Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.5 June 9, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating my 14th Anniversary

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Former U.S. Sen. Graham pushes for further FBI disclosures of role of Saudis in Sarasota before 9/11, on board for controversial WellCare after firm paying $137 million in Medicaid fraud penalty

Florida: Sen. Margolis will hang up her political flag in 2016, after decades in public office, first elected to FL House in 1974

Miami-Dade County: Pet Trust legislation is deferred until Jun. 12, animal activists fuming after 65 percent of the county’s voters in Nov. supported more funding for no kill animal shelter

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho says that with “ten significant changes this year,” in education guidelines, state student tests don’t reflect all the gains district has made

Public Health Trust: CPA Sharpton tapped for top spot on new PHT board; Arriola, vice-chair of new seven-member board

City of Miami: Mayor Regalado says vetoing passed District 2 & 5 redistricting plan would put “city at risk” for violation of voter laws

City of Hialeah: Two Men Arrested in Connection with the Theft of Gold Bars at Miami International Airport

City of Miami Beach: There she goes again; Mayor Bower will run for Group III commission seat

City of Coral Gables: Gables Good Government names M-DC Commissioner Sosa, GGG Civic Leader of the Year

Village of Cutler Bay: Man Sentenced in $12 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving the Cashing of Thousands of Fraudulently Obtained U.S. Treasury Checks

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: State Rep. Gibbons gets fundraising help from four county commissioners; his opponent Furr has long serving Commissioner Gunzburger in his corner for Commission District 6 seat

City of Davie: Gov. Scott Highlights $9 Million in Funding for Boys and Girls Clubs

City of Miramar: Miramar Man Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme

Liberty County: Gov. Scott taps Carl Causey as Interim Sheriff of Liberty County.

St. Lucie County: Two Port Saint Lucie Men Sentenced on Firearms Conspiracy Charges

Fort Pierce: Man Sentenced on Firearms Charges

Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum June Meeting — Topic: “Black Miami, Any Progress?” Date: June 26, 2013 noon

Editorials: Homestead investigation of CRA land deal and role of mayor and wife brings for profit Dade Medical College into the spotlight — 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: Child advocate & physician on petition drive for children’s issues pushed by Gen. Colin Powell’s foundation – Reader wonders if there will be candidate debates for Miami mayoral and commission candidates

Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

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>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>> 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 trying to keep the community, state, nation and world informed of the political and governmental happenings in South Florida. How to support and contribute to the WDR is at the bottom of the report.

>>> CORRECTION of last week’s WDR: Rafael Garcia-Toledo, a close confidant and friend of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is a registered county lobbyist. He has kept his April 17, 2002 lobbyist registration form current since then, and the man lists the matter he and his firm GT Construction is lobbying for as the Seating for Crandon Park Tennis Center. A facility that in the future will be under going major renovations, after county voters passed the Center’s upgrades last year. I incorrectly wrote last week that he was not a registered lobbyist with the county.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Former U.S. Sen. Graham pushes for further FBI disclosures of role of Saudis in Sarasota before 9/11, on board for controversial WellCare after firm paying $137 million in Medicaid fraud penalty

Former U. S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-FL is out raged that the FBI did not give his senate committee at the time in 2002 information about a link with a Saudi family that departed the United States just before 9/11 and he is demanding answers through a federal court filing. Graham had headed up the Joint Congressional Committee investigating the attack that left over 3,000 dead along with then U.S. Rep. Porter Goss, R-FL who would later head up the CIA in the George W. Bush administration in Aug. of 2004. Graham in one of his books on the Saudi Arabia connection to the hijackers, has been a persistent critic of the government’s investigation of this issue and now the www.browardbulldog.org and veteran reporter Dan Christensen is helping to peel off layers of what federal authorities knew, and what is the connection with the family, and the 15 hijackers who were from Saudi Arabia.

Many of the 19 hijacker’s were living in Florida prior to their attack on U.S. airlines and Graham has led the charge over the years since then to get the truth out. Goss on the other hand, had been the long serving chair of the House Intelligence Committee and when he co chaired the Joint 9/11 Intelligence Committee in 2002 with Graham. He brought a certain insider knowledge of the CIA and intelligence since he had been a CIA career officer prior to going to Congress in 1989 representing the St. Petersburg House District. And in Graham’s case, he has authored the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia and the Failure of America’s War on Terror, and a fictional book called Keys to the Kingdom, where he says only the names were changed to avoid security disclosure issues he says. For more on the story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/05/3434487/graham-fbi-hindered-congresss.html

What else has Sen. Graham been up to?

Graham has become a paid board member for WellCare, a company that recently setteled a major Medicaid Fraud case, after paying a $137 million fine. And he was brought in to burnish the organization’s integrity and the former Florida governor chair’s the company’s oversight committee that ensures executives and employees will act ethically and follow mandated regulations and he believes under the new management.  It is okay for the firm to get this lucrative state contract for it’s over 1 million in new state Medicaid patients in the coming year, if the federal government approves of the deal. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/10/2843127/company-with-fraud-record-lines.html

>>> MIAMI-DADE AGREES TO $1.6 BILLION UPGRADE OF ITS SEWER SYSTEM TO ELIMINATE SEWAGE OVERFLOWS

Press release: Under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday, Miami-Dade County in Florida has agreed to invest in major upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection and transmission systems in order to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. The state of Florida and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are co-plaintiffs with the United States in this action.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Miami-Dade will rehabilitate its wastewater treatment plants and its wastewater collection and transmission system within 15 years. The county will also develop and implement management operation and maintenance programs to help ensure the sewer system is properly operated and maintained in the future. By implementing these measures, Miami-Dade is expected to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows from its wastewater collection and transmission system and achieve compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

“Sewage overflows are a significant problem in the Southeast because of inadequate and aging infrastructure,” said Stan Meiburg, Acting Regional Administrator of EPA’s Southeastern office. “This agreement demonstrates the county’s commitment to address its sewage problems. Eliminating overflows of raw sewage will comply with the Clean Water Act and benefit the Miami-Dade community by providing a cleaner and healthier environment.”

“Miami-Dade County is one of the world’s premier resort destinations and is home to America’s Everglades, two aquatic preserves as well as Bill Baggs Cape Florida, Oleta River and The Barnacle Historic state parks,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “This agreement will bring lasting  environmental and recreational benefits to the citizens and visitors of Miami-Dade County by reducing the threats posed by untreated sewage overflows that degrade water quality and contribute to beach closures,”

Between January 2007 and May 2013, Miami-Dade reported 211 sanitary sewer overflows totaling more than 51 million gallons. Such overflows included a number of large volume overflows from ruptured force mains. At least 84 overflows, totaling over 29 million gallons of raw sewage, reached navigable waters of the United States. Miami-Dade’s Central District wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) also experienced several violations of the effluent limits contained in its NPDES permit. EPA also documented numerous operation and maintenance violations at this same WWTP during inspections in September 2011, April 2012 and April 2013.

Miami-Dade estimates it will spend approximately $1.6 billion to complete the upgrades required by the consent decree and come into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Under the settlement, Miami-Dade will also pay a civil penalty of $978,100 ($511,800 to be paid to the United States and $466,300 to FDEP) and complete a supplemental environmental project costing $2,047,200. Miami-Dade’s supplemental environmental project involves the installation of approximately 7,660 linear feet of gravity sewer mains through the Green Technology Corridor, an area that is currently using septic tanks. Businesses in the area have been unable to connect to the sewer system because sewer lines are lacking. Disconnecting industrial users from septic tanks will improve water quality in the Biscayne aquifer and nearby surface waters and prevent future contamination.

The terms and conditions of the settlement announced yesterday will update, replace and supersede two existing consent decrees between the United States and the county, the 1994 First Partial Consent Decree and the 1995 Second and Final Partial Consent Decree. Both of these existing consent decrees will be terminated upon entry of the new, proposed consent decree. The parties to this settlement recognized that since entry of the previous consent decrees, conditions within and circumstances surrounding Miami-Dade’s sewer system have changed over the last 18 years, including the causes and locations of sanitary sewer overflows. As a result, appropriate modifications and updates to the previous settlements are included in the new settlement.

Yesterday’s announcement is the latest in a series of Clean Water Act settlements, including sanitary sewer overflow remediation and combined sewer overflow control plans that will reduce the discharge of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater into U.S. rivers, streams and lakes. It is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to keep raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of the nation’s waterways. Reductions in sanitary sewer overflows are accomplished by obtaining municipal utilities’ commitments to implement timely, affordable solutions to these problems. The settlement, lodged yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.  The settlement will be available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.htmlMore information about EPA’s national enforcement initiative: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011sewagestormwater.html

>>> White House press release: Three quick things you should know about Obamacare

In the past few days, we’ve received three really interesting new pieces of information about the health care law, and we wanted to share these data points with you so that you get a big picture of how things are changing for the better as the law gets implemented. First, the Affordable Care Act is helping to make sure that insurance companies and providers have to compete for your business by creating a Health Insurance Marketplace that offers people more choice and control over their insurance choices. An estimated 80 percent of the people who will enroll in the Marketplaces live in states with five or more different insurance companies to choose from — instead of just one or two. We’ve put together a memo about that, and you can read it HERE.

Second, as the health care law is helping move to a system where data helps improve consumer choices and the quality of care, the government is making more information available to consumers, from hospital charges and quality outcomes to regional health care system performance statistics. Those may sound like dry things, but businesses are springing up across the country and using this data to power new innovation. Secretary Sebelius explains this idea in more detail HERE.

Third, we got some great news about the long-term viability of Medicare. Program cost growth, both long term and short, is down — even as new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs are now helping tens of millions of beneficiaries. Get more information about the report that shows that Medicare is growing stronger HERE. We’re sharing this information with you because we’re sure you hear people talk about the health care law in your communities all the time, and if you have questions we’d love to answer them.

Ask your questions about the health care law, and we’ll answer some of them next week.

>>> Press release: The Broken UN Needs a Strong U.S. Presence to Facilitate the Reforms it Badly Needs, Says Ros-Lehtinen ~ “The UN needs someone who can work to bring true reforms to that mismanaged institution, and I hope Samantha Power has the desire and the ability to recognize what corrective actions need to be taken”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the President Obama’s selection of Samantha Power to be the next Ambassador to the United Nations. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “The United Nations is an institution in need of serious reform. While at the UN, Ambassador Rice was unable to institute positive changes to fix this broken system. She brought a more laissez-faire approach to a problem that needs someone willing to roll up her sleeves and make reform a priority.

“The UN needs someone who can work to bring true reforms to that mismanaged institution, and I hope Samantha Power has the desire and the ability to recognize what corrective actions need to be taken, and will push back and fight harder against the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-United States agenda in that body.” >> NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen was the author of H.R. 2829, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011, which requires the United Nations to switch its funding mechanism from an assessed basis to a voluntary basis. This legislation had over 140 cosponsors, and was marked up and reported favorably by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last Congress. This shift will empower the U.S. and other member-states to use their strongest leverage at the UN – their monetary contributions – to press for badly needed reform.

>>> New Zogby Poll: Scandal Chatter Doesn’t Matter By: John Zogby Forbes.com  Contributor

At least for the time being, the scandals currently being investigated by Congress are not damaging the President of the United States. A new poll by Zogby Analytics shows President Barack Obama actually regaining lost ground in his job approval. His approval rating now stands at 53% — the exact percentage he had when he won re-election last November and up 2 points over his rating in early May. His disapproval rating remained at 46%. The poll of 887 likely voters was taken online May 29 and 30.

His approval is up 5 points among Republicans (from 17% to 22%) and 3 points among conservatives (from 22% to 25%), while it has stayed about the same among Democrats (86%) and independents (42%). Mr. Obama is up among all age groups, particularly among the youngest voters (from 53% to 59%) and the oldest voters (from 24% to 34%). Please click on the link below to view the full news release: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/302-new-zogby-poll-scandal-chatter-doesn-t-matter

>>> 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

FLORIDA

>>> Sen. Margolis will hang up her political flag in 2016, after decades in public office, first elected to FL House in 1974

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, (Net worth $5.17 million in 2010) first elected to office decades ago told the Watchdog Report recently after years in public office that she will retire her political flag in 2016 after getting elected again to the upper Florida Legislative body in 2012. When the veteran legislator got 62 percent of the vote, beating Republican John Couriel, for the District 35 senate seat, that essentially stretches along the coast of Miami-Dade County.

Margolis, a former member of the Florida House elected in 1974 before later moving up to the Senate also served as the Miami-Dade County Commission Chair from 2007 to 2002 when she went back to the senate where she had been the President from 1990 to 1992. She told people attending the governmental relations session of the Greater Miami Goal’s Conference recently that her most proud achievement was the Florida “Constitutional Sunshine Amendment” that guaranteed open state government records and public meetings that was passed by state voters back in 1990, after she Sheparded the legislation through the Florida Legislature back then. For more on Margolis go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s35 .

Margolis

>>> Gov. Scott press release: Following the news that the Florida State University and the University of Florida’s Boards of Trustees voted to increase tuition on Florida students, Governor Rick Scott made the following statement:

Governor Scott said, “I applaud University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and USF’s Board of Trustees for holding the line on tuition and ensuring students and families do not face increased costs. I have consistently fought tuition increases. Raising tuition is a tax on Florida families. While USF, one of Florida’s leading research universities, boldly held the line on tuition yesterday, the University of Florida and Florida State University’s Boards of Trustees increased tuition for Florida students today.

“For many students, an increase in tuition means an increase in the debt burden they will carry. This increase comes at a time when interest rates on student loans are scheduled to double next month. “I would like to thank several FSU trustee members including Student Government Association President Rosalia Contreras, Joseph Gruters, Emily Fleming Duda and Brent Sembler for taking a stand against raising tuition on Florida families. While their efforts did not prevail, I appreciate them joining the fight to keep tuition low for Florida families, while ensuring strong, job-generating academic programs at our state’s universities.

“As I have said, higher education is one of the best ways we can prepare Floridians to get a great job and one of the best ways families can live the American Dream.

“Florida should be proud that we have one of the most affordable, high-quality college and university systems in the country and it is imperative that the cost of higher education remains affordable and accessible to as many Floridians as possible. Each of our state’s universities have nationally recognized academic programs that we can all be proud of, while keeping tuition below the national average. That is not a trend we should reverse. We must continue to provide Florida students with value in their education system, and I do not agree with any tuition increase on Florida families. I want to be clear that I will veto any tuition increase passed by the Legislature again next year.”

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott expressed concerns that sequestration cuts to the National Guard could slow down the response time of first responders during a storm. Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott called on US Senators Rubio and Nelson to help restore funding cut from the National Guard as a result of the federal budget sequestration, and remove this imminent threat to Florida’s emergency response functions during hurricane season. To read Governor Scott’s letter click here.  For videos of Governor Scott’s press conference click here or here.

>>> 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.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Pet Trust legislation is deferred until Jun. 12, animal activists fuming after 65 percent of the county’s voter’s support more funding for no kill animal shelter

When it comes to animal lovers, the Miami-Dade County Commission did not make any friends last week, after over a dozen animal activists waited all day in the commission chamber to here their item for improved funding for animal services that county voters passed in a straw poll last November with a resounding 65 percent in support of the matter. The Pet Trust legislation that would add some $18 to $20 million for the animal services department and to begin a no kill shelter program through an extensive spray and neutering program of animals. Commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Sally Heyman sponsored the legislation and the matter was expected to be heard in the morning, but was delayed because Diaz had to attend a 50th Anniversary of SOUTHCOM in Doral.

But had animal rights supporters cooling their heels all day in the chamber dressed in red bandanas with black paws on them in mass, and when the commission decided to postpone the public hearing to a Jun. 12 commission committee meeting chaired by Heyman for public hearings. The leaders of the animal activists walked out enraged that they were not given the time to be heard by the body and criticized the commissioners for not taking up and passing the legislation. After they sat in the chambers most of the day. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/04/3433042/miami-dade-delays-vote-on-pets.html

Anything odd happen?

State Rep. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami (Net worth $486,093 in 2010) came into the Miami-Dade County Commission chambers in the afternoon and when the Watchdog Report asked what brought him to the chambers, where he was once a commissioner through 2000. He said he was “there observing, like what you do,” and he later would talk to Commissioners Juan Zapata and Sally Heyman. The senator handles a variety of legal work, but he was the lead lobbyist for the red light camera company that many municipalities are now using including the city of Miami. And he objected in 2010 when the Watchdog Report called him out on this blending of an elected office with a elected officials lobbying efforts with counties or city’s they may represent. In this case, as of May 17, he was representing the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association and he apparently was able to persuade the commission that the veterinarians had a problem with certain aspects of the proposed county plan and commissioners decided to defer the matter to the future committee meeting.

And while all of this is legal, the Watchdog Report over the past 14-years has been critical of when elected leaders commingle they’re lobbying activities with political bodies they also represent in the Florida Legislature. In addition, in the past I have also singled out former state Sen. Ron Silver, D-Miami Beach for the same issue when he was in office up to 2002. Moreover, Diaz de la Portilla in the past has told the WDR and was reported that people hire him because of his “years of legal experience,” and suggested his clients did not hire him because he was a senator, and I was off base suggesting otherwise. However, in this case, his clients got the reprieve they wished and it remains to be seen what his future involvement is as the Pet Trust legislation is crafted by the county commission he once chaired.

Diaz de la Portilla

>>> Press release: UPPING THE ANTE: MAYOR CARLOS A. GIMENEZ AND SAN ANTONIO MAYOR JULIÁN CASTRO RAISE THE STAKES ON NBA FINALS WAGER

Following up on their initial food-focused NBA Finals bet, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro have upped the ante with a wager that will result in a day of hands-on community service. If the Miami HEAT win the Championship Trophy, Mayor Castro will travel to Miami for a day of community service – wearing a Miami HEAT shirt, of course – with the education-focused nonprofit City Year. If the Spurs win the Finals, Mayor Gimenez will be on his way to San Antonio in a Spurs shirt to complete a day of service at a local City Year school there.

“Just like Mayor Castro, I’m a strong supporter of City Year and its mission of education and community service. And at the end of the day, service is at the very heart of what we do as Mayors,” said Mayor Gimenez.  “So win or lose, I’m excited for the opportunity to team up with City Year and my friend from San Antonio for a day of service with local students.” “While I fully expect the Spurs to win their fifth NBA title, there are no losers when we work together to ensure that our young people graduate from school and realize their full potential,” San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said. “I want to thank Mayor Gimenez for being a good sport and a great advocate for education.”

City Year’s CEO and co-founder Michael Brown added the following: “City Year is already proud to partner with Mayor Castro and Mayor Gimenez to help keep students in San Antonio and Miami in school and on track to graduate. Having them unite for a day of service in a school where our City Year AmeriCorps members serve would be a slam dunk — everyone wins when we join together to help children and schools succeed.”

About City Year: City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization founded in 1988 that partners with public schools to provide full-time targeted intervention for students most at risk of dropping out.  In more than 20 communities across the United States and through two international affiliates, our teams of young AmeriCorps leaders support students by focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs that keep kids in school and on track to graduate.

Gimenez

>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG JANUARY – APRIL 2013 RESULTING IN INCREASES IN GREATER MIAMI’S TOURIST-RELATED TAX COLLECTIONS


For the first four months of 2013, the 3% Convention Development Tax (CDT) collections from hotels in Miami-Dade County (excluding Bal Harbour and Surfside) totaled $28,857,927 compared to $25,625,946 in 2012 for an increase of +12.6%.  The 2% Tourist Development Tax collections (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) totaled $9,650,308 compared to $8,569,469 for the same period last year representing a +12.6% increase in 2013. The 2% Hotel Food and Beverage Tax (F&B Tax) collections from hotels in Miami-Dade County (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) generated $2,830,743 compared to $2,588,731 for the same period in 2012, for an increase of +9.3% in 2013.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
3% CONVENTION DEVELOPMENT TAX COLLECTIONS
JANUARY-APRIL 2013 JANUARY-APRIL 2012 % Change
$28,857,927 $25,625,946 +12.6%
2% TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX COLLECTIONS
JANUARY-APRIL 2013 JANUARY-APRIL 2012 % Change
$9,650,308 $8,569,469 +12.6%
2% FOOD AND BEVERAGE TAX COLLECTIONS
JANUARY-APRIL 2013 JANUARY-APRIL 2012 % Change
$2,830,743 $2,588,731 +9.3%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Supt. Carvalho says that with “ten significant changes this year,” in education guidelines, state student tests don’t reflect all the gains district has made

Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade Public Schools has been bracing the community over the past few weeks that when the new Florida FCAT results came out. The changing testing standards would not accurately reflect the overall results of the 350,000 students in the nation’s fourth largest school district. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/07/3438638/state-releases-fcat-end-of-course.html At the Greater Miami Chamber Goals Conference Carvalho said when it came to the “FCAT in math, we are out pacing the state,” but “in reading we are trailing,” since the district has “70,000 English Language learners.”

And he further believes the schools dropped letter grades by the state of Florida will be due to the state education officials making “ten significant changes this year in math, reading and writing,” and we “are doing better,” than the grades and statistics may suggest, he said. However, because of this parents will not see this school grade improvement, all “people will see is the scarlet letter on the school,” and they “will not see that” academic improvement and is why he disagrees with some of methods public schools in the large urban public school district’s around the Flroida are being graded for the students academic performance. 

Carvalho

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> CPA Sharpton tapped for top spot on new PHT board, Arriola, vice-chair of new seven-member board

Darryl Sharpton, CPA was elected the new chair of the Public Health Trust and the former Financial Recovery Board member was the vice chair of that seven member body. Joe Arriola is the new vice chair, Mojdeh Khaghan, Esq. is the treasurer, and Dr. Irene Lipof is the trust’s secretary. However, the new PHT seven-member board has one vacancy, and that slot will be filled after a public notice for applicants to apply to serve on the body has been run. And the PHT Nominating Council convenes and its members will select names of a possible replacement to submit to the county commission for approval in the coming months.

The FRB dissolved on Jun.1 and the PHT came back into existence after being put into abeyance by the Miami-Dade County Commission just over two years ago and the oversight board size was also reduced from 17 voting members, that included two voting county commissioners. To the current seven member board thought to be more nimble in running the sprawling public hospital system with the main campus downtown and with two other hospitals in South and North Miami-Dade. Moreover, since the change, the trust is finally running in the black after a major reorganization took place and while no longer on the “brink of bankruptcy.” The health trust still faces major challenges in the future with the healthcare reimbursement to hospitals model changing nationally when it comes to reimbursement rates and clinical outcomes and efficiency being the new yardstick for federal Medicare payments under the federal Affordable Care Act beginning next year.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Mayor Regalado says vetoing passed District 2 & 5 redistricting plan would put “city at risk” for violation of voter laws

Mayor Tomas Regalado met with activist residents of the Upper East Side this week to hear their concerns one last time of the new Miami commission districts that changed what was a unified Commission District 2, now split between commission Districts 2 and 5. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff represents District 2 and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones represents District 5. The proponents against the split district had offered new maps that kept the residents in one district, and these citizen created maps were based on the fact that the community had its own identity and should not be split. Especially since after decades the area is finally economically recovering in many aspects, and the seedier parts of the area, that included prostitution and drug sales has been cleaned up, and neighborhoods are finding they’re own identity’s.

Regalado had vowed months ago to keep the Commission District 2 seat whole or veto the map, along with Commissioner Francis Suarez vowing to vote no to the split. The mayor said he made that statement “because you wanted more time,” but the redistricting issue also kept being deferred by the commission and eventually the commission ran out of time and from the dais recently. The commission voted to split the district on the final redistricting maps, being submitted to the county and the commission approved the new maps four to one, with Commissioner Frank Carollo being the only dissenting vote.

Regalado told the representatives that a veto now “Would put the city at risk” and that given the short time frame, when it came to him vetoing the legislation due to be done that day. Regalado said he was worried there might be “no precinct plan,” to submit to the county and we “don’t know [if the commission would] override” the mayor’s veto, thus creating a legal problem. And while he thought, “the veto would be sustained, [by the commission] this is a political year,” and the issue is “not about me,” he said. In addition, with the Jun. 14 deadline to get the maps into the county, he said to not get this issue resolved in a timely manner at this point “will put the city at risk,” and he believed “opens the floodgates for any kind of legal action,” he said.


Spence-Jones 

Sarnoff

Regalado

Suarez

      

>>> Third Appeals Court to hear Miami Commissioner Spence-Jones appeal

The Florida Third Court of Appeals this week is expected to hear Rev. Richard Dunn’s case, which is challenging the ruling of city attorney Julie O. Bru. That Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is allowed to run again for a third term in office. After she was suspended from office for 22 months during her second term in office by Gov. Charlie Crist and only reinstated in September 2012 by Gov. Rick Scott.  An earlier circuit court judge had ruled she was not entitled to another term and Spence-Jones is appealing that ruling to the higher court.

>>> Wanted: Top legal mind needed for City of Miami Attorney post, critical soon to be open position

The Miami Commission is looking for a new commission attorney and it is a critical job for the municipality with an around $1 billion budget when everything is factored in. The current Miami Attorney Julie O Bru is retiring in September and the commission has extended the candidate application deadline and below are the high profile job’s description. The recruitment period ends Jun. 21 and the commission on Sept 26 should ratify the chosen candidate.

>>> Press release: Miami announcement:  CITY ATTORNEY -Job Announcement: The City Attorney is a charter officer of the City, responsible for all legal matters related to the City’s municipal government and corporate affairs. The City Attorney leads the in-house legal department of the City of Miami and supervises the services of all attorneys employed by the City and its agencies. Additionally, the City Attorney shall be a full-time government employee and shall not engage in the private practice of law. The following references provide more information regarding the official duties of the City Attorney: 1. City of Miami Code of Ordinances; Part I – Charter and Related Laws; Subpart A – The Charter Sec. 21. – Department of law: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=10933

2. City of Miami’s Code of Ordinances; Part II – The Code; Chapter 2 – Administration, Article III – Officers, Division 3 – City Attorney: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=10933 3. Office of the City Attorney, Executive Summary (annual report): http://www.miamigov.com/cityattorney/executiveSummary.html MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:  Graduation from an accredited college of law.· Must be an attorney-at-law admitted to the practice in· the State of Florida. Have a minimum of· ten (10) years progressively responsible legal experience.

ADDITIONAL FACTORS THAT ARE DESIRABLE BUT ARE NOT PREREQUISITES – Significant expertise and experience of applicant· representing state and local public sector entities in Florida.  City, County· & Local Government Law Certification issued by the Florida Bar. -COMPENSATION – The salary range is open and will be established by the City Commission. The City Attorney position is open due to the retirement of the City Attorney after many years of service to the City. Resumes will be screened according to the qualifications outlined above. Screening interviews with the most qualified applicants will be conducted by the Selection Committee; finalists will advance to interviews with the City Commission. PURSUANT TO THE FLORIDA PUBLIC RECORDS LAW, APPLICATIONS AND RESUMES ARE SUBJECT TO DISCLOSURE THE CITY OF MIAMI IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

CITY OF HIALEAH

>>> Two Men Arrested in Connection with the Theft of Gold Bars at Miami International Airport

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announced arrests of defendants Marco Cruz, 47, of Hialeah, and Ramses Llufrio, 38, of Hialeah.  The charges arise from the May 14, 2013 theft of gold bars worth an approximate value of $625,000 from American Airlines Flight 902, a flight that arrived at Miami International Airport from Guayaquil, Ecuador.  The defendants are scheduled for an initial appearance today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman.

The criminal complaint against Cruz charges him with, among other things, knowingly stealing gold bars which were part of a foreign shipment of property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 659.  According to the allegations in the complaint, Flight 902 was a passenger flight that also contained cargo.  After the flight arrived at Miami International Airport, airline employees removed the cargo, which included six boxes of gold bars.  When airline employees noticed that one box of gold bars had gone missing, they notified law enforcement of the theft.  Cruz, who works as a Fleet Service Clerk, had access to Flight 902 on the morning of its arrival.  As part of its investigation into the theft, law enforcement interviewed employees at the airline, including Cruz.  Although Cruz initially denied involvement in the theft, he gave law enforcement consent to search his home.  In his home, law enforcement found one of the stolen bars and $200,000 in cash.  Cruz later provided law enforcement with an additional $50,000 in cash.

The criminal complaint against Llufrio charges him with receiving one of the stolen gold bars, knowing that it had been stolen, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 659.  According to the allegations in the complaint, Llufrio owns a pawn shop located at 548 NW 57th Avenue, Miami, FL, 33126.  The complaint alleges that Cruz delivered a total of five gold bars to Llufrio and received approximately $250,000 in cash as a result of these transactions.  Llufrio allegedly accepted one of the bars immediately after Cruz informed him that the bar was “hot.” If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of ten years imprisonment. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended investigative efforts of the FBI, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the City of Miami Police Department and the Coral Gables Police Department.  This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Byrne. A criminal complaint is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> There she goes again, Mayor Bower will run for Group III commission seat

Mayor Matti Bower has finally filed her candidate papers to run for the Group III commission seat, (first reported by the WDR week’s ago that she would) and the long time politician has been in office for 14-years. She has served as a commissioner for eight years, before being elected mayor in 2007 following in the footsteps of former Mayor David Dermer who helped her extensively in her first mayoral campaign against a tough opponent Commissioner Simon Cruz. She was the first Hispanic woman mayor the tourist mecca has ever had in its history, and while she can be feisty, over the years she has found it difficult to deal with a couple of the commissioners, including Commissioner Jonah Wolfson. Wolfson had tried to keep her from running again for the commission but he did not get support from his fellow commissioners months ago and she has decided to throw her hat into the ring once again.

Bower has been a vocal advocate for the Beach and its transportation needs and to be a player when it came to discussions about transportation matters that could affect Miami Beach on the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. Moreover, she is easily accessible and is seen on the streets of the Beach talking to friends and tourists that remark she looks more like a grandmother than the mayor. However, while she will likely win this commission race, critics question the point of term limits if candidates can just bounce back and forth from political office. Since the mayor can only serve six years and a commissioner eight years.


>>> CANDIDATES FOR CITY COMMISSION,  “Group III”: Joshua Charles
Dunkelman, Michael C. Grieco, Sherry Kaplan Roberts. >>> NOTE:  All races are citywide.  The city is not divided into geographic districts.  All commission seats are at large.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Gables Good Government names M-DC Commissioner Sosa, GGG Civic Leader of the Year

Jeanette Slesnick sent the following note on the Gables Good Government Committee, which she is president of and the concept is a worthy effort for citizens interested in good and effective government. In her email she wrote, “The Gables Good Government (GGG) Committee held its annual Spring Reception at the Biltmore Hotel last Thursday evening. We had more than 50 guests attend including public officials from our neighboring cities of South and West Miami, Coral Gables residents and GGG members to honor three community leaders: Chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Commission Rebeca Sosa and former Commissioners of Coral Gables Maria Anderson and Ralph Cabrera.

The GGG presented Chairwoman Sosa with the GGG Civic Leader of the Year Award for the outstanding contribution she has made to our lives in Coral Gables while serving District 6 for 12 years on the Commission (covering Coral Gables north of Bird Road). Chairwoman Sosa has supported and helped in funding important projects that have improved our City. We also recognized former City of Coral Gables Commissioner Maria Anderson with a plaque for 12 years of service to the people of Coral Gables. Nicolas Cabrera was in attendance to receive a plaque on behalf of his father, Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, who was honored for his tireless efforts as Commissioner for 12 years and almost as many on the Planning and Zoning Board of Coral Gables before that.

The GGG is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the effective and efficient management of City government. We hold two annual receptions such as this one to honor local leaders plus distribute quarterly newsletters to keep our members informed about news surrounding current government issues that face our community as well as interesting civic events,” wrote the former wife of Gables Mayor Slesnick, II. For more information got to http://ggg-news.wix.com/ggg-news or email at ggg-news@hotmail.com.

VILLAGE OF CUTLER BAY

>>> Cutler Bay Man Sentenced in $12 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving the Cashing of Thousands of Fraudulently Obtained U.S. Treasury Checks

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula A. Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Ronald Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Field Office, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing of defendant Jesus Calvo, 30 of Cutler Bay, for his role in an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme, to 58 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez also ordered the defendant to pay $9.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the factual proffer, the defendant operated a check cashing store called J&S Taxes in Perrine, Florida.  Beginning in or around February 2012, and continuing through in or around June 2012, the defendant cashed thousands of fraudulently obtained United States Department of Treasury income tax refund checks (totaling approximately $12MM) that were brought by co-conspirators.  The defendant knew that the checks had been obtained by fraud and without authorization of the true taxpayer. According to the factual proffer, the defendant received more than the standard fee for cashing the checks because the tax-refund checks had been obtained by fraud.  The standard fee for cashing these checks would have been from two to five percent.  However, the defendant took much more than that fee and used this money for his own personal expenditures – he purchased two houses, he funded his retirement account, he invested in a “start-up company,” he purchased an investment property, and he purchased cars and other items.

According to the plea agreement and statements made in court, the defendant agreed to forfeit two houses, five cars, three bank accounts, high-end watches, jewelry and cash.  These assets had an estimated value of approximately $2 million. >>> Mr. Ferrer thanked IRS-CI, USSS, USPIS, and FBI for their work on this case.  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. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> State Rep. Gibbons gets fundraising help from four county commissioners, his opponent Furr has long serving Commissioner Gunzburger in his corner for Commission District 6 seat

The Broward County Commission District 6 race is getting more interesting since state Rep. Joseph Gibbons, D- Pembroke Pines, 64, (Net worth $105,000 in 2011) has decided to throw his hat into the ring for the seat in 2014. Broward commission races are partisan and he has only one other Democratic Party challenger. Former Hollywood City Commissioner Quentin “Beam” Furr, 58, and he has gotten the endorsement of the incumbent District Commissioner Sue Gunzburger. Gunzburger, the longest serving commissioner on the nine-member dais is termed out on the dais along with Mayor Kristin Jacobs.

Gibbons has been a fixture in the Florida Legislature for over a decade and is termed out in 2014 and his House District 100 after redistricting encompassed a large swath of North East Miami-Dade. In addition, in 2012 he faced Sheldon Lisbon who he narrowly beat when he got 52 percent of the August primary election vote for the House seat. Further, Broward is a Democratic Party strong hold with 1.367 million voters, of which 589,960 are Democrats, the Republican’s have 256,025 voters and another 290,775 voters are listed as “other.”

However, Gibbons now is getting major fundraising help from the county commission dais. Commissioners Marty Kiar, Stacy Ritter (Both former state legislators), Lois Wexler and Dale Holness are all hosts for a Jun.13 fundraiser that includes other elected officials. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-05-28/news/sfl-county-commission-wants-gibbons-elected-20130528_1_broward-county-commission-district-sue-gunzburger-campaign-fundraiser and here is the Dist. 6 map http://gis.broward.org/maps/webPDFs/CommissionDistricts/comdist6.pdf .

However, Gibbons has been dogged with questions about his residency, since his wife and twins live in Jacksonville and he lost his Homestead Exemption in 2009 and 2010 on his condominium in Hollandale Beach. Since his wife also claimed a exemption for her home, but no criminal fraud charges were filed against Gibbons, who explained his long distance relationship with his wife as the ‘new normal’ and he did reside in the House district.  http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-04-12/news/fl-joe-gibbons-homestead-20130406_1_joe-gibbons-homestead-exemption-d-hallandale-beach


Gibbons

Beam on right with Gunzburger in the center

Kiar

Ritter

Jacobs

Wexler

Holness

 

>>> 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 DAVIE

>>> Press release: Governor Scott Highlights $9 Million in Funding for Boys and Girls Clubs

Governor Rick Scott today visited The Rick and Rita Case Boys and Girls Club in Davie, Florida to highlight $9 million in funding from the Florida Families First Budget for the Florida Alliance of the Boys and Girls Club.

Governor Scott said, “Boys and Girls Clubs are a great investment in the future of Florida. These clubs provide a safe environment for children to learn and to develop good social skills to pursue their dreams.” The Florida Families First budget includes $4 million in education funding for the mentoring program and $5 million in juvenile justice funding for delinquency prevention programs.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said, “The Florida Families First Budget truly invests in our state’s future generations. By placing an emphasis on programs like Boys and Girls Clubs that help at-risk young people before they get in trouble, youth are less likely to ever become delinquent, which means safer, stronger communities more equipped to produce a generation of successful Floridians.”

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said, “For many of Florida’s children, the difference they need to be successful in life may be as simple as having someone invest a little time and extra help. I am thrilled about this investment in our future. I am sure it will provide the opportunity for thousands of children to dream of a brighter future.” A draft report from the independent non-partisan watchdog group, Florida TaxWatch found that the taxpayer benefit from participation in the Boys and Girls Clubs includes “a cost-avoidance of $5,000 per youth who is diverted from criminal activities, and over $45,000 for each youth that is diverted from incarceration.” The 235 club sites of the Florida Alliance of the Boys and Girls Club include 12 clubs in Broward County.

CITY OF MIRAMAR

>>> Miramar Man Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced that defendant Johnny Alexander Melo, 36, of Miramar, was sentenced today for his participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  Melo was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release.  In addition, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola ordered Melo to pay restitution of $18,594.63 to the IRS.  Melo previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to use a false identification document, one count of possession of five or more identification documents, one count of theft of government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service following the hearing.

On October 5, 2012, defendant Melo was charged in a ten (10) count indictment for his participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  According to the indictment, defendant Melo and his co-conspirators stole personal identification information and used the stolen information to file false tax returns in the identities of at least 22 individuals.  The U.S. Treasury issued tax refund checks in the names of those individuals.  Melo then attempted to cash these fraudulently obtained tax refund checks by using false driver’s licenses in the names of the stolen identities.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

LIBERTY COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Carl Causey as Interim Sheriff of Liberty County.

Causey, 53, of Gulf Breeze, has been the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Pensacola Region of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement since 2010. Previously, ASAC Causey served 11 years with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office where he worked in patrol and investigations. Causey served as an agent in the Sebring Field Office of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement from 1993 to 1996, and as an agent in the Pensacola Regional Operations Center from 1996 to 2007. In 2007, he was promoted to Special Agent Supervisor over the Major Crimes Squad. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Troy State University. Governor Scott said, “I am confident that Carl Causey will serve the families of Liberty County well during this interim term.” Causey replaces suspended Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch, and is appointed for a term beginning June 4, 2013, and ending July 4, 2013.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY

>>> Two Port Saint Lucie Men Sentenced on Firearms Conspiracy Charges

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, announce yesterday’s sentencing of defendants Vincent Olavarria, Jr., 46, and Darren D. Cuff, 26, both of Port St. Lucie, on charges of conspiracy to violate federal firearms sales laws and making false statements to a federal officer.  Olavarria had previously pled guilty to conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  Cuff had previously pled guilty to making false statements to a federal officer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, in the course of the investigation of this case.  At yesterday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced Olavarria to 34 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release; Judge Moore sentenced Cuff to 21 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.

From March 2010 through December 2011, defendant Olavarria was a federally licensed firearms dealer in Port St. Lucie.  Olavarria conspired with other defendants including defendant Cuff to falsify firearms sales records and conceal the actual buyers and true destination of sixty rifles that Olavarria had sold to an undocumented buyer.  In concert with Olavarria and at his direction, Cuff and others pretended to be the buyers, and lied to ATF agents investigating the sales and transfer of the rifles, claiming to have taken the rifles and resold them on the street, when in fact they had all gone to another purchaser as yet unknown to ATF.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ATF.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

FORT PIERCE

>>> Fort Pierce Man Sentenced on Firearms Charges

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, announce today’s sentencing of defendant Jose Antonio Delgado, 46, of Fort Pierce, on charges of unlawful possession of stolen firearms.  Delgado had previously pled guilty to possession of a stolen handgun, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(j) and 924(a)(2).  At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced Delgado to 120 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

On November 14, 2012, defendant Delgado was arrested by officers of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, after he was spotted carrying a prohibited firearm in public and fled police pursuit into his home in Fort Pierce.  Following Delgado’s surrender to the police who surrounded the home, a state search warrant issued for the home.  The search resulted in the seizure of two firearms found in Delgado’s home (a .22 caliber TEC-22 short barreled rifle modified with an added stock, and a homemade silencer) as well as the .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun Delgado was carrying as he fled police, which was found outside on the ground.  According to court records, Delgado had been deprived of the right to possess firearms following previous felony convictions.  Judge Moore imposed the maximum sentence under federal law, noting the defendant’s extensive criminal history going back to the age of nine years old.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF, the Fort Pierce Police Department, and the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> What: Downtown Bay Forum June Meeting — Topic: “Black Miami, Any Progress?” Date: June 26, 2013 Time: 12 Noon Place: Wolfson Auditorium of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th Street, Miami, Florida. Reservations Required. Please contact Annette Eisenberg: 305 757-3633. __$ 35 Membership __ $ 23 Lunch, member w/reservation, __ $58 Membership & Lunch, __$27 Non-Member or Member without reservation if space ___255 Table of 10
DOWNTOWN BAY FORUM P.O. Box 530916 Miami Shores, FL 33153-0916

EDITORIAL

>>> Homestead investigation of CRA land deal and role of mayor and wife brings for profit Dade Medical College into the spotlight

The story inThe Miami Herald today about a land deal in Homestead, using the municipalities Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) that appears to be favorable to Ernesto Perez, the founder of the Dade Medical College and involves Mayor Steve Bateman and his wife Donna a real estate agent involved in the land deal. This story, now being investigated by the state attorney’s office, has triggered in the Watchdog Report an analysis of the Dade Medical College founded in 1999, and the for profit school has expanded campuses since then.

Perez in the story claims Bateman is only his ‘friend,’ and he was trying to help in the resurgence of Homestead after the community was hammered with depressed real estate values and massive foreclosures in 1999. He says the accusation of anything wrong is just ‘nitpicking’ when it comes to ethics questions of the relationship and said ‘there is nothing there.’ But Perez also has an ability to draw high profile people into his organization. That back in 2010 had state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami as an employee who received $101,568 from the College state’s the legislator’s financial disclosure form from back then, and currently former Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick, II, an attorney is involved in the College and his association as a Dean is mentioned prominently in the schools webpage. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html

Moreover, while the schools have many supporters and are fully accredited, over the past few months, people have mentioned to the Watchdog Report that they were trying to be recruited to join the organization, it would pay well, but they said they gave it a pass. Moreover, one of the reasons given was how many of the students attend the College using federal Pell Grants that have to be repaid. However, some of the students either drop out, or fail to get their required degrees, or fail to pass the nursing or psychology boards for example, but the students are still left saddled with the education debt. In addition, while there are six schools around the state, most are in Miami-Dade, but this latest ripple ads to the community interest in the organization. Since Perez is also a new member on the Jackson Memorial Foundation, the organization that raises money for the Public Health Trust and Jackson Memorial Hospital. >>> For more on the College go to  http://www.dademedical.edu/

LETTERS

>>> Reader on Child development and importance to future of the nation

There are three items that I request you read. One asks for immediate action.

The action item refers to the following information sent to me by ReadyNation, a project of America’s Promise Alliance (America’s Promise is the organization founded by General and Mrs. Colin Powell.) “On May 29th, we sent our open letter, signed by more than 300 business leaders and organizations  (See http://readynation.org/signatories-business-letter ), to President Obama and members of Congress.  Signatories include senior executives from PNC, Macy’s Inc., and Procter & Gamble, as well as several state and local chambers of commerce and business roundtables. We will continue to collect signatures, and release an updated letter at the 2013 National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood Investment. If your business network has not taken this action, we encourage you to ask them to sign the letter today.”

So I am asking! To read the letter and to add your signature if you have not already done so and are involved in business at any level, please go tohttp://readynation.org/business-letter As a personal statement, I am pleased that Kiwanis International was one of the signatories! While the letter is self-explanatory, I ask that you download the following two files, which expand upon the needs within the letter. One, a book review in SCIENCE Magazine, discusses a new book by Nobel Laureate James Heckman; the other is a Gail Collins “Other Views” article from the Miami Herald, reprinted from the New York Times.

After reading the review of Professor Heckman’s book, Giving Kids a Fair Chance (A Strategy That Works), I would suggest that you go to his web site, http://www.heckmanequation.org/heckman-equation  To be blunt, our business leaders in this country need to understand the issues brought by ReadyNation and Professor Heckman, and so do our political leaders at all levels. Finally, the “Other Views” article by Gail Collins makes it very clear that no matter how powerful the arguments are, and no matter how strong the science, changing public policy to benefit young children and their families is no slam-dunk. The fact that our future economy and society are being increasingly recognized as being at risk has not been enough to make that change to date, and Ms. Collins explores what we the people have to do in order to make things happen. Please download the attachment with her article.

Will Blechman, M.D.

>>> Don’t you think it is pitiful no one seems to be demanding any (mayoral and candidates) debates?  I suggested to MNU but will the media even care?  Where is The Miami Herald?

Steve Hagen
Have you signed the petition;
More Parks for Miami NOW www.ipetitions.com/petition/moreparksformiaminow

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

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

RONALD HALL

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

RON BOOK

LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.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

GREATER 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 GOOD GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE http://goodgov.net/

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.

LETTER POLICY

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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net 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.

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

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Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net


 
 
 

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