Jacqueline Tufts, 47, was suspended from her $70,000-a-year job as the executive director of the affordable housing organization, New Visions Community Development Corp., on Jan. 14. The move came after her neighbor, and New Visions client Shawanda Small, alleged that Tufts overcharged her for a home she purchased through New Visions. News reports about the issue also disclosed that Tufts received discounts and other perks through the agency that were intended for affordable-home clients. This week, Tufts called Fort Lauderdale police and reported that the news articles are “harassing to her,” and that she believes Small placed some of them in her mailbox. According to the police report, Tufts said she wants to prosecute whomever is responsible. She received counseling on how to get a restraining order against Small. For her part, Small dismissed the allegations as childish and baseless. She is now seeking a criminal investigation into what she termed “fraud” by New Visions directors. As the situation escalates, Pamelia Harris, the New Visions board member who was designated to speak to the media about the situation, has not responded to repeated phone calls or messages left with staff. It’s now getting ugly.
Fort Lauderdale police officer Jeremy Aguayo had been on paid administrative leave for months pending the outcome of an investigation into his association with known criminals who allegedly operated a prostitution ring. This week, he was given notice that he is suspended without pay for 20 days and then will be terminated, even though he is not accused of any criminal activity himself.
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry and other county officials have not responded to questions about allegations that two inspectors from the Child Care Licensing and Enforcement Division tampered with electrical wiring at the Small World School, a daycare in Fort Lauderdale, and then accused the owner of being in violation over the hanging wire. Nonetheless, Elaine Schultze, the owner of the daycare, has now filed a complaint with the Broward State Attorney’s Office, which has opened an investigation. The incident was captured on video, along with audio. Maybe there is some explanation, but this doesn’t look good.
PUBLIC ETHICS 101
Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon is requiring all of her agency’s employees to sign ethics pledges. The conduct of staff will also be monitored by an outside organization. At a minimum, other public agencies should follow her lead. Then we need state and federal prosecutors to do their jobs, and bring the public crooks to justice. Public corruption in South Florida is out of control.
Steven A. Weaver, 35, of Cleveland, Ohio has confessed to raping a 17-year-old girl who is eight months pregnant. The alleged incident happened on Jan. 19 in the 100 block of Southeast Seventh Ave. in Delray Beach. The attack occurred around 8:30 p.m., when he snatched the young lady from the sidewalk and pulled her into some hedges. She called police immediately afterward to report the assault. Ironically, just hours after the attack, Weaver had been arrested for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, and was released after he became sober. The victim picked him out from a photo lineup the next day. After Delray Beach police learned that Weaver had returned to his native Cleveland, they traveled there and, during questioning, he confessed. He is being held in an Ohio jail, pending extradition back to South Florida.