HAPPY NEW YEAR
Well, another year has come to an end, and once again it’s time to reflect upon the interesting characters and issues that shaped 2011. Many thanks to everyone who reads the South Florida Times and contributes to the information published within its pages. I bid you good health, prosperity and wisdom in 2012. Happy New Year everybody!
Fort Lauderdale’s first black police officer, Doug Evans, passes away. No criminal charges are filed in a case of Fort Lauderdale police officers using a dog to taint co-worker’s food. Multiple criminal investigations are opened into Broward Sheriff’s Office employees related to off-duty detail work programs and law enforcement credentials obtained for Sheriff Al Lamberti’s underage son.
Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Art Johnson resigns. Former NFL player Dave Duerson, 50, commits suicide inside his Sunny Isles Beach apartment. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office detention deputies Derrick Daniels and Vantavia Jackson are charged with facilitating a fight between inmates. A statewide grand jury finds rampant incompetence and corruption within the Broward School district.
Former Pompano Beach advisory board member Vicente Thrower is arrested for soliciting a prostitute, just two months after being charged with accepting bribes. Once South Florida’s largest law firm, Yoss LLP, which had been known as Adorno and Yoss, closes its doors. Luxury furniture retailer Robb & Stucky’s goes out of business. Luther Hardin, 58, abruptly resigned as president of Palm Beach Atlantic University amid an embezzlement investigation at his former employer, the University of Central Arkansas. State Rep. Perry E. Thurston Jr. of Plantation is elected Democratic leader in the Florida House of Representatives.
John W. Scott, former legal counsel for Miami-Dade's Office of Inspector General is selected as Broward County’s first inspector general. Opa-locka Police Chief Cheryl Cason is suspended for failing to report an accident she had in her patrol vehicle. Derelicts send mail containing a white powder to the Boca Raton office of U.S. Rep. Allen West. Bill Malone becomes interim superintendent of the Palm Beach County school district. Miriam Oliphant, former Broward supervisor of elections, is fired as a guidance counselor at the Dave Thomas Education Center in Coconut Creek. Ricardo Brutus, the nephew and campaign manager of North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre, is charged with accepting a bribe. Based on a complaint by blogger Chaz Stevens, former Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Gloria Battle is found to have voted on items without disclosing a conflict of interest, but prosecutors file no charges.
Former state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell loses a bid to become president of the Florida Bar. Deborah "Desca" DuBois, 55-year-old mayor of Lake Park, dies. Democratic Party officials clear party operative Ruth Lynch of financial misconduct. WPTV-TV Channel 5 news anchor Jim Sackett retires after 34 years. Civil-rights advocate and attorney Randy A. Fleischer resigns from the Broward County Human Rights Board. Gregory Campbell, son of Democratic state Rep. Daphne Campbell, is arrested on Medicaid fraud charges. Sheryl Steckler is appointed Palm Beach County’s first inspector general. Broward Sheriff’s Office detention deputy Wonza Moore, 48, is arrested for bringing contraband into the Broward Main Jail. Margarita Obando, 45, is arrested for trying to kill her 12-year-old son with a knife.
Opa-locka City Manager Clarence Patterson resigns after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement opens an investigation into the city’s police department. Businessman and community servant John Hardwick, 41, passed away. Anthony F. Cutaia, host of the Talk About Mortgages and Real Estate radio program is charged with operating a Ponzi scheme. Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Pletcher, 37, is suspended for stealing a woman’s driver license and cell phone after berating her during a traffic dispute. Broward County Schools Superintendent Jim Notter retires. Allen Jackson, former pastor of Living Word Community Church in Lauderhill, is exonerated of theft charges. Celebrity poet Willie Lee Bell Jr., 46, was killed outside of his Literary Cafe and Poetry Lounge in North Miami.
Percy Johnson, former treasurer of the Broward Democratic Party’s Council of Club Presidents, is accused of stealing from the organization. Ben Preston is elected to complete the term of Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier, who is criminally charged with voting conflicts. Lauderdale Lakes is broke and millions are missing from its Community Redevelopment Agency bank accounts. Fort Lauderdale commemorates the late Eula Johnson, a civil rights pioneer and NAACP head who led the effort to desegregate city beaches and other initiatives. Her former home is dedicated as a museum.
Robert “Bob” Bates is fired as director of the city of Fort Lauderdale’s Office of Professional Standards. Broward County School Board member Jennifer Gottlieb announced her resignation. Homestead Mayor Steve Batema is cleared of wrongdoing in a Miami-Dade State Attorney criminal investigation into residents’ electricity bills being waived. The family of 15-year-old Amanda Collette, who was killed by classmate Teah Wimberley at Dillard High School in 2008, settles a negligence lawsuit with the Broward School District. Former Mayor Jean Robb worked to have a utility tax in Deerfield Beach repealed. It takes minutes to acquit Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Albury Burrows, who was accused of stealing money from the scene of a drug bust. West Palm Beach Police Chief Delsa Bush is cleared of wrongdoing in a ticket fixing case. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti allows other employees to work second jobs, but bars Commander Al Pollock from doing so, without giving any reasons.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio issues an executive order banning guns from City Hall. Michael S. Jacobs, 43, a band booster at Cypress Bay High in Weston, is charged with molesting boys during sleepovers at his home. Jonathan Allen is appointed city manager in Lauderdale Lakes. Shawanda Robinson, 28, is charged with arson after setting her boyfriend’s shirt on fire, which then spread to her apartment complex in Deerfield Beach. Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Wooddell is arrested for stealing confiscated money. The 50th anniversary of Theresa Jakes and Johnnie Green being the first black students to attend public schools in Palm Beach County is held. Dawn Kramer, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy is arrested after smuggling cigarettes and candy into jails for inmates.
Joseph Littles Nguzo Saba Charter School fonder Amefika Geuka an-nounces the once struggling Afrocentric school is on stable financial footing. The Republican Party rejects Nezar Hamze, director of the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who begins efforts to start an Islamic Republican Club. Former Deerfield Beach city commissioner Sylvia Poitier is convicted of voting on issues and not disclosing conflicts of interest.
Dolphins’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall is detained in Fort Lauderdale after refusing to pay a cab fare. Patricia Faircloth-McCormick is elected to the Homestead City Council. Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter admits violating state election laws. A Broward Sheriff’s Office SWAT team raids the home of Lighthouse Point Commissioner Thomas Hasis. Sunrise City Commissioner Sheila Alu ends her bid for a Broward County Commission seat. A street is renamed in honor of the late Ethridge Benjamin “Buck” Phillips, a Pompano Beach pioneer and businessman.
TLC Network reality show star and BSO deputy Erika Huerta is under investigation for shooting at an unarmed suspect during a traffic stop. Convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein testified that he paid numerous public officials bribes. Lamont Mayweather, 25, and Charles T. Moye, 25, are charged in the robbery and murder of Lataurus Randall in Deerfield Beach. Bishop Harold Ray, pastor of Redemptive Life Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach, is accused of mishandling millions in Department of Housing and Urban Development funds intended to build low-income housing. County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor proposes making county constitutional officers’ positions appointed instead of elected.
Photo: Elgin Jones