elginjones3web.gifBroward County

The Rev. Josh Brown of Hallandale Beach had one rough month in March.  First, he thought he had been elected as the new president of the Broward County chapter of the Democratic Party’s Black Caucus.  The organization’s grievance committee, however, determined that election was unauthorized and therefore unsanctioned.  Now, the widely circulated rumor that he managed Barbara Sharief’s successful campaign for a Miramar city commission seat turns out to be, well, just that. This week, Sharief said Brown was simply one of many people who performed campaign tasks, but he in no way was her campaign manager, and that she has asked him to cease and desist, if he has in fact been stating that he is her campaign manager.

The firm of former state Sen. Skip Campbell has filed a lawsuit on behalf of judicial aides Patti Buchholtz and Sue Rentel, who are alleging they were sickened by mold, and other environmental hazards inside the Broward County Main Courthouse.  The building,  at 201 S.E. 6th St. in Fort Lauderdale, has been plagued by water damage from hurricanes, broken pipes and more. In 2006, voters rejected a bond measure that would have provided $450 million to build new courthouses. The lawsuit seeks to have the existing courthouse building shut down, along with unspecified damages. Look for a floodgate of other courthouse workers to join this lawsuit.

The Dillard High School Jazz Ensemble band took second place honors in the Swing Central Competition at the Savannah Music Festival held in Georgia recently.  This is the band’s second consecutive year taking second place in the competition, along with the $2,500 prize money.

The long-delayed rape and murder trial of Edward Howard has once again been postponed.  Howard is accused of raping and killing 18-year-old Christine Marie Myers. On Sept. 20, 2005 police were called to Howard’s brother’s home in Sunrise, where officers found Meyers dead and Howard, now 30, hiding under a pile of clothes in a bedroom. His own clothes were covered in Meyers’ blood.  On Monday, March 30, a mistrial was declared after a witness mentioned Howard had served time in prison for a previous crime.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Tampa, sponsored a bill that would have allowed government agencies to begin posting public notice ads online, instead of in printed newspapers.  She said the measure would save money, but opponents successfully argued it would actually disenfranchise those who did not have computers or Internet access.  The bill was killed in committee, but expect her to try again in the next session.

Nova Southeastern University President Ray Ferrero Jr. unveiled the college’s full tuition program for about 30 incoming students who qualify for Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarships.  Bright Futures rewards students for academic achievement during high school with funding for post-secondary education.  A year's tuition at NSU is $19,800, and it is the only private university in the state that offers 100-percent free scholarships.  Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis until the April 30 deadline.  For more information, call 800-338-4723.

Yet another senior manager in the city of Deerfield Beach’s pathetic city hall is out, and more are rumored to be on the way.  This week, Human Resources director Marva Gordon resigned after being on family leave for several weeks. City Manager Mike Mahaney has not confirmed it, but several city hall sources say Gordon took leave after she learned of an investigation into allegations she conducted private business on city computers, from her city hall office.  The secrecy about the situation has lowered morale and raised suspicions among staff that Gordon may have received some type of special treatment.  In any event, look for more departures, as the backbiting among managers escalates.

Palm Beach County

It was just weeks ago that Rethema Williams’ 13-year-old son and his classmates at the prestigious Florida Atlantic University’s A.D. Henderson University School, on the college’s Boca Raton campus, were the best of friends.  On March 20, Williams’ son was suspended for two days for horseplay: He allegedly pushed or hit another student.  Now Williams, of Deerfield Beach, is consulting with attorneys after the parent of one student filed an assault complaint over the incident with police.  No one was hurt, and the children were thought to be friends once again, but now there is a full-blown criminal investigation. Since the case involves juveniles, FAU police will not discuss details of the case.  While we must demand order inside the classroom, turning misbehaving children over to the criminal justice system is a big step.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, March 31, over the at-large voting method used in the town of Lake Park’s municipal elections.  Even though black people make up 48 percent of the population, the process has never elected a black person since the town incorporated in 1923.  The lawsuit alleges that the process dilutes black voting power and therefore violates the Voting Rights Act.  Lake Park is in Palm Beach County, northeast of Riviera Beach.  It has a total population of nearly 9,000, according to the U.S. Census.  Mayor Desca Dubois and the four other elected officials say they are confident an agreement can be reached to resolve the issue.  I bet they will.

Miami-Dade County

Like a fastball over the inside corner of home plate, you have to give Florida Marlins President David Samson credit for what he was able to get for his firm.  But those city of Miami and Miami-Dade County commissioners who approved the deal should hang their heads in shame.  To vote for a $630 million stadium deal at a time when they are turning off water to people who can’t pay the $25 bill is insensitive and callous.  While they implement cuts in countless programs, they voted to give “wealthy-fare” to a billion- dollar private corporation. These elected officials showed little regard for the poor, unemployed and common folk.  Similar wealthy-fare deals and broken promises of prosperity from sports franchises litter the American landscape, and now haunt communities around the nation.  So get your handkerchiefs ready, South Florida, because we’ll be shedding tears of disappointment for years to come.

Florida International University’s current President Modesto Maidique is retiring after 23 years at the college.  FIU is accepting applications to fill the post, which could pay as much as $680,000 in annual salary and benefits.

Luis E. Calvo, the man convicted of laundering more than $100,000 along with former city of Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Jorge Reyes in November, has been sentenced. The case is sealed, but I have confirmed Calvo will serve six months in the county jail followed by 10 years probation, and pay $483 in court costs.  He must also submit to polygraph examinations, surrender all proceeds from his crimes, and cooperate with the ongoing corruption investigation of the elite, multi-agency, South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force, to which Reyes was assigned.  There is much more to this, so stay tuned.