NOW IN WAL-MART STORES!
South Florida Times Circulation Coordinator Robert Beatty II has implemented the largest distribution expansion in the newspaper’s history. This week, the newspaper began sales in Wal-Mart stores throughout Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The South Florida Times is also available in hundreds of locations, including Winn-Dixie stores, Publix supermarkets, select Walgreens stores and more.
One was killed in the Florida Keys last week. Another was seriously injured in Pompano Beach this week, and it is getting worse. I’m speaking of cyclers. Rows of bicycle riders travel along highways in groups, which is becoming more popular in South Florida every day. Accidents and near crashes are common, and it may be time for state legislators to review laws that allow groups of cyclers to access Florida roads together, at the same time. If, not, you can expect more accidents and deaths.
THE NEW SFLTimes.com
If you have not been to the South Florida Times’ website, SFLTimes.com, lately, then check it out. Under the direction of Webmaster and Technology Director Lonnie Beatty, SFLTimes.com has been transformed into a user-friendly, interactive powerhouse. The site now features forums where readers can comment on articles. Sports, Health, Lifestyle and other news content is being constantly updated, along with accompanying related videos. SFLTimes.com gets over 1.5 million hits each month, and that number is growing. Sign up as a registered user, for free, to get exclusive information on events, consumer specials and more.
In 2005, Wal-Mart submitted an application to the banking regulatory agency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to start a bank, and to offer credit cards. Unions, along with the banking industry, mobilized opposition to the initiative. In the face of thousands of letters opposing the plan, the FDIC for the first time in its history held a series of public meetings around the country on the Wal-Mart application. In the end, the retailer was denied the right to start a bank. Today, many of those same banks that contributed to the financial collapse and opposed competition from Wal-Mart have been dissolved by the FDIC. Those that remain are now gouging consumers with all sorts of disgusting fees. For its part, Wal-Mart responded by offering limited financial and check-cashing services, at much lower costs than banks, and check-cashing stores. You can cash a check at Wal-Mart for less than banks charge non-account holders to cash checks drawn on their banks, which is outrageous. Hopefully, we have learned a lesson. Let’s just hope Wal-Mart President and CEO Mike Duke moves to enter the banking industry again, and soon.
Palm Beach County
FATHER KILLS FAMILY
Neal Jacobson, a 49-year-old husband and father of twin 7-year-old boys, shot and killed his wife, Franki, 53, and sons on Saturday, Jan. 23. The slaughter was discovered after Jacobson crashed his SUV around 7 a.m. in the 11000 block of Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. When paramedics arrived, he was stained with blood, and had ammunition on the passenger seat. He told paramedics he had killed his family inside their home, in the exclusive Isles in Southern Florida, a gated community in Wellington. When Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home, they found the carnage of the family members, who had all been shot to death. No motive is known, but friends speculate that Jacobson, a mortgage broker, may have snapped due to economic pressures. He is being held on three counts of first-degree murder.
FAILED MIAMI BANK
More than 140 bank chains failed in 2009, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairwoman Sheila Bair says that number will increase in 2010. Quietly, on Jan. 22, Miami-based Premier American bank became the fifth bank in 2010 to have its doors shuttered. Premier had four branches in South Florida. Assets were handed over to Naples-based Bond Street Holdings, and the bank reopened on Monday, Jan. 25 as Premier American, N.A.
SOUTH DADE FREEZE
The weeks-long spell of cold weather has all but decimated some crops in the South Dade County Redlands, Homestead and Florida City areas. Driving through the rural expanse reveals countless fields of brown crops, damaged by the weather, which will undoubtedly affect prices consumers pay for green beans, citrus and other crops.
FIRED MANAGER GETS A JOB
Fired on January 15, former Deerfield Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney was hired just days later by CVE Master Management Company, Inc., the board that oversees the Century Village East development in the city. Mahaney is working as a consultant for the gated community, which is not necessarily an issue. But it is interesting since that development has had so many issues before the city commission in the past.
COP FIRED OVER PORN MOVIE
An arbitrator has upheld the January 2009 firing of Hollywood Police Officer Michael Verdugo for appearing in a gay porn film in 1996, three years before he was hired by the department in 1999. The movie surfaced on the Internet in 2008. Verdugo was also let go from the cast of the Home and Garden Network’s (HGTV) “Design Star” program because of the movie. Police union attorney Al Milian is fighting the termination action, which department officials say they took because Verdugo failed to disclose the porn role on his job application.
Bruce Toski has been fighting Fort Lauderdale’s code enforcement practices for years after receiving countless citations for violations at his home. Recently, he began taking up the cause of Bill and Helen Dunsford, an elderly couple, whose yard underwent a court-ordered cleanup due to code citations because of material stored in their gated back yard. The fines now top $164,450, and Fort Lauderdale officials went to court. They obtained an order from Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman, authorizing the city to clean up the yard, and charge the costs to the homeowners. When police and city crews arrived at the home on Monday, Jan. 25 to begin the clean up, Toski says, he asked for copies of the court order. He was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice. He was booked and later released on $100 bond.