Citing what they say is “housing fraud,’’ Henry and Andrea Bonner plan to file a lawsuit against the city of Fort Lauderdale to get their demolished home rebuilt. The Bonners participated in a city program that demolished their dilapidated house with the promise of building them a new home. But nearly two years after demolishing the home, the city claims the Bonners do not meet the program criteria. As a result, the city is refusing to build the new house. Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. is representing the family. Instead of rebuilding the home, City Manager George Gretsas and his administration will cost taxpayers big bucks fighting a battle they will surely lose. City commissioners should step in and end this nonsense.
SIMPLY A MESS
Economically, socially and otherwise, we are in a mess. Here in South Florida, people are hurting, and the frequent reports detailing that so many people are not preparing for hurricanes are frightening. As more middle-class citizens lose jobs and see banks foreclose on their homes, they don’t have the finances to stock up on goods. This does not bode well if a storm should hit this area, as many governmental agencies that traditionally provide services in the aftermath of storms are in financial straits themselves. Again, we are in a mess, and it will only get worse from what I can see, so we should all pray.
Though few people may realize it, Broward County’s previously most successful street gathering, the Mango Festival in Deerfield Beach, will take place this weekend. The popular event has been scaled back to only one day, and there has been little marketing to get the word out about it. The event’s organizers have been at odds with city officials, and City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier has questioned whether there should be a reorganization of the festival’s board members. Whatever the issues are, this is yet another example of a black-run organization not being able to conduct its business. This is not only embarrassing; it is also a shameful display that must be addressed.
With these pickpocket-level gas prices crippling us, many people are turning to all sorts of devices to help them save gas. The only problem is that most of them do not work and are nothing more than rip-offs themselves. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has settled one lawsuit against the manufacturer of the FuelMax device for allegedly using deceptive and fraudulent trade practices. FuelMax consists of two magnets covered in plastic that clamp around the fuel line. It purportedly worked by altering the “molecular structure” of gasoline, thereby making it burn more efficiently. This is hogwash, and the company will now pay $4.2 million in refunds, and has agreed to stop advertising the device. If you purchased FuelMax, you may be entitled to a refund by calling the FTC hotline at 1-800-356-4638.
Lester Bailey, 27, is facing carjacking, kidnapping, criminal mischief, probation violation, and cocaine possession charges after stealing the car of a disabled woman, according to police. Bailey allegedly used the car to chase after two men with whom he had an argument at a Miramar home. He finally exited the vehicle and continued his pursuit on foot. When police arrived, they did not file charges because Bailey knew the victim. But after the woman raised a stink, Miramar police booked him. Something in the milk ain’t clean here. How can you not charge someone after you find them in possession of cocaine?
The Palm Beach County School District is reviewing more than 200 personal websites that its teachers have on Facebook and MySpace. The review is being conducted to determine if any of the sites violate the district’s rules of conduct. About 10 teachers are under investigation for allegedly posting sexually provocative and other risqué materials on their sites. Expect other school systems to follow, which will open up debate, not to mention lawsuits. Teachers must set an example, and anyone putting this smut about themselves on the Internet is unfit to watch over children, and I hope every one of them is fired.
RUNNING ON FUMES
The Fort Lauderdale branch of the NAACP is running on fumes. Fewer than five people now reportedly show up for the organization’s monthly meetings. The branch has been in decline, and many of its woes are not the fault of current president Marsha Ellison. Many officers and volunteer members resigned after Ellison defeated former president Bill McCormick in 2006, but still the picture is not pretty. Willie Lawson is president of the North Broward NAACP branch, which is also in decline. I think Broward’s two branches should merge with the Miami-Dade branch. This would allow the Rev. Victor Curry to preside over a South Florida NAACP. It’s just one idea, but something must be done, because things are looking bad, I mean really bad.
The redevelopment of the Monterey and Sabal Palm golf courses in Tamarac were the subjects of much discussion, and the target of concerns leading up to commissioners’ approval of the projects last year. Those green spaces are being transformed into more than 700 homes. Questions about traffic congestion and the impact the project will have on area schools persist. Even so, with the help of lobbyists, the project is moving forward.
Radio personality Ralph “Danny’’ Czekalinski is out of jail after being arrested on domestic violence charges. He is accused of punching his girlfriend in the face during an argument in which she alleges that he also threw her to the floor, causing bruises and an injured back. Czekalinski has been half of the Jennifer & Danny morning show on WRMF 97.9 for years.
Hanger Orthopedic Group, a Maryland-based company that makes prosthetics and braces, hired a lobbyist to push a bill through Congress that forces insurance companies to offer coverage for their products. Sponsors of the bill include U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, two brothers representing separate districts in Miami-Dade County. Lobbyists for the company raised over $10,000 for the brother’s reelection campaigns, just weeks before they signed on as sponsors of the bill.
Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Anita Fain-Taylor still isn’t talking, but city records sure are. This week, those records confirmed that Fain-Taylor’s staff routinely makes arrangements for the private business events and travel of some city commissioners, while they are in city hall and during work hours. One example is an April 2007 trip taken by Commissioner Hazelle Rogers, who is also a Realtor and mortgage broker. Rogers traveled to New York for a Realtor’s convention. Rogers sent emails from her real estate office, directing city employee Jacqueline Nelson in city hall to research hotel rates, reserve a room, and arrange the trip. Rogers explained to me that she was invited as a “commissioner’’ [but provided no proof] and said city staff handles such things so they can easily coordinate her business travel with her city business schedule. This is ridiculous!
There has been no arrest in the shooting death of Marie Ruvolo, 35, of West Boca Raton Monday night. Witnesses say an unidentified man dressed in all black with a mask covering his face, shot Ruvolo in front of her 7-year-old son, in the mobile home park where she lived.