elginjones3web.gifBroward County

Jean Bartos, owner of the Egg N You restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, has responded to allegations of racial discrimination made by a black customer, David Hughes. During a recent visit, Hughes said he was offended after he and his fiancé were offered seating arrangements at tables in a rear dining area, instead of booths in the front of the eatery. Bartos and several black patrons say the booths are small, and that larger customers like Hughes, who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 325 pounds, are offered seats at the tables, which are only located in the rear area. She says this is done to all customers, who may not fit, or who may not be comfortable in the smaller booths. Several black customers are supporting Bartos and her explanation. Some say they have eaten at the restaurant for years, and have never had any issues. Bartos has extended an invitation to Hughes to return to the restaurant, where she will explain and demonstrate the situation to him. Hughes has indicated he is considering the offer, and we’ll let you know how it turns out.

Republican Al Capellini remains suspended from his post as mayor of Deerfield Beach after his arrest on corruption charges late last year. Democratic former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman was suspended from office last year following his arrest after police say he pulled a gun on shoppers in a supermarket in November 2007. Capellini’s trial date has not been set, and Salesman is on trial this week. Gov. Charlie Crist was right to remove them both from office pending the outcome of their respective trials.  Both are running for reelection in their cities in March, and they have a lot of nerve. They are charged with very serious felonies, and they should have demonstrated tact by staying out of those races until the issues were resolved. The state Legislature must address this loophole that allows politicians who are suspended from office to run for seats even though the issue that led to their removal has not been resolved. 

During a Tuesday, Feb. 24 budget workshop, board members of the Broward County School District discussed ways to meet the $160 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 school year. The main issue that was considered is to move to a four-day week of school instead of five. Superintendent Jim Notter explained that the move could save more than $35 million. While employees would take home less pay, parents would have to find, and pay for, daycare for children who are not in school. The problem would be compounded because, unlike scheduled days off and summer recess, there would be few alternative programs for the idle students.  What was not discussed is across-the-board salary cuts for administrators, and how much that could save. Hopefully, someone on the school board will take this hint.

Miami-Dade County

Suzan McDowell, president of Circle of One Marketing, and the South Florida Times are offering two free tickets to the 4th Annual Jazz in the Gardens concert. The event will take place during the weekend of March 28 and 29 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens. The two-day event will be hosted by radio personality Tom Joyner. Frankie Beverly and Maze, Erykah Badu, Roy Ayers, Anthony Hamilton, Angelique Kidgo, Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds.  Kenny G and others will perform. The free tickets are either for Saturday or Sunday, and do not include any parking fees. The contest begins Monday, March 2. Contest Question: What is the most recent area where the South Florida Times has expanded its distribution? The first reader to call our circulation and distribution coordinator, Robert G. Beatty II, at 954-356-9360, with the correct answer beginning on March 2, will win the tickets.

During a ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the old Miami-Dade County Courthouse in downtown Miami, the Dade County Bar Association unveiled a plaque, and offered a formal apology for, the segregation and discrimination that black lawyers endured there since the 1920s.  Black lawyers were subjected to cruel treatment and demeaning conditions. The event was held during Black History Month, where prominent black attorney H.T. Smith, along with members of the predominantly black Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association and the Haitian Lawyers Association participated.

Victor Santiago, 31, who is better known as rapper Noreaga, was arrested on Sunday night, Feb. 24, after  – you guessed it – a fight with another customer at a Fatburger takeout restaurant in Miami Beach. According to police, he caused the incident. He allegedly began yelling at the other person, ripped up flowers, and then threw a drink at the other person before hitting him in the face.  The man suffered a cut to his face, and Santiago was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He was quietly released on $2,000 bail.

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, who was elected just this past November, has convened a grand jury to probe public corruption in that county. Much of it was revealed as part of the ongoing federal investigation into corruption in the county’s governmental agencies, which has resulted in countless indictments. All seven Palm Beach County commissioners, as well as senior staffers, have received letters asking them to appear before the grand jury. Good. Any crooks found to have abused the public’s trust should be put away, for a long time.

A sharp-eyed U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer caught 14 undocumented workers at Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Good work, but what’s strange is how they worked at an airport, digging trenches for a company that was installing communication cables. Most did not have the required identification badges at all, and they admitted to being in the country illegally.  They were turned over to immigration authorities for likely deportation. How this can happen is beyond me. If workers can get onto airport property without detection, what about terrorists? Someone needs to be held accountable for this lapse, and the axe needs to swing.

Didn’t this guy learn anything from O.J. Simpson, who is in prison for the same stupidity? Casey Jeffs, 28, of Aventura, believed Patrick Hovsepian had stolen some of his property. On Sunday, Feb. 22, along with a friend, he went to Hovsepian’s home, in a development along South Federal Highway in Boynton Beach, to retrieve the goods, according to police. Once there, police say, he ended up shooting Hovsepian and his female acquaintance, Tara Reardon, both in their faces.  The two are hospitalized in critical condition.  Acting on an anonymous tip, Miami-Dade County Police arrested Jeffs at his home in Aventura two days later. He was booked on marijuana possession, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed burglary.  He was being held without bond.