Archive for August 2014


Watchdog Report Vol.15 No.14 August 24 EST.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating 15 Years


Argus Report: Good Government Initiative takes up local VA problems with panel of experts at Beacon Council function—Past WDR: Congressman Mica tells Watchdog Report that nation has $1.5 trillion in national infrastructure needs, “and we have a long ways to go”

Florida: State Atty. Fernandez-Rundle in the spotlight, net worth goes from $1.7 million in 2010 to $2.6 million for the current year, lists receiving extensive gifts over the years

Miami-Dade County: Mayor Gimenez idea for miniature cameras for police officers runs into road blocks with police union

Broward County: Five More Individuals Charged in Cybercrime/Bank Fraud Scheme –22 defendants have been charged to date; financial institutions report millions of dollars in losses

Palm Beach County: Seven Defendants Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme — Past WDr: Top state prosecutor Krischer in the spotlight this week, had net worth of $1.04 million through 2006

Monroe County: Property Appraiser Higgs is in the spotlight, had $1.29 million net worth through June 2007

Miami-Dade Public Schools:

Public Health Trust:

City of Miami: What will CIP attorney’s May agreement cost taxpayers after controversy in office?– After years with Hernandez as chair, zoning board to get new chair after controversial ending at Monday night’s meeting

City of Miami Beach: Voters should approve fool proof term limit charter change

Editorials: Now what, You did not run yourself, but will you at  least vote? In this low turnout election


Sponsors – Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue

>>> 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.

The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media within to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

On another note,, I Had a mild Stroke Wednesday AND Went to Baptist Health South Miami HOSPITAL For TREATMENT AND after four days I am happy to say I am home after their fine physicians got me back on my feet, I AM not YET UP TO Par and I am feeling MY Way back into the reporting world but it was definitely a personal hit and I hope my supporters will stay with me while I work though this medical condition that can strike so suddenly with such devastating effects and I plan to be back in the Future and hope my readers will understand given the circumstances. I also had a technical issue this weekend and why the content is different from the past years reports

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street >> Good Government Initiative takes up local VA problems with panel of experts at Beacon Council function. The Good Government Initiative and the Miami-Dade Beacon Council are holding a discussion on the Miami VA and given the millions of veterans that were promised healthcare for their service to the nation after fighting in two wars over the past 13 years it is sure to be an interesting discussion that already cost the department’s Secretary his job. The VA responds that veterans get only the best medical care but here in Miami a number of patients got colonoscopies from equipment that was not properly cleaned a few years ago and the latest scandal involved long waiting lists for people needing treatment and ultimately cost the Secretary his job and below is the information on the meeting and panel discussion. An ACCESS Series Event | Thursday, August 28 | Promptly at 8 am
The Beacon Council | 80 SW 8th Street, Suite 2400, Miami, FL

PAST WDR: Congressman Mica tells Watchdog Report that nation has $1.5 trillion in national infrastructure needs, “”and we have a long ways to go” U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Maitland gave the Watchdog Report an exclusive interview on the nation’s infrastructure needs over the next five-years and the number is not small. Mica, a Miami Edison High graduate is the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee. He told me recently “we have serious infrastructure problems and it isn’t just highways and bridges but also are ports, rail and almost every aspect of our infrastructure in the country is ageing and deteriorating,” he said. However, he believes “Florida has been fortunate because we have been a new growth state and don’t have some of the problems” the rest of the nation might have.

The congressional representative noted Congress had appropriated “about $284 billion for a five-year period” but that is well short of the “$1.5 trillion needed according to the Society of Civil Engineers and we have a long ways to go,” he thought. He wants to introduce in the future a new “major effort in investment and infrastructure” when the current legislation expires in 2009. “You can’t get around communities, you can’t be successful without good infrastructure and that is one of government’s responsibilities, and that is what I am looking towards,” he closed.

>>>Past WDR: U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami gave the Watchdog Report an exclusive story recently regarding his take on the war in Iraq, since the surge of troops began in the summer, and the reduction in violence. He said there are “still some cynics” that are trying to figure out ways “to claim that was not the case” but the one thing that is not deniable, whether you voted for or against the war. “It is undeniable those reinforcements worked” and the important thing when you look at how the numbers have dropped in both soldier and civilian deaths and wounded was “the population is coming forward and they are confronting Al Qaeda,” so “obliviously it has been a huge success but that does not mean there are not areas where we still need to do much better,” he said.

“The elected government in Iraq is not moving as fast as we would like them is obviously an issue of concern, but we have to remember with a Democracy, things happen to go slow, and nothing is slower than the United States government, but it is still frustrating because we need to continue to push them.” However, he believes the situation in Iraq is “stabilizing” and it is clear “that we are fighting very aggressive elements of Al Qaeda in Iraq.” He also was critical of the uncertain funding for the troops after a bitter budget battle in Congress last year in Democratic Party control and he was not in Congress when the war was voted on.

However, now that he is. Diaz-Balart wants to be “sure our troops and commanders in the field have everything they need, and frankly for me it was rather sad that for political purposes. Congress almost was not funding our troops while in harm’s way and that is unacceptable,” he closed. >>> Next week, see what the congressional representative says about any possible challengers he or his brother might face in 2008.

>>> My web site is back but it has only three years of the around 150 past reports ending Jan. 2006 on the page. However, that includes about 1,500 stories and there is a sophisticated search engine allowing readers to look for past stories and it is a formidable database, just type in a subject and see for yourself. I will be bringing the new material on line in the future but for me, getting that old reports back on line is a real life saver given the sheer volume of the stories, even though they are dated, and I thank my volunteer friend who allowed these past reports to become available again for free to the public domain.

>>> If you want an independent voice covering your community, support the Watchdog Report by sending some money. There is no trust fund, I do have to pay rent and eat and I refuse to not let everybody read the report, especially those of limited means. A convenient supporter form for those that want to support me is at the end of this report. Thank you.


>>>> State Atty. Fernandez-Rundle in the spotlight, net worth goes from $1.7 million in 2010 to $2.6 million for the current year, lists receiving extensive gifts over the years

With July first the Watchdog Report is looking at elected leaders financial disclosure forms for the past year and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle (KFR) is in the spotlight this week since she is a long serving official and essentially the community’s top cop when it comes to corruption and prosecuting local cases. The office handles some 250,000 cases and is the fourth largest such office in the nation but she has been dogged over the years by her critics as being easy on public corruption since local elected leaders can be influential when it comes to her reelection, most recently in November. Since she first took office in the early 1990s after her mentor Janet Reno was picked to go to Washington as the nation’s Attorney General. She is a major advocate for children’s rights and protection along with human trafficking and she is a big supporter of Kristi House for abused children.

What do we know about her finances?

In past financial disclosure forms KFR had a net worth of $1.75 million back in Dec 2010. And through Dec. 2013 she has a $2.6 million net worth and she has a wide variety of investments and her rising home value accounts for a significant net worth bump now Valued at $900,000. However, the state attorney does file extensive gift disclosures for the year and she lists a host of charity fundraisers and other events on these forms that few elected leaders file the Watchdog Report has found historically and the county Ethics commission in a study years ago found only some 34 officials filed the forms out of some 27,000 county and public officials that would have had to over the years. But KFR has been diligent in this regard but she accepts a large number of gifts from a host of individuals and her extensive community contacts she says helps her do her office’s job and that may be true but she also periodically has to recluse herself like she did in a recent absentee ballot investigation in November 2012 when she herself was up for reelection.


>>> Mayor Gimenez idea for miniature cameras for police officers runs into road blocks with police union

Mayor Carlos Gimenez has gotten some media attention by suggesting that the county police force be equipped with miniature cameras and he is said to have wanted to do this before the civil disturbances in Ferguson Missouri that have been in the headlines the past weeks after  Michael Brown was killed in an encounter with a local policeman. Gimenez says he had the idea before the incident but the county’s police union is concerned the devices could be a distraction for officers in the field and the subject is sure to come up during upcoming commission meetings especially when it comes to the policed budget and any cuts in officer personnel.

>>>Past WDR: Airport/tourism committee challenges administration’s recommendations, gives nod to MCM for $121 million MIA contract & Books and Books gets tapped for MIA bookstore/café over Host

County Commissioners at a committee meeting last week twice over ruled an administration recommendation for vendors and substituted two alternative companies. One recommended contract was for a $121.7 million job at the North Terminal of MIA and the other involved a bookstore/café at the airport. The county manager’s office and aviation director Jose Abreu thought that Tower Construction should get the job but after hearing from a firm challenging the award and their lobbyists, it was awarded to MCM Corp, a firm of engineers and general contractors. In the second case Host International Inc. was to get the bookstore/café bid but local firm Books and Books got the nod instead.

The construction contract was controversial since Tower had a past controversy in Palm Beach County and the firm is doing the South Dade Cultural Center that has already used up its contingency fund and is now expected to open late in Nov. 2008. However, Tower is not the same company it was in the past and is chaired by the former president of Spain, stated the company’s representative at the Airport and Tourism Committee Thursday. He also said the company was now a $5 billion organization and not the much smaller construction company of the past. County Manager George Burgess said regarding the cultural center he had sat down with Tower representatives to voice “the concerns we have.” One is a $6 million in change orders and the project is already $2 million over budget. He said it was a “frank conversation” and there was a need for more workers on the site.

In the case of Books and Books, commissioners noted much of the selection process was “subjective” and thought it was appropriate to challenge the administration’s decision to give it to Host. Abreu disagreed saying these “guys are awesome, I like Mitch [Mitchell Kaplan] but we aren’t following the rules,” he said. The selection committee staff had split their vote 3-2 in recommending Host but Commissioner Sally Heyman noted that process was “clearly subjective and I have  to challenge you.” She also noted that the shop was to have a local theme and local management. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, whose district Books and Books anchor store in Coral Gables resides said, “I know the product and am very satisfied with the product.” He admitted he “normally is a process guy” but in this case, the emphasis was on books and not the café. He also noted that the minimum annual guarantee would go up from the $250,777. that Host was to pay. Gimenez also believed it was a “question of opinion” when you considered what the issue they were discussing was, and it was not a technical issue.

The committee passed both resolutions but substituting the two firms that were being recommended with MCM and Books and Books and the contracts now go to the full board of county commissioners for a final vote.

Past Wdr: Commissioner Souto spikes R & CA committee meeting Friday because of museum items, now “on hold”

Stephen P. Clark Center: 9:00 a.m. Friday, 3rd floor commission conference room— About 20 county staff and lobbyists gathered for an expected routine briefing of the agenda for the Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee to be held minutes later that is chaired by Commissioner Javier Souto. However, Souto had a different idea and he told county staff and the directors of the two museums that he had some problems with the items on the agenda and he searched for ways to take it off the upcoming agenda. However, the county attorney’s office said the only way to remove the item from the day’s discussion was for commissioners on the committee to vote to take it off at the beginning of the committee meeting.

Souto did not buy that suggestion and after no alternatives were offered. He cancelled the committee meeting and Commissioners Dorrin Rolle and Katy Sorenson had extra time on their hands in the morning. Souto after the briefing, gave out a memo for his reasons of concern that includes a waiver of rules for county bond money and “this convoluted deal seeks to avoid a referendum by the residents of the City of Miami, which would be required if the city of Miami tries to execute a lease directly with the museums.” He notes the museum boards would be “given ownership of the museum buildings” though the two structures would be on “public lands using public money.”

Souto also has concerns about the expansion of a Community Redevelopment Areas that are two-special-taxing districts expected to contribute almost $3 billion in funds over a 20-year period and whether the area is really filled with slum and blight as is required to expand such an entity’s area. He also wants assessed property values of the impacted properties from 1997 through 2008, the number of residents in the area and their average median income. The commissioner is also concerned that using the Omni CRA “would be similar to the Empowerment Zone, whereby Miami-Dade County becomes an active participant and accomplice in defrauding the African American Community out of dollars meant to tackle poverty and create opportunities for the African American Community, he wrote. Editor’s note: The Watchdog Report was the only press at the briefing, has the only tape of what was said, and county staff should just relax when I am covering a meeting because they are generally not the story. >>>


>>>>Five More Individuals Charged in Cybercrime/Bank Fraud Scheme –22 defendants have been charged to date; financial institutions report millions of dollars in losses

Press release:Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that five individuals have been charged in connection with a scheme that uses stolen identification information to gain online access to personal bank accounts in order to steal from unwitting account holders. The charges represent the most recent efforts to neutralize this cybercrime scheme, which has already led to 17 convictions in three separate cases. Today’s cases bring the number of people charged in this scheme to 22 in six separate cases. As a result of this fraud, several financial institutions have reported millions of dollars in losses.

Those charged today include Wassim Jamal Abouassali, 22, of Plantation; Luis M. Jimenez, 25, of Miami; Jesus Venereo, 27, of Hialeah; Lazaro Perez, 27, of Hialeah; and Raul Riveron, 43, of Hialeah. Abouassali is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349, 15 substantive counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1344, and seven counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1028A, all in case number 14-20565-CR-Ungaro. Jimenez is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349, 22 substantive counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1344, and 10 counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1028A, all in case number 14-20564-CR-Cooke. In case number 14-20566-CR-Williams, Venereo, Perez, and Riveron are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349; Venereo and Perez are charged in 15 substantive bank fraud counts, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1344, while Riveron is charged in nine of those same counts; and Venereo and Perez are charged in eight counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1028A, while Riveron is charged in four of those same counts. The indictments allege that Abouassali and Jimenez were tellers at different Wells Fargo bank branches.

All defendants charged have been taken into custody and are expected to make their initial appearances today at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes.

If convicted, the defendants face the following possible maximum statutory sentences: 30 years in prison on the bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy counts; and consecutive two-years in prison on the aggravated identity theft counts.

According to the charges, members of the scheme paid for personal identification information such as names, birthdates and social security numbers, along with bank account numbers, which they would use to make online intrusions into the accounts of victims. In some cases, members of the scheme created online access for accounts where it did not previously exist. Once they obtained access, conspirators changed account passwords and contact information in order to take control of the victims’ accounts. They then used that online access to obtain images of checks and signatures in order to create counterfeit and forged checks. As a final step, additional individuals would be recruited to cash the counterfeit checks at various bank branches. Several financial institutions have reported losses amounting to millions of dollars as a result of this fraud. Today’s arrests involve efforts to target accounts at Wells Fargo, while previous cases have involved intrusions into accounts at other financial institutions.

“Today’s charges involve an alleged modern-day bank robbery scheme that targeted banks using stolen personal identification information (PII) from various individuals to hijack personal checking accounts and steal funds. However, instead of using guns or masks to rob the banks, these charged individuals used the internet,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “Cybercrime is one of the greatest threats we face today. These cases should serve as a reminder to all consumers to exercise vigilance in protecting their PII and for all institutions to remain vigilant in safekeeping our PII.”

“These indictments are due in large part to the diligent investigative work of the FBI’s Miami Cyber Task Force,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “More and more, criminals are using the Internet to steal millions of dollars from thousands of account holders without ever stepping inside a bank. The FBI and our partners continue to actively target these fraudsters who seek illicit gains from unwitting victims.”Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin. An indictment is only an accusation and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 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 Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or o


>>>>Seven Defendants Charged in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Donnell Young, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Amos Rojas, Jr., U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), announce the indictment of seven individuals for their roles in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme.  The indictment charges defendants Lukner Blanc, 31, of Royal Palm Beach, Frank Fleuzinord, 29, of Cape Coral, Jean Juste, a/k/a “Junior” or “Shorty,” 24, of West Palm Beach, Benoit Placide, a/k/a “Snow” or “Mario,” 26, of West Palm Beach, Shelda Phadael, 28, of Lake Worth, Marie Claude, 25, of Lantana, and Marie Demesyeux, 29, of Lake Worth. Six of the defendants have been arrested. Fleuzinord remains at-large.

Defendants Phadael, Claude, and Demesyeux were arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon.  All three of the defendants pled not guilty. A trial date has not yet been set. Placide’s arraignment is scheduled for August 26, 2014, Juste’s arraignment is scheduled for August 27, 2014, and Blanc’s arraignment is scheduled for August 28, 2014.

All defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive, conceal and retain monies stolen from the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

In addition, Defendant Blanc is charged with three counts of theft of government money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, nine counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1), and five counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.  Defendant Fleuzinord is charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Defendant Juste was charged with one count of theft of government money, five counts of aggravated identity theft, and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Placide is charged with five counts of aggravated identity theft and five counts of wire fraud.  Defendant Phadael is charged with one count of theft of government money.

Defendants Claude and Demesyeux are each charged with one count of perjury, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1623(a), for making a false statement while testifying under oath before a Federal Grand Jury.

According to court documents, the defendants stole the identities of real persons (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) and used the information to file fraudulent income tax returns online to the IRS. The defendants opened personal bank accounts and purchased debit cards that were utilized to receive the fraudulent income tax refunds. After the fraudulent refunds were sent by wire to the bank accounts and debit cards, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew the funds at automatic teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale electronic terminals at various retail establishments.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, a maximum of ten years in prison for the theft of government money charge, a mandatory term of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, a maximum of twenty years in prison for the wire fraud charge, and a maximum of five years in prison for the perjury charge.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and the USMS Regional Fugitive Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Carlton.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

>>>>Top state prosecutor Krischer in the spotlight this week, had net worth of $1.04 million through 2006

Palm Beach State attorney Barry Krischer is in the Watchdog Report spotlight this week and while the county is smaller than Broward and Miami-Dade it still has the same problems when it comes to public corruption, after a few county commissioners and their attorney went to jail over the past year. He represents the 15th Circuit and he is married.

What do we know about his finances?

>>> PastWDR: Krischer through Dec.31, 2006 had a net worth of $1.04 million and he lists $45,000 in goods.  His home is valued jointly at $162,000 and there is $89,526 in one IRA, another such account has $722,000 and there is $16,000 in a cash management account. In two ING accounts, there is $37,000 and $56,000 and they jointly own a $2,500 state of Israel bond. His liabilities are an $86,600 mortgage, his income for the year was $145,635 as a state attorney, and he got $2,500 from Palm Beach Community College.


Past WDR:Property Appraiser Higgs is in the spotlight, had $1.29 million net worth through June 2007

Ervin Higgs, the Monroe Property Appraiser is in the Watchdog Report spotlight this week given that Miami-Dade County voters will vote on whether this position should be elected, versus appointed that is unlike any of the other 66 counties in the state.

What do we know about his finances?

Higgs through June 30, 2007 had a net worth of $1.29 million and his home is valued at $975,000. He lists $284,000 in deferred income, there is $332,000 in an IRA, and a condominium in Tampa is worth $95,000. He lists $5,000 in Life insurance value; jewelry, antiques are valued at $56,000, and there is $27,543 in a Florida retirement fund. The property appraiser lists two mortgages of $207,000 and $246,000 and he owes $45,634 to BB&T. He lists no income on his financial disclosure form, which is unusual since he does get a salary for being in the elected office and most disclose this public income.


>>> Past WDR: Adrienne Arsht, the former banker and philanthropist got a standing ovation from the Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Wednesday after her $30 million donation to the Performing Arts Center now named in her honor. Board member Evelyn Langlieb Greer first did the introduction that was followed by the applause.



Past WDR: After years with Hernandez as chair, zoning board to get new chair after controversial ending at Monday night’s meeting

The Miami zoning board meeting Monday night ended with a bang, after newer members took exception with how the board was to elect its future chair. Ileana Hernandez has been the chair for years and seems to finally be willing to step down as has been called for in past Watchdog Reports over the years. However, the item was not on the agenda and other board members wanted to put it on so that there was some process in the matter. She noted when it came to “transparency” the meeting was being televised. However, transparency also means having a “process” in place that gives continuity versus past history or customs and that seemed to trump the issue.

However, the board broke-up before they formally could have instructed city staff to have the item on their next meeting agenda on Jan. 28. Hernandez at the end is shown on television looking slightly dejected saying, “things have changed a lot around here” as the rest of the board walked away and another board member was almost ranting and demanding they come back with city staff looking bewildered.

Miami Zoning becoming like the Wild Wild West

What about the current Planning and Zoning board, a board member recently called it like the “Wild Wild West,” because of the way projects were coming through like in the boom years and had members of the public saying they were not informed about the zoning meeting that was publically advertised said staff. And there was also some discussion about the protocol and guidelines of people speaking in front of the board.

>>>>What will CIP attorney’s May agreement cost taxpayers after controversy in office?

The Miami Civilian Investigation Panel had another public hearing to discuss what had been going on at the agency created by city voters in 2001 to monitor The Miami Police department but got involved in a recent scandal and why Miami commissioners created this new five member board to review and hear testimony regarding what was going on at the independent agency and report back by the end of July. And below is from the CIP webpage The Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), created by City of Miami Ordinance No. 12188, provides for independent and impartial citizens’ oversight of the Miami Police Department.

The powers and duties of the panel are: To conduct investigations, inquiries and evidentiary hearings into allegations of police misconduct.

To make factual determinations, facilitate resolutions and propose recommendations to the City Manager and Chief of Police.

To review and make recommendations regarding the Miami Police Department’s existing policies and procedures, including training, recruitment and discipline and provide input to the Chief of Police prior to implementation of new or revised policies and procedures.To request issuance of subpoenas for the purpose of obtaining evidence from witnesses, production of documents etc., after consultation with the State Attorney and CIP Independent Counsel. To issue reports to the Mayor, City Commission, City Attorney, City Manager, Chief of Police and the public. The CIP conducts public meetings on every third Tuesday of each month in addition to special and emergency meetings and public hearings. (Please contact the CIP to confirm meeting dates and times.)

What about Charles Mays?

Commissioner’s in the past had called the CIP,“dysfunctional,” and not working as it was hoped and last week Independent Counsel Charles May who was considered part of the controversy said he and the city had come to an agreement, but CIP Chair Horacio Stuart Aguirre said, “some agreement had been reached with Mays, “and what they were dealing with was “office politics and infighting that has to stop,” the banker and long serving board member said. However, he said the issue concerned something that happened historically,” and the proposed agreement has to be “blessed by a lot of folks [including the Miami commission] and the money has to be found,” he said. Mays noted some of the past inaccurate stories and accusations “had cast him in a very bad light,” and he could not allow that stain to his reputation to stand since he first joined the city in 1973 and he was a former state prosecutor prior to that. However, Aguirre noted that the CIP had only three years ago extended Mays contract for another three years and his salary is roughly $140,000 per year he speculated. Further CIP,“staff should not be made up of any city of Miami employees suggested Brenda Shapiro a former CIP chair for almost a decade. She said, “For the panel to be effective and independent in the future” there should be no city employees if “the public was to be truly served,” the long serving attorney said. She also noted the charge of the CIP was to “investigate police misconduct,” which a case investigator later said was no easy task, and there was no one “person responsible” even though Shirley Richardson was in the past the executive director, was well paid and is now retired but overall the CIP had a number of cases still open and many city procedures for record keeping of investigations were not followed, new executive director Cristina Beamud has said in the past.

>>> Past WDR: A proposed development next to the Kampong in south Grove off Douglas Road was shot down Wednesday by the Miami Planning Advisory Board, but that was not the surprise. The surprise came when long time land use attorney Vicky Toledo told the board that building contractors were only allowed to work at a construction site from Monday through Friday, and board member Nina West took exception to that comment. She noted that has not been the case in Coconut Grove, where builders work after dusk, over the weekends, and the holidays.

Over the years the Watchdog Report has seen garbage trucks pick up containers at construction sites at 6:00 a.m. and the noise is deafening, and children are sometimes seen moving bricks for example, on the a site, while their father does a brick driveway during a weekend. It also includes sub-contractors using illegal aliens for some backbreaking work like the foundation and trench. I once saw a man with a wad of cash on the flatbed of his new red Nissan Titan truck teasing these workers with this money and it was disgusting. Miami code enforcement seems oblivious to the problem that any resident that drives around can see, and the words of the attorney to do not match the empirical evidence seen throughout the Grove over the last few years.


>>>> Voters should approve fool proof term limit charter changes

Beach voters should vote yes on the issue of term limits so that a past commissioner who is termed out cannot run again for another office like for mayor and something former Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower tried to do last November but voters shot down that attempt and she went back to being a regular citizen after serving almost a dozen years on the dais and when municipal voters approved term limits that is what they thought they were getting and that should be codified even though voter turnout is expected to be light.




>>> Now what, you did not run yourself, but will you at least vote? In this low turnout election

With the primary elections ending Tuesday, the low voter turnout is not a good sign for the Republic since Democrats were choosing they’re champion to face Gov. Rick Scott in the November General Election but the low turnout is of concern and could dim Democrats hope of taking back the governor’s mansion and the party must find a way to energize the party base if November is not to be a rout, but the low turnout of voters is also a corrosive aspect to us having a thriving Democracy and the Watchdog Report asks again. Now what, you did not run yourself, will you at least vote on Tuesday and let your vote be heard or will you just stay home and complain about your politicians and government.

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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 fourth 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 250 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.


I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2008, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> Watchdog Report is expanding as a new service and this content is now available to other news media, no longer exclusive to The Miami Herald

The Watchdog Report is no longer exclusively with The Miami Herald, and excluding the one story a week that is printed in the paper on Monday in the Metro & State section by me. The rest of the 20 or so news stories weekly sent out Sunday in 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 choose 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 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)


Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL)


Published on January 20, 2003, Page 1E, Orlando Sentinel, PAPERWORK TIGER, Miami’s citizen watchdog piles up government files in his quest to keep the “little people” informed.

>>>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

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 -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column –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. The Southern Media Landscape (PDF)  Daniel Ricker. Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter. … circulation, 134,269. Dan Hoover leads the. publication’s WATCHDOG REPORT