Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary David Wilkins has abruptly quit his post, but why? State officials say Wilkins stepped down over concerns about the agency’s private contractors but they have yet to disclose specifics. Wilkins had been working to overhaul the way DCF conducts business with its contractors and that leads to speculation that Gov. Rick Scott may not have liked what he was doing or the direction in which he was headed. Either way, there is need to get to the bottom of this.
Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia F. O’Connell recently touted the state agency’s record amount of business, as desperate people seeking to hit it big are buying lottery tickets at a record pace. The odds of winning the jackpot in the state’s Lotto and Mega Money games are so dismal that there is little realistic chance of doing so. That’s why there are so many rollovers which lead to headline-grabbing jackpot amounts. While that may be desirable for the Florida Lottery, it looks like financial usury to me. The Lotto now competes with the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions games. The Lotto will never match the jackpot amounts of those games. That’s why O’Connell should begin a push to return the Lotto game to its original odds and make it more realistic. The odds in the nightly Fantasy 5 game should also revert to the position where players winning the top prize can get $25,000 to $50,000. Of course this will never happen but it should.
Palm Beach County
Heavy seasonal rains have created high water levels in Lake Okeechobee and its surrounding network of canals. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to release water from the lake and into other waterways such as the Caloosahatchee River and east to the St. Lucie River. There is concern that the 70-year-old dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee could fail from the pressure, which would be a catastrophe for neighboring communities such as Belle Glade and Pahokee.
Sgt. Mario Pradere of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has been arrested and booked on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and one count of possessing a video of a child under the age of 16. He is alleged to have massaged the feet of a child while fondling himself. He is also accused of hiding a department-issued video camera in her bedroom and secretly videotaping the child. According to authorities, he has confessed. Book ’em, Danno!
Andre Kemp and Michael Clayton Baker, both 22, were shot to death at a home in the 1800 block of Taylor Street in Hollywood. Residents reported hearing gunshots and after checking found their bodies in the back and front yards of the home. Police are investigating but few other details have been released.
ON THE MARCH
Walmart is continuing its march to saturate South Florida with stores. The proposal is to raze the site of the former Millennium Mall located at Hollywood Boulevard and State Road 7 in Hollywood and
replace it with one of its Supercenters. The proposed 180,000-square-foot store will likely have a Murphy’s Oil gas station, which is a great idea. Hollywood city officials are set to take up the proposal later this year.
Angel Luis Villegas, 29, father of nine, is charged in the death of his 2-year-old son. Police allege Villegas became irritated at his son who was fighting a cold and vomiting. He then allegedly threw the child on the bed and his head hit a wall. The next morning, Villegas found the child unconscious and rushed him to the hospital, where he was declared brain dead.
THE MAYOR’S MONEY
The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust is investigating Doral Mayor Luigi Boria over a land deal. It involves his son and daughter and a parcel of land they owned along with the Grand Floridian at Doral LLC and its owner, developer Juan Carlos Tovar. The commission is investigating a maze of complicated deals and connections to determine whether Boria’s push for city approval of a development proposal for the land in question presented any conflict of interest.
The Miami Dolphins finally signed their first-round draft pick Dion Jordan to a multi-year contract. Jordan is a defensive end/linebacker from the University of Oregon. He practiced with the team when training camp opened this week. Miami now has all of its draft picks signed and in camp.
Charles Miller, 42, of Stock Island, has been charged with aggravated battery but those charges could be upgraded to murder. Miller was involved in a fight with Jesus Rodriguez, 45, on July 7 over $10 he gave him to buy beer but did not. Miller beat and kicked Rodriguez in the head during the altercation, police said. Rodriguez was knocked unconscious and was rushed to a hospital and has died from his injuries. And it’s all over a six-pack of beer. Miller is being held at the Monroe County Detention Center with no bond allowed.
Developers Mark and Michael Walsh of Delray Beach are in the middle of a high-stakes fight in Key West over dredging. The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce wants a study to determine the feasibility of deepening a channel which would allow bigger cruise ships to dock at or near hotels and resorts. Opponents, citing environmental and other concerns, have formed a political action committee to oppose the proposed study. The chamber has now formed its own committee in support of the study. Bringing the cruise industry to Key West means more congestion and perhaps a strain on resources, but it also means big dollars and, more importantly, jobs.