Under the direction of Technology Director Lonnie Beatty III, the South Florida Times website, SFLTimes.com, is fielding hundreds of thousands of visitors each day, and millions every month. By simply clicking a mouse, SFLTimes.com can now be instantly converted into, viewed, and read in 52 other languages, including Spanish, Creole and Arabic.
The 25th annual Mango Festival, which was scheduled to take place Father’s Day weekend in Deerfield Beach, was a flop, and was ultimately canceled. Many issues are at play, but the main cause for the event’s failure rests in the laps of its promoters, who allegedly simply did not have the cash flow to pay subcontractors. Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier has expressed concern that alleged interference by city staff may have contributed to the festival’s demise. Those allegations should be reviewed, but regardless of the outcome, the city is not responsible for the festival’s failure. Bill Ganz demonstrated leadership as the only commissioner to question whether promoters were adequately prepared. As it turned out, they were not. Promoters say they are working to refund money to vendors and those who purchased tickets, and hopefully that process will be completed quickly. The Mango Festival must not be allowed to die out. A complete review of the committee and its future should be undertaken to salvage and preserve the tradition.
Palm Beach County
SAVAGE GUN VIOLENCE
Ontavius Moore, 25, was arrested on Saturday, June 19 in connection with a June 10 drive-by shooting in West Palm Beach that left three people shot. They survived. Moore is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Bernard Jones, 17, Marvin Crowley and Tavaris Fox, both 15 years old. The shooting took place in the 1200 block of Seventh Street around 3:30 p.m. One man jumped out of a black SUV and began chasing and shooting into a gathering of people, according to police. Two other passengers fired shots from inside the vehicle. Augustus Fontaine, who turns 18 next month, was also charged in the case. Fontaine was a suspect in the brutal June 2007 rape and beating of woman and her son at the Dunbar Village housing project in West Palm Beach. Another 17-year-old male is in custody and is expected to be charged as well.
In response to several Palm Beach County commissioners being convicted of corruption in recent years, sweeping ethics reforms were implemented for county staff, elected officials and people who serve on advisory boards. The rules took effect on May 1, but Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says his employees will not participate in the anti-corruption and ethics courses. Amazingly, Bradshaw says his department is a separate agency, and is not subject to the county’s rule. That’s an outrageous position for a law-enforcement officer to take.
ACCUSED FAMILY THEFT RING
Several members of the same family allegedly operated a theft ring in South Florida for the past year; six of them have been arrested. Police say Kane Lopez, 31, of Hallandale Beach; Emery Lorenzo, 33, of Miami Lakes; Michael Chala, 22, of Miami Lakes; Silvia Ordonez, 40, of Miami; Lazaro Tenreiro, 39, of Roswell, Ga., and 47-year-old Jose Ramon Lorenzo of Miami, allegedly broke into homes in exclusive neighborhoods around dinner time and stole cash, jewelry and other valuables. Dubbed the "Dinner Set Crew," they allegedly took more than $2 million. They even allegedly stole a Bentley from one home. Lopez would sell the loot out of his pawn shop in North Miami Beach, police said. Each member of the gang faces several counts of fraud, racketeering, grand theft and money-laundering charges.
Outgoing Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas’ administration is fielding complaints from an increasing number of Fort Lauderdale residents about high water bills. Some people say their bills have more than doubled in recent months, and they are not getting answers about why. City officials are responding to the issue with what appears to be “canned” responses, with no specifics. One resident says she got an email response suggesting that her ballooning bill could be due to a faulty icemaker, or some other cause. If this was just a few people who were complaining, those kinds of explanations might ring true. But when this is happening city wide, it means something in the milk isn’t clean.
Another inmate has died inside a Broward Sheriff’s Office jail. The latest death is believed to have been a suicide. The name of the 21-year-old man has yet to be released. This death happened at the Broward Main Jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Monday, June 21. A detention deputy found the man hanging from a bed sheet inside his cell. He was rushed to the hospital, where he later died. Last year, four inmates committed suicide in BSO jails.
ANOTHER CASE CLOSED
No charges will be filed against two police officers accused of taking a suspect to a secluded area, then brutally beating him. The Broward State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have closed their investigations, citing insufficient evidence. Sunrise police officers Daniel Rodriguez, 30, and Jorge Baca, 38, returned to work on Wednesday, June 16 after being placed on paid leave in November 2009. The officers arrested Ewan Rose, then 18, on Oct. 9 and charged him with loitering, battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest with violence. Rose alleges that the officers drove him to a secluded area, brutally beat him, and made up the charges. Among other things, Rose suffered a broken nose and swollen eye socket from the police beating. After Rose complained that officers arrested him on false charges due to their holding a grudge over his being acquitted of a sexual battery charge a year earlier, prosecutors dropped the new charges. His attorney, Jeff Ivashuk, has not said whether he will seek an FBI investigation to determine if his client’s civil rights were violated.