Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.14 August 11, 2013 Est.05.05.00 I go when you cannot – Financial Disclosure Issue


Argus Report: Local FBI & IRS tri-fecta when it comes to federal special agents arresting politicians, Mayors Pizzi, Maroño & former Hialeah Mayor Robaina face charges by the feds

Florida: State Atty. Fernandez Rundle in the spotlight, first elected in 1993, got 60 percent of the vote in 2012 primary to win in Nov., net worth $2.36 million, up from $1.65 million in 2011 — 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: Public budget town hall meetings get heated, $2 billion already cut over years, still $6.3 billion budget; will public hearings in Sept. be raucous affairs?

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho says public encouraged to speak, but he must correct them if they are “factually incorrect,” he tells Board on Wednesday after dust up with activist

Public Health Trust: JHS President Migoya makes his case for why county voters should pass $830 million GOB, to fill past infrastructure “gaps” and to compete in new emerging healthcare arena

City of Miami: Mgr. Martinez is hit with Letter of Instruction from county Ethics Commission for a senior employee hire

City of Miami Beach: Ethics Commission clears Commissioner Tobin of interfering with hiring process of Beach Police Chief

City of Coral Gables: Gables residents get to tell state Rep. Rodriguez what is important to them at Monday luncheon at John Martin’s Rest.

Town of Cutler Bay: Ethics Commission settles with two local lobbyists, they get Letter of Instruction and pay $250.00 fine each

North Bay Village: Miami Heat tickets score an ethics complaint

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Commissioner Gunzburger in the spotlight, fought off prominent challenger in tough 2010 race, net worth drops to $4.2 million, down from $5.45 million in 2010

City of Wilton Manor: Former Wilton Manors Resident Sentenced for Defrauding the State of Florida Unemployment Compensation Program

City of Weston: Four More Defendants Plead Guilty in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme ` 92 defendants have been charged to date in Operation Sledgehammer I-VI

Palm Beach County: Commissioner Burdick in the spotlight, fiscal watchdog, net worth in 2012 jumps to $1.11 million, up from $482,000 through June 2011

Boca Raton: Mortgage Company Executive Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case

St. Lucie County: Port St. Lucie Securities Broker Charged in Wire Fraud Embezzlement Scheme

Pasco County: Gov. Scott taps Michael B. Fasano as County Tax Collector.

Monroe County: Commissioner Murphy in spotlight, long time politician, had $747,000 net worth through Dec. 2012

Community Events: 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: PAST WDR JAN. 2011:  Miami-Dade is at a crossroads; public institutions must learn to work together better, with civility a key ingredient, for we are in for a rough ride in the months ahead —  PAST WDR: JULY 2008: Collapse and consolidation of media will eventually create a Wild West mentality within public institutions — 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 and economist of Mayor Gimenez’s county budget

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

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

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>>> 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

>>> I was on Topical Currents Tuesday on WLRN/NPR on 91.3 FM and we discussed the Miami-Dade County $6.3 billion budget, and the budget cuts to libraries, Fire Rescue and the Animal Services Department, with senior county officials, and to listen to the show go to

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Local FBI & IRS tri-fecta when it comes to federal special agents arresting politicians, Mayors Pizzi, Maroño and former Hialeah Mayor Robaina face charges by the feds

The arrest of Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, by the FBI public corruption detail on Tuesday for bribery, makes the last few months a tri-fecta of local officials getting busted, with former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in May and his wife both fighting charges of tax evasion with the IRS also being arrested, and all of them are out on bond. The federal authorities have been fighting public corruption in South Florida since the late 1990s and in 2001, had then U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis telling the Watchdog Report, that when it came to these cases. “Public Corruption was the Southern District’s number one priority,” though this was prior to 9/11, which changed many of the aspects of these federal agencies focus, but the FBI continues to rack up an impressive record. From Palm Beach County, where all the county commissioners in 2006-2007 were arrested and went to federal prison. Moreover, Broward has been a hot bed of corrupt activity and arrests and Miami-Dade is a target rich environment as well, as these recent arrests show.

The mayor’s defense attorneys say the elected officials will be vindicated, but others that have examined the federal evidence and transcripts of the conversations say there is a compelling case for the charges. And multiple reliable sources have indicated this is just the tip of the iceberg, and more arrests will be coming they believe. Given the fact there are around 300 elected leaders in Miami-Dade, if you count all the municipalities, and county community councils as well as the 13 member Miami-Dade County Commission.

What about Pizzi?

Pizzi, first in his class at the University of Miami Law School is a scrapper and over the years, he has been a underdog legal champion, from fighting the rock mining industry, to pushing for the recall of his political nemesis, recalled County Commissioner Natacha Seijas (Who is said to be gloating at the arrest of Pizzi). However, Pizzi is a showman, sometimes acted as if he might be a Matlock character, can be a bully, yet invites residents to prayer meetings. However, on Miami Beach, his hourly rate as a lobbyist was $750.00 and that is top dollar and shows another side of the man.

Further, years ago, when he was honored by the Urban Environment League, he brought along a posse of people and there was a roped off area for his quests at the low key event held at the American Legion Post on Biscayne Blvd. And over the past years, controversy seems to gravitate towards him, his law office caught fire suspiciously, another prank backfired when he put a political sticker on elected leader’s car bumper, and the other person was irate. Now this arrest. However, pundits are saying that the case with Pizzi is not as air shut as with the decade old Sweetwater mayor when it comes to the federal prosecution. >>> For more on the arrests of the two mayors go to and for more on the Robaina story go to

>>> Two Mayors and Two Lobbyists Charged in Separate Corruption Investigations ~ Mayor of Sweetwater Received More Than $40,000 in Bribes; Mayor of Miami Lakes Received $6,750 in Bribes

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, announce that four individuals have been charged in two separate complaints involving public corruption allegations.  The first complaint charges Manuel L. Maroño, 41, the Mayor of Sweetwater, and two lobbyists, Jorge L. Forte, 41, and Richard F. Candia, 49, all of Miami, for their alleged participation in a kickback and bribery scheme (the Maroño complaint) in connection with purported federal grants for the City of Sweetwater.  The second complaint charges Michael A. Pizzi, 51, the Mayor of Miami Lakes and Town Attorney for the Town of Medley, and Richard F. Candia, in a separate kickback and bribery scheme in connection with purported federal grants for both Miami Lakes and Medley (the Pizzi complaint). Both complaints charge the defendants with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a).

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Our democracy suffers when, as in these cases, elected officials use their power and political influence for personal gain instead of for the public good. Public corruption, at any level of government, corrodes and undermines the public’s confidence in our system of government. We are committed to stopping this corrosion and to help restore transparency to local government.” “For the public to have confidence in their government, they must be certain that their elected officials will not use their position for personal gain,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. This information is critical to our work. The South Florida community can be assured that public corruption will remain a top priority for the FBI.” The defendants made their initial appearances in federal court today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to twenty years in prison.

Investigation Background

The investigation began in approximately June 2011, when Candia began dealing with an FBI confidential source and two undercover FBI agents posing as the owners of a Chicago-based grant administration business.  During meetings, the undercover agents represented to Candia that, with the aid of corrupt local public officials, they could obtain federal grant moneys, which they would then keep and distribute among themselves.  After listening to the undercover agents’ proposal, Candia identified Maroño and Pizzi as potential participants in the scheme.

The Sweetwater Deal—Manuel Maroño

According to the Maroño complaint affidavit, after identifying Maroño as a potential participant in the proposed scheme, Candia introduced Maroño to the undercover agents.  Maroño caused the passage of a resolution in Sweetwater that authorized the undercover agents’ company to apply for federal grant moneys on behalf of the City of Sweetwater. After the resolution was passed, Maroño and Forte personally met and negotiated with the undercover agents and accepted a series of cash payments in exchange for Maroño’s official action in support of the grant scheme.  During these negotiations and meetings, Forte acted as the front man for Maroño.

To further the scheme and avoid detection, Maroño also participated in what he believed to be audit telephone calls from a federal grant auditor to confirm the grantee’s performance on the grant. During two separate audit calls, both of which were recorded, Maroño lied to and misled the auditor, who was in fact an undercover FBI agent, about the actual use of the grant money and the grantee’s performance.  For their actions, Maroño and Forte received $40,000 and Candia received at least $5,000 in kickbacks in connection with the Sweetwater deal.

Lastly, Maroño, Forte and Candia received additional payments for their assistance in identifying other public officials whom they claimed might also be interested in participating in similar grant schemes in their cities. To this end, Maroño, Forte, and Candia used Maroño’s position as President of the Florida League of Cities to introduce the scheme to other officials.  Maroño and Forte received an additional $20,000 in cash for these introductions, but no other public officials ultimately participated in the scheme.

The Miami Lakes/Medley Deals—Michael Pizzi

The second complaint charges Michael Pizzi and Candia with engaging in a similar grant scheme in Miami Lakes and Medley. As more fully explained in the affidavit filed in support of the Pizzi complaint, Candia introduced Pizzi to the undercover FBI agents to help implement the grant scheme in Medley, where Pizzi was the Town Attorney. After a series of meetings with Candia and the undercover agents, Pizzi initially agreed to participate in the scheme in exchange for $750 in campaign contributions, which he received in three separate checks delivered to his office by the FBI confidential source.

Thereafter, to aid in the grant scheme’s success, Pizzi backdated a document that endorsed the undercover agents’ company. Pizzi also handled what he believed to be an audit telephone call from a federal grant auditor to confirm the grantee’s performance on the grant.  During that call, which was recorded, Pizzi lied to and misled the auditor, who was in fact an undercover FBI agent, about the actual use of the grant money and the grantee’s performance.  In return for Pizzi’s help in Medley, Pizzi received a $1,000 cash kickback and other things of value.  Later, with the intent of expanding the grant scheme to Miami Lakes, Pizzi worked to get a resolution passed in Miami Lakes that would authorize the undercover FBI agents’ company to seek additional grant funds for the City of Miami Lakes. In exchange for his work in Miami Lakes, Pizzi received additional $2,000 and $3,000 cash pay-offs.

These cases were investigated by the FBI Miami Area Public Corruption Task Force with assistance from the City of Miami Police Department, Hialeah Police Department, Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Dade Police Department and Customs and Border Protection – Internal Affairs. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared E. Dwyer. >>> A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

>>> MIA Director Gonzalez on jag when it comes to taxi cabs taking airport passengers; says we cannot put these tourists in “harms way,” when they take a cab

Emilio T. Gonzalez, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director  made his debut with the community since he took over the mammoth Miami International Airport (MIA) in the Spring when former Director Jose Abreu retired from the pressure cooker post he held since 2005. Gonzalez, the Wednesday keynote speaker at The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, in the past felt more comfortable in the halls of Washington and overseas given his past public service positions, is also a retired U.S. Army Colonel. The man, who is celebrating his 35th wedding anniversary next month, had not sought the job since he had a “boat, bulldog and grandson,” but this was an “opportunity to give back” and the assignment was “an opportunity to serve here at home.” And he was having a “blast” working at MIA and being in Miami, his home after “being a creature of Washington D.C. and foreign countries,” the University of Miami Ph.D. graduate said.

Gonzalez said MIA is the fastest “growing” airport when it comes to international passengers in the “past three years,” is in the Top Ten Worldwide, and saw 39.5 million passengers last year, he said. The man, known to have a disciplined but common touch, mingles and talks with passengers at the facility during the course of a day. He said, while Atlanta has more passengers, they are many times going through the airport versus in Miami where we are the “Gateway to the Americas,” and when it comes to the two million tons of cargo that comes in a year. When it comes to this number for “Cargo, [that number] is on track to exceed that [older volume] number,” and MIA is number one in the USA for international freight, he said. MIA has 88 carriers, serves routes to 150 cities on four continents and has to pay off $6.5 billion in bonds for the expansion and improvements of the North and South Terminals. Though the director appointed to the post by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, noted the Central Terminal needs improvements and management will be redoing that part of the airport as well in the future.

What about MIA taxis and what do passengers say?

Gonzalez said next to decreasing the time passengers have to spend clearing U.S. Immigration and Customs at MIA is the important issue of taxis and “cabs tend to be kind of quirky,” and for many riders, they feel they are in “another country.” He said the issue of cabs has “become a safety matter,” and he gets irate emails and calls from passengers who say the cabbies wanted “additional fees” or the “denial of service,” if a trip is to short. He says riders have been “thrown out of cabs”, and it was important not to put these tourists, the lifeblood of the Miami-Dade economy and for MIA “in harms way.” He noted his desire was not “picking a fight with anybody” but when a passenger is “thrown out of a cab on 1-95,” and these people have already had to wait “three hours in line,” to clear immigration, this is not the way to bring a traveler back to MIA. He said the matter has been brought to the attention of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner’s attention, because the taxis and service these cab passengers receive, “it can’t be like this anymore,” he said. Moreover “While I am being passionate, [on the issue] I get the hate mail” from these disgruntled cab passengers. And he believes the matter is so important that it concerns the “future of the County and jobs,” and the idea of “putting people in danger is not acceptable.” Further he thought the cab owners “need to further professionalize the industry,” and we “know there is a problem” and everyone has “a cab story to tell,” and we need to “address it head on.” Because people riding in our cabs “don’t want to be in the 1960s” and the cab must have “working air conditioning” and “be able to take credit cards,” as he closed his comments.

Gonzalez and his bio:

>>> 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.

>>> ZOGBY press release: Will Bezos Redefine the Newspaper Business?

By: John Zogby Contributor

Long before “journalism” became a noun and the concept of the “Fourth Estate” was even developed, newspapers and pamphlets were the media of choice in the early United States. And these publications were not pretty at all. In the 1790s and early years of the 19th century, newspapers were the mouthpiece of burgeoning political parties and the rhetoric was ugly by any standards. Jefferson was a “whoremaster” and “an atheist”; Adams was “his rotundity” and was deemed redundant. It was a Hamiltonian news editor who circulated gossip about Aaron Burr and his daughter that would even make the Weiners and Leathers of today blush.

Then there the “penny posts”, news on the cheap and later the corporate, union-busting mouthpieces that were anti-union, anti-labor, anti-immigrant, anti-black – you get the picture. By the 20th century, the notion of journalism as an independent purveyor of truth began. First there were the muckrakers, then the likes of Walter Lippman and H.L. Mencken provided tough commentary and analysis for readers. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade

>>> 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


>>> State Atty. Fernandez Rundle in the spotlight, first elected 1993, got 60 percent of the vote in 2012 primary, net worth $2.36 million, up from $1.65 million in 2011

Katherine Fernandez Rundle, 64, the Florida 11th Judicial Circuit State attorney is in the spotlight this week and she was first elected to the countywide office in 1993. After her predecessor Janet Reno became the U.S. Attorney General under President Bill Clinton. She has faced a number of challengers over the years since then, but was able to dispatch them easily in the general election and in 2012. She defeated fellow Democrat Rod Vereen in the primary when she garnered 60 percent of the vote. Her office is the fourth largest in the nation, handles some 300,000 cases a year, and has some 300 attorneys and 900 support staff. Fernandez Rundle has also been at the forefront in the creation of Drug Courts, fighting to protect abused children through Kristi House and she has won a host of awards over the decades.

However, she  has been criticized for being soft on public corruption cases, has had a few set backs in they’re prosecution, such as in the case of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones when charges were dropped after a witness recanted their testimony. However, she charges that is not the case, she set up the first public corruption unit in the office back in the mid 1990s, and while many elected leaders may do some “dumb things.” These actions may not be illegal and you cannot arrest someone for being stupid she has said in the past at public meetings. However, she raised eyebrows when it was reported she had loaned a Key Biscayne man $50,000, through a different party, at a 12 percent interest rate, that became known when the borrower went into bankruptcy last year. And there is talk in local political circles that she might try to run for a statewide office in 2014, but that is not confirmed and she will be up for reelection in 2016.

Fernandez Rundle >> And her bio

What do we know about her finances?

Fernandez Rundle through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $2.36 million, up from $1.65 million in 2011, and she has $535,000 in household goods. To see the complete financial disclosure report for the year go to

>>> Governor Rick Scott Announces $3.5 Billion in State-Debt Paid ~Costs Related to Debt Servicing Decreased by $6.9 Billion since 2010~

Press release: During a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott announced that $3.5 billion in state-debt has been paid down. The announcement came on the heels of a recent report by bond rating agency Moody’s entitled “Florida Back on Track.” Moody’s assessment of Florida says that “revenues are growing and the economy is improving.”  Revenue trends, year-end surpluses and other revenue indicators show that Florida is back on track. Moody’s says that the “current financial and economic strengths underscore Florida’s resilience and sound fiscal management.” Governor Scott said, “Two years ago unemployment and state-debt were up, while housing prices were down. To grow jobs, we cut taxes, cut burdensome regulations, made strategic investments and made state government more accountable to taxpayers. The results are in – and IT’S WORKING. Moody’s has given credit to our management of taxpayer dollars, and we’ve paid down $3.5 billion in state debt, which won’t burden our future generations.”

According to the Division of Bond Finance, by reducing total debt by $3.5 billion, costs related to servicing the debt has decreased by $6.9 billion since 2010, which over time has freed additional resources for state priorities. Refinancing debt at historically low interest rates has also contributed to lower debt service payments. The State has refinanced $2 billion in debt during fiscal year 2013 generating $500 million in debt service savings. Moody’s believes that Florida’s employment growth is expected to outpace the nation due to the favorable climate, low cost of living and strong economic fundamentals.  Florida’s 2013 employment growth is expected to increase 1.9 percent surpassing the national rate of 1.3 percent and remain higher than the nation over the next few years.

>>> 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.


>>> Public budget town hall meetings get heated, $2 billion already cut over years in $6.3 billion budget; will public hearings in Sept. be raucous affairs?

A couple of town hall meetings held by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez last week turned into a ruckus affair and at one point, the police were asked to be present said one attendee. And with more of these public meetings on the calendar this August, the mayor is getting an ear full from people not wanting to close county libraries, Fire Rescue units, and decreased funding than advocates wanted for the Animal Services Department. The county over the past some five years has cut some $2 billion over the years from the county’s past budget, but in the current year, “The county has not been able to generate enough revenue,” to cover the increased spending at the current millage rate said Jennifer Glazer-Moon, the county budget guru on WLRN last week. She said the administration is down to “10 to 12 libraries” that might have to close, the cost of a new animal shelter was “approximately $20 million,” and cannot be completely funded right now. And these costs are on top of new state demands, which included $22 million from the county in new pension contribution costs and Miami-Dade also was hit with $8 million in new Medicaid expenses that had to be paid to the state of Florida.

What about the libraries?

Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto called a Cultural Affairs & Recreation Committee on Wednesday morning to discuss the closing of some of the county’s extensive library system that he calls “sacred” and “Libraries are like a church.” Commissioners Xavier Suarez and Jean Monestime along with Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa attended the meeting, and Souto challenged the community businesses leaders to help out in this time of need for the libraries. He said while the Friends of the Libraries might “have raised $90,000,” we “need $90 million” to get the job done he suggested and he believes “they’re is plenty of money in this community” and asked, “The pillars of the community to get behind this effort,” the former state senator said. And he believes when it comes to the “image,” of Miami-Dade “This is not good for the resume.”

Souto, a long serving commissioner called on companies like Burger King, American Airlines and Greenberg Traurig along with others to get involved in helping to save access to libraries. And Sosa suggested that Interlocal agreements should be pursued with municipalities and public schools to try to alleviate the issue. (And the school district is working on this aspect). And Suarez carped that “we are supposed to be in recess” regarding the committee meeting, and since the $6,000 salary commissioners get “Is not particularly high.” He still was at the meeting because he thought it was important. He noted that the county has some “4,500 properties” and some of these free locations should be considered for smaller libraries. The attorney further noted there are many vacant “new store fronts” that could be used if the buildings owners would “donate,” the area and would help the “private sector” since a library would drive people to the strip malls location, he thought. The county commission will hold its first public hearing on the upcoming budget at 5:01 p.m., Sept. 10 in the county commission chambers and the public is invited to attend or it can be watched at .







>>> Supt. Carvalho says public encouraged to speak, but he must correct them if they are “factually incorrect,” he tells Board on Wednesday after dust up with activist

A discussion on a possible new testing method called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) got heated at Wednesday’s monthly school board meeting and Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman had to cut a speaker off. After the speaking woman had gone past the allowed time and District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho had to also step in claiming some of the comments were not “factually correct,” he asserted. He said “what happens here” is that “every single person is welcome to speak,” but it is “my responsibility not to allow dishonesty” when it is “someone using the public airwaves,” but the comments were “factually incorrect,” and he said it was his “duty to correct [the public speaker] when someone comes to the mike,” at a school board meeting.  And he noted if anyone wants to communicate with the top school administrator. “They can communicate with me by email, and I respond,” he told the school board members.

Speakers in front of the public schools board have always been encouraged to speak, within the generally allowed two minutes, but many times the speakers are off topic or make fairly wild assertions, while other speakers calmly and cogently make they’re case, but some of these exchanges can be contentious. Moreover, a decade ago, then board Chair Solomon Stinson told County Commissioner Katy Sorenson she only had “two minutes,” and when she protested saying she represented 170,000 county residents. Stinson dryly said, “You have a minute and a half,” to the veteran county lawmaker but that was not the case this past week. However, it did have this one speaker yelling from the audience, rather than at the podium where the remarks would be recorded, and she was gently escorted out of the chambers by the police, to talk with staff and some of the media in attendance at the meeting out in the lobby.




>>> JHS President Migoya makes his case for why county voters should pass an $830 million GOB, to fill past infrastructure “gaps” and to compete in new emerging healthcare arena

Carlos Migoya, the President and CEO of Jackson Health System (JHS) took a road trip Wednesday and spoke in front of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon crowd why they should support the passage of a $830 million GOB to upgrade the public hospital’s ageing facilities. He noted his management team and medical professionals have worked hard to stop the red ink bleeding that had the health trust hemorrhaging hundreds of millions in losses in previous years but is on track to make at “least $35 million this year,” said the former banker. Migoya touted the fact JHS was named the “Number One” local hospital by World and News Report in they’re hospital rankings and “while we have moved Jackson away from the [fiscal] cliff.” He said with the present facilities, “There is a ceiling of what we can do today,” and to ensure a future, there is a “gap” in infrastructure needs that can be filled by the bonds passage.

The sharply tailored man on the job since May 2010 said there are “three options,” when it comes to JHS, we can “walk away from the mission,” and “abandon the playbook,” of quality healthcare for all regardless of financial need that is the foundation of the public hospital system. On the other hand, we can pour “endless tax dollars,” into keeping the hospital running while giving some $600 million in charity and uncompensated care yearly and that is not an option he believes. And what Jackson Health System needs is not “an operateing subsidy, but to make this [bond] investment to thrive” and prepare the health system for the emerging new “healthcare market.”

He noted that JHS is planning on opening “eight to ten Urgent Care Centers,” and some of these might even be in supermarkets to draw patients to the Jackson brand. And will include “Creating a kid friendly center,” that is hoped to provide a feeder network of patients to the Holtz’s Children Hospital on the main campus. He also said if the bond was passed by county voters, it would include a new rehabilitation center and “world class” operateing rooms and patient rooms to “industry standards,” if JHS is to draw paying patients critical to its fiscal survival. He said the investment of the $830 million if voters passed it in November would “empower JHS to compete” in the future and would allow the institution to thrive for another 100 years and Jackson “is not just a hospital in time of need,” but one of the community’s jewels that has “attracted some of the worlds best medical minds to Miami.” And he thanked the over 9,000 physicians, nurses and other medical staff for all they do everyday, including the major union concessions achieved over the past few years, as he closed his remarks to applause by members of the business community.



>>> Mgr. Martinez is hit with Letter of Instruction from county Ethics Commission for a senior employee hire

Miami Manager Johnny Martinez got a Letter of Instruction from the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission advising city leaders to seek ethics commission opinions in the future, if there is an doubt about a hiring of a new employee for a city position. Below is the Ethics Commission press release on the matter.

>>> Ethics Commissioners approved a Letter of Instruction to Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez after the city’s Public Facilities Director, Henry Torre, agreed last month not to fight allegations he violated the “reverse two-year rule” of the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance.  Torre was appointed to his current position in February 2012, less than two years after leaving as director of operations for Terranova Corporation, which manages leases for retail space in the city-owned parking garages next to Marlins Park.  The complaint (C 13-10) noted that Torre was responsible for enforcement of the contract in direct violation of the Ethics Code. The Letter advises city leaders to consider the Ethics Ordinance when hiring and to contact the Ethics Commission if there is any question about how the Code should be interpreted.


>>> Ethics Commission clears Commissioner Tobin of interfering with hiring process of Beach Police Chief

Ethics commission press release: No Probable Cause was found that Miami Beach City Commissioner Edward Tobin violated that city’s Code of Ethics by interfering with last year’s hiring process for a new police chief.  According to the complaint (C 13-03), Commissioner Tobin actively supported the candidacy of Thomas Hunker for the position, tried to influence who would sit on the selection committee, discussed his preference with members of the selection panel and suggested to the city manager that Hunker should be appointed.  Ethics Commissioners found, that while Tobin’s actions did not directly violate the city code, a Letter of instruction should be directed to him regarding an elected official’s role in the hiring process. The COE also found No Probable Cause to allegations Commissioner Tobin became improperly involved in extending the application period for the Miami Beach Police Department or that he attempted to expedite the hiring of one individual by the MBPD.

>>>Ethics Comm. Press release: The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause to a complaint (C 13-17) filed against a private citizen, J. P. Morgan, for emailing inaccurate information attacking Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine.  Morgan is not publicly affiliated with any campaign staff and is not registered with any political committee.  Under the County’s Ethical Campaign Practices ordinance, the COE has jurisdiction over candidates and/or members of their campaign staffs, but not over private citizens, so the complaint was dismissed.

>>> Beach officials are breathing a sigh of relief, when mega developer Jorge Perez announced Friday that he was backing out on a deal to build a much bigger project with significant more retail space on Watson Island. Miami voters approved a project back in 2001 but the hotel, retail and mega yacht project has stalled because of lack of financing since then. And the Perez deal was supposed to jump start the development but Perez says he heard too many concerns about the attendant traffic such a large project would generate and along with political heat. He has stepped back from the project. For more go to


>>> Gables residents get to tell state Rep. Rodriguez what is important to them at Monday luncheon at John Martin’s Rest.

For City Beautiful residents, there is a chance to hear and talk to your local state representative at Monday’s luncheon and you should take advantage of the forum to tell a lawmaker what you think is important to you and your community. State Rep. Jose Rodriguez, D-Miami will be the featured speaker and he defeated long serving former Republican state legislator Alex Diaz de la Portilla back in 2012. When Rodriguez garnered 54 percent of the vote in the general election for the House 112 seat, and he was a strong opponent to a deal to renovate Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Dolphins that died at the end of the legislative session last spring. For more on the luncheon go to. >>>  August 12, 2013 – Representative District 112, Jose Rodriguez, Please join us for lunch on Monday, August 12.  Our guest speaker will be Representative Jose Rodriguez of District 112.  We meet at JohnMartin’s Restaurant (253 Miracle Mile – 2nd floor) at noon. We would like to have a strong showing, so please invite friends who may be interested in updates to date. Please RSVP at


>>> Ethics Commission settles with two local lobbyists, they get Letter of Instruction and pay $250.00 fine each

>>> Press release: The COE also approved a settlement agreement with two lobbyists accused of violating an ordinance in Cutler Bay requiring them to disclose all officials they contacted prior to a public hearing over a proposed shopping center in the town.  Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall filed the complaint (C 13-02) against the pair, Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Mayol, who registered as lobbyists, but failed to disclose in writing all contacts, which were reported by one council member.  Since the complaint was first filed and subsequent hearings were held on the development, Castillo and Mayol have submitted written disclosures of their lobbying activities and have complied with the ordinance.  As part of a settlement approved today, the two will not contest the charges, agreed to accept a Letter of Instruction and each pay a fine of $250.

>>> Press release: The Ethics Commission declined to exercise jurisdiction in another complaint (C 13-12) filed by Mayor MacDougall against a lobbyist for the town of Cutler Bay, Fausto Gomez, whom he accused of violating that town’s Charter by making a campaign contribution to a council member and not reporting it.  Gomez is also a director and secretary in the firm, Educational Management Services, Inc. (EMS), which is 95% owned and operated by his wife.  EMS contributed $500 to the reelection campaign of Cutler Bay Vice-mayor Ernie Sochin.  The Commission’s decision to decline jurisdiction was based on the fact that the city council also had jurisdiction to act on the complaint, but when the issue came up at a recent council meeting, decided to take no action.


>>> Miami Heat tickets score an ethics complaint

Ethics commission press release: The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) today agreed to accept a settlement agreement with two political leaders in North Bay Village who failed to report a gift after attending a Miami Heat game last December.   Vice-Mayor Eddie Lim and Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez were the guests of the vice-president of a corporation that has been involved in real estate in the municipality.  They should have filed gift disclosure forms by the end of March for the tickets that were valued between $110-140 each.  As part of the settlement to the complaints (C 13-13 and C 13-14), Lim and Gonzalez agreed to file gift disclosure forms, pay $100 each in investigative costs and accept Letters of Instruction.



>>> Commissioner Gunzburger in the spotlight, fought off challenger in tough 2010 race, net worth drops to $4.2 million, down from $5.45 million in 2010

Sue Gunzberger, first elected to the county commission in 1992 is in the spotlight this week and she is known for her pro environmental views and the importance of regional planning. She faced a tough Commission District 6 reelection in 2010 when former state Sen. Steve Gelber, D- Hollywood ran against her in a particularly nasty partisan race but she prevailed over the insurgent former state legislator and attorney. And the life long Democrat was a President Barack Obama supporter, and more recently supported now Broward Sheriff Scott Israel over former Sheriff Al Lamberti in the 2012 election. In addition, her son Ron, an attorney now works for Israel, after he worked for years in the county property appraiser’s office.

Gunzburger and bio:

What do we know about her finances?

Gunzburger through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $4.211 million, which is down from $5.45 million in December 2010 and she lists $100,000 in household goods and to read the current financial disclosure form go to:


>>> Former Wilton Manors Resident Sentenced for Defrauding the State of Florida Unemployment Compensation Program

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Cynthia R. Lorenzo, Interim Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announce that defendant Denny Ray Hughes, 40, formerly of Wilton Manors, FL, was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, in connection with his previous conviction for wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A for his role in defrauding the Unemployment Compensation Programs of both the State of Florida and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

At the hearing, Judge Dimitrouleas sentenced defendant Hughes to 41 months in prison for the wire fraud and a consecutive 24 months in prison for the aggravated identity theft, for a total imprisonment of 65 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered that he pay $219,970 in restitution to the State of Florida and $70,524 in restitution to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

According to the indictment and court documents, between January 2011 and April 2012, defendant Hughes obtained the personal identifying information of approximately 21 individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, and in order to obtain and build wage credits for the purported employees filed or caused to be filed fraudulent quarterly UCT-6 forms with the Florida Department of Revenue classifying them as employees of Mortgage Relief America, LLC (MRA).  Alternatively, defendant Hughes submitted falsified W-2’s to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to create the appearance that these individuals had previously worked for MRA.  The defendant thereafter classified these individuals as laid off employees and fraudulently filed applications with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity seeking unemployment compensation benefits on their behalf utilizing their personal identifying information.

Once these fraudulent unemployment compensation applications had been submitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the defendant made materially false, misleading, and fraudulent claims to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Unemployment Compensation Program over the internet and/or over the telephone on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and thereby caused unemployment compensation funds from the Florida Department of Financial Services to be deposited directly into the defendant’s bank account via electronic funds transfers.  Moreover, the investigation also disclosed that Hughes devised a similar scheme by creating another fictitious company under the name of Commonwealth Global Corp (CWGC) located in Massachusetts.  In that scheme, Hughes utilized personal identifying information of at least 23 individuals to fraudulently apply for and receive approximately $70,524.00 in Massachusetts UI benefits. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.  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


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

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer, and Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, announced that defendants Dr. Aaron Freedlander, 50, of Weston, a chiropractic doctor, Abner Llenderrozo, 30, of Hollywood, a licensed massage therapist, Daviel Castro Martinez, 26, of West Palm Beach, and Elias Munguia, 41, of Miami, pled guilty this week for their participation in a staged automobile accident scheme and fraudulent chiropractic clinic scheme that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars from Florida’s automobile insurance companies and Florida drivers.  The sentencings for all four defendants will occur at a later date to be set by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra in West Palm Beach.

Each of the defendants pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and a number of counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2.  Some of the defendants also pled guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h); and money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), and 2. For each count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, substantive mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and substantive money laundering the defendants face a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.  Restitution to the victims of the offenses is mandatory, and the four defendants have agreed that they must pay in excess of $2,000,000 of restitution, beginning with partial payments totaling $33,750 at the time of sentencing.

According to court documents, between approximately October 2006 and December 2012, members of the conspiracy staged automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of false insurance claims through chiropractic clinics they controlled.  To execute the scheme, the true owners of the chiropractic clinics, including defendant Munguia, recruited individuals, who had the medical or chiropractic licenses required by the state to open a clinic, to act as “nominee owners” of the clinics.  Members of the conspiracy, including defendant Castro Martinez, also served as recruiters, who found individuals, whom they referred to as “Perro” and “Perra,” to participate in the staged accidents.  Members of the conspiracy, including defendant Castro Martinez, also were used to help the clinics launder the insurance proceeds.  The defendants also hired complicit chiropractors and therapists, including defendants Freedlander and Llenderrozo, who prescribed and billed for unnecessary treatments and/or for services that had not been rendered.  Thereafter, complicit clinic employees prepared and submitted claims to the automobile insurance companies for payment for these unnecessary or non-rendered services. Twenty-one clinics participated in this scheme.

Starting with Operation Sledgehammer I in June 2011 and including the defendants charged in Operation Sledgehammer VI, 92 defendants have been charged for their participation in this automobile insurance fraud scheme. Of those 92 defendants, 56 have been charged federally by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, resulting in court-ordered restitution of more than $5 million to the defrauded insurance companies. Thirty-six defendants have been arrested by the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud for prosecution by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, and the Greater Palm Beach County Health Care Fraud Task Force for their outstanding work in this case.  Mr. Ferrer also recognized the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its collaboration and assistance in this investigation.  The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña and the state cases are being prosecuted by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. >>> A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at


>>> Commissioner Burdick in the spotlight, fiscal watchdog, net worth in 2012 jumps to $1.11 million, up from $482,000 through June 2011

Paulette Burdick, the Palm Beach County Commissioner representing Commission District 2 is in the spotlight this week. She was a long serving member of the county’s school board since 1994, ran for the county office in 2010, and is up again in 2014. She considers herself a citizen politician and a fiscal watchdog during her years in elected office.


What do we know about her finances?

Burdick through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $1.116 million, up from $482,000 in June 2011, and she lists $185,000 in household goods, and to read the full financial disclosure form for the year go to


>>> Mortgage Company Executive Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Steve Linick, Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, and Drew J. Breakspear, Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, announce that Patrick J. Mansell, 68, of Boca Raton, FL, Vice President of Coastal States Mortgage Corporation (Coastal), pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud to defraud government sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

According to the Information, from April 2007 through November 2008, in the Southern District of Florida, Coastal was a licensed mortgage brokerage whose primary business activity was the selling and servicing of mortgage loans for both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. At the change of plea hearing, Mansell admitted that Coastal failed to remit some of the mortgage loan payoffs it received and processed from borrowers to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, as required by the contractual agreement entered into between them. This resulted in an $18,735,903.77 loss to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The misappropriation was concealed by the regular submission of false financial reports and monthly mortgage payments by Coastal, via an interstate internet portal, to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  These monthly mortgage payments by Coastal misled the lenders into believing the loans were still performing. The defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years’ in prison, followed by a three year period of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for October 15, 2013 before U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General and State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Lanigan. 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


>>> Port St. Lucie Securities Broker Charged in Wire Fraud Embezzlement Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Addy Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), announce the indictment of Paul Elvidge, Jr., 53, of Port St. Lucie, for embezzling more than $1,000,000 from client investment accounts while acting as a securities broker for Cape Securities, Inc. and Seacoast Investor Services, Inc. The indictment charges Elvidge Jr. with thirty-six counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft.  Elvidge Jr. had a first appearance in federal court in Fort Pierce on August 8, 2013 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr.  If convicted, he faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to twenty years in prison on each of the wire fraud counts, and a consecutive penalty of two years on the aggravated identity theft counts.

According to the indictment, Elvidge Jr. managed and operated Seacoast Investor Services, Inc., which later became Cape Securities, Inc., as a brokerage and investment firm in Port St. Lucie.  As a registered representative and investment advisor, Elvidge, Jr. had access to clients’ brokerage accounts and was able to direct wire transfers from these brokerage accounts.  From July 2010 to October 2012, Elvidge Jr. embezzled approximately $1,113,594 from client accounts by preparing fraudulent forms and forging account holders’ signatures.  Elvidge Jr. used the fraudulently obtained monies to pay for personal and business expenses, and to fund his personal day-trading activities. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and FDLE.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaniek Maynard. >>> An indictment is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at


>>> Press Gov. Scott taps Michael B. Fasano as Pasco County Tax Collector.

Fasano, 55, of New Port Richey, is a former Florida State Representative. He is appointed for a term beginning August 7, 2013, and ending November 11, 2014.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Mike Fasano has dedicated his entire life to protecting and serving Floridians – especially our seniors. He takes his work with constituents seriously. He has attended countless public meetings and worked to return every phone call.  Mike took his job as State Representative, as well as former State Senator, seriously and fought hard in the Legislature to do the right thing for Florida families.

“Mike will follow in the footsteps of a great man, Mike Olson, who served as Florida’s longest serving tax collector. Like Mike Fasano, Olson was a true public servant. When I spoke with Mike Fasano we both agreed that the Tax Collectors Office needs the sort of leadership that Olson provided.” Mike Fasano said, “I’ve prided my career in public service on helping families in Pasco County, and by serving as Tax Collector I’ll be able to help area families even more. I want to thank Governor Scott for his confidence in me – and I look forward to carrying on the successes of Mike Olson.”

Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Will Weatherford said, “I congratulate Mike Fasano on his appointment to be the next tax collector in Pasco County.  Governor Scott could not have picked a better person to serve our county. Mike helped set the standard for what it means to be a public servant in the Florida Legislature.  As tax collector, he will do the same.  He has been a friend to me and I look forward to working with him in his new role.  From his strong record of constituent service to his willingness to take on tough policy challenges, no member has worked harder in Tallahassee for their district than Mike.” Senator Wilton Simpson, Chair of the Pasco County Legislative Delegation, said, “Rep. Fasano has been an incredible public servant who cares deeply for families in Pasco County. His departure from the Legislature won’t go unnoticed, but there’s little doubt the tax collector’s office will be in good hands.”

Representative Richard Corcoran, Vice Chair of the Pasco County Legislative Delegation, said, “I applaud Governor Scott on an excellent decision. Mike and I have been friends for 30 years. No one would do a better job as tax collector than Mike.”  Senator John Legg said, “Rep. Fasano has worked tirelessly over the past 19 years in office fighting for the consumer and the little guy and gal. He brings not only the expertise and know-how to run the office of Tax Collector but he possesses the passion for excellent service that will benefit Pasco residents for years to come. Nineteen years ago Mike Fasano started with making his constituents and constituent service priority-number-one and that has never changed. Pasco is indeed fortunate to have such a public servant, and I am proud to call him friend.”


>>> Commissioner Murphy in spotlight, long time politician, had $747,000 net worth through Dec. 2012

Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy is in the spotlight, she was reelected in 2012, and she represents commission District 5 in the Florida Keys. There is no bio on the commission’s webpage but a local Keys paper notes she started her political career in 2005 and has been the county mayor in 2010.

Murphy and semi bio story

What do we know about her finances?

Murphy through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $747,985, and she lists $40,000 in household goods, and to read her full financial disclosure report got 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

>>> 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!


>>> PAST WDR: JULY 2008: Collapse and consolidation of media will eventually create a Wild West mentality within public institutions

The collapse and consolidation of the media and the press is hitting hard here in South Florida with the closing of the Orlando-Sentinel Miami office, continued cuts at The Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel and now the merger of WTVJ-NBC 6 into WPLG-ABC 10 that is likely to get FCC approval since Spanish media is so strong in this market. However, for the general public looking for the press to be watchdogs this should be seen as very bad news and they need to financially support the industry for a strong vibrant and responsible press is the glue that keeps public institutions and elected leaders restrained and without that oversight. South Florida becomes an open town where anything will go in many cases within unchecked government entities.

Yes the inter-net has changed everything when it comes to people getting their news but many of the blogs out there are anonymous and many times not that accurate in some of the reporting and these people cannot replace what a large circulation daily can do collectively keeping people informed. Recently a reporter said something that has rattled in my head since I heard it. He said we do not make the news “we make it better” by being able to explain why something might be important and how it relates to perhaps other things and losing that is a loss for all of us.

Yes, the media has made mistakes, yes, it is not perfect but overall it is one of the pillars of a free society and why freedom of speech and the press was included in the United States Constitution and it has done its job for centuries. It is for this reason as newsroom cuts get to the bone that civic leaders and others should take note because while it might sound great to some people not to have the media. Its loss and watchdog charge must continue if we are not to have a Wild West mentality when it comes to our collective public institutions, and that is not a good thing.

>>> PAST WDR JAN. 2011:  Miami-Dade is at a crossroads; public institutions must learn to work together better, with civility a key ingredient, for we are in for a rough ride in the months ahead

I was asked if I was having a blast and I must be so busy in the field given the numerous torpedoes of problems coming into the community ranging from the financial ills of Jackson Memorial Hospital, the low high school graduation rate of our children, the recall of a county mayor and commissioner during a dismal economy, and the fact when it comes to our community’s mental health, it is the worst in the nation. I responded that in fact it was depressing because these challenges are easier when you are winding something up, versus down sizing, that involves cuts that crosses a wide swath of our society, from the new born to our elderly and infirmed. It is for this reason a decade ago, I was so concerned at the rapid growth of public institutions based on a rising property tax base that peaked its growth at 21.3 percent in 2006 in increased property valuation pushing Miami-Dade ad valorem tax revenues from $212 billion to $245 billion and this increase reverberated throughout the county’s 34 municipalities that drank deep from the cup of hefty tax revenues.

Now while local residential property values appear beginning to stabilize, that is not the case for commercial property and vacant shop space is rampant in the community that has whole streets stores in some areas almost all vacant of businesses. So if there was ever a time for public institutions to actually work together for the good of all efficiently, it is now. For if a child is sick or hungry, they will not learn in school, that later is manifested in increased crime and a less productive and  educated workforce demanded in this new century, with competitors like China and India making dramatic moves in technology and manufacturing including a impressive education campaign that is bearing fruit.

Miami-Dade’s demographics have us teaching English in 19 different languages with tens of thousands of kids in ESOL (English as a Second Language) adding to our challenges. And public leaders in these days of a New Normal need to cut back some of the pettiness and harsh rhetoric left over from the old days when things seemed to be on auto pilot when it came to continued growth in Florida. For Floridians after two-years of active hurricanes hitting the state in 2004-2005 began for the first time to leave at a higher rate then people arriving. And those dynamics dramatically changed the state’s economic path, previously built on tourism and agriculture and our politicians now actually need to work together for the good of all. For the challenges are great and are not disappearing anytime soon, and here in Miami-Dade we are in for a rough ride if we do not accept this reality, that if ignored will come back to haunt us all in the coming decades.


>>> Reader and economist on Mayor Gimenez’s county budget

With regard to the budget deficit, Mayor Gimenez seems not to understand the underlying problems. He knows only “taxation” and/or “cuts and layoffs” as potential solution! But, the main question is: what is he going to do the next year, and the following years? These two economic-political tools cannot be implemented endlessly before becoming a banana republic!

Dr. Farid A. Khavari (economist)





THE MIAMI HERALD (2000-2008)


WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)


LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)



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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

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Watchdog Report

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>>> 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.

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