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Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell held a press conference earlier today, announcing a proposal to launch a Greater Frenchtown-Southside Economic Revitalization Commission. Thaell’s African-American opponent, Nick Maddox, attended the press event to support the commission, but questioned the career politician on the timing of the idea. “Mr. Thaell has been in office for 16 years and it took the threat of a qualified African-American opponent to remind him that he also represents the predominately African-American populated areas of the county,” stated Maddox.

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust today accepted a negotiated settlement from Miami-Dade Police Sergeant Denis Morales over charges he exploited his official position when he was chief of staff for Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Morales paid a fine of $1,500 and will receive a public reprimand for the misappropriation of 40 hours of paid leave in March of 2009, while he was earning outside income teaching in Panama. Investigation of the complaint (C 10-25) found that Morales violated the County’s Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance by citing earned leave for overtime work long after it expired, exempting himself from standard leave procedures and destroying payroll records. 

The Ethics Commission denied a motion to dismiss the case against North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner for exploitation of official position. Complaints filed last year (C 09-02 & C 09-04) alleged that, while he was a member of the City Council, Rosner used his influence to obtain permits for additions to his private home without seeking required variances. The mayor, who is a licensed building contractor and a member of the Miami-Dade County Board of Rules and Appeals, will face a public hearing on the charge.

City of Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn, II, District 5, and Armando Fana, Field Office Director for the Miami office of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), will join Alfredo Duran, Deputy Director of the City’s Department of Community Development, the Board of Rafael Hernandez Housing & Economic Development Corp., and several business owners in Little Haiti on Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 10 a.m., for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of the Little Haiti Commercial Rehabilitation Project #2. The project encompasses the exterior rehabilitation of eight small businesses along one of Little Haiti’s busiest street corridors and serving some of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami. The extensive façade work along 5845-5865 NE 2nd Ave (east side of NE 2nd Avenue) was made possible with approximately $210,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars, provided via the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced a $10 million incentive fund to jumpstart financial services by mobile phone in Haiti and expedite the delivery of cash assistance to victims of the country's devastating earthquake by humanitarian agencies. This initiative lays the foundation for advanced banking services that could help millions of Haitians lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Enabling Haitians to send, receive, and store money using their mobile phones has the potential to dramatically improve their lives and leapfrog more conventional banking models to safer, more affordable alternatives. Often called "mobile money," these services reduce the risks and costs of financial transactions, help increase savings, and generate employment. They also help connect people to difficult-to-access vital services like banking, insurance, and utilities.

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