barack-obama_web.jpgOH, MR. PRESIDENT
President Barack Obama’s administration has navigated countless economic land mines, and now he is expected to sign legislation intended to provide relief to consumers being gouged by credit card issuers.  This month, we witnessed a record number of foreclosures, and there does not seem to be much relief for homeowners on that front.  Many of the same institutions that received taxpayer bailouts are tightening the screws on consumers with legal action, collection agencies and foreclosure. At the same time, credit is not being freed up, and something is wrong. The Obama administration should query these companies to determine if they are using bailout funds to go after consumers. The Congress, which also has oversight responsibilities, should act immediately with hearings to determine the same. California Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been extremely vocal about this, but it’s time to move beyond the rhetoric and on to the next step with hearings and legislation, because it is not fair, nor right. The entire country is in a bind, and if the companies that are getting taxpayer-funded assistance are not willing to do likewise for the people, then those companies should be allowed to fail.

Over the past several weeks, state committee woman Diane Glasser and other officials with the Florida Democratic Party have been meeting and holding conference calls in an effort to resolve the ongoing turmoil in the party’s Democratic Black Caucus. With the caucus’ annual convention taking place this weekend in Gainesville, where the election of officers is scheduled to take place, the organization is falling apart. Several county chapters of the Black Caucus informed party chairwoman Karen Thurman that they would boycott the convention. All of this is surfacing as several grievances have been filed with the party over all sorts of issues, including one from the Alachua County chapter, alleging financial fraud inside the state organization. Let me tell you, it’s nasty, and there could actually be blows exchanged at this weekend’s convention, but let’s hope not.

Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson is running for the 17th District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Kendrick Meek, who decided not to seek reelection and is vying instead for a U.S. Senate seat. Gibson’s entry pits her against state Sen. Frederica Wilson, who threw her hat into the race earlier this year. The wheels will keep turning, and don’t be surprised by some of the people said to be considering a run for office.

Palm Beach County

On Tuesday, May 19, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Charles Burton sentenced Milagro Cunningham, 21, to four life sentences, plus 45 years in prison over his savage 2005 sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl. Cunningham, who reportedly suffers from various mental illnesses, was convicted in April of sexually assaulting the child and then placing her inside a garbage can.  Then, he allegedly buried the garbage can under a pile of concrete blocks in an abandoned landfill. Police found the girl, who was near death at the time, but she miraculously survived and is a healthy 12-year-old today.

Less than a month after he began serving a 14-month prison sentence for stealing from his Delray Beach church, the Rev. John Skehan wants out of jail. His attorney has petitioned the court to release him, and allow him to serve his sentence on house arrest instead. His lawyer, James Eisenberg, says he is suicidal, and suffers from prostate cancer. On May 1, Skehan pleaded guilty to grand theft, and admitted stealing at least $370,000 from St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church.

On Thursday, May 14, Rodney Winn, 34, was shot in the stomach in the 800 block of West 5th St. in Riviera Beach. This week, on Tuesday, May 19, police arrested and charged 22-year-old Kevin Francis, with one count of attempted murder in the case. Winn remains at St. Mary's Medical Center, in critical condition, and it is unclear what led to the shooting, according to police.

Broward County

There’s a sex problem in Fort Lauderdale city hall. Last year Police Department webmaster Steven Rocky Loiacono was fired for spending hours on end at pornographic sites. In February of this year, David D. Daley, a safety manager, resigned amid an investigation into to his undressing down to his socks and exposing himself to Daniela Metz, an administrative assistant in the Public Services Department, while they were at work.  Now, city officials are investigating more than a dozen employees in the Building Department who allegedly have been watching pornography at work.  Stay tuned, because there is so much more to this story.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, May 19, that the case of Omar Loureiro, 57, who was convicted of murder in 2007 and sentenced to death, should be sent back to Broward County for a new trial. It means the death sentence handed down in the case by Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner, will be vacated. The ruling came after several people provided statements saying they saw Gardiner and the prosecutor in the case at the time, Howard Scheinberg, having dinner at a restaurant while the trial was still proceeding. One of those statements came from Sunrise City Commissioner Sheila Alu, who is also a prosecutor. Scheinberg and Gardiner dispute testimony that they discussed the case, but witnesses said the judge and prosecutor were joking about Loueiro’s guilt, and about the fact that a juror passed out after viewing crime-scene photos.  A new trial is clearly warranted in this case, but there should also be an official misconduct probe of the allegations to determine Gardiner’s fitness to continue serving on the bench.

Broward County funds the Broward Sheriff’s Department’s budget, and county commissioners have warned Sheriff Al Lamberti for months that he will have to make drastic cuts.  Lamberti’s budget team has made countless cutbacks, such as sending pink slips to 177 employees, including some deputies.  A total of 260 positions; some through layoffs and furloughs of nonunion workers and by closing one jail, have been cut. Last year, BSO approved union contracts, which give generous 12-percent pay raises to entry-level deputies, and 7-percent raises to others. In no way should, or will, the public tolerate taking officers off the streets, or reducing the number of detention deputies. The budget, however is not creative, and it makes no mention of rolling back last year’s raises, or across-the-board pay cuts for all department employees. It’s time for all sides to get creative, and make sure all jobs –and the public–are safe, even if it means everyone takes home a little less pay.

Miami-Dade County

Maria R. Garcia, 61, of Miami, was arrested on Saturday, May 16, after Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies spotted her driving the wrong way  on U.S. 1 in Marathon.  She fled police, who had their sirens blaring, police say.  When she finally did stop, she was disoriented and was transported to the hospital.  When a nurse looked inside of her purse in an effort to contact her relatives, there was a small cache of cocaine and pills. Granny was booked on misdemeanor fleeing police and felony drug possession charges.

Photo: President Barack Obama