U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has insulted President Barack Obama over his healthcare legislation and ridiculed his stimulus packages. Gov. Rick Scott has been criticizing former Gov. Charlie Crist – a potential gubernatorial opponent – for greeting the president with an embrace at a 2009 rally that touted stimulus funds that were provided to Florida projects.
It’s a sign that the Republicans will once again use their failed race-baiting strategy of fear and demonization of the nation’s first black president in the 2014 elections. Too bad. While Scott has been serving as governor, one of his best initiatives has been Enterprise Florida which offers incentives such as funds, tax breaks and other resources to businesses that create jobs or relocate operations in the state. Why Republicans would start whining over the president’s stimulus packages when they are implementing similar programs by giving tens of millions to private corporation is nothing short of amazing.
Palm Beach County
TD Bank is closing several of its 174 branches in Florida, including one in Royal Palm Beach, which leaves 24 branches, with $1.47 billion in deposits, in Palm Beach County. The company, which is continuing to open new locations in South Florida, has not disclosed the reasons for the closings in other parts of the state.
HERE TO STAY
The German-based discount grocery store chain Aldi has sent a clear message that it is in South Florida to stay. The company broke ground on a 60-acre 645,000-square-foot distribution center in Royal Palm Beach that will service 80 stores in South Florida and the west coast of the state. The massive construction project is expected to be completed in 2015. Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria applauded the company for bringing the center, which is expected to employ more than 150 workers, in the county. Aldi offers benefits to employees who work 20 or more hours per week and competitive wages. The chain has been operating stores in the U.S. since 1976, selling locally grown produce, and currently has nine stores in South Florida, with five more under construction.
The town of Palm Beach, along with its Council President David Rosow, has filed a court action seeking to have a judge determine if email exchanges between Roscow and the Sterling Palm Beach company, which were done from Roscow’s personal account, are subject to public records disclosure. The Palm Beach Daily News filed a public records request for the emails related to the lease of the Royal Poinciana Playhouse. Roscow contends the emails contain Sterling Palm Beach confidential “trade secrets” and are protected from disclosure. It’s an interesting case to keep an eye on. Stay tuned.
Kamya Frazier, 10, of Sunrise, is competing in the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Child Ambassador contest and is currently in the top 5 of the national contest, which, in part, is based on the amount of money raised to help find a cure. As ambassador, Kamya, who has the disease, would be the voice and face of the organization. The winner will be announced at the organization’s annual convention set for Sept. 26 in Maryland. Her supporters say you can help Kamya win this contest by making a donation in her name to the Sickle Cell Disease Association at fundrazr.com or by calling 410-528-1555.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has reached a settlement with ATI Career Training Center which is accused of operating a scheme to defraud the government. ATI will now be dissolved and will close operations around the country, including its Cypress Creek Road campus in Fort Lauderdale. U.S. Attorneys in several states conducted an investigation into allegations made by Dulce M. Ramirez-Damon, a former assistant director at the company, who worked at the Fort Lauderdale campus. According to a whistleblower lawsuit, ATI recruited ineligible people from homeless shelters, strip clubs and poor neighborhoods to enroll and apply for federal loans, which went to ATI. Their grades, attendance, graduation and job placement were falsified. Other documents were also forged, leaving the students saddled with debt, the lawsuit said. ATI has agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle the lawsuit.
American National Bank has filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Bishop James N. Francis and the Monument of Faith church in Miami Gardens which he heads. Francis, a native of Jamaica and former Wall Street executive, founded the church in 1997. His congregation has amassed several properties, including a 15-unit apartment complex which it recently sold for over $851,000. Oakland Park-based American National Bank is seeking the balance of a $2 million mortgage it made to the church in 2006.
Suspended Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman will remain in the race for re-election even though he has been arrested on corruption charges. Bateman, 58, was taken into custody last week on charges related to allegedly failing to disclose a $125 an hour consulting contract with Community Health of South Florida Inc. Authorities say Bateman pushed to have Miami-Dade County approve sewer improvements Community Health was seeking for its planned expansion but did not disclosed he was doing consulting work for the company. If Bateman wins re-election, he would likely be suspended again pending the outcome of the case.
Key West officials are considering a measure that would allow cab companies to add a $50 surcharge to sick passengers who throw up in their cabs. The reasoning is that drivers have to take the cab out of operation to clean it up, which means lost revenue. Cabbies contend this should be charged to the passenger who caused it. Some cities such as Austin, Texas, and Chicago already have such a measure, allowing for passengers to be charged up to $100.
The Monroe County School Board has approved a tax increase which would in part go toward pay raises for teachers expected to top $1.4 million. Newly hired finance director James Drake said the district’s $84.5 million budget, which allows for $79 million in spending, results in a slight surplus. Final approval of the budget was expected at a Sept. 3 meeting of the board.