Archive for August 2013


Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.16 August 25, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot


Argus Report: U.S. Rep. Wilson calls for redoubling efforts for young Black men, “we have crushed their spirit, and they “do not value their lives and others”

Florida: Gov. Scott signs bill enhancing Early Education funding at United Way of M-DC, Child Advocate Lawrence says while, “Not at the promise land for children, a good start.” — LAST WK 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 official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: Is pressure building on Mayor Gimenez’s proposed budget, supporters of libraries, fire rescue and pets growing as public budget hearings approach?

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Board member Perez in the spotlight, first elected in 1998, net worth jumps to $2.39 million, up from $2.13 million the year before

Public Health Trust: New PHT trustee application deadline passes, will only the best of the best applicants be selected for most prestigious public board in M-DC? One slot open on the seven-member board charged with overseeing JHS

City of Miami: The hits keep coming for the Suarez for mayor campaign, two campaign aides charged in misdemeanor in absentee ballot request investigation

City of Miami Beach: Commission Candidates settle into races, former Commissioner Garcia cry’s foul, tells Mayor Bower not authorized to use his photo in campaign piece

City of Coral Gables: Commissioner Lago emphatically says “No” to question of applying for absentee ballots by computer

City of Miami Springs: Therapy Staffing Company Owner and Patient Recruiter Plead Guilty in $7 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Commissioner Ryan in the spotlight, survives rough and tumble primary race in 2012, net worth comes in at $1.75 million for 2012 & Elections Supt. Snipes tapped in 2003 by Gov. Bush, reelected every time since then, net worth jumps to $657,000

City of Ft. Lauderdale: Former Ft. Lauderdale Executive Sentenced to 15 Years for Money Laundering and Obstruction of Justice in Connection with Mutual Benefits Corporation Fraud

Palm Beach County: Commissioner Vana survives turmoil over the years, elected in 2008 after arrests of multiple commissioners; she had $144,000 net worth through May 2013, up from $69,632 the previous year

City of Pompano Beach: Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

West Palm Beach: West Palm Beach Gang Associate Sentenced as Armed Career Criminal for Firearm Possession

Pinellas County: Press release: Gov. Scott taps Michael G. Mikurak to the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County. 

Monroe County: Elections Supt. Griffin in the spotlight, elected in 2012 and had $580,000 net worth through Jun. 2013

Community Events: Ethics Commission campaign seminar — Downtown Bay Forum -THE FUTURE OF JACKSON HOSPITAL: BOOM OR BUST? — The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami invites you to a Community Conversation & Luncheon >> Gaily Forward: The History and Future of LGBT Rights in South Florida — TedX Miami event at Arsht Center

Editorials: Candidates in the upcoming municipal elections must run they’re campaigns on the up and up, if they are to have voters trust — 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:

Letters: Reader corrects WDR; Alberto Ibarguen will be honored in Oct. by FIU and not the Chapman Partnership – Reader on Playhouse deal – Reader on public private partnerships

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 for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media within the University of Miami’s School of Communication 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

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher was on WLRN/NPR 91.3 FM on Topical Currents on Tuesday to discuss public private partnerships to build public facilities, infrastructure or stimulate economic development. And on the show with me were host Joseph Cooper, Miami District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, prominent land development attorney Al Dotson, Jr. and Gillian Thomas, the President and CEO of the Miami Museum of Science.  To listen to the show go to

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> U.S. Rep. Wilson calls for redoubling efforts for young Black men, “we have crushed their spirit, and they “do not value their lives and others”

U.S. Rep Fredericka Wilson, D-Miami came to a Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board meeting Wednesday and she spoke passionately of the ongoing efforts to help avoid such tragedies as the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and how the nation is now having a major discussion on race relations. The fifty-year-old CRB called a Special Meeting on the Next Step to Promote Non-Violence and Community Empowerment and Wilson was the lead speaker. The congresswoman elected in 2010, replaced U.S. Rep Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, who ran for the U.S. Senate but lost to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL. Wilson, the founder of the now 5,000 Roll Models, that takes black kids at risk in an educational program, that focuses on personal pride and unlimited professional achievement and includes the students wearing distinctive white shirts and a red power tie. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton in the commission chambers, “was a wonderful role model for the nation,” and for all the “mothers of murdered children,” said the congresswoman. Wilson then said that as a nation we don’t “understand” that young Black men are “different from any other species,” and these kids have little hope because “We have crushed their spirit” and “the children have no clear vision” and ultimately “do not value their lives and others,” the past educator said.

In addition, when it comes to the George Zimmerman trial and his acquittal for the death of young Martin. She said the “federal government has not given up” and tips about “the jury” are coming in and while “the jury was supposed to be sequestered,” many of the jurors got visits from “family and friends,” she said. She also noted the town had a reputation and “Sanford was one of the last vestiges where corruption reigns,” she thought. Moreover, in the city she noted, “Zimmerman’s father was a Judge [actually a magistrate].” And she observed that Congress is working on a bill “to address racial profiling,” and if America was to be successful in changing the plight and future of these kids “it was important to lift them up and make them want to be good men.” Which is what the 5,000 Role Model program has been working to achieve since the mid 1990s when Wilson started the program. She is also asking all the pastors from the 1,600 or so churches to find “four good mentors” who can work with some of these boys to “uplift them” and when these kids get a mentor “its like magic,” but unfortunately, “at schools mentors are limited,” she lamented.

The March on Washington 50th Anniversary was the backdrop to this local discussion on race relations, that occurred on Saturday, and the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool was once again packed with Civil Rights  supporters like fifty years earlier and the gathering reaffirmed the importance of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I have a dream speech.” In addition, while the past march was about ending segregation, it was also about jobs. But for many in the African American community, these employment opportunities did not materialize. Unless they started their own businesses, which many have done since the 1963 march that changed America and the world. To read  more go to

Any new media outlets attend the CRB special meeting?

Al Jazeera America fielded its new news team of three reporters to the televised CRB meeting Wednesday afternoon, it included a camerawoman, producer and reporter, and they are the reporting vanguard for the global station that originates out of Qatar, but has created at new U. S. news presence. And the Watchdog Report talked extensively with one of their reporters from Sudan back in November 2012. When he was covering the General Election, mostly from the Miami Dinner Key voting site in City Hall, which he joked was a different environment with all the boats as a backdrop in slips, from when people voted in Sudan, he said at the time.

>>> Customs Broker, Data Freight Corporation Pleads Guilty to Illegal Importing of Endangered Wildlife

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Dave Pharo, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), announced today that Miami, Florida corporation Data Freight Corporation pled guilty today, pursuant to a plea agreement, to a single count Information, charging it with the illegal importation and possession of wildlife, in violation of the Lacey Act.  Sentencing for Data Freight Corporation (DATA) is scheduled for October 29, 2013, before United States District Judge K. Michael Moore. According to Court documents and statements at the hearing, DATA permitted the importation and transportation into the United States of Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) without completing Declaration Form 3-177, declaring the importation of fish or wildlife, and obtaining a permit for the importation of the same pursuant to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (“CITES”).

Information developed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – OLE resulted in the charge against DATA in the Information. According to documents in the Court file, this case involved over four hundred and sixty-eight grams of caviar product. The importation of said wildlife, such as caviar, is prohibited by the federal Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(1), (a)(4), and 3373(d)(2).  The Lacey Act, in pertinent part, makes it unlawful for a person to import and possess endangered species of wildlife which has been, or is intended to be, imported, sold, purchased, or received from any foreign country or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of U.S. Fish and Wildlife – OLE.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman O. Hemming, III. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

>>> 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.

>>>Press release:  Obama in August: 47% Approve, 50% Disapprove By: John Zogby Contributor

Our new Zogby Analytics poll is out and President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are unchanged from the our poll in July.  But while the national sample of 937 likely voters shows the same 47% rating, the President’s disapproval rating is now at 50% (3 points worse than last month). Still, a paltry 33% say that the country is headed in the right direction and the President’s problem is that he only captures the support of 46% of these “right track” voters.

Mr. Obama’s approval is down a few points among Democrats (82%) and down substantially among liberals (74%), Hispanics (65%), and young people (51%). He is now below 50% among both men (48%) and women (46%). His numbers on Election Day of last year were much better among these groups and others. For example, among African Americans, the President’s approval rating is 83% — but he won with 91% support. Please click on the link below to view the full release:

>>> All photos in the Watchdog Report are taken from public government sites, and the Report goes on line at 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 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 and The Florida Roundup on


>>> Gov. Scott signs bill enhancing Early Education funding at United Way of M-DC, Child Advocate Lawrence says while “not at promise land for children, a good start”

Gov. Rick Scott made a stop in Miami on Monday and he dropped by The United Way of Miami-Dade County’s headquarters and its Center for Excellence in Early Education to sign legislation, including more funding impacting Early Childhood Learning around the state. Scott surrounded by educators, state lawmakers and in front of a row of young children talked of the importance of early learning if a child is to develop to his or her full potential. And state Rep. Eric Fresen, R-Miami a education maven said “If we don’t tackle early learning we are missing the boat and will be behind the eight ball, and the kids will be missing the boat for the rest of their lives” when it comes to the state’s children being able to compete in the future global economy.

Scott said it was Children’s Movement Advocate David Lawrence, Jr., who “got me involved with children.” The governor noted he has “two grandsons,” and all he talks about with the parents is “the kid’s education,” he said. Moreover, he said the importance of “good reading skills, along with creative lesson plans,” is important to any future student’s success. And Lawrence echoed some of the change of heart in Scott, saying when it came to early learning programs. “I think the governor is a real listener on this subject,” said the former Miami Herald publisher and the point of the spear in the creation of The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County in 2002. Lawrence, also noted he had seen “more involvement with the legislature and with the stakeholders in my memory” and in his opinion. “I have seen more progress in the past year, then in the past ten years,” and while we are “not at the promise land for children, this is a good start.” In addition, Lawrence gave a shout out to United Way’s state of the art Learning Center and he believes “every child in America deserves this type of learning center,” he closed.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott participated in a ceremonial signing of House Bill 7165 that restructures the state’s early learning system. The Governor held the ceremonial bill signing at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education in Miami.  Governor Scott said, “This bill will prioritize early learning education by moving many of its functions into the Department of Education, which will increase accountability and transparency for early learning programs.”

Florida Office of Early Learning Executive Director Shan Goff said, “The Governor has demonstrated his commitment to early learning through his budget and this legislation. High quality early learning opportunities are important for our children and families in our state.”

Former State Senator and Executive Director of the Florida Association for Child Care Management Ellyn Bogdanoff said, “Providers are ecstatic that early learning received an increase in funding for the first time in 10 years. This will allow our centers to serve many more children, affording our families the opportunity to continue employment. There is a tremendous need throughout Florida and we can’t thank the governor and the legislature enough for this important step.” Senator John Legg said, “The Governor has delivered on his commitment to education by investing an additional $5 million in early education. This bill will also increase accountability and transparency for how early education programs operate, so we can do more for our children.”

Representative Marlene O’Toole said, “I want to thank Governor Scott for signing this critical legislation. All of the interested parties made this legislation possible, and we will now be more effective in how early childhood education services are offered thanks to this law.”

Board President of the Child Development Educational Alliance Ellen McKinley said, “It is good news that providers will be getting additional funds for the first time in 10 years. This will help more families in need. And everyone benefits from funding for T.E.A.C.H. scholarships – teachers, parents and children. We appreciate the governor’s support for early learning.” Early learning supports both education and jobs. Florida’s free Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program helps children be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. The statewide program provides Florida’s four-year-olds with universal access to the same educational preparation regardless of family income.

The School Readiness Program helps low-income families who may need temporary public assistance or are transitioning from public assistance to obtain childcare so they can work or attend training and/or education programs. The support enables families who are struggling to be part of the workforce. President of the Alliance for Early Care and Education Linda Carmona-Sanchez said, “There’s no wiser investment than in Florida’s early learning programs. Not only do they enable working families to be financially self-sufficient, but they help children begin a lifetime of academic success. We thank Governor Scott for his continued commitment to Florida’s youngest citizens.” Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition of Marion County Roseann Fricks, who also chairs the statewide Association of Early Learning Coalitions, said, “This is a clear indication of the important role early learning coalitions play in education and employment. Restoring funding lost last year for the first increase in provider funding in ten years is a significant move. We thank the governor and the legislature for their support.”

President of the United Way of Florida Ted Granger said, “This turned out to be a very good year for children. With a stronger state economy, Governor Scott knew that investing more in education will make a positive difference. Early learning is where education begins. Programs that were really struggling to serve children and families in the state will be helped.” Chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida David Lawrence, Jr. said, “The early years when 90 percent of brain growth occurs are crucial to growing children who become eager students and contributing adults. The governor’s support for early learning is encouraging – and progress is being made – and my fullest hope is that this would be just the first step in our state making an even more serious investment in children’s early years. We still have a considerable distance to travel for any ‘promised land’ for children.” When Governor Scott signed the Florida Families First budget, he continued his commitment to early learning—a state educational program that supports his two major priorities—jobs and education. Funding for early learning of more than $1 billion included an additional amount of $5 million for school readiness—the first increase in funds for early learning coalitions in ten years.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott makes four reappointments to the Commission on Ethics.

Linda Robison, 64, of Pompano Beach, is an attorney with Shutts and Bowen. She is reappointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015.

Stanley Weston, 52, of Jacksonville, is an attorney with Moseley, Prichard, Parrish, Knight and Jo. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015.

Ivan Ford, 77, of Vero Beach, is a retired FBI special agent. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015.

Susan Maurer, 57, of Fort Lauderdale, is an attorney with Panza, Maurer and Maynard, P.A. She is reappointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> 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 ({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 And this information now being on line is a real boost to Floridians understanding of their lawmakers and their personal financial lives.

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page 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, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.


>>> Is pressure building on Mayor Gimenez’s budget, supporters of libraries, fire rescue and pets growing as public budget hearings approach?

Carlos Gimenez, the Miami-Dade County Mayor has fired back after being accused last week in the media that he squelched the county’s Police Department’s Public Corruption Unit being disbanded because of budget cuts. Gimenez says it was initially the police union’s idea during contract negotiations, to save money, but union official’s calls that charge a canard. However, while critics have been focusing on the potential conflict that might exist with the mayor and the issue of public corruption in the strong mayor’s office. Another aspect that some people also find troublesome under the new form of government is the fact the mayor is in charge of the elections department. Rather than an independent constitutional office like in the other 66 Florida Counties and there is concern he could squelch or stifle, for example absentee ballot investigations, one that involves his past campaign, which Gimenez says is not the case.

Further, the mayor canceling two county budget town hall meetings to go with the Miami Dolphins to the White House for the 50th year Celebration of the undefeated 1973 NFL season on Tuesday has raised eyebrows. Moreover, while these public meetings have been rescheduled, the intensity of voter angst to cuts in support of the libraries, fire rescue and an expanded No Kill shelter has only increased. And these supporters against the budget cuts are gaining strength, leading up to the first public budget hearing Sept. 10, which also includes other county commission budget discussions occurring this week at commission committee meetings.


>>> Grove Playhouse gets reprieve, FL Cabinet approves FIU plan with county and Gables Stage, but millions in “encumbrances,” fines and other liabilities must first be resolved

While the Florida Cabinet bought into the deal to transfer the Coconut Grove Playhouse Tuesday to Florida International University after further negotiations  when it met in Miami, it is a work in progress with several hurdles that have to be jumped, including settling  “ all the encumbrances,” said Michael Spring at the County’s Cultural Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Spring said Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff whose district the playhouse is in, spoke passionately for the need to get the iconic theater and economic engine in the Grove open since it closed in 2006, and the lawmaker  believed the liens the city had on the building could be resolved. Further, Spring noted that FIU President Mark Rosenberg told the state officials that the collaboration with the university, Miami-Dade County and the Gables Stage was a “powerful benefit for FIU,” and would result in the future. The creation of a Masters Degree program in theater is something that is currently not being offered at South Florida institutions of higher learning.  However, Spring noted there is a tight timeframe and the joint lease between the county, FIU and Gables Stage must be concluded by Oct. 15, and the clock is ticking. And it could likely involve a land exchange swap with the state, where the county takes ownership of the Playhouse and that deal is seen as the preferred way to go. Spring also noted that while the county has $20 million in funding for the theater. The first step is to create a “Master Plan for the site” and any “future development” will weigh ways to “spin off revenues to fortify operations” of the local jewel but he also noted any plans would have to “be in character with the Grove and compatible,” with many local residents development concerns.

However, Cultural Affairs Chair Adolpho Henriques noted cautiously “an enormous amount of work “has been done by a host of people at the university and county. However, there “are a million moving pieces” before the champagne bottle should be opened, that have “not all been resolved,” the banker and culture maven said. For more go to

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet today approved Florida International University’s business plan, the first step to enable the university — in partnership with Miami-Dade County and GableStage — to offer a world-class theater program in Southeast Florida at the state-owned Coconut Grove Playhouse. Governor Scott said, “The approval of this business plan allows Florida International University to create a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity in Southeast Florida.” “By approving the business plan for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the foundation for a long-term partnership with FIU, Miami-Dade County, and the State will be solidified,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am hopeful that the partnership between FIU, the County and GableStage will allow the Grove Playhouse to once again become a premier centerpiece for the arts in South Florida,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “By supporting the arts, we are helping promote a vibrant and creative future for our state.”

The Coconut Grove Playhouse property was originally purchased by the state in 1980 and the Board of Trustees conveyed the property – at no cost – to the Coconut Grove Playhouse, LLC, with a deed restriction that required it to manage the property as a theater. The company struggled to continue offering theatrical productions and in April 2006, the final performance occurred in the facility and it closed amid financial problems. After years of inability to revitalize the facility, failure to keep it running as a theater and allowing a commercial parking venture, the Department, in 2012, exercised its right to revert the property back to the Board of Trustees. The Division of State Lands noticed the property, as it does with all property it sells, and Florida International University showed interest in leasing, which universities and colleges have first preference to do upon notice. Per Florida Statutes, a lessee must provide a business plan that requires Governor and Cabinet approval. Miami-Dade County has secured $20 million for capital expenditures for the development and construction of the Playhouse. GableStage, a non-profit theater group, will partner on managing the property.

After approval, the next step will be to finalize the lease between the Board of Trustees, the university and the county. Also, the county, with concurrence of the university, will be working with the Department in pursuing options to obtain the Playhouse property in fee simple ownership, including a potential exchange of lands.  All sales or land exchanges relating to this property are subject to Board of Trustees’ approval.

“This plan shows the benefits of a partnership between the state, the county and the university working together to benefit our youth and contribute to the arts community in Miami-Dade County,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “I’m proud that DEP can support Gov. Scott as he continues to emphasize education in our state.” According to the business plan, the university plans to use the Coconut Grove Playhouse to re-establish a robust theater program for the region, providing professional theater opportunities for university students and faculty. Proper training of theater students can provide job opportunities, keep theater professionals in Miami to improve the culture of the city and serve as an incubator for new theatrical works, providing a platform for playwrights to develop their work. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the State and Florida International University on the Coconut Grove Playhouse project,” said Michael Spring, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. ”In collaboration with GableStage, one of Florida’s great theater companies, we intend to re-establish great regional theater and develop innovative programs that not only will benefit FIU’s students, faculty and alumni but also will serve as a catalyst for jobs, economic development and the growth of theater throughout South Florida.”

>>> New Miami-Dade County Inspector General Report on county GOB money given to some not for profits.


>>> Board member Perez in the spotlight, first elected in 1998, net worth jumps to $2.39 million, up from $2.13 million the year before

Marta Perez, Ph.D. is in the spotlight and the long serving member on the nine-member board has for many years been known as the contrarian member. She was first elected in 1998 after being on a Miami-Dade County Community Council and she was a frequent critic of a number of past public schools superintendents including Roger Cuevas and Rudy Crew. However, since the arrival of Alberto Carvalho in the top administrative spot. She has toned down some of her carping from the dais, which during the Crew years was incessant, and resulted in many school board meetings running long into the night. And she is very popular in her district winning reelection to the seat in 2010 again.



What about her financials?

Perez through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $2.39 million, up from $2.13 million the year before and she lists $40,000 in household goods for the current year. And to read the full financial disclosure report go to

>>> New Miami-Dade County School Board Inspector General Annual Report

>>> New August school district IG investigative report


>>> New PHT trustee application deadline passes; will only the best of the best applicants be selected for most prestigious public board in M-DC? One slot open on the seven member board charges with overseeing JHS

While the PHT passed its $1.5 billion upcoming budget that begins Oct.1 on Friday and includes pumping up certain medical services and growing patient volumes and branching out throughout Miami-Dade in the years to come. The seven member board still has one vacancy that needs to be filled and PHT trustee applications were due in Aug. 13, and a PHT Nominating Council will glean through the candidates to select a citizen that has the skill sets to be on the community’s most important board that is over seen by local community leaders. One of the many key ingredients to a successful trustee is to have the time and dedication to serve on a board where some 30 hours a month are generally given, that the person does not have any conflicts of interest with the PHT and its operation and has the temperament to be a true community leader.

However, over the past 17 years the Watchdog Report has watched and covered Jackson Health System. I have seen trustees come and go and some have left with a cloud over they’re head and embarrassed the high profile public hospital system and that is why getting the right people to oversee JHS, and the challenges it will be facing in the future is so important. For the job is not for the feign of heart and demands a major commitment and I thought about this on Friday when past Financial Recovery Board Chair Marcos Lapciuc and FRB Secretary Joaquin del Cueto were honored by the PHT board for their past service. And both men performed they’re duties on the Trust with honor and dignity and neither one had any brush with scandal, and that is what the residents of Miami-Dade want in their leaders on the body. And any new addition to this board must not only be smart and dedicated to the health systems mission of providing world class medical care for all, regardless of the patients ability to pay. But also must bring a sterling reputation, for that performance bar cannot be lowered, given the challenges that await the healthcare world in the years to come. For more on the new PHT budget go to


>>> The hits keep coming for the Suarez for mayor campaign, two campaign aides charged in misdemeanor in absentee ballot request investigation

Two members of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez’s campaign were slapped with a misdemeanor over the week for requesting absentee ballots for others using a computer. The state attorney’s office decided to make the lesser charge after considering the two men were inexperienced with running a campaign, but the agreement also forbid them from any further campaign activity over the next six months, and the charge will not be adjudicated if they follow the sentencing guidelines. One of the men charged was Suarez’s cousin Estephan “Steve” Suarez and the incident while now over is another black eye for the campaign, that last week was dealing with an aide texting insulting things about some of the constituents the office dealt with and she suggested in a tweet that one-person get a “lobotomy.”

However, Suarez fired back and noted in the press and told the station’s senior political reporter Michael Putney. That Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado was also fined $5,000 for campaign irregularities back in his first mayoral race in 2009. And with the race, looming in November it remains to be seen how low this race will go, as each side amps up they’re campaign attacks in the months ahead.




>>> Commission Candidates settle into races, former Beach Commissioner Garcia cry’s foul, tells Mayor Bower not authorized to use his photo in campaign piece

The political races for the Miami Beach Commission seats in November are heating up and over the week a couple of candidates have switched races, or caused a stir by using a non-authorized photo endorsement as in the case of Mayor Matti Bower, now running for the commission. Candidate Michael Grieco has now jumped into the Group 2 race and is facing incumbent Jorge Exposito and David Crystal. Moreover, in the Bower race for the Group 3 commission seat, now held by mayoral Candidate Commissioner Michael Gongora.

The mayor is facing off against Joshua Dunkelman and new entry Joy Malakoff for the Group 3 seat on the seven-member dais. In addition, commission candidate Sherry Kaplan Roberts has switched races and has jumped into the Group 1 race and she is running against Mohammed Islam, Micky Steinberg and Elsa Urquiza for the commission seat.

However, former Miami Beach Commissioner and county commission candidate Luis Garcia is crying foul when it comes to a campaign piece being used by Bower. He says it was unauthorized and to read the former firefighter’s statement on the matter see below. Though Bower told the Miami Herald, the photo reference was a mistake on her campaign’s part.


As the first Hispanic Fire Chief, a two term former commissioner of Miami Beach, and a three term Florida State Representative, I want Miami Beach to have professional and effective leadership. It has  been brought to my attention that my picture was used in campaign literature recently distributed by Matti Herrera Bower creating the false impression that I am supporting Bower. She does not have my permission and more importantly does NOT HAVE MY support. This picture was used without my knowledge or authorization and I expect that she will cease distributing this or any such misleading literature.

In fact, I am adamantly opposed to another term of office for Bower. She is running because of a legal loophole. In 1996, 66.23% of the voters agreed to term limits of 8 consecutive years for commissioners and 6 consecutive years for mayor. Bower has had 8 years as commissioner and 6 years as mayor. Under her mayoral watch the city was plagued with proven corruption in the procurement department and indictments, which continue in the police, fire, building and code compliance departments. This is a disgrace. The public displays of temper, name-calling and ineffective leadership of the Commission are  an embarrassment.

I have endorsed Sherry Kaplan Roberts for Miami Beach Commissioner and continue to support her wholeheartedly. I hope that this campaign at such a critical time in Miami Beach will not deteriorate into more dirty tricks and underhanded attempts to confuse the voters and distract from the real issues. There are too many examples of a lack of integrity in our leadership and we do not need more of this behavior.


>>> Commissioner Lago emphatically says “No” to question of applying for absentee ballots by computer

A question that comes up periodically in conversation with a number of people has been answered and Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago did not use computers to request absentee ballots during his campaign in April. Lago, a close friend of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez who helped him campaign at the polls on Election Day when asked about the matter by the Watchdog Report. Lago wrote emphatically no, and here is the commissioner’s response.

“I hope all is well. I don’t deal in rumors or innuendo, we engaged in an ethical and transparent campaign, which resulted in me walking nearly 9,000 homes in the city of Coral Gables, over a year and a half span. To answer your question, I under NO circumstance used computers to request absentee ballots, any assertion to the contrary is defamatory. Please conduct yourself accordingly,” wrote Lago on the matter.


>>> Therapy Staffing Company Owner and Patient Recruiter Plead Guilty in $7 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Press release: A patient recruiter and a therapy staffing company owner pleaded guilty today in connection with a $7 million health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company Anna Nursing Services Corp. U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; 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. Ivan Alejo, 48, and Hugo Morales, 36, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  At sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 5, 2013, Alejo and Morales each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Alejo worked as a patient recruiter at Anna Nursing, a home health care agency in Miami Springs, Fla., that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries but in reality billed Medicare for expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.  Morales owned Professionals Therapy Staffing Services Inc., which provided therapists to Anna Nursing. Alejo and his co-conspirators negotiated and paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Anna Nursing for home health and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided.  He and others also paid kickbacks and bribes to co-conspirators in doctors’ offices and clinics in exchange for home health and therapy prescriptions, medical certifications, and other documentation.  Alejo and his co-conspirators would use the prescriptions, medical certifications and other documentation to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services.

Morales and others created fictitious progress notes and other patient files indicating that therapists from Professionals Therapy had provided physical or occupational therapy services to particular Medicare beneficiaries, when in many instances those services had not been provided and/or were not medically necessary.  Morales knew the falsified documents were used to support false claims for home health care services billed to Medicare by his co-conspirators at Anna Nursing. From approximately October 2010 through approximately April 2013, Anna Nursing was paid by Medicare approximately $7 million for fraudulent claims for home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.

This 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. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. 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: 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



>>> Commissioner Ryan in the spotlight, survives rough and tumble primary race in 2012, net worth comes in at $1.75 million for 2012

Tim Ryan, the former state representative who ascended the nine member county commission in 2012 after a nasty Democratic Party Primary race against incumbent County Commissioner Ken Keechl and Charlotte Rodstrom (The wife of then County Commissioner John Rodstrom) is in the spotlight this week. And Ryan in the November General Election beat a write-in candidate when he garnered 97.5 percent of the Commission District 7 vote. Ryan an attorney was remarkable successful while in the Florida Legislature before term limits kicked in 2006, and a nasty 2008 race for the state senate ended his political career until this recent victory.  He represents parts of Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania Beach and Davie.

Ryan and bio:

What do we know about his finances?

Ryan through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $1.75 million and he lists $25,000 in household goods and to read the complete financial disclosure form go to And to read all the county commission disclosure forms go to

>>> Elections Supt. Snipes tapped in 2003 by Gov. Bush, reelected every time since then, net worth jumps to $657,000

Dr. Brenda Snipes, the Broward Supervisor of Elections is in the spotlight this week and she was first appointed to the countywide office by Gov. Jeb Bush in Nov. 2003 and she has won reelection ever since, including in 2012. She is a former educator and principle before Bush tapped her to fill the void created when the governor removed past Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant from office for failing to carry out her official duties back then. And Snipes has not looked politically back, and on the whole she has a decent relationship with the county commission that funds the separate constitutional office. However, that current relationship is a far cry from the days when Oliphant clashed with commissioners, especially with former Commissioner Ilene Lieberman who drilled into the elections supervisor for over spending of her allocated budget back then. And Broward County currently has 1,120,390 eligible voters of which 580,647 are Democrats, Republicans account for 251,510 voters and others account for another 288,233 members of the electorate.

Snipes and bio

What do we know about her finances?

Snipes through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $657,000, and she has $46,000 in household goods, and that is up from $608,884 through 2011, and to read her complete financial disclosure form go to

>>> NORTH BROWARD HOSPITAL DISTRICT >>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps David C. Nieland and the reappointment of Joel K. Gustafson to the Board of Commissioners, North Broward Hospital District.

Nieland, 41, of Plantation, is currently the special agent in charge for the United States Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, at the Miami Field Office. He is a member of the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Miami-Dade Association of Chiefs of Police. Nieland received his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and his law enforcement certification from Caldwell Community College. He succeeds Miguel Fernandez and is appointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending July 20, 2015.

Gustafson, 76, of Fort Lauderdale, has been a resident and public servant of Broward County since 1964. He chaired the Broward Alliance, co-chaired two Super Bowls, and served as a member of the Florida Chamber. Gustafson served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1967 to 1972. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College and his law degree from Tulane University. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 20, 2013, and ending June 29, 2017.


>>> Former Ft. Lauderdale Executive Sentenced to 15 Years for Money Laundering and Obstruction of Justice in Connection with Mutual Benefits Corporation Fraud

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that on August 16, 2013, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced defendant Steven Steiner, a/k/a “Steven Steinger,” 61, to 15 years in prison (180 months) in connection with money laundering and obstruction of justice related to the use and concealment of more than $15 million dollars in proceeds derived from the Mutual Benefits Corporation (MBC) fraud. Previously, on February 28, 2013, a federal jury in Miami convicted Steiner on 19 of 54 counts, including conspiracy to commit money laundering offenses, money laundering, conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, and various obstruction of justice offenses.  Steiner also was ordered to serve three-years supervised release upon the expiration of his prison sentence relating to Steiner’s participation in a scheme to launder and conceal proceeds from the MBC fraud, and Steiner’s obstruction of United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the court-appointed receiver for MBC, and the United States District Court, in their efforts to secure and recover assets traceable to the fraud.  The jury acquitted Steiner’s co-defendant Henry Fecker, III, on all charges.

At trial the United States presented evidence that from approximately 1994 to May 2004, MBC purchased life insurance policies from persons suffering from AIDS, chronically ill, and elderly persons.  Having purchased the life insurance policies, MBC sold fractionalized interests in the death benefits, known as “viatical settlements,” to approximately 30,000 investors.  In promotional materials, MBC told investors that its viatical settlements offered a fixed rate of return with low risk, and that investors’ principal and returns were paid by the insurance companies.  Evidence at trial established that MBC misrepresented various material facts relating to its viatical settlements, including: the estimated life expectancies of the insured persons, MBC’s title to certain life insurance policies, the risks associated with certain policies, the payment of premiums, and the source of funds used to pay investors.  Witnesses testified that new investor money was used to pay premiums on life insurance policies purchased by earlier investors and to pay investors who requested their money back.  The evidence established that as the fraud continued, investor money was required to prevent the MBC Ponzi-scheme from collapsing.  Ultimately, investors lost more than $750 million.

Steiner was a founder, principal, and Vice President of MBC, and he received more than $15 million in proceeds from the MBC fraud through two shell corporations that he controlled: Camden Consulting, Inc., and SKS Consulting, Inc. In May 2004, the SEC filed a civil enforcement action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, SEC v. Mutual Benefits Corp., et al., Case No. 04-60573-CIV-MORENO (the “SEC Fraud Action”), against MBC and various “relief defendants,” including Steiner’s shell corporations.  On May 4, 2004, United States District Judge Federico A. Moreno entered an order appointing Coral Gables attorney Roberto Martinez as the receiver for MBC, with the mandate to identify, secure, trace, and recover the assets of MBC.

As the jury found, following the closure of MBC and the appointment of the MBC receiver, Steiner engaged in money laundering transactions designed to conceal the source, location, ownership, and control of his proceeds from the MBC fraud.  At the same time, Steiner acted to obstruct the SEC, the MBC receiver, and the United States District Court. Evidence at trial disclosed that in 2006 and early 2007, Steiner submitted false and misleading financial disclosure documents to the SEC to persuade the SEC to agree to a favorable settlement of the SEC claims against him and his shell corporations Camden Consulting and SKS Consulting, in the SEC Fraud Action.  Based upon Steiner’s fraudulent financial disclosure, the SEC agreed to a reduced penalty of $3.9 million, and on April 10, 2007, the District Court entered a Final Judgment in the SEC Fraud Action ordering Steiner, SKS and Camden to pay $3.9 million to the court-appointed receiver for MBC.  Evidence at trial established that Steiner acted to thwart the MBC receiver’s efforts to trace and recover MBC assets and recover on the final judgment.  Among other things, Steiner repeatedly lied under oath during depositions and physically concealed documents, including checks representing proceeds from the MBC fraud.

Steiner is currently awaiting trial in two related cases in the Southern District of Florida.  In United States v. Joel Steinger, et al., Case No. 08-21158-CR-Scola, Steiner and co-defendants Joel Steinger and Anthony Livoti are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering, in relation to the MBC fraud scheme.  In United States v. Joel Steinger et al., Case No. 12-20123-CR-Rosenbaum, Steiner, Joel Steinger, and Henry Fecker III are charged with engaging in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud insurance companies. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and IRS-CI.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jerrob Duffy and Dwayne E. Williams. 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 Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on


>>> Commissioner Vana scurvies turmoil over the years, elected in 2008 after arrests of multiple commissioners, she had $144,000 net worth through May 2013, up from $69,632 the previous year

Shelly Vana, the Palm Beach County Commissioner is in the spotlight this week and the former state representative was elected to Commission District 3 in 2008 and was reelected in 2012. She is an educator in her private life and the commissioner jumped into the race initially after a host of county commissioners were arrested and most went to federal prison on a number of counts of public corruption. And after first being elected, when she and other commissioners attended multi county events. These new county commissioners made it clear they were not the other commissioners that were then serving in the federal Big House.

Vana and bio:

What do we know about her finances?

Vana through May 2013 had a net worth of $144,073 and she lists $75,000 in household goods, and in 2012 she had a $69,632 net worth and a few years ago she had a net worth of $88,425.  and to read her complete current financial disclosure form go to

>>> And to review all the county commissioners financial disclosure forms go to


>>> Defendant Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

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), and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that defendant Nael Dawud Sammour, 52, of Pompano Beach, was sentenced yesterday before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas in connection with his previous conviction on two counts of aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A and eight counts of theft of public money in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641. At yesterday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas sentenced defendant Nael Sammour to 139 months in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, as well as from court documents, unknown individuals used stolen identification information, including the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of unsuspecting taxpayers to fraudulently apply for and receive U.S. tax refunds to which they were not entitled.  Thereafter, Sammour obtained many of these fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury tax refund checks and later transferred these checks, along with counterfeit driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, to undercover IRS agents posing as check cashers.  In total, agents seized 75 fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury tax refund checks totaling $750,369.45 from Defendant Sammour.  Moreover, when Sammour was arrested, law enforcement located and seized $30,128.24 in U.S. currency. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI and the FBI for their work on the case.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton. 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


>>> West Palm Beach Gang Associate Sentenced as Armed Career Criminal for Firearm Possession

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announce that Narces Benoit, 37, a documented gang associate from West Palm Beach, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. to 180 months (15 years) in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release for being an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm. On February 15, 2013, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit and SWAT Team executed a residential search warrant in West Palm Beach, Florida. At the scene, agents discovered Benoit in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol, cocaine, methamphetamine and a bag containing individually packaged baggies of marijuana.

A federal grand jury indicted Benoit on March 21, 2013, charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. In May 2013, Benoit pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of federal gun laws. Benoit was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which provides a sentencing range of fifteen years to life for individuals who have been convicted of federal gun crimes and have at least three prior felony convictions for crimes of violence and/or serious drug offenses. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF and PBSO. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John McMillan. 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 Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Michael G. Mikurak to the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.

Mikurak, 59, of Saint Petersburg, is a former partner of Accenture, PLC. He succeeds Elise Minkoff and is appointed for a term beginning August 23, 2013, and ending July 18, 2016. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.


>>> Elections Supt. Griffin in the spotlight, elected in 2012 and had $580,000 net worth through Jun. 2013

Joyce Griffin, the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections is in the spotlight this week and she was elected in Nov. 2012 after the long serving elections supervisor Danny Kolhage stepped down from the office to run for the Monroe County Commissioner that same year. Griffin was a 28 year county employee and was a assistant supervisor for elections for 19 years and she defeated banker Barry Gibson, a former municipal elected official and for more on the past race check out Monroe with roughly a population of 73,090 based on the 2010 Census has 52,414 voters countywide, and  19,388 are Republicans, there are 17,728 Democrats and others account for 15,298 voters.

Griffin and bio

What do we know about her finances?

Griffin through Jun. 2013 had a net worth of $580,000 and she lists $10,000 in household goods and to read her complete disclosure form go to

>>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to


>>> The Downtown Bay Forum – INVITES YOU TO OUR LUNCHEON MEETING ON, Wednesday August 28, 2013 11:30-1:30pm – THE FUTURE OF JACKSON HOSPITAL: BOOM OR BUST? ~ Should voters approve the $850 million dollar bond issue for Jackson Hospital in the November special election? SPEAKERS: Carlos Migoya, President & CEO Jackson Health System Hon. Juan Zapata, Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 11 – 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 – SPACE IS LIMITED. PLEASE NOTE THAT RESERVATIONS MUST BE CANCELLED 24 HRS IN ADVANCE TO AVOID CHARGE

>>> Campaign Skills Seminar set for South Miami-Dade

With several municipal elections scheduled this fall and even more set for next year, now is the time for candidates and those considering running for office to 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 Wednesday, September 4, 2013, in the William F. “Bill” Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Avenue in Homestead.  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, Wdnesday, September 4, 2013, 6:30 p.m., William F. “Bill” Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Avenue, Homestead, FL  33030

>>> The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami Invites you to a Community Conversation & Luncheon >> Gaily Forward: The History and Future of LGBT Rights in South Florida Wednesday, September 18, 2013, Hurricane 100 Room at  UM Bank United Center 1245 Dauer Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

11:30 a.m. registration, 12 p.m. lunch 12:30 p.m. Conversation >>> Join Ruth Shack, President Emeritus, Miami Foundation; Jorge Mursuli, Organizer of the 1998 Human Rights Campaign; Rick Siclari, Executive Director, Care Resource; Jared Payne, President, SpectrUM; Elizabeth Schwartz, Esq., Attorney, Sobe Law; Tony Lima, Executive Director, SAVE Dade; as they discuss the history of LGBT issues: from the passage of the 1977 anti-discrimination ordinance to the health issues related to the gay community, DOMA, transgender legislation and campus life for LGBT students. Moderated by Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of the Good Government Initiative. Ticket Prices: $35 Individual Ticket, $30 GGI Member* $50 GGI Contributor (Individual Ticket + $15 donation) $500 Table of 10 (Sponsor Table) $20 Concerned Citizen $15 Student (with student ID) *made a donation of at least $100 this year Register Now! To pay by check please send to: 1320 South Dixie Highway, Suite 911,  Coral Gables, FL 33146, no later than Wednesday, Sept 4th.

>>> TEDxMiami Thursday, October 24 @ 7pm, Knight Concert Hall — For four years, TEDxMiami has been a hub of diverse creativity, innovative ideas, and progressive thought leadership that has been a cornerstone of Miami’s creative, intellectual, and entrepreneurial audiences. The main event in the fall will feature live speakers giving unique, locally relevant talks. TED is an international nonprofit organization and its mission is to share ideas worth spreading. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. Follow #TEDxMiami2013 for event updates and keep up with TedxMiami throughout the year on Facebook and Twitter. Member Pre-Sale: NOW! Public On Sale: Tuesday, July 30 CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS Or call 305-949-6722 today!


>>> Candidates in the upcoming municipal elections must run they’re campaigns on the up and up, if they are to have voters trust

With municipal elections looming in a number of Miami-Dade municipalities in November, with the highest profile ones being in Miami and Miami Beach. Candidates seeking office need to realize the bad old days of voting irregularities are over when it comes to a host of issues, like bogus absentee ballots, slurring a fellow candidate, or a candidate even trying to deny something that is patently true. For the local candidate bar has been set higher after all the voting scandals that have erupted over the past two decades, but the irregularities are like a rash that never seems to go away, even though there are public institutions that have oversight, and are trying to curtail some of these shenanigans. But candidates should realize the electorate is already skeptical about they’re elected leaders, and one way to find out what someone is about who is running for office, is how they run their own campaign.

Moreover, be you a seasoned or neophyte candidate, it behooves you to play by the book for when it comes to ones personal integrity and honor as a candidate for elected office, it must be treated with the highest respect. For one cannot be a little bit pregnant when it comes to running a ethical and above board race that voters deserve, and lets hope some of these campaigns get that message. For any negative press when it comes to a candidate’s race for office is not a resume builder, and candidates should remember that as well as the voters, who put their trust in these people to lead them. For the local electorate is putting their sacred trust in someone, when they vote, and that bond should not be tarnished by early campaign misdeeds.


>>> Correction: Alberto Ibarguen is not being honored by the Chapman Partnership as reported in the WDR last week, but instead by FIU in October

I’m sorry if my email response was confusing.  Alberto Ibarguen is being honored at the Chapman Leadership Honors event on October 3, 2013. This is a Florida International University sponsored event not a Chapman Partnership event.  Certainly, we will be there to support.  Although a more than worthy candidate, Alberto is NOT the recipient of this year’s Chapman Partnership Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Humanitarian award.

Daniel Vincent
Chapman Partnership

>>> Reader of Coconut Grove Playhouse deal with the state

Just a brief but heartfelt “thank you” to the members of    Florida’s Cabinet for unanimously approving the plan to restore

Miami’s Grand Dame of Theater – the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Their approval places our community one-step closer to bringing back the premier home for regional theater in South Florida.

This plan, put forth through the leadership of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the County Commission, and so many other tireless culture advocates, among them — Pres. Mark Rosenberg, Hon. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Hon. Marc David Sarnoff, Michael Spring & Lisa Martinez — will breathe new life to this home for the arts. Please take a moment and thank each of them for their support!

It is now up to Miami-Dade County, FIU, and other stakeholders to move forward on the plan by agreeing on a lease and clearing other matters on the property before the agreed deadline.  We have all traveled too far toward making this dream a reality, and we cannot stop now. On behalf of my colleagues on Board of the Playhouse, I can reaffirm our support to this plan and I urge all of you to do the same. Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of the arts.  I look forward to seeing all of you on opening day as the curtain lifts over the stage at the newly refurbished Coconut Grove Playhouse!

Jorge Luis Lopez

>>> Reader on public private partnerships

PPS are Trojan horses. The public sector can borrow money more cheaply for infrastructure than the private sector. There is no risk. The private sector seeks to install itself as a middleman; taking an unnecessary cut for projects which must happen anyway. If they are really successful, they can finance our infrastructure and rent it back to us. Where are the voices of those who oppose such hybridization of government?

Mike Burke




THE MIAMI HERALD (2000-2008)


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


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

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

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 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. … >>>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

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 -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column –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

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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