Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss resigned last week. Buss had come under fire from legislators and Gov. Rick Scott during a move to privatize 29 prisons in the southern half of the state. Buss never informed legislators that privatization would cost an additional $25 million to fund employee buyouts and unused leave time.
NOW & LATER REPUBLICANS President Barack Obama announced he would unveil a sweeping jobs-creation initiative in the next week. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and other Republicans are making it clear they will not support this or any proposal Obama puts forth. They are following through on their vow to see this president fail and they are destroying the country in the process. They should put their racially tinged hate aside and work towards solutions. Reasonable-minded Republicans are in hiding and if they do not take a stand against such foolish tactics now, voters will surely punish them at the polls later.
Tri-Rail, the publicly operated commuter train that travels from Palm Beach County through Broward County to Miami-Dade County could be handed over to private interests. Tri-Rail operates on the CSX tracks located west of Interstate 95. The Florida East Coast Railway, which owns tracks along the eastern corridor of the state, has been in negotiations with the Florida Department of Transportation about moving or including Tri-Rail service to its tracks. This is another public operation Gov. Rick Scott intends to give away.
Palm Beach County
Dawn Kramer, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy, was arrested after allegedly taking cigarettes, candy and pills into the jail for an inmate. The contraband was allegedly provided in exchange for the inmate setting her up with a supplier of stolen gift cards. That supplier turned out to be an informant working with police.
Jamal Smith, 24, has been charged in the shooting death of 24-year-old Kemar Clayton last month. Clayton was found in his car in Royal Palm Beach on Aug. 1, dead from gunshots. Authorities are not disclosing details but Smith is charged with murder and robbery.
Jeffrey Sek, 55, of Boynton Beach, a former Palm Beach County employee, has been charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing gas. According to the police report, a sheriff’s deputy witnessed Sek filling up his personal vehicle at a county fuel depot. An investigation ensued and Sek was fired on June 17. He is accused of pumping 1,115 gallons of gas into his personal vehicle at a cost of $2,969.78 since March 2008.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Albury Burrows, 40, was arrested and accused of stealing $1,200 from a total of $2,452 that was seized during a 2009 drug bust. Even though several other deputies had access to the money and the crime scene, BSO investigators suspected Burrows of stealing the money. It took a jury less than six minutes to acquit him. Prior to arresting Burrows, investigators made at least one unsuccessful attempt to entice him through what is known as an “integrity test.” These tests consist of staged arrests where a law enforcement officer is unknowingly placed at the scene and left alone with cash to see if he or she steals any of it. At his trial, the judge would not allow jurors to hear details about the integrity test. The question is why was Burrows charged in the first place?
The city of Lauderdale Lakes is a mess of mismanagement that only the Legislature may be able to straighten out by dissolving it. The municipality is broke and it cannot pay its bills or employees. The economic downturn has played a part in this city’s problems but most can be attributed to a lack of vision and years of incompetence, abuse and waste. It’s time for state Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Dist. 94, and state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Dist. 29, who represent this area, to do the right thing and initiate talks with other municipalities about absorbing this city. Fort Lauderdale, Tamarac, Oakland Park and Lauderhill are the options and it’s time for it to happen.
Several residents of the Lauderdale Manors community in northwest Fort Lauderdale are concerned about their water bills. They say their bills began spiking about two years ago and city officials are not addressing their concerns. One family says its bill went from an average of $45 per month to more than $200. City Commissioner Bobby DuBose represents the area and some residents say they have met with him about the problem.
Teobaldo Fuentes, 46, was arrested last week on charges of practicing medicine without a license. His wife, Jina Fuentes, is the owner of Clinica la Caridad, 285 NW 27th Ave., Miami. Her husband allegedly posed as a doctor at the clinic and treated patients, mostly children. Jina Fuentes was also arrested for purchasing prescription drugs for her clinic without a license.
FOOD STAMP FRAUD
Meera Gokool Khan, a former worker with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), is charged with welfare fraud. She allegedly used DCF welfare applicants’ personal information to get food stamps which were then traded for cash. A two-year investigation found she scammed more than $1.3 million in food stamps over the nine-year period she worked there, according to the police report.
GUILTY AS CHARGED
Lazaro Joel Herrera, a 45-year-old former Miami-Dade County building official, pleaded guilty to selling contractors fake licenses and permits. Authorities said Herrera stole a co-worker’s password to access the licensing database. He will serve 15 years in prison and must pay $800,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.