Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.36 January 19, 2014 EST. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Happy MLK Day

CONTENTS

Argus Report: FBI SAC Steinbach says sayonara to South Florida to head up terrorism division at Bureau, pressure cooker job here, with fraud and public corruption on the front burner

Florida: Gov. Scott taps M-DC PA Lopez-Cantera as his wingman on ticket in Nov. 2014, won tough race for local office, but he now will have statewide platform — 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: Commission to vote on new IG Cagle’s $190,000 salary Jan. 22, only second person in that post, predecessor after 14 years got $244,000 in total

Miami-Dade Public Schools: School Board to get quarterly updates on what is going on at Friends of WLRN, the fundraising arm for WWW.WLRN.ORG, as Chair Hantman requested

Public Health Trust: Commissioner Edmonson says county attorney’s office putting on finishing touches for new JHS $830 million bond oversight board

City of Miami: Port tunnel to open May 19th, AX may make “$2 million” donation to help save the Miami Marine Stadium, Gables Estefan & Buffett event a big hit

Village of Coconut Grove: Grovites need to watch the Regatta Park plan like a hawk, massive footprint will likely tug at commissioners for development in the years ahead

City of Miami Gardens: Three More Defendants Plead Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme Resulting in Millions of Dollars in Fraudulent Activity

City of Miami Beach: While Beach Convention renovation hot topic, Mayor Levine also meets with schools District Supt. Carvalho and Board Member Dr. Karp to discuss educational issues on the island

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Residents may soon get on demand capability to watch county commission meetings, now being pushed by Commissioner Wexler

City of Ft. Lauderdale: Broward County Clerk Sentenced to Three Years for Stealing Identities in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

City of Hollywood: Former Miami-Dade Department of Public Works Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Contractor

City of Tamarac: Gov. Scott Friday suspends Mayor Flansbaum-Talabisco again, after Florida Supreme Court would not hear her appeal case

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 Eduardo “Eddie” Fernandez as the Orange County Clerk.

Sarasota County: Scott names James Gabbert to the Sarasota County Charter Review Board.  

Union County: Scott taps Brad Whitehead as Union County Sheriff.

Jackson County – Town of Malone: There he goes again, Gov. Scott removes Malone Councilman Lewis after grand theft auto conviction, and clip makes January a tri-fecta for Scott

Monroe County: – To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Community Events: Arsht Center production – Margulies Art Collection show

Editorials:– 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: Camillus House response to last week’s statement regarding the homeless Mat program from the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust – Reader on Port of Miami cruise ships

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.

>>> May you and your family have a great, safe and reflective Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Day Monday and may we never forget how effective his nonviolent passive resistance approach accomplished in the 1960s, and he did so much to bring our nation together, despite our diversity, especially here in Miami-Dade County.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> FBI SAC Steinbach says sayonara to South Florida to head up terrorism division at Bureau, pressure cooker job here, with fraud and public corruption on the front burner

Michael B. Steinbach, 47, the local FBI Special Agent In Charge, and a counter terrorist specialist is heading back to Washington to become the FBI’s deputy assistant director for the terrorism division in the Bureau http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-fbi-miami-chief-michael-steinbach-leaving-20140115,0,5552965.story The local FBI Field Office has some 800 employees, and has the largest public corruption unit in the nation, and the office covers nine counties in the U.S. Southern District of Florida. A geographic area that ranges from Key West to Fort Pierce and also includes South America and the Caribbean nations. Steinbach followed former FBI SAC John V. Gillies who retired a couple of years ago after a major stint in South Florida and Gillies was shocked at the level of fraud and corruption found here and he talked about it at a number of public forums, asking for the publics help to stomp this out, during his time as SAC. In addition, these federal special agents have to deal with terrorism threats, identity theft and the massive Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, where the fraud beta sites are tested in South Florida, and then the fraud model is exported and established in different cities around the nation.

Further, when it comes to public corruption the local FBI is committed to root out public corruption and has had over the years a large number of high profile political corruption cases from Palm Beach, to Key West and a host of elected leaders have been arrested over the past decade by federal authorities. And the Watchdog Report wishes Steinbach good luck in this new important position and know his replacement will have large shoes to fill.

>>> Press release: United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Announces National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) crime is a multi-billion dollar problem, and South Florida is ground zero for this fraud. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has designated this week “National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week” in the hope of raising awareness about the gravity of this crime and offering potential ways for the public to protect itself from this insidious crime. What is a SIRF crime? A SIRF crime happens when an identity thief steals an individual’s personal identity information – name, date of birth and social security number – and uses the information to file false and fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds in the victim’s name to which the SIRF criminal is not entitled.  A teacher in West Palm Beach, a restaurant employee in Boynton Beach, a police officer in Aventura, a patient at the healthcare provider in Fort Lauderdale, and a prisoner in TGK Correctional Center in Miami, all have something in common – each individual is a victim of SIRF.

According to the FTC, Florida had the highest rate of identity theft in the United States in 2012. While identity theft in Florida ranks highest in the United States, the identity theft rate in Miami has reached near epidemic proportions.  Florida’s rate of 361.3 complaints per 100,000 residents – the highest in the United States – is dwarfed by the Miami rate of 645.4 complaints per 100,000 residents.

Recognizing the breadth and gravity of this problem, the U.S. Attorney’s Office formed a joint federal and state law enforcement “Strike Force” to investigate SIRF crimes and  bring prosecutions against the identity thieves who are stealing millions upon millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury right here in South Florida. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners, including the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Aventura Police Department, and City of North Miami Beach Police Department have brought to justice SIRF offenders as diverse gang members, recruiters for the military, as corrupt police officers, employees of health care providers, and human resource professionals at local companies.

Among the notable offenders was Alci Bonanee who was convicted of $11 million in SIRF fraud related to her criminal conduct in purchasing stolen identities from a South Miami hospital and filing tax returns using over 800 of those identities. Bonanee was sentenced to 26 years in prison.  Other notable offenders are Malinsky Bazile and Vital Frederick, former police officers who were abusing their positions of authority by using restricted police databases to access identity information to file false and fraudulent tax claims. Bazile and Fredrick were convicted at trial and face sentencing in the coming month.

Also prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office was Pikerson Mentor, who received a life sentence, and Saubnet Politesse, who received a sentence of 21 years, for murdering a postal worker and stealing his “arrow” key. The defendants used the arrow key to enter mailboxes to steal identity information and debit cards loaded with tax refunds. Since 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts have led to a significant crackdown on SIRF crimes in South Florida: more than 270 defendants have been prosecuted, with approximately $449 million in tax-refund claims using stolen identities, $97 million in IRS payments, and 76,700 in identity thefts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the IRS have also attacked this problem at its root by revoking so called “electronic filing identity numbers,” or EFIN numbers, which allow individuals to file tax returns on behalf of others.  Before revoking these EFIN numbers, SIRF fraudsters had used them to file 53,900 fraudulent tax refund claims over the past two years.

Despite law enforcement and prosecutors best efforts, it remains vitally important that the citizens of South Florida exercise vigilance in protecting their identity information to avoid becoming victims of this insidious fraud. A few suggested actions taxpayers can take to protect themselves include: File your tax return as early as possible – so that identity thieves don’t beat you to the punch. Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it. Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. For more information on how to help deter, detect, and defend against tax identity theft, please visit www.irs.gov/identitytheft and www.ftc.gov/taxidtheft.

>>> Veteran political reporter Putney back in action, after orthopedic tune-up

WPLG Veteran Senior Political Reporter Michael Putney is back in the saddle after having some orthopedic surgery, and for over a month being absent from his Sunday show This Week in South Florida, on WPLG Local 10 http://www.local10.com/ . The station had Glenna Millberg filling in as the shows host, and she did a yeoman’s job filling in.

Putney is a reporter that spends most of his time out in the field and since that is where the action is happening. He has a greater depth when he does many stories and some of the nuances that might have to be considered. The Watchdog Report gives Michael a Tip of the Hat for all his past work, I am glad he is back, and enjoy your Porsche Boxster convertible. To see this week’s show go to http://www.local10.com/livestream-newscast/this-week-in-south-florida-livestream/-/23394394/23509324/-/kw6g5iz/-/index.html

>>> 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.

FLORIDA

>>> Gov. Scott taps M-DC PA Lopez-Cantera as his wingman on ticket in Nov. 2014, won tough race for local office, but now will have statewide platform

Gov. Rick Scott, after almost a year without a lieutenant governor after his number two Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned amid a scandal with a phony veteran’s charity last March, though she was never charged. The first term Republican governor has tapped Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez Cantera, 40, for his wingman for the upcoming legislative session and his reelection race in November. Lopez-Cantera, the first Hispanic Lt. Gov. is a former Republican state representative, who represented the Coconut Grove, Little Havana District in the Florida House from 2004 to 2012. He rose through the political ranks and became the House majority leader at the end of his stint in the legislature. He will be the 19th Lieutenant governor and will be sworn in on Feb. 3, in the Florida House Chambers.

Lopez-Cantera first ran for office in 2002 and lost to former South Miami Mayor and incumbent state Rep. Julio Robaina, R-South Miami who was widely popular at the time. After his municipality had just been named one of the best cities in the nation. Lopez-Cantera would then run for another House seat, District 113, which included the Grove when state Rep. Manny Priequez, R-Miami resigned in 2004 from the office and he ran for the open seat and won. Lopez-Cantera and his wife in the early years would work the polls and later his daughters would be seen helping out the campaign, which was a family affair. He was born prematurely in Madrid and when old enough came to Miami where he was expected to be born. This fact helps explain why his father, Carlos Lopez-Cantera is such a supporter of the Jackson Memorial Foundation and is the Foundation’s current board chair. http://www.jmf.org/about-us-jackson-memorial-foundation/board-members/

Lopez-Cantera the younger was termed out of the Florida House in 2012 and he ran for the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s office, a Charter Office given the county’s Home Rule Charter and this different Charter status. He has been challenging in the local courts since being elected trying to make it a Constitutional Office. Since most such offices around the state’s 67 counties are Constitutional Offices. He beat incumbent Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia over the summer in a bitter race where he got 51 percent of the vote in the August Primary race, but Garcia charged there was absentee voter fraud in the race, that was found to be the case with other candidate campaigns at the time, but absentee ballot irregularities were never proved in the property appraiser race.  However, this controversy resulted in Garcia keeping the winner out of visiting the office, until he was formerly sworn in January 2013, after the bad blood of the campaign and Lopez-Cantera would meet with staff in the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center bodega before he was sworn into office.

And the hope is the Hispanic lawmaker will help Scott in his reelection bid against likely candidate former Gov. Charlie Crist who just has to beat little known state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston in the Democratic Party’s primary in August with the General Election in November. Crist a former Republican, turned independent became a Democrat in the spring of 2012 and worked to help get President Barack Obama get reelected to a second term. However, Lopez-Castro supported Crist when he was governor in a number of ways when he was in the legislature and some of this past political involvement will likely become campaign issues in the upcoming gubernatorial race. In addition, for another take on the selection go to  http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/18/3879444/floridas-next-lieutenant-governor.html and http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/florida-democrats-hit-carlos-lopez-cantera-supporting-charlie-crists-positions


Lopez-Cantera

Scott

Crist

>>> Press release: Governor Scott’s “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” Proposes More Than $31 Million in Additional Funding to Protect Children

Governor Rick Scott announced that his 2014-2015 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” commits more than $31 million for child protection services. The additional dollars would be targeted at protecting at-risk children and families by expanding investigation initiatives that are currently being piloted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Governor also announced an additional $8 million that will go to sheriffs’ offices that conduct child protective investigative services.

Governor Scott said, “Today, I’m announcing that in my ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ we will propose an historic increase to DCF funding.  We are committed to increasing funding this year by more than $31 million. This funding will directly support critical services for children by hiring more than 400 new child protective investigators. We are also investing $8 million to support sheriffs who work in child protection services. While DCF has made significant changes to protect children, we still have much to do to protect the most vulnerable among us. Even one child death is a death too many.”

Governor Scott is proposing $31,891,496 additional dollars to be targeted at improving DCF child protective investigations. The funding would go specifically to:  Increase the child protection workforce in order to reduce caseloads to 10 cases per investigator. Additional investigators will also allow for a paired investigator response to cases with the highest risk for serious child maltreatment. DCF is currently piloting paired investigators for high-risk cases in Miami-Dade and Polk counties. Establish 26 positions to perform preventative “real time” quality assurance reviews on open child protective investigations involving the most vulnerable children. Real time quality assurance is currently being practiced in DCF’s SunCoast Region. Reclassification of 50 current investigator positions to “Child Protective Master Practitioner” to allow for upward career mobility and to identify and utilize workers with the most knowledge and experience.

“Armed with input from national experts and data to back-up our proposals, we are prepared to ensure that these funds will be laser focused on protecting children who are most at-risk,” Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said. “With Governor Scott’s steadfast support of DCF initiatives to improve child safety, I am confident that these strategic investments will be made to keep Florida’s children safe.” In addition to new funding for child protection, Governor Scott is recommending restoring all nonrecurring funding for Substance Abuse and Mental Health programs. These programs play an integral role in preventing child abuse and supporting healthy families.

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of James Holton and the reappointment of John Wortman to the Board of Governors, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

Holton, 59, of St. Petersburg, is the president of Holton Companies. He has previously served as Chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission, and as a member of the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Boston University. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 17, 2014, and ending July 31, 2014.

Wortman, 73, of Ponte Vedra, is a consultant with Wortman Capital Associates. Wortman has nearly five decades of experience in the insurance industry. Throughout his career, he has served as CEO of the American Mutual group of companies, Michigan Mutual and the Amerisure Companies, and Citizens of Louisiana. He has served on the Board of Governor of Citizens Property Insurance since September 2011. Wortman received his bachelor’s degree from Washburn University. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 17, 2014, and ending July 31, 2016.

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.

>>> Children’s Movement of Florida  Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Commission to vote on new IG Cagle’s $190,000 salary Jan. 22, only second person in that post, predecessor after 14 years got $244,000 in total

Mary Cagle, the new Miami-Dade County Inspector General and confirmed to the post a few weeks ago by the county commission after a national search was done by a five member IG Selection Committee chaired by the county’s state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Since then, Cagle an attorney, has been negotiating a contract with the county and the contract is anticipated to be voted on by commissioners at the Jan. 22 Board of County Commission meeting. She will be the second IG, since the county commission created the office back in 1998 by an ordinance and she is following in the footsteps of retired IG Christopher Mazzella, and the office also provides oversight to the nation’s fourth largest public schools district via a contract with the school board.

The Watchdog Report contacted County Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa last week and her office provided the Jan. 22 IG contract memo detailing the compensation plan from County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to her and other county commissioners. Cagle’s salary for a year will be $190,000 and she will contribute five percent of her salary to the county’s healthcare costs. The former assistant state prosecutor will receive a five percent yearly merit increase on her hire date in the four year contract, she will get 40 hours in annual leave the first year, and in subsequent years that goes to 120 hours of leave per year. The contract was hammered out by the County’s Human Resources Department along with the county attorney’s office.  Mazzella’s compensation through Sept. 4, 2013 was a salary of $234,966 and his total compensation package was $244,968, state county documents.

Sosa

>>> PAST WDR: IG nominee Cagle goes to BCC for confirmation vote Tuesday, highly regarded by all, only blemish five benign traffic violations since 1998

Mary Cagle, the nominee to be the next Miami-Dade County Inspector General on Tuesday breezed through the background check review by the five-member Ad Hoc IG Selection Committee chaired by Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle on. The top county prosecutor, reelected last August, said the committee had interviewed some “extraordinary” candidates, but Cagle fit the bill best. The committee concluded after extensive interviews of over a dozen candidates, after hearing from over ten people with knowledge of the office they’re thoughts. What the selection committee should be looking for in the new IG who is replacing Christopher Mazzella, who retired in March after serving in the office since 1998 and was the first county IG.

Cagle was a former senior assistant state prosecutor for almost two dozen-years, worked for CHARLEE, and she was recently a top attorney in the Florida Department of Children and Family. The County Police Investigators that did the Background Investigation in a Dec. 3 memo signed by Police Department Director J.D. Patterson contacted her references. Who included Bertila Soto, the Chief Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Attorney H.T. Smith, and Robert “Bob” Butterworth, formerly the Florida Attorney General, and as Smith stated, “I would trust her on her handshake,” and all the references believed she would be “an asset,” to Miami-Dade County.

The report shows her credit is good, neighbors say she and her husband “are very quite neighbors,” and they have “No concerns,” with them, and the only thing out of the ordinary was she disclosed that she had five traffic moving violations since 1998. The Watchdog Report contacted Cagle Thursday by phone, and she said these tickets were for not coming to a complete stop, and one was going 40 mph on a 30 mph street, and she gave these types of reasons for the violations. And she did take a driver school course and her Florida License is valid, so this is a benign issue.

The Watchdog Report back in 1998 watched Mazzella interview with the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission where the new IG office fell under the ethics commission charge (that is not the case now), and Cagle appears to be a good fit. To lead the important oversight post that Mazzella would say at meetings was the county’s official “watchdog.” Mazzella, a former FBI special agent started that office with one other person back then, and it now has around 40 employees and the IG is charged with watching over the $6.3 billion county budget and its 25 departments, Jackson Health System and the organization’s new $830 million bond, as well as the $4.3 billion public schools district, which also just got approved a $1.2 billion bond last fall. >>> Editor’s note: After the unanimous vote confirming Cagle’s nominee, the Watchdog Report publisher did supply some information regarding titles and names when it came to the people copied on a memo from the selection committee Chair Fernandez Rundle to county commissioners and other officials.  In Past Watchdog Report’s I have covered the past deliberations, her credentials and I have talked to some three dozen people since September, and they all spoke highly of the woman and former senior assistant state attorney. These people all believe she is her “own woman,” had the right temperament for the job and to run the office that also is the nation’s fourth largest public schools district’s inspector general.

>>> The Florida Legislature changed the law last year mandating more opportunities for “public speaking” at commission and committee meetings held by the Miami-Dade County Commission and other bodies around the state, and this change gives the public plenty of opportunity to weigh in on issues said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz last week at a commission committee meeting. The intent of the state legislature was to open up government meetings to more public comment, after complaints over the years that resident’s comments are stifled many times at government meetings. However, during this past week even when commissioners asked for public input nobody regularly stepped up to the podium in many cases, except when a discussion of modifying the County Manatee Protection Plan (that ultimately would require state approval) and some changes in boating and docks on the Miami River, sponsored by Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.

That discussion brought out a host of public speakers on the matter and it was a refreshing change to see such a public turnout of speakers at a county commission committee meeting, and highlights the pubic interest in protecting the docile mammal, and 800 of the endangered species died in 2013.  And the commission committee hearing the legislation ultimately deferred the item until next month and the deferral had the approval of Barreiro.


Diaz

Barreiro

>>> Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will veto again a 8 to 5 county commission vote to rescind having county employees in the unions contributing five percent of their salary to the county’s self insured health insurance program, that opponents say is already well funded, but on the backs of the employees. Union leaders say Gimenez is not negotiating in good faith, and that morale among the county’s work force is the lowest it has ever been.

On Friday, Gimenez turned 60, and he must resolve this chronic union impasse that has a swath of fiscal implications including at Jackson Health System where the withdrawal of the employee contribution will push JHS into the red given the current approved budget the health system is operateing under. However, county employees and union leaders argue they have contributed enough over the past four years of they’re salary, and now that property values have stabilized and gone up after tanking from 2008 to 2011. The workers believe now is the time to open the pay spigot and pay what they believe the employees are due. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/16/3875047/in-deja-vu-vote-miami-dade-commission.html

What about the County’s property appraiser race in the future?

With Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera being tapped by Gov. Rick Scott as his number two, someone commissioned a poll that I took on Thursday and one of the questions was who would I vote for in the August Primary race if the candidate choice was County Commissioners Bruno Barreiro and Juan Zapata, former PA Pedro Garcia who lost to Lopez-Cantera and a surprise name, Colonel Emilio Gonzalez, who is the Miami-Dade Aviation Director and runs MIA. One member of the media Friday told me that Garcia came out on top in the poll and that he is still very well liked in the community, did not drop out of sight after the loss, and he just ran a terrible campaign where the man was depicted to be soft on Homestead Exemption Fraud, that he countered at the time was not true.

>>> Library Blue Ribbon Task Force coming up with some great ideas, note 49 funding requests to voters around the nation passed, out of 68 questions

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez Friday morning presided over the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force held in the commission chamber’s studying the county’s public library system. The panel is coming up with some great recommendations after many hours of thoughtful discussion over the past weeks and a final report, and recommendations will be coming out in the near future. In addition, the issue of increased library funding around the nation is high, where out of 68 ballot questions in communities around America for increased library funding in a variety of taxing ways. Of those questions, 49 passed voter muster and shows it is an important issue to Americans. Further, using new technology now available greater efficiencies are also being discovered and if implemented, will save the Library District fiscally in the long run and result in better inventory management of books. For more on the task force go to http://www.miamidade.gov/mayor/blue-ribbon-task-force-mdpls.asp

Gimenez

>>> 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

>>> Press release: MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST SEEKS VOLUNTEERS FOR HUD-MANDATED HOMELESS COUNT EVENTS

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is seeking volunteers to help count and record data on the street homeless, the sheltered homeless, and the unaccompanied homeless youth population of Miami-Dade. The critical information these surveys provide will help to guide the Trust’s planning and budgeting process, ensuring that The Trust continues to support the types of evidence-based programs that meet HUD’s stringent funding priorities and, most importantly, offer the best solutions to solve homelessness. There are three events open to public participation: Registry Week, the Point-in-Time Count and iCount. On January 17, 21 and 22, volunteers are needed to work with trained homeless outreach professionals for what is called “Registry Week”. During this period, homeless individuals will be identified and their risk factors assessed, helping to prioritize the most vulnerable for placement.

Additionally, on January 23, volunteers are needed to assist with the bi-annual Point-in-Time count, as well as the “iCount” initiative which identifies unaccompanied and unstably housed youth ages 13-24 in Miami-Dade County. The homeless street count begins at 10 p.m. and runs through 6 a.m.; the iCount begins at 4 p.m. and ends at midnight.“Registry Week”, the Point-In-Time Count and Survey, and iCount are part of processes designed to assist HUD and The Homeless Trust in achieving the aggressive goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2015.  Volunteers can choose from various shifts:  daytime, nighttime and overnight. Parties interested in volunteering for Registry Week or the Point-in-Time count must attend a training program on January 16.  For details, including the specific times when volunteers are needed, visit www.homelesstrust.com or email the homelesstrust@miamidade.gov.

>>> GMCVB press release: TOURIST TAX COLLECTIONS

For the months of January – November, The 3% Resort Tax collections from hotels in Miami Beach show an increase of 11.0% compared to the same time last year in 2012. The 2% Food & Beverage Tax collections for Miami Beach show an increase of 7.0% compared to the same time in 2012.

Miami Beach Resort Tax Collections
2% Hotel Food & Beverage Tax
January – November 2013 January – November 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$30,110,308 $26,990,515 +11.0%
3% Resort Tax
January – November 2013 January – November 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$23,819,664 $22,266,644 +7.0%

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> School Board to get quarterly updates on what is going on at Friends of WLRN, the fundraising arm for WWW.WLRN.ORG, as Chair Hantman requested

The school board passed on Wednesday legislation requiring the board’s representative on the Friends of WLRN board to report quarterly, or a member of staff, about what is going on at the fundraising arm of WLRN radio and television. Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman sponsored the legislation and she has been on the school board since 1996 and has seen a variety of issues with Friends over the decades since it was first created in 1974 to assist in the funding of WLRN.

Hantman told the school board members it was important for the board to “receive an update” which staff can also provide and the report would be “very similar” to the updates, the board gets on the renovation and progress on “Miami [Senior] High,” she said. Moreover, she reminded the board that we “need to be cognizant that the school board is responsible for the station,” that has Friends anticipated to raise some “$10 million” this year she closed.


Hantman

Bendross-Mindingall

>>> School Board Resolution honors “Uncle Luke” Campbell for his contribution to the inner city community, got 11 percent of vote when he ran for county mayor

A Miami-Dade Public Schools Resolution honoring rapper Luther Campbell was given to the award winning singer and front man of 2 Live Crew and has worked with local inner city youth football teams. Campbell was given the honor by school Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and she praised his role in the community that includes the man being a weekly controversial columnist in The Miami New Times. Campbell was also a Miami-Dade County Mayoral candidate in the spring of 2011 and while a dozen candidates ran in the race, “Uncle Luke,” as he is nicknamed came in fourth getting 11 percent of the countywide vote at the time. For more on Campbell go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Campbell

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Commissioner Edmonson says county attorney’s office putting on finishing touches for JHS $830 million bond new oversight board

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson told the Watchdog Report last week that the county attorney’s office is putting the finishing touches for legislation that will create a citizen based oversight board to watch over how the newly approved $830 million bond money for Jackson Health System (JHS) approved by county voters, for infrastructure improvements and upgrades, in November will be spent. This oversight board was not in the legislation that voters approved when they voted on the bond but it had been promised and may be modeled after a board that watches over how the 2004 $2.9 billion county GOB money is spent and members are expected to have specific skills that will assist them in focusing on the best way to spend this money. Since JHS has at least $1 billion in infrastructure needs to bring the facilities up to snuff and to be able to compete with much nicer hospital system’s facilities at competing hospitals and these improvements will be key to the health systems survival since the Affordable Care Act pays on patient  satisfaction and outcomes.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Port tunnel to open May 19th, AX may make “$2 million” donation to help save the Miami Marine Stadium, Estefan & Buffett event a big hit

The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA) met Tuesday and got updates on the $900 million Miami Port Tunnel and the Miami Marine Stadium project. Mayor Tomas Regalado, the MESA Chair and Commissioners Willy Gort, Keon Hardemon and Francis Suarez all attended the meeting. The $900 million Port of Miami tunnel is set to open May 19th and the final completion date is Aug.19 and when it came to the composition of its construction workforce, 82 percent of the workers came from Miami-Dade County and 26 percent were Black said Christopher Hodgkins, the vice president of MAT Concessionaire. He noted the tunnel is made up of 22,000 special material assembled segments, they “are laying the asphalt in the tunnel,” and the massive project is “on time, and on budget,” and when it came to community benefit. He said it was a counter point project since it “came on the heels of the Miami Marlins Stadium.” He also noted that while FDOT and Miami-Dade County were the dominant financial contributors to the project, the city did kick in through a CRA a $50 million participation position to get this job done that includes “600 miles of wires,” in the twin tunnels that can be sealed in the case of a hurricane stormwater surge.

What about the Miami Marine Stadium?

Hilario Candela, the original architect of the iconic Miami Marine Stadium at the MSEA meeting said at a recent event held in Coral Gables that featured Grammy Award winners Gloria, Emilio Estefan, and Jimmy Buffett, all who used to play at the waterfront venue. The special event was a smashing success. He said the event was picked up by the press around the globe and there has “been tremendous support” for the anticipated $30 million restoration. He also noted that American Express (AX) pledged a “donation of $2 million” to the stadium campaign. However, Donald Worth, who for the past six years has been spearheading this effort as well. He said he was hesitant about that AX pledge, though he noted the financial house had given “$80,000.” Candela also announced that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is “lending support to Friends of Miami Marine Stadium,” and “They are betting on us,” with “the assurance” to access to potential donors.”

However, Suarez had questions about the structure of the organization, which now includes an “escrow account” and he plans to voice his concerns further when MESA discusses the issue in the future. Worth noted that they have been transparent in everything they have done over the years. He is doing this for the love of the stadium and his primary focus has been raising the money to get the job done. A position that was echoed by Candela who said the main mission for everyone involved right now is to raise “money, money, money,” he told the MESA board members.

Moreover, one more wrinkle became known to the public last week, there may be an “Antique Boat Museum,” and the venue could include an “educational and cultural programs and would create a great public waterfront space,” said the Marine Stadium representatives.  Who also noted people involved with these types of boats are also great philanthropists and the men believed financially. These boat enthusiasts could be of help in the future while they are in this “silent [fund raising] campaign,” to raise funds for the restoration on the edge of Virginia Key. For more on the http://www.marinestadium.org/


Hardemon

Regalado

Gort

Suarez

>>> Miami Patient Recruiter Pleads Guilty for Role in $190 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Press release: A patient recruiter for a fraudulent Miami-area mental health company, American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), pleaded guilty today for her participation in a $190 million Medicare fraud scheme. U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement…  According to court documents, Santoyo was a patient recruiter for the now-defunct ATC.  ATC and its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc., were Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness, in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. Santoyo recruited Medicare beneficiaries to attend ATC’s PHP program in exchange for kickbacks in the form of checks and cash. The amounts of the kickbacks were based on the number of days each recruited patient spent at ATC. Santoyo knew that the patients she recruited for ATC were not qualified to receive PHP treatment… In related cases, ATC, Medlink and various owners, managers, doctors, therapists and patient recruiters of ATC and Medlink have already pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. In September 2011, ATC’s owner, Lawrence Duran, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in orchestrating and executing the scheme to defraud Medicare…  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE

>>> Grovites need to watch the Regatta Park plan like a hawk, massive footprint will likely tug at commissioners for development in the years ahead

Grovites should check out what is being called Regatta Park, the area once occupied by the Coconut Grove Convention Center now being torn down. City leaders say it will be a signature park, but many Miamians are also looking at the property’s massive footprint on the waterfront and they are seeing dollar signs and the need for some sort of development along the tony marina. Moreover, any development may not happen this year, or the next, but Grovites need to keep they’re eye on this diligently. If the area is to remain a park in the years ahead.

For all it will take is a City of Miami financial meltdown like in the middle 1990s when a number of city properties were sacrificed for the money needed to get the Miami solvent again. Further, check out an environmental report on the site that has had multiple uses and served as Pan American World Airways terminal on Dinner Key for decades before the city acquired the property.  http://www.miamigov.com/CapitalImprovements/docs/ProjectPages/CoconutGroveConventionCenter/CoCoGrove_Phase_II.pdf

CITY OF MIAMI GARDENS

>>> Three More Defendants Plead Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme Resulting in Millions of Dollars in Fraudulent Activity

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, announce that defendants Henry Dorvil, aka “D,” 35, of Hollywood, Brandon Johnson, 29, of Miami Gardens, and Ronald Gustave, 36, of Miami, pled guilty today for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme resulting in millions of dollars in fraudulent activity. Sentencing for Dorvil is scheduled for April 14, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. Sentencing for Gustave and Johnson is scheduled for April 18, 2014 at 8:30 a.m… According to documents filed in conjunction with today’s plea hearings, Dorvil and/or his co-conspirators filed 1,747 false returns using deceased individuals’ identities from multiple EFINs, and these returns fraudulently claimed approximately $7 million in refunds. The dollar amount of fraudulent federal income tax returns filed and paid by the IRS, in 2012, under the EFIN used by Gustave was $544,054. Johnson and other co-conspirators working at Imperial Tax used an EFIN to file approximately eight fraudulent 2010 tax returns that were prepared with identities from deceased individuals that fraudulently claimed $44,608 in refunds. A change of plea hearing is scheduled on February 3, 2014 for co-defendant Ruth Cartwright, aka “Princess,” 30, formerly of Plantation. Trial is scheduled on February 24, 2014 for co-defendants Herve Wilmore Jr., 29, of Aventura, Miguel Patterson, 35, of Miami, John Similien, 24, of Plantation, Corey Williams, 30, of Miami Gardens, and Delvin Jean Baptiste, aka “Doo Doo”, 29 of Miramar. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI, FBI, and USSS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil 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.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> While Beach Convention renovation hot topic, Mayor Levine also meets with schools District Supt. Carvalho and Board Member Dr. Karp to discuss educational issues on the island

While Mayor Philip Levine and commissioners are pondering what to do with the Miami Beach Convention Center, where a past development has been scuttled for being to large. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/17/3877766/miami-beach-seeks-new-direction.html . Levine since his election in November has been meeting with other community leaders and he is also on the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the businessman has met with officials at the public schools district as well.

Martin Karp, Ph.D., the Miami-Dade Public Schools board member for the Beach told the Watchdog Report last week that he and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho had met with Levine. Karp said in his case he “always meets” with newly elected officials and he found Levine very engaging and interested in education and what the district was doing on the Beach and the importance of the educational facilities to residents.

>>> Press release: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club Meeting Date: January 21, 2014 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street – Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- Fla) will be the guest speaker at the January   21st meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.  This will be a joint meeting with the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association. Representative Wasserman Schultz represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional district, which includes Miami Beach. Before joining the U. S. Congress, she was first a Representative, and later a Senator, in the Florida State Legislature.

For the 113th Congress Representative Wasserman Schultz serves as a ranking member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, having been recommended by the House Committee on Appropriations.  The Appropriations Subcommittees determine the Congressional appropriations of funds for particular parts of the federal government; Representative Wasserman Schultz will serve on the subcommittee that determines the funding level for the entire legislative branch.

Representative Wasserman Schultz also serves as a Chief Deputy Whip where she works to help advance legislation important to the Democratic caucus. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator

Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Residents may soon get on demand capability to watch county commission meetings, now being pushed by Commissioner Wexler

Broward Commissioner Lois Wexler gets a Tip of the Hat from the Watchdog Report for pushing for on demand video capability allowing county residents to watch commission meetings on line whenever it is convenient. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/13/3869143/broward-commissioners-support.html Wexler has been on the nine-member commission since 2004, when the woman was elected to the District 5 seat, and prior to that she served on the county’s public schools board for years. Wexler is known to be out spoken and she served as the county mayor in 2007 and this push by her to get it done, something available to most municipal resident’s government websites, is long over due. And the Watchdog Report has known Broward top Administrator Bertha Henry since her days with the city of Miami since the 1990s and I am sure she will follow Wexler and other commissioners request to get this done.

Wexler

>>> Press release: The Broward Delegation will be having a Public Hearing on Gaming: February 24th Public Hearing on Gaming

Broward County Government Center in the Commission Chambers 115 South Andrews Ave, room 422, Fort Lauderdale 2-5:30 pm If you wish to sign up to speak at this Public Hearing go to http://www.broward.org/Legislative/Pages/PresentationForm.aspx and fill out the speaker form to be placed on the agenda. Please feel free to forward to other interested parties. Broward Legislative Delegation, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room 429, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33301, Phone:  954 357-6555 Twitter: BrowardLegDel

>>> Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line — Residents of Broward County can now review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line and to see the inner financial workings of these elected officials go to  http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view the new agenda.

CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE

>>> Press release: Broward County Clerk Sentenced to Three Years for Stealing Identities in Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field office, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce the sentencing of Porscha Kyles, 25, of Fort Lauderdale, to three years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release and $57,328 in restitution. Kyles previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(b)(2), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).

According to court documents, from October 2011 through February 2012, Kyles worked as a clerk of court in Broward County. Kyles had access to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID) in this position. On multiple occasions in 2011 and 2012, Kyles searched DAVID, copied personal identity information (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) of individuals, and provided that information to a co-conspirator in exchange for a cash payment. Kyles provided over one hundred individuals’ personal identity information to the co-conspirator for the filing of fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds with the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Ferrer thanked the FBI and IRS-CI for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger. 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 HOLLYWOOD

>>> Former Miami-Dade Department of Public Works Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Contractor

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that George Brown, 50, of Hollywood, FL, pled guilty to a one-count Information charging him with accepting bribes in connection with programs receiving federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666. Brown’s sentencing has been set for March 28, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn. According to the Stipulated Statement of Facts executed by the parties, Brown was the Roadway Lighting Coordinator for the Department of Public Works (Public Works) in Miami-Dade County. In this capacity, Brown was responsible for, among other things, overseeing the installation and/or maintenance of more than 24,000 street lights in the county’s roadway system. In 2011, a lighting contractor offered to provide Brown with “rewards” in exchange for Public Works’ purchase of the contractor’s lighting products. Brown agreed and subsequently accepted more than $13,000 in bribes from the contractor in 2011 and 2012. The bribes included appliances, computer equipment, and other merchandise, all paid for by the contractor. Among the merchandise that Brown received from the contractor was a 2.5 ton air conditioning unit, a Samsung stainless steel refrigerator, and a KitchenAid built-in single electric convection oven. The merchandise was either shipped directly to Brown’s home address or picked up by Brown at the contractor’s business in Miami.

During the investigation, the contractor began to cooperate with law enforcement and recorded the conversations with Brown. In one recorded conversation, Brown assured the contractor that no one else knew about their arrangement. In another recorded conversation, the two discussed delivery to Brown of certain merchandise costing approximately $2,600 in exchange for Brown’s assistance on a Public Works’ project on 27th Avenue in Miami. Brown faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of ten years in prison. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

CITY OF TAMARAC

>>> Gov. Scott Friday suspends Mayor Flansbaum-Talabisco again, after Florida Supreme Court would not hear her appeal case

There he goes again, Gov. Rick Scott suspended Tamarac Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco after she was charged with receiving “unlawful compensation,” in her official capacity. She had appealed the charge in the courts but when the Florida Supreme Court would not hear this appeal case. A lower court guilty ruling stood and Scott on Friday removed her from office for bribery while in public office. For more go to http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fl-tamarac-mayor-suspension-brf-20140117,0,2643347.story

Talabisco

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

ORANGE COUNTY

>>> Gov. Scott taps Eduardo “Eddie” Fernandez as the Orange County Clerk.

Press relase: Fernandez, 33, from Orlando, has practiced with Shutts Bowen LLP since 2006. He has been a member of various civic and community organizations, such as the Orange County Bar Association, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida and the Central Florida Partnership. Fernandez received his bachelor’s and master of business degrees from Rollins College. He received his law degree from the University of Florida. He succeeds Colleen Reilly, who has served on an interim basis following the passing of Lydia Gardner. Fernandez is appointed for a term beginning January 27, 2014, and ending November 11, 2014. Governor Scott said, “I am excited today to announce Eddie as the next Clerk of Courts in Orange County. Eddie’s reputation as a problem solver and respected member of the Orlando community makes him a great fit to serve the families of Orange County. I look forward to working with him as we continue making Florida the best state in the nation to live and raise a family.”

SARASOTA COUNTY

>>> Press release: Scott names James Gabbert to the Sarasota County Charter Review Board.

Gabbert, 53, of Sarasota, is the president of Meyer & Gabbert. He fills a vacant seat created by the resignation of Charles Cooper and is appointed for a term beginning January 15, 2014, and ending November 4, 2014.

UNION COUNTY

>>> Press release: Scott taps Brad Whitehead as Union County Sheriff.

Whitehead, 37, of Lake Butler, has served as the assistant warden of programs for the Florida Department of Corrections since 2012. He previously served as the assistant warden of operations and as the senior prison inspector within the Office of the Inspector General. From 1998 through 2003, he served as a law enforcement detective for the Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations. Whitehead received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. He succeeds Interim Sheriff Major Garry Seay for a term beginning January 15, 2014, and ending November 4, 2014. Governor Rick Scott said, “I am confident that Brad Whitehead will be a great sheriff. His experience in law enforcement has prepared him to serve the families of Union County.”

JACKSON COUNTY – TOWN OF MALONE

>>> There he goes again, Gov. Scott removes Malone Councilman Lewis after grand theft auto conviction, clip makes January a tri-fecta for Scott

There he goes again, Gov. Rick Scott removes Town of Malone Councilman Fred Lee Lewis after he was convicted of one count of grand theft auto and selling stolen property. Scott has done a brisk business in the suspension or removal of elected leader’s and he did one last week and was reported in the Watchdog Report and with this burst. He is getting closer to removing a lawmaker a month, a pace almost reached with past Governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist and had the state leading the nation in corrupt officials over a decade period being arrested and prosecuted.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> 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″

LETTERS

>>> The Miami City Commission’s unanimous approval yesterday of a plan to immediately reduce street homelessness in downtown Miami by 100 men and women signals the start of the final push by Camillus House to end chronic homelessness in Miami, first envisioned in our 2004 strategic plan. In effect, the reintroduction of our full-service, extremely low demand 24-hour service (Mat Program) will provide these persons with every service offered in conjunction with conventional emergency housing beds including:

•             Case management, stress reduction/wellness programs and medical care;

•             Priority for referral/admission to Camillus treatment/rehabilitation programs;

•             3 nutritious meals a day, 7 days a week;

•             Routine showers and access to a clothing exchange;

•             Sleeping on their own assigned mat in a weather-controlled pavilion;

•             Secure personal effects storage as well as mailroom services;

•             Voluntary day and evening activities focusing on socialization and personal adjustment; and

•             Computers for assistance in job/apartment finding and re-establishing contact with family and friends.

When this program was first introduced in January 2007, we had planned to accommodate about 60 persons per night. By early 2009, 280 persons were voluntarily spending their nights and the bulk of their days at Camillus.  Above all else, they were provided a safe, clean and caring place where they could rest, recuperate and rebuild their lives.  We sheltered these individuals and prepared them to transition into more structured settings. Between January 2007 and the closure of that Mat Program in June 2012, two thirds of the nearly 1,000 guests we served moved on to more structured emergency, transitional and permanent housing.

Today, 848 persons remain living on the sidewalks and in the alleyways, parks and parking lots of this County, nearly 400 of them in downtown Miami.  But thanks to the Miami City Commission’s action yesterday, we will be able to help 100 of these men and women begin rebuilding their lives.  Keith Cooper, who was homeless until he came to the Camillus Mat Program, testified at yesterday’s hearing that this action means 100 men and women will no longer have to fear being struck by a brick, or shot at by pellet guns while they attempt to grab a fitful sleep.

More importantly, it means that they will have access to a system of care that has been designed to advance them to the most appropriate permanent housing setting for them.  That is how it worked for Keith, who entered the Camillus system of care in our original Mat Program from the streets of Overtown, progressed to our Beckham Hall emergency housing, and now is a permanent resident of our Brownsville Christian Housing Center.  To express his appreciation for all that this community has done for him through Camillus House, Keith volunteers 5 days a week helping set up and clean up our shower programs, a service he once enjoyed years ago when he was a guest in the Mat Program at our original downtown facility.

Our plan to end chronic homelessness in Miami relies only partially (and temporarily) on the re-establishment of this program.  The solution to end homelessness is to provide persons who are homeless with both permanent housing and the psychological and economic means to achieve and maintain it.  On this front, we are actively partnering with private investors to create good jobs and quality housing stock that will add hundreds of affordable apartments in addition to those made possible through HUD and the Homeless Trust.  We look forward to a day when our Mat Program will not be needed.  Today, however, it is a necessary first step out of homelessness for men and women for whom no alternate housing currently exists. With deep gratitude for your ongoing support,

Br. Raphael Br. Mieszala, BGS Brothers of Good Shepherd, Bob Dickinson, Chairman, Dr. Paul R. Ahr President & CEO Camillus House www.camillus.org

>>> I read in the Miami Herald that NCL will pull its 4,100 passenger “Epic” out of PortMiami in 2015 and move it to Barcelona year ’round.’ That announcement came shortly after the Port made a deal with NCL - paying them $millions – to use PortMiami as the homeport for their new “Getaway” ship… One in - buying the business – now offset by one out…Sort of backs up what I said, doesn’t it…. However, if you listen to Bill Johnson, he alone has the power to move the “Epic” back….

ED

>>> 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)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

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

RONALD HALL

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

RON BOOK

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.

LETTER POLICY

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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

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 watchdogreport1@earthlink.net 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.

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

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Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net


 
 
 

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