By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.orgARDA_300ppi

Campaign contributions typically go to politicians, but timeshare owners in Broward, the state and across the country will soon split $562,000 – an amount equal to the illegal contributions collected by the political fundraising arm of the U.S. vacation industry from 2003-2007.

The payout is part of a deal between the industry and the Federal Election Commission to settle civil allegations of wrongdoing in the solicitation and distribution of millions of dollars in political contributions.

The American Resort Development Association – Resort Owners Coalition PAC will also pay a $300,000 civil penalty. It is the largest fine imposed by the FEC since 2007.

By Dan Christensen,

Site of proposed Captiva Club apartments

Site of proposed Captiva Club apartments

Homeowners are crying foul at Pompano Beach’s plans to funnel to a private developer as much as $2 million in federal housing funds meant to help neighborhoods blighted by foreclosed and abandoned houses.

“Do we feel betrayed? You got that right,” said Ron Boehl, president of the Cresthaven Civic Association.

Pompano Beach is among the hardest-hit cities in a county with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. A city report this month said there are more than “1,900 bank-owned properties” in Pompano, with another 1,600 homes in pre-foreclosure proceedings.

The Cresthaven and Pompano Highlands neighborhoods on the city’s north side have taken the brunt of the foreclosures and now face a second blow of losing access to about $1 million in federal money meant to revitalize abandoned and foreclosed houses.

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.orgBroward_NFI_9743

A ranking Broward County Transit official has resigned amid an internal corruption and waste investigation triggered by a whistleblower’s complaint.

Lorin S. Swirsky, transit manager for information technology, had been suspended without pay since June 3 after county investigators determined he lied about having a computer science degree from the University of Miami.

“He made the choice to resign. He called me personally,” said Broward Transportation Director Chris Walton.

Swirsky was fingered in a whistleblower complaint submitted to the county in March that includes other, more serious allegations.

Cardinal Gibbons High athletic field

Cardinal Gibbons High athletic field

By Dan Christensen,

Fort Lauderdale’s summer of neighborhood discontent continues – this time in Coral Ridge where Cardinal Gibbons High School is pressing ahead with plans to light up its football field over the objections of neighbors.

The neighbors oppose lights on poles that reach as high as 95 feet on an athletic field at the Catholic high school.

City rules had limited churches and church schools to structures of 35 feet; however, city commissioners changed the rules in April to allow taller structures as long as they were compatible to the surrounding neighborhood.

Zachariah Zachariah

Zachariah Zachariah

By Dan Christensen,

Fort Lauderdale heart doctor and major GOP fundraiser Zachariah P. Zachariah has picked up two influential allies in advance of his federal insider stock-trading trial this summer.

Former Florida Attorney General and top Democrat Bob Butterworth and Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Melanie May, both Broward residents, testified under oath two weeks ago as character witnesses for Zachariah.

Their depositions are not public, and neither responded to requests for comment. They are identified in court records.

Judge May supported Zachariah despite judicial rules that discourage testifying as a character witness.

Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from giving such testimony voluntarily “because to do so may lend the prestige of the judicial office in support of the party for whom the judge testifies.” It says judges may testify if subpoenaed, but nevertheless “should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness…except in unusual circumstances where the demands of justice require.”


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