elgin_jones_web_13.jpgEJones@SFLTimes.com

MR. REPUBLICAN
For years Rev. O’Neal Dozier, senior pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center church in Pompano Beach, could have been called Mr. Republican. Dozier is a friend and close advisor of former President G.W. Bush. He is also a go-to person for state, local and national Republicans seeking office. But now those days may be coming to an end. Dozier is contemplating leaving the party over its coming nomination of hapless Mitt Romney for president. He is also concerned the party has abandoned its core principles. The final blow may have been  the endorsement of Romney by Rick Santorum — the candidate Dozier supported. 

AT STAKE
A proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution would end most restrictions on using public funding to support religious organizations. Amendment 8 would scrap the current “religious freedom” section of the Constitution and allow taxpayer dollars to be given to organizations even if their practices and beliefs would disqualify them from receiving such funds. They would not be financially penalized for practicing, preaching or advocating against abortion or gay rights, for example. The opposing sides are gearing up for what is sure to be a hard-fought battle.

Palm Beach County

STRUCK DOWN

A federal judge granted an injunction against the city of Delray Beach’s move to regulate drug and alcohol abuse recovery homes. The Caron Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based substance abuse rehabilitation organization, owns two mansions on an affluent barrier island in the city. When city officials learned of Caron’s plans to turn the properties into rehabilitation homes for the wealthy, the city enacted an ordinance placing restrictions on them. For years, Delray Beach has fought having any rehabilitation operations within its city limits. Expect Mayor Woodie McDuffie and other city leaders to press on with their stance.

A WORTHWHILE GIFT
The Rev. Griffin Davis Sr., senior pastor of Hilltop Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, gave a longtime member of his church a home. Davis, who founded the congregation in 1964, purchased the four-bedroom, two-bathroom property in Riviera Beach last year and renovated it. Rosa Wright, 53, director of the church’s choir and a congregation member since she was 7, was given the home. It is fully paid for. What a gift!

BLACK CEMETERIES

The Sara Sims Memorial Gardens cemetery in Boynton Beach is an old “blacks-only” site and there are few records to show exactly how many people are buried there. There is also a site known as the “wooded area,” which was used by blacks in the city to bury their dead. Like black communities, the construction of the Interstate 95 highway in the 1970s cut through the “wooded area” cemetery. Now city officials and researchers from Florida Atlantic University are working together to find out how many bodies remain buried in those cemeteries. This is good.

Broward County

COP SENTENCED
Former Fort Lauderdale Police Officer David Michael McElligott, 47, has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for defrauding the city. McElligott worked as a Fort Lauderdale police officer from 1991 until his arrest late last year. Since 2001, he had been on extended military leave to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Beginning in September 2003, McElligott presented to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department falsified military leave orders and earnings statements to get increased supplemental pay, preserve his job and other benefits. As a result he received a total of $312,270.65 in improper shift differential, longevity bonuses and other benefits over the eight-year period. McElligott must also pay full restitution to the city and serve two years probation. A South Florida Times investigative report broke the story last year. Book ‘em, Danno!

ABUSE CHARGES

Police are releasing details of sexual abuse allegations that have led to the arrest of Jefferey London, a pastor, youth counselor, mentor and foster home operator. According to documents, London routinely and regularly molested under-aged boys who were left in his care or who lived at his unlicensed facility, called London’s Hotel, in Lauderdale Lakes. His operation received funding from various charities and governmental entities. Several people began to come forward with molestation allegations last year. London is currently being held without bond. His accusers now number more than 40. The evidence against him includes explicit text message exchanges with some of the boys.

HOME INVASION
Wendell Rozier, 23, of Opa-locka, was shot when he and another alleged intruder broke into the Pembroke Pines apartment of 22-year-old Clifford Atis. Atis called 911 and reported he was awakened by the sound of two men burglarizing his apartment. Atis fired several shots and the suspects fled. Police said they found Rozier in a parked car with a gunshot wound to the leg. The other suspect remained at large.

IN TROUBLE
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Woodell was arrested last year in a reverse sting in which he was accused of stealing what he believed was drug money. BSO staged a drug bust and Woodell was assigned to confiscate and turn in the proceeds. Instead, he allegedly made a detour and pocketed some of the money and was arrested. Now Woodell is under investigation for allegedly sending nasty text messages to his supervisor who assisted in the sting that led to his arrest. Prosecutors have filed motions seeking to revoke his bond. Woodell, who was assigned to the Deerfield Beach district, was a member of BSO’s notorious Selective Enforcement Teams (SET) that targets high crime areas and street-level drug activities. They have been the subject of theft, brutality and planting evidence allegations for years. Several SET team members are currently under criminal
investigations and more arrests are coming, according to my sources.

Miami-Dade County

BANK PROTESTS
The Miami Worker’s Center organized a cleanup of foreclosed homes in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and deposited the trash
at a Bank of America branch, where they staged a protest. Bank of America is the target of protests by groups around the nation over its foreclosure, lending and banking practices. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has not commented on the protests. Some groups say they are now organizing a national boycott.

BANK FAILURE

North Lauderdale-based Security Bank, founded in 1980,  has been shut down and seized by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. awarded the bank’s  assets and branches to Coral Gables-based Banesco USA. Security Bank was designated “critically undercapitalized” on March 31 and warned it needed to raise capital. When it did not, or could not, federal regulators moved in. Banesco USA has acquired Security Bank branches in North Lauderdale, Doral and Miami. Under CEO Rafael F. Saldaña, Banesco has become one of the fastest-growing banks in South Florida. Its owners also hold banking interests in Venezuela, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Photo: Eljin Jones