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Watchdog Report Vol.14 No.49 April 13, 2014 EST.05.05.00 – I go when you cannot – Celebrating my 15th year May 5th

CONTENTS

Argus Report: Role of volunteers at public facilities saves taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, also critical to a host of other organizations and these people are community saints

Florida: What was a Nascent local Miami-Dade Drug Court celebrates 25 years, with 1.5 million people going through the program, with no further arrest rate of “around 75 percent,” of the people that go through the initially highly controversial program pushed by state Atty.  Janet Reno, there are now some 2,840 such programs around the globe  — State and county leaders’ financial disclosures will be on line, some are there now, www.ethics.state.fl.us, sea change for transparency of elected official’s finances

Miami-Dade County: Commissioner Zapata looking to create higher paying jobs, drills into economic development officials efforts, But Commissioner Bell sings praise to new Beacon Council leadership

Miami-Dade County Public Schools: District’s deployment of 10,000 Promethean smart boards “largest global deployment of interactive units in world,” beats Russia’s roughly 8,000 deployment of the state of the art interactive teaching devices, includes “surround sound,” for free, says Supt. Carvalho

Public Health Trust: JHS needs City of Miami’s help with new Hospital District branding signage, says PHT Chair Sharpton, caught in quagmire of Miami 21, Miami Commission Chair Gort expected to be supportive – Wanted, only the best of the best for two slots on seven-member PHT oversight board, $1.4 billion budget, and 10,000 employees giving world-class healthcare – Applications accepted April 6th to 20th and forms are on line

City of Miami: What about the ULTRA contract and its ratification by the Miami Commission?

City of Miami Gardens: Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme

City of Miami Beach: Miami Mayor Regalado tells local residents City getting into Convention Center business, and believes Skyrise project will move forward

City of Coral Gables: Mgr. Salerno Tuesday suddenly says sayonara after five years, Mayor Cason says, man is “irreplaceable”

Village of Key Biscayne: Two Defendants Charged with Defrauding Sony Open

Village of Pinecrest: Physician Convicted of Tax Fraud & County Commissioner Suarez has public meeting on “potable water connection,” with Village officials

>>> Other stories around Florida

Broward County: April 16 is the day for residents to weigh in on new ethics czar at Broward County Hall, with 31 municipalities, some uniform hearing and enforce –

Palm Beach County: – Residents can review they’re top County Officials financial disclosure forms on line at http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

City of Lakeworth: Two Tax Preparers Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme and Other Types of Tax Fraud

City of West Palm Beach: West Palm Beach Police Officer Charged with Selling Controlled Substances While in Uniform and On Duty

Lee County: Gov. Scott today announced 40 schools in Lee County will share $3.5 million in school recognition bonuses. The funds are awarded based on the schools’ sustained high student academic

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

Community Events: Ethics Campaign Conference Confronts Controversial 1997 Miami mayoral election and 2000 presidential elections – Margulies Art Collection show

Editorials: Ok, local state legislators take M-DC President Padron to the woodshed for inflammatory comments about them, now mission must be for College to get the funding it needs as South Florida’s education incubator of the future with 178,000 students — Check out the past 2003 national story in the Tribune papers:  Paperwork Tiger By Maya Bell, Miami Bureau, Orlando Sun-Sentinel January 20, 2003 >>> And a 2004 UNC Chapel Hill study of the Southeast United States 15 states media outlet study where the Watchdog Report is listed as writing a “influential” column in Florida with over 100,000 readers: http://www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf

Letters: Reader on the widespread Identity Theft Fraud in South Florida, why is it so bad down here?

Sponsors: Publisher’s mission statement & Subscription information is at the bottom of this issue — Scroll down for all the headline stories text.

>>> Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you. –Pericles (430 B.C.)

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message and you are free to e-mail this on to friends.

>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding by the Knight Foundation with technical support from the Knight Center for International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University of Miami’s School of Communication www.miami.edu to maintain my webpage. The Watchdog Report webpage is free, has no ads, pops-up and is just the news in a mainstream reporting manner.

>>> May you and your family have a reflective Passover and for readers of the Christian faith, have a great Holy Week.

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

>>> Role of volunteers at public facilities saves taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, also critical to a host of other organizations and these people are community saints

The critical role of volunteers was made apparent to the Watchdog Report after I heard a retired couple talk before lunch about how great a recent tour of the Historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Coconut Grove was and how knowledgeable and engaged the volunteers were and they considered it a community jewel along with the Deering Estate which was next on their list to tour with they’re grandchildren. And volunteers that work in these public facilities like the Adrian Arsht Performing Arts Center (Where cultural arts Patron Arsht may actually guide you to your seat in the hall), Fairchild Gardens and the County’s Parks programs saves tax payers tens of millions of dollars and such volunteers contributions are seen throughout the community. Baptist Health South Florida and Jackson Health System, to name just a few of the organizations, have a host of volunteers providing a free service and these people who contribute their valuable time are true saints, when it comes to volunteer public service. For more on Vizcaya go to http://vizcaya.org/ or to volunteer at the County www.miamidade.gov

What about the business card issue?

Most County employees carry they’re business cards when they are out in the field, so if someone asks for one, these are readily available, but when it comes to some of these cultural employees. I have noticed over the past 20 years of watching and covering government. Because of where they work, most don’t carry cards and it is a bad habit, especially if someone wants to donate to say Vizcaya or Fairchild Gardens and since the county, tag line “is delivering excellence every day.” These county representatives of public cultural institution’s might consider carrying cards because I have been asking some of these employees over the years for their cards, and rarely does someone have one.

>>> Villoch is tapped to head Miami Herald, long serving employee in touch with diverse South Florida complexities

Alexandra Villoch has been named the new publisher of The Miami Herald last week and the long serving executive with the paper is seen as a good choice, given her extensive understanding of Miami’s diverse community. Villoch, a former Chair of The Beacon Council is known for defending the general circulation paper and once challenged former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp when he spoke at the Beacon Council at one of their meetings. At the time, he predicted the demise of the traditional newspaper model, and Villoch bristled at the remarks, and took exception of those comments at the time. In addition, she fired back that the paper had a million readers back then, and the sharp exchange was reported in a past Watchdog Report back then. Moreover, I wish her well in this new leadership position in the years ahead. As the over 100-year-old paper’s first woman publisher, and she followed David Landsberg in this top position at the general circulation newspaper now located in Doral. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/07/4044619/alexandra-villoch-named-publisher.html#storylink=misearch

>>> Would getting people enrolled in Medicare Advantage seriously reduce the rampant SF Medicare fraud being exported around the nation, with some $4 billion recovered since around 2008 locally

The Watchdog Report over the past 15 years has chronicled the rise in Medicare Fraud in South Florida and the scams are tested here, exported thoughout the nation, and is why we have two FBI investigative details on the matter and a federal Fraud Task Force that has recovered or stopped some $4 billion in fraud since around 2008. Moreover, I was discussing this fraud with a healthcare executive recently and he remarked. If we really wanted to tamp down the rampant Medicare Fraud here. We should urge citizens to sign up for Medicare Advantage Plans that are administered by the private sector and that out of control fraud is not occurring they said, and premiums in some areas are even going down, but it is a effective way to stem the tide of this fraud, he considered.

>>>> Here is how the Advantage program is described on the government web site: “A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.” And for more go to http://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/medicare-advantage-plans.html

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

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

>>> With the Watchdog Report closing in on 15 years, I thank all of you that have supported the effort, not for the faint of heart in many ways, including financially surviving

When I started the Watchdog Report on May 5, 2000, I never imagined that almost 15 years later. I would still be at it, and I want to thank all of you and the organizations that have financially supported me over those years. Since I essentially am funded by the community and my readers. Moreover, to say it has been a strange fork in the road for someone, who came from the corporate world, to have started this effort is an understatement, and only in South Florida could I have pulled off a mainstream news service like the WDR. However, given the colorful nature of our community and how so many of us love and create the drama, that would be good entertainment. If we were not overall such a poor community, with pockets of great wealth, yet other areas in major poverty, and why our limited public tax dollars should be spent wisely and with proper oversight and media attention.

In addition, it is my belief that government works more effectively when reported on, and why I have kept at this, for over the past almost 18 years. In addition, the WDR or myself, has affected and easily saved some $100 million plus in public tax dollars over those years in some way. And it is the preventing of waste, fraud, and abuse and public corruption that has kept me out in the field and reporting back in a variety of venues, from the internet, The Miami Herald, to WLRN, and WPBT Channel 2 over the years.

FLORIDA

>>> What was a Nascent local Drug Court celebrates 25 years, with 1.5 million people going through the program, with a no further arrest rate “of around  75 percent,” of the people that go through the initially highly controversial program pushed by state Atty.  Janet Reno, there are now some 2,840 such programs around the globe

What started as a nascent idea in Miami-Dade County in 1989 and blossomed into a global phenomenon, The Miami-Dade Drug Court celebrated its 25th year in a ceremony in the County Commission Chambers Friday and retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry R. Mc Caffrey was one of a host of featured speakers at the event MC’d by County Circuit Court judge Jeri Beth Cohen, who presides over the Drug Court (and also included retired Judge Herbert Klein, the founder of the Miami-Dade Drug Court). The successful program spawned a transformation how people arrested for drugs and were non-violent were treated, in the judicial system, and some 1.5 million people have gone through the court created program since its inception said the General. Further, similar programs have sprouted up around the globe to the tune “of 2,840 such courts,” and even includes Texas, where there are some 1,500 new “drug courts,” said Acting Director Michael Botticelli, from the White House Office of National Drug Policy and a speaker at the event. He said the program has resulted in Texas shutting down a number of “prisons,” and the drug courts and the attended treatment is saving the local state’s significant money versus incarcerating the offenders. In addition, the program saves some $1,300.00 per individual, the return on investment is $27.00 for every dollar spent, and over all billions in tax dollars are being saved by not locking up these offenders in a state’s prison system.

And advocates of the program note that “75 percent,” of the people going through the program “are not arrested again,” and that proves treatment versus going to jail was the way to go with these people caught up in the judicial system, and is resulting in the lowest rate in prison growth and has led to a three year drop in incarceration rates around the nation, said another speaker. And this first controversial program at the time has stood the test of time and flourished in communities around the nation based on this local model that combines treatment, with a strong judicial response and firm guidelines for the busted offenders. The General a battlefield veteran and West Point graduate was the nation’s Director of National Drug Control Policy under President Bill Clinton and his remarks were well received by the crowd, that included a host of the past year’s graduates that continue to be drug free and are moving on with their lives after kicking their addictions from a variety of drugs. For more on drug courts go to  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/national-celebration-mark-25th-anniversary-190850768.html

Further, this program was the brainchild of former U.S. Attorney Janet Reno, then the state attorney back then, and she teamed up with judges to create this innovative program that clearly has served the public good and has had a host of high profile people including politicians and lobbyists going through this Drug Court program, and given the taxpayer savings has turned into a real blessing to this vexing problem.

Gen. Mc Caffrey

>>> Press release: Zogby Report Card: Obamacare hate threatens Democrats in midterms

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’s signature health care reform is dragging Democrats down.

“President Obama got some chilling news from a USA Today/Pew poll this week. Americans who oppose his health care law say they are significantly more likely to vote in November than those who support it. Democrats can lose the Senate if those numbers hold. Please click on the link below to view this week’s grade:
http://zogbyanalytics.com/news/429-zogby-report-card-obamacare-hate-threatens-democrats-in-midterms

>>> MDC President Padron creates a firestorm after criticizing local state legislators, all he wants is for the College with 178,000 students to gets it fair share when it comes to education funding

Miami-Dade College Eduardo Padron, Ph.D. stepped on a political land mine last week when he carped to The Miami Herald Editorial Board, about the lack of support from local legislators in Tallahassee to allow countywide voters to vote on whether the College should be allowed to levy a half cent sales tax for five years, and would generate some $1 billion for the sprawling public college, in desperate need of infrastructure repairs among other things and some of this money would be shared with FIU if the sales tax passed. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/10/4051478/legislators-condemn-padrons-uncivilized.html#storylink=misearch However, his sharp comments directed at local state legislators earned him a rebuke from the officials who demanded a apology and Padron complied but in many ways the educator was just speaking the truth that MDC had significant needs that were not being funded and when you have some 178,000 students, with branch campuses throughout Miami-Dade. It is a colossal challenge his administration is having to deal with and the offended legislators should let it go and just do there best to insure that MDC and FIU get the funding they deserve from the state, given they’re important to ensuring that the South Florida workforce is educated and since the County is a donor community to the state it is only fair education funding is commiserate to contribution to state coffers.

Padron

>>> And if you ever thought about adopting a child, check out the great kids on the Children’s Trust’s Heart Gallery page http://www.miamiheartgallery.org/#start looking for a home and great new parents.

>>> Children’s Movement of Florida  Voices of Florida – We all have a story, a story that defines us. It is our collective story, our challenges and our triumphs that inspire a movement. Floridians from all walks of life have joined together with an understanding that the future of our state rests on the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair The Children’s Movement.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

>>> Commissioner Zapata looking to create higher paying jobs, drills into economic development officials, But Bell sings praise to new Beacon Council leadership

At a county commission committee meeting Thursday, Commissioner Juan Zapata bored into Beacon Council and Tourism officials about the number of jobs being created and higher paying jobs should be the ultimate goal he said. Economic development officials noted that they had the same goal, and when it came to jobs in the tourism industry. Someone that starts as a lifeguard could end up running the company, and the Beacon Council, the county entity for economic development also noted that keeping businesses here was also a major area that they worked on. And it was not only about bringing new companies to Miami-Dade. However, after the Zapata grilling, Commissioner Lynda Bell, who had been in the past critical of the Beacon Council and ultimately helped forced out long serving CEO Frank Nero. She noted with the new Beacon Council leadership that the organization is being more transparent and working better with the county and commissioners and she thanked them for that new day, she observed.

>>> Commissioner Diaz requests report on homeless services and where facilities are located from Homeless Trust

County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz asked Hilda Fernandez, the Director of the County’s Homeless Trust for a report on “how the money,” is being used by its multiple providers and how “much money it is, what the service providers,” services are and where these services providers are located around Miami-Dade. And he believes while there is a Homeless Assistance Center in Homestead. Diaz suggested that they also need to be in the “west and South,” of the county and Fernandez will provide a report to the commissioner on the matter.

>>> Homing pigeon reduction to 10 bird’s passes, but existing birds “grandfathered in,” as giggles emanated from the commissioners, since now pigeons must not die, a feared refrain in the press

The county Commission voted to change the number of Homing Pigeons a homeowner in the unincorporated part of the county could have at their home coop to 10, down from 20, but because of a amendment that “grandfathered” in existing birds, and they would not have to be killed. The measure sailed through the body and had Commissioner Estephan Bovo quickly seconding the ordinance. However, after the headline in last week’s Watchdog Report ( see below) commissioners said nothing fearing any comments might be quoted but a number of them could not stop giggling to themselves or just laughing while the vote was taken and because of the amendment and discussion. “You become a child again,” referring to the giggles, said Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa. She noted it had been a long commission meeting, but it also had Commissioner Pape Diaz remarking, “Oh Oh, after the last time,” the body discussed the issue and Commissioner Javier Souto who sponsored the item. When he was asked if he concurred with the amendment. The long serving commissioner and former state senator said, “Whatever,” and the legislation passed and there is no feared headline in the media. That the County Commission says, “The pigeons must die!”

>>> Last week’s WDR:  Commissioner Souto wants # of Homing pigeons in coop to be ten, 20 was earlier limit, does, “This mean the pigeons must die,” a feared media quote from the last discussion on the matter years ago, by Commissioner Moss


Souto

Moss

>>> PAST WDR: County Commissioners will be asked to confirm Port Director Kuryla, and Water and Sewer Dir. Johnson on Tuesday, but will Johnson stay long in job?

Mayor Carlos Gimenez is asking the county commission on Tuesday at their monthly meeting to confirm Juan Kuryla as the new PortMiami director (Here is the memo PDF   and he would replace Bill Johnson who the commission will also be asked to confirm at the same meeting to be the new Director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department PDF  . Johnson who has said in the past he does whatever the Mayor asks of him. He is said not to be real excited about this new much lower and less glamorous position than the Port or even MIA. And he frequently says at community meetings that he could make more money in the private sector, but loves public service, and given he is retiring next year. Insiders are wondering how long he will stay in this new capacity, that involves the replacement of miles of ageing water and sewer infrastructure pipes in the coming decades and will cost the county billions of dollars, paid for through the selling of bonds and increasing the water rates to homes and businesses. Johnson is replacing long serving county employee and past Water and Sewer Director Jon Renfrow who is retiring.

What happened at the commission meeting Tuesday?

Juan Kuryla was confirmed by the Miami-Dade County Commission as director of the Port Miami, but Johnson was absent and he was said to have had a “speaking engagement.” But his lack of being their for his conformation as the new Director of the Water and Sewer Department, must have involved a important engagement since Johnson is a fixture down at county hall, and his absence could be a sign of his reticence of the new position after completing the AAA arena, the Arsht Performing Arts Center and later the Port, and he has a high profile in the cultural world, and some suggest this new assignment by Mayor Carlos Gimenez at the end of his career, was not what he was expecting. He will begin in the post May 1 officially said Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa who noted Johnson “wishes he was here,” but had a long planned “engagement,” and she praised the long serving county employee, who has shown over the years. He has the ability “to walk in anyone’s shoes,” during his extensive career with the county and the man is now assigned to do the “multibillion Water and Sewer,” projects said Mayor Carlos Gimenez from the state capital and could not attend the commission meeting.


Johnson

Kuryla

>>> Senior Sgt. At Arms Brito says sayonara at end of April, true law enforcement professional and diplomat in the Commission Chambers

Jorge Brito, a Senior Sergeant at Arms for the Miami-Dade Commission is saying sayonara to his duties and his friends and colleagues will miss the long serving law enforcement officer. His last day in public service is at the end of April and the Watchdog Report gives Brito a Tip of the Hat for being a diplomat while doing his duties in the commission Chambers and keeping the attendees under control and respectful of the body.

>>> GMCVB press release: In the month of February 2014, Miami-Dade County reported collections for the 2% Hotel Food and Beverage Tax (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) increased 13.0% compared to the same time last year in 2014. The 3% Convention Development Tax (CDT) collections for Greater Miami increased 11.1% compared to 2014. The 2% Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections from hotels in Miami-Dade (excluding Miami Beach, Bal Harbour and Surfside) increased 10.7% compared to the same time in 2014.

Record Miami-Dade County Tax Collections in February 2014
2% Hotel Food & Beverage Tax
February 2014 February 2013 % Change vs. 2013
$791,924 $700,742 +13.0%
3% Convention Development Tax
February 2014 February 2013 % Change vs. 2013
$7,922,946 $7,129,612 +11.1%
2% Tourist Development Tax
February 2014 February 2013 % Change vs. 2013
$2,756,217 $2,489,751 +10.7%

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

>>> District’s deployment of 10,000 Promethean smart boards “largest global deployment of interactive units in world,” beats Russia’s roughly 8,000 deployment of the state of the art teaching devices, includes “surround sound,” for free

While Russia is in the news for the county’s incursion into the Ukraine, here locally the Miami-Dade County Public Schools edged the former communist country out when the nation’s fourth largest public schools district bought over 10,000 Promethean smart boards for all the 400 public schools in the District and edged out Russia as the number one buyer of the high technology interactive smart boards, said Supt. Alberto Carvalho to the Watchdog Report last week. He said it “was the largest global deployment of the interactive units,” and he also noted the company also pitched the wrong version of the device initially and the District got the “Cadillac” model instead of a less sophisticated version and he also got the company to throw in “to the supped up unit, and surround [sound] for free,” he said. http://www.prometheanworld.com/us/english/education/home/

>>> Norland Senior High basketball team honored for third year of being champions, but former F school, now an A and has 84 percent of the students graduating versus 54 percent back in 08 and 09

School Board Member Tee Holloway honored the coaches and students from Miami Norland Senior High’s boys’ basketball team after winning the FHSAA Class 6A Championship three times in a row, but five times over the last nine years and all the players have scholarships, some academic, to universities as well. Norland, the home of the Stingrays, for years was a F school back in 2008 and 2009 but that has changed and while not only doing great when it comes to basketball. The school now has twice been an A rated school and in the old days had a “54 percent graduation rate.” However, that number has risen to “84 percent of the students,” graduating and is a major turnaround for this large senior high school and the Watchdog Report gives the principals and students a Tip of the Hat for a job well done, not only on the playing field but also in the classroom and library. In addition, the team also got a Miami-Dade County Proclamation Tuesday for the achievement sponsored by County Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

>>> JHS needs City of Miami’s help with new Hospital District branding signage, says PHT Chair Sharpton, caught in quagmire of Miami 21, Miami Commission Chair Gort expected to be supportive

PHT Chairman Daryl Sharpton is upset that the City of Miami designated Health District where the sprawling Jackson Health System campus is located is slowing up an initiative to better advertise and brand the medical district signage because of Miami 21. A new set of zoning and signage legislation passed a few years ago by the city, and the discussion keeps getting deferred by the Miami commission and has held up the health system from better branding itself.  As the premier healthcare area, that includes Jackson Memorial Hospital and the University of Miami hospital across from the main campus. The issue came up at the PHT Special meeting a while back, and the city’s inaction, is slowing down the process of making the area attractive and easy to get to for patients coming to the public hospital. In addition, Sharpton asked staff to work with Miami commissioners and the city’s administration to get some of this new signage approved and allowed to go up.

The Watchdog Report talked to Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado about this matter on Thursday and he thought public institutions might be “exempted” by some of the legislation given the institution’s public purpose, but he noted it is now on his radar since both JHS and the city have spent great effort to make the Hospital District a area medical destination given its importance to county residents and the local economy.

>>> Wanted, only the best of the best for two slots on seven-member PHT oversight board, $1.4 billion budget, and 10,000 employees giving world-class healthcare – Applications accepted April 6th to 20th and application on line

The Public Health Trust Nominating Council met Monday at the West Wing boardroom at the Jackson Health System main campus and a quorum was present of the Council chaired by County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. Edmonson who is also sponsoring a county commission ordinance to reduce the Council’s quorum number from five to four of the nine-member board (Which passed the commission Tuesday). Since getting a required quorum had become a problem over the past few years.

The council approved the dates for the request for applications for new PHT board members, where there are two slots open and four candidates names will be submitted to the county commission for its approval, anticipated at the end of spring. The public advertisements and application period for new Trustees will run from April 6 to April 20th, in a variety of newspapers and an application will be on line at www.miamidade.gov, and the application deadline is Apr. 21 at 4:00 p.m. at the County Clerk’s office. The Council will then review the applicant’s qualifications on May 12, select finalists the week of May 19th and after going through a commission committee meeting, the final nominees are expected to be voted on by the 13 member county commission on Jun. 3, state Council documents detailing the expected time line.

Edmonson

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> PAST WDR: When it comes to shutting down ULTRA, Commissioner Carollo hopes there will not be a rush to judgment after security guard Mack trampled by crowd of gate crashers

With Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff beating the drums to end the Ultra Fest three day concerts at Miami Bayfront Park. After a security guard, Erica Mack was severely injured when security fencing failed, and she was trampled in the melee, of people without tickets wanting to get into the techno music event, and the tragedy is why officials are demanding its end after some 15 years. The Ultra Event is a significant moneymaker for the city and brings some $70 to $80 million in economic impact to city businesses every year, and some $1.5 million to the Trust that manages the park. This revenue pays for much of the maintenance, and the Trust recently made a significant contribution to the City’s general fund a few months ago. Regalado, said it was a no brainier and would likely be supported by the residents in the nearby condominiums dotting the area during the event, and he expected no political blowback if it was cancelled. He told the Watchdog Report recently as the controversy percolated in the media.

However, Commissioner Frank Carollo says he hopes there is not a rush to judgment on Ultra, though he was concerned Mack was hurt and showed better safeguards were necessary. However, he also noted the economic impact to the area in what is generally a slow time of the season, yet had all the local hotels booked and restaurant services were up and he noted. The Miami Herald in an editorial also called for not having a knee jerk reaction and to perhaps have better security or higher fencing to avoid any further tragedy. Here is The Herald editorial http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/01/4033296/dont-silence-ultra-yet.html#storylink=misearch But the matter will be discussed at the upcoming City Commission Meeting on April 10th and for more go to : http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/03/4037918/dad-trampled-guard-healing-slowly.html#storylink=misearch


Carollo

Sarnoff

Regalado

>>> UPDATE: What about the ULTRA contract and its ratification by the Miami Commission?

Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Watchdog Report and another media source Thursday when I asked if the ULTRA contract had been properly executed with the event promoters. He said the “commission” did not ratify the contract as per the “City’s Charter,” and a proposed discussion of the matter of Ultra was withdrawn by its two sponsors Regalado and Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff who has been beating the drum to end the techno event that is a huge shot in the arm economically in the Miami downtown area, but critics think has grown to large and unmanageable at its present venue, Miami Bayfront Park.

What about the manager’s office?

Former Miami Assistant manager Lynn Westall has left the city and she first arrived from county hall when past Manager Pete Hernandez was brought in from Miami-Dade County to be the new manager after Manager Joe Arriola stepped down from the position. Westall was later promoted to be the Chief of Staff to then Manager Carlos Migoya during his tenure, and now under Daniel J. Alfonso she has decided to leave the city, and it is unknown what her new job will be.

Alfonso

>>> What about the City of Miami attorney’s office?

Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez asked commission attorney Victoria Mendez if she had considered being like the local U. S. Attorney’s office that actually brings in money, through seizures and other methods to assist paying for its operation. After the attorney’s office was requesting more money for the office. Mendez said the office handles some 3,372 cases and has her attorneys handling some 108 cases per lawyer, she said. Nevertheless, Suarez should realize that the federal attorney’s office is a different type of entity, and very unlike a small municipal attorney’s office.

Mendez

VILLAGE OF COCONUT GROVE

>>> What about the controversial Arts and Minds Charter School in Coconut Grove?

The Watchdog Report since 2004 when the A&M Charter School was first created has been covering the school because it was a “related transfer,” since the founder of the school Manny Alonso Poch also owned the building the school was located in and was charging the school back then $29,000. In monthly rent for the nascent school and that, rent escalated to some $80,000 in 2008 and 2009 and the school District’s Audit department did a 350 page forensic audit of the school a few years ago, the District later forwarded it to the IRS. Moreover, since then Poch has gone into bankruptcy, and the building was sold. However, a source said that A&M was “having hard time with the new landlord,” who is asking for a variety of changes and it is unknown at this point, how much longer it will continue to operate and whether its Charter with the school district will be renewed in the coming months. However, Poch has told the media in the past that there will be no changes given these financial issues. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/23/3646265/arts-minds-founder-says-bankruptcy.html

CITY OF MIAMI GARDENS

>>> Miami-Dade Resident Sentenced in Identity Theft Scheme

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Jean-Elguentino Cayo, 26, of Miami Gardens, was sentenced today to 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for his participation in a stolen identity scheme. Cayo previously pled guilty to one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2). According to court documents, beginning in December 2012 through June 2013, the defendant sold approximately 400 names, dates of birth, and social security numbers belonging to other persons to a confidential informant and undercover law enforcement officer in exchange for money. The defendant had no authorization to traffic in the names, dates of births, and social security numbers belonging to other persons and acted with the intent to defraud. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Maderal. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

>>> Miami Mayor Regalado tells local residents City getting into Convention Center business, and believes Skyrise project will move forward

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado spoke last week at The Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, a venue where local leaders talk to residents about the topics of the day and have included candidates from county mayor to state senators over the years it has been going on. Moreover, a participant at the event, David Kelsey, who is the moderator of the forum, wrote in an email to the Watchdog Report his impressions of Regalado’s comments. He wrote when it came to Regalado’s remarks that the mayor, “is such a gentleman.  He covered a wide range of topics, from Genting to the Baylink.  The All Aboard Florida / Grand Central Station and Baylink had his enthusiastic support, as did the soccer stadium not have it.  He confirmed that the City of Miami is going to be in the Convention Center business, and acknowledged the likelihood of the Berkowitz Skyrise Miami skyscraper project to move forward,” wrote the community activist concerning what the mayor said at the breakfast.

And next week at TTMBC Jeff Berkowitz will be the featured speaker

>>> Date: April 15th Meeting Time: 8:30 AM Meeting Place: David’s One, corner of Collins Ave. and 11th Street — Prominent real estate developer Jeff Berkowitz, Chairman and Owner of Berkowitz Development Group, will be the guest speaker at The April 15th meeting of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club.  Mr. Berkowitz’s company is currently developing SkyRise Miami, which at 1,000 feet tall will be the tallest building in Florida.  The architecture is unique and promises to be quite spectacular. The SkyRise will be located on the edge of Biscayne Bay at Bayside and will feature numerous amenities including shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs. There is no charge for attending and everyone is welcome.

David Kelsey, Moderator. Visit our web site at www.MBTMBC.com (Miami Beach Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club).

CITY OF CORAL GABLES

>>> Mgr. Salerno suddenly says sayonara after five years, Mayor Cason says, man is “irreplaceable”

With the sudden resignation of Coral Gables Manager, Pat Salerno Tuesday after five years on the job at a commission meeting. His time in the office is coming to an end later on April 18 and his cool management style rubbed some elected leaders the wrong way over the years, but Mayor Jim Cason, elected three years ago was always a big supporter of the former City of Sunrise Manager that came to the Gables after a scandal had then Manager David Brown stepping down in the post and a search was done and Salerno was the commission’s choice back then.

However, Salerno did butt heads with former Commissioners Ralph Cabrera, Jr., and Maria Anderson who led the charge to fire Salerno, just before the mayoral election last year and she, and Cabrera were termed out but before leaving the commission. Anderson carped that she and Cabrera were being excluded and kept in the dark about city matters and essentially being punished for not going along with everything Salerno proposed and she speculated that while it failed in a three to two vote to oust Salerno. The commission would later have a change of heart and apparently, that appears to have occurred. Moreover, it appears incomplete crime, accident statistics provided to new Commissioner Vincent Lago did the prickly long serving manager in, and Lago is also close with Commissioner Frank C. Quesada who was the key third vote when Anderson demanded the vote that would have fired the manager back then.

Cason, who beat Cabrera in the election for mayor. When the Watchdog Report contacted him last week and some of the commissioners by email. Cason wrote back, “Pat Salerno has been a superb City Manager during his 5 years with the city.  He cleaned up the financial and administrative mess he inherited, brought unrestricted reserves from almost nothing to over $28 million, launched 17 much needed infrastructure projects to rehabilitate our residential neighborhoods; cut the millage rate each of the last 3 fiscal years; carried out substantial pension reform to curb rapidly escalating pension obligations; cut unneeded staff while maintaining essential services; negotiate an almost-completed deal to build a state of the art senior activity center; helped attract major international corporations to our city; carried out large scale beautification projects, park improvements and began the long-stalled projects to build new garages and renovate Miracle Mile and an adjacent street, and restored confidence in the integrity of his office.  A man of complete integrity, who put in 70 hours work each week, Pat, will be sorely missed.  He is irreplaceable,” wrote Cason, now in his second term as mayor last week.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/08/4046398/coral-gables-city-manager-pat.html The commission will meet again Apr. 22 to discuss the matter and his replacement.

Salerno

>>>PAST WDR last year: Softball story on new hires by Mgr. Salerno, WDR gets calls from manager and Commissioner Anderson

After last week’s story in the WDR, Pat Salerno the manager of Coral Gables on Monday contacted the Watchdog Report by phone and wanted to be sure I understood that the new hires I wrote about “were done in early July,” and had nothing to do with the contentious meeting at the end of the month where Commissioners Ralph Cabrera, Jr., and Maria Anderson lost a vote to have the top administrator removed by 3 to 2. He said that had been in the works before that meeting and he wanted to make it clear there was no linkage to the matter. Further, Anderson called me an hour or so afterwards and she also wanted to be clear she did not take the issue of the manager’s dismissal lightly and she was concerned about the morale among Gables city workers. She also noted the manager was very good behind the scenes in getting what he thought the city needed passed by the mayor and commission and the issue of his performance was not personal in nature from her perspective.

VILLAGE OF KEY BISCAYNE

>>> Two Defendants Charged with Defrauding Sony Open

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the unsealing of an indictment alleging that two former employees of IMG Worldwide, Inc. defrauded the company that runs the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Key Biscayne. Mikel Mims, 37, of Miami Gardens, and Simon Habbershaw, 41, formerly of Miami, were charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and substantive wire fraud charges. Mims was arrested this morning and is scheduled to have an initial appearance this afternoon in Miami. Simon Habbershaw remains at large.

Each defendant faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and five years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Mims and Habbershaw were employees of IMG Worldwide, Inc. responsible for coordinating with sponsors and patrons for the delivery of tickets to the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Key Biscayne. The defendants are alleged to have told the printing vendor for IMG Worldwide, Inc., that patrons and customers of IMG Worldwide, Inc. had purchased more tickets than the patrons and customers had actually purchased. As a result, the printing vendor for IMG Worldwide, Inc. printed extra tournament tickets that it delivered to the defendants. The defendants then told customers that purported patron and customers of IMG Worldwide, Inc. had extra tickets for the tennis tournament that needed to be sold, stating that various companies had previously purchased too many tournament tickets. Between 2008 and 2013, Mims and Habbershaw sold these extra tournament tickets to patrons and customers of IMG Worldwide, Inc., but instead used the proceeds of the sale of the additional tournament tickets for their own personal benefit and the benefit of others. The indictment seeks forfeiture in the amount of $407,409. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Ron Davidson and Alison Lehr. An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

VILLAGE OF PINECREST

>>> Physician Convicted of Tax Fraud

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Lourdes Margarita Garcia, 62, of Pinecrest, a Medical Doctor, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore to 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Garcia was previously convicted by a federal jury in Miami in January 2014, of conspiracy to defraud and to file false returns with the IRS, and of three counts of filing false returns with IRS. According to documents filed in court, Garcia was the owner and operator of Global Medical Group, LLC, a Sub-S Corporation, or “flow-through” entity for income tax purposes, which operated a clinic in Coral Gables, and previously in Miami. The evidence presented at trial showed that Garcia, a physician assistant at the time the false returns were filed in 2007 and 2008, had originally been the subject of an IRS collection action for multiple years of back-taxes owed. During the collection case, the IRS learned that Garcia and her now deceased spouse were delinquent in filing income tax returns for the years 1997-2005. When those returns were filed in 2007, under penalties of perjury, the 1997 and 2001 through 2005 returns reported $0.00 adjusted gross income, and a 2006 amended return also filed in August 2007, reported less than $20,000 of adjusted gross income. According to the evidence presented at trial, during a 1997 Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Garcia filed sworn monthly reports with the Bankruptcy Court reporting $81,000 of salaries and commissions for the months of May 1997 through October 1997. Additionally, during 2001 through 2007, the clinic, Global, had steadily increased its revenues from insurance payments and patient fees, from approximately $81,000 in 2001, to approximately $1.9 million in 2006 and $1.7 in 2007, but no flow-through income from Global was reported on the 2001 through 2005 individual returns of Garcia and her spouse…  Their 2006 and 2007 returns omitted approximately $400,000 of insurance payments and patient fees from Global.. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

>>>> Village leaders discuss “potable water connection,” with M-DC Commissioner Suarez at Sunshine meeting

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who represents District 7 on the 13 member commission had a Sunshine meeting Apr. 11 with Village Council Members to discuss the municipality’s “potable water connection,” says the public announcement.

>>> OTHER STORIES AROUND FLORIDA

BROWARD COUNTY

>>> April 16 is the day for residents to weigh in on new ethics czar at Broward County Hall, with 31 municipalities some uniform hearing and enforcement mechanism is necessary

Broward County Inspector General John Scott is expected to make his pitch for a centralized ethics officer for the county and the 31 municipalities in Broward County on April 16 at 10:00 a.m. in room 430 at the Broward County Government Center in Ft. Lauderdale.  County Voters created The IG office in 2010 and Scott is the first IG, and the former federal prosecutor is asking for changes in how conflicts and ethics cases are handled. See the press release from his office

http://www.broward.org/InspectorGeneral/PublicationsPress/Documents/OIG14004PressRelease.pdf >>> and for more on the issue go to http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-03-06/news/sfl-broward-ethics-czar-gets-second-look-20140305_1_ethics-code-czar-idea-broward-league

Further, Scott noted his idea had gotten support from the Miami-Dade County Ethics and Public Trust Commission executive director Joe Centorino but unfortunately, the meeting date conflicted with an ethics commission meeting in Dade. Said Scott to the Watchdog Report recently, and residents and political leaders should step up to the plate and support this new oversight for while not perfect. Here in Miami-Dade the ethics commission has done a brisk business in busting wayward officials and staff members since its creation by county voters back in 1996 and officially began operateing in 1998. And Broward residents need that same ethics firewall and voters should demand reluctant elected leaders support the proposal that potentially could tamp down some of fairly rampant ethics violations over the years of people in leadership positions.

Scott

>>> Residents can review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line — Residents of Broward County can now review they’re county commissioners financial disclosure forms on line and to see the inner financial workings of these elected officials go to  http://public.ethics.state.fl.us/results.cfm

>>> Thank you for using the Broward County Commission Agenda E-mail Notification System. A new Broward County Commission Agenda is available. Point your browser to http://www.broward.org/commission/welcome.htm to view

the new agenda.

CITY OF LAKEWORTH

>>> Two Tax Preparers Sentenced in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme and Other Types of Tax Fraud

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announce that Geto Dorlizier, 25, of Boynton Beach, and Jourmel Thomas, 38, of Lake Worth, were sentenced for their participation in a scheme to commit stolen identity tax refund fraud and other types of tax fraud. Dorlizier was sentenced to 111 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Thomas was sentenced to 61 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Each defendant previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal, receive, and retain money and things of value of the United States and to forge endorsements on and cash U.S. Treasury checks, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 641, 510(a)(1) and 510(a)(2); count three, which charges the defendant with receipt and retention of things of value of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641; and count eight, which charges the defendant with aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028(a)(1).

According to the facts agreed to in the plea agreements and at sentencing, Dorlizier and Thomas, who are brothers, each operated tax preparation businesses. Dorlizier was operating Atlantic Multi-Services, LLC (Atlantic Multi-Services) in Delray Beach by at least 2011. Thomas operated JTS Paperworks and Tax Services in Lake Worth in 2013. Between them, the two businesses submitted 706 Federal income tax returns that were fraudulent either in that the taxpayer did not know about or authorize the return to be filed or in that the return contained significant material falsehoods, or both. Based on these fraudulent returns, the Treasury Department paid more than $1.6 million in tax refunds.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and IRS-CI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Osborne. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

WEST PALM BEACH

>>> West Palm Beach Police Officer Charged with Selling Controlled Substances While in Uniform and On Duty

Press release: Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, David W. Bourne, Special Agent in Charge, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, Miami Field Office, and Vincent Demsi, Chief, West Palm Beach Police Department, announce the filing of charges against Dewitt McDonald, 45, of Wellington. Initial appearance for McDonald is scheduled for Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Fort Lauderdale before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle. According to the information filed with the Court, the defendant was a police officer with the West Palm Beach Police Department. Dewitt McDonald was charged with one count of knowingly carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A). If convicted, the defendant faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum statutory sentence of up to life in prison.

The information against McDonald charges that, while employed as a police officer, the defendant operated two businesses: Prime Performance Wellness Centers, Inc., located in Lake Worth, and Prime Health and Rejuvenation Clinic, located in Wellington, through which he unlawfully distributed anabolic steroids and other prescription drugs. The information further alleges that on March 5, 2013, while on duty and carrying his Smith & Wesson MP40 pistol, the defendant made a delivery of these drugs to someone in Palm Beach County, Florida.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the West Palm Beach Police Department for their cooperation and assistance in this matter….This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, and Jeffrey N. Kaplan. An information is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.

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

LEE COUNTY

>>> Press release: Allen Park Elementary, Governor Rick Scott today announced 40 schools in Lee County will share $3.5 million in school recognition bonuses. The funds are awarded based on the schools’ sustained high student academic performance or substantial improvement in student performance in reading, mathematics, science, and writing since last year. Governor Scott said, “Our students and teachers in Lee County deserve to be rewarded for their hard work, and I am pleased to recognize them for their achievements with this $3.5 million investment. One of my top priorities as Governor is to create jobs and opportunities for Florida families. We know that a good job starts with a great education, and Florida continues to be a leader in education. I look forward to continued gains. ”Schools eligible for recognition awards include those receiving an “A” school grade, improving at least one letter grade from the previous year, or improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year. Alternative Schools that increase their school improvement rating or are rated “improving” also qualify for awards.

Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “School recognition bonuses are a reflection of the excellent work Florida’s educators and students have accomplished in the classroom. I’m so pleased these schools are receiving these incentives as a result of their efforts to ensure students graduate ready for success in college and careers.” Thomas Scott, Chairman of the Lee County School Board said, “Thank you to Governor Scott for his visit and presentation today honoring the hard work of our teachers, principals and support staff.” Dr. Nancy Graham, Superintendent of Lee County Schools said, “Recognition bonuses are a tangible way to thank school teachers, administrators and support staff for the daily work they do to help students experience academic success.” The school staff and school advisory council at each recognized school jointly decide how to use the financial award. Schools can use their award dollars for faculty or staff bonuses, to purchase educational equipment or materials, or hire temporary staff to help maintain or improve student performance. The School Recognition Program is funded by the Florida Lottery. Award distributions are based on $100 per full-time equivalent student for each eligible school for school grades earned in 2012-13.For further information about the School Recognition Program, including individual school award amounts, visit http://www.fldoe.org/evaluation/schrmain.asp.

MONROE COUNTY

>>> Elected leaders financial disclosures on line at , www.ethics.state.fl.us

COMMUNITY EVENTS

>>> Ethics Campaign Conference Confronts Controversial 1997 Miami mayoral election and 2000 presidential election

The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission is holding an event that is focused on the elections in South Florida over the years and the thrown out 1997 election of Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, because of widespread voter fraud. However, he was never charged, but the scandal is one of the reasons I started to do the Watchdog Report, and this should be a fascinating discussion.

>>> Campaign Conference Confronts Controversy

Press release: Could an election recount similar to the Bush v. Gore 2000 dispute occur again?  Some of the key players in that historic legal battle will recount their experiences during one session of a one-of-a-kind Political Campaign Ethics Conference on Friday, May 16, 2014, at St. Thomas University School of Law.  The unique daylong event, presented by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and the St. Thomas University Center for Ethics, offers a full schedule of panel discussions, lectures and breakout sessions sure to intrigue candidates, campaigners and political junkies of all sorts.

The impact of the controversial “Citizens United” ruling allowing corporations unlimited contributions will be debated by John Bonifaz, the head of an organization committed to overturning the Supreme Court decision,  and James Bopp, a legal advisor for Citizens United.  Another session featuring former adversaries Xavier Suarez and Kendall Coffey will look back at the 1997 Miami mayoral election that was overturned by an absentee ballot scandal and fast forward to current efforts to stem ballot scams.  Party activists Al Cardenas and Dan Gelber will examine the latest efforts to balance concerns of voter fraud with tighter restrictions on voter access.  Veteran politicians and legal minds will discuss ethnic and racial innuendo that sometimes sneak into campaigns.

More than 40 speakers, including Justice Gerald Kogan, Mark Caputo, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Joseph Klock, Jr., George Knox, Ben Kuehne, Theresa Lepore, Patricia Mazzei, Buddy Nevins, J.C. Planas, Irene Secada, Dr. Brenda Snipes and Katy Sorenson will participate.  Breakout session topics include campaign consultants, handling media coverage, the election supervisors’ guide for candidates, phantom contributors and ethical campaign practices.  Florida State Senator Jeff Clemens will provide an update of ethics and elections legislation from the 2014 legislative session.  The luncheon speaker will be Chuck Malkus, author of The Ultimate Ponzi: The Scott Rothstein Story. >>> The conference runs from approximately 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the St. Thomas Law School, 16401 NW 37 Avenue in Miami Gardens.  The cost, which includes breakfast, lunch and all materials, is $90, but early registers (prior to May 1) will be charged only $75.  Current students pay $50.  Attorneys can earn continuing legal education credit. A complete program and registration information can be found at ethics.miamidade.gov.

>>> The Margulies Collection is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 11am to 4pm Feature Exhibitions: Song Dong | The Wisdom of the Poor: A Communal Courtyard Arte Povera | Calzolari, Kounellis, Pistoletto Anselm Kiefer | Paintings and Sculpture 1986 – 2006 New Painting: Anna Betbeze, Aaron Bobrow, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Astrid Svangren,Tam Van Tran New Photography: Olafur Eliasson, Jan Hoek, Nina Katchadourian, Domenico Mangano, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Hank Willis Thomas New Sculpture: Ai Weiwei, Nathalie Djurberg, Masao Gozu, Kenny Scharf, Paolo Ventura

New Video: Kota Ezawa, Amar Kanwar We look forward to welcoming you to the Warehouse soon!

Jannis Kounellis,Senza Titolo,1999, plates, iron shelves, bags, plaster, 142 x 79″

EDITORIAL

>>> Ok, state legislators take M-DC President Padron to woodshed for inflammatory comments about them, now mission must be for College to get the funding it needs as South Florida education incubator of the future with 178,000 students

Note to Dr Eduardo Padron, be the passionate Miami-Dade College advocate that manned the polls and got voters to agree to tax themselves in Miami-Dade but the measure failed in the statewide vote and during that election the long time president of Miami-Dade College, was a persistent advocate with voters waiting in line, even in the rain and it just shows his true commitment to the College with roughly 178,000 students from some 188 nation’s from around the globe and the College is an education dynamo.

However, last week Padron spoke bluntly and took some personal shots at some GOP state legislator’s and their motives not supporting his attempt to get part of a countywide half cent sales tax if passed by  Miami-Dade voters and a portion of the possible $1 billion over the years would also got to Florida International University. But the verbal shots at the lawmakers sent them ballistic and they demanded an apology, which Padron gave, though state Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah says that is not enough and thinks personal apologies to each of the representatives should be done personally by the president, and not just through a letter of apology in The Miami Herald and the lawmakers should take a deep breath. And show their class for the education of the County’s almost 2.5 million residents is the mission they should keep their eye on, and verbally beating up Padron is almost like a free kick, but the real issue should be how to help solve MDC capital and infrastructure needs and that will not be achieved if we fight among ourselves and lose sight of the goal. To make MDC not only the biggest public college in the nation, but also the finest since it is an incubator for many beginning students, that many times soar to extraordinary heights in a host of professions, and is now part of the community’s DNA we call Miami-Dade County.

LETTERS

>>> Reader on the widespread Identity Theft Fraud in South Florida, why is it so bad down here?

Thanks, I will.  It’s pretty scary.  I have been thinking of cutting back lately on the websites that I use to purchase things or store cc info, since I’ve seen a few friends lately have their information stolen.  What’s wrong with people?  In addition, why is it so bad down here?

>>> LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & INITIAL SPONSORS IN 2000

ANGEL ESPINOSA – (Deceased) owner COCONUT GROVE DRY CLEANER’S

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com .

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com (2000-2008)

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

LINDA E. RICKER (Deceased)

JOHN S. and JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION  www.knightfoundation.org

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 a year

BADIA SPICES    www.badiaspices.com

RONALD HALL

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

UNITED WAY OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.unitedwaymiamidade.org

>>> Watchdog Report supporters – $1,000 a year

AKERMAN SENTERFITT   www.akerman.com

BERKOWITZ POLLACK BRANT Advisors and Accountants www.bpbcpa.com

JEFFREY L. BERKOWITZ TRUST

RON BOOK

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

WILLIAM PALMER www.shutts.com

Rbb PUBLIC RELATIONS www.rbbpr.com

SHUBIN & BASS     www.shubinbass.com

WILLIAMSOM AUTOMOTIVE GROUP http://williamsonautomotivegroup.com/

>>> Public, Educational & Social institutions – subscribers at $1,000 or less

CAMILLUS HOUSE, INC.   www.camillushouse.org

CITY OF MIAMI www.miamigov.com.

CITY OF CORAL GABLES www.coralgables.com

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH www.miamibeachfl.gov

CHAPMAN PARTNERSHIP FOR HOMELESS www.chapmanpartnership.org

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY  www.fiu.edu

THE STATE OF FLORIDA    www.myflorida.gov

GREATER MIAMI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE www.miamichamber.com

GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU www.miamiandbeaches.com

HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA  www.hfsf.org

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION   www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COMMISSION OFFICE OF THE CHAIR www.miamidade.gov

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY ETHICS & PUBLIC TRUST COMMISSION

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOMELESS TRUST: www.miamidade.gov/homeless/

MIAMI-DADE COLLEGE www.mdc.edu

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY INSPECTOR GENERAL www.miamidade.gov/ig

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD www.dadeschools.net

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPT. http://superintendent.dadeschools.net/

MIAMI DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY www.miamidda.com

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST & JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM www.jhsmiami.org

THE BEACON COUNCIL   www.beaconcouncil.com

THE CHILDREN’S TRUST www.thechildrenstrust.org

THE GOOD GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE http://goodgov.net/

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEAGUE OF CITIES www.mdclc.org

THE MIAMI FOUNDATION  www.miamifoundation.org

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA    http://www.firstgov.gov/

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI             www.miami.edu

The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you.   The Watchdog Report is in the 14th year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 800 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over two million words have been written on our community’s governments and events.  The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.

LETTER POLICY

I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report.  Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to watchdogreport1@earthlink.net

Daniel A. Ricker

Publisher & Editor

Watchdog Report www.watchdogreport.net

Est. 05.05.00

Copyright © of original material, 2014, Daniel A. Ricker

>>> The Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me.  The news content will not be free, but you can pick and chose the stories of interest, edit them if necessary but you must still keep the general story intact.  If you are a news outlet and would like to learn more about, the Watchdog Report and this offer contact me at watchdogreport1@earthlink.net for further information.  >>> Here is what past newspapers have written about the Watchdog Report publisher including a survey and regional study done by the U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the media in the southeast United States.

>>> The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel & Sun-Sentinel articles on the Watchdog Report publisher over the years. >>> Published on September 9, 1999, Page 1EA, Miami Herald, The (FL) CITIZEN ADVOCATE’ KEEPS TABS ON POLITICIANS >>> Published on January 3, 2000, Page 1B, Miami Herald, The (FL) MIAMI-DADE WATCHDOG WILL BE MISSED >>> >>> To read the full section large two page front page story, but without the photos and smart box graphics, go to: `I Go When You Cannot’ – Sun Sentinel 20 Jan 2003 … Sometimes Dan Ricker lives in the dark so others may live in the light. … to his weekly Watchdog Report have finally mailed their checks. … http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190341_1_ricker-school-board-president-miami-s-first-cuban-american >>>Watchdog Report publisher named ‘Best Citizen’ 2003 by the Miami New Times  –The publisher would like to thank the weekly alternative paper Miami New Times for bestowing their 2003 Best of Miami, ‘Best Citizen’ award to me and I am honored.  Thank you. To read the full story go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/2003-05-15/citylife2.html/1/index.html

From the spring of 2003:  U. North Carolina, Chapel Hill:  Southeast U.S. Media Report lists Watchdog Report publisher as leading Florida commentator >>> Selected excerpts from the report on Florida’s media sources. Those who do read the newspaper in Florida have a bevy of options for state government and political coverage. The dominant newspapers in the state are Knight-Ridder’s The Miami Herald (Acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006) and the Poynter Institute’s St. Petersburg Times. Both papers endorsed Gore in 2000 but split on the 2002 gubernatorial race, with the Herald endorsing Republican incumbent Jeb Bush and the Times backing Democratic challenger Bill McBride. Daniel Ricker of The Miami Herald also writes an influential column as well as an email newsletter called the Watchdog Report that goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers. FEBRUARY 2004 – Florida: Columnists in Abundance –ERIC GAUTSCHI, graduate student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill – D) LEADING COMMENTATORS – Resource Commentator Organization Type Web site –Steve Bousquet St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/bousquet.shtml -“First Friday” WPBT TV (Miami) TV Show www.channel2.org/firstfriday/issues.html –Lucy Morgan St. Petersburg Times Column www.sptimes.com/columns/morgan.shtml –Daniel Ricker Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership.

General subscriber’s names will not be published in the Report. To subscribe to the Watchdog Report please use the form below as a subscription invoice.

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Watchdog Report Supporters Invoice-Form

NOTE: Invoice is for Yearly supporter/sponsorship Rates: Thank you.

Supporting Sponsors $5,000

Sustaining Sponsors $2,000

Corporate Sponsors $1,000 (All levels above will be listed in the report with web-site link if desired)

Large Business Supporters $500

Small Business Supporters $250

Individual Supporter $150

Student Supporter $ 75

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Name & Address

Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to: 3109 Grand Avenue, #125

Miami, FL 33133 To contact the Publisher please e-mail watchdogreport1@earthlink.net