elginjones3web.gifHELP FOR HOMEOWNERS
Florida Hardest-Hit Fund (HHF) has begun accepting applications from Floridians who need help with their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. The program is funded by the federal government and is intended for the unemployed or under-employed. Homeowners who meet the criteria can receive up to 18 months of mortgage payments or funds to pay up to 18 months of past due mortgage payments. For more information, call Florida Hardest-Hit Fund at 1-877-863-5244 or visit FlHardestHitHelp.org.

Democrats and Republicans are coming together on a proposal that will benefit only themselves. Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, has introduced legislation that would extend the terms of state representatives to four years instead of the current two. State senators’ terms would be extended to six years, rather than the current four. Kriseman also wants term limits extended from eight years to 12 years for state legislators, which is ridiculous. If his measure passes, it will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.

Palm Beach County

Unexplained murders continue to plague Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee.  Kareem Williams, 17, and Dexter Dukes, 20, were arrested in the killing of James Demps, 16, in South Bay on the night of Jan. 23. Demps was walking on a sidewalk when he was riddled with bullets from a passing car. No motive for the murder has been released.

In 2007, an outdoor chickee hut was built in the parking lot of Ralph and Rosie's Restaurant and Lounge, 2007 S. Federal Hwy, Boynton Beach. A construction company owned by a member of the Seminole Indian Tribe performed the work for $26,000. The city won a foreclosure ruling against the property for more than $638,000 in fines over code violations. City officials said the hut was built illegally and began levying a fine of $500 a day.  Florida law exempts chickee huts built by Seminole and Miccosukee Indians from the Florida Building Code. However, city officials are saying the law does not exempt them from local codes and permitting, which were not obtained in this case. The restaurant’s owners are appealing the foreclosure ruling.

Broward County

Alan Brown, the immediate past president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Broward, has leveled a complaint against the organization’s current president, Corey Alston, over photos and news footage, which, he says, show Alston attending then Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s victory celebration on election night. Brown says Democratic Party rules prohibit local party officials from supporting Republicans.

In November, an arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of Jennifer Johnson, an office assistant with the city of Pompano Beach’s Office of Housing and Urban Improvement, and awarded her back pay. Johnson was fired for improperly awarding scholarships to ineligible applicants but the ruling found it was not her fault alone. Her former boss, Richard Bowman, who was not fired, was found to bear some of the responsibility. Bowman was fired later, for unrelated reasons.

The districts they represent individually and collectively are plagued with crime, HIV, unemployment, foreclosures and lack of economic opportunities, but certain members of the Broward Black Elected Officials Inc. are not railing about those issues.  No, they are up in arms about rumors that former Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, who will be getting out of prison soon, will try to land a job with the organization. There has been speculation among Eggelletion’s supporters about his future. One of the jobs they hope he could get would be with the BBEO in some capacity. “We have never had any meetings on it,” one BBEO member protested this week.

Miami-Dade County

Newly elected U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, is getting national attention he doesn’t want and its due to his increasingly shady-looking finances and business dealings. Even House Speaker John Boehner is being asked about it. This comes as prominent Republicans from around the state have been discussing whether to publicly call for Rivera to step down. He is being investigated by several law enforcement agencies over his offshore company and payments he received from the pari-mutual industry.

The city of Homestead, awash in lawsuits, has settled one of them, the wrongful termination and discrimination case of former solid waste foreman Ernest Donaldson for $135,000. Donaldson’s firing had all the appearances of a classic case of retaliation. In 2008, he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence while off-duty one weekend and immediately entered a city sponsored substance abuse program. Days later, managers claimed he was being terminated because he was threatening and disrespectful toward the officers who arrested him. He alleged his firing was due to his filing a discrimination complaint several years earlier.

Nabil Sulaiman, 19, and Ragheb M. Sulaiman, 24, were clerks at the Quick Stop convenience store at 9720 SW 168th St. in West Perrine. Both were arrested following an altercation on Nov. 18, 2010, following a confrontation that ended in customer Akil Larue Oliver’s death.  Nabil hit him over the head with a bottle and then Ragheb cracked his skull with a crowbar, police said.  Ragheb Sulaiman is charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bond. Nabil, who was charged with aggravated battery, was released on $10,000 bail with no restrictions on travel and he was not required the surrender his visa.  Nabil has now fled the country, the authorities say, and that has outraged the NAACP and several other organizations that have been protesting in front of the store over the killing.

Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito is all but done. Exposito has been at odds with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Richard Dunn, who want him fired. City Manager Tony Crapp Jr. has stepped into the fray. Crapp hired the former head of the FBI’s Miami office, Paul Philip to assess the police department, Exposito and operations. Philip will report to his findings and recommendations directly to Crapp.