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
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
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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More secret 9/11 documents identified, but FBI has yet to turn them over to judge


By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers
Contradicting an earlier assertion made under oath by a senior FBI official, an attorney for the Justice Department said Wednesday that the FBI has identified four more boxes of “classified” 9/11 documents held by its Tampa field office.

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All Aboard Florida: Boon or Boondoggle?


By Ann Henson
A growing number of local and federal government officials want to put the brakes on the proposed passenger train between Miami and Orlando before some say it becomes one big boondoggle placed on the backs of Florida taxpayers. At the core of their concerns are questions about All Board Florida, the private rail project pushing the proposal.

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Meet the banking caucus, Wall Street’s secret weapon in Washington

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee

By Daniel Wagner and Alison Fitzgerald
Center for Public Integrity
The lawmakers were at an impasse. More than two hours into a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee last month, the members were bickering over two versions of a bill designed to ease a new regulation that affected banks, part of the sweeping 2010 overhaul of financial laws known as the Dodd-Frank Act. The dispute? Whether to give banks everything they asked for, or whether to give them even more.

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Too many heroin addicts, too few treatment beds; The runaround in Miami-Dade

Proposed site for addiction treatment facility at NW 23rd Avenue and 54th Street in Miami.

By Francisco Alvarado
As a heroin epidemic builds in South Florida, one drug interventionist is finding it difficult to get Miami-Dade County’s assistance to open a long-term treatment facility.

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FBI’s attempt to water down judicial order denied; 9/11 documents begin to flow to judge


By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers
A Fort Lauderdale federal judge Friday gave the FBI another week to produce tens of thousands of pages from its massive 9/11 investigation for his inspection, but forcefully denied government requests that he water down his own previous order requiring disclosure.

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Judge awaits FBI’s Sarasota Saudi documents; Justice Department wants more time


By Michael Pollick
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Relatives of 9/11 victims are eagerly watching the legal struggle over information held by the FBI concerning a Saudi Arabian family in Sarasota with possible ties to terrorists, even as calls in Congress ramp up for more disclosure about how the attackers were funded. Late Thursday, the government asked a Fort Lauderdale federal judge for more time to submit its 9/11 records.

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Broward prosecutors vilify BSO detective who alleged misconduct; ‘Bloody…not improper’


By Dan Christensen
A Broward Sheriff’s homicide detective who reported that Fort Lauderdale police unleashed a dog on a murder suspect who was in custody and no longer a threat should not be believed, according to a memo by local prosecutors closing the case.

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Long after Sandy, Red Cross post-storm spending still a black box


By Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger
Following Superstorm Sandy, donors gave $312 million to the American Red Cross. How did the aid organization spend that money? A year and a half after the storm, it’s surprisingly difficult to get a detailed answer.

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How many railroad crossings will close for new downtown passenger train service?


By Ann Henson-Feltgen
New downtown passenger train service that will speed users from Orlando to South Florida and back may sound like a tourism dream come true, but there’s a potentially unexpected cost to local residents.

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