Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.19 September 15, 2013 Est.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot


Argus Report: Former GOP Congressman Shaw passes, moderate who championed welfare reform and Everglades Restoration, his temperament as a legislator is an example to all in Congress

Florida: The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade approves $103 million budget for next year, $400,000 service contract with CHI has Zapata and Curbelo voting no on funding — 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: Will sparing libraries from cuts be a Pyrrhic Victory when it comes to funding demands at other county departments, final public budget hearing Thursday, will stretch long into the night

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Grove Arts & Minds Charter School building owner Alonso-Poch files for bankruptcy in federal court, Public Schools District past forensic audit on A&M was sent to IRS by District

Public Health Trust: After past Jackson bond sale investigation, SEC brings no charges, but chides past health trust members and administration for inaccurate yearly loss numbers, when bonds sold

City of Miami: Commission taps Atty. Méndez for top legal position, considered a “straight shooter,” but will she reform office as commissioner’s demand? But she has to be reconfirmed again after Nov. elections over

Village of Coconut Grove: At first public budget hearing, Grovites and others make case for 100 new police officers, “zero tolerance,” for crime many believe

City of Miami Beach: No Probable Cause in Wolfson complaint, says M-DC Ethics Commission

City of Coral Gables: Ethics complaint dropped against Christensen after he becomes compliant, failed to file financial disclosure on time for being on CG Green Task Force

City of Doral: Mayor restricted from development action, says County Ethics Commission

City of South Miami: Mayor Stoddard says with past police chief fired, “cops on patrol are smiling again” in S. Miami

North Bay Village: Vice Mayor Lim and Commissioner Gonzalez get hit with Letter of Instruction for taking Miami Heat tickets as gifts and not reporting it

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: IG Scott continues to dig into how CRA public money is being spent in nine municipalities, critics charge oversight of some CRAs has been lacking in Broward

Palm Beach County: PA Nikolits a county political fixture since 1992, fought off challenger in 2012, had $1.59 million net worth through 2012 — Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at

Boca Raton: Gov. Scott taps Dr. Steven Scott to the University Of Florida Board Of Trustees

Orange County: Gov. Scott taps Christi L. Underwood to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Brevard County: Gov. Scott names Judge Kelly Jo McKibben to the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court.

Monroe County: School board Vice Chair Martin in the spotlight, up again in 2014, net worth since Jun., $410,000 — to read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to

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: Security is one thing, but Miami-Dade Ethics and Public Trust Commission needs to review use and disclosure guidelines of sergeant-of-arms by county and municipal leaders — 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:

Letters: Physician on the Affordable Care Act

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

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

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

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

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

>>> And the WDR will not publish next week so I can raise money, get some rest after some 20 or so weeks in a row. And I will probable be on WWW.WLRN.ORG / Topical Currents, on Tuesday on 91.3 FM at 1:00 p.m., and readers should listen in as we discuss the political affairs of South Florida.

>>> CORRECTION: In the WDR last week: I misspelled Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan’s name and I apologize for the error.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Former GOP Congressman Shaw passes, moderate lawmaker who championed welfare reform and Everglades Restoration, his temperament as a legislator is an example to all in Congress

E. Clay Shaw, the former 13 term Congressman and Broward County Republican passed last week, at age 74, of lung cancer and he fought for national and local issues that were right. Be the issue nature and protecting the Congo Rain Forest, the Everglades or being a champion of welfare reform in 1996, and he was a moderate and worked across the political aisle to get legislation passed. Shaw a former Fort Lauderdale mayor was defeated in 2006 in an extremely tight and viscous race with Democratic Party state legislator Ron Klein, who capitalized on the nation’s fatigue with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Democratic Party stronghold of a county.

And when Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned right after the 2006 General Election that the congressman lost. Shaw quipped to the media, it would have been nice for the President George W. Bush to have done that before the election, he said at the time. Further, Shaw was accessible and there was nary a hint of a scandal during his 26 years in Congress and for South Florida, that is no small achievement, and younger politicians should consider the man’s temperament and his ideals. Moreover, I had almost a decade of contact with the congressional representative off and on, and he was a unique, conservative yet common sense man in the GOP and he believed the mission was to get the job done and to have good legislation passed. For more on Shaw’s career go to

>>> Diaz-Balart matriarch passes at 88, sired two congressmen in Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart

Hilda Caballero Diaz-Balart passed last week at the age of 88 and she was the matriarch who produced four prominent sons Lincoln, Mario, Jose and Rafael Diaz-Balart of which two. Lincoln and Mario who went onto Congress and Mario is still in the U.S. House after his brother Lincoln decided to leave office in 2011 when he did not run for reelection. The Watchdog Report sends my condolences to the family and know the family will miss their mother and her wise counsel. >>>

>>> Press release: Zogby’s Report Card: Obama ducked on Syria, but U.S. avoided war

John Zogby’s Obama Weekly Report Card is Featured in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Secrets” Published weekly in The Washington Examiner

Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama’s stumbling on Syria at least had the benefit of so far avoiding war.

“In the global game of dodgeball over Syria, the president ducked just in time this week. Regardless of whether or not he stumbled into this, was outmaneuvered by the cagey street fighter Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, or was boxed into a corner, the fact is that at this moment the conversation is more about negotiations over how to monitor and destroy Syria’s cache of chemical weapons and not about going to war. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade


>>> Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade approves $103 million budget for next year, $400,000 service contract with CHI has Zapata and Curbelo voting no on funding

The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade had its first public budget hearing on Monday in the boardroom of the United Way of Miami-Dade and the 32-member board approved a $103 million budget and kept the millage rate the same charged to county property owners the previous year. Maria Alonso is the chair of the Trust and she ran the public budget meeting that included a number of children with their parents coming to the podium. Miami-Dade County voters created the Trust in 2002 and it was overwhelmingly approved again in Aug. 2008 just before the Great Recession, and it has been the only organization dedicated to enriching all the children in the county’s school and social development success from birth to 18 years old.

The Trust’s funding comes from an independent special taxing district and over the years, the organization has had just one little scandal involving tee shirts it had made being sold in a local store, but excluding that, it has been scandal free, and because of building up early reserves in the early years. The Trust was able to cushion some of the funding impact of the economic downturn in 2008 and while reducing funding, it was not as drastic as it could have been because of these past reserves. And the Trust’s final public budget hearing will be Sept. 16, at 5:01 p.m. at 3250 SW 3rd Avenue, Ryder Room in the United Way of Miami-Dade headquarters.

Who are Gov. Scott’s new appointees on the Trust?

Gov. Rick Scott has appointments on the body and he has appointed Katie R. Black and Marissa Leichter to the body.

Who are the County and School Board elected officials on the Trust?

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan C. Zapata has replaced County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson on the body and Miami-Dade school Board Member Carlos Curbelo has replaced School Board Member Martin Karp, Ph.D on the Trust board.

Anything unusual happen?

A resolution to authorize the Trust CEO to negotiate and execute a $400,000 grant in funding to Community Health of South Florida (CHI) for a service partnership, while passed by the trust board. The funding request had both Zapata and Curbelo being the only dissenting votes on the body. Since CHI has been in the media for hiring now suspended Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman as a lobbyist. Gov. Rick Scott has since suspended Bateman from office after he was indicted recently by the state attorney’s office for unlawful compensation and while Bateman says he is innocent and is campaigning for reelection. Apparently, the two elected officials had concerns given the controversy and other public funding sources includes CHI getting $6.8 million in funding from Jackson Health System in the coming budget year that begins Oct.1.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott made two appointments and two reappointments to the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board.

John Cannava, 66, of North Palm Beach, is the owner of PI Electric Inc. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning September 12, 2013, and ending October 31, 2014.

Thomas McHaffie, 56, of Tallahassee, is the owner of Thomas McHaffie LLC. He succeeds Clarence Tibbs and is appointed for a term beginning September 12, 2013, and ending October 31, 2015.

Robert Bramlett, 57, of Ocala, is the owner of Bramlett Electric Inc. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 12, 2013, and ending October 31, 2016.

Kenneth Hoffmann, 67, of Mount Dora, is the CEO of Dynafire Inc. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 12, 2013, and ending October 31, 2015. >>> The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Anna Dooley and the reappointments of Mike Bauer and Cari Roth to the Environmental Regulation Commission.

Dooley, 67, of Jacksonville, is the executive director for Greenscape of Jacksonville. She fills a vacant seat for a term beginning September 10, 2013, and ending July 1, 2015.

Bauer, 62, of Naples, is the natural resources manager for the City of Naples. He received his doctorate degree in environmental policy from Virginia Tech. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 10, 2013, and ending July 1, 2017.

Roth, 55, of Tallahassee, is an attorney with Bryant Miller Olive PA. She is reappointed for a term beginning September 10, 2013, and ending July 1, 2017. >>>The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

>>> Legislative Budget Commission Adopts Long-Range Financial Outlook

Press release: The Legislative Budget Commission adopted the Long-Range Financial Outlook on Thursday, which contains an expected budget surplus of $846 million for FY 2014-15. This marks the second year in a row that the Florida Legislature will likely have a surplus after funding the continuation budget. While the initial budget surplus is encouraging, Florida TaxWatch cautions that the estimates do not guarantee a surplus.

“We should remain cautiously optimistic about an anticipated surplus,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. “TaxWatch urges the Legislature to continue identifying and implementing savings, such as those included in our annual cost-savings recommendations.”

>>> 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.


>>> Will sparing libraries from cuts be a Pyrrhic Victory when it comes funding demands at other departments, final public budget hearing Thursday, will stretch long into the night

Mayor Carlos Gimenez pulled another rabbit out of his hat on Tuesday when dozens of advocates for libraries convinced him and other commissioners to raid reserve funds to keep the extensive library system from laying off some 169 workers but it is a one shot deal. And the budget shortfalls in the library district will have to addressed again in the next upcoming budget year that starts in Oct. 2014. Advocates for the Library district brought a host of people including South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner to the organizations budget defense.

But it is at the upcoming final budget hearing that the public budget meeting should really get interesting as a host of unions will continue to make their case for a reduction in their county employees’ contribution to their health care costs. And while proponents against the cuts in a host of areas are gearing up hoping this relenting by Gimenez will continue given the victory over the library cuts. The mayor say insiders is unlikely to bend again when it comes to his proposed budget, and the past victory on Tuesday with library advocates could be a Pyrrhic Victory.

The next public budget hearing is set for Thursday, Sept 19 starting at 5:01 p.m. in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center and it is open to he public, where just under 100 people spoke at the past public budget hearing on Tuesday. >>> FY 2013-14 Proposed Budget


>>> MIA finally paying for all the public art in new North & South Terminals after running up $1.9 million tab

The Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places Trust met Tuesday and one of the issues discussed was the past $1.9 million owed by Miami International Airport to the Trust for all the art that was installed in the new North and South Terminals costing to construct over $6.4 billion over the past decades (And 1 ½ percent of that capital improvement money went into the art at the facilities). Michael Spring, the Director of the county’s Cultural Affairs Department said at the Trust meeting, that after discussions with MIA officials. We “are having ongoing conversations with MIA and currently the monies owed is a little less than $100,000,” he told trustees. He said they are working on a plan to pay “the balance of the money,” and there is also a plan “to streamline the process” and future payments would come in at real time, he said.

What about the upcoming PHT $830 million GOB, would any of that money go into public art?

The Watchdog Report asked Spring last week if the Trust would get the usual one and a half percent of this possible new money if county voters pass it in November, and he said “no.” The Trust only gets a percentage of the public money when it is new capital projects and not renovations and upgrades as in the case of the use of the GOB money. And in the past, the Trust through this percentage paid for the new artwork located at the new Jackson Health South Hospital.

What about the Richmond Heights Pioneers Memorial?

A memorial for the founders of the Richmond Heights community funded by the Trust will be completed sometime in October said artist Gene S. Tinnie to the Watchdog Report, and the Memorial will honor the community that was “originally planned and built in 1949 for African American veterans of World War II.” The work was commissioned back in April 2011, has had some challenges, but is now back on track to be completed next month and the “large –scale stone panels and the intricacy” of the “artists imagery required a specialized etching and sand blasting process” and the  overall cost is around $111,000 states Trust documents.

>>> And to review all the Miami-Dade County Commissioners financial disclosure forms for the year go to

>>> County Ethics Commission press release: The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause that County Commissioner Sally Heyman violated the Citizen’s Bill of Rights or other provisions of the Ethics Code.  A complaint (C 13-15) was filed by Alan Rigerman after he was not recognized to speak about the “No Kill Shelter” during a June meeting of the Public Safety and Animal Services Committee, which Commissioner Heyman chaired.  The investigation determined that the agenda item was set for “discussion only,” which does not require Commissioners to take public testimony, although several professionals in the field were asked to speak on the subject.  The complainant also questioned if it was proper for Heyman’s coffee truck to sell refreshments at the annual “Love-In” festival at Greynolds Park – a County facility.  Through her corporation, Heyman registered and paid the vendor application fee as other participants, so no violation was found and the complaint was dismissed.

>>> County Ethics Commission press release: Two complaints filed by lobbyist Dusty Melton accusing local attorneys of violating the Ethics Code by lobbying on behalf of the same client without registering first with the County were resolved today.   C 13-19 was filed against Stuart Sobel who was hired in May by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America to prepare a protest after the company’s bid was ranked second for work on Miami International Airport’s Automated People Mover.  The investigation shows Mr. Sobel met with an assistant county attorney and sent letters to an airport procurement contract officer without registering to lobby on behalf of Mitsubishi.  He agreed to settle the charges today by pleading no contest to one count, paying a $500 fine and accepting a Letter of Instruction.  Mitchell Bierman was authorized to represent Mitsubishi in July when he wrote a letter to the aviation director arguing against the bid winner, but was not officially registered to lobby for the company until four days later.  However, the Ethics Commission considered the violation to be of minimal impact and determined that the public interest would not be served by proceeding further, and so dismissed the complaint (C 13-18).

>>> GMCVB press release: International passenger arrivals for the month of July 2013 at Miami International Airport (MIA) increased by 3.7% and domestic passenger arrivals increased by 1.1%. Total passenger arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA) increased in the month of July 2013 by 2.4%.

MIA Passenger Arrivals
International Arrivals
July 2013 July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
984,934 949,754 +3.7%
Domestic Arrivals
July 2013 July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
898,255 888,255 +1.1%
Total Arrivals
July 2013 July 2012 % Change vs. 2012
1,883,189 1,838,190 +2.4%


>>> Grove A&M Charter School building owner Alonso-Poch files for bankruptcy in federal court, Public Schools District past forensic audit on Arts & Mind was sent to IRS by district

Manny Alonso-Poch owner of a company that owns the building that houses the Arts and Minds Academy Charter School in Coconut Grove is seeking federal bankruptcy protection and the attorney, bond salesman has filed in the federal courts for this protection. Alonso-Poch has also tried to get involved in some way with the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium that is charged by the City of Miami to get the additional funding to restore the iconic stadium on Rickenbacker Causeway and the man was spotted there at a media event honoring wounded veterans on Jet Skies going to NYC on 9/11 to honor the dead just over a week ago. >>> Here is the story on the bankruptcy

And the Watchdog Report since the school was first created in 2004 has been following the organization because it was known as a “related transaction” and would by 2009 be getting some $80,000 a month in rent payments from the public schools district, which later did a forensic audit of the charter school and released it in June 2012. Moreover, with this saga ending and winding down, it also included Alonso Poch paying his county property tax liability after a dispute said Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera last week to the Watchdog Report. And the controversial saga of the school under his leadership may finally come to an end. And below is  past WDR concerning what was going on at the AM charter school over the years.

PAST WDR JUNE 2012 >>> Arts and Minds Charter School governance & oversight slammed by Board audit, round II is discussion at audit committee Tuesday

With the release last week of the forensic audit of the Academy of the Arts and Minds Charter School (A&M) in Coconut Grove (here is the audit link to the District’s 364 page document that includes a rebuttal from A&M management to the findings) my investigative saga of A&M is ending since the school was first created in 2004, and was flagged by the Watchdog Report back then because it involved a “related transaction,” where the building’s owner also ran the charter school. Back then, the Watchdog Report was critical of this property owner and governance relationship that had the school getting some $29,000 a month at first in rent from the nation’s fourth largest public schools district. That rent number would subsequently escalate as the schools student population increased to around $69,000 a month in 2006, and when administrative and food service costs are thrown in now in the total funding going to the school’s owner Manny Alonso-Poch, that pushed the amount to around $80,000 a month.

The school, created as a not for profit has claimed the whole building was being used as the school but there were retail outlets over the years operateing as well and now the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia wants $182,000 in back property taxes but it may be with the IRS, that Alonso-Poch will have his biggest future issue. The Miami-Dade Public Schools Audit and Budget Advisory committee asked for the audit to be done months ago and that board will be meeting Tuesday to discuses the much-anticipated audit that the Watchdog Report has tracked since its inception. And in the past when the high rent and the cozy relationship the landlord had with the charter school was discussed at the audit committee. The Audit Chair back in 2006 after hearing Alonso-Poch’s rent explanation to the committee made up of accountants and tax lawyers he remarked. “There is a lot of fairy dust in the room,” Frederick “Buck” Thornburg observed at the time along with similar comments from the other skeptical audit committee members.

Further, back then, one audit committee member is now Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, a CPA and he was there when the fairy dust comment was made but Alonso –Poch forgot that fact years later. For one day at Miami City Hall about a year ago when I was talking to Carollo. Alonso-Poch who considers himself a comedian told Carollo as he walked by to “not believe anything that I said.” As he sauntered out the lobby door of the building. The building owner who is also the pro bono attorney for A&M, has flaunted publicly some of this activity listed in the audit, including running a bar some nights. Since the school has a liquor license, but he acts like he has no care in the world when he is spotted in the neighborhood. And while he is a big fish in the little pond of the Grove, is politically connected, that did not matter with the public district’s auditors and for another take on the document go to: >>> And

What about the other over 90 charter schools in Miami-Dade?

The local Public schools district has over 90 charter schools and some are great and offering parents a real choice, but with others. Public tax dollars are going to private interests who own properties and these public tax assets are siphoning off precious tax dollars from the struggling district. And A&M was just the most glaring example and the audit is first rate in its completeness and a thorough review that includes interviewing past staff and principals, that had student demonstrations outside the school after one popular teacher was suddenly let go back around 2006. Further, there has been a persistent concern among parent representatives over the years about the schools management, the rubber stamp school’s board, and past IRS issues in the mid 2005s came up and the Watchdog Report has about four inches of documents pertaining to the school.

And this audit is a wakeup call for other creative business people who try to use public dollars to cover mortgage costs on buildings they own in this down economy by starting a charter school in a location surrounded by three bars and restaurants on the Grove’s Commodore Plaza. In addition, years ago one of the schools employees got in the Watchdog Report’s face one night challenging why I had such an interest in A&M. She said, “Look at all the fraud that is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.

And I responded I couldn’t do anything about what is happening overseas, but in the case of A&M that I see everyday, especially when school lets out and kids run out into the small street chocked with parent’s cars picking up their kids. Not only was there a question of student safety since there are no signs indicating a school zone and their have been some incidents, but the issue of public money going into a organization with this governance and management structure was paramount and now the authorities will get to sort out how this matter finally plays out in the future.


>>> In past Jackson bond sale, SEC brings no charges, but chides past health trust board and administration for inaccurate yearly loss numbers, when bonds sold

The U.S. SEC issued a report Friday that stated the PHT when it sold $83 million in bonds in 2009 mislead investors and understated financial losses for the past years prior to the issuance based on inaccurate financial data. It also was critical of the past PHT administration’s management, the oversight of the PHT board no longer in place, and the federal agency essentially for the good of the community and the public hospital that gives over $600 million in charity and uncompensated care only got a slap on the wrist, with no financial penalties and no past executives being charged. Jackson senior executives and board members during the federal investigation were forth coming with information and that cooperation resulted in what is essentially a cease and desist order, does not impose any financial penalties, and basically settles the matter with the SEC.

The SEC for years has been looking into the bond sale from the past, but did not seek any indictments of people responsible, given the change in billing software at the PHT and analysis that produced the highly inflated numbers. And did not accurately show the health trust was in fact losing hundreds of millions of dollars at the time. Below is the press release from the SEC on the matter.


Press release: The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the operator of the largest hospital in Miami-Dade County with misleading investors about the extent of its deteriorating financial condition prior to an $83 million bond offering. An SEC investigation found that the Public Health Trust, which is the governing authority for Jackson Health System, misstated present and future revenues due to breakdowns in a new billing system that inaccurately recorded revenue and patient accounts receivable.  The Public Health Trust projected a non-operating loss in the official statement accompanying the bond offering in August 2009, but reported a figure that was more than four times lower than what was ultimately reported at the end of the 2009 fiscal year.  The Public Health Trust also failed to properly account for an adverse arbitration award, and misrepresented that its financial statements were prepared according to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

The Public Health Trust has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges.

“The Public Health Trust fell short in its obligation to maintain adequate accounting systems and controls that ensure truthful disclosures to investors about its financial condition,” said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.  “The Public Health Trust used stale numbers to calculate its revenue figures and lacked any reasonable basis for projecting losses that were far less than reality.” Mark Zehner, Deputy Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, added, “Investors must be able to rely on the financial information accompanying municipal bond offerings.  We will continue to scrutinize financial statements provided to investors and pursue municipal issuers who aren’t providing accurate information to the public.”

According to the SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings, the official statement accompanying the bond offering represented that the Public Health Trust (PHT) projected a $56 million non-operating loss for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.  Several months after the bonds were sold, external auditors discovered problems with the PHT’s patient accounts receivable valuation.  This discovery required a large accounting adjustment to the reported net income, and the PHT ultimately reported a non-operating loss of $244 million for fiscal year 2009 – more than four times the projection made to bond investors.

The SEC’s order found that the PHT was aware of the rising level of patient accounts receivable and declining cash-on-hand prior to the bond offering, which caused concern among trustees and executive management.  They raised questions about the accounts receivable amounts and collection rates that were used to calculate the PHT’s revenue figures.  The $56 million non-operating loss amount included in the bond offering’s official statement was generated by the budget department using stale cash collection numbers amid the known problems with the new billing system.  The budget department was not updating its collection rates in a timely fashion due to a lack of adequate communication among departments.  Therefore, the PHT lacked a reasonable basis for its loss projection, and the official statement was materially misleading.

The SEC’s order also found that the PHT failed to properly account for a December 2008 arbitration award that negatively impacted patient accounts receivable in its 2008 audited financial statements that were attached to the bond offering’s official statement.  The arbitration award required the PHT to pay a third-party receivables company $3.9 million in cash, and transfer to the company $360 million face amount of existing accounts receivable and $250 million face amount of future accounts receivable.  The PHT failed to perform an analysis to determine the value of the replacement accounts receivable awarded to the third-party company.  The analysis is required under the relevant accounting standards in order to evaluate whether to accrue an expense related to the arbitration award or disclose the arbitration award in the notes to its financial statements.  Without the proper analysis, the PHT failed to accurately account for the arbitration award in the audited financial statements.

The SEC’s order directs the PHT to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations of Sections 17(a)(2) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933.  The PHT neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings.  The Commission determined not to impose a monetary penalty due to the PHT’s current financial condition.  The Commission also considered the PHT’s cooperation with the investigation and the remedial measures undertaken. The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted in the Miami office by members of the Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, including Brian P. Knight, Sean M. O’Neill, and Fernando Torres under the supervision of Jason R. Berkowitz.  The investigation followed an examination conducted by Paul Anderson under the supervision of Nicholas A. Monaco and the oversight of John C. Mattimore.


>>> Commission taps Atty. Méndez for top legal position, considered a “straight shooter,” but will she reform office as commissioner’s demand? She has to be reconfirmed after Nov. elections over

The Miami commission on Thursday selected Victoria Méndez as the new city attorney to replace Julie O’ Bru who will be retiring to North Carolina latter in the month and she is an assistant city attorney inside the office. A major search was done over the past months and some 70 applicants applied but the applicants were short-listed and the finalists were first reported in a past Watchdog Report. Méndez during her confirmation process in front of the commission got some words of warning from the five-member body, where she needs at least three votes if she is to stay in office.

“Your office is not functioning well,” said Miami Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff, also an attorney. Moreover, if you make “one wrong decision” it “can cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars,” and now is the time “to heed” the warnings because there is a need to “make significant changes,” he said. Sarnoff, the longest sitting member on the body, elected in 2006 noted there is a lot of “weight on you,” in the position and “any actions you take” even if they are “private, will always reflect on you and the city,” he intoned.

Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez said, “I too struggled,” on whether to pick someone “inside or outside,” and he noted he could have gone “in either direction.” Miami Commissioner Willy Gort chimed in that he to had concerns as well and “I think a lot of changes need to be done there,” he echoed. And Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo noted in his case “I struggled” on which way to vote that had Mendez getting the required three, and the rest of the commission ultimately unanimously endorsed her selection. The two no votes came from Gort and Michelle Spence-Jones who supported an outside candidate.

Mendez is asking for $235,000 in compensation, O’ Bru is reported making $228,000 for the job, and Suarez was picked to do the negotiations. Since he did O ’Bru’s contract more recently and he will bring the final deal back to commissioners for final approval. However, after the November municipal elections where the mayor and two commission seats are being contested. The Commission by city charter will have to ratify the attorney’s appointment again, when all the winners of those races have taken their office.

What about her salary?

O’ Bru, a 30-year employee rose to this salary level, as did the past clerk, who was also a long time Miami employee because of past Miami pay scales and increases over the decades. But in the case of the Clerk’s replacement, Todd Hannon. He is making much less than his predecessor and the Watchdog Report does not believe in the beginning that this higher salary is warranted until Mendez demonstrates the legal and leadership skills for the top dollar compensation, and the new compensation agreement should include some sort of bonus based on the office’s performance. For more on the selection go to




O’ Bru




>>> County Ethics Commission press release: The Ethics Commission has been unable to set a date for the continuation of the public hearing on Complaint 12-32 against Miami City Commissioner Frank Carollo.  Public notice will be given when the parties can find a mutually agreeable day.


>>> At public budget hearing, Grovites and others make case for 100 new police officers, “zero tolerance” for crime many believe

A steady stream of Coconut Grove residents descended on Miami City Hall Thursday night demanding that the Miami administration and commission allocate some $10 million in next year’s 2013-2014 budget that begins Oct. 1 for an additional 100 police officers. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff over the past year has been on a jag about the issue and he brings it up at almost every commission meeting. But getting these new officers is not simple, current police officers have seen their pay and benefits cut, and many are leaving to go to other police departments in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, where the pay or work conditions are better. And the final battle lines are drawn going into the final public budget hearing later in the month, and whether the commission will hear this plea for a more robust police presence and fund it at the necessary level.  For more on the meeting go to



>>> No Probable Cause in Wolfson complaint, says M-DC Ethics Commission

Ethics Commission press release: No Probable Cause was found to a complaint (C 13-16) against Miami Beach City Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, filed by a constituent who made three unsuccessful requests for an e-mail address list used to distribute a newsletter in recent years.  His aide denied such a list existed, but after being contacted by Ethics Commission investigators, Commissioner Wolfson instructed his staff to work with Miami Beach’s technology department and the records request was fulfilled.  While the complaint will be dismissed, the Ethics Commission will issue a Letter of Instruction to Commissioner Wolfson’s legislative aide, reminding her of the duties and obligations regarding provision of public records by public servants in the Miami-Dade County Citizen’s Bill of Rights.

>>> Commissioner Libbin and others get Children’s Trust grant for nurses in three Beach schools

Jerry Libbin, a Miami-Beach Commissioner and the executive director of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce took a road trip and thanked The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade Monday for a grant, which along with other funding. Will allow nurses in three public schools on Miami-Beach currently without them. Libbin an early mayoral hopeful dropped out of the race a couple of months ago, and he has been a major advocate for the municipality when it comes to drawing foreign visitors, especially the growing China tourist market.

>>> Press release:   David Crystal      Jorge Exposito             Michael Grieco – The three candidates for the Group 2 Miami Beach City Commission Seat will be on the hot seat Tuesday, Sept. 17, 8:30AM -10:00AM Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club 2013 Election Debate Series, at David’s Cafe I, 11th & Collins Ave., Miami Beach. >>> Since 1996, the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club has been gathering every Tuesday at 8:30AM at a local Miami Beach restaurant for informal, non-partisan discussions of issues – political, governmental, etc.  It is not affiliated with any other organization.  We are now meeting at David’s Cafe I, corner of Collins Ave. & 11th St., Miami Beach. One orders from the menu or simply has coffee.  Guest speakers range across the political, governmental, business, and social issues spectrum.  Sessions are open to everyone.  Simply show up. For scheduling contact David Kelsey at .  To be placed on mailing list contact Harry Cherry, same e-mail address.   >>> Sept. 24 Group 3: Matti Herrera Bower, Joshua C. Dunkelman, Joy Malakoff >>> Oct. 1 Mayor: Michael Gongora, Raphael Herman, David P. Hundley, Philip Levine


>>> Ethics complaint dropped against Christensen after he becomes compliant, failed to file financial disclosure on time for being on CG Green Task Force

>>> County Ethics commission press release: Two advisory board members who were accused of violating the Ethics Code by failing to file required financial disclosure forms by the due date complied after complaints were filed against them.  Frantz Telfort (C 13-20) served on the Miami-Dade Community Small Business Enterprise Board during 2010 and 2011 and failed to file a Source of Income Statement for either year.  Bruce Christensen (C 13-21) was a member of the Coral Gables Green Task Force in 2012 and was due to submit the form by July 1, 2013. Since both have now complied, the Ethics Commission approved the Advocate’s recommendation to dismiss the complaints.


>>> Doral Mayor restricted from development action, says County Ethics Commission

County Ethics commission press release: The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (COE) today issued an opinion (RQO 13-08) advising Doral Mayor Luigi Boria to refrain from voting on or participating in any official matters involving a private company seeking to develop 17 acres of land in the West Miami-Dade municipality.  The mayor’s son and daughter used an estate gift from their father to purchase a combined 50% ownership in the firm, The Grand Floridian, but sold that and now hold a collateralized loan worth $8 million dollars from the company’s owner, Juan Carlos Tovar.  Tovar also has a revolving line of credit with Mayor Boria’s international computer distribution company.  The Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance prohibits an elected official from taking any official action directly or indirectly affecting an entity in which he, a debtor, or his immediate family members have a financial interest.   In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, the Ethics Commission also advises administrators and Doral city staff to apply consistent and objective standards to any requests brought by The Grand Floridian related to its development. For more on this go to


>>> Mayor Stoddard says with past police chief fired, “cops on patrol are smiling again” in S. Miami

With the firing of South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro a while ago, I asked Mayor Philip Stoddard how it was going at the local municipal police force and in an email back last week. The FIU professor wrote, “Residents tell me that our cops on patrol are smiling again.  But here’s your proof that South Miami has turned the corner… watch the video I took last Sunday of a march that took place in South Miami’s historic Marshall Williamson Community that shows our citizens, clergy, and our police all walking together for a common cause, to stop youth violence:,”  wrote back Mayor Stoddard.


>>> Vice Mayor Lim and Commissioner Gonzalez, get hit with Letter of Instruction for taking Miami Heat tickets as gifts, and not reporting it

The COE issued Letters of Instruction to North Bay Village Vice-Mayor Eddie Lim and Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez, who settled complaints (C 13-13 & C 13-14) last month after they failed to report as gifts tickets to a Miami Heat game in December 2012.  The Letters advise the politicians to abide by the requirement to report any gift received from someone other than a close friend or family member in excess of $25 in value, as required by the North Bay Village Code.  They are also encouraged, as are all other public officials, to request an opinion from the Ethics Commission whenever it is unclear how the Ethics Code should be interpreted or applied.



>>> IG Scott continues to dig into how CRA public money is being spent in nine municipalities, oversight of some CRAs has been lacking in Broward

John W. Scott, the Broward County Inspector General is continuing to review how Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) tax dollars are being used in nine municipalities, of the ten CRAs in the county, and while some of the cities are resisting this IG intrusion into the municipalities’ affairs. The public documents the IG office and the independent investigation is a breath of fresh air in Broward, that also has some county commissioners concerned what is going on at these economic development organizations, that in many cases have become fiefdoms for local elected officials.

The IG office was approved by county voters in 2010 and it has been picking up speed since then and has focused on the CRAs found in many of the municipalities in Broward, but which get very little oversight of how the assessed property tax dollars were being spent, and critics have harped on this lack of CRA oversight and transparency for years.

Further, in Miami-Dade, there are 11 CRAs and these also operate very independently with elected local leaders on most of the CRA boards but many of the deals have gone sour in the state’s largest county as well. Moreover, the IG work in Broward could become a template for changes in the state law that created the entities, but has failed to tighten up some of the loopholes since it draws the ire of all the municipalities’ leaders in the state. The proponents cite they know what is best for a city since they are the closest governing entity but this lax oversight has created a grab bag of funding for a host of projects.

And in Miami and Miami-Dade County, some elected leaders have been carping maybe its time to wind down some of these CRAs and recover that diverted tax base into the county or cities general fund, since in many cases, the redevelopment has occurred and an area is thriving like in Miami Beach.

Scott and to read the Broward IG reports go to

>>> 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


>>> PA Nikolits a county political fixture since 92, fought off challenger in 2012, had $1.59 million net worth through 2012

Gary Nikolits, the long serving Palm Beach County Property Appraiser is in the spotlight this week and he was first elected in 1992 to the countywide office. Nikolits fended off a challenger in 2012 and the office sent out the required notice of proposed property taxes on Aug. 22. And his office is responsible for valuating some 682,540 parcels of property, has around 266 employees, and has a roughly $21.5 million budget.

And for more on the 2012 PA race go to and here is another story on a past tiff with Broward Property Appraiser Lori Parrish

What do we know about his finances?

Nikolits through Dec. 2012 had a net worth of $1.59 million and he lists around $80,000 in household goods, and to see the complete report go to

>>> Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at >>>


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Dr. Steven Scott to the University of Florida Board of Trustees.

Scott, 65, of Boca Raton, is the chairman of Scott Holdings LLC. Scott has served on the University of Florida Board of Trustees for five years and has previously served on the Duke University and Wake Forest University boards. He received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and his Doctor of Medicine from Indiana University Medical School. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 10, 2013, and ending January 6, 2018. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Christi L. Underwood to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Underwood, 59, of Winter Park, has been a sole practitioner since 2002, primarily as a mediator and an arbitrator. From 1992-2002, she practiced with Foley & Lardner as a commercial and construction litigator, and from 1989-1992, she practiced with Maguire, Voorhis & Wells. Underwood is a board certified construction lawyer. She received her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida. Underwood fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Frederic Rand Wallis. Governor Rick Scott said, “Through her decades of practicing law, Christie has exhibited the qualities that make for a fair and capable judge. I am certain she will continue to demonstrate knowledge of the law and judicial restraint while serving the citizens of Florida on the Ninth Judicial Circuit bench.”


>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Judge Kelly Jo McKibben to the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court.

McKibben, 45, of Viera, has served as a Brevard County Court Judge since 2006. From 1995-2005, Judge McKibben served in several legal positions with the Department of Children and Families. Judge McKibben has received numerous Davis Productivity awards and is a member of the University of Florida Alumni Association Board of Directors. Judge McKibben received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Cumberland School of Law. McKibben fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge J. Preston Silvernail.

Governor Rick Scott said, “With a decade of able service to Florida’s children at the Department of Children and Families, as well as years as a knowledgeable and fair County Court Judge, Judge McKibben has proved to be a capable advocate for the families of our state. I am confident that she will continue her meaningful service on the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit bench.”


>>> School board Vice Chair Martin in the spotlight, up again in 2014, net worth since Jun. $410,000

Ron Martin, the vice chair of the Monroe County Public Schools board is in the spotlight this week and the educator was first elected in 2010. The District is in the southern most tip of the United States and the county is a tourist mecca. Martin represents District 5 on the five-member board, and will run for reelection in 2014.


What do we know about his finances?

Martin through Jun. 12, 2013 had a net worth of $410,000 and he lists $150,000 in household goods. To read the complete financial disclosure report go to and to view the Dist. 5 map go to

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


>>> 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!

>>> 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!


>>> Official’s Security is one thing, but Miami-Dade Ethics Commission needs to review use and disclosure guidelines of sergeant-of-arms by county and municipal leaders

The issue of local and county elected officials need for police protection when they are traveling locally or abroad on official duties the Watchdog Report can deal with in the scheme of things. However, when it comes to local officials going to some local events, or private international trips, to other countries with no official business reason. Than this security service if used, should be considered a perk, and the cost and activities involved scrupulously documented and disclosed. For the Watchdog Report over the past 14 years has written often about the use of sergeant-of-arms at the municipal and county level for non-official duties and its likely potential for abuse and the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission should consider reviewing this issue on a countywide basis, similar to the organizations study of gifts and free tickets going to elected officials.

For the Watchdog Report is all for protecting our community leaders, but they are not the governor or president of the United States, and I have seen multiple congressional representatives drive their own cars to events here in South Florida. Where in one case at a planned meeting with a high-ranking congressional representative, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, the Miami Commissioner arrived in a three-car entourage. After the trees in the parking lot at the Coconut Grove post office were cut down, because the trees roots backed up the facility’s drain field, and the downed trees sparked outrage in the tony community. However, the disparity of security between he two lawmakers highlights the problem of excessive security, especially after the senior GOP congressional representative parked her black Taurus herself, and put money in the meter when she arrived, as anyone else would do, and then she worked to correct the problem the commissioner and locals were having at the time.

>>> 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.


>>> A recent study published in the journal Health Affairs revealed that whether a physician practices defensive medicine may depend more on a doctor’s fear of being sued than the level of noneconomic damages caps and insurance premiums in that physician’s state. The research was conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change, a policy research organization, examined responses from 3,469 physicians to questions about how concerned they were about medical liability lawsuits in the center’s 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey. Then they compared the physicians’ concerns with actual Medicare claims for more than 1.9 million patients who came to their offices with headaches, chest pain or lower back pain from 2007 to 2009.
Physicians who reported a high level of malpractice concern were most likely to engage in practices that would be considered defensive when diagnosing patients who visited their offices with new complaints of chest pain, headache, or lower back pain. Of the conditions studied, chest pain was the most common (n = 12,161), followed by lower back pain (n = 10,109) and headache (n = 6809). For patients with headache, the likelihood that a medium-concern physician would order advanced imaging was 8.5% compared with 6.4% for a low-concern physician (P ≤ .05). Similarly, the likelihood a high-concern physician would order advanced imaging was 11.5% (P ≤ .05 compared with physicians at both the low- and medium-concern levels). Similarly, if the patient had low back pain, the likelihood was 22.4% that a physician with a medium degree of concern would order conventional imaging compared with 17.6% for low-concern physicians (P ≤ .05) and 29.0% for high-concern physicians (P ≤ .05 when compared with physicians with low or medium levels of concern). High-concern physicians were also significantly more likely than low-concern physicians to order advanced imaging (6.1% vs 4.1%; P ≤ .05; no significant difference was seen for physicians with a medium degree of concern). However, there was a 1.6% likelihood that medium-concern physicians would order a trip to the ED compared with 1.0% for low-concern physicians (P ≤ 05) and 1.4% for high-concern physicians (difference not significant).
The authors suggested that reducing defensive medicine may require approaches focused on physicians’ perceptions of legal risk and the underlying factors driving those perceptions. In my opinion, we also should provide physicians the tools to provide defensible medicine by utilizing patient encounter documentation templates, evidence based treatment approaches and patient-centered outcome guidelines. All of these components are part of the Affordable Care Act and should be translated into practice sooner than later.
Bernd Wollschlaeger, M.D.





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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.


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