Argus Report: Big time sports is some 5 to 7 percent of the economy in South Florida, teams bring a variety of economic impacts, Orange Bowl generates some $300 million to local economy says, Bartel
Florida: Gov. Scott proposes $100 million tourism blitz, former Gov. Crist has a book, both men running for governor are the devil incarnate to the opposing party — 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: Commissioners Monestime, Bell and Souto draw challengers, former Homestead Mayor Bell may face the biggest challenge with Levine Cava, in political party face off
Miami-Dade Public Schools: Hantman wants to put what is going on at Friends of WLRN in the spotlight; legislation moving forward requires quarterly reports to school board
City of Miami: Sarnoff blocks Kneapler appointment vote for MESA board, says man’s past comments suggest he may have “mental instability,” also suing Miami
City of Hialeah: Former Hialeah Police Officer and Wife Sentenced for Dealing in Firearms without a License
City of Miami Beach: (This has been rescheduled to Feb.) Global Warming maven Clerk Ruvin to speak at TMBC on impact on the Beach in the coming decades, $200 million planned in mitigation costs in the future
City of North Miami: Resident Convicted in Stolen Tax Refund Scheme
City of Homestead: Homestead Mayor Porter settles campaign violation charge
>>> Other stories around Florida
Broward County: Constitutional elected leaders financial disclosures on line
City of Ft. Lauderdale: Seven Defendants Indicted in $49.6 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme Involving North Carolina Property Development
City of Pembroke Pines: Pill Mill Doctor Sentenced for Oxycodone Conspiracy
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
Orange County: Gov. Scott taps Judge Greg A. Tynan to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
Citrus County: Gov. Scott names Leslie K. “Les” Cook as Property Appraiser of Citrus County.
Polk County: Gov. Scott taps Judge Reinaldo Juan Ojeda to the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court.
Seminole County- City of Longwood: There he goes again: Gov. Scott suspends Commissioner Bundy after lawmaker hit with DUI and reckless driving charges causing serious bodily injury
Monroe County: Three Key West Men Sentenced for Possession of Stolen Firearms – 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: Elected leaders trying to intimidate the press is a Pyrrhic Victory, only a free press will give South Florida the freedom it needs to truly blossom as a 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: Journalist thanks WDR for story – Reader on sad passing of Stroleny
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.
>>> Corrections and Clarifications to last week’s WDR: In a story on the literacy rate in Miami-Dade County, I incorrectly said it was the highest in the nation. However, Lynn Summers who I quoted corrected that statement writing, “Thanks so much for featuring in the Jan. 5, 2014 edition of WDR the important work of Mayor Gimenez’ Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of the Miami-Dade Public Library System. Obviously, based on the number of your readers who contacted me, this is an important topic in our community. Please share with your readers two corrections. First, what I said at the Dec. 18, 2013 Task Force Meeting is that Miami-Dade County has the highest rate of illiteracy in the State of Florida. The source of this information is the U.S. Department of Education. Though it is probably a safe assumption that our ranking on a national level is at the high end of the scale, I am not aware of any specific national ranking of our rate of illiteracy. Second, I am not a member of the Mayor’s Task Force; rather, I am participating in the process as a volunteer in the Working Groups, specifically the Funding Working Group, on behalf of the public libraries in the City of Miami.
The next two meetings of the Mayor’s Task Force will take place on Friday, Jan. 17th and Wednesday, Feb. 5th in the County Commission Chambers and will be televised. I hope that you and your readers will continue to follow this important process and let our elected leaders know that we care about our public libraries and believe strongly in the role that the play in addressing the unacceptably high rate of illiteracy and poverty in our community,” wrote Summers. >>> In addition, a headline in the story on Alex Sink running for congress, I gave the wrong U.S. House District; she is running for the 13th District in Pinellas County. And Spero Canton was a past Mayor of Miami Shores. I apologize for the errors or omissions.
>>> And to any Yahoo Account readers who last week may have received up to 30 Watchdog Reports, where a couple of readers suggested. I had been hacked. In fact, it was Yahoo that was hacked and the matter is explained on line by the internet provider.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Big time sports is some 5 to 7 percent of the economy in South Florida, teams bring a variety of economic impacts, Orange Bowl generates some “$300 million” to local economy says, Bartel
Big time sports and its economic impact on South Florida was the topic of the day at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Wednesday and the audience got an ear full. Representatives from the Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins and other sports organizations kicked off with some of the economic benefits of having this major sports presence. A seed first planted and nurtured by the Dolphins in 1966 when the National Football League franchise started and “brought big sports to Florida,” said Jeff Bartel the Chamber’s Sports Committee Chair. He said professional sports is “five to seven percent” of the economy of South Florida and the recent Orange Bowl Committee events in its 80th year, brought some “$300 million” in economic impact, NASCAR in Homestead is estimated kicking in “some $200 million” a year and the “Panthers some $100 million,” he said. Bartel noted that these sports organizations also gave to the community and contributed “over $20 million a year in charitable giving,” in the course of a year, the Hamptons Group LLC director said.
Further, Miami-Dade over a year has “more kids in sports than anywhere else in the nation,” and the up and coming new franchise team will likely be led by global soccer super star David Beckham, who has been shopping around for a site for a new Major League Soccer team to locate to, and an appropriate stadium. Moreover, Bartel said when it came to a new soccer team in Miami, he said I “hope to have an official announcement in the weeks ahead for soccer, he noted.
>>> Will Gov. Christy controversy bring an opening for past Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016 presidential primary?
While New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has stumbled politically, after a firestorm erupted after a staffer requested three lane closures on the busiest bridge in the nation, the George Washington Bridge, back in September that appears to punish a local Democratic mayor not supporting the governor. The popular Republican governor and possible presidential candidate in 2016 has lost some of the wind in his sails, and if there are no more revelations of his involvement in the affair, that he maintains was the case, and was instigated by a staffer now fired. The sometimes-abrasive governor could survive this political flap, but if it gets worse and he was involved, it could create an opening for former Gov. Jeb Bush, 61, on Feb. 11, to throw his hat into the race. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/08/3858623/messages-link-nj-governors-aides.html
However, Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. both trail in the polls against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in any future match up. In addition, she is said behind the scenes to be laying the groundwork for her possible race. While Rubio has taken some political knocks and Bush has stayed on the sidelines, though supporting Common Core, and its national education standards, that Rubio believes is an overreach of the federal government.
The Watchdog Report saw my first “Jeb in 2016,” sticker on a car Friday and while the former governor has kept a low profile and out of the mainstream spotlight in many respects. He has been out and about the country, talking about education at forums, and he even wrote a book on the immigration issue facing the country last year. Bush is an imposing candidate at 6’ 4” and is a effective campaigner, who likes to campaign on ideas, but for many of Bush critiques, his brother’s George’s presidency has proved toxic to any further aspirations by his younger brother, but this new wrinkle with Christie could provide a opening in the years ahead for Bush.http://washingtonexaminer.com/gop-pollster-after-chris-christie-press-conference-hes-still-no.-1-for-2016/article/2541853
>>> White House press release: President Obama to Honor 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat at the White House
On Tuesday, January 14, President Obama will welcome the 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat to the White House to honor the team on winning their second-straight Championship title. While at the White House, the team will visit wounded warriors from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, continuing the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to communities. WHAT: President Obama to Honor 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat WHEN: Tuesday, January 14, 2:45 PM EST
>>> Press release: Christie 2016: RIP? By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor
I am not making a prediction, merely suggesting how I see things. Anything can happen and there is a long way to go between now and 2016. Blah, blah, blah.
Governor Chris Christie is seriously damaged by “Bridgegate”. Senator Howard Baker famously asked about President Richard Nixon at the outset of the Watergate hearings: “what did the President know and when did he know it?” Those questions have framed the investigations of so many “gates” that have followed ever since. But as I look at the current traffic scandal surrounding the Governor of New Jersey, I have to add a little to Senator Baker’s query: If the Governor didn’t know, why didn’t he? And did he set the tone for an administration based on bullying? Please click on the link below to view the full release: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/news/404-christie-2016-rip
>>> Passenger Charged in Making Threats to Take Down Airplane
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade County State Attorney, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announce today the filing of a criminal complaint charging Francisco Fernando Cruz, 22, a citizen of Brazil, with sending threatening emails claiming that a TAM Airline flight from Miami to Brasilia “will go down”. According to the criminal complaint, on January 8, 2014, an e-mail was sent to MDPD as well as TAM Airlines. The content of the e-mail made a specific threat against a TAM Airlines Flight, which was to depart on January 10, 2014, from Miami to Brasilia. The threat stated the following: “Flight must not take off. Targeted. It will go down. Retaliation. Cargo is dangerous. Be advised.”
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Law enforcement remains ever vigilant for threats to domestic and international air travel. We will leave no stone unturned when a threat to the safety of air passengers is made and to ensure that justice is served.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated, “The protection of our flying public depends on the skills and expertise of our federal, state, and local law enforcement team. This case shows that South Florida’s law enforcement professionals, working together like clockwork, will not let fear hamper our ability to travel and live our lives productively.”
“The FBI and its partners take threats of this nature very seriously,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “Through the hard work of Miami Dade PD, Customs and Border Protection and the FBI’s Newark office, the flight was not disrupted.”
“Once again, the successful collaboration between federal, state, and local authorities yields an important indictment. The public safety of those traveling is paramount, and any threats made to disrupt it will be investigated without impunity,” said J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police. MDPD was able to trace the origin of the e-mail and determined the e-mail originated from a computer at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. The university was able to capture video of the person that utilized the kiosk that sent the e-mail. The following day, the email was resent, again with the threat. Law enforcement were able to identity Cruz as the sender of the two emails. Cruz traveled from New York to Miami and was scheduled to travel to Brasilia on the flight against which he made the threat. If convicted, the defendant faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case is set for pretrial detention hearing on January 14, 2014 and for arraignment on January 24, 2014. Both hearings are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. before the duty magistrate. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Gilbert and Jaime Galvin. A complaint is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent 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.
>>> Southern District of Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office Collects More Than $94 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions in Fiscal Year 2013
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced today that the Southern District of Florida collected $70,006,305.57 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Of this amount, $33,136,076.16 was collected in criminal actions and $36,870,229.41 was collected in civil actions. The office also collected $24,327,589 in criminal and civil forfeitures. Total, during FY 2013, our office collected $94,333,894.57 related to criminal and civil actions and forfeitures – more than double the appropriated budget of our office.
Additionally, the Southern District of Florida worked with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $272,476,057.95 in cases pursued jointly with these offices. Of this amount, $5,523.71 was collected in criminal actions and $272,470,534.24 was collected in civil actions. U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “I am proud of the men and women of our office who work hard to secure restitution for crime victims and recover monies for the U.S. taxpayers. They work hard not only to protect the people of this great country of ours, but to ensure that criminals do not profit from their crime. Today’s numbers reflect that the U.S. Attorney’s Office collects substantially more money than it spends and provides the taxpayers with an excellent return on their investment.”
The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with the department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the U.S. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss. While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department’s Crime Victims’ Fund, which distributes the funds to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs. The largest civil collections were from affirmative civil enforcement cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct or collected fines imposed on individuals and/or corporations for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights or environmental laws. In addition, civil debts were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration and Department of Education.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Southern District of Florida, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $24,327,589 in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2013. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes. 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.
>>> 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.
>>> Gov. Scott proposes $100 million tourism blitz, former Gov. Crist has a book, both men are the devil incarnate to the opposing party
With the state budget agency estimating there will be a over $1.1 billion increase in revenues for Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the legislature to divvy up for the 2014-2015 budget year starting July 1. Scott, up for reelection in November is taking the offensive and wants to cut $500 million in taxes, and he has also announced he wants to pump $100 million, up from the current $63.5 million promoting the state, in a massive global tourist campaign. Unlike the state has ever seen before except after 9/11 when then Gov. Jeb Bush took the advice of tourism officials, who argued back then that the infrastructure was already there and a acceleration in tourism. That extra promotion would jump-start the stalled state economy after the horrific attacks thumped the Florida economy. Visit Florida will be the conduit for the tourist blitz year around the globe and Scott is hoping to bring a record100 million tourists to the Sunshine State next year. Scott will be submitting his new budget to the Legislature Feb. 2 and the state legislature will take up the governors new budget during it’s Legislative Session starting Mar. 4.
Scott’s main rival, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist now an independent has penned a book critical of Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and the tea party movement as a whole in his book called, “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Highjacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.” Crist is being hailed by many Democrats as the party’s savoir in the race, once he gets past state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston in the party’s primary, and the GOP loathes the politically camillian attorney, and the feeling with Democrats when it comes to Republican Scott is similar, and many of the opposition party consider him almost the devil incarnate. Further, Scott is now being asked to include $100 million in the upcoming budget in new Everglades Restoration funding by the Everglades Coalition, which just held its yearly meeting. In addition, both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Crist had been strong supporters of that restoration activity, though federal funding for many years was lagging, and the environment will be another touchstone issue for Scott to deal with when it comes to his reelection.
Further, one refrain I have heard from a cross section of Floridians over the years since Scott was first elected is he came to Florida later on in his life. After a healthcare executive career, where his company he ran, after he left was fined $1.7 billion because of Medicare Fraud charges. And the one comment I hear repeatedly said is when it came to Bush or Crist, “you knew they loved the state of Florida,” but they question if Scott, the lets get to work and jobs governor feels that way.
>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott called on President Obama to use his authority to undo the effects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act he signed into law. To view the letter, click HERE.
Dear Mr. President:
Your decision to sign the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 has had devastating consequences for Florida’s families. Over the past 35 years, Floridians have paid over $16 billion into the National Flood Insurance Program—roughly four times more than they have received in payments. Yet, as a result of Biggert-Waters, today many Floridians are facing the horror of losing their homes due to soaring flood insurance costs.
One Pinellas County family saw their annual insurance premium skyrocket from $4,300 to nearly $44,000. A couple in Holmes Beach saw their insurance bill climb 614 percent—from $914 a year to $6,500 a year. In Fort Myers Beach, the owners of a small inn and gift shop will see their premiums jump from $2,722 to $46,907—a 1,700 percent increase. The law you signed has brought unthinkable hardship on Floridians.
Uncertainty hangs over thousands of homes. By many accounts, sales have stalled in low-lying areas, sellers are dropping prices, and real-estate closings are becoming more complex. You delayed implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but you have failed to delay a law that saddles Floridians with unfair and unaffordable rate hikes. Act now and undo the effects of this mistaken law before it cripples Florida’s real-estate market, harms even more Floridians, and reverses our state’s burgeoning economic recovery.
>>> The U. S. Southern District of Florida and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office over the past years has made the issue of human trafficking a priority and on Miami Beach such a young girl was found to be working at a adult entertainment venue, that the city has since closed as of Friday. For more on the story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/11/3865169/how-a-13-year-old-became-a-dancer.html
>>> 3 ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL
Press release: The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force, in conjunction with officers from the City of Miami Police Department and City of Miami Beach Police, have arrested 3 local adults in the forced prostitution and commercial exploitation of a 13-year-old runaway girl. Arrested were: Vilbert Jean (DOB 2/15/1977), Marlene San Vincente (DOB 2/25/1991) and DeWayne Ward (DOB 2/22/1995). Each is charged with: 1 Count Human Trafficking
1 Count Delivering a Controlled Substance to a Person Under 18 1 Count Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor 1 Count Lewd & Lascivious Conduct on a person less than 16.
As outlined in the arrest material, a 13-year-old girl who had run away from home on 12/10/2013 was located by her mother on 1/6/2014 in the area of North Miami Avenue and NE 55 Street. The 13 year old was forced to prostitute herself for the benefit of her exploiters and later forced to dance as an exotic nude dancer after she refused to continue to engage in prostitution. Her earnings as a nude dancer were surrendered to her exploiters. Defendant San Vincente supervised and tutored the 13 years old on how to work the nude club scene and how to maximize her tip earnings for the benefit of the 3 exploiters.
“This sad case shows how quickly human traffickers locate their young prey and turn them from children into cash producing machines,” commented Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Sadly, to human traffickers, destroying a helpless child’s life is unimportant when compared to the consistent
flow of cash into their pockets. The people of this community will not tolerate this. With the help of my Human Trafficking Task Force and my specialized Human Trafficking prosecutors, we will end this hideous practice.”
>>> 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.
>>> Commissioners Monestime, Bell and Souto draw challengers, former Homestead Mayor Bell may face the biggest challenge with Levine Cava, in political party face off
With the upcoming primary elections in August for the seats on the Miami-Dade County Commission looming in the months ahead. The Watchdog Report thought it was time to look at the political landscape that has incumbent Commissioners Rebeca Sosa, Sally Heyman and Jose “Pepe” Diaz facing no challengers to date, but incumbent Commissioners Jean Monestime, Javier Souto and Lynda Bell are all facing opponents. Sosa, a former West Miami mayor has been in the District 6 office since 2001, and she is currently the commission chair, and works for the public schools district. Heyman is an attorney, a former state representative and was elected in 2002 to commission District 4 after then Commission Chair and now state Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami ran for the state office. Heyman has had some medical issues the last few years and she historically has carped at the low $6,000 pay commissioners get, plus another some $44,000 in benefits. In addition, Diaz, a former Sweetwater mayor was elected to the District 12 office back in 2002 and he also recently has had some medical issues, and when he gripes about the low pay commissioners receive. He generally does it in a joking way.
Bell was elected in 2010 to District 8 with the strong backing of the GOP and the tea party movement and she beat a sitting municipal mayor for the plum spot on the 13-member dais. She is a former Mayor of Homestead, whose husband lost his bid to follow in her footsteps last fall, and Bell is now facing Daniella Levine Cava. A long time social services maven with Ivy League educational credentials, and she being supported by Democrats, including former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson who held the seat prior to 2010 when she retired, in the nonpartisan race. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/01/challenger-launches-campaign-against-miami-dade-county-commissioner-lynda-bell.html
Monestime is facing the former District 2 incumbent County Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, who the Haitian American defeated in a tight race in 2010. After Rolle and JESCA, the venerable Black social services agency created by Captain James E. Scott back in 1925 went bankrupt under Rolle’s watch where he was the well-paid chief executive of the organization. In addition, Rolle in the past also had multiple ethics violations since he was first appointed by then Gov. Lawton Chiles to the office back in 2008. After the previous commissioner James Burke was arrested and went to jail. Souto, a former state legislator has also drawn a challenger, he has been in the District 10 seat since the early 1990s, and he is facing Marco Valdes in the race. Souto began his political career in the state House, followed by the Florida Senate before his election to the county commission. Souto is fixated on constituent service, is constantly out in the district, but critics also wonder when he goes on tangents on the dais what is going on with the long time commissioner, and veteran Cuban Exile fighter. Moreover, all the incumbents have a significant campaign fundraising advantage. >>> And to read all the candidate’s campaign reports go to http://www.voterfocus.com/ws/mdccand/candidate_pr.php?c=miamidade&el=17
>>> 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
>>> Tourist-Related Tax Collections – GMCVB press release: In the month of November, the 2% Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections for Greater Miami (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) show an increase of 17.7 % when compared to the same time last year in 2012. The 3% Convention Development Tax (CDT) shows a 14.4% increase compared to the same time last year in 2012. The 2% Hotel Food and Beverage Tax collections from hotels in Miami-Dade (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) show an increase of 9.3% compared to the same time in 2012.
|Miami-Dade County Tax Collections|
|2% Tourist Development Tax|
|November 2013||November 2012||% Change vs. 2012|
|3% Convention Development Tax|
|November 2013||November 2012||% Change vs. 2012|
|2% Hotel Food & Beverage Tax|
|November 2013||November 2012||% Change vs. 2012|
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
>>> Hantman wants to put what is going on at Friends of WLRN in the spotlight, legislation moving forward that requires quarterly reports to school board
School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman sponsored legislation that would require updates on “the actions and status of Friends [of WLRN] to members of the school board quarterly. Friends, the not for profit entity’s revenues are “projected to reach $10 million,” in contributions and corporate funding states the legislation heard at one of the board’s committees Wednesday. Hantman, the longest member on the school board noted that there “had been some questions” about what was going on over at Friends over the years. She said the fund raising arm for WLRN radio and television with 500,000 weekly listeners from Palm Beach to Key West has “always been a mystery,” and to this day, she thought Friends “still is a mystery.”
Hantman’s concern was the school board holds the station’s FEC licenses and “my concern is we need to be cognizant that we [the] school board are responsible for what goes on there, and what is brought in front of the board of Friends,” she said. And she also wants to attend their board meetings herself, though she noted that information was not easy to find, before she concluded her remarks saying “ultimately the school board is responsible for anything that happens, be it right or wrong,” she closed.
And Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall the school board member representative on Friends “concurred” and in some ways echoed her collogues comments about the lack of knowledge of what was going on over at the not-for-profit, that through WLRN has an news affiliation with The Miami Herald.
>>> Supt. Carvalho going to reach out to charter schools to discuss school’s placements in community
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the school board at a committee meeting last week that he will reach out to over 100 charter schools in Miami-Dade County that are receiving some $300 million yearly in public funding regarding boundary and attendance issues. He said he would be approaching the schools with the “goal of a cooperative relationship,” and based “not on conflict” with the nation’s fourth largest public schools district, Carvalho said.
The superintendent noted part of the problem with charter schools is they many times are not located where a public school has an over capacity and is draining student population, but there are other areas around the county “where we believe there is a need,” and working with the independent schools is “something worth exploring,” he considered. Further, Carvalho told the Watchdog Report this holistic way to consider the problem and role of charter schools could be of benefit of the whole community as a whole, and why he has evolved to this point of view, he said.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Sarnoff blocks Kneapler appointment vote to MESA, says man’s past comments suggest he may have “mental instability,” he is also suing Miami
Marc Sarnoff, the Miami Commissioner for District 2 blocked the appointment of Steve Kneabler, a recent critic of Sarnoff’s support of the redevelopment of Scotty’s Landing and the surrounding marina approved by 60 percent of the city of Miami voters back in November. Commission vice Chair Keon Hardemon proposed naming Kneabler to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority Board, and Sarnoff said some of the man’s past remarks about him might suggest some sort of “mental instability,” he said Thursday during the discussion of Kneabler’s possible appointment to the board. Sarnoff has been bashed on pushing the deal by many of his old supporters in the Grove, his past voter base, but the commissioner blew off that criticism and since the new plan passed in November with city of Miami voter’s approval. Sarnoff has tried to quell the local ground storm on the matter, but the appointment of Kneabler, a former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz supporter and currently a close friend with Mayor Tomas Regalado was too much for Sarnoff on Thursday.
The discussion on the man reminded the Watchdog Report of when then Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton wanted his appointees on city board’s to essentially think the same way as he did, and a cartoon was done in the media at the time, where on city boards. The members were clones and looked just like Winton, and the man was much criticized for voicing such a position at the time and people should be able to speak their own mind it was suggested by many critics at the time. In the case of Sarnoff, the attorney also noted Kneabler had also brought a legal suit against the city over the waterfront development process and his appointment vote was deferred to another commission meeting. Where Sarnoff hoped his brethren would review some of the past remarks the man had made concerning the District 2 commissioner.
>>> Commission vote on funding homeless mat program brings rebuke from County’s Homeless Trust
The Watchdog Report contacted Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff last week asking if they had any comment to the below press release. After the Miami Commission approved funding only mat beds, rather than the more comprehensive continuum of care offered to Miami-Dade County homeless residents, and via service providers, funded by the County’s Homeless Trust. Here is the press release from the Homeless Trust.
>>> Press release: This statement is in relation to resolution PH 7 voted on by the commission just moments ago. Statement from Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust Chairman, Ron Book:
“While we are disappointed that the City did not proceed with the commitment they made eight months ago, leaving some 2040+ bed days unused, the City of Miami is entitled to use its resources as they wish. Their decision not to provide housing and services to dozens of homeless individuals is between them and the city taxpayers as to whether this is a wise use of their resources. While we applaud the City’s desire to help the Trust with its goal of ending homelessness, the City’s decision to use mats to serve the homeless is really a beautification plan, not a proven, time-tested approach to ending homelessness.
As fiduciaries of the public’s money, The Homeless Trust only expends resources on options that have been time-tested and include solid performance measures, in addition to the endorsement of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. US HUD does not support the use of mats as a means to end homelessness, therefore, the Trust does not and will not fund them. We continue to be committed to long term, proven solutions as is outlined in our Community Plan to End Homelessness, where each program funded is tracked for its effectiveness and success.” >>> For more on the vote and the deal go to http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/01/miami-approves-settlement-that-would-water-down-homeless-rights.html
CITY OF HIALEAH
>>> Former Hialeah Police Officer and Wife Sentenced for Dealing in Firearms without a License
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Scott J. Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announce that Rafael Oscar Valdes and Tammy Lynn Valdes, of Miami, Florida, were sentenced today in connection with the unlawful sale of hundreds of firearms without a federal firearms license. Rafael Oscar Valdes was sentenced to 60 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Tammy Lynn Valdes was sentenced to 42 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Both defendants were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,613.51.
After a two week trial and over 300 items of admitted evidence, a jury convicted Rafael Valdes with dealing in firearms without a license (18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A)), making a false statement to a federal firearms dealer (18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6)), interstate transportation of stolen property (18 U.S.C. § 2314), and filing false tax returns for years 2008 – 2011 (26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)). The jury also convicted Tammy Valdes with dealing in firearms without a license and filing false tax returns for years 2008 – 2011. According to the court record and evidence presented at trial, Rafael Valdes was employed as a police officer with the City of Hialeah, Florida since 2004. Tammy Valdes was also once employed as a police officer with the City of West Miami, Florida, from 2004 until 2008 and the Town of Golden Beach, Florida, from 2008 through 2009. Neither defendant ever possessed a federal firearms license.
The Valdeses were initially indicted on December 13, 2012, for dealing in firearms without a license. Starting as early as July 2005, and continuing through June 2012, the defendants sold hundreds of firearms. In November 2008, the defendants began buying and selling firearms under the fictitious name of Custom Weapons Systems. The defendants advertised and sold over 100 firearms via the Internet to persons across the nation. The defendants also attended over 100 gun shows in the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, during which they purchased over 400 firearms and sold over 500 firearms. At times, their purchase and subsequent sale of firearms took place on the same day. Additionally, the defendants sold nine firearms to undercover agents, solicited the purchase of firearms from undercover agents, and offered to acquire firearms for undercover agents on a repetitive basis.
As part of the initial indictment, Rafael Valdes was charged with making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer in December 2008 when he purchased three AR-15 serialized lower receivers. Evidence admitted during trial proved that Rafael Valdes purchased those receivers for the sole purpose of building and selling completed rifles to three other officers after taking deposits. Rafael Valdes then falsely stated on an ATF Form 4473 that all three receivers were his, when in fact he was acquiring those receivers for other persons.
On July 31, 2013, a superseding indictment added tax charges against both defendants for filing false tax returns from 2008 – 2011, in that they failed to report their total income which included money derived from firearm sales. During trial, evidence was presented that the Valdeses failed to report over $350,000.00 in gross receipts during 2008 – 2011. The superseding indictment also charged Rafael Valdes with transporting stolen firearm parts from the Hialeah Police Department where he was employed in the training section. During trial, the evidence showed that Rafael Valdes took apart firearms that were in evidence at the Hialeah Police Department and deemed to be destroyed. Rafael Valdes then advertised those parts for sale on the internet and later transported those parts to buyers located across the United States, including; New York, California, Utah, and Missouri. Rafael Valdes then deposited the proceeds into his personal bank account. In addition to selling parts of firearms that were once in evidence, Rafael Valdes also sold machine gun parts taken from six different Heckler and Koch, MP-5 machine guns which had been utilized by the Hialeah Police Department SWAT team.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative and cooperative efforts of ATF, IRS-CI, BSO, PBSO, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami Beach Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, Virginia Gardens Police Department, Hialeah Police Department, FDLE, FBI and HSI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam McMichael and John McMillan. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
>>> (This has been rescheduled to Feb. but it is a important event) Global Warming maven Clerk Ruvin to speak at TMBC on impact on the Beach in the coming decades, $200 million planned in mitigation costs in the future
Harvey Ruvin, the Miami-Dade County Clerk since 1992 will be speaking at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club next week and the salient topic for Beach residents is Global Warming, and the sea level rise that will first affect the seven-mile island first. Ruvin, a early environmental advocate since the late1960s has been the chair of numerous bodies studying the issue, that has Miami Beach anticipating some $200 million in future infrastructure improvements to mitigate the rise in sea level. Further, newly minted Mayor Philip Levine has created a new commission committee to begin to deal with the issue that is looming in the future and currently causing persistent flooding of the streets and is a nightmare for local residents. To learn more about the breakfast club and current and future speakers go to www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).
>>> TWO FIU PROFESSORS PRODUCE A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT
SOUTH FLORIDA AND SEA LEVEL RISE
Press release: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts sea levels in South Florida will rise from three to seven inches by the year 2030 and from nine to 24 inches by the year 2060. Such changes would mean daunting challenges for South Florida communities to stay habitable. This theme, explored in the documentary, “South Florida’s Rising Seas,” produced by Florida International University (FIU) School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) professors Kate MacMillin, an award-winning TV producer, and Dr. Juliet Pinto, a journalism associate professor whose research focuses on environmental communication.
“We could not be more pleased with the documentary produced by our two professors with the intent of informing the South Florida community of such an important topic as is sea-level rise. They did an outstanding job of going deep into a subject that is often misunderstood but that is a reality for our area,” said SJMC Dean Raul Reis. Shot on location in South Florida, the half-hour production deals with the subject of sea level rise with vivid video and interviews with geologists, engineers, lawyers, community leaders and environmental activists. The documentary explains sea level rise, its potential threat to South Florida and what is being done about it.
“We are one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impacts of rising seas, and so as communicators we felt that this was an important topic that we could present as a visual narrative,” said SJMC Associate Professor Juliet Pinto.
WPBT2 graphic artist, Norman Silva, contributed animations to the documentary. Local award-winning composer, Dan Gralick, designed the music, and summa cum laude SJMC graduate, Jonathan Shaffer, was the associate producer and editor. WPBT2 will air the documentary for the first time on January 15, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. “It was a labor of love, and a challenge to make this complicated topic visual. We are grateful for the partnerships that allowed us to make this production a reality,” said Professor MacMillin. “South Florida Rising Seas” debut on WPBT2 on January 15 will be followed by a half-hour roundtable discussion moderated by Helen Ferré and featuring: John Englander, author of “High Tide on Main Street”; Dr. Hal Wanless, chair of the University of Miami Department of Geological Sciences; Richard Grosso, director of the Environmental & Land Use Law Clinic and professor of law at Nova Southeastern University; and Dr. Pinto. The half-hour documentary will air again on January 29 from 7:30-8:00 p.m. Watch the documentary’s 60-second HD trailer at http://journalism.fiu.edu/#!/Spotlight | Follow hashtag #sfrisingseas | For more information, please contact Kate MacMillin | SJMC Professor, 305-903-3507 | firstname.lastname@example.org
What else is going on at the Beach?
The Watchdog Report asked Manager Jimmy Morales on Friday if he had any comment to the firing of acting Miami Beach Planning Department Director Richard Lorber last week and also about a major traffic snafu that is occurring on McArthur Causeway and the South Beach exit that has cars backed up almost to U.S. I-95. And for drivers using this causeway, this traffic jam is an hour and half chore to get to the restaurants and shops in that are of the Beach. The Watchdog Report saw this traffic backup on both Tuesday and Friday mornings and why I asked about the issue. Morales in an email back wrote, “I don’t comment on personnel matters [re the firing of Lorber]. As for the long traffic backup, I understand that FDOT is conducting surveys on the causeway today. I suspect that is the cause of the backup today. But I am having my folks check. Thanks for the heads up,” wrote the manager who has the support of newly elected Mayor Levine.
>>> Beach Convention Center advocate Blumberg says sayonara after decades on advisory board
Stuart Blumberg, the long time tourist maven and Miami Beach Convention Center advocate has resigned after decades from the Beach’s Convention Center Advisory Board, now that a previous redevelopment deal has been scuttled after the November elections significantly changed the composition of commissioners of dais, and has Mayor Philip Levine calling for a smaller project without a hotel component. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/10/3863391/miami-beach-mayor-city-should.html
>>> M-DC Ethics Commission press release: The Ethics Commission found No Probable Cause to a complaint (C 13-35) that employees in the Miami Beach City Clerk and Information Technology offices violated the Citizens’ Bill of Rights by failing to respond to a public records request in a timely manner. In September, Michael Burke sought information on property owned by then-Mayor Mattie Bower, but his request referred to a non-existent address and didn’t include a specific-date range. The investigation also determined that city staffers communicated with him through the email address from which Burke submitted the request, but one he admittedly doesn’t use often. While dismissing the charge, the Ethics Commission will recommend that the City establish a clearer process and procedure for handling public records requests.
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI
>>> City of North Miami Resident Convicted in Stolen Tax Refund Scheme
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, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Tom Weschler, Chief, City of Naples Police Department, announce that Marie Jean Baptiste, 22, of North Miami, was convicted by a federal jury of three counts of stealing tax refunds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 2. The trial was held before U.S. District Court Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Baptiste faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison for each count.
According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Baptiste received four tax refunds that she knew were stolen, and converted them for her own use and gain. Baptiste participated in a scheme in which fraudulent tax returns were filed directing the tax refunds to be directly deposited into her bank account. After the tax refunds were deposited into her bank account, Baptiste would withdraw the tax proceeds from the bank and various ATMs for her own use and gain.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI and the City of Naples Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera R. Peoples. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
>>>M-DC Ethics Commission press release: No Probable Cause was found to a complaint against Evan Ross alleging that he lobbied members of the North Miami City Council without registering to do so. The investigation determined that last summer, Ross, who is a paid representative of CH2M Hill, led Councilwoman Carol Keys on a site visit of property the company had previously contracted with the city for environmental clean-up. Since there was no pending city action on which to advocate, no lobbying took place and the complaint (C 13-36) was dismissed.
CITY OF HOMESTEAD
>>> Homestead Mayor Porter settles campaign violation charge
M-DC Ethics Commission press release: The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust today accepted a settlement with recently elected Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter over a complaint (C 13-31) that one of his campaign flyers in the November election violated the County’s Mandatory Fair Campaign Practices Ordinance. The complaint was brought by J.C. Planas on behalf of opposing mayoral candidate Mark Bell, who claimed that the brochure falsely alleged that he and his wife, County Commissioner Lynda Bell, had received a “$25,000 gift courtesy of the taxpayers of Homestead.” In fact, the grant was issued by the Homestead Community Redevelopment Agency to the historic Redland Hotel, an entity owned by Mr. Bell. The brochure in question had used an imitation check showing a direct payment from the CRA to Mark and Lynda Bell. The actual check was made payable to the hotel. As part of the settlement, Mayor Porter pled No Contest to the allegation, and agreed to pay costs of $350 and accept a Letter of Instruction regarding the violation.
>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA
>>> 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 FORT LAUDERDALE
>>> Seven Defendants Indicted in $49.6 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme Involving North Carolina Property Development
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Fred W. Gibson, Jr., Acting Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), announce the unsealing of a 15-count indictment charging seven defendants in a mortgage fraud scheme which resulted in the approval of approximately $49.6 million in fraudulent loans, and millions in losses to the lenders, including Bank of America, Regions Bank, SunTrust Bank, and Wachovia Bank. The properties referred to in the indictment consist of multiple vacant lots in a community development in North Carolina.
The indictment charges the following individuals as co-conspirators: Domenico “Dom” Rabuffo, 77, of Miami; Mae Rabuffo, 74, of Fort Lauderdale; Diane M. Hayduk, 64, of Miami; Raymond E. Olivier, 52, of Land O’ Lakes; Curtis Allen Davis, 51, of Tampa; Victor Miguel Vidal, 48, of Miami; and, Lazaro Jesus Perez, 43, of Miami Lakes. According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to perpetrate a complex $49.6 million mortgage fraud scheme against various FDIC-insured lenders from 2003 to 2008. Defendants Domenico Rabuffo and Mae Rabuffo used shell companies to acquire ownership and control of a purported residential property development known as Hampton Springs, located in Cashiers, North Carolina. According to the indictment, Domenico Rabuffo, Mae Rabuffo, Diane M. Hayduk, Raymond E. Olivier, and Curtis Allen Davis recruited numerous straw buyers to purchase lots in the Hampton Springs development. The straw buyers financed the purchase of the building lots in Hampton Springs using mortgage loans and further obtained construction loans for the same properties. Defendants caused the straw buyers to submit false and fraudulent loan applications and related documents to the lenders to ensure that the straw buyers qualified for the loans. Defendant Victor Miguel Vidal served as a loan officer at SunTrust Mortgage, where he shepherded the fraudulent loan applications of the straw buyers through the approval process, including fraudulent applications for $33 million in construction loans. Defendant Lazaro Jesus Perez furnished fictitious and fraudulent accountant’s letters to Vidal, in support of various fraudulent mortgage loan applications submitted to SunTrust Mortgage.
Ultimately, based on the indictment, the lenders were induced to advance approximately $49.6 million in loan proceeds in connection with this scheme. The proceeds of the defendants’ mortgage fraud scheme were funneled through shell-corporation accounts controlled by Domenico Rabuffo and Mae Rabuffo, and other accounts, for the use and benefit of the defendants and their co-conspirators, and to further the defendants’ fraudulent scheme. The indictment includes charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and substantive bank fraud offenses. The offenses charged in the indictment each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and mandatory restitution.
Mr. Ferrer commends the investigative efforts of the FBI and FDIC-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwayne E. Williams. An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent 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.
CITY OF PEMBROKE PINES
>>> Pill Mill Doctor Sentenced for Oxycodone Conspiracy
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), Miami Field Office, and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, announce that Dr. Scott Becker, 54, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 70 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Dr. Becker previously pled guilty to conspiring to distribute and dispense large amounts of oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Dr. Becker also pled guilty to money laundering.
According to court documents, Becker agreed to forfeit $470,400 in money and property representing the illegal narcotics proceeds he earned as a result of his involvement as a physician at All Pain Management in Dania Beach. Between February 16 and September 17, 2010, Becker was employed as a clinic doctor at All Pain Management which, at the time, was owned by co-conspirators Vincent Colangelo and several other unnamed individuals. Colangelo pled guilty to narcotics, money laundering and federal income tax offenses on April 2, 2012, arising from his ownership of six pill mill clinics and a pharmacy in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. According to a review of medical records, while at All Pain Management, Becker prescribed 932,259 oxycodone, 30 milligram pills during the course of 4,821 patient visits and more than 98% of Becker’s patients received prescriptions for oxycodone. Becker also laundered approximately $24,142 in illegal narcotics proceeds.
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement. Mr. Ferrer thanked IRS-CI, DEA, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, as well as the many other state and local agencies for their investigative work. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Behnke and Roger Powell and Tax Division Trial Attorney Greg Tortella. 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
>>> Gov. Scott taps Judge Greg A. Tynan to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
Press release: Judge Tynan, 44 of Orlando, currently serves as an Orange County Judge. From 1995-1999 and 2001-2012, Judge Tynan served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Ninth Judicial Circuit. From 1999-2001, he was in private practice in Orlando. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida, and his law degree from Nova Southeastern University. Judge Tynan fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Anthony Johnson. Governor Rick Scott said, “Judge Tynan has been a great county judge and it is my privilege to appoint him to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, where he will continue to serve Florida’s families with dedication and integrity.”
>>> Gov. Scott names Leslie K. “Les” Cook as Property Appraiser of Citrus County.
Press release: Cook, 56, of Homosassa, is the assistant property appraiser for Citrus County and has been with the Property Appraiser’s office since 1980. He fills the vacancy created by the passing of Geoffrey Greene and is appointed for a term beginning January 6, 2014, and ending November 11, 2014. Governor Scott said, “My sincerest condolences are with Geoffrey Greene’s entire family as they grieve his passing. I am confident that Les Cook will continue to provide excellent service to the taxpayers of Citrus County.”
>>> Gov. Scott taps Judge Reinaldo Juan Ojeda to the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court.
Press release: Judge Ojeda, 42 of Lakeland, serves as a Polk County Judge. From 2001-2008, Judge Ojeda served as an Assistant State Attorney in several roles in the Tenth Circuit State Attorney’s Office, including Chief of Special Prosecution and Director of County Court Prosecutions. From 2003-2008, Judge Ojeda served as Vice President and Board Member of the Bay Life Legal Ministries. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and his law degree from Stetson University. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Harvey Kornstein. Governor Rick Scott said, “Judge Ojeda will be a great addition to the circuit bench. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the qualities necessary to provide excellent service to Florida families.”
SEMINOLE COUNTY – CITY OF LONGWOOD
>>> There he goes again: Gov. Scott suspends Commissioner Bundy after lawmaker hit with DUI and reckless driving charges causing serious bodily injury
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Commissioner Haywood “Butch” Bundy Jr., from his post on the City of Longwood commission Friday after he was charged by the Seminole County state attorney with one count of driving under the influence and one count of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury and both are felony charges if the lawmaker is found guilty. Scott since being sworn into office in Jan. 2011 has done a brisk business suspending wayward elected leaders and he is following the tradition set by past governors of suspending these leaders after they were busted and he has been averaging almost one a month.
>>> Three Key West Men Sentenced for Possession of Stolen Firearms
Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, announce that Jermaine Lamar Roberts, 34, Amdado Cardenas, 47, and William Jon Ray, 45, all of Key West, Florida, were sentenced today. Roberts was sentenced to 110 months in prison, Cardenas was sentenced to 170 months in prison, and Ray was sentenced to 180 months in prison, all to be followed by five years of supervised release.
Roberts, Cardenas, and co-defendant Patrick Lawrence Stickney, 43, of Key West, Florida, previously pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g), and one count of possession of a stolen firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(j). Ray previously pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g). Stickney is scheduled to be sentenced on February 19, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Key West, Florida.
According to court documents, the defendants, all previously convicted felons, were involved in the possession and attempted sale of numerous firearms stolen from a recreational vehicle in Stock Island, Florida, including military-style assault rifles. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF, and thanked the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for its work in this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Maderal. 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.
>>> 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″
>>> Elected leaders trying to intimidate the press is a Pyrrhic Victory, only a free press will give South Florida the freedom it needs to truly blossom as a community
What is going on in the City of Sweetwater, after Commissioner Isolina Marono called the city’s cops to arrest veteran Spanish Television reporter Erika Carillo, after she asked some probing questions about some cars, but that is not the issue. The issue is an elected leader threatening and badgering the press in a nation that has a history of freedom of the press and reporters access to elected leaders. Over the years, the Watchdog Report has written about this access to leaders, and subsequent threats and other intimidation tactics that last year saw some 71 journalists killed doing their job around the globe in the past year. Moreover, that threat at any level is unacceptable here in South Florida. If we are not to be infected with, a fear of our government and a loss of a free press that is so vitally needed here given the vast demographic challenges facing our community. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/01/sweetwater-commissioner-and-suspended-mayors-mom-complains-to-police-about-reporters-work.html
Politicians love to try to deflect critical media questions and they’re method of doing that is wide open in many cases, or may just be a simple. “I am not taking or responding to that question at this time,” many leaders say. But it is the job of the reporter and media to keep digging and keep asking the salient questions, for no elected leader with something to hide is going to just admit it. Which in many cases actually may defuse a story or mitigate its effect on the politician and some officials understand that fact. For butting heads with the media ultimately gets the elected leader nowhere, and they seem to forget that any such past transgressions are part of their political narrative from that point on and if a politician wants to stay in office.
Having a reputation, as a bully when it comes to the press, is a poor strategy to pursue for it will only come back to haunt leaders in spades and even more dogged coverage. And when it comes to these peoples own public relations flaks, who also can get aggressive with a reporter for a past story. These people should remember their job is primarily to answer questions about issues, not be the third party hit person for an elected leader. In addition, the sooner local politicians understand that fact, the better the community will be. For elected leaders must be held accountable, regardless what these leaders may believe, and the press over the centuries has played a critical role in bringing these people back to earth in that regard in America, and any such threats to journalists cannot be condoned in any form. >>> And here is a another story on how Gov. Rick Scott deals with the media http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/11/3863665/have-a-question-dont-bother-asking.html
>>> Thank you so much for the most kind mention on your much read Watchdog Report, which I never miss. Wish you continued success and good health for 2014
Helen A. Ferre
>>> Nice tribute to Vladimir Stroleny. He will be truly missed.
Jo Ann Mathieu
>>> 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.
I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report. Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to email@example.com
Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net
Copyright © of original material, 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.