Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.32 December 22, 2013 Est. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – May you and your family have a Happy New Year!
Argus Report: BEST OF WDR: July 2013: M-D College graduates over 13,000 students in a single day from 184 countries; college is diversity central, where 88 percent of staff comes from minority groups
Florida: MDX makes its case to local state lawmakers, spent $1.2 billion since 1994 in Miami-Dade expressway expansion, commuters still grumble at tolls — LAST WK WDR: In a few weeks all state and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances
Miami-Dade County: Homeless Trust still waiting for agreement & funding from Miami for set aside homeless beds, so far “1,620 empty bed nights” wasted at Camillus since Oct.1
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Supt. Carvalho rocks with higher grades for district’s almost 400 schools, has guided schools through fiscal minefield since 2008
Public Health Trust: PAST WDR 2013: Boston bombing tragedy highlights importance of Ryder Trauma; JHS is anchor for any WMDs or local mass causality events
City of Miami: PAST JULY WDR: Sarnoff has top net worth on five-member commission, net worth surges to $2.1 million; Spence-Jones comes in at negative $182,644 trailing the pack
Village of Coconut Grove: Even with tight deadline, Playhouse deal eliminating liens using $120,000 in funding passes county commission, with only one no vote, goes to FL Cabinet Jan 15
City of Hialeah: Three Miami-Dade Residents Sentenced for Fraud Scheme
City of Miami Beach: Mayor Levine’s thoughts on a host of local issues, what he wants to tackle in 2014, and “zero tolerance policy for corruption” in Beach City Hall
City of Coral Gables: Federal Agent Indicted in Conspiracy to Commit Extortion, Bribery and Making False Statements
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: Best of WDR 2013: Mayor Jacobs, an environmental champion on dais has $110,378 net worth for year & Sheriff Israel comes in at $514,000 net worth through June
City of Lauderhill: Third Defendant Sentenced in False Tax Return and Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Palm Beach County: Long serving County Sheriff Bradshaw in the spotlight, had $2.13 million net worth through Jun. 2013, up from $1.77 million the year earlier — Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
City of South Bay: There he goes again; Gov. Scott suspends Commissioner Walker-Turner a second time, after Sunshine Law violation conviction
Indian River County: Leader of Vero Beach Clandestine methamphetamine Lab Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Pinellas County: Gov. Scott announced the appointment of Sherwood S. “Flip” Coleman to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court.
Brevard County: Gov. Scott taps David Koenig to the County Court.
Monroe County: Past WDR: Sheriff Ramsey in the spotlight, tony tourist mecca with 75,000 residents, he had $832,000 net worth through June – all other county leaders financials on line as well – To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
Community Events: MAKE HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING UNFORGETTABLE WITH GIFTS “OUTSIDE THE BOX” AT MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PARKS’ ONLINE “PARKSTORE” – King Mango Strut Dec.29th – Arsht Center production
Editorials: PAST JULY WDR 2013: Candidates in the upcoming municipal elections must run they’re campaigns on the up and up, if they are to have voters trust — PAST WDR JULY If elected leaders want to be a community Great One, temperament and humbleness is a key ingredient, ego must be kept in check — 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: Readers on passing of Miami defense attorney Sharpstein
Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.
>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)
>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.
>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.
>>> There will be no Watchdog Report for the next few weeks, for I have to raise money in this tough economic climate, and that is no easy task. I hope over the almost 15-years that I have made the case that government watched and reported on functions more efficiently and honestly with your precious public tax dollars. Moreover, if you think that media oversight is important, I would appreciate your financial support to keep at this for many more years. May you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year!
>>> CORRECTION to the Story Below: In a story on the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust below, I incorrectly gave the impression that Camillus House continued to have a mat program for homeless people to sleep on and Camillus House Board Chair Bob Dickinson in an email last week wrote. “Dan, to clarify, Camillus operated the mat program from 2007 until we relocated in June, 2012 when we moved to the new NCL campus. We routinely housed 280 men and women. In 2009, due to the H1N1 virus threat, we trimmed back to 150. It’s important to understand that they came to us of their own volition — most of them stayed with us 24/7. Two thirds of the men and three quarters of the women migrated to a housed environment, which is the goal. We are currently working with the City [of Miami] and the private sector to find funding to support 100 men and women from the downtown area. Most, if not all of these are chronic homeless who have resisted accepting beds in the past,” wrote the veteran homeless advocate clarifying the matter.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> BEST OF WDR: July 2013: M-D College graduates over 13,000 students in a single day from 184 countries; college is diversity central, where 88 percent of staff comes from minority groups
Miami-Dade College had a host of graduations this past spring and the educational juggernaut with some 178,000 students, is graduating on a single day, more than 13,00 students from 184 countries and 94 languages are spoken ion the multi site sprawling campus thoughout Miami-Dade. The College founded in 1960 has grown exponentially and the school and its alumni generates some $3.3 billion in “added income to the community,” states a MDC publication. And with “some 2 million alumni” over the decades, it has become the largest public College in the nation. And the College’s diversity is its hallmark with Minorities representing 75 percent of its administrators, 63 percent of the faculty and 88 percent of the staff falling into this classification.
Eduardo Padron, Ph.D., the Miami-Dade College President since 1995, in 2010 got the county’s taxpayers approval to add a countywide half-cent sales tax, but the issue did not pass on a statewide vote, and could not be implemented locally and the money would have brought in some $200 million in new funding. Padron, the school’s leader for decades, and a trained University of Florida economist has created an educational laboratory of diversity. As immigrants from all over the world come to South Florida to make their mark, after first getting their educational start at the College, that has an almost infinite number of alumni that affix the M-DC sticker to their cars in respect of the school’s important mission of educating the future leaders and professionals of South Florida and the world.
Pedron >>> bio: http://www.mdc.edu/main/about/college_president.aspx
>>> Update: Why did I run this story again about M-DC?
The Watchdog Report runs this story again because over the past almost five years. I have watched a young Columbian man go from an M-DC student to an honors student at Florida International University. Sebastion is his name, when he arrived in Miami he spoke very little English and the young man claims I helped him learn the language. Since I first met him, he got his own apartment, a first, and dated a Tahitian girl in his first serious romance. He had one steady job over the time, a few catastrophes like when his car was hit when it was parked by the side of the road, but he now is going to the FIU engineering school nonstop even with these past challenges. Moreover, when Sebastion completes his civil engineering degree in about a year. He will be the poster child of what M-DC and FIU represent to the young adults of Miami-Dade that come from here and around the world with only their grit, tenacity and willingness to learn and to become productive people in they’re life.
How did I get into doing the WDR back in May 2000?
Last week someone at the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust asked me if I covered the meetings because I had been homeless in the past. She thought that might have been the case, since I had gone undercover once as a homeless person years ago, that I must have had that experience in my life. However, thank God, I have not been homeless, though at times fiscally things were bleak. And just for the record, I have lived in Tokyo and Sydney for five years over the decades as a international businessman working with a implantable cardiac device company and to read how I got to where I am today in a national story that ran in all the 50 or so Tribune papers back in 2003. Go to Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003.
>>> 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. But 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. And the WDR or myself have impacted and saved easily 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, to WLRN, to WPBT Channel 2 over the years.
>>> U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami is not retiring from office she says in a press release Wednesday after three House GOP lawmakers in Congress said they were saying sayonara to the body last week. Ros-Lehtinen in office since 1989 said the rumor is she would become a university president in the future, if she stepped down, but she is staying in Congress and “not retiring,” she closed.
>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: NSA court slap offset by US Olympic value play on gays – 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 White House report card that President Obama had a week of advances and putdowns, highlighted by a federal court’s slap of his National Security Agency spying scandal offset by his decision to snub Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Olympics. “Not the best and not the worst week for the president. He was smacked down by high profile/high tech executives on NSA eavesdropping at a White House meeting and his efforts to elicit their support for Obamacare fell flat. And the program was also deemed ‘probably unconstitutional’ by a federal circuit judge. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/396-zogby-report-card-nsa-court-slap-offset-by-us-olympic-value-play-on-gays
>>> MDX makes its case to local state lawmakers, spent $1.2 billion since 1994 in expressway expansion, commuters still grumble at tolls
The Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation held a public hearing on Transportation issues last week in Miami City Hall, (that should have been televised within the City of Miami) and the attendees heard a major presentation from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX). The MDX operates a host of freeways in Miami-Dade and has been converting totally to SunPass tolling to facilitate traffic movement and to reduce the cost of people in tollbooths taking the cash that pays for the bonds used to finance the freeway system. MDX maintains five expressways and the MDX 13 member oversight board is made up of five appointees by the governor, seven are appointed by the Miami-Dade County commission and the FDOT District 6 Secretary is the 13th member of the board.
MDX since its creation in1994 has invested $1.2 billion in the highways expansion, including 32 new lane miles, 85 percent of the system has been resurfaced and 98 percent of the “bridges rate good or excellent,” state MDX documents given to the legislators. MDX’s economic impact has been estimated creating some 12,600 jobs, $74.8 million was paid for service contracts in 2013 alone and 41 percent of the contracts “went to small and local business.” The organization boosts Miami-Dade is no longer in the top ten most congested urban areas in the nation, when it was ranked sixth in 2005. That level of congestion ranking has now improved to 13th place, and that occurred while the area grew by 20 percent during that time, state the documents. Further, the highway system serves over 1 million commuters a day and ultimately in many ways the only way to reduce this congestion even further is through “mass transportation being expanded,” said the MDX representative.
What about the increase in toll controversy?
MDX over the years in 2001, 2005 raised the tolls on the freeways and set up new toll booths along the highways and a toll bump in 2010 was “delayed to 2012 and further to 2014,” because of the “downturn of the economy.” However, commuters also have been carping for years that MDX and its board is not responsive to users and the impact these fees have had on drivers. In addition, a citizen speaker felt MDX was “only concerned with a rapid build out,” and “does not weigh public interest,” the man said. Further, years ago then state Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Kendall in a battle with MDX and now a county commissioner was highly critical of the authority, and he even questioned whether it should not be dissolved. For more go to www.mdxway.com >>> webpage info: History of MDX The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority was created in December 1994, by the Miami-Dade County Commission to establish local control of toll revenues and to ease traffic congestion on five major roadways in Miami-Dade County. With the passage of Florida legislation in December 1996, MDX took over operational and financial control of five of the busiest roadways in Miami-Dade County. State Road 112/Airport Expressway State Road 836/Dolphin Expressway State Road 874/Don Shula Expressway State Road 878/Snapper Creek Expressway
State Road 924/Gratigny Parkway MDX’s five roadways cover more than 31 center-lane miles and are the most critical east-west roadways in the county.
What about the delegation’s leadership?
State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah chaired the delegation hearing and the termed out legislator in 2014 has been dogged with past residency issues after his new House 111 seat was redrawn in 2012. However, he decisively won reelection back then when he garnered 62 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. The legislator was also the point of the spear in trying to get public financing support for an expanded Miami Dolphins Football Stadium that failed to be heard in the House after House Speaker Will Weatherford spiked the legislation and kept it from going to the House floor.
The Delegation’s Voce Chair is state Rep. Jose “Pepe” Diaz and he won reelection for the 116 House seat in a bitter GOP primary race against then state Rep. Anna Rivas Logan, R-Miami, where he trounced Logan getting 66 percent of the vote in the primary race in Aug. 2012. In addition, both state representatives only faced a write in candidate in the Nov. General Election, who they easily defeated. >>> And to see Diaz and state Rep. Mark Pafford, D- West Palm Beach being interviewed by Helen Ferre on Issues Sunday go to http://ka.uvuvideo.org/_Issues-1-of-2-Legislative-Preview/video/1855638/86294.html?b=
>>> PAST WDR JULY: Gov. Scott gets small bump in net worth to $83.7 million & CFO Atwater jumps to $1.7 million net worth for 2012
Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott has had a bump in his net worth this year from $82.9 million to $83.77 million and before he got into public life, he had considerable more money, after he used over $72 million of his own money to win the office back in 2010. When he defeated GOP candidate Bill McCollum in the primary and Democratic Party Florida CFO Alex Sink in the General Election. Scott, who takes none of the governor’s $125,000 salary, pays for his own plane, has amped up his public profile as he looks to get reelected in 2014 and while his mantra is still “jobs, jobs, jobs,” and the state’s unemployment rate is 7.1 percent. The former healthcare executive has only seen his poll numbers rise after being in the basement, but voters are still having a hard time getting a handle on who the essentially shy man is who only now is trying to be a hard core politician who works a crowd looking for votes.
What do we know about Scott’s finances? To read Scott’s financial disclosure form for this year go to: http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/232592-Form6.pdf
>>> Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater had a slight bump in his income from $1.68 million the previous year to $1.74 million through December 2012. The former state Republican lawmaker and President of the Florida Senate in 2008 was elected CFO in 2010, and since then he has kept his eye on the job and has not been hit with any significant controversy. To read his disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/72587-Form6.pdf
>>> Press release: Gov. Scott announced the selection of Dottie Berger MacKinnon, Sheriff Susan Benton, and Louise Jones Gopher to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Governor Scott chose the three women from a list of 10 distinguished nominees selected by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and all citizens of Florida.
MacKinnon, (1942-2013), formerly of Tampa, committed her life to child advocacy. Mrs. MacKinnon was a founder of Joshua House, a haven for children removed from their families, and chaired the Friends of Joshua House Foundation board from 2003 to 2006. She also served as chair and founder of Kids Charity of Tampa Bay. Most recently, MacKinnon founded A Kid’s Place, a group home in Brandon where siblings can live together after being taken from their homes over abuse or neglect. From 1994 to 1998, MacKinnon also served on the Hillsborough County Commission, serving as chair from 1996 to 1997. Recently, the Tampa Metro Civitan Club honored both MacKinnon and her husband with the Citizens of the Year award for their philanthropic work.
Benton, 64, of Sebring, is the sheriff of Highlands County. In 2004, she was the first female elected Sheriff in the history of the state of Florida. After taking office, Benton created a partnership between the community and the Sheriff’s Office by creating the first-ever strategic plan. In 2012, Benton was named the first female president of the Florida Sheriffs Association in the organization’s 118-year history.
Gopher, 68, of Okeechobee, is a lifelong educator. From 2003 to 2007, she served as the Director of Education for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Gopher was the first female Seminole Indian to earn a bachelor’s degree. She lead the way for the creation of the first Native American Charter School east of the Mississippi, Pemayetv Ernahakv. In 1999, Gopher was selected as one of the Palm Beach Post 100 people who changed the way we live during the 20th century. In 2007, she received the Wescott Award from Florida State University for a lifetime of work in education.
>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.
>>> Children’s Movement of Florida Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.
>>> Homeless Trust still waiting for agreement & funding from Miami for set aside homeless beds, so far 1,620 empty bed nights wasted at Camillus
The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust met Friday and the discussion of the day was the federal court agreement being concluded by U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno. Ron Book, the Trust’s long serving chair said the Trust was not a party to the suit the federal judge is hearing and while Book considered the first federal court ruling known as the Pottinger Case in 1998. Which at the time he called a “game changer,” but that term did not apply to this current agreement reached with the court, City of Miami and the NAACP, he considered. The new agreement covers a variety of issues dealing with the homeless living on the streets of Miami and what is and is not acceptable behavior in the public domain. And the original federal settlement limited some of the activities that police officers could arrest the homeless for while living on the street. However, the city of Miami and business owners downtown have wanted some changes that would diminish these protections and the people’s presence on the street and its affect on the burgeoning business district blossoming in downtown Miami. For more go to http://www.local10.com/news/aclu-agreement-reached-retains-core-pottinger-protections-for-homeless/-/1717324/23456340/-/ufd1rhz/-/index.html
Further, the City of Miami has not agreed on the terms with the Trust for the municipality to pay for extra beds asked for by Miami leaders. The city’s first agreement regarding the matter was considered “unacceptable” said Book because the agreement was “not consistent with what was approved,” and why it was rejected. Book thought the city was trying to “take advantage of the Trust,” and any deal with the city now would have to have a “180 day cancellation clause,” the attorney insisted. His anger was based on the fact that Camillus House that provides services for the homeless, since Oct. 1 had dedicated 20 beds exclusively for Miami homeless, but these sit empty and some 1,620 bed nights have been wasted since then. The chair said that Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who has been pushing the issue of getting more homeless off the downtown streets. He should realize we are “not the enemy,” and the city’s delay in paying for these services because of a lack of agreement suggested Miami leaders were trying a “bait and switch” and he thought given past discussions and the matter passing the commission. The matter was resolved since “your handshake is your word,” he carped. Nevertheless, we were “sucker punched,” with the sudden change of what the city wanted to agree too, said Book.
The issue is Miami wants to fund only mats for the homeless to sleep on and not the more rigorous continuum of care for homeless people, and mats are not something that U.S. HUD will fund nor the Trust. However, while Book says it “sounds great,” when it comes to providing mats, the 900 percent decrease in homeless since 1992 using the current programs shows that is the way to go. But Bob Dickinson, the Camillus House chair said that the organization’s mat program has its place too and is where people spend the night on mats, but under protected shelter, and then leave the next morning after a shower. Dickinson said the mat program was remarkable successful, that the program was “like a halfway house,” for these people since, “they came in willingly,” and what Camillus is providing is a blend of “technical” and a “spiritual continuum of care,” he observed. And over time these people, many of whom suffer from “mental illness,” they begin to “relax” and “start making eye contact,” which is a big deal for many of the homeless, and while it is “not a panacea,” with this difficult chronic homeless population. The mat program is “an element to get them off the street in our view,” he observed. And Dickinson later told the Watchdog Report that the Mat Program was begun back in 2007 and currently some “280 people a night use the mats” and 90 percent of them are there 24/7, he said.
What about the 102 homeless people that died on the county’s streets in 2013?
The Trust held a candle light vigil at noon Friday for the 102 homeless people that died in Miami-Dade County on the street, and one this year was a baby, and the number of deaths are a “significant increase,” from past years, said Book. The Trust started holding a ceremony in memorial of these people that have died on the street years ago and they perish for a variety of reasons, but such a life on the street leads to significant health issues, lack of medical care and many of the street population have mental health issues as well.
>>> And to review all the Miami-Dade County Commissioners financial disclosure forms for the year go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm?org_id=214439&suborg_id=233972&Mode=By_SubOrg
>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR NOVEMBER 2013 MARKING 47 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES — Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased 3.0% in November 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This marks 47 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry.
Greater Miami Leisure
and Hospitality Industry Jobs
|November 2013||November 2012||% Change|
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Supt. Carvalho rocks with higher grades for district’s almost 400 schools, has guided schools through fiscal minefield since 2008
The release of the statewide school grades last week and the fact that Miami-Dade County Public Schools performance only went up, with some of the inner city’s lowest performing schools in the past going to A Level is another feather in the cap of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. When the former teacher took over the nation’s fourth largest school district back in September in 2008, the school board and public could only imagine what the Chemistry teacher that spoke multiple languages would do. As the national economy tanked and school, funding dropped to an all time low, with real estate values sinking and massive foreclosures rampant throughout South Florida. Carvalho at the time grabbed the bull by the horns and he immediately made massive staff and spending adjustments, reassigned hundreds of principles and focused on putting money in the classroom. Since then he and the District have won dozens of awards, including the prestige’s Broad Prize, a national award for educational excellence and more recently Carvalho garnered Florida’s Superintendent of the Year.
Carvalho has attained Rock Star stature in South Florida in many ways, and he is a compelling public speaker that celebrates education and children’s success in everything that he does. He has been mentioned for national posts, has been on panels in the White House and when his negotiated salary came up last year. He kept it within reason and consistent with the fiscal constraints the District was working within, and he had passed on a number of perks over the years since his appointment to the post by the school board.
Prior to Carvalho taking the helm, the past Superintendent Rudy Crew who came to the county in 2004 had to deal with a divided school board for much of his time and while millions were spent on replacing old schools with new ones under the Crew administration. That activity in-conjunction with the rising student enrollment of charter schools, which gets $300 million in public funding this current year, has left the district scrambling to build up its reserves (that were around $5 million back in 2008), yet still service the attendant bond debt from the past construction binge. However, the current $4.3 billion district got a fiscal shot in the arm last November when county voters passed a $1.2 billion bond for facility renovations and advanced IT capabilities and all the students being connected with the worldwide web, and that is being rolled out in the coming months. For more on the district schools grades go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/18/3825612/high-school-grades-out-for-state.html
>>> PAST JULY WDR: WLRN/NPR and WLRN/Herald News wants to become “media news juggernaut,” in coming years says G.M. Labonia
John Labonia in a Mar. 25 memo called “Reinventing Our Future” the man details an audacious plan to make WLRN/NPR and WLRN/ Herald News into a “media news juggernaut that has no equal” by 2014 and the plan will begin in 2013. And in a similar document on the subject called “A Strategic Plan to Reinvent Our Future” someone details the role Friends of WLRN will play in this role of making the station a “new public media powerhouse composed of WLRN/Miami Herald News, WLRN productions and WLRN.org to name a few of the listed entities in this expanded programming activity. The “goal is to make WLRN the around the clock pervasive and constant source of news and information” about South Florida and the go to site for news and investigative reports. The station has recently won a series of Edward R. Morrow awards last week and has a host of other awards under its belt over the past few years. Since an affiliation was established with The Miami Herald back around 2003 and will now include a shared newsroom, being built in WLRN’s second floor headquarters.
Funding for the news operation in the Friends budget for this news expansion is being increased from $1.1 million in 2012 to $1.9 million in 2013 and investments in “high definition infrastructure” is a key component of the coming years plan. And Dan Grech, a former Miami Herald reporter, and now the point of the collaborative spear is predicting these changes will allow listeners a whole spectrum of digital formats attempting to capture the new younger emerging listeners and sets the foundation for when people no longer get the F.M. station from the radio in their car or home, but on a host of digital portable devices.
What about The Herald and WLRN?
WLRN, a station owned by the Miami-Dade Public School Board and started 64-years ago as a public station raised eyebrows when the first link up with The Miami Herald was made years ago and while the venture has been successful. Critics worry that the interests of the general public might get lost when brought together with a for profit venture such as the paper. Moreover, while journalistic firewalls have been created this new collaboration is bringing this relationship even closer. In addition, Friends primary role has been to raise money for WLRN and to supplement the public station’s budget that has faced federal and state cutbacks over the years for the quality programming the public station has become known for. However, this is definitely a new expanded direction that the station plans to take and the blending of a not-for –profit and a for profit news organization needs to be watched closely say critics.
What about a more recent story on WLRN and any controversy?
Two critical stories on WLRN management came out last week and to read those stories go to http://randompixels.blogspot.com/2013/12/wlrns-john-labonia-is-grinch-whole.html and for another go to http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/12/miami-dade_public_schools_and.php#more and the Watchdog Report is investigating what is going on at Friends of WLRN, the station’s fundraising arm. And to read the WLRN audit for the year go to http://mca.dadeschools.net/AuditCommittee/AC_December_2013/item11.pdf
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> PAST WDR 2013: Boston bombing tragedy highlights importance of Ryder Trauma; JHS is anchor for any WMDs or local mass causality events
The recent bombings in Boston have reminded the community of the need for a top notch Level I Trauma Center and at the Ryder Trauma Center this past week. Physicians and other medical personnel discussed what was learned from the tragic event and how Boston Hospitals handled the event and what could be learned. Ryder is the federal District 7 anchor hospital for any such catastrophic event or after a WMD event and this critical need first came to the forefront after the Sept. 11 attacks on the nation. Ryder, as part of Jackson Health System and the University of Miami’s Miller Medical School back then had to respond in a major way after these attacks. And tens of millions of dollars were spent after the attack for new equipment to handle such a event and drills were done around the county in preparation of such a attack or biological out break, of either chemical or biological weapons.
That had the general public on edge at the time after Anthrax started to appear in people’s letters back then. And Ryder highlights one of the major areas that JHS is responsible for besides the general medical treatment of some $1 billion in uncompensated and charity care for patients currently being done now, and Ryder’s capabilities is one of the reasons JHS is the medical jewel that it is.
>>> Press release: RYDER TRAUMA CENTER’S EXPERT SURGEONS WILL EXAMINE THE MEDICAL RESPONSE TO BOSTON’S BOMBING VICTIMS
~Doctors Worldwide to Participate in Telemedicine conference from Jackson’s Trauma Center~ Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital will host an international telemedicine conference on Friday, April, 26, to examine the medical response to the Boston bombings. During the videoconference, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center physicians and medical professionals from across the globe will assess intra-hospital preparation for mass casualty events; explain the triage of victims in mass casualty incidents; and analyze the management of blast, penetrating and traumatic amputation injuries. They will also talk about disaster preparedness during high attendance events.
The featured presenter will be Dr. David King, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) trauma surgeon and army reservist, who ran the Boston marathon. Following the bombing Dr. King immediately went to MGH to treat victims. Dr. King trained at Jackson Memorial Hospital in general and critical care from 2006 through 2007, before being deployed to Iraq. Physicians from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Thailand, Iraq and other countries are expected to be on the telemedicine conference.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> PAST JULY WDR: Sarnoff has top net worth on five-member commission, net worth surges to $2.1 million; Spence-Jones comes in at negative $182,644 trailing the pack
The Watchdog Report last week got copies of the commissioners and mayor’s yearly financial disclosure reports from the City Clerk and I have already done Commissioner Willy Gort last week who has a net worth of $241,000, and that number is the same amount as the previous year. Mayor Tomas Regalado through July 1, 2013 had a $28,321 net worth, (Up from $18,801 the year before), Commissioner Frank Carollo has a $783,600 net worth, (Up from $748,000), Commissioner Marc Sarnoff through Dec, of 2012 is worth $2.1 million, (Up from $1.98 million), Commissioner Michele Spence-Jones net worth through June is negative $182,644, (Up from negative $175,315) and Commissioner Francis Suarez comes in at negative $84,885, (Down from negative $99,542 the previous year) state they’re on file financial disclosures for the year.
>>> Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez has a few days as of Friday to get his final closeout mayoral campaign financial disclosure form into the City’s Clerk’s office. The commissioner is returning contributions on a prorated basis in his failed bid to challenge Mayor Tomas Regalado, and given the $1 million he raised, the document is expected to run into hundreds of pages.
>>> The Miami Exhibition and Sport Authority is reviewing the proposed Chalks seaplane deal to see if the Watson Island site is in compliance with the zoning and land use changes found in Miami 21, a major zoning rewrite done at the end of the Mayor Manny Diaz administration. In addition, a deal for a new heliport on the island is moving along. Further, MESA approved donating $10,000 for the Big Orange Celebration on New Year’s Eve in downtown Miami.
>>> The holiday gift baskets and other items are rolling into Miami City Hall and the volume of deliveries is impressive. The elected officials in the past have said they give the baskets of goodies to charities. Since years ago, none of the then elected officials filled out any gift disclosure forms for anything received over $100.00 in value, which many of these gifts appear to be.
>>> William Plasencia has left Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s District 2 office on Dec. 16 and there is no replacement named yet.
VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE
>>> Even with tight deadline, Playhouse deal eliminating liens using $120,000 in funding passes county commission, with only one no vote, goes to FL Cabinet Jan. 15
An agreement to settle all the liens and liabilities with creditors associated with the Coconut Grove Playhouse passed the Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday and County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was the only no vote on the dais. The commission had to approve this agreement to meet the Jan. 15 state deadline and the deal next month will go to the Florida Cabinet for final approval. The historic theater shuttered in 2006 has sat empty and been the subject of vandalism and numerous code enforcement fines, that the City of Miami has since waived in the deal and supporters of the arts cannot wait for the Playhouse to reopen, and also stimulate the local businesses and restaurants in the surrounding area. To read the new Playhouse agreement go to http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/legistarfiles/Matters/Y2013/132485.pdf
CITY OF HIALEAH
>>> Three Miami-Dade Residents Sentenced for Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, announce today’s sentencing of defendants Mario R. Triana Martinez, 24, of Miami, Emilio Mederos, 24, of Miami, and Francisco Cartaya, 25, of Hialeah, for charges relating to their participation in a scheme to defraud T-Mobile and Wal-Mart by fraudulently obtaining cellular telephones through the unauthorized use of account information of valid T-Mobile customers. At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced Mario R. Triana Martinez to 41 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Emilio Mederos was sentenced to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release. Francisco Cartaya was sentenced to six months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. Triana Martinez, Mederos and Cartaya were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $232,803.88. All of the defendants pled guilty on October 8, 2013 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to court documents, between May 2010 and July 31, 2011, Triana Martinez, Mederos, Cartaya, co-defendant Yandy Rosell Trujillo and others, participated in a scheme to defraud T-Mobile and Wal-Mart by fraudulently obtaining cellular telephones using the personal identification information, such as account numbers and social security numbers, of valid T-Mobile customers, and then re-selling the cellular telephones at a profit. As part of the fraud, Triana Martinez and Mederos, who had unauthorized access to valid T-Mobile customer account information, called T-Mobile, and impersonating a T-Mobile dealer over the telephone, caused the name on a valid T-Mobile account to be changed to match the name of one of the co-conspirators. Once the name on the T-Mobile account was changed, Triana Martinez, Mederos, Cartaya and Rosell Trujillo visited Wal-Mart locations in eleven different states, including locations in the Southern District of Florida; provided the account number or social security number of the valid T-Mobile customer; and proceeded to purchase cellular telephones, such as BlackBerrys or HTCs, at a deeply discounted rate reserved for qualified T-Mobile customers. Triana Martinez and Mederos thereafter sold the fraudulently-obtained cellular telephones at a profit. This fraudulent scheme resulted in losses to T-Mobile and Wal-Mart in excess of $200,000.00. Defendant Yandy Rosell Trujillo, 28, of Hialeah, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on October 16, 2013, and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2014. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa Castrolugo. 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 MIAMI BEACH
>>> Mayor Levine’s thoughts on a host of local issues, what he wants to tackle in 2014, and “zero tolerance policy for corruption” in Beach City Hall
The Watchdog Report asked Mayor Philip Levine to comment on the new four-committee structure, these meetings now being televised (and recommended by the WDR a few issues ago) and Manager Jimmy Morales report on the efforts to tamp down employee corruption and the “zero tolerance” policy and other efforts trying to change the city’s culture. Levine in an email Saturday wrote, “I made the conscious decision to add a fourth committee – Flooding Mitigation Committee – to tackle a problem that merits solutions on an emergency basis. Flooding, whether resulting from rainwater or rising tides and global warming, is a chronic problem that is not going away. It was imperative to create a standing committee to tackle these issues because of the detriment it creates to Miami Beach residents and investor confidence. The City Commission’s goal is to find meaningful solutions to improve and increase the quality of life for residents.
The City Manager and I are in full agreement – we will have a zero tolerance policy for corruption in Miami Beach City Hall. Manager Morales has already taken the necessary steps to terminate the employment of a number of City Hall employees and I fully support his swift and decisive actions.
In televising commission committee meetings, I believe that three things will be accomplished: (1) there will be increased transparency and no more backroom deals; – a promise I made on the campaign trail; (2) a greater sense of decorum and a more professional demeanor by those participating; and (3) it allows residents who are interested and unable to participate in a live committee meeting to listen without having to be present.
Initiatives I will be advocating for in the next year and in no particular order: (1) reduction of the flooding problem; (2) renovation of our Convention Center; (3) streamlining the permitting process at the building department; (4) review and implement potential changes to the North Beach master plan to spur responsible development; (5) working with the City Manager to develop and instill a mentality of “getting things done” and executing initiatives from Staff; (6) assisting to promote responsible tourism as well as shaping our brand to become more attractive; (7) working with County Hall to come up with new transportation alternatives to reduce traffic congestion on the Beach and our causeways; (8) conducting an independent review of the police department and taking proactive steps to improving the culture,” wrote the newly minted mayor and University of Michigan graduate.
CITY OF CORAL GABLES
>>> Federal Agent Indicted in Conspiracy to Commit Extortion, Bribery and Making False Statements
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, David Nieland, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Miami Field Office, and David D’Amato, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Professional Responsibility, announce the indictment of Juan Felipe Martinez, a Special Agent with DHS, 47, of Coral Gables. The indictment charges Martinez with eight counts of extortion, two counts of bribery, and two counts of making false statements. One of the extortion counts charges that Martinez and others conspired to extort money and unlawfully enrich themselves by using Martinez’s official position to obtain large payments from a Colombian company and certain individuals associated with it. Martinez and others conspired to falsely state that the company and certain individuals associated with it were going to be put on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list by Office of Foreign Asset Control and then offering to keep them off the SDN list if they made large payments to co-conspirators. Two of the bribery counts allege that Martinez accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for United States significant public benefit paroles.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Today’s arrest is a reminder that no one is above the law. You can’t sell your badge and abuse your power and expect to get away with it. And while Martinez’s alleged conduct tarnishes his badge, it does not tarnish those of the honorable men and women who serve and protect our community faithfully every day.” David Nieland, Special Agent in Charge for DHS-OIG added, “Whenever a law enforcement officer engages in illegal activity, it erodes the public trust. Such actions by a few undermine the hard work of the many who serve to protect America each day. Corruption remains a top priority of the DHS OIG and we remain committed to holding those who violate the public’s trust accountable for their illegal actions.” Martinez had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff. The Court set bond at $250,000, with a Nebbia condition. Report regarding counsel and arraignment was set for January 21, 2014 before the duty Magistrate Judge. If convicted, the defendant faces a statutory maximum of twenty years in prison on each extortion count, fifteen years in prison on each bribery count, and five years in prison on each false statements count and a $250,000 fine. An indictment is only an accusation and each 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.
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
>>> Best of WDR 2013: Mayor Jacobs, an environmental champion on dais has $110,378 net worth for year & Sheriff Israel comes in at $514,000 net worth through June
Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs is in the spotlight this week and the long serving commissioner, with strong environmental credentials is termed out in 2014. Jacobs a few years ago, ran for the Congress, but she was unsuccessful in that race, and now she has filed to run in 2014 for Florida House District 96. Where the incumbent state Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek is termed out in the state legislature, and she will face former Democratic Party state Rep. Steve Perman, who lost in the Democratic Party primary to state Rep. Kevin Rader, D- Del Ray Beach for House District 81 in 2012. www.miamiherald.com And while Jacobs represents Broward Commission District 2, which also encompasses some of House District 96. She currently does not live in the house district she is running for, and that could become an issue in the election next year. Moreover, she was first elected to the county office in 1998, was the mayor in 2005 after multiple hurricanes hit Broward and her calm efficient presence on television screens, calmed frazzled Broward residents at the time, and she lives in Pompano Beach with her family.
Jacobs >>> Bio: http://www.broward.org/Commission/District2/Pages/About.aspx
What do we know about her finances?
Jacobs through June 20, 2013 had a net worth of $110,378 and she lists $20,000 in household goods. Her home is worth $312,000, a mortgage is owed $ 241,833 and her only income for the year was $94,497 as a county commissioner. To read the disclosure report go to” http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/12931-Form6.pdf
What do we know about Israel’s financials and time in office?
Israel, beat incumbent Republican Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti (Net worth $672,800) in November 2012, to become the new sheriff of the state’s second largest county, and the campaign between the two men was a bitter race where Israel got 53 percent of the countywide vote in the partisian, highly Democratic county. His victory however since then has been followed by charges that he is putting friends in the department, most as out reach community specialists and he is demanding from the Borward Commissioners. A major multi million dollar budget increase for the department, that he says could threaten some 300 layoffs, but he is getting a cool recpetion on the nine member county commission dais for the large funding reguest. http://www.local10.com/news/scott-israel-budget-may-mean-massive-layoffs/-/1717324/20637046/-/kd2gwz/-/index.html
What do we know about his finances?
Israel through June 2013 had a net worth of $514,000 and his home is worth $425,000. The sheriff’s liabilities include a morgage owed $290,000 and Capital One, for a auto loan, wants $30,000. His income for the year was $67,815 from a Fort Lauderdale Police Pension Fund, and Cambridge Securities kicked in $13,350. And to read the financial disclosure form go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/206541-Form6.pdf
>>> 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 LAUDERHILL
>>> Third Defendant Sentenced in False Tax Return and Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that defendant Behrmann Desenclos, 43, of Lauderhill, was sentenced for his participation in a scheme to file false tax returns and use stolen identities to claim fraudulent tax refunds. Desenclos was sentenced to 108 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,358,156.76. Desenclos previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and four counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2.
According to court documents, Desenclos, Rachelle Beaubrun, and Louis Richard Nemorin were involved in a scheme to unlawfully enrich themselves by submitting false refund claims on federal income tax returns, causing the IRS to issue refunds which the defendants diverted to their own benefit and use. The defendants prepared various federal income tax returns falsely claiming refunds: (a) on behalf of foreign nationals who had previously been deported from the United States and who were ineligible to receive any refund; (b) based on jobs with companies that had no employees; (c) based on employment with companies or offices where the taxpayer named on the return did not work; (d) utilizing Schedule C to falsely claim deductions for nonexistent business expenses; and (e) by claiming First Time Homebuyer Credits for residences which the taxpayers named on the returns did not actually purchase.
Court documents state that Beaubrun and Desenclos also acquired stolen identification information such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, from Nemorin. The defendants prepared fraudulent federal income tax returns through Divine Tax and Financial Services and Global-Tech Financial Management, LLC. For tax years 2008 and 2009, the defendants caused the submission of federal income tax returns, which falsely claimed refunds amounting to more than $2.6 million. On August 20, 2013, Rachelle Beaubrun, 42, of Lauderhill, and Louis Richard Nemorin, a/k/a Richard Nemorin, a/k/a Louis Nemorin, 35, of Riviera Beach, were sentenced for their participation in the schemes. Beaubrun was sentenced to 102 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Nemorin was sentenced to 60 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Both defendants pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and four counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin. 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
>>> PAST WDR JULY: Long serving County Sheriff Bradshaw in the spotlight, had $2.13 million net worth through Jun. 2013, up from $1.77 million the year earlier
Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is in the spotlight this week and the long serving sheriff has had his share of controversy over the years. He has been in law enforcement for some 35 years and runs the third largest police force in the state, with a $470 million budget, he was first sworn into the office in January 2005, and he easily won reelection in 2012 by a wide margin. However, he has drawn some criticism for meals he bought on the public dime and the sheriff claims he did not know it was a conflict http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/palm-beach-county-sheriff-ric-bradshaw-chided-for-/nN2sx/ >>> And here is a story on the reelection campaign last year http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/bradshaw-easily-re-elected-palm-beach-county-sheri/nRBmf/
What do we know about his finances?
Bradshaw through June 2012 had a net worth of $2.13 million (Up from $1.77 million in June 2011) and to see the complete financial disclosure report go to: http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/11183-Form6.pdf
>>> And to read all the Palm Beach elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
CITY OF SOUTH BAY
>>> There he goes again; Gov. Scott suspends Commissioner Walker-Turner a second time, for Sunshine Law violation conviction
Gov. Rick Scott suspended once again City of South Bay Commissioner Shirley Walker-Turner after she was found guilty of a Sunshine Law violation, and she is the third commissioner caught up in the matter. Scott had suspended her a year earlier but Walker-Turner won a special election that returned her back to office until this conviction. Scott has been doing a brisk business when it comes to suspending wayward elected officials since he took office in Jan. 2011 and he is keeping pace with these removals similar to past Governors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush. Who were suspending elected leaders just over once a month when they were in office from 1998 to 2010. Moreover, two other commissioners were caught up in this Sunshine Law violation as well. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/governor-again-suspends-south-bay-commissioner-con/ncNTc/
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
>>> Leader of Vero Beach Clandestine Methamphetamine Lab Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Deryl Loar, Sheriff, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, announce the sentencing of four Vero Beach residents for their participation in a Vero Beach clandestine methamphetamine lab: Edward McElhenny, 50, Clinton Story, 30, Paul Richardson, 27, and Kelly McCartney, 36.
Edward McElhenny was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by four years of supervised release concurrently on two counts. He pleaded guilty on October 7, 2013 to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, over five grams of methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. He also pleaded guilty to maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 856(a)(1) and 2.
Clint Story was sentenced to 66 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, concurrently on two counts. He pleaded guilty on September 26, 2013 to manufacturing, distributing and possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 2. Story also pleaded guilty to maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 856(a)(1) and 2….She also acknowledged that she purchased pseudoephedrine packets on multiple occasions with the knowledge that it was being used to manufacture methamphetamine. At sentencing, the Court found that McElhenny was responsible for being an organizer or leader of criminal activity involving five or more participants, in that Clinton Story, Angela Story, Paul Richardson and Kelly McCartney all assisted him in the manufacture of methamphetamine, by purchasing the precursor chemical pseudoephedrine from area pharmacies, in an effort circumvent the laws restricting over the counter purchases. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the DEA and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office for their work on this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
>>> Gov. Scott announced the appointment of Sherwood S. “Flip” Coleman to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court.
Press release: Coleman, 44, of Clearwater, has practiced law since 1994. From 1994-1997, he served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, and from 1997-2007, he was partner with Kwall, Showers, and Barack, PA. Since 2007, Coleman has served as Associate General Counsel for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Coleman received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Florida. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge W. Lowell Bray. Governor Rick Scott said, “Flip has demonstrated knowledge and commitment to the law throughout his legal career. I am proud to appoint him to the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench and I am confident he will continue to serve the citizens of Pinellas and Pasco County with enthusiasm and a commitment to the rule of law.”
>>> Gov. Scott taps David Koenig to the County Court.
Press release: Koenig, 50, of Cocoa, has been an Assistant State Attorney in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit since 1990. From 2001-2005, Koenig served as the Juvenile Division Chief. Since 2005, Koenig has been the prosecutor responsible for making the charging decisions in child abuse and sex crime cases in Brevard County. Koenig received his bachelor’s degree from University of Florida and his law degree from University of Miami. He fills a vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Kelly J. McKibben to the Circuit Court. Governor Rick Scott said, “I am confident David will be a great addition to the Brevard County bench. He has shown dedication and commitment to public service throughout his career and will continue to serve Florida families with integrity and a passion for the law and justice.”
>>> PAST WDR JULY: Sheriff Ramsey in the spotlight, tony tourist mecca with 75,000 residents, he had $832,000 net worth through June – all other county leaders financials on line as well
Rick Ramsey elected the new Monroe County Sheriff last November is in the spotlight this week and he polices the Southern most county in America, and the Keys are a global tourist destination. The fact the Keys are so dependent on the tourist trade is significant when it comes to law enforcement because it swells the county’s population of around 75,000 residents states 2012 Census figures, to a much higher number which requires a higher level of police presence in the county.
What do we know about his finances?
Ramsey through June 23 had a net worth of $832,000 and he lists $23,000 in household goods. To read his complete financial disclosure for the year go to: http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/Forms/2012/243440-Form6.pdf >>> And to read all other county constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm >>> And to read all the other Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm
>>> MAKE HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING UNFORGETTABLE WITH GIFTS “OUTSIDE THE BOX” AT MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PARKS’ ONLINE “PARKSTORE”
Press release: Looking for “outside the box” holiday gifts for that special someone? The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department has fun, health-minded and exhilarating adventure-packed gifts that they will remember for years to come at their online Parkstore. Visit Parkstore today at http://parkstore.miamidade.gov. You’ll find these exciting gift options for everyone on your gift-giving list and plenty more:
Specialty Tours at Local Attractions – Zoo Miami, Fruit & Spice Park and the Deering Estate at Cutler, Kayak Fishing, Canoe Adventures, South Florida Birding Tours, Trap/Skeet Rounds at Trail Glades Range, All-Inclusive Tennis, Golf and Soccer Packages, Annual Marina Boat Ramp Passes, Holiday Bay Cruise, Parks Foundation Holiday Special – Get $25 off the cost of a Parks Foundation Family Membership (regular price: $149) and enjoy a year of outdoor fun and attractions with your family. Benefits valued at over $600. Offer ends December 31, 2013. There’s also the option to ‘go green’ with “Adopt-A-Park” or “Adopt-A-Tree” packages, so your loved one can be part of a living legacy that they can enjoy for years to come. For information www.miamidade.gov/parks/. For more information on the Parks Foundation, www.miamidade.gov/parks_foundation.
>>> The 32nd King Mango Strut is headed to Coconut Grove Dec. 29th and the zany parade that spoofs past events of the year begins at 2:00 p.m. on Commodore Plaza. For more go to http://www.kingmangostrut.org/
>>> 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.
>>> PAST JULY WDR 2013: Candidates in the upcoming municipal elections must run they’re campaigns on the up and up, if they are to have voters trust
With municipal elections looming in a number of Miami-Dade municipalities in November, with the highest profile ones being in Miami, Hialeah and Miami Beach. Candidates seeking office need to realize the bad old days of voting irregularities are over when it comes to a host of issues, like bogus absentee ballots, slurring a fellow candidate, or a candidate even trying to deny something that is patently true. For the local candidate bar has been set higher after all the voting scandals that have erupted over the past two decades, but the irregularities are like a rash that never seems to go away, even though there are public institutions that have oversight, and are trying to curtail some of these shenanigans. But candidates should realize the electorate is already skeptical about they’re elected leaders, and one way to find out what someone is about who is running for office, is how they run their own campaign.
Moreover, be you a seasoned or neophyte candidate, it behooves you to play by the book for when it comes to ones personal integrity and honor as a candidate for elected office, it must be treated with the highest respect. For one cannot be a little bit pregnant when it comes to running a ethical and above board race that voters deserve, and lets hope some of these campaigns get that message. For any negative press when it comes to a candidate’s race for office is not a resume builder, and candidates should remember that as well as the voters, who put their trust in these people to lead them. For the local electorate is putting their sacred trust in someone, when they vote, and that bond should not be tarnished by early campaign misdeeds.
>>> PAST WDR: If elected leaders want to be a community Great One, temperament and humbleness is a key ingredient, ego must be kept in check
I went to a Celebration of Life for a very gentle, kind soft spoken but solid as steel woman Saturday by the name of Mary Ellen Miller, a twice-former chair of the Miami-Dade Republican Party. Moreover, the reverend mentioned you know what many people are really like when they gain such power, and what they do with it and how they treat people and that transformation for many other politicians is so true.
The Watchdog Report over the past 17-years has seen a lot of politicians up close and personal from their first election to becoming long serving incumbents and to say some elected officials are self-absorbed or full of themselves is an understatement. You may be a municipal commissioner, for one of the 34 cities in Miami-Dade or maybe one of the 31 in Broward County but some of these elected leaders pompous attitude sometimes is mind boggling given they are not the president of the United States or even the governor of a state but as you work down the political food chain. These lesser-elected officials seem to blossom when it comes to the expansion of their ego and it is a sad sight.
For there are very few beloved leaders these days and hard ball and What Would Machiavelli Do (WWMD) tactics seem to be the political order of the day rather than earning the publics respect and love through their deeds and having a ego is great, but their must be some mechanism keeping this in check. Rather than a flock of camp followers that seem to live on the elected ones every word and are at their beck and call. Moreover, this attitude eventually bleeds into how officials perform their elected jobs, and can be seen by them taking all the perks that might come with the office. Asking for special favors in the public or private sector or just getting things done sooner for themselves by their public workers but it has a corrosive effect across the whole spectrum of governance and public service. And if these people want to go down in the history books as Great Ones, not only in their on minds but in the public’s as well. They should keep some of these restrained personal traits in mind.
>>> We are mourning Richard Sharpstein also. Merry Christmas to you and what you do. thank you.
>>> Thanks for the piece on Richard SHARPSTEIN; he was very fond of you
>>> 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, 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.