All over the world, and particularly here in America, we are facing trying times. We have strange weather extremes, corrupt public officials, deception in the name of scripture, youth out of control, violence and worse. These things are taking place in every corner of the nation, and it’s getting worse. While I do not belong to any church, kingdom hall, temple, mosque or synagogue, I know of only one book that has foretold these things, and it is the Bible. Even the most ardent atheists are now agreeing that we are likely in the midst of times never before seen, and it makes me wonder if we are in the last days as foretold in scripture? Email me your thoughts at EJones@SFLTimes.com
ELECTION MIX UP
Barbara Sharief, the runner-up in Miramar’s special election to fill the seat of suspended commissioner Fitzroy Salesman, has requested a recount, and you can’t blame her. Out of the 2,519 votes cast, Carl J. Lanke won the race with 497 to 484 votes, just 13 more than Sharief. There were 12 candidates on the ballot, and claims of widespread irregularities, including allegations that police officers campaigned at polling places, in their squad cars. It’s another election mess in Broward, and enough is enough.
A 471-page report on the death of two Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies who were struck and killed by a fellow deputy’s cruiser on dark Pahokee Road last fall has been released by the Palm Beach County Office of the State Attorney. The report concludes that the squad car driven by Deputy Gregorio Fernandez may have been traveling at a speed that was higher than recommended, even though a slow-down directive had been issued. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office disputes those accounts, and questions whether or not any slow-down order was actually issued. The incident occurred while deputies were chasing two suspects in a stolen car. Deputies Jonathan Wallace and Donta J. Manuel were in the roadway, removing tire-puncturing strips they had laid down in an effort to stop the fleeing car. That’s when the squad car driven by Fernandez slammed into them, killing both instantly.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas has not returned calls from the South Florida Times, but code enforcement inspectors in this city have been ordered to focus their time on yet another predominantly black neighborhood that is being gentrified. This time, it is in the Progresso area, where black property owners continue to be pushed out in the name of redevelopment. A number of high-priced bungalows have already been built where blacks once owned homes, and the trend is about to pick up pace. The city settled a lawsuit last year over a similarly intensive code enforcement crackdown that only targeted three black communities coveted by developers.
Boca Raton officials have voted to approve $443,300 to install 15 additional traffic-monitoring cameras at four more of the city’s busiest intersections. Cameras are already in place at several other intersections, so watch out when traveling in Boca Raton.
Miami Police Officer Rondal Brown, 49, turned himself in after being charged with allowing his police dog to starve to death. Brown had been relieved of duty earlier as the investigation into the death of his 4-year-old bloodhound, Dynasty, began. During a visit to the veterinarian in January 2007, the dog weighed more than 60 pounds. Upon its death in November, it weighed only 33 pounds. Brown is charged with one count each of cruelty to animals, and committing an offense against a police dog, both third-degree felonies. Brown is a popular K-9 trainer and dog handler. His attorney called the charges “nonsense.”
After being on the lam for more than 30 years, and raising a family under an assumed name, Jack Hazen has been found and will be extradited back to Florida from Las Vegas. He was wanted for escaping from a prison work camp in 1976. He was doing time over an aggravated assault conviction in Pompano Beach. Hazen is suffering from multiple sclerosis and a brain tumor, but will likely have to complete the remainder of his seven-year sentence. His wife and children in Las Vegas were not aware of his past.
A slick Delray Beach couple has been arrested on charges of manipulating tickets from a local arcade over the past three months, and then cashing them in. In all, authorities believe the couple, Jerome McDade, 44, and Betty Britt, 50, cashed in more than $38,000 worth of winnings before they were arrested this week. McDade cashed in 79 manipulated receipts totaling $16,708 in fraudulent winnings. Britt cashed in 85 receipts for a total of $21,529. McDade is charged with 15 counts of grand theft, eight counts of petit theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud, and he is in custody. Britt is charged with 31 counts of grand theft, and organized scheme to defraud, but was not in custody as of press time.
Kim Jackson-Briesemeister, the former director of the city of Fort Lauderdale’s Community Redevel-opment Agency, now holds that same position for the city of West Palm Beach. So why has she been showing up in Fort Lauderdale city hall lately? Sources say Jackson-Briesemeister has been moonlighting as a lobbyist for developers who are seeking millions of dollars in free services from Fort Lauderdale during tight budget times.
Calm down, because that enlarged growth seen on the back of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain while he campaigns in Florida is not a skin lesion. It is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who has attached himself to McCain, obviously in hopes of being on the ticket as vice president, or to secure a plum job in a McCain administration. Neverthe-less, his claim of being concerned about Florida Democrats’ votes is ridiculous. Crist never mentions the 50 percent of Republican delegates who will not be seated at the Republican convention, only the Democrats’ plight. There is nothing wrong with Crist trying to get a job, but he should be genuine in his efforts, as opposed to embarrassing himself with such nonsense. He needs to stop it.
Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Anita Fain-Taylor fired Gerri Peterkin, a former city benefits coordinator, last year over allegations of insurance fraud and poor performance. An outside law firm is reviewing the issue on behalf of the city, and what has been reported so far appears to be extremely serious, if found to be accurate. Peterkin denies any wrongdoing in a letter distributed to city commissioners. Fain-Taylor responded by sending commissioners her own account of the issue, but has not referred it for criminal investigation. Peterkin is reportedly mulling a run for the city commission, and it’s yet another mess in Lauderdale Lakes city hall.
You wouldn’t know it by the lack of attention, but there was yet another shootout in Deerfield Beach’s black neighborhoods this week. Several homes were sprayed with semi-automatic gunfire and one person was shot, but is expected to survive. Two preachers, the Rev. Nathaniel Knowles, pastor of the Emmanuel Christian Center, and W. J. Ford, pastor of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, have been working on the problems, but they can’t do it alone. The time has come to deal with the criminal elements who are causing, or attracting, the problems.