Argus Report: Art Basel Miami Beach on Dec.5 brings 60,000 global art mavens, will coincide with Dec.4th opening of new PAMM, costing some $220 million, including over $100 million in public County GOB money
Obituary: A Civic Lioness passes, Eisenberg hangs up her microphone at 86, after decades of being a community leader, an electrolyte for civil civic discourse of candidates & issues
Florida: With federal, state and local funding cuts in early learning and children’s programs, The Children’s Trust of M-DC has played key role in young students getting higher grades, and performing academically better in nation’s fourth largest public schools district – 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: Miami-Dade IG selection committee taps Cagle, solid on Due Process, right temperament, her own woman, has “butted heads,” with IG Committee Chair Fernandez Rundle
Miami-Dade Public Schools: New District healthcare contract with employees had to include some $25 million for new federal ACA costs, also fraud in community a big issue, says Supt. Carvalho
Public Health Trust: Hail JHS CEO Migoya, went for the gold with $830 million bond approved by voters by 65 percent in low 11.38 percent countywide vote, but what of the oversight of money and what if the former banker leaves?
City of Miami: Mayor Regalado & Commissioner Carollo coast to victory, Hardeman and Dunn face off in what will be bitter runoff for Dist. 5, Dunn continues to have campaign report filing problems
Village of Coconut Grove: Will approval of Grove Bay project be Pyrrhic Victory for any future political career for Commissioner Sarnoff?
City of Miami Beach: Levine wins outright after recount Friday, says he will keep Mgr. Morales, wants transparency in Beach government, now the work begins in tourist metropolis
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 to Broward Bulldog’s Fourth Anniversary, no easy achievement!
Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County Gastroenterologist Charged with Filing False Tax Returns — Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Belle Glade: Belle Glade Man Sentenced to 19 years in Prison on Firearm and Drug Charges
Orange County: Art Gallery and Gallery Owner Charged with Obstruction of Justice in Connection with Importation of Ancient Chinese Artifacts
Duval County: Gov. Scott taps of Jeenu Philip to the Board of Pharmacy.
Apalachee County: Gov. Scott taps Lisa Miller to the Regional Planning Council, Region Two.
Monroe County: To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Community Events: FIU’S JOURNALISM, COMMUNICATION SCHOOL BRINGS BIG NAMES & HOT TOPICS TO HISPANIC MARKETING CONFERENCE NOV. 7 & 8 Multi-day conference examines brands, health, environment and politics >>> International Business Leadership Awards – the Greater Miami Chamber prepares to honor those who work in international business at the seventh annual
Editorials: Watchdog Report pledges to watch over new $2 billion in revenue streams at JHS and public schools district, will you help financially to keep me in the field? — 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 Miami Beach Comissioner Michael Gongora’s letter to constituents – Reader liked the WLRN show I was on Tuesday
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
>>> The Watchdog Report publisher was on Topical Currents at 1:00 p.m., Tuesday Nov. 5 on www.wlrn.org/topicalcurrents on 91.3 F.M. hosted by Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman. I was joined on the show by Broward Bulldog award winning investigative reporter Dan Christensen, to discuss the elections and other political issues of the week. And to listen to the show go to http://wlrn.org/post/election-day-questions-comments-call
>>> May you and your family have a happy, safe and reflective Veterans Day and may we all remember the sacrifice, blood and treasure the nation’s men and women have given to protect our nation’s freedoms. A freedom that has been tested over the Centuries but has stood the test of time because of these brave peoples sacrifices in serving America and for so many of them giving the last full measure of their lives.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Art Basel I Miami Beach on Dec.5 brings 60,000 global art mavens, will coincide with opening of new PAMM, costing some $220 million, including over $100 million in public County GOB money
With the 12th Annual Art Basel Miami www.artbasel.com just on the horizon, former Miami Herald employee, and advertising executive Robert Goodman told attendees at the Wednesday Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Luncheon that the global art show is of the same caliber as the NFL Super Bowl, and the event even brings in “more private jets” to South Florida than the high profile global sports extravaganza. Goodman was the point of the spear when it came to getting the Swiss organization to consider a show here 13 years ago, along with others. However, the first Art Basel was postponed back then in 2001 because it would have opened just after 9/11, and was not deemed appropriate at the time and the international art show first opened at the Miami Beach Convention Center in December 2002, and its popularity and success since then has been only up.
Art Basel is headquartered in Basel Switzerland and a show in Hong Kong is the third location for the some “250 galleries,” that were selected out of the “900 that applied,” for this year’s event, he said. He noted last year over “60,000 people” attended the Miami Beach Art Basel, including “1,400 members of the media,” and The New York Times called Art Basel, “The Olympics of the Art World,” he said. In addition, Art l Basel Miami Beach runs from Dec. 5 – 8 and for more go to www.artbasel.com
What about Miami’s local art lovers?
Goodman noted that one of the reasons Art Basel has really caught on around the globe with this serious art crowd is that major local collectors have opened their own private galleries or homes to showcase their collection. In addition, Goodman noted art maven and auto magnate Norman Braman, developer Marty Margulies, along with many others in Miami have helped draw these high-end crowds of art aficionados with their extensive collections as well.
What about the Jorge Perez Art Museum Miami?
Thom Collins, the director of the new Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) also spoke at the Chamber luncheon, and he detailed the scope, and development of the new PAMM located on Museum Park in Bicentennial Park set to open Dec. 4. The new structure will open in conjunction with Art Basel and for the first week after the opening, going to PAMM will be free for Miami-Dade residents and their families, he said. Award winning Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron did the museum design, and the first initial design that put the museum on stilts came to the architectural team after taking a boat tour of Biscayne Bay and seeing the historic Stiltsville homes. A Miami landmark out in the water and the initial sketch was done on a napkin (the PAMM has), said Collins. The former curator from New York who was recruited in 2010 to PAMM noted that while there are three enclosed floors in the structure. The buildings mission was to “store, preserve and present” the contemporary art and “to engage the audience,” something he said the old Art Museum built in the early 1980s was unable to do.
Collins said the new 100,000 square foot PAMM, built on 18 foot stilts, to protect it against “major tidal surges,” would have 40,000 square feet in “sheltered outdoor space protected from the elements,” and this area would be 12 to 13 degrees cooler, than the outside given the lush vegetation surrounding the museum that includes 70 hanging hydroponics’ gardens that wrap around the outside of the building. The man also noted that when it came to the education of community residents, that educational activities with museums really began “over the last 30 years,” ago, and that education component is incorporated into the new design. Since PAMM currently has “multiple education programs and some 30,000 3rd graders” attended the museum last year, and these young people will be thrilled with the “new educational spaces,” Collins believed. For more on PAMM go to www.pammiami.org
What about the public funding for the PAMM?
While Jorge Perez, a major condominium builder in the past-donated $35 million in art and cash over the coming years. The PAMM received a considerable slug of public money to the tune of $100 million in funding from a 2004 countywide $2.9 billion bond initiative. And other public funding was contributed over the years, and the total including a $70 million operateing budget reserve goal, and $19 million in transition expenses brings the PAMM’s total cost coming in at roughly $220 million state county documents on the matter. To see that information go to http://www.miamidadearts.org/facilities_upcoming.aspx
>>> Sanctions Relief in Exchange for False Hope and Empty Promises from Iran Would be a Significant Error in Judgment, Ros-Lehtinen Says “There can be no concessions whatsoever – no easing of sanctions, no deals – until Iran takes the first verifiable and concrete steps to dismantling its nuclear program”
Press release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding reports that the Administration is set to offer sanctions relief to Iran in return for a temporary halt in its nuclear program. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“If true that the Administration is actually proposing sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for a six-month halt in its nuclear program, it would be a significant error in judgment that very likely could have the opposite intended outcome. Iran has shown time and time again that it will use whatever means necessary at its disposal to buy time to complete its nuclear program. There can be no concessions whatsoever – no easing of sanctions, no deals – until Iran takes the first verifiable and concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear program.
“Iran has been steadily increasing the amount of advanced centrifuges it has in operation, making its program much more efficient. Iran could at any moment start its enrichment back up and within weeks be capable of producing enough material for a nuclear weapon. The White House is falling for Tehran’s trap at the peril of our national security, and that of our allies, like the democratic Jewish State of Israel. I urge the White House and the Senate to learn from the lessons of the past and not offer sanctions relief in return for the false hopes and empty promises of the Iranian regime. Instead, new rounds of sanctions must be implemented to gain further leverage because any misstep in calculations at this juncture will have devastating and irreversible consequences that will be difficult to correct retroactively.”
>>> Celebrating National Adoption Month, Ros-Lehtinen States “We Must Continue to Raise Awareness So That More Children Can Find Loving Parents and Safe Homes.” “Our children are precious and they should have a stable environment in which to learn and grow. We must continue to raise awareness so that more children can find loving parents and safe homes.”
Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urges all Americans to celebrate National Adoption Month and continues to raise awareness about the ability to adopt and the need for more adoptions. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen joined Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in introducing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, legislation that would “provide clear guidance to states, and promotes the best interests of children in the foster care system by increasing their access to safe, supportive, and permanent homes.”
Through “Voice for Adoption,” a national advocacy organization, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen was paired with the Gil family from Florida, who came to Washington, DC for the introduction of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, for the “Adoptive Family Portrait Project” in an effort to raise awareness and support National Adoption Month. After fostering several children, Martin Gil and his partner, Bruce, filed a petition for adoption with the Florida Circuit Court to adopt their two foster sons, Nathaniel and Xavier, an action that was prohibited by a 1977 Florida law that bans gays and lesbians from adopting. Later, Martin and Bruce were finally granted custody of their sons, effectively nullifying the Florida anti-gay adoption statute and making it unenforceable. The Gil family’s picture and inspirational story will be displayed in the Congresswoman’s office throughout the month of November in honor of adoption.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Every child dreams of a life surrounded by love, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation. I’m proud to support legislation like the Every Child Deserves a Family Act and participate in projects that promote the creation and expansion of loving families. Our children are precious and they should have a stable environment in which to learn and grow. We must continue to raise awareness so that more children can find loving parents and safe homes.”
>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: ‘Lame’ Obamacare apology was ‘unsettling’ ~ 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 while President Obama scored a solid victory helping Terry McAuliffe win the Virginia governor’s mansion, he fumbled over his false promises on Obamacare.
“The president won a little and lost a lot this past week. He began the week by campaigning for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, who won the state’s race for governor. But an even weaker candidate — Republican Ken Cuccinelli — actually picked up steam rallying GOP voters after Obama’s visit. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade:
>>> A Civic Lioness passes, Eisenberg hangs up her microphone at 86, after decades of being a community leader, an electrolyte for civil civic discourse of candidates & issues
Annette Eisenberg, a Civic Great One has passed this week at the age of 86 after a short illness, and the diminutive woman was a powerhouse when it came to being a champion for community engagement. She along with her husband Morris founded the Downtown Bay Forum in 1992 and the organization provided a forum for a host of leaders, candidates and discussions of the topics of the day. Moreover, while she was especially critical of Miami and Miami-Dade County governments, she was also a municipal and county bond owner, and the persistent woman put her money where her mouth was. And when she called you asking for your help as a moderator or in any other way, you always complied, be you veteran WPLG Senior Political Reporter Michael Putney, former Miami Herald columnist and now CBS investigative reporter Jim DeFede, WPBT Channel 2 Issues Host Helen Ferre, Barry University Professor Shaun Foreman or myself, and we all complied with her requests in anyway we could over the years.
The woman spoke her mind with abandon, was critical of the widespread public corruption and fraud that has rocked South Florida and Miami for decades and she would admonish candidates that got unruly or out of line at the monthly luncheon debates. Annette, you were one of a kind, you were an inspiration and early supporter of the Watchdog Report and you would feed me at the Forum when you knew I was hungry for the past 15 years and your civic engagement and spirit will be so missed in South Florida, and may you rest in peace with your beloved Morris. For more read on her and her accomplishments go to the Miami Herald obituary and you can read how to honor her and her husband’s accomplishments. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/08/3740374/annette-eisenberg-founder-of-downtown.html
>>> With federal, state and local funding cuts in early learning and children’s programs, The Children’s Trust of M-DC has played key role in young students getting higher grades, and performing academically better in the nation’s fourth largest public schools district
The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County since its creation by county voters in 2002 has helped hundreds of thousands of kids and parents to maximize their child’s potential and Trust documents note that more than 165,000 children have been served over the past ten years. In addition, some $206.2 million has been invested in After-School and Summer Programs, to help children succeed in school and life state’s the Trust’s 2012 Annual Report. The organization focused on children from birth to age 18 has been the only public funding for many child readiness programs, especially after the 2008 Great Recession cut other government public funding, but through judicious use of its limited fiscal resources, and insulation from political pressure given its large oversight board. The Trust with over $123 million in property tax funding for 2013-2014 has done a solid job in getting the youngest and most vulnerable in our community prepared to be solid and productive citizens, despite the economic downturn that has cut a wide swath of social service programs for children throughout Miami-Dade. Further, some $70.7 million has been dedicated to children with disabilities and their families; some $126 million has gone to making children healthy physically and emotionally, and includes nearly 1.2 million health services being delivered in the public schools by health teams since 2008.
The Watchdog Report covers the Trust because while it is a countywide property taxing entity, it also augments the lack of state and local funding for the nation’s fourth largest public schools district in a variety of ways and some of the recent student success in the large urban district is partially a result of some of the Trust’s programs. Especially when it comes to youngsters learning to read and write and getting basic nurturing skills in their early years, critical since about 80 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of three. And if the kids start out academically behind, history has shown it is difficult for them to catch up and many students fail and eventually drop out of school before graduating and don’t become the educated citizens that South Florida needs to lure high technology and innovative jobs and companies that look for an educated workforce upon which to draw upon to support their business. For more on the Trust go to www.thechildrenstrust.org
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names three appointments to the Community Association Living Study Council.
Rosa de la Camara, 56, of Miami, is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff PA. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 7, 2013, and ending
April 1, 2014.
William Guthrie, 45, of Orlando, is an attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 7, 2013, and ending
April 1, 2014.
Jonathan Peet, 59, of Tallahassee, is the owner of Jonathan Peet CPA LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 7, 2013, and ending April 1, 2014.
>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.
>>> Children’s Movement of Florida Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.
>>> Miami-Dade IG selection committee taps Cagle, solid on due process, right temperament, her own woman, has “butted heads,” with Committee Chair Fernandez Rundle
“We have found the perfect person for you, [as the new IG as if she was speaking to Miami-Dade County Commissioners in the future],” said state Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle Monday, in her summation of the past months committee deliberations, since September and attorney Mary T. Cagle will be the recommended candidate, that the Miami-Dade County’s Inspector General Selection Committee picked to be the final nominee to submit to county commissioners. After sifting through some 50 resumes, short-listing the list to 12 finalists, and interviewing them in a county conference room in the Stephen P. Clark Center. The selection committee on Monday discussed the past one-hour interviews over multiple days of the different candidates and a few of them were standouts, said Fernandez Rundle. Some of the finalists had “law degrees” and “nine had run organizations,” as big as or bigger than the established IG office that provides watchdog oversight for Miami-Dade County and the County’s Public Schools District.
Cagle, in her past career was a long time assistant state prosecutor for 22 years under Fernandez Rundle, where she rose to the top ranks in the large office. However, since then, she ran Charlee, and she is now the “Statewide Director of Children’s Legal Services, for the Florida Department of Children and Families, Miami.” In addition, the Palmetto Bay resident in the past was on the Charter Review Committee for the village, and she got her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School state committee handout items. Cagle is known for being her own woman and the Watchdog Report spoke to numerous people (who had worked with her but had no vested interest in her selection and all of them were uniform in their positive remarks about the past prosecutor and child advocate) over the past weeks. These people that knew Cagle or had worked with her all spoke highly of her ability, fairness, belief in Due Process, and she also has a good personal temperament, all considered ideal qualities for the job.
Critics hoped it might be someone from the federal government and a number of FBI senior special agents, and federal inspector generals applied and some of them did great interviews but the five-member committee went with Cagle in the end. Where during a ranking vote of the candidates, she got five votes in the first round, and in the final vote, she got four and one vote went to Donald Oswald, a senior FBI special agent. However, people that have worked with Cagle and Fernandez Rundle said the two women “had butted” heads in the past and the potential new IG’s independence would exist from the long serving state attorney, just reelected in 2012, these knowledgeable sources all thought.
The county is now doing a thorough background check of Cagle and the selection committee will meet again to review the report’s findings on Dec. 10 and if there is nothing out of the ordinary, which is expected. She will negotiate a contract with a County Attorney and Cagle’s name will go to the county commission and will be voted on at the first upcoming county commission meeting after the name is submitted. According to the county ordinance creating the office in 1997, with the first IG Christopher Mazzella coming on board in 1998. In addition, the Watchdog Report actually attended the Mazzella interview that was done at the time by the newly created Miami-Dade Ethics and Public Trust Commission created by the county electorate in 1996. For more go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/05/3733773/committee-selects-former-prosecutor.html
What did Cagle say to the Watchdog Report?
The Watchdog Report contacted Cagle on Saturday and she said by phone that she was excited and wanted to get started in the new position. Further, she had talked with former Miami-Dade Inspector Mazzella, and she is impressed with the staff that he had assembled over the years since taking the office. Further, Cagle said she heard about her selection and that she would be the nominee from a friend who called her after they had heard about it on Topical Currents on WLRN/NPR 91.3 F.M. Tuesday. When I broke the story on the air about 1:15 p.m. and other media outlets followed with the story later in the day. For more on the appointment go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/05/3733773/committee-selects-former-prosecutor.html
And what about the media covering the committee meetings?
For some reason, in the minutes of the IG selection committee, there is no reference to any of the media or public attending the meeting and I was there at almost all of them over the months, Miami Herald veteran county reporter Patricia Mazzei was at a couple, and one blogger with Eye on Miami was there, with a friend one time. However, none of us were listed in the minutes attending even though we all signed in as the county staff requested.
Anything unusual happen on Monday?
At Monday’s meeting, Fernandez Rundle asked to speak with the county attorney outside the conference room before the meeting started to discuss a letter the committee members had received from local blogger Al Crespo. He was asserting that because he had a Sunshine Violation complaint against Ethics Commission Chair Carleton Copeland, that the man should recuse himself from participating in the proceedings (Which Copeland offered to do, and he would leave the room, if any of the members thought that was what he should do, but all the others declined) since the claim was filed with the state attorney’s office that Fernandez Rundle runs.
However, after the discussion with Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez, the state attorney came back and said there was no conflict because “it was a complaint that might have occurred in a completely separate commission,” said the long serving state attorney, regarding the issue. Moreover, the complaint “has no bearing on this committee’s work” of finding a nominee and “we are prepared to move forward,” on the matter at hand of selecting an IG nominee, she said.
>>> 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
|TOURIST-RELATED TAX COLLECTIONS|
|In the month of September, the 3% Convention Development Tax (CDT) reflects a 12.5% increase compared to the same time in 2012. The 2% Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections for Greater Miami (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) shows an increase of 9.1% compared to the 2012. The 2% Hotel Food and Beverage Tax collections from hotels in Miami-Dade (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) shows an increase of 2.7% compared to the same time in 2012.|
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> New 2013-2014 District healthcare contract with employees had to include some $25 million for new federal ACA costs, also fraud in community a big issue, says Supt. Carvalho
In negotiating a new healthcare contract for the $4.3 billion public school district with the some 44,000 Miami-Dade public Schools employees, the emphasis was offering a tier of healthcare insurance options but also one health plan that required zero participation by the employee, but when facing a $60 million hole in the plan that was not a easy goal to achieve. Further, the Affordable Care Act is costing the District some extra $25 million and that had to be factored into the negotiation equation. The discussion of the negotiated plan took place at a Miami-Dade Public Schools School Board Special Meeting Wednesday and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho believes the contract negotiated, that also included a bump in teacher wages, will be difficult to replicate around the state or nation, he said. It’s “a Landmark Agreement,” and while it did not “fully fund the expectations,” of some teachers. The District in the negotiations came “as close as we could,” to fulfilling the promises made by state leaders, said Carvalho.
The issue of the District’s self-insured healthcare costs that has had to be absorbed as the cost for the plan increased has been a vexing problem for the schools administration. The superintendent noted he recently needed a MRI at a hospital that “was only a five minute interaction,” and yet it cost him “$3,740.00,” he said. Moreover, that sum of money would have paid for a student’s education for half a year. He noted that school employees should demand a bill after they get treatment, because it is not free and what they may actually pay is a lot less than the true cost. Carvalho also said he was also sick and tired “of every Tom, Dick and Harry,” getting busted for Medicare and Medicaid Fraud in South Florida, and the “biggest cases” of these frauds “is driven by the private sector,” and this crime is costing the district millions of dollars it does not have to provide employees with healthcare insurance.
However, one of the reasons for the rising costs is District employees lifestyles and Board Member Raquel Regalado said while in the past we “have tried the carrot” approach it may be necessary to consider “the stick,” in asking employees to pay more if they smoke or live a unhealthy lifestyle, she suggested. In addition, she thought if anything was to change when it came to employees habits, it would “involve changing the mindset,” of the employees and she called for “more employee responsibility,” because in some cases like with “special needs” children. The costs for healthcare are becoming “prohibitively expensive,” she said. Moreover, in the future the District would be unable to “kick the can,” down the road like the current year because these healthcare costs continue to escalate at an alarming rate, she closed. >>> And for more on the meeting go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/06/3735822/miami-dade-school-board-approves.html
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Hail CEO Migoya, went for the gold with $830 million bond approved by voters by 65 percent in low 11.38 percent countywide vote, but what of the oversight of money and what if the former banker leaves JHS?
Hail President and CEO Carlos Migoya as countywide voters take a leap of faith Tuesday at the polls and approved by 65 percent of some 138,996 votes (out of 1.27 million county voters) an $830 million bond over the next decades to revamp and modernize the ageing facilities at the Jackson Health System, especially its main downtown campus. The Watchdog Report talked to a host of people about the bond over the past months and they cite Migoya as the reason for their support, now that JHS is in the black after a decade of running in the red to the tune of hundreds of millions in the late 2000’s.
However, while the Miami-Dade County Commission has assured the public that there will be an independent oversight board to watch how this new money is being spent. There is almost a palpable trepidation in the community that the money will some how get diverted or not used, as it should. However, Migoya and elected leaders say that will not be the case, but what happens when Migoya leaves the institution and will the next person who follows in that capacity have that same accountability attitude, or will the funding become just another funding political football for the 13 member County Commission. Similar to what happened with the 2002 countywide half-cent transportation sales tax, that in 2006 or so became a unified funding source within the county’s transportation department. However, there is still an independent oversight committee Citizens Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) that does oversea where the money goes but now anything the CITT passes has to also be approved by the county commission.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Mayor Regalado & Commissioner Carollo coast to victory, Hardeman and Dunn face off in what will be bitter runoff for Dist. 5, Dunn continues to have campaign report filing problems
Mayor Tomas Regalado cruised to reelection victory on Tuesday getting 78 percent of the citywide vote and the former journalist and broadcaster will be sworn in on Nov. 15 the mayor told the Watchdog Report on Thursday. Regalado brushed aside three challengers in the race, which in total got roughly 22 percent of the vote. However, his only concern in the race was when Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez announced his bid for the job, but subsequently dropped out after multiple campaign gaffs, though the young attorney had raised over $1 million for his campaign and will likely run again for mayor in 2017. Further, Regalado has charted his own destiny in office, one in many ways different from his predecessor former Mayor Manny Diaz, though they both have development in the city a top issue, but never on the scale of Diaz’s administration.
What about Miami Manager Johnny Martinez?
Manager Johnny Martinez is back in his office after a few months away on a medical leave after suffering a stroke, and later having a cardiac pacemaker inserted. Martinez is a former local FDOT Secretary, had worked as a director at Miami-Dade County before coming to Miami and rising to the top position a couple of years ago, replacing former Manager Tony Crapp, Jr., in the position.
While Martinez was away from the high profile office, CFO Daniel Alphonso was in the management top spot as the interim appointee until Martinez was up to the task. In addition, Alphonso did a yeoman’s job while in the office and is one of the few people that actually understands all the financial issues of the city, and was said to be very effective in getting elected officials and the public to understand the numbers as well. In addition, the Watchdog Report gives Alphonso a Tip of the Hat for a job well done, including the city’s budget hearings, and for stepping up to the plate when he was needed.
What did Regalado say about Art Basil & Miami Marine Stadium?
Regalado told the Watchdog Report after some representatives of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium visited his office last week that there is a planned “huge” function being planned during Art Basil with Friends to raise money for the restoration of the iconic structure closed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Friends, a not-for-profit has been working to raise money and get supporters for the project that has included Grammy Award winning singer Gloria Estefan getting involved. The project along with the Gusman Theater has been on the mayor’s front burner since he was first elected in 2009 and while it has been slow going. Some progress has been made and many community residents await eagerly the opening of the historic waterfront venue that has provided the backdrop for a host of performers including Estefan to Sammy Davis Jr., over the decades.
What about the Commission District 3 race?
Incumbent Commissioner Frank Carollo cruised to victory over challenger Alex Dominguez when the elected official got 78.3 percent of the district wide vote. Carollo, a CPA and a hands on commissioner has struck out on his own while being on the dais, though he generated a county ethics complaint, when he was stopped for a traffic infraction, called the Miami police chief, and was let go without a ticket. Carollo and the chief say they did not unduly interfere in the matter but the case is in front of the County’s Ethics and Public Trust Commission. However, that past incident did not seem to sway voters in the district and the man is back for another four-year term on the dais.
What about the District 5 race?
With Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones termed out, the four member race to replace her as commissioner of District 5 is now down to two with Keon Hardeman facing former Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn, II in the upcoming runoff election for the seat. Hardeman, an assistant public defender, garnered 45.8 of the vote to Dunn’s 22.21 percent of the district’s voters that came out to vote in the low turnout race. In addition, Hardeman has also gotten the endorsement of educator Dr. Robert Malone, Jr., who got 10.4 percent of the vote and Dunn picked up the endorsement of the third ballot getter Jacqui Colyer who received 21.5 percent of the vote last week. However, the race is expected to get uglier, and Spence Jones is supporting Hardeman and Dunn has been plagued with reporting irregularities when it comes to his campaign reports, and with the race in a sprint now. For either candidate, any new negative press could be fatal to the campaign that will have an even lower turnout than the 11 percent in the Nov. 5 General Election.
What about the runoff, is Spence-Jones still a commissioner?
The Watchdog Report asked Mayor Tomas Regalado what the status was with Spence-Jones and he noted the city “charter was vague” on this, and whether she could attend the Nov. 21 Commission meeting. Since the runoff election is Nov. 19 and there has to be a five-day vacancy period of the office the charter state’s. And the mayor said the Clerk’s office is saying she is in office, but the Miami attorney believes it could be otherwise, and District 5 could well be not represented on the dais at this upcoming Miami commission meeting until the final winner has been sworn in a few days later.
>>> Press release: Former Mental-Health Clinic Therapist Sentenced for Role in $55 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
A former therapist for Biscayne Milieu, a Miami-based mental-health clinic, was sentenced yesterday to serve 120 in prison for his participation in a $55 million Medicare fraud scheme. 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; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Miami office made the announcement. Jose Rojo, 39, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke in the Southern District of Florida. Rojo was convicted on Aug. 7, 2013, of one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud following a one-month jury trial. In addition to the prison term, Rojo was ordered to pay more than $11 million in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants, and to serve three years of supervised release.
According to the evidence at trial, Rojo and his co-conspirators caused the submission of more than $55 million dollars in fraudulent claims to Medicare through Biscayne Milieu, which purportedly operated a partial hospitalization program (PHP) – a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. Instead of providing PHP services, the defendants devised a scheme in which they paid patient recruiters to refer ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to Biscayne Milieu for services that were never provided. Many of the patients admitted to Biscayne Milieu were not eligible for PHP because they were chronic substance abusers, suffered from severe dementia and would not benefit from group therapy, or had no mental health diagnosis but were seeking exemptions for their U.S. citizenship applications.
The evidence at trial further showed that, as a therapist at Biscayne Milieu, Rojo conducted sham therapy sessions for patients he knew were ineligible for PHP treatment. Often Rojo showed up late for these sessions or not at all, but Medicare was still billed as if a full session took place. Rojo created fraudulent documents to help cover-up Biscayne Milieu’s massive fraud, including bogus treatment plans and phony group therapy notes that were copied from one document to the other. Deliberately inaccurate group therapy notes for different patients on different days – often years apart – were in many respects identical, including having the same descriptions of patients’ statements in group sessions and even the same misspelled words. Further, Rojo provided other therapists at the clinic with fake group therapy notes for a fee. Biscayne Milieu billed Medicare for tens of millions of dollars in PHP treatments for these patients.
Various owners, doctors, managers, therapists, patient brokers and other employees of Biscayne Milieu have also been charged with health care fraud, kickback violations, money laundering and other offenses in two indictments unsealed in September 2011 and May 2012. Biscayne Milieu, its owners, and more than 25 of the individual defendants charged in these cases have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. Antonio and Jorge Macli and Sandra Huarte – the owners and operators of Biscayne Milieu – were each convicted at trial and were sentenced in April 2013 to 30 years, 25 years and 22 years in prison, respectively.
This case was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of HHS-OIG and was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marlene Rodriguez and James V. Hayes of the Southern District of Florida; Hayes was formerly a trial attorney of the Fraud Section. >>> Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE
>>> Will approval of Grove Bay project be a Pyrrhic Victory for any future political career for Commissioner Sarnoff?
With the passage of the development of Scotty’s Landing, the Chart House and the marina on the waterfront of Coconut Grove that was approved by 61.26 to 38.7 percent of citywide voters. The local Grove activists that fought the project, while still fighting the issue in the local courts, have on the whole turned against its chief proponent Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. Sarnoff elected to the District 2 seat in 2006 on the five-member commission dais, has had a belly full of complaints and heated arguments with Grovites on the development. And these critics used to be his biggest supporters in past elections, and allowed Sarnoff, a Grovite himself, to win in a tight reelection race in 2011 when he faced four challengers but squeaked by and got the required 50 percent of the vote plus one.
Since that last victory, Sarnoff has been pushing for the demolition of the Grove Convention Center, which began last week, and he drove a bulldozer into the old building to begin the project of tearing it down which has been a long wish of the commissioner. However, while he got the Grove Bay project approved by city voters. Many people are wondering if it is not a Pyrrhic Victory when it comes to his political future and while he is termed out in 2015. The maritime attorney may find his political career is over for within his base, he has many voters shaking their heads about how much the man has changed over the past seven years he has been in office.
What about Sarnoff’s new Teslr electric car?
Sarnoff should consider a job in the car business or at least reviewing them since he changes the personal cars he drives quite often. In the past few months there was a high end new Porsche Carrera S Coup, but that has recently been replaced by the high millage black Teslr Model S 85 that is an electric car, and recently the city built an electric car charging station in the back of city hall for such cars. Miami Commissioners get an $800.00 a month car allowance, which is the same as the Miami-Dade County Commissioners, but both groups of elected leaders also use sergeant-of-arms to ferry them to different political and sometimes personal functions and that is when the car allowance raises eyebrows. Though more elected leaders from both bodies are now driving themselves to events, rather than seeking the services of an armed police detective to provide protective services. >>> And the basic Teslr costs roughly $49,000 and for more on the new car go to http://www.rsportscars.com/tesla/2013-tesla-model-s/
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Levine wins outright after recount Friday, says he will keep Mgr. Morales, wants transparency in Beach government, but now the work begins in tourist metropolis
In a nail bitter whether there would be a runoff race for mayor, after a County Elections Department recount of the final Nov. 5 vote Friday afternoon, by a whisker, Philip Levine was elected Miami Beach’s new mayor. The man got the mandated over 50 percent of the voters and he will begin his new job in the days ahead, a position that pays the top official $10,000 in a strong manager form of government, where the mayor in many ways can be just a figurehead, depending on the person in office.
Levine, who raised $1.9 million for his campaign, that was mostly self financed, ran against Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora (who got 36.43 percent of the vote), it had been in a bitter race, and both men pulled out the nasty political stops, that also featured candidates Steve Berke, a Yale graduate (and got 12 percent of the vote), who had his campaign filmed, and Rafael Herman rounded out the candidate field. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/08/3739835/after-recount-levine-wins-miami.html Levine a businessman and neophyte candidate ran as an outsider which appealed to the tourist mecca’s voters who were tired after a variety of scandals in multiple city departments and had new city Manager Jimmy Morales installed in the office in the middle of the year after he replaced long serving Manager Jorge Gonzalez.
Levine has said Morales will stay and he is seeking transparency in the municipal government, ethics reforms and people being straight shooters if they want to serve the roughly 88,000 residents of the island. A small strip of land that is facing significant flooding issues, hampering driving and water logging residents homes many times, especially when the moon is close and tides rise. Gongora has told the media he is going to stay involved but will go back to just being an attorney with the high profile law firm Becker & Polikoff after serving on the commission. And the Watchdog Report gives Levine a Tip of the Hat for pulling off this upset, good luck and I believe he will be surprised at the size and scope of the responsibility he has in this new elected capacity.
>>> What about the Commission races? All three have runoff elections
Moreover, for the three commission seats that were up, all three seats on the dais will have runoff races with Mickey Steinberg facing off against Elsa Urquiza for the Group I race. Incumbent Commissioner Jorge Exposito is facing defense attorney Michael Grieco for the Group II seat and former Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower is running against Joy Malakoff for the Group III spot on the six-member commission body that is chaired by the mayor who makes up the seventh vote on the body.
>>> 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.
Entries must incorporate the phrase “Like to Love Miami Beach” somewhere in the poem and brevity is preferred, no more than eight lines. The Like2Love Miami Beach poetry contest is open to people of all ages, entries are restricted to one per person and submissions should be sent to email@example.com. Contestants have the chance to win exciting prizes and their poems featured in Miami Beach promotional materials. Visit miamibeachfl.gov or click here for guidelines and restrictions.
The contest will be judged by communications professionals—including Scott Cunningham, poet and founder of the renowned poetry festival O, Miami. Judges will select three finalists and Miami Beach’s Facebook fans will select a grand prizewinner. Other prizes include the award-winning Taschen book Gustav Klimt. The Complete Paintings ($200 retail value) and two tickets to Panic! At the Disco at the Fillmore Miami Beach Jackson Gleason Theatre. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.673.7575.
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 to Broward Bulldog’s Fourth Anniversary, no easy achievement!
The Broward Bulldog is celebrating 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
>>> 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.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott names Juan A. Selaya to the Broward County Housing Authority.
Selaya, 78, of Hollywood, is the owner of JAS Property Marketing Corporation. He is reappointed for a term beginning November 8, 2013 and ending November 18, 2015.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Palm Beach County Gastroenterologist Charged with Filing False Tax Returns
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the unsealing of an indictment charging Krishna Tripuraneni, 55, of Palm Beach County, with three counts of filing false tax returns for 2006 through 2008, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned on November 22, 2013. According to the indictment, Tripuraneni was the registered agent and manager of Palm Beach Surgery Center and other companies operating in Palm Beach County.
If convicted, Tripuraneni faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each count of filing false tax returns. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Clark. An Indictment is only 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.
>>> And to read all the Palm Beach elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> Belle Glade Man Sentenced to 19 years in Prison on Firearm and Drug 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), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announce that Jose Nunez, 23, of Belle Glade, Florida, was sentenced to 228 months (19 years) in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra. On March 20, 2013, PBSO Gang Detectives investigated a shooting that occurred in Belle Glade, Florida. Detectives determined that Jose Nunez was involved in a verbal confrontation with another individual that escalated once Nunez removed a semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and pointed the firearm at the victim, firing one round into the ground. Gang detectives subsequently obtained a warrant for his arrest.
Agents of the PBSO Tactical Unit and U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Nunez due to an active warrant stemming from the shooting investigation. As the agents conducted a search incident to arrest they noticed that Nunez was wearing a bullet proof vest under his shirt and was in possession of cocaine, hydrocodone, morphine, alprazolam, marijuana, brass knuckles, and U.S. currency. The agents also located the semi-automatic pistol used in the March 20, 2013 shooting in Nunez’s possession. A federal grand jury indicted Nunez on May 21, 2013, charging him with five counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. In July 2013, Nunez pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Today at his sentencing, the court found Nunez qualified as a career offender based on his prior felony convictions, and this status subjected him to enhanced penalties. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF, PBSO, and U.S. Marshal’s Service. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John McMillan. 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.
>>> Art Gallery and Gallery Owner Charged with Obstruction of Justice
in Connection with Importation of Ancient Chinese Artifacts
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announce that Lorin & Son, LLC, an art dealer based in Winter Park, Florida, and Francois B. Lorin, 74, of Winter Park, Florida, were each charged by Information with one count of obstruction of justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(2), in connection with the importation of ancient Chinese artifacts that were interdicted by authorities at the Port of Miami. Lorin & Son, LLC faces a maximum $500,000 fine and up to five years’ probation, and Francois B. Lorin faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Information also alleges forfeiture of the items in the shipment, including various artifacts that were the subject of the alleged obstruction conduct. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez.
Lorin & Son, LLC conducted business under the name “Asiantiques,” and bought and sold Asian art through a gallery in Winter Park, Florida, and at trade shows and other industry meetings in the United States and Hong Kong. According to court documents, this matter involved the importation from Hong Kong of approximately 488 items of Chinese fine arts in June 2011, including certain cultural artifacts, through the Port of Miami. Twenty-seven of these items were subject to a prohibition against importation because they pre-dated 907 A.D. constitute items of significant Chinese cultural heritage. Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the People’s Republic of China entered into as of January 14, 2009 (the “MOU”), archaeological materials representing China’s cultural heritage from the Paleolithic Period (c. 75,000 B.C.) through the end of the Tang Period (A.D. 907) could not be imported into the United States absent specific prior government approval. If, however, such items were already in the United States as of the MOU date, the items could be re-imported without prior authorization.
According to court documents, invoices accompanying the shipment indicated that the entire contents had originated in Florida and were being returned to the United States after having been shipped to Hong Kong for a trade show. After the items were interdicted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officials, Francois B. Lorin and others created false documents to justify provenance for certain items in the shipment that were prohibited from entering the United States without such provenance. Thereafter, Lorin & Son, LLC and Francois B. Lorin, through counsel, filed a Petition for Remission with CBP and provided supporting materials, in which the defendants argued for release of the interdicted items by using false invoices and providing other false information. The invoices that were submitted were backdated, falsely claimed that items had been acquired from third-parties before the MOU date, and otherwise falsely claimed that these documents established “proof” that the items could be lawfully imported.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy. Forfeiture and repatriation is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Lehr. An information 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.
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps of Jeenu Philip to the Board of Pharmacy.
Philip, 41, of St. Johns, is a pharmacy supervisor with Walgreens. He is a member of the Florida Pharmacy Association and the Duval County Pharmacy Association. Philip received his bachelor of pharmacy from St. Johns University. He succeeds DeAnn Mullins and is appointed for a term beginning November 6, 2013, and ending October 31, 2017. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Gov. Scott taps Lisa Miller to the Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Region Two.
Miller, 53, of Tallahassee, is the CEO of Lisa Miller and Associates. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 7, 2013, and ending October 1, 2016. The appointment is 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
>>> International Business Leadership Awards – the Greater Miami Chamber prepares to honor those who work in international business at the seventh annual International Business Leadership Awards luncheon. The Chamber also recognizes Art Torno and Manny D. Medina who have been selected to receive the 2013 Ponce de Leon Global Pioneer Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, respectively. The awards luncheon will feature a keynote presentation by Bill Mills, CEO, North America, Citibank. Where: Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 S.E. 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33131, When: Wednesday, November 14, 2013 11:30 a.m. Registration 12:00-1:30 p.m. Program Cost: Advance Registration: $75 per member | $85 per nonmember, After November 1: $85 per member | $95 per nonmember RSVP: Additional information and registration available online at www.MiamiChamber.com
>>> Watchdog Report pledges to watch over new $2 billion in revenue streams at JHS and public schools district, will you help financially to keep me in the field?
While Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have a host of public trusts and authorities watching over hundreds, or billions of dollars, and most are responsible entities. However, over the past almost 20 years the Watchdog Report has gone to these public entities meetings. I have heard words like “manipulate the charter,” or “circumvent” and when I hear these words and see the general thinking of some board members. The publisher gets concerned and is why I keep my eye on so many of our public institutions of this type. In addition, what I am vigilantly watching now is how the $1.2 billion in new bonds for the public schools will be spent, and now the $830 million bond for Jackson Health System has been added to my work program list.
Because I have found over the decades that the media cannot keep track of many of these meetings, or reporters may not understand the dynamics of what is going on. Given the complex dynamics of the $4.3 billion public schools district or the changing world of healthcare in the years ahead and this new JHS money to be used for infrastructure and IT. Moreover, this monitoring and reporting back about what these entities are doing is why I have continued doing the Watchdog Report over the years and why I need my reader’s financial support to keep at it. For there is some $16 billion in public money alone being spent in just Miami-Dade every year, if you add it all up, and I have found government that is watched is more accountable.
And with these new funding streams, as these come on line, I promise to my readers that I will be there to cover these oversight entities and to help ensure the monies are spent correctly and there is accountability, and that is a good thing. However, I do need your financial support to keep me out there in the field during this critical time and hope you will consider becoming a supporter. For it is your tax dollars and this money is a scarce resource that must be used wisely. If the community is not to get burned again because of waste, fraud, abuse and corruption of these new public tax dollars.
>>> Opining that Michael Gongora’s letter, no doubt sent w/ Mayor Matti Bower’s approval, was probably legal, sets a low standard of public conduct. Is it ethical? No. that’s why it is so unusual.
>>> You sounded good on WLRN earlier this week. Keep up the great work… GLAD you are feeling better!
>>> 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
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 http://ethics.miamidade.gov/
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net
MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS www.dadeschools.net
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org
THE BEACON COUNCIL www.beaconcouncil.com
THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org
THE GOOD GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE http://goodgov.net/
THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org
THE MIAMI FOUNDATION www.miamifoundation.org
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA http://www.firstgov.gov/
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI www.miami.edu
The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you. The Watchdog Report is in the 13th year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 600 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events. The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.