Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is launching an aggressive awareness campaign about the impact the AIDS epidemic is having on black women. In South Florida, it is particularly crippling. Miami-Dade ranks first, Broward is second and Palm Beach county is sixth in the nation in new AIDS cases. The campaign is called “Take Charge. Take the Test.” It will offer free testing and will incorporate a massive ad campaign in areas that black women are likely to frequent.


Montana’s U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Cebull has apologized for sending out a racist email about President Barrack Obama that insinuated the president’s mother had sex with a dog. Cebull has been on the bench since 2001, when he was nominated for the position by former President G.W. Bush. The foul email titled, A Mom’s Memory, has been circul­­ating around the Internet since 2008 when Obama was elected. It was one of the emails circulated from Wilton Manors City Hall by the city’s then Police Chief Richard Perez, which the South Florida Times exposed in 2010. Perez was ousted over his action and the same should happen to Cebull.

Bi-Lo, a high quality grocery chain based in Mauldin, S.C., has completed its acquisition of Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores. Bi-Lo will relocate its headquarters to Jacksonville. The company’s CEO Randall Onstead says the 480 Winn-Dixie stores will keep their name and join the 208 Bi-Lo Supersaver stores. The move makes Bi-Lo the ninth largest supermarket chain in the U.S. No layoffs are planned for the 63,000 Winn Dixie employees located through eight states in the southeastern United States. 

Palm Beach County

The consulting firm that employs West Palm Beach City Commission candidate Dodger Arp has sued his opponent, Commissioner Bill Moss, who won re-election March 13. The firm, Public Concepts, alleges in its lawsuit that Moss made false statements about it, which injured the company reputation. Moss apologized and took out ads in local media but said he still expects the lawsuit to go forward because of politics. The lawsuit was filed after Moss said in interviews that the courts had fined Public Concepts numerous times for attacking politicians around the state. The company was in fact fined by the Florida Elections Commission but not over any such attacks.

The newly appointed superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County, E. Wayne Gent, is dealing with a projected $31.7 million budget shortfall. It means there is no likelihood of pay increases or new construction projects. Some programs may have to be cut and the possibility of layoffs loom. This current year the district had faced a $35 million shortfall which was balanced by laying off workers and $28 million in cuts.

Neco Fine Foods is shutting down its Lantana facility and relocating operations to Fall River, Mass., and Warren, R.I. The food processor has state-of-the-art production facilities in those areas and wants to have better control over quality and improve efficiency. Its 49 workers at the Lantana facility will be laid off.

Broward County


John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the Miami FBI office, has released the names of six South Florida law enforcement officers who have graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. They are Maj. Robert Bage, North Miami; Sgt. Ronnie Dimler, Miramar; Capt. Michael Gregory, Fort Lauderdale; Lt. Allan Hubrig, Broward Sheriff’s Office; Lt. Linda Miller-Rowe, Martin County Sheriff’s Office; and Capt. Sonia Quinones, Hallandale Beach Police Department. Fewer than one percent of law enforcement officers are accepted into the FBI Academy and it is a highly sought after accomplishment. Broward Sheriff’s Office Capt. Robert Schnakenberg and Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Rick Maglione are said be participants in the next class of academy entrants.

Prosecutors in the Broward State Attorney’s Office are expected to reach a decision in the case of Democratic Party official Percy Johnson. He is under investigation for the alleged pilfering of money from the party’s Council of Club Presidents, where he was treasurer. Johnson repaid the funds in question but some members of the organization are still seeking his arrest and prosecution. Those members have also informed prosecutors that Johnson allegedly failed to deposit funds he received in cash into the organization’s bank account.

Thomas Kennedy and Robert Andrei, both of Davie, and Thomas Pacchiloi, of Weston, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to pay bribes to employees of Memorial Healthcare System, the South Broward hospital district. Co-defendant Richard Cohen, of Wellington, reached a plea agreement on mail fraud charges during the trial. Federal authorities charged the men in June 2011 after an investigation into vendors giving kickbacks to administrators in exchange for vendor contracts. Also indicted were Adil Osman, a former director at Memorial Hospital West in Hollywood, and Elliot Gordon and Anthony Merola, former managers at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. Gordon and Merola previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 38 months and 33 months, respectively, in prison. Osman also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Federal authorities said Osman, Gordon and Merola received cash and gifts from the vendors in exchange for selecting them to do work at the hospitals at inflated prices.

Miami-Dade County

Howard R. Miller, president of Howard R. Miller Communications and chairman of the Synergy Entertainment Group, has been appointed to the board of the city of Miami’s Arts and Entertainment Council. The council is an advisory body that oversees fundraising and makes recommendations to commissioners on arts and entertainment initiatives in the city.

Miami police continued their crackdown on criminal activity. This week it was Operation Perseverance, which targeted gun violence in the Liberty Square housing development. Guns were seized and dozens were arrested on drug, prostitution, gambling and weapons charges in the 750-unit complex.

Jerome Pearson, 44, of Hialeah, has been convicted of possessing more than 1,500 images of child pornography on his laptop computer. Pearson was a math teacher at Everglades High School in Broward County. He has been sentenced to four years in prison. Book ’em, Danno!

Photo: Eljin Jones