Facing near-abysmal poll numbers and a fast approaching re-election bid, Gov. Rick Scott has turned to high-profile lobbyists for help. As a candidate Scott was critical and dismissive of lobbyists, but he is now seeking their help with fundraising and to push his agenda through a skeptical state Legislature.
Scott’s budget includes special interest carrots like a $2,500 pay raise for teachers and tax exemptions for businesses. The Republican-controlled Legislature is not warm to Scott’s budget so the lobbyists will have to earn their keep this session.
Palm Beach County
Justin Smart, 26 and Ali Clegg, 20, are charged in the robbery of a Delray Beach restaurant waiter after he left work. The couple allegedly hit the man over the head as he was walking home from work along Atlantic Avenue. They then rifled through the pockets of his work apron and made off with the tips he had earned that night. The dazed victim chased the couple while calling police on his cell phone. Clegg, 20, and Smart, 26, both of Deerfield Beach, were apprehended, and police found money, hypodermic needles and prescription pills on them. Clegg confessed and said they needed some extra money. They are charged with robbery and drug possession.
Kenneth Willis, 40, of Lake Worth and Christopher Porter, 22, of Pompano Beach have been arrested in connection with a check counterfeiting operation. Willis cashed several checks at the One Stop Check Cashing store located in the 7000 block of South Military Trail in Boynton Beach. Those checks had been flagged as being counterfeit and when he returned to the store to cash others, the manager called police. During the investigation it was learned that Porter was also involved in the scheme in which information was copied from legitimate payroll checks to produce counterfeits.
Tair Karimov, 44, of Delray Beach is charged with impersonating a police officer. He is accused of confronting residents at a Boynton Beach motel falsely claiming he was a police officer investigating a string of recent robberies. He then patted down the victims, ordered them to empty their pockets, which included $150 and to return to their motel room. Karimov was caught when the motel manager became suspicious after spotting him walking around with a gun in his waistband and called police.
Former Mayor Jean Robb is running to unseat incumbent Mayor Peggy Noland and the race is on. There are allegations of campaign sign thefts from both camps and that’s the mild stuff. Robb is pointing to the need for change in city hall. Noland has been actively courting the business community, black leaders and other groups. To say Robb and Noland are not friends is more than an understatement and since Deerfield Beach has been confronted with numerous controversies in the recent years, it makes for an interesting campaign.
Eleven South Florida residents have been indicted in a $34 million identity theft and tax refund fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. The defendants included in the 43-count indictment from Broward County are Henry Dorvil, 35, of Hollywood; Dukens Eleazard, 33, of Pembroke Pines; Jesse Lamar Harrell, 26, of Miramar; Ruth Cartwright, 30, formerly of Plantation; John Similien, 24, of Plantation; and Marc Leroy Saint Juste, 26, of Tamarac. Also indicted Herve Wilmore Jr., 29, of Aventura; Marie Eleazard, 32, of Miami; Luckner St Fleur, 32, of Miami; Miguel Patterson, 35, of Miami; and Brandon Johnson, 29, of Miami Gardens. Between January 2009 and March 2012 the suspects are accused filing more than 6,961 federal income tax returns, many of which used the identities of dead people.
CHANGE OF COMMAND
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey has taken command of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) in a first-of-its-kind Change of Command ceremony. Downey takes over for former chief William “Shorty” Bryson, who retired after 38-years. MDFR began in 1935 with a single fire truck. It has grown into the fifth largest fire department in the U.S. and the largest in the southeast. The Change of Command will now become a tradition and standard protocol at MDFR.
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson presided over the ceremony in which a plaque recognizing and honoring the late civil rights activist Jesse J. McCrary Jr. was installed at the Little River Post Office in Miami. McCray was born in 1937 in Blitchton, and began organizing rallies and student sit-ins while attending Florida A&M University. He went on to become a lawyer and the first black secretary of state of Florida since reconstruction. He also served as Florida’s first black
assistant attorney general and was a civil rights leader.
A bill that would ban so-called red light cameras in Florida has passed a key committee in the Florida House. The measure was introduced by state Rep. Daphne Campbell (D-Miami), who is alleging that the controversial cameras have been strategically placed in low-income neighborhoods and that they place an undue burden on seniors. The Legislature approved the use of the cameras several years ago. Campbell’s husband has been ticketed numerous times by the intersection cameras and critics are questioning if this is the reason behind her opposition.
Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia F. O’Connell announced that a customer at the Publix supermarket at 3316 N. Roosevelt Blvd. in Key West hit the Florida Lotto jackpot. It was the only ticket to match all six numbers in the Feb. 16 drawing. The jackpot was a whopping $17 million.
Dennis Zecca, co-owner of the Marathon Marina and former chief of Coast Guard Station in Islamorada, is charged in a murder-for-hire plot. Zecca is accused of scheming to buy 10 kilos of cocaine from drug smugglers, who were actually agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency. During that operation he approached one of the agents, who he believed was a drug trafficker and agreed to pay him $20,000 for killing Bruce Schmitt. Zecca was later deceived into believing the job had been completed and was arrested when he tried to leave his marina to get a partial payment for the killing.