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3 posts from December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013

Homestead absentee-ballot case under investigation by Miami-Dade police, prosecutors

@PatriciaMazzei @msanchezMIA

Miami-Dade police and prosecutors are investigating as potential fraud the case of four absentee ballots a Homestead family says campaign workers filled out against their wishes, the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have learned.

One of those workers, James Brady, is now a commission candidate in Florida City, which holds a municipal election next month.

Detectives from the police department’s public-corruption unit and prosecutors from the state attorney’s office have visited the Brockington household three times since October, Betty Brockington said, when Brady and an unidentified man knocked on her door and offered to help the family vote.

The men filled out the ballots out of the family’s sight and had three of four family members sign them without reviewing them, according to 54-year-old Betty Brockington. When they tried to get one of her nieces, 22-year-old Robkevia Scott, to do the same, she refused.

Scott took her ballot back and noticed the men had chosen the candidates the family had specifically said it opposed in the Nov. 5 election: mayoral candidate Mark Bell and council candidate Norman Hodge Jr.

More here.

Miami-Dade mayor vetoes restoring union workers' pay, offers compromise


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez struck down Saturday county commissioners’ decision to restore most workers’ pay, forcing a new vote Tuesday on the high-stakes issue.

His veto was expected. But the mayor also offered a potential compromise to commissioners determined to no longer require employees to contribute 5 percent of their base pay toward group healthcare costs.

Gimenez proposed giving one-time bonuses to some of the lowest-paid county workers: $1,500 to employees who make less than $40,000 a year and $1,000 to those who make between $40,000 and $50,000.

“I listened to the commission,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald, referring to the board’s concerns over workers suffering economic hardship. “This way we can give a little bit of relief to our lowest-paid employees and not break the bank.”

He emphasized that restoring all workers’ pay, as the commission voted to do, would be a greater benefit to those on the higher end of the pay scale. An employee making $100,000 a year would get $5,000 back, compared to one making $50,000, who would get $2,500.

Under the mayor’s bonus proposal, an employee making $45,000 a year who pays $2,250 toward the healthcare contribution would get a little less than half of that as a one-time payment. An employee making $20,000 whose contribution is $1,000 a year would get all of that back, plus $500.

More here.

In Miami, Kathleen Sebelius sticks to message, touting retooled Obamacare website


After two previous visits to Miami since September, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius returned Friday in a third-time’s-the-charm effort to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Florida, with its significant number of Hispanics and the second highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, has been a favorite backdrop for Sebelius to hammer home the Obama administration’s message of affordable healthcare for all.

On Friday, she touted the retooled federal online insurance exchange at healthcare.gov and highlighted individual success stories plucked from Miami-Dade, the county with the state’s greatest number of insured.

“We know the situation is serious here in Florida — 3.5 million uninsured residents, 581,000 here in the Miami area,’’ Sebelius said, “and there’s a lot of opportunity for people to take advantage of a new expanded plan.’’

Seated with three South Florida residents inside a roped-off wing of Miami-Dade’s Main Library, surrounded by TV cameras and reporters, Sebelius launched a living-room-style conversation about the consumers’ experience buying insurance on healthcare.gov.

“I hope you all will become part of the effort to spread the word,’’ she said.

More here.