Watchdog Report Vol.14 no.11 July 21, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Financial Disclosure Issue

CONTENTS

Argus Report: After Zimmerman not guilty verdict, nation having serious debate about race and ethnicity in America, President Obama weighs in on racial profiling

Florida: Former Lt. Gov. Carroll’s net worth drops for the year to $476,000, from $526,000 & AG Bondi’s jumps to $780,000 from $472,000 in 2010 — LAST WK WDR: 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: Mayor Gimenez takes his lumps in Spanish media, after backtracking on higher property millage rate, net worth for year $1.024, up from $953,000 the previous year

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho pulls another rabbit out of his hat, property tax rates drop next year, while focusing on education mission

City of Miami: There they go again, City of Miami and employee hit with SEC charges of misleading bond investors, second shoe to drop, Marlins Stadium deal where Mayor Regalado says “[David] Samson’s the star” of the investigation

City of Miami Beach: Firefighter concessions in new labor contract next year will save city over $5 million in pension reform, expected to go to “$145 million in net value changes,” over next 30 years, says Commissioner Weithorn, CPA

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: State Atty. Satz in the spotlight, first elected in 1976, net worth rises to $1.39 million, up from $1.36 million the year before

City of Ft. Lauderdale: U.S. Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuit Against Fla. Home Health Care Company and its Owner

City of Pembroke Pines: Pill Mill Doctor Pleads Guilty to Oxycodone Conspiracy

Palm Beach County: State Attorney Aronberg settles into office, after transition from state senator to top prosecutor

Boca Raton: Local Resident Convicted of Filing False Tax Returns, Access Device Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft

Hillsborough County: Gov. Scott names two appointments and two reappointments to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

Monroe County: Long serving Monroe Commissioner Rice in the spotlight, had $1.9 million net worth through June 2013

Community Events: Florida Legislative update at Downtown Bay Forum luncheon – The Miami Foundation to launch contest awarding $100,000 to improve local public spaces — Miami Beach candidate’s ethics training course

Editorials: Joint meeting between Miami-Dade Commission & PHT trustees highlighted need for $830 million GOB, but clear message to skeptical voters necessary if bond to pass in November — Check out the past 2003 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: Miami Beach Commissioner Wolfson asks for unedited response to last week’s WDR story – Reader on how useful the WDR is for South Florida

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 To All: 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

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> After Zimmerman not guilty verdict, nation having serious debate about race and ethnicity in American, President Obama weighs in on racial profiling

With over 100 protests around the nation’s cities going on Saturday after the jury verdict last Saturday acquitting George Zimmerman of second-degree murder, after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and had President Barack Obama talking about the death Friday at a White House press conference. The nation now is having a broad discussion of race relations in America that also is showing up in the extremes in all the different ethnic camps, and this schism of opinions is being reflected in the discourse, that appears to quickly to turn ugly in tone in many cases. Further, as the discussion ripples throughout the nation’s households, the trial has highlighted the vagueness in the Florida Stand Your Ground Law. That while the law is highly controversial, it has many state residents and the GOP legislature’s support and Gov. Rick Scott has said he will not convene a legislative Special Session to hear the matter, even while demonstrators and Black students were holding a sit in at the Capital Building last week.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/gov-scott-meets-with-protesters-staging-capitol-sit-in-says-no-again-to-special-session/2013/07/19/c434abec-f044-11e2-8c36-0e868255a989_story.html >>> Sunday Trayvon Martin Vigil story http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/20/3510490/trayvon-martin-vigils-to-be-held.html

>>> White House press release:

President Obama: Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me

This afternoon, President Obama spoke from the White House Press Briefing Room about Trayvon Martin and the verdict of the trial that followed the Florida teenager’s death. Watch the President’s remarks, then share this email with your friends and family.

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott met with the leaders of a group of protestors at the Florida State Capitol. Governor Scott released the following statement following the meeting this evening:

“I asked to meet with the protestors this evening to personally hear their concerns following the jury’s verdict in the Zimmerman case. I expressed my own sympathies for the Martin family and all those affected by Trayvon’s death. Earlier this evening, I also spoke to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, to again give my condolences on the loss of her son and let her know that she and her family remain in our thoughts and prayers.

“Tonight, the protestors again asked that I call a special session of the Legislature to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. I told them that I agree with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which concurred with the law. I also reminded them of their right to share their views with their state legislators and let them know their opinions on the law.

“I also told them that I plan to call for a Statewide Day of Prayer for Unity in Florida this Sunday, July 21st. We have a great state with wonderful, resilient people that rise to meet any challenge. While emotions run high, it is even more important that we join together to strengthen and support one another.”

>>> Press release: It’s Time for the Administration to Finally Act on the North Korean and Cuban Threat & Call for UN Inspectors Immediately, Says Ros-Lehtinen ~ “I call on the Department of State to instruct our U.S. Mission at the UN to urge UN Sanctions Committee inspectors to go to Panama and conduct an immediate and thorough investigation”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding the fact that a ship from Cuba headed to North Korea contained sophisticated missile equipment. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Any nation that is found to be exporting arms or arms related materiel to North Korea would be in violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions. The recent exposure of a North Korean-flagged vessel bound for North Korea from Cuba, containing small arms and missile equipment would find both these rogue nations in violation of those Security Council resolutions. This reaffirms what we already know: the Castro brothers and the Kim dynasty have absolutely no intention of adhering to their international obligations, and will stop at nothing to assist each other in skirting the law.

“Our policy is clear when it comes to the matter of arms or related materiel being imported from or exported to North Korea. The time to act on this is now. This is likely not the first time these two rogue regimes have conducted this type of sordid dealing, and we must send a clear message that these illicit activities will not, and must not, be tolerated. “I call on the Department of State to instruct our U.S. Mission at the UN to urge UN Sanctions Committee inspectors to go to Panama and conduct an immediate and thorough investigation to find whether these two regimes are in violation of the applicable UN resolutions. But we cannot afford to wait for the UN to conduct its business. The State Department must immediately re-designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and impose increased sanctions on any individual, entity or government involved in transferring arms to Pyongyang.” >> NOTE: On June 7, 2013, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen led a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry with a group of Congressional Members urging the Administrations to re-designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST). Also, on February 28, 2013, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen introduced HR 893 – the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Accountability Act that increases sanctions on any person or entity transferring goods, services, or technology for the chemical, biological, or advanced conventional weapons program of Iran, North Korea, and Syria and prohibits assistance to any foreign government that has provided assistance to Iran, North Korea or Syria.

>>> Zogby press release: Obama Slipping But Still Has Juice By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

Democratic Presidents and Presidential contenders have a long history of bad summers. Jimmy Carter’s only term in office was pretty much undone by his famous “malaise speech” of 1979. Who can forget Michael Dukakis riding in the tank in 1988? Bill Clinton used a sworn deposition before a Special Prosecutor to school Americans on “what the definition of is is”. John Kerry went wind surfing, a sport enjoyed by tens of millions of Americans, while his exemplary military service was picked apart by his opposition and Barack Obama just hasn’t had a good summer yet.

Here it is the summer of 2013 and the President faces a barrage of bad news. First it is a series of scandals – Benghazi, the IRS, and NSA eavesdropping. Then it is chaos in Syria and Egypt, while the nation he leads stands by powerless. All of this is followed by the antics of a young high school dropout who has used his security clearance to reveal highly classified secrets that are embarrassing the United States before its allies. To cap it all off, the President’s domestic agenda is stalled, notably his efforts to pass the first real immigration reform in a generation.

Please click on the link below to read the full article:
http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/319-obama-slipping-but-still-has-juice

>>> Veteran broadcaster Sunshine after 40 years of reporting on South Florida says sayonara, gets Proclamation from Miami-Dade County, made famous the line “Shame on You!”

Al Sunshine, the award winning veteran news broadcaster for the past 40 years on WFOR/CBS Channel 4 was honored with a Miami-Dade County Proclamation Tuesday and he made famous the phrase, “Shame on You!” After doing an investigative report that included women, having to pay more for their dry cleaning and automobile repairs, to name two of the thousands of stories the journalist has done over the years. And the Watchdog Report gives Sunshine a Tip of the Hat for a job well done and his historical reporting knowledge of our community will be missed.

>>> New use of links to financial disclosure reports after 14 years of detailing these weekly in the Watchdog Report — Since 2000, the Watchdog Report has detailed elected leaders financial disclosure forms, some 6,000 are in my possession, that prior to July 1 were not going on line every year, but that has now changed. And I am only using the link to these reports for readers to see the actual document filed by these people given the new circumstances, and any reader that has some further information on these financial matters. They can contact the publisher confidentially with any new information that might be of interest to the public or authorities.

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at www.watchdogreport.net on Monday sometime during the day usually. >>> If you believe it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider supporting the Watchdog Report for I am a low cost news service, yet I do have to live, thank you! Further, I have been honored over the years by being named a WFOR-4 Hometown Hero in 2000, being profiled in a major way by The Miami New Times and was Best Citizen in the 2003 Best of Miami of The Miami New Times, profiled twice in The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel ran a nationwide story on me in the Tribune papers on Jan. 2003, and UNC Chapel Hill named me one of the top columnists in Florida in a  multi-state study of the media back in 2004. I also thank Joseph Cooper for the opportunity to be on the WLRN/NPR showTopical Currents on www.wlrn.org 91.3 FM since 2000, including yearly election coverage since then, and also numerous times over the past decade. Further, I am a frequent guest on WWW.WPBT2.ORG on Helen Ferre’s show Issues, and have also appeared on  Eliott Rodriguez’s show News & Views on www.CBS4.com and The Florida Roundup on www.wlrn.org

FLORIDA

>>> Former Lt. Gov. Carroll’s net worth drops for the year to $476,000, from $526,000 & AG Bondi’s jumps to $780,000 from $472,000 in 2010

Jennifer Carroll, the Republican Lt. Gov. under Gov. Rick Scott until she resigned earlier in the year is in the spotlight this week and she was Scott’s running mate back in 2010, but since then, she was a lightning rod for controversy while in office. She stepped down in March after her name came up in a statewide probe concerning a charity that ran gambling facilities and the money was to go to veterans organizations, but that was not the case, and the bulk of the money was going to was a for profit organization. The woman was a former state legislator, and a retired U.S. Navy officer, and her legislative experience was expected to help the business executive be elected back then, but she was controversial and once in office was later put on a limited travel budget after excessive travel costs.

What do we know about her finances?

Carroll through Mar. 2013 had a net worth of $476,504, which is down from $526,000 the year before, and her salary, as the lieutenant governor was $145,517 and to see her full disclosure go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/74918-Form6.pdf

Carroll

>>> Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, elected in 2010 is in the spotlight this week and she has been prosecuting a host of crimes, including ID theft, Human Trafficking, Medicaid Fraud along with gangs and violent crimes, to name just a few of the areas her office prosecutes. She defeated state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach in the statewide race and prior to that she had been an assistant state attorney before her foray into statewide office, and is up for reelection in 2014.

Bondi

What do we know about her finances?

Bondi through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $780,871 which is up from $472,691 in Dec. 2010 and her salary for the statewide office was $128,499. And to see her complete disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/1830-Form6.pdf

>>> 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.

>>> PAST WDR:  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: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Esther Jacobo as interim Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Esther Jacobo replaces David Wilkins who resigned to pursue opportunities in the private sector and to provide more attention to his foundation. Governor Scott said, “David did a great job in leading the state’s top child protection agency and his service is deeply appreciated. I have no doubt that Esther will increase accountability in the Department and enhance child protective services in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Esther Jacobo, of Miami, most recently served as the Regional Managing Director for the Southern Region of the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is comprised of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.  Under the position, Jacobo supervised the delivery of an array of Child Welfare services to children and young adults, including foster care, adoptions, support services, prevention initiatives, child protective investigations, and young adults on the road to independence.  Jacobo also oversaw the Department’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program, which is dedicated to the development of a comprehensive system of prevention, emergency/detoxification, and treatment services. Other services within the Department’s portfolio include funding of programs for refugees and the homeless.

In February of 2008, Jacobo began serving at DCF as Statewide Deputy Director of Children’s Legal Services (CLS) where she was responsible for statewide litigation practices of CLS in Miami Dade and across the state. In January 2001, she served as the Division Chief of the Domestic Crimes Unit at the State Attorney’s office. There, Jacobo supervised all domestic violence prosecutions in Miami-Dade County, participated in community-based initiatives to assist victims of domestic violence and developed protocol to be used in both the felony and misdemeanor courts with regard to these cases. During that time, she also prosecuted several domestic violence homicides. Jacobo received her Law Degree from St. Thomas University in Miami in 1992. That same year she was appointed as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County by Janet Reno and remained in that office until April 2007.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names three appointments to the Children’s Trust Governing Board of Miami-Dade.

Marissa Leichter, 36, of Surfside, is the senior program attorney with the Guardian Ad Litem Program. She succeeds Benjamin F. Gilbert Jr. and is appointed for a term beginning July 15, 2013, and ending March 17, 2016.

Trudy Novicki, 62, of Miami, is the executive director of Krisiti House, Inc. She succeeds Pamela Lillard and is appointed for a term beginning July 15, 2013, and ending March 17, 2017.

Kadie Black, 30, of Miami, is the external affairs director for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. She succeeds Jose Gregoire and is appointed for a term beginning July 15, 2013, and ending March 17, 2017.

>>> 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, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Mayor Gimenez takes his lumps after backtracking on higher property millage rate, net worth for year $1.024, up from $953,000 the previous year

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is coming off a bad political week after he had to backtrack on his first proposed county budget two weeks ago raising property taxes. And Gimenez was first elected to the office in June 2011, and he won a full four-year term in August of 2012. The retired Miami Fire Chief, former Miami manager, and county commissioner ran on lower taxes in the campaigns, but he was forced to back track this Tuesday when the county commission bulked and rejected his first proposed tax hike. That he later flattened, and the commissioners went along with the new proposal with only four of the 11 county commissioners present voting no to a lower property millage rate. However, this was the mayor’s first major political setback and Spanish radio, television was all-abuzz with Gimenez’s first tax proposal, and what was he thinking.

Further, with the flat tax rate, Gimenez will only fund the Animal Services Department only $4 million more and not the $19 million originally proposed and that has animal activists up in arms after 445,000 voters approved more funding on a straw ballot question in the November General Election. And with the property tax reduction, he will also face other blowback, because it will result in numerous libraries being closed, and the cutting of over 120 firefighters, though the mayor says these are worst-case scenarios. However, this is the first political misfire Gimenez has sustained; though he also generated controversy, when he negotiated for a public/private deal with the Miami Dolphins that later did not materialize.

Gimenez

What do we know about his finances?

Gimenez through June 2013 had a net worth of $1.024 million which is up from $953,842 the year before. His listed salary for the year from Miami–Dade was $154,746 and to read the full disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/97170-Form6.pdf

>>> Clerk Ruvin Court fixture since 1992, strong on the environment, net worth through Dec. 2012 $1.55 million, up from $1.45 million the previous year

Harvey Ruvin, the long serving Miami-Dade County Clerk of the 11th Circuit Courts is in the spotlight this week and he was first elected to the countywide post in 1992. And he has won reelection ever since, and again in 2012 when he was unopposed for the office. He is an engineer and University of Miami Law School graduate and he was first elected to a political office in 1968. As Mayor of North Bay Village, was then elected in 1972 to the Miami-Dade County Commission through 1992, he is a long time environmentalist, and the attorney has introduced extensive IT improvements and now there are paperless case files in the mammoth Clerk’s office. And more recently he agreed  to undertake an audit of the health insurance money being retained by the Miami-Dade County administration under Mayor Carlos Gimenez, that county employees have been contributing too the last few years, and local union officials had asked for the outside audit that came under the Clerk’s purview. Ruvin a Democrat has been immune to any significant political challenger over the years, has worked hard to keep the office’s independence, and even had time to do a rap song featuring the need for young people to protect the environment.

http://www.miami-dadeclerk.com/clerk_biography.asp

What do we know about his finances?

Ruvin through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $1.55 million, which is up from $1.45 million in 2011. And to read the full financial disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/15384-Form6.pdf

>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR JUNE 2013 MARKING 3 YEARS AND 6 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES
Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased +3.8% in June 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This marks 3 years and 6 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry. In June 2013, 111,000 people were employed in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service sector compared to 106,900 in June 2012, a +3.8% increase.

GREATER MIAMI LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY JOBS
June 2013 June 2012 % Change
111,000 106,900 +3.8%

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Supt. Carvalho pulls another rabbit out of his hat, property tax rates drop next year, while focusing on education mission

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has pulled off once again a rabbit out of his hat when the school board on Wednesday passed the public schools district proposed millage rate for county property owners, and it was lower than originally predicted. Carvalho since 2008 has been at the helm of the nation’s fourth largest public schools district, and through numerous initiatives over the past lean years and cost saving measures. He has kept the system financially afloat; increasing reserves from $3 million back in 2008, to around $90 million now and that has allowed the District to get favorable interest rates on the financing of a $1.2 billion GOB that voters approved last November.

>>> Press release: SUPERINTENDENT CARVALHO RECOMMENDS TAX RATE DECREASE

Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho today recommended that the Miami-Dade School Board decrease the total millage property owners would pay for the 2013-2014 fiscal school year.  The recommendation came after the school district was notified by the Miami-Dade Tax Appraiser that county tax rolls would be about four percent higher this year.  This information was confirmed late yesterday by Florida’s Commissioner of Education, who reviewed tax rolls for all school districts in the process of establishing Required Local Effort. Previous estimates by state economists had estimated only a 1.9 percent increase in tax rolls.  The difference allows the School Board to reduce the Required Local Effort millage from 5.295 to 5.183, producing a substantial savings for taxpayers.

The 2013-14 budget protects the classroom, school spending and bilingual programs; protects teachers and provides raises; and expands Exceptional Student Education support and parental choice options.  The budget protects the economic viability of the school district and honors the promise to voters of $5 of General Obligation Bond millage for every $100,000 in taxable value. The budget will not harm elective programs, nor reduce school safety spending, athletics or after-school activities. The size of the District’s central office will not increase.  The budget does not compromise the District’s goal of complying with class- size mandates, and teachers will not face layoffs for economic reasons.  It will not allow the impact of federal sequestration to harm direct school services.  The budget does not reduce the district’s reserves or increase operating millage.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> There they go again, City of Miami and employee hit with SEC charges of misleading bond investors, second shoe to drop, Marlins Stadium deal where Mayor Regalado says “[David] Samson’s the star” of the investigation

While the City of Miami got a body blow Friday from the federal Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for what the federal watchdog claims were irregularities in disclosure documents when the city sold some bonds years ago. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/19/3509271/mayor-sec-to-charge-city-of-miami.html However, the second federal shoe is about to drop when it comes to the selling of city securities, and any misrepresentations to investors, who buy the bonds. And it will be the municipal bonds the city sold to help finance the Miami Marlins enclosed stadium deal, back in 2008 that will also be a problem for the city. And Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report Wednesday that when officials from the SEC talked to him recently. He said “[David] Samson was the star,” of the conversation subject, that also “focused on [former] Mayor Manny Diaz, [former Miami-Dade Manager] George Burgess, [and then senior city officials] Larry Spring [and former Manager] Pete Hernandez,” the mayor said.

The issue of Miami leading investors astray when it comes to buying the municipal bonds and being sanctioned by the SEC is not new, and occurred before in 2001. The city’s bond’s back then went to junk bond status, and the cost for the city to issue any securities skyrocketed and these bonds status only got better after a governor appointed Financial Oversight Board made up of prominent community leaders that did not live in the city, kept a fiscal blow torch on the city and the commission. And Miami was able to save well over $100 million in its reserve coffers back then, when the board dissolved in Nov. 2001. However, under the Diaz administration, that level of city reserves would drop dramatically and the money was used to fill budget shortfalls in proceeding years, and why the stadium financing deal was no easy chore for the city to do, but also put the bulk of the public funding on Miami-Dade County.

>>> With September qualifying clock ticking, 3rd District Court of Appeal expected to rule on Miami Commissioner Spence-Jones term limit appeal by end of week

The Third District Court of Appeal is expected to release its ruling on the appeal by Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones of her being termed limited on the commission dais this November. After a lower judge ruled in fact, she was termed out and the commissioner is appealing that ruling. The legal challenge to her running again, was a violation of the city’s term limits language, was brought by Miami Commission District 5 Candidate Rev. Richard Dunn II.  And the appeals court is expected to make a ruling either this Wednesday or Friday said a knowledgeable source familiar with the case. And getting that ruling in a timely manner is important since Miami Commission candidates have to qualify by September for the November election, and in the case of Spence-Jones. Until the issue, is resolved in her favor she is unable to open a campaign account for the election, though others suggest the court will not rule in her favor.

>>> Florida Health Care Medical Director and Six Therapists Arrested for Alleged Roles in $63 Million Fraud Scheme

Press release: The former medical director at defunct health provider Health Care Solutions Network (HCSN) and six therapists were arrested today, accused of conspiring to fraudulently bill Medicare and Florida Medicaid more than $63 million. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office, made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed following the arrests.

The former HCSN medical director, Roger Rousseau, 71, of Miami, was indicted on July 11, 2013, and charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and two counts of health care fraud. In addition, six therapists from Miami – Doris Crabtree, 61; Angela Salafia, 65; Liliana Marks, 46; Ruben Busquets, 49; Alina Fonts, 47; and Blanca Ruiz, 59 – were also charged in the same indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Fonts was also charged with two counts of health care fraud, and Crabtree, Salafia, Marks and Busquets were each charged with two counts of making false statements related to health care matters. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of proceeds from the alleged healthcare fraud offenses.

According to the indictment, HCSN purported to provide intensive mental health treatment to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in Miami and Hendersonville, N.C., from approximately 2004 through 2011 for purported mental health services that were not medically necessary and often never provided.  The indictment also alleges that in Miami, HCSN paid kickbacks to assisted living facility owners and operators who, in exchange, referred beneficiaries to HCSN.  In total, HCSN is alleged to have fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid approximately $63.7 million, from which HCSN allegedly received payments totaling approximately $28 million.

Rousseau served as the medical director for HCSN in Florida, and the indictment alleges that he routinely signed what he knew to be fabricated and altered medical records without ever reviewing the materials, and, in most instances, without ever meeting with the patient.  The indictment also alleges that Crabtree, Salafia, Marks, Busquets, Fonts and Ruiz fabricated HCSN medical records to support false and fraudulent claims for partial hospitalization program services that were not medically necessary and were not provided.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Fraud Section Trial Attorney Allan J. Medina. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Firefighter concessions in new labor contract will save city over $5 million in pension reform, expected to go to “$145 million in net value changes,” over next 30 years, says Commissioner Weithorn, CPA

While Miami Beach residents, the mayor and commission have been focused on the massive $1.1 public private partnership deal for the Miami Beach Convention Center passed on Wednesday. Commissioners on Friday at a commission meeting, passed a bargaining contract hammered out with the city’s fire and rescue union that over the next thirty years is expected to save the city some “$145 million in net value changes,” said Commissioner Deede Weithorn, a Certified Public Accountant and she had been the liaison for the commission with union leaders and the administration. In addition, in the first year the city is expected to save some $5.7 million with these pension and other reforms in the employee’s contracts. However, the city is still paying into its pension system “some $41 million in contributions next year,” and “this pension reform is an important issue,” said Commissioner Jerry Libbin.  However, the union membership has to also pass the new contract, and while originally these changes would only affect new hires. The union leadership “wanted to make changes for all employees,” and “if we have pain, we all share it” and that philosophy assisted the administration getting these financially sizable concessions. The 6 to 1 vote had only Commissioner Jonah Wolfson dissenting, because he wondered if all the savings would actually materialize, and he was worried about “unfunded liabilities,” occurring in the future, Wolfson said.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> State Atty. Satz in the spotlight, first elected in 1976, net worth rises to $1.39 million, up from $1.36 million the year before

Michael Satz, the Broward State Attorney is in the spotlight, and the long serving county prosecutor was first elected back in 1976 and critics have charged over the years that he is soft on public corruption, but has prosecuted some high profile cases more recently as well. The office has 500 employees, there are 200 assistant state prosecutors and they represent the Florida 17 Judicial District. In addition, Satz was reelected in August 2012 when he bested fellow Democrat Chris Mancini and Satz got 62 percent of the primary vote.    http://www.sao17.state.fl.us/mikesatz.htm

What do we know about his finances?

Satz through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $1.394 million which is up from $1.36 million the year before and his IRS 1040 shows his income for the year being $160,319. For the full disclosure go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/15346-Form6.pdf

>>> Gov. Scott taps Kimberly Ann Kisslan to the Board of Commissioners, North Broward Hospital District.

Press release: Kisslan, 46, of Fort Lauderdale, has been the city attorney for the City of Sunrise since 2011. She is a member of the Broward County Bar Association and the Florida Association of Police Attorneys. Kisslan received her bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Florida. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning July 19, 2013, and ending June 27, 2017.

>>> Gov. Scott names Leslie K. “Ken” Barnett to the Board of Commissioners, South Broward Hospital District.

Barnett, 67, of Hollywood, is a self employed attorney. He is a member of the Broward County Bar Association. Barnett received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from the University of Florida. He succeeds Sara E. Wolfer and is appointed for a term beginning July 19, 2013, and ending June 30, 2016.

FORT LAUDERDALE

>>> U.S. Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuit Against Fla. Home Health Care Company and its Owner

Press release: The government has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit against A Plus Home Health Care, Inc., a home health care company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and its owner, Tracy Nemerofsky, the Justice Department announced today.  The government alleges that A Plus offered referring physicians’ spouses sham marketing positions with the company to induce the physicians to refer Medicare patients for home health care services. “We will not relent in our efforts to combat fraudulent kickback schemes, such as the no-show jobs scheme used in this case, and return dollars to the Medicare program,” said Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.  “These schemes are classic examples of the fraud and abuse that plague and threaten the financial stability of Medicare, which provides much needed services to the sick and elderly.”

“Kickback schemes subvert the home health care market place and undermine the integrity of consumer choice,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.  “We will continue to hold accountable those who abuse our public health care programs at the expense of patients and taxpayers.” The government alleges that, beginning in 2006, A Plus Home Health Care engaged in a scheme to increase Medicare referrals in the heavily saturated home health care market of southern Fla.  The company allegedly hired at least seven physicians’ spouses and one physician’s boyfriend to perform marketing duties but required them to perform few, if any, actual job duties.  To cover up the scheme, the  government alleges, Ms. Nemerofsky generated sham personnel files, which included lists of job duties the spouses and boyfriend did not perform and performance reviews of job functions they did not complete, to give the false impression that the spouses and boyfriend were legitimate employees.

The government’s complaint also alleges that the spouses’ and boyfriend’s salaries were an inducement and reward for the physicians’ referrals of Medicare patients to A Plus Home Health Care.  In fact, the government alleges the physicians’ referrals to A Plus Home Health Care spiked dramatically when the spouses and boyfriend began receiving paychecks from  A Plus, allowing A Plus to receive millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursements.  For example, in 2005, before A Plus hired any referring physicians’ spouses, A Plus was allegedly reimbursed $1.1 million from Medicare for home health care services.  Conversely, in 2011, when A Plus was paying salaries to the seven referring physicians’ spouses and one physician’s boyfriend, A Plus’ Medicare reimbursement allegedly reached an all-time high of $6.6 million.

According to an August 2012 Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General report, home health services are particularly vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.  In 2010, Medicare paid a reported $19.5 billion to 11,203 home health care agencies for services provided to 3.4 million beneficiaries. The lawsuit was filed by a former A Plus Home Health Care director of development, William Guthrie, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government and receive a share of any recovery.  The act also authorizes the government to intervene in and assume primary responsibility for litigating the lawsuit, as the government has done in this case.  The government previously settled with two of the couples that accepted payments from A Plus Home Health Care.

The government’s intervention in this lawsuit illustrates its emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $14.7 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $10.7 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The A Plus Home Health Care investigation reflects a coordinated effort among the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The lawsuit is U.S. ex rel. Guthrie v. A Plus Home Health Care, Inc., 12 CV 60629 (S.D. Fla.).  The claims asserted against the defendants are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. 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.

>>> Two Broward Residents Sentenced for Identity Theft Scheme

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 that defendants Nathaniel Troy Maye, a/k/a Troy May, 44, and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason, 40, both of Ft. Lauderdale, were sentenced today before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch.  Maye was sentenced to 66 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Thomason was sentenced to 5 years’ probation.

Both defendants previously pled guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(3) and 2, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2. According to court documents, on January 5, 2013, a cooperating source (CS) met with Thomason and Maye.  During the meeting, Maye told the CS that he had a large number of stolen identities on a flash drive, and discussed using the stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns and get refunds from those returns.  On January 7, 2013, Maye gave the CS a flash drive containing 50 names, dates of birth, and accompanying social security numbers.

On January 8, 2013, the IRS executed a search warrant at Thomason’s apartment.  During the search, the IRS recovered numerous electronic storage devices, including computers and flash drives.  On two of the flash drives, the IRS found the personal identifying information of thousands of individuals, most of whom were from outside the state of Florida.  The personal identifying information included the names, dates of birth, addresses, and social security numbers of numerous individuals. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Strider Dickson.  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 http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

CITY OF PEMBOKE PINES

>>> Pill Mill Doctor Pleads Guilty to Oxycodone Conspiracy

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, announced today that Dr. Scott Becker, 54, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and dispense large amounts of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.  Dr. Becker also pleaded guilty to money laundering and income tax evasion. Becker faces maximum terms of imprisonment of five years on the drug conspiracy charge, five years on the tax evasion charge, and ten years on the money laundering charge.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, Becker agreed to forfeit $470,400 in money and property representing the illegal narcotics proceeds he earned as a result of his involvement as a physician at All Pain Management in Dania Beach.  As set forth in the plea agreement, between February 16 and September 17, 2010, Becker was employed as a clinic doctor at All Pain Management which, at the time, was owned by co-conspirators Vincent Colangelo and several other unnamed individuals.  Colangelo pleaded guilty to narcotics, money laundering and federal income tax offenses on April 2, 2012, arising from his ownership of six pill mill clinics and a pharmacy in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.  According to a review of medical records, while at All Pain Management, Becker prescribed 932,259 oxycodone, 30 milligram pills during the course of 4,821 patient visits and more than 98% of Becker’s patients received prescriptions for oxycodone.  Becker also laundered approximately $24,142 in illegal narcotics proceeds.

Today’s case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement. >>> Mr. Ferrer thanked the DEA, IRS-CI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, as well as the many other state and local agencies for their investigative work.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Behnke and Roger Powell and Tax Division Trial Attorney Greg Tortella.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> State Attorney Aronberg settles into office, after transition from state senator to top prosecutor

Dave Aronberg, the Palm Beach State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit in his first year in the office is in the spotlight this week, and he is a former state Senator, before being sworn into this new office in Jan. 2013. Aronberg, a Harvard University undergraduate also got his law degree from the Ivy League School, and when he was first elected to the Florida Senate in 2002. He was the youngest member of the upper body back then. In addition, in the state attorney race in November, he got 58 percent of vote in the three-way race, though it was a contentious race, and the other candidates accused him of ethics violations. He now prosecutes cases in the third largest county in the state, Palm Beach is part of the federal Southern District of Florida, and his office faces a host of prosecutions and cases similar to Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. The Watchdog Report was going to run his financial disclosure forms but these are not on line yet, and when these are. I will run them.

Aronberg

http://www.sa15.state.fl.us/stateattorney/OurOffice/indexSAbio.htm

BOCA RATON

>>> Boca Raton Resident Convicted of Filing False Tax Returns, Access Device Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Harvey Zitron, of Boca Raton, was convicted by a federal grand jury on all ten counts charged in the indictment.

According to the indictment, Zitron was charged with filing fraudulent IRS United States Individual Income Tax Returns, Forms 1040, for 2004 and 2005 (Counts 1 and 2), and Amended Individual Income Tax Returns, Forms 1040X for 2003, 2004 and 2005 (Counts 3-5), all in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). In addition, he was charged with three counts of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2) (Counts 6, 8 and 10), and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1) (Counts 7 and 9).  The trial was held before the Honorable Robert N. Scola, U.S. District Court Judge.  Sentencing is set for October 8, 2013. According to the evidence presented at trial, Zitron used companies to write checks to friends or acquaintances who cashed the checks and returned the cash to Zitron.  Zitron then failed to declare this income on his tax returns. He also opened credit card accounts in the names of his son and ex-wife, and charged more than $1,000 in a single year on those accounts without their authorization or knowledge.

Zitron faces a maximum sentence of three years for each count of tax fraud, ten years for each count of access device fraud, and two consecutive years for each count of aggravated identity theft. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI and the FBI.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Wallace and Department of Justice Tax Division Attorney Kevin J. Lombardi. 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.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names two appointments and two reappointments to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

Kelly O’Brien, 43, of Tampa, is the president of KSO properties. She fills a vacant seat, and is appointed for a term beginning July 12, 2013, and ending December 31, 2016.

Edwin Narain, 36, of Tampa, is an area sales manager at AT&T. He succeeds Valerie H. Goddard, and is appointed for a term beginning July 12, 2013, and ending December 31, 2016.

Susan Schneider, 60, of Tampa, is a psychological services diagnostician with Hillsborough County Public Schools. She is reappointed for a term beginning July 12, 2013, and ending December 31, 2016.

Christopher Brown, 44, of Brandon, is an attorney with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He is reappointed for a term beginning July 12, 2013, and ending December 31, 2016.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Long serving Monroe Commissioner Rice in the spotlight, had $1.9 million net worth through June 2013

Commissioner David Rice is in the spotlight this week and he represents Commission District 4 and is up for reelection in 2014 on the five-member body. He is a long serving commissioner who took a break after serving on the commission from 2002 to 2006, he ran again in 2010, and he is retired.

http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/Directory.aspx?EID=22

What do we know about his finances?

Rice through June 2013 had a net worth of $1.949 million and he lists $50,000 in household goods. And to see his full disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/69948-Form6.pdf

>>> Former Key West Residents Sentenced for Making False Claims on BP Spill Fund

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that David Bacon, 53, and Donald Sargent, 37, both former residents of Key West, Florida, were sentenced today in United States District Court in Key West on their convictions on charges arising from false claims filed in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and pollution incident in the Gulf of Mexico.  Both defendants, and a third individual, Cleon Major, previously had entered guilty pleas to charges of wire fraud in the submission of fraudulent claims for lost income against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.

U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Bacon to a term of imprisonment of 21 months followed by a three year term of supervised release, and ordered he pay restitution to the fund in the amount of $16,000.  Judge Martinez sentenced Sargent to a prison term of 33 months, also followed by a three-year term of supervision, and restitution in the amount of $77,215 to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.  Defendant Major was sentenced on May 16, 2013 to a term of imprisonment of 110 months on the wire fraud charges and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $306,228, as well as a period of supervised release of three years.

According to the Indictment, Joint Factual Statements filed by the parties, and other court records, on April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire occurred on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that had been drilling an exploration well.  In June 2010, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for the purpose of administering, mediating, and settling certain claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of the oil discharges due to the Deepwater Horizon incident.  In August 2010, the GCCF began receiving and processing such claims, and BP ceased receiving and processing claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of the oil discharges due to the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Major confessed in Court that on October 27, 2010, in furtherance of a scheme to obtain money from the GCCF, he filed a fraudulent electronic claim via the internet for approximately $10,000, in lost income, knowing the representations in his claim were false.  To substantiate his claim of lost income, Major provided the GCCF fraudulent employment and income documents, which he transmitted via the internet from Monroe County, Florida, to the GCCF offices in Dublin, Ohio to support his demand for compensation. In addition to his own claim, Major secured the personal identifying information, including social security numbers, of Bacon, Sargent, and others, and filed claims under their names with false supporting documentation.  Major was held accountable as part of the relevant sentencing conduct for filing fraudulent claims for nine other Key West residents, in addition to Bacon and Sargent, which included false verifications of employment, fraudulent payroll records, and fictitious supporting tax forms.  Compensation paid out under the false claims was shared between the individual claimant and Major. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI.  The case was 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.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Press release: The Downtown Bay Forum www.downtownbayforum.org INVITES YOU TO OUR LUNCHEON MEETING ON Wednesday July 31, 2013 11:30-1:30pm – Moderated by Robert M. Levy, Robert M. Levy & Associates 2013 Florida Legislative Forum – Join our panel of Florida State Legislators as they discuss the impact of the 2013 session and the Governor’s veto pen. Senator Dwight Bullard (D), Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (R), Rep. Holly Merrill Raschein (R), Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D) WOLFSON AUDITORIUM @ TEMPLE ISRAEL, 137 NE 19th Street MIAMI Free Self Parking Available Call ANNETTE EISENBERG (305)757-3633 Fax (305)754-2015 **RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

>>> Press release: The Miami Foundation to launch contest awarding $100,000 to improve local public spaces Our Miami Project Launch to introduce county-wide challenge and talent retention initiative

The Miami Foundation will host up-and-coming young talent, local change-agents and engaged Miamians at their kickoff event for two new projects: the Public Space Challenge and a talent retention project. The reception will take place on Wednesday, July 31, 6 – 8 p.m. at The Stage Miami, located in the heart of the Design District at 170 NE 38th Street Miami, FL 33137.  Entry is complimentary with RSVP and open to the public. Attendees may RSVP at miamifoundation.org/ourmiamirsvp and connect with other attendees on Facebook. Both programs are part of the Foundation’s Our Miami initiative, which fosters community by building attachment to the city, developing public spaces and retaining young talent in Miami.

“Our Miami uses research from our Soul of the Community Study that clearly shows attracting and retaining young, talented and creative people in Greater Miami will grow the economy faster than other more traditional measures of economic development,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.  “The initiative’s programs are excellent opportunities for anyone who is passionate about building a greater Miami and want to get involved in making it happen.” The Miami Foundation developed a countywide challenge to uncover the best ideas for creating and improving local public spaces: parks, libraries, public buildings, markets, plazas, playgrounds or any place where people can convene and connect. Ideas can be submitted from anyone, including individuals, groups, for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.  Community experts and professional placemakers will identify the top ideas; The Miami Foundation will invest $100,000 to make the ideas become reality. In addition to the Public Space Challenge, the foundation will also launch a talent retention project and Web survey. The online tool measures an individual’s “attachment” to Greater Miami and provides the participant suggestions about how to become more engaged where they live.  Results will be made available to community stakeholders to help guide talent retention efforts.  The tool is based on research from a Georgetown University study and has been instrumental in reducing year-over-year employee turnover at Fortune 50 companies.

“Miami has the eighth-highest percentage of college students per capita in the U.S. and one of the highest flight rates of those students once they graduate,” continued Soto. “It is incumbent on us to develop, attract and retain the best and brightest here in Miami – our future depends on it.” >>> About The Miami Foundation:  Established in 1967, The Miami Foundation has helped hundreds of people create powerful legacies by establishing custom, charitable Funds. More than $150 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded in the Foundation’s history. Today, the Foundation stewards more than $160 million in charitable assets.  Through its Our Miami initiative, the Foundation positions Miami as a premier place for young talent to live, work, connect and engage. Visit miamifoundation.org and ourmiami.org for more information.

>>> 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

>>> Joint meeting between Miami-Dade Commission & PHT trustees highlighted need for $830 million GOB, but clear message to skeptical voters necessary if bond to pass in November

A once a year required joint meeting between the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners and the Public Health Trust board members occurred on Thursday and what a difference a few years can make, that now has the health trust running in the black. After hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars in losses over a past three year period. And while county commissioners were overall complimentary to PHT CEO and President Carlos Migoya, the former banker who took the helm of the Trust in May of 2010. He still has a lot to do, including selling the county’s voters by November why they should approve an $830 million GOB for infrastructure upgrades at the ageing Jackson Memorial Hospital, and the two satellite hospitals in north and south Miami-Dade that are desperately needed.

Moreover, while JHS was named recently the number one local hospital in U.S. World and News Report rankings, thanks to the affiliation with the University of Miami Miller Medical School. For many county residents it could be a tough sell and the Trust must clearly define what projects will be funded, and if there will be any more oversight of how this money is spent, currently under the domain of the PHT trustees. In addition, the general public attitude is the health system needs the money, but voters are also suffering some taxation fatigue, even though the public schools district did get voters to pass a $1.2 billion GOB this past November.

Further, JHS advocates have to realize that since this special county election will be a lower electorate turnout event, every vote will be critical. If the electorate is going to buy into this new funding, and it won’t be a cakewalk to get approval as some insiders believe. Moreover, while this skepticism can be overcome, the need at the hospital complex is clearly there, but the public has to understand the money will be used frugally, and fits into an overall strategy that will make the hospital system sustainable in the future, in the changing healthcare world. Where clinical patient outcomes will determine federal and medical insurance payment levels, and competition will be rampant with other health systems in South Florida. And having a proper future course for Jackson will be a key ingredient, if the voters are to buy into this new funding come November.

LETTERS

>>> Miami Beach Commissioner Wolfson asks for unedited response to last week’s WDR story

Here is my on the record response to you in full.  If you do not quote this in full, then you are NOT authorized to quote me at all on the record.  I do NOT authorize you to paraphrase or edit my on the record response to what I deem a frivolous and nefarious attack against me without merit, for which, it looks like you have chosen to be an accomplice to.

“This is a slanderous misleading attack that you are willingly an accomplice to. The facts are that I considered providing business consulting work in 2012. However, I never took any action nor received any compensation from Park One. It was mainly an exploratory professional venture. I registered with the county in the interest of caution in the event I ever fell under the definition of lobbyist, but then very quickly unregistered. I felt this was not a line of work I wanted to enter. Again, I never received any compensation and was not even reimbursed for the registration fee.

I’m a trial lawyer, owner of a private, small business firm. I’m also a property owner and landlord.  That’s how I make a living and support my family, unlike several of my colleagues on the Commission whom you opt to give a pass to their corrupt actions. Park One has no business with the City of Miami Beach. I have no idea if Park One has any contracts with businesses in Miami Beach, nor is that relevant to me in any way. Your false allegation is not only misleading, but the implication is actually slanderous.  The timing of this latest false attack only further exhibits the corrupt and impure nature of this convention center process. And this frivolous attack calls into question your journalistic integrity.” Sincerely,

Jonah M. Wolfson

Commissioner, Miami Beach

>>> Editor’s note: I noticed Wolfson’s name on the county lobbyist registration file, noted he withdrew the registration and that was what was reported, and my intent was not “nefarious” in any way.

>>> Reader on the usefulness of the WDR

Thank you. I enjoy the way you summarize what is going on in the community.  I don’t bother with the newspaper anymore. One of these days look out for a contribution from me.

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

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

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

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

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION  www.knightfoundation.org

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year

BADIA SPICES    www.badiaspices.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com

RON BOOK

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

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.cph.org

THE STATE OF FLORIDA    www.myflorida.gov

GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION   www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION www.miamidade.gov/ethics

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS www.dadeschools.net

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

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

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org

THE MIAMI FOUNDATION  www.miamifoundation.org

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA    http://www.firstgov.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you.   The Watchdog Report is in the 13th year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 600 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2013, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> The Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information.  >>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources. Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

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

********************************************************************

Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

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

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

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

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

Any amount $

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


 
 
 

Comments are closed.