Argus Report: M-DC Homeless Trust after a decade of expanding U.S. HUD funding now at $29 million, sees $1.1 million cut coming from federal agency for county homeless programs
Florida: Will former Miami Mayor Diaz challenge GOP Gov. Scott in 2014? Both have political baggage
Miami-Dade County: Another Miami-Dade Moment, body builder ex Mayor Alvarez shocks community and demeans past political office with Speedo photo
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Arts & Minds charter school audit in the Grove hits District’s Audit Committee Tuesday, rent in school founder owned building now $74,000 per month, but will governance and mgt. issues continue?
Public Health Trust: BCC weighs in on suing state to protect Jackson/UM Ryder Trauma Center from local competing lower level trauma centers, Kendal Regional Medical Center and others the target
City of Miami: And they’re off, Miami Commissioner Spence-Jones to face former Commissioner Rev. Dunn in Dist. 5 election in Nov. – How low will they go?
City of Miami Beach: Former Mgr. Gonzalez testing water for political run, feels getting ax was “injustice” by commission, others disagree
City of North Miami: Judge Sentences Miami Men for December 2010 Murder of Postal Worker in Identity Theft Scheme
City of Coral Gables: Residents invited to free lecture by U.S Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer Feb. 1
City of South Miami: City able to buy equipment from a company that employees Police Chief’s son
Sunny Isles Beach: M-DC Ethics complaint against Commissioner Scholl thrown out for No Probable Cause
North Bay Village: Commission candidate complaint dismissed against Dr. Chervony
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Consultant for the Florida Department of Transportation Charged with Accepting a Bribe
Lake County: Gov. Scott makes four appointments to the Council on Homelessness, Smith is local man
Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum
Editorials: Perceived conflicts of interest, and Miami-Dade ethics maven Centorino comments in editorial — 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: M-DC State Attorney Fernandez-Rundle statement on Rilya Wilson verdict
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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ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> M-DC Homeless Trust after a decade of expanding U.S. HUD funding now at $29 million, sees $1.1 million cut coming from federal agency for homeless programs
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, created in 1993 and a national model involving a extensive public/private partnership and has grown to the point it gets around $29 million in U.S. HUD funding for the homeless programs alone. However, that federal funding is reducing by some $1.11 million and this is the beginning of such cuts after a decade of significant expanding funding for the issue. After President George W. Bush made home ownership in the early 2000s a top priority, and HUD Secretary Mel Martinez led the charge of ending the homeless on the streets of the nation back then. And Miami-Dade has been a beneficiary in a big way of this federal largess, that is augmented by a local Beverage and Sales Tax that is up 9.1 percent from the previous year. And that funding rounds out the Trust’s $49 million budget that is augmented by donations, most recently a $75,000 check to the Trust from the Chapman Partnership www.chapmanpartnership.org. An organization that provides a wide array in continuum of care programs and runs the county’s Homeless Assistance Centers.
The Trust also did its federally required count of people living on the streets of Miami-Dade County on Thursday and HUD regulations require once a year that a “self disclosure interview process” of these people be done. Hilda Fernandez, the Trust’s executive director at the organization’s board meeting Friday morning in the Miami-Dade Commission Chambers (But not televised) told the oversight members that these federal regulations have gotten more detailed. She noted in the past they just had to ask, “Transgender people what their sex was?” but now the questions are more detailed such as has the person gone from a “woman to a man or a man to a woman,” she said. She also noted these surveys were voluntary and getting some of this more detailed information may not be possible. She noted the count Thursday was a “snap shot,” of who was living on the street or shelters and last January about 3,600 people were surveyed but this year with the longer survey questions, to process and digest this information would take more staff time. http://www.miamidade.gov/homeless/home.asp
What about other funding requests for other service activities?
Ron Book at this meeting, the long time chair of the Trust bristled when the organization was asked to fund some programs that should be done by done by other agencies, but are not. Book said for the past “20-years” he has resisted supporting services “not going into the mission,” and “should be done by other people.” And he has “resisted historically getting into places where the population should be served by someone else,” he told trustees. He said the $49 million yearly Trust budget only “stretches so far,” and when it came to the convicted sex predators that inhabited the Julian Tuttle Causeway a few years ago, and caused a national sensation with extensive media coverage. Book said that issue should have been a State of Florida issue, but “We made an exception” in that case and overall he is “Not comfortable serving a population that someone else should be serving,” Book closed.
>>> State Attorney press release: A joint investigation by the Miami Dade Police Department Public Corruption Investigations Bureau, the Public& Urban Development, Office of Inspector General has led to the arrest of two individuals in a “cash for housing” scheme which let individuals willing to pay reside in housing created to help the homeless. Carlos Enrique Vazquez, a current City of Miami Homeless Assistance Program Outreach employee, and Odalys Lovett Delisle, an associate of Mr. Vasquez received a $5,000 fee to falsely qualify an individual to allow her to live in transitional housing intended to help Miami-Dade’s homeless population.
According to investigators, Mr. Vazquez told the individual that once he got her into the housing program, she could remain in the program for life rather than just the 3 months for which the program was designed. Ms. Delisle met directly with the individual and received the payment on Mr. Vazquez’ behalf. Carlos Enrique Vazquez and Odalys Lovett Delisle are both charged with: Official Misconduct ; Unlawful Compensation; and Bribery. “The real victims of this fraud are needy homeless individuals who lose out on housing while some greedy individuals put money in their own pockets,” commentated State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “I know that I speak for our entire law enforcement community when I say that this will stop”
>>> Fairchild Gardens Wings of the Tropics butterfly exhibit getting rave reviews
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden has a host of new exhibits since these opened Dec. 1, there are five new buildings in the 25,000 sq. foot Science Village that features a knockout attraction called Wings of the Tropics and features an extensive array of butterflies, hummingbirds and fish, and it is said to be a new community treasure. The Watchdog Report in 2002 dubbed Fairchild Gardens the community’s Camp David after a joint meeting between county commissioners and state legislators was not the anticipated bloodbath expected at the time. And the serenity and beauty of the Gardens is world renowned, volunteers play an important role in its operation and in the case of these new attractions. The funding came from a 2004 $2.9 billion Miami-Dade County GOB that included funding for these new additional structures that included private fundraising contributions as well. For more go to http://www.fairchildgarden.org/
>>> White House press release: Statement by the President on the Opening of Combat Units to Women
Today, by moving to open more military positions—including ground combat units—to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens. This milestone reflects the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in today’s military. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, including more than 150 women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan—patriots whose sacrifices show that valor knows no gender.
Earlier today, I called Secretary of Defense Panetta to express my strong support for this decision, which will strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality. I congratulate our military, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the rigor that they have brought to this process. As Commander in Chief, I am absolutely confident that—as with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’—the professionalism of our armed forces will ensure a smooth transition and keep our military the very best in the world. Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love.
>>> Press release: House Passes Legislation Improving Nation’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness; Ros-Lehtinen Says Bill Is Necessary To Counter National Emergencies Such As Current Flu Epidemic
Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) voted in favor of a bipartisan bill passed today reauthorizing programs for five years that assist the development of measures to counter chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear emergencies and disasters. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 strengthens the nation’s ability to respond to both accidents and attacks, modernizing and optimizing inefficient systems and emergency response measures in the event of a disaster.
Said Ros-Lehtinen, “I am pleased that the House came together in a bipartisan way to pass this important bill. As we saw with Hurricane Sandy last year and the ongoing flu epidemic, our nation’s health care system remains vulnerable to disasters. We must give our emergency responders every tool possible to succeed in the event of an attack or accident, which means keeping our preparedness infrastructure efficient and modern.” Recent reports by the Center for Disease Control show that while the current flu epidemic is slowing overall, the severity of flu cases is rising in some areas and some shortages of flu vaccine continue. In Florida, the flu epidemic has struck particularly hard and many persons have become ill. I am pleased to be able to help pass legislation critical to improving our ability to respond to flu outbreaks, as well as all disasters that threaten both our nation’s physical and economic health.”
>>> Four Sentenced To Prison in Florida Community Mental Health Center Case
Press release: The owners of three Miami-area assisted living facilities and an affiliated psychologist were sentenced to prison yesterday in connection with a health care fraud scheme, involving now-defunct Miami-area health provider Health Care Solutions Network Inc. (HCSN), in which Medicare was billed for mental health treatments that were unnecessary or not provided. The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced Serena Joslin, 32, of Looneyville, W.Va., to 63 months in prison, following her previous guilty plea to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Raymond Rivero, 55, Daniel Martinez, 46, and Ivon Perez, 50, all of Miami, were each sentenced to 28 months in prison. All three had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute. According to court documents, HCSN operated community mental health centers both in Miami and North Carolina, including partial hospitalization programs (PHP) – a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. HCSN obtained Medicare beneficiaries to attend HCSN for purported PHP treatment that was unnecessary and, in many instances, not provided… Joslin admitted that many of the HCSN patients were unqualified for the PHP program because they suffered from conditions such as mental retardation and dementia, and that she directed therapists to fabricate medical records to support HCSN’s fraudulent billing to the Medicare program. Joslin was also required to surrender her North Carolina license to provide mental health treatment as part of her plea agreement. According to court documents, from 2004 through 2011, HCSN billed Medicare and the Florida Medicaid program approximately $63 million for purported mental health services.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Altonaga sentenced Joslin, Rivero, Martinez and Perez each to serve three years of supervised release, and ordered them to pay $4,464,728; $90,896; $76,358; and $89,245 in restitution, respectively. >>> The cases are being prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney William Parente and Trial Attorney Allan J. Medina of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The cases were investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and were brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. >> Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
>>> Two Sentenced for Transportation and Attempted Sale of Stolen Matisse Painting
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 Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today’s sentencing of Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami, Florida, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City, Mexico, on charges relating to the July 17, 2012 interstate transportation and attempted sale of the stolen Henri Matisse painting, “Odalisque in Red Pants,” in Miami Beach, Florida. At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Pedro Marcuello to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Maria Ornelas was sentenced to 21 months in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release. The defendants pled guilty on October 30, 2012 to charges relating to the transportation, possession and attempted sale of the stolen Henri Matisse painting… 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.
>>> 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
>>> Will former Miami Mayor Diaz challenge GOP Gov. Scott in 2014? Both have political baggage
Manny Diaz, the former Mayor of the City of Miami for eight years is considering running for Florida governor in 2014 against Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Diaz is coming off his new book, Miami Transformed that may end with Manny transformed himself. Diaz, an attorney is highly respected on the national scene but gets mixed reviews in his own city. And he has the highly controversial Miami Marlins new stadium deal in Little Havana hanging around his neck that left the city and county with a $2.5 billion debt for the bonds that cannot be paid off early or interest rates adjusted. Diaz if he throws his hat in the ring will also probable have to dispatch former Gov. Charlie Crist in any Democratic Party primary before taking on Scott. And other potential candidates to pick up the party’s flag are former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, State Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami, and previous 2010 gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, (Though she just lost her husband Bill McBride, also a Democratic Party candidate for governor in 2002 and it is unknown how that might change her political aspirations.) And Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has floated his name in the potential candidate pack to challenge Scott.
Diaz, the only Hispanic American of the considered Democratic Party candidates has prodigious fund raising talents and when he was first elected back in Nov. 2001. When he beat former Miami Mayor and County Commissioner Maurice Ferre in the runoff race. He was considered a breath of fresh air at the time. After years of ethnic tensions split Miami in a deeply divided demographic fissure fanned by former Mayor Joe Carollo and others in the media. And for the first few years Diaz was essentially normal in his performance of his duties and he never vetoed any commission legislation during his two terms in office that ended in Nov. 2009.
However, the mayor personally slowly changed and the office from the beginning was a public relations machine that had the press getting press releases daily and ultimately got written up in the media and Watchdog Report. But as Diaz hob knobbed with national and global leaders he started to grow more imperious and believed everything he was doing was always right, never made a mistake, and he would essentially not take questions that he did not want to answer or email back on. And one such question by the Watchdog Report back then was where did he suddenly get the over $400,000 in cash in 2008 as stated on his financial disclosure form back then and written up in the Watchdog Report. Which the man has yet to answer. For more on the Diaz story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/25/3200726/former-miami-mayor-manny-diaz.html
What about the President Obama campaign attack ads against Romney?
Here in South Florida, Diaz during the last few weeks of the fall presidential campaign pitting President Barack Obama against Mitt Romney. The former Miami mayor did an Obama campaign piece blunting some of the Romney attack ads in Spanish coming from the GOP campaign. And his effective job in this counter ad was said to have driven more Hispanic voters into the Obama camp giving the incumbent a considerable edge with these voters. And while back in early 2009, there was talk that Diaz might catapult to Washington in the new fledgling Obama administration, that opportunity failed to materialize given some of Diaz’s past political history, controversies and some of the friends he socialized with back then. But he clearly still has his sights set on new political aspirations and he appears to be denying his political career is over as a local Favorite Son candidate from South Florida who may try to soar to this top statewide post in the Sunshine State in the coming years.
What about former Mayor Diaz’s new book Miami Transformed?
Francisco Alvarado, a veteran Miami New Times reporter and long time observer of the city of Miami reviewed Manny Diaz’s new book this week and he has a similar opinion as I did over the Thanksgiving Holiday when I wrote a review of the tome, noted it was loaded with omissions and seemed to be a white wash of his administration. To read Alvarado’s story go to: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-01-10/news/ex-mayor-manny-diaz-s-new-book-is-full-of-lies/
>>> Governor Rick Scott: S&P and Moody’s Sees Supreme Court’s Pension Ruling as Positive for Florida Credit Rating
Press release: Standard and Poors (S&P) and Moody’s Credit Outlook released statements rating the recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court to uphold Governor Scott’s proposal for state employees to contribute three percent to their retirement as a positive factor for Florida’s credit rating.
Governor Rick Scott said, “It is great news that the S&P and Moody’s recognizes last week’s pension ruling as positive for Florida’s AAA credit rating. The court’s ruling supports our efforts to lower the cost of living for Florida families and we are doing the right things to pay down our state’s debt and reduce unemployment in Florida. Since I took office two years ago, we have cut state debt by $2 billion and our unemployment has declined to 8.0 percent- the lowest rate in four years. We will keep working to ensure Florida maintains its AAA rating with the S&P, continue to reduce debt and make Florida the most business friendly state in the nation so private-sector jobs can grow for Florida families.”
The S&P said that the decision “in favor of the state’s pension reform efforts is a positive credit factor. While the decision is still subject to a rehearing motion, if final, the ruling should bring the state and participating governments long-term budget relief and enhance the retirement system’s funding over time.” (Click here to view the S&P’s entire statement) Moody’s said “The ruling is credit positive for the state of Florida as well as for cities, counties, school districts, and other local governments whose employees are members of the plan.” (See attached statement for Moody’s full statement)
>>> Florida Commercial Fisherman Pleads Guilty to False Statements
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, and Major Jeff Hubert, Regional Commander, South A Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), announced that Jason Cardinale, 41, pled guilty today to one count of making false statements to the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 4, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks. According to the allegations in the indictment and statements made in court, from about January 15, 2010 through February 24, 2012, Cardinale submitted false No Fishing Activity Reports to the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, potentially compromising the management of fisheries under NOAA’s jurisdiction.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to do its part to help protect our fragile eco-system, 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.” Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and FWC. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III. >> 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.
>>> Scandal free Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade looking for new CEO to replace Abety after 11-years in top child advocate administrative slot
The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County created by county voters in 2002 and reaffirmed overwhelmingly by a 79 percent majority of county voters in 2008 is looking for a new president to run the around $100 million Trust. Modesto Abety, the only top administrator of the organization since its creation is prohibited from taking the job during a six-month period he has to leave. Since he is in the Florida Retirement System, but a new CEO is expected to be found in the meantime before he could reapply for the job. In addition, long serving senior administrator Charles Auslander will be the interim CEO when Abety formally leaves at the end of March.
Abety, the children’s advocate at Miami-Dade County in the late 1990s and sidekick to Children’s Trust point of the spear advocate, former Miami Herald Publisher David Lawrence, Jr. And the two of them elicited widespread community support before the Trust was passed, raised money for the campaign and they convinced Miami-Dade voters that this was the responsible thing to do to develop a strong and thriving society in the future through healthy, educated, nurtured and achieving children. Moreover, since its creation there has been only one minor scandal and if a provider is granted funding, it is a real feather in the organization’s cap. Since there is strict guidelines for funding grants and measured outcomes of these funded programs that are given out to over 70 agencies throughout Miami-Dade County.
>>> The Children’s Trust Conducts Search for a New President and CEO
Press release: The Children’s Trust Board of Directors has begun an executive search for a new President and Chief Executive Officer. Qualified candidates are preferred to have no less than 15 years of experience, including at least five leading a team of professional staff, as a senior administrator with preference for a human service agency administrator or as public administrator working with a board, council or other policy body. Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of: Governance structures in Miami-Dade and the State of Florida, the demographics of the Miami-Dade population, major policy issues involving children and families, and the dynamics of large urban communities with high levels of immigration. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County by making strategic investments in their future.
To view the entire job description, visit www.thechildrenstrust.org Interested and qualified candidates shall send, in one continuous Word or PDF document, a cover letter of interest, resume, at least three professional references, and salary requirements to: CEOsearch@thechildrenstrust.org >>> All information submitted to The Children’s Trust is subject to Public Records Requests and all interviews will be publicly noticed and take place in a public setting as proscribed by law. In addition, a background check will be conducted as part of the pre-employment process. Candidates who are not a current resident of Miami-Dade County, if hired, must relocate to Miami-Dade County within 30 days of employment. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.
>>> 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.
>>> Another Miami-Dade Moment, body builder ex Mayor Alvarez shocks community and demeans past political office with Speedo photo
The revelation that recalled Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, 60, is an award winner at a bodybuilding contest for men over 60 and there was a photo of the man, with two tattoos now, and a Speedo bathing suit. The image caused shutters through the fabric of Miami-Dade because it becomes another local bizarre moment and the photo went global. (In fact, many people said at first they thought the photo of Alvarez was Photo shopped.) Alvarez, who started pumping iron when he joined the county’s police force decades ago and later in the force rising to become the department’s director through 2004. When he then resigned to run and become the Miami-Dade mayor and later county voters gave the first strong mayor form of government to him. However, Alvarez always had an odd side to him and one of his sons, Carlos Alvarez Jr., went to prison for a variety of sexual battery charges, some involving minors.
The Watchdog Report last week asked people about the photo and story first broke in the www.miaminewtimes.com and the chorus of comments was unison. “It’s clear he loves his body,” said one law enforcement officer and lay minister. Others including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was joking about the matter saying essentially this was it when it came to buffing up his physique and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado thought it made Alvarez look diminished and all thought it was demeaning to the office of the county mayor. Alvarez changed when he was elected mayor back then and his authoritative manner alienated some commissioners on the dais and a series of articles in The Miami Herald on mayoral staff pay raises. While other county employee’s salaries were cut sent Alvarez into the verbal stratosphere and he lashed out at the paper’s reporters in a press conference. And the later recall in 2011 financed by auto magnate Norman Braman sealed Alvarez’s fate and while he lifted weights almost daily for a couple of hours while he was mayor. No one had considered this recent foray possible and once again, a former high-ranking elected leader from South Florida has become the punch line of comics and commentators, and the community as a whole.
Miami New Times Blogs1 day ago Earlier this week, Riptide was the first to report that recalled Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has now reinvented himself as a championship-winning senior bodybuilder.
>>> Richmond Optimist Club gets auditor observations, after years of clean reports when Commission Moss ran it
Miami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss, the former executive director of the Richmond Perrine Optimist Club had a tradition of having clean audits when he was running the organization. But this year there are a few auditor observations and findings and while none are devastating, a couple deal with Miami-Dade County and a building the Optimist Club is carrying on their books, but should be conveyed to Miami-Dade sates the audit. http://mca.dadeschools.net/CBO_CharterDocs_1213/CBO/Richmond-Perrine%20Optimist%20Club.pdf
>>> County prison population down from high of around 6,000 inmates
Miami-Dade County Corrections is at an all time low when it comes to local inmate population said Correction’s Director Timothy Ryan. He noted last week that there were only around 4,800 in the county’s corrections jail, which is down from a high of around 6,000 people in the prison population in past years.
>>> “Lazarus Dogs,” was the talk of BCC committee, Munoz says subset of owners but dogs years later turn out to be alive
“Lazarus Dogs,” was the talk of a commission committee when Miami-Dade Animal Services Director Alex Munoz was discussing people that were being fined by the county for not keeping their dogs shots current because the dog was “dead” owners would tell county employees. However, the same dog’s years later would come “back alive,” he said. Munoz took over the pressure cooker job that has animal activists watching the organization like a hawk and he is trying to change the number of animals killed in the county shelter, but with the intake of over 30,000 cats coming in alone. It is very difficult given the current level of funding to have a No Kill Shelter but that county funding is expected to increase after county voters in Nov. passed a straw ballot resolution by 65 percent to enhance the funding of the animals services department and facilities.
>>> Two recent Miami-Dade Inspector General Reports http://www.miamidadeig.org/Reports2013/IG11.54BldgBetterCommunitiesAudit.pdf >>> http://www.miamidadeig.org/Reports2013/12.38APlusComputer.pdf
>>> Ethics Commission rulings: New Procedures Outlined for Public Officials with Voting Conflicts
Following correspondence and legal review, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) has determined that elected and appointed officials in county and municipal governments must follow both local and state rules when they recuse themselves from voting on a particular issue because of a conflict of interest. As discussed with Ethics Commissioners today, the County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance requires officials to absent themselves from all discussion and voting on an item in which they have a conflict. State law requires them to announce their conflict prior to a vote and file a written disclosure of the conflict within 15 days.
The announced procedure encompasses both rules, and requires an elected official or advisory board member to announce that he or she has a conflict when that item comes up on an agenda, leave that portion of the meeting when the item is discussed and voted upon, and then, within 15 days of the vote, file a written disclosure of the nature of the conflict with the board clerk or whomever is responsible for recording the meeting minutes. A memo explaining the new procedure has been distributed to elected officials and municipal attorneys.
>>> A complaint (C 12-49) accusing Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez of exploiting his official position by not increasing early voting days prior to the November 6, 2012, election was found Not Legally Sufficient. A voter alleged that Mayor Gimenez violated several national, state and county laws including the “convenient access” provision of the Citizens’ Bill of Rights by not acting to reduce long lines at the polls. While the voters approved an amendment authorizing the COE to enforce penalties for violating the Bill of Rights, a County enabling ordinance has not yet been put into effect, establishing the penalties. Additionally, the mayor has no authority over early voting for state or federal offices. The complaint was, therefore, dismissed.
>>> In a similar issue, the Ethics Commission opined that County Commissioner Lynda Bell may participate in hearings and vote on Florida Power & Light’s application to construct additional facilities at its Turkey Point plant even though her daughter is employed by the utility. The daughter serves in an entry-level, temporary position that would not be enhanced or affected by the outcome of the zoning application. In response to RQO 12-15, Ethics Commissioners stated that, because Commissioner Bell does not have any of the relationships with FP&L that would directly benefit her, she is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from voting. However, they also noted that the Ethics Code provides minimum standards of conduct and does not address “appearance of impropriety” issues, which should be considered by all elected officials.
>>> The COE meeting began with an official welcome for newly appointed Ethics Commissioner Lawrence Schwartz, who was sworn into office by Chief Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court Joel Brown last week. The recently retired judge Schwartz succeeds Judge Seymour Gelber after the former jurist, Miami Beach Mayor and civic activist retired from the board. He was honored with a plaque of special recognition for his eight years of service as an Ethics Commissioner, which was accepted by his son, attorney Dan Gelber.
The Ethics Commission was created in 1996 as an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers. It is composed of five members, serving staggered terms of four years each. Through a program of education, outreach and enforcement, the Commission seeks to empower the community and bolster public trust.
>>> Former Mortgage Title Agent Sentenced in Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme at Jade Apartment Complex in Miami
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, announce that Raquel DeJesus Martinez of Miami-Dade County, who previously worked as a title agent, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks to 24 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, in connection with a scheme to commit mortgage fraud at The Jade apartment complex on Brickell Bay Drive in Miami. In addition, she was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,936,714.32. DeJesus Martinez is the eighth defendant to be sentenced in connection with the scheme.
According to statements in open court and court documents, the defendants engaged in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme using straw buyers to purchase residential properties at The Jade. As part of the scheme, the defendants submitted mortgage loan applications and supporting documents containing false information to lending institutions. The lending institutions relied on these documents to make mortgage loans to the straw buyers to purchase the residential properties. The defendants then prepared and submitted to the lenders, false HUD-1 statements. The defendants created a second version of the HUD-1 statements, listing the actual sales prices, which were provided to the seller. To conceal and perpetuate the fraud, the defendants made some payments to the condominium association and made some mortgage payments to the lenders to prevent foreclosure and continue to receive rental income for the units. The defendants thereafter diverted the mortgage fraud proceeds into shell companies for their personal use.
Previously, defendants Lilia Casal-Diaz, a real estate attorney, Andres Mendez, Sr. and his son, Andy Mendez, both real estate brokers, Josephine Santana, a mortgage broker, Jose Arnaldo Rosario, Jose Rafael Martinez, and Basilio Gomez, all of Miami-Dade County, were convicted for their roles in the mortgage fraud scheme. >> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CID and the U.S. Secret Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy. 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 #4 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR), #4 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR) AND #4 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY FOR JANUARY-DECEMBER 2012 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS
For January – December 2012, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2011, ranking #4 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $124.92, #4 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $163.59 and #4 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 76.4% among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).
|JANUARY – DECEMBER 2012|
REVENUE PER AVAILABLE HOTEL ROOM (REV PAR)
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. New York||$210.56||+6.1%|
|2. Oahu Island||$155.37||+16.7%|
|3. San Francisco||$137.99||+12.8%|
AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. New York||$251.59||+2.9%|
|2. Oahu Island||$183.51||+11.2%|
|3. San Francisco||$171.72||+10.8%|
AVERAGE DAILY OCCUPANCY
|Market||% Occupancy||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. Oahu Island||84.7%||+4.9%|
|2. New York||83.7%||+3.1%|
|3. San Francisco||80.4%||+1.7%|
|5. Los Angeles||75.4%||+5.1%|
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOL
>>> Arts & Minds charter school long awaited audit hits District’s Audit Committee Tuesday, rent in school founder owned building now $74,000 per month, but will governance and mgt. issues continue?
The controversial Arts and Minds Charter Academy in Coconut Grove is back on the Miami-Dade Schools Audit & Budget Advisory Committee Tuesday and the charter school has the distinction of a over 300-page forensic audit done by the District back in June that highlighted a host of issues, that the school’s leadership generally denies. At the last audit committee meeting the school had yet to provide all the documentation and had the chair reflecting the whole matter said it was like the play, “Waiting for Godet and Godet never shows up,” when it came to closing out the matters and issues with A&M. And this week the public will find out what the community firewall Audit Committee members think of the new school audit >>> To read the charter school’s audit go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/CBO_CharterDocs_1213/Academy%20of%20Arts%20and%20Mind
>>> School Board Member Dr. Perez will soon add law degree to her resume
Marta Perez, Ph.D. after another semester at St. Thomas University will be adding another shingle behind her name when she completes her three-year law degree and passes the Florida Bar, she told the Watchdog Report recently. Perez has been representing Miami-Dade Public Schools Board District 8 since 1998 after leaving a local community council, running for office at a time the nation’s fourth largest public schools district was marred in scandals, and she has been a tireless advocate for transparency and ethics in government.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> BCC weighs in on suing state to protect Ryder Trauma from local competing lower level trauma centers, Kendal Regional Medical Center and others the target
The issue of the Ryder Level I Trauma Center and its hemorrhaging of around $28 million in lost revenue since Kendall Regional Medical Center opened its own Level II Trauma Center last year and chronicled in past Watchdog Report’s has taken a turn and litigation with the state Department of Health and Kendal Regional will be the order of the day. Jackson Health System (JHS) wants to “defend or preserve the Public Health Trust’s interests with respect to the provisions of trauma services in the Trust’s service area,” states the resolution passed by the Miami-Dade County commission this week. County Commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Sally Heyman sponsored the item and the yes vote was 10 to zero with Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Dennis Moss and Diaz absent from the dais.
>>> PAST JUL. WDR: Ryder Trauma Center celebrates 20 years in Aug. it took philanthropist Weiss only a few minutes to secure first $2.5 million in seed money from Ryder Corp. CEO Burns back in 1992, ultimately cost $28 million
In early August, the Ryder Trauma Center, the only Class I such center in South Florida will celebrate its 20th Anniversary and the community jewel is under siege financially. Now that a Class II Emergency Room has been opened at the private Kendall Regional Hospital in west Dade and is getting many of the car crashes that Ryder used to get, and includes many of these injured people having at least $10,000 in personal health insurance, PIP. Insurance that is required for automobile drivers and has helped buffer the cost of having a 24/7 facility that is fully staffed with physicians and surgeons regardless of the time of day.http://www.jhsmiami.org/body.cfm?id=204 >> http://surgery.med.miami.edu/trauma/ >>> http://www.friendsofryder.org/index.php?p=details
The Watchdog Report covered the tenth anniversary of the facility back in 2002 and so did then Mayor Alex Penelas and when the Jackson Hospital CEO Ira Clark spoke during the celebration. Clark’s verbally confused and disjointed comments sparked a lot of conversation among attendees and had Penelas walking away saying essentially what was going on with the community icon running the hospital complex, who clearly was having some mental distress. And it would be known only later that Clark was in the first stages of Alzheimer disease and why he was having this difficulty. But Ryder over these years has become a community crown jewel and communities around the nation would kill for such a trauma facility for their own needy people, and south Florida residents should speak up and support this special trauma center that trains U.S. Army surgeons before they rotate to overseas military bases.
What about Jay Weiss?
Jay Weiss, a billionaire and local philanthropist told the Watchdog Report after the 10th Anniversary celebration was over that when he first called Ryder CEO M. Anthony Burns back in 1992. The conversation lasted only a few minutes and Burns agreed to help immediately, he said. But the dream of a new trauma center at the beginning was hampered because it needed some seed money to get started and Burns agreed to the first big donation of $2.5 million that ultimately cost $28 million to construct and furnish the trauma center with the high tech medical technology. That makes the center world known and accounts for the medical training of the majority of trauma surgeons practicing in Israel.
>>> PAST NOV. WDR: 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.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> And they’re off, Miami Commissioner Spence- Jones to face former Commission Dunn in Dist. 5 election in Nov. – How low will they go?
The dye is set with Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones deciding to run again for Miami Commission District 5 this November and former Miami Commissioner Rev. Richard Dunn, II has already announced his bid to take her on again. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/25/3201052/miami-commissioner-michelle-spence.html Spence-Jones came back to office, after Gov. Charlie Crist suspended her two years ago and this past August after she was found not guilty and state attorney charges were dropped in another case. She returned to her commission office and was given her past pay for the two years she lost on the dais. Further, Miami Attorney Julie O. Bru ruled that her vacancy from the office, regardless of getting paid for the time allowed her to seek another four-year term and she was not term limited from office after the past eight years. Dunn is crying foul concerning the Bru ruling citing a conflict of interest since the attorney is hired and fired by the commission and giving favorable legal advice was a smart move, he suggests.
What about the other commission races?
Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo who represents Dist. 3 and was elected back in 2009 has drawn a challenger as well. Alex Dominguez has thrown his hat into the political ring to unseat the incumbent, though back when he was first elected. Carollo won the race in the first round and did not face a runoff in the 50 percent plus 1 vote winner take all races on the five-member body. >>> Editor’s note: I could not find public photos of Dunn or Dominguez.
>>> Is ex Miami Commissioner de Yurre trying to make a comeback on the body?
Victor de Yurre, the former Miami Commissioner who left the dais in 1995 and more recently lost a bid to become a Miami-Dade circuit court judge in August is said to be contemplating running again for a seat again on the five-member Commission. The former city commissioner, attorney, divorcee and past community fixture two decades ago has stayed out of sight, for over a decade after he was involved in the ballot fraud election case in 1997. That a local county judge would declare null and void and removed then Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez from office and replaced with Mayor Joe Carollo, who held the office through Nov. 2001. However, on Thursday, a greyer de Yurre with balding and cropped hair was seen in the Miami commission chambers, while the commission meeting was going on and he was watching the events and listening to the discussion. And Miami voters will have to wait and see if he decides to have another political life. Since so many other former elected leaders are making comebacks, like Suarez now a county commissioner, and that could be a factor if he decides to jump back into the Miami political fray.
>>> M-DC Comm. on Ethics press release: The COE approved two Letters of Instruction stemming from a complaint (C 12-41) against Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff related to his travel to Brazil for activities associated with the Volvo Ocean Race at the stop prior to the race’s arrival in Miami last May. Sarnoff had not reported that The Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau reimbursed him for a portion of his trip, related to bureau business, and that race organizers reimbursed Sarnoff for his and his wife’s airfare. The Miami City Attorney had opined that, because the commissioner was in his official capacity while on the trip, he did not need to report it as a gift. But in the Letter of Instruction to the City Attorney, the Ethics Commission differentiated between a politician’s official appearance at a public event and an all-expense-paid trip to a foreign locale, which provides opportunities for personal enjoyment along with official duties. The other Letter advises Commissioner Sarnoff – and all elected and appointed officials – that a spouse’s presence on a trip is a gift to him that should be reported.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Former Mgr. Gonzalez testing water for political run, feels getting ax was “injustice” by commission, others disagree
Jorge Gonzalez, the former Miami Beach city manager for 11 years is mulling whether he might enter the political fray by either running for the commission or for mayor this November. Since his long time supporter, Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower is termed out and she may run again for the commission, she has suggested. Gonzalez believes he was forced out for political reasons, not for the wide spread corruption permeating certain city departments over the past few years. In addition, he tells Miami New Times that “injustice” must be fought and he believes some city commissioners unfairly threw him under the train. However, his critics charge that there was just too much smoke, fire to be ignored when it came to corruption, and also had cops running over tourists on the Beach periodically on their city issued vehicles. http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/01/jorge_gonzalez_ex-miami_beach.php
And since Gonzalez’s departure, Kathy Brooks has been the interim manager and Bower and the commission will have initial interviews with the six manager candidates on Wednesday followed the next day with a second round of interviews and the creation of a short list of the candidates. The schedule for the candidates on Wednesday (sent by a reader) is 8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Preliminaries, 8:50 – 10:05 a.m. Stephen Barwick, Aspen, CO 10:10 – 11:25 a.m. Monica Cepero, Broward County, 11:30-12:45 p.m. Emanuel Mayer, Miami Beach, 12:45 -1:45 p.m. Lunch Break, 1:50 – 3:05 p.m. Jimmy Morales, Coral Gables, 3:10 – 4:25 p.m. Frank Rollason, Miami, 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. Thomas Wilson, Palm Springs, CA -Open to the public. [Session taped for later broadcast.] And on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 4:00PM, 3rd Floor. Commission Chambers City commission discussion and selection of top candidates. Open to the public. [Session taped for later broadcast.]
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI
>>> Judge Sentences Miami Men for December 2010 Murder of Postal Worker in Identity Theft Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), J.D. Patterson, Acting Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, and Marc Elias Jr., Chief, North Miami Police Department, announce the sentence of Pikerson Mentor, 30, of Miami, to a life imprisonment. Saubnet Politesse, 24, was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to being Mentor’s getaway driver during the robbery resulting in U.S. Postal Service employee Bruce Parton’s death. Both sentences were imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Graham. Mentor had been previously convicted after a seven-day trial, during which approximately 40 witnesses were called. At the conclusion of that trial, the jury convicted Mentor of all fourteen counts of the Second Superseding Indictment, which included the murder of a federal government employee while in the course of his duties, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 111; car-jacking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2119; theft of a key for a U.S. Postal Service mail receptacle, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1704; use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j); conspiracy to commit and commission of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, 371 and 1029(a)(2); and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The sentences imposed today on the defendants for the ruthless murder of Bruce Parton, a hard-working and dedicated mail carrier, should send a clear message to our community: there are lifelong consequences to senseless acts of violence. I hope that the life imprisonment sentence of Pikerson Mentor, and 21 years imprisonment sentence of Saubnet Politesse, will bring some comfort and sense of justice to Mr. Parton’s family.” Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge for U.S. Postal Inspection Service stated, “Today’s sentencing is the result of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service working diligently with law enforcement partners to make sure that U.S. Postal Service employees are protected.” “The death of U.S. Postal Service employee Bruce Parton is an absolute tragedy, and individuals who commit crimes of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “Faced with the unique circumstances of this case, IRS Criminal Investigation along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office were committed to investigating and prosecuting these individuals who chose personal monetary gain over the value of another human being’s life.”
“We hope that the family of Mr. Parton has found some justice with today’s sentencing. We are grateful for the cooperation and dedication of all the agencies that lead to the successful arrests and prosecution of the case,” said J.D. Patterson, Acting Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. North Miami Police Department Chief Marc Elias, Jr. stated, “The North Miami Police Department is proud to have worked in partnership with the United States Postal Inspection Service and our Federal and Local law enforcement agencies in bringing the murderers of Bruce Parton of the U.S. Postal Services to justice. This is another example of law enforcement agencies collaborating to remove armed and dangerous subjects from the streets of South Florida.” … Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-CI, Miami-Dade Police Department and the North Miami Police Department. 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
>>> Press release: CORAL GABLES RESIDENTS INVITED TO FREE LECTURE WITH US SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMATOR
ON FEBRUARY 1
As part of the 20-year Development Agreement between the City of Coral Gables and the University of Miami, Coral Gables residents are invited to attend a special lecture with Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Justice Sotomayor will be interviewed by University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala on her new book “My Beloved World.” The event takes place on Friday, February 1, 6 p.m. at the BankUnited Center, 1245 Dauer Drive.
In her new book, Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1979. She worked as assistant district attorney in New York and then at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. From 1992 to 2009, she served as a judge on the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and from 1998, on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She assumed this role on August 8, 2009. >>> There is a limit of 250 tickets for Coral Gables residents. Tickets will be distributed in person on a first-come, first-served basis at the War Memorial Youth Center, 405 University Drive beginning Thursday, January 24 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Residents must show proof of residential address. Tickets are limited to two per household. For additional information, contact the Parks and Recreation Division at 305-460-5600.
CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI
>>> City able to buy equipment from a company that employees Police Chief’s son
M-DC Ethics Commission ruling: In response to a Request for Opinion (RQO 12-14), the Ethics Commission determined that the City of South Miami may continue to purchase police equipment from a company that employs the son of the Chief of Police. Lou’s Police & Security Equipment has been a vendor with the city for more than two years and the purchasing contract was most recently approved on Oct. 1, 2012. A month later, Christopher Martinez de Castro, son of Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro, was hired by Lou’s as Vice President of International Sales. Because the son has no direct or indirect financial ownership in the company and will not be involved in the local contract, or profit from it, there is no prohibition from the police department continuing to do business with the firm.
SUNNY ISLES BEACH
>>> M-DC Ethics complaint against Commissioner Scholl thrown out for No Probable Cause
The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause to a complaint (C 12-38) filed by a candidate for a Sunny Isles Beach Commission seat in this past November’s election against the incumbent. Harvey Busch alleged that Commissioner George Scholl threatened to disclose that Busch filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011 unless he withdrew from the race. The issue was referred to the State Attorney’s Office, which determined that there was no violation of Florida law, since the information presented by Scholl was a matter of public record. And, since the information was factual, the Ethics Commission found no violation of the Ethical Campaign Practices Ordinance, so the complaint was dismissed.
NORTH BAY VILLAGE
>>> Commission candidate complaint dismissed against Dr. Chervony
M-DC Ethics Commission: A complaint (C 12-47) filed by one North Bay Village Commissioner against another was found Not Legally Sufficient. Jorge Gonzalez had accused Dr. Richard Chervony of filing frivolous ethics complaints against him when he was campaigning for office last fall. Chervony sent several e-mails to the COE and other agencies accusing Gonzalez of property tax violations which are not enforceable under the Code of Ethics Ordinance and so the complaint was dismissed.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Consultant for the Florida Department of Transportation Charged with Accepting a Bribe
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Marlies T. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, announce the filing of an Information charging defendant Ron Capobianco, Jr., 40, of Pompano Beach, FL, with committing bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666. According to the Information, Capobianco, Jr. worked as a construction engineering and inspection consultant at Metric Engineering, Inc., (Metric), which specialized in the transportation industry. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contracted with Metric to provide many services, including designing, inspecting, and troubleshooting the construction of roads, signs, and traffic signals. Capobianco, Jr. was assigned as the FDOT District 4 Signalization and Lighting Liaison. As such, he acted as FDOT’s project manager for many signalization and lighting projects. Capobianco, Jr. had a team of employees that assisted him in supervising and inspecting contractors performing FDOT work. Because of his position and expertise, Capobianco, Jr. was consulted as an FDOT expert on certain aspects of signalization and lighting construction, including the use of video detection cameras for traffic signalization and control.
According to the Information, around 2009, FDOT began a road construction project along Highway 1 in the Florida Keys (the Marathon Key project), which was designed to improve traffic flow. The Information alleges that Capobianco Jr. agreed to accept a bribe from a subcontractor working on this project. More specifically, the Information alleges that around May 2009, an agent of the subcontractor offered to pay Capobianco, Jr. $5,000 if the subcontractor could receive at least $25,000 for the installation of the video detection equipment. Capobianco, Jr. agreed to the subcontractor’s $25,000 estimate for the installation of the video detection devices, thus enabling the subcontractor to make a significant profit. The subcontractor’s estimate was approved and subsequently paid by the State of Florida after the installation of the video detection equipment. In or about May 2009, Capobianco, Jr. met with an agent of the subcontractor in Plantation, Florida and was paid $4,000 in cash for his assistance to the subcontractor on the Marathon Key project.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Corruption in the procurement process is unacceptable, especially when it affects programs receiving federal funds. It is crucial that businesses compete on a level playing field, without improper outside influences or the payment or receipt of bribes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those who steal from programs receiving federal funds.” “This investigation reveals how business is not to be conducted in the United States. The FBI is committed to investigating not just corrupt acts, but the individuals who are behind them,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Division. “We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. That information is critical to our work.” “Individuals in positions of public trust are expected to work in an ethical manner,” said Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “Accepting a bribe corrupts the system, and IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to enforce the law and hold individuals accountable who engage in this type of fraud.”
“The charges filed today are an example to all who would misuse their positions as caretakers of the public trust,” said Marlies T. Gonzalez, Regional Special Agent in Charge, U.S. DOT OIG. “We will continue to vigorously investigate and work with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to see that those who violate the public trust are punished to the fullest extent of the law.” Defendant Capobianco, Jr. made his initial appearance in federal court this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer. If convicted of the charges in the Information, defendant Capobianco, Jr. faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of up to 10 years. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey N. Kaplan. 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.
>>> 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.
>>> Gov. Scott makes four appointments to the Council on Homelessness, Smith is local man
Cherron C. Newby, 52, of Jacksonville, is a case manager at the Clara White Mission. She succeeds Joanell M. Greubel and is appointed for a term beginning
January 25, 2013, and ending June 30, 2013.
Stephen T. Smith, 65, of Clermont, is president of New Beginnings of Lake County Inc. He succeeds Teresa Saunders and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2013, and ending June 30, 2013.
Vicki G. Sokolik, 51, of Tampa, is the founder and executive director of Starting Right, Now. She succeeds Arthur J. Rosenberg and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2013, and ending June 30, 2014.
Ardian Zika, 32, of Land O’ Lakes, is vice president of commercial banking at TD Bank. He succeeds Jeffery B. McAdams and is appointed for a term beginning
January 25, 2013, and ending June 30, 2014.
>>> The Downtown Bay Forum www.downtownbayforum.org INVITES YOU TO OUR LUNCHEON MEETING ON WEDNESDAY — JANUARY 30, 2013 11:30 AM-1:30 PM “THE SURVIVAL OF NON-PROFITS?” The Impact of State Funding on Services. SPEAKERS: PATRICIA ROBBINS, President & CEO Farm Share
LAUREN BOOK, CEO & Survivor Lauren’s Kids VIRGINIA JACKO, President & CEO, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Pres. Of Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program – MODERATOR DR. SEAN FOREMAN Dept. of History & Political Science, Barry University WOLFSON AUDITORIUM — TEMPLE ISRAEL
137 NE 19th Street Miami FREE SELF PARKING AVAILABLE Call ANNETTE EISENBERG (305)757-3633 Fax (305)754-2015 **RESERVATIONS REQUIRED $35 Membership ___ $23 Lunch, member w/reservation __ $58 Membership & Lunch __$27 Non-Member or Member without reservation if space is available ___255 Table of 10 DOWNTOWN BAY FORUM P.O. Box 530916 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0916
>>> Perceived conflicts of interest, and ethics maven Centorino comments in editorial
“A Culture of Corruption,” is how Florida political governance was once described by then Gov. Charlie Crist and followed a statewide grand jury report indicating the widespread nature of the problem that had the Sunshine State leading the nation on a FBI list of removed public officials for public corruption or some variation of wrong doing from tax evasion to kick backs. Joe Centorino, the Ethics and Public Trust Commission director over the weekend penned a editorial in the
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/25/3201035/the-battle-against-public-corruption.html and he highlights another problem, the “perception” of some actions and while these actions might be legal, eyebrows are raised in the community. And for many people, they seem to operate in a parallel universe and don’t even see what the matter is but if you are a public employee or in a position of public trust. You’re every action especially including your private life is an issue and while some leaders and administrators say their “private life” is separate and not of concern to the public. If you are a high-ranking public official elected or not, you’re every action is viewed at the public and community level whether you like that or not as the ethics maven notes in his piece.
Public servants around the nation currently do not have the best reputation when it comes to public confidence in their government’s actions and decisions and only by looking at these perceived conflicts of interest. Can these leaders bolster their esteem with the public and voters for the cynicism runs deep and verbal platitudes and lame excuses by these public servants will not quell the revolt and pleas of the governed for political leaders and public servants to do the right thing and govern in a fair and transparent way, for when it comes to ethics. Either you have them or you don’t, for its one of those things like you cannot become a little bit pregnant, especially when it comes to ones personal honor and ethics.
>>> M-DC State Attorney Fernandez-Rundle statement on Rilya Wilson verdict
During her brief life, Rilya Wilson was too often abused and forgotten. No child should ever be treated as she was. The dedicated prosecutorial team of Sally Weintraub, Joshua Weintraub, Fariba Komeily and David Gilbert spent a decade on a journey in search of justice to ensure that her pain and suffering would never be forgotten. Today, she received a measure of that justice.
>>> 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
BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com
LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.
WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com
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 COMMISSION www.miamidade.gov
MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR 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
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 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 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, 2013, 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.