHS
Press release: Gaetano Ciancio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S, has been named the new director of the Miami Transplant Institute, a joint program between Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
In this role, Dr. Ciancio will oversee operations of the Miami Transplant Institute, one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive transplant centers. Since its inception in 1970, the program has continued to grow. Its faculty of world-renowned physicians performs more than 500 transplant procedures annually, playing a major role in kidney, liver, intestinal, heart, lung, and pancreas transplantation. MTI is also a leader in multi-visceral transplantation. More than half of the reported multi-organ transplants in the world have been performed at MTI, which is the only Florida hospital to perform every type of organ transplant.
“Gaetano is an amazing surgeon and a passionate, revered educator,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Under his leadership, the Miami Transplant Institute will continue to lead the way in perfecting life-saving transplant techniques.” “Dr. Ciancio is a pioneer in transplantation and is widely praised for his contributions as a clinician, a researcher and an educator,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System. “He is the perfect person to lead Miami Transplant Institute toward continued success.”
A native of Italy who grew up in Venezuela, Dr. Ciancio completed his surgical residency and fellowship in transplantation at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in 1995, then joined the Miller School faculty as an assistant professor of clinical surgery in the Division of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation. He later earned his M.B.A. in health administration from UM.
At UM/Jackson, Dr. Ciancio has distinguished himself as a leader in transplantation and has served as the director of urologic transplant surgery. He has traveled throughout the world as a visiting professor and has helped establish kidney transplant programs at hospitals abroad. Dr. Ciancio is an advocate of organ donation and works tirelessly to address the critical shortage of donor organs by educating the South Florida community about the need.
>>> JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM KEEPS WASTE FROM LANDFILLS
Press release: Jackson Health System is implementing a sustainable solution for managing its hospital waste that includes a strong focus on green initiatives such as reducing carbon emissions by keeping plastic and cardboard out of landfills, decreasing regulated medical waste volumes and recycling almost one third of total waste.
The American healthcare sector accounts for 8 percent of the U.S. carbon footprint, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association1. The analysis found that hospitals are by far the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the healthcare sector. “Jackson Health System’s responsibility to our residents isn’t just about curing illness – it’s about promoting and supporting healthy communities,” said Michael Hughes, Director of Environmental Services at Jackson Health System. “We are decreasing the system’s total impact on the environment and helping to improve air quality, public health and overall safety.”
Jackson recycles 29 percent of its total waste and is reducing carbon emissions by using reusable sharps containers for items such as needles and scalpels. This step prevents a significant amount of cardboard and plastic from going into landfills each year. Each reusable container keeps an average of 600 disposable sharps containers from going to the landfill. In one year, Jackson Health System expects to avoid 137,011 pounds of carbon emissions by diverting 230,911 pounds of plastic and 17,303 pounds of cardboard from landfills. These numbers are the equivalent of not burning 7,055 gallons of gasoline2. Additionally, shutting down the autoclave reduces utility bills because less electricity and water are not being used. >>> About Jackson Health System – Jackson Health System, an integrated healthcare delivery system, consists of its centerpiece, Jackson Memorial Hospital; multiple primary care and specialty care centers; a variety of school-based clinics serving many elementary, middle and high schools; two long-term care nursing facilities; six Corrections Health Services clinics; a network of mental health facilities; Holtz Children’s Hospital, Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, Jackson Mental Health Hospital, Jackson North Medical Center and Jackson South Community Hospital. Opened in 1918, Jackson Memorial Hospital is an accredited, tax-assisted, tertiary teaching hospital with more than 1,500 licensed beds. In affiliation with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty, Jackson Memorial provides a wide range of patient services, educational programs, a clinical setting for research activities and a number of health-related community services. For more information visit: http://www.jhsmiami.org. 1 The University of Chicago, JAMA, December 2009
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> After Ira Katz scandal at Bayfront Park Trust in 2000, it now saves city over $1 million in general funds and has over $1 million in reserves
The Bayfront Park Trust held its monthly board meeting last week and the organization is the turnaround kid after getting a over $400,000 yearly injection of City of Miami general fund money through the 1990s but led to the executive director going to jail, and others only escaped the law because of a bureaucratic snafu when documents were lost. The Trust set up to take care of the park and promote revenue generating shows after this fiasco has slowly been rebranding itself and currently has $1 million in reserves and gets no public funding from the cash strapped city. In the past when things were not so rosy, long serving Miami Commissioner J.L. Plummer chaired the Trust. But he was thrown out after 29 years in office in 1999 after losing to Johnny Winton and since then Commissioner Joe Sanchez, Marc Sarnoff and now Frank Carollo have overseen the trust that is administered by Tim Schmand. The organization is charged with managing both Bayfront Park where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was shot prior to being sworn into office as the new president in 1933, and Bicentennial Park where the new Miami Art Museum and Science Museum’s are going up and the Trust helps fund any sea wall restoration along with state grants.
The Watchdog Report contacted Schmand last week asking about the end of the city of Miami contributions and in an email, he said. “We are a self supporting organization and do not contribute dollars directly to the city. We do save the City $1,085,000 annually, which in the past was the City’s subsidy of our maintenance costs,” wrote the long serving executive director last week.
>>> Sarnoff appears to give thumbs down to hit show Burn Notice staying in Grove convention center, is his word law now that he is termed out?
An army of supporters, workers and actors of the hit television show Burn Notice possible going into its seventh season if renewed in the fall made their presence known but were not allowed to speak at Thursday’s commission meeting. The discussion resulted after Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones added it to the agenda, but it was done in a way that only commissioners could discuss the matter and not have public comments. The issue is the future demolition of the Coconut Grove Convention Center that is has been used by the production for the last six years, and pays $20,000 a month in rent to the city. After then Miami Manager Joe Arriola closed it back then for any use because it was becoming an unsafe structure. But the production crew improved the facility and the show has been a boon to Grove businesses and highlights the city around the globe. However, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff wants to comply with a master plan done a few years ago for the waterfront that would create a large park with unobstructed views and he believes it would draw more tourists and Miami residents and economic vitality than the movie production would he said on Thursday.
However, critics argue that the Hollywood film industry is not beating down the door in Miami and in this case. The hit television show may only need one more year at the facility and its economic impact is considerable and a real job creator for South Florida. Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report at the commission meeting there were two issues when it came to the convention center. One was Sarnoff was getting pressure by Grovites to fulfill the master plan which called for the park, and the building rent was to low. He said such a facility in many other locations would be costing “about $80,000 a month” for the network and neither side seems to be budging. With Burn Notice implying they will just have to move to a more movie friendly locale like Broward County or even back to Hollywood.
Further, Sarnoff who is termed out in 2015 verbally lashed out to the crowd about the tone of many of the emails he had received by members of the movie industry. He suggested some of the highly inflammatory comments directed at him and the other commissioners was not conducive to their cause, and he was open to discuss the issue in private, one on one with the show’s producer Terry Miller, he said. Further, he noted the city has been stashing away a percent of this rent for the park and there is $1.8 million available now to do the park makeover and destroy the old convention center, a building whose time has passed he thought.
However, rumors are running rampant that the commissioner has another agenda for the prime waterfront land that he denies having. But since Sarnoff is immune to residents and voters at this point. He may be seeking a legacy and signature achievement of his time in office and with David Kennedy Park and Kenneth Meyer parks on either side of the old convention center. He may want the park as his pinnacle achievement in the Grove, and perhaps in the future have it named after him. Since the other two parks are named after a former Miami mayor and Grove state legislator from the Florida Senate. For the commissioner is a man that started out just trying to stop a Home Depot from being constructed, using that drive to catapult him first to the Coconut Grove Village Council. Then later defeating appointed Commissioner Linda Haskins by a two-to-one vote in 2006 and he has not looked back since. He also was an early President Barack Obama supporter and during the 2008 election marched to city hall for early voting with an army of supporters and voters and the fence surrounding his compound in the Grove at the time was plastered with Obama posters that today have none. And many people still wonder what to make of the maritime attorney, who went through a vicious election in November, that he barely won outright after facing four challengers. But it was clear on Thursday that he is in control of District 2 and his word is law, and the once community activist has long ago finished the transformation to a seasoned veteran politician.
>>> Gov. Scott press release of local Miamians competing in the 2012 Olympics
Brian Fatih, Sailing, Men’s Keelboat, Miami (first Olympic Games), Sylvia Fowles, Basketball, Center, Miami (competed in 2008 Games), Manuel Huerta, Triathlon, Miami (first Olympic Games), LeBron James, Basketball, Forward, Miami (competed in 2004 and 2008 Games), Danell Leyva, Gymnastics, Artistic, Miami (first Olympic Games), Mark Mendelblatt, Sailing, Men’s Keelboat, Miami (competed in 2004 Games), Robin Prendes, Rowing, Lightweight Men’s Four, Miami (first Olympic Games)
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Former UBS Client Sentenced to Federal Prison for Failing to Report $4 Million in Swiss Bank Accounts
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), announce that Luis A. Quintero, a resident of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno to four (4) months in federal prison for willfully failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), in violation of Title 31, United States Code, Sections 5314 and 5322(a). Quintero was also sentenced to three (3) years of supervised release with 250 hours of community service, and a $20,000 criminal fine. Quintero also paid a $2 million civil penalty for the FBAR violation.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in October 2004, Quintero caused two offshore corporations to be formed, which Quintero then used to open accounts at UBS AG, a bank in Switzerland. The companies were Murano Development Corp (Murano), incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and Credimax Corporation, S.A. (Credimax), incorporated in the Republic of Panama. Quintero was listed as the beneficiary of the Murano and Credimax accounts. The total aggregate value in these UBS accounts as of December 31, 2006 was $4,005,618. According to documents filed with the court, from 2005 through 2007, Quintero used the Murano and Credimax UBS accounts to conduct financial transactions. For example, Quintero caused a business customer in the U.S. to send $314,000 to the Credimax UBS account. Quintero also caused the transfer of approximately $2.4 million from the UBS Swiss accounts to the accounts of U.S. corporations that Quintero controlled. Quintero knew that he was required to file an FBAR for foreign bank accounts in which he had an interest. Among other things, Quintero had previously filed FBARs relating to bank accounts in Mexico in the name of one of Quintero’s U.S. companies. >> Mr. Ferrer and Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI agents involved in this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana Maria Martinez and Trial Attorney Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division… A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Commissioner Deede Weithorn is the new representative for the city on The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and she had her first meeting with the body on Friday morning at its monthly board meeting. She said she sees the homeless on the Beach every morning and there has been an up tick of the homeless people population, many of which are more elderly than in other parts of the county.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Commissioners have verbal rumble in the hall, but 3 to 2 vote keeps Mgr. Salerno in place for now
At a Special Commission meeting Friday morning Commissioners Maria Anderson and Ralph Cabrera, Jr., got their verbal licks in to fire the manager but at the end of the day. Gables Manager Pat Salerno withstood the verbal onslaught of negativity to live another day after a 3 to 2 vote by the five-member body. Cabrera has had a beef with Salerno since he was hired around three years ago and he mentioned that having this issue fester over the next 256 days will be seen on the commission. But he later softened that stance saying he would always vote his conscious and what was good for the residents and taxpayers would prevail in his race to oust Mayor Jim Cason. However, he felt the manager was not transparent in his dealings and that there were too many “secrets,” that some of the commissioners are not privy too he said. Anderson chimed in that she has been on the receiving end of being marginalized and she carped she could not get her items on the commission agenda since the manager controlled what went on the documents.
Salerno fighting back said he would “quite” if a commissioner agenda item was denied and that was not the case. But that answer brought some comments from city attorney Craig Leen, saying in fact commissioners did have the power to put items on the agenda already. And in his case, he has had some past mixed dealings that led to long discussions with the manager concerning how contracts or agenda items were being written by the administration. Leen, a former county assistant attorney also said his responsibility to the elected body was to provide legal advice and to also protect the city and its taxpayers. Anderson, who had triggered the commission meeting noted in her closing remarks after seeing the vote would fail. She said she “would continue to do my work,” on the dais but “you all [Cason, and Commissioners William Kerdyk, and Frank Quesada] are in the in, and we’re in the outs,” and anyone of the other three officials could find themselves in the same position if they are not careful in the future, she predicted.
CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI
>>> Mayor Stoddard expects “to lower taxes again,” the question is “by how much”
The Watchdog Report last week contacted Mayor Philip Stoddard last week asking how the city budget was coming together for next year and starts Oct. 1 and when I asked about any budget hole. He responded, “No reason to think we have a budget hole. I expect us to lower taxes yet again; the only question is by how much. I found enough slack and fluff in the past year’s budget [and] I think we can tighten up the next budget considerably, and drop the millage [rate] further. We could even hit the roll-back rate if we wanted to. I proposed just that on Tuesday night, but my only support came from [Commissioner] Bob Welsh,” wrote Stoddard.
CITY OF AVENTURA
>>> Gov. Scott taps police Chief Steinberg to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission
Steven Steinberg, 64, of Davie, is the chief of police for the Aventura Police Department. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 1, 2012, and ending August 1, 2016.
>>> Press release: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez is hosting Budget Town Hall Meetings, where residents will be able to ask Mayor Gimenez and staff about the proposed Fiscal Year 2012-2013 County budget, www.miamidade.gov/budget/home.asp. The first meeting is taking place on Thursday, August 2, 2012, at the Aventura Government Center, 19200 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Information for future meeting dates is forthcoming.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> PA Parrish reelected unopposed, has transformed the office, had $906,021 through Dec. 2011
Lori Parrish, 63, the Broward Property Appraiser is in the spotlight this week and after being a long time county commissioner and school board member over the years. She ran for this new job in 2004 getting 67 percent of the vote, won again in 2008 with 97 percent of the vote, and she was reelected unopposed earlier this year when the qualifying deadline passed with no challengers. Parrish, a Democrat in a county dominated by that party’s voters has generated some controversy when she was on the commission. But in this new countywide capacity, she seems to have excelled. She has instituted numerous reforms making the office more user friendly for property owners, has tried to root out homestead exemption fraud and her getting an election pass this cycle suggests voters are more than satisfied with her elected role as the county’s property appraiser.
What do we know about her financials?
Parrish through Dec. 2011 had a net worth $906,021 and she lists $226,800 in household goods. Her home is worth $574,770, there is $23,106 with Bank of America and there is $106,797 in deferred compensation. She owes a mortgage $24,453 and her salary as the property appraiser for the year was $169,882.
>>> “Red Handed” Serial Bank Robber Sentenced to 12 1/2 Years Imprisonment
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Paul O’Connell, Chief, Wilton Manors Police Department, announced that defendant Cedrick Shivers, 47, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was sentenced today to 151 months in prison followed by three years supervised release on charges of bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2113(a).
According to documents filed and statements made in court, on February 3, 2012, Shivers entered a bank in Wilton Manors, Florida. Shivers approached the teller and presented a hand written note telling the teller that this was a robbery, not to active any silent alarms and not to provide him with any dye packs. Shivers’ note also instructed the teller to give him only $50 and $100 bills and warned that if the teller did not comply, his accomplice would bomb the building.
After Shivers fled the bank, a Wilton Manors Police officer observed Shivers driving away at a high rate of speed. The officer also observed red smoke in the passenger compartment of Shivers’ vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. The officer also saw red dye-stained money on the front driver’s seat of the vehicle and red dye stains on Shivers’ white t-shirt. The officer then recovered the demand note from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle.
After his arrest, Shivers told officers that “you got me red handed,” which was a reference to the residual red dye on his hands. Shivers stated that he had cased the bank since November 2011 and that on one occasion he entered the bank and inquired about opening a new account. Shivers admitted to writing a demand note. At the sentencing hearing, the Court found that Shivers was a career offender and robbed other South Florida banks on multiple prior occasions. >> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and Wilton Manors Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Commission Chair Vana gets challengers in Nov., missed 2007 political bloodbath after Newell goes to federal prison, had $69,632 net worth through Mar. 2012
Shelly Vana the chair of the seven member Palm Beach County Commission is in the spotlight and she represents Commission District 3. Vana a Democratic Party former state legislator prior to her joining the commission on Nov. 2008 has been a welcome relief after federal prosecutors picked off the majority of past sitting commissioners in a wide spread public corruption probe and when she and her new peers were first in office. They would say we are not the other group of disgraced officials in federal prison and it opened the eyes of many South Floridians who only thought Miami-Dade was the hot bed for public corruption. She was the third commissioner in over a year back in 2008 to represent the area after she defeated appointed Commissioner Bob Kanjian who replaced ex Commissioner Warren Newell who was sentenced to five-years in federal prison on charges of public corruption.
Vana now has gotten Republican challenger, Cliff Montross this year, she has raised $40,400 for her campaign, and he has $6,000 for his campaign war chest through the Jul. 27 reporting period and they will face off in the general election Nov. 6. Further, she and another county commissioner were part of the welcoming party when President Barack Obama made a campaign stop at Century Village Jul.19, a major Democratic Party voter stronghold and the former teachers union president and educator has hitched her political future to the president’s race that is expected to be close since both parties are so polarized and if Obama loses Florida this November. She could be one of the causalities in the political fray that has both presidential candidates neck and neck in statewide polls.
What do we know about her finances?
Vana through Mar. 2012 had a net worth of $69,632 and she lists $75,000 in household goods. Her home is worth $135,000, a condominium is valued at $25,0000 and there is $68,691 in an IRA. Her liabilities include $56,916 owed to Bank Atlantic, Wells Fargo wants $126,920, and her income was $93,177 as a county commissioner.
>>> Webpage bio: Shelley Vana was elected to serve as Palm Beach County Commissioner District 3 on November 4, 2008. She was sworn in and took office November 18, 2008. She was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2002. She represented Florida State House District 85, which included various cities in Central, and Western Palm Beach County. She served as Vice Chair of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation from 2007-2008… by the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), Commissioner Vana received designation as a Certified County Commissioner. This voluntary program is designed to provide information and enhance skills relevant to a commissioner’s duties and responsibilities as an elected official. http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/district3/biography.htm >>> http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/education/palm-beach-county-teachers-in-turmoil-after-unio-1/nLh42/ >>> http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/palm/blog/2008/12/palm_beach_county_commissioner_2.html >>> http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-06-11/news/fl-budget-goals-palm-20120611_1_budget-proposal-county-commissioners-tax-rate
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
>>> Florida Tax Preparer Sentenced to Federal Prison on Charges of Stolen Identity and Tax Refund Fraud
Press release: Ernst Pierre, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., tax preparer, was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) announced. Pierre was charged with a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identity information. Pierre was also ordered to pay $266,000 in restitution to the IRS. According to the indictment and Pierre’s admissions as part of his guilty plea, from October 2009 through May 2011, Pierre filed false tax returns for clients of Tax Max, a Port St. Lucie tax return preparation business he owned and operated. Pierre obtained the names and Social Security numbers of relatives of clients for whom he had prepared and submitted federal income tax returns and then fraudulently used those names and Social Security numbers as “dependents” on other client tax returns and on his own tax return. Pierre used these dependents to fraudulently inflate tax refunds. >>> Mr. Ferrer thanked the IRS-CI for their work on this case. The case was prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorneys Justin K. Gelfand and Thomas J. Krepp, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> State Attorney Ward gets challenger in general election, former Beach cop before being elected in 2008, had $266,000 net worth through Apr.
Dennis Ward, the 16th Judicial Circuit of Florida state attorney is in the spotlight this week and he was first elected to the countywide office in 2008 and is up again this November. The Republican attorney has gotten two Democratic Party challengers, Mark Kohl and Catherine Vogel and he will face one of them in the Nov. 5 general election, and while the county only has around 65,000 residents. The resort destination swells that number during the tourist season and makes Key West a mecca for partygoers from around the world.
What do we know about his finances?
Ward through Apr. 2012 had a net worth of $266,167 and he lists $20,000 in household goods. The attorney’s home in Tavernier is worth $300,000, a condominium on Miami Beach is valued at $143,000, five acres of land on Card Sound Road is listed at $10,000, and there is $165,000 in the Florida DROP program. He lists liabilities of $278,000 with Flagstone Bank, PNC Bank wants $20,000, Citicorp is owed $31,000, a credit union is owed $14,000, and Sun Trust wants $8,000. The top prosecutor’s income included the $150,000 salary as a state attorney and his police retirement fund kicked in $60,000.
>>> Downtown Bay Forum Miami-Dade mayoral candidate debate www.downtownbayforum.org Speakers: Hon. Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County Hon. Joe A. Martinez, Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 11- Moderator: Michael Putney, WPLG Channel 10 Date: July 31, 2012 Doors open 11:30 am, Lunch at Noon. Location: Wolfson Auditorium, Temple Israel, 137 NE 19 Street, Miami, Florida Free Self Parking Available on site Members: 22/with reservations, Non Members 26, Membership 30/year Tables of 10 – 250 For Reservations and Information, please contact, Annette Eiseneberg, 305 757 3633, or fax 305 754 2015
>>> Kristi House press release: Please mark your calendars! We hope you will join us for the 13th Annual Touch A Heart Dinner on Friday, November 2, 2012 at
the Four Seasons Hotel 7:00 p.m. Reception 8:00 p.m. Dinner For more information, please visit www.kristihouse.org or call: Bianca Fernandez – 305-547-6802 Mary Faraldo – 786-218-9748
>>> Press release: Registration Now Open for Miami-Dade Parks’ Summer Camps! Exciting Summer Camps are being offered by the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, June 11-August 17, 2012, at its parks around the County.
>>> Was anyone surprised the SEC slaps Miami for juicing fiscal statements to sell municipal bonds? City may be only the tip of the iceberg
With the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission last week issuing a letter stating the City of Miami misled investors when it came to city bonds sold years back, it should come as no surprise for many other municipalities and counties in Florida could also have the same problem. And it was only the tanking of the nation’s economy that brought much of this to light, for much of a municipal or any public bond offering perspectives uses almost boiler plate language and the bond document is between 200 to 300 pages. A perspective length not conducive to many people reading it unless they had too and there may be more dominoes to fall when it comes irregularities of past public bond sales in the future.
Because all these public entities have been issuing bond debt at an incredible rate over the decades and includes how they plan to pay back this paper, and the fiscal shape of the public entity is always on the rosy side in these documents. For the mission is to find buyers of the bonds and if the fiscal truth was told. The bonds might ultimately not sell and get picked up by investors, or the interest rates would be sky high with most of the big payments way into the future like with the Miami Marlins bonds that finance out in the course of the term to around $2.5 billion with the big loan payments coming in the back half of the repayment period. And while in the case of Miami, the city has already spent $1.2 million in legal fees trying to comply and now fend off the federal regulators. South Florida must learn that every time we add a little juice to these financial instruments to make things look fiscally better than it is, there will be a price to pay.
And for Miami, this is the second time after being slapped with a similar federal securities ruling in the late 1990s and this pattern must end for the credibility of South Florida public institutions are at stake. From Miami International Airport that is approaching in the months ahead of having to make $1 million a day in debt payments for all the capital bonds that financed the $6.4 billion North and South Terminals, to the nation’s fourth largest public schools district that has debt payments consuming the bulk of any money used for maintenance and renovations. And these slight of hand maneuvers in the bookkeeping end will bite back across the community in any future offerings. And once again, it will be the taxpayers that pay the hefty price. A fact many of our elected leaders and their administrations seem to forget, despite the high penalty we will all be asked to pay in the end.
>>> Vizcaya skylight installation going smoothly, check out the photos
Our project to replace the 1980s skylight over the Courtyard of Vizcaya’s Main House is proceeding quickly. The skylight parts were delivered from Wisconsin and the Super Sky installation team is on site. As finishing touches are placed on the steel columns and beams, the skylight frame is being unpacked in front of the Main House and lifted to the roof by crane. It’s both exciting and uncanny to see the large pieces of metal up in the air! Today’s progress was impressive. The Super Sky team placed the first framing members in position, giving a clear impression of the new skylight’s color and configuration. I’m glad to share that this work is creating very little noise inside the house, so it’s a great time to visit and take advantage of our discounted admissions. For more information about the skylight replacement project, including updated blog entries and time-lapse photographs, visit www.vizcaya.org.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
>>> I don’t know Miss McHugh but I know Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman and I would vote her in any office she runs. I enjoy your report, makes a difference in our city.
>>> Sunshine meeting with Commissioner Suarez on new white heroin epidemic
There will be a meeting this Monday in the 2nd floor conference room at Miami-Dade County Hall with Commissioner Xavier Suarez at 2:00 p.m. The subject will be several fold, one is the ongoing rapid epidemic like spread of highly pure, very inexpensive white heroin being picked up by those people previously addicted to opioids coming from pill mills. The distinct lack of detox beds available for anyone with the need to find a new life but there are only fifty-six in total for all of Dade County. And this situation exists because of the lack of a self-reliant long-term treatment facility modeled after Delancey Street -which has been requesting only a building to begin. The expected attendees are Rabbi Sol Schiff, Seth Gordon, Diane Landsberg, J.C. del Valle, Jim Hall, Jon Schmidt, Cire Andino and possible Corrections Director Tim Ryan and William Armellini. We need to bring this massive destructive death-causing problem to the dinner table. We need to wake up the public to create and control proactively and your reporting being at this meeting would be a huge step toward accomplishing this goal.
>>> Do you have any friends at the City of Miami? You may want to give them a tip, 15- $20 million dollars in Homestead Exemption Fraud in The City of Miami… http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/26/2912731/miami-mayor-plans-to-declare-financial.html
>>> 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)
WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)
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
BADIA SPICES www.badiaspices.com
FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com
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
LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.
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 COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION www.miamidade.gov/ethics
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.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 600 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events. The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.
I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report. Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net
Copyright © of original material, 2012, 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 email@example.com 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.