elgin_jones_web_13.jpgREPUBLICANS IN POWER
Republicans now control both houses of the Legislature, the governorship and all cabinet posts in Florida. They have a solid hold on power and one of their first pieces of legislation will be immigration reform. Several Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Bill Snyder of Stuart, are rushing to submit immigration bills that will mirror Arizona’s. All of the bills being crafted will include mandates that require employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system. E-Verify is a voluntary program administered by the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. It allows employers to verify and confirm that a job applicant has a Social Security number, work visa or other immigration document prior to being hired.

The Republican National Committee and the Florida Republican Party are stalking Sen. Bill Nelson, with his speeches and positions on issues being videotaped. Nelson is up for re-election in 2012 and he is being targeted as vulnerable. Former Republican Sen. George LeMieux is expected to run but others are also jockeying in what is expected to be an expensive and hotly contested race.

Palm Beach County

Police are seeking information on a man who attempted to rob the Any Kind check cashing store in the 1200 block of 45th Street in Mangonia Park last week. Police said a man entered the store carrying a black bag and handed a cashier a note claiming he had a bomb and demanded money. But, for still unknown reasons, he abruptly fled before getting any cash. He is described as a thin built male who wore a black knit cap, black coat and black shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.

The family of Jeffrie “JC” Jones, who was slain on New Year’s Day 2010, held a vigil on the first anniversary of his death in hopes of getting information leading to an arrest.  Jones’ body was found on Pioneer Road, an isolated street in rural West Palm Beach. He was shot to death and his family believes he knew his killers. Anyone with information is asked to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.

The feud between Delray Beach Police Sgt. Vincent Gray and Assistant Police Chief Ralph Phillips has taken a foul turn. Gray has accused Phillips of repeatedly defaming him with comments after he was involved in the arrest of Phillip’s son in 2009. Scott Phillips, now 20, was placed under arrest after fighting with a security guard and community service aide after being accused of trespassing in the Rainberry Bay neighborhood. A witness recognized him and called the elder Phillips to the scene. Upon his arrival, he ordered officers to take the handcuffs off his son. Ralph Phillips was suspended for discussing the incident with the media but prosecutors cleared him of criminal wrongdoing. Gray’s lawsuit was filed against Phillips and the city. Among other things, it accuses city officials of ignoring complaints he filed about Phillips’ conduct towards him.

Broward County

Betsie Gallardo, 27, is serving a five-year prison sentence at the Broward Correctional Facility after being convicted of assault on a law enforcement officer in 2009. The sentence came after she crashed her car and resisted the officer who arrived on the scene. In doing so, she allegedly spit on the officer. Her mother says she suffered from cancer and was also taking medication for anxiety attacks and panicked when officers arrived. She had never been in trouble before, but since she was born HIV positive, prosecutors argued, her saliva was potentially a deadly weapon used against the officer. Gallardo is now terminally ill and doctors give her only a few weeks to live. A number of people, including state Rep. Hazelle Rogers, have written to the state parole commission seeking her release during her final days of life, but those petitions have been denied. At best, Gallardo is a first-time offender with a medical disability who never should have been sent to prison in the first place. She is now on her death bed and, hopefully, Gov. Rick Scott will intervene.

Fort Lauderdale city commissioners have complained of too many unnecessary managers and now there could be cuts in the managerial staff. Interim City Manager Allyson Love is said to be formulating a plan to consolidate some departments and merge other city operations. If true, expect several managers to be let go. Good.

Miami-Dade County

Radio Paz WACC-AM 830 has laid off 17 of its 23 employees, including on-air personalities. Radio Paz is part of the Archdiocese of Miami's media ministry and broadcasts Spanish language Catholic programming. Radio Paz will now rely on the EWTN, a national Catholic broadcasting network, for the bulk of its programming.

Rep. David Rivera was sworn into the seat he won in Congress last November, but he may be just keeping it warm for someone else. Rivera is already under investigation over an off-shore company he owns and for allegedly lying about having government contracts. Now he has admitted accepting $137,000 from Millennium Marketing, a company his mother co-owns. Millennium Marketing itself is under criminal investigation for allegedly accepting secret payments from Flagler Dog Track leading up to a county referendum on gambling at horse and dog tracks.

Kelvin Dwayne Patterson, 52, recently relocated to Miami from Atlanta in hopes of finding work. Gunmen snuffed out the dreams of the husband and father of four this week.  According to witnesses, Patterson and a relative arrived at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of Northwest 61st Street to visit another relative when Patterson was accosted by two men. He was killed when they opened fired with assault rifles. Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Elgin Jones may be reached at Ejones@SFLTimes.com