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Dog Days At The Track

Secrets Behind The Shoot Down On Its 15th Anniversary

Dan Adkins strolls along the grandstands of Mardi Gras Dog Track and remembers the way things used to be.

February 24, 2011 marked the 15th anniversary of the most seminal events in US-Cuban relations after the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960’s.

Guide To South Florida Water Restrictions South Florida’s Year-Round Water Restrictions, What Does That Mean To Me?

Ways To Avoid Pesky New Bank Fees

Have you used an ATM that’s not tied to your bank lately? If so, you’re likely suffering sticker shock.

MEDICARE FRAUD

FUGITIVES CAUGHT

News Magazine R E A L .

L O C A L .

N E W S .

D E L I V E R E D .

April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition | www.cbs4newsmagazine.com


CBS4 News Magazine | CONTENT

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide: Medicare Fraud Fugitives Caught I-Team: Federal authorities are calling it the largest international Medicare fraud bust to date. 7

Dog Days At The Track Dan Adkins strolls along the grandstands of Mardi Gras Dog Track and remembers the way things used to be. 9 Secrets Behind The Shoot Down On Its 15th Anniversary February 24, 2011 marked the 15th anniversary of the most seminal events in USCuban relations after the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960’s. 13 Impact Of Mercury On The Florida Ibis A wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Frederick had long suspected mercury exposure had resulted in birds not breeding in their natural habitat. 15 I-Team: FEMA Flooding Controversy The CBS4 I-Team spent four months taking an in-depth look at those maps and the system for determining who pays and who doesn’t. 16 Knocking Out The Side Effects Of Colorectal Cancer Treatment Everyone responds differently to treatment, and therefore, not every individual experiences all side effects to the same degree. 21 Guide To South Florida Water Restrictions South Florida’s Year-Round Water Restrictions, What Does That Mean To Me? 23 I-Team: Transportation’s Future At Miami International Airport they call this the “MIC,” M-I-C… Miami Intermodal Center. And when it is completed, experts say it will one of the most premier facilities in the country. 27 Home, Condo Sales Post Gains In February While prices remain a mixed bag, sales of single family homes and condominiums showed moderate increases in February. 27 Senate Committee Backs Away From Prepaid Tuition Closure Senate budget writers appear to be backing off a recent budget suggestion that would have prohibited new enrollment in Florida’s popular Prepaid College tuition program. 28 Ways To Avoid Pesky New Bank Fees Have you used an ATM that’s not tied to your bank lately? If so, you’re likely suffering sticker shock. 29

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I-Team: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide:

MEDICARE FRAUD FUGITIVES MIAMI (CBS4)- Federal authorities are calling it the largest international Medicare fraud bust to date.

CAUGHT

The arrests out of Bogota, Colombia, Monday follow a joint investigation in November, 2009, into Medicare fraud by the CBS4 I-Team and CBS’s newsmagazine 60 MINUTES.

“They (Medicare fraud schemes are) tested here and funnel out to different parts of the country,” said special agent Omar Perez. “(Detroit, Houston, Baton Rouge and) Los Angeles are seeing some of same schemes (as South Florida.)”

CBS4 I-Team investigator Stephen Stock has the story of how investigators from the US Department of Health and Human Services finally caught up to two international fugitives wanted scamming Medicare out of millions.

Special agent Omar Perez is with the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Office of Investigations.

If you weren’t looking closely, you might have thought they were tourists returning to Miami from overseas. Instead, shortly after midnight, early Tuesday morning, March 15, 2011, 54 year-old Caridad Guilarte was escorted in handcuffs by federal agents off Avianca Airlines flight number 8 out of Bogota, Colombia. Caridad was followed closely behind by her 56 year-old sister Clara, also in handcuffs. Federal agents say both women had been hiding out in Bogota after being indicted on 11 different federal counts charging them with running a Medicare fraud scheme out of Dearborn, Michigan, near Detroit. According to the federal indictment, it was a scheme that requested $9,122,159.35 in fraudulent Medicare claims. And the indictment charges that the scheme landed the sisters $4,275,799.75 in actual Medicare payments, taxpayer dollars they weren’t due. Gerald Roy is the Deputy Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services… Deputy Inspector General Roy said the arrests of the Guilarte sisters shows federal investigators will span the globe to seek justice for those who steal from Medicare. “We have a global reach and we certainly will find you,” said Roy. “We’re sending a message here that if you steal from

exported by those who would commit fraud to cities around the country such as Detroit.

Perez helps run the Medicare fraud task force here in South Florida and says the fraud schemes developed here, like the ones allegedly run by the Guilarte sisters, are then transplanted to cities across the country, such as outside Detroit where the sisters ended up.

Medicare and if you abscond with our money and think you can hide out in a foreign country you’d better think again,” said Roy. Roy spoke to the CBS4 I-Team from Washington, D.C. after the Guilarte sisters were brought back to the US through Miami International Airport early in the morning. “What they did was they brought in Medicare beneficiaries and paid those beneficiaries anywhere from $50 to $100 for their Medicare number,” said Roy. “And those beneficiaries received infusion therapy. These are invasive services with no medical necessity.”

“South Florida is ground zero,” said Perez. “It’s where (the fraud schemes) are developed, where (they are) tested, and once (the schemes are) proven (then) ships out to other parts of the country.” “These schemes spread from area to area,” said Gerald Roy. “The Guilarte sisters, for example, started their scheme in South Florida and saw fertile ground and a new beneficiary core up in the Dearborn, Michigan, area and decided to move their base of operations to that particular area.” This was the largest international Medicare fraud bust to result from a tip generated by a brand new top ten fugitive website established and run by HHS. Go to: http://oig.hhs.gov/fugitives/ for the HHS’ Top Ten Fugitive website

According to Florida Department of State business records obtained by the I-Team, the Guilarte sisters actually started by setting up medical clinics in Miami and Orlando.

The fugitive website is devoted only to people charged with Medicare fraud who are still at large. Many if not most of those on the website are believed to have fled the country and are hiding out overseas.

Federal authorities have long said that South Florida spawns various Medicare fraud schemes. Schemes that are tried out here then, if successful, they are

The website has been active only since February. but in that time, HHS officials say it has already generated more than 60,000 hits. 7 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


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I Team:

Dog Days at the Track Dan Adkins strolls along the grandstands of Mardi Gras Dog Track and remembers the way things used to be. “When this was built in ’74, it was the largest grandstand in the world for greyhound racing,” says Adkins, the president of Mardi Gras, formerly Hollywood Greyhound Race Track. “Still is today. In 1981 we had 14,000 people here. We used to have 10,000 to 12,000 people regularly here on weekends in the early Eighties.” When CBS4 I Team investigator Jim DeFede, noted that it has been a long time since Adkins had 14,000 people in those grandstands, Adkins replied: “It’s been a longtime since we had 400 people in these grandstands. I think on a good Saturday night we might have 100 people sitting out here watching the races”

approval five years ago to install slot machines. Now that he has his casino, he’s looking to dump the dog track. “If you could replace this greyhound track with a resort destination casino on this same property, the same property where gambling has been taking place for 80 years, now you are going to create jobs, you are going to create billions of dollars for this state in revenue,” Adkins said. Adkins along with the owners of Flagler Dog Track, are pushing for legislation in Tallahassee that would allow them to keep their casinos while closing their racing

“It’s dead,” he declared. “I’ve been in this business my entire life and its dead.”

But in order to operate the casino Adkins has to keep racing dogs. “The law is forcing me to put greyhounds on this track every day and run,” he said. But before you feel sorry for Adkins, you should realize it’s a law he helped create. A decade ago, Adkins realized there was no long-term future in dog racing. But rather than close as other tracks around the country have done, he held on to racing, using the track’s economic problems as leverage to get voter

Even when he was told of Adkins plans, O’Donnell refused to believe it. O’Donnell said he believes Adkins is going to work to save the track.

But in fact, he says he’s not. And while turning his back on the dog men, Adkins and the track owners are forging some unusual alliances with groups such as Grey2K, an animal rights group that has waged a relentless ten year battle with the racing industry.

Adkins said the sad reality is that the dog racing industry can not be revived.

“This is the kind of entertainment gaming activity that people are looking for,” Adkins said as he walked through the casino floor.

Unfortunately, many of the dog men, as they are called, have no idea what the track owners are doing. James “Barney” O’Donnell, 81, has been racing dogs for more than 50 years and currently owns between 300 and 400 greyhounds.

“He’s going to improve it,” O’Donnell said. “He’s going to improve it.”

Adkins says he is going to lose $2.5 million this year on the dog races. Down the road in Miami, the owners of Flagler Dog Track are reportedly losing almost $2 million a year.

So why continue to operate a business that is losing millions of dollars a year? Well you don’t have to walk far to find the answer to that question. Just behind that massive and empty grandstand lies a casino with more than 1,200 slot machines and a card room for high stakes poker.

Cory said if folks like Adkins and the Havenick family, which owns Flagler Dog Track, don’t think they can make a profit racing dogs then they should turn in their licenses and allow someone else to operate the dog tracks. Cory argues it is not fair to allow the current owners to summarily decide greyhound racing is a dead business.

“It’s a little bit like Alice in Wonderland,” said Carey Theil, the group’s executive director.

facilities. In addition, they would like to see the Legislature allow them to expand their casino operations to include all of the games they are currently prohibited from operating – including blackjack, roulette and craps. “The track operators for some years now have wanted to become casino operators, but they don’t want to be honest with the people of Florida and say they want to open a casino, so they have backdoored the casinos through card rooms and parimutuel wagering,” said Jack Cory, a lobbyist for the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents the dog owners and trainers. Cory said the track owners tried to sneak a bill through the legislature last year but were unsuccessful. He said he has already heard they are working to do the same again this year.

In 2008, Grey2K helped win approval for measures banning dog racing in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. They have also watched as tracks have closed in Connecticut, Kansas and Wisconsin. There are only 23 dog tracks left in the United States — with thirteen of them here in Florida. If Adkins looks at the issue strictly as a matter of dollars and cents, Theil approaches it with a sense of outrage. Greyhound racing, he argues, is inherently cruel and inhumane to the animals, which spend 20 to 22 hours a day locked in cages, stacked on top of one another in long, windowless kennels. “A lot of people think these dogs are owned by people and they are taken to the track and they race and they go home at night,” Theil said. “That’s not the case. These tracks require a large population of dogs and because of that they use a housing system that is cruel and inhumane.” continued on page 11 9 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


continued from page 9

Theil took CBS4 News to the Florida Kennel compound in Hialeah. The facility, which can house hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs, is jointly owned by Mardi Gras and Flagler dog tracks. Theil described how dogs are typically housed. “They are in their cages up to 22 hours a day on average,” he explained. “Perhaps the dogs are let out of their cages four times a day to relieve themselves for thirty minutes and the rest of their life is spent in a cage. If most Floridians could go through this guard shack and past the barbed wire fence and see for themselves how dogs live in this kennel compound I believe they would say this is something that must come to an end.” Theil provided us a copy of an undercover investigation his group did surrounding the conditions of the kennel in Tucson Arizona highlighting, he says, the way dogs are routinely confined. The video shows dogs muzzled in their cages. “No dog would like to live in a cage, but the fact that greyhounds love to run and are so gifted makes it especially cruel that these dogs endure a life of confinement,” Theil said. “It’s just no way to treat a dog.” And then there is the case of Ronnie Williams. A kennel operator and trainer at Ebro Dog Track in the Florida Panhandle. In October, state investigators discovered more than 30 dogs starved to death inside his kennel. “When you first drove up outside the gate, way out in the parking lot, you could smell the stench of the dead animals,” said Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock. Williams is facing more than 30 felony counts of animal cruelty and remains in the Washington County jail. “What we are trying to find out is when is the last time the kennels were inspected?” Haddock said recently. “Who went in the kennels? Who knew what? And what the checks and balances are?”

Unfortunately, according to Theil, there really aren’t any checks and balances. Until recently inspectors from the state had to call in advance and set up an

accident at Mardi Gras in which a dog – BB’s Story Book – collided with other dogs while trying to make the first turn, became disoriented and ran in the wrong direction. As the announcer shouted for handlers to get the dog off the track, it crashed into lure carrying the metal rabbit that the dogs chase. The dog is believed to have died instantly. “As long as you have commercial dog racing you are going to have dogs that die on the track,” Theil said.

appointment before they could inspect t h e kennels. And even when inspections do occur, the reports are troubling.

How many dogs are killed or injured every year at Florida greyhound tracks? Unfortunately, no one has the answer. Florida track owners are not required to maintain those types of records. In fact, every time legalization has been proposed that would require them to keep such records they have vehemently opposed it.

CBS4 News obtained copies of reports from the state division of pari-mutuel wagering regarding inspections they have done on kennels across the state. Of the 127 inspections conducted 20 percent – or one in five – listed the condition of the kennel as poor or worse. There were 28 instances of multiple dogs living in the same cage and 724 instances of greyhounds being injured.

“It is a sport, it’s a contact sport, it’s like football or baseball and injuries do happen.” Adkins admitted. “But these dogs are very well taken care of. I will never call this an inhumane sport because nobody in this industry does anything to hurt these animals “

Which brought our interest back to Florida Kennels. CBS4 News wanted to see for ourselves what conditions were like inside the Hialeah compound. Initially, Adkins agreed to show us. “Yeah, sure, I’ll take you down there myself,” he said. But the next day we were told the dog owners and trainers did not want to let us in with our cameras. Theil said it is not only the issue of confinement that makes the sport inhumane. Dogs are routinely injured and killed while racing. Grey2K has amassed a library of video in which dogs are hurt and killed, including a case where a greyhound was electrocuted at a track in Orlando when he tripped and fell into an electric rail.

But ironically, because of the groundwork of Grey2K, and the growing public perception that dog racing is in fact cruel, that may allow Adkins to keep his casino while losing the dog track. “For me it’s not a humane issue, it’s an economic issue,” Adkins said. “It’s that simple. If this sport was making money, again being brutally honest about it, I would do everything I could to continue it because I don’t view it as an inhumane sport. I do view it as a money loser.” Theil said Adkins motivations are irrelevant to him. If he can forge an alliance with the track owners to close their tracks he is more than willing to do it. “Regardless of what the reason is, I think its time to give the dogs a break.” Theil said. “These dogs have suffered and died at these race tracks for generations and this is no longer a viable industry, no one is interested in it, it is time for this to end.”

They also provided CBS4 News video of a terrible

11 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


I-Team:

SECRETS BEHIND THE ON ITS 15th SHOOT DOWN ANNIVERSARY

February 24, 2011 marked the 15th anniversary of the most seminal events in US-Cuban relations after the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960’s.

It’s been 15 years since Cuban MIG fighter jets shot down two civilian planes flown by the humanitarian group “Brothers to the Rescue.” Four people on board those civilian planes died.

“There’s nothing like saving that life,” said GrecoRegan. “You’re that hand you gave them, that hand to pluck them out of the ocean… giving them a whole new hope.”

including those directly inside President Bill Clinton’s Administration, to take the situation as seriously as perhaps they should have.

The flight that rescued Garcia was one of 2,400 Brothers to the Rescue missions that saved approximately 4,200 people during the 1990?s.

The documents and subsequent interviews with some US officials, show that clearly, few in President Bill Clinton’s administration thought or even imagined that Fidel Castro would order military jets to shoot down civilian planes.

“You look down and you see a wave you really don’t believe you’re going to find anybody you know,” said pilot Conrad Webber.

For instance: take a series of Memos marked “Urgent” which were circulated among FAA and US State Department officials dated in late 1995 and early 1996.

In the latest of a series of reports, Secrets Behind the Shootdown, Stock talked with major players in the Brothers to the Rescue story and uncovers secret and once classified documents that show US officials might not have taken the threat of Cuban action seriously.

Webber flew dozens, if not hundreds, of Brothers to the Rescue flights.

In early December 1995, the FAA got warnings from Cuban government officials about violations of Cuban airspace.

Two decades ago Alexis Garcia never dreamed he’d be here in South Florida living the American dream. Today Garcia is a physical education instructor who teaches and trains children in order to fight childhood obesity.

“We were to save lives, not to cause anybody any harm,” said Webber.

For two years the CBS4 I-Team’s Stephen Stock has been reviewing once secret and classified government documents to uncover what really happened in the days before the shoot down.

“It wasn’t the fame,” said Webber. “You were doing it to save somebody’s life.”

And then it took another month, February, 1996, before the FAA got the translation. Clearly no one was in any hurry to address the warnings or threat from Cuban

“I risked everything (to flee Cuba) but I needed, I wanted a better future,” said Garcia. That’s why Garcia risked drowning and starvation by navigating the harrowing crossing of open water in the middle of the Florida Straits in a kayak back in May 1992. “For every five of us who left Cuba only one made it,” said Garcia. Alexis Garcia was the one out of the five to survive. He was the one who lived despite spending fifty-five hours in the open ocean, fleeing an oppressive Cuban regime, willing to die in order to be free. Those moments will forever live in his memory.

“I owe what I am right now (to them),” said Alexis Garcia. “I owe my life to Brothers to the Rescue.” That’s why it shocked the world when on February 24, 1996, Cuban MIG fighter jets shot two Brothers to the Rescue search and rescue planes out of the sky over international airspace in the Florida straits.

officials.

“We’re trying to find out why we weren’t told (of the danger),” said Webber.

Then there is a memo issued the day after the shootdown which summarizes President Clinton’s reaction and orders. The same memo also mentions that the Brothers to the Rescue might have also flown over Havana, violating Cuban airspace only a month earlier on January 13, 1996, even though BTTR denied that. Clearly Cuban officials had voiced concerns about that, to high Clinton officials. But the FAA could not substantiate that and, according to the declassified records, apparently made little effort to try until after the civilian planes were shot down.

And then, Alexis Garcia says he heard an angel. It was an angel in the form of a small Cessna airplane. An airplane flown by the group Brothers to the Rescue.

Over the last two and a half years, the CBS4 I-Team has examined more than two thousand pages of once classified, secret documents: cables, memos, communiqués, which were circulated among White House officials, international diplomats, the FAA, FBI and US Coast Guard regarding Brothers to the Rescue and their flights between the US and Cuba.

“When we saw that plane waving from side to side it was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen,” said Garcia.

Many of the documents were once classified and secret but were declassified by United States officials at the request of the I-Team.

Mayte Greco-Regan was co-piloting the plane that saved Alexis Garcia.

The declassified documents show a failure of diplomacy as well as a failure by American diplomats

“We were lost the last 18 hours. We didn’t have water, no food. We were hallucinating,” said Garcia.

But the documents were in Spanish and no one at the FAA apparently spoke or read Spanish. It took nearly a month to send the warnings to Washington and get them translated.

The Cuban MIG’s shot down the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft later that same February.

“The Cuban government had been protesting the flights for at least 17 to 18 months prior to the shoot down,” said Dr. Brian Latell who reviewed the documents at length for CBS4. continued on page 19

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I-Team:

IMPACT OF MERCURY ON THE

As Spanish moss drifts in a winter breeze, and sunset beckons the Florida Ibis home, Dr. Peter Frederick searches for his perch to observe the snowflake white bird, that thanks to him, has made history. “I believe we uncovered something that people have not been able to see very often,” says Frederick. If ever! The scientist has just completed an experiment of a lifetime. It shows that when Ibis were exposed to the common chemical contaminant mercury, it caused male birds to mate with male birds. A wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Frederick had long suspected mercury exposure had resulted in birds not breeding in their natural habitat. Mercury is a known disrupter of the reproductive system in animals and humans. But in his experiment, breed they did…however…”In many cases it was males breeding with males,” he shared with Chief I Team Investigator Michele Gillen. Yes, males courted and paired off with other males which made headlines around the world. “What I found most stunning was that the homosexual pairs, the male-male pairs stayed together for so long.” The reason the work of Frederick and his team was groundbreaking was that the birds were raised in captivity and through their diet they were exposed to different doses of mercury, none more than what has been found in the environment.

FLORIDA IBIS Most chilling? Even when exposed to the lowest dose, mating behavior was effected. “We have never seen that before. In one group we had 55% of the males pairing with males. This was not trivial.” But that is not all. The males actually acted as if they were females and had laid eggs, even though they of course, could not. “That’s right. They were going through the whole process. They

“They came in and fed them, stood b a c k and beat them up.” The impact on the lack of mating between the males and female Ibis? The study showed a 50 percent reduction in the amount of babies that were born and survived.

were sitting on the nest. Standing around it. Protecting it from other birds.”

“If it begins to take down a population it is pretty serious.” he reflects with Gillen, as they observed the Ibis at Lake Ann.

It turns out the hormone levels of the male birds most exposed to mercury had the lowest levels of the male hormone testosterone.

All his work is recorded in 16 diaries and should put a spotlight – he hopes – on the impact of mercury in the wild.

“They certainly had female hormones,” explains Frederick. “Hormones can be easily upset. I think that is the scary part. We are to some extent controlled by what we are exposed to,” There was also a dramatic impact on the female birds. While the males were mostly nurturing, the females most exposed to mercury became some of the most non- caring moms.

“We don’t appreciate that they are eating it 24/7. The birds and the fish are the bellwethers. If their population is strongly effected by contaminates, do you really believe we will not be?”

15 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


I-Team:

FEMA Flooding Controversy

PINECREST (CBS4) — Later this year, in September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is scheduled to begin revamping its flood maps for residents in Broward County. The CBS4 I-Team spent four months taking an indepth look at those maps and the system for determining who pays and who doesn’t. The I-Team discovered thousands of residents paying for mandatory flood insurance who likely will never need it, while thousands more don’t pay but live in communities that most of us would consider to be high risk flood areas. And because of that confusion and apparent unfairness, some in Congress, including Florida Senator Bill Nelson, now say the flood program is so broken that it can’t be fixed. And they say FEMA must start over. A production director at CBS4, Pete McCoy and his family have lived in their home located east of US 1 in South Miami for almost twenty years.

Three blocks away, the CBS4 I-Team closely examined FEMA flood maps and discovered the same problem.

Just up the street, in the same subdivision, Forest Ridge, Carmen Saavedra has been asking the same question.

One home is mapped out of the flood zone while the neighbors across the street, literally feet away, are mapped into the FEMA flood zone and therefore must pay mandatory flood insurance.

“We’ve paid flood insurance since day one,” said Saavedra.

“For me, my wife’s lived here for 50 years,” said Pete McCoy. “I mean her family and it’s never flooded so I’ve always questioned it (being mapped into a FEMA flood zone.) (I’ve always questioned) whether we should actually have to pay. But you know what do I know? I just write the check every time.” Then, in Broward County, there’s the case of resident Jack Myers. “One of these trees believe it or not broke at 90 degrees with (Hurricane) Andrew,” said Myers. Myers and his home have weathered South Florida’s worst storms over the last 20 years.

“It’s been great,” said McCoy. “My wife’s family connections with the person who lived here helped us buy this house when it went up for sale.”

“(Hurricane) Irene (left) 17 inches of rain or something,” said Myers. But still Myers said he had no flooding at his home.

McCoy lives so close to Biscayne Bay he keeps his boat in his front yard, the better to get it down the street for the mile and a half trip to the ocean.

In fact, in all the time he’s lived in Broward County, Myers said he has never seen any flooding or major damage to his home in any of those storms.

“We’re that close,” said McCoy. And up until about a year and a half ago, Pete McCoy paid mandatory FEMA flood insurance.

“I think the water got up into here one time,” said Myers tapping his foot about six inches from a retaining pond and a good 30 feet from the nearest corner of his home.

“We were going to write the check that day (to FEMA) and we got a letter from them and I opened it up and it said you’re out of the zone,” said McCoy.

But ever since Myers built his retirement home with his wife, what they call their little slice of heaven, off Pine Island Road in Davie, one thing has really bugged him.

But even though Pete McCoy and his neighbors suddenly don’t have to pay flood insurance… around the corner those neighbors still do pay mandatory flood insurance. Those residents are still mapped in a FEMA flood zone.

“We’re right in the middle the perfect spot and every time we hear about flood it’s like ‘How can we be in a flood zone?’” said Myers. “I can’t imagine how the water could ever get to this level.

“I was really surprised when I got pulled out of the zone,” said McCoy. Even closer to the water, about three-quarters of a mile from Pete McCoy’s house, in the township of Pinecrest on Southeast 115th Street, one homeowner told the ITeam in an e-mail that he isn’t mapped into the flood zone and thus pays no mandatory flood insurance. But the resident, who did not want to be identified, said his neighbors living across the street from him, 80 yards away, are both mapped in the flood zone and still must pay mandatory flood insurance.

That’s right. Even though he lives in the highest area of Broward County, Jack Myers has had to pay for mandatory flood insurance through FEMA’s flood program every year he’s lived there. “It’s not a lot of money. But it’s just it (the flood insurance bill) always comes due on December the 14th. And every year you write a check and you send it in and you say ‘Why do we pay flood insurance here?’” said Myers.

Saavedra said she pays about $600 a year in mandatory flood insurance. “It was outrageous!” said Saavedra. “When I learned initially, that we had to pay flood insurance, I couldn’t believe it,” said Saavedra. Both Saavedra and Myers live at the foot of the highest natural landmark in all of Broward County. It’s a hill that is officially listed as 29 feet high. Twenty nine feet above sea level. Only the garage dumps are higher. And both their property’s elevation maps show the lowest point of their homes, their garages, are listed as nearly 3 feet above the official FEMA flood zone, which according to the latest FEMA map, is five feet in their neighborhood. Yet both Saavedra and Myers have each paid for mandatory flood insurance every year they’ve lived there. “It was crazy,” said Saavedra. CBS4 I-Team investigator Stephen Stock asked, “And you’re in the highest place in Broward County?” “Yep. (We live in) the highest place in Broward County. We’re on the ridge,” said Saavedra.


It’s not just Carmen Saavedra living at 3275 Maple Lane and Jack Myers living at 3140 Peachtree Circle but also the home of a neighbor at 5381 Nob Hill Road with a surveyed elevation nearly two feet above the flood zone. And a home at 3228 Beechberry Circle which has a survey elevation listed nearly 3 feet (7.69?) above the flood zone. In fact, the I-Team discovered that as many as 1700 homes in Forest Ridge Community, which is located along both sides of the highest natural peak in Broward County, about 3,500 people according to the US Census Bureau, are all mapped into FEMA’s flood zone and thus pay mandatory flood insurance. The contrast between Forest Ridge in Broward County and the South Miami neighborhood where Pete McCoy lives shows, what critics say is one of the biggest problems with FEMA’s flood insurance program, it’s seemingly random and arbitrary assignment of who pays for flood insurance and who does not. For example, even though the folks on Pete McCoy’s street don’t pay flood insurance those living in houses just around the corner, literally steps away, do continue to pay for mandatory FEMA flood insurance. And other residents living in houses located just across Red Road from McCoy, according to FEMA, still live in a flood zone too. “We have a flood protection system that is simply just not working,” said United States Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. A Democrat, Senator Nelson has been an outspoken critic of FEMA for years during both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Senator Nelson said that the problems discovered by the I-Team in Broward County’s Forest Ridge and Miami-Dade County’s South Miami and Pinecrest neighborhoods are just small examples of a FEMA flood program out of control, out of date and often unfair. “We have to get the maps up to date. And then you have to phase it in over time,” said Florida’s senior Senator. But Senator Nelson also points out that other residents in Florida do not pay enough for flood insurance. That’s why, Nelson said, FEMA’s program is now broke. Recently FEMA’s director, Craig Fugate, told Congress FEMA’s flood program was $18.7 Billion in debt. In April, 2010, Director Fugate also told Congress “it is unlikely that we will ever retire this debt.” “Right now the Federal Government is basically subsidizing the whole thing (the flood program),” said Nelson. “That means that every other taxpayer is basically paying for those that are susceptible to a flood.”

“They (FEMA) take the rain generated by that storm and come up with an elevation. And then they compare that number to the existing elevations and every sight below that number is in a flood zone,” said Vialpando. “Every sight for that zone that is above that number isn’t in a flood zone,” said Vialpando. But that still doesn’t explain why Forest Ridge, with homes way above that minimum listed on the map as above the FEMA flood zone, still must pay mandatory insurance. “They (FEMA) paint an area with a broad brush. They don’t have a survey of every single home,” said Vialpando. “They have a general topographic survey of an area. So it’s possible that the general topographic survey misses some high points in the middle.” I-Team investigator Stephen Stock asked, “So there could be people who aren’t really in that one percent flood zone because it’s painted with such a broad brush?” “Right,” said Vialpando.

“So what you’ve got to do is create a fair system where people pay their fair share for the risk that they have,” said Senator Nelson.

When CBS4?s I-Team asked Senator Nelson the same questions, Florida’s senior senator vowed to hold FEMA accountable.

The problems with FEMA flood zones affect more than just Miami-Dade and Broward County residents.

“If somebody is being put into a flood zone that’s not a flood zone according to the FEMA maps then they shouldn’t be paying the flood zone insurance rates,” said Nelson. “And if that is a bureaucratic snafu, then we’ll just have to straighten it out.”

The I-Team learned of tens of thousands of residents around the country who have recently found themselves mapped into high risk flood areas without moving and without any change in geography. In another example of what critics call the random nature of the flood maps, one Miami-Dade map from 1994 shows that suddenly, hundreds if not thousands of residents suddenly are mapped into flood zones 15 years later in 2009. Miami-Dade officials say some residents, such as Pete McCoy and his neighbors were mapped out of the flood zones. But those same officials admit that many other residents now inexplicably find themselves, for the first time, suddenly living in a flood zone with little to no warning. FEMA officials wouldn’t talk to the CBS4 I-Team on camera about how they design and lay out their maps and why some people are mapped into a flood zone and some aren’t.

Even though FEMA officials contacted Jack Myers to see about fixing his problem, Myers tells the CBS4 ITeam, that so far, FEMA has done nothing to correct his or his neighborhood’s classification as a flood zone. FEMA would not answer questions on camera about this. But in an e-mail statement a spokeswoman said “The flood risk of a community is determined by a number of factors…” And… “We are currently updating the flood maps for Broward County…” Those updated maps were supposed to be completed by 2010. But officials in Broward County tell the CBS4 I-Team it could now be 2012 before the maps are finished, posted, public hearings held and then officially accepted and put into the public record.

So we went to an expert here in South Florida, Leonard Vialpando, an engineer for the Broward County’s Development Environmental Regulation office. “There are a variety of factors that will go into what the new map will look like as compared to the old map,” said Vialpando.

17 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


continued from page 13

Dr. Latell is a University of Miami professor and one of the leading American authorities on US Cuba relations and Cuban history. Dr. Latell worked in the Clinton administration before the shoot-down.

It could be called the ‘smoking gun’ and reads in part: “Worst case scenario is that one of these days the Cubans will shoot down one of these planes and the FAA better have all its ducks in a row.”

“There was nothing they (American officials) could do to stop the flights,” said Dr. Latell. “They (American officials) were able and did warn the pilots and the leaders of Brothers to the Rescue. They warned them. I guess there was no other legal means to shut down the flights.”

Another memo states: “(US Department of) State has also indicated that the Government of Cuba would be less likely to show restraint… this time around…”

The documents show that American officials even discussed taking action, but concluded they could do nothing legally.

“There was something terrible happening. We could have gotten our a– really in trouble that day,” said pilot Webber.

In fact, a declassified memo of a teleconference among air traffic controllers from August 1995, proves exactly that: “The group wanted to devise something that would stop the (Brothers to the Rescue) aircraft from going (into the Florida straits.)”

Despite the fact US officials say Brothers to the Rescue was warned, to this day pilots and activists say they received no serious warning or they now say, they would have acted differently, especially if they had known about the warnings contained in those classified memos uncovered by the I-Team.

“I don’t think our government did anything intentional. They missed the boat, we all missed the boat many times,” said Podhurst.

“You darn right we would have stayed out of the way,” said Webber. “We didn’t know because no one would tell us what was going on and their excuses for calling us in didn’t hold water.”

The Secretary of State at the time, Madeleine K. Albright and President Clinton’s US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson also did not return our requests for an interview to discuss these events.

“I don’t know. It was just maybe too much information too many departments that one just didn’t let the other one know,” said Greco-Regan. “(Maybe it was) just a chain of events that made it happen. That maybe the communications weren’t clear. Or maybe it’s just like you know ‘This stuff doesn’t really happen.’ We had no warning.”

There have been several books written recently about these events, including one that’s shed light on the entire Brothers to the Rescue operation titled “Seagull One” written by journalist Lily Prellezo.

And the memo goes on: “…it was discussed that we couldnot (sic) stop the aircraft…” Other documents show that the FAA started action to take away the pilot’s license of the leader of Brothers to the Rescue, Jose Basulto. But for some reason, that effort stalled. And the documents show that the FAA only moved to revoke Basulto’s license after the civilian planes were shot down by the Cuban MIG fighter jets. And yet, while some top officials didn’t seem concerned, other US officials worried about an escalation. One memo in particular between FAA officials shows that concern,

That last memo was issued between US government officials only one day before the shoot-down.

“I know there was some tension going on,” said Aaron Podhurst, one of the world’s leading aviation attorneys who represented the families of those who died in the

shootdown. Podhurst reviewed some of the declassified documents and said the back and forth between Washington and Havana was to have been expected given the volatility of the times. “I’m not surprised there was back channeling going on,” said Podhurst. Podhurst represented the families of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots in lawsuits against the Cuban government. He won a $180 million court verdict for the families and collected about half that money from frozen Cuban assets here in the United States.

Former President Bill Clinton declined our invitation to sit down and discuss this chapter of his presidency.

Prellezo helped the I-Team contact survivor Alexis Garcia who was saved by Brothers to the Rescue, some twenty years ago.

19 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


20 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


KNOCKING OUT THE SIDE EFFECTS

of Colorectal Cancer Treatment By Laura D. Porter, MD Colon Cancer Alliance Patient Advocate Medical Consultant In January 2003, I was 42 and completing my first year of my pediatric residency. My life was extremely busy; I was working 80 to 120 hours a week. When I first complained of being tired, it was attributed to my age and work schedule. Over the next eight months, my symptoms worsened; I became anemic and had blood in my stool. In August 2003, I was admitted to the hospital. By the end of the week, I had my surgery and diagnosis – Stage IV colon cancer. I started chemotherapy, and during the next two and a half years, I had two recurrences. The first was in my liver and ovary, and the second in my abdominal lymph nodes and my pancreas. Miraculously, I have been NED (no evidence of disease) since May 2006. I believe that one of the main reasons for my status is my vigilance in following through on my treatment and having my side effects appropriately managed. Cancer treatment can be difficult; therefore, it is important to aggressively manage any side effects in order to have the opportunity to complete treatment. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Aggressive side effect management increases your likelihood of completing treatment. The main reason that people don’t complete treatment is unpleasant side effects. Everyone responds differently to treatment, and therefore, not every individual experiences all side effects to the same degree. Talk with your doctor about every pill you are taking, including supplements, as some may interfere with treatment. If a medication is not working, ask your doctor about other options. Be persistent! laura porter1 Knocking Out The Side Effects Of Colorectal Cancer Treatment Here are some of the most common side effects of colorectal cancer treatment and how they can be managed or treated: Nausea and Vomiting It is important to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting early and aggressively. There are numerous prescription medications available for treating CINV. If a medication is not working, talk to your doctor about trying something else.

Diarrhea After colon resection, it will take some time for your digestive system to adjust. By trial and error, you will discover which foods you can tolerate. Treatments include prescriptions such as Sandostatin®, a long-acting injection, and over-the-counter loperamide.

exacerbate the mucositis. The infection can spread, so do not assume that your pain is a hemorrhoid. It could be

candidiasis, and hemorrhoid cream will only worsen the condition. Transient lactose intolerance may also occur

with mucositis. Hand and Foot Syndrome

Fatigue If you experience treatment-related fatigue, it is important to rest when you are tired. Plan activities for when you have

This involves blistering and peeling of the hands and feet; it also affects the nails. Treatment involves gently applying mild skin creams to the affected area. To prevent exacerbations, take cool showers, wear thick cotton socks, avoid constrictive shoes, avoid friction and heat, and stay well hydrated.

Peripheral Neuropathy

The goal is to complete treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. However, by properly managing treatment-related side effects, you increase the likelihood that you will complete your recommended treatment.

the most energy. Ask for help from family or friends when fatigue interferes with daily activities. Fatigue may also be a result of depression, pain, or sleep problems. Let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms.

This may involve tingling and pain in your hands and feet and an inability to tolerate cold. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy usually regress after treatment ends. However, up to 3.5 percent of people still have neuropathy four years after treatment ends. Some antiepileptics, antidepressants, and creams are helpful in reducing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. It is also helpful to ingest foods and liquids at room temperature and to keep a pair of gloves near the refrigerator so that you can wear them when getting items out of the fridge or freezer, as your hands will be sensitive to the cold.

This article was originally published in Coping with Cancer magazine, March/April 2010. Reprinted by permission of COPING® magazine, www.copingmag.com.

Mucositis or Candidiasis Mucositis, or candidiasis, is the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract. It is commonly known as a yeast infection and is caused by a fungus. Symptoms include white patches or plaques and cold sores. Mucositis can be treated with Magic™ mouthwash, antifungal prescription medicines, local anesthetics, and analgesics. Do not use hydrocortisone, as it will

Couture

21 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


Guide to South Florida

WATER RESTRICTIONS

South Florida’s Year-Round Water Restrictions, What Does That Mean To Me?

The Year-Round Conservation Measures Landscape Irrigation rule establishes a two-day-a-week landscape watering schedule throughout the District, with a threeday-a-week provision for users in some counties. In all cases, re-use water used for irrigation is exempt from restrictions. With little recent rainfall, and forecasts for continuing dry conditions, water conservation is even more important. Here Are The Restrictions: Watering is not allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Hand-watering with one hose fitted with an automatic shut-off nozzle is allowed for 10 minutes per day for landscape stress relief and to prevent plant die-off. Restrictions apply to all users of municipal and county water utilities and wells. Residents and businesses with an ODD-numbered street address (ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9): Lawn watering is permitted on WEDNESDAYS and SATURDAYS from 12 a.m. to 10 a.m. and/or from 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Residents and businesses with an EVEN-numbered street address (ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8*), no street address, or who water both even and odd addresses within the same zones, including multi-family units and Homeowner Associations: Lawn watering is permitted on THURSDAYS and SUNDAYS from 12 a.m. to 10 a.m. and/or from 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Residents should choose from one of two “watering windows” (before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.) on their designated irrigation days. For the most efficient use of water, residents should avoid irrigating during both time periods on the same day. To report a water restriction violation, please call 3-1-1. Some exceptions Restrictions don’t apply for car and boat washing, pressure cleaning of paved surfaces, decorative fountains and water-based recreation (e.g. swimming pools, water slides). Golf courses have no restrictions. Users of 100 percent reclaimed water are exempt from restrictions, but encouraged to conserve water. Low-volume irrigation, including the use of drop and micro jet systems that apply water directly to plant root zones, is not restricted but is encouraged to be reduced. Newly Planted Garden and Landscaping New landscaping can be watered during the corresponding hours listed above every day, except Fridays, for the first 90 days it is installed. Save the

receipt with the date of purchase. When unable to water during specific hours, call 3-1-1 to apply for a variance. The South Florida Water Management District continues to ask that residents take more aggressive action to conserve water by taking shorter showers, washing only full loads in dishwashers or clothes washers, and repairing any leaky fixtures.

season, November through March, your lawn will need from an inch to an inch and a half of water every 5 – 7 days. How Will I Know If I’m Cutting Back Enough?

In Addition To Watering Restrictions, What Else Should I Know? Home owners with pools are allowed to fill them. Recirculating fountains, or similar ornamental w a t e r features can be operated as long as the water doesn’t leak or overflow. Sidewalks, driveways and other paved surfaces can be washed with low-pressure cleaning equipment only. Do I Still Need To Conserve If It Rains? Yes, rainfall in South Florida is usually very localized, sometimes raining on one side of the street and not on the other, or in one area, but not across a region. All areas in South Florida depend on the same interconnected system of ground and surface water, with Lake Okeechobee serving as the back up water supply. What is the easiest way to conserve the most water? Simply turn off your sprinklers. Lawn irrigation counts for about 50 percent of drinking water used in South Florida. Water only when your lawn shows signs of wilt and only when it has not rained.

Residential users need only to ensure they a r e

watering and/or washing their vehicles and boats within the specified times. The SFWMD monitors water levels daily. From how much water they supply to various canals for consumptive use, to which agricultural and commercial ventures are drawing from which canals. The District uses this information to identify potential violators. If I See Someone Not Complying With The Restrictions, Who Should I Call? Residents are encouraged to report violators to the local code enforcement or law enforcement office. If you choose to notify your local law enforcement agency, please call their non-emergency number. What Happens If I Don’t Follow These Restrictions? Residential fines vary by municipality but typically range from $25.00 to $125.00 for a first offense. Water Conservation Hotline: (800) 662-8876

Most people in South Florida water their lawns more than needed. In fact, frequent watering is ineffective especially for lawns, because it causes grass to develop shallow roots and become vulnerable to disease, pests, and daily dryout. During the fall/winter 23 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


This is not the Internet. Feel free to curl up and settle in. Magazines don’t blink on and off. They don’t show video or deliver ads that pop up out of nowhere. You can’t DVR magazines and you can’t play games on them. But you can take one to the beach, to bed or just about anywhere else and, chances are, it will engage, entertain and enlighten you in ways no other medium can. Perhaps that explains why magazine readership has actually increased versus five years ago. The top 25 magazines continue to reach a wider audience than the top 25 primetime TV shows. And despite the escalating war for consumers’ eyeballs, readers spend an average of 43 minutes per issue. What accounts for this ongoing attraction? Why do nine out of ten American adults choose to spend so much time with an unabashedly analog medium? One enduring truth: people of every age love the experience of reading a magazine, even when the same content is available online. So curl up, get comfortable and enjoy the rest of this magazine

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26 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


I-Team: Transportation’s Future At Miami International Airport they call this the “MIC,” M-I-C… Miami Intermodal Center.

Central Florida, took us on a behind the scenes look at the project.

And when it is completed, experts say it will one of the most premier facilities in the country.

Mica brought together teams of officials from Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, even Tulsa, Oklahoma to tour this nearly completed center to see h o w t h e y c a n build similar hubs in t h e i r

Trains, planes and automobiles. It doesn’t matter what form of transportation you use, residents and travelers alike, will soon be able to get it here, says Harpal Kapoor, Director of Transit for Miami-Dade County, ”this will serve as a one stop location. And soon you’ll be able to have one ticket and go anywhere on any type of public transportation in South Florida from Miami to West Palm Beach… one ticket.” Thirty years in the dreaming, planning, politicizing and building… with a $1.7 billion dollars price tag… when the Miami Intermodal Center is finally finished, it will be a hub where you can find and ride everything… from private cars to rental cars… people movers to bicycles… airplanes to buses… metro-rail to tri-rail… taxis to water taxis Gus Pego is Secretary of the Florida Departmen of Transportation, District #6. ”When we’re done you’ll be able to go from West Palm Beach all the way to Key West on public transportation. It will be all connected here.” “Right here?” asks Stock. “It’s going to be the Grand Central Station of Miami. The powerful Chairman of the US House Transportation Committee Representative John Mica of

communities. “It used to be no one rode public transportation because it wasn’t connected. You couldn’t get anywhere or where you wanted to go,” Mica told Stock. “That’s all changed with this.” Even in a time of budget cuts in transportation… cutbacks in major projects like this… Mica, a Republican, says he still believes that this type of public

transportation combination center is the future in the US. “This serves as a model for the rest of the country. they did it right here in Miami.” When it is completed, this center will serve

as the ending point for a people mover bringing travelers from the airport… where they can then connect to tri-rail, buses, cars, any form of transportation to go anywhere in South Florida. This part is scheduled to be completed by 2012… the entire Intermodal Center is slated to be completed by 2013.

Home, Condo Sales Post Gains In February MIAMI (CBS4) – While prices remain a mixed bag, sales of single family homes and condominiums showed moderate increases in February. In Broward sales of single-family home increased by 16 percent, from 782 to 909, in February; sales of condos increased 19 percent from 1,138 in February 2010 to 1,357 last month. Cash transactions represented 69 percent all sales in

February, according to the MIAMI Association of REALTORS and the

Southeast Florida Multiple Listing Service.

$134,369 to $106,133.

“After experiencing rising prices several times over the last few months, current figures reflect market strengthening and stabilization,” said Terri Bersach, president of the Broward County Board of Governors of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS. “These numbers also reflect the increased buying activity we have seen since the beginning of the year.”

In Miami-Dade, sales of existing single-family homes in February rose 21 percent in February and sales of existing condominiums increased 58 percent compared to a year ago.

Also on the increase were the prices at which single family homes were being sold. The average sales price increased 2.5 percent from $245,511 in February 2010 to $251,563 last month. Condos didn’t fair as well. The average sales prices for condominiums dropped 21 percent, from

While sales were up in Miami-Dade, prices were down. The average sales price for total single-family homes in the county dropped 7.9 percent, from $282,514 in February 2010 to $260,079 last month. The average sales prices for condominiums dropped 3.6 percent, from $ 212,757 to $205,027. Short sales and foreclosures continue to have an impact on median and average sales prices for both single-family homes and condominiums especially in some areas of the county. In February, 70 percent of all closed residential sales in Miami-Dade County were distressed. Statewide sales increased 29 percent for condominiums and 13 percent for single-family homes. 27 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


Senate Committee Backs Away From Prepaid Tuition Closure TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — Senate budget writers appear to be backing off a recent budget suggestion that would have prohibited new enrollment in Florida’s popular Prepaid College tuition program. Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations, said Monday she only wanted to give the state some “breathing room” when she pitched a controversial proposal last week to close the Florida Prepaid College program to new participants. She said she was concerned that the state was the guarantor of the prepaid tuition plans that are promised to millions of Floridians. She called the program a huge liability. On Monday however, Florida Prepaid College Plans responded to questions from lawmakers on how the prepaid program works and whether it was financially sound. Lynn said Monday in the face of increased costs she wanted to “make sure our constituents understand exactly what it is they are buying.” But Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who serves on Lynn’s committee, said he didn’t support suspending the program for even a year. “Based on evidence before us that says the fund is actuarially sound, I don’t see the purpose of discussing this point or the value of postponing it for a year. I think the program is working pretty well,” said Thrasher. The proposal had an uncertain future because the House of Representatives is not considering putting a hold on new enrollment to prepaid tuition plans in its budget.

28 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition

The program is the nation’s largest and has sold more than 1.4 million plans since 1988, letting parents lock in current tuition and fees for their future students. Nearly 20 percent of undergraduate students at Florida universities have a prepaid college plan. Lynn said she wanted to highlight some confusion over what the plan covers and explore the state’s role in guaranteeing the contracts. Universities are eating the costs of the so-called tuition “differential” for prepaid contracts purchased before 2007. The differential is a supplemental increase universities can charge students on top of any base tuition increases approved by the Legislature, as long as the combined increase doesn’t exceed 15 percent. Since 2007, families have had the option of purchasing tuition differential contracts to cover that cost. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


Ways To Avoid Pesky New Bank Fees MIAMI (CBS4) – Have you used an ATM that’s not tied to your bank lately? If so, you’re likely suffering sticker shock.

balances, you may need to use direct deposit and bank exclusively online or through ATMs.

On average, banks are now charging a fee of $3.75 to use out of network ATMs, up 5 percent from last year. And that’s not all. If you’ve looked at your statement lately you’ll notice the days of free checking, so common over the last few years, are gone. Most large banks have done away with their free checking accounts. If you don’t meet minimum balance or other requirements, you’ll pay $5 – $12 a month for a basic account.

Experts say if changing your banking behavior doesn’t make sense, it be time to take your business elsewhere. Smaller community banks, credit unions, and online banks which tend to have lower fees than big banks.

“It’s changes to overdraft fees and a pending change to debit card fees that are really changing the landscape in terms of those free checking accounts,” said Greg McBride, Senior Financial Analyst at Bankrate. In other words, don’t expect these new checking fees to go away. Instead, look for ways to avoid them. All of the banks agree to waive monthly fees if you meet certain requirements. In addition to minimum

Bankrate recently found that 76 percent of credit unions still offer free checking. “Credit unions can offer free checking accounts certainly more so than their banking competitors because they are not for profit organizations – they exist for the benefit of their members,” said McBride.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL S

CRIMINAL PROBLEM

MIAMI (CBS4) – For most fans of college football, especially fans of the big three schools in Florida, seeing a handful of players getting arrested each year for crimes ranging from public intoxication to sex offenses and assault is the norm. Now, a six-month investigation between CBS News and Sports Illustrated has found that approximately 7 percent of college football players for teams in the Top 25 have a criminal record. Of course, that also means that 93 percent of the players are keeping their nose clean and performing both on and off the field. The investigation looked at the backgrounds of 2,837 players and found that of the 7 percent that had criminal records, 40 percent of the alleged incidents were considered serious offense. In addition, only 2 of the top 25 schools surveyed conducted any background checks of potential recruits and none checked juvenile records. In the group of players charged, 56 violent crimes were reported. These crimes included assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), sex offenses (3), aggravated assault (4), and robbery (4). There were 41 charges for property crimes like burglary and theft, and 105 cases for drug and alcohol offenses.

Once the arrest record was out, Williams still was allowed to sign with Miami. He couldn’t crack the starting lineup as a freshman and he transferred out of the school. Williams bounced around to community college, then transferred to Louisville where he played 3 games before getting kicked out for marijuana possession. He finished his career at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. Williams is just one of many examples of players who ended up on the wrong side of the law too many times, embarrassing themselves and the schools they represented. “I don’t think there’s any way that you can argue with these statistics,” said Richard Lapchick, founder of the Center for Sport in Society and president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at the University of Central Florida. Lapchick continued, “I think that this study is going to make everybody take a second look at their recruiting policies both at individual institutional levels, as well as at the NCAA level.

Of the cases that made it into the court system, only 60 percent of the players paid a form of penalty. If the report had looked at only scholarship players, the criminal record rate would have jumped to 8.1 percent.

The CBS News Investigative unit shared some of its data with the CBS4 I-Team and that data shows that eight University of Miami players on the team this past fall had been charged with a total of 15 offenses.

Florida State is one of the school’s that did not perform criminal background checks on recruits.

The most serious of those charges included felony assault, armed robbery, felony burglary, felony battery and resisting arrest.

“We have people in the community who know people,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Everybody knows law enforcement people. We know people who are around guys.” FSU and the University of Miami have been bitten before by players with criminal records. The most infamous case was that of linebacker Willie Williams. “It’s 9:25a.m. and I’m committed,” declared Williams six and a half years ago. Many South Florida sports fans remember the day Willie Williams, the most highly touted high school football player in the country announced he would follow up a stellar career at Miami’s Carol City High… to play for the University of Miami. “Having grown up in Miami, I’m excited to be playing for the hometown team.” The same day he announced he’d play for the U, reports surfaced that he’d been arrested 11 different times while in high school.

CBS News’ investigation also looked into the background of 318 student athletes from the state of Florida and discovered, that according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 31 players had criminal records… 22 of them had juvenile records… including both felonies and misdemeanors. Not a single school, not even in-state universities UF, FSU or U M, ever bothered to do a juvenile background check. “I’m not too surprised at all,” says Danny Kanell who played quarterback at FSU in the 1990?s and later in the NFL. Kanell now serves as a play-by-play analyst on college football games for ESPN. “When you talk about 7% of football players having prior records, I don’t think that’s much different than the regular student body that’s going into a freshman year at college.” No school checked FDLE records even though CBS News and Sports Illustrated did.

I t turns out Florida is one of the few states that allows for a check of juvenile records through FDLE for 24 dollars a person… The lack of effort to check out a recruit’s background was best stated by Ohio State University head coach Jim Tressel. “We don’t really go into anything outside of the school system,” Tressel told CBS & SI. “Hopefully, through the school system, we can find out just what we need.” The report has caught the eye of the NCAA, which has been notoriously slow to deal with crime amongst its athletes. The NCAA has typically left it up to schools to dole out the punishment. But that may change in the coming years. “Whether it’s among student-athletes or the student body more generally, violent crime is something that we all need to address – very seriously,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “And if it involves studentathletes, then that’s something that I as NCAA president want to work hard on.” The ball is in the NCAA’s court now, but it’s still to be decided if the college governing association will pressure presidents to clamp down on recruiting felons; or if the allure of millions of dollars in revenue can cancel out almost any crimes of players who can help a team to a championship. 47 | April 2011 | Pinecrest Edition


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