Bookmark and Share

rss logo Top Miami Area Local News Stories

Source: Top Stories

Miami commissioners vote unanimously to budget for 100 more police officers

<p> Miami city commissioners have some tough decisions to make about next year's budget as governments everywhere are having to cut corners and find extra savings to balance their budgets.</p><p> Miami city commissioners are being asked to come up with more money for more police officers.</p><p> "Yes, we have proposed more officers, but we also have to have balance in our budget," said Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso.</p><p> Alfonso is managing a move to budget for 100 more police officers and protect the rainy-day reserves that keep the city more financially secure than it has been in years.</p><p> "We're not asking for the false choice of fiscal discipline or public safety," said Fernand Amandi. "We're saying both can be done at the same time in this community."</p><p> Amandi -- a Miami resident and crime victim -- led the push to quadruple the number of extra officers proposed in the next budget, which Oct. 1. The city coffers have grown more than 5 percent for the first time in years, fueled by the reboom in building.</p><p> With a spate of violent crimes, like the recent murder of a beloved pastor for his gold chain, the push for more police is on for a city far below officer-to-resident ratios of other cities.</p><p> "I don't doubt that we don't have the highest crime rate in the U.S.," said Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. "That's good, but it's a paradigm shift I'm trying to change."</p><p> "Any new increase of the force will be across the board; more for patrol, some will go to investigations," said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.</p><p> The commission voted unanimously to budget for the 100 more, plus added $2 million more for anti-poverty programs.</p><p> "We can no longer just Band-Aid what's going on in our community," said Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. "We have to treat the true illness."</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:29:23 GMT

Big changes underway for Pier 66, Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale

<p> If you live or even visit Fort Lauderdale, it is doubtful you have not heard of Pier 66 or the Bahia Mar.</p><p> Pier 66 is a resort marina that began as a fuel dock in the 1950's so it is getting a much needed makeover. Meanwhile, Bahia Mar has just been sold to local ownership that has some big plans for the property.</p><p> "We want to bring Bahia Mar back to its iconic name," said Kenny Tate of Tate Capital.</p><p> Tate said it took five months to close a complicated deal with the city to buy the land lease of Bahia Mar for the next five decades. The hotel and marina is home base for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show each year, and that is something that will not change.</p><p> "One of the components of the redevelopment plan is to leave enough space available for the boat show for the future," said Tate.</p><p> The 39-acre parcel is prime real estate and will eventually get a big renovation.</p><p> "We want to create a whole campus setting here," said Tate. "Between the marina, the hotel, bringing some office commercial component and additional restaurants."</p><p> Meanwhile just down the Intracoastal, Pier 66 is in the middle of a $20 million marina upgrade.</p><p> "We are replacing everything," said Kevin Quirk, vice president of Pier 66 marine operations. "All the bulk heads. We are putting in power to accommodate these boats which we didn't before because they are getting bigger and bigger. It is now up to 600 amp service."</p><p> The new state of the art marina will go from six to 16 super-yacht slips, able to handle yachts 125 feet and larger.</p><p> And they want to get even larger super yachts into Pier 66 and Bahia Mar. So the city is actually planning to dredge the Intracoastal and take it from 12 feet deep to 15 feet.</p><p> The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show alone has an impact over half a billion dollars. That’s more than a Super Bowl. Work on the marina will be finished by the second week in October and Pier 66 will be back in the boat show for the first time in four years.</p><p>  </p><p>  </p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:13:32 GMT

3 men wanted in Miami jewelry store robbery

<p> The Miami-Dade Police Department is searching for three men who they say were involved in a robbery at a jewelry store.</p><p> The robbery happened July 20 at 6846 NW 169 Street in Miami.</p><p> According to detectives, one man entered the store and asked to see a Rolex watch and engagement ring set. Soon after, a second man buzzed the front door to be allowed into the shop.</p><p> Once the owner buzzed the man in, detectives said the first man walked out with the merchandise and both men entered a white two-door vehicle driven by a third man.</p><p> The estimated value of the stolen jewelry is $2,800.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:09:20 GMT

Miami man accused of stealing nearly $300,000 in state funds

<p> A Miami man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing nearly $300,000 in state funds that was intended to help screen Haitian-American women for cancer.</p><p> State investigators said Jacques Albert Calixte is the owner and operator of the Haitian-American Association Against Cancer.</p><p> "Stealing state funds intended to help prevent a vulnerable population of Floridians from suffering the consequences of cancer is unconscionable," said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. "I am proud of our investigators for their work to put this selfish fraudster behind bars where he belongs."</p><p> Investigators said Calixte provided fraudulent bank statements and payroll checks to the Florida Department of Health in order to receive payments between 2011 and 2013. He also provided information about clients who never received treatment, and even fabricated healthcare clinic reports.</p><p> Investigators said Calixte spent at little as $16,000 for client screenings in 2011, and found no evidence of money spent for client screenings between 2012 and 2013.</p><p> Calixte is facing multiple charges including forgery, organized fraud and grand theft. He is being held in jail on $90,000 bond.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:54:31 GMT

Fire breaks out in kitchen of Bimini Boatyard restaurant

<p> Firefighters were called to the Bimini boatyard around 11 a.m. Thursday after reports of a fire at Bimini Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale.</p><p> Heavy smoke was seen coming from the roof of the building at 1535 SE 17th St. as fire crews arrived.</p><p> Fire officials said the blaze started in the kitchen and spread to the hood system and ceiling of the building.</p><p> The fire was put out about 40 minutes after fire rescue arrived.</p><p> The cause of the fire is under investigation. No injuries were reported.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:19:09 GMT

Former BSO detective sentenced for role in false arrest

<p> A second former Broward Sheriff's Office detective was sentenced to a year and a day of prison time for falsely arresting a woman as part of a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme operated by a disbarred lawyer.</p><p> The sentencing hearing Jeff Poole, who pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy charge in May, took place on Thursday.</p><p> Poole faced up to 10 years in prison but received a lesser sentence because he cooperated with prosecutors.</p><p> Court documents show Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein used high-level contacts in the BSO to have Poole arrest Marcy Romeo Flaster, the ex-wife of one of Rothstein's friends, Doug Bates, on trumped-up drug charges while the couple was in the middle of a bitter custody battle over their 16-year-old son.</p><p> Former BSO Lt. David Benjamin was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for ordering the arrest.</p><p> Rothstein is serving 50 years for the scam.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:31:02 GMT

Miami Seaquarium fined by OSHA

<p> The Miami Seaquarium has been issued a $7,000 fine for allowing trainers to work with a killer whale without sufficient protection.</p><p> The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citation earlier this month.</p><p> VOTE: What are your thoughts on the Seaquarium?</p><p> The citation is considered "serious" by the federal agency. OSHA says trainers worked with a killer whale in a pool and from the side of a pool without using physical barriers.</p><p> OSHA has required physical barriers between trainers and killer whales, or that trainer maintain a safe distance from the orcas, since an administrative law judge ruled in a SeaWorld case.</p><p> READ: Citation sent to Miami Seaquarium</p><p> The SeaWorld case stemmed from the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed when a six-ton killer whale, Tilikum, grabbed her and pulled into the water.</p><p> Miami Seaquarium released a statement Thursday which states in part, "Miami Seaquarium has been cooperating with a recent OSHA investigation about the safety of our trainers working in our Whale and Dolphin Stadium.  This investigation was sparked not by an employee complaint, nor by any safety incident, but rather by a complaint from an animal rights activists group who have other priorities and objectives besides employee safety."</p><p> The statement also claimed that no animal trainers have been harmed in the nearly 44 years that Lolita, the killer whale, has called the establishment home. The Miami Seaquarium also said OSHA found no evidence of aggression displayed by Lolita during its six-month investigation.</p><p> The OSHA investigation stemmed from a complaint by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). The ALDF submitted a video (below) which they recorded that showed trainers with Lolita on May 10.</p><p> EMBED VIDEO</p><p> Jenni James, a litigation fellow with the ALDF, said Lolita will still have some physical contact with her trainers, "as is required for her Lolita’s health and well-being," but not during performances.</p><p> "This citation is a significant victory for Lolita as it restores a small piece of her dignity and autonomy," said James. "The Animal Legal Defense is thrilled that Lolita will now be treated more like an orca and less like a surfboard."</p><p> OSHA has investigated Miami Seaquarium three previous times (1977, 1998, 2003), which yielded no citations.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:59:57 GMT

Shuckers opens to public Thursday

<p> The lunch hour couldn’t come soon enough at Shuckers. At noon on Thursday, the North Bay Village restaurant reopened its doors to the public.</p><p> "It's time to run a restaurant again," said general manager Joe Portela.</p><p> A full deck on Thursday was a dream scene for Portela. Thirteen months ago, in June of 2013, the deck collapsed into Biscayne Bay. More than 100 people fell into the water and dozens went to the hospital.</p><p> Since then, Shuckers had remained closed to rebuild.</p><p> "The bar looks amazing,” said Portela of the repairs. "(We) had the opportunity to gut and remodel everything in here."</p><p> The deck is new, and so is the menu. Many of the first diners to return were old faces.</p><p> "Happy that it's back," said Fernando Castillo. "Luckily I wasn't here when it did fall in. It looks much sturdier and more welcoming."</p><p> Shuckers would not say exactly how much they spent on improvements.</p><p> "I don't know the cost," said Portela. "But a lot of hard labor and a lot of sweat."</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:39:26 GMT

2 large safes stolen from elderly woman during home invasion

<p> Police are searching for three men who they say forcefully entered an elderly woman's home in Hollywood and stole two large safes.</p><p> The home invasion happened the morning of July 9 off U.S. 441 on Arthur Street.</p><p> Police said the thieves pushed their way inside the home after the woman answered the door. One of the men held her down while the other two removed the safes and loaded them inside a silver 4-door vehicle.</p><p> Detectives believe the crooks were driving a Suzuki.</p><p> Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:13:31 GMT

Police chase ends with crash, shooting in Miami Gardens

<p> A chase through the streets of Miami Gardens ended in a police-involved shooting.</p><p> Investigators said officers with the Hollywood Police Department were chasing a man when he crashed into a white minivan on Ives Dairy Road and Northwest ThirdCourt.</p><p> According to the husband of the woman who was driving the minivan, the man's car came around the corner very fast before slamming into her vehicle.</p><p> "She said he made the corner so wide that he crashed into her," said Gerald Bowe. "So he tried to back out and that's when the police officer jumped out of his car and started shooting."</p><p> It's unclear at this time if anyone was shot.</p><p> Police did confirm the driver is still on the loose, but they haven't said for what he is wanted.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:20:02 GMT

Broward Sheriff's Office deputy shoots, kills dog

<p> A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy shot and killed a dog that tried to bite a passerby.</p><p> The BSO said in a news release that someone called 911 to report that a dog was on the loose in the 6900 block of Northwest 76th Drive and tried to bite the caller.</p><p> According to the release, the deputy dodged the dog at least three times to avoid being bitten before firing his gun. The deputy wasn't injured.</p><p> The dog bit the caller's pants but didn't puncture the skin.</p><p> Animal control was called and was attempting to contact the dog's owner.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:26:54 GMT

Nearly $1 million in classic cars damaged in fire

<p> A commercial fire destroyed nearly two dozen cars at a business in northwest Miami-Dade County early Thursday morning, causing nearly $1 million in damage. </p><p> The fire happened at Ted Vernon Classic Cars located at Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest 83rd Street. </p><p> Police said the the fire started about 4 a.m. The business was closed during the time of the fire.</p><p> Firefighters were called and took about an hour to extinguish the flames.</p><p> Business owners Ted and Robin Vernon told Local 10's Roger Lohse they believe the fire was intentionally set, and Robin Vernon said a recently fired employee may be to blame.</p><p> Arson investigators were also called to the scene. They also believe the fire was intentionally set because of the fact that there were separate fires throughout the property.</p><p> "Vehicles in warehouse, outside of warehouse, storage area -- just numerous areas where we're pointing our fingers at right now," Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Ray Jadallah said.</p><p> Cars both inside and outside of the business were damaged. </p><p> Nobody was hurt in the fire.</p>

Published: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:50:41 GMT