Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.6 June 16, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating My 14th Anniversary
Argus Report: Mayor Lerner of Pinecrest & others hold rally calling for national background checks of gun owners on six-month anniversary since Newtown rampage killed 26 children and adults.
Florida: Gov. Scott picks & chooses his vetoes, working the state and amping up controversial profile as Nov. 2014 gubernatorial race looms in distance
Miami-Dade County: BCC Committee discusses legislation to create more funding and programs for Animal Services and eventually creating No Kill Animal Shelter, highly charged issue with animal lovers
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Poison Pill for wayward bond oversight members in the form of “person from a federal entity,” attending but identity will be unknown
Public Health Trust: May financials show $4.2 million surplus, another month in the black, payables to venders’ drops to “historic low of $110 million”
City of Miami: Absentee Ballot probe of mayoral candidate Suarez campaign erupts, innocent mistake? But will story have legs and affect Nov. mayoral race against Mayor Regalado?
City of Miami Beach: Candidate Berke jumps into mayoral race, #2 in 2011, now four candidates in pack with runoff likely scenario in November
City of Coral Gables: Pedestrian bridge across US 1 & UM legislation gets passed at county committee meeting, M-DC Commissioner Suarez has concerns, maybe better location, but “did not want to slow [the process]” & Eight student deaths or serious injuries since 1989
City of Homestead: Mayor Bateman to face Mark Bell, will it be mayoral election Part II since mayor beat Lynda Bell in 2009, and now she is a county commissioner
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Commissioner Kiar’s brother in future going to Broward Sheriff’s office raises eyebrows; Kiar had $72, 338 net worth through May 2012
City of Hallandale Beach: Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns on Behalf of His Clients
Hardee County: Gov. Scott taps Andrea Teves Smith to the Tenth Circuit Court.
Collier County: Gov. Scott names Marielle M. Kitchener to the Big Cypress Basin Board.
St. Johns County: Gov. Scott Reappoints Frederick Roberts to St. Johns River Water Management District
Monroe County: Marine Life Dealers Charged for Illegal Harvest and Sale of Nurse Sharks
Community Events: Downtown Bay Forum June Meeting — Topic: “Black Miami, Any Progress?” Date: June 26, 2013 noon
Editorials: Revelations of NSA intercepts of phone records causing concerns, but what will this enhanced information technology provide government agencies in decades to come? — 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: Physician on local Children’s Courts reforms by Judge Lederman – Readers on WDR and “terrific report”
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. Thank You
>>> CORRECTION of last week’s WDR: A headline last week stated former Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, II was no longer married to his wife Jeannette and that is incorrect. The couple recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary in Italy last month.
>>> CLARIFICATION: While Rafael Garcia-Toledo, a close confidant and friend of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is a registered county lobbyist as of May 7, 2013. He did not keep his April 17, 2002 lobbyist registration form current since then, as was reported last Sunday in the WDR. The Watchdog Report pulled his lobbying file at the county clerk’s office last week and there were only two pages in the file. He lists in the “Specific Issue” section on the form that he is lobbying on “All County Matters” and he is the principle of “G-T Construction Group.” This issue is only relevant because he has been lobbying at the county in a variety of ways before that May date, and his closeness to Gimenez. Some critics are suggesting, gives Garcia-Toledo being on a specific lobbying team, an edge with firms wishing to do business with Miami-Dade County.
>>> Father’s Day is a special day for all of us along with Mother’s Day and we each reflect in our own way the role our parents have played in one’s life. My father Arthur J. Ricker, M.D. died suddenly in 1981 from bee stings, and I was in Hiroshima Japan at the time I got the phone call, and it was a devastating call at the time. Since I did not have the opportunity to talk to him before he passed, and the luxury of telling him how he and my mother shaped my life. And what I have been doing the past 17 years is very much shaped by both of them, and if your parents are alive today. Tell them both how much you love them, for they will not be with you forever.
>>> GO MIAMI HEAT!
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Mayor Lerner of Pinecrest & others hold rally calling for national background checks of gun owners on six-month anniversary since Newtown rampage killed 26 children and adults.
Cindy Lerner, the Mayor of Pinecrest, along with a host of others held a press conference Friday at the Miami-Dade County Stephen P. Clark Government Center demanding that Congress act on requiring background checks for the purchase of guns on the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Newtown shootings where 26 children and adults died. She said around the nation “950 mayors have signed the pledge against illegal guns,” sold at gun shows and other venues and the need for background checks. The former state representative and a Democrat said they had protested outside Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-FL and also GOP Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s office saying in the case of the junior senator. How disappointed they were because he did not support gun control and background checks when he voted no in the body even though polls said, “94 percent of Floridians wanted background checks,” said the mayor.
Lerner said supporters of enhanced background checks around the country were not going to “fade from the national attention.” And “We will not forget when a minority of senators vote down a bill,” and this is “outrageous” and “Moms want their voices heard.” Since some 6,000 people around America have been killed in gun violence “since Newtown,” Lerner said. In addition, this gathering downtown was just part of a national campaign “to end the bloodshed” and the issue is not about proper gun ownership, but about “gun violence,” she closed her remarks to the cameras. Here is the press release for the event and participants. http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/06/13/4945154/floridians-to-gather-for-we-stand.html and a link to www.demandaction.org
However, critics of the federal legislation, including the NRA, question if a national gun registry and background checks would allow the government to have an ability to round up gun owners in the future and would fuel the idea of Big Brother taking away citizens liberties and their guns.
>>> With Passage Of Defense Authorization Bill, Ros-Lehtinen Pleased That An Entry Control Complex At HARB Was Authorized In Bill
Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is pleased that the bipartisan bill that passed the House today authorizes the construction of an entry control complex at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB). The HARB entry control complex authorization was included in the Defense Authorization bill.
Ros-Lehtinen’s statement: “I am pleased that I was able to get the authorization to help HARB construct this much needed entry complex. The current one in use is outdated and does not provide adequate security for the patriots working at the base. HARB is an economic lifeline for South Miami-Dade County and it is imperative that we do all we can to make sure it has what it needs.”
>>> Walgreens Agrees to Pay a Record Settlement of $80 Million for Civil Penalties Under the Controlled Substances Act – Largest Fine Paid by a DEA Registrant
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, announced that Walgreens Corporation (Walgreens), the nation’s largest drug store chain, has agreed to pay $80 million in civil penalties, resolving the DEA’s administrative actions and the United States Attorney’s Office’s civil penalty investigation regarding the Walgreens Jupiter Distribution Center and six Walgreens retail pharmacies (collectively “Registrants”) in Florida. The settlement further resolves open civil investigations in the District of Colorado, Eastern District of Michigan, and Eastern District of New York, as well as civil investigations by DEA field offices nationwide, pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act (the Act).
The settlement, the largest in DEA history, resolves allegations that the Registrants committed an unprecedented number of record-keeping and dispensing violations under the Act. According to documents filed in the underlying administrative actions, the Registrants negligently allowed controlled substances listed in Schedules II – V of the Act, such as oxycodone and other prescription painkillers, to be diverted for abuse and illegal black market sales.
According to the most recent report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdose deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths and deaths from illegal street drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines in 2009. Oxycodone is a powerful addictive narcotic that is one of the most abused prescription medications in Florida and throughout the United States. Walgreens’ Distribution Center in Jupiter, Florida was the largest supplier of oxycodone to retail pharmacies in the State of Florida.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Prescription drug abuse is a tremendous problem in Florida and throughout the country. Every day, individuals die from prescription drug overdoses. The record-keeping requirements of the Controlled Substances Act and DEA regulations are designed to prevent prescription pain killers, like oxycodone, from ending up on our streets. For this reason, we cannot allow pharmacies to circumvent their regulatory record-keeping and dispensing obligations.” DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville stated, “National pharmaceutical chains are not exempt from following the law. This settlement sends out a clear message that all DEA registrants will be held accountable when they violate the law and threaten public health and safety. The DEA will continue its efforts to work with our registrants and our law enforcement partners to combat pharmaceutical drug abuse and diversion in Florida.” … Without Walgreens’ retail pharmacies identifying these outsourced prescriptions, DEA could not accurately determine which prescriptions were filled from the retail pharmacies’ own drug supplies and which prescriptions were filled by a “central fill.” Consequently, DEA could not determine the accuracy of the retail pharmacies’ drug records. The DEA’s administrative actions demonstrated millions of violations of this type.
In addition to the $80 million civil penalty for the above violations, Walgreens agreed to surrender the Registrants’ ability to distribute or dispense controlled substances listed in Schedules II – V for two years, ending in 2014. As part of the settlement, Walgreens admitted that it failed to uphold its obligations as a DEA registrant regarding the above-described conduct. Furthermore, Walgreens has agreed to create a Department of Pharmaceutical Integrity to ensure regulatory compliance and prevent the diversion of controlled substances. Walgreens has also agreed to enhance its training and compliance programs, and to no longer monetarily or otherwise compensate its pharmacists based on the volume of prescriptions filled.
Since 2009, the DEA, along with its federal, state, and local counterparts, have partnered to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic that has plagued Florida, culminating in Operation Pill Nation I and II and Operation Oxy Alley. These investigations have resulted in charges against more than 172 individuals, including 51 doctors and 24 clinic/pharmacy owners, the seizure of approximately 2.5 million dosage units of controlled substances, approximately $16.6 million, real property, and exotic cars. In addition, approximately 42 doctors and 11 pharmacies have lost their DEA registrations through the issuance of Immediate Suspension Orders. As well, approximately 192 doctors and 68 pharmacies have voluntarily surrendered their DEA registrations following an official visit from the DEA. Lastly, DEA has also taken action against seven other Florida-based distributors… >>> 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.
>>> Zogby Report Card: Snooping scandal has stalled Obama’s second term agenda -John Zogby’s Obama Weekly Report Card is Featured in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Secrets” Published weekly in The Washington Examiner
This week’s grade: D
Summer is here and it is time for scandals in Washington. And there are some doozies. Despite President Obama’s efforts to finesse the issue and tell Americans they have nothing to worry about, the National Security Agency invasion of privacy issue is in the forefront, stalling the president’s agenda. Polling shows that Americans are willing to trade off privacy for security, but it also shows that Obama’s approval ratings are sliding a bit to the mid-40 percent level. I am willing to admit that my polling still shows the president at 52 percent approval and is the outlier. But he is back up to waist deep in scandal.
>>> 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 picks & chooses his vetoes, working the state and amping up controversial profile as Nov. 2014 gubernatorial race looms in distance
Gov. Rick Scott has amped up his campaign efforts for reelection in 2014 as he is traveling around the state signing important new state legislation, and he is currently on a trip to the Paris Air Show. Where he will link up with Florida aircraft companies with booths at the international event, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. He says the trade trip is all about jobs, his mantra through out his first campaign and for the past three years he has been in office, that has reduced the state’s unemployment rate to just under eight percent unemployment. Scott has also welded his budget and legislative veto pen over the past weeks after he cut $400 million from the state legislature passed $74.5 billion budget, reducing the state budget starting July 1 at $74.1 billion.
Scott has also been signing death warrants at a brisk clip after recent state legislation modified the overall appeals process, though critics say the new legislation will be thrown out in the courts. Further, Scott vetoed the issuance of drivers licenses to Florida children of undocumented residents, and he has put pressure on public university presidents to hold the line on increasing student tuition costs for the year, though many of the university presidents board’s have bucked that trend.
And while Scott is for many Floridians an enigma and his favorability in polls is some of lowest approvals of governors in the nation, though he says the only poll he cares about is the one “taken in Nov. 2014,” on General Election Day. Democrats are salivating believing he is vulnerable and the GOP is giving him a clear field when it comes to being challenged by a GOP competitor in the primary for the moment, and the party faithful seem to be rallying around their champion. And Republicans are just waiting to see who the Democrats field to challenge the shy governor, who is getting a little more relaxed at public events but is not a natural political campaigner since he came from the healthcare sector where his company Columbia/HCA that he ran in the mid 1990s was hit with a $1.7 billion Medicare Fraud settlement with the federal government, but Scott was not charged at the time.
The Democrats have state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston as the only real announced candidate of note and while people speculate that maybe U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL might throw his hat into the ring. The senior senator just won another six-year term in 2012 in the nation’s most exclusive club and the Watchdog Report predicts Nelson does not run for governor next year. And while former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, then Independent and now a Democrat is making the rounds with the party’s faithful and he does poll well against Scott in a match-up. It remains to be seen if the “peoples governor” will get the Democratic Party nod when comes to the party’s ultimate champion and gubernatorial candidate. For more go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/15/3453570/fla-democrats-see-gov-rick-scott.html
>>> GOVERNOR SCOTT VETOES BILL REGARDING PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTIONS
Press release: Governor Scott vetoed HB 249, a bill regarding public records exemptions. The veto letter is below and available in a PDF here.
Dear Secretary Detzner: By the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Florida, and Article III, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, I do hereby veto and transmit my objections to Committee Substitute for House Bill 249, enacted during the 115th Session of the Legislature of Florida, during the Regular Session of 2013, and entitled: An act relating to public records… This is a bill related to House Bill 247, which requires that the uniform statewide voter registration application include a field for the applicant’s email address. This bill seeks to create a public records exemption for email addresses obtained as part of the voter registration process.
The mailing addresses of Florida’s registered voters have traditionally been part of the public record as a means of delivering important information on election-related issues, and to facilitate communication from elected officials to their constituents. In the modern age of electronic communications, email is increasingly the most convenient and efficient means to receive information that was previously sent through the mail. In order to ensure that voters continue to have efficient access to election-related materials and information, it is essential to keep these channels of communication open to the public. For these reasons, I withhold my approval of Committee Substitute for House Bill 249 and do hereby veto the same.
>>> Gov. Rick Scott Announces Florida Receives Final Waiver Approval for Managed Medical Assistance Program – 1115 waiver allows for enhanced consumer protections, quality of care and access for Floridians-
Press release: Gov. Rick Scott today announced the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave final approval to amend the 1115 waiver demonstration, which allows the state to extend an improved model of managed care to all counties in Florida and will require managed care for certain populations. In addition, program operations and safeguards have been enhanced as this waiver amendment allows the state to improve upon the managed care model originally developed for the five-county reform demonstration that began in 2006.
Gov. Rick Scott said, “Florida is leading the nation in improving cost, quality and access in the Medicaid program. CMS’s final approval of our Medicaid managed care waiver is a huge win for Florida families because it will improve the coordination of care throughout the Medicaid system. Healthcare providers can now more effectively manage chronic conditions and work with families to provide preventative treatments. When I met with HHS Sec. Sebelius in DC, I underscored how important it was for Florida to have increased flexibility in our Medicaid program by granting us the ability to utilize private insurers and other innovative providers. With this long awaited waiver, we will be able to provide Medicaid users with quality, value-based and patient centered care.” Moving from a fee-for-service system to the Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) program increases consumer protections as well as quality of care and access for Floridians in many ways including: Increases recipient participation on Florida’s Medical Care Advisory Committee and convenes smaller advisory committees to focus on key special needs populations;
For individuals changing plans in this transition, it ensures the continuation of services until the primary care or behavioral health provider reviews the recipient’s treatment plan (no more than 60 calendar days after the effective date of enrollment); Ensures recipient complaints, grievances and appeals are reviewed immediately for resolution as part of the rapid cycle response system; Replaces the Enhanced Benefits Accounts program with Healthy Behaviors programs to encourage and reward healthy behaviors and, at a minimum, requires plans offer a medically approved smoking cessation program, a medically directed weight loss program and a substance abuse treatment plan;
Requires Florida’s External Quality Assurance Organization to validate each plan’s encounter data at least every three years; Establishes health plan report cards for recipients to ensure that they will have access to understandable summaries of quality, access and timeliness regarding the performance of each participating managed care plan; Establishes plan performance improvement projects that focus on six key areas with the goal of achieving improved patient care, population health and reducing per capita Medicaid expenditure; Enhances metrics on plan quality and access to care to improve plan accountability; and
Creates and implements a comprehensive state Medicaid quality strategy to focus on all aspects of quality improvement in Medicaid.
The Agency for Healthcare Administration continues to move forward according to schedule with the competitive procurement of Managed Medical Assistance plans. The MMA program is tentatively scheduled to begin enrolling individuals in April 2014 and is anticipated to have approximately 2.9 million recipients when fully implemented.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Kathryn Ballard and the reappointment of Emily “June” Duda to the Florida State University Board of Trustees.
Ballard, 48, of Tallahassee, received her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. She has previously served on the Board of the Florida Center for Performing Arts and as a board member for the Florida State University College of Human Sciences. Ballard succeeds Susan Busch-Transou and is appointed for a term beginning June 13, 2013, and ending January 6, 2018.
Duda, 71, of Oviedo, has previously served on the Board of Trustees for the Ringling Museum. She has served on the Florida State University Board of Trustees since 2001. Duda is reappointed for a term beginning June 13, 2013, and ending January 6, 2016. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Press release: Following Governor Rick Scott’s signing of SB 1770 into law, the Governor tasked Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel with conducting a nationwide search for the new Citizens Inspector General. This bold reform is a key part of the legislation which reforms Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state’s largest insurance company and a taxpayer backed entity.
Governor Scott said, “With SB 1770 now in place, I have asked Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel to immediately join with other Cabinet offices and begin a nationwide search for the new Citizens Inspector General. Through this transparent process, the State’s IG will work together with the IGs of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of Insurance Regulation to find an applicant that will vetted and ultimately approved by the Financial Services Commission. This new Inspector General will be accountable to the Cabinet and will not be an employee that Citizens can fire, as they did with their old compliance officer. A strong Inspector General is needed to provide independent oversight at Citizens and to end the many problems that have plagued Citizens for too long and led to a lack of public confidence.”
A Selection Committee consisting of the Governor’s Chief Inspector General, the Inspector General from CFO Atwater’s Office and the Inspector General from the Office of Insurance Regulation will coordinate a nationwide search on behalf of the Governor and members of the Financial Services Commission. Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel said, “The selection process will be held in accordance with Florida’s Sunshine Laws to ensure a completely transparent process and to assist the Governor and other members of the Financial Services Commission in selecting the best candidate. We look forward to conducting a nationwide search to find an IG who is fully qualified to hold this important position and is able to assist the Financial Services Commission in holding Citizens accountable to the people of the State of Florida.” >>> The Selection Committee will hold its first in a series of public meetings on June 20, 2013 at 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. to begin the process for a nationwide search for this important position. Conference Room 2103-1, 21st Floor, Florida State Capitol
>>> 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.
>>> BCC Committee discusses legislation to create more funding for Animal Services and eventually creating No Kill Animal Shelter, highly charged issue with animal lovers
The Miami-Dade County Commission Public Safety and Animal Services Committee met last Wednesday and the discussion of the day was the Animals Service Department report on recommendations to the county commission for attaining in the future a county No Kill Animal Shelter. The highly charged issue with animal lovers had been contentious, and committee Chair Commissioner Sally Heyman said she was disturbed by all the past “badgering” emails her office had gotten after the commission did not take up the issue at a previous meeting where animal advocates waited in the audience all day for their item to be heard, but was delayed to this committee meeting. Heyman noted there would be no formal public hearing since it was not an ordinance but she would let interested parties speak on the matter, as long as they were not repetitive comments by the speakers.
Alex Munoz, the county’s Animal Services Director charged with the matter applauded all the animal rescue groups, who do so much for these stray animals and he noted the massive adoption efforts and community education programs have helped bring down the kill population for dogs, he said. “The save rate for dogs is 80 percent,” and while the “summers are slow” for adoptions of pets. The effort has “come a long way,” and the most difficult dog adoptions “are large breed and mixed breed dogs, with black and brown colorations and [these dogs are] hard to place,” he said. Munoz noted when it came to the exploding feral cat population that the county currently has. They’re is “still more to do when it came to a No Kill Shelter for cats,” since they breed much more frequently than dogs, and some 30,000 felines are taken in yearly by the county.
The No Kill Animal legislation is being sponsored by County Commissioners Heyman and Jose “Pepe” Diaz and has widespread commissioner support but the devil is in the details when it comes to the public funding, around “$18 to $20 million” overall, and would include a expanded countywide spray and neuter program. Commissioner Estephan “Steve” Bovo during the discussion wanted to be sure there was oversight of the money and would be used in “a judicious way, regarding how we spend the money,” and suggested any legislation include a “goal and a sunset amendment,” of the funding. He also noted the way the November Straw vote on the ballot that asked for voter approval for the increased animal services funding was written in a way. I “cannot imagine anyone saying no,” the former state legislator said. And he was “happy that a lot of the stakeholders have come together,” on this issue but I “want to see the sunset provision, [because] no tax should be forever.”
Heyman noted the “additional funds” would be a “line item” in the county budget and up to Mayor Carlos Gimenez to administer, and Commission Chair Commission Rebeca Sosa said while the new funding was important to reduce the county pet population in shelters. She said the goal and effort must also be to foster “responsible pet owners. “ In addition, Munoz also noted the Miami-Dade Public Schools are doing there part to educate kids the importance of responsible pet ownership and they will take what they learn home to their parents, who may not have the knowledge. In addition, about 80,000 students per year get this information as part of their yearly curriculum and school Board vice Chair Dr. Martin Karp introduced this legislation and program to the Public Schools District that teaches students the responsible treatment and care for animals and pets.
>>> Wayward companies could be debarred for ten years, up from five now
Legislation to increase to 10 years the time a company could be debarred from getting county contracts from Miami-Dade County passed a county commission committee two to one and County Commissioner Estephan Bovo sponsored the item along with three other commissioner co-sponsors. He wants to increase the time a company could be debarred from five years to ten years and said “Miami-Dade County does business with a lot of entities,” and this is just another way to get “transparency” and to ultimately “give residents confidence” in their government, he said. The former state legislator then cited some of the reasons he thought firms should be debarred and the reasons included “Fraud, anti trust, embezzlement, theft, and destruction of documents,” were just a few of the examples, he gave. Moreover, if the legislation passes the full commission, he believes in the future. “If a company is doing this kind of acts, it sends a clear message they can’t do business with Miami-Dade County,” he thought.
>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REMAINS STRONG IN JANUARY – APRIL 2013 RESULTING IN INCREASES IN MIAMI BEACH’S TOURIST-RELATED TAX COLLECTIONS
For January through April 2013, the City of Miami Beach 3% Resort Tax Collections totaled $14,825,461 compared to $12,899,289 for an increase of +14.9%. The 2% Food and Beverage tax collections in Miami Beach generated $10,474,346 compared to $9,503,853 in 2012, for an increase of +10.2%.
|3% RESORT TAX COLLECTIONS|
|JANUARY-APRIL 2013||JANUARY-APRIL 2012||% Change|
|2% HOTEL FOOD AND BEVERAGE TAX COLLECTIONS|
|JANUARY-APRIL 2013||JANUARY-APRIL 2012||% Change|
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Poison Pill for wayward $1.2 billion GOB bond oversight members in the form of “person from a federal entity,” attending but they’re identity will be unknown
At the school board’s $1.2 billion GOB 21st Century Schools Bond Advisory Committee Tuesday chaired by Roberto “Bobby” Martinez and Mayor Cindy Lerner is the vice chair. Alberto Carvalho, the nation’s fourth largest public schools superintendent dropped a bombshell on the citizen oversight board. He mentioned in his remarks that his credibility is on the line and if things were not done right, he was out the door, but he also said there would be a “person from a federal entity,” at all the meetings in the future. And we won’t “know who that person is to ensure what government does is transparent and good,” he said.
Carvalho introducing this poison bill to any wayward committee member or school board member is the final nail that should guarantee the community as a whole there will not be committee members or board member “perversion” of the process like what happened with the around $990 million 1988 GOB. Where there was controversy about how the money was being spent, and how lobbyists for the companies getting the contracts were helping board members back then, raise money for their respective school board campaigns. “I put my good name on this bond and [I] put my neck out on the line,” when it comes to the responsible implementation of the bond he said. In addition, the former teacher who became superintendent in September 2008 reiterated again that “I will not be here,” if it became like “1988 where the problems were driven by political perversion,” and this will not be the case at the District this time he assured bond oversight committee members.
>>> Press release: Today, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 113 making it a third-degree felony for an adult to knowingly distribute harmful materials to a minor on public or private school property, or post harmful material on public or private school property. Governor Scott was joined by Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho and school board members of Miami-Dade County at Hialeah Gardens Elementary School to sign this legislation, which was created after incidents of this occurred at Miami’s Winston Park K-8 Center.
Governor Scott said, “As a father and grandfather, it is important to protect our children, and parents must know that when they send their kids off to school in the morning, they are safe. Today, I am proud to sign a bill that will make it a third degree felony to distribute obscene materials to minors on school property. This new law will keep our children safe at a place that should be a safe haven– our schools. “I also want to applaud bill sponsors Senator Anitere Flores and Representative Manny Diaz for their commitment to ensuring this bill became law, and I am pleased they were able to join us today.”
Senator Anitere Flores said, “I applaud Governor Scott today for officially making it a felony in the state of Florida to distribute obscene materials at our schools. This law will help protect the innocence of Florida’s children and I thank the legislature for all of their support in getting this bill passed and on to the Governor.” Representative Manny Diaz said, “I want to thank the legislature and Governor Scott for supporting this important bill that will make our children safer at a place where they should feel secure and away from harm. Our schools need the support from the state to protect Florida’s children and this new law offers that.” Representative Eddy Gonzalez said, “Today is a great day for children in Miami and all across Florida. Governor Scott and the legislature have passed a bill that will further protect our students while they attend school- something all Florida parents should be thankful for.”
Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said, “A constant, overarching goal of educators is the safety of students. This legislation will go a long way in helping to ensure that children are safe from materials that could impact them negatively.” School Board Member Carlos L. Curbelo said, “Today our children are safer thanks to Representative Diaz, Senator Flores and Governor Scott. This law highlights the important role community engagement plays in our government.”
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> May financials show $4.2 million surplus, another month in the black, payables to venders drops to historic low of $110 million
Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System in a Jun. 11 memo of the health trust’s May finances to Public Health Trust Chair Darryl Sharpton, CPA, and the other trust members states the organization had a $4.2 million surplus for the month. Moreover, that profit is $2.4 million ahead “of our ambitious budget for FY 2012-2013 and is $41.5 million ahead of the prior fiscal year.” The president and former banker notes accounts payables are “under $110 million, which is the first time in recent history.”
Further, collections brought in $88 million during the month, where historically collections had been a weak aspect of the health trust. That also had a few years ago vendors almost going to COD before medical supplies would be delivered, since the Trust was so far behind in past vender payments. And this lower payable amount due is giving increased discounts on the medical products used at the hospital system further increasing savings for the public organization that gives some $700 million in charity and uncompensated care in a year. But the institution had lost hundreds of millions of dollars during a past three year period, but that hemorrhaging of red ink has slowly ebbed and the public hospital system has been recently running in the black after massive cuts and downsizing of Trust staff. From a high staff size of 12,500 employees to around 9,600 now, that also included major union concessions and efficiency initiatives.
>>> Brian Keeley, the CEO of Baptist Health South Florida wrote an editorial on the confusing hospital pricing and patient charges for healthcare among different hospitals in The Miami Herald last week and to read the editorial piece got to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/11/3445800/hospital-pricing-needs-to-be-simpler.html
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Absentee Ballot probe of mayoral candidate Suarez campaign erupts, innocent mistake? but will story have legs and affect Nov. mayoral race against Mayor Regalado?
Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez’s mayoral campaign is reeling from a raid by detectives on one of his aide’s home, now gone from the campaign, where 20 absentee ballot request forms were found http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/14/3452195/fallout-from-absentee-ballot-probe.html . Suarez is saying it is an “innocent mistake” and he initially believed what his campaign was doing was legal, but is backing away from that argument and the state attorney’s office is continuing the probe. Suarez who has amassed a over $1 million campaign war chest that could top $2 million by the end of the race when a political committee’s funding is included has been challenging and attacking Mayor Tomas Regalado for the high turnover of staff in the city’s administration and the lack of professional staff. Regalado, a long time politician has deflected these attacks using the media, and this absentee ballot scandal gives the mayor more ammunition and Regalado is also claiming that Suarez supporters are destroying his political campaign signs, but Suarez scoffs at that the comment and says that is not true.
The Watchdog Report told Suarez when he first won office in 2009, whose father Xavier is a county commissioner and a former controversial Miami mayor that the younger Suarez was like a new car politically. And that every mistake or controversy he makes in the future is like a ding on a new car, and eventually voters will decide they don’t want a beat up car and throw the politician out of office. I told him years ago. In this case, the controversy is a ding, and given the election is in November, and Miami voters have historically had a very short memory. It remains to be seen what the political damage this issue will have on the younger Suarez’s mayoral race, but it does bring in some of his father’s past issues. Including a voided mayoral race, where his father was removed from the mayor’s office, and replaced by Mayor Joe Carollo after wide spread voter fraud was found to have occurred in the 1997 Miami mayoral race at the time.
Further, the Suarez campaign has many of the same campaign contribution supporters of former Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz whose chosen candidate Commissioner Joe Sanchez was beaten by Regalado back in 2009 by a two to one voter margin. And while Regalado has been the anti-Diaz and a populist mayor in many aspects. The incumbent mayor is facing now a commissioner who also has the support of three members on the dais, Commissioners Michelle Spence-Jones, Wilfredo Gort and Marc Sarnoff in the upcoming race. And the real question is what will voter turnout be in a traditionally low turnout race, and how low will, the respective campaigns go to win the top spot in the city.
>>> Miami Resident Sentenced for Identity Theft
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced today the sentencing of defendant Josue Faustin, 21, of Miami. United States District Judge William J. Zloch sentenced Faustin to 27 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $43,591.90. Faustin engaged in a fraud scheme using stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. The tax returns falsely claimed refunds and requested that the refunds be direct-deposited into Netspend debit card accounts which Faustin had opened in the names of unwitting identity theft victims. Faustin subsequently went to various ATM machines in Coral Springs, Broward County, and withdrew funds from the Netspend debit card accounts… A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> 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 MIAMI BEACH
>>> Candidate Berke jumps into mayoral race, #2 in 2011, now four candidates in pack with runoff likely scenario in November
The Miami Beach mayoral race in November just got more colorful with Steve Berke throwing his comedian hat into the ring again, after winning 23.4 percent of the citywide mayoral vote in 2011, but losing to incumbent Mayor Matti Bower now termed out and running for the commission again. Berke, a Yale graduate and tennis star is facing Beach Commissioners Jerry Libbin, Michael Gongora and executive Philip Levine round out the candidate field. In addition, Levine just got the endorsement of Jonah Wolfson who had weeks earlier endorsed Gongora, but retracted that support, but one thing is clear now with four candidates. The city’s voters should expect a two-man runoff election, after the general election. For it is unlikely any of these candidates will get a clear majority now that the candidate pack is at four.
>>> Former CEO of Miami Beach Community Health Center Sentenced in Six Million Dollar Scam
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 Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), announced the sentencing of defendant Kathryn Abbate, 64, of Hollywood, FL, to 42 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
According to the factual proffer, the defendant served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Miami Beach Community Health Center (the Center) from 2002 to mid-2012. The Center was a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) during this time, and was a community-based organization providing medical care to persons regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. As an FQHC, the Center received millions of dollars of federal funding each year from 2008 to 2012. According to the factual proffer, from about 2008 through May 2012, Abbate embezzled money from the Center in a number of ways. First, Abbate caused the Center to pay her non-accrued vacation pay and other forms of compensation, totaling more than $3 million from between 2008 and 2012. Second, Abbate embezzled money from the Center by causing non-payroll checks to be issued payable to her. Specifically, from 2007 to 2012, Abbate caused the Center to disburse approximately 837 checks made payable to her totaling approximately $3 million for purported “community development.” >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by 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.
>>> Micky Steinberg, a candidate for Miami Beach Commission Group I seat, will be the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club speaker 8:30-10:00AM June 18, David’s Cafe I, corner of 11th Street and Collins Ave. Miami Beach. All are welcome.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Pedestrian bridge across US 1 & UM legislation gets passed at county committee meeting, M-DC Commissioner Suarez has concerns, maybe better location, but “did not want to slow [the process]” & Eight student deaths or serious injuries since 1989
Interlocal legislation sponsored by County Commissioner Xavier Suarez to build a pedestrian bridge across US 1 across from the sprawling University of Miami Campus, where since 1989 eight students have been killed or seriously injured passed a Miami-Dade County commission committee meeting last week. A UM student government representative told the committee members that since 2005, a petition drive at the university for the bridge had gotten around 3,000 signatures after the UM student deaths that also included a Ponce Middle School student from a near by public school and they were in full support of the project, she said..
Suarez, while he had reservations for certain aspects of the location after seeing possible other location that might be better. He voted alone with the other commissioners for the county to accept Mariposa Court in an inter-local agreement with Coral Gables. Since the final location of the structure could be changed in the future and Suarez “did not want to slow up [the process].” The commissioner noted he had talked with “affected property owners” who had a concern and he wondered if “a slightly different location might be better.”
The county staff said the project was fully funded, did not want the project to be slowed down over the summer commission break if the item was deferred, and senior staff noted the Coral Gables Commission had already approved the deal a few weeks ago. In addition, Coral Gables leaders have said they were pleased with the agreement since it accomplished the goal with the bridge base on the east side of the highway, but the transfer cost the city nothing.
>>> Will long serving, respected animal Vet have to retire after commission allows building entrance on Ponce de Leone?
A project on Ponce de Leon Blvd in Coral Gables called Gable Station that will now have its main entrance and exit on the tony boulevard with a long-term veterinarian’s office and a restaurant among the businesses next to the complex has caused a howl among some of the owners. The veterinarian had argued in front of the commission this past Tuesday that people would no longer be able to drop off sick pets easily, he was given short notice that the commission was taking up the matter, and that traffic in the area in the late afternoon is already severe. However, the commission unanimously passed the new design. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/11/3445783/major-coral-gables-shopping-centers.html The Watchdog Report contacted Mayor Jim Cason and commissioners about the matter last week and the mayor wrote. “Yes, the public was allowed to speak. The two sides and their supporters had 3 ½ hours to present their arguments. The Commission had all the information [necessary] in the end that it needed to reach a decision, which was unanimous for the developer,” wrote the recently reelected mayor.
CITY OF HOMESTEAD
>>> Mayor Bateman to face Mark Bell, will it be mayoral election Part II since mayor beat Lynda Bell in 2009, and now she is a county commissioner
It remains to be seen, if veteran Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman will face a contentious race, now that Mark Bell has thrown his hat into the political ring. Moreover, he is the husband of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell, a former Homestead mayor, who now represents District 8 that includes the municipality on the 13 member county commission, that Bateman beat back in 2009 garnering 1,620 of the votes to Bell’s 1,137 back then. Since then he has won another two-year term and he is running for his third term this November. Bateman held a campaign kick off May 30 at a local country club where roughly, 300 attended and he is getting the endorsements from a slew of elected officials from both sides of the aisle, including state senators and representatives for his reelection campaign.
However, it has not all been smooth sailing for the business man and his relationship with the founder of Dade Medical College and a land deal that involved his wife through the local CRA has brought controversy. Both men say there was nothing wrong with the deal but it has the state attorney’s office and the county’s ethics commission investigating the deal handled by the mayor’s wife Donna. She was a banker prior to his being elected mayor when she ventured into the real estate world. >>> http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html
Bell, who owns the Redland Hotel, given his wife’s high profile position at the county, is expected to be able to raise considerable campaign contributions. And this race could be a sequel to his wife’s losing campaign to Bateman, and it is expected to get nasty. And Commissioner Bell last week at a commission committee meeting told the Watchdog Report the problems Bateman has with the CRA deal is “just the tip of the iceberg,” she speculated. And given her political skills along with her husband’s. The race could become competitive and will surely get ugly as Election Day approaches. >>> Homestead founded in 1913 is one of the oldest municipalities in Miami-Dade and while it was leveled by Hurricane Andrew back in August of 1992. It has bounced back, though it was ground zero for mortgage foreclosures when the national economy melted down in 2008 and while much of the county’s real estate values have bounced back since then. The city is still in the red when it comes to rebounding property values. And when it comes to past mayoral elections, traditionally only around 2,500 to 3,000 Homestead voters go to the polls.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Commissioner Kiar’s brother in future going to Broward Sheriff’s office raises eyebrows; Kiar had $72, 338 net worth through May 2012
Broward County Commissioner Marty Kiar is in the spotlight this week after his brother Marc, a school teacher and coach will be hired in the future by Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fl-bso-marty-kiar-brother-20130604,0,4144978.story Kiar a former state representative was elected in 2012 to the county commission after being in the Florida House since 2006 and subsequently reelected to the state house. He says any relationship his brother has with Israel elected last November, will not affect his decision to fund the Sheriff’s office budget that is asking for tens of millions of dollars in new dollars and the request is facing stiff resistance on the nine-member Broward County Commission.
However, it is odd when politician’s relatives are hired by other elected leaders and in Broward, there is a history of this happening, some of which has been okay, while others clearly crossed the line for either the relationship or the lack of job skills. http://www.local10.com/news/sources-broward-sheriffs-office-budget-shortfall-in-excess >>> Kiar’s bio and webpage: https://www.broward.org/Commission/District1/Pages/AboutMartin.aspx
What do we know about his finances?
Kiar through May of 2012 had a net worth of $72,338 and he lists $125,000 in household goods. His assets include his home valued at $155,000, there is $31, 258; $10,800 and $6,081 in Bank of America accounts and there is $23,926 in the Florida Retirement System. The attorney lists liabilities of $11,138 with a credit union, a mortgage is owed $254,348 and an equity loan wants $20,224. The lawmaker’s income for the year was $73,800 from the law firm, and the state of Florida kicked in $28,792 as a state legislator. >>> Here is a story on people related in public positions in Broward: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-04-21/news/sfl-browards-political-family-ties-20120421_1_broward-commissioner-broward-circuit-judge-broward-mayor
>>> Broward Company Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced for Illegal Trafficking of Marine Life
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, and David Pharo, Resident Agent in Charge U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Miami, announced that Aquatic Trading Company, Inc. (ATC), a Florida corporation based in Pompano Beach, entered a guilty plea and was sentenced yesterday in federal district court in Miami for conspiring to harvest, transport, and sell juvenile nurse sharks and angelfish, knowing the fish were taken, possessed, transported, sold, and intended to be sold in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, contrary to the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), and 3373(d)(1) and (2), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
ATC was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King, who had earlier accepted ATC’s guilty plea to the criminal charge. The company was placed on court-supervised probation for three years, ordered to pay a criminal fine of $3,000, and ordered to surrender to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service all licenses, permits, and endorsements issued to or held by the company. Two co-defendants in the case, Walter R. Bloecker and Lila M. Bloecker had entered guilty pleas to the same charge before Judge King on April 18, 2013, and each been sentenced to a period of 90 days home confinement, followed by a one year term of probation.
According to the indictment and statements in court, the defendants were involved in the illegal harvest of juvenile nurse sharks (Ginglymosthoma cirratum) and a variety of oversized angelfish (Pomocanthus arcuatus, Holocanthus bermudensis, and Holocanthus ciliaris), from around as early as June 2012 through October 2012. Harvesting of the fish was arranged through telephone calls between ATC’s employees and an individual in the Florida Keys. Walter Bloecker advised the harvester that he could conceal the illegal source of the sharks by using false paperwork to make it appear the sharks had been imported from Nicaragua. Neither ATC nor the harvester held the required permits for harvesting nurse shark pups for commercial purposes. The illegally acquired sharks were, according to the indictment and admissions in court, harvested from Florida State waters in the Florida Keys and marketed by telephone to a retailer in Michigan. The sharks were shipped to the Michigan-based buyer by commercial air cargo. Likewise, Lila and Walter Bloecker engaged in business conversations with the Michigan dealer, to arrange the sale of oversized angelfish listed on a weekly inventory sales guide mailed to potential customers. The angelfish, also harvested in the Florida Keys, were sold and shipped to Michigan.
Florida Administrative Code, Section 68B-24.005, which addresses the commercial harvest of sharks from the waters of the state, provides in relevant part that any person harvesting sharks in or from the waters of the state for commercial purposes or sells any shark harvested from such waters must possess a valid federal annual vessel permit for sharks; may only sell to a holder of a valid Atlantic shark dealer permit issued pursuant to 50 C.F.R. §635.4; and that no wholesale dealer, as defined in Florida Statutes Section 379.362(1), may purchase sharks, or any part thereof, unless in possession of a valid federal Atlantic shark dealer permit and without confirming that the seller possesses a valid Florida saltwater products license and the federal licenses and permits specified in the Code Section.
Florida Administrative Code, Section 68B-42.004, “Size Limits” provides in relevant part that in all state waters no person may harvest angelfish with a total length outside of the limits specified for the individual species, specifically a minimum of one-and-one-half inches and a maximum of eight inches for Gray angelfish (P. arcuatus) and French angelfish (P. Paru); and a minimum of one-and-three-quarters inches and a maximum of eight inches for Blue angelfish (H. bermudensis) and Queen angelfish (H. ciliaris).” >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the NOAA Office for Law Enforcement and the Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald and Antonia Barnes. 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 HALLANDALE BEACH
>>> Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns on Behalf of His Clients
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), announced that defendant Efrain Felipe, 41, of Hallandale Beach, pled guilty to a two-count Information, charging him with making and subscribing a false tax return on behalf of a client, and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Sections 7206(1) and 7206(1). Sentencing for defendant Felipe has been scheduled for August 29, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. At sentencing, Felipe faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 3 years in prison on each count.
Felipe operated a tax preparation business in Broward County, and prepared tax returns on behalf of his customers, falsely claiming that some customers were entitled to a First Time Home Buyers Credit (FTHBC) of $7,500 for properties they did not own or for properties that were purchased years earlier. Felipe also falsely claimed the FTHBC on his own personal tax return. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> press release: Gov. Scott taps Andrea Teves Smith to the Tenth Circuit Court.
Smith, 44, of Lakeland, has practiced with Peterson & Myers, P.A. since she graduated from law school in 1994, and is a partner in the firm. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Stetson University. Smith served as General Counsel and Board of Director for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce from 2009 to 2012. Smith fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge J. David Langford.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Marielle M. Kitchener to the Big Cypress Basin Board.
Kitchener, 58, of Naples, is the operations manager of Turrell, Hall and Associates, Inc. She succeeds Frederick T. Barber, and is appointed for a term beginning June 12, 2013, and ending May 1, 2014. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott Reappoints Frederick Roberts to St. Johns River Water Management District
Roberts, 33, of Ocala, is an attorney with Klein and Klein, LLC. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 13, 2013, and ending March 1, 2015. >>> The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Marine Life Dealers Charged for Illegal Harvest and Sale of Nurse Sharks
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division, and David G. Pharo, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Office of Law Enforcement, announced the unsealing of criminal charges against Allan Wagner, formerly a resident of Monroe County, Florida, and Dean Trinh, 43, of Milpitas, California. More specifically, the indictment against Wagner and Trinh alleges that they engaged in a conspiracy to take, harvest, capture, transport, and sell quantities of juvenile nurse sharks from Florida state waters, for commercial sale and distribution in interstate commerce to their financial gain, in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, all in violation of the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), and 3373(d)(1) and (2). Dean Trinh has been arrested and made his initial appearance on the charges in California; his court appearance date in Florida remains to be set. Allan Wagner passed away prior to the unsealing of the indictment.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. If convicted on the charges, Trinh faces possible terms of imprisonment of up to five years on each of the six charges brought against him. According to the indictment, Wagner held a Florida Saltwater Products License but lacked the necessary federal annual vessel permit for sharks. He was the registered owner of a 40’ commercial fishing vessel. Trinh operated a business in Milpitas, California, known as AQUATOP USA, LLC, which, among other things, advertised the sale of nurse sharks on eBay and Craig’s List. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Wagner harvested nurse shark pups from lobster traps he placed in state waters and thereafter he and Trinh negotiated over the internet for the sale and transfer of the juvenile nurse sharks. The sharks were shipped to California by commercial air cargo, for further sale by Trinh. Over the period from August 2009 through October 2009, the defendants are alleged to have sold and transferred approximately 74 sharks.
Florida Administrative Code, Section 68B-44.005, “Commercial Harvest of Sharks: Federal Permit Required” provides in relevant part: “(1) No person shall harvest sharks in or from the waters of the state for commercial purposes or sell any shark harvested from such waters unless such person is in possession of a valid federal annual vessel permit for sharks issued pursuant to 50 C.F.R. §635.4. The federal Lacey Act, among other things, makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce, any fish or wildlife, taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State… An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. >> 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.
>>> 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
>>> Revelations of U.S. NSA intercepts of phone records causing concerns, but what will this enhanced information technology provide government agencies in decades to come?
A number of individuals have asked the Watchdog Report what I thought about the revelations the past weeks that the NSA and other intelligence entities are data mining hundreds of millions of phone calls, internet messages and web searches from internet providers in the name of national security. And while the federal intelligence agencies goal is to be sure the nation is safe from evil doers, saying intelligence is necessary on this scale, and officials say is only relegated to people of true national security interest, and a federal court judge makes the decision regarding the level of scrutiny and use of this technology. It is not the current scope of intelligence gathering that concerns me, but what will be monitored ten years from now? When technology is even more sophisticated and seems to evolve exponentially in complexity, and will make this data recovery of people only easier, but will be much more specific in nature and will it make it easier to track down and monitor any ordinary citizen in the nation, anytime and anywhere.
It is this information dilemma Americans are now facing, when it comes to this debate about what intelligence security agencies can, and cannot do, when it comes to personal information and the conversation is much needed. For some legal refinement in the program passed by Congress and first implemented by President George W. Bush, and expanded by President Barack Obama, is clearly necessary by Congress. For in many ways the question is not just about these recent revelations, but who should have access to the data, and how wide should the information net be spread when it comes to ordinary citizens. And at what cost will it have for Americans when it comes to their freedoms and liberties in the years ahead.
For while people in the 1970s and 1980s were concerned about a national identity card, and what it could lead to over the years. These current intelligence programs have gone way past this level of intrusiveness, once scorned by many people, be they liberals or conservatives, and while we all want the nation and its people to be safe from attack. It should not come at the cost of our overall freedoms if we are not to become that which we hate in other nations around the world. And a vigorous debate on the matter in the halls of Congress and at our dinner tables must be encouraged. For the past shows we as a nation are slowly slipping into a vast technological world in the decades to come, that may have no restraint and all information is king, whether it is about relevant security threat or not.
>>> There are times when experience makes such an impact on people that it drives them into lifetime directions that would likely never have been considered previously. As a physician specializing in rheumatology and taking care of older people, I had no reason to believe that my “retirement” would be focused on early childhood development and the developing human brain.
An individual who I’m privileged to know is a Circuit Court Judge in Miami’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit. I have to believe something very similar happened to her as it did to me. Judge Cindy Lederman observed that young children brought into her Courtroom during trials involving one or both parents simply did not seem to be acting appropriately. Judge Lederman took the initiative of contacting specialists in child development who studied the children and found many to be severely developmentally delayed. This led to a major program to work with the children and parents, and Judge Lederman has become a powerful advocate for change within the Court system. She was appointed to positions at the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine and has been responsible for insisting that scientific research drive Court procedures related to child welfare.
In 2008 Judge Lederman founded the organization, Research and Reform for Children in Court. . It is through such research that these children will have their greatest chance to overcome the obstacles life has placed before them. It is good for all of us to know about an effort like this, no matter that we hopefully will never have reason to be directly affected by it. Her message and the link to the website for Research and Reform for Children in Court,Inc. are below. Please paste it and review the material. You may know of others who should know about this also.
Wil Blechman, M.D.
For more on Research and Reform for Children in Court go to: www.rr4cc.org
>>> Appreciate you sharing, great post. Really thank you!
>>> You’ve got a great report!
>>> 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)
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
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
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.
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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.