Alvin Brown has become the first black ever elected as mayor of Jacksonville. The 48-year-old Democrat defeated his veteran Republican opponent Mike Hogan in the key contest. Jacksonville, located in Duval County, has been a Republican stronghold for decades and Hogan’s defeat has GOP insiders worried. Hogan frequently made campaign appearances with Gov. Rick Scott. He is the darling of the Tea Party and has embraced their positions. That led some mainstream Republicans to endorse Brown. Voters’ rejection of the Tea Party and the Republicans in Jacksonville could speak volumes in 2012.
Police are warning the public to beware of a new robbery scheme taking place in South Florida. Armed bandits are bumping into cars from behind and, when the drivers pull over to inspect the damage, they are robbed. Some victims have been beaten, others have been shot and some have been taken to ATMs and forced to withdraw cash. Police are advising drivers who are hit from behind to drive to a well-lighted, busy area before stopping.
Palm Beach County
Abagail Denson, 43, owner of the Abby’s Little Angels daycare in Boynton Beach, has been charged with child neglect. Denson was transporting kids in a daycare van without child safety seats or seat belts. A traffic cop pulled the van over after seeing the children standing up on the seats and playing inside the van.
Shvonne Corrine Butler, a 27-year-old former Palm Beach County Clerk of the Courts employee, was charged with 23 counts of official misconduct. She was accused of using her position to clear driver license suspensions and dismissing traffic tickets for friends and family. Butler was arrested and then fired from her job in November 2010. She has now admitted to falsifying records from 2007 to 2009 and will serve one year in the county jail. Book’em Danno!
COP ON DRUGS
Lantana police officer Mark Ott, 35, has been arrested for allegedly robbing Hispanic men after they left check cashing stores in that city. Authorities said Ott would stop the men, search them and then steal their money. An FBI informant spilled the beans on Ott, who had informed department officials he had a substance-abuse problem over a year ago.
Gregory Campbell, the 28-year-old son of Democratic state Rep. Daphne Campbell, was arrested on Medicaid fraud charges. The Campbells operate adult living facilities and group homes. Officials allege Gregory Campbell used a scheme to bill Medicare for a total of $299,000 for clients who never lived at the facilities. He faces grand theft, organized fraud and Medicaid fraud charges.
WHO ARE WE KIDDING?
The city of Lauderdale Lakes is broke and unable to pay its bills. Lauderdale Lakes was the first majority black city in Broward County. That may be why some are slow to call for a state oversight board to take control of its day-to-day operations. City Manager Anita Fain-Taylor has accepted responsibility but it is not all her fault. The elected officials bear blame, as well. Instead of whispering, there should be a unified call for an investigation and immediate state intervention.
The Las Olas Riverfront development of nightclubs, retails shops, movie theaters, and eateries was constructed in 1988 at a cost of $55 million. Despite being on prime waterfront property at Southwest Second Street and Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, the entertainment hub never really caught on. During the real estate boom, it was refinanced for $205 million. Today it sits half-empty and under contract to be sold for $15 million.
BENSON IN TROUBLE
Hollywood City Manager Cameron Benson, 49, may be in trouble. A criminal investigation into allegations made against him has widened. Benson is accused of buying a generator for the home of his father, Lauderhill City Commissioner Heyward Benson, and having city employees deliver it there in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. Cameron Benson is also accused of accepting gift cards from a company that won a city waste contract. He is alleged to have used the cards to buy furnishings for a vacation home in Nova Scotia. FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents are also looking into allegations that he had a city employee drive 2,000 miles to
Canada to delivery the furnishing for the home.
Brigid Lesovsky, 25, an umpire for a teenage girls softball league, was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl who played on one of the teams. Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives have charged Lesovsky with three counts of lewd molestation and one count of lewd battery.
STRAIGHT TO JAIL
Miami Beach Police arrested Melissa Schwartz, 24, on suspicion of alleged theft and credit card fraud. Police allege Schwartz was involved in at least three theft cases that occurred between July 2010 and March 2011. Her arrest came after investigators tracked an expensive stolen watch, which she allegedly sold to a Hollywood pawnshop.
The Jackson Health System’s new CEO Carlos Migoya announced he will eliminate another 189 positions, most of which are vacant. Jackson is Miami-Dade’s public healthcare provider and it has been struggling financially. The agency is expected to lose $26 million this year.
Jose Mora, 42, and Julio Pena, 33, were best friends and next-door neighbors. Pena is now dead and Mora is charged with his murder. The two were involved in a long-running dispute over property boundaries and parking in their Hialeah neighborhood. Both men had restraining orders against each other. This past weekend, police said, the feud boiled over when Pena insulted Mora while asking him to move his vehicle. Mora got a gun from his home and shot Pena multiple times, police said.