Another of Gov. Rick Scott’s hapless appointees has resigned in disgrace. Harold J. “Jim” Crochet, the Department of Elder Affairs’ Long-term Care ombudsman, put in his papers, and not a moment too soon. Crochet had been on leave while allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing against him are being investigated. The program he headed had been mired in controversy and he has been the object of widespread criticism that he was a pawn for the nursing home and assisted living facility industry, instead of being an advocate for the elderly. Good riddance.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has called for a hearing on the state’s stand-your-ground statute. The call came amid protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Gov. Rick Scott had refused to convene a special legislative session to revisit the controversial law which opponents are seeking to undo or change in light of Zimmerman’s acquittal.
Palm Beach County
Yamal Yidios Char, president/CEO of Ytech International, announced the successful completion of a $5.1 million rehabilitation of an affordable housing complex in Belle Glade. The Belle Glade Gardens Apartments now provide 384 one- to four-bedroom apartments. The gated community has a lakefront clubhouse and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. It also has swimming pools, playgrounds and football and soccer fields. This is one very nice community.
NEW IN TOWN
Aio Wireless is now available in South Florida. The company, which was formed just 90 days ago, is a subsidiary of AT&T. It offers rock-bottom pre-paid and no-contract cellular service with three plans for unlimited voice, text and data between $40 and $70. Aio opened its first store in Palm beach County and is rapidly expanding in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as well. Aio operates on AT&T’s networks and is competing with Metro PCS, Boost Mobile, Walmart’s Straight Talk and other no-frills cellular providers. Aio’s entry into the market could lead to a price war among no-contract service providers, which just might lead to lower costs and improved service for consumers.
H. Wayne Huizenga’s AutoNation is the largest auto dealer in the world and the Fort Lauderdale-based company has now sold more than nine million vehicles. The milestone came as the company enjoys double-digit sales increases and new three-year employment contracts for CEO Mike Jackson and President Mike Maroone.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance President and CEO Bob Swindell and the city of Miramar have snagged SIMTEC Silicone Parts away from Madison, Wisc. The liquid silicone rubber producer has relocated its manufacturing operation to a 48,000-square-foot facility in the Miramar Park of Commerce. In addition to current employees who relocated with the company, SIMTEC CEO Enrique Camacho said, 40 new jobs will be created at the Miramar facility. The company is investing $3.5 million in a facility located at 9658 Premier Parkway. Under the Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) program, the state and the city will award SIMTEC incentive payments if it creates and maintains those jobs over seven years.
Plantation officials are dealing with a projected $4.9 million budget shortfall and Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic wants to sell one of the city’s parks to developers to close the gap. The 15-acre North Acres Park, located in the Plantation Acres neighborhood, could fetch up to $2.5 million but some residents are opposed to the sale. The city is facing rising pension obligations, health insurance costs and other obligations.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition are holding another of their record “Sealing and Expungement” seminars. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says if you were charged with a crime and not convicted, you may be able to have the record sealed and/or removed from the books. The program is for Miami-Dade County cases only. The seminar will take place from 4 – 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 at the West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way in West Miami-Dade.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s budget calls for closing 22 libraries and would mean laying off more than 250 people. The Miami-Dade County Library System is facing a $20 million shortfall. The cuts will be crippling to neighborhoods, particularly impoverished communities that rely on the facilities for after-school and other programs. Opposition to the plan to close the libraries is mounting as word of Gimenez’s proposal spreads.
Creditors have approved a proposed merger between American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy and US Airways. Miami International Airport is the second largest hub for American Airlines. If the bankruptcy court and federal regulators approve the merger, the new combined airline would become the largest air carrier in the world. It could bode well for Miami as the airline would compete against the number two, United-Continental and number three, Delta-Northwest.
Craig Veitinger, 19, of Big Pine Key is being held without bond in the baseball beating of Max Sanchez, 22, who suffered a broken arm and head injuries and remains in critical condition. It is unclear what started it. Witnesses told police Veitinger was drinking in front of his house with Sanchez and other people when he allegedly attacked Sanchez, beating him with a metal baseball bat. Sanchez ran off into some nearby woods and was found unconscious a short time later by passersby. In July 2012, Veitinger was charged with misdemeanor battery, theft, and burglary, and this January with felony battery.
Kasey Platt, a 20-year-old dental assistant from Marathon, is in trouble. Platt is accused of advertising lobsters for sale on Craigslist without a license. Undercover officers placed an order for 25 lobster tails for $250 and met her at a strip mall parking lot to complete the transaction. She was arrested and is facing multiple counts, including unlicensed sale of saltwater products and possession of lobster during the closed season.