Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.8 June 30, 2013 Est. 05.05.00 – Celebrating My 14th Anniversary

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Dr. Dunn warns of new concern of Black children being abandoned by their mothers, believes they are “more violent” after talking to 22 clients, mostly all on Death Row

Obituary: Local medical giant Dr. Kaiser passes at 80, his life touched the hearts, minds of the community and world, and he helped make UM/JHS what it is today

Florida: In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: Commissioner Suarez in the spotlight, $225,000 net worth through May, is same as previous year

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Federal grant gone awry costs district $4 million grant to fight youth joining gangs, after wide spread abuse and fraud of funding found, school board kept out of the loop for three years of investigation

Public Health Trust:

City of Miami: Political warhorse Gort in the spotlight, had $241,000 net worth through Jun., mostly the same numbers on financial disclosure form from previous year

City of Miami Beach: City Atty. Smith fires back, says WDR story last week way off base, responds in his own words

City of Homestead: Gov. Scott taps Scott Hopes to the University of South Florida Board of Trustees.

City of North Miami Beach: Gov. Scott names Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County

Village of Miami Shores: Gov. Scott taps Cliff Walters to the Board of Pilot Commissioners

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: PA Parrish in the spotlight, long political career that started at the school board, had $1.18 million net worth for 2012

Palm Beach County: Four Defendants Plead Guilty in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme ~ 92 defendants have been charged to date in Operation Sledgehammer I-VI

Citrus County: Gov. Scott names Sandy Balfour to the Citrus County School Board

Alachua County: Gov. Scott taps James Colaw to the Eighth Circuit Court (consisting of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union Counties).

Monroe County: Monroe County Residents Charged For Illegal Harvest and Sale of Marine Life

Community Events: – Miami Beach candidate’s ethics training course

Editorials: Jackson Health System needs community help, BCC had a role in state of public healthcare system, taxpayers will demand accountability if $830.6 million bond to pass in Nov. — 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 Gov. Scott signing bill involving guns and mental health of owner – Reader on 14th Anniversary of the WDR

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.)

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.

>>> 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

>>> I was on WLRN’S The Florida Roundup Friday and to listen to the show go to www.wlrn.org and I will be on the show Topical Currents Tuesday at 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., hosted by Joseph Copper on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM or on line at www.wlrn.org/topicalcurrents

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Dr. Dunn warns of new concern of Black children being abandoned by their mothers, believes they are “more violent” after talking to 22 men, mostly all on Death Row

The Downtown Bay Forum’s luncheon on Wednesday was a discussion of “When Will Black Miami See Progress?” and the event featured speakers Marvin Dunn, Ph.D Professor of Psychology (Retired), Florida International University, Dorothy Jenkins-Fields, Ph.D., Founder, Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida and Traci Y. Pollock, MBA of the Miami-Dade Economic Advisory Trust and it was moderated by Tony E. Crapp, Sr., a former county director and now with CMDI Solutions. And Crapp reminded the audience that May was the anniversary of the Arthur McDuffie Riots in 1980 that engulfed the Miami inner city of Overtown and Liberty City, and left 18 dead and 100s injured.  After an all white jury in Tampa acquitted a Miami cop for the killing of the Black Marine veteran on a motorcycle, and riots erupted in pockets around Miami. Crapp noted that it was only The Miami Times that reminded the public of the event, last month, as it recedes in people’s minds and was later followed by the Overtown Riot in 1989.  While the Super Bowl was being played, at now Sun Life Stadium and one could see the flames in parts of the city in the background of television shots of the game  that were seen around the globe and I saw when I lived in Sydney Australia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_McDuffie.

Dunn said in some ways “Overtown does not look all that different” than back then, except the “substantial middle class” has left and people now living in the area have a poverty level in the range of “25 to 32 percent” of the local residents, the physiologist said.  He noted there were still over the past few years unsolved police shootings of Blacks in both Miami and Miami Beach and asked, “Why no riot?” He thought it was because of the demographic changes in the area where there are “more Caribbean Blacks” and they have a different take on the situation he speculated. Moreover, Pollock said many of the residents despair of economic revival is the problem because they “have come to the realization that the situation will stay the same, and it is a broken spirit issue,” of many of the residents she thought.

Jenkins-Fields felt that people “without vision will perish” and the younger people of today “never experienced the Overtown” of the past when it “was a thriving area” and that is why she started the Black Archives years ago. “So people would know first hand” what it was like to live in a “segregated Black community in everyway.” She noted in the past their were many Black businessmen in the area but now that number is small and why she believes the restoration of the Chapman House was important because “it appears we are a visible people and we have to see success,” before people “have that Ah ha moment.” In addition, she noted Miami’s first Black millionaire “D.A. Dorsey never had a grant with the county” and these Black businessmen “used their own money,” back then but the profession of choice has changed for Blacks and many of them now go on to be “physicians and teachers,” the respected historian said.

Dunn believed the past riots were not because of “the lack of jobs, it was the police and the strained relationship to more effectively police the Black community,” he thought. And Dunn believed the issue was making “sure people are held accountable,” when it came to policing in the Black neighborhoods. However, Dunn dropped a bombshell at the end of the panel discussion when he noted he had worked with the Public Defenders Office with some “22 clients, some on Death Row,” and he would ask them how they could kill a child?” and be so cold blooded. And he then said the men were different from in the past where his mother might have raised a child, but the father was gone. However, Dunn noted with these new hard-core men there was something “different” and that was they were “abandoned by the father and the mothers,” and “this is a new trend.” And he warned the “most violent of them are those people that were thrown out or abandoned by their mother,” he has found in his clinical analysis of these past discussions with the inmates.

>>> White House press release: The carbon pollution that causes climate change isn’t a distant threat, the risk to public health isn’t a hypothetical, and it’s clear we have a moral obligation to act. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years, and 2012 was the hottest one we’ve ever recorded. When carbon pollutes the air, the risk of asthma attacks increases. When the Earth’s atmosphere fundamentally changes, we see more heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods.

These events also create an economic imperative to act. When farms wash away and crops wilt, food prices go up. Last year, we saw 11 different weather disasters that each cost the United States more than $1 billion.

And confronting this challenge isn’t just about preventing disaster — it’s also about moving America forward in a way that creates hundreds of thousands of good, new, clean energy jobs. It’s about wasting less energy, which saves money for every business and every family in America. So the debate’s over. It’s time for action. Here’s what President Obama is announcing today. Check it out, then help to spread the word.

First, he’s laying out a plan to cut carbon pollution in America — by working to cut pollution from power plants, protect the health of our kids, boost clean energy, and revamp our transportation sector for the 21st century. Second, he’s preparing the United States for the impacts of these changes — by building stronger, safer communities and developing resources to make our country more resilient. And finally, he’s leading international efforts to combat global climate change.

We’ve put together a graphic that breaks this all down — from the effects we’re already seeing to the specific actions we’re going to take to lead this fight.

No single step can reverse the effects of climate change, but that’s no excuse for inaction. We have a moral obligation to leave our kids a planet that’s not broken and polluted. So here’s what we’re going to do:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan Share President Obama’s plan to make sure people in your community understand why we’re taking these steps and what comes next.

>>> Press release: Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass a comprehensive immigration bill:

“I am encouraged by the Senate’s actions on immigration reform. We need to find a real, permanent solution to our broken immigration system. That solution needs to secure the border, strengthen our economy, respect the rule of law, modernize our visa system, and address the issue of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. “I will continue working with my House colleagues as we seek a good faith, bipartisan approach in the House.”

>>> Michigan Man Sentenced in Fraudulent Test Kit Scheme

Press release:  Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Allison C. Lerner, Inspector General, National Science Foundation (NSF), and Ronald Verrochio, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, announced that Alexander Lorin Davis, 40, of Pinckney, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday in federal District Court in West Palm Beach on charges related to falsely making and forging the seal of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an agency of the United States, and mail fraud in connection with the marketing by internet to the public of environmental test kits that were not in fact analyzed by qualified laboratories as asserted in advertisements and literature accompanying the kits, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 506(a)(1), 1341, 4, and (2) U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp, who had previously accepted guilty pleas in this matter from Alexander Davis and his spouse, Dawn Marie Davis, 46, also of Pinckney, sentenced Alexander Davis to 15 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Judge Ryskamp also ordered Alexander Davis to pay $50,264.53 in restitution to 154 victims of the fraudulent scheme.  Dawn Davis, who previously pled guilty to a charge of misprision of a felony for failing to alert appropriate authorities to the criminal conduct, was sentenced by Judge Ryskamp to two years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9,596.09 after a hearing held on April 25, 2013.

According to court records, including Joint Factual Statements submitted to the Court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, from May 2011 through November 2012, Alexander Davis owned and operated Davis Test Kits (DTK).  DTK was in the business of marketing test kits for use in homes and businesses to detect the presence of various environmental pollutants and hazards, such as molds, asbestos, radon, and lead. To promote business, the DTK website displayed the forged and counterfeited seal of the NSF.  As part of the scheme, Alexander Davis also made materially false representations and promises on the website, claiming that, upon return of the test kit by the customer, DTK would cause the kit to be submitted for testing by individuals from an established, accredited laboratory. In fact, however, DTK did not operate or employ testing laboratories certified as represented on the website and many test kits returned to DTK were never submitted for testing by an accredited laboratory.   To perpetuate the fraud, the defendants would mail customers whose test kits had not been tested results from other laboratory tests.   Some, customers were induced to pay additional amounts, in some instances exceeding thousands of dollars, based on false assertions by the defendants that additional testing was necessary. During the same time, Dawn Davis was aware that her husband was using the seal of the NSF on the internet website of DTK and knew the company was marketing the test kits.  She was also aware that DTK did not submit all the customer test kits received through the mail to accredited laboratories for analysis as DTK represented on its website and in written materials provided to the customers.  Despite her knowledge, Dawn Davis concealed the fact that DTK was selling its testing services without any affiliation or connection to NSF, and was failing to provide the purchased testing services to some customers.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency established by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science and to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare.  The agency meets this mission by funding approximately 20% of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities with an annual budget of approximately $6.9 billion.  The National Science Foundation neither tests consumer products, nor audits and inspects private laboratories. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service.  The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald. 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: 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: C

Never one to play to the crowd, this fiercely independent pollster/pundit seeks to annoy all stripes this week. It was a mixed bag for President Obama this week. The U.S. was seriously ‘dissed by two major powers — China and Russia — and the president chided them for not playing by the rules. But what is left for the world’s remaining superpower to do? Go to war against Jupiter and Saturn (China and Russia) when we couldn’t even make a dent in Pluto and Mercury (Iraq and Afghanistan)?

At the same time, the independent Conference Board places the Consumer Index at the highest level in five years and leading economists across the spectrum are projecting a 3 percent growth rate for 2014 and unemployment under 6 percent. He is on another major foreign trip and, while China has positioned itself well with its strategic African investments, Obama goes to a continent that has among the world’s highest growth rates. Despite having dashed huge expectations on the continent, Obama is still seen as an historic figure — something which will not be diminished by the death of African icon, Nelson Mandela. The Supreme Court has upheld same sex marriages, a nail in the coffin of hardened conservatives. And while the president’s approval numbers are upside down, they are still not that bad. A rebound week, but not a great one.

>>> 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

OBITUARY

>>> Local medical giant Dr. Kaiser passes at 80, his life touched the hearts, minds of the community and world, and he helped make UM/JHS what it is today

Gerard “Jerry” Kaiser, M.D., passed Friday morning, at 80, and the community has lost a Great One, not for only his medical skill as a renowned Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeon and teacher of the specialty profession, but also for his work in establishing the union between the University of Miami Miller Medical School and Jackson Health System. I first met Dr. Kaiser in late 1997 at the Public Health trust meetings when he was playing a key administrative role between the two institutions and prior to that he had been a driving force in a variety of the hospital’s medical specialty centers.  Including the stand alone Ryder Trauma Center, a world class facility communities around the nation would kill for to have available to their local trauma patients.

Kaiser, a Princeton University graduate was always the gentleman to me, even at times when other senior management at Jackson Memorial Hospital were not so generous and had then PHT CEO Ira Clark, now deceased, calling me a “slug” or “cockroach.” The physician and heart surgeon would play a key role in the transition of Clark’s long term management of Jackson Memorial Hospital. After it became clear Clark was suffering a medical condition of his own, but the transition resulted in a highly racially charged atmosphere on the campus where protests outside the hospital were occurring when Clark’s departure was announced and The Miami Times had a headline essentially saying healthcare for the poor was going to end with Clark’s departure.

After that retirement of Clark, Kaiser was called in to fill the then nine month or so administrative void left by the man and a national search was done to find his replacement, Marvin O’Quinn who started in the top post in the summer of 2003. But Jerry was a steady hand on the management tiller at the time, and overall his cooler head and persuasive personal skills prevailed in many cases and he will be missed. And Dr. Kaiser gets a Tip of the Hat from the Watchdog Report for leaving a everlasting legacy during his life of expanding the world of medicine and patient care, and being a key figure in making UM/JHS a world class public medical center. He will be missed, and my condolences to his wife Joyce Ellen and family and his many close friends. Here is the Herald Obituary today on Dr. Kaiser http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/29/3477658/jackson-legend-pioneered-kids.html

FLORIDA

>>> In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, sea change for transparency of elected officials’ finances

The Florida Commission on Ethics, as a result of new state ethics and transparency legislation passed during the past session legislative session and signed by Gov. Rick Scott is now as of Jul. 1 putting elected leaders financial disclosure forms online from counties and state elected office and is a required yearly ritual for lawmakers. The Watchdog Report for the past 14 years has weekly gotten an endless stream of these required disclosure forms from the ethics commission, but now anyone in the public can go the commission’s webpage and type in a name, and if the document has been posted you can easily review these public Florida Form 6 submissions. I have some 6,000 of the forms now, but with a click, anyone in the public can review the forms that allow one to get an idea what their elected leader’s personal financial life is and are these people worthy to serve in an elected capacity, based on their private business affairs. An area that gets many politicians into trouble, with many of them being subsequently removed from office and going to jail.

And last week when I requested some of the forms for a few elected leaders from Kimberly R. Holmes, the head of the Financial Disclosure Unit, and someone that has been great to the WDR for over a decade providing past electronic documents. She wrote, “I understand you are requesting filing information on disclosure forms for certain lawmakers.  As a part of the ethics legislation passed this year, Florida lawmakers’ Form 6 disclosures will be posted on the Commission’s website.  The forms can be viewed by clicking this link on the homepage of the Commission’s website (www.ethics.state.fl.us): http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/search.cfm?date={ts%20’2013-06-28%2023:47:03′}&CFID=277210&CFTOKEN=70301042

Staff has worked hard to get this system up and running in the short time between the bill becoming law and the first forms being filed.  As forms are received, they will be posted to the website as soon as they’ve been recorded and any information required by law to be maintained as confidential, is redacted from the form.  This process may take a few business days, but eliminates the need for calls or emails to obtain the information and records from staff.

We hope you find the new web feature helpful.  Please let me know if you have any questions,” wrote Holmes. And she also noted the commission has moved its office to 325 John Knox Road, Building E, Suite 200, Tallahassee, FL 32303 www.ethics.state.fl.us And this information now being on line is a real boost to Floridians understanding of their lawmakers and their personal financial lives.

>>> Press release: Today, during the Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award to Henry and Charlean Lawton. The married couple serve as dedicated guardians ad litem in Jacksonville. The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts.

Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to present this award to Henry and Charlean Lawton, who are outstanding examples of the thousands of dedicated advocates representing children through the Florida Guardian ad Litem program. The Lawtons are helping ensure that the children in their community can live up to their full potential, so they can get a great education and pursue their dreams here in Florida.”

The Florida Guardian ad Litem program is a partnership of community advocates and professional staff providing a powerful voice on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children. The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program currently represents approximately 21,350 children, with the hard work and dedication of 8,500 certified volunteers.

Mr. and Mrs. Lawton, retired from their careers as business executives, have effectively handled some of the Guardian ad Litem program’s most severe cases of abuse and neglect in Jacksonville. They are also active in speaking to new guardians ad litem and they serve on the organization’s volunteer planning committees to expand the reach of the Guardian ad Litem Program.

Florida Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz said, “Henry and Charlean Lawton are very deserving of this honor. They personify the quality of guardian ad litem volunteer child advocates we need in our communities. While they are assigned to advocate for different children, they work together in close cooperation, making the children they advocate for especially lucky. It is as if they are fighting for their own children.”

CEO of Volunteer Florida Chester Spellman said, “Volunteers like the Lawtons are an inspiration for us all. They are making a real difference in the lives of the children they represent, and they also show us the benefits of volunteering with a partner or friend.” For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.

>>> Children’s Trust to announce new CEO on Jul. 8, who will quide the organization into the future?

The children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County is concluding its search for a new CEO and had well over 70 people applying overall to run the Trust with a around $120 million yearly budget and provides extensive children’s services throughout the county. The Watchdog Report contacted the Trust last week asking who was finally selected to be the second CEO of the organization created by voters in 2002 and media contact Emily Cardenas wrote back. “Upon completing interviews with the top 14 candidates for The Children’s Trust President and CEO position, members of the joint Executive and HR Committees present decided to announce at the July 8 Board meeting their desire to begin negotiating terms with one final candidate. We invite you to attend that meeting for the announcement,” wrote the Trust official. Editor’s note: The Watchdog Report predicts the Trust will have picked Interim President & CEO Charles M. Auslander for the top spot.

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.

>>> 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

>>> Commissioner Suarez in the spotlight, $225,000 net worth through May is same as previous year

Xavier Suarez, the Miami-Dade County Commissioner who represents Commission District 7, which snakes along the coast of Miami-Dade, is in the spotlight since he filed his Jul. 1, 2013 required financial disclosure in May and the document is now on line at the Florida Commission on Ethics.http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/241635-Form6.pdf . His net worth is the same as last year coming in at $225,000, and last years financial disclosure document is remarkable similar in many aspects, and the attorney’s home is valued at $450,000, he owns two condominiums, and for income his law practice kicked in $150,000 and ICMA-RC based in Washington, D.C. contributed $24,000 states this year’s disclosure form.

Suarez, a Harvard University trained lawyer was first elected in the spring of 2011 in a Special Election and he was reelected to a full four-year term this past August when he was unopposed at the polls. He is a former mayor of Miami, but also had a second 1997 election to the post voided by local Circuit Court Judge Tam Wilson because of wide spread voter fraud and losing candidate Joe Carollo was installed into the mayoral office back then. Suarez would then run again for Miami Mayor in 2001 as part of a pack of ten candidates for the post that ultimately was won by former Mayor Manny Diaz. He then decided to run for the county Commission seat in 2004 but lost that race to now county Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Suarez then jump-started his political career when he ran in the special election against former South Miami Mayor Julio Robaina when the seat opened up in the spring of 2011, and the attorney prevailed and he was first elected to the vacated seat on the 13-member commission dais.

Suarez

>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES – THE DESTINATION RANKS #2 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR), #2 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY AND #3 IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REVPAR) FOR JANUARY – MAY 2013 AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS
For January – May 2013, Greater Miami and the Beaches showed increases vs. 2012, ranking #2 in Average Daily Room rate (ADR) at $203.85, #2 in Hotel Room Occupancy at 82.5% and #3 in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) at $168.22, among the Top 25 Markets in the U.S. Smith Travel Research compares the top markets in the United States based on Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar), Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) and Occupancy. Thanks to Ultra, Winter Music Conference, Sony Open and other great events for driving these numbers.

JANUARY - MAY 2013
AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE
Market $ % Change vs. 2012
1. New York $235.50 +9.7%
#2. Miami $203.85 +9.7%
3. Oahu Island $203.55 +15.8%
4. San Francisco $171.92 +7.6%
5. New Orleans $156.31 +6.8%
AVERAGE DAILY OCCUPANCY
Market % Occupancy % Change vs. 2012
1. Oahu Island 84.0% +0.4%
#2. Miami 82.5% +2.4%
3. New York 81.5% +4.0%
4. San Francisco 78.5% +4.0%
5. Los Angeles 74.8% +2.1%
REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REVPAR)
Market $ % Change vs. 2012
1. New York $192.04 +8.5%
2. Oahu Island $170.96 +16.3%
#3. Miami $168.22 +12.4%
4. San Francisco $134.88 +11.9%
5. New Orleans $112.23 +7.8%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Federal grant gone awry costs district $4 million grant to fight youth joining gangs, after wide spread abuse and fraud of funding found, school board kept out of the loop for three years of investigation

A federal Department of Labor Grant program to reduce kids involvement in local gangs called the Miami Partnership for Action in Communities Taskforce (Project MPACT) handled by the district’s police department since 2002 has been shut down and the program’s $4 million yearly grant funding has been terminated after a ongoing investigation revealed widespread abuse of public funds. After a investigation that was initiated by the administration, the state attorney’s office, the public schools Police Internal Affairs Department, the DOL IG and the Miami-Dade Public Schools Auditor’s department investigations found wide spread irregularities accounting for the federal funds. Audit documents state in a summary “Internal and management controls over the program’s activities were inadequate and contributed to instances of non-compliance with grant requirements, mismanagement, misfeasance, waste, abuse and fraud. The results of the audit reported is a case study of ‘what not to do’ in the management of contracts and grants, and provide ‘lessons learned’ from which district management could benefit in managing future contracts, grants and programs,” states the June 2013 audit.

The federal program’s grant and audit was discussed extensively at the School Board’s Audit and Budget Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday and while “no criminal charges have been brought against employees, “there are still some outstanding issues,” said District Chief Auditor Jose F. Montes de Oca, CPA. He noted the investigation began back in 2010 but he “was ordered not to discuss the case with anyone because it was an ongoing criminal investigation.” He noted it was a “joint investigation” where the school’s police and the “Police Department took the lead” since they “have police powers we don’t have” and it was a “criminal investigation and Internal Affairs did the investigation,” he said.

However, the investigation over the years was kept from the school board members and Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman was incredulous and did “not understand what authority the [police] Chief had to direct the auditor,” since the auditor was told to keep the investigation a secret. She said this is “a most troubling directive from the Police Chief and the board was totally unaware of this” until she heard about it last Thursday. She was also concerned “what the potential liabilities” were “like payroll taxes” that “were not collected” and what would “be the ramifications with the IRS.” And she believed the board should have been notified since “ultimately the board is responsible, especially with the money” and she asked “what happened to the $4 million dollars, we don’t know,” the frustrated long serving board member said to audit department staff.

Walter Harvey, the school board attorney said since it was an active investigation and “knowing the state attorney was involved” it was important not to “compromise the investigation,” and why the board was kept out of the loop. The Chief Auditor also noted since it was an “ongoing criminal investigation, if I divulged the information,” he believed he would “be prosecuted,” he told attendees.

Moreover, while one of the issues discussed was the police investigating a program that was administered by the department at the time, but is no longer. The issue for Hantman, and also Board Member Tee Holloway was, “Why was it [the investigation] not reported to the responsible party,” that oversees the district, which are the school board members Holloway queried. Moreover, that lack of disclosure to the board, perhaps during a closed executive session with the body, will be the debate the nine school board members will have at June’s monthly board meeting. To read the full audit report go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/auditCommittee/AC_June_25_2013/item9.pdf


Holloway

Hantman

   

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Trustees go for Gold, asking BCC Tuesday to put on Nov. ballot $830.6 million bond question to voters for facilities & technology upgrades

Darryl Sharpton, the new Chair of the Public Health Trust on Monday at the board’s monthly meeting proposed and got approved by the board to ask the Miami-Dade County Commission to put a $830.6 million GOB on the November ballot for county voters to weigh in on to fund and improve Jackson Health Systems massive infrastructure needs. The accompanying 17-page support documentation lists a host of projects totaling $477 million and another $353 million is going for new equipment, including massive IT upgrades states the backup documents. And the issue will be in front of the county commission on Tuesday and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson is the prime sponsor. For a more detailed story go to  http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/29/3477058/jackson-plans-830-million-overhaul.html >>> Below is the BCC legislation on the upcoming agenda.

131317 Resolution Audrey M. Edmonson, Prime Sponsor
RESOLUTION CALLING A COUNTYWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2013, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE ELECTORS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY THE BOND REFERENDUM QUESTION OF WHETHER TO APPROVE ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS OF THE COUNTY PAYABLE FROM AD VALOREM TAXES FOR PURPOSE OF PROVIDING BOND PROCEEDS TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST TO FUND MODERNIZATION, IMPROVEMENT AND EQUIPPING OF JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM’S FACILITIES LOCATED THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY PDF

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Political war horse Gort in the spotlight, had $241,000 net worth through Jun., mostly the same numbers on financial disclosure form from previous year

Miami Commissioner vice Chair Wilfredo Gort is in the spotlight this week and he represents District 1 on the five-member body. And the long serving politician has seen it all since he was first elected to the commission in the early 1990s and was termed out in 2001 when he was one of a pack of ten candidates running to be the Miami mayor. Former Mayor Manny Diaz won that race and former Comissioner Angel Gonzalez won Gort’s old seat, that Gort took over again in 2009 after Gonzalez resigned from office after a plea deal with the state attorney’s office. Gort’s past business has been as a photographer and bond salesman, but in the 1990s. He was as political as any of the other commissioners on the dais, two whom went to prison while he was on the body, but he has politically survived and turned out to be a political workhorse for the residents of the district.

What do we know about his finances?

Gort through Jun. 25 had a net worth of $241,000 and a house in Tavernier is valued at $250,000, a lot in Sebring FL is worth $7,000, there is $30,000 in a savings account, a IRA has $52,000 and a CD is valued at $12,000 states his just filed financial disclosure report that lists his house address but no value for the real estate, and his only liability is a loan from Sallie Mae owed $145,000. And Gort’s only income for the year came in from the City of Miami in salary as a commissioner, Social Security, and the State of Florida Retirement System. However, his disclosure form is almost exactly like the previous year’s as far as values of the properties, the loan and having $35,000 in furnishings.

Gort

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> City Atty. Smith fires back, says WDR story last week way off base, responds in his own words

After last week’s story on Miami Beach Attorney Jose Smith and one of his attorney’s in the office who was criticized by local Circuit Court Judge Victoria Sigler. Smith contacted the Watchdog Report last week and I told him I would run any statement he had on the story and he replied last week. Here is what he wrote unedited: “I was disappointed with your comments regarding the Memorial Day 2011 shootings which relied solely on an erroneous and misleading Miami Herald story.  I expected that you would first speak with me before releasing your Watchdog Report.

Nonetheless, here are the facts.  An attorney representing the deceased driver’s family brought a Public Records lawsuit to obtain records concerning the incident.  Since the State Attorney’s Office is still conducting a criminal investigation along with the Miami Beach Police Department, the City objected to producing the records based on the clear exemptions in Fl. Stat. Ch. 119 concerning active criminal investigations.  Judge Sigler agreed with the City’s position holding that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the criminal investigative files.  However, she did grant access to the decedent’s autopsy records as well as audio and visual recordings, pursuant to Fl. Stat. Ch. 406 which the Plaintiff had not cited in the lawsuit.

After the Judge issued her order, my office promptly asked the Police Department to provide the records to Plaintiffs’ counsel.  Six weeks later, the Plaintiffs’ attorney called my office stating that not all the records had been received.  We then immediately contacted the Police Department which found that certain audio recordings had inadvertently not been delivered to my office.  The Police Department then sent them directly to Plaintiffs’ counsel. At the next hearing, the Judge clarified that her order concerning “visual recordings” also meant decedent’s photographs and issued an order that these be provided to Plaintiffs’ attorneys within 24 hours.  They were.

At the last hearing, the Court was informed that there were no photographs of the decedent at the crime scene and that all photographs of the decedent had been turned over to Plaintiffs’ counsel.  The Court requested and we provided an affidavit from Detective Estopinan, the lead investigator.  Additionally, the Court stated that while the City would be required to pay reasonable attorney fees to Plaintiffs’ counsel, she would not impose sanctions since the failure to provide the audio recordings was neither willful nor intentional. There has never been any effort to conceal or hide any record, or to violate any court order.  There is no cover-up or conspiracy here.  Any suggestion of wrongdoing by the City of Miami Beach or its attorneys is blatantly false.

Your comments about my legal advocacy before the County Ethics Commission were similarly off base.  I appeared at a hearing on behalf of the city (my client) to defend its long established ticket distribution policy adopted in a 1993 Resolution and endorsed by the State of Florida Ethics Commission. With the support of many other municipal attorneys (and encouragement by the prior Executive Director of the County Ethics Commission Robert Meyers), I stated that while I personally agreed with the new proposed ticket policy, I explained that the Ethics Commission had no jurisdiction under the County Code to substitute its judgment for that of the city’s elected officials on whether the city’s ticket distribution policy serves a public purpose.  While I concede that I am a passionate advocate for my city, I disagree that I “almost crossed the line.”   Had I done so, Mayor Bower, who was sitting behind me, would have given me an ear-full.  She did not; nor did any other member of the city commission. So, please Dan, before starting any rumors or speculation, be professional enough to call me so you can get your facts straight. You owe it to your readers,” wrote Smith, the Miami Beach city attorney.


Smith

Boksner

>>> Press release: Miami Beach city manager Jimmy Morales, in office since April 1, will be the Breakfast Club speaker tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25, 8:30AM - 10:00AM, David’s Cafe I, corner 11th St. and Collins Ave., Miami Beach.

Since 1996, the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club has been gathering every Tuesday at 8:30AM at a local Miami Beach restaurant for informal, non-partisan discussions of issues – political, governmental, etc.  It is not affiliated with any other organization.  We are now meeting at David’s Cafe I, corner of Collins Ave. & 11th St., Miami Beach. One orders from the menu or simply has coffee.  Guest speakers range across the political, governmental, business, and social issues spectrum.  Sessions are open to everyone.  Simply show up. www.MBTMBC.com

CITY OF HOMESTEAD

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Scott Hopes to the University of South Florida Board of Trustees.

Hopes, 52, of Homestead, is the chairman and chief executive officer of CliniLinc, Inc. He received his bachelor’s degree and his Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida. Hopes is a member of the Florida Public Health Association and a founding member of the Inter-American Society of Chemotherapy. He succeeds Rhea Law and is appointed for a term beginning June 28, 2013, and ending January 6, 2018. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

CITY OF NORTH MIAMI BEACH

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County.

Luck, 33, of North Miami Beach, is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida. Luck previously served as a Law clerk for Judge Ed Carnes of the Eleventh U.S. Court of Appeals. From 2005-2006, he practiced with the Greenberg Traurig law firm. Luck received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida and was the Editor in Chief of the Florida Law Review.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Robert has proven to be a great advocate on behalf of Floridians during his time as a Federal Prosecutor. I am confident that he will be a strong intellectual force on our judiciary and bring a strong sense of fairness and a willingness to serve with him to the Eleventh Circuit bench.”

VILLAGE OF MIAMI SHORES

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Cliff Walters to the Board of Pilot Commissioners.

Walters, 64, of Miami Shores, is the principal at Cliff Waters Consulting, LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning June 28, 2013, and ending October 31, 2016. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> PA Parrish in the spotlight, long political career that started in the school board, had $1.18 million net worth for 2012

Lori Nance Parrish, the Broward County Property Appraiser is in the spotlight this week and her yearly financial disclosure form for 2012 is on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/12933-Form6.pdf and she lists a net worth of $1.18 million through Dec. of the year and she has $233,000 in household goods. And her salary as the PA is $170,000 states her financial disclosure form.

Parrish, a former school board chair, and a former county commissioner since 1988 before she was elected to the PA office in 2004 after getting 61 percent of the vote. Moreover, in 2012, she was reelected without opposition. Parrish has made her office more consumer friendly, has updated the county’s PA office’s IT capabilities and is a major political force in a highly Democratic Party county, and runs as a Democrat in the partisan election. http://www.bcpa.net/MEET.asp

Parrish

>>> Press release: Two Broward Residents Arrested On Charges Of Fraud

Criminal Complaint Charges Individuals with Scheme to Defraud Spanish-Speaking Consumers by Threatening Them with Deportation

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division and Ronald Verrochio, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, announced yesterday that two individuals were arrested on a federal warrant alleging that they operated a series of fraudulent businesses targeting Spanish-speaking consumers. The criminal complaint, charged Daniel Carrasco, 54, and Federico Martin Gioja, 45, both of Miramar, alleging that the pair incorporated, owned, and ran Florida companies that used a phone room in Argentina to extract money from consumers using lies and extortion. In addition to the criminal complaint, the Justice Department filed a civil case against Carrasco, Gioja, Romina Tasso and their businesses, seeking an injunction to prevent further fraud and an asset freeze to prevent dissipation of funds obtained from consumers.

Carrasco and Gioja made their first appearances in court yesterday. According to the civil complaint and the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the case was the result of a referral from Spanish-language television station, Univision.  Companies belonging to Carrasco and Gioja are alleged to have falsely claimed an affiliation with Univision and purported to sell products such as vitamins, lotions, medical insurance, and English-language training products.  However, according to the documents, the companies frequently did not deliver products ordered by consumers.  The companies allegedly did not have many of the products they promised to send to consumers, and so consumers received other products instead. According to the civil and criminal complaints, after consumers refused delivery of the companies’ shipments, employees of the Argentinian phone room used by Carrasco and Gioja called and falsely threatened the consumers with arrest, deportation, or fines on their gas and electric bills.

Mr. Ferrer stated, “These defendants specifically targeted Spanish-speaking victims, pretending to be affiliated with the Univision television network, to sell their products from their phone room in Argentina.  In fact, however, the defendants had absolutely no connection to Univision, and their companies did not deliver the products ordered by consumers.  As this case illustrates, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting fraudsters, both domestic and international, whose schemes defraud American consumers.”

“This case demonstrates our commitment to use every tool at our disposal — including asset freezes, injunctive relief, and criminal prosecution — against companies that seek to lie, extort, threaten, and defraud Americans,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Protecting consumers from fraud continues to be a top priority for the Department of Justice.”  Postal Inspectors will continue to investigate cases involving fraud against consumers and will vigorously pursue those individuals who use the mail in furtherance of their criminal schemes,” said Ronald Verrochio, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge, Miami Division.

According to the criminal and civil complaints, Carrasco and Gioja routinely changed the names of the companies under which they did business to evade complaints, regulators, and law enforcement.  The businesses allegedly were contacted by a variety of state agencies regarding their illicit practices.  In emails cited in the affidavit in support of arrest, those working with Carrasco and Gioja referred to companies tainted by complaints as “burnt.”  Rather than changing their practices, the defendants allegedly incorporated new companies and started the same illegal practices again. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Postal Inspection Service.  The civil case is being handled by Trial Attorney Jessica Gunder of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.  The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant Director Richard Goldberg with the Consumer Protection Branch. >>> A criminal complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  A civil complaint contains allegations only and the defendants will have the opportunity to challenge those allegations in court. 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.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> Four Defendants Plead Guilty in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme ~92 defendants have been charged to date in Operation Sledgehammer I-VI

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, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer, and Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, announced that defendants Luis Ivan Hernandez, 40, and Maria Testa Baceiro, a/k/a “Maria Testa,” 29, both of Miami, and Olinda Rodriguez, 39, of West Palm Beach, pled guilty today for their participation in a staged automobile accident scheme. Defendant Iris Roca, 41, of Davie, pled guilty on June 26, 2013 for her role in the scheme.  Sentencing is set for September 30, 2013 before Judge Marra starting at 9:00 a.m.

Clinic owners Hernandez and Baceiro each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; 27 counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).  Hernandez also pled guilty to 21 counts of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1).  Baceiro pled guilty to 20 counts of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1).

Licensed massage therapists Rodriguez and Roca each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. These defendants were charged in separate Informations for their participation in the staged accident fraud schemes. The defendants face the following possible maximum statutory sentences: 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, substantive mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and substantive money laundering.  Restitution to the victims of the offenses is mandatory. According to court documents, between approximately October 2006 and December 2012, the defendants staged automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of false insurance claims through chiropractic clinics they controlled.  To execute the scheme, the true owners of the chiropractic clinics recruited individuals, who had the medical or chiropractic licenses required by the state to open a clinic, to act as “nominee owners” of the clinics.  The defendants also recruited individuals, whom they referred to as “Perro” and “Perra,” to participate in the accidents, and others to help the clinics launder the insurance proceeds.  The defendants also hired complicit chiropractors and therapists who prescribed and billed for unnecessary treatments and/or for services that had not been rendered.  Thereafter, complicit clinic employees prepared and submitted claims to the automobile insurance companies for payment for these unnecessary or non-rendered services. Twenty-one clinics participated in this scheme.

Starting with Operation Sledgehammer I in June 2011 and including the defendants charged in Operation Sledgehammer VI, 92 defendants have been charged for their participation in this automobile insurance fraud scheme. Of those 92 defendants, 56 have been charged federally by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, resulting in court-ordered restitution of more than $5 million to the defrauded insurance companies. Thirty-six defendants have been charged by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, and the Greater Palm Beach County Health Care Fraud Task Force for their outstanding work in this case. Mr. Ferrer also recognized the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its collaboration and assistance in this investigation. The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña and the state cases are being prosecuted by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. 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.

>>> Gov. Scott announced the appointment of Judge Mark W. Klingensmith to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Klingensmith, 52, of Stuart, has served as a Circuit Court Judge for the 19th Judicial Circuit since 2011.  From 1986-2011, Judge Klingensmith practiced with a firm in West Palm Beach, currently known as Sonneborn, Rutter, Cooney & Smith.  He received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Florida. Klingensmith is a member of the University of Florida College of Law Board of Trustees, and has served on the Civil Rules, Judicial Administration, and Grievance Committees of the Florida Bar.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Judge Klingensmith has served Floridians with integrity and distinction. I am proud to appoint him to the Fourth District Court of Appeal so he can continue his service to our state.”

>>> Press release: Scott taps Dr. Steven P. Rosenberg to the Board of Medicine.

Rosenberg, 62, of Palm Beach, is a physician and partner with Palm Beach Dermatology, Inc. Rosenberg served on the Florida Board of Medicine from 2006 to 2011 and is a past member of the Palm Beach Medical Society Board of Trustees. He received his bachelor’s degree from New York University and his Doctor of Medicine from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning June 28, 2013, and ending October 31, 2015. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

CITRUS COUNTY

>>> Press release:  Gov. Scott names Sandy Balfour to the Citrus County School Board.

Balfour, 54, of Beverly Hills, is a teacher at the Academy of Environmental Science. She has previously served on the Association of Community College Trustees, Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, Florida Association of School Administrators, Florida Humanities Council, and the Florida Marine Science Association. Balfour received her bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University and her master’s degree from the University of South Florida. She is appointed to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Susan Hale and is appointed for a term beginning July 16, 2013, and ending November 11, 2014.

ALACHUA COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps James Colaw to the Eighth Circuit Court (consisting of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and Union Counties).

Colaw, 41, of Melrose, has served as Deputy Director of the Clay County State Attorney’s Office since 2009. He began his legal career as a prosecutor in the Baker County State Attorney’s Office in 1998. From 1998-2009, he served in various prosecutorial roles in the Eighth Judicial Circuit. Colaw received his bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and his law degree from the University of Florida.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Jim Colaw’s extensive experience serving the citizens of North Florida with distinction will be a great asset in his new position on the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court. I am confident that he will be a great asset on our bench and will continue doing good work for all Floridians.”

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Monroe County Residents Charged For Illegal Harvest and Sale of Marine Life

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 (NOAA), 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 filing of criminal charges against Key Marine, Inc., a Florida corporation with its principal place of business on Grassy Key, Eric P. Pedersen, 51, and Serdar Ercan, 42, both residents of Monroe County, Florida.  The single-count Information alleges that the three defendants engaged in a conspiracy to take, harvest, capture, transport, and sell various species of marine wildlife harvested from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and State waters, for commercial sale and distribution in interstate and foreign commerce to their financial gain, in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, and the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(1),(a)(2)(A), and (4), and 3373(d)(1), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  Initial court appearances on the charges have not yet been set. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez.  If convicted on the charge, Key Marine, Inc. faces a possible fine of $500,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss arising from the relevant conduct.  Defendants Pedersen and Ercan each face a statutory maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

According to the Information, from October 2010 through February 2011, the defendants engaged in the day to day business of collecting, exporting, and selling in interstate and foreign commerce various species of marine life, including Live Rock and attached invertebrates, specifically Ricordia florida, sea fans (Gorgonia species); bonnethead sharks (Sphyma tiburo); lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris); and nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum), with market values in excess of $350.00, knowing that the marine life was taken and intended to be sold in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida.  The Information further charges that the defendants exceeded the legal limit on the harvest of Ricordia florida as part of their illicit harvesting activities.

Pursuant to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act and the National Marine Sanctuary Act, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration issued final regulations in January 1997 to govern the conduct of activities within the sanctuary.  Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 922.163(a)(2) prohibits the removal of, injury to, or possession of coral or live rock.  Section 922.163(a)(2)(I) prohibits moving, removing, taking, harvesting, damaging, disturbing, breaking, cutting, or otherwise injuring any living or dead coral or coral formation, or attempting any of these activities.

Florida Administrative Code, Section 68B-42.008, prohibits the harvest of live rock. Florida Statue 370.07 requires that a person who sells salt water marine related wildlife such as Ricordia florida, to hold a State wholesale and retail license.  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. 16 U.S.C. §3372(a)(2)(A).  According to the allegations in this case, the defendants were not authorized by any competent authority to harvest or attempt to harvest any Live Rock from the FKNMS or State waters during the time period relevant to this Information, nor did they hold the marine-related wholesale and retail permits required by Florida Statute 370.07 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.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Campaign Skills Seminar set for Miami Beach

Candidates and those considering running for office can learn the rules and regulations of electioneering by attending the next Campaign Skills Seminar sponsored by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.   In addition to politicians, campaign managers, treasurers, volunteers and anyone interested in learning what it takes to run a clean campaign, are encouraged to attend.

The two-hour seminar takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, July 22, 2013, in the Miami Beach Commission Chambers.  Speakers — including representatives from the Ethics Commission and the Elections Department — will provide essential information on election law and procedures, fundraising and record keeping.  The event is free and open to the public.  Attorneys can earn Continuing Legal Education credits from the Florida Bar. >> Campaign Skills Seminar, Monday, July 22, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Miami Beach City Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, 3rd Floor, Miami Beach, Florida 33139 For more information or to reserve a seat, call Robert Thompson at 305-350-0630 or e-mail robthom@miamidade.gov.

EDITORIAL

>>> Jackson Health System needs community help, BCC had a role in state of healthcare system, taxpayers will demand accountability if $830.6 million bond to pass

The Miami-Dade County Commission will be considering the Public Health Trust’s request to put on the November ballot an $830.6 million GOB for voters to approve and while the money is desperately needed for the ageing health systems facilities. The commissioners should ensure there is proper oversight for this potentially new money and how it is spent. For it is no small sum and taxpayers deserve to get their money’s worth over the years to come if the bond passes muster with county voters?

Further, the county commission should also reflect on its role in making this bond necessary since back in 2000 at Jackson Memorial Hospital there was some $500 million in reserves for capital improvements, but county commissioners back then during the budget process saw this money as surplus cash. And one commissioner at the time noted they “have plenty of money,” and the commission shifted some $70 million in unfunded mandates to the health trust for the year, including paying for inmate care in the jails, retirement homes, and a host of other costs. This cost shift since then has ballooned to over $100 million yearly and that has totally depleted the money the PHT trustees had carefully saved for capital improvements a decade ago.

In addition, when county commissioners discuss the issue they should recognize that fact, and also when an organization gives just under $600 million in charity and uncompensated healthcare in the past year, there never was plenty of money. And the healthcare system now needs roughly $1 billion overall in basic structural improvements in a host of ways. After the past 13 years of essentially benign neglect as the infrastructure and technology problem festered, and was known to many people in leadership positions, if they were able to see the reality versus some of the political rhetoric over the years. And while the Watchdog Report believes the county commissioners will vote to put the issue on the ballot. The PHT board must assure the public and taxpayers as well that what is being promised is achieved. If a skeptical public is to buy into this bump in property taxes to help Jackson Health System, a community healthcare jewel in need of the community’s help.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/29/3477058/jackson-plans-830-million-overhaul.html

LETTERS

>>> Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun control bill Friday to close a loophole in firearm sales to some mentally ill people. According to the press release “Mental health and second amendment advocates worked together to produce this bill that does not affect persons voluntarily seeking mental health exams or treatments but rather closes a loophole in current law that could potentially put firearms in the hands of dangerous, mentally ill individuals who are a threat to themselves or others as determined by a court.” The bill addresses a gap in Florida law that has allowed people who voluntarily commit themselves to a mental institution to buy a gun once they are released. The new law requires that before agreeing to voluntary treatment under the state’s Baker Act, individuals receive written notice that if treated, they may be prohibited from buying a gun or “applying for or retaining a concealed weapons or firearms license” while they’re deemed a danger to themselves or others. Their names are then added to a national data base that informs retailers of people prohibited from buying a gun. People who are involuntarily committed are already added to that list.

A judge and a physician have to concur that an individual is no longer a danger to themselves or others to have their name taken off the national database. Scott said that since 2002, “just under 100,000 individuals have been disqualified from purchasing a firearm based on court adjudications of mentally defective or mental commitments.” I applaud the Governor to his sudden realization and insight that “common sense parameters balance the rights of individuals to purchase firearms with society’s reasonable expectation of public safety.” I hope that he will apply the same parameters to allow physicians asking their patients if they store their guns safely to avoid an accidental shooting death within the confines of their home and family. Meanwhile, he continues to litigate in federal court seeking to prevent physicians asking their patients these common sense question.
Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD,FAAFP,FASAM

>>> Mazel tov on 14 yrs! Publications, blogs etc don’t last that long anymore.

R. L.

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WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

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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

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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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