elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPalm Beach County

CITY CUTBACKS
Despite employee buyouts and pending layoffs, the city of Boynton Beach is contemplating other cutbacks to make up for a $5 million shortfall and balance its budget. A financial advisory committee is recommending a hiring freeze, additional staff reductions, fewer take-home cars, and major cuts in services and hours of operation.  Even if the recommendations are implemented, the cost of services will increase.  Boynton Beach commissioners will finalize the budget this summer, but City Manager Kurt Bressner wants to begin implementing some of the measures immediately.



BLAKE SENTENCED
Dwayne Blake
, a 38-year-old Belle Glade alleged drug dealer, was sentenced to life in prison for  the 2009 shooting of a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office informant. In February, a jury found Blake guilty of attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.  Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal sentenced him to life on the attempted murder charge and 15 years on the firearm charge. He must serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole. Blake has a long criminal history. He shot the informant in a Belle Glade alley after accusing him of being a police snitch. The informant suffered gunshots to the lower back and hand.

Broward County

PURSE SNATCHING
Police are seeking information on a purse-snatching suspect who left his 88-year-old victim with bruises and a broken arm. Dorothy Carley, 88, of Ridge, N.Y., was vacationing here with friends and now says she will never return to the area because of the incident. Carley and a friend were walking back to a Ramada Inn located on State Road 7 in North Lauderdale around 8:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, when she was attacked by an unidentified assailant. He knocked her to the ground and broke her arm while snatching her purse and fleeing. The Broward Sheriff's Office released a sketch of the suspect, who is described as having slim-to-medium build, and being around 5-foot-9, with dreadlocks. Police are asking anyone with information to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

MISSING MONEY

After already acknowledging their city is broke, Lauderdale Lakes city commissioners are admitting $1.7 million is missing from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) funds. Gary Rogers, director of the CRA, believes the money may have been used for other city operations. He could be onto something. Commissioners transferred $800,000 in CRA dollars to the city’s general fund several years ago, which in itself may be illegal. City officials have now hired forensic auditing firm Kessler International to look into the matter.  Michael Kessler is president of the auditing firm, which should be able to track the money, but should also be prepared for some surprising findings. This same city agency gave money intended for redevelopment to the Broward Black Elected Officials organization, which used that, and other donated funds to throw a lavish party. But, wait, there's more. In the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, then Commissioner John Billingsley led the effort to set aside $1 million to be used only for relief supplies during disasters. Even though there have been no disasters since Wilma, that money is also gone.

SOME ACTIVIST

Vicente Thrower, 31, was arrested March 31 in Pompano Beach after he allegedly propositioned two undercover Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies posing as prostitutes for sex for $50. Thrower was a member of the city of Pompano Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) board. He was already facing unlawful compensation and bribery charges for allegedly attempting to shake down a city contractor and allegedly failing to disclose business dealings with firms that had business pending before the CRA. He was out on bail related to those charges at the time of this latest arrest and is now on house arrest.

CORRUPTION  WATCHDOG

John W. Scott, assistant legal counsel for Miami-Dade's Office of Inspector General, was unanimously selected by a committee to be Broward County’s first inspector general. He will earn $165,000 a year. Broward’s inspector general position is relatively weak and the office requires more authority if it is to effectively investigate public corruption. In any case, it is a start and couldn’t have come a moment too soon.

DIVORCE ATTACK
Paul Henry Gonzalez Jr., 28, of Fort Lauderdale, is accused of brutally attacking his estranged wife during a final divorce hearing in Judge Ronald Rothschild's chambers last week. He was tasered and taken into custody.  His soon-to-be ex-wife, Catherine Ann Scott-Gonzalez, 23, suffered multiple bruises in the attack.  Paul Gonzalez was charged with battery, domestic violence and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $1 million.

Miami-Dade County

MONEY FOR JACKSON

Gov. Rick Scott announced he will release $35 million in state funding to the Jackson Health
System, the taxpayer-supported healthcare provider in Miami-Dade County. Thae announcement came after a meeting with JHS’s newly appointed CEO Carlos Migoya. Scott was not satisfied with JHS’s response to its budget deficits and financial problems and held up the state funding. Among other things, Scott wants the 17-member Jackson Health Trust that oversees JHS to be disbanded and replaced with a new seven-member governing body.

FAA MESS
Yet another air traffic controller was found sleeping on the job and has been suspended. This time it was a controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center. This troubling situation has the potential of placing the lives of thousands of people in danger. Here in Florida, when bridge tenders are found sleeping on the job, they are arrested and charged but not air traffic controllers. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood should push for stiffer penalties and an overhaul of the
system.

CHIEF SUSPENDED
Opa-locka Police Chief Cheryl Cason was suspended for failing to report an accident she had in her patrol vehicle.  Cason suffered unspecified injuries in the crash and then sought treatment through the city’s worker’s compensation provider without reporting the accident or the injury. After South Florida Times began asking for details about the suspension, City Manager Clarance Patterson rescinded the suspension and returned Cason to work. Patterson directed city employees not to discuss the accident and required them to forward all media inquiries directly to his office. Patterson has not responded to questions about the incident.  There must be something he does not want revealed.  Stay tuned.