Palm Beach County
There is a $1 million budget shortfall in the Palm Beach County Clerk of the Courts Office. Chief Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath has notified the judges to end most court proceedings each day by 5 p.m. The move is intended to avoid having to pay overtime to staff. Statewide, court clerks are collectively facing a $17 million budget deficit. We haven’t heard anything from Florida Gov. Rick Scott on how he intends to address the funding shortage.
Office supply retailer OfficeMax closed stores and consolidated operations after its purchase in 2013 by Boca Raton-based Office Depot. That company in turn closed 168 stores in 2014, and is now negotiating a merger with Staples, which plans to close even more stores. Competition from online retailers is increasing, and the number of office supply stores is dwindling. It could end up hurting consumers, but we’ll see.
Jupiter Medical Center (JMC) and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are partnering on cardiac research and services in South Florida. Mount Sinai is one of the leading heart surgery hospitals in the nation. JMC President John D. Couris said the collaboration will transform cardiac care in the region.
Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Edward Johnson, 53, was being mentioned as a candidate for higher office, but no more. Miami Gardens City Manager Cameron Benson abruptly fired Johnson, who reportedly was caught in a reverse prostitution sting in Dania Beach, from his $165,000-a-year job.
ABUSE OR RIP OFFS?
There has been chatter about tighter regulations to curb a rash of towing firm complaints, but the gripes are still rolling in. Now, there are complaints of towing charges for the victims of automobile thefts. When a stolen vehicle is recovered, it is placed in storage until the owners are located. Then, the police agency has to authorize the release, which can take time. Meanwhile, the towing companies are charging storage fees by the day. One Fort Lauderdale auto theft victim was forced to pay more than $800 in storage fees that piled up while she argued with police to release her car.
Mark Levinson, proprietor of Fort Lauderdale-based Levinson Jewelers, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He gained notoriety for selling Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein expensive jewelry that was paid for with money the disgraced former attorney made from his various scams. The sales led to Levinson being sued by a bankruptcy court trustee to return the money. He settled that case for $650,000.
Florida International University has received a $2 million grant from the Florida Department of Education. The money will be used for robots that will teach students math, science, engineering and other subjects. If this sounds like a joke, it’s not.
Antonio Giansante Garcia of Miami Beach faces serious charges after an investigation determined he posted on social media sites videos and pictures of a former girlfriend performing sex acts. Some of the material was of the girl when she was 16. Police, who say Garcia admitted posting some items when questioned, believe he was angry over the break-up of the relationship. He is charged with possession of child pornography, promoting sexual performance by a child and other charges.
Key West Police arrested Michael Soraghan, 45, in an alleged ride-by purse snatching incident. There have been several reported incidents by women of a man riding a bicycle up from behind them and snatching their purses, usually in the early morning hours. Soraghan was pulled over on a Trek cycle for not having lights when the officer noticed he matched the description and video footage of a suspect in one of the snatchings. He is suspected in other cases.
Monroe County Public Defender Rosemary Enright is retiring and will not seek another term in 2016. Enright is endorsing Chief Assistant Public Defender Patricia “Trish” Docherty Gibson for the post. Docherty Gibson, who announced her candidacy, is the frontrunner for the coveted position.