NO MORE FRILLS
Miami-Dade County schools are facing a budget crunch. Teachers are upset over pay and the amount they could end up paying for health insurance coverage. School Superintendent Rudy Crew agrees that perks such as take-home cars and bonuses for executives should end to help soften the financial blow. It’s a good move, but what took him so long?
By most accounts, the 16-year-old Palm Beach Gardens High School student who reported she was abducted from a school bus stop by three masked men, and raped for hours, is a good person. Nevertheless, she faces charges of filing a false police report, because it was all a concocted story. In reality, she was spending time with a boyfriend instead of going to school. Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams said her cell phone text messages tipped them off to the con.
Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is not downplaying rumors he will run for mayor of Miami-Dade County this coming August. Friends are urging the Republican legislator to enter the race to unseat incumbent Mayor Carlos Alvarez, and it looks as if he may do it. In Fort Lauderdale, Mayor Jim Naugle is about to be term-limited out, but his supporters are urging him to run for the District 2 commission seat being vacated – also due to term limits – by Commissioner Cindi Hutchison in 2009. Naugle, however, says such a run is unlikely.
The American Legion Post in Deerfield Beach touts some of the area’s most notable citizens as members. City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier is the immediate past president of its women’s auxiliary, for example. The post is also the last remaining nightspot in the city where grown folks can socialize away from the jitterbugs. But patrons are making serious allegations of being the constant targets of insults and harassment from Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies who patrol the area. One white female says she was insulted by a deputy working a detail outside who said, “Lady, why don’t you buy your crack somewhere else?” as she was leaving the facility. Another person claims to have witnessed a deputy kicking on the front door, and yelling obscenities while demanding that the door be unlocked. Post commander T.J. Jones acknowledged there have been several incidents with BSO, but said the door-kicking deputy returned the next day to apologize. No matter, this nonsense needs to be investigated to find out whether they are misinterpretations by patrons, or if they represent a lack of respect or even arrogance on behalf of the deputies.
Daniel Constant, 20, has been arrested and charged with carjacking stemming from an incident in which he and the driver of a car in which he was a passenger accosted Myron Stayman, 70, in the Emerald Hills neighborhood of Hollywood. They forced Stayman out of his car and Constant then jumped inside of it and sped off, investigators say. A police chase ensued during which Constant hit another vehicle before slamming into a tree. He bailed out of the car, but was arrested a short distance away while his partner remained at-large, according to police.
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police union voted overwhelmingly to approve a no-confidence measure and call for the firings of Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas and his assistant city manager, David Hebert, this week. Union president Jack Lokiensky cited high officer turnover, increased crime and mismanagement as some of the reasons. In a classic “who cares’’ response, the administration brushed it off as a union tactic designed to give them leverage during stalemated labor negotiations, and that’s unfortunate. The situation over there is a mess, and taxpayers deserve better. Disgust with Gretsas is not limited to the police, as his administration has turned out to be a failed experiment. It is time for commissioners to address these matters.
Tony Villegas, 44, remains jailed on murder charges in the killing of Plantation lawyer Melissa Britt Lewis. Lewis and Villegas’ estranged wife worked at the same law firm. Villegas and his now-estranged wife, Debra Villegas, were undergoing divorce proceedings to end their 17-year marriage. Debra Villegas told The Miami Herald that her husband killed Lewis, her best friend, out of jealousy over how close the two women were.
Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner John Billingsley is calling for a stretch of dilapidated apartment complexes along Northwest 31st Ave., near Boyd Anderson High School in the city to be razed and redeveloped. The complexes are an eyesore, and serve as a haven for questionable activities, right next to the roadway for all to see. New residential units, a park and a nature trail are some of the proposals that have been suggested. Something needs to be done there.
Gwendolyn Johnson, the 55-year-old principal of Independence Middle School located in Jupiter has more than 33 years experience. Now she is under investigation after an audit found inflated enrollment, and fabricated grades at the school. Internal memos to teachers reportedly detail Johnson’s instructions to give all students final grades, even if they did not attend classes.
A 12-year-old Lauderhill boy charged with second-degree murder over the Jan. 4 beating death of his 17-month-old cousin has been sent to a mental treatment center for evaluation. He is accused of beating the toddler with a baseball bat because the toddler was crying. His mother, Guerla Joseph, has been cautious about a plea deal that would lock him up for 20 months in a juvenile facility, followed by probation. The boy has been declared incompetent and too young to understand the case. Circuit Judge Charlie Kaplan has also awarded temporary custody of the boy to the state, and barred his mother from visiting him. This came after a jail guard reportedly overheard his mother encouraging the child to kill himself. Joseph denies these allegations, but she should accept the deal, which is fair. If not, this child could go to adult prison for life.
The body of a woman found floating in a northwest Fort Lauderdale canal in the 2500 block of Northwest Eighth Street has been identified as that of Lessie Benton, 50, of Fort Lauderdale. Authorities have not determined the cause of death, but said they do not suspect foul play.
On the Steve Kane Show last week, a radio program on 1470 AM where I am a guest co-host on Friday mornings, we had a white-hot discussion regarding comments related to race relations made by Jeremiah Wright. Wright was presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor. Kane said he believes that Wright is a racist, based solely on a few excerpts taken from thousands of sermons Wright has delivered over the last 30 years. It is understandable that some people could be uncomfortable with Wright’s Afro-Centric and aggressive sermons, but no church member, including Kane, agrees with everything their pastor says or preaches. In response, Obama this week gave a speech that will go down as one of the most notable, thought-provoking speeches in American history. We will further the debate (argument) this Friday morning beginning at 8 a.m. Join this discussion by listening live over the Internet at SteveKaneShow.com, or on the radio. Call in with your thoughts and comments, toll free, at 1-877-275-2326.