On Sunday, Oct. 18, Walmart introduced its “Straight Talk” cellular phone service with nationwide coverage, and it is shaking up the market. The company offers two plans. One is for $30 a month and includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text messages and 30 MB of mobile web access per month. The other plan costs $45 per month and offers unlimited everything, including calls, texts and web access. Both plans offer nationwide coverage, and require no credit checks or contracts. Walmart teamed up with TracFone to conduct a pilot in 234 of its stores last summer. The plans are now available in more than 3,200 stores and growing. Good for Walmart! This is what competition can do, and it will force the other cellular service companies to lower their rates and change their business practices, or lose customers.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is heading up intense negotiations with Bank of America, seeking to renew the bank’s agreement as the league’s official financial services sponsor. But several teams are balking at the bank’s desire to market all 32 of the league’s team logos on its credit cards and other products. Banks, their credit cards, mortgages and business practices are the subject of congressional criticism and consumer complaints. You can expect negotiations to be tough, and the final contract to reap heavy criticism.
A WALGREENS WELCOME
South Florida Times Circulation Coordinator Robert G. Beatty II has announced that the newspaper is expanding its distribution and circulation once again. The newspaper has begun its rollout into select Walgreens pharmacies. The newspaper is now available for sale at select Walgreens stores, including one at 7910 NW 27th Ave. in Miami and another one at 12295 N Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami. This is the beginning of an effort to make the newspaper available in Walgreens stores throughout Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The South Florida Times can also be purchased at Winn Dixie and Publix supermarkets, and Cumberland Farms stores, as well as hundreds of other retail outlets throughout South Florida.
DEBT RELIEF LAWSUITS
On Monday, Oct. 19, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed lawsuits against five debt settlement or consolidation companies. The companies allegedly promised consumers reduced debts, which did not happen. The companies are Nationwide Asset Services, Service Star LLC, Universal Debt Reduction LLC, CSA-Credit Solutions and American Debt Arbitration
Three people were shot on Sunday night, Oct. 18, while attending a birthday party for a 2-year-old child. The gunman sprayed party goers with bullets from across a backyard fence at a home in the 500 block of NE 142 St. in North Miami. The victims are Alfred Dorcely, 39, Dwayne Politesse, 25, and 22-year-old Sphenanda Nelson. All are expected to survive. Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.
Palm Beach County
George Fey, 35, was arrested in April 2008 after he broke into the home of a West Palm Beach family he befriended, and masturbated while rubbing their sleeping children’s feet, according to authorities. When arrested, Fey told investigators he had broken into the home several times before and performed the same acts. Fey has a history of committing similar acts involving feet, but was criminally charged for the first time last year. He was scheduled to be sentenced in the case on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
SOLDIER FELLED BY BOMB
Spc. Daniel Courtney Lawson, 33, of Deerfield Beach was among four soldiers reported killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 15. Their vehicle was hit by a roadside explosive in Kandahar province. Lawson was assigned to the 569th Mobility Augmentation Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, out of Fort Carson, Colo. Lawson joined the Army in January 2008 and was deployed to Iraq on Feb. 15, 2009. He was deployed to Afghanistan in May. Lawson earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Campaign Star, and the Iraq Campaign Medal and Campaign Star. He was born and raised in Deerfield Beach, and graduated from Deerfield Beach High School in 1994.
A SMOKING CAMPAIGN
A review of financial reports from suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion’s 2008 re-election bid shows that his campaign spent $919.86 for cigars from an upscale Fort Lauderdale smoke shop. Eggelletion could not be reached, and his attorney offered no response when asked about the cigars. In September, the U.S. Attorney’s Office indicted Eggelletion on money-laundering and fraud charges. He was immediately suspended from office by Gov. Charlie Crist, and remains under investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
SHARPLY DRESSED SHOOTER
John Roger Jenkins, 31, of Miami Gardens, turned himself in to police as the well-dressed man accused of shooting Tobias Barfield, 42, at Barfield's home in the 100 block of Northwest 13th Avenue in Dania Beach on Oct. 5. The suspect wore a suit and carried a briefcase. He knocked on Barfield’s door, and opened fire when Barfield answered the door, investigators say. Barfield was shot, and was treated and released from a local hospital. Jenkins turned himself in to deputies at the Broward Sheriff's Office Main Jail on Monday, Oct. 19. BSO said the attack was intentional, but the agency provided no further details. Jenkins is being held without bail on charges of first-degree attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
The city of Pompano Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency is once again the subject of discussion. Residents of the predominantly black northwest section of the city showed up at a meeting this week to express concerns about the agency’s business practices. Some fear they are being left out of decisions about their community. Others complained about contracts the agency has awarded to lobbyists and consultants, such as former Fort Lauderdale CRA Director Kim Jackson-Briesmeister and former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore, who has formed MoBrad, LLC, a consultant to Jackson’s company.
Broward Schools Superintendent Jim Notter has yet to respond to questions, but a scandal in the school district’s Maintenance Division Apprentice Program is brewing. The program trains employees in specialized trades such as, but not limited to, air conditioning and refrigeration, heavy equipment operation and more. The jobs are among the most coveted and well-paying in the district. For years, workers have complained that the program was little more than a cash cow and cookie jar for the relatives of school board members and senior managers. Some employees have contacted Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman’s office, requesting an investigation.
Miramar police are seeking the public’s help in their search for 35-year-old Lisa Spence. Spence was last seen her in her neighborhood on the morning of Oct. 7, but never showed up for work at a local beauty salon. Police suspect foul play, and are asking anyone who may have seen Spence to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.