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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Broward commissioner’s father wants no-bid VAB contract worth $225,000 a year

Broward Commissioner Martin David Kiar, right, with his father, Broward Value Adjustment Board Counsel Monroe Kiar. Photo: Brittany Wallman

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Broward’s Value Adjustment Board will consider a resolution Monday to give a lucrative no-bid contract to the father of County Commissioner Martin David Kiar. Incumbent VAB legal counsel Monroe Kiar, who makes $225,000 a year, has asked the board to extend his contract for as long as five more years without having to endure any competition for the job.

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Gov. Scott signs ethics bill; Lobbyists at water districts must register and disclose

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By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday a state ethics bill that requires lobbyists at Florida’s five water management districts to register and disclose who they’re working for and how much they’re being paid.

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The rise of a political rainmaker: Helping mayors of Miami-Dade, Broward find big money

Brian Goldmeier, right, and clients Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
Since helping elect Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez three years ago, Brian Goldmeier is South Florida’s least known, yet most sought after political rainmaker.

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Audit finds property tax appeals in state appear rigged; Broward among counties cited

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By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
A state performance audit of county boards that hear property tax appeals by unhappy homeowners and businesses says appeals appear to have been rigged by local government officials more interested in safeguarding tax revenues than fairly valuing real estate.

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Billions in Medicare Advantage overcharges likely gone for good

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By Fred Schulte
Center for Public Integrity
Four years ago, Medicare auditors came to an alarming conclusion: the federal government shouldn’t have paid a half-dozen insurance plans hundreds of millions of dollars to treat seniors in especially poor health.

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Federal judge: ‘Bullying’ by Florida JQC threatens independence of state judges

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, left, former Palm Beach State Attorney Peter Antonacci, center, and Palm Beach County Judge Barry M. Cohen

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
In unusual public criticism, a South Florida federal judge has accused the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission of “bullying” that threatens the independence of the state’s judges.

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FBI search can’t find any more info on Sarasota Saudis, even its own investigative reports

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By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers
BrowardBulldog.org
The FBI told a federal judge Friday that its page-by-page review of more than 80,000 pages of records from its 9/11 investigation turned up “no additional substantive information” about connections it has said existed between Saudis in Sarasota and 9/11 terrorist figures.

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Fear stifles complaints of wage abuse

Fast-food workers in Seattle accused employers of wage theft last year.

By Myron Levin, Stuart Silverstein and Lilly Fowler
Fair Warning
Karim Ameri allegedly decided to play hardball after learning that his Los Angeles recycling business was under investigation for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime to workers putting in 60-hour weeks. Court records say Ameri pressured employees of Recycling Innovations, a string of bottle-and-can redemption centers, to lie to federal officials about his company’s pay practices.

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Democrats skirmish over open Broward House seat

Florida House candidates Steve Perman and Kristin Jacobs

By Buddy Nevins
BrowardBulldog.org
Broward County political campaigns run on food. Bagels and cream cheese, Danish, hummus, spaghetti, barbeque and fruit salad for vegetarians who might show up at a political event – all paid for by candidates.

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