Argus Report: Local high profile attorney & forensic accountant Freeman pleads guilty to theft of $6 million from fiduciary funds
Florida: Gov. Crist says James Madison, the father of our Constitution, wrote that consent of the governed means informed consent…
Miami-Dade County: Commissioners Diaz, Heyman, Edmonson take road trip to DC, past trips not junkets, but looking for our share of federal money!
Broward County: Commissioner Eggelletion is sentenced on federal money laundering charges, up to three-years in Big House!
Palm Beach County: Gov. Crist today announced the following appointments: Board of Trustees, Florida Atlantic University
Martin County: Feds charge local man with interstate transportation of stolen artwork
Public Health Trust: Part I in a series: “No Margin, No Mission,” said a Nun years ago about a public hospital, and was the past refrain of the PHT
City of Miami: Commissioner Dunn in the spotlight, has four listed liabilities, will he run in Nov. 2010?
City of Doral: Doral voters approve amendments to city charter
Bay Harbor Islands: Gov. Crist taps Myra Farr of Bay Harbor Islands as this week’s Governor’s Point of Light.
Letters: Readers expressing concern about my health and missing the Watchdog Report >> I thank you for the kind words and financial help that some have given since the last report!
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.)
>>> The Watchdog Report publisher would like to thank the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation www.knightfoundation.org for funding the University of Miami’s Knight Center of International Media http://knight.miami.edu within the University’s School of Communication www.miami.edu assistance to rebuild my web site www.watchdogreport.net that is now on line again, since the previous one was shut down in July 2008. Past reports will continue to go on line in the future, potentially as far back as May 2000. This institutional support is a major break through for me, and I am deeply appreciative of the help these two substantial international institutions have given me at a time the site was an unbudgeted expense and to keep the Watchdog Report a community education resource, while also being a decade old news service.
>>> If you think it is important to have someone watching your public institutions consider becoming a supporter or sponsor. For there is no trust fund and I do have to live. A convenient form is at the bottom of this week’s Watchdog Report with all the instructions on how to support this decade old newsletter and news service soon to start its 11th anniversary on May 5.
ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street
>>> Press release: Lewis Freeman case: RECEIVER PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT OF $6 MILLION FROM FIDUCIARY FUNDS
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Miami Field Office, announced today that defendant Lewis B. Freeman, pled guilty before the U.S. District Court Judge Paul C. Huck to a one-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13, 2010. At sentencing, Freeman faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison. According to the Information and statements made in court today, during at least the last 10 years, Freeman has been appointed as a fiduciary in federal and state courts in numerous matters, including receiverships, liquidating trusteeships, and assignments for the benefit of creditors. In all of these matters, Freeman was entrusted with safeguarding and protecting the assets of others he obtained by virtue of his appointment. However, Freeman engaged in a long-term scheme to misappropriate funds from the matters he was appointed to oversee. According to his plea and as charged in the Information, after receiving these fiduciary appointments, Freeman would establish bank accounts into which he would deposit the funds belonging to the related entity. In handling these fiduciary matters, Freeman retained his forensic accounting firm, Lewis B. Freeman and Partners, Inc. (“LBFP”), with offices in Miami and Plantation, to assist him in performing his duties. Freeman was president and sole shareholder of LBFP, and was the only person with an ownership interest in the company.
During today’s hearing, Freeman admitted that from at least June 2000 through August 2009, Freeman misappropriated funds from fiduciary accounts by writing unauthorized checks to himself or to his company, LBFP. The unauthorized checks were deposited into LBFP’S operating account, and the funds were subsequently withdrawn by Freeman and used to support a lavish lifestyle, including paying for extravagant vacations, clothing, and expensive home renovations and redecorating. Some of the money was also donated to charity to promote Freeman’s business, LBFP. A portion of the misappropriated funds were also used to pay back at least one individual from whom Freeman had misappropriated funds in the mid-1990’s. Freeman misappropriated funds from this victim when he was managing his retirement account at his accounting firm.
Freeman used some of the money from unrelated fiduciary accounts under his control to repay shortfalls in the depleted fiduciary accounts by moving funds, in a Ponzi-like fashion, into the depleted accounts. Freeman also instructed other employees at LBFP to falsify financial reports by omitting the unauthorized checks that were issued, thus falsely inflating account balances for the respective fiduciary accounts. Many of these false financial reports were mailed as part of official reports that were submitted by Freeman to the courts overseeing Freeman’s fiduciary appointments. In this manner, Freeman issued approximately 162 unauthorized checks, misappropriating at least $6 million from numerous matters to which he had been appointed fiduciary, resulting in at least $2.6 million in losses to affected fiduciary matters. Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The matter is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew K. Levi. 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. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov. >>> Editor’s note: Freeman has been a personal friend of mine for over a decade and when I first heard about this, I could not believe it but apparently, it is true with him pleading guilty. I wish it were otherwise.
>>> PAST WDR: I have been in the hospital after emergency surgery, one more procedure to go, need the community’s financial help to keep at this!
I have not communicated or sent out a Watchdog Report since the end of January because I had a catastrophic medical issue that required one emergency surgery and another in a few weeks after about two months of convalescing at the hospital and home. I would like to thank surgeon Jorge R. Rabaza, M.D., and the rest of his vascular surgery team of Verdeja, Rabaza, Gonzalez, P.A., who practice at South Miami Hospital (http://www.miamihope.com/doctors/index.asp.). I went to the emergency room Feb. 8 and later in the evening, the operation was done, and it was touch and go. I also want to thank all the nursing and support staff located in the forth floor annex of the hospital who took care of me for over a week after the operation and your kind manner and medical attention was deeply appreciated. I have not had the strength and mental clarity to write until the last few days and to say I need a miracle is an understatement regarding my financial survival. I have been unable to send invoices to past supporters and just paying my rent currently is a big deal and hope you will consider doing what you can to keep me out in the field and reporting back after I get back on my feet and I am feeling better. The support form is at the bottom of this truncated issue for your convenience and if high definition transparency of what your public institutions are doing is important to you. Please help and support me financially during this particularly rough patch. >>> Editor’s note: If you see people that represent these two organizations let them know you appreciate how they helped me keeping this free news resource out in our community for all to read if desired.
>>> Zogby poll: Healthcare Reform: Caddell & Schoen Have It Wrong >>> A few crocuses have braved the snow, but it’s been a long winter in Washington. It started in August, with the town hall meetings on healthcare reform. The latest icy blast was the 11 March Washington Post opinion piece (“Democrats’ Blind Ambition) aimed at Obama and congressional Democratic leaders by Democratic pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen. They make many points we have made, but miss the signs of spring. We pointed out last June that Democrats were cherry-picking the polls to argue that Americans supported the House of Representatives’ health reform bill, so we can hardly argue with Caddell and Schoen on that point. Nor can we dispute their view that Congressional Democratic leaders are “out of step” with the public, since in December and January the public told us the Democrats were not “out in front” but “out of touch”.
Moreover, our data support their assertion that most Americans want healthcare reform, but not the House and Senate bills. And yes, the naysayers feel more strongly than the supporters. And yes, Americans are more concerned about jobs and federal deficit-spending than healthcare reform, as we reported last month (though reform outranked homeland security, education, and the environment.) S. Ward Casscells, MD, the Tyson Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Texas at Houston, was Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) from 2007-9. >>John Zogby, Chairman of the Board of Zogby International, is the author of “The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream.” Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website: http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1831
>>> Zogby Interactive: 95% of U.S. Adults Say It’s Important to Reduce National Debt, But Are Split On Tax Cuts And Spending to Create Jobs 65% Say Cut Loopholes And Establish Minimum Corporate Tax >>> U.S. adults are nearly unanimous in believing that reducing the national debt is important, but are divided on related issues such as tax cuts and whether the federal government should spend more infrastructure projects to create jobs and prepare for the future. The results come from a Zogby Interactive survey of 2,068 U.S. adults conducted from Feb. 17-19, 2010. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.2%. Importance of Reducing U.S. Debt: Ninety-five percent of U.S. adults say it is important to reduce the debt, including 66% who say it is very important. Percentages who say debt reduction is very important are higher among Republicans (89%) and independents (71%) than among Democrats (44%). However, another 48% of Democrats say it is somewhat important. Numbers are similar for self-identified liberals, with a total of 91% saying debt reduction is very or somewhat important. Please click the link below to view the full news release on our website: http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=1830
>>> Press release: Local news veteran Cesar Aldama, who earlier in his career served as Managing Editor at WFOR-TV/CBS4 in Miami, has been named News Director at WFOR and sister station WBFS-TV/Channel 33, it was announced today by Shaun McDonald, President and General Manager of the CBS-owned duopoly.
Aldama, whose parents, twin brother and younger sister all live in Miami, is returning to South Florida after having served as Assistant News Director at KYW-TV/CBS3 and WPSG-TV/The CW Philly 57, the CBS-owned stations in Philadelphia, since April 2003. In his new role, Aldama will be responsible for overseeing all news operations at CBS4 and WBFS. He succeeds Adrienne Roark, who today was named News Director at KTVT-TV/CBS11 and KTXA-TV/TXA 21, the CBS-owned stations in Dallas-Fort Worth. Over the course of his 20-year local television news career, Aldama has covered stories around the world in multiple roles – beginning in the field as photo journalist, and in the newsroom as a video editor, on the assignment desk and most recently as a manager.
Aldama first joined CBS4 in Miami as Managing Editor in 1999. Before that, he was Managing Editor at WBAL-TV in Baltimore. His experience with Florida stations also includes serving as an Assignment Manager at WKMG-TV in Orlando, and early in his career as a video editor, photographer and Assignment Editor at WSVN-TV in Miami. “We are thrilled to welcome Cesar back to South Florida,” said McDonald. “He not only brings a wealth of local news experience, but also the ability to tap into his extensive, first-hand knowledge of this complex and diverse market.” “It has been both my personal and professional dream to come back home to the Miami area,” Aldama said. “To do so as part of the CBS family is the best of both worlds. I look forward to joining South Florida’s best news team as we continue to do what we do best – serve this vital community.” Born and raised at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba, Aldama is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists. He also serves on the board of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. McDonald also expressed appreciation for the role Adrienne Roark has played at CBS4 and WBFS. “Adrienne has done an incredible job as our news director for the past three years,” he said. “She will be a fantastic news director for our Dallas stations, and I believe I speak for everyone here when I say we wish her the very best.” WFOR-TV/CBS4 and WBFS/Channel 33 are part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.
>>> See what was said about the Watchdog Report in the Miami New Times 2003 — Best of Miami — BEST CITIZEN — Daniel Ricker –
Three years ago, we said Ricker was our Best Gadfly. Given his dedication and perseverance, this new honor, Best Citizen, is well deserved. Ricker goes to 2500 mind-melting meetings annually, from the Public Health Trust’s purchasing subcommittee to the Efficiency and Competition Commission to the Alliance for Human Services’ nominating council to the school board’s audit committee. Sometimes he’s the only public observer. Object: to be the Public Citizen for all those out there who can’t attend, and to connect and serve as an information bridge among the special-interest-dominated Miami-Dade governmental institutions that seem so problematic and indifferent to the democratic process.
This month his e-mail newsletter, The Watchdog Report, celebrates its fourth anniversary. In a former life Ricker made a handsome living as an international salesman of heart pacemakers. As the hard-working publisher of Watchdog Report, though, he’s struggling financially — this despite the fact that his weekly compendium of meeting summaries, analysis, interviews, and commentary has become essential reading for anyone involved in public affairs. What his written work may lack in polish, it more than makes up for in comprehensiveness. So raise a toast to the man whose official slogan says it all: “A community education resource — I go when you cannot!”
>>> Gov. Crist Press release: A Week of Sunshine: WHEREAS, James Madison, the father of our Constitution, wrote that consent of the governed means informed consent that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives;” and WHEREAS, our founders thus firmly believes that a free society cannot exist without an informed citizenry and an open and accessible government; and WHEREAS, Open government is a basic principle for our democracy and access to government information is essential for a free electorate to make informed decisions; and WHEREAS, Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are protected by the First Amendment and are cornerstones of all democratic societies and valued as important fundamental rights by all Floridians; and WHEREAS, the State of Florida provides its citizens access to government documents and meetings through the Constitution, open government laws, and the Sunshine Law; and WHEREAS, the celebration of sunshine in government began in Florida in 2002 by the Florida Society of News Editors and Florida has been a leader in open government ever since; and WHEREAS, Sunshine Week 2010 will provide Floridians with an opportunity to learn about the benefits of open and transparent governmental operations; NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charlie Crist, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing March 14 – 20, 2010 as Sunshine Week.
>>> Press release: Strengthening the Role of the Office of Inspector General Will Improve State Operations and Reduce Costs
Section 20.055, F.S. specifies that the Governor and each state agency head establish an Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is the internal monitor or “internal watchdog” of an agency. The purpose of the OIG is to provide a central point for coordination of and responsibility for activities that promote accountability, integrity, and efficiency in government. The OIG accomplishes this objective by providing independent and objective assurance and consulting activities. These activities include assessments of management systems and controls, and investigations of allegations of fraud. The OIG adds value by bringing a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of management’s systems and governance controls utilized to achieve objectives within acceptable levels of risk. As specified in Section 215.86 F.S., the purpose of these management systems and controls is to promote and encourage compliance; economic, efficient, and effective operations; reliability of records and reports; and safeguarding of taxpayer assets.
In 1983, Florida TaxWatch published a research report recommending the establishment of agency internal auditors, calling for the statutory creation of their role, duties, qualifications, and direct reporting requirements for accountability and responsible checks and balances. Florida TaxWatch recognized the need for independent review and monitoring of state agency activities. The Legislature agreed, and enacted the Chief Internal Auditor Act in 1986, the original version of Ch. 20.055 F.S. >>>With today’s operating environment of diminishing revenues and increasing needs, it is more important than ever to have strong independent reviews and evaluations of state agency activities. In addition to providing greater assurances that state assets are protected, these reviews and evaluations can also serve to identify more cost-effective processes to achieve the state’s objectives and enhance fiscal integrity, thus reducing the burden on taxpayers.Click here to view the new Florida TaxWatch Briefing, which highlights the imperative need for more independence for Inspector Generals and further protection of their role as objective government agency watchdogs.
>>> Commissioners Diaz, Heyman, Edmonson take road trip to DC, past trips not junkets, but looking for our share of federal money!
While the community’s eyes have been on Jackson Memorial Health System three county commissioners, along with assorted other commissioner and mayor staff aides took a road trip to the nation’s capital to lobby national legislators on Miami-Dade federal issues. Those commissioners that went up this year were Commission Vice Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz, along with Commissioners Sally Heyman and Audrey Edmonson, both commission committee chairs. Years ago, the Watchdog Report flew up to Washington D.C. before the commissioners got there and welcomed them to their hotel when they checked in back in 2005. I was curious if these trips were junkets and in fact, they worked very hard and had a full meeting schedule of around 30 meetings with a wide variety of federal elected and administration officials. I remember the trip for a number of reasons because when I filed the trip in my Miami Herald WDR column back then. The paper gave me my first DC filing dateline. www.miamiherald.com
>>> Press release: Governor Charlie Crist today announced the following reappointment and appointments: Metropolitan Planning Organization of Miami-Dade County
Perla T. Hantman, 68, of Miami Lakes, member of Miami-Dade County School Board, reappointed for a term beginning March 11, 2010, and ending December 16, 2013.
Zevin V. Auerbach, 52, of Aventura, city commissioner of Aventura, succeeding William Kerdyk Jr., appointed for a term beginning March 11, 2010, and ending November 23, 2013.
Carlos L. Curbelo, 30, of Miami, state director for United States Senator George LeMieux, succeeding Ruben Almaguer, appointed for a term beginning March 11, 2010, and ending June 6, 2012.
>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today announced the following reappointment and appointment: Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority
Norman R. Wartman, 54, of Miami, salesman with Milner Inc., reappointed for a term beginning March 10, 2010, and ending April 6, 2013.
Gonzalo Sanabria, 62, of Coral Gables, president of Real Estate Works Inc., succeeding Carlos Lacasa, appointed for a term beginning March 10, 2010, and ending April 6, 2013.
>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today announced the following appointments: Board of Trustees, Florida International University (Senate confirmation required)
Sukrit Agrawal, 44, of Miami Beach, chief executive officer of American Medical Depot, succeeding Patricia Frost, appointed for a term beginning March 10, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
Raul “Marcelo” Claure, 39, of Miami Beach, chairman and chief executive officer of Brightstar Corporation, succeeding Kirk Landon, appointed for a term beginning March 10, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
>>> Press release: JOB$…JOB$…JOB$: GREATER MIAMI’S LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY JOB$ REMAIN SOLID IN JANUARY DESPITE GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECESSION
In the month of January 2010, Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry employment reached 97.5% of the employment reported for the same period in 2009. An average of 100,600 people were employed in Greater Miami’s Leisure and Hospitality sector in January 2010, compared to 103,200 during the same period in 2009.
LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY JOB$
|January 2010||January 2009||% of Previous Year Level|
|100,600 jobs||103,200 jobs||97.5%|
>>> Press release: Beacon Council: Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.9 percent in January 2010 and is lower than the State of Florida
(Seasonally Unadjusted Numbers) – Miami-Dade County’s unemployment rate for January 2010 was 10.9 percent. This was a decrease of 0.6 percent compared to December 2009 (11.5%) and an increase of 2.4 percent compared to January 2009. Despite the drop from December 2009 to January 2010, the unemployment rate remains high. With the announcement of Visa’s expansion of their customer service center in Miami-Dade County and the assistance The Beacon Council is currently providing to other companies, we are hopeful that the unemployment rate will drop even further in the future. The unemployment rate for the State of Florida was 12.2 percent. This was an increase of 0.6 percent compared to December 2009. The United States unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in January 2010 and increased by 0.9 percent from December 2009. The Miami-Dade County unemployment rate is lower again than the State of Florida. For neighboring Broward County, the unemployment rate in January 2010 was 10.8 percent. This was an increase of 0.6 percent compared to December 2009 and an increase of 3.2 percent compared to January 2009. For Palm Beach County, it was 12.5 percent. This was an increase of 0.8 percent compared to December 2009 and an increase of 3.5 percent compared to January 2009.
The overall unemployment rate for the tri-county area in January 2010 was 11.2 percent. The South Florida region (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA) experienced a decrease in employment of 92,300 non-agricultural jobs between January 2009 and January 2010, or a decrease of 4.1 percent. Non-agricultural companies in Miami-Dade County lost 31,200 jobs between January 2009 and January 2010, a decrease of 3.1 percent. Most sectors lost jobs between January 2009 and January 2010. The construction sector experienced a decrease in employment of 6,200 jobs or 15.6 percent between January 2009 and January 2010. During the same period, manufacturing lost 4,700 jobs (-11.8 percent), retail trade lost 3,500 jobs (-2.9 percent), financial activities lost 2,900 jobs (-4.4 percent) and leisure and hospitality lost 2,600 jobs (-2.5 percent). At the same time, there are a few sectors that have gained jobs between December 2009 and January 2010. This indicates companies have begun hiring, albeit cautiously.
|Sector||December 2009 – January 2010 Job Change (% Change)|
|Wholesale Trade||500 (0.8%)|
|Financial Activities||900 (1.4%)|
|Local Government||600 (0.5%)|
|Federal Government||300 (1.5%)|
The Beacon Council continues to aggressively work on attracting new companies to our community and working on the retention of existing business. We promote Miami-Dade County as a global business center through our “Miami: Where Worlds Meet” campaign. >>> About The Beacon Council: The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s official economic development partnership, is a not-for-profit, public-private organization that focuses on job creation and economic growth by coordinating community-wide programs; promoting minority business and urban economic revitalization; providing assistance to local businesses in their expansion efforts; and marketing Greater Miami throughout the world. Visit www.beaconcouncil.com for more information.
>>> Press release: FORMER BROWARD COUNTY VICE-MAYOR AND COMMISSIONER SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRING TO LAUNDER MONEY AND TO FILING A FALSE TAX RETURN
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announced that defendant Josephus “Joe” Eggelletion, 60, of Lauderdale Lakes, was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks in West Palm Beach to thirty (30) months incarceration. Eggelletion, a former Vice-Mayor and Commissioner in Broward County, had previously pled guilty to a one count Information charging him with conspiring to commit money laundering and filing a false tax return, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
During his December 10, 2009 plea hearing, Eggelletion admitted to intentionally conspiring with others to assist in the laundering of money represented by FBI undercover agents as coming from a purported high yield investment “Ponzi” scheme, and to evade paying federal income taxes on the cash fees he received for laundering this money. More specifically, Eggelletion admitted that he introduced the FBI undercover agents to co-conspirators Ronald Owens and Joel Williams, who assisted the undercover agents in meeting with Bahamian attorney Sidney Cambridge to open a Bahamian bank account to launder their money. The undercover agents had represented to Eggelletion and others that the money originated from a high yield investment fraud scheme. According to statements made in court, during 2007, in five separate transactions, the undercover agents wire-transferred approximately $900,000 to Cambridge’s escrow account, which Cambridge in turn transferred to the Bahamian account he set up for the undercover. Ultimately, the funds were transferred from the Bahamian account to an FBI-controlled bank account in Saint Croix. In February 2008, Owens informed Eggelletion that the undercover agents were laundering another $200,000 (in addition to the $900,000 previously laundered). Pursuant to their agreement, Eggelletion and his associates received a fee of 7% of funds laundered through the accounts, which fee was paid in cash. Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neil Karadbil and Jeffrey Kaplan. >> 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. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov
PALM BEACH COUNTY
>>> Press releases: Gov. Crist today announced the following appointments: Board of Trustees, Florida Atlantic University (Senate confirmation required)
Dr. Jeffrey P. Feingold, 64, of Delray Beach, periodontist and chief executive officer of MCNA Dental Plans and Dentaland Dental Centers, succeeding Lalita Janke, appointed for a term beginning March 11, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
Robert S. Rubin, 48, of Boca Raton, principal of Rubin Wealth Advisors, succeeding Scott Adams, appointed for a term beginning March 11, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
>> Gov. Crist today announced the following appointments: Board of Trustees, University of South Florida (Senate confirmation required)
Jordan B. Zimmerman, 54, of Boca Raton, founder and chairman of Zimmerman Advertising, succeeding Kiran Patel, appointed for a term beginning March 9, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
Byron E. Shinn, 52, of Bradenton, accountant and president of Shinn & Company P.A., succeeding Sonja Garcia, appointed for a term beginning March 9, 2010, and ending January 6, 2015.
>>> Press release: MARTIN COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF STOLEN ARTWORK
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced Robert C. Dibartolo was charged with the interstate transportation of stolen artwork. According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, on April 18, 2004, unknown subjects forcibly broke into a home in Saint Louis, Missouri. The unknown subjects stole a valuable painting hanging in the front foyer of the residence. The artwork, a Juan Gris original, untitled, oil on canvas, 1926, is a still life cubist impressionist work valued at approximately $1 million. According to court documents, on November 8, 2009, the defendant spoke to an undercover agent regarding the potential purchase of the Juan Gris painting that the defendant was attempting to sell. On March 11, 2010, the defendant met with the undercover agent in a hotel in Jupiter, Florida. During the meeting, the defendant produced the original Juan Gris painting, wrapped in a light blue Ryder packing blanket. Upon determination by the undercover agent that the painting was authentic, the defendant was taken into custody. The painting was later identified by its original owner.
If convicted, Dibartolo faces a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years. >>> Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lothrop Morris. A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST
>>> Part I in a series: “No Margin, No Mission,” said a Nun years ago about a public hospital and was the past refrain of the PHT
I have been extensively attending PHT committees (for years held at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays) and board meetings since 1998 and I want to give some history on how the health trust got to where it is today, recently described as “possible” or in a healthcare “death spiral.” For the public hospital has been moving in this direction for years and only accelerated its financial losses over the last 12 months but only more recently did it grab South Florida media headlines. www.miamiherald.com and www.WFOR4-CBS.com The public hospital system, one of the largest in the nation and over 90-years old, has been approaching this financial iceberg since roughly 2004 when the trust that budget year made a $84 million negative adjustment to its books going all the way back to the 1980s and included a $40 million federal payment that had been owed for years. Back in 2004 the trust also was down to 18 to 20-days of cash at a institution that burns through currently about $4.5 million a day in payroll costs for its past high 12,500 employees, but that employee number is falling fast. Further, this financial hemorrhaging has only gotten worse as around $650 to $700 million is given in charity care in the current year. The reason 18-days in cash is important is that is the amount required to make the current $85 million in monthly payroll, and while negotiations are ongoing with the county mayor’s office, the manager and the commission. The financial clock is ticking and cash is expected to run out in May without a around $70 million financial lifeline from the county in the coming weeks that will return $96 million in state funds to the PHT at the end of April, said the administration on Tuesday at the all day PHT meeting.
County Mayor Carlos Alvarez in response to the PHT’s president’s Mar. 5 Proposed Recovery Plan to the Public Health Trust wrote back on Wednesday the plan was not detailed enough and questioned whether the closing of Jackson South and Jackson North and laying off 4,500 employees was the right course. In a conversation last week with the mayor’s media representative. She described PHT CEO & President Dr. Eneida Roldan’s recovery document as the “Shock and Awe” plan, and the mayor, she said, was waiting for tangible details on how to fix the institution, and how any money would be paid back to the cash strapped county general fund. This takes extra urgency since a recent memo by county commission attorney Robert Cuevas, Jr., stated union employees salaries at the health trust were ultimately a county responsibility, if the trust was unable to fulfill that obligation. This opinion has caught everyone’s attention at the county, even though the commission over the decades has untimely approved all labor contracts negotiated by the PHT’s administration. And over the years, the county legislative body has weighed into these PHT union negotiations, generally to the overall financial detriment of the health trust.
What did former CEO O’Quinn find after he took over running the hospital?
The trust in July 2003 brought on new CEO & President Marvin O’Quinn and he followed interim head Gerard A. Kaiser, M.D., who succeeded the top spot for about six-months after iconic leader Ira Clark stepped down after being hired over a decade before, who in his last years in senior management suffered medical issues that left the institution running on “auto-pilot” said one senior member of the administration at the time. Further, Jackson like the county and school district suffered from a bureaucracy that believed working at the public hospital was a “right rather than a privilege,” a phrase that was later tried to be reversed by the new management with mixed results. Another example of the past culture that existed in the hospital during the 1990s and beyond until O’Quinn got there was the trust for certain high profile community or elected people picked up some of the person’s funeral costs and one such funeral caught the IG’s office eye back in early 2003. Also, in the operating room, for years there was a problem with surgeries starting a half-hour late from the posted time and senior management finally sent someone up to the OR to see what was going on and why the delay. In that case, they found a group of OR workers praying during this time for patients in the hospital and that practice was ended and surgical procedures started on time avoiding the cascading affect the early delays were causing in the busy OR and getting patients to beds after the event, but it gives one the idea of the kind of institutional culture sometimes found in the hospital over the past years. >>> Editor’s note: On the clinical side, Jackson staff over the years have performed medical miracles and any criticism of the overall culture is not directed at these people generally.
What about past PHT boards?
Since 1998, the past chairs of the PHT have been Arthur Hertz, Amadeo Lopez Castro, Michael Kosnitzky, Larry Handfield, Ernesto de la Fe and now John Copeland, III and each had their own leadership style during there tenure in the top leadership post. However, Kosnitzky got the unenviable job of having to retire Clark of his leadership position that resulted in major controversy; a job originally assigned to be done by Lopez-Castro during his time in the leadership position but did not occur back then.
What about the nominating process for trustees?
The PHT board chair also is part of the trustee nominating council and briefs others on the body (county commissioners and the appointment of a member of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation) on the performance and attendance of the members that are up for renewal for another three-year term and these comments are given weight. However, the way the nominating council operated changed in 2002 after voters gave the Miami-Dade County Commission the authority to reorganize itself, select its own commission chair, among other things that also stripped the mayor of that authority prior to the countywide vote. Before 2002, the mayor, then Alex Penelas selected the people that selected who would be on the then 21-member trust, plus two non-voting county commissioners but after the organization change Commissioner Dennis Moss over a 18-month period disbanded that old board and crafted a new ordinance that reduced the trust board’s size to 15 members, but now included on top of that two voting commissioners as well on the body that overseas Jackson Health System. And while Miami-Dade has helped Jackson with payments known as maintenance of effort support, well over $100 million last year. The county commission in 2000 also moved $65 million in unfunded mandates into the health trust budget and that number has grown to over $100 million in total that includes inmates in county jails needing medical treatment, county nursing homes and other services previously paid and provided by Miami-Dade, that also eats into the $175 million of a half-cent countywide sales tax dedicated to Jackson it receives yearly.
>>> Next PHT board meeting: A special meeting of the PHT Board of Trustees has been scheduled for Monday, March 15, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. in the West Wing Board Room. >>> Editor’s note: In future WDR’s I will cover in more detail the history of past billing and collection process’, the county’s financial contribution over the decade, and past Watchdog Report PHT stories over the past ten-years.
>>> PAST WDR: JULY 2008, Financial shortfall earlier then expected with the bad economy: >>> Jackson Memorial, 90 years old but will it run out of cash by 2011-2012 without major community help, check out the financial graphs
When PHT president & CEO Marvin O’Quinn gave his presentation to the joint Board of County Commission and PHT board recently he used the following two graphs to illustrate what the health trust faces in the future as far as the financial burdens. He noted cities that have had its public hospital fail creates a ripple effect on other near by medical institutions and many times other local hospitals will close a few years later. The graph below says it all, and from 2008 on the difference between revenue coming in and charity care given just gets wider as a deficit grows with the end coming in 2011-2012 . When there will be no cash left to make payroll and community leaders must work together now to try to figure out of a way to avoid this future calamity.
Jackson Memorial, 90 years old but will it run out of cash by 2011-2012 without major community help, check out the financial graphs
When PHT president & CEO Marvin O’Quinn gave his presentation to the joint Board of County Commission and PHT board recently he used the following two graphs to illustrate what the health trust faces in the future as far as the financial burdens. He noted cities that have had its public hospital fail creates a ripple effect on other near by medical institutions and many times other local hospitals will close a few years later. The graph below says it all, and from 2008 on the difference between revenue coming in and charity care given just gets wider as a deficit grows with the end coming in 2011-2012 . When there will be no cash left to make payroll and community leaders must work together now to try to figure out of a way to avoid this future calamity. >>> PHT administration Graphs created in JULY 2008 and as of Mar.4, 2010, Readers should just bump up the date for when it is out of cash for payroll now to late spring.
CITY OF MIAMI
>>> Commissioner Dunn in the spotlight, has four listed liabilities, will he run in Nov. 2010?
Newly appointed Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn, II is in the spotlight this week after the commission confirmed him to replace indicted and suspended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones who is fighting the charges and says she is innocent. Dunn a pastor of a local church in District 5 was a commissioner previously in the 1990s and while liked in parts of the community. He never won elected office in his own right, recently coming in a distant second to Spence-Jones in a January special city election. He recently got a big write–up in The Miami Times where he was asked if he would run for the seat in November after telling commissioners during his appointment interview that he would not run. To the paper, he was inconclusive in his comments about a race. However, there is no law that he has to keep that promise and he is expected to seek the seat in his own right if Spence-Jones is not reinstated to her office by that time. He also on Thursday at the commission meeting said he received his college degree using an academic and athletic scholarship when trying to point out the benefits of some local community based programs activities.
Dunn was spotted eating lunch on Wednesday at Scotty’s Landing with local attorney and lobbyist Robert Holland and another man. Holland on Thursday at the commission meeting was part of a lobbyist team representing a company bidding on red light cameras that included former Miami-Dade Commission Chair, two time losing county mayoral candidate and current state senate candidate Miguel Diaz de la Portilla leading the lobbying team speaking in front of the municipal legislative body.
What do we know about his finances?
Dunn on his Feb. 25 Form 1 financial disclosure filed with the city clerk lists Faith Community Baptist Church as his source of income but no dollar number and when it comes to liabilities. He lists Octwen Financial Corp., the IRS, American Education Services and the U.S. Dept. of Education, but again listing no value of these loans.
CITY OF DORAL
>>> DORAL VOTERS APPROVE AMENDMENTS TO THE CITY CHARTER
Press release: The voters of the City of Doral approved all five amendments to the Doral City Charter during the Special Elections on March 9, 2010. The five amendments address issues of ethics, defining the role of municipal government, naming of city properties, and elections. “The voters of Doral have approved changes to the charter that support the values of a clear and open administration, and will bring better government to our residents,” said Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez. The Special Elections had a voter turnout of 10.5 percent (1,378 voters), and the City Council ratified the results during their Council Meeting with a unanimous vote. Now that these amendments have been approved, they will be incorporated into the City Charter. The City of Doral electors approved the following questions:
Question 1: Modification of Charter provisions relating to ethics and courtesy. Adding Ethics and Courtesy to the Preamble >>Shall the Preamble of the City of Doral’s charter be amended to provide that the City Council and all of its boards, committees, commissions and employees shall at all times conduct themselves in accordance with common courtesy and consistent with the Code of Ethics of the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County?
Question 2: Modification of Charter provision relating to defining the municipal role. Expanding the Municipal Role in the Preamble >> Shall the preamble of the Charter of the City of Doral be amended to recognize that the City exists for the purpose of providing for the health, education, safety and welfare of its citizenry?
Question 3: Modification of Charter to require a Code of Ethics. Requiring a Code of Ethics >> Shall the Charter of the City of Doral be amended to require the City Council to pass Ordinance(s) which address Code of Ethics and Rules of Procedures for the City Council and all of the City Boards?
Question 4: Modification of Charter to require procedures and criteria for the naming of City properties and facilities. Requiring Procedures and Criteria for the Naming of City Properties and Facilities >> Shall the Charter of the City of Doral be amended to require the City Council to develop a procedure and criteria to be used in determining whether City Property and facilities should be named after an individual or an organization?
Question 5: Modification of Charter provision to increase the time period between the City’s General Election and the Run-Off Election. Increasing the time period between the City’s General Election and the Run-Off Election >> Shall Section 5.01(C) of the Charter of the City of Doral be amended to change the run-off date for City elections from the third Tuesday in the month of November to the fourth Tuesday in the month of November?
BAY HARBOR ISLANDS
>>> Press release: Gov. Crist today recognized Myra Farr of Bay Harbor Islands as this week’s Governor’s Point of Light.
“Myra is such a one-of-a-kind spirit, spending more than five decades helping others and making her community a better place to live, work and play,” said Governor Crist. “The longevity of her commitment to volunteering and helping women, children and families is inspiring, and I am so proud she is a Floridian.” For more than 50 years, Farr, age 95, has been a fixture with the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW,) a faith-based organization committed to improving the quality of life for women, children and families by protecting individual freedoms. Through her work with the NCJW, Farr volunteers with CHARLEE Homes, Miami-Dade Guardian ad Litem program, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, and Casa Valentina. She has also assisted with fundraising efforts for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and the Jewish Museum of Florida. “Myra is a state treasure,” said Senator Nan Rich. “She has devoted her long, full life to helping people in our community – children in foster care, victims of abuse, those who struggle with literacy, those who seek equality and dignity, those with special needs – the young and the old. Even at the age of 95, she is still mentoring women who are half her age and developing the next generation of women to lead and serve their communities.” >>> AAA Auto Club South is the supporting sponsor of the Governor’s Points of Light Award. Walt Disney World is an in-kind supporter. This program recognizes Florida residents who demonstrate exemplary service to the community. Award recipients are announced weekly. A panel of judges comprised of leaders in the areas of volunteerism and service evaluate all nominations and make recommendations to the Governor. The Volunteer Florida Foundation manages the program. For more information, or to submit a nomination, go to www.VolunteerFloridaFoundation.org.
>>> If I was able to financially support Watchdog at this moment. I would in a heartbeat. You are one of those amazing people that “get it” and are not afraid to speak the truth. I understand more than you can imagine as to the challenges we face when we go out there wanting to make a difference, leaving the security of the “regular” behind. I am very happy to know that you are ok…best to you always.
>>> I was very sorry to read about your recent health issues and emergency bout with the surgeon’s scalpel but was delighted to learn that subject to one more operation you will soon be on the road to mending and recovery. You have my every best wish for a speedy and full recovery. Your emergency surgery must have been not too long after the last school district Audit Committee meeting, which you attended. It is amazing because I expressly recall thinking how good I thought you looked while we were talking with me prior to the meeting’s start. I am certain that like me all of your other Watchdog Report devotees have missed reading the Watchdog and look forward to your quick return to action. Per your article of today anent the financial status of things at the Watchdog, your recent illness and a need for a financial miracle, I will send when I return to Miami a little contribution check as I did last year to assist in the support of the Watchdog Report. Get well soon. All the best,
>>> Hope your recovery goes well, and thanks for carrying the torch for good government. Glad to hear that you are better. Your report was definitely missed!
>>> Good luck with your next surgery Daniel! We wish you a speedy and complete recovery. Will send a small check – as things are still tight…
>>> Hope You’re doing better Dan. Things are going crazy without you!
>>> Hello Dan, I hope that you are feeling better every day! Take care.
>>> Our small business check is on its way. Hope to see you and get the Watchdog Report back on line soon.
>>> Good morning: Get Well Soon!
>>> I hope everything goes well for you. If there is anything we can do for you please do not hesitate to contact me. My prayers will be with you.
>>> Godspeed, Dan… Get well soon! The pressroom at government center just isn’t the same without you!
>>> Are you ok? God bless.
>>> I wondered about you. Glad you are doing OK.
>>> Glad to hear that you are back home. You went through a very tough time. I know how difficult it is to be sick and in the hospital, especially with abdominal surgery. My thoughts are with you,
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The Watchdog Report covers a few of the meetings attended weekly. It remains my belief that an informed public will make better decisions. Therefore, I go to meetings, make the presence of an informed citizen known, and bring the information to you. The Watchdog Report is in the fourth year of publication and it has been an honor to be able to send this information to you. It is sent to readers in Miami-Dade, Florida, the U.S. and the world. The Watchdog Report is sent to thousands free and while readers have been prodded to subscribe the results have been mixed. Over 250 reports and Extra’s have been sent since May 5, 2000 and over one million words have been written on our community’s governments and events. The report is an original work based on information gathered at public meetings, interviews and from documents in the public domain.
I welcome letters via e-mail, fax, or snail mail. Letters may be edited for length or clarity and must refer to material published in the Watchdog Report. Please see address and contact information. Please send any additions and corrections by e-mail, fax or snail mail. All corrections will be published in the next Watchdog Report. If you or your organization would like to publish the contents of this newsletter, please contact me. Please send your request to email@example.com
Daniel A. Ricker
Publisher & Editor
Copyright © of original material, 2009, Daniel A. Ricker
>>> Watchdog Report is expanding as a new service and this content is now available to other news media, no longer exclusive to The Miami Herald
The Watchdog Report is no longer exclusively with The Miami Herald, and excluding the one story a week that is printed in the paper on Monday in the Metro & State section by me. The rest of the 20 or so news stories weekly sent out Sunday in the Watchdog Report are now available to television stations web pages, and all the newspapers and other media in South Florida if the publishers have an interest to run part or all of the stories. Further, in 2000, I used to have some paper’s running the report in the Spanish press, that option is available again, and publishers should contact me. The news content will not be free, but you can pick and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 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 –www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/dan_ricker/ >>> Readers who would like to read the complete University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Southeast United States Media Report go to view the complete report or download all the data used in this study. >>> Watchdog Report Editor’s note to the NCU/CH study: The subscriber number referenced is incorrect and applies to readership. The Southern Media Landscape (PDF) Daniel Ricker. Miami Herald/Watchdog Report Newsletter. www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald … circulation, 134,269. Dan Hoover leads the. publication’s ..www.unc.edu/~davismt/SouthNow.pdf – 574k – View as html