Using federal regulatory data, the Bauer Financial firm has rated no less than 29 South Florida-based banks as “problematic.” Florida leads the nation in bank failures during 2010. Those making the list of troubled banks are Eurobank, Boca Raton; Bank of Miami; First East Side Savings Bank, Tamarac; Great Florida Bank, Miami Lakes; Home Federal Bank of Hollywood; Ocean Bank, Miami; Optimum Bank, Plantation; Security Bank, North Lauderdale; Flagler Bank, West Palm Beach; Legacy Bank of Florida, Boca Raton; Bank of Coral Gables; Great Eastern Bank, Miami; South Bank, Palm Beach Gardens; and Sunrise-based Trans Capital Bank. One of those banks, Ocean Bank, announced lay offs after losing $52.8 million. We are in trouble.
COLLEGES BEING PROBED
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has opened an investigation into five for-profit colleges and universities operating in the state: Kaplan University, the University of Phoenix, MedVance Institute, Everest College and Argosy University. The- investigation centers on alleged misrepresentations about financial aid and suspicions that the schools may be engaging in deceptive practices regarding recruitment, enrollment, accreditation, job placements and graduation rates.
Thieves are targeting propellers on boats that are left stored in residential yards. Propeller thefts are becoming more common, with the culprits striking in the wee hours of the morning. A propeller for a small boat can cost around $500 and thieves quickly find buyers who are willing to pay a hundred dollars or more for the part.
FORECLOSURE CON ARTISTS
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced his agency has began an intensive review of banks and how they process mortgage and foreclosure documents. Countless lawsuits have been filed and several state attorneys general are already conducting investigations, as well. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), a company owned by the banking industry, is accused of fabricating documents, forging signatures and making other misrepresentations on court documents filed in foreclosure cases. MERS acknowledges there were errors but claims the practice expedited the process. I say it was outright fraud.
Palm Beach County
VOTERS HAVE THEIR SAY
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Edward Fine ruled in favor of voters and will let stand a ballot measure that will decide whether a charter question would facilitate a commercial boat repair operation at the city-owned marina. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency had sought the change so it could lease part of the marina to the Rybovich firm for 25 years to operate a yacht service there. Resident groups opposed handing the city marina to a private firm and had the measure placed on the ballot. Mayor Thomas Masters voted in favor of the lease but praised Fine’s decision.
KIDDIE PORN GUILTY PLEA
Alexander Colletta, 22, pleaded guilty to possessing 49 child pornography images. He was arrested earlier this year when police tracked Internet traffic to his Boynton Beach home computer. He said it was a one-time occurrence done out of curiosity. Now he could face up to 150 years in prison. Circuit Judge Amy Smith will decide his fate at a later court date.
A RACE ABOUT RACE
Incumbent Lauderdale Lakes City Commissioner David Shomers is facing a challenge from former Commissioner Levoyd Williams, who lost a bid for mayor in 2008. At the time, Williams was fresh off of being forced to resign as president of the scandal-ridden Broward Black Elected Officials organization which had denied Shomers membership because he is white. That issue was about black politicians not wanting white politicians involved in their organization and it was wrong. If Williams should win, it would mean Lauderdale Lakes would have no whites on its commission. This is a race to watch.
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley, who recently celebrated 30 years with the department, has become the first ever black from Broward County to complete the FBI’s National Executive Institute courses. Adderley is also the first Fort Lauderdale police chief to complete the coveted training since Joe Gerwens did it 1989, some 21 years ago.
The National Executive Institute, started in 1957, provides intensive training to select law enforcement executives from around the U.S. and abroad. Adderley was nominated to the program and later received a personal invitation from FBI director Robert Mueller to attend the courses at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Some black community and church leaders in Pompano Beach may be in trouble over what has turned up in a forensic audit of numerous city programs. The audit was conducted by Michael Kessler, CEO of the Kessler and Associates accounting and auditing firm. The report has already been forwarded to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies and arrests are expected. Basically, the report alleges that a circle of high-profile “community leaders” manipulated city grant programs for the benefit of family members and themselves. Stay tuned.
RECALL PICKS UP STEAM
Businessman Norman Braman announced he has enough signatures to proceed with a recall of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. That achievement has inspired the grassroots Miami Voice organization, which began recall efforts against six county commissioners this week: Barbara Jordan, Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas, Bruno Barreiro and Chairman Dennis Moss. County elected officials came under fire for raising taxes during tough economic times and cutting services, while giving staff raises.
The District 2 race for Miami-Dade School Board pits former state Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall against school district administrator Ronda A. Vangates. They are vying to succeed retiring board member Solomon Stinson. Bendross-Mindingall, 68, has the backing of the teacher’s union. Vangates is 39-year-old attorney who has the support Stinson and his formidable political machine. District 2 encompasses the Liberty City area and its schools. This is a tough race and both sides are working hard. It will be interesting to see who wins.
DREAM TEAM DEBUT
The debut of the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade was not what spectators expected. The much-touted trio and their teammates fell to the Boston Celtics 88-80 in Boston in their season opener. The Heat was dominated from the opening tip off and fans booed.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@sfltimes.com.