The home of Henry and Andrea Bonner was demolished under a city of Fort Lauderdale program that promised to build them a new home. After three years, it looks like they won’t be getting the house, after all. City Attorney Harry Stewart tells me the family’s new application has not been rejected, but that it is “incomplete.” The Bonners say they are being asked to agree to new terms, and other conditions. It seems the shenanigans just keep coming. Sharon Bourassa, an attorney with Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc., said her agency has met with the Bonners, and they may be getting into the fray, with a lawsuit. Instead of firing those employees responsible for this mess, and rebuilding the house, taxpayers will likely end up paying legal costs to cover the increasing incompetence of City Manager George Gretsas and his hapless administration. How much more of this can Lauderdale taxpayers take? Then again, why are the commissioners sitting on their hands once again, as a manager allows things to deteriorate?
The South Florida Times is about to make a major announcement. I can’t go into details just yet, but it’s an incredible development that’s sure to cause a stir. I hope to be able to elaborate next week, so keep watch. In other news, get ready for the newspaper’s “Elevating the Dialogue with the South Florida Times” radio program. It will be hosted by Joy-Ann Reid, a bleeding heart liberal, Barbara Howard, a rightwing conservative, and me, somewhere in between. The program will give South Florida radio and Internet listeners an opportunity to weigh in on the critical issues other media are afraid to cover. It begins airing this Friday morning, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on 1470 AM. You can also listen live over the Internet at SFLTimes.com.
Soon, Memorial Day, which we set aside to honor our military service personnel, will be upon us. T.J. Jones, commander of the American Legion, Post 287 of Deerfield Beach, is asking everyone to attend the group’s free ceremonies on May 26. Starting at 10 a.m., there will be ceremonies at the city’s two cemeteries, and then a wreath dedication at sea from the city pier. The event will be summed up with lunch and a barbecue back at the post, where a surprise guest speaker will give the Memorial Day keynote address. Post 287 is located at 191 SW 1st Terrace in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-481-2158
After the sudden and tragic death of its associate publisher, Pamela Hutchinson, last year, the Who’s Who In Black South Florida directory has tapped Miami native C.T. Taylor as its new associate publisher. Taylor brings with him a wealth of experience after working at several radio and TV stations around South Florida, and elsewhere in the country.
CHAIN GANG SETTLEMENT
The city of Miami has approved a $2.2 million settlement for Jerry Frank Townsend, a mentally disabled man, for its part in falsely imprisoning him for more than 22 years. Townsend, now 56, was convicted of six murders and one rape he didn't commit, in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. DNA evidence proved his innocence, and he was finally freed in 2001. Miami police arrested him in 1979 on murder charges, and Broward Sheriffs deputies later charged him with several other rapes and murders. BSO says it has no intentions of settling its case with Townsend, but it should. Townsend was clearly set up, and it is time for BSO to pay up.
REQUEST FOR HELP
Joe Major, the central Broward area community advocate, is known for sending out incendiary emails on any number of topics. This week, Major sent an email to Gov. Charlie Crist, chiding Broward State Attorney Michael Satz and his agency’s record on prosecuting public officials, while asking for a review of the agency. The email also asked the governor to create a panel of special prosecutors to assist local state attorneys with the investigations and prosecution of public and elected officials. Miami-Dade County already has an Inspector General’s Office, which investigates public and white-collar crimes, separate from the state attorney’s office. How ever it is set up, the time has come for Broward to follow suit. Major may be on to something.
Donald Elam, the older brother of New York Jets safety and former Cardinal Newman High School football star Abram Elam, was shot to death in broad daylight last week in Riviera Beach. The culprits have not been caught. Witnesses say Elam was talking to two men in a car that had stopped when gunfire erupted from inside. Elam fell and was left dead in the street. This is the third member of the Elam family felled by gunfire since 1987. The Violent Crimes Task Force is asking anyone with information about the shooting to call the task force at 561-688-4000 or Crime Stoppers at 800-458-8477.
CROOK ENTERS PLEA
Oscar Rivero, 38, a developer in the Miami-Dade County Housing Agency scandal, will serve 21 months in prison after admitting he pilfered more than $700,000 from a county loan that was intended to help finance an affordable housing development. Among the things he bought was a house. The actual sentence — ten years in prison — will be reduced to 21 months if he cooperates fully. But here’s the real catch: He must provide prosecutors details on others suspected of being involved. This means a lot of people in Miami-Dade County should be worried. Rivero should have gotten double this amount of time, but I hope any other crooks he exposes go straight to jail, along with him.
Cardell Udell and her daughter, Carolyn Allen, called to thank the South Florida Times for bringing to light the issues related to the poor construction work done on their home. This paper exposed shoddy repairs on their house under a Broward County program intended to assist those who cannot afford to make the improvements themselves. Problems uncovered by the investigative report included faulty electrical wiring, substandard fixtures, a leaking roof, and more. The family says ever since the reports were published, county officials and the contractor have been hard at work making the corrections, and they are pleased with the work so far. Glad we could help.
United Homes, Inc., the company that won the bid to build the city of Lauderdale Lakes’ $150 million Bella Vista city center, is now seeking major changes to the contract terms. The company has asked Community Redevelopment Agency Director J. Gary Rogers to support its effort to do away with the requirement to build some residential units in portions of the development. The company is concerned about slow market conditions in the real estate sector. If the company is granted the new conditions, the question of fairness toward the companies that lost the bids will arise. There is also the issue of whether or not commissioners Levoyd Williams and Hazelle Rogers will cast votes on any measures involving the company. That’s because the company gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Broward Black Elected Officials, Inc. organization. Both Williams and Rogers sat on the organization’s board at the time the contract was awarded.
ELGIN JONES • EJones@SFLTimes.com