BRINK OF COLLAPSE
With the record number of job losses, this abysmal economy and the resulting property foreclosures, the judicial system is on the brink of collapse. Child support and alimony cases, for example, are suffering as more out-of-work people petition the courts to have their payment obligations adjusted to reflect their new financial predicaments. The system is at a critical point, and this is yet another reason why our elected officials need to work toward solving our financial crisis, instead of engaging in childish games of political gotcha.
NO SWAP, NO SWINDLE
David Samson, president of the Florida Marlins, Bill Diggs, CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, and the Rev. Victor Curry, president of the Miami-Dade County NAACP; inked a deal in which black businesses would have gotten a portion of the Marlins’ $120 million in contracts that the team proposes to contribute toward a new stadium. Taxpayers would foot the remaining $519 million of the $639 million total cost, but the Marlins would essentially own the stadium, and the accompanying parking facility. The deal in favor of black-owned businesses has now fallen apart over concerns about reverse discrimination. Nevertheless, Diggs, Curry and Samson should be commended for their efforts. If there were to be a deal, at least black people would have gotten something. But on the whole, the stadium construction project itself is simply a bad deal for taxpayers. Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is right to oppose it, but she is absolutely wrong to use her vote to extort promises from the parties. This amounts to a swap of hundreds of millions of dollars in public resources to swindle voters into believing that the long-awaited improvements in her district are forthcoming. Her vote of approval under any extorted concessions is reckless at best, and possibly unethical at the least. There are more pressing needs than to build a luxury stadium for a private, billionaire company that refuses to allow the public to examine its financial books. In the face of the Wall Street scandals and the current economic conditions, Spence-Jones would have better served those who elected her by voting against the stadium deal on its merits, then pushing for a portion of the tax dollars that are saved to go toward improvements in the historic Overtown community, which would surely attract tourists.
Prisoners at the Miami-Dade County Corrections system are sometimes videotaped during strip searches, and on other occasions. Now, Walter Clark, a former Miami-Dade corrections officer and president of the African American Government Employees, Inc., is calling for an end to the practice. He refers to it as inhumane and indecent, and his employee advocacy firm has now filed an Internal Affairs complaint. They have also asked the U. S. Department of Justice to investigate the matter and determine where the videotapes of nude inmates go.
If you’re injured at work in Florida, you could be on your own. State Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is quietly pushing through a bill in the state Legislature that could severely limit the ability of workers who are injured on the job to retain quality legal counsel. The bill effectively overturns an October 2008 Florida Supreme Court ruling that lifted caps on the amount of legal fees lawyers can charge to represent injured workers. If passed into law, the bill would restore those limits, while allowing the employer to spend as much money as it wants on attorneys to challenge an injured worker’s claim. Trial lawyers say this is unfair, and will lead to more attorneys opting not to take many worker compensations cases.
Derrick Courtney Gillis Sr., the longtime pastor of the Zoe Life Christian Center in Plantation, passed away on March 10. Arrangements are pending. Gillis, 58, was born in Daytona Beach, and lived in Fort Lauderdale. He gained prominence in the 1980s when he became the first black vice president with Atlantic Federal Savings & Loan, which changed its name to BankAtlantic in 1988. He retired in 1994 to become a full-time minister at Zoe Life Christian Center. One of his daughters preceded him in death. His wife, Lena, and sons Josh and Derrick survive him.
Rep. Ron Saunders, (D-Key West) bested Rep. Perry Thurston, (D-Plantation) by just two votes to be elected the next Democratic leader in the Florida House of Representatives. Saunders had seniority, but Thurston was believed to be the favorite due to Saunders’ cozy relationship and occasional votes with the Republican majority. Saunders will assume the two-year post when the term of current leader Rep. Franklin Sands, (D-Weston) term ends in 2010.
Daisy Black, chairman of the Florida Democratic Black Caucus’s grievance committee, has issued a ruling determining that the effort to oust Alan Brown from his position as president of the organization’s Broward County chapter was flawed, improper, and was done without authority. While the Rev. Josh Brown of Hallandale Beach is still listed on the organization’s website as president of the Broward chapter, the ruling means his election is void, and that Alan Brown remains as the president. What will happen next is anybody’s guess, but the caucus has yet another black eye. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman should exercise some leadership and get this nonsense under control.
ALLEGED PERVERT ARRESTED
This guy, Khemraj Henry Sampson, 30, of Lauderhill, appears to need psychiatric help. He was arrested on Monday, March 16 for exposing and fondling himself in front of children on Friday, March 13, along Northwest 56th Avenue in Lauderhill. According to police, he also confessed to exposing himself to young people in the same area in September 2008, and has also been charged in those incidents. He is now being held on eight counts of lewdness and exposing himself.
Palm Beach County
To make up for an ongoing decrease in water sales, Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday, March 17 approved a second water rate increase in as many years. This time it was an 11.5 percent increase, and it follows an 18 percent increase in 2007. The move intends to make up for lost water sales due to residents conserving more, and as a result of the South Florida Water Management District’s twice per week watering restrictions. It’s a con game. They tell us to conserve, and then use it as an excuse to raise the rates.
The Rev. Mirta Signorelli, a chaplain with Hospice by the Sea, a Boca Raton firm, resigned on Feb. 25. Now we know why. Signorelli said she resigned because the company put restrictions on using religious terms like “God” and “Lord” in staff meetings, and public locations of care facilities. The company says its ministers, priests and rabbis can still use the religious terms in private settings or when comforting dying patients and counseling grieved families.
Frank Decicco, 46, of Riviera Beach, has been arrested in connection with several burglaries, and is believed to be the slippery cat burglar operating in the gated Woodbine community where he lives. Police caught him after using GPS signals to track a laptop computer that was stolen during a recent burglary. After searching his home, they also found jewelry and other items stolen during several break-ins in his neighborhood. After other stolen goods at pawnshops were linked to him, he confessed to committing a rash of burglaries.