elginjones3web.gifYET ANOTHER EXPANSION
The South Florida Times will be available for sale at 48 Chevron service stations located throughout the tri-county area starting Aug. 13, Circulation Coordinator Robert Beatty II has announced. Chevron joins other major retailers such as Publix, Winn-Dixie, CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General and Wal-Mart stores as locations where the paper is sold. 

Palm Beach County

Tasha Ford, 34, was arrested and charged in February 2009 with resisting arrest and intercepting oral communications by Boynton Beach police officers, both felonies. The charges were later dropped. What Ford actually did was videotape police while they were making an arrest. And yes, it is against the law to videotape police officers in the course of their duties, which is ridiculous. James Green, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit in U.S. District Court in July, hoping to have the law ruled unconstitutional. Good.

The Spady Living Heritage Festival will take place Aug. 21 from noon to 10 p.m. It will feature live performances, games and other activities. It is hosted by the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and spearheaded by the museum’s director, Daisy M. Fulton. The event is in its sixth year, and remains free and open to public. The street festival will take place on the north and south sides of Atlantic Avenue along N.W. 5th Avenue.

Broward County

John Wezkiewicz, a 20-year veteran volunteer officer with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, was fired on May 19. The move came after Capt. Rick Maglione, head of the Internal Affairs division, determined that Wezkiewicz violated department rules by  placing a paper bag over detainee Gerald Feldhaus’ head, claiming that Feldhaus was fighting officers and spitting on them. A police review board agreed with the termination. As a volunteer officer, Wezkieweicz received no pay and cannot officially appeal his firing. The paper bag was placed over the detainee’s head while his hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was lying on the floor. Officers arrested Feldhaus on Nov. 1, 2009 for trespassing, and brought him to the police station for booking, where Wezkiewicz was assigned. Video shows that Feldhaus was talkative, and appeared not to follow officer’s directions. When he would not hold still for a booking photo, Wezkiewicz allegedly pulled him away from the camera and placed him onto the floor, with his hands cuffed. He then allegedly placed a paper bag over his head. The video does not appear to show Feldhaus fighting or engaging in spitting, but watch the video online and judge for yourself.

In 2007, a judge ruled that the city of Pompano Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was not set up properly and that it had conducted business without proper authority. The agency and its advisory board made decisions, instead of the city commissioners, who were required to sit as the CRA board when making decisions. The ruling came in the case of Derriek Phillips, whose property the CRA sought to seize via eminent domain. Now, the CRA and several other city operations are again being scrutinized over the way those departments conducted business. One of them is the Housing and Urban Improvement division, which is being audited by Michael Kessler and his New York-based Kessler International forensic auditing firm. What has turned up so far is allegedly “widespread corruption,” according to highly placed sources. The findings will likely not be pretty. Already, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of dozen of boxes of city records from a warehouse. Those records are crucial to the audit, and now they’re gone.

Memorial Healthcare System, a taxpayer-supported agency that manages public hospitals and clinics in the southern portion of Broward County, is on sound financial footing. In these difficult economic times, this is a rarity for a public entity. Obviously, officials there are doing something right, and are an example of good fiscal management. Memorial Healthcare System made $117.5 million in earnings this last fiscal year while many cities, counties and other institutions are facing millions of dollars in budget deficits.

The city of Deerfield Beach laid off 106 workers on Friday, July 30, which could lead to court action and unfair labor practices charges. The manner in which the layoffs were handled may have violated several clauses of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (UPAT) union’s collective bargaining agreement. The layoffs were allegedly done without any prior notice or consideration for the seniority of workers, as required by the collective bargaining agreement. City officials apparently expected little reaction from UPAT. But in a letter to City Manager Burgess Hanson, the union is demanding immediate hearings over the issue. At the Tuesday, Aug. 3 city commission meeting, with the exception of Sylvia Poitier, commissioners accepted the budget proposal without expressing concern about the way the layoffs were done. A public budget hearing will take place within the coming weeks.

George Gretsas is out as city manager in Fort Lauderdale. Assistant City Manager Allyson Love has been tapped to fill in until commissioners decide how to handle his departure. She becomes only the second black person to hold that position in either an interim or permanent capacity, behind Floyd T. Johnson.

Miami-Dade County

Miller Dawkins, a former Miami city commissioner, has died. He was 85. While he was a commissioner, Dawkins was convicted in 1997 of bribery after being caught on tape accepting a $30,000 bribe, and later soliciting more money. Dawkins and several other elected officials were nabbed during an anti-corruption sting called Operation Green Palm.

Raquel Moya was arrested June 26. Her sister, Melina Moya, was arrested on Aug. 2. Both women are real estate agents who are charged with multiple crimes related to a rental scam. The women posted ads on Craiglist, offering places for rent. After showing the properties, they would draw up the lease agreements and take the down payments and security deposits. The problem was that they allegedly had no connection to the rental properties, and would disappear with the deposit money.  Anyone who may have been a victim of the scheme is asked to contact Homestead Police at 305-247-1535.