Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.26 March 23, 2014 EST.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Calibrating 15 years May 5th

CONTENTS

Argus Report: South Florida becoming epicenter of candidate fundraising, both Obama, Scott, Crist tapping into the rich vein of money for campaigns

Florida: M-DC Commission defers voting on 11 Children’s Trust board candidates as Gov. Scott appointees, will board become politicized? — 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: Death of Cuban Dictator Castro factored into County’s emergency management plan, while Orange Bowl no longer available for peaceful rally after the event, other sites would be found

Miami-Dade County Public Schools: After 40 years on air, Joseph Cooper still on the airwaves at WLRN 91.3 FM, hosting Topical Currents along with Bonnie Berman

Public Health Trust: PHT “ping pong,” relationship with M-DC must not affect health systems ramping up customer service if JHS is to be competitive with other healthcare systems in the years ahead with new federal reimbursement guidelines

City of Miami: Commissioner Suarez wants to tee up succession plan discussion of Police Chief Orosa at Thursday’s commission meeting

Village of Coconut Grove: County trying to put together “pieces of puzzle,” to get Playhouse to reopen down the road, says Spring

City of Miami Beach: Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club features out going Police Chief Martinez

City of Coral Gables: Got a beef with Gables policing, April luncheon features Police Chief Weiner

Village of Pinecrest: Gov. Scott announced two appointments and one reappointment to the Florida Citrus Commission.  

Village of Key Biscayne: Traffic updates on Key Causeway

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: Humorist Dave Barry is the big name draw for www.browardBulldog.org Event — Check out your elected leader’s financial disclosure forms

City of Margate: Resident Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

City of Lauderdale: Five Defendants Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud and Access Device Fraud Schemes

Palm Beach County: West Palm Beach Resident Charged in Identity Theft Scheme Pleads Guilty — Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Hillsborough County: Gov. Scott taps Kim Hernandez Vance to the Hillsborough County Court.  

Citrus County: Gov. Scott announced the reappointments of Krista K. Joseph and Debbie H. Ressler to the Citrus County Hospital Board

Monroe County: The 2014 Legislative Session began on March 4th. I spent most of the week in Tallahassee and came away feeling as if we got off to an excellent start. – To read all Monroe County constitutional officers’ financial disclosure forms go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

Community Events: 11th Annual Women’s History Month Reception Honoring Outstanding Community Servants in South Florida March 27, 2014 – JUNGLE ISLAND – MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PARKS AND THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION PRESENT – Margulies Art Collection show

Editorials: Malaysian 777 disappearance should remind us of the vastness of Earth, and the worldwide web and technology is not all knowing — 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

>>> South Florida becoming epicenter of candidate fundraising, both Obama and Scott, Crist tapping the rich vein of money for campaigns

South Florida is becoming fundraising central for candidates from both parties with President Barack Obama coming back for another bite of the apple for a fundraiser event in Pinecrest on Thursday, and Gov. Rick Scott is having another fundraiser in Coral Gables in the coming days and Obama was raising funds for a host of Democratic Party candidates up for reelection in 2014. In addition, Scott is trying to amass some $100 million for his reelection campaign that will likely pit him against former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, who is staying close to Obama and his deep fundraising pockets in the upcoming gubernatorial race that is expected to be brutal running up to the General Election in November.

What about former Gov. Jeb Bush?

Bush continues to deflect questions that he might run for president in 2016, and possible bringing up a showdown with potentially Hillary Clinton at a Broward business group workshop http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/03/from-common-core-to-immigration-jeb-bush-shows-hes-the-eat-your-broccoli-republican.html and he is a compelling campaigner, but if he were to get tapped as his party’s GOP champion in a 20016 race with Clinton. And the Watchdog Report is asked a lot about this possible face off over the past months. However, such a race could be viewed as going back to the past since there could be significant generational issues with these two baby boomer candidates that would be following Obama and would they appeal to younger, up and coming voters who would not know the candidates like people of their current generation would and the race would not have the intensity with the younger voters, that were key to the Obama win. Moreover, the pundits are suggesting Bush will make any final decision after the mid term races this fall, which would allow him to gauge if there are chinks in the Democratic political armor in the coming years with the nation’s voters, and could present an opening for a third Bush candidacy.

>>> Local media outlets going through changes, but will there be more consolidation of the industry?

There have been a lot of shakeups in the local media with WPLG Channel 10 being bought recently by billionaire Warren Buffet from the Graham Companies and then there was the retirement of David Landsberg, the Publisher of The Miami Herald for the past seven and a half years and he kept the paper in the black, while also moving the operations headquarters’ to a new building in Doral.

Both WPLG and The Miami Herald are South Florida mainstays but with the contraction of the print and broadcast market places, more and more alternative news sources are popping up in the community to fill any news coverage void and while Landsberg came from the business side of the Miami Herald Media Company. Insiders say he was very supportive of the news room, its independence, and he would dedicate fiscal resources to most big time news stories. And given that the media giant McClatchy, the paper’s parent company will chose his replacement. The community should hope the company person selected to replace Landsberg will understand the complexity and diversity of this media market, which essentially is unlike anywhere else in the United States, with a very strong Spanish media presence and other news outlets. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/17/4000497/publisher-david-landsberg-leaving.html and for more on the WPLG story go to http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/12/3990009/wplg-channel-10-sold-to-berkshire.html

>>> White House press release: The President’s review of big data and privacy

In January, President Obama spoke about changes in the technology we use for national security purposes, and what they mean for our privacy broadly.

He launched a 90-day review of big data and privacy: how they affect the way we live, and the way we work — and how data is being used by universities, the private sector, and the government. As part of that review, we’ve already heard from leading privacy advocates and industry leaders, among others.

But this is a conversation that affects all Americans, and we want to make sure you have a chance to be a part of it. We want your input.

Take a moment to tell us what you think about big data, privacy, and what it means to you.

>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: Obama no worse than Ronald Reagan

John Zogby’s Obama Weekly Report Card is Featured in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Secrets” Published weekly in The Washington Examiner

Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama doesn’t have many options in Crimea, and is following a pattern set by former President Ronald Reagan, who talked tough but then left Lebanon.

“In 1987, Yale University historian Paul Kennedy wrote about the ‘rise and fall of the great powers’ and argued that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union were on a crash course that was fiscally, economically, and militarily unsustainable. The Soviet Empire imploded first but we have seen in the past two decades that the U.S. has severe limits. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade:
http://zogbyanalytics.com/news/423-zogby-report-card-obama-no-worse-than-ronald-reagan

>>> Frost Museum at FIU has tinning exhibit of Pulitzer Prize photographs over the decades, a must see collection

The Frost Museum at Florida International University is holding a unique exhibit of photos from past Pulitzer Prize winners and some of the photographs will rip your heart out, when the visual tragedy is brought to life in a photo. Here is the information on the exhibit: Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs February 12, 2014 – April 20, 2014 -Capture the Moment consists of photographs from every Pulitzer Prize photographer, from the year of the first prize, 1942, to the present. Presently, there are 166 photographs included. The exhibit includes dramatic and poignant news and feature photographs, including Joe Rosenthal’s World War II photo of the raising of the flag by U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima (1945 Pulitzer); the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2006 Pulitzer); Robert H. Jackson’s 1963 photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald and Nathaniel Fein’s shot of Babe Ruth watching his number being retired at Yankee Stadium (1949 Pulitzer). >>> Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs was developed by Business of Entertainment, Inc. NYC (www.bizzent.com), Cyma Rubin, Curator, in association with the Newseum (www.newseum.org) in Washington, D.C. and for more go to http://thefrost.fiu.edu/exhibitions.htm

>>> 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 Commission defers voting on 11 Children’s Trust board candidates as Gov. Scott appointees, will board become politicized?

The Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday deferred on voting for 11 names to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott as his recommended appointments to The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade. The Trust, with about a over $100 million budget has a large board made up of a host of appointees, some that are political and the governor’s office gets to name a few of the board members. However, County Commissioner Juan C. Zapata the commission’s appointee to the Trust asked the names be reconsidered and he was concerned that so many of the trustees “had a conflict if interest,” and had to sustain from voting because of a conflict, he told fellow commissioners Tuesday.

“It concerns me a great deal,” he said about the “number of board members with conflicts,” and his concern was the board dedicated to providing children’s development services to countywide children, “has taxing power,” he noted.

In addition, Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez also expressed concerns because, “I don’t recognize the names,” he said during the discussion.

However, Commissioner Barbara Jordan, a former member of the Trust wondered, “What are the ramifications,” of deferring the vote and she also noted the county has some “100 boards,” and “I don’t ever recall,” having these candidates for boards “coming to the commission,” and introducing themselves. She further noted that “many of these [people] are not conflicted initially,” but it “is only later,” they are “conflicted out,” and she noted the Trust has its own unique “bylaws,” that in some ways are different than the county’s, and these bylaws also specifically spells out how new trustees are selected and added to the board, that recently has had some quorum issues periodically. In addition, the Watchdog Report has covered some of these trustee interviews over the years at the Trust, they are competitive, the applicants are grilled on this issue, and they’re commitment to the Trust and children.

Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa also chimed in that she agreed with some of the train of thought. “I agree, a lot of them I don’t know who they are,” and these names are going to the governor, and in the past she said, “they used to come and introduce themselves to us,” but “no one came to me,” she said. The commission chair thought it was important for these people to “introduce themselves,” and to let the community see who you are,” for “in the end it will be beneficial to the children,” she considered when these people were on the board.

However, Suarez said, “I don’t want to meet them all,” and he “just wants to have the chair [Maria A. Alonso of the Trust] offer recommendations and Commissioner  Audrey Edmonson, also a former Trust member said “we did receive [the people’s resumes] and these show what the qualifications are,” of the people being nominated for the appointments. However, Sosa thought “no one [on the commission] should be forced,” to vote on the names and I “prefer to meet the person,” she closed and the matter was deferred until next month’s commission meeting.

What about the independence of the Trust established back in 2002?

When the Children’s Trust was first created with the large board, the goal was to give the body independence from out side political interference over the years. However, the Trust in the early years was under political pressure when it banked money in reserves until local social service providers were able to get capacity and certified so that the money was spent judiciously, effectively when it came to the programs and without scandal. Yet County Commissioner Natacha Seijas at the time wanted more of that money spent even though the organizations might not be ready for such a sudden infusion of funding, and the board resisted that notion and these healthy reserves were put to good use.

When the national economy tanked in 2008 and these reserve monies cushioned the reduction in children’s services funding throughout Miami-Dade, and the Trust was essentially the only agency providing such development programs for the youth at the time when other public budgets were being slashed. And while the Watchdog Report understands Zapata’s concerns. I hope this is not the beginning of the politicization of the Trust in the coming years.


Sosa

Zapata

Jordan

>>> Gov. Scott revving up his fundraising, while former Gov. Crist hits the local airwaves, both love South Florida when it comes to fundraising

Former Gov. Charlie Crist held a book signing at Book’s & Book’s last week and attended a President Barack Obama Fundraiser in Pinecrest later in the week, and while he still has to get through former state Sen. Nan Rich D-Weston in the Democratic Primary. He is tapping into the Obama fundraising machine that had the president raising almost $1 billion for his 2012 presidential campaign.

And Gov. Rick Scott who Crist will challenge is on track to raise some $100 million for his reelection campaign hit a ripple when his chief fundraiser Mike Fernandez stepped down http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/03/campaign-shakeup-rick-scotts-fundraising-chief-quits-amid-disagreements.html but both men are ramping up their campaigns and hitting the local media shows that had Crist on Jim DeFede’s CBS 4 show http://miami.cbslocal.com/video/9975475-facing-south-florida-former-gov-charlie-crist-pt-2/ this weekend and the media savvy former governor continues to hammer Scott and his policies and Crist also appeared on Michael Putney’s This Week In South Florida http://www.local10.com/news/this-week-in-south-florida-march-16/25004452 where the veteran reporter covered a wide range of topics with Crist (who needs to get rid of the fan, that could be heard all throughout the program, and is becoming a odd foible of Crist’s).


Scott

Crist

Rich

>>> Florida TaxWatch press release: Pay Raises for State Attorneys and Public Defenders Would Save Taxpayer Money

Florida’s Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders are significantly undercompensated, as shown in findings from a Florida TaxWatch research report. The new report analyzes Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender pay across each of Florida’s judicial circuits and finds that starting salaries in Florida fall well below the national average and are among the lowest in the country. The report finds that their low pay contributes to high turnover rates, causing delays in judicial processing and increased taxpayer investment in new employee training, costing taxpayers more than $15 million annually.

“If Florida expects our criminal justice system to deliver timely and effective justice, we must wisely invest in those who are responsible for carrying it out,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog for the last 34 years. “Paying our Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders closer to the rest of the nation will ensure our tax dollars are not wasted on high turnover costs and lower productivity, and that our criminal justice system is in the best hands our state can find.”

The pay shortage for Florida Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders ranges from $30,000 to $50,000 dollars in the first three years of employment, which causes average turnover rates that often exceed 20 percent. Due to extensive job duties and difficult demands associated with the positions, it costs taxpayers more to recruit and retrain replacement Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders than it would to increase starting salary.

If pay raises were given to increase starting salary to $50,000 for all Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders, it would only cost $5.2 million annually. If this higher starting pay cut turnover by 50 percent, it would save taxpayers $5 million. “Increasing the starting pay for Florida’s Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders is essential if we hope to attract and retain talented lawyers to administer the criminal justice system,” said Dan McCarthy, Director of the TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice. “Paying the lowest wages in the nation creates high staff turnover, which in turn delays justice and impacts public safety. Justice delayed is often justice denied.”

Prosecutors and public defenders often incur sizeable debt to complete law school, and must pass the Florida bar examination before being eligible for appointment.  However, their starting pay averages $41,700, which the report says is almost $20,000 less than the average starting annual salary for prosecutors and public defenders in states with comparable crime.

Learn about when it costs to pay our judicial employees less by reading the report.

>>> 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

>>> Death of Cuban Dictator Castro factored into County’s emergency management plan, while Orange Bowl no longer available for peaceful rally after the event, other sites would be found

When it comes to preparations in Miami-Dade County for when Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro dies, Dr. Walter T. Richardson the chair of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board in its 50th year said it dawned on him recently the plan needed to be updated from the last time the “draft legislation in 2008” was promulgated by the CRB, at its monthly board meeting last week. At the meeting, representatives from the County’s Emergency Management Department, police representatives that are liaisons with federal Homeland Security official’s all said these kind of events are factored into they’re plans and any local demonstrations are expected to be peaceful at the demise of Castro. Further back in 2007 there was a flurry of rumors that Castro had died, circulating in Little Havana and at Versailles Restaurant and in the past. The plan was to have any community celebrations at the Miami Orange Bowl, but since that has been torn down. Officials would have to find some other suitable site they told CRB members but all expected any demonstrations would be peaceful.

The County’s Emergency Response Director Curtis Sommerhoff said an exercise is being “planned next month looking for gaps,” in any of the local emergency response and it is “very much a humanitarian plan,” he said. Moreover, any future emergency could include a host of issues such as “mass migration,” or even massive environmental events such as the “Deepwater Horizon,” oilrig explosion and spill and after 9/11, local and state and federal officials are working much closer than in the past.

Such as when South Dade was smacked with Hurricane Andrew in Aug. 1992 and had then County Emergency Department Director Kate Hale asking, “Where the hell is the cavalry,” after a slow federal response to the tragedy at the time.  In addition, while the Orange Bowl is no longer an option, another suitable site would be found said emergency management officials in the case of Castro passing and the local Cuban Community expressing their heartfelt thanks of his final demise and grieving for the many Cubans who gave their lives under his Communist Regime.

>>> BCC vote on proposed crippling MDX legislation sent a “lightning bolt,” to Gov. Scott’s office says Ferre

When County Commissioner Dennis Moss carped last Tuesday abut legislation in the legislature that would impact the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), being sponsored by state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami and state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, it apparently had an impact since Moss and other commissioners, including Chair Rebeca Sosa suggested that the MDX Director Javier Rodriguez should lobby state leaders more about the multiple concerns “and the unintended consequences,” and ripple effect it would have on the authority, especially when it comes to its bonding for hundreds of millions in capital projects for the six freeways under the MDX umbrella.

That vote by the commission Tuesday to highlight the body’s objections to the proposed legislation had a dramatic affect said Maurice Ferre at a Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting Thursday. Where he is a board member as Chair of the MDX Board. And the county commission weighing in and not supporting the bill was like a “lightning bolt,” to Gov. Rick Scott’s office who had thought the whole County Legislative Delegation was backing the legislation, that might possible divert revenues to other parts of the state rather than currently exclusively for Miami-Dade County and could have crippled the organization’s ability to raise money for capital projects in the bond markets that were reacting very negatively to the legislation and has been written about in past Watchdog Reports.

Moss

>>> PAST WDR:  Will state legislation “kill the cow,” known as MDX, controls bulk of local freeways?

The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) is under siege by state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami and state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah who are sponsoring legislation that would modify how toll funds would be distributed, and essentially, “kill the cow” because you were upset with the milk said Maurice Ferre at Thursday’s Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization. Ferre considered a transportation maven, is the chair of the MDX board and the organization is lobbying quietly to kill the bill. He said MDX staff would be meeting with the state representative the next day and the organization hopes they will be able to convince the lawmaker her bill needs to be modified from its existing language, and its potential damage to the expressway authority, the former Miami mayor said.

However, County Commissioner Juan Zapata, a former state legislator on the MPO said he has been trying for seven years when he was a state representative to get MDX to be more fair in its tolling structure. A tolling structure he believes is paid by residents in the west end of the County and these drivers have the longest commute he said to other MPO members. He noted it is costing him over $1,000 a year to come to downtown, and challenged MDX to give him a breakdown of which drivers are paying tolls, because he believes it is on the backs of West Dade residents, he said. In addition, the Nuñez and the Garcia legislation is just an expression of these west Dade residents concerns. If the tolling system’s costs was, being fairly distributed among all drivers that use the local expressways and Zapata is asking for a breakdown of where the MDX toll funding is coming from. However, this is an ongoing issue now and it is clear, the role of MDX is going to be on the front burner of the upcoming legislative session, unless the lawmakers relent and readers should stay tuned.


Nuñez

Garcia

>>> GMCB press release: RECORD ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD SERVICE JOBS IN GREATER MIAMI AND THE BEACHES REPORTED FOR JANUARY 2014 MARKING 49 MONTHS OF CONSECUTIVE JOB INCREASES
Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service jobs increased +2.5% in January 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. This marks 49 months of consecutive increased employment in Greater Miami’s Accommodations and Food Service Industry.

Greater Miami Leisure and Hospitality Industry Jobs
January 2014 January 2013 % Change
112,600 109,900 +2.5%

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> After 40 years on air, Joseph Cooper still on the airwaves at WLRN 91.3 FM, hosting Topical Currents along with Bonnie Berman

Joseph Cooper the long serving host of Topical Currents, that now includes co-host Bonnie Berman, is celebrating 40 years with the station and the Watchdog Report wants to give him a Tip of the Hat, for all his work on the airwaves since he joined www.WLRN.Org decades ago. Cooper’s show has a broad range of people and topics discussed over the years and I have been honored to be a frequent contributor to the show since March 2000 when I was just about to start the Watchdog Report which started May 5, 2000. And being on the show over a hundred times has been one of the fun things I have been able to do over the last 15 years and sometimes includes elections analysis. And back in 2000 on the General Election night, I was own the show Cooper hosted with a former Presidential Candidate John Anderson, Tony Doris and Robert Steinbach and when Florida was announced to have gone to Democratic Candidate Al Gore. I was the only one on the show that disagreed with that assessment and said at the time it was to close a race to call.  Since I had interviewed some 100 people and it was two big white guys, who went to Ivy League Colleges and you did not have much voter intensity for either candidate at the time with voters at the polls and parents were bringing their children to the polling sites in a civics education. I found in many cases. However, the other members thought I was wrong, but that thinking would later change and later in the evening they said “good call,” when Florida went to the undecided column at the time. So for me, Joe’s show has been an opportunity to have another media sounding board and I wish him many more years at the microphone for the broadcaster and former drummer.

What about the WLRN budget over the past few years?

Documents in possession of the Watchdog Report shows WLRN’s television and FM radio total revenues for the year was $7.6 million in 2008 and that climbs to $9.2 million in 2011, a 17 percent increase. And the station’s net assets and fund balance for those years was $3.9 million in 2008 and that balance rose to $9.85 million in 2011 and was a 60 percent increase in the fund balance over the past four years.

>>> Press release: Miami-Dade School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman honored the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo A. Ferrer during a special recognition at the School Board Meeting of March 12, 2014. “Mr. Ferrer’s Violence Reduction Partnership is a shining example of community involvement in action and he is truly our partner in education,” said Ms. Hantman. “I am so pleased that he could join us today to accept this recognition in honor of his advocacy and many contributions to the students of South Florida and our community.”

Mr. Ferrer, a graduate of Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, launched the Violence Reduction Partnership, in 2011, aimed at reducing crime in areas of South Florida that are prone to crime.  One of the partnership’s goals is to build educational partnerships in order to mentor children, create jobs, rehabilitate offenders, and eradicate crime and violence.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> PHT “ping pong,” relationship with M-DC must not affect health systems ramping up customer service if JHS is to be competitive with other healthcare systems in the years ahead with new federal reimbursement guidelines

State Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami at a past PHT board meeting last month was concerned with the “ping pong,” relationship the Trust has with the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners (the county provides some $350 million in public dollars) after the Trust had to accept the same union concessions given to the unions at the county. Bileca said it would be this board that got the blame if the PHT was not doing well and the man with some experience in the healthcare world understands that for Jackson Health System (JHS). Some dramatic changes are coming, and the public healthcare system will be facing an even bigger challenge in the near future when the new federal reimbursement changes kick in. In addition, Jackson in the future has to compete with other hospital systems for paying patients and in listening to people’s experiences at other health systems as patients, the friendliness and seamless organization that lead to treatment. JHS has got to lift its employee public relations game to effectively compete in this new environment where patients have a choice where they want to get their medical care.

In addition, while the community in November voted to fund an $830 million bond to upgrade the old and aging facilities at JHS. The other hospitals in South Florida are ahead of JHS in that regard and part of that fault is with the county commission that shifted some $1 billion in unfunded mandates on the Trust. Since it first occurred in 2000 and while that expense is being diminished, the damage to the infrastructure has been done and the one area that must be emphasized at no cost, is to work endlessly to change the existing customer service culture on the sprawling medical campus.

If JHS is to survive and thrive in the years ahead, and while since 2003 JHS has attempted this exercise before, the administration of PHT CEO Carlos Migoya must kick the program into high gear. If the public hospital is to thrive and give world-class medical care that has affiliations with the University of Miami’s Miller Medical School as well as Florida International University’s Medical School. And while these institutions medical treatment firepower is awesome, patients also want amenities and convenience, and not to have to wait hours for appointments to see physicians and those health systems that provide a favorable patient treatment environment will ultimately prosper and that must be the goal at JHS. For at one health system this sign at the receptionist desk is prominent and it greets the patients and says it all, “Director of First Impressions,” was her title at the facility, and that level of welcoming is what JHS must strive to achieve, to be competitive in the future.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Commissioner Suarez wants to tee up succession plan for Police Chief Orosa at Thursday’s commission meeting

Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez wants to discuss the Chief of Police succession in the future when the chief retires in the summer. The commissioner in the City’s Commission agenda has it listed as one of his topics that he wants the body to discuss on Thursday and Suarez is getting back into the political saddle after a failed mayoral bid last year, taking on this delicate topic.

And Suarez recently lost his Chief of Staff Michael Llorente, an attorney, who is working as a lobbyist with the firm LSN Partners, where his older brother former state Rep. Marcello Llorente, R-Miami is part of the team and he is the third member of Suarez’s staff to leave the office that used to have as a staffer Carlos Lago who moved to the Public Health Trust and worked with CEO Carlos Migoya as his chief of staff, and the attorney is now is with Greenberg Traurig.

>>> A former Miami assistant City attorney, Veronica A. Diaz, (formerly Veronica Xiques) has filed her qualification papers and is running to be elected a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge. She has been in private practice for five years and spent seven years at the Miami City Attorney’s office. 

>>> Medical Clinic Owner Sentenced for Role in Multiple Health Care Fraud Schemes Totaling Over $20 Million

Press release: The owner and operator of a Miami medical clinic, Merfi Corp., was sentenced today to serve 108 months in prison for her participation in multiple health care fraud schemes. 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 George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Martens of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement…

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. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.  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

>>> County trying to put together “pieces of puzzle,” to get Playhouse to reopen down the road, says Spring

The Coconut Grove Playhouse was the topic of discussion at the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council meeting Wednesday, and the storied Playhouse closed in 2006, but is coming back to life in the future now that an agreement has been achieved between the state of Florida, Florida International University and Miami-Dade County. The county has $20 million set aside to renovate the Historic building, and to create a sustainable theater facility that will host plays produced by Gables Stage, and that agreement is being worked on said county cultural maven Michael Spring. He said the Miami Parking authority has taken over the parking lot and improvements in lighting and security are in the works. He also said his “team” working on the issues with the City of Miami did a “complete walk around,” recently and while the building has been made more secure. There has been a history of “break-ins or people living in the structure over the years, and why the building needs to be “more secure,” he said.

In the future he said a competitive process will take place to find architects that could help chart “the future of the Playhouse,” in the late “summer or fall,” after extensive public input he said. In addition, the plan is to have “Gables Stage grow into the role of a regional theater,” and all these elements are “pieces of the puzzle,” and he believes with “the great team [in place they will be able] to come up with solutions,” to the many challenges in getting the theater back open.

Spring

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club features out going Police Chief Martinez

Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez is the featured speaker at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club and he is moving on in the near future and his replacement will be found after a national search is done to replace the Chief, who is leaving the office after a few years in that capacity. >>> Here is the information: Meeting Date: March 25, 2014 Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street. Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez will be the guest speaker at the March 25th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.  Chief Martinez recently announced his intention to retire after twelve years with the Miami Beach Police Dept.  Prior to that he was with the Miami Police Department for a total of 32 years in law enforcement. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome. David Kelsey, Moderator Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Got a beef with Gables policing, April luncheon features Police Chief Weiner

Residents who want to hear what it is like to be the Chief of Police for the City of Coral Gables should stop in at this community luncheon for it is a rare opportunity to listen and ask questions about a important municipal service that can touch any of us at anytime if we are not aware and vigilant. Here is the information on the event: Monday April 7th 2014, Speaker from Coral Gables Police Department, Chief Dennis L. Weiner- We will have Chief Weiner from the Coral Gables Police Department speaking at our next luncheon April 7th, 2014.  Dennis Weiner is a results producing public sector executive with extensive law enforcement and military experience. He is a leader in empowering Intelligence-led Policing-based operations through Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems adoption and implementation. He has advanced knowledge of law enforcement, emergency management, and strategic planning and has excellent communication, motivational and decision-making skills. He is an accomplished professional with demonstrated ability to perform in a fast-paced competitive environment, maintaining quality control while meeting deadlines and budgets.

As a leader, he inspires confidence, respect, trust and a sense of mission. He utilizes a participative and inclusive leadership style to build consensus toward organization and department goals. He researches and implements innovative and cutting-edge crime prevention and law enforcement tactics and programs as part of comprehensive crime control strategies.

As a law enforcement executive, he is committed to integrating leading edge technology into law enforcement operations, and is interested in developing and applying performance measures to police operations and administration. He is a student and practitioner of Intelligence-Led Policing, Crime Analysis, Predictive Policing and Community Policing models and philosophies. As a Navy Security Officer, he is experienced in the operation of maximum-security detention facilities responsible for the transparent and humane custody and control of high value detainees. >>>Upcoming speakers, April 7th , 2014 – Chief Weiner, Coral Gables, April 21st, 2014 – Commissioner Lago, Coral Gables, May 5th, 2014 – Donald Worth, Miami Marine Stadium, May 19th, 2014 – Raquel Regalado, Miami-Dade School Board The Ponce Business Association is a civic non-profit organization. For more information go to http://poncebusiness.com/Calendar_of_Events.html

VILLAGE OF PINE CREST

>>> Gov. Scott announced two appointments and one reappointment to the Florida Citrus Commission.

Press release: Jonathan “Ned” Hancock, 56, of Sebring, is the owner and president of Hancock Citrus Inc. He succeeds Jesse Clark, and is appointed for a term beginning March 21, 2014, and ending June 30, 2016.

Francisco Pines, 38, of Pinecrest, is the owner and general counsel of Pines Ranch Inc. He succeeds Michael Taylor, and is appointed for a term beginning March 21, 2014, and ending June 30, 2016.

Michael Garavaglia, 46, of Vero Beach, is the president and general partner of The Packers of Indian River Ltd. He is reappointed for a term beginning March 21, 2014, and ending June 30, 2016. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

VILLAGE OF KEY BISCAYNE

>>> TRAFFIC ADVISORY: RICKENBACKER CAUSEWAY TOLL LANE SCHEDULE

Press release: Toll lanes on the Rickenbacker Causeway will observe the following schedule beginning Tuesday, February 18, 2014: 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Lanes 7 and 8 (the two far right lanes) will be closed.  Traffic will be managed through use of all or some of Lanes 1 through 6 depending on the volume of traffic. >>> 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Lanes 1 through 6 will be closed. Traffic will be managed using Lanes 7 and 8 (the two far right lanes). This schedule change will remain in place until further notice.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> Humorist Dave Barry is the big name draw for www.browardBulldog.org Event

The BrowardBulldog is having a special event that is featuring Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry and the news organization needs community support for they do excellent investigative reporting on Broward and the state and for more information on the event go to:An Evening With Dave Barry Presented by Boardroom Communications and BrowardBulldog.org

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)

Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale Auditorium
1 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Attend Event Share this event:
Boardroom Communications Presents: AN EVENING WITH DAVE BARRY to benefit BrowardBulldog.org on Tuesday, April 8 at NSU’s Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Join us for a fun night with best-selling author and Pulitzer-Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry as he discusses parenting and other topics he knows little about. Dave will share his unique insights from his new book “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty.”

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it!

Cheers,
BrowardBulldog.org

>>> 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.

>>> Defendant Sentenced in Plot to Conceal and Dispose of Assets in Connection with Rothstein Case

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Eddy Marin, 52, of Davie, was sentenced today in West Palm Beach by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to ten months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release. Issues regarding the forfeiture of certain funds obtained by the defendant through his criminal activity was continued to a later date. Marin pled guilty on October 18, 2013 to conspiracy to obstruct justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(k)… Rothstein agreed to forfeit to the government all assets acquired with funds derived through the aforesaid Ponzi scheme. On November 9, 2009, agents of IRS-CI went to the Rothstein residence, where Kimberly Rothstein assisted the agents in retrieving what was believed to be all of the available cash, jewelry and luxury watches, which had previously been purchased by Scott W. Rothstein with proceeds derived from the Ponzi scheme. In fact, before, during and after the aforesaid seizure by federal agents on November 9, 2009, Kimberly Rothstein, Stacie Weisman, and others knowingly took action to conceal certain items of jewelry, valued in excess of one million dollars for the purpose of preventing the government from exercising its authority to take such property into its lawful custody and control. Thereafter, Kimberly Rothstein and Stacie Weisman sold and attempted to sell a portion of this jewelry to and through various persons, including the defendant Eddy Marin…  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, Jeffrey N. Kaplan, and Evelyn B. Sheehan. 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.

>>> Press release: Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Judge Edward H. Merrigan, Jr. to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court

Merrigan 51, of Fort Lauderdale currently serves as a Broward County Court Judge. He also serves as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. Judge Merrigan began his legal career as an attorney with Houston & Shahady in 1989 and has held several other positions as corporate counsel and with law firms until his appointment to the County Court in 2009. Merrigan served in a 230-member combat battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lenoir-Rhyne College and his law degree from Cumberland School of Law. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Eileen M. O’Connor. Governor Rick Scott said, “Ed Merrigan has not only served South Florida communities throughout his legal career, but has also protected the freedoms and opportunities of all Americans through his service in the U.S. Army. I am confident his experience will make him a great Circuit Judge. I look forward to his service to Florida families on the Circuit bench.”

CITY OF MARGATE

>>> Margate Resident Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, announce that Louis A. Francois, 44, of Margate, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Sentencing is scheduled for June 5, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.

According to court documents, Francois owned and operated a tax preparation business called A&I Multi Services (A&I) located in Oakland Park. Francois stole personal identifying information (PII) of various individuals, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and addresses, for the purpose of filing fraudulent U.S. income tax returns claiming tax refunds in those individuals’ names. Subsequently, Francois printed out the refund checks payable to the persons whose PII was used at A&I. The checks were in the amount of the fraudulently obtained tax refunds minus Francois’ “tax preparation” fees and other fees. The “tax preparation” fees were deposited into Francois’ bank account. Francois went to a check cashing store located next door to A&I with the fraudulently obtained tax refund checks and fraudulent Florida driver’s licenses matching the stolen identities on the checks and cashed them.

From July 2010 through June 2011, the total amount of U.S. Treasury checks cashed by Francois and the total amount of fraudulent refunds requested by Francois is approximately $355,000. The number of victims involved is greater than ten, but fewer than fifty. Francois faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for the aggravated identity theft charge. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the Secret Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia E. Shick. 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 LAUDERDALE

>>> Five Defendants Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud and Access Device Fraud Schemes

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), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announce that Alex Dontfred, 29, David Tilus, 27, Sherika Rowe, 20, Fritznel Etienne, 24, and Latonya Ware, 27, all of Lauderhill, were sentenced for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme and an access device fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of over $137,000 in fraudulent tax refund claims and over $49,000 in unauthorized access device purchases…

Dontfred previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(b)(2) and 1029(a)(2), respectively. Tilus previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, 1343, 1029(b)(2) and 1028A(a)(1), respectively. Rowe previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, 1343 and 1029A(a)(1), respectively. Etienne previously pled guilty to one count each of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1029(a)(2) and 1028A(a)(1), respectively. Latonya Ware previously pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 and 1029A(a)(1), respectively…

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the USSS, and BSO. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alicia Shick and Harry Wallace. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

PALM BEACH COUNTY

>>> West Palm Beach Resident Charged in Identity Theft Scheme Pleads Guilty

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), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, announce that Kawana Brown, 36, of West Palm Beach, pled guilty for her participation in a wide-ranging identity theft scheme. Specifically, Brown pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ‘ 1349 (Count 1), three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ‘ 1343 (Counts 2, 8, and 13), and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ‘ 1028A (Counts 25 and 38)…Sentencing is scheduled for May 30, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra. At sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum of twenty years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud, and a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, to run consecutively to any other sentence… 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.

>>> And reader’s can check out they’re leaders financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

>>> And to read all the Palm Beach elected leader’s financial disclosure reports go to http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

>>> Scott taps Kim Hernandez Vance to the Hillsborough County Court.

Vance 53, is a Tampa native and a partner with GrayRobinson, P.A., where she has been a commercial litigator since 2005. She began her legal career in 1997 with Rahdert, Anderson, McGowen & Steele, P.A. in Tampa. Vance was a member of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council from 2006-2013 and served on the Gulf Ridge Council Hispanic Outreach Committee from 2007-2008. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law. She was formally a Certified Public Accountant from 1987 to 1995. Vance fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge James V. Dominguez. Governor Rick Scott said, “With many years of legal service in Hillsborough County, I am confident Kim will continue her dedicated service to Florida families on the County bench.”

CITRUS COUNTY

>>> Press release: Gov. Scott announced the reappointments of Krista K. Joseph and Debbie H. Ressler to the Citrus County Hospital Board.

Joseph, 53, of Crystal River, is the president of Aspen Medical Consultants and Marketing. She is a representative of the Title 1 Parent Advisory Council for Citrus County. Joseph received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona. She is reappointed for a term beginning March 19, 2014, and ending July 11, 2017. Ressler, 63, of Inverness, is a critical care nurse. Previously, she served as a staff nurse with Tampa General Hospital. Ressler is a member of the Crystal River Women’s Club, Altrusa International Inc, and also serves as a guardian ad litem. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Florida Southern College. Ressler is reappointed for a term beginning March 19, 2014, and ending July 5, 2017. The reappointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> The 2014 Legislative Session began on March 4th. I spent most of the week in Tallahassee and came away feeling like we got off to an excellent start.

Press release: “Luchando por Nuestros Hijos,” our Spanish language radio program cosponsored by The Children’s Trust, kicked off our week with an interview featuring Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera who spoke about the importance of early learning and other issues important to Florida’s families. The radio program also included conversations with Representative Jose Felix Diaz, a member of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee;  Representative Manny Diaz, Jr., a member of the Education Committee; and Representative Erik Fresen, chair of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. As usual, former Senator Rudy Garcia hosted the program.

The radio program was followed by a gathering of Early Learning Coalition executive directors and board chairs at the Historic Capitol. The group was joined by Representative Marlene O’Toole, chair of the Education Committee and sponsor of this year’s early learning bill;  Representative Marti Coley, member of the Appropriations Committee and Education Committee; Representative Joe Saunders, member of the Education Committee and the Choice and Innovation Subcommittee; and  Senator Bill Montford, member of the Appropriation Subcommittee on Education, the Education Committee, and the Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) also met that week. This group is made up of private sector members appointed by the governor to serve as chairs of Early Learning Coalitions. Among other things, they discussed the status of the funding allocation formula. ELC board chair Adrian Alfonso spoke about the need to maintain a hold harmless position so no coalition will lose resources needed to serve children, of the need to increase provider reimbursement rates and to continue our work to improve the quality of the programs. We made good progress in the first week.  We will continue to provide updates as the session progresses.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> 11th Annual Women’s History Month Reception Honoring Outstanding Community Servants in South Florida March 27, 2014 – JUNGLE ISLAND

1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL 33132 6:00 – 9:00 pm, Cost: $20.00 Students: $10.00 Payment can be made at www.aspaonline.org/southfla

RSVP by March 21, 2014 to Roslyn Alic-Batson Alic@miamidade.gov,
aspasouthfla@yahoo.com or 305-375-5658 — 2014 Honorees Are: Katherine Fernandez-Rundle – Miami-Dade State Attorney, Audrey Edmonson – Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 3, Betty T Ferguson – Former Dade County Commissioner & Community Activist, Jane E Cross – Director of Caribbean Law Programs and Associate Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University, Daniella Levine Cava – Former Executive Director Catalyst Miami, The Natacha Seijas “Women in Public Service” Award will be presented.

>>> Mark your calendar for April 4 – the season’s finale will feature a live concert by Tony Swing at Tropical Park.  To stay up to date on all future events, like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/miamidadeparks; and follow us on Twitter @miamidadeparks. You can also see past events on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/miamidadeparks. Miami-Dade County Parks kicked off its free Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights 2013/2014 concert season with a star-studded Latin Jazz Gala concert at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium (MDCA) on September 20.  The Gala concert was led by 10-time Grammy Award-winning percussionist Edwin Bonilla and his Latin Jazz All-Star Ensemble, and included musical performances by five-time Grammy winning violinist Federico Britos, legendary Cuban flutist Gustavo Cruz and vocalist Lucy Grau. These concerts were made possible by a $100,000 Knight Foundation grant to expand the Noches Tropicales concert series from its home base at Tropical Park to other venues throughout the County and taking on the name of “Tropical Nights”.   The Noches Tropicales concerts at Tropical Park are made possible by a $75,000 grant from Target. www.miamidade.gov/parks/.

>>> 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

>>> Malaysian 777 disappearance should remind us of the vastness of Earth, and the worldwide web and technology is not all knowing

While the disappearance of a Malaysian 777 flight week’s ago and authorities are still looking for wreckage and the mystery of what happened has been front, center in the daily news cycle, and is a tragic event, that lets hope someday is explained about what happened. It reminds people that think every inch of the planet is accessible and has conductivity with the internet and there are still many mysterious in the world. The lack of knowing exactly what happened to the jet seems to have stunned the younger generation more and the theories they espouse about the plane shows how deep the internet’s influence has become to people constantly on they’re devices around the globe. But this tragic event shows the limits of man’s technology, and in fact the planet is not as wired as we all think and it is a lot  more than being out of the range of a local cell tower, and while conspiracy theorists are alive and well the accouterments of civilization when it comes to worldwide web is not all knowing and the plane’s disappearance while a mystery should remind each of us of our limitations and our technology. For there is so much more of the planet that we don’t know and are just still discovering from the skies and space to the deep reaches of the sea and unfortunately, it takes a event such as this tragedy to remind us of that fact.

>>> 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

JEFFREY L. BERKOWITZ TRUST

RON BOOK

LINDA MURPHY: Gave a new laptop in Oct. 2001 to keep me going.

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

Rbb PUBLIC RELATIONS www.rbbpr.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 COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST: www.miamidade.gov/homeless/

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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