Argus Report: ACA webpage problems inexcusable, another example of federal government failing to get the job done, could have happened regardless of party running the administration
Florida: Top county economic development agency in Fla. gets new Chair, top banker Anderson & CEO Williams at Beacon Council gala luncheon — 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: Homeless Trust and City of Miami considering cracking down on groups feeding homeless downtown, Mayor Regalado acknowledges it could be national media nightmare
Public Health Trust: Supporters continue to sell the idea of $830 million bond passage for JHS, will likely pass, but there are skeptics who want real oversight on how money spent
City of Miami: Commissioner Spence-Jones says sayonara to the dais, but will she come back in a CRA top post if Hardemon wins Dist 5 race?
Village of Coconut Grove: Home invasion shooting has Grovites on edge
City of Miami Beach: Both mayoral candidates Gongora and Levine say they will keep Mgr. Morales if elected mayor on Nov.5
Village of Key Biscayne: PUBLIC WORKS AND WASTE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF THE RICKENBACKER CAUSEWAY CUSTOMER SERVICE OFFICE AND PARKING FACILITY
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: County School Board vice Chair Good in the spotlight, first elected in 2010, had $172,000 net worth through 2012
City of Parkland: Three South Floridians Convicted in $2.2 Million Dollar Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Palm Beach County: School Board Chair Shaw in the spotlight, first elected in 2010, had $1.5 million net worth through 2012, has no debt
Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
West Palm Beach: Two More Defendants Sentenced in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme
Orange County: Man Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud
Indian River County: Vero Beach Resident Sentenced for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methylone and Firearm Charges
Hendry County: Gov. Scott taps Michael Swindle to County Board of Commissioners
Monroe County: School Board Chair Dick in the spotlight, first elected in 2006, had $571,000 net worth through 2012 — to read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Community Events: — TedX Miami event at Arsht Center
Editorials: Campaign supporters do no favors when they talk to candidates about a election in public buildings, it’s against the law, and could hurt your chosen one — 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: Reader on now deceased Miami Commissioner Teele’s concern about the digital divide in the community – Readers on my feeling better after getting the flu, thanks for the many kind words from WDR readers
Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.
>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)
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>>> 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 next meeting of the Miami-Dade County Inspector General Selection Committee is Nov. 4, not the date I previously reported last week.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> ACA webpage problems inexcusable, another example of federal government failing to get the job done, could have happened regardless of party running the administration
The fact the website to allow tens of millions of Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is flawed and only went through a couple of weeks of tests before it went live has sent another ripple through the public that government just can’t seem to do anything right, regardless of the political party. The President Barack Obama administration spent almost $400 million to pay a Canadian Company to build the site, but it has been plagued by a host of issues and only a small percentage of people have been able to successfully navigate the program and politicians from both parties have gone ballistic at the software glitches that should have been caught months earlier. And now Obama is scrambling to get the software fixed, and while eventually that may be done. The federal Health and Human Services Department and its CMS operations are wearing a huge black eye, and while the public understands the great complexity of the challenge. The fact federal officials did not do the mandatory pre-testing in a sufficient manner is mind boggling to the average American.
Obama addressed the nation last week about the problems and glitches and yes ACA is more than about a webpage, but this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to signing up for healthcare and the performance to date is inexcusable. Though his new technology czar assigned the challenge has stated he believes the problems on the web site will be corrected by the end of November. >>> http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/obama-affordable-care-act-glitches-98601.html and to see The White House webpage on the matter go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/10/26/weekly-address-enrolling-affordable-care-act- marketplace?utm_source=snapshot&utm_medium=email&utm_content=102613-video And to read Leonard Pitts, Jr.’s salient column this week on the matter and the issue of federal government competence go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/26/3711620/competence-matters-then-and-now.html
>>> Press release: Supporting Legislation to Assist our Children, Ros-Lehtinen States Our First Priority Must be Providing Necessary Resources for Their Development “Our children should always have all the necessary resources needed to learn in school and grow up in a healthy and happy home.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of Florida’s Congressional delegation, announced her support for H.R. 2083, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, and H.R. 3205, the Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act. The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act would require only qualified adults be authorized as school employees and the Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act would reauthorize and restructure the adoption incentives grant program to promote adoption. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“I’m proud to support two important pieces of legislation that will assist our children. They should be able to look forward to a stable home where they can live and study effectively. We must also ensure that they are directed by only qualified personnel during the school day. Our children should always have all the necessary resources needed to learn in school and grow up in a healthy and happy home.”
>>> Zogby Report Card: Obama has lost our trust
Press release: 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 has put himself in a horrible position with the failed Obamacare website and indefensible spying on foreign allies. There is no positive spin for the president this week. A weak jobs report and record numbers out of the workforce.
Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade:
>>> Men Charged with Alien Smuggling Resulting in Death After Boat Capsizes, Four Die
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Rear Admiral John H. Korn, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, announce the indictment of six defendants following last week’s vessel capsize that resulted in the deaths of four women. The twenty-four count indictment returned today by a federal Grand Jury, charges Naaman Davis, 53, and George Lewis, 38, both of the Bahamas, with conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to enter the United States resulting in death, in violation of Title 8, United States Code Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I), and encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States resulting in death, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv). Davis is additionally charged with involuntary manslaughter, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1112, and illegal reentry into the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a). Lewis is also charged with illegal reentry into the United States by an aggravated felon, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a) and (b)(2).
In addition, three other individuals who were onboard the vessel, Matthew Williams, 30, Everton Jones, a/k/a “Everton Bryce,” 40, and Kenard Hagigal, 35, all of Jamaica, were charged with illegal reentry into the United States by an aggravated felon, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a) and (b)(2). A fourth passenger, Sean Gaynor, 37, of Jamaica, was charged with illegal reentry into the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a). If convicted, Davis and Lewis face a maximum sentence of life in prison or death; Williams, Jones, Bryce, and Hagigal face a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison; and Gaynor faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the U.S. Coast Guard. This case is being handled by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Blackburn. >>> An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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.
>>> Top county economic development agency in Fl., gets new Chair Anderson & CEO Williams at Beacon Council luncheon gala
The Beacon Council leadership at its Annual Luncheon passed the leadership torch on Thursday and the Council’s newly installed Chair Sheldon T. Anderson reaffirmed the new course the business development organization is taking and includes new CEO Larry K. Williams who took over earlier in the month. The Council had been under the political gun over the past year with Miami-Dade County Commissioners Sally Heyman and Vice Chair Lynda Bell and the Mayor Carlos Gimenez all being critical of the organization’s past top executive and ultimately resulted in the retirement of long serving CEO Frank Nero and Williams being selected after a national search had been done.
Anderson, the President and CEO of the Southeast Region for Northern Trust Corporation in his remarks gave a compelling and heart warming trip down his family’s history since coming to America from the Bahamas a Century ago. He said his family and life are part of “The American Dream,” and he understood the role of small business in a community since that was what his father was. And he noted the Beacon Council would consider changing its name possible to include some reference to Miami, and the organization “Has learned to listen,” to its elected leaders who felt the Council was not doing enough to help local small businesses and were only going after high ticket business development, like a $100 million new Boeing Simulator hub that came to Miami-Dade last year. And the Beacon Council last year “assisted 33 companies, who have committed to bringing nearly 2,500 direct jobs and more than $535 million in capital investment to this area,” state’s Council documents.
Anderson took the gavel from Joseph W. Pallot who had been in the hot seat for the past year, but his term as chairman was praised for his poise, good humor and focus on the job at hand that included the transition of leadership, and opening up more dialogue with elected officials. www.beaconcouncil.com and a bio on Anderson http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Sheldon-Anderson/29094145 and for more on the event go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/24/3709507/new-beacon-council-leader-hints.html
>>> 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.
>>> Homeless Trust and City of Miami considering cracking down on groups feeding homeless downtown, Mayor Regalado acknowledges it could be national media nightmare
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust met Friday in the county commission chambers and the issue of out door feeding of the homeless people on the street was a hot button discussion. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, a member of the Trust during the debate, “appealed to the board to pass” a resolution that would endorse the Miami Police arresting people that feed the homeless out doors where sanitary issues, human waste and food preparation is of big concern. The Trust and the City had crafted a deal in 2006 to have around five indoor sites where the feeding could take place, there was proper food preparation and bathrooms were available and “over 59” organizations and churches followed the guidelines for a few years (And was reported extensively back then in the Watchdog Report) . However, a Miami CRA drove one church site to close and another, Camillus House moved its operations to near Jackson Memorial Hospital and tore down it’s old site downtown.
Regalado said he knows there will be a major media blowback if the police start arresting these people that are feeding the homeless, many of whom belong to churches and some of these people come as far away as “West Palm Beach to Naples,” said Regalado. “They come with 100 watt amplifiers,” many times have a “disc jockey,” and it is a “God send party,” and “if we are going to crash that party,” it will “be on the front page of The Miami Herald, the mayor up for reelection said to trustees. He noted when a “sister,” of the Mother Teresa Order was arrested for feeding the homeless a few years ago. There was a public and media firestorm when she was “arrested,” and she had to be “un-arrested,” said Regalado.
Ron Book the Trust chair noted the day before a sub committee discussed the idea of having a new “Temporary,” trial-feeding program but that idea was shot down by DDA representatives on the committee. He noted along with the mayor that there are laws that could be used to stop these people feeding the homeless on the streets. Since they are creating traffic issues, unsanitary conditions and littering on the city streets, but for the moment the police are not enforcing this. Because “Miami police don’t want to be seen as the bad guys,” said the mayor, and this is why he was asking for some political cover, when it came to this issue and was why he is requesting the resolution from the Trust on the matter.
Any new members on the large Trust board?
Jay Solowsky, an a attorney has been appointed to the City of Miami Manager’s slot on the 27 member board and he is also on the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board, and he is close to Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and the commissioner has a law office in Solowsky’s office. Moreover, the new trustee is expected to become a frequent critique of how the Trust deals with the issue of the chronic homeless downtown that over the last year has been a hot topic with the DDA.
What about the Chapman Partnership Agreement contract extension with the Trust?
The Homeless Trust board on Friday also passed a five-year renewal agreement with the not-for-profit Chapman Partnership www.chapmanpartnership.org , the anchor not-for-profit organization that provides homeless shelter and continuum of care services for the Trust and runs homeless centers in Miami and in Homestead. The organization has had this role since it was competitively bid back in 1993 when the Trust started and Book likened the relationship similar to a “marriage,” and while there were disagreements over the years. The two organizations have prevailed through “sickness and health,” and have worked out any issues over the years and Book believed such a close working relationship with such an organization was unique in the nation.
>>> Veterans of Vietnam & Bay of Pigs invasion to be honored in a parade Nov. 8 down Flagler St.
County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz is putting the finishing touches for the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the veterans of Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs and the Golden Veterans Parade is going to be held Nov. 8 along Flagler Street in downtown Miami. Diaz a Marine veteran believes the soldiers that fought in both conflicts have never gotten an official welcome by the community they deserved and hence this upcoming event honoring the soldiers who served their nation.
>>> RIBFEST RETURNS TO ZOO MIAMI WITH SIZZLING ENTERTAINMENT AND BBQ
Press release: The racks are back as Ribfest returns to Zoo Miami November 1-3, 2013, for a weekend jam-packed with finger-licking barbecue and entertainment for the entire family. Enjoy award-winning barbecue from seven of the finest ribbers in the nation competing to win “best of” in five categories, including best ribs, pork, beef brisket, chicken and sauce. The winners will be selected in a blind taste test by a panel of celebrity judges to include Chef Ralph Pagano from season one of Hell’s Kitchen, Zoo Miami’s very own Ron Magill, Kiss Country’s Darlene Evans and others. Winners will be announced on Sunday at 4 p.m.
In addition to great barbecue, patrons will enjoy all-day live rock and country music concerts by popular local bands including The Mojo Scoundrels, Havoc 305, The Click, The Vibe, Fire Brigade, Burnt Biscuit Band, Gypsy Road, Payback, and the Rodeo Clowns. There will be live remotes from Country music favorites Thunder Country with Dougie Hitchcock on Sunday, and Kiss Country with Darlene Evans on Saturday. Don’t miss beer-inspired cooking demonstrations and pairings throughout each day at the Chef’s Corner beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday; or purchase home-grown Florida produce and products at the Farmers Market. Harley Davidson fans don’t miss out on the “Jumpstart” demonstration and motorcycle rally, or if you prefer cars, check out Homestead-Miami Speedway’s authentic NASCAR or test drive a brand new Chevrolet on site. Other activities include hay rides, arts & crafts vendors, themed photo opportunities, and more.
Purchase Zoo Miami/Ribfest combo tickets to enjoy a wild day at the zoo; or enjoy Ribfest as a VIP with VIP tickets that include General Admission; a VIP meal (½ rack of ribs, baked beans, cole slaw and dinner roll); 6 beers from an expanded craft/seasonal beer selection to include Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest, Batch 19, Blue Moon Rounder, Crispin Cider, Fox Barrel Pear, Linenkugel Orange, Third Shift and Blue Moon Short Straw; an event koozie; access to shaded lounge area; and comfort station restrooms.
“We are delighted that Zoo Miami will once again be the site for this year’s Ribfest bringing one of our most popular events to one of our most popular park attractions, providing quality entertainment at an affordable price to Miami-Dade County constituents,” said Jack Kardys, director of Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. “This is a great time for our County family to come together not only to enjoy the outdoors but to enjoy the finest Rib’s that Miami-Dade has to offer. I take great pride to participate in events that take place here in my district,” said Commissioner Dennis C. Moss
Ribfest hours of operation and ticket information: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Free admission and a free side with the purchase of a half-rack or whole rack of ribs. Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. General admission: $10; Ribfest/Zoo Miami combo: $20; and VIP: $75 which includes general admission ticket; a VIP meal (½ rack of ribs, baked beans, cole slaw and dinner roll); 6 beers from an expanded craft/seasonal beer selection to include Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest, Batch 19, Blue Moon Rounder, Crispin Cider, Fox Barrel Pear, Linenkugel Orange, Third Shift and Blue Moon Short Straw; an event koozie; access to shaded lounge area and comfort station restrooms. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.miamiribfest.com or at the door. For more information or to become a vendor, please visit www.miamiribfest.com. For information about Miami-Dade County Parks call 3-1-1, or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks/. For more information, please visit www.zoomiami.org or call (305) 251-0400. Its mission is to encourage an appreciation for the world’s wildlife and to help conserve it for future generations. For more information, please visit www.zsf.org or call (305) 255-5551.
>>> 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: TOP STORY – TAXABLE SALES IN RESTAURANTS
In the months of January – August 2013, Taxable Sales in Restaurants for Greater Miami saw an increase of +6.3% when compared to the same time period in 2012.
|Taxable Sales in Restaurants|
|January – August 2012||January – August 2012||% Change vs. 2012|
|$3.3 billion||$3.1 billion||+6.3%|
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Supporters continue to sell the idea of $830 million bond passage for JHS, will likely pass, but there are skeptics who want real oversight on how money spent
The Watchdog Report continues to listen to Miami-Dade residents comments about the passage of an $830 million bond for JHS on Nov. 5, and while many people support the need for the funding. Many of them are scared to death about what will happen when the county commission starts to get more involved with the Jackson Health System (JHS) when the current President and CEO Carlos Migoya leaves this leadership post in the years to come. Migoya has said he will stay for a few more years but the concern is when he is gone. Will JHS once again fall under he political gaze of the county commission and possible go back to its old ways of running in the red, versus running in the black after Migoya was able to turnaround the fiscal hemorrhaging over the past years since he took over in May 2010 along with extensive help from the unions and their workers taking major concessions in compensation.
Over the years JHS has had a series of Presidents & CEOs and this turnover of top management has inhibited the organization from following a long-term strategy that hopefully this new funding will help bring to fruition. However, the concern among critics of the governance model still exists, versus having an independent not-for-profit model of governance. In addition, while the Watchdog Report believes the funding request of the community will pass with countywide voters, though it will be close.
If the county commission does not allow JHS to use this new money straight up, that has the support of a host of community leaders who have helped pay for the $1.3 million outreach push and some polling of voter approval. The 13-member body might as well forget ever going to the public well again for major projects that require public funding. For these will never be passed again if this new money is approved, but spent unwisely and with little oversight over the years it flows into the health trust’s coffers.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Commissioner Spence-Jones says sayonara to the dais, but will she come back in a CRA top post if Hardemon wins Dist 5 race?
Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones said sayonara from the dais on Thursday, her last time on the body since she is termed out and will be replaced after the Nov. 5 general election that has four candidates vyeing for the District 5 Commission seat. http://www.ci.miami.fl.us/City_Clerk/Pages/Elections/QualifiedCandidates.asp
What about Spence-Jones and the CRA top spot?
Spence-Jones told the Watchdog Report that she is supporting Keon Hardeman in the race over former Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn, II, educator Dr. Robert Malone, Jr. and children’s advocate maven Jacquie Colyer. However, a reliable source says Spence-Jones is also planning not to drop out of sight if Hardemon, an assistant public defender wins. In addition, she is telling people that she would like to take over a Miami Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) and that she would be appointed to such a post if Hardemon wins the race where a runoff is expected after the Nov. 5 election.
>>> Commissioner Sarnoff tries kumbaya move at beginning of commission meeting Thursday, trying to tamp down critics of Grove Bay development project
Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff went off script at the beginning of the commission meeting Thursday when he took an almost spiritual journey trying to mend fences concerning Grovites who have the right to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Moreover, at the end of the soliloquy, he asked everyone in the audience to look at the person next to them and welcome them to the meeting as if they were “brothers and sisters,” and we would be better “people,” if that were how we treated people. And he reminded people that there was “no reason for a debate to turn personal,” and asked the attendees to turn to their neighbor and say “I care for you, I will listen to you, but I will make my own well informed decision,” the long serving commissioner said.
Sarnoff has been in a bruising battle over the development of the Grove waterfront with local Grovites. His past natural constituency since years ago in 2006 when he first ran and they gave him a victory again in a nail bitter of a reelection campaign where by a hair he avoided a runoff in the low turnout municipal election back in 2011, and he faced four challengers. However, the Grove Bay development has erupted into a major Grove issue, though they should have been challenging the deal almost a year ago, and it is now on the ballot, and since it is a citywide vote. The development will most likely be approved, because there are not enough Grove voters to turn the tide. However, the issue has made the attorney a pariah in some circles in the Grove and many of the critics were part of his initial almost cult group of followers, but much of that adulation of the commissioner has changed now in the locals minds.
>>> Mayor Regalado says Mgr. Martinez should be back to the office by the time of his swearing in if the mayor is elected again
Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report on Friday that he expects Manager Johnny Martinez to be back on the job by the time he is sworn into office if he wins the election. Martinez has been absent from the post the last few months, since he had a stroke and has been recovering and he also had a pacemaker inserted for a cardiac arrhythmia. Sine his absence, Daniel Alphonso has been the acting manager and during his tenure the former county budget employee has received high marks for his performance in the job.
>>> Third Defendant Sentenced in $14 Million Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Matthew Boyd, Chief, Miami Gardens Police Department, and Larry Gomer, Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, announce that defendant Serge St-Vil, 61, of Miami, was sentenced today for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $14 million in fraudulent refund claims. St-Vil was sentenced to 96 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $7 million forfeiture money judgment. St-Vil previously pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.
According to court documents, in 2010, St-Vil, Muller Pierre, and Finshley Fanor were involved in a scheme to file fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns seeking refunds. During the course of the scheme, there were over 5,000 fraudulent and unauthorized returns submitted to the Internal Revenue Service seeking over $14 million in refunds. Nearly all of these returns were submitted in the names of deceased persons. St-Vil was responsible for the filing of thousands of these returns using an Electronic Filing Identification Number obtained by Fanor.
Court documents show that the Internal Revenue Service paid out $12.1 million in refunds into bank accounts controlled by the defendants and co-conspirators connected to the scheme. There was over $6 million in refunds deposited into accounts controlled directly by St-Vil and an additional $1.6 million deposited indirectly into St-Vil’s bank account from co-conspirators’ accounts. In addition, there was $600,000 in refunds deposited into accounts controlled by Pierre and an additional $1.7 million deposited indirectly into Pierre’s bank account from co-conspirators’ accounts. On June 26, 2013, Muller Pierre, 62, of North Miami Beach, was sentenced to 57 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Pierre pled guilty to wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. On May 22, 2013, Finshley Fanor, 34, of Lauderhill, was sentenced to two years of probation. Fanor pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. >>> Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Miami Gardens Police Department, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. 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.
VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE
>>> Home invasion shooting has Grovites on edge
While the issue of crime has been on the lips of many Coconut Grove residents over the past year, that have resulted in generally burglaries and home invasions. Over the weekend, a resident was shot during a robbery and they are at Ryder Trauma Center, hopefully recovering, but it highlights the up tick in crime in the tony community. For more on the shooting go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/26/3713000/man-shot-in-coconut-grove-home.html And last week on El Prado Blvd. there was a home invasion as well and the people were in their secure home, with alarms when they were surprised by the intruders.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Both mayoral candidates Gongora and Levine say they will keep Mgr. Morales if elected mayor on Nov.5
The Watchdog Report on Wednesday took a road trip to Miami Beach, and caught up with the two leading mayoral candidates, one in the audience of a commission committee meeting, and the other chairing the meeting. Commissioner Michael Gongora and Philip Levine are locked in a tough, close mayoral race running up to the Nov. 5 General Election. And both men were in the fourth floor conference room listening to the issues involving two schools on the Beach and the room was packed with supportive parents. Gongora ran a crisp meeting, and Levine chatted up parents before the committee meting began, since the polls for the day closed at 3:00 p.m. at the early voting site at City Hall.
Both candidates have been battered by opposition attack ads, but since government still has to run after the election. I asked both of the candidates by email, if they planned to retain Miami Beach Manager Jimmy Morales if they won the race. And Gongora verbally told the Watchdog Report Thursday that “yes” he would keep Morales in place and Levine in an email wrote, “If I am honored to be elected Mayor, I have every intention of supporting our City Manager assuming that he continues to show the determination and ability to solve the many issues and challenges facing Miami Beach. Among other things, we need to fix the flooding problem, stop corruption, responsibly renovate our Convention Center and create a true sense of customer service in our Building Department. The City Manager will be expected to act and perform as a results oriented CEO who produces positive results to our Shareholder/Customers who are our residents. There will be no room or tolerance for playing “politics” in this administration,” wrote the mayoral candidate last week. >>> To review the Miami Beach Nov. 5 ballot go to http://web.miamibeachfl.gov/cityclerk/elections/scroll.aspx?id=64033 and for more on the race go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/19/3698657/in-miami-beach-a-mayoral-race.html
>>> Candidates in Group II race verbally slug it out, Grieco leads in fundraising, as incumbent Exposito and Crystal trail, but race is expected to be tight
And the race for the Group II seat on the seven member commission dais is heating up with challenger Michael Grieco, an attorney raising the most money for his campaign against incumbent Commissioner Jorge Exposito and fellow challenger Dave Crystal was number three in the fund raising efforts. Moreover, both Exposito and Grieco were seen on Wednesday talking to voters as they streamed into the City Hall early voting site, but the races are expected to be low voter turnout affairs. For more on that race go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/24/3709348/miami-beach-group-ii-commission.html
>>> Press release: Former Mount Sinai Medical Center Temporary Employee Convicted in Identity Theft Tax Refund Scheme Involving the Theft of Patient Information
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Steven Steinberg, Chief, Aventura Police Department, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Guy P. Fallen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), announce that defendant Oliver Gayle, 43, of Miami, was convicted in an identity theft tax refund scheme involving the theft of patient information.
Specifically, Oliver Gayle was found guilty of one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, that is, debit cards and social security numbers of other persons with corresponding names and dates of birth, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029 (a)(3) and 2; three counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2; and one count of possessing, using and attempting to use a U.S. visa knowing it to be forged, counterfeited altered and falsely made, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546 (a).
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, on February 27, 2013, the Aventura Police Department stopped a vehicle driven by Gayle after being alerted by a U.S. bank of an individual who attempted to cash a fraudulent check. Gayle presented a Jamaican passport as his form of identification. During an inventory search of the vehicle driven by Gayle, officers uncovered a black bag containing over 100 printouts from Mt. Sinai Medical Center Account Inquiry Processor with multiple names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and addresses of patients on each printout. Additionally, photocopies of checks written to Mt. Sinai Medical Center from various individuals with a photocopy of the corresponding billing statement from Mt. Sinai were found in the bag.
According to court documents and trial testimony, during a consensual search of Gayle’s residence, law enforcement found multiple printouts from Mt. Sinai Medical Center that appeared similar to the ones found in his black bag. Law enforcement also found copies of U.S. Treasury checks; a document labeled “HIT LIST” with a list of names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth; several tax returns in the names of other individuals; multiple Tax Act and Turbo Tax pre-paid debit cards issued in the names of other individuals; a Jamaican passport in Gayle’s name containing a counterfeit U.S. visa; and, an identification badge for Mt. Sinai Medical Center with Gayle’s name and photo.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 9, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham. At sentencing, Gayle faces up to 10 years in prison on the access device fraud count, to be served consecutively by two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft, and a maximum of 10 years in prison on the fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents count. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, Aventura Police Department, ICE-HSI and SSA-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elina A. Rubin-Smith and Michael J. Garofola. 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.
VILLAGE OF KEY BISCAYNE
>>> PUBLIC WORKS AND WASTE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF THE RICKENBACKER CAUSEWAY CUSTOMER SERVICE OFFICE AND PARKING FACILITY
Press release: In preparation for demolition and construction work on the West Bridge of the Rickenbacker Causeway, the toll plaza customer service office and parking facility will close on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 until completion of the work on the West Bridge. Motorists and cyclists will no longer be able to access the toll plaza parking lot from either direction, as this area will be used for equipment staging associated with the West Bridge rehabilitation project.
All toll plaza business will be conducted at the new Rickenbacker Causeway Customer Service Center which will be housed in the Causeway Maintenance Facility located on Arthur Lamb Jr. Road (also known as Sewer Beach Road). The facility sits directly across the street from the Miami Seaquarium. The Customer Service Center will be open Monday through Friday from
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except County-observed holidays. For more information on the Customer Service Center, please contact PWWM’s Causeways Division at 305-854-2468, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> County School Board vice Chair Good in the spotlight, first elected in 2010, had $172,000 net worth through 2012
Broward School Board Chair Patricia Good is in the spotlight this week and she was first elected to the nine member board in 2010, and was reelected unopposed in 2012. Good worked for some 23 years at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools before venturing into the political world. She is Cuban American, represents District 2, and the area includes the City of Pembroke Pines at the nation’s sixth largest public schools district. Her net worth through Dec. 2012 was $172,000 and she lists $35,000 in household goods. And to read her complete financial disclosure report go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/36510-Form6.pdf
>>> Hail to Broward Bulldog’s Fourth Anniversary, no easy achievement!
The Broward Bulldog is celebrateing it’s Fourth Anniversary and the Watchdog Report gives former Miami Herald veteran reporter Dan Christensen a Tip of the Hat for not only the great investigating reporting over the years, but financially surviving as well, which is no easy trick. http://www.browardbulldog.org/ and the organization is having a major fundraising event on Nov. 12 at Vibe Restaurant. And people interested in keeping the news service out in the field can attend and donate to the not-for –profit organization. And here is just one story on how the Broward County Commission does not give easy access to past commission meetings on the web >>>http://www.browardbulldog.org/2013/10/lagging-in-south-florida-broward-county-still-has-no-on-demand-video-of-public-meetings/
And here are the event details – Raise a glass with us to celebrate Broward Bulldog’s fourth anniversary! Our fundraising celebration will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at VIBE on East Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Please join us for a complimentary drink, light bites and show your support for local non-profit watchdog journalism. All donations are tax deductible. Vibe Las Olas, 301 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, Tuesday, November 12, 2013 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EST) Add to my calendar https://www.eventbrite.com/event/6282092909/?ref=enivtefor001&invite=NDQxNDE5OS9raXR0c3VlQHlhaG9vLmNvbS8w&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=invitenew&utm_term=eventimage&ref=enivtefor001
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Gloria Fernandez to the Broward College District Board of Trustees.
Fernandez, 52, of Dania, is the senior vice president of finance and acquisitions at Ross Realty Investments. She has served as a member of the Nova Southeastern University Real Estate Advisory Board and on the board of trustees for the Chaminade-Madonna Preparatory School. Fernandez received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Miami. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning October 25, 2013, and ending May 31, 2017. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> 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
>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.
CITY OF PARKLAND
>>> Three South Floridians Convicted in $2.2 Million Dollar Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr., Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department announce today that a federal jury in Miami found defendants Frantz Pierre, 33, of Parkland, and Terry Pierre, 29, and Christmanie Bissainthe, 33, of Miami, guilty of charges relating to their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $2.2 million in fraudulent refund claims to the Internal Revenue Service. Specifically, the jury convicted Frantz Pierre, Terry Pierre and Christmanie Bissainthe on 12 counts, including conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to trial evidence and testimony, 1,000 pre-paid debit cards were sent to Frantz Pierre’s business in the name of Tax Professors in May 2010. Co-conspirators subsequently caused approximately 338 fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns using stolen prisoners’ identities to be submitted to the IRS seeking $2.2 million in refunds for payment onto the Tax Professors’ debit cards. The IRS paid approximately $1.9 million in refunds in connection with these fraudulent returns to these debit cards. Evidence at trial included, among other things, video evidence of all three defendants withdrawing funds from these debit cards. According to trial evidence and testimony, law enforcement executed a search warrant at defendant Frantz Pierre’s seven-bedroom residence in Parkland, Florida in July 2012. The evidence showed that this residence had been purchased primarily with fraudulent tax refund proceeds. After law enforcement announced their presence, an individual was observed tossing laptops from the second floor of Pierre’s residence towards the pool. Law enforcement found over 70 pre-paid debit cards and a thumb drive with over 2,000 people’s names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and IRS pin numbers in Frantz Pierre’s bedside dresser.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 22, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke. At sentencing, Frantz Pierre faces a maximum sentence of 41 years in prison, Terry Pierre faces a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison, and Christmanie Bissainthe faces a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI (Miami and St. Paul), the U.S. Secret Service, and the North Miami Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Cristina Moreno. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> School Board Chair Shaw in the spotlight, first elected in 2010, had $1.5 million net worth through 2012, has no debt
Chuck Shaw, the Chair of the seven member Palm Beach County Public Schools is in the spotlight this week and the man has been a long time educator who worked with the school district prior to being elected to the board in 2010 and currently is up again for reelection in 2016. He represents school board District 2, the man lists a $1.5 million net worth through 2012, and he lists $25,000 in household goods and he has no debts. To read his financial disclosure report go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/233541-Form6.pdf
Shaw and bio : http://www.palmbeachschools.org/Community/PDFs/ChuckShawBio.pdf >>> Dist. 2 map http://www.palmbeachschools.org/Community/PDFs/PBCSD2013.pdf
>>> And to read all the elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
WEST PALM BEACH
>>> Two More Defendants Sentenced in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme ~ 92 defendants have been charged to date in Operation Sledgehammer I-VI
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer, Florida Department of Financial Services, and Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, announce that defendants Wilfredo Sauceda, 33, of West Palm Beach, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres, 47, also of West Palm Beach, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra for their participation in an automobile insurance fraud scheme involving staged automobile accidents. Wilfredo Sauceda was sentenced to 40 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $643,964.09; Nelson Felix Martinez Torres was sentenced to 70 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,359,208.73.
Each of the defendants previously pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; multiple counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2; one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h); and multiple counts of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), and 2.
On September 30, 2013, Maria Testa Baceiro, a/k/a “Maria Testa,” 29, of Miami, Olinda Rodriguez, 39, of West Palm Beach, and Yeisy Chouza, 31, of Miami, were sentenced by United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra for their participation in the same scheme. Maria Testa Baceira was sentenced to 72 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,232,248.04; Olinda Rodriguez was sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,447,139.23; and Yeisy Chouza was sentenced to 40 months of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $558,261.55. On October 8, 2013, Iris Roca, of Davie, was sentenced by United States District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley for her participation in the same scheme. Iris Roca was sentenced to 50 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,135,577.23.
According to court documents, between approximately October 2006 and December 2012, the members of the conspiracy staged automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of false insurance claims through chiropractic clinics they controlled. To execute the scheme, Maria Testa Baceiro, one of the true owners of some of the chiropractic clinics involved in this scheme, and others, recruited individuals who had the medical or chiropractic licenses required by the State of Florida to open a clinic to act as “nominee owners” of the clinics. The defendants also recruited individuals, including defendants Yeisy Chouza, Wilfredo Sauceda, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres, whom they referred to as “Perros” and “Perras” depending on their roles in the accidents, to participate in the staged accidents, and others to help the clinics launder the insurance proceeds. The defendants also hired complicit chiropractors and therapists, including licensed massage therapists Olinda Rodriguez and Iris Roca, who prescribed and billed for unnecessary treatments and/or for services that had not been rendered. Thereafter, complicit clinic employees prepared and submitted claims to the automobile insurance companies for payment for these unnecessary or non-rendered services. Defendants Yeisy Chouza, Wilfredo Sauceda, and Nelson Felix Martinez Torres also worked cashing checks for various chiropractic clinics. Twenty-one clinics participated in this scheme.
Starting with Operation Sledgehammer I in June 2011 and including the defendants charged in Operation Sledgehammer VI, 92 defendants have been charged for their participation in this automobile insurance fraud scheme. Of those 92 defendants, 56 have been charged federally by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, resulting in court-ordered restitution of more than $5 million to the defrauded insurance companies. Thirty-six defendants have been charged by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, and the Greater Palm Beach County Health Care Fraud Task Force for their outstanding work in this case. Mr. Ferrer also recognized the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for its collaboration and assistance in this investigation. The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña and the state cases are being prosecuted by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. >>> A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Orange County Man Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that defendant Bhardwaaj “Deo” Seecharan, 53, of Orange County, was sentenced yesterday for his participation in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme. The defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez to 60 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. In addition, Bhardwaaj Seecharan was ordered to pay $2,040,343.14 in restitution to the victim banks. Bhardwaaj Seecharan previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud involving $3.5 million in diverted real estate escrow funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1344.
According to statements made in court and publicly filed documents in the case, on December 9, 2010, Bhardwaaj Seecharan, his wife Gergawattie “Kamla” Seecharan, and two others were indicted on bank fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and related mortgage fraud charges. According to the charges, the Seecharans, along with their two co-defendants, conspired to solicit mainly Guyanese residents of Florida and other states to act as straw buyers on fraudulent applications for more than $50 million worth of mortgage loans in connection with the purchase of more than 150 homes in Indian River County, Miami-Dade County, and elsewhere. Approximately 80 individuals served as straw buyers of properties in Vero Lake Estates (VLE), in Indian River County, and other developments. This scheme resulted in the issuance of more than $50 million in fraudulent mortgage loans. The proceeds were then used to buy more properties, sustain the deception, service preexisting mortgage loans in the scheme, and pay kickbacks to the straw buyers.
In addition, Kamla Seecharan and codefendant Linda Rovetto unlawfully diverted more than $3.5 million in mortgage loans from real estate closing escrow accounts to Raviworld New Homes, Inc., a company managed by Kamla Seecharan’s husband and codefendant Bhardwaaj Seecharan.
Linda Rovetto was sentenced on August 21, 2012, by Judge Martinez to 42 months in prison for her part in the bank fraud. Kamla Seecharan was sentenced on September 25, 2012, to 121 months in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Finance, West Palm Beach Regional Office for their work on this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein. 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. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
>>> Vero Beach Resident Sentenced for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methylone and Firearm Charges
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, and Deryl Loar, Sheriff, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, announce the sentencing of Omar Edgar Outten, 30, of Vero Beach, Florida. Outten was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez to 75 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The three count indictment, to which Outten pleaded guilty on August 5, 2013, charged him with possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance – Methylone, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C), possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A)(ii), and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).
According to the criminal complaint filed on June 25, 2013, on March 25, 2013, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office (IRCSO) detectives executed a state search warrant at the defendant’s home. During the search, IRCSO detectives found and confiscated 132 capsules filled with methylone, multiple empty pill capsules, $1,225.00, a Bersa model Thunder 380, .380 caliber pistol loaded with eight rounds of ammunition, a 12 gauge Mossberg shotgun model 835 Ulti-Mag that had the butt stock removed from the firearm, 50 rounds of .380 caliber ammunition, and eight 12 gauge shotgun shells. In addition, IRCSO detectives seized approximately nine grams of marijuana.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger. >>> 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.
>>> Gov. Scott names Michael Swindle to County Board of Commissioners
Press release: Swindle, 44, of Clewiston, is an agriscience instructor at Glades Day School. He was previously the territory sales manager of Vermeer Southeast. Swindle received his associate’s degree from Santa Fe Community College and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He fills a vacant seat created by the resignation of Al Perry and is appointed for a term beginning October 23, 2013, and ending November 18, 2014.
>>> School Board Chair Dick in the spotlight, first elected in 2006, had $571,000 net worth through 2012
Monroe Public Schools Board Chair John Dick is in the spotlight this week and he was first elected to the five-member board back in 2006, was reelected in 2010, and the board member is up again in 2014. The man represents District 4, and that includes Marathon on the tony Keys. He is an investor, through Dec. 2012, he had a net worth of $571,000, and he lists $37,000 in household goods. To read his full financial disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/211290-Form6.pdf
>>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> 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!
>>> Campaign supporters do no favors when they talk to candidates about a election in public buildings, it’s against the law, and could hurt your chosen one
Elected leaders running for office and the other candidates that may be challenging them need to reign in their supporters when they see each other in public government buildings. For it is against the law to campaign or discuss a campaign in these public buildings. The Watchdog Report in my travels the last few weeks have seen a number of supporters approach a candidate, and tell them, or ask them about some campaign issue, that is verboten under Florida Election Law in a public building. And while it is great, supporters like their candidate and want to help. Having this discussion in such a setting is a bad idea and actually creates a problem for the candidate, and a challenger could call them out for this activity and it is not a resume builder.
The other issue of concern with these municipal elections is the use of absentee ballots and if candidates think how these ballots are being requested, filled out and processed are not being scrutinized, after all the scandals in past races and the county beefing up the punishment for AB irregularities. Candidates need to be very careful during this municipal elections cycle for the activity is under a microscope, and you have a very high chance of being caught if you decide to push the envelope in this regard. And for the candidates, how they run their campaign is the first test of what they believe in and what they are about and if they want to get off to a great start in office. That can only occur if they win by the rules, run a straight-up campaign and demonstrate to their family, friends, and voters they are the real deal. Not a political fake that just wants to win office regardless of the transgressions and who will ultimately find their tenure in office is tainted from the beginning by these campaign wayward ways. And that is not a good thing for a political career.
>>> Now deceased Miami Commissioner Teele warned of digital divide in the community
The city of Miami, while Commissioner Teele was still with us, and at his suggestion, began the community technology advisory board to deal with just such digital divide issues. Under the wings of that board, technology centers were set up in nearly all, if not all, of the City’s parks, and then some moved out into the community to elder living centers and the like. partnerships were set up with other 501 (c) (3)’s in the community to supply computers through school programs.
The centers at the parks were done so kids with no access at home could take their schoolwork to the park, log in there with their school computer id, and do their homework there. There were also contests at the schools where the kids could win their own computers. The parks sponsored video projects thru the parks as well for X-box technology and other prizes that were donated by partners. I am not sure of the status of this board, as several IT directors later, at least a couple killed off anything they didn’t understand. The computer centers should still be in the parks, though. They were also to be available to grownups and elders looking for jobs, how to connect with friends and family online. There were also mentors and teachers available for the unitiated.
>>> Readers on my recovery and I thank you so much for the kind words
I really hope that you’ll be feeling all better soon. I had the flu years ago, and I decided then that I would never, ever neglect to get a flu shot. I know how tough it must be. About the Hallandale Beach CRA and the Broward Inspector General, Keith London has continued to keep his hopes of a scandal alive. I wrote a letter to the state the other day which explains it all.
>>> Take care, and thanks for your WD Report!
>>> So nice to have you back and feeling better.
Hon, Linda Zilber
>>> Good to see you back! Stay well
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net
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 email@example.com 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.