Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.18 September 8, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Wounded Veterans “Never Quite Challenge” comes to Miami Marine Stadium Friday night, Special Ops wounded on Jet Skies going to NYC to honor military fallen heroes & 9/11 dead

Florida: State Democrats shake-up fundraising team, will Party turmoil in future snatch gubernatorial race from victory? — LAST WK WDR: In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: Battle lines are drawn with unions with Mayor Gimenez’s veto Friday, Tuesday’s first $6.3 billion public budget meeting expected to be a lively vocal affair

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Dr. Feldman & Supt. Carvalho rappelled from luxury hotel roof; Carvalho should use caution when taking future risks, especially with $1.2 billion GOB

Public Health Trust: WDR Correction: In Nov. 2011, Miami-Dade BCC passed heightened and expanded “immediate family” definition that includes no conflicts with brothers and sisters for PHT trustees

City of Miami: It’s official, incumbent Miami Mayor Regalado qualifies Friday in his reelection race, candidate-qualifying ends Sept. 21

Village of Coconut Grove: Hundreds of Grovites descend on Miami city hall calling for more police to help fight spike in burglaries

City of Miami Beach: Candidate forums on Tuesday morning breakfast club schedule

City of Coral Gables: Entrepreneur Fernandez takes the 500-mile walk of his life for MCH; the WDR wishes him good luck

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line

Palm Beach County: Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Columbia County: Gov. Scott taps Timothy B. “Tim” Murphy, and the reappointments of Dekoven R. “Koby” Adams and Dr. Waseem Khan to the Lake Shore Hospital Authority of Columbia County.

Sarasota County: Governor Rick Scott made the following statement regarding news that Sarasota and Manatee counties will host the World Rowing Championships in 2017

Monroe County: to read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Community Events: Green Apple is a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are — 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: With public budget hearings in Miami-Dade & Broward and the combined 65 municipalities, residents should make they’re case on the strength of their argument, not the stridency of their voice — Check out the past 2003 national story in the Tribune papers:  Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003 >>> And a 2004 UNC Chapel Hill study of the Southeast United States 15 states media outlet study where the Watchdog Report is listed as writing a “influential” column in Florida with over 100,000 readers: http://www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf

Letters: Child advocate physician on recent report – One reader’s thoughts on Labor Day – Reader on all the millage signs on the expressways and turnpike and the cost – Reader on North Miami Mayor Court costs paid by the city regarding her residency challenge

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

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

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

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>> Red Alert To All: If you think it is important to have an alternative mainstream news service, I hope you will consider becoming a financial supporter for I do have to live and pay my rent. I also want to thank again all those people and organizations that have supported me and I have been honored by that trust and support of my efforts over the past almost 14 years trying to keep the community, state, nation and world informed of the political and governmental happenings in South Florida. How to support and contribute to the WDR is at the bottom of the report. Thank You

>>> CORRECTION: The end of the qualifying period to run for Miami mayor or commissioner is Sept. 21, NOT Oct. 21 as was reported in last week’s WDR in the Miami section. I apologize for the error.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Wounded veterans “Never Quite Challenge” comes to Miami Marine Stadium Friday, Special Ops soldiers wounded on Jet Skies going to NYC to honor military fallen heroes & 9/11 dead

Grammy Award Singer Gloria Estephan was the backup act late Friday for eight wounded veterans on specialty outfitted Jet Skies arriving in the water next to the Miami Marine Stadium on Rickenbacker Causeway and the men and women on the watercraft were in the “Never Quit Challenge,” and the special event was the first public one at the iconic structure on the Key. The six teams of wounded Special Operations veterans are taking the water craft, after this first leg, up the nation’s coast and they will arrive in New York City on 9/11 to honor the fallen Americans after the foreign attack, that killed more people in one time, in the nation’s history, and ultimately launched the subsequent American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Moreover, to read a much more moving and complete story on these soldiers lives and the commitment to what they are doing done by veteran Miami Herald reporter Cammy Clark go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/06/3610121/military-members-ride-jet-skis.html. >>> And the Watchdog Report thanks all the people since that tragic attack that have helped make the nation safe, and we should all reflect on that sacrifice on Wednesday, the 12th Anniversary of the attack on the nation’s shores, and changed the norm in America.

What about the Miami Marine Stadium?

The stadium in the future is going to be rehabilitated and restored by a public private partnership with Friends of Miami Marine Stadium http://www.marinestadium.org/ , and the organization’s goal is to fundraise and seek any grants that might help pay for the effort, that includes some funding from the county’s $2.9 billion GOB and is passing through the Dade Heritage Trust. And Estephan, a local singer and actress has thrown her weight into the effort, since her old band The Miami Sound Machine played many of their early concerts at the site, and she herself suffered a major accident and rehabilitation herself, after a band bus crash left her with broken bones of her own and seriously injured.

>>> Press release: The Never Quit Challenge is a land and nautical centered fundraising event supporting American Veterans and their families.  Six (6) teams of US Special Operations warriors are driving jet skis on a 1,600-mile trek from Key West, arriving in New York City on September 11.  The first stop of the voyage will be at Miami’s Marine Stadium.

>>> Camillus House going strong, served 350,000 meals last year, Norwegian Cruise Line Campus state of the art for homeless services

Paul R. Ahr, Ph.D., the CEO of Camillus House gave the members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Luncheon quests Wednesday an update on the goings on at the new Norwegian Cruise Line Campus that was a community project that spanned decades to achieve. Camillus, founded in 1960 by the Brothers of the Good Shepard was located for years near the old Miami Arena, but moved to this new campus a few years ago and it has thrived since then.

Ahr said there are residential facilities at 14 locations around the county plus 100 freestanding apartments, as well as two Camillus Health Clinics and three satellite clinic sites. In the previous evening 850 people slept under the Camillus roof, and the organization gave out 350,000 free meals to homeless people, who can also participate in a continuum of care. Moreover, Camillus has just been awarded a grant by Baptist Health South Florida to “fully operationalize a 9,000 square foot medical clinic operated by Camillus Health Concern,” he said. >>> For more on Camillus House go to www.camillus.org

>>> Miami Today publisher Lewis honored by Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s for 30 years of publishing the must read weekly

Michael Lewis, the Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of Miami Today, a weekly newspaper www.miamitodaynews.com was honored with a Miami-Dade County Commission Proclamation. The document  sponsored by Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa for the news contribution and staying power of the paper that is Celebrating 30 Years of publishing, and its reporters cover government, business and civic news stories and is a must read for South Floridians. Lewis received the honor at Wednesday’s Miami-Dade County Commission Meeting and it is well deserved. And the Watchdog Report gives Lewis and his reporting staff a Tip of the Hat for persevering and surviving in this tough media and newspaper market.

>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: Confused Obama flunks Syria 101

“Mr. President. I have been doing a lot of thinking about your term project on Syria. When you first approached me about the topic, you said that a president of the U.S. had no good options. The U.S. cannot topple Syrian President Assad because there would be more chaos in the country and the region – like Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan (not to mention Yemen and Tunisia).

While there was pressure from congressional hawks to help the rebels, you were saying that the rebels could be dangerous and inimical to the U.S. and regional interests. You were then arguing that the U.S. involvement would bring no positive gain.

Then you suggested that the U.S. must arm the ‘good’ rebels, without clarifying who they were and what you meant by ‘help.’ In the last few weeks, your term paper shifted its thesis to backing a limited surgical intervention to send a strong moral message to Assad and the world that we (citizens of the world) could not tolerate the use of chemical weapons, especially against the most innocent of victims. You said that humanity was on your side. But then the Arab League, while condemning the alleged actions of Assad’s forces, refused to join a grand coalition. Neither would Saudi Arabia, although neither would mind it if we did something. But then, our oldest cousin, the United Kingdom, absolutely refused to go along.

You suggested that the U.S. should change course and leave it up to Congress. But now that your administration is talking about regime change, arguing that all options are on the table (including the possibility of U.S. troops on the ground), and that the U.S. action could topple Assad. And now it is because that’s what Israel wants and what Saudi Arabia will pay for. Mr. President: You have not done your history readings, you have changed your topic and your thesis, and you have not only confused me – you have made me depressed. Please change your topic. This one just isn’t working.” Grade – F >>> Editor’s note: I ran this by a number of readers who are big Obama supporters and they did not feel Zogby’s comments were out of line. Moreover, while I don’t have the answer to this vexing world tragedy and civil war in Syria. In this case, I am hesitant about the nation’s further involvement without the support of the other Arab Countries in the region, and the potential for escalation into a regional conflict. Moreover, President Obama will be making his case for military action on Tuesday night to the nation.

>>> Press release: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she was going into the briefing with an “open mind,” eager to hear the Obama administration’s plan for ensuring a limited strike on Syria would remain exactly that — and wouldn’t pull the country into yet another drawn-out and expensive war in the Middle East. “People want to know that there’s not going to be a military engagement, entanglement, like in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I’m looking forward to reading more about the resolution that’s going to be drafted — what the goals are, the national security objectives, what happens the day after.”

FLORIDA

>>> State Democrats shake-up fundraising team, will Party turmoil in future snatch gubernatorial race from victory?

Florida Democrats have a history in the Sunshine State of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and the reported turmoil in the party is detailed in http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/florida-democrats-infighting-escalates-with-firing-of-two-staffers/2140488 . Democrats believe the chance of unseating GOP Gov. Rick Scott has never been better since the governor’s public approval is still low in statewide polls and the party is desperate to get back into the governor’s office, a post not won since 1994. And Scott has been barnstorming the state with public events and he is trying to tone down his image of not caring for the environment, the poor and uninsured, and has been essentially saying getting the state’s economy going was paramount for the jobs governor.

However, this Democratic Party fundraising staff dust up is the last thing they need as the party heads up to the election next year and while there is still plenty of time for the party to recover. Democrats have yet to pick a champion and if history is any indication. The party has two dilemmas, one to find a candidate that excites the electorate, and the other is to boost the party’s voter turnout because Democrats have 4,682,814 registered voters in Florida versus the GOP with 4,171,619 voters, and other party is accounting for another 2,037,975 http://election.dos.state.fl.us/NVRA/history.asp of the state’s overall 11,792,408 registered voters through July 2013 and it is these key independents that swing the state’s top office to one party or the other party’s champion.  .

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott Honors 136 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

Joined by Adjutant General of Florida National Guard Major General Emmett R. Titshaw, Jr., Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Executive Director, Colonel Al Carter, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott today awarded 136 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation. Governor Scott said, “Our veterans are fearless heroes that have made countless sacrifices for Florida families and it is important that we take the time to frequently honor and thank them for their courage and their service. We will forever be indebted to our veterans for their service, and this medal will serve as a testament of our thanks from Floridians everywhere.”

The ceremony was held at the Baldomero-Lopez State Veterans Nursing Home in Land O’Lakes, one of six veterans’ nursing homes in the state. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veteran, Sergeant First Class Angel Torres-Mendez. Sergeant First Class Angel Torres-Mendez served in the U.S. Army from 1947-1974.  During that time, he volunteered for Special Forces and completed his training at Fort Bragg. He was a Green Beret in Vietnam for three years, and completed a total of 18 missions. During his time serving in the Army, he received numerous medals including; Combat Infantryman’s Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Parachute Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and four Good Conduct Medals. Today, Sergeant Torres-Mendez often volunteers at local schools and community veteran’s events.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott today announced the kick-off of the “It’s Your Money,” tax cut tour.  The Governor recently announced his plans to cut taxes and fees for Florida families by $500 million in the next proposed budget. The Governor’s tour will be a chance for Floridians to discuss taxes and fees they want to see reduced to help Florida families and job creators. The “It’s Your Money” tour will kick off in West Palm Beach on Tuesday and other stops will include Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando.

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Ken Wright to the Florida Transportation Commission.

Wright, 65, of Winter Park, is an attorney with Shutts & Bowen LLP. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning September 6, 2013, and ending September 30, 2014. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Mary Beth Vickers to the Board of Directors, Florida Healthy Kids.

Vickers, 49, of Tallahassee, is the director of the division of Children’s Medical Services within the Department of Health. She succeeds Dr. Joseph Chiaro and is appointed for a term beginning September 5, 2013, and ending June 30, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> Children’s Movement of Florida  Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Battle lines are drawn with unions, with Mayor Gimenez veto, Tuesday’s first $6.3 billion public budget meeting expected to be lively affair

The battle lines are drawn for Tuesday’s first public hearing on the Miami-Dade County’s roughly $6.3 billion budget for next year that begins Oct. 1. On Friday, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed a union contract enhancement that had solid waste employees, currently paying a five percent contribution for their healthcare insurance, but the county commission passed legislation ending that contribution on Wednesday. The mayor says he vetoed the deal passed by the commission because it would have a ripple effect through multiple other union contracts. And the county could not afford these employees not participating paying this money out of their wages. However, union leaders and the rank and file are crying foul and with the other contentious issues facing county leaders, like the Pet Trust advocates, Library supporters and the cuts in Fire and Rescue in the unincorporated area of Miami-Dade. Tuesday’s public hearing, in the commission chambers of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center includes a $4.4 billion operateing budget and another $1.9 billion in capital funding, starts at 5:05 p.m. and the hearing is expected to be a contentious affair and could drag long into the night, where it is possible the 13 commissioners could call for a property tax millage rate increase, though that is considered highly unlikely.

Further, Gimenez has gotten verbally prickly at some of the public Town hall meetings over the past weeks, where in one case. The police were called in to keep the debate civil between the attending public and the mayor and his top administrators. And as one county insider noted, county employees that have to implement these cuts and stay within this balanced budget do not enjoy the exercise. And over the past years over $3 billion has been cut out of the county budget, and employees with institutional memory are leaving the government center at a fairly brisk pace, and this also includes not seeing any new young county employees. Since in many cases they were the first to go in past cuts and any new entry positions are not being funded. In addition, critics also charge some of the county employees in many departments are “bloated” because people are there because they are friends of county commissioners, it is suggested. >>>Press release: Content: First Budget Hearing The first budget hearing for the fiscal year 2013-14 proposed budget will be held on Tuesday, September 10 at 5:01 p.m. > FY 2013-14 Proposed Budget

Gimenez

>>> Press release: MAYOR CARLOS A. GIMENEZ VETOES RESOLUTION RESOLVING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IMPASSE BETWEEN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY AND AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES AND SOLID WASTE EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 3292

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez vetoed Resolution No. R-649-13, which was adopted at the August 29, Board of County Commissioners Meeting. The resolution eliminated the current five percent contribution of base wages that employees covered by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Solid Waste Employees, Local 3292 (AFSCME – 3292) pay toward the County’s cost of health care, effective January 1, 2014.

“This resolution sets a dangerous precedent for the seven bargaining units with a reopener for the same five percent contribution,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Additionally, by restoring the five percent contribution to the members of AFSCME – 3292, two classes of County employees are being created – those working in general fund departments and those in proprietary departments. Furthermore, different classes of employees in the same department are being created.” “I do, however, want to commend the Board for their support of the Administration’s recommendation to continue the other concessions also addressed in this resolution,” added Mayor Gimenez.

>>> Fifth Fallen Officer Tribute at County Hall Wednesday honors the 138 police officers that died in the line of duty

In a solemn ceremony in the lobby of the Miami-Dade County Stephen P. Clark Government Center Tuesday, the Fifth Fallen Officer Tribute occurred and it honored the “138 brave men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Miami-Dade County,” – “It was their duty to serve, it is ours to remember.”

>>> And to review all the Miami-Dade County Commissioners financial disclosure forms for the year go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm?org_id=214439&suborg_id=233972&Mode=By_SubOrg

>>> GMCVB press release: For the months of January – July, the 2% Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections for Greater Miami (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) showed an increase of 11.3% compared to the 2012. The 3% Convention Development Tax (CDT) reflects an 11.0% increase compared to the same time last year in 2012. The 2% Hotel Food and Beverage Tax collections from hotels in Miami-Dade (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) showed an increase of 7.5% compared to the same time in 2012.

Miami-Dade County Tax Collections
2% Tourist Development Tax
January – July 2013 January – July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$14,226,793 $12,777,531 +11.3%
3% Convention Development Tax
January – July 2013 January – July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$42,484,179 $38,265,186 +11.0%
2% Hotel Food & Beverage Tax
January – July 2013 January – July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$4,405,950 $4,100,081 +7.5 %

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Dr. Feldman & Supt. Carvalho rappelled from luxury hotel roof; Carvalho should use caution when taking future risks, especially with $1.2 billion GOB

School Board Member Dr. Lawrence Feldman and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho rappelled from the roof of a luxury Miami hotel downtown last week to raise money for a children’s charity. However, the Watchdog Report is concerned at the danger of putting the schools top administrator at risk in such an activity, now that countywide voters approved a $1.2 billion GOB for school infrastructure and expansive new IT systems throughout the nation’s fourth largest public schools district. Carvalho has been the district’s front man for the bond that was overwhelmingly approved back in November and he is critical to its success.

Moreover, while the Watchdog Report has asked Carvalho about his health in the past, which is good. Such an activity as this in the future given his overall responsibilities, should be done in moderation, for it was he who staked his reputation on the success of the bond under his watch. And for that reason it is important to keep the man safe, and to limit the risks he might take, and while I am sure it is safe and a couple got married doing it. Accidents do happen and when you consider the stakes to the community and his role in the equation. This second time that Carvalho rappelled down a building should be enough for the good of the district. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/06/3610588/miami-dade-couple-take-rappel.html


Carvalho

Feldman

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> WDR Correction: In Nov. 2011, Miami-Dade BCC passed heightened and broader “immediate family” definition that includes no conflicts with brothers and sisters for PHT trustees

The Watchdog Report was in error last week when I wrote that the PHT had not expanded the definition of who was “Immediate Family,” in the now “Heightened Conflict of Interest Standard in the county’s code for the PHT trustees. The Miami-Dade County Commission on November 15, 2011 approved a new broader definition for Trust members and now includes not just your mother, father and children, but also brothers and sisters, any stepbrother or sister members, including children. And the goal is to have a “rigorous conflict of interest policy which includes a heightened standard, eliminating both the perception of as well as any actual conflicts of interest for board members,” states the county code. Thus, unless Jose R. Mas’ brother resigns from the board of Miami Children’s Hospital, Mas the highest ranked applicant selected by the PHT Nominating Council will be ineligible to serve on the seven-member board and I expect the county’s Ethics Commission, that is being asked to review the conflict question, will come to the same conclusion.

The Watchdog Report apologizes for the error in last week’s story. >>> Here is part of last week’s story:  The nine candidates that applied for the one spot on the seven-member board were Nestor Caballero, Dr. Calixto Garcia, Jose R. Mas, Ricky Patel, Robin Reiter-Faragalli, Allen Markelson, Agatha S. Carballo, Daniel Kavanaugh and Beverly Pruitt. The Council voted on the choices and Mas led in balloting, and Garcia, Reiter-Faragalli, and Kavanaugh rounded out the field of candidates that will be interviewed and go through an extensive background check and the hope is to have the county commission vote, on one of three names submitted to be a new trustee in the coming weeks.

>>> And to watch Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya on the WPBT Show Issues hosted by Helen Ferre go to http://video.wpbt2.org/program/wpbt-issues/ And Migoya discusses the need for the Miami-Dade community to approve a $830 million GOB for capital infrastructure needs for the health system and that the money he says is dedicated for only JHS use and the Miami-Dade County Commission will not have access to this new money if county wide voters approve the matter on Nov.5.

Migoya

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> It’s official, incumbent Miami Mayor Regalado qualifies Friday in his reelection race, candidate qualifying period ends Sept. 21

And they’re off; Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado on Friday filed his qualifying documents for the Nov. 5 mayoral race that recently had his major rival Commissioner Francis Suarez withdrawing from the race. Other listed mayoral candidates but have yet to qualify are Jeffrey Anthony Benjamin, Robert I Burke, Tom Baumann and Williams Armbrister. Regalado filed his final papers in the morning with the Clerk’s Office and he is the only candidate yet to make it official, that also includes races for the District 5 and District 3 seats on the five-member commission.

In the District 5 race to replace termed out Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is Richard Dunn, II, Dr. Robert Malone, Jr., Keon Hardeman and Jacqui Colyer. Moreover, this race is expected to be spirited and now includes part of Morningside that used to be part of District 2 but that part of the city, was given up during the redistricting process after the 2010 Census.

Incumbent Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo is facing challenger Alex Dominguez for the District 3 seat, and Dominguez is using a recent Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission complaint and probable cause case against Carollo by the commission’s advocate as a campaign issue. After a traffic stop, and a potential infraction was not issued, after the commissioner called the Miami police chief after being pulled over. Carollo’s attorney Benedict Kuehne says Carollo was not trying to use his status as a commissioner to get a pass on the ticket, but after the testimony by the Miami police chief and patrol officer this week at the commission. Another hearing where the commission will make a ruling on the complaint will be occurring in the future. For more on that story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/03/3604034/miamis-carollo-challenges-ethics.html and the qualifying deadline for candidates is Sept 21 and to review the candidates campaign reports running for office in the November 5th election go to http://www.miamigov.com/City_Clerk/Pages/Elections/CampaignReports13.asp


Carollo

Suarez

Regalado

 

What about former Miami Mayor Diaz?

Former Miami Mayor Manuel “Manny” Diaz is said to be looking for a new candidate to run against Regalado now that Commissioner Suarez has dropped out of the pack of mayoral candidates running for the office. Diaz and Regalado were political enemies on the dais, and Diaz and his past supporters helped swell Suarez’s robust campaign coffers before the young attorney dropped out of the race. And when I asked Diaz’s wife Robin Thursday night at city hall if he would consider running again. She indicated that was not the case and she took a shot at the Watchdog Report for some of my past critical stories on the former high profile municipal mayor.

What about Miami Manager Martinez?

Johnny Martinez, the Miami Manager who suffered a stroke in July and was hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital will not be at Thursday’s Miami Commission public budget hearing and interim Manager Daniel Alfonso will be in the hot seat for the budget hearing. The Watchdog Report asked Mayor Tomas Regalado about Martinez condition and when he was coming back. Moreover, Regalado said not this week because of doctor’s orders, and the top administrator may be getting a pacemaker this coming week, the mayor said on Friday.

Martinez

VILLAGE OF COCUNUT GROVE

>>> Hundreds of Grovites descend on Miami city hall calling for more police to fight spike in burglaries

About 250 Grovites attended a packed meeting Thursday in the commission chambers on Dinner Key to discuss a spike in burglaries in both the North and South Coconut Grove neighborhoods. Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who represents the area, Mayor Tomas Regalado along with the top police command were all in attendance, and the Grove will be getting two more officers in the coming two weeks. Fernand R. Amandi, a Managing Partner with the polling firm Bendixen & Amandi, organized the event and the resident turnout suggests the issue of crime is a major concern for Grovites and these people were urged to come back this Thursday. When the commission has its first budget hearing, and to demand the reallocation of some of the budget to fund more police, up to some 100 officers, is suggested by Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, that would cost some $10 million, but would not raise the millage rate. Since it was just about changing the general fund funding priorities but that would take commission approval. And whether the other four commissioners will buy into this funding change is unknown. Below is Amandi’s email blast after the event to Grovites.

Sarnoff

“We now have their attention; it is now critical that we follow through and hold them accountable at next week’s BUDGET HEARING! Thursday, September 12th – 5:05 PM at City Hall. A special thank you to the crowd of well over 200 people who participated last night – a number that filled every seat in the Commission Chambers, all of the standing room and spilled out into hallway, making it clear that crime is an issue that our community wants solutions for and we want them NOW. In direct response to our calls for action, the Police Chief committed to adding two additional permanent, full time officers to patrol Coconut Grove, which he indicated, would take effect by September 15th of this year. The Grove will also have two more officers on a temporary basis to patrol the neighborhoods during the times when most burglaries are occurring in order to stop the recent spike we’ve seen. These are positive first steps and we should thank the Chief for his quick action to address our concerns.

HOWEVER, the broader problem, which was made clear by everyone last night from Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff to Police Chief Orosa and Police Union President Javier Ortiz, is that the City of Miami Police Department is fundamentally understaffed, with as many as 40 vacancies right now. The City has grown and the number of officers has not kept pace. The Mayor and City Manager have proposed adding an additional 25 officer’s citywide in this year’s budget. Commissioner Sarnoff has proposed adding 100 additional officers citywide, which would go a long way toward ensuring we get the level of coverage necessary to protect our homes and families. The overwhelming opinion in the room last night was that we need to support the call for 100 new officers in this year’s budget. It is estimated that these additional officers could cost as much as $10 Million and while we recognize this will require cuts in other services, the message last night was very clear – SAFETY COMES FIRST.

So what can we do about it?

Simple – commit to attend – along with your family, friends and neighbors – the single most important meeting any resident of the Grove concerned about crime can attend this year … and demand our elected city leaders reallocate city funds to hire 100 additional police officers to close the current officer deficit. The City of Miami budget hearing is set for this Thursday, September 12th at 5:05pm. Thursday, September 12th – 5:05 PM, at the Commission Chambers inside Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Coconut Grove, FL 33133. Last night’s meeting was a significant indication of the growing frustration within our community about the crime issues in Coconut Grove and a tremendous show of force that we are simply not going to take it anymore. >>> For those unable to attend yesterday here are two links to some media coverage that documented the unprecedented outpouring and turnout of Grove residents demanding short-term AND long-term solutions on the crime spike problem in our village,” wrote the Grove resident. And for more go to Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/06/3609372/coconut-grove-residents-concerned.html >>> Channel 10 news coverage: http://www.local10.com/news/large-turnout-for-crime-meeting-at-miami-city-hall/-/1717324/21806238/-/mo2jyuz/-/index.html

>>> Owners of Home Health Companies and Patient Recruiter Plead Guilty

in Miami for Role in $20 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Press release: The owners and operators of several Miami home health care agencies and a patient recruiter pleaded guilty today in connection with a health care fraud scheme involving defunct home health care company Trust Care Health Services Inc. (Trust Care). 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; 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; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael J. DePalma of the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.

Roberto Marrero, 60; Sandra Fernandez Viera, 49; and Enrique Rodriguez, 59, all of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres in the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks. Marrero and Fernandez Viera were owners and operators of Trust Care, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Rodriguez worked as a patient recruiter on behalf of Trust Care and Marrero and Fernandez Viera. According to court documents, Marrero and Fernandez Viera operated Trust Care for the purpose of billing the Medicare Program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.

Marrero largely controlled Trust Care and, in light of that role, oversaw the schemes operating out of the company.  Fernandez Viera’s primary role, among others, involved managing and supervising personnel at Trust Care.  Both Marrero and Fernandez Viera were responsible for negotiating and paying kickbacks and bribes, interacting with patient recruiters, and coordinating and overseeing the submission of fraudulent claims submitted to the Medicare program. Marrero, Fernandez Viera and their co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters, including Rodriguez, in return for the recruiters providing patients to Trust Care for home health and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided.  Marrero, Fernandez Viera and their co-conspirators at Trust Care 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.  Marrero, Fernandez Viera and their co-conspirators used these prescriptions, medical certifications and other documentation to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services, which Marrero and Fernandez Viera knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.

Rodriguez offered and paid kickbacks and bribes to Medicare beneficiaries in return for those beneficiaries allowing Trust Care to bill Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided.  Rodriguez solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Trust Care, including Marrero and Fernandez Viera, in return for his patient recruiting.  Rodriguez knew that in many instances the patients he recruited for Trust Care did not qualify for the services billed to Medicare. From approximately March 2007 through at least October 2010, Trust Care submitted more than $20 million in claims for home health services.  Medicare paid Trust Care more than $15 million for these fraudulent claims.  Marrero, Fernandez Viera and Rodriguez also acknowledged their involvement in similar fraudulent schemes at several other Miami health care agencies in addition to Trust Care with estimated total losses of approximately $50 million, including Global Nursing Home Health Inc., Lovable Home Health Services Corp., New Concepts In Health Inc., Ubieta Health System Inc., R&M Health Care Inc., Vital Care Home Health Services Inc., Centrum Home Health Care Inc. and A&B Health Services Inc.

At sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 12, 2013, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five years in prison for conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, with the assistance of IRS-CI, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of 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 and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.  A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

>>> Miami-Dade Man Charged in $13 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme Involving Fraudulent Florida Lottery Claims

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 Ronald Verrocchio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), announce the indictment of Orlando Cairo, Jr., of Miami, on filing fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS and claiming refunds based on fraudulently claimed income and withholding paid by the State of Florida, Department of the Lottery (“Florida Lottery”). Defendant Cairo had his initial appearance today in federal court in West Palm Beach before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins at 10:00 a.m.

The indictment charges Cairo with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, eight counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, seven counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, three counts of alteration of a treasury check, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 471, and one count of destruction of records, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1519.

According to the previously filed complaint and the indictment, Cairo obtained the means of identification of individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. He used these identifications to electronically file IRS income tax returns which claimed fraudulent gambling winnings from and withholdings by the Florida Lottery. From January 2012 through July 12, 2012, Cairo filed and caused to be filed with the IRS approximately 624 fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds of over $13,000,000.  In addition, the indictment alleges that Cairo altered three United States Treasury tax refund checks in the amounts of $412.90, $25.70, and $406.99, to increase the amounts of the checks to $88,412.90, $88,525.70, and $88,406.99, respectively.

If convicted, Cairo faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, altering a treasury check, and destruction of records, and two years consecutive in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft. Mr. Ferrer thanked IRS-CI and USPIS for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha R. Mitrani and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jed Silversmith.  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 www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Candidates Debates, 2013 Election City of Miami Beach Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street > For more go to http://mbtmbc.com/

Date/Group                 Candidates

Sept. 17 Group 2: Dave Crystal, Jorge R. Exposito, Michael C. Grieco

Sept. 24 Group 3: Matti Herrera Bower, Joshua C. Dunkelman, Joy Malakoff

Oct. 1 Mayor: Michael Gongora, Raphael Herman, David P. Hundley, Philip Levine

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Entrepreneur Fernandez takes the 500-mile walk of his life for MCH; the WDR wishes him good luck

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Mike Fernandez is putting his feet to work by taking a 500-mile hike for Miami Children’s Hospital whose physicians performed heart surgery on his granddaughter. Fernandez, an early confidant to former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, over the years has started and sold a number of healthcare companies and has become a billionaire in the process.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/06/3609780/miami-entrepreneur-will-walk-500.html He also has played a major civic role donating some $100 million to charities over the years and he served on a large healthcare advisory board around 2002 created by Penelas and the county commission to study the issue of the medically uninsured in Miami-Dade. However, the U.S. Army Veteran is stepping out of the mainstream with this new effort. He is trekking across the Pyrenees Mountains from France to Spain, hoping to raise $3 million, the man can be followed on social media, the Watchdog Report wishes him good luck, and he gets a Tip of the Hat, for taking on such a task for charity, versus just writing a check.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line

Residents of Broward County can now review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line and to see the inner financial workings of these elected officials go to  http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

COLUMBIA COUNTY

>>> Gov. Scott taps Timothy B. “Tim” Murphy, and the reappointments of Dekoven R. “Koby” Adams and Dr. Waseem Khan to the Lake Shore Hospital Authority of Columbia County.

Murphy, 52, of Lake City, has been the owner of Murphy Fabrication Inc. since 1990. He has been a member of the Columbia County Resources Board since 2012 and president of Lake City, Columbia County Youth Baseball since 1998. Murphy fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning September 5, 2013, and ending July 20, 2016.

Adams, 55, of Lake City, is the owner of the Adams Agency Inc. He has served on the Columbia County Housing Authority and is a member of the Lake City Kiwanis Club. Adams is reappointed for a term beginning September 5, 2013, and ending August 22, 2016.

Khan, 48, of Lake City, is a physician and owner of Cancer Care of North Florida. He has been a member of the board since 2008 and currently serves as the chairman. Khan received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Union College and his Doctor of Medicine from Ross Medical School. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 5, 2013, and ending May 12, 2016.

MANATEE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott made the following statement regarding news that Sarasota and Manatee counties will host the World Rowing Championships in 2017

Governor Scott said, “It is great news to hear that the Sunshine State was selected to host the World Rowing Championships in 2017.  With 100,000 tourists expected to visit, nearly 1,500 rowers from across the globe coming to compete and millions in economic impact to Florida, this event will create many opportunities for our families and job creators.”
Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, Inc. is so confident in the economic growth opportunities of the Sarasota Rowing Center that they made a commitment to return state tax dollars we invested in this facility if it failed to generate in excess of $25 million in state sales tax between July 1, 2013 and December 30, 2018.

“Because of the policies we put in place over the last two years, we were able to make strategic investments in Florida like the Nathan Benderson Park, which will be the site of the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Florida is undoubtedly the best state in the nation for sports and we are glad Florida was selected to host the largest rowing event in the world.” Click here to view the letter signed by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, Inc.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> 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.

>>> Green Apple is a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future.  The Green Apple Day of Service, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects. Be sure to check out project ideas, read last year’s highlights and register your 2013 project today at mygreenapple.org!

>>> 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!

EDITORIAL

>>> With public budget hearings in Miami-Dade & Broward and the combined 65 municipalities, residents should make they’re case on the strength of their argument, not the stridency of their voice

With the upcoming public budget hearings in the coming weeks starting at Miami-Dade County on Tuesday, the Watchdog Report hopes these meetings will not be too contentious and in general the public speakers are better served through making a cogent case for their organization and funding it, rather than hurling epithets at the elected leaders. For public officials are most receptive to a calm argument for an issue versus making it based on emotion and derogatory comments or threats. And with Miami-Dade County also having 34 municipalities and in Broward there are 31 municipalities with these public hearings, there were will be plenty of opportunity for local residents and organizations to make they’re case and express any beefs about how residents are being governed by their elected officials.

For after watching government since 1996, it has become clear to the Watchdog Report that what Mahatma Ghandi was reported to have said in India was true. The man who led the non-violent campaign to regain and wrest control of the country from Great Britain after centuries and was achieved. The revered man was reported to have said when it came to people pleading their case in front of government. Ghandi, also an attorney said, “Make it the strength of your argument, not the stridency of your voice,” when you make your case. For in the long run, you have a much better chance to prevail now, and in the future, with a well thought out argument in front of elected leaders. Moreover, while all of government still has major budget issues and only so much money to go around. Making a rational argument never goes out of style and in many ways is something elected leaders fear most and when citizens speak in front of these bodies they should remember that fact.

LETTERS

>>> I’m the Guy You Pay Later Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an early childhood advocacy group of law enforcement professionals, released a new report which found that investing now in high-quality early childhood education and home visiting could significantly reduce future law enforcement costs.

Please review the report, and I hope you will agree to actively support the recommendations which need to be translated into the political system..

I can only describe the waste of money and lives as social misfeasance.

Wil Blechman, M.D.

>>> The Labor Day long weekend marks the traditional end of the summer season.  Although South Florida will continue to bask in summer-like temperatures for at least a bit longer, this is a day, on which we should take the time to recognize and honor the meaning of this important holiday. In the late 1800s, President Grover Cleveland approved legislation making Labor Day a national holiday, honoring the contribution of labor unions and the traditional work ethic of our nation’s citizenry. He remarked that “a truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil.”

The strength of our country lies in the work of so many whose “honest toil” helped build who we are today. From top CEOs to those who work for minimum wage, the productivity and innovation of our labor force continues to be the envy of the world, and the means by which we move this country forward. It is the vital force that ensures that we enjoy the standard of living that inspires the American Dream. Today, amidst the parades, barbeques, and beach going, take an opportunity to recognize the dignity of work. Be thankful for your job, and pray for the nation’s unemployed that they too may soon re-join the workforce.

Let’s teach our children that every person is entitled to the opportunity for economic advancement that comes from an honest day’s labor, and let us strive to make this opportunity a reality for all.

JLL

>>> Here’s a subject you may want to check into: Mile Marker signs on Miami-Dade Expressways have increased dramatically! They are now placed every 0.1 to 0.2 miles. Make me wonder who on the board of Directors owns a sign company or has a family member or friend in the business. I’ve even noticed an increase on the Florida State Turnpike. Wonder why dear old I-95 has managed to get alone with plain old 1.0-mile markers? I guess the sign maker has no Federal contacts. The installed cost of the signs has to be in a budget somewhere. I bet it is a bundle! Good luck hunting.

L W

>>> I appreciate receiving your informative emails however I am curious why you haven’t focused on the ethics and conduct of the North Miami City council, more specifically, the manner in how the current Mayor continues to use city money to defend her lawsuit brought forth by former Mayor Kevin Burns. Wherein he makes claims as to her legal residence and whether or not she was a legitimate citizen of North Miami at the time, she registered to run for the office of Mayor?

The City attorney was questioned on this matter and she refuses to address it other than stating that she has the right to spend city money to defend the Mayor. The fact that the city attorney simply makes a determination that it is within her purview to decide how the city’s money is spent is beyond me especially when the entire claim has to do with the legitimacy of the Mayors standing as Mayor. I wish you would study North Miami politics a little closer and shed some light on those misgivings. Thanks for your recaps and keep them coming.

J T

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

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

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

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

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

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

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

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

BADIA SPICES    www.badiaspices.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

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

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

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com

RON BOOK

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

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

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

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.cph.org

THE STATE OF FLORIDA    www.myflorida.gov

GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION   www.miamidade.gov

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

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

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

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS www.dadeschools.net

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

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

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

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

THE MIAMI FOUNDATION  www.miamifoundation.org

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

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

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

LETTER POLICY

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

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

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

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

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

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

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Any amount $

Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net


 
 
 

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