Miami developer hires governor’s pal; Scott, Cabinet green light Watson Island project

Lobbyist William "Billy" Rubin, left, and Gov. Rick Scott

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
In late March, state emails show, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection was poised to pull the plug on a long-delayed, contentious plan to build a resort and mega-yacht marina on Miami’s Watson Island. But developer Flagstone Island Gardens had an ace in the hole. A month earlier, the company hired Fort Lauderdale lobbyist William “Billy” Rubin, a longtime personal friend, business associate and political supporter of Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott campaign ad touting jobs record stars convicted smuggler

A Rick Scott television ad features the governor shoulder to shoulder with flag-waving smuggler Maikel Duarte-Torres

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
A Cuban-born grocery store owner starring in a Rick Scott Spanish language television campaign ad touting the governor’s job creation record was convicted on human smuggling charges in St. Maarten four years ago. THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED

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Hallandale Beach made hush-hush settlement with a top manager over lucrative pension plan

By William Gjebre
BrowardBulldog.org
Hallandale Beach taxpayers quietly coughed up nearly $500,000 in 2009 to settle a complaint by a ranking city official that his bosses had failed to include him in a generous management retirement plan for top city leaders.

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Secret Documents Show Weak Oversight of Key Foreclosure Program

By Paul Kiel
ProPublica
The Obama administration launched its main program to prevent foreclosures in the spring of 2009 with $50 billion and abundant promises. What the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, lacked — and wouldn’t have for years — was effective oversight of the big banks that were crucial to the program’s success.

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Prosecution, defense team up to convince a skeptical judge to release inmate

By Eric Barton
BrowardBulldog.org
Next month, a federal prosecutor and a defense attorney will stand before a judge in Miami and do something extraordinary. Both sides will present evidence and call witnesses to try to convince the judge to set a man free.

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Hollywood police chief to step down amid reports of infighting with city manager’s office

By Dan Christensen and Karla Bowsher
BrowardBulldog.org
Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner will retire in January after five years as the city’s top cop.Wagner, 52, is leaving amid reports of significant friction with his new bosses at City Hall – City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark and her top assistant Frank Fernandez, the new director of public safety.

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Citizens United decision helped Romney neutralize Obama’s fundraising advantage

By Michael Beckel, the Center for Public Integrity   and Russ Choma, the Center for Responsive Politics Super PACs and nonprofits unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision have spent more than $840 million on the 2012 election, with the overwhelming majority favoring Republicans, particularly GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

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Judges backed Butterworth’s push to nail down DCF’s $44.8 million Broward healthcare contract

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
A state appeals court chief judge and three Broward Circuit Court judges lent their names to Bob Butterworth’s private push for a $44.8 million-a-year state mental health management contract, state records show.

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Two Hallandale officials who voted for generous pension plan say they weren’t told true costs

By William Gjebre
BrowardBulldog.org
Two Hallandale Beach commissioners who backed generous retirement benefits for top city officials said they were never told that the program granted retroactive credit for years worked prior to the plan’s start in 2001.

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Major contributor to Gov. Scott is silent partner in Bob Butterworth’s $44.8 million deal with DCF

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Another political insider – this time a major contributor to Gov. Rick Scott – has cropped up in a $44.8 million-a-year government-business deal to manage mental health services in Broward County.

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How companies have assembled political profiles for millions of Internet users

By Lois Beckett
ProPublica
If you’re a registered voter and surf the web, one of the sites you visit has almost certainly placed a tiny piece of data on your computer flagging your political preferences.

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