Argus Report: JPMorgan CEO Dimon says, “America is poised to grow with so much cash around,” but he may get his wings clipped after rogue London Whale trader stung the bank for billions
Florida: Gov. Scott’s embrace of ObamaCare a shock to Tea Party supporters, tacks to middle in $74 billion proposed state budget for next year
Miami-Dade County: He’s back, former Mgr. Burgess puts on lobbyist hat after 28 years as county employee, will he get the cold shoulder from long time antagonist Mayor Gimenez in future
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho only asks state legislature for “Flexibility” and “Accountability” for charter schools when it comes to $157 million in district state funding
Public Health Trust: Ryder Trauma is “Beacon of Hope,” for any one shot, in a car crash or burned, says FRB vice Chair Sharpton
City of Miami: City picks up new comptroller, two other senior finance people after months of looking for competent replacements for many vacancies, the Treasurer position still open.
City of Miami Beach: Will Nov. election influence new Mgr. choice with three candidates vying for the job?
City of Coral Gables: With winner take all races, Group (III) race with five candidates, victor may win with small majority of Gables voters
City of North Miami Beach: Three Defendants Plead Guilty in $14 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Man Sentenced to 159 Months for Stealing More Than 23,000 Identities in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
City of Sunrise: Former Local Union President and Former Executive Assistant Charged with Stealing Money from Union and Obstruction of Justice
Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County Residents Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Minors
City of Palm Springs: Man Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison and 30 Years of Supervised Release for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Community Events: The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami Invites you to A Community Conversation & Luncheon – Obamacare – What’s Next? – Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:30 a.m. – Downtown Bay Forum luncheon – Chef’s Harvest Dinner
Editorials: Robo ballot request story in Herald strikes at heart of Democracy, further investigation must be done — 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: Correction letter on MBCHC story and Ryan White funding in WDR last week – Physician on child abuse and its lasting affects
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
>>> CEO Dimon says, “America is poised to grow with so much cash around,” but may get his wings clipped after rogue London Whale trader stung the bank for billions
Jamie Dimon, the top dog at JPMorgan Chase and one of the Masters of the Universe when it comes to global finance addressed The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon earlier in the month and he was a blend of banking cheerleader and cautious sage about what the coming years would be like for the global economy. Dimon said his bank that does business in over 100 countries, with more than 60 branches in nations, has $2.3 trillion in assets, has hundreds of billions of dollars invested around the world, includes many nations’ deposits, and on a daily basis, “$5 trillion” is flowing through the bank and its global branches.
Dimon, who recently took a hit for a rogue Morgan investor known as the London Whale in its office there has paid a price and he saw his compensation whacked back this year after the affair but he clearly has bounced back from that controversy. The Tufts University and Harvard MBA graduate said when he came out of business school in the early 1980s that the belief was Japan with its fast growing economy and many innovative products, including cars and electronics was going to leave the United States companies in the dust. But he noted that did not happen once the Japanese bubble broke in the early 1990s and the county’s economic growth slowed to a crawl.
The top banker said when it came to doing business in some of these countries and the level of corruption, “We have it pretty good,” versus many of the other nations and believes when it comes to America’s “energy policy.” We “have been given a second chance to get it right,” he said. In addition, when it came to the issue of immigration, he thought we should “welcome immigrants from around the world” and we “want them to stay” especially those “with advanced degrees,” but we also “have to get it right,” the banker believed.
“America is in very good shape,” and “small business is back to where it was before the meltdown,” and there are now “five million more people working” than in 2008 and the banker noted that the “housing market was returning.” He also called for “corporate tax reform” and some of the past national policies have put a “wet blanket” on economic growth but that is nothing compared with the European Union. He noted in Europe “it is much more complicated” and the 17 countries that make up the Union. And when it comes to some countries economies and the nation’s deficits, these countries have been on a “roller coaster.” The financier predicted that “the Euro [currency] will not dissolve” and when it comes to standing by its overseas customers. JPMorgan is “not a fair weather friend,” that bails out of a country in fiscal trouble. Dimon giving an example said the bank’s exposure in Italy and Spain is about $15 billion each and “we could reduce it” but they “made a determination” to stay and noted Morgan has been in “Italy for 100 years,” and why the bank is a “fair and foul weather friend,” he said. He said Europe has “done a decent job” trying to get its limping economy back and has seen “modest growth,” but when it came to forecasting “geo politics it is a Black Swamp,” and he is “always surprised” when it comes to our “policies in America.” As a nation, America wants “Europe to recover” but when it comes to growth here. He said they would “like to see policies here that make it easier to grow America.” He also believes the “threat to the [U.S.] economy is us and some of the legislation coming out of “Congress is making it difficult to America” business growth and hopes “Congress in the future will do the right thing.”
Dimon said he hears all “the [critical] noise about banks” and these institutions shortcomings in the public eyes but believes these banks are ultimately “a port of safety,” when it comes to safeguarding investors money and “we try to do the right thing,” while “buying and selling trillions of dollars of securities.” Moreover, when it came to the fiscal meltdown in 2008, “I agree banks should not be so large they cannot fail” and said a “lot of these banks [that failed or were merged back then almost] brought the country down to its knees,” and included some “500 banks that went bankrupt.” And when it came to the nation’s energy policies the reduction of oil prices and the possible inflationary cost for oil, the range could be $50.00 a barrel to upwards to $200.00 “and you should prepare for these different scenarios and with “good fiscal policies.” He believes the American economy could “grow at four percent.” And Dimon predicted, “America is poised to grow because there is too much cash floating around, and if we get this growth.” He said we would be surprised “at the tax receipts” that would flow into government coffers at all levels from cities to the federal government.
Dimon also thought when it came to the federal “Sequester” looming March 1 that it is “not the way to do policy” and in a “Democracy” while it is sometimes “hard to compromise” it was important lawmakers “have a rational” approach and a “thoughtful policy is better.” He also observed when Social Security was first conceived the average death of an individual was 66 years, yet now people live to 78 or 79 years and “why not just change” some of these programs like “Medicare,” because increasing the age of enrollment “would dramatically reduce that [spending] curve.” In addition, when it comes to monetary policies, “the FED controls short term [interest and lending] rates,” but when it comes to “long term rates these will be set by the market,” and countries “like China and Japan,” will be part of that equation and is why “good economic policy is so critical,” he closed before taking questions from the audience. >>> However, it is being reported all is not well with his leadership and Dimon may lose his chairmanship of the bank’s board the http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/jamie-dimon-chairman_n_2725763.html is reporting in the weeks ahead.
>>> Press release: Congressional Candidate Charged with Violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today that Justin Lamar Sternad, 35, was charged with having violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (Election Act) in connection with the 2012 Democratic Party primary election for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Defendant Sternad is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes on February 22, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. The Criminal Information, filed earlier today, charges Sternad with engaging in a conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and to violate the contribution limits of the Federal Election Campaign Act (Count 1); making a false statement (Count 2); and accepting illegal campaign contributions (Count 3). If convicted, Sternad faces a maximum statutory term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “The Election Act seeks to promote transparency in the campaign process and thereby increase accountability from our elected officials. Sternad, however, violated the Election Act and lied to conceal the true source of funds being used by his campaign. He sought to secretly provide and accept contributions in excess of the limits prescribed by law, using cash and third party checks to conceal the source and amount of contributions made to his campaign. He then compounded his crimes by filing false campaign reports to cover his trail. We are committed to promoting transparency and accountability from our elected officials and from those running for office. Our citizens deserve no less.” “For citizens to have confidence in their government, they must be certain that their elected officials are fairly elected. We will not tolerate people who violate federal election law,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “The South Florida community can be assured that public corruption will remain a top priority for the FBI.” >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the agents of the FBI for their hard work in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas J. Mulvihill and Richard C. Pilger of the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. An Information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. 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.
>>> Veteran journalistic legend Dorschner says sayonara after decades covering the rough and tumble of South Florida for The Miami Herald, the scribe will be missed
John Dorschner, the award winning veteran reporter for The Miami Herald for almost 43 years is retiring his reporters pad and pen and the highly respected scribe will be sorely missed in the community. Dorschner since 2009 has been covering the Public Health Trust that overseas Jackson Health System on a continuous basis and he has opened a window to the public organization that gives almost $1 billion in charity care per year and has gone through massive changes over the past few years, including a number of presidents. The scribe took his History degree early on in his life and crossed into journalism but he is a great storyteller of the facts and hard news coverage was his forte and more recently the multiple changes that have occurred in healthcare while JHS struggled to right itself after hundreds of millions in losses over the past few years.
Dorschner has also been a mentor to the Watchdog Report since 2000 and when former JHS president Ira Clark used to call me a “cockroach,” back then. When it happened to Dorschner after a similar comment. The staff reporter just wrote up the incident and that is what I have done ever since when people make similar comments to me. More recently, Dorschner, a man with a dry sense of humor, when he and I were joking about how we look. He responded when I said, “I look better than I am.” He retorted, “I feel better than I look.” He also lets hostile verbal comments roll off his back, like when Jackson Health System FRB Trustee Joe Arriola more recently threatened to “Throw him out the f…ing window,” and while you might disagree with all of what he has written over the decades. The man while tough with the questions is also fair when doing an interview and is a journalistic gentleman and his departure from the field is a real loss for South Florida and national journalistic community. And when a search of images is done for Dorschner, you can see the wide variety of stories over the decades he has reported on. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=john+dorschner+miami+herald&FORM=HDRSC2 And the Watchdog Report will miss Dorschner in the public meeting reporting trenches and his past almost five years covering JHS and the national healthcare debate and new laws, and he gets a Tip of the Hat for a job well done by the Watchdog Report for decades of bringing the news to the public.
>>> 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
>>> Gov. Scott’s embrace of ObamaCare a shock to Tea Party supporters, tacks to middle in $74 billion proposed state budget for next year
Gov. Rick Scott embraced The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare this week, and he is proposing allowing the Florida Medicaid program currently with 3 million recipients, be expanded by another around 1 million people since the federal government is paying for the first three years the program kicks in. But this change of heart by Scott has his Tea Party base howling in protest and Florida House Republicans are either extremely cautious or outraged by Scott’s change of heart given the state already is funding $21 billion for the healthcare program.
Scott, a former healthcare executive who ran HCA/Columbia in the 1990s that was the nation’s largest private hospital chain but had the company in 2000 paying a $1.7 billion Medicare Fraud fine back then after he left the company., But the attorney also left with around $300 million in a golden parachute and now he is up for reelection in 2014. And some past supporters say he has changed 180 degrees since he was elected and in the past decried the new federal national insurance program that later had the state suing the federal government to stop its implementation. However, now since after the reelection of President Barack Obama and last year’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Act’s implementation. The governor is viewing it now as the Law of the Land.
However, when the healthcare executive catapulted into the Florida voters minds in 2010 and he was a darling of the Tea Party faithful and had him spending over $73 million of his own money for his statewide campaign to first dispatch Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican and later the state’s CFO Alex Sink, a Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate in the November 2010 general election that he won by a razor thin margin.
This “flip flop,” by Scott as one state lobbyist put it last week to the Watchdog Report includes also giving the state’s teachers a $2,500 one-time payment costing $1.7 billion and submitting to the legislature the state’s largest budget in history coming in at over $74 billion, which is up from $69.9 billion this current year. Moreover, GOP lawmakers are questioning where this new funding will come from, though some projections say the extra money is feasible as the state economy comes on the mend and unemployment continues to drop. >>> And here is the governor’s proposed budget that also is modified by the Florida legislature and passed during the upcoming legislative session http://www.floridafamiliesfirst.com/HomeFY14.htm & “Governor’s Press Conference on Medicaid Announcement” >>> The Florida Channel 2/20/2013
To watch the entirety of Governor Scott’s press conference on health care, click HERE
However, Scott has apparently decided that past political course of austerity and the slashing of public budgets from the water management districts, to public education in the past years, and Medicaid cuts for the poor will not pass muster in the upcoming election cycle next year. And he now is opening up the tax dollar spigot for this coming budget year that is also seeing him come to Miami-Dade more often. As he did on Friday morning to meet with Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at the Coral Gables local Enterprise Florida office the governor uses for meetings. Carvalho after meeting with the governor said he had made a similar pitch of the nation’s fourth largest public schools district needs in its upcoming legislative priorities with legislative leaders in the state capital the day earlier. The educator said he asked the governor for “flexibility” in the use of any public state tax funds when it came to state’s largest public schools district with 350,000 students. After the meeting, Carvalho told the Watchdog Report that he “was encouraged by the meeting with Scott,” and how the governor gave him extra time. And these type of local meetings the governor has initiated over the past few months shows Scott’s growing awareness of the importance of the state’s largest county, when it comes to its well over a million voters in the future and Miami-Dade accounts for about 35 percent of the state’s GDP.
What about the Watchdog Report question to Scott?
When Scott walked out of the building after meeting with Carvalho and Fresen. I asked him about the $25 million in his budget that would go for capital improvements of charter schools around the state. These schools have exploded throughout the Florida but around 60 percent of the schools facilities locally are privately owned. So any state public funding goes to the private sector and the public district has no ownership stake in the facilities that get public tax dollars and any improvements of these sites. Scott said he understood some peoples concerns on the matter but “it was important to offer choices,” to parents when it came to education options and that is what these schools are doing and there are now over 100 charter schools in Miami-Dade County.
What about the chocolate cake the governor got?
State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami who was expected to eat lunch with Scott at a local downtown restaurant later stopped by earlier at the Coral Gables meeting of Scott and Carvalho. And his mission he said was to hand deliver a homemade chocolate cake from the Liga Contra El Cancer http://ligacontraelcancer.org/ and the two men later went to lunch. Fresen also is the chair of the House Education Committee but he also has a relative related to one of the owners of the largest charter school organizations in the state and has been a supporter of the schools expansions thoughout the state.
What about The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County?
Scott in a glowing letter to the organization created by countywide voters in 2002 wrote what the Trust was doing was vital and “Thank you for your efforts to make the Sunshine State the greatest place to live, work and play,” wrote Scott in the Jan. 30 letter to the Trust’s board Chair Maria Alonso. And “Congratulations on the Tenth Anniversary of The Children’s Trust,” and he went on to commend the board and Trust for “working everyday to improve the lives of children and families across Miami-Dade County.”
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointments of Robert Champion and Patrick Hogan to the Florida Prepaid College Board.
Champion, 49, of Ponte Vedra Beach, is a wealth management advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Champion received a bachelor’s degree from Rollins College. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning February 22, 2013, and ending June 30, 2014.
Hogan, 45, of Bradenton, is the managing shareholder of Hogan Legal Services. He is currently a member of the Florida Institute of CPA’s and the Florida Bar Association. Hogan received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Notre Dame Law School. He succeeds Thomas Ruggie and is appointed for a term beginning February 22, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015. >> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Gov. Scott press release: Today the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, delivered their final report to the Office of the Florida Senate
President, Office of the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and the Executive Office of the Governor. The Task Force concluded that Florida Statute 776 is a good law and should not be overturned. On page five of their final report the Task Force’s top recommendations states: The Task Force concurs with the core belief that all persons, regardless of citizenship status, have a right to feel safe and secure in our state. To that end, all persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be… Link to Task Force website and final report: http://www.flgov.com/citizensafety/.
>>> 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.
>>> 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.
>>> He’s back, former Mgr. Burgess puts on lobbyist hat after 28 years as county employee, and will he get the cold shoulder from long time antagonist Mayor Gimenez in future
The announcement that George Burgess, the former Miami-Dade County Manager is becoming a governmental lobbyist for the influential law firm Becker & Polikoff www.miamitodaynews.com has some critics shaking their heads given the Miami Marlins new stadium fiasco that Burgess was the point of the spear for getting done and its creative financing that comes out to around $2.5 billion after paying off the bonds used to fund the construction of the enclosed professional ballpark. http://www.becker-poliakoff.com/ The law firm has extensive attorneys as governmental lobbyists but has also lost some of their higher profile players over the past few months in the arena. That lobbyist leaving includes state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, and Carlos Gimenez Jr., the son of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. And when it comes to Burgess and the county mayor, there is little love lost between the two men that used to cross verbal swords when Burgess was the manager and Gimenez was on the commission representing commission District 7. Further, Burgess left county hall after former Mayor Carlos Alvarez was recalled by county voters in Mar. 2011 and he has laid low in the meantime becoming the CFO for the law firm, a position he will continue at while adding these new duties.
Burgess, a life long county employee except for a short stint at the public schools as CFO there when his mentor Merritt Stierheim became the superintendent back in 2002. Burgess was brought back to the county in Jun. of 2003 after then manager Steve Shiver was shown the door, with then Commissioner Katie Sorenson leading the charge for his removal, and Burgess a county financial guru was brought back into the county fold to run the administration. In the years following his appointment to the top management spot. Burgess made a sport of trying to beat up the media, especially The Miami Herald and periodically the Watchdog Report, and my column in the general circulation paper back then. And challenged me for portraying him as a geek since he was a father that played hockey with his son and just a regular guy. However, while he probable knows the county government better than anyone does, it remains to be seen how he is received under the new administration of Gimenez just elected in August to a full four-year term. Since the two of them were at such odds on a variety of issues over the years. However, Burgess is branching out now that the imposed lobbying ban will pass in the coming weeks and it remains to be seen how he handles this new role after being the top dog for years back at county hall.
>>> Mayor Gimenez still mulling who will replace MIA Dir. Abreu
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Watchdog Report last week that he has yet to select a replacement for MIA Director Jose Abreu but he has some people in mind. Abreu is scheduled to leave on Mar. 31 and has done a yeoman’s job but it is a plum assignment now that the bulk of the over $6 billion in construction is completed and the only real issue is servicing the facility’s bond debt payments in the years ahead.
>>> Press release: In partnership with the Archaeological Society of Southern Florida, the Deering Estate at Cutler presents a free lecture on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm. Lectures are held in the Visitor Center Auditorium at the Deering Estate at Cutler located at 16701 SW 72 Avenue. The lectures are free and open to the public. The Deering Estate at Cutler will also host its 2013 “Archaeology Day” on Saturday, March 16th. Activities and programs for the entire family will be held from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm including educational activities, expert lectures and walking tours of the historic Tekesta Trail.
Thursday, March 14th at 7:00 pm Topic: Maritime History of Southern Florida
Presenter: Ray Stewart, Maritime historian and enthusiast Visitor Center Auditorium FREE & open to the public. — With 2,276 statute miles of coastline, Florida cannot be studied without focusing on its maritime history, and this includes those scavengers of the sea, Pirates. Florida’s development has always depended on its waterways and the men and women who sail its coastline. Ray strongly believes we Floridians survive, profit, and die because of the sea. Ray’s extensive maritime experience began with his boating family’s home on the New England shore. He served in U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat stations, ships at sea, and while assigned to the Key West Coast Guard Station temporarily as the Key West Lighthouse Keeper. His upbringing and his Coast Guard experience instilled in Ray a love of all things nautical and especially of our nation’s maritime service. One of his career highlights was rescuing crews off freighters in the north Atlantic while aboard a weather ship.
>>> Press release: MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PARKS HOSTING “VELVET ROPE” AT GOULDS PARK MARCH 1ST, AT 7:30 PM — A free Tropical Nights concert sponsored by The Knight Foundation
Enjoy a free family-style rhythm and blues concert under the stars by Velvet Rope on Friday, March 1, 2013 at Goulds Park. This live musical performance is part of the season’s expanded Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights free concert series presented by the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and sponsored by the Knight Foundation. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and admission and parking are free. Velvet Rope is considered one of the hottest new bands to hit South Florida, performing at numerous special events and festivals, as well as some of the most popular clubs and casinos around, including the Hard Rock (Hollywood) and Isle Casinos (Pompano) and Blue Martini Lounge (Miami, West Palm Beach, Boca). This multi-talented and charismatic group includes powerhouse singers Lauren Carter and Donny Stringer, bass player Josh Esther, keyboardist DWaynne Bennett, and drummer Anthony Carter. Lauren is also the group’s bandleader, as well as a composer, lyricist, model, actress and one of the most sought after performers in the southeast. She has performed for the Crown Prince of Morocco, as well as numerous U.S. concerts and sporting events across, which included a nationally-televised performance of the National Anthem. Together the group delivers an unforgettable and fun musical experience that keeps audiences dancing and calling out for more, with a repertoire that everything from Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed and Delivered” to Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.”
Goulds Park is located at 21805 SW 114 Ave., Miami. Concert goers are encouraged to bring along a blanket, chairs and snacks to better enjoy the festivities. In the event of rain concerts may be cancelled. For more information about the Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights concert featuring Velvet Rope at Goulds Park, and future concerts in the 2012-2013 Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights concert season, call 305-271-0812, or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks. The Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights 2012-2013 concert season concludes with a Noches Tropicales concert sponsored by Target at Tropical Park featuring Merengue artist Tony Swing on April 5. In September Miami-Dade Parks kicked off its free “Noches Tropicales” 2012/2013 concert season with a Latin Jazz gala at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium that featured Grammy award-winning and nominated artists Joan Cartwright, Nicole Yarling, Carlos Averhoff, Kiki Sanchez, Elaine Hernandez, Andy Harlow, Niki Orta, Reinier Guerra and Daniel Berroa. The gala and the expanded concert line-up was made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to expand the Noches Tropicales concert series from its home base at Tropical Park to other venues throughout the County. For information about Miami-Dade County Parks call 3-1-1, or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks/. For more information on the Parks Foundation, please visit www.miamidade.gov/parks_foundation.
>>> GMCVB press release: DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG ― GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES RANKS #1 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR), #2 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REV PAR) AND #2 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY FOR JANUARY 2013 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS
For January 2013, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2012, ranking #1 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $211.11, #2 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $174.26 and #2 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 82.5% among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Occupancy, Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar).
|AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE|
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|2. Oahu Island||$209.06||+15.0%|
|3. New York||$196.59||+4.4%|
|4. San Francisco||$166.67||+5.7%|
|REVENUE PER AVAILABLE HOTEL ROOM (REV PAR)|
|Market||$||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. Oahu Island||$179.96||+13.9%|
|3. New York||$145.17||+16.3%|
|4. San Francisco||$111.41||+5.1%|
|5. Los Angeles||$92.65||+8.9%|
|AVERAGE DAILY OCCUPANCY|
|Market||% Occupancy||% Change vs. 2011|
|1. Oahu Island||86.1%||-1.0%|
|3. New York||73.8%||+11.4%|
|4. Los Angeles||69.6%||+3.1%|
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOL
>>> Supt. Carvalho only asks state legislature for “Flexibility” and “Accountability” for charter schools when it comes to $157 million in district state funding
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho when it comes to the upcoming Florida Legislature Session starting in early March is looking for one thing, “flexibility” with District funding and “accountability” when it comes to the state’s charter schools regulations that allow these schools to avoid some of the pitfalls of having to meet state class size requirements in the classroom that is costing the district some “$5 million in penalties.” Carvalho, in the pressure cooker job since September 2008 has done a remarkable job including being the cheerleader for a $1.2 billion capital renovation bond passed by voters in November. However, when it comes to public money from the state for routine maintenance of current schools, the dollars have been zilch the last few years and the $25 million that Gov. Rick Scott is suggesting in his proposed $74 billion budget is targeted for charter schools. Where private owners generally own the facilities these schools use and these private property owners benefit from any upgrades or improvement of the structures.
Carvalho in his legislative talking points further notes “Children don’t come in neat packages” that might include student number percentages when it comes to class size requirements and children drop in suddenly, or have to be taken out off public schools, or perhaps they move. The superintendent notes that in the governor’s budget the nation’s fourth largest school district would get $157 million in state funding. “But all but $6 million is tied to restrictions” how this money is spent and he believes that is the problem local administrators have, especially in such a large and diverse school district as Miami-Dade and he is asking for “flexibility.” He further notes that Scott’s budget wants to increase capital funding for charters to around “$514.00 per student” versus the public district that gets “$240.00 in the traditional schools, a difference of $274.00.” He also disagrees with the argument some legislators make that charter schools “have 80,000 children on a waiting list,” and he asks for confirmation of how many of these students “are unduplicated,” and when it comes to this waiting list he writes the charter’s do “not have a comprehensive list and cannot document it.”
Carvalho, the recent recipient of a host of national education awards including the school district being awarded the prestigious Broad Prize has been juggling a variety of balls in the air during his tenure and he has pulled a number of tricks out of his hat.
But that magic is only going so far as the years drag on, and money for capital needs has been nil from the state. And critics suggest that the least the legislature can do is to offer local school boards some “flexibility” to target where these public funds go as they see best, and that discretion here in Miami-Dade is critical. Where English is taught to incoming students in 19 languages and this flexibility is a must and state lawmakers should recognize the difference between some of the 67 state public school systems, for these districts each have their own issues, but for many of the smaller school districts around the Sunshine State. These organizations don’t have a clue what it is like to have 350,000 students, and a district that finally has no F or D high schools like Miami-Dade and state lawmakers and Scott should recognize these distinct differences in the state’s counties and at least offer local district administrators “flexibility.”
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Ryder Trauma is “Beacon of Hope,” for any one shot, in a car crash or burned, says FRB Vice Chair Sharpton
“Ryder Trauma Center is a Beacon of Hope,” said Financial Recovery Board vice Chair Daryl Sharpton on Wednesday to the Miami-Dade County Commission in a monthly report on Jackson Health System and its fiscal health. Sharpton, a CPA by training has been on the seven-member board for the last two years and he noted the “police, firefighters” and every member of the public that is hurt through trauma, from gunshots to car crashes and burns comes through the Level I facilities doors that was first opened in 1992. Sharpton, noted the kafuffle regarding the opening of a Level II Trauma Center at Kendall Regional Medical Center a couple of years ago but stuck to the subject of Ryder and how all “the U.S. Army Trauma Surgeons train there before being deployed to combat zones,” and have been training at Ryder since 2000.
Sharpton, whose son is a professional football player in the NFL and is a longtime leader in the Black community said in the late 1980s. “Six trauma centers in a single year closed,” in Miami-Dade, because other hospitals did not want to provide the money losing medical service and why Ryder was created in partnership with the University of Miami Miller Medical School physicians back then and is now ranked in the top tier around the nation and employs some of the “top medical specialists,” in the nation, he said.
Sharpton also briefed county commissioners on a state law passed after Gov. Rick Scott was elected to “process” the “valuing of assets” and the worth of public hospitals such JHS and he said all of these type of hospitals around the state are going through the same process. He said state leaders want to see “If Jackson should stay public or be sold.” He reiterated these “words stir up a lot of passion,” in the community and with patients using the public hospital but he assured commissioners. The selling of Jackson Health System was not in the cards among the FRB members and since the state is requiring the exercise, we will just “know what it is [the public hospital system’s value].”
>>> Jackson didn’t sue Kendall Regional, writes CEO Migoya in Miami Herald
Letter to the editor of The Miami Herald by JHS President Carlos Migoya: If Mark McKenney of Kendall Regional Medical Center is going to write prescriptions for South Florida’s trauma care, he’d better recheck the charts. Jackson Health System never sued McKenney’s private hospital or its startup trauma center. We were previously appealing a state administrative decision about expanding our trauma service to Jackson North and Jackson South, but Kendall Regional wasn’t a party even though its own lawyers filed a request to participate.
Our community is starting a vital public conversation with the Florida Department of Health about how best to provide trauma care. It would be helpful to focus on the facts, like the way Ryder Trauma Center was opened 20 years ago when all six private hospitals that served trauma victims shut down within a year and left the community with a huge void. In fact, in 2009 — before he went to work for Kendall —McKenney’s own research found no need for additional trauma centers in Miami-Dade.
This isn’t about competition, because trauma victims don’t have a choice — by law, they are taken to the closest center. Nor should this be about profit, because Jackson’s system is owned by our taxpayers. Ryder has become one of the world’s most admired trauma centers. Every one of the Army’s forward surgical teams trains with us. Car manufacturers do research here to make driving safer. The world’s top trauma surgeons want to be part of our team. As we work with the state to plan the future of trauma, these are the kinds of services we want to preserve for everyone in Miami-Dade County. Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO, Jackson Health System Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/19/3242873/jackson-didnt-sue-kendall-regional.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
>>> PHT Nominating Council sets term limits for incumbent members on FRB
The Public Health Trust Nominating Council met on Friday morning and one of the group’s missions was to decide the terms of the current seven member Financial Recovery Board members, of which there are six current trustees with a vacancy open after Joaquin del Cueto resigned abruptly after years of faithful and no controversial service on the oversight board. The term for these incumbent board members in the future will be FRB Chair Marcos Lapciuc – one year term; Vice Chair Darryl Sharpton – three year term; Treasurer Joe Arriola – four year term; state Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami – continues to serve at the pleasure of the Miami-Dade Legislation delegation chair; Mojdeh Khaghan – continues to serve at the pleasure of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and attorney Stephen Nuell – three years, and when the AFL-CIO member (TBA) is decided upon – one year, wrote JHS media staff when the Watchdog Report inquired what was decided at the early morning meeting.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> City picks up new comptroller, two other senior finance people after months of looking for competent replacements for many vacancies, the Treasurer position still open.
Now we have a comptroller, said Miami Finance Director Janice Larned on Wednesday and she introduced the woman, Miriam Eisenhart along with two other new senior people recently hired in the finance department for the City of Miami that has been plagued with a host of openings over the past year. She made the comments at the Miami Finance Committee Wednesday and the CFO also brought along the head of the city’s Human Resources Department, who is also an attorney by training, Beverly Pruitt to explain what is going on with new hires. Staff also explained what steps are being taken to replace all the people in the Florida Retirement Program planning to retire in this year and the next. >>> Check out the number of Miami employees in the Florida DROP program and are planning to retire this year and in the future years. 12-01284 Email – Senior & Key Personnel Chart – City of Miami
What about healthcare costs the city pays?
Miami in 2010 spent $41 million on its employee’s health insurance and this past year an estimated $2 million will be saved because of city employees requesting generic drugs versus a more expensive brand, said city staff that deals with this issue. They are also trying to hash out deals with the local hospital systems to lower some of these costs that continue to soar, partially because people are not being given any incentive to be healthy such as exercising more and giving up smoking. However, incentives could be coming and these would have people getting a break on some aspect of the health plan if they participate in a healthy life style and public employees health care costs and their pension funds are the two 800 pound gorillas in public domain municipalities when it comes to the cost of these two benefits.
What about the two county finance employees on Loan
Commissioner Frank Carollo approached Miami-Dade Vice Mayor Ed Marquez a while ago and he asked if the county could loan some of there top finance people to help the city meet the Mar. 31 Comprehensive Financial Annual Report (CAFR) deadline. Since there were so many openings in the city’s finance department and there was concern the important report would be late again, like last year, and the people loaned to Miami are expected to be there for three weeks. And the state requires these financial reports by July 1 and when earlier deadlines are missed. The issue is flagged by state financial regulators to keep watch on the municipality and delays such as this can also affect bond house ratings for a city.
>>> While residents can complain about redistricting maps, court’s rule process is highly “political” and requires no public meetings
With the kafuffle over the redistricting of Miami Commission District 2 into two districts that would also be represented by District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. The Miami commission asked the redistricting consultants attorney Miguel de Grandy and Steve Cody to have two public meetings on the matter but residents need to remember. When it comes to redistricting, it is in the eyes of the courts “a political matter.” The Watchdog Report has watched the redistricting process since 2000 and county and municipal attorneys essentially say the same thing that it is part of the political process, and while gerrymandering has become a ugly word, and there are a few parameters that must be followed like trying to keep like communities intact and the use major geographic boundaries.
The elected officials have a lot of latitude in the process and are not even required to hold any public hearings on any new maps. Though politically commissioners realize that would only anger the voter base and communities affected but it is a wide-open process that falls squarely on the shoulders of commissioners ultimately. >>> The new proposed commission districts have Shorecrest and Palm Grove going to District 5 and for residents affected by the change there are two public meetings to give input. One is on Thursday Feb. 21 @ 6:30 p.m. at Legion Park and there is a second one at Miami City Hall March 4 at the same time.
>>> Press release: Miami Man Charged in $12 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Thousands of Fraudulently Obtained U.S. Treasury Checks
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula A. Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced the filing of a criminal complaint charging defendant Frankie Jermaine Anderson, 40, of Miami, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, theft of government money or property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, from about February through June 2012, a check casher in Perrine, Florida (J&S Taxes) cashed thousands of fraudulently obtained U.S. income tax refund checks worth over $12 million. The defendant allegedly provided the vast majority of these fraudulently obtained checks to the check casher for cashing. Proceeds from this fraud were then used by the defendant to purchase two separate homes—one for the defendant and one for the defendant’s mother (each valued at approximately $250,000). In addition, the defendant used the proceeds from the fraud to purchase a 2012 BMW 530i, a Porsche Cayenne, a 2012 Porsche Panamera, a 212 Cadillac CTS, a 2012 Jaguar XF, a 2013 BMW X6, a 2012 Jaguar XJ, and a 2013 Bentley GT Coupe. According to State of Florida employment records, the defendant has been unemployed since 2003. According to the affidavit, on November 28, 2012, the defendant was arrested in possession of 35 U.S. Treasury checks totaling approximately $119,165.60, including at least one check issued in the name of a deceased person. >>> Mr. Ferrer thanked IRS-CI, USSS, USPIS, and FBI for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger, Evelyn Baldonato-Sheehan and Elijah Levitt. A criminal complaint is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Will Nov. election influence new Mgr. choice with three candidates vying for the job?
With three finalists for the vacant permanent Miami Beach manager post, The Miami Herald did profiles on the candidates and as the clock clicks away. The commission is expected to eventually choose one of them. Jimmy Morales, Frank Rollason and Monica Cepero have made the cut after a national search and the city with around 90,000 residents and hundreds of millions in current and future infrastructure needed or in progress. The city’s leaders are trying to right itself after a host of scandals rocked the iconic municipality considered a tourist electrolyte for South Florida and a must go to destination with its beach hotels and a cornucopia of restaurants with foods from around the world. Here are the profiles on the three candidates. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/22/3247827/miami-beach-city-manager-finalists.html http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/22/3247831/miami-beach-city-manager-finalists.html http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/22/3247829/miami-beach-city-manager-finalist.html
What about the mayoral and commission races?
Currently, the Miami Beach Clerk’s web page lists the only mayoral candidates as being Commissioners Michael Gongora and Jerry Libbin and for the Group I commission seat. The candidates are Dave Crystal, Christine Florez, Elsa Urquiza and David Cardenas withdrew his candidacy for the seat. The Group II seat on the dais has only incumbent Commissioner Jorge Exposito running for reelection, and the Group III seat on the dais has candidates Joshua Dunkelman and Michael Grieco facing off in the upcoming Nov. 3 general election. Crystal in the past lost his bid in a run for mayor against Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower now termed out, and Urquiza also lost a previous bid for a commission seat.
What about Commissioner Exposito?
Commissioner Jorge Exposito since his election four years ago has been a refreshing voice on the many time contentious commission dais and for many residents is the voice of reason when tempers flare among his peers. He is to the point, chooses his words with measure, and has been a good steward when it comes to watching over city tax dollars.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> With winner take all race, Group (III) race with five candidates, victor may win with small majority of Gables voters
With the Apr. 9 election drawing closer and the Feb. 22 qualifying date past, the races for Coral Gables Mayor and two commission seats is set. The city clerk’s election webpage lists only Mayor Jim Cason and Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, Jr., running for the top spot on the dais that pays $34,736 and in two commission seat races for the vacated Group (II) and the Group (III) seat for the first spot on the dais there is Marlin Holland Ebbert, Ross Hancock and Vincente Carlos Lago running.
And for the latter Group (III) commission seat, the packed field includes Jackson “Rip” Holmes, Patricia A. Keon, P.J. Mitchell, Norman Anthony Newell and Mary Martin Young in a winner take all race. A commissioner is paid $28,225 and serves a four-year term to the mayor’s term that is every two years. That fact is important for the commission races especially in the Group (III) race. For with five candidates, whoever wins will likely have well less than a majority of the potential 29,355 registered voters as of Jun. 2012 that turn out for the election. Here is the latest campaign report information http://www.gableshomepage.com/2013/01/14/gables-candidates-report-over-334000-in-donations-loans/
What about the mayoral race?
Mayor Cason, a former diplomat and ambassador for the United States, won the office in a three-man race back in 2011 and he has done a scandal free job under his watch since holding the office. But critics note he has not lived there for a long time like Cabrera who was first elected to the commission in 2001 along with then new mayor Donald Slesnick, II and Commissioner Maria Anderson now termed out. Cason is supporting the tony city’s manager Pat Salerno and Cabrera along with Anderson want the manager out and last year called for a vote for his firing that failed on the dais by a three to vote. However, Cabrera has continued to press his case in the past months for a change in the city’s top manager. Further, on the five-member body, the past commission meetings the last few months have become a platform for a mini campaign since the meetings are televised on the city’s cable station and can be watched by residents and voters. For more on the candidates and the races go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/22/3248490/coral-gables-candidates-set-for.html
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI BEACH
>>> Press release: Three Defendants Plead Guilty in $14 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Matthew Boyd, Chief, Miami Gardens Police Department, and Larry Gomer, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, announce that defendants Serge St-Vil, 61, of Miami, Muller Pierre, 62, of North Miami Beach, and Finshley Fanor, 34, of Lauderhill, pled guilty today for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $14 million in fraudulent refund claims. St-Vil pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing for St-Vil is scheduled for May 17, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum possible statutory term of imprisonment of up to 22 years.
Pierre pled guilty to wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. Sentencing for Pierre is scheduled for May 21, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Scola. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum possible statutory term of imprisonment of up to 20 years. Fanor pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. Sentencing for Fanor is scheduled for May 22, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Scola. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum possible statutory term of imprisonment of up to 10 years. According to the plea documents filed with the court, in 2010, the defendants were involved in a scheme to file fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns seeking refunds. During the course of the scheme, more than 5,000 fraudulent and unauthorized returns were submitted to the IRS seeking over $14 million in refunds. Nearly all of these returns were submitted in the names of deceased persons. St-Vil was responsible for the filing of thousands of these returns using an Electronic Filing Identification Number obtained by Fanor. >>> Mr.Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Miami Gardens Police Department, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. 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.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Broward Man Sentenced to 159 Months for Stealing More Than 23,000 Identities in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) in Minneapolis, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI, Miami Field Office, Larry Gomer, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announced that defendant Rodney Saintfleur, 28, was sentenced today to 159 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Saintfleur pled guilty on November 27, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, one count of access device fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. According to the Information, the defendant and co-conspirators agreed on a plan to use stolen personal identifying information of others to file fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds. The defendant obtained documents that listed tens of thousands of names with corresponding dates of birth.
According to the factual proffer and statements made at sentencing, the defendant searched an online proprietary database and fraudulently obtained the Social Security numbers of more than 23,000 people whose names and dates of birth appeared on the documents in 2010 and 2011. The defendant provided these Social Security numbers to co-conspirators for an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme. Co-conspirators then filed fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns seeking refunds using the stolen personal identifying information provided by the defendant. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the North Miami Beach Police Department, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. >> 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.
CITY OF SUNRISE
>>> Former Local Union President and Former Executive Assistant Charged with Stealing Money from Union and Obstruction of Justice
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Richard L. Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, announced the unsealing of a 17-count indictment and the arrests of defendants Darryl Brice Payne, a/k/a Darryl “Mike D,” Payne, 47, of Sunrise, and Tianni Latrice Brown, f/k/a Tianni Latrice Wade, 31, of Lauderhill, Florida. Payne and Brown are both charged in Count 1 with conspiracy to steal money, funds, property, and other assets of the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO, Local Union No. 1526 (“ILA Local 1526”) in Fort Lauderdale, from March 2008 through August 2009. During this time, Payne was President of ILA Local 1526 and Brown was Payne’s Executive Assistant. Payne is also charged with ten counts (Counts 2-11) of theft of labor union assets, in violation of Title 29, United States Code, Section 501(c); one count (Count 12) of endeavoring to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1503; three counts of mail fraud (Counts 14-16), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; and making false statements (Count 17) in relation to a document required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) to be kept as part of an employee pension benefit plan, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1027. Brown is also charged with eight counts of theft of labor union assets (Counts 2-9), endeavoring to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice (Count 12), and making false statements to Special Agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
According to the indictment, Payne and Brown prepared and used false and altered documents to deceive union officials and obtain union funds purportedly to pay for legitimate assets, goods, services and travel expenses for the use of the union. In fact, however, those expenses covered the personal expends of the defendants and others. The indictment also alleges that Payne and Brown corruptly endeavored to obstruct he grand jury investigation by causing the production of false documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena, and by withholding and failing to produce other documents that were required to be produced in response to a federal grand jury subpoena. The indictment also alleges that Brown made false statements to Special Agents of the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, who were conducting the investigation. Lastly, the indictment alleges that Payne engaged in a mail fraud scheme to deceive officials of the ILA Pension Fund by presenting a falsely altered U.S. Department of Labor document that made it appear as if he had received workers’ compensation for approximately four years (1991-1994). In fact, however, Payne had received workers’ compensation payments for only about four months in 1991. By using the falsely altered document, Payne was able to obtain one additional year credited to his time as a beneficiary of the ILA Pension Fund, which would enable him to obtain additional money to which he was not entitled upon his retirement. The indictment alleges that Payne’s use of the same altered document violated another statute prohibiting making false statements in relation to a document required by ERISA to be kept as part of the records of an employee pension benefit plan.
If convicted, the defendants face the following possible maximum statutory sentences: Counts 1-11, 13, and 17: up to five years in prison; Count 12: up to 10 years in prison; and Counts 14-16: up to 20 years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William T. Shockley. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Palm Beach County Residents Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Minors
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that defendants Dontavious M. Blake, 32, and Tara Jo Moore, 26, both of Palm Beach County, were charged in a federal criminal complaint with sex trafficking of minors. Pre-trial detention hearings for Blake and Moore are scheduled for Tuesday, February 26, 2013. More specifically, the complaint charges Blake and Moore with sex trafficking of children and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, and inducing a minor to engage in commercial sex act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1591, 1594 and 2422, respectively. If convicted, Blake and Moore face a maximum possible statutory sentence of up to life in prison. This case stemmed from an investigation into the production of child pornography. According to the allegations in the complaint affidavit, a victim revealed that she had engaged in prostitution in the summer of 2011, at the age of 15. The victim stated that she had worked in hotels in the Palm Beach County area and identified Blake and Moore as her pimp and his girlfriend. Blake would post online escort advertisements, with photographs of the victim, on Backpage.com listing a phone number belonging to him.
Moore would allegedly answer the calls from clients and negotiate a price for prostitution services and schedule a “date.” Once the price had been agreed upon, Blake would contact the minor and drive her to location for the “date.” At the conclusion of the date, the victim would pay a portion of the proceeds to Blake, including payment for a portion of the cost of the hotel room. >>> This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lothrop Morris. A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
CITY OF PALM SPRINGS
>>> Man Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison and 30 Years of Supervised Release for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Neil DeSousa, United States Marshal, and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, announced that Ernesto Cedillo, 25, of Palm Springs, FL, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp to 33 months in prison, to be followed by 30 years of supervised release following his guilty plea to the charge of failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 2250(a). According to court filings, Cedillo was convicted in Indiana for sexually molesting a 13-year old girl in July 2005. Cedillo pled guilty and was convicted and sentenced in February 2007 to six years in prison in Indiana for that charge, with four years of the sentence suspended. He was released in Indiana and then was found here in Florida in 2008 and sent back to Indiana because he failed to register as a sex offender in either state, pursuant to SORNA. Based upon the Indiana failure to register Cedillo was jailed in Indiana again. He was released in June 2011 and sometime after that he absconded. Indiana authorities did not know his whereabouts and he failed to register under SORNA in Indiana again.
Sometime between June 2011 and September of 2012, Cedillo relocated to Palm Beach County and again failed to register with local police and was arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on September 6, 2012. Following his arrest, Cedillo admitted to having fled Indiana without registering because he knew there were warrants out for him up there. He also admitted traveling to Florida and failing to register here, even though he knew he was required to do so under the law.
>>> The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami Invites you to A Community Conversation & Luncheon – Obamacare – What’s Next? – Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:30 a.m. Registration, Noon Lunch, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Conversation – Florida Blue – Doral Office 8400 NW 33rd Street Doral, Florida 33122 – With State Senator Rene Garcia, Senate Health Policy Committee; Brian Keeley, President and CEO of Baptist Health South Florida; Carlos Migoya, President & CEO at Jackson Health Systems; Penny Shaffer, Market President at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Betsy Marville, RN Organizer for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Florida Region. Moderated by Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of the Good Government Initiative. For more information, contact Jennifer at Jennifer@goodgov.net Register Now!
>>> Wednesday, February 27, 2013: Downtown Bay Forum: The Tea Party: What does it stand for? A Clash of Issues: 2nd Amendment, Immigration, Fiscal Policy Panelists: Marcos Sedo, President, South Florida Conservative Sandy Davies, Chapter leader, Progressive Democrats of America – Moderator: Dr. Sean Foreman, Department of History & Political Science, Barry University
11:30 a.m. at Temple Israel, 137 NE 19th Street, Miami. Free self-parking available. $35 membership, $23 lunch for member with reservation, $58 membership & lunch, $27 non-member or member without reservation if space is available. To reserve, or for further information, call Annette Eisenberg at 305-757-3633. www.downtownbayforum.org
>>> March 2, 2013: Chef’s Harvest Dinner – “Chefs Aaron Dreilinger and David Schwadron will prepare a delectable 6 course meal of local sustainably-grown foods paired with local beer and wines…Verde Gardens is the first low-income housing community in the country to have an 22-acre organic farm enterprise at it’s core.” 5 – 9 pm at The Farm @ Verde Gardens. Sponsored by Earth Learning. Further information at: http://earth-learning.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=128&-3-2-Chef-s-Harvest-Dinner=&Itemid=77
>>> Robo ballot request story in Herald strikes at heart of Democracy, further investigation must be done
The ballot irregularity investigative story in http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/23/3250726/the-case-of-the-phantom-ballots.html that 2,500 requests for absentee ballots came into the Miami-Dade County Elections Department before the Aug. 14, 2012 primary and seems to target just a few primary races of both parties, should not only be considered disturbing but frightening when it comes to the sanctity of the concept of one person, one vote. The Herald found that the requests for these ballots came in at an alarming pace, and red flags went up at the election department, was documented by elections staff and that information then was sent to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the information was included in a recent Grand Jury report on voter irregularities in that primary, that included the role of absentee ballot brokers.
However, this electronic hacking into the elections department using generally overseas internet IP addresses should give every voter and candidate pause for we are now entering a new arena for voter fraud, and the manipulation of our Democratic election process and there outcomes. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle must continue to investigate this case and now that it is known, some of the requests came in through local email systems. All efforts must be made to unravel this whodunit for it strikes at the heart of our Republic.
The internet has been a blessing in so many ways around the globe but there is also a dark side to the technology and it cannot be allowed to bleed into our electoral process when it comes to elections fairness and integrity. And with election conspiracy theorists thriving around the nation’s landscape, reported incidents such as this only fan that fire that elections are somehow rigged, which on the whole is not the case. But the public and county voters need to know what happened; who did it and while that may be difficult to sort out. It must be done if voters are to have any confidence in their elections that picks those chosen people to represent us all, just let’s be sure they actually won the race fair and square.
>>> Correction letter on MBCHC story in WDR last week
In your Watchdog Report last week you wrote about the Miami Beach Community Health Clinic and that the Ryan White A grant… could you make the following change — (The audit showed all was good), and we want you to know that the Ryan White Part A grant was used appropriately by the Center. Moreover, every dollar was used to provide services as the grant rules and regulations intended, no funds were misappropriated and in addition to that. The Center has to go through some pretty stringent audits tied to the grants, and again, these funds were used appropriately.
>>> We hear so much about child abuse. After all, the statistics are that somewhere around 3 million children in the United States are reported as abused, with about half confirmed, and though many people feel the numbers are greater. What does it mean, however, if a child is abused? What does it mean to the child, and what might it mean to society? It’s worth knowing the answers to both of those questions, and a recent series in the Huffington Post responds. I urge you to click on the link I’ve provided and read all three of the segments. Be prepared for some disturbing discussion. You may have to copy the link and paste in the URL.http://www.invisiblechildren.org/2013/02/09/child-abuse-and-the-most-important-public-health-study-ever/?goback=%2Egde_120372_member_213157487
Will Blechman M.D.
>>> 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
THE MIAMI FOUNDATION www.miamifoundation.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 email@example.com
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 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.