Argus Report: Crimson Tide vs. Gold Domers BCS Championship game brings in over $200 million in economic might; Will Miami Dolphins go to FL legislature for upgrade of stadium money?
Florida: State Poison Control Network fields 185,000 calls for help, Traumatic Bain Injury patients surpass 210,000 in Florida and climbing, both need continued state funding
Miami-Dade County: MIA Dir. Abreu says sayonara Mar. 31, Mayor Gimenez considering replacement for critical transportation post
Miami-Dade Public Schools: DISCOVER AWARDS $118,000 FINANCIAL EDUCATION GRANT TO MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Public Health Trust: #2 Lord at UM Miller Medical steps down, AOA agreement with JHS still being hammered out for medical services, Could future UF Shands Hospital affiliation benefit health trust?
City of Miami: Mayor Regalado taps Sarnoff as Chair & Gort #2 of commission; politics is in the air on the dais
Village of Coconut Grove: Grove BID Dir. Templer gone, Gonzalez picks up CEO baton, some merchants grousing about Commissioner Sarnoff’s leadership
City of Miami Beach: Is support building on commission to keep interim mgr. Brooks in place permanently?
City of South Miami: Mayor Stoddard says, “So far so good,” when it comes to new Manager Steve Alexander
Village of Key Biscayne: TRAFFIC ADVISORY FOR BEAR CUT BRIDGE AND CRANDON MARINA
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Israel takes the BSO reigns Tuesday as Sheriff Lamberti rides into the sunset
City of Ft. Lauderdale: Defendant Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for $39 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County Man Sentenced For Producing Child Pornography
Monroe County: Key West & Keys survives another New Year’s Celebration, “nice shot in the arm,” to economy says Administrator Gastesi
Community Events: — National Everglades Restoration yearly conference at Biltmore Hotel in January Everglades Coalition Conference — Regional Planning meetings around the South Florida counties
Editorials: Closure of Bear Cut Bridge to Key Biscayne, only pebble in over $1.5 trillion in infrastructure needs around the nation — 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: Readers on WDR and WPBT interview on Issues
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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>>> Red Alert: 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 and I have been honored by that trust and support of my efforts over the past almost 14 years.
>>> CLARRIFICATION: When it comes to human trafficking in South Florida, it is not just the federal government that is prosecuting these people but also the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s has a major emphasis on the terrible tragedy befalling these young girls and local experts note many of the children that become involved are in the Department of Children and Family’s foster care and many are minority children, they say.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Crimson Tide vs. Domers game brings in over $200 million in economic might; Will Miami Dolphins go to FL legislature for upgrade of stadium money?
With football fans from the Crimson Tide Alabama and Notre Dame Domers arriving in Miami for the big BCS Championship Game on Monday night. The back-to-back bowl games that included the Orange Bowl last week have infused an economic shot into the local economy to the tune of over $200 million. And while the community has taken the national bowl games for granted. Future national title games locations will be chosen on a competitive basis and three other cities are in the mix in future years.
Here in South Florida, the Miami Dolphins who play in Sun-Life Stadium have been making overtures for the past few years with local governments and the Florida Legislature for tourist tax dollars to help with a major renovation of the facility needed to draw such future events. In addition, proponents believe the proposed upgrades will also juice Miami’s chances for holding the 50th NFL Super Bowl in 2016 and would improvements would include a roof after a drenching downpour during the global Super Bowl a few years ago.
However, so far, both Miami-Dade and Broward political and tourist leaders have been lukewarm to any new tourist development tax that might be directed to the upgrades of the stadium. However, the word is the Dolphins may try to push legislation in the Florida Legislature this year to force the funding issue. And they will argue the public financing necessary to bring the stadium up to date in the competitive sports world where the new Dallas Cowboys stadium is considered the new stadium gold standard. But has critics questioning why such tax dollars must always be needed for professional football teams that they say are doing quite well on their own and should not have endless access to these precious tourist tax dollars.
>>> Reps. Diaz-Balart and Hastings Reintroduce Congressional Everglades Caucus
Press release: Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) reintroduced the Congressional Everglades Caucus, and will serve as its Co-Chairs for the 113th Congress. The purpose of the Caucus is to educate Members and their staff on issues related to the Everglades.
“I am happy to join my South Florida colleague Congressman Hastings as co-chair for the Everglades Caucus. The Everglades is one of the true ecological wonders of the world, and we must do everything we can to keep it thriving and healthy. We will work together with other members of Congress to support restoration efforts of this unique ecosystem.” “The Everglades is a national treasure that provides Floridians with clean drinking water, and is home to many endangered and unique species,” said Hastings. “It makes up a large portion of my Congressional district, and therefore I am acutely aware of the vital need for its restoration. I am pleased to be joined by my esteemed colleague, Congressman Diaz-Balart in raising greater awareness of the importance of the Everglades in Congress.”
>>> 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
>>> State Poison Control Network fields 185,000 calls for help, Traumatic Bain Injury patients surpass 210,000 in Florida and climbing, both need continued state funding
During the Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation hearings in December, where just under 100 organizations made their pleas for state funding in the coming budget year starting in July. One organization, the Florida Poison Information Center Network representative Lenys Klump made a passionate plea for the good works that they do that includes taking 185,000 calls a year and “60 percent” involve “children under six being exposed to poisons,” she said.. Klump told the state legislators that the Network involves three hospitals around the state, the University of Miami and Jackson Health System, University of Florida’s Shands Hospital and Tampa General and they handle on average around 19,000 poisonings and request for information in the course of a year. She also noted that elderly people have their own set of problems including drug interactions when it comes to some of their life saving medications and these are some of the calls that the Network has to deal with on a daily basis. The organization is requesting “continued finding for the statewide Poison Network,” states the support documentation.
What about people with brain injuries?
The Brain Injury Association of Florida made a compelling argument as well and over 100,000 babies, toddlers, soldiers; athlete’s, teenagers and grandparents a year are victims of the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TMI) and when it comes to veterans it has become “a signature wound” for the soldiers coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Further, the cost to the state is high if these people are not getting the right treatment and often results in people getting caught up in the “courts, jail, or the mental health system at great cost to our state and local governments,” state handout documents. And Florida in total has over 200,000 people living with the long term effects of TBI and males “are nearly 1.5 times more likely to sustain TBI than females,” state studies on the issue.
>>> AG Pam Bondi press release: January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 27 million people are enslaved worldwide. In 2011, the center ranked Florida third in the number of calls about potential human trafficking cases received by the center’s hotline. I worked with the Florida Legislature during the 2012 legislative session to enhance penalties and provide additional measures to stop human trafficking. I am committed to partnering with federal, state and local leaders to end this crisis.
Raising awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking is a crucial component to combating this $32-billion industry that exploits women, children and men. Suspected cases of human trafficking should be reported to local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. For more information, visit MyFloridaLegal.com. I remain dedicated to doing everything within my power to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking.
>>> Could there be a Crist/ Gelber match up against Gov. Scott in 2014?
When it comes to a Democratic Party candidate taking on GOP Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 race that has former republican Gov. Charlie Crist mulling his chances now that he has become a Democrat to get the mansion back. One political insider noted that people are discussing what if Crist teamed up with former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach with Gelber being his number two on the ticket. The belief is Gelber, a former federal prosecutor and losing candidate to be the Florida Attorney General in 2010. If Gelber was on the ticket in this upcoming race that he would neutralize other challengers in a Democratic Party primary like state Sen. Nan Rich, D- Sunrise and keep the party’s statewide primary less contentious, something the Democrats need if they are to ever win back the governor’s office in non-presidential election years. Readers should stayed tuned and see how this odd couple of possible candidates pans out in the coming year. And to see what people are saying about the Scott administration after his first two years in office check out http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/05/3168151/two-years-into-gov-rick-scotts.html
>>> 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.
>>> MIA Dir. Abreu says sayonara Mar. 31, Mayor Gimenez considering replacement for critical transportation post
Jose Abreu, the Miami-Dade County Aviation director is out the door on Mar. 31 he told the Watchdog Report by phone Friday night. Abreu had stayed on the job after he put off an earlier departure date after he spoke with County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in October. But the mayor asked him to stay on to wrap up some of the last work on the massive multi decade Miami International Airport upgrade that includes the new North and South Terminals. Abreu a former Florida FDOT secretary on duty for almost eight years at MIA took on the thankless job that produced endless overruns in the early years of the construction and led to the first $1.2 billion such hit when Gary Delappa ran the airport and construction in the late 1990s.
Abreu’s charge back in July 2005 was to finish the massive $4.2 billion construction expansion on the 3,230-acre site in the heart of Miami-Dade while keeping MIA operateing globally and includes some $61 billion in cargo business a year. Back in the fall, the civil engineer told Gimenez he was “committeed to an orderly transition” and he “would work with the mayor,” and the mayor “supports me 100 percent.” And Abreu in just the past year has had to deal with a new automated baggage system dubbed the monster given its almost 13 miles of snaking carousels. While he has to deal with up to 95,000 to 120,000 passengers a day since MIA is the lifeblood of South Florida’s tourism industry. Further the airport gives jobs to some 36,797 people, handles 38.3 million passengers a year, with a weekly average of 731,891 travelers, coming in by around 90 carriers who are serving 128 separate destinations around the world.
Abreu also over the years ran smack into the political buzz saw that is county hall when it came to the lucrative and competitive contracts and concessions deals at MIA and lobbyists filing bid protests were often the order of the day in the commission chambers and these endless contract challenges would exasperate the man just trying to do his job. Moreover, back around late 2006, when Abreu was being verbally hammered concerning a contract under bid protest by a number of commissioners at a commission meeting. He proclaimed. “I am out of gas,” and he questioned why he was being beat-up since the issue revolved around past problems that existed before his arrival and he was just trying to set things straight and move forward. He later told the Watchdog Report after the discussion that the way commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz went after him from the dais, “it was as if I had kidnapped his child,” he soberly joked.
Abreu, when it came to describing the MIA expansion program once likened the endless construction to like “tiling your bathroom while taking a shower,” in its difficulty. And the endless construction once had community leaders in 2000 calling for the creation of an independent airport authority but that idea never got off the ground, and that effort even included a petition drive that the previous director Angela Gittens signed before her departure. But that petition drive was shot down by the county commission with Commissioner Dennis Moss leading the charge to keep the facility under the county’s control.
Now with the bulk of the work completed and the only real problem being the shortage of U.S. Custom officers that is causing some long lines and delays especially with passengers coming from Brazil. Months ago Abreu predicted this Custom’s back log would occur and he met with federal officials about the issue and the talks included Gov. Rick Scott getting involved, because it would only get worse when the new federal “Visa Waiver Program” kicked in and you would see a “spike” in travelers and “imagine what it will be like,” he said. The professional engineer also noted that while he has a “great relationship” with Customs and other federal authorities, “You either have people or you don’t,” in these important positions he said last fall to the Watchdog Report.
However, through these years he has survived the political meat grinder of county hall though he has acknowledged some of the past MIA Request for Proposals,” did “have a fly in the milk,” but the real question will be who will replace him in this pressure cooker job. The mayor months ago told the Watchdog Report that he was looking at candidates to fill the position but with this definitive exit date for Abreu now set in stone. Gimenez will get to make one of the most important appointments in his administration. For MIA is also saddled with billions in bonds that need to be repaid and daily debt payments are at 335 days and would go to $1 million a day if it hit 365 days and why any glitch with the facility and how it is operateing will have a major cascading affect across all of South Florida and its economy.
What about the new county commission seating on the dais?
Rebeca Sosa, the Miami-Dade Commission Chair has released the new seating chart on the 13-member commission dais and newly minted Commissioner Juan C. Zapata got a coveted seat next to Vice Chair Lynda Bell but Commissioner Xavier Suarez drew the worse straw and he sits at the end of dais next to the county clerk. A spot that in the past had County Mayor Carlos Gimenez occupying the spot for his criticism of the past administration and how it was doing business when Carlos Alvarez was mayor and George Burgess was the county manager.
Suarez a erudite man who got his law degree from Harvard and is a former Miami mayor was elected to a full four term in August when no one challenged him in the race and he had hoped to be picked as the vice chair of the body. However, that leadership spot failed to materialize and now he is relegated to what can be considered a backbench location. Moreover, given his perchance to speak and quote some of the words of the great leaders throughout history, when he was more at the center of the semi-circle of leaders. He may find this new location gives him more time to contemplate his participation in the discussion and he now takes the old seat that Zapata, a former state representative was regulated to when he first came to the dais in November after winning a tough runoff race.
>>> Press release: Is your pet protected? dhpp Prevention Vaccinations offered daily At Miami-Dade Animal services department
(MIAMI, January 4, 2013) – In an effort to raise awareness and protect the pets in our community against Canine Distemper and Parvo Virus, Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department offers low cost DHPP vaccines daily at the shelter located at 7401 NW 74 Street, Miami, FL, 33166. “Too few dogs and puppies are vaccinated against Distemper and Parvo in our community. Infectious diseases are a serious problem in our County and not just a shelter problem. Unfortunately, pets infected with Distemper or Parvo enter our shelter population weekly. Hence, we encourage pet owners to see their veterinarians for regular vaccinations and preventive care or come to the shelter for core vaccinations, such as rabies and DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza),” said Alex Muñoz, Director, Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department.
Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department offers low cost – $5 – Distemper/Parvo vaccination for dogs over 8 weeks of age (3 boosters recommended during the first 6 months of life). Canine Distemper and Parvo Virus can be fatal in unvaccinated puppies and dogs. These viruses are becoming more dangerous in our community and vaccination is essential. Miami-Dade Animal Services recommends all pet owners to regularly vaccinate, identify and sterilize their pets. A healthy pet is a happy pet. Other services provided at the shelter are rabies vaccination, Microchipping, pet adoptions and sale of dog license tags. For additional information and services, please visit www.miamidade.gov/animals. DHPP Vaccination Prevention – Miami-Dade Animal Services Department: Monday to Sunday. For hours of operation visit www.miamidade.gov/animals. Miami-Dade Animal Services Shelter, 7401 NW 74 Street, Miami, FL 33166 Each year, Animal Services receives over 30,000 pets. It is our goal to find loving homes for these shelter pets and to reunite them with their families. To adopt a pet, become a foster parent or a volunteer, please visit www.miamidade.gov/animals or call 3-1-1.
>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD ARRIVALS AT MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MIA) FOR FIRST ELEVEN MONTHS OF 2012 – Passenger arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA) increased in the first eleven months of 2012 with international passenger arrivals up +5.3% and domestic arrivals up +1.5% when compared to the same time period last year. Total arrivals increased in the first eleven months of 2012 by +3.3%.
|INTERNATIONAL MIA Passenger Arrivals|
|January – November 2012||January – November 2011||% Change|
|DOMESTIC MIA Passenger Arrivals|
|January – August 2012||January – August 2011||% Change|
|TOTAL MIA Passenger Arrivals|
|January – August 2012||January – August 2011||% Change|
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOL
>>> DISCOVER AWARDS $118,000 FINANCIAL EDUCATION GRANT TO MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Press release: Discover Financial Services is awarding Miami-Dade County Public Schools with an $118,000 grant to cover the cost of implementing a financial education unit for high school seniors. Discover President and Chief Operating Officer, Roger Hochschild, will make the check presentation to Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
The financial education unit of instruction will be embedded into all Economics courses, which are required for graduation. The course will reach 18,000 students per year. The instructional materials and teacher professional development will be provided by the Council for Economic Education and the Federal Reserve Bank. The grant is part of Discover’s Pathway to Financial Success program, a five-year, $10 million commitment to bring financial education curriculum to public high schools across the country. To learn more about Pathway to Financial Success visit: http://www.pathwaytofinancialsuccess.org >> firstname.lastname@example.org
A ceremonial check presentation also will be made later that evening on-field at the Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun-Life Stadium. About Discover – Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans, online savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.discoverfinancial.com.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> #2 Lord at Miller Medical steps down, AOA agreement with JHS still being hammered out for medical services, Could future UF Shands Hospital affiliation benefit health trust?
With the stepping down of University of Miami Miller Medical School CFO Jack Lord, M.D., http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/03/3166198/um-medical-school-names-new-coo.html at the end of January. The number two management heavy who slashed costs and caused the controversial layoffs of 900 jobs at the institution but turned around a $24 million loss to a $9 million plus this year. People inside and outside the acclaimed medical school are wondering what is next. Since a essentially no confidence petition is also circulating among the institution’s over 1,200 physicians regarding Dean Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D. a cardiologist recruited from Duke University and whom followed Dean John Clarkson, M.D. in the job in the mid 2000s.
Lord, while some people may malign his style was considered a astute administrator but this internal turmoil also coincides with the final details of hammering out a agreement with UM for medical services it provides to the beleaguered Jackson Health System (JHS) and to say some of these discussions over the past year have been contentious is a under statement. Carlos Migoya, the JHS CEO has had non-stop negotiations with medical school senior management on the matter, and both institutions have taken a hard line dollar, and cents approach to the services that would be provided. But both institutions need each other, since JHS has the well over 1,000 intern and resident slots the medical school needs and Jackson is a public health system that provides patients with every possible medical illness known in the world and is a superb training ground, also located in a hospitable climate which is also a draw for newly minted medical school graduates from around the world. And the petition language further cites the rocky relationship with JHS and this internal discontent also coincides with critical comments by Marcos Lapciuc, the Financial Recovery Board chair overseeing JHS. He has said in his assessment of the past few years, the UM relationship has been at the expense of Jackson and its mission of serving the poor. Goldschmidt later called the chair’s comments ‘strange’ concerning these statements and he countered that while the cuts were necessary there was no diminishment in outstanding medical care to any patients at JHS.
What about filling the medical lines that UM does not want to provide?
The Watchdog Report a few weeks ago asked Migoya what JHS was going to do with medical services that UM did not want to provide and he said they would fill these lines with “their own physicians.” He noted cardiology and oncology were the two main specialties that the university gave a pass on, and when I asked about trying to get an affiliation with any other medical schools in Florida besides the one with UM and Florida International University’s Wertheim College of Medicine School that will graduate its first class in the spring. Migoya, a former banker picked to be the CEO on the job since June of 2010 said he did not think a medical school like the University of Florida and its Shands Medical Center would want or benefit by an affiliation with JHS and such a deal would not be attractive to the institution https://ufandshands.org/shands-university-florida but others suggest otherwise.
The state’s University of Florida is well supported for decades by the Florida Legislature and the institution is fiscally strong but the public hospital system in the future will also experience the same federal and state funding cuts as JHS when the Affordable Care Act kicks in when it comes to federal reimbursement of patients. And proponents believe Shands Medial Center could be interested in a future affiliation. Since not only is JHS a much larger health system than Shands, which has 900 physicians, and around 8,000 staff and is located in landlocked Jacksonville. Shands and UF physicians might also find when it comes to recruiting young doctors. Miami might mitigate resistance with many young physicians who find Jacksonville less appealing, then Miami. And when it comes to recruiting these young budding doctors from around the world, a key component in the coming years of widespread primary care medicine. Some form of a future relationship with some public entity like UF should not be out of the question in the ever-evolving world of healthcare reform in America. Editor’s note: Readers should stay tuned and see how this all pans out.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Mayor Regalado taps Sarnoff as Chair & Gort #2 of commission; politics is in the air on the dais
Mayor Tomas Regalado trying to tamp down the politics on the dais in an election year has appointed Marc Sarnoff the new chair of the commission for 2013 and the mayor tapped long time Commissioner Wilfredo “Willy” Gort to be his wingman on the dais as the vice chair. The mayor had named Commissioner Francis Suarez for the top post in 2012 but with Suarez is likely to challenge Regalado in the upcoming race in November for mayor. Giving the young attorney another opportunity to use the post as a bully pulpit seemed out of the question and while Sarnoff appears to be supporting Suarez if he should run for mayor.
Sarnoff and Gort were the only logical choices since Commissioner Frank Carollo has also challenged the Regalado administration and fellow Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones has filed a federal lawsuit against Regalado (in his private capacity), and Miami-Dade Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. The state attorney had tried to prosecute Spence-Jones twice on public corruption charges but the cases fell apart but the charges did get the commissioner suspended from office for almost two years by then Gov. Charlie Crist.
What about Sarnoff?
Sarnoff, a maritime insurance attorney that when he was the past chair was a ethics maven passing legislation requiring lobbyist and others to attend ethics training done by the county’s ethics commission and get a letter of certification. However, he has run afoul of the ethics commission himself recently for not reporting an international trip to South America with his wife that was paid for by Volvo, a sponsor to an international boat race that would later stop over in Miami before heading off on another international racing leg destination. He also is a magnate for odd balls, people seem to either love the man or despise him, and he claims he does not read blogs that are critical of him. Since he is now in his final term on the dais that ends in 2015 and there is speculation that his wife Teresa may try to be his successor on the five-member commission in that upcoming race for the Commission 2 District seat.
VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE
>>> Grove BID Dir. Templer gone, Gonzalez picks up CEO baton, some merchants grousing about Commissioner Sarnoff’s leadership
The Coconut Grove Business Improvement District http://www.coconutgrove.com/ has lost its nationally recruited Director Carl Templer. He was recruited from Wisconsin with great fanfare to reinvigorate the organization after David Collins stepped down in the post. But apparently the fit did not work with Grove residents say people familiar with the situation and he left around two months ago, and the BID’s number two, Manny Gonzalez has taken up the management reins. The BID originally was the brainchild of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff years ago to help promote and stimulate the business side of the tony community but the entity also taxes the local businesses for this promotional activity.
However, since then and more recently, Sarnoff has faced some criticism by Grovite merchants and restaurant owners for some of the past strategies and the termed out commissioner in 2015 is getting an earful from some of his long time supporters in the Grove. Where the commissioner has a compound in the Central Grove. People interested in the BID and how it is operateing should go to the monthly board meeting Tuesday Jan. 8 at 9:30 and for further information go to http://www.coconutgrove.com/ .
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Is support building on commission to keep interim mgr. Brooks in place permanently, or just a delay tactic?
Kathie Brooks, the interim manager that replaced long serving Manager Jorge Gonzalez after almost 12 years in the office in July and she is getting a thumbs up from commissioners and residents on the job is doing since then. Brooks has stated she did not want the job permanently but with the selection process for a new manager going at a snail pace. And a short list of candidates that includes former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales, a Beach success story who went off to Harvard and got two degrees but whose late entry in the process has caused controversy with Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower, though she is termed out herself in November though she may seek to be elected back on the commission. However, local sources are saying people are trying to convince Brooks to stay in the top pressure cooker position. Where hundreds of millions in new infrastructure projects are being done, and severe flooding continues to dog the ritzy municipality that is estimated to require some $200 million to mitigate this flooding as global warming and a rising sea level bedevils the island city and tourist mecca.
However, others suggest that this is far from over and Brooks who had her contract extended to the end of November could become a pawn in the upcoming election and whom the commission finally chooses for their administrative leadership. As it is, the headhunter that did the national search is expected to give her final recommendations in January. There are about six candidates in the pool but three were candidates fired by their past commission and there may be lurking a favorite candidate that Bower supports in the pack. However, with the pending election in November, the whole process could drag on for months and with the contract extension for Brooks. The commission and mayor have until the end of the year to make their final choice to be at the helm of a city with about 90,000 residents.
>>> Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club – Meeting Date: January 8th, 2013 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: New Location: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street – Following in our tradition of inviting the Mayor of Miami Beach to be our first guest speaker of the New Year, the Breakfast Club is
pleased to welcome Mayor Mattie Bower to the January 8th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Mayor Bower is now in her third and last term as Mayor and there is speculation that she may run for a Commission seat at the end of her term. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator. Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).
CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI
>>> Mayor Stoddard says, “So far so good,” when it comes to new Manager Steve Alexander
When the Watchdog Report asks people about the manager’s position at the City of South Miami, given the volume of people that have held the position over the past few years, a turnstile comes to mind. The Watchdog Report over the past six months has written extensively about the politics going on at the small municipality and some of the challenges and bickering that has been a hallmark on the dais and is pitting Mayor Phillip Stoddard against Vice Mayor Valerie Newman during many of the discussions. The Watchdog Report emailed Stoddard asking how new current Manager Steve Alexander is doing in the few weeks he has been on the job and the mayor responded. “Thanks for asking. Steve has moved quickly to get on top of pressing issues requiring cooperation between the City and [Miami-Dade] County. He spent a busy three days getting to know the staff and starting to engage the Commission on local priorities. So far, so good,” wrote back Stoddard.
Alexander has been a municipal manager in the past and he was an applicant for the top post at the city of Miami Beach but he withdrew his name when this new gig with South Miami came up. And local residents are waiting to see if his management style will take with the commission and some of the demands they place on the administration in the city that is a demographic microcosm of Miami-Dade when it comes to the resident’s ethnic breakdown and incomes.
VILLAGE OF KEY BISCAYNE
>>> TRAFFIC ADVISORY FOR BEAR CUT BRIDGE AND CRANDON MARINA
Press release: Emergency lane restrictions have been implemented on the Bear Cut Bridge. The Miami-Dade County Public Works and Waste Management Department (PWWM) is routing traffic onto both lanes of the eastbound portion of the bridge (toward Key Biscayne). One lane will be used for eastbound traffic and the other will be used for westbound traffic (leaving Key Biscayne). This will reduce traffic flow to one lane in each direction over the Bear Cut Bridge.
As a result of this diversion of traffic, the north entrance to the Crandon Marina will be closed until further notice. This is the entrance located across from the Charter Boat dock. Crandon Marina patrons will have access to all areas of the Marina through the south entrance. The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department will notify marina patrons of the closure. These measures are proactive steps to reduce further deterioration of the bridge in the interest of public safety and are being implemented in consultation with the Village of Key Biscayne. PWWM will continue to reevaluate the maintenance of traffic plan and will provide updates as necessary.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Israel takes the BSO reigns Tuesday as Sheriff Lamberti rides into the sunset
With the Broward Sheriff’s baton being passed by Sheriff Al Lamberti to incoming Sheriff Scott Israel on Tuesday http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/04/3168180/lamberti-praises-agencys-work.html the old sheriff is saying he is proud of the work his office did when it came to Hate Crimes in 2011 but he is planning to ride off into the sunset after this latest elected gig is over. Lamberti, a 35-year BSO officer who rose through the ranks took over in 2007 after then Sheriff Ken Jenne was arrested and then went to federal prison on tax evasion and corruption charges for a year less a day, but Jenne had built the BSO into the largest county agency in Broward and was supplying policing services to almost a dozen of the county’s 31 municipalities. However, with Jenne’s demise then Gov. Charlie Crist tapped the professional police officer and Republican to pick up the discraced baton of office and Broward voters in 2008 gave Lamberti a full four year term when he bested Israel in a tough and ugly election. However, Broward a Democratic Party stronghold bounced back in 2012 when Israel got 53 percent of the countywide vote where charges and innuendo flew and the media was barraged with news releases from the two political candidates almost daily essentially calleing each other the devil incarnate.
Israel is assembling his new management team and he will find runnig the office is like nothing he has done in the past with its around 5,800 employees and a yearly budget of $650 million since he has only been a police chief only in smaller muncialities. And if the past is any indication of what can go wrong with an elected county sheriff and some of the past scandals with these top cops. Israel should keep his eye on the new job at hand and he might consider cranking down some of the name branding that past sheriffs, with Jenne being the poster child, have done when it came to commanding and running this important county law enforcement office.
>>> Press release: 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 8, 2013 The Faith Center, 5555 N.W. 95 Ave. Sunrise – The swearing-in ceremony for Sheriff-elect Scott Israel will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at The Faith Center in Sunrise. He will be sworn in by Broward County Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes. Voters elected Israel on Nov. 6, 2012 to lead the 5,500 employees of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The public is invited to attend. “I am honored and humbled to be elected as the sheriff of Broward County. I am committed to working with the men and women of BSO and the residents to ensure that Broward County is a safe place to work and live,” Israel said.
After Israel accepts the oath of office, he will swear in the BSO personnel in attendance. Israel will also administer the oath of office to employees 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 8 in Bailey Hall at Broward College Central Campus at 3501 S.W. Davie Rd. in Davie. Additional BSO personnel will be sworn in 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Wednesday, January 9 at the African American Research Library at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is one of the largest fully-accredited sheriff’s offices in the nation, providing law enforcement services to 17 districts, including all of the county’s unincorporated areas and various cities that contract with BSO and fire rescue services to most of the unincorporated areas and seven contract cities. The agency provides law enforcement services to the county courthouses and provides both law enforcement and fire rescue services to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. It also runs the four county jails, housing an average of 4,500 inmates daily.
>>> 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.
>>> Defendant Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for $39 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme; Another Defendant Pleads Guilty – To Date, Five Defendants Have Pled Guilty in Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Steve Linick, Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office, announce yesterday’s sentencing of defendant Juan Carlos Sanchez, of New York, N.Y. Sanchez was sentenced to 15 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release for his participation in a $39 million mortgage fraud scheme. Sanchez previously pled guilty to count one of the indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Sanchez was originally indicted with seven other defendants, Case No. 12-60088-CR-Williams, for fraudulently obtaining mortgages for the purchase of condominium units at Marina Oaks Condominiums in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The other defendants were: Quelyory Rigal, a/k/a “Kelly,” of Homestead, FL, Sandra P. Campo, of Colombia, Osbelia Lazardi, of Southwest Ranches, FL, Dayanara Montero, of Miramar, FL, Edward R. Mena, of Miami, FL, Celeste Mota, of Fort Myers, FL, and David Arboleda, of Doral, FL.
Defendant Campo pled guilty on January 3, 2013, to count one of the indictment, which charged her with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2013, at 10:00 am before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch. Defendant Mena pled guilty in October 2012, and sentencing is scheduled for January 11, 2013, at 10:00 am before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch. Defendants Mota and Arboleda pled guilty in September 2012. Defendant Mota was sentenced on November 28, 2012 to 5 years of probation. Defendant Arboleda was sentenced on December 12, 2012 to 30 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
According to the indictment and statements made in court, from January 2007 through November 2008, the defendants conspired to recruit individuals who would be willing to purchase condominium units at Marina Oaks Condominiums. These buyers were promised a “buyers’ incentive,” which payment was not disclosed to the lenders or reflected on any of the closing documents. The conspirators would then prepare materially false mortgage applications for the buyers on HUD Uniform Loan Application Form 1003. These forms contained false information regarding the borrowers’ credit worthiness in order to qualify the borrowers for mortgages to purchase the Marina Oaks Condominiums. The conspirators would also create false documents to support the mortgage applications. Once the loans closed, the conspirators would divert portions of the mortgage proceeds for their personal use and benefit. In this way, the conspirators obtained approximately $39 million in fraudulent mortgage loans. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, IRS-CI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Lanigan. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Palm Beach County Man Sentenced For Producing Child Pornography
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, announced today’s sentencing of defendant Frank Joseph Smith, of Palm Beach County, on charges of producing child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2251(a). At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Smith to 240 months in prison. During an investigation into a website advertising escort services, the FBI and other law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Smith’s residence.
The search resulted in the seizure of computers, phones, documents and records. In addition, law enforcement agents discovered images of child pornography that Smith had produced using his Apple iPhone. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jupiter Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lothrop Morris. 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.
>>> Key West survives another New Year’s Celebration, “nice shot in the arm,” to economy says Administrator Gastesi
Key West, considered one of the premiere New Year Eve Party sites in the world had a successful affair last week and while in the past these parties can get a little out of hand. This year says Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi things were well under control and the festivities gave a boost to the county’s economy. The Watchdog Report contacted Gastesi last week asking about any issues that occurred and how it went and the veteran administrator emailed back. “Yes, all went well…lots of fun was had…and our local economy got a nice shot in the arm,” wrote the Keys Administrator.
>>> Introduction to Buddhism. Zen Village, Coconut Grove: Sat January 12, 2013
5pm – 7pm Donation: $50 ($45 if you pre-register by January 5, 2013) Master Tsai offers a compelling and thorough explanation of the basic concepts of the Buddhist philosophy and tradition in this 2-hour class. This class has been designed for those interested in learning more about this ancient religion, philosophy and tradition. Click here to register.
>>> 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/
>>> The Arsht Center and Gelb Promotions present AN ACOUSTIC EVENING WITH MATISYAHU – “Hearing Matis sing a cappella was nothing less than a spiritual experience. His voice soared, on point and pure, never once faltering…” – Miami New Times
MATISYAHU brings his acoustic show back to the Arsht Center following a sold-out performance in 2011 that received rave reviews describing the artist’s voice and stage presence as “tremendous, Zen-like, and enlightening.” MATISYAHU returns with local guitarist and longtime friend Adam Weinberg for another special acoustic evening featuring songs from his entire repertoire including his latest release, Spark Seeker, which debuted at #19 on the Billboard Top 200. AN ACOUSTIC EVENING WITH MATISYAHU will also feature a post-show question-and-answer session with the audience, bringing closeness to the artist-fan relationship. MATISYAHU began performing stripped down acoustic shows in early 2009, giving fans a more intimate and personal experience while simultaneously showcasing the simple statement of his songs, incredible vocal range, and beat box talents. January 19, 2013 at 8:30 p.m., John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, Adrienne Arsht Center 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132 Tickets range from $35 to $99. All programs, artists, ticket prices, availability, dates and times are subject to change without notice. Visit www.arshtcenter.org for up-to-date information for details and schedules.
>>> Closure of Bear Cut Bridge to Key Biscayne, only pebble in over $1.5 trillion in infrastructure needs around the nation
The sudden closure of one side of Bear Cut Bridge lanes on the Rickenbacker Causeway for a year that connects the tony community of Key Biscayne and attractions like Miami Seaquarium and a campus of the University of Miami with the mainland because of bridge structural defects is only a pebble in the over $1.5 trillion in bridge and road infrastructure needed to be repaired around the nation. Here in Miami-Dade the causeway is one of many that need structural attention that in total runs into the hundreds of millions but have yet to be addressed. On the Key, the residents can’t seem to catch a break in a lot of ways and this new headache and its duration must some how be mitigated by the county and the Florida Department of Transportation, and speeding up the new construction must be considered.
U.S. Reps John Mica, R-Maitland and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami back around 2007 came to Miami for the opening of the Lexus lanes on I 95 and the Watchdog Report asked Mica the veteran transportation maven and ranking Republican on the Transportation Committee in the House about the issue. And he said the $1.5 trillion number was probable on the low side on a national basis and the only good thing for bridges and roads in Florida, was these were “newer structures,” than what was found in the older rust belt northeast. However, the shock of the causeway closure has focused a spotlight on the matter, and while many in the community have been focused on the billions needed in water and sewer infrastructure for Miami-Dade being ordered by the EPA.
We now must add these bridges and causeways repairs that dot and connect all of South Florida to the do list since moving people and commerce safely is critical to the economic lifeblood here, tourism. And while this is only the first bridge to trip the unsafe trip wire, it will not be the last, and county officials must be diligent in monitoring the issue and making the necessary repairs. For while we have new museums going up, a spanking new ballpark and a host of other edifices for a host of organizations all financed with some public tax dollars. We must also insure one of the basic roles of government is fulfilled, and one of those key functions is safe and reliable infrastructure where we here in South Florida and as a nation we have fallen way behind.
>>> Hi Happy New Year…great comments on WPBT Issues this morning…
>>> Happy New Year! Keep up the GOOD WORK!
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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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.