Archive for October 2015


Watchdog Report Vol. 16 No. 24, October 25, 2015 – EST. 05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating 16 Years of weekly publishing


Argus Report: GOP field winnowing out, Trump starts to falter, Dr. Carson surges, Bush and Rubio keeping their powder dry as field and race shakes out

Obituary: Newsman and automotive maven Beasley, 73, passes, was my first editor at Community Newspapers back in 2000, and his dry sense of humor will be missed

Florida: When it comes to redistricting lawmakers hit loggerhead, which senators will have to seek reelection, process becoming state nightmare for lawmakers

Miami-Dade County: Philanthropist Arsht star of the show in commission ceremony celebrating tenth Anniversary of twin hall centers bearing her name — With tenth Anniversary of Arsht Performing Arts Center, mission of drawing thousands of residents and school children to the arts an overwhelming success and culture is a $1.1 billion economic generator, and “Arts calms people down,” and we want a “happy and united community,” says now cultural maven Souto at UMSA meeting, after urging for more cultural programs on county cable station


Public Health Trust: Joint meeting with M-DC BCC, love fest as commissioners applaud Migoya for a job well done turning Jackson Health System around, but shoals ahead as federal funding cut $50 million this year but transformation underway, says the CEO

City of Miami: “I won’t be here for two years,” says Sarnoff, but if wife Teresa wins, after a while, if she resigned, he could serve at least 8 more years on the body and cap the legacy, of a Sarnoff dynasty? – Candidate Teresa Sarnoff skips League of Women voter’s debate, suggests race will be done on the airwaves with around $1 million to play with, airwaves target the condominium voters, and key block of voter’s underfunded candidates cannot get into see

City of Miami Beach: Mayoral candidates duking it out, without PAC controversy Levine would have sailed to victory, voter turnout will be key, not the nastiest race, that goes to Hank Soffer when he ran for the commission, a few years ago. — Candidates Arriola and Weithorn going head to head for Commission V seat on the dais, how low will they go to win coveted spot, but risky political maneuver from Weithorn, whose wife is termed out on the commission

Broward County: Ritter’s 2008 ethics complaint a great read on how a commission race is conducted, she ended up not facing a challenger

Community Events: – Philanthropist Mike Fernandez to speak at FIU — Other community events- Badia Spices teams up with Dan Moreno Foundation to fight autism

Editorials: Field of District 2 candidates heating up, ads hitting the airwaves, but the question is will you vote as pathetic electoral turnout mires candidates sacred bond with voters? Trump embodying electorate discontent, “like a car crash you have to look at,” why no party affiliation is the fastest growing voter party demographic

Letters: Horse country needs your help – Local Grove residents believes it is time for Miami to consider community Composting, would create incredible rich soil bank, maybe vegetables the size of small children? And county is considering Zoo Miami site Pet trust founder on past WDR – featured artist at Lotus House fundraiser

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. 

Knight Foundation

>>> 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   to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>>> The Watchdog Report publisher is in trouble and needs fiscal help and new Sponsors. For 16 years now, I have reported back weekly how your billions of public dollars in local government are being spent. And how to do that is at the end of the WDR. Thank You. And to my Supporters and Sponsors, I thank you for your confidence over the past 16 Years. >>> I will also be on WLRN 91.3 FM on Nov. 2, Monday before Election Day on Topical Currents hosted by Joe Cooper and Bonnie Berman at 1:00 p.m. on 91.3 FM, and the local elections will be one of the hot topics on the show. >>> And the Watchdog Report had a major disaster recently when my trusty 2002 Jeep Liberty, without air for five years finally died last week. And almost put me out of business, but through a miracle I am back better than ever and I will now be able to travel more around the county again. Which I could not do in the Jeep the last few years.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> GOP field winnowing out, Trump starts to falter, Dr. Carson surges, Bush and Rubio keeping their powder dry as field and race shakes out

Well the Donald is starting to fall in the polls in Iowa and Dr. Ben Carson is pulling ahead. The upside world of the GOP is just getting stranger and former Gov. Jeb Bush once thought the candidate to beat is scaling back his campaign with cuts to camping workers staff except for voter outreach but his fundraising was not keeping up with his staffing efforts for a long haul campaign. And Trump held a rally in Doral and many immigrants attended the campaign event but he is finding being a front runner is harder to maintain and while Bush has stepped up his attack on Trump it is not known how his attacks will resonate with Trump supporters and the other GOP faithful who are still turning out in big numbers. But Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Are in single digits and with the future debates ahead they will have their shot to shine with the party’s voters. And the drama of the primary races continues.

What about Hillary?

Hillary Clinton had a great week after the Democratic Party debate and held her own for 11 hours at the House Benghazi Select Sub-Committee Thursday and since then on the campaign trail she is taking that grilling by Republicans for a victory lap. That has energize her lackluster campaign to date and had former Sen. Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffey driven out of the field dropping out and cutting their loses after faltering fundraising and poll numbers. And John Zogby had a great take of Webb and below are his past comments on the field after the debate and it shows what a transformational change is going on with the electorate.

>>> John Zogby Contributor: It is a sad state of affairs when a bona fide Renaissance man cannot get traction in the race for this nation’s Presidency. We have seen the likes of Winston Churchill – author, wit, strategist, Cabinet Minister, hero in the United Kingdom and Vaclav Havel, already an iconic poet and playwright in then Czechoslovakia, led a revolution and rose to the presidency. But not here in the United States. Guys like that don’t have a chance. The Jim Webb Story is big screen Hollywood. He grew up in a military family, served in Vietnam where he became a decorated hero, was Assistant Secretary of Defense then Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan. He also served as counsel to the House of Representatives on veteran’s affairs, taught at the US Naval Academy, and devoted much of his adult life in defending both the lives and honor of his fellow combat veterans. He defeated a popular US Senator in Virginia and left the Senate of his own volition after one term. In his perhaps most famous moment, this grizzled war hero confronted the President of the United States and chastised him for the colossal mistake of going into Iraq. He has written ten best-selling novels and is worth millions of dollars. And there is more. Please click on the link below to view the full release:

What is going on with Miami Mayor Regalado?

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report last week regarding a new MLS soccer stadium next to the old Orange Bowl site. The deal is different from the past Marlins stadium deal. Since a host of benefits will be coming to the city contrary to the Marlins deal that costs in the billions over the life of the bonds, given the balloon loan payments involved in the deal. Regalado insisted “We are getting fair market value,” for the cities contribution and “the residents are getting a good deal,” the mayor suggested. However Michael Lewis the Publisher of Miami Today and the first to sound the alarm about the baseball stadium deal and he is fighting this new effort writing in an editorial http://www.miamitodayoer concerning the creation of a CRA for Little Havana where the new stadium will be located. But was never mentioned during the CRA’s potential creation legislative discussion at Miami-Dade County. That had Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo speaking to the committee members on the need for such an organization that uses a tax tiff to fund improvements and the “elimination of slum and blight,” that some in Little Havana object to and critics wonder if the CRA is a smoke screen for the new stadium and public participation.

Regalado, said the difference was when it came to the David Beckham deal with the city. The team is to pay the “city $850,000 for 50 years,” and another $250,000 will be “dedicated to parks,” said the mayor. Whose daughter Raquel is running against County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in 2016 and the two candidates had a tit for tat last week, regarding the deal that might cut out County involvement on Spanish media radio a hotbed for heated jabs at the deal. And Gimenez is trying to be the ‘bigger man,’ in response to the charges made by the school board member that the mayor was throwing a ‘tantrum.’ She is suggesting the public schools District to own the stadium, to avoid property taxes. And the Team representatives met with school board officials and they are being receptive to the deal that would include a magnet school at the stadium and would also be a venue for large scale school district events said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in the media. And for more go to and the community hangover with the Miami Marlin’s stadium still hangs heavy over these discussions. And I asked state Rep. Jose “Pepe” Diaz, R-Miami what he thought of the deal and he could not comment on it. Since his law firm Ackerman and attorney Neisen Kasdin are representing the team he said at Miami’s City Commission meeting last Thursday and he was there meeting with Commissioner Francis Suarez on a matter when I asked why he was there.

What about a conservatory to manage Bicentennial Park and is causing controversy in government and park activist’s circles?

Regalado Thursday also said he was not in support of the new entity that might run Museum Park. The termed out mayor noted the conservancy supporters did not “follow the process,” and in his opinion the idea “came out of the blue,” he told me. And the item was pulled from the Miami commission agenda for past Thursday’s meeting by outgoing Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

>>> press release: John Zogby’s Obama Weekly Report Card is Featured in Paul Bedard’s “Washington Secrets” Published weekly in The Washington Examiner- A little bit of good diplomacy on his part and a show of support on Middle East policy from Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton all adds up to a good weekly grade of B for President Obama, reports pollster John Zogby in his weekly feature for Secrets. From John Zogby: “The week offered wall-to-wall attention on Hillary Clinton, and she had a very good week. She should send thank you notes and boxes of chocolates to Vice President Joe Biden and to all GOP members of the Benghazi Select Committee. Please click on the link below to view the full release:

>>>> South Com gets new commander Vice Admiral Tidd, family has a history of Navel Flag officers, has strong linguistic skills and diplomacy, nominated by President Obama

The U.S. Southern Command (South Com) located in Doral is getting a new commander Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd  and the man comes from a long family of Navy flag officers and has linguistic skills something helpful here in Miami, and his command watches over the Caribbean, and South America.  And SouthCom is a major economic generator for Miami-Dade and is an important operation for the Department of Defense, given all the smuggling and drug interdictions and the command sends advisors to a variety of countries trying to help in the tamping down of terrorists or other guerrilla groups that not only ship drugs but anyone who can pay like a terroist into the country. Said a former FBI SAC John Gillies years ago when I asked him about what the drug people were willing to do. Which he said was “essentially anything if you paid.” And SouthCom helps in this persistent battle of keeping some of these vexing issues under control if possible. And for more on the Admiral go to:

>>> History Miami on Jun. 26 to Jan.17 2016 features a major and moving Operation Pedro Pan exhibit, and includes comments from U.S. Sen. Martinez, Miami Mayor Regalado, to Codina, one of the many boys sent to freedom leaving their parents back in Cuba, unknown if parents were to be seen again and has changed the fabric of Miami since the 1960 airlift, and the exodus of 14,000 Cuban children

And the History Miami Museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary and an upcoming moving display of Operation Pedro Pan is being chronicled and includes interviews of the 14,000 children sent from Cuba to Miami. After Fidel Castro took over and it is a moving exhibit after the Watchdog Report saw the promotional piece on the exhibit including comments from former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and a host of other children who said good bye to their parents in the Havana airport’s “fish bowl,” not knowing if they would ever be seen again or would join them in Miami. Where many were welcomed by members of their extended families and for more go to and for more on the Pedro Pan airlift, exodus by the Catholic Charities go to

>>> Dan Marino Foundation teams up with Badia Spices to help support children with autism, something appearing across all ethnic groups kids

Webpage info: Badia Spices invites consumers to join their efforts in support of children and young adults living with autism. From now through December 31st, 2015, when you purchase a bottle of Badia (1 LT) Extra Virgin Olive Oil anywhere in the world where Badia Spices are sold, Badia Spices will donate 5% of the proceeds from that sale to The Dan Marino Foundation. Badia Spices believes that being a member of a community means giving back through charitable and community investment. As such, the company supports a variety of charitable and educational organizations. Through the course of the past ten years, Badia Spices and the Badia Family have contributed millions in financial contributions and in-kind donations to a variety of local and national institutions. The family’s efforts on a broad sense have focused on education, healthcare, women’s issues, youth sports, and underserved communities. For more than 23 years, The Dan Marino Foundation has been serving the autism community through unique, impactful initiatives, like Marino Campus – a post-secondary educational opportunity for young adults with developmental disabilities, ages 18-28. The Campus, which opened in 2014, was the logical next step in furthering the Foundation’s mission of “empowering individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.” Badia Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a rich nutty flavor with delicate notes of fruitiness. The Olive Oil is made from the first cold press of Manzanilla, Arbequina, and Lechin and Picual olives. Aside from all the attributed health benefits of olive oil, it is bottled with the promise of full aroma, freshness, rich flavor. “Badia Spices is looking forward to once again partnering with The Dan Marino Foundation,” said Joseph “Pepe” Badia, President of Badia Spices. “This partnership enables us to support the Foundation and Marino Campus, in providing state of the art programing and services for children, teens and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities on their path to independence.” Over the last three years with the support of its customers through the “Go the Extra Yard for Those with Autism Campaign”. Badia Spices has raised more than $300,000 for The Dan Marino Foundation and the Marino Campus programs for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. “We are continually grateful for the friendship and support of Pepé Badia. It is a privilege for all of us at the Foundation to be a part of the Badia Spices family, stated Dan Marino, Chairman of The Dan Marino Foundation. I hope Badia Spices and their customers realize the significant impact they have in changing the lives of the young people we serve.” ABOUT BADIA SPICES: Established in 1967 by Jose Badia, Badia Spices is the world’s leading privately Hispanic-owned spice manufacturer with 2012 sales totaling over $100 million. Badia Spices has brought to market the finest ingredients from all corners of the world, making it a favorite among all types of cooks. More than 350 different products are prepared, packaged and shipped to 70 countries and the entire United States. In addition Badia Spices is committed to offering their consumers the highest quality. Badia Spices has added an Organic and Gluten-Free line, and is proud to have its products certified by Safe Quality Foods, an audit recognized around the world as being one of the most rigorous and credible food safety management systems in the marketplace today. For more information, visit the company’s website

>>> Knight Foundation’s Cities Challenge grant program open, looking for big ideas for community engagement

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Cities Challenge Grant Program is open Oct.1 and Knight program director Matt Haggman discussed the offering last week on Topical Currents hosted by Joe Cooper and Bonnie Berman on WLRN/NPR 91.3 F.M., and to listen to the show got to And the program is open to all even if you are not a IRS 501.C3 and all you need is a good idea to make your community more sustainable and informed, Given the Foundation is the premier organization for the Arts and innovative journalism in this changing world of the press in the digital age. Editor’s note: The Watchdog Report has been honored to have the Foundation as an initial Founding sponsor back in 2000, when Hodding Carter, III, a former Press Secretary for President Jimmy Carter. And the Princeton University graduate told me what I was doing was important and fundamental reporting. Since I was covering public meetings where other press was not there and that encouragement has been with me over the past 16-years and I am forever grateful for Carter’s words of encouragement especially when it came to security. An issue I was having in the early years. And for more on Carter who is a professor at UNC Chapel Hill go to

>>> From the Knight Foundation’s web page: About Knight Cities Challenge

What is your best idea to make cities more successful? The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 27, 2015, we invited applicants from anywhere to tell us their ideas for making the 26 Knight communities more vibrant places to live and work. From a pool of $5 million, we’re looking to award grants at the city, neighborhood and block levels, and all sizes in between.

What is the goal?

The challenge is designed to help spur civic innovation at the city, neighborhood, and block levels, and all sizes in between. In particular, we hope to generate ideas that focus on one or all of three key drivers of city success: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Who should apply?

The Knight Cities Challenge welcomes anyone with big ideas and the ability to realize them. Applicants may be activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects; everyone is welcome. You don’t have to live in one of the 26 Knight communities to apply, but your project must be located in and benefit one of those communities. No project is too small — so long as your idea is big.


>>> Newsman and automotive maven Beasley, 73, passes, was my first editor at Community Newspapers back in 2000, and his dry sense of humor will be missed

Ron Beasley, 73, recently passed and a recent Celebration at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club was well attended with friends and news colleagues and the automotive maven was my first editor when, I wrote a column for a year in the Community Newspapers back in 2000 and he gave me encouragement that I needed at the time and it gave me more exposure plus being an editorial columnist for The Miami Herald on Tuesdays and the University of Miami journalist graduate will be missed that included a certain sarcastic and skeptical aspect in his speech. And Ron may you rest in peace my friend and I for one am sorry to have seen you pass.


>>> When it comes to redistricting lawmakers hit loggerhead, which senators will have to seek reelection, process becoming state nightmare for lawmakers

And redistricting is not having smooth sailing as both political parties sides try to draw maps that the Florida Supreme Court will approve after previous efforts to do redistricting under the Fair District amendment have failed and lawmakers had to hold another special session to get the job done. And one of the stumbling blocks now is which senators have to seek reelection in the coming cycle and for more go to

>>> Pres release: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) made the following statement regarding news that a Florida Circuit Court judge has ruled on a proposed map apportioning Congressional districts. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “As Pharrell sings, ‘bring me down, can’t nothing’ and that’s the truth since I feel great about today and every day because I love our community. Every part of South Florida and every neighborhood feels just like home to me. Artificial lines make for great headlines but they don’t tell the real story: whether you live in Homestead or Hialeah, West Brickell or West Dade, you’re worried about the same issues. My priorities continue to be fixing our economy, making sure our nation leads on democracy and human rights around the world, and helping our community innovate so that our children will have more opportunities than their parents. Lines or no lines, I work hard for South Florida every day because I know that our strength lies in unity. No matter whose Congressional district you’re in, I’m honored to share my vision for the future with all South Floridians.” And for more on the current redistricting go to


>>> Philanthropist Arsht star of the show in commission ceremony celbateting tenth Anniversary of twin hall centers bearing her name

On Monday philanthropist Adrienne Arsht was the star of the day at Tuesday’s Miami-Dade County Commission meeting where the attorney financier and philanthropist was honored and the day coincided with the twin hall Adrienne Arsht Center’s Tenth Anniversary. And the women who also resides in Washington D.C., said. “If it was not for Haiti,” years ago while she was, “waiting for the results of her bar exam test which she passed.” She probable would have missed coming to Miami and its diverse culture and she gave a shout out to something she loves to say, when telling people why Miami is so exciting, “it is what the nation will become, in thirty years,” and Mayor Carlos Gimenez echoed that observation at the ceremony saying he uses it often himself. Arsht who donated some $30 million to the center is also on the boards of the “Kennedy Center,” Lincoln Center said she has learned from being on these boards that innovative performances should be encouraged and gave a shout out to “Gospel Sunday,” a free show that is “sold out,” said Arsht to commissioners and with over 3 million people attending performances over the past decade she noted the economic impact the Cultural Arts play in Miami was some $2 billion, the cultural maven told applauding commissioners. And she had not been back to the commission since around 2006 and she is still not married and joked she was even asked back then by a couple of commissioners. And Jose “Pepe” Diaz was one of them apparently saying, “My marriage proposal did not go through,” the man surmised, and Diaz still has not addressed his DUI stop in Key West and at a past award presentation he joked he felt like “Vanna White,” the host of Wheel of Fortune as he called friends of the honoree to come on down to the pit.

Arsht further noted “she stood on the shoulders of giants,” given the decades the theater was in discussion and back in 1998 there was big ground breaking event (which caused a kafuffle when there were not enough chairs for the Miami commissioners and J.L. Plummer was added to the edge of the seat dignitaries that included a blend of Miami and Miami-Dade County commissioners. But it would be years later that construction actually began and I attended the very first PACT construction committee chaired by Stanley Arkin and when the facility was delayed and had $100 million in change orders, would be “20 months late,” and needed an over $100 million injection of Miami CRA funds. And despite its first CEO Michael Hardy later fired, saying to commissioners. The reason the center’s electric bill was so high was they “calculated air-conditioning usage based on the halls square footage,” and not using cubic feet and Commissioner Dennis Moss back then was practically speechless on the dais at this incredible response. That anyone who studied physics understood when it cam to air flow and cooling. But after Hardy left new PACT Chair Rickey Arriola recruited the CEO from the Kennedy Center and the Arsht Center’s trajectory shifted only going only up and has helped foster Flamenco Dance, something waning the former banker said. And the women’s business sense kicked in when she sold Total Bank for some $300 million before the 2008 Great Recession and a volunteer along with a key board player from the center sang her last remarks with the song, “The Best is yet to come,” and the piece was considered a real “clicker,” as he snapped his fingers while singing the tune in the commission pit and the Arsht Center has been a “genesis,” for the Miami downtown core all agreed.

And Arsht, who has a metro mover station named after her and at the time was visible embarrassed at the honor ceremony. For she is a low key community doer and is also very active in women’s issues and has been a mentor to many women over her career. And the Watchdog Report once attended a public meeting at her waterfront mansion in Coconut Grove involving school board members and she was very gracious to me as were the board members at the time,, but the press was there and I wrote about it back then in a WDR and nothing napharious was going on and I believe the discussion was about recruiting Rudy Crew as the new public schools superintendent, And her legacy in Miami is secure and she may even seat you sometimes at a performance in the halls named in her honor and fiscal contribution. Editor’s note Total bank was one of my first earliest supporters back in 2001 and for that I am forever grateful.

>>> PAST WDR: School Board honors 10th Anniversary of Adrienne Arsht Center, Chair Eidson singled out for support of so many “education programs,” hundreds of thousands of students see performances for free, culture is “proven to make for a quitter, happy united community, “says Commissioner Souto who used to criticize the “beautiful people, the wine and cheese crowd, but twin halls are a major success and community asset

The Miami-Dade School Board honored the Adrienne Arsht Centers of Miami-Dade County’s Tenth Anniversary with a Resolution for “Its education programs,” and its long time chair of the PACT board Mike Eidson. For his service and his law firm Colson Hicks Eidson has donated “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” to the center, said the Center’s CEO John Richard and the facilities are named after philanthropist and financier Adrienne Arsht who has donated around some 30 million and has placed the organization on a good financial foundation though further donations are expected and the packed two hall theater has given free tickets to thousands of public school students and has become community jewel, and after a pipe burst a few years ago. The center opened the next day and the repairs were done quickly, and the show went on, with hardly a hic-up at the time after water flooded all the patrons who got out without incident and was the result of the professional staff and numerous volunteers that commit time and enthusiasm for the signature Centers celebrating a decade in operation and the Watchdog Report contacted Eidson on the honor at the school board Wednesday and he responded, “We do everything we can to include the kids at the Arsht Center. There was a lot of love in the room with the parents and the entire board and superintendent,” which I agree with, wrote the long serving chair of the PACT. But residents don’t realize how much money is saved by these community volunteers and around the county it is in the millions and at the Arsht Center, you might even be seated by the halls namesake that she is known to do and sets the tone for all the other volunteers. And to see all the programs and community benefits go to and for more on the Trust leadership go to and financier Alan Fein is the new chair of the PACT board with Eidson stepping down.


Who sang Happy Birthday to Sosa?

And the festivities continued when County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa was serenaded and commission Chair Jean Monestime did the honors of singing Happy Birthday, and both have chaired the sometimes contentious body, where many times Sosa acts as peacemaker noting the body gets more things done when “they work together,” she frequently intones to her peers.

What is going on with development in the Horse Country, in western Miami-Dade?

And the County’s Planning and zoning board had an extensive discussion on a new development in what is called “horse country,” and could result in “spot zoning,” said one concerned speaker opposed to the development in the last rural area in west Miami-Dade that thousands of people use for equestrian activities and some 8,000 horses are transported out of MIA yearly said county commissioner Javier Souto. And the area is a major economic generator for the county Souto has said in the past and at the meeting there was a heated discussion where the local residents people feel their lifestyles will be impacted by the intrusion and will open even more development in the rural neighborhood where many of the residents have fruit groves in their yards and residents have had to fight for years to keep the unique character of the area from development. Editor’s note: in the letters section is one proponents take on the matter written by land owner Michael Miller of the Community newspaper fame (see the letters page) and his strong feelings but the Watchdog Report believes the debate will continue. As grass roots residents continue to fight the development and with all the land use attorneys involved including Tucker Gibbs and Juan Mayo, Jr., the fiscal meter is running. And the zoning board transmitted, with a covenant, but no recommendation to ultimately to the County commission next winter to vote on.

>>>PAST WDR: With tenth Anniversary of Arsht Performing Arts Center, mission of drawing thousands of residents and school children to the arts an overwhelming success and $1.1 billion economic generator, and the “Arts calms people down,” and we want a “happy and united community,” says now cultural maven Souto at UMSA meeting, after urging more cultural programs run on the county cable station

The Miami-Dade County Commission at a the Unincorporated Municipal Service Area (UMSA) committee meeting last week honored along with all the arts the importance of Culture and the Arts which is coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center of Miami-Dade County and hundreds of thousands of public local school children have gone to free performances and the halls have become a community treasure after starting off with a 20 month delay and the need for more public money. That came from a nearby Miami CRA that has benefited from the twin hall theaters presence costing $472.9 million and the neighborhood is white hot when it comes to real estate, but in the early years of the center’s construction. Commissioners used words like we can’t leave it “just a hole,” and “nightmare,” was another reference word but it did get finished though some things were left for later like sealing the pavers not done when it first opened. And Commissioner Javier Souto who used to refer to the arts centers construction for the “Gucci crowd and wine and cheese people,” but last week he talked about using the county’s cable station for more cultural and arts programs and museums for the health of the community as a whole.

Since he said it is “proven,” the arts can “calm down people in the community.” The long serving commissioner and a former state senator said. Referencing when he went to Columbia just after the drug kingpin “Pablo Escobar,” time and Medellin was rampant with violence. And Souto talked to government leaders, after it had calmed down. And they said it had calmed down after an extensive television campaign back then featuring museums and music and it was “heavy duty,” performances from opera to symphonies and the city got calmer Souto said. And the Arts in Miami-Dade represent some $1.1 billion in community economic impact and there is Art Basel waiting in the wings in early December. And for more on the show go to . And Souto noted only stations like   and have such “heavy duty,” programs and the county’s cable station could facilitate some of this programing. Since mainstream television stories don’t “uplift people,” and instead are “pushing [them] down.” Souto believes is what the “commercial stations are doing,” excluding WLRN and WPBT and the county should run programs that can be watched by “families,” and appropriate for “boys and girls,” to watch, he insisted. And in Westchester a new performing arts center is being planned by the County and is in the heart of Souto’s commission district, and the new facility will join the South Dade Cultural Arts Center that is in current operation and will allow people from all over the county to have special cultural arts programs available to them and their families. And South Florida is going through a cultural Renaissance and is seen countywide at the public schools where the Watchdog Report had an opportunity to hear Friday. The Coral Gables High School Cavaliers band play at an event featuring Gov. Rick Scott and these young people were swinging having fun and being directed by a young confident women and it was heartening to see these band members so enjoying the experience, that I remember as a young drummer that drove my parents and brothers and sisters nuts at the time, but the activity was a esteem builder for me and forms one of the many experiences of one’s life developing.

What about Commissioner Levine-Cava?

And new Commissioner Daniela Levine-Cava after 11 months on the dais has settled into office since she beat Lynda Bell in 2014 for the district that stretches through South Dade and much is considered a rural area and she is a none practicing attorney. Further, she remarked when she was given the commission gavel from Souto for a moment and there was a pause in the proceedings. She joked, “it was going to my head that I am chair for a few minutes,” she laughed and she is a quick learner of the legislative ropes at county hall and is putting in the time and has changed some of the dynamics on the 13 member board generally for the better when it comes to robust discussions on county matters.

>>> And County Commissioners approved the Honor Code legislation last week and the policy will be enforced by the Miami-Dade County Ethics and Public trust Commission established by voters and the Office of the Inspector General was created also about the same time. And to read the ordinance go to And OIG Mary Cagle in an email on the matter wrote, I just wanted to make sure you saw Commissioner Cava’s press release regarding the Amendments to the Employee Protection Ordinance that passed unanimously on October 20. Joe’s [Centrino’s, Director of the Ethics Commission] Honor Code also passed unanimously. These two companion pieces are really positive for our community. I’m excited about the Amendments because it streamlines the reporting and adds the notice to employees of the state confidentiality provision regarding the identity of the complainants in whistleblower cases. The Amendments include numerous positive components.” Wrote IG Cagle.


 January – September 2015
Record Average Daily Room Rate (ADR)
January – September 2015 January – September 2014 % Change vs. 2014
$195.14 $183.12 +6.6%
Record Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR)
January – September 2015 January – September 2014 % Change vs. 2014
$153.58 $144.08 +6.6%
Average Daily Occupancy
January – September 2015 January – September 2014 % Change vs. 2014
78.7% 78.7% 0.0%
Monthly Room Supply
January – September 2015 January – September 2014 % Change vs. 2014
13,772,623 13,308,429 +3.5%
Average Daily Sold
January – September 2015 January – September 2014 % Change vs. 2014
10,839,431 10,470,989 +3.5%


>>> Great Cities Council press release: STUDENT ASSESSMENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS NOT STRATEGIC, OFTEN REDUNDANT -Students Devoting up to 25 Hours per Year to Taking Mandated Tests; Assessments Required by Congress, U.S. Department States and School Districts Add Up in Time

The average student in America’s big-city public schools will take roughly 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation, a new study shows. The average of roughly eight standardized tests per year consumes between 20 and 25 hours each school year and frequently produces overlapping results. There were about 401 test titles being used in the nation’s largest urban school systems in the 2014-15 school year and students sat over 6,500 times for tests across the 66 school systems studied, the research found. The two-year study, believed to be the most comprehensive ever undertaken to ascertain the true extent of mandatory testing in the nation’s schools, was conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools at the request of its board of directors, which wanted a full picture of the testing practices in its big-city school systems. The Council’s board requested the inventory in 2013 to better inform the public debate and to shape needed reforms.  “The Council’s comprehensive review should help all urban school systems examine their testing practices in a way that will lead to considerable improvement,” said Felton Williams, the chair-elect of the Council and the school board president in Long Beach, Calif.

“Everyone has some culpability in how much testing there is and how redundant and uncoordinated it is – Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, states, local school systems  and even individual schools and teachers,” added Michael Casserly, the Council’s executive director. “Everyone must play a role in improving this situation.”

The study found that: The average amount of time devoted to taking mandated tests during the 2014-15 school year (i.e., tests that were required for every child in a designated grade) was 4.21 days or 2.34 percent of school time for the average 8th grader—the grade with the most mandated testing time. The average amount of mandated test time, however, differed by grade and did not include time spent on sample tests, optional tests, and program tests or time to prepare for the tests. The time spent on mandatory tests also does not include individual classroom testing or tests designed or acquired at the individual school level.  Many of the required exams are administered during a two- to three-month period in the second semester and overlap with one another, meaning that testing time feels much longer than the actual percentage, which is spread across the entire school year.

Students also can spend considerable time taking optional tests, tests associated with a program they are enrolled in, and tests administered to samples of students.

Students sometimes take end-of-course exams alongside summative tests in the same subjects, contributing to the redundancy in testing of the same students.

Four out of 10 districts reported having to wait between two and four months before receiving their state test results, meaning the results had limited utility to inform instructional practices. The amount of money that school districts spend on testing is considerable but constitutes less than one percent of their overall budgets. There is no correlation between mandated testing time and reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In other words, there’s no evidence that adding test time improves academic performance. “There are many reasons educators have found themselves saddled with the unwieldy, incoherent, at times illogical testing system that we have today and it will take considerable effort to recreate something more intelligent,” stated Casserly. The report notes that over the last several years many of the Council districts examined have taken steps on their own to reduce the number of tests they administer. For example, some districts are reducing the number of assessments in the early grades, eliminating non-core testing or cutting back on district-mandated testing. Duval County, Fla., in Jacksonville, for example, reduced the number of K-12 student assessments from 52 in 2014-15 to 22 in 2015-16. Districts also are using parent feedback to guide changes in assessment policy and how they report student progress. “As America’s urban schools continue to focus on increased academic outcomes for our students, it is important that we have actionable data that can be used to guide instruction and help us focus on reducing learning gaps,” said Superintendent Richard Carranza of the San Francisco school district, who chairs the Council board. “This self-initiated study of testing in our member school districts is an important tool that will guide how we move forward to improve our local testing environments. “I applaud my colleagues and the Council of the Great City Schools for being at the forefront of this important topic for America’s public schools,” he added.  The Council released preliminary recommendations with the report that call for retaining current annual tests in core subjects but eliminating tests that are either redundant or low quality. In addition, the Council announced that it will launch a commission of researchers, school leaders, teachers and parents to develop “a more thoughtful approach to assessing the academic needs of our urban schoolchildren.” Casserly indicated that commission chairs would be named in the next two weeks.


>>> PHT joint meeting with M-DC BCC, love fest Thursday as commissioners applaud Migoya for a job well done turning Jackson Health System around, but shoals ahead as federal funding cut $50 million this year but transformation underway, says the CEO

The PHT joint annual meeting with the Miami-Dade County Commission was a love fest with PHT Chair Joe Arriola giving a shout out to SEIU representative Martha Baker, R.N., for all the concessions unions had taken that helped reduce employee costs and helped allow CEO Carlos Migoya, a former banker, turn the beleaguered public health system for the fourth year in the black, But Migoya warned with federal funding cuts to public hospitals coming to the tune of $50 million for Jackson the challenges are still there and the PHT is pushing a program at the county for their employees to think of Jackson First when seeking healthcare. And with their county medical insurance county patients healthcare could play a critical role in keeping the health trust in the black. And Arriola said the administration wants to change the perception that if you need a gallbladder surgery you go to Baptist Health, but if you’re really sick you go to Jackson and the businessman, originally appointed to the board years ago by Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who was skeptical of Migoya’s appointment because it seemed to be “political,” but she agreed Migoya has done a remarkable job and she applauded his work including working with the Trust’s unions, once a contentious relationship that has settled down. And Commissioner Rebeca Sosa also noted Jackson “saved my life and of my mother’s,” over the years and agrees the health system is a jewel for the community.And the Trust is facing a big fiscal torpedo in the coming years with the state legislature not expanding Medicaid as the Affordable Care Act proposes and cutting what is known as Lower Income patients (LIP) funding by some $50 million and will hit Jackson a public hospital particularly hard since it gives some $365 million in charity and uncompensated care. And for more on these LIP cuts go to

Jackson Construction

Latest Construction Projects

Jackson is proud to begin work on major initiatives throughout Miami-Dade County, including pursuing our 100-bed inpatient… [Read More]


“I won’t be here for two years,” says Sarnoff, but if wife Teresa wins, after a while, if she resigned, he could serve at least 8 more years on the body and cap the legacy, of a Sarnoff dynasty?

“I won’t be here for two-years,” said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff in a discussion concerning granting a waiver at Thursday’s Miami Commission meeting and the comment had the Watchdog Report thinking about what were the options of the termed out commissioner coming back to office. Representing District 2 with around 40,000 voters and could explain why he personally is knocking on so many doors in the district that snakes along the coast of Miami and includes the voter rich Brickell area and Sarnoff’s wife Teresa is seeking to follow him in office and with his help she has raised over $1 million for her campaign, money that will be especially needed in the likely runoff election two weeks after polls close Nov. 3. And hypothetically if she won after a year or so in office. She could resign and the commission could appoint Sarnoff back into office foregoing the cost of a district election, and has been a frequent maneuver over the past decade and had former Miami Commission Chair Joe Sanchez, Thelma Gibson, Jeffrey Allen, all being confirmed by the body after two previous commissioners went to jail. And former commissioners, Linda Haskins, Rev. Richard Dunn, III, all were confirmed by the commission. And under this scenario the attorney commissioner. Sarnoff could actually serve out the remainder of his wife’s four year term, and if reelected the man could serve eight more years in office and would certainly solidify the media portrayal of some kind of Sarnoff dynasty. Since he seems to believe he is in indispensable and when out of office is going to miss the limelight. And to see the most recent Event Miami candidate debate go to   And Teresa skipped that debate saying she had gone to a urgent care clinic and the organizers created a Star Wars storm trooper cutout with her head since she was not there and was used to symbolize her absence at the debate, where she could have been grilled one last time, but she gave it a miss, taking the safer route of no mistakes or gaffs running up to the Nov. 3 election, where her campaign ads are blanketing the airwaves.

And the races are getting ugly and the exposes are intriguing and publicist Seth Gordon’s name is being dragged into the District 2 race since he was quoted in a Ken Russel profile done by The Miami Herald. And Gordan is an old school political operative, whose wife’s murder is still unsolved and became an issue back in 2000 when he voluntarily left state Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s,” campaign and he calls himself a “publicist” and is why he does not have to register as a lobbyist at Miami and Miami-Dade County, but he is associated with the old guard of South Florida politics and in the mid-2000s ran into some financial difficulty but he is now front and center in attack ads against Russell.

And Teresa in campaign piece says “tough is what we need,” to address the challenges facing the city and she has dropped always mentioning what a “listener,” she is after being one of eight sisters. She is also filling in her past with a reference to a job at Cigarette racing boats and has even driven “Heavy equipement,” when she worked on road infrastructure in a family business. But her husband’s my way or the highway approach to governing is haunting her and is why I wrote that he might try to replace her in office. Something to consider given his trust deficit with voters, and no political maneuver is out of the question and (WWMD) what his would Machiavelli do philosophy suggests nothing is out of the blue with the maritime attorney who learned all the wrong lessons after a brutal campaign in 2006 against appointed Commissioner Linda Haskins where he prevailed by two to one with voters in the victory. And his wife’s ads portray the neophyte candidate almost as Mother Teresa since she knows when to “stand-up.” And when to “compromise,” one of her sister’s intones. But her lack of repudiation of her husband’s reign over the past nine years is a shadow she is having a hard time to dispel. And the Watchdog Report stopped by at the slow city of Miami early voting site at city hall and only candidates Grace Solaris and Ken Russell, and Javier Gonzalez, who joked ‘I am the other candidate,” as he greeted voters and Sarnoff had a campaign worker holding up a sign but was not there. And she stopped by briefly earlier said one of the candidates but she also skipped an Event Miami debate. And when I sked Russell about his applying for a real-estate license brought up in a email I received. He emailed back the following explanation. “I don’t have a real estate license. I started an online course prior to running (January) to increase my knowledge of real estate law and procedures. Of course, the opposition will try to spin this to make it seem like something that it’s not,” wrote District 2 candidate Russell and Solaris has a great idea. She wants to change the Miami Charter to limit commissioners coming back to the body like Commissioner Willy Gort did and for these officials to serve their time. But then that is it she suggested and wants to do this charter change if she is elected. And now what? You did not run yourself but will you at least vote Nov. 3? and early voting at many city halls has already begun.

What lobbyist were at the Miami commission last week?

Raphael Garcia-Toledo a prominent Miami-Dade County lobbyist who is close with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his wife Vicky an attorney who is a prominent city of Miami lobbyist and both of them were at the Miami commission meeting Thursday where the couple held court. And his wife Vicky Garcia Toledo is a former Miami attorney and she still seems to think she works there given her familiarity at commission meetings, including even going into the restricted staff area for staff once to talk to then assistant manager Alice Bravo and the area is what I call the forbidden zone, since only city employees are allowed in the area.

>>> With opening of Cuba what will the blowback to Miami, host of speakers discuss the dark side of doing business with repressive regime?

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado organized a conference Friday on the dark side of investments with Cuba and its brutal regime and a panelist reminded attendees of all the past and current horrors, the Cuban government is still doing. To repress dissent and a couple of the Ladies in White spoke on the topic and that these are real issues business people will face because “Miami will have to cope in their dealings with Cuba and its parasitic regime,” one speaker warned. And another speaker said what is about to happen is a “brutal dictatorship meets Miami,” and he asked “how would [Miami] deal with it?” He asked in a country where there is no law and property rights like in America and a wide range of subjects such as Cuba sponsoring fraud, Medicare and other crimes like money laundering. Also came up. And Miami has to get ready for this influx in the coming years. And anyone one that thinks doing business in the communist country is not a double edged sword is wrong. Given its repression that has only gotten worse since President Obama and the U.S. opened an Embassy in the communist country that has been a longtime sponsor of terrorism in other counties.

>>>> Candidate Sarnoff skips League of Women voter’s debate, suggests race will be done on the airwaves with around $1 million to play with, airwaves target the condominium voters, and key block of voter’s candidates cannot get into see

Teresa Sarnoff the controversial candidate in the Miami District 2 race skipped the recent debate among the other eight candidates held by the League of Women voters at a restaurant at Mary Brickell Village last week and she appears to be running out the clock by the no show, and a campaign piece hit mailboxes from her today crying foul declaring say “No to negative and Dirty Campaigns,” the flyer says with a big red line over several negative ads sent out by the challengers. And the neophyte candidate is expecting her $1 million combined war chest to give her plenty of television campaign ad time, up to the Nov.3 election where a runoff is expected in the low turnout race that makes television ads so critical with Brickell voters in their secure condominiums where candidates are not allowed in except through the airwaves.

And while she says she has walked the district three times, I have had only her husband Marc the nine year commissioner, his wife is trying to follow in office has knocked on my door. And the attorney dropped off a book detailing his accomplishments while in office but no Teresa yet. And since she is promoting a women is her own person type of campaign, her absence from the debate is odd, where in past debates she looks very tense and is not used to this new enhanced public role. And another debate for the District 2 candidates is being held Oct. 20 at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce breakfast starting at 8:00 a.m., ( that hopefully she will drive to versus having her husband use a sergeant-of-arms officer to Shepard her to the event). At the downtown Hilton and for more go to to make reservations. And candidate Grace Solaris is cleverly hitting the woman hard in attack campaign pieces that emphasizes the political flip flops the commissioner has done. From going from a Democrat, and her lack of repudiation of the act to a party that helped funding the man at the last minute in the runoff race. And catapulted Sarnoff to win his first runoff in 2006 against Linda Haskins who had a significantly larger war chest to more recently appearing in an ad with GOP Gov. Rick Scott saying he was proud to be a Democrat supporting the jobs governor. And Solaris in her campaign asks voters ominously using the bio hazard logo asking, “Are you suffering from Sarnoff Syndrome, and check your symptoms on the back it states.” And on Teresa’s webpage is a ringing endorsement from a physician at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and the FIU medical college and to see the piece written by S. Howard Wittels, M.D., go to

And a campaign attack ad from Solaris directed at Ken Russel has a grime image and saying he is guilty of not voting in past local elections so why is he a good candidate? Russell in an interview last week with the Watchdog Report by phone said he is a consistent voter. And in an email Russell wrote, “The allegation stating that I’ve never voted is incorrect. I have voted regularly in federal, state, and local elections since I was 18.  Like many, I was disillusioned with City of Miami government and considered it to be a broken system. Organizing my community with regard to the contaminated parks has made me realize that the system is not broken— just some of the people.” Wrote the candidate on the matter that he is being attacked on by opponents. And Russell got a nice write-up in The Miami Herald and it fleshed out the candidate more for voters and has followed similar profiles of Solaris and Teresa and to read it go to And the Watchdog Report is hearing lawn signs on private property are being picked up by local Miami code enforcement officers in district 2 and the signs are legal on private property and should not be touched. And people saying they are County employees have been pickuing up absentee ballots at retirement homes. And since it is a First Amendment Right lawn sign theft by the city should not be occurring if voters are to have a proper election for the coveted District 2 seat on the five member commission and these kind of shenanigans are unacceptable.

>>> Teresa Sarnoff runs her first campaign ad, features her mother and sister how low will she and the other candidates go for Miami District 2, seat being vacated by her termed out husband Marc?

Teresa Sarnoff kicked off her campaign ads, with a shot of her mother and one of her ten sisters speaking about how she had to get along with the crowded family of females, “learned when to compromise,” and when to stand up and she notes she helped get a smaller Home Depot versus the mega store proposed (And help catapult her husband Marc into office and was a major rallying point for many Grovites. And the spot ends with her siblings saying that people should vote for her “because she is ready to serve,” and the airwaves will burn with attack ads claiming she is just another Sarnoff, a controversial figure, and while she insists she would be independent of her husband. Nine year Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff who is termed out and his wife is trying to follow him in office, but she is getting mauled for her lack of public participation prior to announcing her candidacy , saying she was ‘reserved,’ and wanted to be behind the scenes of her husband’s political career. However the couple who went to China with the world Champion NBA Miami Heat team a few years ago when LeBron James was with the team and they both were wined and dined as only the Chinese can do on the trip. And another trip to Brazil, she took with her husband Marc caught the eye of the County’s Ethics and Public Trust Commission and in her campaign pieces she does not mention any interest in transparency and openness in government. Since her husband comingles his emails doing public business, with his law firm account. And she does not address if she will follow his past policy of talking transparency but doing something else once in office. And that fact has some wondering if she has the same Machiavellian attitude on how to govern as her attorney husband, saying she is supporting all the “Sarnoff initiatives.” She also has not discussed why she went to Guatemala years before marrying her second husband and while emphasizing her large family she does not have a family of her own. And her first campaign piece a partial biography of her life called ‘Teresa’s Story,’ on the second page she proclaims ‘Family is everything,’ but she is an enigma like her husband is. To many people that have dealt with him and he has a fatigue and trust deficit with District 2 voters that she has to overcome, but has yet to address the matter and she is leery of the press and voters should ask. If she respects the institution or will be secretive when around the media like her husband was when he chaired the Center Grove homeowners Association at Coconut Grove Sailing club meetings before he ever ran for office. And he was visually uncomfortable when the Watchdog Report came into the meeting and at the time I blew it off. But he would later be reticent with the press and she needs to address this openness to the press or will she be just a public relations commissioner and have a press aide who will interface with the media. And Sarnoff once thanked me for the fairness and accuracy of a Herald story I did on his election back then but he changed while in office and is now not so pro press. And hopefully is not a tradition his wife will follow. And her sudden entry into the political world caught many people by surprise, and while she is trying to project clear sails on her political voyage, where she has raised $979, 0000, to $1 million for her run for public office. There are shoals expected ahead and a runoff in the crowded race is expected in the low turnout race for the district that snakes along the Miami coast from Coconut Grove to parts of Morningside, cut out of the district during the 2010 redistricting process. And in the last reporting period Oct. 10 she has raised $659,436 for the period and her overall war chest is around $970,000 when her husband’s Pac ( cutely named “Truth is the daughter of time,”) is included and with his help she is a fundraising juggernaut. Candidate Ken Russell has $123,000, plus endorsements from former Mayor Maurice Ferre and former Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton and in his campaign for the period, and Javier Gonzalez has $61,220 for the reporting period and Grace Solaris is reporting $175, 210 that includes a $6,000 loan to her campaign and Lori Woods trails with $23,005. For her upcoming campaign. That will likely result in a runoff race where if the winner gets one vote plus one they win in the winner take all race. And to read all the campaign reports for all the candidates’ go to:

What about candidate and activist Grace Solaris?

And longtime activist and candidate Grace Solaris got a nice write up in and the longtime activist has worked in the trenches for years. Challenging the status quo at Miami in her own way but she is the candidate that probable best knows some of the shenanigans that have gone on at the city over the decades and she is getting support from Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and County Commissioner Daniela Levine-Cava for her race.

When does early voting start?

Early voting in the City of Miami starts Oct. 24 and ends Nov.1. And absentee ballots will be going out soon so readers should expect the airwaves to heat up as the candidates try to make their case why they are the best candidate for the important office.

>>> Sarnoff growing war chest raising eyebrows, With PAC contributions, grows to $900, 0000, from developers, special interests, and vendors,  

With almost continuous debates going on between all the candidates running for the Miami District 2 race some of the candidates are getting their verbal licks in and the perceived front runner Teresa Sarnoff, 60, (with $560,000, or around $900,000. If her husband’s PAC is included in her campaign war chest) is trying to follow her termed out husband Marc in the office and if she is elected could extend his influence for another 16 years and in her campaign piece entitled ‘Teresa’s Story.’ She mentions she went to the University of Miami but does not say if she graduated (she did not The Herald reports). Since her father apparently died suddenly and I contacted the candidate, who says she is ‘reserved,’ by email three times asking if she had gotten a degree but as of my publishing date. She has not responded and given the benign nature of the question, since I used both email addresses including the one on her qualification documents to run for office. For this is the big league and Miami commissioners over the years have a mixed reputation, of ignoring media inquiries and is why voters are so skeptical about their commissioners, their temperament and ability to not go nuts with the trappings of power that the commissioner wants to keep in the family.

But she is trying to run a stealth election and condones everything her husband has done and how he treats people, over the past nine years. She claims to be a “listener,” to his my way or the highway attitude, but she is running a muscle political race given the resources available to her. But Miami voters are wary since her husband has a trust deficit. First manifested when he claimed to be the grandson of Gen. David Sarnoff the founder of NBC and made RCA a powerhouse and has his own library at Princeton University. However when contacted by reporters. The family had no idea who Marc was and before a WLRN show on public private partnerships he was asked about the connection. And he responded it is “part of my linage,” he replied at the time. And Teresa has never addressed some of these inconsistencies at any of the debates and while she says she is her own woman she also says she wants to continue the “Sarnoff initiatives,” And she needs to clear the air on some of her husband’s performances including challenging someone to a “fight,” from the dais. And whether her husband is the template for how she would govern but she is mute on these haunting issues. and to watch one of the more recent debates go to

And why is the grandfather thing an issue?

When Marc first ran after he chaired the Coconut Grove Village Council (that used to be televised) the buzz around the man was did I know who he was related to. And I heard this often prior to his running and at his first inauguration, held outside of Miami City Hall. Sarnoff spoke extensively about how his grandfather instilled his deep commitment for transparency, openness, and good government. Further, he referenced quotes from JFK, RFK, and MLK, at the time in 20006 and it was a moving speech. But as one admired former attorney who retired at 92, and has since passed. When I told her the embellishment of the family line, she remarked “that is such a fundamental defect in someone’s soul,” and did not understand why someone would do that. And Teresa, who says she has made three walking sweeps through the district listening to residents’ concerns, but she seems to be condoning all her husband’s past actions, even though it is hindering her race that is expected to be a low turnout race, and absentee ballot brokers will be hard at work, and these votes will essentially assure the winner, and since her husband is knocking on doors, people challenging her commitment she says are “sexist,’ she tells the Miami Herald. But it is difficult separating the candidate from her husband. And for an updated story on the Sarnoff brand and campaign go to

What questions would the WDR have asked?

Voters should get on the record that any candidate elected will not use the Commission Sargent-of Arms like a chauffeur, especially since they get a $1,100. Monthly car allowance and whether they will only use only one email account, under the City’s control so the integrity of the messages is protected. When someone might do a public records request of past email traffic, yet has not been followed by Sarnoff. And will the candidates crank back the imperial aspect of being a commissioner, never seen before over the past 16 years of watching Miami government. Further, the candidates need to start going to some of the internal meetings like the Finance Committee meeting if they are to have a clue what is going on. And to read the candidate’s reports go to   And the outgoing commissioner maybe the wife’s biggest hurdle to clear for he is considered a “bully,” and could even become her chief of staff, though people admit that would be political suicide. But she needs to be asked what role her husband might play? And her past response was that “I’m my own person,” is not enough. If she were to win the office in what will be a low turnout race. Where absentee ballot brokers will be the key vote machine and allowed her husband to win back in 2011 by a few votes, which was different from when he first ran and beat then Miami Commissioner Linda Haskins by a two to one vote, even though she had a much larger campaign war chest. Thanks to then Mayor Manny Diaz and his fundraising machine in action. She raised some $750,000, to Sarnoff’s around $350,000 for his campaign at the time. And the man changed after he won his first full term and became a totally different person, very high maintenance and he loves to make demeaning remarks about other people at their expense and Teresa is facing this blowback, as a candidate and she needs to address it, as she campaign’s the Watchdog Report believes.

What about Sarnoff’s email and will it bleed into his wife’s campaign effort?

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose wife Teresa says “He is trainable.” He noted at a recent Miami commission meeting. And the Watchdog Report has become aware that the commissioner uses two email accounts when he conducts public business. And I asked his law partner Jay H. Solowsky, if his “server was secure?” last Wednesday and he said the salaw account was supposed to be used “only for business,” but that is not always the case. And Solowsky said the firm’s server “was as secure,” as one can be in today’s world he noted referencing all the cyber-attacks that have hit the nation. And at a Miami Exhibition and Sports Authority (MESA) meeting that Solowsky sits on with Commissioner Sarnoff, Willie Gort and is chaired by Mayor Tomas Regalado. A speaker making a presentation noted the people in the room were very “erudite,” and Sarnoff, quipped he must be talking about only “Solowsky,” but it was a snarky comment the others in the room did not deserve. Update: Sarnoff at Thursday’s commission meeting honored Solowsky with a proclamation saying he is one of the “five smartest people he knows,” and he is the number five,” of them and the snarky comments keep coming from the man who is clearly going to miss the life of an elected Miami commissioners and all the perks that come with it, after voters approved a salary bump for them but included commissioner term limits, something his wife is trying to get around with this election maneuver.

What about the Brickell District 2 debate last week?

The Miami Commission District 2 candidates made their pitch to the Brickell Homeowners Association, moderated by former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora who failed in his mayoral bid. But Brickell is a powerful new voting bloc for a seat that stretches along the coast and the urban downtown and is the largest contributor to the City’s property tax base and general fund and Teresa Sarnoff appeared flat, Grace Solaris, and Lori Woods, and Russell made some headway and to watch the other candidates make their pitch and thanks to investigative reporter and blogger Al Crespo, the event can be seem on video at and voters can make up their own minds who looks like a candidate they will want to support. And the pack of candidates all said they would be “listeners,” of residents’ concerns and a higher resident satisfaction rating should be achieved. And Ken Russell is calling for developer “impact fees,” to stay in “the District” and he believes we don’t have accountability on how this money is utilized, he said. Candidate Javier Gonzalez said we are in “the service,” business and you are not voting on someone’s staff. You are voting for me. And Teresa Sarnoff is; heading the fundraising race with $563, 0000 and Solaris, Russell all have enough money to run a campaign but the fiscal edge of Sarnoff gives her a ability through television to reach voters in the high rise condominiums, where many voters reside and cannot be entered by candidates as long serving Congresswoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami found out a few years ago during an election cycle. Further, Sarnoff the husband knocked on my door recently and he left a canvas bag emblazoned with his name and the seal of the City of Miami, and inside was a book on his achievements in office and what he did to clean up Merri Christmas Park that was contaminated with ash. But the bag was probable bought with public funds since his office has been giving them out for some time, but the man is blurring the line of who is the candidate running for office, she or the husband, and the very official looking bag has no markings that it is a campaign give away item. And Sarnoff, an attorney was once a big President Barack Obama supporter, but in 2012, the man openly supported Florida Gov. Rick Scott and he is an enigma to many people and voters are just getting to know his wife Teresa who has the financing to by-pass voter interaction and just use the television airwaves to make her case in the District 2 commission race. And some of the candidates coming on strong are Grace Solaris and Ken Russell, Lori Woods, and all the candidates are first time runners and excluding Solaris, and Russell are rarely seen at Miami City Hall and that also applies to Teresa. And Solaris is getting help from incumbent Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado raising money for her campaign. And for more on the race go to


>>> Mayoral candidates duking it out, without PAC controversy Levine would have sailed to victory, voter turnout will be key, not the nastiest race, that goes to Hank Soffer when he ran for the commission, a few years ago.

With Beach voters going to the polls it is ShowTime and the elections are in full swing for three slots on the commission and the top dog mayoral race featuring incumbent Philip Levine and David Wieder, an attorney on the city’s preservation board facing off. And all these races are in a sprint mode and it is the ground game that will determine the winners in a historically low turnout race with the absentee ballot operations, a critical factor. And these ballot brokers are conclusive in many of these municipal races. Since there is such electoral indifference in many elections and voters don’t show-up at the polls. However, races on the Beach can become a raucous affair like when parking magnate Hank Soffer ran for the commission raising some $700,000 in the mid-2000s and the race hit an all-time low and had the Watchdog Report asking how low would the race go? And it went into the toilet given the fiscal firepower Soffer brought to bare on the race. And this race is not in competition with that last election and the city goes through cycles of activism and one issue dominating a race over how decades.

And Miami Beach is at a key juncture now that the commission approved the contract for a new hotel and convention center that will be the pride of the city if all goes as planned for such a major undertaking and Levine would not have faced a challenger if not for a couple of self-inflicted political wounds and a stupid PAC, that was legal, called request for proposal (RFP) and had some $1.5 million in the PAC now dissolved by termed out Commissioner Jonah Wolfson who formed it. And the entrepreneur has been a good front man for the tony city that acts much larger than the 100,000 residents would suggests. And since tourism and the Beach brand are critical economic drivers, the new convention center should be a captivating draw for large scale meetings like The American Heart Association that stopped coming back in 1980 after a Philippine Cardiologist was murdered. And part of the reason was the old center could not accommodate such a large group of physicians and their associated demands for space and suites and exhibits all hall marks of big medical conventions.  And for more go to: Further, Levine the mass transit maven has been pushing hard for some form of mass transit from Miami to Miami Beach at the County’s MPO board and the University of Michigan graduate has taken the lead on climate change where some bad luck with the tides and torrential rains highlighted how vexing the water intrusion and flooding has become and is something he must finish after his second term and the businessman is termed out in four years. And the city is getting ready for Art Basel and the construction of a new convention center will begin after the mega art event that brings collectors and artists from around the world and is a huge economic generator And show cases the tony city’s attractions and island beauty and includes a host of celebrities coming many in their own private jets and is an economic shot in the arm for all of Miami-Dade and not just the beach.

>>> Candidates Arriola and Weithorn going head to head for Commission V seat on the dais, how low will they go to win coveted spot, but risky political maneuver from Weithorn, whose wife is termed out on the commission

The race for the three open commission seats on the dais is getting heated and candidate Ricky Arriola who has a contract with the city says if he is elected. He will terminate the relationship and he is facing Mark Weithorn whose wife Deede is on the dais, but is termed out and because there are just two candidates in the race Arriola, a former Chair of the Arsht Center of the Performing Arts and is a businessman well known in the community. And Weithorn is trying a similar political maneuver as Teresa Sarnoff, trying to follow her husband in office and Deede has been very active on the County’s Homeless Trust board, where she notes the Beach commits considerable resources to the effort and the Certified Public Accountant is well respected and was a good addition to the commission and she has done a solid job, but her husband Mark, a real estate broker will have to convince voters he will be just as vigilant as she was.   and with three commissioners leaving the dais Weithorn, Ed Tobin, and Jonah Wolfson because of term limits. Beach residents will have new faces something voters wanted when they voted for term limits.


>>> Ritter’s 2008 ethics complaint a great read on how a commission race is conducted, ended up not facing a challenger

Broward Commissioner Stacey Ritter who did not draw an opponent back in 2008 when she ran for reelection but she did get hit with a ethics complaint and it is a great read though some 500 pages and give real insight on a commission race since there is extensive documentation in the complaint and to read the complaint go to$file/09-120+Ritter,+Stacey2-REDACTED.pdf And over the past 16 years I have kept my eye on Ritter a former state representative that ran for office after she was termed out in the legislature and her husband is a prominent lobbyist. And for other stories on Ritter go to


Press release: Florida International University Presents

Florida International University Presents
Miguel “Mike” Benito Fernandez
Monday, October 12, 2015 | 2:30 p.m.
Graham Center Ballrooms
Modesto A. Maidique Campus (MMC)
Florida International University
11200 S.W. 8th Street | Miami, FL, 33199
Complimentary Parking will be available inside Lot 33 for external guests.
About The Author: Mike Fernandez is the founder of MBF Healthcare Partners, a private equity firm that invests in healthcare service companies nationwide. Mike has been honored frequently for his business achievements, named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from St. Thomas University, a degree that acknowledges and celebrates his outstanding achievements as a humanitarian, leader and philanthropist. A gifted storyteller with a terrific sense of humor, he lives in Miami with his wife Constance and their family. HUMBLED BY THE JOURNEY is his first book.
About the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation:

All proceeds from HUMBLED BY THE JOURNEY go to The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) focused on early childhood education, development initiative and “universal readiness” — that is, making available and affordable high quality health, education and nurturing for all children between birth and age 5 in Miami-Dade County, population 2.6 million, Florida’s largest county, with more people than 16 states. In doing so, the initiative works toward the social, physical, emotional and intellectual growth of all children so that they are ready and eager to be successful in the first grade and, indeed, in life.
For more information visit:
Complimentary copy of the book will be provided to all guests in attendance.
Click Here to RSVP by October 2, 2015.

FIU logo


>>> Field of District 2 candidates heating up, ads hitting the airwaves, but the question is will you vote as pathetic electoral turnout mires candidates sacred bond with voters?

With the Miami District 2 Commission race coming down to the wire on Nov. 3, voters have a choice to change the commission culture and start to curtail the Imperial nature the Miami commission has become. Further since most of the candidates running have been activists in some manner over the years they all probable share something in common and that is an event. In the Watchdog Report’s case. It occurred when a major political operative, who was running the 29 year veteran Commissioner J.L. Plummer campaign, outside Miami City Hall in 1998 said. “You F…ing little people we are going to crush you,” he threatened and the man later passed about five months later. And no I did not kill him as some people suggested at the time, and Plummer lost the election.

But that exchange is what started me to dive into the deep end of our local and county politics for most people have no idea or the time to find out what is going on at their public institutions and how their billions of public dollars are being spent. And who voters chose to be their elected leader is a decision that has repercussions in the years to come and the biggest challenge is will voters turnout something in the past has been pathetic around six to 10 percent of the electorate in any given race. And when voters back in 2002 passed paying Miami commissioners a decent salary some $90,000 and up from $5,000. They also passed term limits because they wanted the option of new faces on the dais over the years and even with term limits. For example Commissioner Willy Gort is still in the mix and he was first termed out in 2001, when he lost his bid for Miami mayor to Manny Diaz. But the orderly transition of leaders in office is one of the fundamental things about America.

Leaders, from the President on have to actually leave when they are termed out and professional politicians who go from office to office are out of style and their UBD is passed and voters are also looking for the authentic candidate, and even money is becoming a lightning rod with voters since the candidate appears to be bought or paid for and is one of the reasons Donald Trump, who is self-financing his campaign, is so high in the polls. While the more traditional candidates are flat, because people want to elect people that are not self-absorbed prima donnas. And restrain their use of the trappings of power, and hopefully don’t require an entourage like Commissioner Marc Sarnoff did when the commissioner showed up, at a meeting where three separate cars were used, including his media person driving one of them versus Congresswoman U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R Miami who drove a black Ford Taurus, put money in the meter and had a meeting with Sarnoff, about the cutting of the tress at the Coconut Grove Post Office Parking lot, a federal facility. But I marveled at the difference since she at the time was chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, versus a municipal local leader. So Miami District 2 voters have a choice to either continue “The Sarnoff initiatives,” says his wife in a campaign television ad hitting the airways, but the real question is now what? You did not run yourself, will you at least vote in the municipal elections because local government is the most important form of government representation one gets and determines your own local quality of life?


>>> Subject: Horse Country Needs Your Help

A developer wants to put a strip mall into Horse Country and we need your help. Please click on the link to and read what’s going on. You can help protect and preserve Horse Country by putting your name on this petition, which will be given to the County Commission on November 18th.If the Master Comprehensive Plan is changed at the corner of SW 127 Ave and SW 56 ST, as requested by the developer, it would allow a strip mall and will most assuredly trigger multiple applications for more non-agricultural uses, such as grocery stores, offices, gas stations, restaurants and more businesses all along SW127 Ave from Sunset Drive to Bird Road ,as well as east on Sunset Drive and east on Miller Drive. This is a very important issue and you can make a difference by standing up to developers that want to dismantle Horse Country, which is from SW 40 St to SW 72 St and the Turnpike to SW 127 Aventis matter is very important to all those that love Horse Country and your help would be very much appreciated. Here’s what you can do: Just sign the petition and share, share and share. If you have any questions, please feel to call me at 786-543-3872. BTW, Did I mention that if you sign this and share it, you’ll make a difference?

Michael Miller

Community Newspapers

>>> Great story on the Pets’ Trust.  I’d love to speak with you and tell you more.  You are right… will be an issue in the Mayor’s race.  

Please watch this…      Pets’ Trust…the Story    password is     movie         

 And read this……..

Michael Rosenberg

President Pets’ Trust

Rita Schwartz Cofounder

>>> We are having an incredible exhibit at the Warehouse of Anselm Kiefer, one of the foremost artists this century. Anselm will be here October 21st for an intimate dinner with the proceeds to benefit Lotus House. It is the best exhibit we have ever had in our fifteen years. Please make sure you see it when we open in late October.
Marty Margulies

>>> 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 And while I have taken a licking over the years including some medical issues I have kept at the job thanks to my supporters who I thank so very much over the many years. And the community’s public institutions are better when it comes to them knowing what the other is doing and why I have tried to be an information electrolyte for these giant institution’s leaders and things 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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Publisher’s Statement on the mission of the Watchdog Report and the special people and organizations that make it possible:  Government Subscribers/Corporate Subscribers/Sustaining Sponsors/Supporting Sponsors 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 Extras 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. 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

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Watchdog Report

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Copyright © of original material, 2015, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> 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 –

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