9/11 Review Commission under the FBI’s thumb

New York's World Trade Center. Photo: Carol M. Highsmith, Wikimedia Commons

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
A secretive blue-ribbon panel formed by Congress to conduct an “external review” of the FBI’s post-9/11 performance – and to assess new evidence – was largely under the sway of the very agency it was tasked to examine.

Change orders add millions in airport costs; Is this how Broward should do business?

Rendering of east end of the expanded south runway with US 1 tunnels

By William Hladky
FloridaBulldog.org
For the third time in three years, Broward Commissioners voted last week to pay more — $2.5 million this time – to the company that’s managing the ongoing $800 million runway expansion project at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Commissioner Lois Wexler is concerned about repeated costly change orders.

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Slain al Qaeda chief tied to 9/11; Key figure in FBI’s once secret probe of Sarasota Saudis

Adnan Shukrijumah, left, and Abdulazziz al-Hijji

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
A top al Qaeda operative reportedly shot dead in a weekend raid by the Pakistan army was a key figure in the FBI’s Sarasota investigation of a Saudi couple that declassified FBI documents say had “many connections” to the 9/11 hijackers.

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“Serious concerns” about court orders altered by BSO prompt Broward judges’ meeting

Broward County Court Judges Sharon Zeller, right, and Ginger Lerner-Wren

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Concerned that the sheriff’s office has altered the terms of misdemeanor probation orders without informing judges, Broward’s top county court judge has called a meeting of judges for next week to assess what’s happening.

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Hallandale commissioners cash-in on new travel allowance policy they approved

hallandalecityhall

By William Gjebre
BrowardBulldog.org
Hallandale Beach’s new travel reimbursement policy has paid big dividends to city commissioners less traveled. Five Hallandale Beach city commissioners pocketed nearly $35,000 of their unspent travel allowances last month under the new policy they enacted last year. Previously, unspent travel funds were returned to the city’s general budget.

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Not yet sworn in, Curbelo facing FEC’s questions about campaign finances

Miami Congressman-Elect Carlos Curbelo

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
After running a campaign promising to restore public trust and integrity to the seat he won on Election Day this month, Congressman-elect Carlos Curbelo is already drawing scrutiny from federal regulators.

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They say “Drink Responsibly,” but what does it mean?

drinkresponsibly

By Stuart Silverstein
FairWarning
The “drink responsibly” or “enjoy in moderation” messages tucked into liquor and beer ads don’t impress Jennifer Romo. “Nobody actually takes that seriously,” said Romo, a 21-year-old political science major at UCLA. She added: “‘Drink responsibly,’ what does that even mean?”

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FBI probes whistleblower claim of $130 million scam; Plaza Health Network under scrutiny

Plaza Health Network's headquarters at 1800 NE 168th St., North Miami Beach. Witnesses saw FBI agents carting off computers and boxes of patient records there for several days last year.

By Francisco Alvarado
BrowardBulldog.org
Since being founded 64 years ago as a convalescent home for elderly Jewish people and war veterans, Plaza Health Network has nurtured a reputation for providing top-notch services to senior citizens of all denominations. But a little-noticed whistleblower’s lawsuit by an ex-Plaza executive alleges the non-profit company scammed the federal government for $130 million.

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An election result you likely missed: anti-corruption referendum wins big in Tallahassee

anticorruption

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Lost in the hubbub of a heated election season headlined by a down to the wire governor’s race, voters in Tallahassee approved a first-of-its-kind municipal anti-corruption referendum intended to limit the influence of big moneyed special interests in local politics.

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BSO quietly changes court’s probation orders; Broward judge blows the whistle

Broward County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, left, and David Scharf, director of community programs for the Broward Sheriff's Office

By Dan Christensen
BrowardBulldog.org
Fort Lauderdale resident Christopher Wayne Thurlow was adjudged guilty last April of misdemeanor battery and violating a restraining order. His sentence: 12 months of reporting probation – that is, to appear personally once a month before a probation officer. But that’s not what happened.

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Ballot measure backers spend big, win big

A screengrab from the Drug Free Florida Committee against Amendment 2 in Florida, a measure to allow medical marijuana. The measure failed. Drug Free Florida Committee/YouTube

By By Liz Essley Whyte
Center for Public Integrity
Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day. In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box. But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything.

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