Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio sounded like a classic wing nut with a proposal for layoffs of federal workers to reduce federal spending. It was among a dozen or so measures the candidate said he would support to reduce the federal deficit. I wonder if he would support a 75-percent salary and benefits cut for U.S. senators.
Lawsuits have been filed in California, Tennessee and Nevada, alleging that the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) functions as a scheme to deprive counties of recording and filing fees. MERS was created by banks and mortgage companies in 1994 as a one-stop loan registry. It was designed to save money by not duplicating paperwork. This is supposed to be accomplished by using MERS’ private computer system to record mortgages, and listing MERS as the beneficiary of those mortgages. Oakland Park attorney Kenneth Eric Trent filed a class-action lawsuit this week on behalf of people whose homes have been subjected to foreclosures, alleging MERS is fraud. His lawsuit joins those filed around the country, including one filed in Tennessee by the Blackburn, McCune, Happell & Zenner firm. That case filed against MERS in April is on behalf of the 95 counties in that state that have supposedly been cheated out of recording and filing fees. According to Trent’s lawsuit filed here in Florida, MERS is allegedly a cover for banks to foreclose on millions of homeowners by misrepresenting itself as the owner of the mortgages. This very well could be what breaks the back of the unscrupulous mortgage industry. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s office has not weighed in on this growing issue, and it makes me wonder: What is he waiting for?
THE RACE IS ON
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, ran his first ad this week. Instead of touting what plans he has for jobs, housing and the environment, he unleashed an attack on opponent Jeff Greene. Meek also got a boost from radio personality Tom Joyner, host of the nationally syndicated radio program of the same name. Joyner expressed his support for Meek, and will likely have him on his show. Meek, the veteran member of Congress, has seen his double-digit lead over the previously unknown Greene evaporate in recent months. Meek has been criticized for his sporadic campaign stops in South Florida and for failing to respond to his billionaire opponent’s media blitz.
Palm Beach County
John Lauseng, 44, of Boynton Beach, was shot and killed the morning of Tuesday, July 27 at the West Palm Beach Gold & Coin Exchange, 1784 N. Congress Avenue in the city. Police say robbery was the motive, and they are seeking information on the killing. They are looking for three armed men driving a green, 15-passenger, Ford van. The robbery occurred around 9 a.m. Lauseng was shot, and was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Medical Center a short time later. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8577.
In 2007, it was revealed here that the city of Deerfield Beach’s Park Department held funds in a little-known account called the “enterprise fund.” That fund reportedly consisted of proceeds generated from vending machines, concessions and alcoholic beverage sales at events in the city. Among those events were the Mango, Brazilian and Founder’s Day festivals. Then-City Manager Mike Mahaney acknowledged he had heard of the fund, but said it was not included in the city’s budget as revenue. Now, George Edmunds, deputy director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, has been asked to produce records pertaining to this account for auditors. He has yet to do so. It is unclear why he has not given up these records. Edmunds is on vacation, but his inaction leaves City Manager Burgess Hanson with a decision to make.
Officials with the Dania Beach Housing Authority have been dealing with a snake problem in one of their units ever since February. Jackie Canon, 44, lives in the Saratoga Apartments, along with her two children. She complained of snakes infesting the apartment. Housing managers dispatched workers to eliminate them. Canon and her two children were relocated elsewhere while the apartment was fogged. After a few days, they were allowed to return, only to get sick and suffer rashes, apparently from whatever chemicals were used. The family has been receiving treatments ever since, and the problem still has not been resolved. Housing officials have not indicated exactly what pesticides they used in the apartment, but Canon and her children remain displaced, living with family and friends.
Fort Lauderdale police officer Kenneth Warr Jr. was arrested in 2008 and charged with domestic battery after he got into a fight with his girlfriend. At the time, city officials placed Warr on suspension until the case was resolved. All the charges against him were dropped months later, but he was fired anyway for failing to complete his probationary period. Warr is currently working as a police officer in New Jersey.
SEX IN THE CITY
Waguih Messiha, 62, a building official with the city of Deerfield Beach, has been fired for allegedly sexually harassing Nancy Loft, who is known on the radio as Dr. Nancy Powers, a holistic physician and host of the “Dr. Nancy Talks Sex Appeal” program on XM Satellite Radio. Many of her program’s topics concern sex and natural health remedies. Messiha is accused of making repeated calls to Loft as well as other advances. He allegedly offered to “make the violations” go away if she went out with him, which could amount to a solicitation of a bribe, if substantiated. Loft met Messiha when she visited city hall to inquire about a code citation she received on her mother’s house, where she lives. Messiha earned $78,887 a year, and he was with the city for seven years. He denies the allegations, and has requested an appeal hearing before the city’s civil service board. This is just one of several sexual harassment complaints the city is handling in various departments. With the firing of Messiha, the city has established that sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated. Certain managers who have preyed on underlings for sex should be worried.