Argus Report: Miami Bayfront Park Trust cuts $542,000 check to city general fund, major turnaround of organization whose CEO was arrested and jailed back in 2000
Florida: PA Lopez-Cantera “transitioning” to new role as Gov. Scott’s wingman, but what will his political fate be in the years ahead? Position is mixed bag for politicians — 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: Major County Commission debate on $30 million misdemeanor diversion contract for 11th judicial circuit, includes Sunshine law Violation debate
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Controversial Doral Charter School in the audit committee spotlight again, even with new documentation, district auditor firm on past critical conclusions and controversial $4.5 million loan to affiliated college
Public Health Trust: Will CEO Migoya’s one time bonus deal with unions, change tenor of relationship with County Mayor Gimenez, fighting his own battles with the other five county unions?
City of Miami: Commissioners “bait and switch,” funding agreement with M-DC Homeless Trust leaves Trust with a bitter taste towards Miami Commissioner Sarnoff
City of Miami Beach: Veteran Commissioner Weithorn, hits the streets Thursday night to count homeless on the Beach; joked Vegas odds makers might know how long kumbaya atmosphere might last on commission dais
City of Coral Gables: CITY OF CORAL GABLES TO OFFER NEW THEFT DETERRENT KIT TOLOCAL RESIDENTS, BUSINESS OWNERS
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Commissioner Jacobs wants to reign in CRAs, wants to put that money back into county general fund, also running for state House Dist. 96 in Democratic primary
City of Lauderdale Lakes: Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving Thousands of Patients’ Personal Identity Information
City of Weston: Local man convicted of tax fraud
City of Margate: Defendant Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
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
City of Delray Beach: Gov. Scott taps Mackenson “Mack” Bernard to the Florida Elections Commission.
Monroe County: – To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Community Events: Arsht Center production – Margulies Art Collection show
Editorials: Federal Judge Zloch’s 40 month sentence of Sweetwater Mayor Maroño, hits just the right note with the public disgusted with public corruption, a “cancer” on the community — 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 the publisher growing a beard
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.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Miami Bayfront Park Trust cuts $542,000 check to city general fund, major turnaround of organization whose CEO was arrested and jailed back in 2000
With the Bayfront Park Management Trust getting a clean audit for 2013 ending Sept. 30 and the organization cutting a $542,000 check back to the City of Miami. The troubled Trust in the late 1990s has bounced back in a big way and is a “model” for how such organizations should be run, said Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo at the monthly board meeting Tuesday. The Trust a decade ago needed general fund capital from the city but that fiscal position since a major management change has only gotten rosier and this is the largest check ever contributed to Miami’s general fund.
Back in 2000 the CEO of the Trust Ira Katz was arrested and went to jail after the long serving Trust Chair Miami Commissioner J.L. Plummer lost his reelection race after 29 years in office in 1999 to upstart political candidate Johnny Winton, who decisively defeated Plummer. Since then former Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, and Commissioners Marc Sarnoff and Carollo have chaired the Trust board made up of citizens and with the need for city coffer funding. This significant contribution is much needed and the audit shows the Trust at the end of the year has a net position of $10.6 million. “What a difference five years makes,” said Carollo and he noted that “back then the city issued that money to the Trust,” he said of the fiscal turnaround.
What else is going on at Bayfront Park?
With Museum Park in Bicentennial Park, a 30 acre parcel, now with the Perez Art Miami Museum and soon the new Frost Science Museum opening in the future. The Trust is fighting the idea that the organization give up managing the signature park downtown to a conservatory, something being pushed by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. Carollo says the fiscal turnaround demonstrates the Trust would be the best stewards to maintain the park and that there was no need for another governing and administrative board.
>>> The Ultra Music Festival is coming to Bayfront Park Mar. 28 to 30th at the Park and it is only a few days affair this year, after last year’s Ultra’s two week event, that while generating significant revenue for the park’s operation, was criticized in some parts by Miami residents for the loud music and throngs of fans that packed the city’s hotels and other local businesses. Though other residents changed their tune when they found out these events help maintain the park without tapping into public tax dollars so desperately needed elsewhere.
>>> Press release: The Six-Month Preliminary Deal With Iran Constitutes a Major Risk to U.S. National Security and Endangers Our Allies
“It took years to get tough sanctions signed into law and giving the Iranian regime access to hard currency will only strengthen its nuclear ambitions and embolden the regime to continue to sponsor terrorism abroad.” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding the first day of implementation of the Joint Plan of Action that the United States, the European Union, and the P5+1 nations negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “As today marks the beginning of implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, it is vital for us to scrutinize this agreement that fails to meet basic foreign policy objectives. Next week, I will convene a subcommittee hearing to further examine how this agreement jeopardizes our national security, endangers the safety of our ally the democratic Jewish State of Israel, and does very little to prevent Iran from being nuclear capable. Any agreement that fails to force Tehran to completely stop its uranium enrichment program, give up its ICBM program, allow access to its military sites, and dismantle its existing centrifuges is a bad deal.
“Iran has already stated that it could reverse the intent of this implementation deal very quickly and due to the concessions already made, a growing number of companies from Europe and elsewhere are already starting to flock to Iran to seek new business opportunities. It took years to get tough sanctions signed into law and giving the Iranian regime access to hard currency will only strengthen its nuclear ambitions and embolden the regime to continue to sponsor terrorism abroad. Sanctions brought Tehran to the negotiating table, and we must continue to place and enforce strong sanctions until our ultimate objective is met and not reward this regime for its ongoing illicit activities.”
>>> Protecting South Floridians from Unfair Audits, Ros-Lehtinen Co-Sponsors Bill Criminalizing Political Targeting by the IRS
Press release: “The IRS should be an impartial agency dedicated to enforcing our nation’s tax laws, not a bureaucratic agency specializing in political witch hunts. We must be vigilant in order to ensure every audit is based on a tax reason, not an individual’s political opinion.” Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her co-sponsorship of the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act, H.R. 1950, in order to protect the American taxpayer. This bill, introduced by Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio with 106 co-sponsors, is aimed at preventing the sort of politically motivated targeting of taxpayers that has occurred and is thus far unchecked by the Administration. In addition to prohibiting making a taxpayer the target of an audit solely based on political opinion or affiliation, this bill also imposes a penalty of a fine and up to five years imprisonment.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Any targeting of American citizens for audits for any reason other than a legitimate, good faith belief of tax evasion is unacceptable. Our country is based on the principles of freedom of speech, expression, and the rule of law. The IRS should be an impartial agency dedicated to enforcing our nation’s tax laws, not a bureaucratic agency specializing in political witch hunts. We must be vigilant in order to ensure every audit is based on a tax reason, not an individual’s political opinion.”
>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: A ‘meh’ week, but better than Bieber’s
John Zogby’s Obama Weekly Report Card is Featured in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Secrets” Published weekly in The Washington Examiner
Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama’s approval rating is slowly inching up, but that a majority still believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.
“This pollster pines for a genuine nonpartisan assessment of Obamacare to date. Almost everything being written or said about it is framed by ideology. One thing so far: almost four months into it, the three million who have signed up for the new health insurance program seem to be fine with it. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/408-zogby-report-card-a-meh-week-but-better-than-bieber-s
>>> With the Watchdog Report closing in on 15 years, I thank all of you that have supported the effort, not for the feint of heart in many ways, including financially surviving
When I started the Watchdog Report on May 5, 2000, I never imagined that almost 15 years later. I would still be at it, and I want to thank all of you and the organizations that have financially supported me over those years. Since I essentially am funded by the community and my readers. Moreover, to say it has been a strange fork in the road for someone, who came from the corporate world, to have started this effort is an understatement, and only in South Florida could I have pulled off a mainstream news service like the WDR. However, given the colorful nature of our community and how so many of us love and create the drama, that would be good entertainment. If we were not overall such a poor community, with pockets of great wealth, yet other areas in major poverty, and why our limited public tax dollars should be spent wisely and with proper oversight and media attention.
In addition, it is my belief that government works more effectively when reported on, and why I have kept at this, for over the past almost 18 years. In addition, the WDR or myself, has affected and easily saved some $100 million in public tax dollars over those years in some way. And it is the preventing of waste, fraud, and abuse and public corruption that has kept me out in the field and reporting back in a variety of venues, from the internet, The Miami Herald, to WLRN, and WPBT Channel 2 over the years.
>>> PA Lopez-Cantera “transitioning” to new role as Gov. Scott’s wingman, but what will his political fate be in the years ahead? position is mixed bag for politicians
Lt. Governor Appointee Carlos Lopez-Cantera is “transitioning” from being the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser to his new role of number two to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Miamian will be sworn in at the Florida House Feb. 3. Lopez-Cantera, a family man whose wife works at The Miami Herald (but not as a reporter) and the couple has two daughters. The man was a former Miami state legislator, rose to be the GOP majority leader in the House from 2010 to 1012 and while he has a friendly personality and tries to be conciliatory. He also is intensely loyal if he agrees to something and is considered an effective campaigner, but with not much of a profile on the statewide stage, but that will change with this appointment as the governor’s wingman.
Democrats argue Scott is appealing to Hispanic voters around the state after the former healthcare executive fought any kind of immigration reform at the state level, a hot button with Latinos but met coolly with the GOP faithful around Florida. Further, Scott will find the Spanish speaking Lopez-Cantera handy in his upcoming reelection campaign in November where he will likely face off against former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat who just has to win the party’s primary and defeat state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, who has low name recognition in the polls. However, Lopez-Cantera will get increased scrutiny in this new position and while people don’t think anything new will emerge about the man. His time over the last year in the PA office may get examined more closely after he leaves the countywide Charter Office at the end of the month.
What about past Lt. Governors?
The lieutenant governor position has a mixed track record for the chosen politician, former politicians in this capacity that did well after being in the office were Frank Brogan and former Florida Senate President Toni Jennings, when Gov. Jeb Bush held office but others like Jeff Kottkamp under Gov. Charlie Crist and more recently Jennifer Carroll who resigned amid a scandal and Scott’s number two. They have not fared so well.
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced two appointments and four reappointments to the Florida Commission on Community Service.
Christina Bonarrigo, 23, of Gainesville, is the student body president of the University of Florida. She succeeds Justin Quiggle and is appointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2016.
Kerry Ann Schultz, 38, of Gulf Breeze, is an attorney with Fountain, Schultz & Associates. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2015.
Marcia Gonzalez, 53, of Miami, is a council representative of Florida Carpenters Regional Council. She is reappointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2016.
Dr. Michael McLeod, 59, of Sebring, is a dean at South Florida State College. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2016.
Patricia “Penny” Miller, 58, of Ocala, is the vice president of Special Publications Inc. She is reappointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2016.
Susan Towler, 50, of Jacksonville, is the vice president of the Florida Blue Foundation. She is reappointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending September 14, 2016. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> Gov. Scott announced a $130 million investment to continue work on restoring the Everglades and South Florida’s ecosystem as part of the “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.”
Press release: Governor Scott said, “This $130 million investment from the ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ will fund critical projects that will improve water quality for families and businesses that rely on these natural treasures. These dollars will go towards improving water quality, mitigating impacts of Lake Okeechobee’s discharges on our estuaries, and diverting more fresh water south to help restore the Everglades.”
Less than a year after Governor Scott announced an unprecedented $880 million long-term Everglades restoration plan, the $130 million investment for the Everglades and South Florida’s ecosystem include $40 million to speed up completion of the C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area for Martin and St. Lucie counties. In addition, this $130 million investment includes $30 million for a three-year installment for the Tamiami Trail project, which will provide necessary water to Everglades National Park, $32 million in recurring funding as part of the Governor’s Everglades Water Quality Restoration Plan and funds to complete the Kissimmee River restoration project, which will store and clean water heading into Lake Okeechobee.
This major investment comes as many Everglades and South Florida restoration projects have already been permitted and construction initiated to improve water quality and quantity. In recent months, the South Florida Water Management District has begun work on large-scale reservoirs designed to store and ship water to stormwater treatment areas before cleaning and sending it south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. At the same time, the Department of Environmental Protection continues to work with local stakeholders on restoration plans for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers, Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee.
“Governor Scott solidified his reputation as the Everglades Governor with his announcement today,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “His dogged pursuit to improve the water quality in America’s Everglades is encouraging for all of us and his emphasis on restoring the Everglades remains unmatched. Governor Scott’s plan to store water north of Lake Okeechobee in the Kissimmee River Basin and divert water south of the lake shows families living along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers that he has heard their voices.”
During the Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott also highlighted the lack of federal commitment resulting from recent actions by the Obama Administration in Washington.
Governor Scott said, “While on the state level we’re working hard to protect and restore our natural treasures, we recently received some disappointing news from Washington. The Obama Administration decided the Everglades didn’t need all the funding Congress offered. It is my hope that the Obama Administration will not reduce critical funding for Florida projects in the future.” In Omnibus discussions, Congress initially agreed to provide more than $80 million for the Everglades. The Obama Administration, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, indicated they could not spend it all and requested $46 million. As a result, the Everglades lost tens of millions of dollars in federal funding this year. This is the lowest amount the federal government has appropriated for Everglades Restoration projects in the last 10 years.
>>> 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.
>>> Major County Commission debate on $30 million misdemeanor diversion contract for 11th judicial circuit, includes Sunshine Violation debate
A $30 million contract for Misdemeanor Diversion Services for the 11th Judicial Courts and the state attorney’s office, what would seem to be a mundane affair, turned into an hour and half discussion at the county commission meeting Wednesday after a number of Sunshine Violations were reported during the selection and procurement process. Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa said when she was briefed on the agenda items none of these accusations came up. Commissioner Estephan Bovo said he was “ambushed by the media” and he would have appreciated a heads up of any controversy. “When something like this develops,” because commissioners are forced to “defend, justify” any procurement contracts the commission approves. He noted that in the scheme of the county’s $6.3 billion budget, “$30 million is not a lot of money, but it is,” the former state legislator said. “Transparency,” he said in the procurement process was important and all parities needed to be “well informed on the rules of engagement.” And he noted “everyone has biases” but his concern was is “our process clean,” he closed.
The commission passed the contract for misdemeanor diversion services with Advocate Program Inc., and Court Options, Inc., for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and an attorney familiar with the case noted the losing lobbyists companies could appeal the final conclusion and vender selection in court.
>>> And to review all the Miami-Dade County Commissioners and other county officials 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
>>> Danger says sayonara to M-DC building department, homes stronger and safer in storms because of his work after Andrew, along with County Commissioners Diaz de la Portilla, Moss, and Sorenson
The Miami-Dade County Commission honored Charles Danger, P.E., on his retirement Wednesday for his work on demanding stronger building codes, for the county along with a few commissioners at the time after Hurricane Andrew flattened South Dade on Aug. 24, 1992. Danger, the Director of the Building Department years later, along with Commissioners Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Katy Sorenson and Dennis Moss were all part of the movement for the more stringent building codes and more thorough inspections of structures. After builders before the hurricane would just pay off county inspectors of homes and after the storm, left the houses in many cases totally gone. The commissioners all marched at a rally in Hollywood back in 1999 where a state building board was meeting and ultimately Miami-Dade and a couple of other counties were exempted from having to dilute their respective building codes. Further, the Watchdog Report asked Danger years ago what would happen if another Andrew hit and he soberly responded. “The other half of the houses [built decades ago under the weaker oversight] would be destroyed,” he considered. And I give him a Tip of the Hat for making the community’s homes safer, then when he first arrived, and that is no small achievement.
>>> Miami-Dade Resident Sentenced in Tax Preparation Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Rigoberto Cabrera, 37, of Miami-Dade County, was sentenced today for his participation in a tax preparation fraud scheme. Cabrera was sentenced to 292 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Cabrera was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,526,622. A federal jury previously convicted Cabrera on 29 counts, including one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 18 counts of making false claims to the IRS, four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and four counts of money laundering.
According to the indictment and evidence presented during the trial, defendant Cabrera and co-conspirator Carlos Perez, 34, also of Miami-Dade County, recruited individuals and offered to prepare their individual income tax returns with the promise that the defendants could obtain substantial tax refunds for the taxpayers. The recruited taxpayers agreed to pay Cabrera and Perez a percentage of the refunds they received. The defendants then prepared fraudulent 2008 and 2009 federal income tax returns on behalf of the recruited taxpayers, claiming tax credits or deductions to which the taxpayers were not entitled. After the taxpayers received the fraudulent refunds from the IRS, Cabrera and Perez collected a percentage of the funds from the taxpayers through checks payable to companies that the defendants controlled and shell companies.
Through this scheme, the defendants claimed approximately $10,242,667 in tax refunds from the IRS. Carlos Perez was sentenced on December 5, 2013 to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Perez pled guilty on September 19, 2013 to Counts 1 and 21 of the superseding indictment, which charges the defendant with conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, and to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Bernstein and Alejandro O. Soto. 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.
>>> GMCVB press release: GREATE RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR DECEMBER 2013 MARKING 48 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES
Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased 2.4% in December 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This marks 48 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry.
| Greater Miami Leisure
and Hospitality Industry Jobs
|December 2013||December 2012||% Change|
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Controversial Doral Charter School under the audit committee spotlight again, even with new documentation, district auditor firm on past critical conclusions and controversial $4.5 million loan to affiliated college
The Doral Academy Charter School run by Academica, a for profit company is back in the cross hairs of the Miami-Dade County School Board Audit Committee on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., and while new school documents by Doral have been supplied regarding some transactions questioned by the district auditors, the auditor’s concerns did not change. Doral, a Charter School, which is part of a chain of charter schools with political connections called Academica over the past year, had asked for a delay in their hearing with the audit committee. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/24/3891440/lawmaker-championing-charter-school.html And in the past the organization’s representatives and attorneys had asked for more time, once to prepare for the FCAT last spring, and more recently before the end of year holidays when the board agreed to hear them in January. But had a school board member Raquel Regalado, an attorney, joking at the time saying attorney’s always want more time and the school’s excuses were similar to “my dog ate my homework,” she joked at the time.
However, School Board Auditor Jose F. Montes-de-Oca, CPA in his current memo to the school board and audit committee members, he notes that even after reviewing the documents. His office is not changing any of its findings in an examination and audit of the charter school that loaned over $4.5 million to an affiliated college, and has been written about extensively in past Watchdog Reports over the past few years. Since it was first flagged by the nation’s fourth largest public schools district that funds charter schools to the tune of $300 million this current year with public tax dollars. To read the audit report go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_Jan_28_2014/item4.pdf >>> http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_Jan_28_2014/agenda.pdf and to read the complete agenda for the upcoming audit meeting go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_Jan_28_2014/agenda.pdf
>>> PAST WDR STORIES ON THE SCHOOL: Doral Academy High School in the spotlight with audit committee, gave $400,000 grant and approved $4.5 million for private building enhancements, but administered by Academica, a for profit that runs 54 charter schools in Miami-Dade
Doral Academy High School., one of five charter schools administered by Academica Corp in Doral, a for profit entity was given a harsh analysis by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Audit Department that questioned a $400,000 grant without at first board approval, and another $4.5 million in construction and other related charges for a building owned by a private owner, given the school receives District public tax dollars. The audit states the nation’s fourth largest public schools district funded in 2012, 108-charter schools to the tune of $300 million in tax dollars. And in the case of the five charter schools contractually managed by Academica in Doral. The organization received $1.6 million in administrative fees, and some $22.3 million in tax dollars went to the five schools, and for the other 49 charter schools Academica runs, there total management fees for the year were $9.5 million, states the district’s documents
Academica also is politically connected and hired state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami in the summer of 2011 as the president of Doral College Inc., affiliated with Doral Academy Inc., and to read the complete audit go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_December_2013/item5.pdf and the audit will be discussed at the Dec. 3 school board Audit and Budget Advisory Committee meeting and the meeting is expected to be a lively affair. Further, Academica’s attorney challenges some of the report’s findings and he will likely offer a vigorous defense. The school district over the years has focused on a number of irregularities that have occurred at some of the district’s numerous charter schools, and one school, the Arts and Minds Academy Charter School in Coconut Grove got a 350 page forensic audit done by the District, that was later sent too the IRS, since the school was also a not-for-profit and avoided paying federal taxes.
>>> PAST WDR LAST MONTH: Board Member Regalado annoyed Doral Academy Charter School discussion delayed, says Atty’s always have an excuse, “the dog ate my homework
The discussion of the controversial audit of the Doral Academy Charter School was a contentious affair Tuesday at the Miami-Dade Public Schools Audit and Budget Advisory Committee meeting, and the committee in a divided vote. The voting members granted a delay when it came to discussing the controversial audit of the organization as was reported in last week’s Watchdog Report and later in http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/03/3795275/charter-schools-400000-grant-to.html. The Charter School’s attorney argued that the audit report was “picking and choosing the facts” that benefited them and it would be “more beneficial to sit down with the attorney’s,” hired by the school district. Since she believed, they were “not understanding the issues.” However, the District’s auditor told the committee he stood by the audit and “The findings will remain as they are,” even if discussed later. The District’s Chief Auditor Jose F. Montes de Oca told audit committee members, and the six school board members attending the meeting.
However, later after the matter was tabled to a later audit committee in January, School Board Member Raquel Regalado, a non-voting member of the committee said she disagreed with the delay of hearing the Doral Charter School issue and that ultimately it was the school board members, “Constitutional Officers,” that would ultimately have to deal with the matter. She noted back in January when the critical audit first came to light that representatives of the charter school and Academica, the organization that manages the school. They asked for a delay back then because of the “approaching March FCAT,” exams and now this second delay request she said. “My concern is the establishment of a precedent,” and the audit “did not come out of nowhere.” The board member, an attorney, also said lawyers are “always asking to delay,” a hearing and as a “defense attorney,” in her career. She thought this request based on a short notice was like saying, “a dog ate my homework.” Moreover, that creation of a precedent was her only concern about granting the delay, she said. To read the Doral Academy audit go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_December_2013/item5.pdf
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Will CEO Migoya’s one time bonus deal with unions, change tenor of relationship with County Mayor Gimenez, fighting his own battles with the other five unions
Carlos Migoya, the Jackson Health System (JHS) President and CEO is getting criticized by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez for striking a independent deal with the health systems two local unions, just as the mayor vetoed county commission legislation ending the four year policy of employees contributing five percent to their health insurance costs, that was to expire Jan.1. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/24/3891486/miami-dade-mayor-slams-jackson.html Migoya says the easing of the salary contribution was necessary for the well-being of the academic public hospital and retaining top quality nurses and doctors was critical. However, Gimenez has to deal with the other five county unions and this new wrinkle that the county cannot replicate to give JHS employees a ‘one time 3 percent bonus,’ states the www.miamiherald.com and since the county unions and commissioners support union contract consistency when it comes to pay and benefits. Gimenez says there is no way the county can replicate this one time pay bump and he is livid with the pact, and the deal was not what Gimenez discussed with Migoya last week.
Before Migoya was picked back in May 2010 to lead the beleaguered health trust, Gimenez at the time did not think Migoya a former banker was the right man for the job, though then Commission Chair Joe Martinez was pushing Migoya for the top spot to turn around the red ink hemorrhaging public hospital system and Migoya ultimately was tapped to stop the deficits and to turn the JHS public hospital around. Migoya, who likes exotic cars, did just that in the last three years and on the whole, the county commission has given him glowing grades, but this new wrinkle also highlights the trust’s independence from the county. However, this new deal could also ignite tension between the mayor and the hospital CEO who the mayor in the past has also praised for his work at JHS.
Further, PHT vice Chair Joe Arriola, on the current six-member board, in a earlier www.miamiherald.com story criticized Migoya’s one time bonus decision saying having a “three minute discussion” on the deal with him was “B… S…” He is quoted as saying, and the mercurial board member is expected to be very vocal on the matter on Monday afternoon at the monthly-televised board meeting that will be held in the County Commission Chambers starting at 3:00 p.m. www.miamidade.gov
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> City’s “bait and switch,” funding agreement with M-DC Homeless Trust leaves Trust with a bitter taste towards Miami Commissioner Sarnoff
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust leadership has had it, when it comes to believing the words of elected Miami commissioners after the Trust believes it was the victim of a “bait and switch,” with city leaders when it came to funding extra Continuum of Care (COC) beds for the local Miami homeless on the streets. Long serving Trust Chair Ron Book at the Friday board meeting held in the county commission chambers (but not televised) said in past months discussions with Miami officials the agreement was for the more extensive COC, but Miami actually contracted with Camillus House for a Mats Program, that involves a less extensive continuum. Where homeless people voluntarily come into the facilities where they shower, sleep and get some meals, and then many times return to the streets. Camillus Board Chair Bob Dickenson in past Watchdog Report’s has stated the program does work and the program is just one model that can be used to get people off of living on the community’s streets. Further, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff whose office was negotiating the deal with the Trust asked Book, “Can’t we try this as a pilot,” but that would only make the homeless population “worse,” said Book. Further, Book, an attorney, said the city can do whatever it wants “with their money,” but what he objected too was since 1993 no one “ever before” had “misrepresented something,” before the 27 member Trust board, and that cannot be tolerated.
Book acknowledged that he did not have a “study that said Mats don’t work,” but after 20 years of traveling around the country looking at how different cities dealt with they’re homeless populations, “trying to see what we have missed.” He believes the fact the Trust has won the “U.S. HUD Best Practice Award six times,” more than suggests they are doing something right. Further, he also noted “HUD would not fund mats,” and while Commission Chair Willy Gort said he went to Orlando in the 1990s to observe the city’s Matt program for the homeless, and that it worked. Book noted, after that trip that included Alvah Chapman, Jr., to Orlando, Miami-Dade later “rejected” the Matt programs because “of the need for a continuum of care,” and he said recently. The tourist Mecca recently got the “dubious distinction” of having “the highest number of homeless in the nation,” Book said. “I know what we have is working,” and “I know there are more homeless downtown,” and he gets “the humanitarian garbage,” concerning the Matt program. But it is not our “Plan,” and just “Makes it easier to stay out there,” and any further discussion of this matter is “off the agenda,” because in his opinion there “is nothing good about this,” closed Book on the contentious discussion.
What about the homeless count this past week?
At this “point in time,” during the count that took place Thursday night, there are 832 people living on the county’s streets and that is down from 839 last year at this time, said Trust CEO Hilda Fernandez, a long time homeless advocate. She told trustees the number is “slightly” down “but the shelters are full” because of the “cold weather,” and there were 848 homeless people living on the streets this past August, when the last census count was done. She noted the extended cold snap triggered a “Cold Weather Emergency” response, that kicks in when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees continuously, and she said the shelters “are full because of the cold weather” and with the emergency status in affect, “expanded shelter capacity” was instituted at the Chapman Partnership, Camillus House and Lotus House during this cold snap, she said.
What about the Chapman Valentine’s Day Eisenberg Ball?
The Chapman Partnership, charged with Empowering the Homeless is requesting donations of New Year’s Attire for our children ages six to17 in the shelter for the Annette Eisenberg Ball and Valentine’s Day Dance for the children who reside at the Chapman Partnership. Drop offs are accepted at the Partnership and for more information how to contribute to this important event named after Eisenberg, a long time supporter of Chapman and a board member who recently passed, and she also had founded the important Downtown Bay Forum monthly luncheon where politicians and issues were the discussions of the day. For more go to www.chapmanpartnership.org or call 305.329.3081 for more information
What did Sarnoff say about recycling bins at a commission meeting?
At Thursday’s Miami Commission meeting, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff in a discussion of the rising cost of recycling to the city brought up a critical salient point on the dais. He noted the large blue 90 some gallon recycling containers residents are supposed to use to recycle can contain a variety of items destined to be recycled and reused, but if this material is wrapped in typical trash bags used by many people. That bag and what ever is inside it becomes “contaminated,” because the recycling company cannot deal with sealed plastic bags like that he said and the bag goes into the contaminated material trash pile. Further, a number of other commissioners like Commissioner Francis Suarez, expecting a new baby in February, were also not aware of that fact and the city will embark on a better educational campaign with residents to get the word out.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> Veteran Commissioner Weithorn, hits the streets Thursday night to count homeless on the Beach; joked Vegas odds makers might know how long kumbaya atmosphere might last on commission dais
Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn, CPA, a member of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust Friday told the Watchdog Report that she participated in the recent over night count of homeless living on the county’s streets and on Miami Beach. She said she counted around a dozen homeless on Lincoln Road (which was slightly warmer than nearer the ocean); no one in the gated community homes assigned to her, she noted it was an especially cold night to be sleeping on the Beach’s streets, and why shelters were full, said the homeless advocate for the beach.
The commissioner was first elected in 2007 and because of her accounting background tends to have a controlled and measured temperament on the sometimes-acrimonious dais. The commissioner said the Beach homeless out reach person was “homeless” himself a dozen years ago. However, he got his act together and has been an effective advocate with the city administration and given the stretch of cold nights these last few weeks. The shelters around Miami-Dade were packed, “because of the cold and the Heat Games,” said one homeless provider last week.
When the Watchdog Report asked Weithorn about the kumbaya atmosphere on the dais since the November elections swept in Mayor Philip Levine and three new commissioners and how long it might last. She joked a Los Vegas odds maker would have fun with that line, but she is a political realist, and for the moment. Levine is sailing a smooth ship on the dais, with the redevelopment of the Convention Center, being the signature issue the commission is dealing with after a previous deal was scuttled by the body earlier in the month.
>>> Virgil Fernandez has been tapped as the new Miami Beach Fire and Rescue Chief and he was the Fire Chief for the City of Hollywood before this new job. Fernandez previously was a Fire Marshall with the city of Miami and is said to be a “good guy,” said a number of Miami firefighters that knew him at the city. Further, Fernandez’s firefighters will be working with some of his former Miami peers because Miami provides fireboat services to Miami Beach and assists in boat fires and car crashes on the two causeways that connect the island to the Miami mainland. For more on the selection go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/22/3886051/hollywood-fire-chief-heading-to.html
>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Meeting Date: January 28, 2014 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street. Florida State Representative David Richardson (D) will be the guest speaker at the January 28th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Representative Richardson was recently elected to serve as state representative for District 113, which covers all of Miami Beach and the communities to the north. Representative Richardson serves on the Finance and Taxation subcommittee. He has taken an active interest in our Miami Beach flooding problems and is working with the Florida Department of Transportation in solving them. Representative Richardson has been a Florida resident since 1968. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> CITY OF CORAL GABLES TO OFFER NEW THEFT DETERRENT KIT TOLOCAL RESIDENTS, BUSINESS OWNERS
Mayor Cason press release: The City of Coral Gables Police Department is offering a new forensic coding theft deterrent called SmartWater CSI that will assist with the identification of criminals or stolen items. This product is a forensically encoded liquid that residents and business owners can apply to their property and can also be used to spray unwanted intruders upon activation of a security alarm. SmartWater CSI is a non-hazardous, robust liquid that is virtually impossible to remove and leaves a long-lasting identifying forensic marking. This marking is known to remain present on a person or property for a minimum of five years and is only visible to the naked eye with the use of an ultraviolet black light.
When officers wave an ultraviolet black light over a suspect or an item and detect the presence of this encoded liquid, they will collect a sample of this marking and submit it as evidence to forensic laboratories. Upon examination and confirmation of the product registered user’s information, our Police Department will be able to identify stolen property as well as link suspects to other crimes committed.
Coral Gables residents interested in protecting their valuable property can obtain SmartWater tracer kits at a discounted price of $30 by contacting the Coral Gables Crime Watch at 305-460-4153. There will be a press conference for the launch of this program within the City of Coral Gables on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:00am at the Coral Gables Police Department, 2801 Salzedo Street, Coral Gables, in the Community Meeting Room. For more information please contact Police Department Public Information Officer, Kelly Denham at 305-460-5403.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> Commissioner Jacobs wants to reign in CRAs, wants to put that money back into county general fund, also running for state House Dist. 96
Long serving Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs wants to reign in county property taxes used to fund nine municipal Community Redevelopment Agencies in the coming years and allow some 22 other incorporated cities to compete for some of this funding directly from the county in the years ahead. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-01-14/news/fl-broward-ends-cras-20140114_1_county-tax-county-funds-county-officials The lawmaker says she does not want to tell local municipal lawmakers what to spend this money on, but she does want more oversight and some of the high administrative costs associated with them.
Jacobs, a Democrat is running for state House District 96 this summer in the primary and she is facing fellow Democrat Steven Perman in the primary race for the House seat. She lost a previous attempt to run for the Congress in 2012 when she narrowly lost by a couple of hundred votes to U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Broward. However, Jacobs may have a better shot for the Florida House this year and she was the public face for the county years ago when it was hit with multiple hurricanes, and she is also strong on environmental issues in the heavily Democratic Party stronghold county. She has raised $92,188 for her campaign war chest and he has $32,989 in his campaign coffers to date state campaign disclosure forms.
>>> Press release: The Broward Delegation will be having a Public Hearing on Gaming: February 24th Public Hearing on Gaming
Broward County Government Center in the Commission Chambers 115 South Andrews Ave, room 422, Fort Lauderdale 2-5:30 pm If you wish to sign up to speak at this Public Hearing go to http://www.broward.org/Legislative/Pages/PresentationForm.aspx and fill out the speaker form to be placed on the agenda. Please feel free to forward to other interested parties. Broward Legislative Delegation, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room 429, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33301, Phone: 954 357-6555 Twitter: BrowardLegDel
>>> Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line — Residents of Broward County can now review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line and to see the inner financial workings of these elected officials go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.
CITY OF LAUDERDALE LAKES
>>> Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Involving Thousands of Patients’ Personal Identity Information
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Michael Ali Bryant, Sr., 41, of Lauderdale Lakes, pled guilty today for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme. Sentencing is scheduled for April 11, 2014.
Specifically, Bryant pled guilty today to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Co-defendants Tiffany Shenae Cooper, 33, of Deerfield Beach, and Marquis Onigirin Moye, 24, of Pompano Beach, previously pled guilty to the same two charges. Cooper is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2014, and Moye is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2014. At sentencing, each of the defendants face a maximum of ten years in prison for the possession of unauthorized access devices charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
Michael Bryant’s wife and co-defendant Latina Rashawn Bryant, 43 Lauderdale Lakes, previously pled guilty to one count of using an unauthorized access device, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2014.
Co-defendant Angela Dione Rosier, 41, of Coral Springs, previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(b)(2). Sentencing is scheduled for February 28, 2014.
According to documents filed in conjunction with today’s plea hearing, a confidential source (CS) initially approached Michael Bryant and inquired about purchasing narcotics. Bryant told the CS that he did not have any narcotics but that he did have personal identity information (PII) that he was willing to sell to the CS. The CS made a controlled purchase of ten pages (each page containing approximately 20 to 25 names) of PII. Bryant instructed the CS on how to commit tax fraud using the PII, and provided the CS with specific instructions on what information to enter into the web pages of the internet-based tax services to obtain a tax refund. An examination of the PII revealed that it was from a medical services provider. Co-defendant Rosier was an employee of the medical services provider. Co-defendant Cooper spoke to Rosier to obtain user names and passwords for current employees of the medical services provider. Cooper admitted to illegally logging on to the medical services provider’s computer network and downloading PII for the purpose of committing various types of fraud. She was assisted in her activities by Rosier and co-defendant Moye.
Subsequent investigation by the IRS identified 226 false claims linked to Michael Bryant. These false claims were for refunds totaling $775,879. Seventy-eight of the false claims were paid resulting in a loss to the IRS of $221,576. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia R. Wood. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
CITY OF WESTON
>>> FLORIDA MAN CONVICTED OF TAX FRAUD
Press release: The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced yesterday that on Jan. 21, 2014, a federal jury in Palm Beach, Fla., convicted Paul F. Wrubleski, a resident of Weston, Fla., of one count of corruptly impeding the due administration of the internal revenue laws and four counts of filing false claims for tax refunds. Wrubleski was remanded into custody yesterday.
According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial, Wrubleski had a decade-long pattern of filing false documents with the IRS. Wrubleski impeded the IRS by filing false W-4 forms that claimed he was exempt from income tax withholding and by filing false tax returns, including four tax returns that requested over $1.5 million in federal refunds. Wrubleski also sent obstructive letters, tax returns and other false documents to the IRS between 1999 and 2010. In addition, the indictment alleged and the evidence proved that Wrubleski filed for bankruptcy in 2006 in order to impede IRS collection actions. Sentencing is scheduled for April 3, 2014. Wrubleski faces a statutory maximum potential sentence of 23 years in prison and faces a fine of up to $1.2 million. Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Tax Division commended the efforts of special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Trial Attorneys Charles Edgar Jr. and Jed Silversmith, who prosecuted the case, with local assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.
CITY OF MARGATE
>>> Defendant Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, announce the unsealing of an indictment charging Louis A. Francois, 44, of Margate, with three counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and three counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2. The defendant was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Lee in West Palm Beach.
According to the indictment, Francois owned and operated a tax preparation business called A&I Multi Services (A&I) located in Oakland Park, Florida. Francois stole personal identifying information (PII) of various individuals, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and addresses, for the purpose of filing fraudulent U.S. income tax returns claiming tax refunds in those individuals’ names. Subsequently, Francois printed out the refund checks payable to the persons whose PII was used at A&I. The checks were in the amount of the fraudulently obtained tax refunds minus Francois’ “tax preparation” fees and other fees. The “tax preparation” fees were deposited into Francois’ bank account. Francois went to a check cashing store located next door to A&I with the fraudulently obtained tax refund checks and fraudulent Florida driver’s licenses matching the stolen identities on the checks and cashed them.
If convicted, Francois faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for each wire fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for each aggravated identity theft charge. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the Secret Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick. 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.
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
>>> Governor taps Mackenson “Mack” Bernard to the Florida Elections Commission.
Press release: Bernard, 37, of Delray Beach, is a managing partner with Bernard Auguste, and the Corporate Counsel for Florida Affordable Housing. Bernard served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2009-2012, and as a City Commissioner for Delray Beach from 2008-2009. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 24, 2014, and ending December 31, 2016. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
>>> The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
Present NANA MOUSKOURI Best-selling, multilingual singer returns to the U.S. with “Happy Birthday Tour”
“Her soaring voice has shifted 350 million records, making her the most successful female singer ever!” – The Guardian, UK Part of the 2013-2014 Live at Knight Series Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $35, $55, $75 & $95*
John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall >>> The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is proud to present legendary, multilingual singing sensation NANA MOUSKOURI as part of its star-studded 2013-2014 Live at Knight Series. Currently traveling the world with her international “Happy Birthday Tour,” NANA MOUSKOURI will make her much-anticipated return to the U.S. with a concert celebrating a landmark birthday and honoring artists who have been inspirations throughout her career on January 26, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. Tickets to NANA MOUSKOURI are on sale now at $35, $55, $75 & $95*, and may be purchased through the Adrienne Arsht Center Box Office by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at www.arshtcenter.org. Often described as Europe’s Barbra Streisand, NANA MOUSKOURI is a world-renowned singer with a career spanning five decades and one of the best-selling female artists of all time with more than 350 million albums sold worldwide… NANA MOUSKOURI will be accompanied by a band of four French musicians and daughter Lénou, who has had her own singing career in France since 2001. *All programs, artists, ticket prices, availability, dates and times are subject to change without notice. Visit www.arshtcenter.org for up-to-date information for details and schedules.
>>> The Margulies Collection is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 11am to 4pm Feature Exhibitions: Song Dong | The Wisdom of the Poor: A Communal Courtyard Arte Povera | Calzolari, Kounellis, Pistoletto Anselm Kiefer | Paintings and Sculpture 1986 – 2006 New Painting: Anna Betbeze, Aaron Bobrow, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Astrid Svangren,Tam Van Tran New Photography: Olafur Eliasson, Jan Hoek, Nina Katchadourian, Domenico Mangano, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Hank Willis Thomas New Sculpture: Ai Weiwei, Nathalie Djurberg, Masao Gozu, Kenny Scharf, Paolo Ventura
New Video: Kota Ezawa, Amar Kanwar We look forward to welcoming you to the Warehouse soon!
Jannis Kounellis,Senza Titolo,1999, plates, iron shelves, bags, plaster, 142 x 79″
>>> Federal Judge Zloch’s 40 month sentence of Sweetwater Mayor Maroño, hits just the right note with the public disgusted with public corruption, a “cancer” on the community
The sentencing in federal court this week of Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño after he pleaded guilty to honest services fraud after he accepted a bribe was a ray of sunshine to South Florida residents in the fight to tamp down public corruption. The former now discraced municipal mayor was sentenced to 40 months in prison for these public corruption charges, slightly longer than was anticipated. And this sentence by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch should send a strong signal to politicians. That pay-to-play, payoffs and corruption in general is a losing bet here in South Florida and yet so many politicians and public servants fail to get the memo – you do the crime, you will do the time.
Zloch, a former Notre Dame University quarterback during the 1965-football season did the right thing when he reminded the defense and U.S. Attorney’s office recommending a slightly lesser sentence, that this type of crime is a “cancer” in the community and must be excised. If the public is to have any trust in their public institutions and leaders. .http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/24/3891614/gov-rick-scott-formally-removes.html And he echoes the comments federal U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz made years ago when she was sentencing the high profile brothers Jorge and Carlos de Céspedes for over a decade of Medicare Fraud. And the men’s defense attorney argued at the time that they had “paid 60 percent of their taxes,” so they should only get 40 percent of the federal sentence. Seitz after just over a minute of this line of argument said “just stop right their,” to the attorney and she then said. “Only in South Florida is stopping at a red light or paying all your taxes an aspirational act,” and she then gave the brothers around nine years in federal prison to reflect on they’re past wayward deeds. That before her sentencing proceedings had a host of community leaders writing letters asking for a softer sentence because of all the money the brothers had donated (even though it wasn’t all their money) over the past years to charities and one such letter even included a prominent municipal mayor asking for leniency from the judge.
Moreover, it is that lenient corrosive attitude to public corruption and fraud that must be tamped down because it bleeds through our public institutions and society, and generally ends with many people making the comment, “everyone is doing it,” so what’s the problem. Moreover, Zloch was right to throw the book at the disgraced strong mayor who was a close confidant to GOP Gov. Rick Scott early on, and he was the Spanish speaking Hispanic face for Scott when he first ran for governor in 2010 at campaign stops.
And the federal jurist was right to correct the defendant’s comments to the plea deal. He did not make a “mistake,” but the ex mayor broke the public trust and the law, and that was the bottom line for the Ft. Lauderdale born judge, who I suspect has seen it all over the decades. First, when he was in private practice and later on the federal bench, where from 2000 to 2007, he was a former Chief Judge of the District. Moreover, the Watchdog Report thanks Zloch for sending this strong message to the public that at least the federal courts are tough on public corruption, and will punish the wayward officials appropriately. In a community, that has the largest number of FBI special agents in the “public corruption” detail in the local U.S. Attorney’s Office in the nation.
Zloch bio on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Zloch
>>> Reader on me growing a beard – I think that the credibility of the media is questioned if the reporting is not accurate, unbiased and if reporters are not properly shaven.
>>> 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
MIAMI DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY www.miamidda.com
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.
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Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net
Copyright © of original material, 2014, 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.