Argus Report: “Hope is where the heart is,” as Camillus House christens new national model complex for homeless people & served 350,000 meals in the past year
Florida: 11th Circuit Court Judge Ward infuses civics & dignity into jury selection, a lucky six got tapped for two-day civil trial, WDR waved off, judge had net worth of $157,000 through 2011
Miami-Dade County: Women rule the 13-member body, top leadership goes to Sosa & Bell, second time women get top BCC spots
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Hail board Chair Hantman & Karp, tapped for top leadership again by nine member school board
Public Health Trust: Miami-Dade Commission has ultimate decision if Ryder Trauma can financially survive with multiple Level II for profit trauma centers tentatively opening in the future
City of Miami: Former Mayor Diaz’s book interesting read, early years forged his belief in public service, the way written suggests he is center of the universe, and never has made a mistake
City of Miami Beach: Former Miami Beach Lead Code Compliance Officer Sentenced to Prison on Extortion Conspiracy
City of North Miami: North Miami Resident Arrested and Charged with Identity Theft
City of Coral Gables: Free Admission for Seniors & Youth – For Musical “The Last Five Years”
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Hail Mayor Jacobs and “The Year of the Neighborhood,” her second time around, and Vice Mayor Sharief gets tapped for #2 commission post – OIG posts all officials’ financial disclosure forms on line
Palm Beach County: IG Steckler gets rebuke by commission, body approves $4.2 million upgrade contract for emergency radios pushed by Administrator Weisman
City of Jupiter: Jupiter Commercial Fisherman Charged for Making False Statements to NOAA
Monroe County: Former Monroe Sheriff Peryam heads to north FL to be new director of HIDTA
Community Events: Multi-County Climate Change Summit in Dec. — Regional Planning meetings around the counties — DOWNTOWN BAY FORUM www.downtownbayforum.org THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS What was the Impact?
Editorials: Voters have spoken lawmakers at all levels must get to work to solve national, state and local issues, curb the bombastic partisan language — 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: Reader on S. Miami Mayor Stoddard story – Physician on Miami Herald healthcare story – Reader on Thanksgiving Holiday
Sponsors – Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text
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>>> If you think it is important to have an alternative mainstream news service, I hope you will consider becoming a financial supporter for I do have to live and pay my rent. I also want to thank again all those people and organizations that have supported me over the years and I have been honored by that trust and support of my efforts over the past almost 14 years.
>>> The Watchdog Report will be on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM on November 28, Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Joe Cooper’s show Topical Currents and we will be discussing local government, the elections and a host of other topics and readers should listen in if you get a chance. www.wlrn.org
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> “Hope is where the heart is,” as Camillus House christens new national model complex for homeless people and served 350,000 meals in the past year
“Hope is where the heart is,” is the tag line for Camillus House and on Thursday the organization hosted over 400 people at their annual holiday feast. At the new Norwegian Cruise Line (Named after the company made a $5 million donation) building that had the festive dining room decked out like a “junior high prom,” said Paul Ahr., Ph.D. the executive officer of the organization. He opened up his comments saying, “Thank you God for being God,” and the long serving executive gave a shout out to a local Miami CRA for its $10 million in funding that helped form the fiscal foundation for the evolving complex and elected leaders and about 100 volunteers did the honors of serving those in need. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said before the meal was served that while some public/private partnerships have been criticized recently in the press.
In the case of Camillus, bringing these public and private resources together has been a smashing success, the mayor said. And the facility is a dramatic counter point to the new Miami Marlins enclosed stadium funded with 80 percent public dollars over the life of the $2.5 billion bond needed to construct the roughly $530 million professional sports facility at the old Orange Bowl site. But has fans in an uproar after the owner gutted some of the team’s best players and this past season had the worst attendance in the league. Miami Commission Vice Chair Marc Sarnoff when he spoke recognized Ahr and Bob Dickinson the Camillus House board chairman and how when they were given a problem “They find solutions” and it is not about “simple feeding them [The hungry and homeless],” but to “offer a program” to help them get back into society. And he proclaimed his “absolute goal was to end homeless in the next three years,” when he will be termed out on the city commission. Other elected leaders attending included Miami Commissioner Willy Gort, Commission Chair Francis Suarez and the mayor’s daughter, Miami-Dade School Board Member Raquel Regalado
Camillus held its first feast for the homeless of Miami in 1961 and it was on Christmas Day but for decades since it had been on Thanksgiving at the older site near the old Miami Arena in downtown Miami before moving to this new location next to the University of Miami Miller Medical School and the main Jackson Hospital campus. And it is a national model for how these unfortunate people in need can be helped and complete a continuum of care to make them function human beings again in today’s society. Camillus in the course of the year serves 350,000 meals to the hungry and to complete the whole complex envisioned the organization still has to raise $10 million more in contributions. But Camillus is not only on its way, but is thriving including raising their own squash, tomatoes, peas, and peppers in garden beds held together with cinder blocks and these roughly 80 feet long beds with the sprouts coming to life are a symbol of rebirth and nourishment that had some people wearing tee-shirts emblazoned with “Fear, shame, hurt, isolation, with a line “No more” through the words on the purple tee shirts with white letters on the shirts.
>>> On the One Year Anniversary of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, Ros-Lehtinen Says We Must Continue to Ensure the Safety of Our Peace Corps Volunteers
Press release: U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement today regarding The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, which was signed into law one year ago today. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Today, we remember Kate Puzey, a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, who was violently murdered after reporting the rape and abuse of her students. While Kate is no longer with us, her devotion to making the world a better place lives on through the thousands of volunteers currently serving across the globe. The strength and courage of the Puzey family and the Peace Corps volunteers who came forward helped expose the persistent problems of volunteer safety and culture of blaming victims that existed within the Peace Corps. They are models for us all to follow.
“On this one year anniversary of the enactment of The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, I have had flags flown over the U.S. Capitol in memory of Kate and in honor of all the Peace Corps volunteers who are survivors of rape, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. “I commend the Peace Corps for the positive steps they have taken over the course of the past year. However, more work needs to be done to protect our volunteers. Last year alone, approximately 1,700 crimes against Peace Corps volunteers were reported. The Peace Corps must fully implement all provisions of the Kate Puzey Act so that our brave volunteers, like Kate Puzey, are protected and can fulfill their noble missions abroad.” >> NOTE: Chairman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is the author of H.R. 2699, the Peace Corps Volunteer Service Act of 2011, the House companion to S. 1280, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011. The bill was signed into law November 21, 2011.
>>> Once again, 59th Turkey Bowl has students dominating older alumni
The St. Peter & Paul High School traditional 59th Turkey Bowl was held Thursday, former Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez was the referee, and Miami-Dade Historian Paul George, Ph.D. pulls the yearly event together. The Watchdog Report contacted George concerning who won the competitive event between alumni and the schools younger students and he wrote. The high-powered game was won, “18-4, the juniors over the seniors (alumni). Stars included my two sons, Paul and Matt, who collaborated for two touchdowns on long passes from the former to the latter!” wrote Miami’s top historian and Miami-Dade College history professor.
>>> 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
>>> 11th Circuit Court Judge Ward infuses civics and dignity into jury selection, a lucky six got tapped for two-day civil trial, WDR waved off, judge had net worth of $157,000 through 2011
A few weeks ago, the Watchdog Report publisher got a summons to be in a Miami-Dade 11th judicial circuit court jury pool signed by Chief Circuit Judge Joel Brown (Net worth $1.64 million) and county Clerk Harvey Ruvin and Monday was the appointed day that had me arriving to the jury pool room along with well over 50 other people selected because they had a Florida drivers license, were U.S. Citizens and had never been convicted of a felony and lived in Miami-Dade. And Circuit Court Judge Diane Ward when I eventually made it to her 5th floor chambers in the afternoon said Abraham Lincoln believed “next to serving in the military, jury duty was the most important civic duty,” a citizen was asked to perform in their lives and formed the basis of the American justice system and a trial and verdict by someone’s peers. She also referenced pictures on the walls in the room that included a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, a copy of a painting of the signers at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia and of course the American Constitution. Ward in a firm but gentle voice explained to the prospective jurors what was expected of them during the trial. It would last two days she thought, and if one of the 18 people, of which six were needed. They would be honored with a certificate after serving that could be framed documenting their high civic service to the community and her words were solemn yet moving when one considered the venue and the dispute seeking a resolution from two high-powered teams of lawyers arguing the case.
Ward also introduced all the people in the room and than asked jurors if they knew any of the attorneys, the plaintiff or defendant and while a few hands went up. I had to raise my mine since I knew two of the plaintiff attorneys fairly well and I watched both of them date their now wives back in the early 1990s and one of them had contributed to the Watchdog Report during the early years and I was later not selected to be a juror on the case. However, both Ruvin’s team and Ward were very accommodating to the perspective jurors and in the holding area. Jurors could get some food and snakes and when it came to movie fare to while away the time before your number was called out. You got to watch two Sandra Bullock movies that were quite entertaining and funny, and overall the yearly ritual of being summoned to be a juror was a positive experience. And highlights the greatness of the United States Constiution and our Founding Fathers understanding and belief that when it comes to America’s courts. “We who labor here seek only the truth,” said a wooden sign behind the judges bench on the wall, and that says it all.
What do we know about Judge Ward?
Ward was first elected to the circuit court in November 2002 and she was sworn in on January 2003. Prior to that, she had been an assistant state public defender and was in private practice when she won her spot by election on the judicial bench. She went to Lewis & Clark College and graduated from the University of Miami’s law school. The judge has had a host of high profile cases including trying and sentencing murders, and she has a very good judicial temperament, as least when it comes to the jurors, but I also suspect carries over in a trial.
What do we know about her finances?
Ward through Dec. 2011 had a net worth of $157,000 and she lists $25,000 in household goods. Her home is valued at $700,000, a condominium is worth $110,000 and some undeveloped land in Bimini is worth $100,000, and her Honda Civic is worth $3,500. She lists liabilities of $585,000 and $150,000 on mortgages for her home and condominium and another $104,000 in a line of equity and two other loans for total assets of $996,500 and liabilities of $839,000. She was paid 132,700 as a circuit court judge, she lists receiving no gifts for the year and overall her financial disclosure for the year was benign.
>>> 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. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Chair The Children’s Movement.
>>> Women rule the 13-member body, top leadership goes to Sosa & Bell, second time women get top BCC spots
Hail Commissioners Rebeca Sosa (Net worth $435,000) and Lynda Bell (Net worth $308,000) for being elected by their peers to be the chair and vice chair of the Miami-Dade Commission Tuesday afternoon. The two women will assume their new office January 1 and this is the second time the top leadership on the dais has two women in the top spots. The Watchdog Report recently was predicting Sosa in the past would get the nod after she beat out Commissioner Barbara Jordan (Net worth $2.03 million) after a 7 to 6 vote and Bell, elected in 2010 to the body beat out Commissioners Xavier Suarez (Net worth $225,000) and Sally Heyman (Net worth $425,000 in 09) for the number two slot on the dais. The leadership on the 13-member commission can play critical roles in how legislation moves through the body, and many times, they are the public face along with Mayor Carlos Gimenez (Net worth $953,000) when it comes to the media.
Sosa, is the first Hispanic American woman to become chair, and she previously was the mayor of the city of West Miami before winning a seat on the dais when the previous commissioner Pedro Reboredo left under a cloud and she has been reelected three times ever since. She is a believer in the “process” and has a conciliatory temperament on what can sometimes be a contentious commission. She works for the Miami-Dade Public Schools district, but keeps meticulous time card records when she is on school time, and when she is fulfilling her elected duties as a commissioner she has told the Watchdog Report in the past.
Bell, the first woman mayor of the city of Homestead came to the body in 2010 and she has been a fiscal conservative and when she ran got a boost from being a Republican and a supporter of the local Christian Coalition and she won a squeaker runoff race by only a couple of hundred votes against Eugene Flinn for the District 8 seat vacated by long serving county Commissioner Katy Sorenson. However, she does have critics who cite her lack of support for a local community relations board, a strong belief that DERM the entity that handles county environmental issues is a pediment for growth and development and generally. She has been about 180 degrees different from her predecessor Sorenson on environmental issues, but runs a tight meeting and shows up on time for her committee meetings, something that is not always the case with some of her peers on the dais. Editor’s note: In 2002 to 2004 Commissioners Barbara Carey Shuler and Katy Sorenson were the BCC chair and vice chair.
Zapata (on right)
What about the swearing in ceremonies on Tuesday?
In what can only be described as short but sweet, the seven newly elected mayor, and commissioners at the South Dade Cultural Center had their investiture into office and the Master of Ceremonies was Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin, (Net worth $1.45 million) who retained his post after failing to get opposition for the countywide office in August. Commissioner Dennis Moss who fought back a challenger in Alice Pena in the primary and was being supported by auto magnate Norman Braman was pumped in his remarks. He likened Miami-Dade to being a place similar to the nation’s capital and a “Shinning Hill” though it is flat in south Florida and touted the “Moss Plan,” on the campaign trail. A plan that has the goal to make south Dade a global tourist destination. He noted that the new $50 million cultural center the event was held in would not have likely been built if there had been “term limits,” that voters recently approved for the commission. And he quoted Robert F. Kennedy’s often-said words. “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not,” the veteran commissioner intoned.
He also took an indirect shot at Braman saying the commission would not respond to “Threats and intimidation or money,” when it came to the body’s decisions and in the past Moss has said. “To you Mr. Braman, you lost four to zero,” in reference to the slate of four candidates Braman financially supported in the primary and general election Nov.6. And Moss on the commission for the past 19 years has been politically adroit in pushing his constituent issues on the dais. And the only real political hot potato he pushed on the dais, was the controversial Miami Marlins new stadium deal, that is 80 percent financed with public tax dollars, that is currently causing a firestorm in the public eye. After once again the team’s management has dumped its star roster in trades and finished at the bottom of the league with abysmal attendance.
Commissioner Estephan Bovo, reelected unopposed in his remarks welcomed new Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, a Columbian American to the body calling it the “Twilight Zone,” and both Zapata and Bovo cut their political chops in the Florida House. And in some ways both men have the same political philosophy that the county should be involved in major issues, including the region versus being in the municipal service business that includes the 1.1 million people living in the Unincorporated Municipal Service Area (UMSA) and both of them are seen as supporters of annexation and incorporation. Zapata in his case faced a feisty runoff candidate in Manny Machado, a Miami-Dade police officer, but Zapata garnered the gold when he received 54 percent of the vote for the West Dade District 11 commission seat. He also chaired a task force that looked at the governance model of Jackson Health System last year and while the task force made up of a cross section of community and healthcare leaders suggested a more independent model, such as a not-for-profit model should be considered. Those recommendations gained little traction with the commission though the body did agree to reduce the size of the JHS board from 17 members including two voting commissioners, to the current seven member Financial Recovery Board.
>>> Mayor Gimenez will give thumbs down if commission requests to remove county employee salaries from webpage
Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Watchdog Report last week that when it came to removing the salaries of county employees on the Miami-Dade webpage, that is “what you get when you work in public service,” he said. Commissioner Barbara Jordan has introduced legislation to take the information down at a commission committee meeting recently and the item passed. She believes this is intrusive and could help people participate in identity theft of a public servant, but this new roadblock could be formidable since the mayor could veto it. And incoming commission Chair Rebeca Sosa would likely support keeping the information available to the public, though Jordan noted it still would be a public record, but would require someone doing a public records request to review a employees personal file, and the employee is notified of the public records request. The Watchdog Report knows this because in the 1990s I went through a number of county employee’s files, as well as about 300 at the city of Miami at the time. And actually paid the county some $30.00 to get copies made of one such file. And it is a time consuming process that certainly the average citizen would be hesitant to endeavor to undertake, but with the internet is a piece of cake for anyone to check out now. www.miamidade.gov
>>> Will county with $20 million in Grove Playhouse funding control the iconic theater’s fate? State has it back now, but could come full circle if state places no demands on profits, says Mayor Gimenez
Now that the Coconut Grove Playhouse has reverted back to the state of Florida, and is no longer in the hands of Miami-Dade County. The iconic theater will be offered first to public universities or colleges in South Florida to see if these entities want to run it, then the county will be offered it again, and finally the City of Miami will be asked if the county gives it a pass. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez when the Watchdog Report asked him Tuesday about the matter. The mayor said they had tried to strike a deal with the state but the state wanted, if the property was developed to get a cut of any profits that Gimenez wants to plow back into the theater for maintenance and the production of revenue producing shows. The Playhouse, a major economic generator for the Grove was shuttered in 2006 and has fallen into disrepair after protracted negotiations with developers that invested money in the property over the years were unable able to reach a satisfactory monetary resolution with the county recently.
Gimenez said the lack of a satisfactory resolution could net the developers nothing on their investment in the end, and he noted only the county has any money available, $20 million has been set aside, for any restoration, redevelopment and its reopening, and says the state has no such funding, he said. And while a local Grove resident and save the theater maven Heinz Dinter, Ph.D., is trying to raise $500,000 from the local community to help the iconic facility. However, an insider who knew the financial liabilities, creditors and the city of Miami liens suggested $6 million would be necessary to really get the theater’s rebirth off the dime.
>>> Press release: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez today named nine local community leaders to serve on the Mayor’s Election Advisory Group. The group of well-respected citizens will work with the Mayor, as well as County Commissioners Lynda Bell, Sally A. Heyman, Dennis C. Moss and Rebeca Sosa, in an effort to find sensible, long-term solutions to the County’s recent elections challenges. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 28th, at 9:00 a.m., at the Elections Department in Doral. Mayor Gimenez made the decision to form the Advisory Group on November 7th, following a busy Presidential Election season during which many Miami-Dade County voters endured long lines and unacceptably long wait times at the polls during both the early voting period and on Election Day.
“The team of local leaders we have assembled to help tackle our elections issues reflects our community’s ethnic and political diversity. I know they’ll represent the best interests of our residents,” said Mayor Gimenez. “I’m excited to get to work, and our objective is clear: now is the time to for us to take stock of what we did right, what needs to improve, take appropriate action and move forward to make our elections process the best in the nation. I want to incorporate the latest technology to make voting fast and easy in our community.” Election Advisory Group Members: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis C. Moss, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, Alice E. Ancona, Kendall Coffey, Bishop Victor T. Curry, Robert H. Fernandez, Oliver G. Gilbert, III, Murray Greenberg, Lovette McGill, Gepsie Metellus, C.J. Ortuño.
>>> Time is running out, Nominations must be postmarked by December 14, 2012
Press release: The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, in partnership with the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women and Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, is seeking to honor outstanding Miami-Dade women for the 25th Annual In the Company of Women Awards Ceremony to be held in March 2013. Timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, In the Company of Women recognizes the accomplishments of professional female leaders in the community in the following categories: Outstanding Woman in Arts and Entertainment, Outstanding Woman in Business and Economics, Outstanding Woman in Communications and Literature, Outstanding Woman in Education and Research, Outstanding Woman in Government and Law, Outstanding Woman in Health and Human Services, Outstanding Woman in Science and Technology, Outstanding Woman in Sports and Athletics, Community Spirit Award, Mayor’s Pioneer Award Posthumous Award To download the nomination form, please visit http://miamidade.gov/parks/women.asp. Completed forms must be mailed to Laura Morilla, Executive Director, Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, 111 NW 1st Street, Suite 1034, Miami, FL, 33128. Nominations must be postmarked by Friday, December 14, 2012. >>> For more information and for a list of past award recipients, please go to http://miamidade.gov/parks/women.asp or contact Laura Morilla at 305-375-4967, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
>>> 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 #5 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY FOR JANUARY-OCTOBER 2012 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS – For January – October 2012, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2011, ranking #4 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $123.24, #4 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $161.33 and #5 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 76.4% among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).
|JANUARY – OCTOBER 2012|
|REVENUE PER AVAILABLE HOTEL ROOM (REV PAR)|
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. New York||$201.80||+5.0%|
|2. Oahu Island||$154.56||+17.6%|
|3. San Francisco||$143.48||+13.8%|
|AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE|
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. New York||$242.89||+2.5%|
|2. Oahu Island||$181.39||+11.8%|
|3. San Francisco||$174.69||+11.9%|
|AVERAGE DAILY OCCUPANCY|
|Market||% Occupancy||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. Oahu Island||85.2%||+5.2%|
|2. New York||83.1%||+2.5%|
|3. San Francisco||82.1%||+1.7%|
|4. Los Angeles||76.9%||+4.9%|
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOL
>>> Hail board Chair Hantman & Karp, tapped for top leadership again by nine member school board
The Miami-Dade Public Schools board chose its leadership on Tuesday and one of the longest board chairs in the public schools district’s history was tapped again when Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, (Net worth $7.23 million) the incumbent, got the nod for another two-year term presiding over the body. The number two on the school board is Martin Karp, Ph.D. (Net worth $1.28 million) on leave from his duties as a teacher with the nation’s fourth largest public schools. And when it came to the top post vote, only board Members Lawrence Feldman, Ph.D (Net worth $2.54 million) and Marta Perez, Ph.D (Net worth $2.1 million) voted no. Because they thought, the position should be rotated among the members of the nine-member board that had Members Carlos Curbelo (Net worth $226,700) and Raquel Regalado (Net worth $108,450) all declining the chair post earlier in the meeting after being nominated by Perez.
>>> Press release: Perla Tabares Hantman, School Board Member and last year’s Chair was elected for the sixth time to chair the Miami-Dade County School Board for the year ahead. “It is a true honor to be entrusted with this responsibility by my fellow School Board members. I will continue to work closely with them to provide the best education possible for all of the students of Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” said Ms. Hantman. Ms. Hantman was originally elected to the School Board in 1996 to represent District 4. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve as Chair. This is the second time she has been elected by her peers for three consecutive years. The first times were in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and currently in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Dr. Martin S. Karp was sworn in to represent District 3 for a third term and also selected as Vice Chair. He was originally elected to the Board in 2004. He has worked for the District as a teacher and takes a strong interest in many issues that reflect the best interest of students, such as hands-on science courses and art programs, ensuring that students with special needs receive appropriate services, and extended foreign language. He previously served as Vice Chair in 2006. Susie V. Castillo was newly sworn in as Board Member for District 5. Dr. Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, Carlos L. Curbelo and Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman were sworn in to represent Districts 1, 7 and 9 respectively.
What about the board’s IG and M-DC Ethics commission issue?
The Miami-Dade School Board already contracts out to the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General to watch over how public dollars are being spent but Board Member Marta Perez and Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman have wanted to see if the Miami-Dade County Ethics and Public Trust Commission could have a role with the district. Since its own Ethics Advisory Committee was having trouble getting a quorum and was beginning to fall by the wayside, since it was first created back around 2002 or 2003. However, there is concern by the IG that there will be overlap and more expenditure of public funds for any new entity and what Hantman thought would be a simple issue. She said on Wednesday seems to have become much more complicated and she will be going to the ethics commission monthly meeting this week to hear the commission’s thoughts on whether the ethics commission is interested in getting involved. And while Perez wanted to hold a workshop on the matter in the coming weeks, the board voted to decide to defer the item until it was more fleshed out and all the concerns of the parties involved would be know to the school board.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Miami-Dade County Commission has ultimate decision if Ryder Trauma can financially survive with multiple Level II for profit trauma centers tentatively opening in the future
With the Ryder Trauma Center hemorrhaging around $28 million annually in cash since the Kendall Regional Hospital opened almost a year ago. Miami-Dade County Commissioners will have a policy decision to make next year since a number of other private hospitals want to open Level II trauma centers and the commission has to approve these applications. In the case of Kendall Regional, it cleared the 13 member commission, though the Jackson Health System and University of Miami protested not to give approval since the facility was not a Level I trauma facility with surgeons and medical specialists and staff on duty 24/7 versus a Level II where surgeons can be called in after a patient is in an accident.
Last week the Watchdog Report. First reported on these expected consequences to Ryder but with these new ones on the back burner it would exasperate an already dicey decision by the 13-member body. For the Ryder Trauma Center, a community medical jewel will continue to lose money and ultimately the commission will be deciding whether they want such a world renown facility at the main Jackson Hospital with surgeons from the University of Miami Miller Medical School manning it, or allowing the slow death of this facility through the fiscal bleeding of the lack of car accident patients who generally have $10,000 in car accident medical insurance required by the state to own a vehicle.
>>> PAST WDR LAST WEEK: Ryder Trauma Center, community jewel since 1992, is fiscally hemorrhaging with $28 million loss for year in funding since Kendall Regional opened Level II trauma center
The Ryder Trauma Center, the only Level 1 center in the county at Jackson Memorial Hospital is suffering financial hemorrhaging itself since a Level II Trauma Center was opened at Kendall Regional Hospital about a year ago. And the Ryder Center is losing about $2.4 million a month in revenue as patients are being siphoned off to the private hospital located and owned by Columbia/HCA in West Miami-Dade. Ryder, one of the nation’s premier trauma centers that is capable of landing a 20,000-pound Blackhawk Helicopter in case the president has been injured is the hospital of choice, and the facility is also is designated to care for U. S. Secret Service Special Agents. However, the trauma center has been under siege itself after Kendall won approval to open there own trauma center, but since it is only a Class II trauma center, not the fully staffed 24/7 Level I designation Ryder has. This new competitive facility is getting mostly car crashes where many of the drivers have at least $10,000 in medical insurance as part of the owners Florida auto insurance requirement, Ryder historically sees about 3,500 patients annually, and the institution has never diverted a patient to another facility.
The medical staff at Ryder is comprised of University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine physicians and includes some of the “nation’s leading trauma surgeons and specialists,” states a brochure on the institution’s past 20 years since being opened on Aug. 3, 1992. At Ryder at anyone time there are 25 surgeons training at the center, and when it comes to distance given the size of Miami-Dade County, “patients who came to Ryder from an area with a radius of 50 miles had no difference in outcomes,” states an objective analysis of the issue. Further, since Oct. 2001 Ryder has been the U.S. Army’s Forward Surgical Teams training center before being deployed to war zones and over the past 20 years. Ryder has treated around 75,000 critically injured people. The need for Ryder initially occurred after six hospitals in 1987 closed and dropped out of the local trauma care network and it was believed that creating one full service facility was the way to go. And this collaborative effort with JHS was assisted when voters in 1991 passed a countywide half-cent-sales tax for Jackson Memorial Hospital and gave the trauma center fiscal stability and allowed it to grow to its current stature and is a renowned globally known trauma institution.
What is the fiscal trend?
The Watchdog Report contacted Jackson Health System and UM last week and Ed O’Dell, the health trust spokesman in an email wrote that Ryder funding since Kendall Regional Medical Center opened has dropped $24 million over a ten month period, and when annualized out will be a $28 million funding hit to the community medical jewel. And with other Level II Centers being contemplated at Mercy Hospital and a few others in South Florida. This significant financial hit to Ryder is not only expected to continue, but grow if these other new trauma centers around the community are established.
>>> The November 26, 2012 Televised PHT Financial Recovery Board Meeting agenda and supporting documents are available for view on the JHS website. As of June 2011 the Public Health Trust Financial Recovery Board committee and board meeting agendas and other supporting documents are now available for download in PDF format on the Jackson Health System’s website accessible at the following link:
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Former Mayor Diaz’s book interesting read, early years forged his belief in public service, the way written suggests he is center of the universe, and never has made a mistake
Former Miami Mayor Manuel “Manny” Diaz has penned a new book that is part biography and part chronicle of his eight years in office in the Magic City and its transformation into a global destination. The book entitled, Miami Transformed with the tag line, Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time, is a breezy read and offers some insight about the energetic Cuban American mayor who tried to break the mold of past Miami leaders by seeking and initiating a multitude of initiatives. Like a city compact with the nation’s fourth largest school district, too enticing developers to invest and build in the city, to a major push to physically clean up the city through trash pickups. His rise in the political world was shaped while at Belen, a Jesuit school now in west Dade but had a far less impressive campus when he attended it decades ago and he likened the school like going to Exeter Academy and he got his undergraduate degree from Florida International University and his law degree from the University of Miami (And paid off his student loans on time).
He followed Mayor Joe Carollo into office in Nov. 2001 and to say the previous mayor’s tenure was controversial and sometimes verbally inflammatory was a under statement, and Carollo followed former Mayor Xavier Suarez into office. Moreover, both past mayors received derogatory monikers like Crazy Joe and Mayor Loco, so Diaz was seen as a possible alternative to the ten candidates running in the 2001 mayoral election. Diaz gained an enhanced profile during the Easter Weekend Elian Gonzalez federal immigration raid in 2000 after his law firm headed up by former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey accepted the case and was working pro bono. The men had provided legal services to the relatives where the young Cuban boy was living in a Little Havana neighborhood and the child had become a worldwide media sensation that included a news team from the People’s Republic of China arriving the last few weeks or so in the spring. Elian’s plight and the local reaction in Miami had caught the nation’s and world’s attention since he first arrived in November close to Thanksgiving Day in 1999. However, the story went into the stratosphere around the globe and seemed to lead all the national news station’s everyday, and once again, Miami was in a global spotlight, and not in an entirely good light.
Diaz understood the Cuban Community, and having been involved in Democratic Party political campaigns in the past from President Jimmy Carter on, plus being his class president while at Belen. These experiences gave him the courage to jump from fighting for the “Underdog” in such legal cases and he decided to enter the political arena where frankly few thought he had a chance of winning. However, Diaz ran a stealth campaign, got into the runoff against Maurice Ferre and bested the incumbent Miami Mayor after he won a second slot squeaker against Carollo by only a few hundred votes. But it also included a Diaz ally releasing over Spanish radio stations at around 5:00 p.m. that out take polling showed Diaz had the edge and many political pundits say that suppressed Carollo supporters from coming out in the last hours of the election to vote, since it seemed like a done deal. Further, when Diaz setteled into his office he found a hefty reserve city budget and the passage of a $249 million GOB for homeland security improvements and infrastructure throughout the city. And it was going to be his administration that would administer the bulk of these projects and this new money definitely spruced up the deteriorating Miami infrastructure and the community as a whole, but there still were problems.
What were the negatives concerning the Diaz administration?
While in comparison to past Miami Mayors, Diaz could put a sentence together, had the city’s bond rating start to move up from junk status, and did not scare small children after a mother’s small daughter who was talking to Carollo said. “He’s scary mommy,” while the mother was talking to him and I have never forgotten that comment from a child. And at the time, I looked to see if birds or cats were running in another direction. That said, while Diaz was a refreshing change from the past mercurial mayors in his mind he could do no wrong and never admitted he ever made a mistake. This personal intransigence that suggested a ethical bypass and he was missing ethics from his DNA was manifested in a variety of ways ranging from buying a house with then Commissioner Johnny Winton and then Miami Manager Joe Arriola who put up the over $400,000 to get the house mortgage located in the South Grove. However, that deal later prompted the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission to investigate and while Arriola was not chastised.
The mayor received a multiple page Letter of Reprimand from the commission and his attorney in his defense of the mayor made a sappy argument saying the mayor had given up the best years of his life and residents should be happy, and lucky they have his stewardship. The defense attorney’s comments got so out of hand including the price the mayor’s family had paid, his not being there when they needed him. That ethics Commissioner Seymour Gelber blurted out “This is outrageous,” and the commission then read the mayor the ethics riot act and in the Letter noted from the moment the deal was made. Diaz had a conflict with Arriola since the mayor chose the manager and Arriola was politically inferior to Diaz and Winton, and of course, there was a conflict of interest that Diaz just did not get. Further, while Arriola, Winton and Diaz were dubbed the three amigos because they were seen together everywhere especially in 2004 and 2005 when multiple hurricanes pummeled South Florida. Arriola in the book is not mentioned once, and the word is they parted ways when Diaz would not support taking a harder line regarding the city’s employee’s pensions that was being pushed by Arriola. And their friendship cooled considerable making the last months Arriola was manager a strange time that had the Watchdog Report calling it a “slow political kill,” that made the manager’s future seeming to be a “slow death” before he finally left. Though not without Arriola first saying during his time in the administration that it would be known as a “Golden Period,” for the city and had Commissioner Marc Sarnoff gushing at how much he had learned from Arriola. >>> Editor’s note: This is only part I of a series of stories the Watchdog Report will be doing on the new book and the past Diaz administration since there is no one else that saw it so up close and personal over the eight years.
>>> PAST WDR NOV. 2008: What about any other political baggage that might get in Diaz’s way?
The vetting process for any presidential appointment is much more extensive and grueling than here at a local municipality, it has over the years proven treacherous for many local leaders, and when it comes to the city of Miami, one never knows what might turn-up. In Diaz’s case, he will have to confront the county ethics commission Letter of Reprimand after he bought a house in the south Grove with ex Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton and city Manager Joe Arriola and it is unknown how such an action would play out on a national stage since it is so blatant a ethics conflict but fought so hard by the mayor. Further, he will have to explain the thrown out Fire Fee settlement that gave seven people $7 million dollars, but more importantly how his cash on hand rose to over $500,000 in one year, as has been reported in July, and is rerun again below.
Should Miami residents be concerned with Mayor Diaz’s over $500,000 in cash, up from $113,000 in 2006 and $97,000 in 2004?
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’s surge in reported cash to over $500,000 as was reported last week in the Watchdog Report surprised me. For Diaz as mayor is paid $150,000 per year and his staff says he works almost exclusively in his public capacity. The mayor when he was first elected told the Watchdog Report he would be doing very little regarding his private law practice Diaz & O’Naghten. The mayor in his 2004 financial disclosure lists a $1.97 net worth and the only outside income came in from the law practice and from Monty’s Holdings, Inc. but the outside income amount is not listed.
In his most recent disclosure, the net worth rose to $2.44 million and besides the outside income listed in the past. He now also lists the law form of Lydecker, Lee, et. al. along with Miami Air International (an airline), and Financial Services, Inc. where he is providing financial counseling. The mayor does not have to list how much income is coming in from these entities but he must be doing well outside his elected office for such a jump in cash, which in 2004 was listed at $97,000. and through Dec. 2006, his cash on hand was listed at $113,000 for that year. Richard Lydecker was the attorney that represented Diaz in front of the county’s ethics commission a few years ago after the mayor, commissioner and manager bought a house in the South Grove together. Diaz was hit with a fine and a scathing letter of reprimand by the ethics body back then. Lydecker, a former prosecutor argued that Miami residents should be grateful to have such a mayor as Diaz. He noted in his argument to the commission the mayor was giving the best years of his legal life for the city, spending less time with his family and friends and that train of thought only ended when ethics commissioner Seymour Gelber said “this is outrageous,” regarding the rational of the attorney’s argument.
Diaz was recently elected to head the national mayors conference frequently talks about transparency in government, and in this case, with over a year to go in his term. He should consider filling in the dollar amounts coming in from these outside sources of income to reassure taxpayers who thought they were getting a full time mayor after his salary was bumped substantially a few years back to the current level. The reason for this possible concern is that elected leaders many times are much better off when they do not have outside activities and one needs to only look at ex Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne now serving a sentence in federal prison. >>> The following e-mail was sent to Mayor Manny Diaz using his e-mail address on his extensive city web-page on Sept. 13 at 9:38 a.m. and to date there has been no answer from the mayor.>>> “Mayor Diaz, I wanted to ask you in the chamber today but not in front of Chair Joe Sanchez. My question is where did the extra $400,000 in the 2007 disclosure form come from? I will run what ever you respond unedited but I would appreciate closing this issue, as I am sure you do. Sorry but I have to ask. Best to all. Dan” >>>> The Watchdog Report through Oct. 25 has yet to get a response or catch-up with Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz on where he got the extra $400,000 in cash listed in his 2007 financial disclosure forms. To see what CBS 4 reporter David Sutta’s take on this issue and the other city leaders financial disclosures go to cbs4.com Blogs .
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Former Miami Beach Lead Code Compliance Officer Sentenced to Prison on Extortion Conspiracy
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today’s sentencing of Jose L. Alberto, the former Lead Code Compliance Officer for the City of Miami Beach. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola sentenced Alberto to 51 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Judge Scola also ordered the forfeiture of $16,600. Alberto was taken into custody at the end of the hearing. On August 6, 2012, Alberto pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). At his guilty plea, Alberto admitted that in June 2011, he solicited a cash pay-off from a Miami Beach nightclub owner in exchange for not enforcing a large fine for a code violation. The nightclub owner reported the alleged extortion to the FBI, which commenced an undercover investigation. During the undercover investigation that followed, Alberto accepted twenty-two separate cash pay-offs for a total of $16,600 from either the nightclub owner or an undercover FBI agent posing as the manager of the nightclub. These cash pay-offs were made in exchange for Alberto’s protection from potential code violations and to permit the nightclub to continue operating… 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.
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI
>>> North Miami Resident Arrested and Charged with Identity Theft
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced the unsealing of a twenty (20) count indictment, filed on November 15, 2012, charging Josue Faustin, 20, of North Miami, with conspiracy, possession of unauthorized access devices, aggravated identity theft and theft of government property involving a debit card scheme in Broward County, Florida. Defendant Faustin made his initial appearance in federal court earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes in Ft. Lauderdale. As set forth in the indictment, Faustin engaged in a fraud scheme using stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. The tax returns falsely claimed refunds and requested that the refunds be direct-deposited into Netspend debit card accounts, which the defendant had opened in the names of the unwitting identity theft victims. The defendant subsequently went to various ATM machines in Coral Springs, Broward County, and withdrew funds from the Netspend debit card accounts…>>> 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.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Free Admission For Seniors & Youth – For Musical “The Last Five Years”
Beginning today, seniors and youth living in Coral Gables can reserve free tickets, on a first-come, first-served basis, for “The Last Five Years,” a musical that ingeniously chronicles the five-year life of a marriage. The free admission is for the December 5 and December 6, 8 p.m. performances at the Miracle Theatre, located at 280 Miracle Mile. The free ticket offer is part of the new lease agreement between the City of Coral Gables and its tenant, Actors’ Playhouse, an idea proposed by City Manager Pat Salerno. Residents (ages 60 and over and under 18 years of age accompanied by one parent) have to come in person to the War Memorial Youth Center, 405 University Drive, to be placed on a reservation list after showing proof of residency and age. Tickets will then be available at the Playhouse’s will-call window prior to each performance. There is a limit of 50 free admissions for each performance, based on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are limited to two per household. Free admission for additional upcoming plays will be announced at later dates. For additional information, contact the City of Coral Gables Parks and Recreation Division at 305-460-5600.
>>> County Historic Preservation Awards Recognize Coral Gables Residents & Local Restoration Project
The Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Board has recognized a Coral Gables resident for her leadership in preservation and a Coral Gables couple determined to complete the restoration of their historic home. Coral Gables resident Dolly MacIntyre was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Historic Preservation Advocacy. She is a member of the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board and has been involved in historic preservation since 1966. She is a member of the Villagers Inc., and is a founding member of both the Dade Heritage Trust and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Her volunteer actions have forever changed the course of historic preservation in Florida. In addition, the Outstanding Residential Rehabilitation/Restoration Award was presented to Coral Gables residents John and Danielle Madril. Their Mediterranean Revival home on San Domingo Street, near the Biltmore Hotel, was built in 1925. After several contractors and architects told the couple that it would be far easier to tear down the house and build something new, the Madrils were not deterred. Instead, they continued with their plans to renovate their home and today, the home stands as the great craftsmanship that originally created it 90 years ago. Congratulations to these dedicated Coral Gables residents for their interest in promoting historic preservation in the City Beautiful.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Hail Mayor Jacobs and The Year of the Neighborhood, her second time around, and Vice Mayor Sharief gets tapped for #2 commission post
Commissioner Kristin Jacobs (Net worth $75,957) takes the helm again as Broward mayor and she is looking to promote regionalism and neighborhoods, be these local or one of the county’s 31 municipalities and she is reaching out with a olive branch of conciliation to all public officials in the state’s second most populous county. She is calling her tenure in the top spot as “The Year of the Neighborhood.” And Jacobs was first elected to office in 1998 and she has been a strong supporter of environmental issues, public transportation, and in 2002 sponsored, and passed a county living wage ordinance. She has been on boards that advise the White House on a host of county issues, and she was Vice Mayor in 2004 and Broward Mayor in 2005, where she declared her time in the top spot as “The year of the Environment.” Further, the mayor was the public face of county government after the county was slammed by a number of name hurricanes and her quite but firm voice helped swage the fears of many residents pummeled by the storms and the aftermath of destroyed homes and widespread power outages. And the county commission elected Commissioner Barbara Sharief, who represents District 8 the Vice Chair. www.broward.org
>>> All political leaders’ financial disclosure forms on line at OIG webpage
The Broward County Office of the Inspector General (OIG) headed up by IG John Scott has done a great service for the 1.7 million Broward County residents by linking all county elected leaders financial disclosure forms on its webpage and also all the forms filed yearly by leaders in the county’s 31 municipalities. Broward County with a $3.7 billion budget, 5,200 employees and 50 agencies gets a fair amount of media attention but the many local cities generally slip through the media cracks when it comes to monitoring some of the contracts and agencies under elected leaders control such as Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA). And many times these redevelopment agencies become slush funds for the politically connected and if the email traffic the Watchdog Report gets from county residents is any indication of what is going on at the local levels, especially when it comes to cronyism and whom you know. Residents should support giving the OIG office all the resources the office needs. For while Miami-Dade seems to get the most attention when it comes to waste, fraud, and abuse. Broward in some ways is a close second followed by Palm Beach and this new watchdog oversight has been sorely needed in the two counties years ago. >>> http://www.broward.org/InspectorGeneral/Documents/OIG12-015EthicsComplianceReviewofInternetPostingofRequiredFinancialDisclosureForms.pdf >>> http://www.broward.org/INSPECTORGENERAL/Pages/AboutUs.aspx
>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.
>>> Press release: BrowardBulldog.org has much to be thankful for this year as we begin our fourth year of investigative reporting – Nonprofit BrowardBulldog.org held its third anniversary celebration this month and raised more than $30,000 thanks to many loyal supporters and a generous contribution from best-selling novelist Michael Connelly. With Connelly’s commitment and that of hundreds of other concerned individuals, BrowardBulldog.org was able this year to report dozens of local watchdog stories that would otherwise not have come to light. They include stories about sweetheart deals, government secrecy and waste, police misconduct, allegations of pay to play, injustice, and environmental clean up efforts… BrowardBulldog.org is an independent online-only newspaper created to provide authoritative local reporting in the public interest. We are Florida’s first non-profit regional news site staffed by veteran, professional journalists and a member of the Investigative News Network. Our reporters provide issue-oriented and investigative coverage of government, politics, the courts, education, business, the environment, health and public safety. For more information about contributions and sponsorships, contact Kitty Barran, Director of Development, at 214-548-0360 or email@example.com.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> IG Steckler gets rebuke by county commission, body approves $4.2 million upgrade contract for emergency radios pushed by Administrator Weisman
The Palm Beach County Inspector General Sheryl G. Steckler got a rebuff when the county commission approved a $4.2 million contract to upgrade emergency radios www.sunsentinel.com despite her office’s concerns about the lack of planning and that the public would be paying to much for the upgrades. However, County Administrator Robert Weisman argued otherwise and supported the Motorola contract in place for the last 10 years. Weisman stated his staff considered the costs from competitive bids and he thought the IG report on the matter ‘incorrectly’ attacked the deal done by the county.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was created by Palm Beach voters in 2010 after a barrage of arrests including six county commissioners over the past years leading up to the vote. And during the first 15 months, the new watchdog office was in place, charged with fighting waste fraud and abuse of public tax dollars. The office has saved $6.7 million in public money and the OIG roughly costs 87 cents per citizen of the county. Further, the OIG has broad oversight authority that includes monitoring what is going on not only in the county with a $4 billion budget, 6,100 employees and 30 departments, but also the 38 municipalities in Palm Beach. And some of the reports on line are an interesting glimpse into local governments and how they let out contracts and bids. To read the reports go to http://www.pbcgov.com/OIG/reports.htm >>> County administrator http://www.co.palm-beach.fl.us/administration/ >>> Commission Chair Steven Abrams http://www.co.palm-beach.fl.us/countycommissioners/district4/
Commission Chair Abrams (Net worth $310,000)
CITY OF JUPITER
>>> Jupiter Commercial Fisherman Charged for Making False Statements to NOAA
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division (NOAA), Major Jeff Hubert, Regional Commander, South A Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), announced that Jason Cardinale, 41, of Jupiter, FL, was indicted for making false statements to the NOAA, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Cardinale made his initial appearance in federal court this morning in West Palm Beach. A trial date has not yet been set. According to the 12-count indictment, from January 2010 through February 2012, Cardinale submitted false reports to NOAA regarding his company’s fishing activity. More specifically, Cardinale submitted false No Fishing Activity Reports to the NOAA, potentially compromising the management of fisheries under NOAA’s jurisdiction.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to helping our law enforcement partners enforce the laws aimed at protecting our fragile ecosystem, including our fisheries.” “Falsely reporting data leaves fishery scientists with an incomplete picture of what is truly happening on the water, which can ultimately lead the entire industry to shorter seasons and weaker fish populations,” said Dr. Bonnie Ponwith, Director for NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center. “We applaud those who understand the integral role they play in an effective fishery management process by taking the time to supply high-quality, timely data.” If convicted on the charges in the indictment, Cardinale faces a possible term of imprisonment of up to five years, to be followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years on each count. >>> 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. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
>>> Former Monroe Sheriff Peryam heads to north FL to be new director of HIDTA
Former Monroe Sheriff Bob Peryam is on the move after he did not seek reelection this year as sheriff of the southern most county in the U.S. and he is taking a new assignment with HIDTA in northern Florida. The sheriff in the past has been an active participant in drug cases given the extensive shoreline that Monroe has and he is said to be a good choice in this new capacity say people that know the man.
Press release: The North Florida HIDTA Executive Board selected Sheriff Bob Peryam, Monroe County Sheriff to be the new Director of the North Florida HIDTA. Bob brings with him 35 plus years of law enforcement experience. His experience with the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas) program includes serving as an Executive Board member and Chairman of the South Florida HIDTA. His agency, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is also the fiduciary for the South Florida HIDTA, Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands HIDTA and the National HIDTA Assistance Center (NHAC). Thus, he is very knowledgeable about the HIDTA program.
>> There is a December multi-county Regional Climate Change Summit in the future and for more information about the event go to: http://southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/Summit-Invite/
>>> South Florida Regional Planning Board Road Show in seven counties and for more information go to http://seven50.org/uncategorized/registration-work-group-road-show/
>>> Press release: DOWNTOWN BAY FORUM www.downtownbayforum.org Our November Program: THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS What was the Impact on Miami? Panelists: Antonio Esquival, Pres. Cuban Patriotic Joint Council (Junta Patriotica Cubana) Manuel Margol, Pres., Cuban Missile Crisis Veterans
Dr. Jesus Mendez, Ph.D Barry University — Moderator Dr. Sean Foreman, Dept of History and Political Science Barry University. Date: November 28 2012 Doors open 11:30 am, Lunch at Noon. WOLFSON AUDITORIUM – Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th Street Miami, Florida, Free Self Parking Available
Call ANNETTE EISENBERG (305) 757-3633 Fax (305) 754-2015
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED __ $30 Membership ___ $22 Lunch, member w/reservation__ $52 Membership & Lunch __ $26 Non-Member or Member without reservation if space is available___$250 Table of 10 DOWNTOWNBAY FORUM P.O. Box 530916 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0916
>>> Voters have spoken lawmakers at all levels must get to work to solve national, state and local issues, curb the bombastic partisan language
In the nation’s capital, the Florida Legislature and at Miami-Dade County Hall political conciliation is the buzzword of the day since voters have strongly spoken they just want government to work and to get to the business of fixing Americas problems. The question is will this actually happen and will elected leaders seek the middle ground and use that charged word compromise in their dealings and negotiations, or will gridlock continue to be the word of the day for another two years. The nation is dealing with a $16 trillion debt, soaring entitlement program costs and massive defense spending and America must have lawmakers that can address these issues for the time has run out, and any further delay will likely push the nation past the point of no return on some of these vexing issues.
Further, around the nation people are talking about all the natural disasters that every region of the country has experienced, be it tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, flooding or Hurricane Sandy and discussions on perhaps having a national disaster insurance program is finally being discussed again. And this issue is just one example, where lawmakers can come together to craft a solution and this approach has to apply to all issues. Including the tougher one of increasing federal revenues in the slow growing economy that is producing $1 trillion shortfalls every year, while also making Medicare more efficient and less wasteful of these precious public tax dollars.
Further, locally in Florida and Miami-Dade, lawmakers decisions do have consequences and while sledge hammer legislation can be adopted, rifle shot legislation when it comes to bills is much more effective than a scattershot. And when it comes to these lawmakers’ passions, vitriol and bombastic comments about one party or the other. The public has had enough. For in South Florida we are on a ship and cannot get off and it is a vessel that includes a complete spectrum of our society and peoples from around the world. And rich or poor, people still need to feel safe, feed and educate their families and take care of their health. For these are the basic needs of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and what elected leaders have to deal with on a daily basis and how they deal with these issues in the future should be grounded in one manner. As Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Make it the strength of your argument, not the stridency of your voice,” and the public is waiting to see if all the talk is just lip service, or sincere. And these lawmakers ultimately hold the fate of the nation in their hands, let’s hope they understand that fact, for the sands of time will not stop flowing and the clock is ticking.
>>> Reader on S. Miami Mayor Stoddard story in last week’s WDR
I always enjoy reading your reports. If I weren’t so broke, I’d send you a donation!
Your report about Mayor Stoddard caught my attention. The real story is not what the mayor wears to bed, it is that he and two commissioners fired the city manager without cause and then proceeded to list a bunch of trumped-up causes. In my opinion, he continues to attack the manager he successfully fired by repeating these causes in his blog. Now he is doing the same to our Chief of Police.
I don’t like the tone and tenor of Mr. Harms’ letter and I fear this is clouding the real issue. From where I sit, the mayor and Commissioners Harris and Welsh are incompetent and should no longer hold office. Additionally, the manager, who was given a contract extension fairly recently, became Peck’s Bad Boy when he refused to fire the Police Chief. Why is the Chief a target? Because friends of Stoddard and Welsh were arrested. Stoddard’s neighbor plead to disorderly conduct against a police officer, I believe. Welsh’s buddy, a Federal fugitive had a warrant out for his arrest as he twice entered this country illegally from Canada and was busted for drug possession. He is cooling his heels at the Krome Detention Center. I don’t like innuendo and I have absolutely NO reason to believe the mayor would harm his daughter or exchange student.
I really don’t want those of us who are considering a recall of the mayor and his fellow commissioners to be tarred with Mr. Harms’ brush. This is serious business for us. We will have difficult days ahead. It is unfair and incorrect to portray the mayor as a victim. It is we, the residents of South Miami who have been victimized by an inept and dysfunctional crew of elected officials who need to do us all a favor and step down from government. My position about Stoddard, Harris and Welsh is public knowledge. Thank you.
Donna M. Shelley
>>> Reader on Miami Herald healthcare article by John Dorschner
Attached a link http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/20/3106148/ahca-rethinking-medicaid-doc-pay.html to an article written by John Dorschner titled “Florida will pay Medicaid docs at new Obamacare rate” highlighting that Governor Scott’s administration finally relented and, starting Jan. 1, Florida will begin paying Medicaid primary care doctors at new, higher rates required by the federal Affordable Care Act, a state spokeswoman said. The law requires that for the next two years Medicaid must pay primary care doctors at higher rates. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida primary care doctors in 2008 were paid 55 percent of Medicare rates, meaning a $50 payment would be increased to $90 under the new system. That’s indeed good news for all of us, primary care doctors and patients alike. In my case, I re-enrolled as a Medicaid provider because more and more of my patients qualified for Medicaid and wanted to continue their care with me. Now, I can afford treating them without loosing money. A great victory for common sense! But we also have to start demonstrating that this investment into preventive care and chronic disease management will save precious healthcare dollars by decreasing hospital admissions and emergency room utilization rates. That requires the implementation of new care delivery systems such as Patient Centered Medical Homes. I am confident that we can achieve these goals. Happy Thanksgiving.
Bernd Wollschlaeger, M.D.
North Miami Beach
>>> Wishing you and yours a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.
The Hon. Linda Zilber
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The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you. The Watchdog Report is in the 13th 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.