elgin_jones_web_13.jpgJOBLESS CRISIS
South Florida lost 10,000 construction jobs in 2010, according to Secretary Hilda L. Solis’s U.S. Department of Labor data. The problem is compounded by allegations from South Florida workers that contractors are hiring only immigrants and turning away Americans from these same jobs.

Palm Beach County

Boca Raton attorney James B. Hayes, 57, has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty to filing false information on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development real estate settlement forms. He was also ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution. Hayes was convicted of taking his clients’ money that was supposed to go towards paying off loans. He has also been permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court and can never practice law again. Book’em, Danno!

renald_louis_web.jpgRenald Louis
, 26, of West Palm Beach was arrested and charged with throwing a brick through the window of his neighbor, Delvin Carter. Thankfully, no one was injured. Carter said the brick landed near his 23-year-old daughter, who was sitting in the living room at the time. Louis told police Carter had placed a voodoo curse on him and that was why he committed the outrageous act.

wendy_harden_bw.jpgWendy Harden
, 30, of Riviera Beach is on trial for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse over the stabbing of her son and daughter, who were 8 months old and 8 years old at the time in 2008. Neighbors called police after seeing Harden covered in blood running through their yards. She held a piece of broken glass which she used to cut her own throat.

Broward County

sheila_c._bair_bw.jpgRegulators have fined Fort Lauderdale-based Valley Bank $22,000 for undisclosed banking law violations.  The Federal Deposits Insurance Corporation (FDIC) levied the fines against the troubled bank last week and FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair has not revealed the specific reasons, which is odd, to say the least.  Sources say the bank, which has $129 million in assets, may have violated sections of the Community Reinvestment Act – a federal law that requires banks to lend or facilitate loans to entities in their immediate communities.

gwyn_clarke-reed_bw.jpgThe International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), which represents blue-collar workers at the city of Deerfield Beach, finally made some noise over the city’s indifferent treatment of its members. That is nearly four months too late – and, instead of filing court or other actions, IUPAT officials appeared at the City Commission meeting on Monday where they groveled for answers and respect. It had no impact. City officials are going ahead with plans to privatize more than 200 jobs by next summer and will not tell the union or employees any specifics. Those coming job cuts are in addition to the more than 100 employees who were laid off last August without prior notice or concern. State Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-District 92, was at the meeting and urged commissioners to work with employees in an effort to save jobs.

Elliot Gordon
, 67, and Anthony Merola, 45, both of Lake Worth, were charged in an alleged bribery and kickback scheme at Memorial Healthcare System (MHS). MHS is a taxpayer supported healthcare provider for southern Broward County. Gordon and Merola are former employees who oversaw vendor contracts for Memorial. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the two received kickbacks from vendors who they schemed to inflate the prices for goods and services.

A group of residents met at a local church this week to draft someone to run against Deerfield Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier, who is up for re-election in March. Poitier has been dealing with allegations made against her in a recently released audit that raised conflict of interest concerns. Her fellow commissioners have hired an attorney to see if they can legally remove her from office. Some residents at the meeting were longtime supporters. There was no word if they have settled on a candidate yet.

jack_lokeinsky_bw_3.jpgFort Lauderdale police and members of the Fraternal Order of Police will surprise deserving children with a limousine ride to Target Stores, where they will be treated to a Christmas shopping spree. FOP President Jack Lokeinsky and members will also surprise 100 families and children with toys and Publix gift cards. The FOP day of giving will begin at union headquarters located 735 NE 3 Avenue, Fort Lauderdale on Monday, Dec. 20 at 9 a.m. For additional information call Jack Lokeinsky at 954-527-2606.

Miami-Dade County

tony-crapp-bw.jpgTony Crapp Jr.
has been selected to serve as Miami’s next city manager. Formal approval will have to come from the commissioners. Mayor Tomás Regalado, who is making the appointment, says that will not be an issue. Crapp is a life-long Miami resident and, like his family, he has a long history of community involvement. Crapp will take over for outgoing city manager Carlos Migoya.

ciara_lee_bw_copy.jpgCiara Lee
, 24, an officer with the Florida Department of Corrections, and her 2-year-old son, Devon Franklin, were killed by a hail of bullets at her home in the 600 block of Northwest 73rd Street in Miami. Police were called to the home in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday after someone used a high powered weapon to spray the building with bullets. One man inside was also shot but survived and three other people who were also inside at the time escaped injury. Police have no motive or suspects. Police are asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.


Elgin Jones can be contacted at EJones@SFLTimes.com