elgin_jones_web_13.jpgTIMES ARE TOUGH
Despite government officials’ rhetoric, the unemployment rate in South Florida jumped to 12.05 percent in July, up from 11.67 percent in June. Numbers released by Cynthia Lorenzo, director of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, show Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties collectively had 350,698 new people out of work. That’s far worse than other areas of the state but you wouldn’t know it by politicians’ campaign ads, which had been slinging mud and saying little about the plight of the people.

Palm Beach County

Gregory Nelson, 31, was arrested Aug. 21 in the heartless June 26 killing of Carvel A. Williams. It happened at Club B & C, a Riviera Beach nightclub at 1117 Broadway.  The killing was brutal, according to witnesses, who said Nelson allegedly got out of a car and walked over to Williams and shot him in the temple. He then stood over Williams’ body and fired two more shots into his head, according to the reports. Then he calmly got back into the car and drove off. Nelson is charged with first degree murder.

Amanda Inman
, 31, of Boynton Beach, who was hired recently as a van driver at Katie's Kids Learning Center in Delray Beach, was arrested in the Aug. 5 death of 2-year-old Haile Brockington. She was charged with one count of aggravated manslaughter of a child on Aug. 24. The child was left for hours strapped in a car seat in a hot van where she was overcome by heat, according to reports. Inman thought she had  unloaded all the children who had been picked up but she had forgotten that Haile was still inside the vehicle that morning.  The child wasn’t discovered until after 4 p.m. when Inman began her route to drop toddlers off at home that evening. State law requires drivers of child care vehicles to maintain logs of the children transported and to document the dates and times of arrival and departure. A second staff member must verify and sign off on the log and they are required to conduct inspections of vehicles to make sure no child is left inside.  No one at the daycare verified her log and no inspection of the vehicle was conducted, according to reports.

Mayor Lois Frankel
is not commenting but the city of West Palm Beach did discriminate against Rick Curtis, a highly educated and qualified black firefighter. Palm Beach County’s Office of Equal Opportunity made that determination after a recent investigation. Curtis, who has 15 years of service, was repeatedly passed over for promotion. The agency also found that the city systematically discriminated against other blacks, as well. Less qualified whites would get promoted over Curtis and the job requirements were changed, after Curtis applied, to prevent him from getting a promotion. The agency ordered the city to promote Curtis to the next open position of assistant fire chief and pay him $56,506 in lost wages and $24,000 in attorney fees. The city boycotted the agency’s proceeding and the agency has no power to enforce its order but Curtis is expected to sue if the city does not resolve the case.

Broward County

Several people are cooperating with the Broward State Attorney’s Office in ongoing public corruption investigations. They include Beverly Stracher, an aide
to Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman; Bruce and Shawn Chait, the father-son development team that has admitted paying bribes to local politicos; and Vicente Thrower, the former Pompano Beach advisory board member who was charged with taking kickbacks in April. They are “spilling their guts,” according to well-placed sources. Information the foursome has provided has already led to several arrests and finalizing charges against an unnamed “husband and wife” team. Ouch!

Three of Broward County’s five black judges were up for election and facing stiff opposition. They were Circuit Court judges Ken Gillespie and Elijah Williams and County Court Judge Mary Rudd Robinson. All had been appointed to the bench originally and were retained Tuesday. There had been concern that black judges were being targeted for defeat. In related news, Gov. Charlie Crist has appointed a Fort Lauderdale attorney, Michael A. Robinson, 55, to a Circuit Court judgeship. He replaces Ana Gardiner, who resigned under a cloud of controversy over her relationship with a prosecutor. Robinson is the husband of County Court Judge Mary R. Robinson. Also, F.J. McLawrence, a black attorney, is in a runoff in the Group 26 judicial race against lawyer Mardi Anne Levey Cohen. If he wins, it would be only the second time a black was elected to a judgeship in Broward County, without first being appointed to the bench.  If he wins, it would bring the number of black judges in the county to seven.
David Lee Guffey
and Jessica Lyn Hazzard have been charged in the home invasion death of Ronald J. Harrison, 61. The two allegedly went to Harrison’s apartment  in the 1800 block of Harding Street in Hollywood seeking money. Harrison did not have much cash on hand, so they demanded his debit card. They went on to beat him until he provided the card’s PIN number. When Harrison’s roommate heard the commotion, Guffey and Hazzard fled, leaving Harrison bleeding on the floor. He was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.  Book’em Dano!

Miami-Dade County

Two former mayors will face off in the Miami-Dade District 8 county commission race. Palmetto Bay’s Eugene Flinn and Homestead’s Lynda Bell are headed for a run-off to decide who will represent the district. The seat became available when incumbent Katie Sorenson decided not to run for reelection.

Prosecutors in state attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle’s office are reviewing documents that supposedly will expose corruption at Homestead City Hall. Details are sketchy and prosecutors are not disclosing the specific nature of the allegations. But sources say the allegations are “broad” and cover several issues and they involve staff and elected officials. One of those issues surrounds the recent city council vote to provide public land to a private company to build and operate a charter school.

Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com