Palm Beach County

Charlotte G. Durante continues to sit in the Palm Beach County jail where she has been since May 2010. Durante is a former Delray Beach city commissioner and she is facing charges related to allegedly operating a Ponzi scheme. She has denied the allegations and refuses to accept a plea. Durante is in deteriorating health. Her $503,000 bail was reduced to $245,000, which she still has been unable to make. Friends and supporters say she is not a flight risk and has no prior arrests. They speculate that she is the victim of a political vendetta.

Prosecutors with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office cleared West Palm Beach Police Chief Delsa Bush of criminal wrongdoing in a ticket fixing case. Prosecutors said while Bush may have acted inappropriately, her actions were not criminal. Bush attempted to have a jaywalking ticket issued by West Palm Beach police officer Gerald Chaparro to city analyst Sharagay Esposito voided. Esposito alleged the ticket was issued in retaliation for her lodging a complaint against Chaparro in which she accused him of speeding through the downtown area.

Nearly two years ago, Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West was a Tea Party favorite but now some of them are having second thoughts. Tea Party members are upset with his votes in Congress, including support of the debt ceiling compromise. West will also have to deal with a district that will be reshaped. Meanwhile, Democrats are targeting him for defeat, particularly after he sent a tersely worded e-mail to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who is also the chairwoman of the Democratic Executive Committee.
Broward County

During a recent meeting, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti partially lifted his ban on BSO deputies working for the Miami Dolphins. The ban was put in place after BSO Commander Alvin Pollack gave Miami Dolphins Phillip Merling a ride to the team’s training facilities in his patrol vehicle after he was released from the Broward Main Jail. Merling was charged in a domestic violence incident involving his pregnant wife. Those charges were eventually dropped. Even though there was a ban in place, a select few deputies were quietly allowed to continue working for the team. Now, all deputies, except Pollack, are allowed to work off-duty jobs with the Dolphins. It has not been explained why Pollack has been excluded. Something in the milk doesn’t look clean here. 

Blogger and community activist Chaz Stevens was reappointed to the board of the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority less than three weeks ago. But the honor was short-lived. Mayor Peggy Noland removed Stevens from the board over e-mails he sent to the housing authority’s executive director Pamela Davis. In one e-mail, Stevens questioned if Davis, who is black, had read an audit report because it wasn’t written in “Ebonics.”

For years, city of Fort Lauderdale pension officials have not addressed Doris Stenger’s claim. The disabled former employee submitted paperwork seeking disability status in 2000 but the documents were reportedly “misplaced.” Now Stenger has retained an attorney who supposedly has found legal issues with the manner the city's pensions are calculated and with the city’s pension ordinance itself. Stenger worked in the police department and was injured when an office chair collapsed. She has had numerous surgeries since and is nearly bedridden.

Broward County school board member Jennifer Gottlieb announced her resignation this week. She cited the time required for the position as the reason for quitting. Her departure comes less than a week after another member, Dave Thomas, stepped down from the board. The Broward School District is in shambles. A statewide grand jury report detailed years of waste and incompetence. The grand jury wrote that it would have sought to dissolve the school district if it had the authority to do so. Hopefully, more resignations will be forthcoming. Gov. Rick Scott will make appointments to fill those positions. A lot of people are jockeying for the appointments but keep your eyes on attorney Levi Williams, former Dania Beach city commissioner, school board member Al Jones and Torey Alston, chief of staff for Broward County commissioner Barbara Sharief.

An audit into the city of Lauderdale Lakes Community Redevelopment Agency is underway but we might not have to wait until it’s completed. Current and former city employees are talking and, if just some of their allegations prove true, all I can say is Book’em Danno! Stay tuned and prepare to be shocked. 

The Broward Sheriff’s Office will hold another of its Community Days next week. This time it will be in Deerfield Beach, where Sheriff Al Lamberti and deputies Erika Huerta and Shelunda Cooper, stars of the TLC network program Police Women in Broward County, will be on hand. BSO staff and equipment will be on display and free school supplies will be distributed. The back-to-school event will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at Westside Park, 445 SW Second Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Miami-Dade County

North Miami Beach City Manager Lyndon Bonner is proposing to layoff as many as 24 officer positions and 13 civilian jobs in the police department to help balance this year’s budget. Police officers have already taken a 10 percent pay-cut. The police union is opposing the proposed layoffs.

Jim Tranthem is a retired educator who is involved in his Homestead community. He has expressed concern over the glut of privately owned charter schools that are receiving city support in Homestead — and so are others. Tranthem is not considering a run for the city council but there are people who think he should.

A Homestead police officer shot into the trunk of a car that had been reported stolen. The driver was hit and taken to the hospital. Police say the driver tried to run over the officer. For some reason, the names of the officer and the suspect have not been released.

North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre used $4,151 of police funds to buy 43 police-style badges for unidentified “volunteers.” The badges were given to his nephew, Ricardo Brutus, who is also his campaign manager. Brutus, who was arrested on unrelated bribery charges last March, told investigators he returned 40 of the badges to city hall. The badges drew criticism because they closely resembled badges that city police wear, which arguably could be used to impersonate police officers. Amid heavy criticism, Pierre reimbursed the city for the badges which were melted down and destroyed.

Photo: Elgin Jones