Lawsuit: Rescind variance for ex-U.S. Rep.’s Hollywood charter school

Rooftop "vegetation" atop Hollywood's Ben Gamla middle-high school. Photo: William Gjebre

By William Gjebre
The Broward lawsuit says Hollywood broke the law when it approved a request by the controversial Ben Gamla middle-high school to stop maintaining a rooftop vegetation area that was a key consideration for a zoning exception allowing the school in a residential neighborhood.

Two Miami-Dade charter schools loaned $900K in taxpayer funds to sister schools

Keys Gate Charter School in Homestead. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Francisco Alvarado
Two Miami-Dade charter schools illegally transferred taxpayer funds by lending a combined $912,094 to sister schools outside the county, the top lawyer for the Florida Department of Education has determined. The school district’s auditor is recommending the district try to get the money back.

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Florida’s First Lady invests quietly in investment firm that mirrors governor’s old company

Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Photo: Meredyth Hope Hall

By Dan Christensen
Florida First Lady Ann Scott doesn’t talk publicly about where she invests the many millions of dollars in assets her husband, Governor Rick Scott, has transferred to her since his election in 2010. But SEC records reveal one place she’s sunk a lot of money is an obscure “family” investment firm that boasts $160 million under management and operates using the online name Scott Capital Partners.

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Pay violations rampant in low-wage industries despite enforcement efforts

Warehouse workers protest in Illinois  Photo: (Peoplesworld/Flickr/Creative Commons)

By Myron Levin, Stuart Silverstein and Lilly Fowler
For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law.

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FBI publicly releases a few more pages about Sarasota Saudis; 80,000 pages given to judge

9-11 pentagon

By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers
The Justice Department late Friday made public four new, heavily censored documents confirming that by 2002 the FBI had found “many connections” between 9/11 terrorist figures and the Florida family of “an allegedly wealthy international businessman” with ties to the Saudi Royal family.

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Lobbyists at water districts must register and disclose under new ethics bill

Florida's water management districts

By Dan Christensen
Lobbyists hired to influence spending and policy at Florida’s five water management districts must register and disclose their clients under ethics reforms unanimously passed by the Legislature last week. If signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, the bill would for the first time apply state lobbying regulations to some special-purpose governments that raise and spend hundreds of millions dollars every year.

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Financial watchdog held hostage for gold; Precious metals scams target seniors

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. hear testimony from Karl Spicer, who admits to having scammed people out of thousands of dollars by hawking investments in gold and silver. U.S. Senate photograph

By Daniel Wagner
Center for Public Integrity
A key government agency that oversees financial derivatives could remain without a permanent leader until the man nominated to run it shows he plans to crack down on investment scams involving precious metals.

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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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