Argus Report: The tragic event that changed so many American lives, 50th Anniversary of Kennedy assassination, an aberration that changed the nation
Florida: Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rich makes her case on WWW.WPBT.ORG/ISSUES why she should be party’s champion over Crist in battle with GOP Gov. Scott in 2014 – 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 baffled by Miami not using 20 Pottinger placement beds, “1060 bed nights [have gone] to waste,” says Trust Chair Book
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Hail Hantman and Feldman, They continue to take top leadership positions on nine-member school board
Public Health Trust: New oversight board members for $830 million bond expected to have heightened conflict of interest guidelines
City of Miami: Hail Hardemon, new Commissioner trounces Dunn by 72 percent of the vote, can chart his own political course with such a decisive win
Village of Coconut Grove: With Dec. 17, BCC deadline looming, deal to resolve liabilities of Coconut Grove Playhouse must be completed by “middle of Dec.,” says County Cultural Affairs Dir. Spring
City of Miami Beach: Hail newly elected leaders Levine, Grieco, Malakoff and Steinberg, Mayor Bower is trounced in commission race
City of Coral Gables: Annual huddle with UM and City leaders, “sweetness and nice” since no “intractable issues,” says Mayor Cason
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: Hail Mayor Sharief, breaks a number of first barriers on county commission, needs to realize how high profile position is when it comes to the media
City of Coral Springs: Owner and Salesman Convicted in Time Share Telemarketing Fraud
Palm Beach County: — Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Hillsborough County: Two investment advisers charged with committing fraud, failed to inform clients of outside income from risky offshore funds
Indian River County: Gov. Scott taps Dale Simchick to School Board.
Monroe County: Gov. Scott taps Mario Bailey and Nelson L. Hernandez and the reappointment of Sandra Walters to the South Florida Regional Planning Council. — To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Editorials: With the “nuclear option” trigger pulled, what will the future hold for both political parties’ nominees in the years ahead? — 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 thinks M-DC Mayor Gimenez supports MLS stadium around Port of Miami
Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.
>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)
>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.
>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.
>>> Red Alert To All: If you think it is important to have an alternative mainstream news service, I hope you will consider becoming a financial supporter for I do have to live and pay my rent. I also want to thank again all those people and organizations that have supported me and I have been honored by that trust and support of my efforts over the past almost 14 years trying to keep the community, state, nation and world informed of the political and governmental happenings in South Florida. How to support and contribute to the WDR is at the bottom of the report. Thank You
>>> May you and your family have a safe, healthy and reflective Thanksgiving Holiday, and for those that cannot be with they’re families and friends for a variety of reasons. May you share the day in your heart.
>>> CORRECTION: In a past WDR, I misspelled interim Miami Manager Daniel J. Alfonso’s name. I apologize for the error.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> The tragic event that changed so many lives, 50th Anniversary of Kennedy assassination, an aberration that changed America
With the 50th Remembrance of John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Friday, anyone that was more than five or six at the time understands the impact of the tragic event. The President, while flawed was cut down in his prime and the debate if Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin goes on to this day. I was in seventh grade when we were told of the horrific event over the school PA system and in math class with taskmaster Mrs. Booth, someone not known for her humor. Upon hearing the news, she put her head in her hands and cried, something we had never seen before, and it was especially griping to her since her son was a cadet at West Point.
My parents had friends staying at the house over the weekend and the black and white television moved into the living room, crackled with the sad news that culminated with the sounds of horse’s hooves, muffled drums and taps at the end, at a gravesite with a simple yet elegant eternal flame. For Miami Herald Columnist Fred Grimm’s experience on that day go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/21/3769999/fred-grimm-jfk-assassination-resonates.html
>>> White House press release: 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address: One hundred and fifty years ago on Tuesday, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address from Gettysburg, PA. President Obama handwrote an essay in tribute to Lincoln’s historic speech for an exhibit at the Lincoln Presidential Library. Make sure to read President Obama’s essay here.
Filibuster Rule Change: President Obama spoke from the White House Press Briefing Room on Thursday on the Senate’s vote to change the way the filibuster works. In his remarks, the President stated his support for the change.
All too often, we’ve seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises, or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government. The President also spoke about why this change is especially important right now. “It’s no longer used in a responsible way to govern. It’s rather used as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt,” the President said. Read his full remarks here.
>>> Press release: Interim Nuclear Deal With Iran Leaves Much to Be Desired; We Should Remain Skeptical and Pressure Tehran to Dismantle Its Entire Nuclear Program, Says Ros-Lehtinen ~ “I’m particularly troubled by this agreement’s failure to force Tehran to completely stop uranium enrichment and dismantle its existing centrifuges, whose operation can be resumed quickly, allowing Iran to potentially reach nuclear capacity in a brief amount of time”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the interim nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 countries – the United States, France, United Kingdom, China, Russia and Germany – and Iran in Geneva. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves our unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities. In offering to ease sanctions in return for a six-month halt in the nuclear program, the agreement accepted by the Administration simply does not go far enough to ensure our national security interests and those of our allies, like the democratic Jewish State of Israel. I’m particularly troubled by this agreement’s failure to force Tehran to completely stop uranium enrichment and dismantle its existing centrifuges, whose operation can be resumed quickly, allowing Iran to potentially reach nuclear capacity in a brief amount of time.
“We simply cannot trust the very man who has bragged about advancing Iran’s nuclear program while deceiving the West in his former position of chief negotiator. In light of President Obama’s claim that we have halted Iran’s nuclear program, we’d do well to remember that the one really calling the shots in Iran is Supreme Leader Khamenei, and he has repeatedly made clear his intent for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. This deal falls short of our primary national security objectives, and it puts into unnecessary danger the security of our friends and allies.”
>>> M-DC International Book Fair draws 350 authors, has grown exponentially over the years, the Watchdog Report had a booth in 2000, interesting experience
With the 30th Anniversary of the Miami-Dade College International Book Fair coming to and end today, one of Miami’s glorious literary events is over. Around 350 authors attended the Fair, many were speakers about their work, and the Fair brought a wide swath of diverse audiences. Among the high profile writers was humorist, author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen, and Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize winner writer and author with The Miami Herald, MSNBC Morning Joe host, former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough, Erica Jong and Don Brown were just a few of the authors and subjects discussed that ranged from politics to cooking books. The event began 30 years ago, and it was a small event back then but it has grown exponentially, like the College that hosts it on its downtown Miami campus.
What about the Watchdog Report and the Book Fair?
Back in the fall of 2000, I rented a booth and talked to hundreds of people about what I was doing, the nascent Watchdog Report covering government, and the community (but had just ended being a Miami Herald Editorial columnist for months on Tuesday’s along with Hiaasen and Max Castro). Moreover, meeting people that had read me in the daily paper or the Watchdog Report or heard me on www.WLRN.ORG was an exhilarating experience and in many cases gave me the conviction to continue on despite the adversities I faced back then and to this day.
However, I also met some half dozen or so people, who then had my email address who saw a world that was much darker than I saw. And a couple of the people almost become internet stalkers sending some very disturbing emails, some threatening, and I learned that in some cases. Publicity is not always the answer and why historically since then. I have kept a low public profile, because being known and recognized in South Florida is a double-edged sword. For more on the book fair go to http://www.miamibookfair.com/about/
>>> Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rich makes her case on WWW.WPBT.ORG/ISSUES why she should be party’s champion over Crist in battle with GOP Gov. Scott in 2014
Former State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, the first high profile Democrat to announce last year that she wanted to be the party’s champion to take on Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial race was on www.wpbt.org/issues over the weekend hosted by Helen Ferre. She has been in the shadow of former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat who recently announced he would run in the primary against Rich and he has already raised around $1 million for his statewide primary race campaign. While Scott who is expected to amass some $100 million for his reelection campaign has already unleashed negative ads against Crist and these are already filling the airwaves.
Rich on the program says the party has a rich history of relatively unknown “underdog,” candidates actually winning citing the lack of a statewide profile that former Govs. Bob Graham and Rubin Askew had when they first ran statewide and more recently now U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, Ferre noted. Rubio was thought to be a long shot when he first ran against then governor Crist, who ultimately ran as a independent after it was clear, with Rubio surging with the party’s faithful, Crist would lose the GOP primary back in 2010.
Rich, 65 is a long time advocate for Democratic Party ideals but the question is will she be able to compete financially in this high stakes and campaign contribution rich environment and unless Crist tanks in some unexpected way. Her campaign needs to kick in the afterburner if she is not to be obscured by the political cloud the race between Scott and Crist is expected to be. Further, Scott while trailing in the polls against Crist, the incumbent did get a recent endorsement of former Gov. Jeb Bush, and the Republican establishment, that back in 2010 was firmly backing then Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, has now thrown they’re clout to Scott.
Scott and Crist
>>> Gov. Scott made the following statement applauding the Florida Board of Governors for their selection of Marshall Criser to lead Florida’s State University System.
Governor Scott said, “I would like to commend the Board of Governors for their selection of Marshall Criser to lead the State University System of Florida. During Marshall’s time as President of AT&T Florida, he demonstrated leadership that will help our students succeed as we work to increase the value in our higher education system. Marshall’s background of job creation will provide the vision needed in enhancing our universities’ effectiveness in preparing our students for great careers. Working with Marshall and the Board of Governors, I look forward to moving higher education forward in the Sunshine State.”
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott announced six appointments to Early Learning Coalitions across the state.
Early Learning Coalition of North Florida
Cranford “Ron” Coleman, 63, of Orange Park, is the chief executive officer of BARONCO Management Consultants. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 22, 2013 and ending April 30, 2016.
Brian Graham, 29, of Middleburg, is managing partner of Dixie Strategies LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 22, 2013, and ending April 30, 2015.
Nancy Pearson, 76, of Ponte Vedra Beach, is a real estate broker with Prudential Network Realty. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed as chair for a term beginning November 22, 2013, and ending April 30, 2017.
Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County
Debbie Mookini, 53, of Windermere, is an internal communications manager for Walt Disney World. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 22, 2013, and ending April 30, 2016.
Victor Salgado, 54, of Orlando, is the owner of Wild Palms Productions, LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 22, 2013, and ending April 30, 2015.
Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County
Jeff Bauer, 44, of Casselberry, is an insurance agent with the Admin Insurance Group. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed as chair for a term beginning November 22, 2013, and ending April 30, 2017.
>>> Florida has already welcomed more than 72 million visitors in 2013
Press release: Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates released by VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – 22.9 million visitors came to Florida in the third quarter of 2013 (July-September), an increase of 1.7 percent over the same period in 2012. These numbers represent the largest third quarter for visitation in the state’s history. For video of Governor Scott, click HERE. To view on an iPhone or iPad, click HERE.
>>> 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 baffled by Miami not using 20 Pottinger placement beds, “1060 bed nights [have gone] to waste,” says Trust Chair Book
The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust held a board meeting Friday in the county’s commission chambers, and one of the vexing problems the organization trying to end homeless in Miami-Dade, has been dealing with is the chronic homeless population on the streets of downtown Miami. The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and some of its members have been particularly critical of the issue now that the downtown is becoming a 24/7 city with canyons of condominiums looking out over the bay. And the Trust working with the City of Miami, trying to mitigate the number of people sleeping on the streets has booked extra rooms for the homeless in the city, but since the program began Oct. 1.
The city has not used any of these new homeless beds to date and the Watchdog Report contacted Trust Chair Ron Book about the matter and in an email he wrote here is the short version. “We find it almost inconceivable that the City of Miami has chosen to ignore the commitment they made to fund 20 emergency Pottinger placement beds and they claim there is a crisis. Through today, they have allowed 1060 bed nights to go to waste. The word irresponsible comes to mind. I’m not sure why they continue to cry wolf, but they do,” wrote the long serving Trust chair.
>>> Press release: As the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust marked its 20th Anniversary during Homeless Awareness Day, Board leaders announced that they have joined over 225 other communities nationwide in a national movement geared towards finding permanent homes for the chronic, most vulnerable homeless. Formally enrolling Miami-Dade County’s homeless continuum of care system into the “100,000 Homes” Campaign is a critical next step in the County’s approach to ending chronic homelessness. This program uses proven tools and protocols that identify the most vulnerable homeless and prioritize their needs for housing placement. This effectively means the local system of care for the homeless is moving from a first-come-first-serve approach; to a system where the most vulnerable receive care first.
“This is a game changer for Miami-Dade County,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “As part of the Homeless Trust’s 10-Point Strategies to End Chronic Homelessness, we are joining 100,000 Homes because their track-record is outstanding and we believe their evidence-based approach will be exactly what we need to meet HUD’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2015. HUD’s priority is our priority.” 100,000 Homes is a national homeless program aimed at ending chronic homelessness. More than 72,000 chronically homeless have been served, with the goal of helping 100,000 by July 2014.
It’s a four-pronged approach: 1) Utilize the “Housing First” approach, where the most vulnerable homeless are offered permanent housing and supportive services immediately, regardless of issues they may have related to substance abuse, mental illness or physical disabilities. “This will have an immediate impact on the homeless and on downtown Miami,” said Book. “The re-prioritization means we match them to appropriate housing and the right mix of services, and because we have worked with providers in the last several months to set aside more beds for the chronically homeless, we will have more beds to serve these chronic homeless clients.”
2) Know Who is Out There: Trained outreach workers and volunteers will utilize a special assessment tool designed to assist in identifying risk factors, and help prioritize placement for the most vulnerable during a “Registry Week” in January. This “registry” will allow the homeless system to match the neediest with the resources that become available. 3) Track Progress: The Trust will track progress against monthly placement goals and report movement in housing the chronically homeless. 4) Improve Local Systems: The Trust is already working to improve coordination among systems that often create homelessness and that provide resources to help homeless persons. Homeless Trust staff and key stakeholders have already been trained on the 100,000 Homes “registry” process. The first Registry Week is scheduled for January 20, 21 and 22. Volunteers are needed to help conduct in-depth interviews that will begin the prioritization process. Individuals interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.homelesstrust.org and for more on 100KHomes go to www.100khomes.org .
>>> PA Lopez-Cantera gets his $6,000 for outside Atty. from BCC to bring matter in front of Florida Cabinet
Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser got his $6,000 from the county commission to pay for legal representation in front of the Florida Cabinet. The property appraiser in another suit is suing the commission because his office is a Charter Office, since Miami-Dade County has a Home Rule Charter and not a constitutional office independent of the commission, like the County Clerk’s office. Moreover, Lopez-Cantera believes when voters created the countywide office in 2009 that they thought the office would be like the other 65 or so Constitutional Offices around the state’s 67 counties. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/08/property-appraiser-sues-miami-dade-county-over-offices-independence.html
Commissioner Barbara Jordan was worried about the precedent approving the funding, and she noted that years ago there was a similar issue with the Miami-Dade County Ethics and Public Trust Commission. That body created by voters in 1996 wanted to not have the ethics commission’s employees make a contribution to the county’s health plan back then, would cut employee costs in other ways, but that would have had the commission’s employees doing something different than what the 28,000 other employees were being asked to do, she said. However, Commissioner Estephan “Steve” Bovo thought the property appraiser’s request was not out of line and Bovo noted Lopez-Cantera had already cut $6.2 million in the previous year’s budget, and in the current budget year had cut it further some $1.2 million and the man should not be punished for saving taxpayer money, Bovo considered during the deliberation.
Commissioner Xavier Suarez, an attorney made the motion to approve the request for the funding saying, “we are at a strange juncture here,” were being asked to finance “an adversarial proceeding” that is against the county, he said. In addition, he said while “in principle [the idea] sounds wrong,” he made the motion after the extensive discussion “to get it over with,” he said. For more on the PA office go to http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/about_us.asp
>>> Give Miami Day shatters records, raises more than $ 3.2 million in 24 hours
Press release: The Miami Foundation far exceeded the amount raised in their inaugural effort during its second annual Give Miami Day. The 24-hour online philanthropy blitz raised $3.2 million for more than 400 local nonprofit organizations. “We are thrilled by the outpouring of generosity,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of The Miami Foundation. “Once again, when given the right opportunity, Miamians and our supporters around the globe generously gave to build a better community. This new, philanthropic and engaged Miami is here to stay, and Give Miami Day should make us proud to call this place home.”
Between midnight November 20 and midnight November 21, donors were able to view online profiles of various nonprofit organizations, learn about the mission and impact of each organization, and support the causes most important to them.
This year, givemiamiday.org received 12,286 donations. Last year, almost 5,000 donors gave more than $1.2 million to 300 organizations during the inaugural Give Miami Day. “Our goal is promote philanthropy and democratize giving. Give Miami Day does both by engaging Miamians across our community to invest in our future,” said Soto.
With the support of Knight Foundation, Marlins Foundation, Miami HEAT Charitable Fund, The Miami Foundation Board of Trustees and Hector Family Fund, every donation between $25 and $10,000 that was made on www.givemiamiday.org will have a percentage of it matched by The Miami Foundation. Many donors gave to the match pool throughout the day, adding an additional $36,812 for a total match pool of over $300,000. “This was a community-wide effort. Much credit for the day’s success goes to the nonprofit organizations that participated and promoted the event. Together, we created a special Miami Moment that demonstrates to the world the deep spirit of generosity that exists here,” said Soto.
Lead fundraisers for the event included Greater Miami Jewish Federation, which raised $207,362.00, the largest total out of all of the organizations, and The Children’s Movement of Florida, which received the most individual gifts at 397, and raised $95,585. “The new Miami is one of hope and the people of our community are committed long term to helping Miami fulfill its extraordinary potential,” said Soto. >>> About The Miami Foundation: Established in 1967, The Miami Foundation has helped hundreds of people create personal, permanent and powerful legacies by establishing custom, charitable funds. With foundation expertise, fundholders have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, provided food and shelter for the hungry and homeless, and more. More than $160 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded in the foundation’s 45-year history. Today, the foundation is steward to more than $180 million in charitable assets. For more information about The Miami Foundation, visit www.miamifoundation.org.
>>> 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: RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR SEPTEMBER 2013 MARKING 45 CONSECUTIVE MONTHS OF JOB INCREASES
Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased 3.0% in September 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This marks 45 consecutive months of increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry.
|Greater Miami Leisure
and Hospitality Industry Jobs
|September 2013||September 2012||% Change|
>>> Miami-Dade Resident Sentenced for Tax Evasion
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Annabel Cooper was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $687,475.00 in restitution. Cooper previously pled guilty to an Information that charged her with attempting to evade tax, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7201.
According to court documents, between 2006 and 2009, Cooper evaded the payment of income taxes to the IRS by failing to accurately report her true income on her Form 1040. The total amount of income Cooper failed to report during the tax years in question was approximately $2,320,000. The resulting tax loss to the United States was approximately $687,475. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon M. Juenger. An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Hail, Hantman and Feldman, They continue to take top leadership positions on nine-member school board
The nation’s fourth largest public schools district board reelected Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman and voted Lawrence Feldman, Ph.D., as vice chair on Tuesday in the board’s yearly organization session. Hantman, who represents board District 4, was first elected in 1996 and she is a stickler on school board rules and if a superintendent losers her support historically. They will eventually be gone. She has also been a long time member of the county’s regional transportation board called the MPO and she is up again in 2014. And she has been in this leadership position multiple times since she has been in office on a sometimes-contentious board, and the newfound harmony on the nine-member board has only occurred since Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took over in Sept. 2008. Further, Hantman has been chair a number of times over the years and this is Feldman’s second time as number two on the board.
Feldman, a former principal and top administrator was first elected to District 9 when he defeated incumbent Board Member Evelyn Langlieb Greer in 2008 in a bitter race against the incumbent. However, Feldman has evolved since then and grown from being a school administrator to a force on his own, and in the past has supported Board Member Marta Perez’s motion on the board, that the chair position rotates periodically. So that all board members on the dais get a chance to be in the top leadership position. However, those attempts by Perez and Feldman in the past have failed to get approval among the other board members.
>>> Press release: Perla Tabares Hantman, School Board Member and Chair for the past three years, was elected for the fourth consecutive time to chair the Miami-Dade County School Board for the year ahead.
“I would like to thank my fellow School Board members for the trust they have put in me. I will continue working hard and steady toward the betterment of all the students of Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” said Ms. Hantman.
This is Ms. Hantman’s seventh time as chair since she was first elected to the School Board in 1996 to represent District 4. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve as Chair, and has previously served in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman was elected for the third time as Vice Chair. Dr. Feldman, who represents District 9, was elected to the School Board in 2008. He served as Vice Chair in 2010 and 2011.
>>> Press release: M-DCPS AWARDED MORE THAN $16 MILLION IN GRANTS
Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ (M-DCPS) students and teachers will benefit from several grants, including in-kind support, valued at more than $16 million. Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho recently announced the award of the grants, which will help support District instructional programs, strengthen school and community safety, and provide online instructional resources to teachers. “The funds awarded through these grants will further expand opportunities for teaching and learning in Miami-Dade’s public schools and foster the creation of additional school/community partnerships that will build on our efforts to provide a safe and secure educational environment for students and staff,” said Carvalho… Fast Track to Citizenship Program III ($250,000), Magnet ($10,704,210), Physical Education Program (PEP) ($2,144,879), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program $967,698, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Program ($1,110,676) and Health Teacher ( In-kind support valued at $1,219,216) – Miami Children’s Hospital, through its Health Teacher Program, will provide Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers with online health education resources aligned to national and Florida health education standards. The goal is to improve the health literacy of students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> New oversight board members for $830 million bond expected to have heightened conflict of interest guidelines
While the Jackson Health System (JHS) grapples with the continued challenges of a changing healthcare market, that reimburses on quality of patient care, reduced costs and patient satisfaction based on the federal Affordable Care Act. The organization and the Miami-Dade County Commission is working on creating a new oversight board to watch over the $830 million bond recently based by countywide voters Nov. 5, in a low turnout election where 11.3 percent of the county’s voters turned out. JHS staff is saying they are working with the county commission, which ultimately controls the PHT. To craft legislation creating the board that will have a “heightened” ethics and conflict of interest threshold for oversight board members. Something that might be similar to what the Public Schools District did regarding they’re $1.2 billion bond passed by voters on November 2012.
The issue of JHS oversight of this new money that will be dedicated to major infrastructure and IT improvements, hopefully done in the next five to six years is being watched closely by bond critics, and County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office as well. And JHS President and CEO Carlos Migoya is in a situation much like the public schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho where both men have staked their reputation on getting the job done in the years ahead efficiently and without scandal.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Hail Hardemon, new Commissioner trounces Dunn by 72 percent of the vote, can chart his own political course with such a decisive win
Hail Keon Hardemon after he bested Rev. Richard Dunn, II in the runoff election for Miami Commission District 5. Hardemon won handily getting 72 percent of the vote against the long time politician who had been on the commission a variety of times over the past two decades and in this race. Dunn had a robust campaign war chest to Hardemon’s more modest fund raising skills, which in Dunn’s case were helped by Miami Commissioners Marc Sarnoff and Wilfredo Gort who both supported the reverend. However, Hardemon had the backing of popular incumbent Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones and he rode a wave of discontent at the type of campaign Dunn ran, which included challenging in court that Spence-Jones was term limited (which a local appeals court sustained). Rather than she being able to serve another term as the Miami City attorney opined last year after Spence-Jones retook her office. After she had been suspended by the governor after being hit with felony charges by the state attorney’s office that were later dismissed 22 months later, when a witness recanted, and that brought her back to the dais.
Hardemon, a University of Miami law school graduate in a politically connected family in the district had been a state assistant public defender before he jumped into the original four-candidate race and in the general election; he was the vote front-runner, but did not get over 50 percent of the vote, causing the runoff. However, Dunn’s perennial commission candidate campaign was marred by excessive spending and failing to get campaign reports in on time by the deadlines and he had a series of negative stories running in the Miami media leading up to the runoff election. However, as one African American resident and voter in the District said. “Dunn was done,” and with this recent trouncing at the polls. The Reverend’s political career appears to be over, and in the case of Spence-Jones as was reported in past Watchdog Reports. She is said to be looking to stay in the public eye as possible an executive director of one of the Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) in District 5. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/19/3765590/hardemon-trounces-dunn-in-miami.html?asset_id=Keon%20Hardemon’s%20supporters%20celebrate%20win&asset_type=html_module
>>> Press release: Commissioner-elect Keon Hardemon to be Sworn In on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 — Surrounded by elected officials, family and friends, Commissioner-elect Keon Hardemon will be sworn in as the District 5 Commissioner on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013. The ceremonial swearing in will take place at Miami City Hall, located at 3500 Pan American Drive at 12:00PM.
>>> Owner of Home Health Companies Sentenced for Role in $20 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme – Press release: The owner and operator of several Miami health care agencies was sentenced today to serve 120 months in prison for his role in a health care fraud scheme involving defunct home health care company Trust Care Health Services Inc.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael J. DePalma of the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Roberto Marrero, 60, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore in the Southern District of Florida. In September 2013, Marrero pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks. Marrero was an owner and operator of Trust Care, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Co-conspirators Sandra Fernandez Viera, 49, Patricia Morcate, 34, and Enrique Rodriguez, 59, all of Miami, have also pleaded guilty to related charges, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks. On Nov. 13, 2013, Fernandez Viera was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison; Morcate was sentenced to serve 60 months; and Rodriguez was sentenced to serve 57 months.
Together with Marrero, Fernandez Viera was an owner and operator of Trust Care. Morcate worked at and was an investor in Trust Care. Rodriguez served as a patient recruiter on behalf of Trust Care. According to court documents, Marrero and his co-conspirators operated Trust Care for the purpose of billing the Medicare Program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided. Marrero primarily controlled Trust Care and, in light of that role, oversaw the schemes operating out of the company. Marrero was also responsible for negotiating and paying kickbacks and bribes, interacting with patient recruiters, and coordinating and overseeing the submission of fraudulent claims to the Medicare program.
Marrero and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Trust Care for home health and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided. Marrero and his co-conspirators at Trust Care also paid kickbacks and bribes to co-conspirators in doctors’ offices and clinics in exchange for home health and therapy prescriptions, medical certifications and other documentation. Marrero and his co-conspirators used these prescriptions, medical certifications and other documentation to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services, which Marrero knew was in violation of federal criminal laws. From approximately March 2007 through at least October 2010, Trust Care submitted more than $20 million in claims for home health services. Medicare paid Trust Care more than $15 million for these fraudulent claims.
Marrero and his co-conspirators have also acknowledged their involvement in similar fraudulent schemes at several other Miami health care agencies in addition to Trust Care with estimated total losses of approximately $50 million. Those agencies include A&B Health Services Inc., Centrum Home Health Care Inc., Global Nursing Home Health Inc., Lovable Home Health Services Corp., New Concepts In Health Inc., Nursemed Home Care Corp., R&M Health Care Inc., Ubieta Health System Inc., and Vital Care Home Health Services Inc.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, with the assistance of IRS-CI, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force initiative, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. >>>
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE
>>> With Dec. 17, BCC deadline looming, deal to resolve liabilities of Coconut Grove Playhouse must be completed by “middle of Dec.,” says County Cultural Affairs Dir. Spring
Michael Spring, the Miami-Dade County Director of Cultural Affairs updated the County’s Cultural Affairs Council made up of citizens on Wednesday concerning the ongoing negotiations concerning the Coconut Grove Playhouse, shuttered in 2006, and its possible future opening. Spring has been working on reopening the Playhouse for years, but the county recently had to get an agreement with Florida International University, because the state, which had controlled the property, agreed to let the university handle the issue. Since then FIU and Miami-Dade County came to a mutual agreement where once all the liens were resolved in the future. Gables Stage would run the facility after it had been renovated and improved upon, and any deal will probable contain a future-parking garage.
However, since the agreement with the county and FIU was signed Oct. 15, there is a new deadline that “is a race,” said Spring and the new deadline is to get the liens and other legal matters done soon for the item has to be in front of the full Miami-Dade County Commission by Dec. 17 for the board’s approval. Since the final deal must be done by, Jan 15 to meet state demands that transferred the property initially to FIU. Spring said in past talks there with the city there “has been a tremendous amount of cooperation,” with Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to “eliminate all the encumbrances by the mid January,” deadline he said. The cultural arts maven notes the city of Miami has the “largest fines” issued by code enforcement (though the code enforcement board just voted “to eliminate all the fines,” and would also include an agreement with the Miami Parking Authority and Spring hopes to have an agreement in place with MPA by “the middle of December). The director also noted that Aries Development, a significant creditor in an “agreement in concept [the deal would be for Aries] to remove any mention of the Bicycle property,” which is in litigation, and they “would get the bicycle shop property,” but there would be “no reference of [liens on] the Playhouse Property,” said Spring.
The county is the only source for funding to rehabilitate the ageing historic structure, that since closed, has been vandalized multiple times. Miami-Dade has $20 million from two separate sources for this activity, but Mayor Carlos Gimenez in taking on this task of getting the theater open, he has always insisted it must run in the black on its own. Lisa M. Martinez, senior advisor to Gimenez told the Council that “whatever way this is resolved” it “has to be sustainable and that is important to the mayor,” she said. Spring also noted that if the deal does not happen by the deadlines as far as resolving the liens and other legal issues, which include “two small creditors,” as well. “All bets are off, and everyone goes their own way. Because whatever Playhouse deal that is concluded. The agreement and liens have to be “resolved to the satisfaction of the title companies,” said the director. Moreover, when it comes to any “subleasing,” on the property, that activity cannot be done “without [Florida] Cabinet approval” and there is a “clear intention of a parking garage,” if a deal is finalized on the large Playhouse site, said Spring.
>>> Press release: The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) is pleased to announce that as of November 15th, Pump Stations 9 and 11, which are located in Coconut Grove, are officially certified to receive additional flows to the sewer system. This is ahead of the November 30th deadline agreed upon by the City of Miami and the County. Pump Station 11 has been out of compliance since April 27, 2012 and Pump Station 9 has been out of compliance since October 30, 2012. As a result, a moratorium was instituted preventing new businesses from opening in the areas served by these specific pump stations. Allowing additional businesses to open and impact the pump stations’ capacity could have resulted in sewer failures. Failures of the pumps stations can cause significant impact on the environment such as raw wastewater being discharged.
WASD Director John W. Renfrow said pump stations and their capacity issues are a vital component of many department projects such as the Multi-Year Capital Improvement Plan, the Consent Decree and the Pump Station Improvement Program. “The certifications of these pump stations lifts the moratorium that had delayed development in the Coconut Grove and Coral Gables areas. We continue to address issues throughout our service area so that such conditions are further eliminated,” he said. Impacted businesses may now open, which will bring much needed additional economic impact to the local community. It is the priority of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department to provide safe, reliable service to its customers. For additional information about Department services and programs, visit www.miamidade.gov/water.
>>> Press release: Join Miami-Dade County Animal Services and LoKal for the 1st Annual Thanksgiving Paw Drive on Monday, November 25, from 5:30 to 7:30pm, at LoKal in Coconut Grove, located at 3190 Commodore Plaza. The public is encouraged to bring their furry friends to LoKal, which has been voted one of the Top Ten Dog Friendly Restaurants in Miami. The event organizers are collecting towels, blankets, sheets, toys and treats for animals at Miami-Dade County Animal Services. Happy hour specials will be offered to those who bring any of the aforementioned donated goods, including two-for-one on select beer and wine specials. Those who bring their four-legged friends will also receive 50% off the LoKal doggy menu. Additionally, Miami-Dade County Animal Services will be offering adoptions at 1/2 off. Who: Miami-Dade County Animal Services and LoKal Coconut Grove What: 1st Annual Thanksgiving Paw Drive and Adoption Event When: Monday, November 25, 2013, 5:30pm –7:30pm
Where: LoKal Coconut Grove, 3190 Commodore Plaza Miami, FL 33133 >>> About LOKAL Coconut Grove, LoKal, pronounced [lo-ka’l], in Coconut Grove opened its doors on December 24, 2011. Stemming from the German word for restaurant and meeting place, LoKal lives up to its definition of being a meeting place but exceeds all of its guests’ expectations by bringing sustainable and locally sourced ingredients paired with an industrial, raw edginess. Particularly suited to the Grove’s personality and bohemian reputation, Grovites now have a place where they can satiate their comfort food cravings as well as their ideological inclinations. For more information, visit www.lokalmiami.com. and for more on the County’s Animal Services call 3-1-1 or visit www.miamidade.gov/animals.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Hail newly elected leaders Levine, Grieco, Malakoff and Steinberg, Mayor Bower is trounced in commission race
The candidates have landed, Mayor elect Philip Levine, Commissioners elect Joy Malakoff, Micky Steinberg and Michael Grieco will all be sworn-in on Monday at 11:00 a.m. as the first order of business in the Commission Chambers. After wild runoff races for the commission seats the last two weeks, with a 16.1 percent voter turnout, they ended up winning the offices, and all four are newcomers to the political world. Levine won out right Nov. 6 but in runoff races, Michael Grieco got 54 percent when the attorney faced off against incumbent Commissioner Jorge Exposito, and Mayor Mattie Bower was slammed by Joy Malakoff who got 60 percent of the vote, where the long time politician after 14 years in office, fell in a anti incumbent voter surge.
Bower on Friday would not comment on what she was going to do now that she was out of office but she said she would continue to be active in the community. Since she started her political year as an activist and a historic preservation advocate before winning office in 1999. However, her critics condemned her for trying to run for the commission seat again, after the city put elected office term limits in place, and as the mayor. The Commission meetings she ran were raucous affairs and many times suddenly ended when Bower walked off the dais when things got testy.
Steinberg got 53 percent in her race against perennial commission candidate Elsa Urquiza and that was a surprise given her husband’s scandal regarding unwanted sexy texting to a local assistant federal prosecutor, causing him to resign as a state representative. She also told the Watchdog Report along with Grieco on Friday that they were ready to go, as far as taking elected office, but the new commission has a host of challenges ahead, including the Miami Beach Convention Center development, and flooding, both major issues in the races.
What about the press?
The new elected leaders need to understand that as a public official they are obligated to talk to the press and they’re relationship with the media is different from being in the private sector. Where frankly, unless they are doing something illegal or terrible in the private sector. They would not rise to the level of being news worthy, but now is a different story. Past Mayors Neisen Kasdin and David Dermer were always accessible to the media, Mayor Bower less so in some ways, and the idea that local Beach residents are only going to get their news of their government by city press releases won’t fly on the diverse Beach.
Moreover, given the city’s past controversies over the years, a strong dose of transparency, in the government and commission discussions would be a wise move, and should also include a major push for inclusion, and not fostering political vendettas. After the tough races, that resulted in no Hispanics on the dais, even though Hispanic candidates ran, and the ethnic group accounts for roughly 53 percent of the municipal voters. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/23/3774115/miami-beachs-new-mayor-faces-transition.html
>>> Press release: Like2Love Miami Beach Poetry Contest Launches Today
Send a Verse for a Chance to Win Prizes, November 1 – December 2, 2013
Contest page: http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/news/scroll.aspx?id=71222
Calling all poets and wannabe wordsmiths! On November 1, 2013, the public is invited to submit a poem on why they love Miami Beach. The contest is part of Miami Beach’s continuous civic pride campaign, Like2Love Miami Beach, which aims at highlighting everything that makes the island-city a great place to live, work and play. “Our vibrant community offers a ton of literary inspiration from our beautiful beaches, historic architecture, culture, sensational entertainment, shopping, dining and an exciting nightlife so we’d like to remind ourselves and the public of what makes our city such a great place,” said City Manager Jimmy Morales… Miami Beach promotional materials. Visit miamibeachfl.gov or click here for guidelines and restrictions. The grand prizewinner will be announced January 2014. The last day to send an entry is December 2, 2013. All poems submitted will be hung on a Poet Tree at Lummus Park. For more information, contact email@example.com or 305.673.7575.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Annual huddle with UM and City leaders, “sweetness and nice” since no “intractable issues,” says Mayor Cason
City leaders held they’re annual joint meeting with the University of Miami, the third since a new global agreement between UM was reached with the city a few years ago. The university is the largest single presence in the tony Gables and it is a counterpoint to the thriving business community in the City Beautiful. The Watchdog Report contacted Mayor Jim Cason and the commissioners last week asking about the event and Cason wrote back by email. It was, “All sweetness and light. We have no big or intractable issues anymore, wrote the mayor. For more on the joint meeting go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/19/3764956/um-coral-gables-tout-partnership.html
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
>>> Hail Mayor Sharief, breaks a number of first barriers on county commission, needs to realize how high profile position is when it comes to the media
Broward County Commissioners Tuesday elected Commissioner Barbara Sharief the county’s new mayor and she is the first Black woman who grew up with parent’s that practiced the Muslim faith, though she has not practiced the faith since she was 14. Sharief, a former Miramar commissioner before being elected to the county body in 2010 has run a nursing placement company that has revenues of roughly $6 million. She is a strong proponent for economic development, but she also has a mixed relationship with the press. Something in this high profile, though essentially ceremonial post could be a future problem since she is also dealing with legal issues with questionable billings with Medicaid, though she denies that is not the case. Moreover, when it comes to her net worth dropping from $8 million in 2011 to $4 million in 2012. She says that like anyone else, some of her investments have taken a hit.
However, Sharief who I last saw eating lunch with some aides at the Tarpon Bend after a commission meeting a couple of months ago, and is wary of the press. She needs to get over that sensitivity and deal with issues when she is asked questions by the media in this new leadership position. For she is now at the leadership top, and in that capacity she will get more scrutiny, like some past mayors have gotten over the years, and in the past commissioners have gone to jail. Therefore, the Watchdog Report gives the new Broward Mayor Sharief congratulations, but please realize you are not a vacuum and what you do in your private and public capacity is of interest. If you are going to the public face for the state’s second largest county. For more on her go to
CITY OF CORAL SPRINGS
>>> Owner and Salesman Convicted in Time Share Telemarketing Fraud
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Pasquale Pappalardo, 60, of Coral Springs, FL, and Audwin Lovinsky, 35, of Tamarac, FL, were both convicted yesterday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Pappalardo was also convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956. After the verdicts, defendants were remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on January 29, 2014.
In all, 41 defendants were charged for their involvement with a time-share resale telemarketing room called Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc., (TMMMG). The other defendants were charged in Case Nos. 11-60190-Cr-Cohn, 11-60247-Cr-Marra, 11-60268-Cr-Hurley, 12-60019-Cr-Scola, 13-60049-Cr-Dimitrouleas, 12-60149-Cr-Scola, 13-60154-Cr-Scola, and 13-60155-Cr-Dimitrouleas. Aside from the two defendants who were found guilty yesterday, thirty-six defendants previously pled guilty, two remain fugitives, and one is deceased.
According to the evidence presented at trial, in February 2009, Pasquale Pappalardo, also known to the witnesses as “Patsy Ubatz” and “Posh,” and Joseph Crapella, also known to witnesses as “Joey Cigars,” started a branch office of Time Share Market Pro (TMP), a time-share resale business. The testimony at trial was that they knew each other from a previous stint in federal prison. In June 2009, at the direction of Pappalardo and Crapella, their associates took customer files and the electronic database of TMP, among other items, without the knowledge of the owner of TMP.
Pappalardo and Crapella then took the employees and the documents seized from TMP and formed a second time share resale company called TMMMG. In November 2009 and January 2010, TMMMG hired salesmen who worked for other fraudulent telemarketing resale companies, including defendant Lovinsky, who used the phone name of Edwin Lovins. Among the lies they would tell timeshare unit owners, was that they had sold their time-share unit and that they needed to pay a refundable fee to secure the sale. The salesmen would then ask the time share unit owners for a fee of at least $1,996, and as much as $10,000. At no time were there any buyers for the time-share units. The testimony at trial was that both Pappalardo and Crapella were told about the lies being told by the salesmen, but Pappalardo and Crapella would not do anything to stop the salespeople from lying.
During the 10 months that TMMMG was in business, it fraudulently obtained approximately $5,000,000 from about 3,000 customers. Pappalardo received at least $300,000 in checks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from the money sent by victims of TMMMG. Pappalardo faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a fine of up to the greater of $750,000 or twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss. Lovinsky faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI in connection with the investigation of this matter. Mr. Ferrer would also like to recognize the assistance provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan. 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.
>>> 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.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> And to read all the Palm Beach elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> Two investment advisers charged with committing fraud, failed to inform clients of outside income from risky offshore funds
Press release: The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against two Tampa-area investment advisers accused of committing fraud by failing to truthfully inform clients about compensation received from offshore funds they were recommending as safe investments despite substantial risks and red flags. The advisers also are charged with contributing to violations of the “custody rule” that requires investment advisory firms to establish specific procedures to safeguard and account for client assets. The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that Gregory J. Adams and Larry C. Grossman solicited and directed clients of their investment firm Sovereign International Asset Management to invest almost exclusively in funds controlled by an asset manager named Nikolai Battoo, who the SEC charged in a separate enforcement action last year. Grossman and Adams failed to inform clients about the conflict of interest in recommending these investments as Battoo was paying them millions of dollars in compensation for steering investors to his funds.
“Investment advisers have a fiduciary duty to act in utmost good faith when recommending investments, and they must fully disclose all of the relevant facts to their clients,” said Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. “Adams and Grossman breached this duty when they misstated their compensation and failed to disclose serious conflicts of interest.”
According to the SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings, Grossman was paid approximately $3.3 million and Adams received $1 million in the undisclosed compensation arrangements. Grossman and Adams promoted the investments as safe, diversified, independently administered and audited, and suitable for the investment objectives and risk profiles of their clients who were often retirees. However, Battoo’s funds were in fact risky, lacked diversification, and lacked independent administrators and auditors. Grossman and Adams also failed to investigate – and in some cases wholly disregarded – numerous red flags surrounding Battoo and his funds.
The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that Grossman and Adams aided and abetted Sovereign’s violations of the custody rule when they instructed clients to transfer their investment funds to a bank account controlled by a related entity. Grossman and Adams pooled clients’ money in this bank account before investing it in Battoo’s offshore funds. Sovereign failed to comply with the custody rule, which requires an investment adviser to comply with surprise examinations or certain other procedures to verify and safeguard client assets.
According to the SEC’s order, Grossman and Adams willfully violated Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), 206(3) and 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. They willfully aided and abetted violations of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act and Section 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rules 204-3 and 206(4)-2. The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Andre J. Zamorano, Sunny H. Kim, and Kathleen Strandell in the SEC’s Miami office. The case was supervised by Thierry Olivier Desmet, and the litigation will be led by Patrick R. Costello. The SEC examination of Sovereign that led to the investigation was conducted by Roda A. Johnson and Jean M. Cabot under the supervision of John C. Mattimore.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
>>> Gov. Scott taps Dale Simchick to School Board.
Press release: Simchick, 55, of Sebastian, is the General Service Administrator for the Indian River Sheriff’s Office. She is appointed to fill a vacant seat created by the resignation of Jeffrey Pegler and is appointed for a term beginning November 19, 2013, and ending November 11, 2014.
>>> Gov. Scott taps Mario Bailey and Nelson L. Hernandez and the reappointment of Sandra Walters to the South Florida Regional Planning Council.
Bailey, 32, of Miami, is a government relations consultant for Becker and Poliakoff. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term November 19, 2013, and ending October 1, 2016.
Hernandez, 28, of Miami Lakes, is the president of Absolute Advantage Solutions. He succeeds Jose Riesco and is appointed for a term beginning November 19, 2013, and ending October 1, 2016.
Walters, 61, of Lower Sugarloaf Key, is the president and owner of Sandra Walters Consultants Inc. (SWC). She is reappointed for a term beginning November 19, 2013, and ending October 1, 2015. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> With the “nuclear option” trigger pulled, what will the future hold for both political parties’ nominees in the years ahead?
The Watchdog Report was stunned last week when the Democratic Party controlled U.S. Senate pulled the “nuclear option” trigger changing the rules, allowing the confirmation of executives in the Obama Administration and federal court judges, excluding the Supreme Court Justices, to be confirmed with a simple majority of the 100 member Senate. In 2005, when the GOP controlled the body they considered the same thing, but cooler heads at the time prevailed and the world’s most exclusive club kept the 60-vote threshold for officials and federal judges confirmations.
However, Democrat leaders believed now they had no choice given the GOP roadblocks that have been thrown into many of the president’s nominee’s confirmations, but this change is a double edge sword, and the one thing we know about politics, is it is forever changing. Moreover, while the Republicans are still reeling from the 2008 and 2012 loss of the presidency, the GOP should not be counted out forever, and Democrats should remember that fact, though they believe the protesting Republicans would have done the same thing had the tables been turned.
Nevertheless, regardless of the political party, the confirmation process has been changed and is another hit to Democracy and the protection of the minority. Something the nation’s founders understood was critical in a free society and while proponents of the change say it is necessary because of the gridlock that Washington has become when it comes to governance. What the future will hold in this matter, versus the Senate of the past is unknown, but things will certainly change and the Watchdog Report for one appreciated the need to have some of the minority party support a nominee from the president. For that needed extra nine votes changed who ultimately would be confirmed and this necessary buy in by the minority party was a critical electrolyte to the Democratic process and getting the best possible people to fill these critical federal posts, and now that has changed for the better or worse. For another perspective on the issue go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/23/3772393/democrats-naked-power-grab-in.html
>>> Like to share something that you may already know about, but if not?
Beckham’s soccer team has the possibility of getting a stadium behind RCCL at Port Miami. Being pushed by Mayor Carlos Jimenez.
>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000
ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S
HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr
FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .
THE MIAMI HERALD www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)
WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)
LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)
JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION www.knightfoundation.org
THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE
>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year
BADIA SPICES www.badiaspices.com
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov
UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org
>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year
AKERMAN SENTERFITT www.akerman.com
BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com
LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.
WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com
SHUBIN & BASS www.shubinbass.com
WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/
>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less
CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC. www.camillushouse.org
CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov
CHAPMAN PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.chapmanpartnership.org
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY www.fiu.edu
THE STATE OF FLORIDA www.myflorida.gov
GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com
GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com
HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA www.hfsf.org
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION www.miamidade.gov
MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR www.miamidade.gov
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION
MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE www.mdc.edu
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS www.dadeschools.net
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org
THE BEACON COUNCIL www.beaconcouncil.com
THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org
THE GOOD GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE http://goodgov.net/
THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org
THE MIAMI FOUNDATION www.miamifoundation.org
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA http://www.firstgov.gov/
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI www.miami.edu
The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you. The Watchdog Report is in the 14th 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 800 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over two 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.