Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, will enter the Democratic primary for governor. His father was famous for walking during campaigns, which swept him into office as a U.S. senator and, later, as governor. The younger Chiles enters the race following prodding from party loyalists who are concerned that Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is not a strong enough candidate to win against the eventual Republican nominee, businessman Rick Scott or Attorney General Bill McCollum.
For months, it has been an open secret that prosecutors with the Broward State Attorney's Office were finalizing criminal charges against Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin. Sources say those charges could come as early as next week, and that Wasserman-Rubin, 63, has informed staff that she may be leaving the office sooner rather than later. Prosecutors have been investigating $11 million in grants for which Wasserman-Rubin voted in the town of Southwest Ranches. The grants were allegedly written by her husband, Richard Rubin, from 2001 to 2005. In addition to his regular salary, Richard Rubin received $15,000 in bonuses for the successful grant applications. In 2007, Wasserman-Rubin paid a $15,000 fine to the state Commission on Ethics over the same issue, and now she is set to face criminal charges in the case, according to numerous sources.
Donna Milo, a Cuban-American and Republican who is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is getting the cold shoulder from her party. Milo, 48, was born a man, and had a sex change operation. His given name was Ed. He was once married to a woman, and is the father of two grown children. Wasserman Schultz represents the predominantly Democratic, 20th congressional district, which encompasses much of western and central Broward County, and parts of northeastern Miami-Dade County. Republican candidates are quietly keeping their distances, and some refuse to even discuss Milo.
The recent hiring of former Fort Lauderdale City Manager Floyd T. Johnson as Pompano Beach’s Northwest Community Redevelopment Agency director is creating controversy. Johnson was allegedly fired in 2009 as the city of Riviera Beach’s CRA director over poor performance and other allegations. Community leaders in Pompano Beach are questioning his hiring, and are concerned that Johnson was brought in to quell mounting backlash from black leaders over the city’s secretive development plans for their neighborhoods.
At a time when a number of part-time workers have already seen their hours cut back, and the city is facing a $15 million budget shortfall, members of the Deerfield Beach Fire Department could be in line for pay raises, which is ridiculous. Deerfield Beach Mayor Peggy Noland and the other city commissioners should have given direction to Interim City Manager Burgess Hanson to hold the line. They also should declare a financial emergency, and freeze all pay and benefits across the board. While residents will surely have their taxes raised, and be required to pay more for reduced services, where is the wisdom in awarding pay hikes to a select few employees? Pay raises should be given only in times of plenty, but maybe it’s just me.
CELL PHONE CAPERS
Michael L. Wilkes, 31, Kerley Jean, 28, and Tyrell Powell, 27, all of Miami-Dade County, were arrested on Saturday, May 15 and charged with burglarizing a cellular phone store in Coconut Creek, according to police. Jean was allegedly driving a getaway car that police say he used to try and run down an officer who responded to the scene. Jean was shot by police, and remains in the hospital, in an unknown condition. Law enforcement agencies around South Florida are investigating to determine if the masked trio might have been responsible for a rash of similar cell phone store burglaries around the region.
Palm Beach County
John Goodman, the billionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, has played the game next to royalty, including England’s Prince Charles and Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. On Tuesday, May 18, he was arrested on DUI manslaughter and other charges related to a Feb 12 motor-vehicle accident that left a man dead. Goodman is accused of running a stop sign and slamming his Bentley into a car driven by 23-year-old Scott Wilson at 1 a.m., forcing the other car into a canal, upside down, according to investigators. Prosecutors say Goodman then fled and left Wilson, who died at the scene, to drown.
Calvin L. Williams, a popular teacher at L.C. Swain Middle in Greenacres, was found shot to death, allegedly by a friend, in his Riviera Beach apartment on Saturday, May 15. Police say that Williams, 41, was killed after returning home some time Friday evening, May 14, but investigators are not releasing any other details about the case. Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800- 458-8477.
RED LIGHT MAYOR
West Palm Beach commissioners, including Mayor Lois Frankel and Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell, voted unanimously on Monday, May 17 to refund all fines collected for tickets issued after city cameras caught alleged offenders making improper right turns on red lights. Straight-ahead-red-light runners will continue to be fined, but the right turn violations led to a high percentage of drivers who disputed whether they had come to a complete stop before making the turns. In May, a special master threw out all of the city’s right-turn citations, after reviewing some of the videos. Frankel and Mitchell were among those who received tickets for the infractions.
FORMER COACH ARRESTED
Mike Infante, 54, the former president of Royal Palm Beach Youth Baseball, Inc., was arrested on Wednesday, May 19 and charged with stealing $55,000 from the league. He was released on $7,500 bond on one count of grand theft. Infante is accused of writing several checks to himself. The problem was discovered by board members in September 2009. A treasurer also signed the checks, but other league officials were misled into believing that the money would be used for league facilities and functions. After police were contacted, Infante stepped down, and relocated to Rhode Island. During the investigation, he admitted that he spent the money on himself. Book’em, Dano!
Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has temporarily removed Coconut Grove Elementary School Principal Eva N. Ravelo from her post. The decision came after outraged parents complained to school board members about a derogatory email response that Ravelo, 45, gave to a parent on May 10. The insulting email came in response to parent Abigail DuBearn, who asked Ravelo if student representatives of the school's Educational Excellence School Advisory Committee could be notified of their upcoming meeting. Ravelo responded that she should “eat [expletive] and die.” Ravelo has been reassigned to desk duty at an administrative office.
NO BAIL FOR TRIO
Miami-Dade circuit court Judge Robert Deehl ordered Miami-Dade police officer John Francisco Villar, Jr. held without bail by during a Wednesday, May 19 hearing. Villar is one of the three men accused of robbing a man of his $131,000 in online gambling winnings. On April 28 the victim, Marvin Duarte, went to collect $131,000 in winnings from bets on NBA games from Leonardo Lastre, who ran an online gambling ring with Fausto Villar, the officer’s cousin. After collecting his money and driving away, Officer Villar was followed in his unmarked police cruiser with his cousin in the back seat and pulled Duarte over. Fausto Villar then robbed Duarte of his money and fled on foot. All were arrested less than a week later. Lastre and Fausto Villar were also denied bail in the case.