columbus-short_web.jpgFREE MOVIE TICKETS
The South Florida Times is giving away free tickets to the official South Florida preview and screening of Armored, a highly touted action-thriller movie starring Laurence Fishburne, Columbus Short, Matt Dillon and several other stars. The free tickets are available exclusively to our subscribers and readers who are registered users on our website. It does not cost anything to register on our website. Simply go to, register, and then call our offices at 954-356-9360 to request your tickets.  The preview will take place on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.  The location is Regal Cinemas in Oakwood Plaza, 2800 Oakwood Blvd. in Hollywood, which is near Stirling Road and Interstate 95.

Nearly one in five Florida home loans is delinquent or in foreclosure. This means that the state continues to lead the nation in foreclosures, and it may not get better any time soon. These are the dismal numbers released this week from the Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association. To make matters worse, Florida’s unemployment rate topped 11 percent last month, and analysts expect that number to increase as well.

Broward County

Russell Dion Lewis, 28, an assistant music director and youth minister at the Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, was fired after being arrested and accused of having a consensual relationship with a 14-year-old girl who is a church member. He is also accused of trying to rape her on at least one occasion, investigators say. He appeared in court on Monday, Nov. 23, where he was arraigned on one count of custodial sexual battery and 10 counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. The encounters took place over the course of five months, all at the church, investigators say. Police have not said how the incidents came to light.

Former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore, church pastor Allen Jackson and Lauderhill Commissioner Margaret Bates have all filed to run for the District 9 Broward County Commission seat. All would like to see suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion resign so that a special election can take place. After being charged with money-laundering and taking bribes, Eggelletion has likely seen the end of his political career. He could also face more charges from federal and state officials in separate and continuing public corruption probes. Eggelletion is being pressured to cooperate in the investigations in exchange for leniency. Eggelletion is 60, and is battling cancer. If you think health care is a mess on the streets, prison care is worse. It’s in his interest to cooperate. But if he does, a lot of people should be worried.

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County School Board Member Debra Robinson is questioning whether the district is looking the other way when it comes to educating minority children. Superintendent Art Johnson is taking heat for his alleged encouragement of minorities to attend meetings where the district is evaluating its curriculum, testing and other education efforts. The Palm Beach County school district is not meeting federal standards for educating black and Hispanic children, and parents are demanding changes. Critics say the curriculum and teaching methods are intended for white students, to the detriment of minorities, who make up 76 percent of the student body. This will get nasty, and national, as in attention. The debate over this issue has taken place in other areas around the nation, but Palm Beach County is on the fast track, and the argument will not subside.

The former director of housing for NOAH Development Corp., a nonprofit in Belle Glade, and his fiancée pleaded guilty on Friday, Nov. 20 to stealing public money intended to provide affordable housing for the poor. George Kinsler III, 55 and Sheneiris Harris, 32, both of Pahokee, were arrested in May, accused of stealing money provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for hurricane relief rental assistance payments. The money was supposed to help people displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma to live rent-free for at least a year. Kinsler placed a girlfriend and one of his daughters into the program, even though their homes were not damaged, investigators say. He also used some of the money on his own home, which was not damaged, according to investigators. Kinsler and Harris live there. They are now convicted of stealing over $25,000. Sentencing will take place in federal court in February 2010. Kinsler faces up to 10 years in prison on each of two counts of theft, five years on a conspiracy charge and five years for making false statements. His girlfriend, Harris, faces up to five years for conspiracy, and five years for making false statements.

Miami-Dade County

Miller Dawkins, Arthur Teele Jr., and now Michelle Spence-Jones. Every city commissioner who has been elected to represent Miami’s impoverished District 5 has been black. They have also been the targets of numerous investigations, which eventually led to criminal charges. Dawkins was convicted of taking a $100,000 bribe. Teele was charged with taking bribes, and later killed himself as other investigations into his taking of alleged kickbacks mounted. Now, Spence-Jones is charged with stealing money intended to help pay for improvements to the district. All three claimed they were being targeted because of their race, even though some of the evidence was compelling, and there were a lot of questions. Spence-Jones has every right to defend herself, as she should. But invoking biblical accounts and comparing investigators to devils is nothing short of ridiculous, particularly when she has not provided any explanations or answered any questions.

Police are looking for a rapist who attacked a woman in the Coconut Grove area recently, and may have committed other rapes in the area. The latest attack occurred just before daylight on Saturday, Nov. 21, when a man approached the car in which a woman was sitting, and threatened her at gunpoint. He drove to a dark parking lot, where he raped her. He wore a black skullcap, and had a scarf covering his face. He is described as black, five-feet seven inches tall and 175 pounds.

Boston Scientific, a medical products manufacturer, will close its plant in Doral by 2012, leaving about 1,400 employees out of work. The company manufactures medical devices that generate $8 billion annually. The company is fleeing to Costa Rica to save money on labor and other costs.

The Homestead City Council still has not reached a final decision on what to do with City Manager Mike Shehadeh, who has been on paid leave since Nov. 4, a day after four incumbents, including former Mayor Lynda Bell, were swept out of office in the city’s municipal elections. Councilwoman Wendy Lobos appears to be the lone supporter of Shehadeh, with the other members of the council seeking ways to fire him. The city’s attorneys have been asked to evaluate the total financial impact if Shehadeh is terminated. Also on paid leave as part of a house cleaning is Deputy City Manager Johanna Faddis. Lillian Delgado, who headed the Public Information Office and served as the city’s spokesperson, was fired on Nov. 4, as was Development Services Director Shari Kamali. Mayor Steve Bateman and Councilman the Rev. Jimmie L. Williams III are taking the lead on the changes in city hall; something many voters said during the campaign that they wanted to see.


Photo: Columbus Short