Watchdog Report Vol. 16 No.2 May 29, 2015 EST 05.05.00 I go when you cannot – Celebrating 16 Years of weekly publishing

Argus Report: The U.S. House gets another black eye with the indictment of former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert

Florida: Gov. Scott statement on federal low income pool (LIP) funding– $4.2 billion House & Senate re Medicaid expansion, With time winding down state lawmakers are still battling the issue of expanding Medicaid but with a $4.2 billion budget gap GOP lawmakers are hesitant to expand the program and has both the House and Senate at odds with the clock ticking down To Special legislative Session Jun1 http://www.miamiherald.com/search/?q=Florida+BUDGET

Miami-Dade County: County’s self-insurance health program making the targeted savings anticipated says, budget guru Moon to BCC committeePublic Health Trust: BCC approves $26 million in revenue bonds, and is part of financing $630 million in improvements for the public hospital system that has an ageing infrastructure campus

City  of Miami: Commission Dist. 2 race fundraising going through roof, Candidate Teresa Sarnoff raises $389,964 for campaign, “loves to drive,” when it comes to her use of Sargent-of-Arms to drive her around, she tells Watchdog Report

Village of Coconut Grove: Massive Water & Sewer project in Grove halted for study says Commissioner Sarnoff 

City of Miami Beach: Mayors band together against gambling

City of Coral Gables: Focus Groups Reminder: Gables residents get to participate in focus groups

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

Editorials: The City of Miami has to become more transparent, people and governments’ have to sue to get public records and gives Miami commissioners transparency black eye

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

 

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

 

>>> If you wish to be deleted, just e-mail me with that message. I apologize to a couple of people that I could not delete recently

 

 

 

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

 

>>>> The Watchdog Report publisher needs help and I hope you will consider supporting me allowing me to stay out in the field so that I can keep at this, for now 16 years, and report back how your billions of public dollars in government are being spent on a weekly basis. And how to do that is at the end of the WDR. Thank You.

 

ARGUS REPORT – Heard, Seen on the Street

 

>>> The U.S. House gets another black eye with the indictment of former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert

 

A scandal is rocking the nation’s Capital after a former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted for breaking banking rules with $3.5 million in bank withdrawals in $10,000 lots and then lied about it to the FBI and the money was being used to pay two undisclosed people hush money and given past Speakers over the decades he is not the first but it is another blemish on Congress that is trying to reestablish the trust of the American public.

 

>>> The GOP and the 2016 Political Landscape By: John Zogby Forbes.com Contributor

 

If history alone holds the key then Republicans should be going into the 2016 presidential cycle as the party to beat. They do have some distinct advantages, however I still think at this point in time they have a lot to prove. Among their advantages:

The Direction of the Nation – President Obama’s approval numbers are about average but voters are still in a foul mood. Only three in ten feel the nation is heading in the right direction. Please click on the link below to view the full release: http://zogbyanalytics.com/news/584-the-gop-and-the-2016-political-landscape

 

 

On the well-being of our children. Visit The Children’s Movement website to read their stories and share your own. >>> I find it unacceptable, as all of us should, that at least a half-million children in Florida – all citizens — have no health insurance. How could this be in our beloved country that seeks to be a beacon to the world? Health insurance for all children is one of the five major planks of The Children’s Movement. With the support of Florida Covering Kids and Families, The Children’s Movement is working with dozens of local partners to help build a meaningful signing-up initiative in more than a dozen Florida communities. Already we have: Completed 18 KidCare trainings around the state. Signed up, trained and deployed more than a hundred volunteers. Begun to build a growing collaboration between local school districts and KidCare outreach coalitions. It’s a good start, but only the start. If you’d like to become a volunteer, just click here. Another way to help is to make a contribution – of any size – to help support this work. It is easy. Just click here. A real movement isn’t possible without your helping in some meaningful way. Dave Lawrence, Jr., Chair the Children’s Movement. >>> Update: Two encouraging meetings… The first, a visit from the Governor to the Rainbow Intergenerational Child Care center in Little Havana where he discussed his early learning priorities. That includes his support for “Help Me Grow,” a statewide parent resource system where parents would be able — via phone and online — to get and she thought answers to questions about their child’s development and connected with the proper resources. The second, a meeting with future House Speaker, Rep. Jose Oliva from Hialeah. He’s a father of three, a real reader of history and student of policy, and committed to better understanding early learning. Dave Lawrence, Chair The Children’s Movement.

 

 


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

 

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Lawrence
Chair
The Children’s Movement of Florida

 

>>>> The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County has released its 2014 Annual Report and the Trust continues its mission of preparing all children to be ready to perform in school and live in a safe healthy environment and funds $90.240 million in budgeted programs and services countywide and 18 percent of this money is used to ensure “children are healthy physically and emotionally,’ state’s the report. Further 19 percent of the budget goes to programs directed towards making sure “Children are ready to succeed when entering school, and another 34 percent goes to developmental programs that “Children are successful in school and society,” And 9 percent is spent on Administration and another 3 percent goes to “non-operating expenses,” state’s the Annual report for that year.

 

State of Florida:

 

>>> Gov. Scott statement on federal Low Income Pool (LIP) funding

 

Please see the below statement today from Jackie Schutz, Communications Director in response to media inquiries today on LIP.  If you have any further questions, please contact the Governor’s Press Office at 850-717-9282.

 

“AHCA has spent days with HHS officials trying to be responsive to the parameters they sent us last week and they have worked through a formula that would keep record hospital profits almost entirely whole.  In fact, only a handful of hospitals would lose money as a result of reducing the funding that their record profit margins show they could not afford.  This group totals only around $60 million in losses. Without HHS finalizing an agreement in principal on this federal healthcare funding for the poor, we will fail to have a budget that keeps Florida’s economy growing.” – JACKIE SCHUTZ

Jackie Schutz, Communications Director, Governor Rick Scott

 

>>> County’s health self-insurance program making the targeted savings anticipated says, budget guru Moon to BCC committee

 

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez during last year’s budget hearings proposed making the County’s health insurance program self-insured believing that some $40 million could be saved in the rising healthcare costs at the county. And County budget guru Jennifer Moon said the plan was on track and I contacted her after she made a presentation at a county commission committee meeting and she wrote back by email, “We are on target to achieve the savings we anticipated.  I tripped because the lady next to me put her foot out in front of me.  She didn’t know I was getting up.

 

What did Transportation Chair Estephan Bovo say to the members of the Citizens Independent Transit Trust last week? Bovo told the citizen Based board that he is working a number of ways the County might be able to have a connection going South but might also have a link to the MIC which is a major transit hub and people should not expect much in the way of federal funding for Washington doesn’t have money for this and expects communities to also have fiscal skin in the game that might include a tourist tax or making a transit area a CRA to help fund it and the community has two Congressmen well positioned on the Transportation Committee, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Miami and U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbello, R-Miami said Bovo but he noted the fiscal limitations the nation faces.

 

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

 

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

 

What about mayoral Candidate Raquel Regalado?

 

Regalado comes from a family of journalists and she is effectively utilizing the media and last week at the school Board there was an extensive discussion of the Audit of the Value Adjustment Board (VAB) something she has been championing since the school during the budget process has to deal with a $40 million budget hole since it takes the County so long to clear property  tax appeals and the attempt was to see if there was some structural issue that must be corrected to mitigate this delay in funding owed to the nation’s fourth largest public schools district. And at Wednesday’s Board Meeting when a transfer of land for the large Mall passed.  She probable again got some decent television time in the Spanish media and she is staying on the airwaves on a consistent basis( as to be fair so is Gimenez) but  his message is generally dour and not as upbeat in tone to Regalado’s whose father is also campaigning for his daughter as well in the coming months but she is now defining herself with the county’s voters who see her race a big stretch from being on the schools board since there is a Superintendent and in the County’s case there is a strong mayor form of government and she will have to run the colossus herself with well over 26,0000 employees, and that competency was a known fact since Gimenez at one point was Manager of the City of Miami and a Miami Fire Chief, but with some people voter fatigue is setting in and Regalado the daughter is young and energetic  and she is slowly making her case with county voters, some are saying, but there is a long way to go before the Nov. 2016 general election. And a new Mega Mall is likely to be a campaign issues in the months ahead and readers should stay tuned and see how this development being done by Triple Five turns out for critics argue there are some downsides to this type of developments. And here is a critical story on Mega Malls http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article14525900.html

 

What about any other challengers?

 

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

 

>>> GMCVB press release: RECORD DEMAND FOR TRAVEL TO GREATER MIAMI & THE BEACHES DURING JANUARY – APRIL 2015 WITH #1 RANKING IN REVENUE PER AVAILABLE ROOM (REVPAR), #1 IN AVERAGE DAILY ROOM RATE (ADR) AND #1 IN HOTEL ROOM OCCUPANCY AMONG THE TOP 25 U.S. MARKETS AS DEFINED BY SMITH TRAVEL RESEARCH.
Record January – April 2015 – Miami #1
#1 – Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR)
January – April 2015 January – April 2014 % Change vs. 2014
$203.49 $186.81 +8.9%
# 1 – Average Daily Room Rate (ADR)
January – April 2015 January – April 2014 % Change vs. 2014
$241.70 $222.77 +8.5%
#1 – Average Daily Occupancy
January – April 2015 January – April 2014 % Change vs. 2014
84.2% 83.9% +0.4%

 

PUBLIC HEALTH TRUST

 

BCC approves $26 million in revenue bonds and is part of financing $630 million in improvements for the public hospital system that has an ageing infrastructure campus

 The Miami-Dade County Commission last week approved $26 million in revenue bonds for the massive upgrades to Jackson Health System that county voters approved overwhelmingly in 2012 and approved issuing $830  million in new funding for infrastructure and was badly needed and currently is moving ahead.

CITY OF MIAMI

>>> Commission Dist. 2 race fundraising going through roof, Candidate Teresa Sarnoff raises $389,964 for campaign, “loves to drive,” when it comes to her use of Sargent-of-Arms to drive her around, she tells Watchdog Report

 

What about the Miami District 2 elections?

 

When coconut grove residents were given an opportunity to hear the Miami-Dade County’s explanation to the now delayed massive water and sewer improvements program along Main Highway. Their Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his wife Teresa were holding a fundraiser for her campaign with over$300,000 in it now in a variety of PACS and other campaign accounts. Further while Sarnoff’s wife is one of 8 candidates and her biggest challenger is Grace Solaris an she recently picked up the support Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado where he appeared at a fundraiser at Berries Restaurant off 27th Avenue and she also has support from state Rep. Javier Rodriguez’, D- Coconut Grove and she periodically gets vilified by Sarnoff from the dais.

 

“I love to drive,” said Teresa Sarnoff when I asked her if she was going to use the sergeant-of-arms like her husband does to take her around Miami very often and is a perk some commissioners over use since they do get a $11,00 car allowance in that position and it involves a sworn Miami police officer providing them protection. And first started back in the early 2000s when now deceased Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele, Jr. pushed the commission having these type of officials. After then Mayor Joe Carollo hired an Israeli security guard for himself, and Teele thought commissioner’s deserved the same protection staff.

 

Miami Commissioners and Chair Willy Gort needs to ask more often if there is anyone from the public that would like to speak to the commission because at Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman asks all through their meetings if there is anyone from the public that wants to speak on any topic since the new state law requires more public input at from the “public that wants to speak? She asks and she is in stark contrast to the Miami commission meetings and Chair Gort should get some guidance on this matter. Since there is such a contrast versus the county where elected leaders ask often if any public wants to speak. And Gort also urges public speaking after they  run over two minutes, “and in conclusion” he reminds speakers which many times disrupt’ s the person’s train of thought  at the podium. http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2015/03/miami-commissioner-willy-gort-draws-a-challenger-in-reelection-campaign.html

 

Massive Grove Water & Sewer project put on hold says SarnoffMiami Dist. 2, Press release: Main Highway Project Halted

 Traffic Study Commencing in November for Bike Lane

unnamed-1Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has just communicated with our office that the Main Highway Storm water Project will not proceed forward as was disclosed in the recent public hearing at City Hall. The City and County will perform a traffic study to confirm that traffic density will allow for the installation of the bike lane. The study will commence in November when school is back in session.

The left turn lane heading North on Main Highway which allows a connection from Main to Commodore, as well as what is described as the scramble lane, will both be studied to see if they can be modified to allow room for a protected bike lane. It is now a part of official federal policy for the construction of new federal roads to protect bike riders, and we believe this should be standard practice for all roads. The protected bike lane will be designed to start from the water side of the Coconut Grove Playhouse to McFarland. This will end the riding on the sidewalk that now occurs. We want to prevent the conflicting and unsafe use of the sidewalks by bikers, pedestrians, joggers and sidewalk restaurants. We thank Mayor Gimenez and Commissioner Suarez for supporting the traffic study and the bike lane if we can construct the lane in accordance with study.

We have heard some who claim there is no need for the storm water project and many have campaigned against the removal of the slap trench drain system. A response is warranted. First, we as Grovites have always expressed ourselves as environmentalists, caring about our trees, water, and more particularly our bay and its water quality. Many of us are boaters and treasure the water and want to keep our bay as clean as possible. The old slap trench we currently have is nothing more than a concrete tube that is sealed without barriers or a chamber to remove solids (pollution) or a chamber to remove liquid pollutants.

The trench has failed as it is partially collapsing and invaded with tree roots. The new system will give the County the ability to remove solid and liquid pollutants. The County cleans the new system at twice the national average, which improves the water quality of the bay. The slap trench currently in use allows whatever is spilled into it to go directly to the bay, and in the past some restaurants released its grease directly into the sewer which results in pollutants pouring into the bay. This project is necessary to be responsible stewards of our water resources, and additionally to decrease flooding in the area. As was clearly pointed out, Main Highway floods further South and should be inspected. That system is a separate slap trench than the one on Main Highway and into Downtown Coconut Grove.

 

As always, if you have questions or concerns that you’d like to share with our office, you can always call us at (305) 250-5333 or email me at msarnoff@miamigov.com.

Visit the Virginia Key Outdoor Center!unnamed-3Virginia Key has a fresh breath of life in the form of Virginia Key Outdoor Center. Located at the newly renamed Virginia Key Beach North Point Park, the center boasts of sheltered waters even in the strongest of winds. Located across from the former Jimbo’s site, Virginia Key Outdoor Center offers kayaks, stand-up paddleboards (SUP), surf skis, SUP Yoga, cruisers and mountain bike rentals, group fitness, nature walks, environmental education, and world class nature viewing. Manatees frequent the lagoon each afternoon to feed on thriving mangroves.

Upcoming events include full moon paddles, bio-luminescent lagoon paddles during summer months, paddling workshops, SUP and traditional yoga, food trucks, live music and more. With so much to take in the on-site snack shop offers cold drinks, hot coffee and healthy bites.

unnamed-4Although this took years of planning, this fulfills District 2’s vision 5 years ago of opening up the mountain biking trail, with bike rentals, kayaking, and paddle boarding, so that we can all enjoy our piece of paradise. Head to Virginia Key Outdoor Center for your memorable outdoor experience. For more information on upcoming events visit www.vkoc.net or call 786-224-4777.

 

 

With a pack of candidates running to replace Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his wife Teresa trying to replace him on the Miami Commission. Since he is termed out. Some people suggest the commissioner was born in the wrong Century given his appetite for elected office that may include him running for Miami-Dade County Commission District 7 in 2016 and Sarnoff an attorney has fundraising capabilities that dwarf other candidates and he politically cut his teeth in a 2006 race after his predecessor was removed from office and in a brutal campaign he beat incumbent Linda Haskins and both candidates at the time raised huge sums of money for the race and Sarnoff won the race by a two to one vote over Haskins and he and his supporters all celebrated the victory at Greenstreet’s restaurant in Coconut Grove and he was humble after the victory but he would later change in 2007 when he won a full four year term on the dais and it is his way or the highway if you disagree with the  lawmaker. His wife says she is “her own woman,” but people are wondering what that means since she has gotten limited press on what her views are versus her husband’s and her own campaign which  has been fueled by developers contributors and given there are only 41,000 registered voters in the last election where 5,450 residents cast their vote she is expected to have the advantage when it comes to buying television ads since most of the downtown condominiums won’t allow candidates into their buildings as U.S. Rep Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, R Fla found out the last time she ran for Congress and it came as a surprise to the long serving GOP Congresswoman.. ihttp://www.biscaynetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2067:how-did-commissioner-marc-sarnoff-go-wrong&catid=48:miami-king and for a complete list of the candidates and how much they have raised go tohttp://www.ci.miami.fl.us/City_Clerk/Pages/Elections/CampaignReports15.asp.

 

What about the District 2 elections?

 

>>> PAST WDR: Merrie Christmas Park in South Coconut Grove (http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/commissioner-sarnoff-toxic-soil-at-merrie-christmas-park-will-be-removed-soon-6546637)  has reopened and a couple of weeks ago a few hundred parents with their children attended a Neighborhood pot luck event organized by Commission District 2 candidate Grace Solaris ( with $118,820 in her war chest) and candidate Ken Russell and the park was packed with children after intensive remediation was done by the City of Miami. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his candidate wife Teresa also went to the event that had a number of candidates attending including Seth Skarley but there are a host of candidates in the field trying to take on the termed out Sarnoff who is helping his wife follow him on the dais and his wife Teresa was with him and she is just getting her political footing and is not a natural campaigner on her own but will have to be more so in the future, especially  when she faces the press that is getting antsy with her lack of communication of what her platform will be or just more of the same as her husband who went from being a Grove activist to almost creating a cult of followers and gives the impression it’s his way or the highway which is getting old with many Coconut Grove voters but the attorney has the ability to raise serious campaign cash from developers, but his political persuasion seems to change with the times. Since he was a big Barack Obama supporter in 2006 but did not do much campaigning for Obama in 2012 and this past year. He supported GOP Gov. Rick Scott so people have no idea what the admiralty attorney politically believes in. And here is a campaign webpage that came up in a search and click here to see all the candidates running for the District 2 seat and how much money they have raised.

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

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

 

What about Miami’s bond holdings?

 

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

 

What about the Miami Audit Committee?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And When it comes to the Miami Commission District 2 race things are very quiet and the Watchdog Report has yet to see many of the candidates in my neighborhood or down at Miami Commission meetings, (That is changing and a couple of candidates were seen at Thursday’s Commission meeting.) but campaign reports show candidate Grace Solaris has raised some $118,820 (up from 57,680) to her likely challenger’s Teresa Sarnoff who has increased her war chest to $389,964., through April 2015. And she was seen knocking on doors in the South Grove last week where she was walking with some women volunteers wearing tee shirts so she is now doing traditional campaigning. And in the District 4 race incumbent Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez is reporting $23,125 for his campaign and the younger Suarez is facing long time perennial candidate Manolo Reyes who has raised $70,710 and another challenger Antonio J. Diaz has $23,125 for his own campaign but Reyes has been trying to get elected for years. And there are gaps on who contributed this money and the only listed expense was $3,360and to read all the latest campaign reports go tohttp://www.ci.miami.fl.us/City_Clerk/Pages/Elections/CampaignReports15.asp

 

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

 

>>> Mayors ban together to fight gambling in Florida

 

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

 

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

  

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

unnamed-5

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

Mayor of Miami Beach

 

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

 

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

 

City of Coral Gables

 

>>> Focus Groups Reminder: Gables residents get to participate in focus groups
Dear Homeowners and Realtors:
Press release: The Coral Gables Development Services Department, in conjunction with the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, is hosting a series of focus groups aimed at sharing information on permitting and development processes and receiving feedback on how we can improve our services. If you are interested in joining this effort, please find details below about the dates and times and how you can RSVP.
Jane K. Tompkins, AICP
Development Services DirectorWilliam G. Miner
Building Director

 

Ramon Trias

Planning & Zoning Director

Focus Group Details:

Anyone who falls into one of the groups identified below and is interested in participating can RSVP with their preferred focus group selection (see details below) by email tobmorales@coralgables.com, or phone to 305-460-5235 between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Focus Group for Realtors: June 1, 2015, 4:00 p.m. -5:30 p.m.
  • Focus Group for Homeowners: June 1, 2015, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Homeowners

Location: All focus group sessions will be held at the Coral Gables Museum, Community Room, and 285 Aragon Avenue. Discussion topics will be include the following:

  • Building Permitting Flow Chart and Goals
  • The Development Review Committee and Board of Architects approval process
  • Special requirements for Zoning, ADA, Signage, Aesthetics
  • The Building Permitting process and Fees
  • Coordination with outside agencies, Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), and the Water and Sewer Department (WASD)
  • The Construction Staging and Inspection processes

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS

 

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

Rhonda Victor Sibilia, Communications Director
Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust
19 West Flagler, Suite 820
Miami, Florida 33130
305-350-0631
rhonda@miamidade.gov
ethics.miamidade.gov
www.facebook.com/MiamiDadeEthics

 

>>> KITTEN SEASON IS HERE! MIAMI-DADE ANIMAL SERVICES OFFERS RECOMMENDATIONS TO ENSURE THE BEST CHANCES OF SURVIVAL FOR KITTENS TOO YOUNG TO FEED THEMSELVES

 adopt   Kitten season

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

 

WHAT TO DO SHOULD YOU FIND A LITTER OF KITTENS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

OTHER WAYS TO HELP

 

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

 

image016

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Auxiliary gallery at the warehouse

Photographs by Miami artist Annette Bonnier
India’s Elephants

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

 

elephants

 

 

 

 

 

EDITORIAL

 

>>>> The City of Miami has to become more transparent, people and governments’ have to sue to get public records and gives Miami commissioners transparency black eye

 

The Watchdog Report back in 1997 first started watching the City of Miami and since then a number of changes have occurred many not that good, but a former Florida Speaker of the House  Richard Pettigrew, in an editorial column inThe Miami Herald Friday, hit the nail on the head when he writes how the municipality deals with the almost 50 year old Florida Sunshine Law regarding open records and forces residents and other municipalities to file lawsuits to get access to some public records and it is right on target. The piece was titled “City keeps development deals secret.” http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article22556706.html

 

The former legislator who represented Miami-Dade County years ago,  at one point notes of the efforts, to keep the public in the dark on many city deals the commissioners have approved, and notes the local municipal attorney is hired by the commission and as one the past attorneys said when I asked if “he worked for the citizens?” He said “he worked “for three votes on the Miami commission,” and that pretty much set the bar of what to expect from the attorney’s legal advice and that has been seen on numerous occasions.

 

Another odd occurrence is when senior Miami assistant managers meet with lobbyists’ socially and over the years I have seen it occur so many times most recently a couple of weeks ago,  and the average citizen does not get these opportunities to smoooze with senior city staff. And what is funny is how oblivious they are of how bad it looks to the public but they arrogantly don’t seem to care and that is a persistent problem and is reflected when one Miami employee told me what “people do in their free time,” is “their business,” and when I pointed out these people are public figures and have to act in a different manor, the person disagreed.

 

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

 

The Watchdog Report is Celebrating 16 years of weekly publishing since May 5th 2000 and when I started back then I never thought I would be doing this so long and in some ways some of the community’s bigger public institutions have either gotten better or worse and here is a national story done on why I started to watch government back in 2000  http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-01-20/news/0301190045_1_ricker-miami-watchdog and to all the people along the way that have helped me I thank you from the bottom of  my heart.

 

Publisher’s Statement on the mission of the Watchdog Report and the special people and organizations that make it possible:  Government Subscribers/Corporate Subscribers/Sustaining Sponsors/Supporting Sponsors

 

***** LIFETIME FOUNDING MEMBERS & Initial sponsors since 2000

 

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

HUGH CULVERHOUSE, Jr.

THE MIAMI HERALD     www.miamiherald.com 

ARTHUR HERTZ

WILLIAM HUGGETT, Seamen Attorney (Deceased)

ALFRED NOVAK

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

THE HONORABLE STANLEY G. TATE

 

***** Watchdog Report supporters – $2,000 or more a year

 

BADIA SPICES WWW.BADIASPICIES. COM

Richard A. Berkowitz, J.D., C.P.A | Chief Executive Officer
Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants Email: berkowitz@bpbcpa.com | Web: www.bpbcpa.com   

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT www.fpl.com

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MIAMI-DADE COUNTY www.miamidade.gov

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

 

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

 

ABELE REALTY GROUP, LLC — Mr. CHARLES R. ABELE, Jr.

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>>> 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  

 

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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

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Please make checks payable to: Daniel A. Ricker

Send to

 

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