elgin_jones_web_13.jpgRELIGIOUS QUAGMIRE

Amendment 8 on the Nov. 6 ballot proposes to change the state constitution so religious organizations can receive public funds. It is being touted as a “religious freedom” measure and it is a hotly contested ballot question. Opponents and supporters of the measure are gearing up with public outreach campaigns.


george-williams-w1.jpgCatholic, Baptist, Methodist and other mainstream religious organizations provide needed services to communities but the constitution forbids tax dollars from funding them. Opponents say funding the groups with tax dollars violates the U.S. Constitution. George Williams, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Perry and chairman of the Vote No on 8 Committee, believes it is a scheme to divert money from public schools to private, church-run schools.

Palm Beach County

camille-brown-w1.jpgCamille Brown, 31, of Plantation, daughter of a housekeeper who once worked for Rowland Schaefer, founder of the Pembroke Pines-based Claire's outlet jewelry stores, is sitting in jail after allegedly attempting to extort $3 million from the Schaefers. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Brown was behind emails sent to the Schaefers demanding money or she would disclose embarrassing information about the family. An agent posed as a representative of the family and met with Brown in Boynton Beach under the guise of arranging a wire transfer of the money in exchange for her silence, police say. She was arrested on multiple counts and is in the Palm Beach County Jail on $200,000 bond.

In 2010, Joe Romano, 49, of New York was convicted of operating a $40 million fake collectible coins scam that defrauded the elderly. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Now he is being accused of attempting to hire a hit man to kill the judge and others who put him behind bars. Romano, who owns a home in Boynton Beach, recruited his friend Dejvid Mirkovic, of Lake Worth, to arrange the transaction, police say. Romano allegedly wanted the targets’ heads preserved in formaldehyde so he could see them. The hit men were actually FBI agents, who arrested Mirkovic. He is being held in a federal lockup.

Broward County

george-rahael-w1.jpgThe popular Victoria Park Shoppes, located at 618 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, was built by developer George Rahael in 2004. The shopping center is home to a Winn-Dixie supermarket, restaurants and retailers and was once appraised at $27 million. Today it is valued at just at $14.3 million and U.S. Bank has filed a $20 million foreclosure lawsuit. Some 20 properties owned by Rahael’s companies have gone into foreclosure in recent years, according to court records.


karlton_johnson_web.jpgSome members of a disciplinary committee that makes recommendations to the Broward County School District when employees are accused of wrongdoing may be getting frustrated. According to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the committee has repeatedly recommended disciplinary action be taken against Blanche Ely High School Principal Karlton O. Johnson but nothing has happened. Expect supporting documentation at any time now, so stay tuned.

david-archaki-w1.jpgWilton Manors Public Services Director David Archacki has been accused of misusing his position, allowing private companies to use city facilities and equipment, and theft of fuel and other city items. One employee alleges he saw several barrels of city fuel, that came up missing, on the back of one of Archaki’s vehicles. The allegations were reported to City Manager Joseph Gallegos and the police department investigated it. Keep an eye on this.

al-lamberti-w1.jpgBroward Sheriff Al Lamberti campaigned on a promise to diversify his department, which has not happened. There have also been complaints about his not attending forums and political functions in the black community. At a recent candidates forum held at the African American Research Library recently, Lamberti failed to show up to debate his Democratic opponent Scott Israel.

wiley_thompson.jpegHe sent Col. Wiley Thompson, a black BSO administrator, instead, and that is unacceptable. I have never heard of such a thing. It was disgraceful for Lamberti to use the only black employee in his senior law enforcement command in this manner. It showed a lack of respect for Thompson, the voters who attended the event and the organizers. Avoiding questions from the black community is not working for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and likely won’t cut it for Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Miami-Dade County

donald-trump-w3.jpgPlans for millionaire developer and political wing nut Donald Trump to build his Trump City Studios in Homestead have been scrapped. The 800-acre site next to the Homestead Air Reserve base has environmentally sensitive wildlife and plant species, so the movie studio can’t be built there.

david-defrancesco.jpgDavid William DeFrancesco, 44, an engineer at Florida Power and Light's Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Homestead, has been arrested on shoplifting charges. Employees at a Key Largo Publix supermarket called police to report a man who took a mop bucket and filled it with groceries. The man then went to the front of the store to look at magazines and left with the bucket full of items. The stunt was repeated on three occasions in September. Surveillance video captured the license plate number of the man’s vehicle and detectives arrested him at his home.

johanna-faddis-w2.jpgAttorneys for the city of Homestead have accused former Deputy City Manager Johanna Faddis of lying in a lawsuit she filed over her termination and the city’s release of personal text messages she sent and received on her city-issued cell phone. The messages in question were between Faddis and former City Manager Mike Shehadeh. The issue is whether Shehadeh sexually harassed Faddis or not.

mike-shehadeh-w4.jpgThe city settled a termination lawsuit with Shehadeh in 2011 for $250,000, based in part on Faddis’ testimony that she was never sexually harassed. In her lawsuit, she is now claiming that she was indeed harassed by him. Her attorney Kelsay Patterson is claiming that Faddis didn’t admit to being sexually harassed because Shehadeh was threatening her, a claim Shehadeh denies.