WAITING ON JOBS
Governor-elect Rick Scott began touring the state to meet with employers and industry leaders as part of his campaign promise to focus on job creation. At the same time, observers are waiting for Scott to fill key positions in his administration and make appointments to more than two dozen state agencies that will be under his control. Right now it’s just wait-and-see for hundreds of his supporters who are seeking jobs in the new administration.
Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein wants to head the statewide Republican Party but, according to party rules, had to win re-election to his county post. Former congressional candidate Ed Lynch challenged Dinerstein for the county chairman’s post but ending up losing to Dinerstein who got 120 votes to Lynch's 87 this week. Lynch accused Dinerstein of making a donation to a Democrat and of campaigning for other Democrats. Dinerstein responded by circulating an e-mail to party members calling Lynch an "anonymous, mudslinging, party destroying candidate who will emerge from the shadows for this election." Expect more nasty exchanges between the two because a lot is at stake.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the mysterious deaths of James D. Sicuro, 51, and Robert A. Heffner, 30 whose bodies were found inside a unit of the St. Andrews Palm Beach Apartments in Royal Palm Beach on Saturday, Dec. 4. An unidentified woman said she returned to her apartment to find the men dead from gun shot wounds to the head. No other details have been released and the woman is undergoing questioning.
Palm Beach County School Superintendent Art Johnson wants to hire Theo Harris, the former president of the Classroom Teachers Association local union, to negotiate a new contract with his old union on the district’s behalf. Current CTA president Robert Dow and school board Chairman Frank Barbieri are questioning the move. Harris was ousted as union president in the 2008 elections which he lost to Dow. If hired, he will receive a $108,212 base salary.
TOY RUN FRUSTRATION
This past Sunday, four motorcyclists were injured after a collision during the annual Christmas Toys in the Sun Run which benefits Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood. Hundreds of motorcycle riders paid an entry fee and donated toys to participate in the event which began in Coconut Creek and traveled to Markham Park in Sunrise. In the process, thousand of commuters and homeowners had to wait sometimes for four hours as major traffic arteries and side streets were blocked off. The annual event has grown larger than anyone could have imagined. It is now time for organizers to improve it with a focus on rider safety and consideration for commuters and homeowners.
OFF TO JAIL
Cathy Hamilton, 54, of Coconut Creek, is sitting in state prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $36,000 in lawsuit filing fees. Hamilton worked for the Broward County Clerk of Courts Office, in the civil filing division of the north satellite courthouse in Deerfield Beach. The 29-year employee admitted taking filing fees that were paid in cash and marking the lawsuits as “no fee” cases to conceal the thefts. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay a $71,437 fine. She will also lose her state pension.
Community activist Joseph “Joe” Major is being sued by LaDesorae Giles-Smith for libel and slander. Giles-Smith is the assistant city manager of Lauderhill and the wife of state Sen. Christopher “Chris” Smith. Major is known for sending out e-mails critical of politicians and public officials. The lawsuit was filed over an August e-mail allegedly circulated from Major’s account that questioned if then Lauderhill City Commissioner Dale Holness carried on an extramarital affair with Giles-Smith. The e-mail also claimed that Major witnessed Holness “saddle the rear end/butt” of Giles-Smith at a campaign event. Holeness, who won election to the Broward County Commission last November, has not responded to questions about the allegations or lawsuit.
Deerfield Beach City Manager Burgess Hanson met with hundreds of workers to inform them of plans to privatize their jobs but would not provide any specifics. Like the surprise layoffs of more than 100 workers last summer, most of the affected employees are minorities who work in lower paying manual labor jobs. The city’s callousness toward these workers is obvious and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) that represents them is no better. IUPAT has told members there is nothing the union can do, which is nonsense. For their part, city employees have contacted U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings’ office to seek a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into Deerfield Beach’s labor practices.
The U.S. Marshals Service has arrested Jorge Luis Tamayo, 44, in Fort Myers on an outstanding 2001 second-degree murder warrant. Tamayo is charged in the death of Roberto Cio, 29, whom he is accused of shooting while the two were in the middle of the intersection at Northwest 137th Avenue and 75th Street in Miami-Dade County. Authorities have not given a motive for the killing.
Miami-based Burger King Corporation CEO Bernado Hees announced large-scale job cuts, with 261 of the layoffs taking place in South Florida. In October, the company was sold to venture capital investment firm 3G Capitol for $4 billion and, while some restructuring was expected, the job cuts caught many by surprise.
A BIG OIL MISTAKE
Analysts are concerned that Venezuela President Hugo Chávez's plan to sell Citgo is destabilizing the market. That concern, in part, has contributed to the increase in oil prices. Chávez says the U.S.-based Citgo is a “bad company” and once again threatened to replace the U.S. market, which is Venezuela’s best customer, with Belarus and China. An immediate impact would be felt at the Port of Miami, where Venezuelan oil tankers are off loaded.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com.