The mid-term elections are Tuesday. Much is at stake, but the Republican and Democratic Parties have opted to sling mud in hopes of steering us away from the real issues. From an examination of campaign finance records, neither party has done much in the way of voter awareness, particularly among blacks. Candidates have been left to fend for themselves in this area. Gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist has material and events that target black voters, but little else. Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign is staying away from race issues, which stands to reason since he fired Jennifer Carroll, the first black lieutenant governor in the state and Crist’s running mate is Hispanic.
DOWN FOR THE COUNT?
Sears, one of the oldest retailers in the country, is reportedly closing more than 100 stores before the end of the year. These are in addition to 66 Kmarts the company closed earlier this year. It would mean about 5,500 layoffs. The company is hurting, but hopefully this doesn’t mean the end of the truly American retailer.
Palm Beach County
The Securities and Exchange Commission has fined auditor Eliot Berman, of Boca Raton, $15,000 and suspended him for one year. He and his accounting firm, Berman & Co., are accused of violating federal laws that require auditors to rotate work with publicly traded companies. An accountant can’t serve as auditor for the same company for more than five consecutive fiscal years.
Palm Beach Manager Peter Elwell is resigning after 26 years on the job. He has accepted the same job in his hometown, Brattleboro, Vermont. City officials praised Elwell, but there was no mention of the workplace harassment and discrimination scandals in the town’s police and other departments during his tenure. Elwell will earn $95,000 a year in Brattleboro and he will also receive $126,000 a year pension from the town.
Riviera Beach police arrested Renee Trevino, 33, and Jesus Lacott, 29, after seeing them sitting inside a car injecting themselves with what turned out to be oxycodone. Discarded needles and other paraphernalia allegedly were found on the floor of the car. But the most shocking was the 10-month-old baby that was in the backseat. They were taken into custody and the child was turned over to DCF.
Priscilla Maloney, principal of South Tech Preparatory Academy charter school, abruptly resigned after state officials gave notice that she was charged with stealing $14,220 in furniture from a Palm Beach School District middle school in 2011. She had been the principal at the school and gave the furniture to a co-worker to use in a private business. She resigned after negotiating an agreement with the school district and was hired by the charter school last year.
The search is on for Tariq Ahmad, 35, the former head of the private Islamic Nur-Ul-Islam Academy school in Cooper City. He is accused of molesting under-aged girls at the school. The school suspended Ahmad after they were informed of the criminal investigation, but he has since disappeared.
Attorneys representing the Children’s Services Council (CSC) are the latest to sue Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. This time it is over positioning of the ballot question about re-authorizing the agency. They contend voters are confusing the ballot question with another measure that is positioned above the CSC question. Elections officials responded by alerting each voter to read the ballots carefully. Plaintiffs are seeking to have a judge order a revised ballot before Tuesday’s election.
Daniel Jonathan Gast, 29, of Plantation, pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Gast worked teaching children to play music at various music stores. Investigators tracked Internet activity to his laptop computer. A Plantation home did not turn up the laptop, but he was placed under surveillance, which ended at a Weston music store, where it allegedly was found. Numerous videos and pictures were found and he was arrested.
A former medical assistant, 33-year-old LaToya Yvette Tillman of Hollywood, has been sentenced to three years in federal prison. She used her position at a local doctor’s office to gain access to patients’ information that was stored in a Memorial Health database. She stole over 2,000 identities and sold the sensitive information to people who used it to file fraudulent tax returns.
Miami-Dade Police are investigating after several cats were found dead in a Palmetto Bay neighborhood. They were killed with a bow and arrow. One owner said their pet was found on the front yard with an arrow still in place. Hopefully DNA left on the arrow will lead to an arrest.
DEADLY HIT & RUN
Joe Edward Torres, 29, of Homestead was killed by a hit and run driver at the intersection of Krome Avenue and Mowry Drive. Torres was riding his bicycle when a small silver or grey SUV crashed into him, then sped off. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call the Homestead Police Department at (305) 247-1535.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking trappers. They are needed for the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. Successful applicants will be licensed contractors with the FWC. They will respond to complaints in southwest Miami-Dade County, which is experiencing an increase in gator complaints.
Takata Total Safety Systems, the Japanese company that manufactures numerous interior components for more than a dozen auto manufacturers, is recalling its airbags. It could be one of the largest recalls in automotive history. Already 10 companies, including BMW, Honda, Ford and Toyota have recalled vehicles that have Takata airbags. Pieces of metal come loose and cause injuries when the airbags are deployed. Three deaths are blamed on the airbags, and Claribel Nunez of Miami has filed a lawsuit over injuries to her face that are blamed on the defective airbags.
A search warrant was executed on the Key West home of 51-year-old Renan Viart Sotolongo. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, Key West Police, FDLE and the FBI all participated in a drug trafficking raid. The high-powered operation turned up five ounces of cocaine and more than $8,000 in cash.
Florida Keys Community College has developed a smelly, but effective shark repellent. The research was funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant. It is made from decayed shark meat that is contained in timed-released capsules. Tests have proven effective and it will move to the development stage.
Jorge Vargas, 59, has a $1.4 million bond after being arrested on poaching charges. He was caught with 250 undersized lobsters in Marathon. Court records show Vargas faced similar charges in 2011.