New Details Emerge in Federal Case Against Mayor Manuel Maroño and Jorge Forte

Jorge Forte
When Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño and his alleged bagman, lobbyist Jorge Forte, were arrested in early August on federal bribery charges, the FBI alleged the duo also collected referral fees for attempting to recruit other South Florida mayors into their scheme. Those elected officials, whom the FBI has not identified, didn't take the bait, according to Maroño's arrest affidavit. So who were they? And more important, did they suspect Forte was only looking to line his and Maroño's pockets, as the FBI claims?

See also: Mayors of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater Arrested by FBI on Bribery Charges

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Librarians Spared the Axe at Miami-Dade County Budget Hearing

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Mayor Carlos Gimenez
Call it Farenheit 305. Ever since he released a proposed budget plan that would have shuttered 22 libraries across Miami-Dade earlier this summer, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been trying to put out a fire of his own making. The backlash prompted him to find a way to keep those libraries open, but at drastically reduced hours and possibly laying off 169 library workers. That plan was also met with fierce opposition from residents and county employees from Florida City to Carol City.

Earlier this morning, after a marathon budget hearing packed with library supporters that began yesterday evening, Gimenez and county commissioners found a way to maintain the library system as is.

See also: Mayor Gimenez Recommends Closing 22 Libraries, Laying Off 251 Librarians and 149 Firefighters

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The University of Florida's Racist Legacy Runs Deep

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Alex Izaguirre
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke breaks down the good ole boy history of the University of Florida.

The Gator nation is always acting like they are so much better than Canes nation. Florida fans and alumni are always talking smack about the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Yet all their players get arrested while all our players are going to the NFL Hall-of-Fame. The school is always making excuses for not playing the University of Miami like, "oh we play in the Southeastern Conference," or "oh we play Florida State, our real rivals." They're full of it.

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Michael Pizzi Speaks Out, Calls FBI Snitch "The Watergate Burglar"

Michael Pizzi
Days following his August 6 arrest on federal bribery charges, Michael Pizzi was walking around shell-shocked and despondent. In a blockbuster moment for public corruption fighters, the Federal Bureau of Investigations had nabbed the Miami Lakes mayor, his counterpart in Sweetwater Manuel Maroño, and two lobbyists allegedly accepting payoffs in a pair of separate undercover stings. Gov. Rick Scott swiftly suspended both mayors from office in a scandal that made national headlines.

Even by Miami-Dade's shady record of politicians doing the perp walk, the bust of two sitting mayors on the same morning was a shocker that no one saw coming, especially Pizzi. Slumped over a sofa at Billiard Club in Miami Lakes a week after his fall, Pizzi looked defeated. "I'm done," he said. "It's over."

What a difference a month makes.

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Colorado Firm Told Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Director About Its Tarnished Past

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For at least three months, John Renfrow, director of the Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department, knew about the $18.5 million fine CH2M Hill had to pay the federal government to avoid being prosecuted for time card fraud. Yet Renfrow didn't stop the Colorado-based firm from bidding on a lucrative contract to oversee the massive and desperately needed $1.6 billion overhaul of the county's sewage system after receiving assurances from company officials that the scam was an isolated incident involving rogue employees, according to a June 4 letter.

On Wednesday, a team of county evaluators ranked CH2M Hill's $79 million bid first, ahead of the only other competitor, Los Angeles-based AECOMM. However, after Banana Republican wrote a post detailing the CH2M Hill scandal, Miami-Dade officials say they will thoroughly vet CH2M Hill before it is declared the winner.

See also: Firm That Scammed Federal Government Vying For Important Miami-Dade Sewage Contract

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Dade Medical College Loses Its Most Powerful Political Ally in Homestead

Dade Medical College CEO Ernesto Perez
A pungent odor permeates an empty mosaic-tiled room inside a shuttered motel at 304 N. Krome Ave. in downtown Homestead. Mildew seeps through the walls. "Before I owned this place, it was a haven for crack addicts and prostitutes," says the 43-year-old owner, Ernesto Perez, who bought the place for $610,000 two years ago. "The police chief begged me to make the owner an offer because the landlord was condoning what was taking place."

Perez is the chief executive of Dade Medical College, a school that has been expanding quickly in Homestead, in part due to its leaders close relationship with Mayor Steven Bateman. But now Dade Medical College has lost its biggest supporter on the city council. Yesterday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office charged Bateman with unlawful compensation and Gov. Rick Scott removed him from office.

See also: Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman Arrested for Unlawful Compensation

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Firm That Scammed Federal Government Vying For Important Miami-Dade Sewage Contract

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A Colorado-based company vying for a lucrative contract to oversee Miami-Dade County's multi-billion dollar sewer system renovation projects admitted it defrauded the federal government earlier this year. Back in March CH2M Hill and one its subsidiaries agreed to pay $18.5 million in civil fines and restitution because the firms had engaged in a criminal time card fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Yet the scandal hasn't stopped Miami-Dade officials from allowing CH2M Hill to vie for county contracts.

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Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman Arrested for Unlawful Compensation

Steven Bateman was led away in handcuffs by investigators early this morning.
Another city mayor in Miami-Dade has been busted this morning. Less than a month after the arrests of Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi on federal bribery charges, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is accusing Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman of unlawful compensation.

At his home earlier this morning, detectives handcuffed Bateman in connection with a $125-an-hour secret consulting gig for Community Health of South Florida Inc., a nonprofit organization that needed the city's blessing to help expand its chain of health clinics, according to the Miami Herald.

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Miami Beach Man Claims Cop Knocked Him Out When He Tried to Be a Good Samaritan

Andrew Mossberg
Andrew Mossberg made a painful mistake two months ago. He thought Miami Beach Police Det. Philippe Archer was a purse snatcher and tried to help the woman he believed was the victim. His thanks? Getting his face obliterated by the cop.

In the early evening of June 26, the 50-year-old audio and video engineer was walking on West Avenue when he saw Archer, dressed in a blue polo shirt and black slacks, screaming and manhandling Megan Adamescu, a 29-year-old model.

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Hialeah Purchasing Director Carlos Lopez Accused of Pushing Around Female Employees

A City of Hialeah employee claims she was forced to retire because of her supervisor's abusive behavior. In a June 26 resignation email to Mayor Carlos Hernandez, Edith Galloza alleges her boss Carlos Lopez intimidated her and created a hostile work environment. The day she sent the email, Galloza claims Lopez shouted "shut the fuck up" twice during a brief meeting they both had with Human Resources Director Melissa Negron to discuss why Galloza was retiring.

"He has done nothing but bully me and verbally abuse me," Galloza alleged in her email. "I was forced to endure an environment of hostility and humiliation."

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