elginjones3web.gifMORE TROUBLE
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan continues to tout the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The program is intended to help Americans save their homes from foreclosure, but it clearly does not go far enough, particularly here in Florida. According to the economic data-gathering firm Trans Union, Nevada had the highest rate of mortgage delinquencies in the nation, at 15.98 percent during the last quarter. Florida was second, with 14.65 percent. What is more troubling is that the Sunshine State is on track to have the highest rate of delinquent mortgages by the end of the year, at nearly 20 percent. Homeowners and consumer organizations complain the federal legislation has too many loopholes, which allow banks to circumvent the process.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) was credited with saving the life of a fellow member of Congress, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Meek performed the Heimlich maneuver on Schakowsky, who was choking while dining at a restaurant. A heroic move, yes, but few people have ever heard about this, and you can blame Gov. Charlie Crist. After leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race, Crist has soaked up all the media attention. Meek has been low-key, while raising and conserving funds for the general election. In the meantime, Crist has been aggressively campaigning, which has resulted in his taking a lead in the polls over Meek, the presumed Democratic nominee, and Marco Rubio, the presumed Republican nominee. A raw look at the numbers shows Crist is siphoning off independents and Democrats from Meek at a blistering clip.

West Palm Beach

Shaun Beasley, 29, was arrested on Friday, May 7 and charged with stealing over $14,000 worth of brass vases and urns from a cemetery. Over 70 of the vases, which retail for $230 each, were stolen from grave sites at the Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery in Royal Palm Beach the night before. Police located the vases at Beasley’s home, after cemetery surveillance video captured his vehicle license plate number.

Mac Dennis, 58, operates the Pak Mail shipping store at 9858 Glades Road in Boca Raton. On Friday, April 23, he was taking several hundred dollars in checks and cash to the bank for his morning deposits. While en route, he realized he had lost it.  He searched for it all day and throughout the weekend, but did not find it. On Monday, he got a call from his bank, which informed him that a Good Samaritan had found it and deposited it for him. A person named “Mike” left his name and number with the teller, but Dennis has not been able to contact him to show his appreciation. What an act of kindness!

Broward County

Marvin Johnson, 30, was arrested in North Lauderdale on Tuesday, May 11 and charged with the murder of 79-year-old Samuel McWhorter. Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to McWhorter’s home in northwest Pompano Beach on Friday, May 7 after his granddaughter discovered his body. Officials are not releasing the cause of death, but it was ruled a homicide by the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office. Johnson is being held in the Broward County Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale with no bond.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has set up shop inside the city of Deerfield Beach’s Community Development Department. The department’s director,  Peter Parkin was notified that the federal agency is conducting an onsite review of his operations. This comes on the heels of a separate audit conducted by Kessler International, which issued a scathing report that has caught the attention of the Broward State Attorney’s Office.

The Federation of Public Employees (FPE) union voted overwhelmingly in support of a “no confidence” measure against Sheriff Al Lamberti on Monday, May 10. FPE represents over 2,500 clerical, support and detention deputies within the department, a good majority of whom are black. Union members are upset over Lamberti’s decision to lay off 124 people, eliminate 62 vacant positions, and demote 250 others from their ranks. BSO is facing a $60 million shortfall in its $706 million budget, and FPE members are taking the brunt of the cuts, as opposed to road deputies and those represented by other unions. FPE officials say this is retaliation against them for supporting Lamberti’s opponent, Scott Israel, in the 2008 election.

Miami-Dade County

Charles Corban, a 41-year-old Miami-Dade Police officer with more than 20 years on the job, was arrested and accused of having sex inside his Hialeah home with an underage relative since she was 13. The girl is now 15, and police have not said how the child is related to Corban, or how the allegations came to light. Corbin was taken into custody at his home on Monday, May 11 and charged with six counts of sexual battery on a minor, along with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious molestation.

Alfonso Perez, the attorney representing former Homestead City Manager Mohammad “Mike” Shehadeh in a breach of contract lawsuit and a religious and national origin discrimination case against the city, has invited me to attend some of the depositions. Shehadeh alleges that council members used racial slurs, criticized his religious beliefs, and fired him without cause. The witness list has yet to be completed, but it should be a doozy. Expected to be called are current and former city council members and employees, including former Mayor Lynda Bell, council members Wendy Lobos, Judy Waldman and others.