Archive for May 2015


Watchdog Report Vol.16 No.1 May 18, 2015 EST.05.05.00 I go when you cannot Celebrating 16 Years


Argus Report: Landsberg gives upbeat report on accomplishments of Goodwill S. Florida’s operations since he left MiamiHerald and became CEO of organization, employs 5,640 people, with special needs is a community gem

Florida: $4.2 billion budget gap forces face off with House & Senate re Medicaid expansion, With time winding down state lawmakers are still battling the issue of expanding Medicaid but with a $4.2 billion budget gap GOP lawmakers are hesitant to expand the program and has both the House and Senate at odds with the clock ticking down

Miami-Dade County: The mayoral candidates for the 2016 Miami-Dade County mayoral race are raising serious campaign coin and Mayor Carlos Gimenez is reporting $1.004 million in a variety of campaign war chests and Raquel Regalado reported $174,000 and Xavier Suárez reported $158,750 states the Miami Herald

Miami–Dade County Public Schools: District considers again to sell 10 acres of prime downtown land but will it get nibbles this time?

Public Health Trust: JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM ANNOUNCES PLANS TO OPEN URGENT CARE CENTERS IN NORTH MIAMI AND COUNTRY WALK, in Commissioners Zapata and Moss’ and Monestime’ s commission district

City of Miami: Sarnoff says Miami is “going” vertical when it comes to development and will need 1, 5000 new police officers when city has 500,000 population

City of Miami Beach: Mayors ban together to fight gambling in Florida

Community Events: Jackson Transplant Gala — Margulies Warehouse opens in Oct. Lotus House benefits, public students enter free the date draws closer to “Ethics in Education: A to Z” – the two day conference touching on controversial and critical issues in all levels of schools — COE Executive Director Joseph Centorino encouraged early registration today and noted the positive response received so far to the program. The conference, scheduled for May 1 and 2

Editorials: The Watchdog Report is going to hit 16 years of weekly publishing and while I have taken a licking over the years including some medical issues I have kept at thanks to my supporters who I thank so very much over the years


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May you and your family have a safe and reflective Memorial Day and may thank those Americans hat have given their all to protect the Freedoms we each hold so dear.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

Landsberg gives upbeat report on accomplishments of Goodwill S. Florida’s operations since he left MiamiHerald and became CEO of organization, employs 5,640 people with special needs a community gem

David Landsberg the President and CEO of Goodwill South Florida was the featured speaker at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon and the organization dedicated to employing people with disabilities is a behemoth and employs some 5,640 residents with special needs and has total assets of $63 million and built a large laundry after winning a three year $15 million contract with Jackson Health System  South Florida and the laundry is expected to process nine million pounds of linens from JHS and Goodwill programs served 5,640 people with disabilities and special needs and e both organizations have a number of high profile board members and for more on Goodwill go to

And in the course of last year Goodwill was awarded seven new manufacturing contracts to produce trousers and shirts for the U.S. Military and will bring in $65 million in revenue through March 2016 and will employ 450 new people most of whom have disabilities and now produce over 1 million garments per year  and the organization supplies flags to the U.S. State Department which is a new customer and Good will programs  served 5,640 people, “with disabilities and special needs and 1,168 people were placed in employment opportunities and gained independence and Goodwill passed all audits from the Del Marva Foundation that accredits programs serving the Developmentally Disabled state’s this year’s annual report.

Confusion of Jeb Bush’s stance on Iraq War stays in media for days, disrupting his possible campaign

With the GOP presidential race heating  up former Gov. Jeb Bush has been trying to get out of a quagmire when he was asked about whether he would have attacked Iraq and he is now saying his response is consistent and that he “was his own man,” but that he was also proud of his father and brother when they were in The White House However, years ago the Watchdog Report after a public forum in Coral Gables on burying the power lines after  a major hurricane hit and had residents for weeks without power. I asked Bush after a federal court ruling if he believed in
evolution and I wrote his response and put it in my weekly  column in The Miami Herald at  the time and after the column ran in the paper his office emailed me saying the story I wrote was accurate but “the governor, was responding to a question that was not asked wrote his office to me.” And when it came to the war in Iraq he is being hammered in the press for his lack of clarity of the war.

Representatives of the Downtown Development Authority fired another volley at the Miami- Dade County Homeless Trust, regarding the homeless in the city of Miami and it has become a hot potato for elected leaders and they brought out a grid of where homeless had defecated on the sidewalks and an expanded program for homeless using Mats at Camillus House under a tent for them to sleep but the program  is being criticized because it does not provide a continuum of care program that exists at other homeless facilities.

The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau since 1985 has had 24 years of “clean audits in a row said William Talbert, III at a public meeting recently and includes “no management letters,” since its creation back then Talbert noted.

White House Press release: A Meeting at Camp David:

President Barack Obama shakes hands with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders prepare to have a group photo with the President outside of the Laurel Cabin at the conclusion of a summit meeting at Camp David, Md., May 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

>>> Zogby Press release: Zogby Presidential Report Card: Bruises on trade, foreign policy 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 and his legacy were bruised this week on trade and Middle East affairs.

“Not a terrible week for President Obama but by no stretch a good one. First, he gets nailed by his own party’s senators on free trade and the pending trade agreement with Asia. Please click on the link below to view the full release:

>>> Ros-Lehtinen Amendment to Help SOUTHCOM Counter Western Hemisphere Threats Included in House Passage of FY16 National Defense Authorization Act

Press release: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement regarding her amendment to the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes the Secretary of Defense to deploy necessary resources to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in order to counter threats in the Western Hemisphere. The House of Representatives passed the NDAA today with Ros-Lehtinen’s amendment included. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Thank you so much sir, and I thank the gentleman, the Chairman, for including my amendment en bloc. And the amendment is very simple. It authorizes the Secretary of Defense to deploy assets, personnel and resources to SOUTHCOM and the Joint Interagency Task Force South in order to take on threats with sufficient intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Terror groups receive a large amount of financial resources through the illicit drug trade and their cooperation with drug cartels in our region, and we are dangerously ill-equipped to tackle these threats. It is in our vital national security interest to bolster our efforts to counter the nexus between drug traffickers and terror groups, and to do so we need to give SOUTHCOM the resources it needs to get the job done.

Not nearly enough attention is being paid to the Western Hemisphere and with our limited resources and intelligence capabilities, our visibility and assessment of the threats in our hemisphere are dangerously inadequate. This lack of resources jeopardizes our national security, as terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are increasingly operating in our Hemisphere. And we all know that Iran, Russia, and China are all expanding their influence here in order to undermine our regional interests. So I thank the Chairman once again.”

Text of Ros-Lehtinen’s Amendment:



The Secretary of Defense is authorized to deploy assets, personnel, and resources to United States Southern Command, in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force South, to combat the following by supplying sufficient intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities:

(1) Transnational criminal organizations.

(2) Drug trafficking.

(3) Bulk shipments of narcotics or currency.

(4) Narco-terrorism and terrorist financing.

(5) Human trafficking.

(6) The presence and influence of Iran, Russia, and China in the Western Hemisphere.

(7) The national security threat posed by the presence and influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Hezbollah, or any other foreign terrorist organization in the Western Hemisphere.

>>>> Manny Medina the tech entrepreneur extraordinaire was on was on Channel two WPBT Channel 2 with Helen Ferre and this week and he is leading the charge to make Miami a technology hub.

Gov. Rick Scott sends letter to UF health concerning its reliance on federal healthcare funding.

Please see attached and below a letter sent today to Russell Armistead, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville requesting information on services, costs and patient outcomes to understand how UF Health Jacksonville has become extraordinarily reliant on federal LIP funds and what can be done to improve their financial viability.  The information will be used by the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding as they begin to investigate the role of taxpayer funding for hospitals, insurers, and healthcare providers.

If you have any questions, please contact the Governor’s Press Office.

>>> Scott signs bill allowing for online voter registration, surprises many people in Florida

Press release: By the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Florida, and under the provisions of Article III, Section 8, of the Florida Constitution, I do hereby approve of and transmit Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 228, enacted during the 117th Session of the Legislature of Florida, during the Regular Session of 2015 and entitled: An act relating to Online Voter Registration…It is with some hesitation that I have signed Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 228 into law. Serious concerns were expressed during the course of the legislative session regarding the implementation of an online voter registration system. I am thankful that the House of Representatives amended the legislation on the floor to add further safeguards, and while I support this legislation, there remain some concerns regarding its implementation.

My initial concern relates to the timing of required deliverables. The legislation does not implement an online voter registration system until 2017, but does require the Secretary of State to begin providing deliverables prior to 2017. These requirements coincide with Department of State’s (“Department”) ongoing efforts to modernize the Florida Voter Registration System. This system has been experiencing maintenance issues, which election supervisors have rightly cited as a challenge to their duties. As a result, the Department has expedited work to replace equipment and programming. The legislation also requires the Department to submit a report to the Legislature at the beginning of 2016, which should highlight how preparing for online voter registration has coincided with the changes to equipment and programming for the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election. Another concern relates to cyber security because added technology results in added challenges and vulnerabilities. Cyber-attacks are on the front pages almost every day, and fraud and identification theft issues arise whenever a new avenue for information transmittal is created. While these challenges exist, I am confident that the Department and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will act carefully and prudently in developing needed protection for citizen information. Despite these real world concerns, I agree that we must do everything possible to encourage 100 percent participation in elections, with zero percent fraud. That is why the Department will develop an implementation plan and work with the Legislature and election supervisors to ensure this law is implemented successfully. Thanks to the Legislature’s election reforms in 2013, we were able to both expand access and execute one of Florida’s most well-run elections in 2014. It is in that spirit of collaboration that we look forward to continuing to make improvements that build on our success. For the reasons stated above, I hereby sign into law Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 228.

>>>> Sen. Rubio goes for the gold with compelling speech at Freedom Tower and that he believes the generation’s torch has passed for the presidency

Former West Miami Commissioner Marco Rubio is convinced he has the Right Stuff for the GOP to recapture the White House and the junior Florida Senator has a compelling story of his rise to the nation’s most exclusive club the U.S. Senate after also being the Florida speaker of the House and when he was first elected as a state Rep back in 2000. State Rep. Dan Gelber, D Miami Beach called the freshman state Rep “The pick of the litter,” of newly elected state Reps and Rubio blew past popular Gov. Charlie Crist who ended up changing his party and still lost the Senate race back in 2010 and his political trajectory has been only up since then and people from both sides of the aisle were impressed with his speech announcing that he was going to run for president. And that he did not feel he had to wait in line since his mentor Jeb Bush is also expected to run and is creating a dilemma for some old time Bush supporters who are also now perhaps in the Rubio camp. And Bush has a small army of past staff members and supporters waiting in the wings and these people while moving on perhaps in another public service capacity are highly loyal to the imposing Bush who is 6’  3” in  height and speaks flawless Spanish. and while his story is different given his past family members being President it is his father who comes off as the Statesman and while Campaigning Bush says in any family all the members are different and he is his own man he is claiming on the campaign trail. And Rubio is trying to ramp up his profile in states outside of Florida and the question is whether Sen. Marco Rubio, R, Fla. Will resign his Senate seat that he won after Mel Martinez decided to resign from the world’s most exclusive Club. And Rubio decided to challenge popular Gov. Charlie Crist who also changed his political affiliation to Democrat after Rubio’s insurgent campaign caught fire with conservative Republicans back in 2010 when the Tea Party was in active bloom on the state political scene.

>>>PAST WDR:  FL legislature still playing “chicken” when it comes to losing up to $50 billion over a decade in federal LIP funds, state’s $1 billion surplus disappears, Gov. Scott faces dilemma with lawmakers and punts with Special Session June1 to craft a state budget

Gov. Rick Scott is finding some of his proposed lofty budget proposals are hitting the rocks now that the state is facing a $1.2 billion hole versus having at one point a $1 billion surplus in extra money and had Scott calling for some $750 million in fee cuts for Florida consumers on their cable bills and more funding for education but the GOP controlled Legislature is dealing with another issue since the House budget is $76.2 billion to the Senate’s $80.4 billion budget and Sen. Tom Lee, R    the Appropriations Committee Chair says the difference especially when it comes to healthcare funding of  the Federal Lower income Pool (LIP and is being supported in the Florida Senate) program that draws down federal healthcare funds is ending this year since the ACA is in force. And Lee says the budget difference could cost Tampa General a public hospital some $120 million in lost funding and he said to cuts must be made up and could come from a variety of sources including changing the Gov. Scott’s request for $673 million in tax cuts and the loss of the LIPprogram “( that nets Jackson Health System some $515 million),” could have major funding impacts on other public hospitals and South Florida has had a major advocate for the expansion of the federal Medicaid program in Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah who has been on the community circuit urging people, and is taking a real political risk with his GOP peers to talk to their legislators to support the expansion because the lost federal dollars will not be used to pay down the nation’s $18 trillion debt, but will be given to other states and over a decades could represent some $10 billion in federal funding and he notes people should think about how many jobs that would create given the needs of the ageing Florida population expecting to drive healthcare to even higher robust levels as of now. And JHS provides $350 million of the federal matching funds to draw down these dollars and Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya believes the federal money will come but his concern is in the outgoing years with the federal Low Income Pool Program actually ends. And the Miami Herald in an extensive analysis notes there are 850, 0000 Floridians that fall in this healthcare coverage gap and to read the extensive story done by Reporter Dan Chang go to go to

>>> Gov. Scott: Florida Smashes All-Time Record Quarter for Tourism

~ Over 28 million people visited the Sunshine State in Quarter One of 2015 ~

Press release: Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism numbers by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any quarter in the state’s history according to VISIT FLORIDA. In the first quarter of 2015 (January-March), 28.4 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 6.2 percent over the same period in 2014. The previous high for a quarter for tourism was 26.7 million visitors in quarter one last year. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter one of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,186,900 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 4.8 percent from the same period in 2014.Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that the Sunshine State continued our record breaking success and welcomed the most visitors of any quarter in Florida’s history. Our growing tourism industry employs over 1 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming the global destination for jobs. We are excited to start 2015 off with our biggest quarter ever, which puts us on pace to exceed our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.9 million overseas visitors and 1.7 million Canadians came to Florida in quarter one of 2015, both of which are record highs and represent 7.1 percent and 1.2 percent increases over quarter one of 2014 respectively.  Estimates also show that 23.8 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in quarter one of 2015, reflecting a 6.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

“Experiencing the largest quarter for tourism in our state’s history, including and especially a record number of tourism-related jobs, proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Andrew Hertz, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “These records also emphasize the power of tourism as a way to sustain Florida’s economic growth.”

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January and February 2015 (last reported month), representing a 10.0 percent increase over the same period in 2014.  For quarter one of 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 7.6 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.7 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 5.1 percent compared to quarter one of 2014.

“With all indicators continuing to climb, Florida tourism has strong momentum,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “In addition to the record visitation, our market share is outpacing the rest of the nation, putting us well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

John Tomlin, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Chief Operating Officer for The Auto Club Group said, “Achieving record visitation for the first quarter of 2015 provides strong momentum towards our goal of bringing 100 million visitors to Florida this year.  Florida is fortunate to have the strong support of Governor Scott and the Legislature, as well as increased funding matched by dollars from great industry partners. This support allows VISIT FLORIDA to reach even more markets and potential visitors with compelling reasons to visit Florida and create memories for a lifetime.  With continued support, the Sunshine State is poised to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

Carol Dover, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association said, “The hospitality industry here in Florida is world-class, so it’s no wonder why visitors are continuing to flock to our great state in astounding record numbers. We are thrilled to host millions of guests at our exceptional restaurants, hotels and attractions and are proud to create opportunities for families that allow them to enjoy all the Sunshine State has to offer. With continued VISIT FLORIDA support from Governor Scott and the Legislature, we can once again increase the number of visitors, jobs created and revenue generated to ensure Florida remains a wonderful place to live, work and play.”

Bill Lupfer, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President  & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association said, “Florida’s outstanding attractions and iconic destinations have a lot to be proud of, and the first quarter is just that – the first in what is sure to be another stellar year.  As we continue to shatter industry records and make the Sunshine State the gold standard for tourism across the country and around the world, we are grateful for the hard work of our industry partners and the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature.”

Lino Maldonado, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Industry Relations Committee and Vice President of Operations for ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals said, “Another record shattering quarter for Florida tourism is not really a surprise.  It’s actually the byproduct of tremendous efforts each and every day by those who serve their guests with a passion and deliver GREAT experiences.  We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA so that we can continue to share the beautiful stories of our State with the world.” To view additional Florida visitor data, please go to the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website. *Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report

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. >>> Update: Two encouraging meetings… The first, a visit from the Governor to the Rainbow Intergenerational Child Care center in Little Havana where he discussed his early learning priorities. That includes his support for “Help Me Grow,” a statewide parent resource system where parents would be able — via phone and online — to get and she thought answers to questions about their child’s development and connected with the proper resources. The second, a meeting with future House Speaker, Rep. Jose Oliva from Hialeah. He’s a father of three, a real reader of history and student of policy, and committed to better understanding early learning. Dave Lawrence, Chair The Children’s Movement.

Three of the basics of building a real movement for all children:

Nothing is more important than a caring and knowledgeable parent. (Know that 71 percent of American mothers with children between birth and age 5 work outside the home, meaning high-quality, brain-stimulating child care is a major necessity.)
85 percent of brain growth occurs by age 3.
Early learning is a continuum between before birth and age 8. (“Families are the ultimate pre-pre-school,” wrote Clare Huntington in The New York Times last September, adding, “I don’t want to rain on the pre-K parade, but we can’t pretend that school preparation begins at age 4. Four is better than 5, but zero is better than 4.”)

All that brings to me to a Miami-Dade Public Schools initiative focused on the transition from child care to kindergarten. This week I spent time at the superb YMCA in Allapattah, a bit north of downtown Miami. I spoke with Drs. Maggie Abrahante and Marisel Elias-Miranda, two key people responsible for early childhood programs that the superintendent has made a priority in this nationally honored school system. They’ve put together an excellent handbook for parents of children headed for kindergarten, and also:

Five retired school administrators with a special interest in early childhood already have met with 400 child care center directors to give them a sense of what school is all about and the expectations for children.
Principals are meeting with center directors.
Parents are offered superb neighborhood workshops, one of which I attended.

Wouldn’t that be smart to do in every school system?

Dave Lawrence
The Children’s Movement of Florida


>>>> The mayoral candidates for the 2016 Miami-Dade County mayoral race are raising serious campaign coin and Mayor Carlos Gimenez is reporting $1.004 million in a variety of campaign war chest and Raquel Regalado reported $174,000 and Xavier Suárez reported $158,750 states the

What about Commissioner Xavier Suarez?

County Commissioner Xavier Suarez who periodically gives flashes of his intellect surprised viewers last week at a Commission Committee meeting when he said when he was “mayor of Miami,” and the city was building the old Miami Arena downtown and was supposed to hire local residents that he followed a man in a truck going to the construction site but with Texas plates. And he said he took off after the driver and even turned on his “blue light,” in his own car and suggested to county administrative staff that at any construction site that uses public money there should be a sign and have a phone number to call if you wanted to apply for work. The attorney also suggested the County commissioners names and phone numbers should also be included on the sign since he noted “everyone has my phone number,” now and he believes with “70,0000,” unemployed in the County this method might connect people looking for work and Commissioner Dennis Moss noted the “305,” program used at the Port of Miami tunnel was successful partially because “there was a program manager,” dedicated to hiring locally said Moss and that same type of hiring system should be used in other Miami-Dade capital projects, he considered.

Zoo Miami front man Ron Magill was honored by the county commission and the man’s love of the zoo animals is infectious and the journalist, photographer has made him a media favorite appearing on many media outlets, and he is a strong environmentalist and is much beloved by the community as a whole and he deserves all the praise that was given by the Commission to the low key man and animal lover. Magill praised his staff for making all this happen and making him a personality and click below for more on the family man is and the Watchdog Report gives him a Tip of The Hat for a job well done! Representing the Zoo.

Photo Coral Springs Chamber Ron Magill is in the center



>>>> State Law allowing more public comments is working to make government more transparent and easier for public input

A law passed by  the Florida Legislature to allow the public to speak more often on a host of issues allowing more public input into municipal, counties and  the school board discussions is working very well and public comments are bringing  many issues to light that normally would never be heard of without this ability for the public to speak and at Miami-Dade County there was an insider’s joke that there “was a trap door,” at the podium and it used to intimidate the public comments since anyone’s comments could be cut off and while elected leaders hate the new state law. It is having a positive affect when it comes to public discourse. And has made for a more open discussion with residents who are asking for their time and no longer have to wait for hours until their item is called sometimes almost all day and while local lawmaker’s are not wild about this, it is working nicely and the public thanks the Florida Legislature for this new law.

What about mayoral Candidate Raquel Regalado?

Regalado comes from a family of journalists and she is effectively utilizing the media and last week at the school Board there was an extensive discussion of the Audit of the Value Adjustment Board (VAB) something she has been championing since the school during the budget process has to deal with a $40 million budget hole since it takes the County so long to clear property  tax appeals and the attempt was to see if there was some structural issue that must be corrected to mitigate this delay in funding owed to the nation’s fourth largest public schools district. And at Wednesday’s Board Meeting when a transfer of land for the large Mall passed.  She probable again got some decent television time in the Spanish media and she is staying on the airwaves on a consistent basis( as to be fair so is Gimenez) but  his message is generally dour and not as upbeat in tone to Regalado’s whose father is also campaigning for his daughter as well in the coming months but she is now defining herself with the county’s voters who see her race a big stretch from being on the schools board since there is a Superintendent and in the County’s case there is a strong mayor form of government and she will have to run the colossus herself with well over 26,0000 employees, and that competency was a known fact since Gimenez at one point was Manager of the City of Miami and a Miami Fire Chief, but with some people voter fatigue is setting in and Regalado the daughter is young and energetic  and she is slowly making her case with county voters, some are saying, but there is a long way to go before the Nov. 2016 general election. And a new Mega Mall is likely to be a campaign issues in the months ahead and readers should stay tuned and see how this development being done by Triple Five turns out for critics argue there are some downsides to this type of developments. And here is a critical story on Mega Malls

What about any other challengers?

Further, So far no one has officially announced they will be challenging Gimenez for the office but former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez is eyeing the post as well along with School Board Member Raquel Regalado and the mayor’s dynamics with voters has changed since he first ran for the office back in 2011 and Gimenez is seen as being overly sensitive if anyone criticizes him and there is some media footage that does make him seem angry. When he is criticized and comes off as not a warm and cuddly mayor and that imperious attitude is getting old for some voters. And the discontent is likely to surface again during the upcoming budget hearings at the County.

City of Miami

>>>> Sarnoff says Miami is “going” vertical when it comes to development and will need 1, 500 new police officers when the city has 500,000 population

PAST WDR: What did Sarnoff say about signalization of traffic lights?

Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff during the television This Week in South Florida show told Putney a few week’s ago that when it came to reducing traffic congestion that synchronized “signalization, was like moving the deck chairs on chairs on the Titanic,” and the fix will not achieve the trafficking results many people are anticipating despite the long time taking to implement it.

What about the Miami Commission Dist.2 Race that has a host of candidates taking on commissioner Sarnoff’s wife Teresa who did not attend the candidate event at Gove Isle where a  new large tower has split condominium owners and is a hot button issue but she gave the event a miss, for a fundraiser at a new condominium and since all the other candidates were there she may be trying to run a stealth campaign where voters don’t actually see her except through television and political ads, and may get known as the Invisible Women candidate Since she will likely have more campaign funds to dominate the airwaves running up to the election because she is also not a natural campaigner  and her acerbic husband Marc has too much political baggage to help her in many parts of the Grove except for the name reconition which is  a double edged sword when it comes to voters. And to date Teresa has $333,814 in her campaign war chest mostly from developers. And her main challenger in the money game is Grace Solaris who has $77,000 for her campaign And here is a column done by Jack King a long time Grovite who was a Sarnoff Supporter but now believes and asks in his piece How Did- Commissioner- marc Sarnoff go  wrong? And here is the article.  Marcoi and for a complete list of the candidates and how much they have raised go to

We’re going “vertical,” said Sarnoff when it came to the urban core and is what makes for a successful city and he cited a past paper done by former Police chief John Timoney that  indicates the city will need 15,000 new cops  when the population hits 500,0000 said Sarnoff at a commission meeting recently. And during the discussions with Miami Police Chief Rudy Llanes and with Miami Manager Daniel Alphonso Sarnoff said Timoney predicted when Miami had a population of “500,000 residents. The new officers will be necessary since Sarnoff says Miami is “going” vertical when it comes to development and in the future will need 1,5000 new police officers when the city has a 500,000 population and the city would need to have some “15,000,cops,” said Sarnoff and increasing the number of police officers has been an ongoing concern of Sarnoff’s and in the past he has hammered staff on the matter and when he broached the subject, He joked “Don’t you love those pregnant  pauses,” he laughed whenever a sensitive topic is bought up at Commission meetings.

What about the District 2 elections?


Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau: press release: In the months of January – March 2015, passengers through PortMiami reached record levels with an increase of +3.2% compared to the same time last year. Sustained growth is due in part to the arrival of new, larger vessels and the variety of cruise options offered by PortMiami.

Record PortMiami Passengers

January – March 2015 January – March 2014 % Change
1,604,283 1,554,385 +3.2%


>>>> District considers again to sell 10 acres of prime downtown land but will it get nibbles this time?

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho gave the school board some surprise news when he announced at Wednesday’s board meeting that he is seeking proposals for the ten acres of land the schoolboard owns downtown and with the hot real estate market he believes the profits can be put in a Trust and used to support the District in the years to come and would not supplant state funding. And the idea of selling the land was floated in the past but did not generate realistic proposals in the past but school board members were intrigued with the idea of a possible fiscal windfall, but this is only a first step he said.

What did Regalado say about “financial literacy classes?”

School Board Member Raquel Regalado at a monthly school board meeting said she has been in discussions with Florida CFO Jeff Atwater about having such a program to better prepare Floridians to handle their money and she is trying to make it part of the curriculum



Press release: As promised to Miami-Dade County voters in 2013, Jackson Health System is moving forward with its plan to build a network of urgent-care centers to bring Jackson’s world-class medicine to communities throughout Miami-Dade County. “Miami-Dade taxpayers are Jackson’s owners – and they should all have access to the health system’s quality medicine,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System. “Geography is no longer going to be a barrier for county residents to use Jackson for all of their healthcare needs.”

Jackson is recommending leases at two sites that, if approved, could open by summer 2016.

The North Miami location is in the existing Shoppes at Arch Creek at 13120 Biscayne Boulevard, a 4,025 square-foot location. Build out costs are estimated at $1.4 million, including $80,500 contributed by the landlord. Rent on the initial term of the five-year lease would begin at $181,125 per year, increasing 3 percent annually.

“I am very pleased to learn that the Jackson Health System will be opening an urgent care center in my district,” said Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioner Chairman Jean Monestime, whose district includes the North Miami urgent-care center location. “Residents needing medical attention will no longer have to go very far to be evaluated by a doctor and the center will also be opened on nights and weekends.”

The Country Walk location is also in an existing shopping center, Country Walk Plaza at 13707 S.W. 152nd Street. The proposed urgent-care would be 4,000 square-feet. Build out costs are estimated at $1.4 million, including $100,000 contributed by the landlord. Rent on the initial term of the five-year lease would start at $120,000 per year, increasing 3 percent annually.

“Country Walk is a thriving community in southwest Miami-Dade, and Jackson’s world-class healthcare will help West Dade to continue growing stronger for families and businesses,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan C.  Zapata, whose district includes Country Walk? “I fully support Jackson’s urgent-care center initiative, which will provide all residents of Miami-Dade County with easier access to world-class care.”

The opening of Jackson urgent care centers was one of the most popular projects of the $830 million Jackson Miracle-Building Bond, overwhelmingly approved by Miami-Dade voters in November 2013. Over the next decade, the bond money – combined with operating surpluses made by the health system – will be used to upgrade Jackson’s aged facilities, build new facilities, and invest in the latest technology and equipment.

Jackson plans to open eight to 12 urgent-care centers throughout Miami-Dade County in the coming years – facilities that will provide the essential bridge between traditional doctor visits and costly emergency-room settings.

“We promised to bring Jackson urgent-care centers to communities throughout our county and we are going to deliver on that promise,” Migoya said. “By expanding Jackson’s reach farther into the community, we are providing a benefit to our residents and creating additional access points into our network of hospitals, which is good for our business. It’s a win-win.”

Jackson leadership has been working to strategically identify locations for the urgent care centers – focusing on areas that lack access to the existing Jackson network of hospitals, are underserved by urgent-care facilities, or are heavily populated with too much demand to be met by existing facilities.

The Purchasing and Facilities Subcommittee of the Public Health Board of Trustees, Jackson’s governing board, will review the proposed leases, on Tuesday, May 19. If approved, the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, a volunteer group of Miami-Dade residents with oversight of the spending of Jackson’s bond money, will make a recommendation on the proposal on May 20. A final vote would then be scheduled for the Public Health Trust’s televised meeting on May 26.


>>> Miami Commission Chair Gort should ask more often if the public wants to speak in compliance to new state law

Miami Commissioners and Chair Willy Gort needs to ask more often if there is anyone from the public that would like to speak to the commission because at Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman asks all through their meetings if there is anyone from the public that wants to speak on any topic since the new state law requires more public input at from the “public that wants to speak? She asks and she is in stark contrast to the Miami commission meetings and Chair Gort should get some guidance on this matter. Since there is such a contrast versus the county where elected leaders ask often if any public wants to speak. And Gort also urges public speaking after they  run over two minutes, “and in conclusion” he reminds speakers which many times disrupt’ s the person’s train of thought  at the podium.

With a pack of candidates running to replace Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his wife Teresa trying to replace him on the Miami Commission since he is termed out. Some people suggest the commissioner was born in the wrong century given his appetite for elected office that may include him running for Miami-Dade County Commission District 7 in 2016 and Sarnoff an attorney has fundraising capabilities that dwarf other candidates and he politically cut his teeth in a 2006 race after his predecessor was removed from office and in a brutal campaign he beat incumbent Linda Haskins and both candidates at the time raised huge sums of money for the race and Sarnoff won the race by a two to one vote over Haskins and he and his supporters all celebrated the victory at Green street’s restaurant in Coconut Grove and he was humble after the victory but he would later change in 2007 when he won a full four year term on the dais and it is his way or the highway if you disagree with the  lawmaker. His wife says she is “her own woman,” but people are wondering what that means since she has gotten limited press on what her views are versus her husband’s and her own campaign which  has been fueled by developers contributors and given there are only 41,000 registered voters in the last election where 5,450 residents cast their vote she is expected to have the advantage when it comes to buying television ads since most of the downtown condominiums won’t allow candidates into their buildings as U.S. Rep Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, R Fla found out the last time she ran for Congress and it came as a surprise to the long serving GOP Congresswoman.. i and for a complete list of the candidates and how much they have raised go to

We’re going “vertical,” said Sarnoff when it came to the urban core and going up is what makes for a successful city

Sarnoff in  discussions recently from the dais with Miami Police Chief Rudy Llanes and with Miami Manager Daniel Alphonso said that a white page memo done by former Miami Police Chief John Timoney predicted when Miami had a population of “500,000 residents,’ the city would need to have some “15,000,cops,” said Sarnoff and increasing the number of police officers has been an ongoing concern of Sarnoff’s and in the past he has hammered staff on the matter and when he broached the subject, He joked “Don’t you love those pregnant  pauses,” he laughed whenever a sensitive topic is bought up at Commission meetings.

What about the District 2 elections?

I was born in in 1959 in Brooklyn, NY. My family eventually moved to Long Island when I was 8 years of age, where I grew up in a loving home. I proudly attended Central High School and pursued my passion—competitive swimming.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the University of Tampa on a swimming scholarship. I graduated BA in Criminology with honors. During my senior year at UT, I interned as a law enforcement officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Despite an offer to stay with them as a recruit, I chose to attend the Loyola University School of Law. I then continued my education through Tulane University’s LLM program in admiralty.

PAST WDR: Merrie Christmas Park in South Coconut Grove (  has reopened and a couple of weeks ago a few hundred parents with their children attended a Neighborhood pot luck event organized by Commission District 2 candidate Grace Solaris and candidate Ken Russell and the park was packed with children after intensive remediation was done by the City of Miami. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his candidate wife Teresa also went to the event that had a number of candidates attending including Seth Skarley but there are a host of candidates in the field trying to take on the termed out Sarnoff who is helping his wife follow him on the dais and his wife Teresa was with him and she is just getting her political footing and is not a natural campaigner on her own but will have to be more so in the future, especially  when she faces the press that is getting antsy with her lack of communication of what her platform will be or just more of the same as her husband who went from being a Grove activist to almost creating a cult of followers and gives the impression it’s his way or the highway which is getting old with many Coconut Grove voters but the attorney has the ability to raise serious campaign cash from developers, but his political persuasion seems to change with the times. Since he was a big Barack Obama supporter in 2006 but did not do much campaigning for Obama in 2012 and this past year. He supported GOP Gov. Rick Scott so people have no idea what the admiralty attorney believes in. And here is a campaign webpage that came up in a search and click here to see all the candidates running for the District 2 seat and how much money they have raised. and later in the day

Sarnoff seems to consider himself a comedian and always has a little quip that sometimes falls flat. Since it is usually directed at someone and at Thursday’s Commission meeting during a discussion of some litigation and the slowness of the judge doing it, Circuit Court Judge Bronwyn C. Miller, and after making reference if he was a judge. The kind of jurist he would be met out would be, “First we try you then we hang you,”” would be how he ran his courtroom and it was an odd and insensitive comment for a local municipal leader especially since he is referring to the judiciary.

And it remains to be seen if his wife Teresa has that same attitude about the justice system

>>> PAST WDR:  City of Miami may close the year with $14.5 million estimated surplus for the year says budget guru Rose to Finance Committee

The Watchdog Report attended the City’s Finance Committee meeting Wednesday and the volunteer board watches over the city’s finances and is a very important board for it helps keep the city off the fiscal rocks as has occurred so many times over the years including having for five years a state appointed financial Advisory board appointed by then Gov. Jeb Bush and only dissolved in November 2001. Staff told committee members that “the budget process is well underway,” and budget Director Chris Rose said he will be making a presentation “next week to the commission, “and he indicated the preliminary surplus for the year was likely to be “$14.5,” million but that number is not set in stone. And Rose also updated the committee on union negotiations and he stated the tentatively agreed contract with AFSCME made up of “general employees passed a union vote by 579 to four against he told committee members. Rose said the new agreement gives all employees a “three percent” raise across the board and “fixes pay tables,” that for many employees was prevalent, Rose said. He also mentioned a major new “Wellness Program” for the City’s workers and a gym is becoming available that “has the same rehabilitation equipment,” and “getting workers more healthy is a win,” the budget guru concluded, and over the years the increased costs for diabetes, for example has shot through the roof for Miami employees and was discussed a couple of years ago at a past meeting I covered.

What about Miami’s bond holdings?

The City of Miami has some $200 million in bond holdings and the Signa Cyber Security guidelines after a breach a while ago was discussed by one of the board members and Cyber Security in a host of ways is becoming a major worry for municipalities.

What about the Miami Audit Committee?

Because of the lack of appointments by the Miami commission the critical Audit Committee has not met in the “past year,” and commissioners need to make appointments to this critical oversight board for it also plays an important role in keeping the city on an even fiscal keel.

What about the other candidates for the Dist.2 seat becoming open?

Teresa Sarnoff has decided to knock on doors with her husband Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff who she wants to follow in his seat since he is termed out after eight years in the office and there is clearly voter fatigue for the man. Who comes off as irritating and has trouble connecting with people and could be the wife’s downfall in the crowded Dist.2 Miami Commission race with a host of challengers who just need to get 50.1 percent to prevail in the primary and the expected general election in late November and having a strong organization getting voters to the polls will be key to any victor.

And When it comes to the Miami Commission District 2 race things are very quiet and the Watchdog Report has yet to see any of the candidates in my neighborhood or down at Miami Commission meetings, (That is changing and a couple of candidates were seen at Thursday’s Commission meeting.) but campaign reports show candidate Grace Solaris has raised some $77,210, (up from 57,680) to her likely challenger’s Teresa Sarnoff who has increased her war chest to $172,149 through February. And she was seen knocking on doors in the South Grove last week where she was walking with some women volunteers wearing tee shirts so she is now doing traditional campaigning


(Up from $82, 875,). And in the District 4 race incumbent Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez is reporting $23,125 for his campaign and the younger Suarez is facing long time perennial candidate Manolo Reyes who has raised $70,710 and another challenger Antonio J. Diaz has $23,125 for his own campaign but Reyes has been trying to get elected for years. And there are gaps on who contributed this money and the only listed expense was $3,360and to read all the campaign reports go to


>>> Mayors ban together to fight gambling in Florida

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine are linking up with other Florida mayors to fight the expansion of gambling in Florida and the state legislature is currently trying got come up with some deal but that seems unlikely

>> Mayor Levine press release: Dear Fellow Floridians and Friends,

Please click here to view the ad below, that I was honored to participate in with my fellow Mayors from Bradenton, Orlando, and Miami.

We must fiercely fight efforts in Tallahassee to STOP the expansion of gaming in Florida, especially in my home county of Miami-Dade. Gaming expansion will negatively affect our state’s good brand and quality of life. Don’t be fooled. Stand with us! Sincerely,
Philip Levine

Mayor of Miami Beach

What about the Watson Island project the City of Miami wants to allow?

Beach residents are gearing up to fight the large project proposed by a local developer for Watson Island and has been delayed since voters approved it back in 1999 and was selected because they agreed to pay the highest fees back to the city back then but since then traffic on the MacArthur Causeway has ben horrendous and is becoming a nightmare that this new development would only make worse and the lawsuits are flying.


>>>> the date draws closer to “Ethics in Education: A to Z” – the two day conference touching on controversial and critical issues in all levels of schools — COE Executive Director Joseph Centorino encouraged early registration today and noted the positive response received so far to the program.   The conference, scheduled for May 1 and 2 at the University of Miami and at Miami Senior High School, will feature national and local leaders and experts, including Miami-Dade School Superintendent and National Superintendent of the Year Alberto Carvalho,  Harvard Professor and former Baltimore Schools CEO Andres Alonso, nationally renowned New Jersey school reformer Principal Barite Kaela, former Florida Chief Justice Gerald Kogan, current Miami-Dade Court Judge and former Miami Dolphin Judge Edward Newman, UM head football coach Al Golden, former Miami Herald publisher and president of the Early Childhood Initiative David Lawrence, journalists Glenna Milberg and Michelle Kaufman, Florida ACLU executive director Howard Simon, Good Government Initiative CEO Katy Sorenson and other prominent educators and high ranking administrators in the field.  The conference is generously sponsored by the Arsht Ethics Initiatives of the University of Miami Ethics Programs.   For program details and registration, go to Centorino also announced the appointment of Martha D. Perez as a part time staff attorney.  Ms. Perez previously served as public safety legal advisor for the City of Hollywood, a traffic hearing officer for Broward County Courts, a hearing officer in the Broward County Animal Regulation Division and as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University Law School.  Her experience also includes ten years as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in Miami Beach and six years as an Assistant State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit.  Ms. Perez earned her Bachelor and Juris Doctor Degrees from the University of Miami.  She will join the ethics commission staff next month. The Ethics Commission was created in 1996 as an independent agency with advisory and quasi-judicial powers. It is composed of five members, serving staggered terms of four years each. Through a program of education, outreach and enforcement, the Commission seeks to empower the community and bolster public trust.

Rhonda Victor Sibilia, Communications Director
Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust
19 West Flagler, Suite 820
Miami, Florida 33130


Press release: Spring is near and as the weather gets warmer unaltered stray cats begin to reproduce prolifically. As a result, it is not uncommon to find nests of what appear to be unattended or abandoned newborn kittens. Before jumping to the rescue, Miami-Dade County Animal Services (Animal Services) advises residents to consider the following recommendations to ensure the best chances of survival for the kittens.


Resist the urge to immediately touch them or move them. Instead, observe the kittens quietly from a distance for 12 to 24 hours as the mother may simply be out looking for food or a better place to move them to and is likely to return to care for them. Very young kittens cannot fully feed themselves and need their mother’s milk to survive until they are fully able to eat on their own or weaned off the mother.

You can put out cat food for the mom and a box that the mother could use to keep her kittens in (don’t put the kittens inside it, just put it near them). Don’t disturb the kittens as this may discourage the mother from returning to them, or she may move them away from you.

If you sense the kittens are in immediate danger or a dangerous area, such as underneath a car, in an area that is flooding due to rain, etc., look for the nearest safe area to which you can move them—close enough to the original spot— that will still allow the mother to find them. Place them in a sheltered area, away from direct sun, rain or traffic and continue to watch for the mother.

Only take them in if you have observed the kittens for 12 to 24 hours and are SURE the mother is not likely to return. Get tips on how to care for them at home by visiting or


The best way to reduce the overwhelming number of unwanted cats is to spay or neuter your cats starting at 4 months old. Miami-Dade Animal Service offers low cost spay/neuter surgeries as well as free a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for community cats. For information on low-cost spay/neuter surgeries or free TNR call 3-1-1 or visit Become a foster parent or volunteer at Animal Services. Volunteers and foster parents receive training and supplies and the joy that comes from saving a precious little animal’s life. For information on becoming a pet foster parent or volunteer email:
For more information click here or visit:

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), The Fish, c. 1924, gelatin silver print, printed c. 1924, 7 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

Auxiliary gallery at the warehouse

Photographs by Miami artist Annette Bonnier
India’s Elephants

The photographs of South Florida artist Annette Bonnier capture the many facets of elephant’s lives and their interaction with humanity. This collection of photographs is a cultural documentation of elephants in Indian society. The elephant’s role is changing as wildlife conservation and concerns for the health and safety of domesticated elephants are growing. This complex and majestic animal, with its intelligence, intricate social hierarchy, and highly evolved communication skills, is caught in a changing world between the past and the future.

For more information visit:


The Watchdog Report is going to hit 16 years of weekly publishing and while I have taken a licking over the years including some medical issues I have kept at thanks to my supporters who I thank so very much over the years

The Watchdog Report is Celebrating 16 years of weekly publishing since May 5th 2000 and when I started back then I never thought I would be doing this so long and in some ways some of the community’s bigger public institutions have either gotten better or worse and here is a national story done on why I started to watch government back in 2000 and to all the people along the way that have helped me I thank you from the bottom of  my heart.

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