elginjones3web.gifTWO DEAD, NINE SHOT

Law enforcement agencies and the community are pulling out all the stops to find the suspect in one of Miami’s worst mass shootings ever. The brazen massacre took place Friday, Jan. 23, when one or more masked gunmen walked up to a crowd of over 50 people who were involved in a dice game near Brewton’s Grocery Store, which is located in the 7100 block of Northwest 15thth Ave. in the Liberty City section of Miami, and opened fire with an assault rifle. When it was over, nine people had been shot, and two of them died. As of this writing, the other victims remained hospitalized. More than $12,000 has been raised by community organizations for a reward. The Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers is also offering $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect(s). Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to call Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 305-471-8477.

Some of the people who served as witnesses for the Broward State Attorney’s Office recently were surprised when the $30 witness fee checks they received on Jan. 14 from the Broward County Clerk of the Courts Office bounced. Jason Maraj, a revenue analyst with the agency, said that after officials there discovered that the check numbers had been duplicated, they issued stop-payment orders for 19 checks that had been issued, and sent the witnesses new checks. He said the incident was not due to a lack of funds. The Clerk’s Office contacted the affected persons, but two of them had already deposited the checks. The Clerk’s Office is working with their banks to get the bounced check fees refunded.

The South Florida Times is increasing its distribution into more retail outlets. Over the next few weeks, a number of new locations where the newspaper can be purchased will be announced. Beginning this week, and in addition to the hundreds of other locations already in place, the South Florida Times can now be purchased in Winn Dixie Supermarkets. As a result, the newspaper is seeking part-time delivery personnel. Contact our circulation and distribution manager, Robert Beatty II, about these employment opportunities, at 954-356-9360.

After a cafeteria brawl that involved more than 50 students at South Broward High School in Hollywood, at least 18 students were arrested on various charges. What started the Jan. 28 fight remains a mystery, but dozens of officers responded to put down the ruckus. Of the group, seventeen boys and one girl were charged with misdemeanor disturbing a school function and disorderly conduct, and thankfully no one was injured.

Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. continues to fight on behalf of citizens. Their latest victory involves 81-year-old Marian Strange, who is indigent; and her son, Michael Strange, a 51-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from emotional trauma. Dating back to 2003, the city of Lauderhill cited their home for numerous code violations. The fines and liens reached $493,137.53, and the city was seeking to collect. Citing their health conditions, and the process the city used, Nikki Elliot of Legal Aid began working on the family’s behalf in 2005. After more than three years, she recently reached a settlement with the city in which the fines would be reduced to zero. This is very good for the family, and thanks to Elliot, this family will have some peace of mind in these critical economic times.

Derrick Shaw, a Miami-Dade Schools tire mechanic, has been arrested after allegedly ordering at least $6,800 worth of new tires for school buses over the past year, then selling them instead of installing them on the buses. He is innocent until proven guilty, but instead of rolling in dough, he is now awaiting trial on grand theft charges.

The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed ethics complaints against Hollywood City Commissioner Beam Furr. The allegations against Furr were that he may have violated state ethics rules by using sick and personal leave time from his job as a media specialist at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines to campaign for his 2008 reelection. In an unrelated case, the city commission recommended a $1,000 fine for former city of Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti for her failing to report free tickets to college football games in 2007.

Elaine Schultze, owner of the Small World School daycare in Fort Lauderdale, has lodged complaints with Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry. The complaints are about tactics she alleges that inspectors with the county’s Child Care Licensing and Enforcement Division are using against her business. Among other things, Schulze alleges that during a recent visit, county inspectors pulled an electrical cord from the ceiling and let it hang over an empty baby crib. They then confronted her about the wiring. To bolster her allegations, Schultze has released video from the school’s monitoring system that recorded the incident. She has placed it on YouTube and says she is seeking a criminal investigation.

Patrick Roberts, a volunteer with the Plantation Athletic League (PAL), is alleging he could be the victim of retaliation. Roberts filed a complaint with the state Commission on Ethics against Plantation City Council member Rico Petrocelli. PAL has called an emergency meeting scheduled for next week, where it is expected that Roberts, who has volunteered for the organization for more than 14 years, will be ousted from his position. The complaint alleges Petrocelli collected campaign contributions through PAL events to avoid state reporting and disclosure laws, which Petrocelli denies. The complaint is making its way through the process, but I hear this will get dirty before it’s over and done with. Stay tuned.

Fort Lauderdale City Commission Incumbent Magdalene J. Lewis and challengers Nadine Hankerson, Pamela Adams and Bobby DuBose, are all vying for the city of Fort Lauderdale’s District III commission seat. The district encompasses the predominantly black, northwest area of the city, which for the past 18 years was represented by former Commissioner Carlton Moore, until he stepped down in November 2008. DuBose has been raising money for nearly two years and has taken in $21,160. The other candidates began their fundraising in recent months. Adams has collected $23,280, Hankerson raised $7,866, and Lewis has received $1,550 in contributions. Even though she leads in fundraising, Adams’ campaign suffered a setback this week over campaign signs. Fort Lauderdale code enforcement officials ordered her to take down about 15 oversized signs from buildings and vacant lots. Ouch!

Daisy M. Fulton, executive director of the historic Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach, has announced that the Connecting Community and Culture lecture series will return to the museum during February, Black History Month. This will be the third year the popular series is hosted by the museum, where various lecturers engage in question-and-answer sessions with attendees. For more information, contact the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, located at 170 NW 5th Ave. in Delray Beach, or call 561-279-8883.

Tony Smith, a 21-year-old volunteer with the Big Brother/Big Sister organization, was arrested by Miami-Dade County Schools Police at Lenora B. Smith Elementary School in Miami, over his alleged touching of an 8-year-old boy there on several occasions. Smith has reportedly confessed and told police he promised the child hamburger meals from a fast-food restaurant in exchange for his silence. He is charged with three felony counts of lewd molestation of a minor and remains in jail after being denied bail.