Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.39 February 9, 2014 EST. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot

CONTENTS

Argus Report: FBI SAC Steinbach says sayonara to South Florida to head up terrorism division at Bureau, gives chilling speech at Chamber luncheon on the rise of Cyber Crime in all its forms, from terrorism to identity and intellectual property theft

Florida: M-DC State atty. gets a twofer with arson insurance fraud bust of 22 people and bit coin money laundering scam bust with feds — 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

Florida Courts: President Obama taps local Circuit Court jurists Bloom & Gayles for federal bench, respective net worth for 2013; $2.15 million, and $365,800 for judge Gayles

Miami-Dade County: Storied Lyric theater in Overtown comes alive again, site of turbulent town hall meeting in 2006 after Miami Herald Pulitzer Prize winning investigative series; House of Lies

Miami-Dade Public Schools: Board Chair Hantman objects to District being snubbed for high profile events; board should be invited “out of courtesy,” she says

Public Health Trust: Michael J. Goldstein, M.D., FACS, has been named director of kidney transplantation for Miami Transplant Institute at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

City of Miami: Mgr. Martinez says sayonara in near future, Mayor Regalado to chose replacement from within, right choice by mayor could determine his legacy in office

Village of Coconut Grove: Grove gets new Police substation in Village West after numerous residents’ complaints about crime in the surrounding area; Foundation pays rent for two years

City of Miami Beach: South of Fifth Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) had its annual meeting and election. It was our biggest voter turnout ever; more than 200 votes were cast.

City of North Miami Beach: Former City of Miami Police Officer Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Town of Miami Lakes: Scott reappoint’s Tirso P. Martinez to the Florida State Boxing.

Village of Miami Shores: Gov. Scott taps Secretary Wansley Walters to the Children and Youth Cabinet.

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Will Rothstein Ponzi scheme testimony in federal court take some of the wind out of former Gov. Crist’s gubernatorial campaign?

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

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

Community Events: WFOR/CBS4’S LAUREN PASTRANA TO HOST SEMINAR AT FIU ON THE JOURNALISM PROFESSION – Early Learning Coalition golf fundraiser at Trump Doral course — Arsht Center production – Margulies Art Collection show

Editorials: Note to Miami officials and public servants, your public and private actions have consequences, and reflect on the mayor and administration — 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

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.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> FBI SAC Steinbach says sayonara to South Florida to head up terrorism division at Bureau, gives chilling speech at Chamber luncheon on the rise of Cyber Crime in all its forms, from terrorism to identity and intellectual property theft

Michael B. Steinbach, 47,the local FBI Special Agent In Charge, and a counter terrorist cyber 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 And the long time Special Agent since 1995 spoke at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday on Cyber Security and its impact and threat to national security, business, intellectual property and infrastructure. Over the years in the Bureau, the man has been assigned a variety of assignments, including being the attaché in Tel Aviv. He noted the FBI has evolved over the years in regard to the Cyber Terrorism threat and the FBI now has “The Computer Intrusion Section: within the FBI Cyber Division.” He said “the bad guys” are using cyber technology in “all areas” of criminal activity, including “white collar crimes” and “terrorism” and this is why the “FBI named [terrorism] as the Bureau’s top concern,” he said. He noted terrorist cells around the world use webpage’s to recruit followers, and some of the terrorists even have their own “twitter accounts,” he said.

Steinbach said America has “not seen a full scale Cyber attack,” but he noted that “Cyber warfare is here,” and some of this terrorism is “state sponsored.” Moreover, the range of activities can include “economic hackers,” as well as “traditional areas on line like espionage” that may involve “military applications,” to “organized crime groups seeking profit,” and the intruders are selling the information “for the highest gain,” he said.  The SAC noted that when it came to retail outlets the threat of cyber intrusion is big business and attacks on Target and Neiman Marcus is causing the companies “to lose data, ideas,” and money. Moreover, in the future, he considered, “there is a high probability of losing your identity on line,” and in 2012, “289,000 companies were victims of cyber fraud,” at a loss of $545 million and “2.7 million complaints” came in that year. He said the government focus, “is on threats” and on “threat focus cells,” where the Cyber Task Force has had “great success.”

The veteran FBI agent said the Bureau works closely with local law enforcement and because of the “huge threat and problem,” it is important that agencies “are working together collectively,” to effectively “safeguard property and infrastructure,” and the cooperation allows the FBI to “focus resources to do the job, we have to do.” Moreover, he asked for the business and the community’s help to stamp this out, and to report any illegal or terrorist activity they might observe. Steinbach said there are 56 FBI field offices in the nation and there are another 400 satellite offices around the world, covering over 200 countries, state’s a FBI brochure on the subject. For more or to report cyber terrorism go to www.fbi.gov

>>> PAST WDR: 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 of column done by congressional leaders: Host countries should promote tolerance. IOC failed on this principle in picking Russia.

On Friday, the world will come together to open the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia — a celebration of hard work and fair play, social responsibility, and international friendship. Every two years, the Olympic Games bring the world together, regardless of political ideology, to compete in feats of endurance, strength and sportsmanship. The issues that often divide our world seem to be suspended or even temporarily disappear during the Olympics. And instead of focusing on our differences, we come together as a global community to focus on what we have in common and our shared appreciation for our athletes and the games. Although some individuals or groups have threatened to use the Games as an opportunity to wreak violence, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to organize the Games to promote peace through sport — diplomacy through friendly competition. In many ways, the IOC has been successful in its mission, as stated in the Olympic Charter, “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

The Olympic Games are unparalleled in their ability to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and to promote tolerance and acceptance of these differences. Fundamental Principle Six of the Olympic Charter explicitly prohibits “(a)ny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” This principle reflects the basic human right of equality before the law — the idea that everyone enjoys the same basic human rights free of discrimination.An Olympic host country should reflect this principle of non-discrimination. Regrettably, the IOC failed to honor its basic tenets when it selected Russia. In addition to grave concerns about terrorist threats from extremists that present legitimate safety concerns for athletes, coaches, and spectators, there are questions about how the Russian government will conduct itself during the Olympics given the country’s history of human rights abuses.

We are especially disturbed by discriminatory practices in the Russian Federation regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. Russia’s recently enacted anti-”propaganda” law, prohibiting the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations,” specifically targets LGBT individuals and families. Since enactment of the law, Russia has seen a noticeable increase in both violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. And under this law, our LGBT and allied athletes, coaches and spectators could face criminal prosecution by Russian authorities with the possibility of imprisonment. When we send our athletes to another country to compete at the world’s most prestigious sports event, the last thing they should be worried about are attacks on who they are and who they love. Sadly, human rights concerns are not novel when it comes to the Olympic Games. In 2008, China, the host country of the Summer Olympics, was widely criticized for egregious human rights violations, including its policies that suppressed free speech and its abuses of migrant construction workers who were pivotal to Beijing’s infrastructure improvements for the Games. Oppressive and discriminatory practices in host countries betray the core values of the Olympics. All the athletes have dedicated their lives to preparing for competition at the pinnacle of their sport, have worked so hard and sacrificed so much, that they deserve to compete in a fair and safe environment, completely free from overt or subtle discrimination. And they deserve to be recognized for their efforts and their accomplishments.

The Olympics are meant to serve as a platform for fair competition regardless of race, religion, or politics. At least for these few short weeks, athletes are supposed to be judged on and valued for their hard work, skill, athleticism and artistry — not who they love. The IOC has a unique ability to continue advancing the cause of protecting human rights in all corners of the globe, as we have seen in its effort to further gender equality. The IOC Charter explicitly prohibits “any form of discrimination,” but the Olympic Games will not be truly free from discrimination unless the IOC acknowledges and repudiates widespread oppression. The IOC has a responsibility to uphold the Olympic Charter by only taking actions that affirm ideals of non-discrimination and promotion of a peaceful society, and it is imperative that future host countries be selected only if they honor Fundamental Principle Number Six, which would celebrate the true spirit of the Olympic Games. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is a Democrat from Wisconsin. Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican from Maine. Rep. David Cicilline is a Democrat from Rhode Island. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican from Florida.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/07/olympic-host-countries-and-human-rights/5265659/

>>> Bacardi Rum largest private distillery company in world, bat logo recognized around the world, plus another 200 brands

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s featured Luncheon speaker Wednesday was Robert Furniss-Roe, the Regional President of Bacardi North America. The executive spoke of how the company was able to brand itself, and expand global sales markets and product lines since the rum company known for its bat trademark logo was founded back in 1862. He said the bat logo was especially important back then since many people could not read, and the distinctive logo (representing the bats in the rafters of the distillery) for the company’s first label also has the Spanish Coat of Arms. The Royal Seal was something granted Bacardi after a sick young Spanish Royal Prince who was ill recovered, after being prescribed a dose of the liquor. The Royal family’s parents were so grateful they granted Bacardi the use of the Coat and the rest is history the Bacardi executive said.

Furniss-Roe said one of the company’s new brands was “Grey Goose,” started by “three French farmers,” and the wheat raised is used to make the vodka and it is “from the farms to the table,” he said. In addition, he asked the crowd “what’s your story and how are you sharing it with customers,” and that story “says something about who you are,” and how Bacardi “went from a single brand to a portfolio company,” he closed. Bacardi was founded in Cuba, the private company has an estimated $5 billion in sales, with over 200 brands, 6,000 employees, and with 27 distilleries around the world, and the company’s spirits are being sold in 150 countries. The company was founded by Don Facundo Bacardi Masso and the current seventh generation Chairman is Facundo L. Bacardi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacardi

>>> Wings Over Miami Air Museum hosted last flying B-17, B-24 and war bird P-51 Mustang; venerable planes from WW II departed Friday afternoon

Wings Over Miami Air Museum had a treat on Friday when three World War II aircraft legends took off around 1:00 p.m. with a mighty roar of their warfare designed engines. The air museum next to Tamiami General Aviation Airport in West Miami-Dade over the years has had a host of vintage war birds and this week. The visitors were a working B-17, B-24 and a P-51 fighter plane that drastically reduced bomber losses during the war. The P-51 was also the fighter used by the Tuskegee Airman and the Watchdog Report caught up with an air veteran of the storied group on Friday. Charles Flowers, of Coconut Grove was one on the fabled units pilots and he said the storied fighter plan “was great,” and handled like a dream when is came to dogfights with German enemy aircraft during the war.

From museum webpage: The aircraft included, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” WWII Heavy Bomber, Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” WWII Heavy Bomber and a P-51 Mustang named “Betty Jane”. This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these unique and rare treasures of aviation history. The B-17 is one of only 10 in flying condition in the United States, the B-24J and Full Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the World. www.wingsovermiami.com

>>> With the Watchdog Report closing in on 15 years, I thank all of you that have supported the effort, not for the faint 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

>>> M-DC State atty. gets a twofer with arson insurance fraud bust of 22 people, and bit coin money laundering scam bust with feds

Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle had a busy week with two high profile cases, one involving 22 defendants committing arson and insurance fraud, which is costing South Florida homeowner’s major costs when it comes to home insurance. In addition, another case involves money laundering using the internet, which is becoming a new widespread problem, and is a new permutation to other thefts like identity fraud and bank account intrusions. Federal agencies like the Secret Service and FBI have the bulk of the capabilities to flag these illicit scams and the agencies work with local law enforcement and the state attorney’s office. Last week at the press conference on the arson suspects, that staged 17 fires or floods in homes to collect the insurance money. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said that insurance fraud comes under his office in the state, and they work closely with Fernandez Rundle’s office on these cases as well.

Your “state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has no fear,” and she is an ardent “fighter of white collar insurance fraud,” and she has “no peer around the state,” the former Florida Senate president said. Atwater noted the case was “significant” and “was an organized ring” and while many people say this is a “victimless crime, what would you say? If $7.6 million was robbed from a bank,” and these individuals “put everyone at risk.” The CFO also noted there was a $25,000 reward to citizens for turning in people involved in insurance fraud if they are convicted.


Fernandez Rundle

Atwater

>>> 2 CHARGED IN BITCOIN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

Press release: Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, United States Secret Service Special Agent In Charge Paula Reid and Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez announce the arrest of two individuals involved in a money-laundering scheme using BitCoins and the underground world of illegal e-commerce. Agents met with individuals offering to sell BitCoins, an electronic currency existing in the computer world of the Internet. It should be noted that, on their own, BitCoins are neither good nor bad. They exist in a person-to-person system (technically called a peer-to-peer system) for online payments that eliminate any central financial authority or oversight. Buying BitCoins allows money to be anonymously moved around the world with a click of a computer mouse.  Improperly used, BitCoins are often seen as a perfect means of laundering dirty money or for buying and selling illegal goods, such as drugs or stolen credit card information.

In the present cases, undercover officers and Special Agents from the Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force (MECTF) posing as Bitcoins buyers, contacted individuals engaged in high volume BitCoin activity letting it known that they needed to move money to facilitate their criminal activities. These two individuals offered to assist the agents for a fee, in a number of such transactions, which is the classic definition of money laundering. The use of BitCoins in the transactions is a new technological flourish to this very old crime. Today’s arrests may be the first state prosecutions involving the use of BitCoins in money laundering operations. Arrested today in separate operations were Pascal Reid and Michel Abner Espinoza. They are each being charged with Money Laundering.

“All of us in law enforcement know that criminals are always seeking new ways to make their activities profitable,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “BitCoins are just a new tool in the cyber criminal’s toolkit. The prosecutors of my Cyber Crimes Unit were proud to work hand-in-hand with the United States Secret Service and the Miami Beach Police Department to develop 21st Century approaches to halting these new criminal activities.” “The illegal use of the BitCoins definitely pose investigative challenges to identify and prosecute those who misuse yet another financial system”, remarked Paula A. Reid Special Agent In Charge, United States Secret Service. “However, these arrests prove that the law enforcement and judicial communities in the Southern District of Florida are committed to addressing these evolving and seemingly complex crimes.”

“I commend the efforts and am extremely proud of the Miami Beach Police Investigators and all the other members of the Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force that brought this case to fruition,” stated Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond A. Martinez. “In today’s digital world, criminals do not abide by jurisdictional boundaries; it is through the cooperative nature of task forces and their progressive investigative work that we strive to protect the citizens of our community as criminals devise new methods to carry out their illicit activities.”

>>> 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.

FLORIDA COURTS

>>> President Obama taps local Circuit Court jurists Bloom & Gayles for federal bench, respective net worth for 2013, $2.15 million, and $365,800 for judge Gayles

President Barack Obama has nominated Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judges Beth Bloom and Darrin P. Gayles to the local federal bench to fill openings of two judges who will take senior status on the local federal bench. Obama had an earlier choice rebuffed after U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio; R- Fla. withdrew his support for the jurist for a variety of reasons. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/05/3914515/president-picks-two-miami-dade.html#storylink=misearch


Bloom

Gayles

What do we know about their finances?

The Watchdog Report checked the two judge’s financial disclosure forms on file with the Florida Ethics Commission. Bloom through Jul. 1, 2013 had a net worth of $2.15 million, and she lists $100,000 in household goods. Her home is worth $2.6 million, there is $145,000 in deferred compensation, $31,000 is in bank accounts and she filed her 2012 IRS 1040 with her financial disclosure for the year, the Gold standard when it comes to financial disclosure reporting. Her liabilities are $33,000 owed Audi, and American Express wants $16,800 and her income for the year was $124,261.

Gayles net worth through Jun. 2013 was $365,000 and he lists $85,000 in household goods. His home is worth $375,000, and a rental condominium is valued at $240,000, a car is worth $10,000 and he has $284,000 in the Florida Retirement System. His liabilities include two mortgages owed $316,000 and $119,000 and the U.S. Department of Education is owed $85,200. His salary as a judge was $142,000, he received $14,300 from the rental property, and he lists receiving no gifts over $100.00 on his gift disclosure form for the year.

White House press release: President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Four to Serve on the United States District Courts

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Judge Beth Bloom, Paul G. Byron, Judge Darrin P. Gayles, and Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza to serve on the United States District Courts. “Throughout their careers, these distinguished men and women have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to public service,” said President Obama. “I am confident they will serve the American people with distinction from the District Court bench.”

>>> Judge Beth Bloom:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Judge Beth Bloom has served as a Circuit Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida since 2010.  From 1995 to 2010, she was a County Judge in the same Circuit and served as the Associate Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division in 2010.  From 1988 to 1995, Judge Bloom worked at Floyd Pearson Richman Greer Weil Brumbaugh & Russomanno, P.A., where she handled a broad range of civil litigation.  While in private practice, she also served as a Traffic Magistrate Judge from 1992 to 1993.  Judge Bloom received her J.D. cum laude in 1988 from the University of Miami School of Law, her B.S. in 1984 from the University of Florida, and her A.A. in 1982 from Broward Community College.

>>> Paul G. Byron:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida

Paul G. Byron is a partner at Overchuck & Byron, P.A., where his practice focuses on civil litigation in state and federal court.  Before joining the firm, Byron worked in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the United States Department of Justice from 2004 to 2005; was a partner at the law firm of NeJame, LaFay, Barker, Byron, P.A. from 2003 to 2004; and served as a Senior Trial Attorney on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 2001 to 2003.  From 1991 to 2001, Byron served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Florida.  He began his legal career by serving as a Judge Advocate in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army from 1986 to 1990.  Byron received his J.D. in 1986 from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center, his A.B. in 1983 from the University of Michigan, and his A.A. in 1981 from Miami Dade College.

>>> Judge Darrin P. Gayles:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Judge Darrin P. Gayles has served as a Circuit Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida since 2011.  From 2004 to 2011, he was a County Judge in the same Circuit.  From 1999 to 2004, Judge Gayles served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and from 1997 to 1999, he served as an Assistant District Counsel at the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Judge Gayles began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 1997.  Judge Gayles received his J.D. in 1993 from George Washington University Law School and his B.A. in 1990 from Howard University.

>>> Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida

Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza has served as a Circuit Judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida since 2011.   Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Mendoza served as an Assistant City Attorney for St. Augustine, Florida from 2008 to 2011.  From 2005 to 2008, he was an Assistant State Attorney in the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.  He began his legal career by serving as a Judge Advocate in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Navy from 1997 to 2005.  He earned his J.D. in 1997 from West Virginia University College of Law, his B.A. magna cum laude in 1993 from West Virginia University, and his A.A. in 1991 from Central Florida Community College.  Judge Mendoza enlisted in the United States Marine Corps upon graduating from high school and participated in combat operations during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Storied Lyric theater in Overtown comes alive again, site of turbulent town hall meeting in 2006 after Pulitzer Prize winning investigative series; House of Lies

After another round of renovations, the historic Lyric Theater in Overtown has reopened and the storied theater was once the heart of the African American community in the segregated south. The facility hosted a wide assortment of acts over the decades, and peaked in the late 1950s and 1960s before falling into disrepair. Since then Black leaders have worked to restore the facility that the Watchdog Report was last in during a tense community town hall meeting after The Miami Herald in 2006 did a extensive investigative series on the county’s failed public housing program called The House of Lies, and the expose won Debbie Cenziper, the paper’s investigative reporter, a Pulitzer Prize. http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/houseoflies/index.html and for more on the renovation go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/06/3917953/renovations-to-lyric-theater-symbol.html#storylink=misearch And Miami-Dade County Commissioners were barraged with critical questions at the highly charged meeting and had County Manager George Burgess and his staff under the gun at the time, and the connected people involved in the matter were vilified by the local residents looking for affordable housing in Overtown, which failed to materialize. Moreover, since then activists have been working to get public and private funds for the Lyric’s renovation completion and it is a community jewel.

Was Commission override of Mayor’s veto divine intervention after inspiring prayer before BCC meeting started?

The Miami-Dade County Commission voted 9 to 4 to override Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s veto on Tuesday of legislation that would end county employee’s union’s workers paying five percent of their salary into the county’s self insured health insurance program. Commissioner Juan Zapata was the surprise yes vote that allowed for the override that the mayor called “irresponsible” and would result in layoffs and cuts in services, but not “life safety and police,” he told the Watchdog Report after the vote. He also said he would not employ “retribution” to union officials that made the issue highly charged and contentious he said.

However, a number of people afterwards thought the commission’s change of heart was the result of an inspiring conciliatory prayer before the commission meeting by Michael Roen, a Detective and a Commission Sargent of Arms. He often does the prayer in a low key yet inspiring way, similar to what Gandhi used to say, when trying to resolve a dispute. “Make it the strength of your argument, not the stridency of your voice,” Ghandi would say.  Moreover, while the county is through one quarter of its fiscal year budget that began Oct.1. The Gimenez administration and Public Health Trust now has to deal with the payroll adjustments that will cost Jackson some $18 million and the county $42 million this budget year, and cuts of employees are looming said Gimenez saying there is no choice. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/04/3912165/miami-dade-county-commissioners.html#storylink=misearch

>>> Commissioner Zapata press release on the vote: I wanted to reach out to all of you about today’s vote regarding the 5% employee contribution, and explain why I voted the way I did. Today I voted with the majority of my colleagues on the Commission to override the Mayor’s veto on the 5% employee contribution to healthcare. This was not because I agree with the unions, but rather it was due to the administration’s failure to offer any sustainable solutions.

This was not a decision I took lightly, however, I believe it will bring about the needed structural changes to our budget. I am well aware of the potential consequences and layoffs, but the reality is that we have an unsustainable budget. The only solution the administration offered was the 5% employee contribution, which is not a viable permanent option. Nevertheless, some employees have already had their contributions restored and with Jackson Hospital’s recent decision, I felt that the damage to our workforce and their morale needed to be addressed. I urge the Mayor and his administration to remain positive and constructive in taking the necessary steps to move forward by streamlining existing services and reducing wasteful spending in order to resolve our budgetary needs. I welcome feedback and would be happy to speak with anyone regarding this issue, so please contact me at zapata@miamidade.gov


Zapata

Gimenez

>>> A couple of years ago a former addict predicted the heroin epidemic, with the closure of the pill mills, addicted go to cheap opiate alternative

A local Miami-Dade resident advocate (and I wrote about the meeting but cannot remember the gentleman’s name) working with drug addicts around two years ago, after contacting County Commissioner Xavier Suarez. The man got a meeting with Suarez’s staff and other county staff and he predicted with the crack down on prescription drugs, that cheap heroin use would go through the ceiling and it is happening today. The man noted that with the closure of all the oxycodone clinics in South Florida a few years ago, that those addicted will just switch they’re drug of choice. However, he noted rehabilitation and getting off heroin was totally different from painkillers, and much more difficult for a person to kick. Moreover, the problem is now considered an “epidemic” cutting across all ethnic and financial demographic lines, and prescription drugs are a gateway drug to people using opiates and heroin. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/29/3900913/report-heroin-epidemic-in-south.html

Suarez

>> 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: DMV to Go Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Stephen P. Clark Center lobby, 111 NW 1 Street, Miami, FL 33128

Residents can receive assistance in obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or identification card, as well as several federal services. Due to high demand, residents must make an online appointment. Those with appointments must bring proper documentation as required by the DMV. A list of suitable identification is available at www.gathergoget.com. DMV to Go representatives do not administer driving exams. For more information, please call the Office of Community Advocacy at (305) 375-5730.

>>> GMCVB press release: In the month of December, the 3% Convention Development Tax [CDT] for Greater Miami (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) shows an increase of 19.7 % when compared to the same time last year in 2012. The 2% Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collection shows a 19.4% 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 17.3% compared to the same time in 2012.

Miami-Dade County Tax Collections
3% Convention Development Tax
December 2013 December 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$7,092,124 $5,923,125 +19.7%
2% Tourist Development Tax
December 2013 December 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$2,142,339 $1,794,423 +19.4%
2% Hotel Food & Beverage Tax
December 2013 December 2012 % Change vs. 2012
$625,717 $533,609 +17.3%

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> Board Chair Hantman objects to District being snubbed for high profile events, board should be invited “out of courtesy,” she says

Perla Tabares Hantman, the longest serving school board member and the board’s chair is upset that when it comes to high profile events like the recent David Beckham gathering at the Arsht Center last week near the district’s administrative headquarters. The board does not “get a courtesy invitation,” and board members only read about these events after the fact in the media. She said the event “included politicians and business leaders,” but the board was left out even though “we are Constitutional Officers,” and you would think “out of courtesy,” and “some sort of protocol,” we would have been at least invited. The school board, in past months hosted the Prince and Princess of Spain but they knew about it happening and attended the event “only because it was held at one of our schools,” she said. Moreover, she thought being excluded, “was not right,” and the school district is “part of the community.” And ironically given the omission, when it comes to sports, the District is the incubator for some of best football, baseball, soccer and basketball players in the nation, and school sports produce many of these new local superstars. Hantman said, “Not that many things bother me,” but we “deserve some kind of courtesy,” when it comes to these high profile events she thought, and it was a matter of respect. Since the District is the fourth largest public schools district in the nation, with 54,000 employees, a $4.3 billion budget and is the largest employeer in Miami-Dade County.

Hantman years ago made a similar complaint as a member of the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) where she sat on the large board, but the MPO historically always had a chair and vice chair who were county commissioners. She thought the school district needed a leadership post on the regional transportation body and she did end up being the vice chair for a number of years on the MPO in the past. And she noted last week, had she been invited to the Beckman affair, that she would not have attended but an initiation would have been nice and would have shown respect to the school board, said Hantman.

Hantman

>>> Supt. Carvalho dealing with up to $60 million swing in property tax receipts for the budget year

With a $40 to $60 million funding variance depending on county property taxes revenues, this is a big problem for the $4.3 billion budget at the nation’s fourth largest public schools system and coming after the District budget year, which ends June 30, versus the county’s Sept 1 budget year. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho warned school board members at a committee meeting Wednesday they have to carry extraordinary reserves since the district cannot end the budget year in the red since the revenue receipts would come after the fiscal year closed. Carvalho has been carping about this situation since he took over the District in Sept. 2008. And at one point had some 92,000 homeowners appealing their property taxes at the county’s property appraiser office and created a huge backlog that is now around 77,000 appeals over the past two years in the rears.

Carvalho called this significant financial variance “the single biggest liability of the school system,” and is one of his “greatest concerns. Last year the property tax shortfall was $64 million on over $1 billion on property taxes said Carvalho. And school board member Carlos Curbelo during the discussion said that the property tax appeals process had become a business, and there is trolling for clients and the appeal process. He said, the appeals process, “should not have been an industry,” and it “is not fair to the people that pay on time,” and for them many times “their taxes increase,” and he believed “everyone should pay their own share,” the GOP congressional candidate said. For more go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/05/3915462/carvalho-miami-dade-schools-tax.html#storylink=misearch


Curbelo

Carvalho

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> Michael J. Goldstein, M.D., FACS, has been named director of kidney transplantation for Miami Transplant Institute at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Press release: Dr. Goldstein has also been appointed executive director of Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency (LAORA). Board certified in general surgery, Michael J. Goldstein, M.D., is specialized in kidney and pancreas transplantation, and he has directed his clinical efforts to increase patient access to transplantation and the successful transplantation of high-risk recipients.

“Dr. Goldstein has established himself as a leader in transplant and organ donation,” said Rodrigo Vianna, M.D., director of transplant services at Miami Transplant Institute. “We are thrilled to have him as part of our transplant team and to be able to offer his unparalleled expertise to South Florida residents.”

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Goldstein directed the Renal and Pancreatic Transplantation Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Previously, his efforts assisted the Weill-Cornell Medical College in growing deceased donor organ utilization by 400 percent. He also joined Columbia University’s faculty as surgical director of pediatric abdominal transplantation, to lead the growth of abdominal organ transplantation in children at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York. In addition, he led a team of researchers to improve the management of the deceased organ donor program and enhance organ quality at the New York Organ Donor Network. He is one of the founding members of a national strategy for donor research.

Dr. Goldstein received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed both his post-doctoral residency fellowship in general surgery and his abdominal transplantation fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Goldstein has authored many manuscripts and editorials focusing on clinical transplantation outcomes, organ donor management, organ ischemia/preservation, and the changing nature and modernization of surgical education. He has also presented several lectures on the challenges and successes of organ transplantation, optimizing organ acceptance, transplanting organs with glomerulosclerosis, and regional disparities in access to organ transplantation.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Mgr. Martinez says sayonara in near future, Mayor Regalado to chose from within, right choice could determine his legacy in office

Johnny Martinez, the Miami City Manager since 2011 this week has announced he is retiring from the job for “medical reasons” said Mayor Tomas Regalado on Friday. Martinez back on the job a few months ago, after a stroke and an extended absence, said he plans to slow down and take a job in the private sector after years of working for public institutions, including being the local Secretary of FDOT, and a County Department head before coming to Miami and later becoming manager after Manager Larry Crapp, Jr. resigned from the post. Martinez is a civil engineer and Regalado said he will be appointing someone from within the city and not do a national search. The mayor has a opportunity to select a seasoned yet change agent when it comes to the City’s culture and the Watchdog Report can think of a couple of candidates that fill that bill. However, after frequent turnovers of managers generally over the last 15 years at the city, knowledge of finances is critical in any candidate as well as having the temperament to survive the city’s sometimes-brutal politics and the strange political bedfellows it has brought together over the decades on the commission.


Regalado

Martinez

>>> Adrian Carrillo, is a new senior aide for Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. One of his duties Friday morning was to give the keys to a flat bed truck operator picking up his boss’s car, the high performance electric car Telsa for service in Dania Beach.

Sarnoff

>>> South Floridian Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr., Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, and Marc Elias, Jr., Chief, North Miami Police Department, announce the sentencing of defendant Robinson Calixte, 22, of Miami. U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced Calixte to 47 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. On September 13, 2013, Calixte was charged in a five count indictment for identity theft in connection with his unauthorized possession of at least fifteen social security numbers belonging to other individuals. Calixte was found with over 800 names, dates of birth and social security numbers of other individuals.

On December 2, 2013, Calixte pled guilty to one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029 (a)(3) and 2; and to one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028 A(a)(1) and 2. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, ATF, North Miami Beach Police Department, and North Miami Police Department. The case is being 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.

VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE

>>> Grove gets new Police substation in Village West after numerous residents complaints about crime in the surrounding area, Foundation pays rent for two years

Press release: City of Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff would like to invite the residents of Coconut Grove to celebrate the opening of a new City of Miami Police Mini-Station in Coconut Grove.  The implementation of this project is the result of a longtime effort by the District 2 Commissioner to support the police force and crack down on crime within the city, especially areas where crime is systematic. Centrally located in the Village West at 3727 Grand Avenue, the station will be the base of operations for two full-time city employees and beat police officers.  “The goal is to increase police visibility and presence for residents and business owners of the West Grove and tackle this high-crime area head on,” said Commissioner Sarnoff.

A grand opening is scheduled for February 8 at 10:30am at the refurbished site.  All residents of Coconut Grove are invited to attend.  The City of Miami Police Department will have several police units and equipment on-hand for the public to view, such as a horse-mounted police officer, S.W.A.T. command truck, and the bomb squad.  Refreshments and food will be served. One of the biggest obstacles in achieving the goal of placing a mini-station in this area was finding enough funding to pay its rent.  The City Commission passed a resolution on December 12, 2013 accepting a $36,000 donation from the Sarnoff Foundation, Inc. to pay for two years’ stay at the aforementioned location.

The Sarnoff Foundation, Inc. is a not-for profit organization created during the financial crisis in Miami to provide enhanced equipment to the police department when the City of Miami could not afford it.  The foundation is dedicated to protecting the lives of citizens in Miami and improving police strategies.  Through various contributors, the organization has already funded the purchase of 36 high-tech bicycles and 7 Segways for the police. Commissioner Sarnoff would like to acknowledge Peter Gardner and Andy Parrish for their efforts to secure a location where the station would best serve the community as well as Commander Manuel Morales, and Chief of Police Manuel Orosa’s efforts in bringing this idea to a reality.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Press release: South of Fifth Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) had its annual meeting and election. It was our biggest voter turnout ever; more than 200 votes were cast.

Since we have staggered terms, only three director seats were open, two for residential positions, as well as SOFNA’s single commercial seat. There were excellent volunteers running for the positions. The final results are: Ron Starkman, an incumbent, was reelected to a residential seat Michael Barrineau is a new residential director, filling the seat vacated by Michael Grieco when he was elected last November as a City Commissioner, and Dawn McCall, also a South of Fifth resident, is our new commercial director, replacing the seat vacated by Laura Cullen when she sold Clarkes and moved West. Thanks to all the volunteers who worked hard to make this a trouble-free vote and who managed to get us out in record time. We look forward to working together to serve the best interests of what we consider the finest neighborhood in Miami Beach. The South of Fifth Neighborhood Association, Dr. Steve Mandy, President, Victor M. Diaz, Jr., Vice-President, Gerald Posner, Secretary, Mike Perlmutter, Treasurer, Ron Starkman, Michael Barrineau, Dawn McCall, Commercial Director

CITY OF NORTH MIAMI BEACH

>>> Former City of Miami Police Officer Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud 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, Manuel Orosa, Chief, City of Miami Police Department (MPD), and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Malinsky Bazile, 28, of North Miami Beach, was sentenced today for his participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme. Bazile was sentenced to 144 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $140,000.Bazile was convicted by a jury of one count of fraudulent use of unauthorized devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2), four counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), one count of exceeding authorized access to a protected computer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030(a)(4), and one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3).

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, the defendant operated an identity theft tax refund scheme from January 2012 to October 2012. During that period, the defendant, while employed as a City of Miami Police Officer, used his access to the Florida driver’s license database to steal the personal identity information of approximately seven hundred middle-aged women with common last names throughout the State of Florida. Using those identities, the defendant filed false and fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service seeking refunds payable to pre-paid debit cards. The defendant was captured on multiple bank ATM videos withdrawing money from pre-paid debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refund proceeds. FBI and MPD conducted a search at the defendant’s residence and found ledgers in a safe filled with hundreds of people’s identities and several pre-paid debit card containers. The defendant admitted to FBI and MPD that he made between $130,000 to $140,000 from the fraud scheme in 2011 and 2012. Mr. Ferrer commended the FBI, MPD, and IRS-CI for their work on the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Peter Forand. 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.

TOWN OF MIAMI LAKES

>>> Press release: Scott reappoint’s Tirso P. Martinez to the Florida State Boxing.

Martinez, 50, of Miami Lakes, is the chief executive officer of Rammar Construction Company Inc. and the principal at PPM Architects Inc. He is reappointed for a term beginning February 4, 2014, and ending September 30, 2017. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

VILLAGE OF MIAMI SHORES

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott taps Secretary Wansley Walters to the Children and Youth Cabinet.  Walters, of Miami Shores, is Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. She will serve as chair of the Cabinet and has been appointed for a term ending at the pleasure of the Governor.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Will Rothstein Ponzi scheme testimony in federal court take some of the wind out of former Gov. Crist’s gubernatorial campaign?

Will the testimony of Scott Rothstein in federal court derail former Gov. Charlie Crist’s bid to become governor after the $1.2 billion fraudster with a clever Ponzi scheme bilked investors for years and he was sentenced to 50 years in the federal Big House. Rothstein is cooperating with federal officials in the prosecution of other members of his now defunct law firm and he is  seeking leniency regarding serving his complete federal sentence and the disgraced attorney is talking up a storm on the stand. He is saying that Crist, who received significant campaign contributions from Rothstein for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, before the scandal unraveled, understood there was a quid pro quo that Crist totally denies. The former GOP governor now a Democrat notes Rothstein is a convicted felon and cannot be trusted, but the testimony will bleed into the upcoming campaign and is expected to be a prominent part of the Gov. Rick Scott campaign’s strategy to be reelected.

Reporter Bob Norman who chronicled the Ponzi scheme dogged Rothstein in the early years of the scheme and the investigative reporter’s extensive stories helped crack the case of where this highflying attorney was getting his money, which he flaunted in political circles. Norman’s tenacity in the investigation was well rewarded, he is now a featured investigative reporter for WPLG-Channel 10, http://www.local10.com/news/blogs/bobnorman/-/3223354/-/qc63pnz/-/index.html and the man in many ways is Broward County elected officials worst nightmare. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/05/3915611/rothstein-describes-the-inner.html


Scott

Crist

>>>Broward Bulldog series shows 1,000 taxing authorities around state have no lobbyist guidelines

The Broward Bulldog did state’s residents a favor when the online news organization did an extensive story on how people that lobby around 1,000 state boards, authorities and district boards and administrations do not have to register as lobbyist. The most significant examples are such taxing entities like the South Florida Water Management District http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page with a $.5 billion budget and it is just one example and to read the full story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/07/3920756/floridas-special-districts-where.html#storylink=misearch

>>> Broward County Resident Sentenced in $2 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wilfredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Lee Ervin Dale, 31, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced today for his participation in a tax refund scheme using stolen identities. United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced Dale to 120 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered restitution in the amount of $275,740. A jury previously convicted Dale of two counts of converting government funds to his own use, six counts of making and presenting false claims to the IRS, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial and sentencing, Dale filed approximately 291 handwritten tax returns claiming more than $2 million in refunds between 2006 and 2009 using stolen identities and listing his P.O. Box address. Although the IRS was able to prevent refund checks from being issued on most of these claims, approximately $275,000 in refund checks were mailed to his P.O. Box. Several of these checks were deposited directly into bank accounts bearing both Dale’s name and the identity theft victim’s name. Other checks were cashed at a check-cashing store in Oakland Park, Florida, in exchange for cash and money orders that Dale then deposited into his own accounts. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared M. Strauss and now-former Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie E. Rucoba. 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.

>>> 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.

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

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> WFOR/CBS4’S LAUREN PASTRANA TO HOST SEMINAR AT FIU ON THE JOURNALISM PROFESSION

Press release: The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at the FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) will be hosting a leadership seminar that is free and open to the public on Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The “Moving Forward in the News Profession” seminar will be led by WFOR-TV/CBS4’s reporter Lauren Pastrana and takes place at the Biscayne Bay Campus, ACII, room 251. The event is part of the Kopenhaver Center’s spring semester leadership seminar series.

“Bringing talented women communicators to campus to speak and network is part of the Kopenhaver Center’s goal to provide the next generation of women communicators with information that will assist them in developing their own leadership talents,” said the center’s founder and executive director, Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, who is also a professor and dean emeritus at SJMC. The goal of the leadership seminars, which can be accessed online, is to provide useful insights to students, young professionals and scholars in their communication careers and to give advice to young women who are making their first steps in broadcast journalism and in the newsroom. “The webinars we offer at the Kopenhaver Center empower women (and men) through education and meaningful discussions, and prepare students and academics for leadership roles in communications. They are completely in line with the SJMC’s and the Center’s mission of educating critical thinkers and innovative professionals who will also be leaders in their fields,” said Dr. Raul Reis, Dean of the SJMC.

During next Tuesday’s seminar Pastrana will speak about her personal experience in moving forward in her career to leadership. She will discuss some of the profession’s challenges and how to succeed in the business. The discussion will conclude with a Q&A session. The Kopenhaver Center’s spring leadership seminar series kicked off in January of 2014 with a webinar by Emmy Award-winning journalist Liz Roldan of WFOR-TV/CBS4. The spring series will conclude with a webinar by Dr. Bey-Ling Sha from the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University on March 6, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the same location. The Kopenhaver Center webinars are conducted using Adobe Connect, an online meeting room in which participants can interact through live video and audio, shared screens, chats and interactive online discussion. Participants are invited to join the webinar by visiting http://conntect.fiu.edu/kopenhavercenter . For more information about these events please visit kopenhavercenter.org. If you would like to attend in person, please e-mail KCenter@fiu.edu for more information.

>>> Join the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe as we raise funds through TICKETS fore CHARITY!

TICKETS fore CHARITY is a unique fundraising initiative designed to raise funds for local nonprofit organizations where PGA TOUR events are held. By buying tickets to this golf event, you will be directly impacting the quality of education for children in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. All funds raised (that’s 100%!) through our unique promotional code CHIP14 come directly back to our organization.  The Cadillac Championship continues to bring together the worlds of fashion, music and entertainment at one of the most elite and exciting tournaments on golf’s calendar during this year’s event at the Trump National Doral on March 5-9, 2014. There’s something for everyone in the family, and children 18 and under get in FREE with a ticketed adult!

>>> Chapman Valentine’s Day Eisenberg Ball?

The Chapman Partnership, charged with Empowering the Homeless is requesting donations of New Year’s Attire for our children ages six to17 in the shelter for the Annette Eisenberg Ball and Valentine’s Day Dance for the children who reside at the Chapman Partnership. Drop offs are accepted at the Partnership and for more information how to contribute to this important event named after Eisenberg, a long time supporter of Chapman and a board member who recently passed, and she also had founded the important Downtown Bay Forum monthly luncheon where politicians and issues were the discussions of the day. For more go to www.chapmanpartnership.org or call 305.329.3081 for more information.

>>> 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″

EDITORIAL

>>> Note to Miami officials and public servants, your public and private actions have consequences, and do reflect on the mayor and administration

“It is what it is,” and “people have to have a life,” said a longtime Miami Commission aide when we were discussing what public employees do in their private life, is a reflection on the city and its leaders and he thought people were entitled to their privacy, when it comes to perhaps their terrible driving record and numerous moving vehicle violation tickets, the man said. The issue came up on Friday at Miami City Hall in the lobby, and the man an attorney. He just did not get that in his high profile role, what he does in his private life is important and a reflection on the commissioner and Miami administration as a whole. And if public servants are wayward in their private life, empirical observation shows many of them are that way when they are discharging their public duties and this is not just limited to Miami, but is manifested in all of our community’s public institutions to one extent or another.

The Watchdog Report asked Miami Mayor Commissioner Tomas Regalado about this duality in philosophy Saturday while he attended the new opening of a Miami police sub-station in Commission District 2 represented by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff on Saturday morning. Regalado said it was a mistake if Miami employees think what they do in their private life is not important and a reflection on the city and the mayor himself depending on the person and the infraction, that may include excessive moving traffic violations, a current issue with a couple of employees involved with the city.

However, it was the flippant way the staffer blew off the idea that there was a problem, that got me concerned, and the attitude shows there is a systemic culture of duality. Where most Miami employees understand what they do in private is of public interest and is a reflection on all of the city’s 3,800 employees, not just the few special ones. And the public expects these people to obey the laws like anyone else, pay their taxes and not be oblivious to their actions and how it might stain a public institution based on public trust, transparency and good government.

>>> 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

Any amount $

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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