Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who switched from Republican to an Independent after failing to win the GOP nomination in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, has endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election.
The endorsement came as Mitt Romney and the Republicans were preparing for the start of their convention in Tampa. Crist was all but run out of the Republican Party after making an appearance with Obama to tout stimulus dollars that came into the state. Crist has been given a speaking slot at the Democratic Party convention and is expected to switch his registration and seek its nomination for the 2014 gubernatorial race. Others who are being mentioned as potential candidates in that race are Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler and Orlando Mayor John “Buddy” Dyer.
Palm Beach County
Sharon Robinson Stevens, the 66-year-old principal of Palm Beach Public School, was arrested in Palm Beach on a DUI charge. Police said Stevens was involved in a single-car accident and had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.
During a recent trip to the West County Detention Center in Belle Glade to visit her son, Katherine Trigg, 55, was arrested for allegedly trying to sneak contraband into the facility. She hid a leafy green substance inside her underwear and when searched claimed it was a Tampon. Trigg said it was tobacco for her son and initial tests for marijuana were negative but additional lab analysis is being conducted. Dean Trigg, 32, is serving a five-year prison sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon. Katherine Trigg was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on a charge of attempting to smuggle contraband into a state institution. If the substance is determined to be a controlled drug, additional charges could be filed.
Klytia Benitez and Patrick Connolly of Lake Worth were arrested and charged with stealing jewelry worth more than $200,000 from Connolly’s father and selling it to pawn shops. They took in $16,496 for the items, which included a Rolex watch valued at $10,000, family heirlooms and estate jewelry. They told detectives they used the money to buy drugs.
Several members of the town of Palm Beach police department have accused supervisors of discrimination, disgusting incidents of sexual harassment and worse. Mayor Gail Coniglio said the town will defend itself but would not comment. The allegations are contained in complaints filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I can tell that some of the alleged incidents are so disgusting that they are not suitable for publication. The employees have retained Stuart attorney Willie Gary and lawsuits are expected to be filed.
Douglas Hughes, a 27-year-old city of Boca Raton groundskeeper, confessed to videotaping women and children while they were in a city bathroom located on the beach. One woman and her 10-year-old daughter were changing clothes in the bathroom when the child noticed a hand holding a cellphone between the privacy louvers of the bathroom’s window. The woman ran outside and was able to get the tag number of a vehicle as it sped away. Police traced it to Hughes, who was arrested when he reported to work. He confessed to videotaping people at the bathroom 25 to 30 times since March. Additional charges could be filed depending on what police find on his cell phone and computer.
Fort Lauderdale police have embarked upon an intensive crime crackdown along Sistrunk Boulevard, an area undergoing redevelopment. The “Sistrunk Action Plan” has so far resulted in the arrest of seven people who were charged with soliciting prostitutes. Three other people, John Ross, Aadrian Medley and Tavon Lane, were arrested on drug charges. More arrests are sure to come during the campaign which will last for at least the next 90 days.
The start of suspended Tamarac City Commissioner Patricia Atkins-Grad’s corruption trial did not take place this week as scheduled. Atkins-Grad, 66, is accused of accepting bribes from developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, including a leased new BMW. Her trial is now scheduled to begin in November.
BB&T Corp. acquired Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic earlier this year and began merging some operations. BB&T has now filed documents with the state indicating that 365 BankAtlantic employees will be laid off by January.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Mitchell Kogod had been removed from the Civil Division and reassigned to the Fleet Division pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation into numerous allegations related to his duties and off-duty detail work. Kogod was quietly transferred to the Oakland Park district as the investigation continues.
SICK CITY HALL
Homestead City Hall may be contaminated with the radioactive and cancer-causing gas radon, mold, asbestos and other harmful items. Councilwoman Judy Waldman wants to relocate employees immediately — and she is right. This is a serious concern that should be addressed right now, instead of waiting for an employee or citizen file a lawsuit.
Miami officials had declared a state of financial urgency to give the city more leverage to deal with a $40 million budget shortfall but a judge has ruled in a lawsuit filed by the police union that the declaration was improper. Now Mayor Tomás Regalado plans to use layoffs, forced unpaid furlough days and other methods to close the budget hole. Meanwhile, the city’s Chief Financial Officer Janice Larned threatened to quit last week after talks with unions broke down.