Friday, September 15, 2017

Who is "Muboshgu" and why is he deleting criticisms of Lauren Book on Wikipedia?

Riddle me this, why is a Muboshgu, a guy who edits BASEBALL articles on Wikipedia responsible for writing Lauren Book's Wikipedia page, and why is he trying to erase the truth about Lauren Book from Wikipedia? Political figures generate controversy, and few are more controversial these days than the woman who gave her own charity $1.5 MILLION while sitting on the Appropriations committee. In recent days, he repeatedly vandalized the Lauren Book page after a "controversies" section was added a few weeks ago. He repeatedly sabotages the page. (Interestingly, a similar sounding account, "Matkakuk," also vandalized the controversies section twice.

Since I knew the entry was recently changed, I thought I'd watch and see how long it would be before the section was vandalized. The Controversy section was added on August 10; on August 25, it was vandalized by Matkakuk. That was undone within minutes. On August 30, Matkakuk struck again. It was reverted, but then Muboshgu entered the fray. He added comments that the section was "inappropriate" and added "geez" in the edit section. From then on, he tried arguing the entries were invalid, claiming the news sites were not legitimate. Muboshgu deleted the entire section on Sept. 13, and after it was reinstated, removed it again on the 14th, then made a half dozen minor edits so that his revisions could not be automatically undone.

It is plainly obvious that this is a sockpuppet account for Lauren Book. However, Wikipedia editors are banding together to protect the sacred cow.

Below is the controversy section Wikipedia doesn't want you to read:

Controversies[edit]

Lauren Book is embroiled in numerous controversies, particularly in promoting Miami-Dade County's 2500 residency restriction laws which carries her namesake,[10] in turn forcing Miami's registrant population to live under the Julia Tuttle Causeway and other isolated areas of the county. Lauren Book had referred to those on the sex offender registry as "animals" and "In so many instances these individuals should never ever be allowed out for a second chance, they're ticking time bombs, its not a questions (sic) if they a re-offend, it's a question of when they re-offend."[11] Jean Zeeb of the Florida chapter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), in responding to an editorial written by Book, referred to Book's statements as "alarmist, misleading and mostly false." Zeeb also added, "Book states that we must be vigilant for sexual predators who work in youth-serving capacities. She wrote that 'the average sexual predator will offend against 117 children in his or her lifetime.' This is an old trope, discredited decades ago."[12]

Lauren Book has publicly attacked individuals and organizations who have publicly criticized her role in forcing Miami's registrant population into homelessness. On April 22, 2015, a group of individuals representing organizations opposed to Book's promotion of residency restriction laws engaged in a peaceful demonstration. Book had misled supporters of we organization, claiming on her charity's website that this group of protesters oppose "Lauren's Kids' mission of preventing sexual abuse and healing survivors."[13]

Ethical questions arose after Lauren Book formed her own political action committee ("Leadership For Broward"), headquartered in her Plantation residence. By 2016, Lauren Book had raised over $640,000, mainly from Ron Book's clients, including the Miami Dolphins and the controversial private prison company GEO Group. In 2015, her charity received $3.8 Million, over 10 times the amount given to the Girl Scouts and YMCA.[14] Lauren's Kids has received preferential treament by the state in other ways, particularly through soliciting donations at driver's license renewals and vanity tags.[15] The fliers sent as reminders to those in need to renew car tags, as well as having a road named after Lauren Book, had been criticized as free advertising for a state Senate candidate.[16] Political activist Derek Logue heavily criticized Lauren Book's decision to collect a total of $65,000 from the GEO Group, citing a US Department of Justice investigation into the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which is run by GEO Group, found that it was "deliberately indifferent to staff sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior with youth. The sexual misconduct we found was among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation."[17]

Since becoming state senator, many have questioned Book's potential conflict of interest in running a charity while holding a state senate seat. Despite claiming to have stepped down as the CEO of Lauren's Kids, she is still publicly listed as the CEO on her website as of August 2017.[18] Lauren Book tald a reporter for FloridaBulldog.org she wouldn't abstain on matters involving her lobbyist father's clients nor from voting on funding her charity while in office.[19] Book kept good on her word, voting yes on an appropriations bill which included $1.5 Million (half a million dollars more than the charity asked for) to Lauren's Kids charity.[20] Lauren's Kids reportedly spent about 28 percent of the charity's funds to Sachs Media Group, which has powerful political ties in Florida. The Sachs Media Group helped Lauren's Kids disseminate an unsubstantiated online study conducted by the company proclaiming a high number of people were sexually abused.[21] Lauren's Kids also benefits from being first in line among promotions supporting charities through the purchase of vanity plates. As noted by Florida Bulldog, "And now that Book is a state legislator, her nonprofit's participation in the auto tag renewal raises the possibility of a conflict of interest. 'In a perfect world, she would not do it,' said Beth Rosenson, a University of Florida political science professor who teaches government ethics. 'It's an accountability issue that raises questions in constituents' minds. It leads people not to trust government.' Ben Wilcox, research director for the government watchdog organization Integrity Florida, echoed Rosenson. 'It may be technically correct,' Wilcox said. 'But I don't think it will look good to the public.'"[22]

11. Jones, Brittany (September 3, 2013). "Petition gains support for "Cherish Law"". ABC 27 WXTL. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
12.  Zeeb, Jean (Jan 4, 2017). "Jean Zeeb: Column misleads about sex offenders". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
13. Logue, Derek. "ARM Rally in Tally (Tallahassee, FL) April 22, 2015". YouTube. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
14. Smith, Nancy (September 1, 2015). "Senator Lauren Book: How Will She Serve in Daddy's Shadow?". Sunshine State News. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
15.  Alvaredo, Franciso (May 6, 2015). "Tallahassee jackpot: Politicians send millions to charity of lobbyist’s daughter". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
16. Nevins, Buddy. "Update: Senate Candidate Uses Public Mailing". Retrieved August 10, 2017.
17. Funcheon, Dierdra (March 29, 2016). "Lauren Book, Running Unopposed, Raises $1.3 Million Despite Criticisms". Broward/ Palm Beach New Times. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
18. "Our Team". Lauren's Kids. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
19. Alvarado, Francisco (March 20, 2017). "Ms. Book goes to Tallahassee, sees no conflict voting $ for Lauren's Kids or dad's clients". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
20. Alvarado, Francisco (June 22, 2017). "Using ethics loophole, Sen. Lauren Book votes to give her nonprofit $1.5 million". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
21. Alvarado, Francisco (June 29, 2017). "Lauren's Kids funnels $3.1 million to politically connected public relations firm". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
22. Alvarado, Francisco (May 4, 2017). "Lauren's Kids racks up six-figure donations via auto tag registration renewals". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved August 10, 2017.



Friday, September 8, 2017

The Book Crime Family threatens the homeless with involuntary "civil commitment" for not trusting the city to provide adequate shelter

The homeless of Miami can't trust the Homeless Trust because of Ron Book. Ron Book is directly responsible for forcing hundreds of people into homeless. This act is a straight up case of CYA. Ronnie doesn't want the scrutiny of the media if he left those he made homeless to die. But after he has screwed the homeless for as long as he has, it is no wonder many are refusing his "aid."

Of course, the report made no mention of the homeless registrants.

Ron Book is mentally unstable and he should be held under the Baker Act for more than 72 hours. I can prove he is worthy of civil commitment.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-irma-homeless-held-against-will/

Miami's homeless held against their will ahead of Hurricane Irma
September 8, 2017, 5:35 PM

Last Updated Sep 8, 2017 5:16 PM EDT

MIAMI -- On what is likely the last clear day in Florida before Hurricane Irma's monster wind and rain, social workers and police officers are giving Miami's estimated 1,100 homeless people a stark choice: Come willingly to a storm shelter, or be held against their will for a mental health evaluation.

With the outer edge of the storm approaching Friday, these officials -- backed by a psychiatrist and observed by an Associated Press team -- rolled through chillingly empty downtown streets as dawn broke over Biscayne Bay, searching for reluctant stragglers sleeping in waterfront parks.

"We're going out and every single homeless person who is unwilling to come off the street, we are likely going to involuntarily Baker Act them," said Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust.

Invoking the "Baker Act" -- a law that enables authorities to institutionalize patients who present a danger to themselves or others - is not something law enforcement does lightly, but officers detained at least six people by Friday afternoon. Under the law, they can be held up to 72 hours before the state would have to go to court to prolong their detention.

By then, Irma's howling winds and terrifying storm surge should be somewhere north of the city.

The Miami Herald reported Thursday that officials planned to use the Baker Act.

"No one's ever tried this before," Book told the newspaper. "But I'm not going to be the mayor of Houston. I'm not going to tell people to take a Sharpie and write their names on their arm."

"I am not going to sign suicide notes for people who are homeless in my community. I am just not going to do it," Book told the AP. "That's why you have a Baker Act. It's there to protect those who can't otherwise protect themselves."

Book's group was working closely with police, who acknowledged that the effort is unusual: Officials said it is the first time Miami has invoked the law for hurricane preparedness.

About 70 people willingly climbed into white vans and police squad cars Friday, joining others who already arrived at shelters. About 600 others were thought to remain outside somewhere, exposed to the storm, despite mandatory evacuation orders for more than 660,000 people in areas that include downtown Miami and coastal areas throughout the county.

One older man pushing his belongings in an empty wheelchair in Bayfront Park tried to wave them off.

"I don't want nothing," he said, insulting a social worker.

"So you are cool with dying in the streets?" he asked.

"Get out of my goddamn face," he responded.

"What's your name?" asked Dr. Mohammad Nisar, a psychiatrist who was looking for evidence of mental illness, a necessary factor for a Baker Act detention.

"None of your damn business!"

Police officer James Bernat intervened.

"We are here to help you. Listen to me. You are being very aggressive. We are trying to help you," Bernat said. "It's very dangerous out here."

"You are trying to make me go somewhere I don't want to go," he insisted.

Finally, the man was handcuffed without a struggle and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital for a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation.

"A person who has a history of mental illness and who is staying in harm's way, and doesn't have a logical cohesion of what is right or what is wrong at that point, is a harm to himself, and at that point we can Baker Act them for his own protection," Nisar explained later.

Friday's encounters alone weren't enough to justify their involuntary detention. Nisar said social workers and officers on the team already know these men and can testify to prior signs of mental illness to support each case.

Also, the law requires a court order to keep them detained against their will after 72 hours, and public defenders have pushed back against such requests, citing court rulings that the Baker Act can lead to unconstitutional curtailments of individual liberty.

But those hearings won't happen until Monday at least -- and by then, Irma's wrath will have moved on from Miami.

After driving more than 400 people to shelters, the Homeless Trust said it would continue searching for stragglers until winds reach 45 mph, sometime Saturday afternoon.

"I am not happy to have to do it," said Steven Nolan, whose face has weathered many days of Florida sunshine. "But I'd rather be in there than out here when the storm hits."

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/hurricane/article171813132.html

Miami’s homeless to be committed if they won’t seek shelter from Irma
BY DAVID SMILEY
dsmiley@miamiherald.com
SEPTEMBER 07, 2017 3:49 PM

Miami’s homeless men and women who won’t seek shelter from Hurricane Irma will be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward ahead of the storm, the head of Miami-Dade’s public agency in charge of homeless services said Thursday.

Ron Book, a prominent lobbyist and chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, said that starting Friday, outreach teams will begin working with police to Baker Act anyone who refuses to get off the streets.

“It’s my experience that those individuals who have been unwilling to come off the streets, they all have mental health issues,” Book told the Miami Herald. “They are a danger to themselves … we will go in and have all of them Baker Acted.”


The Homeless Trust believes there are about 1,130 people who are homeless and living outside of shelters and housing units throughout the county. They’ve been working since Tuesday to get as many people as they can into homeless shelters, and had placed about 240 into shelters as of Thursday morning.

Outreach teams are now directing people off the streets and into general population shelters, Book said.

But there is a small group of people — maybe 10 or 20, Book said — who are refusing to seek shelter from the Category 5 storm, which could hit Miami sometime Saturday. Book says that’s likely due to mental illness or drug addiction. And under Florida’s “Baker Act” law, anyone who may have a mental illness and poses a danger to themselves can be involuntarily committed by police for up to 72 hours.

“No one’s ever tried this before,” Book said. “But I’m not going to be the mayor of Houston. I’m not going to tell people to take a Sharpie and write their names on their arm.”

Book said that with the storm slowing down, involuntary committals would start Friday in order to ensure that anyone committed would be inside for the duration of the storm. Anyone Baker Acted Friday would be committed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Crisis Stabilization Unit, a 20-bed facility located in the city’s health district.


In the meantime, the Homeless Trust is planning to evacuate the Chapman Partnership’s Homeless Assistance Center in Homestead and some of its housing units in South Dade, he said. Those evacuated people will likely end up in general population emergency shelters, Book said, along with homeless assistance workers.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Desperate to deflect criticism over her dubious first year as Senator, Lauren Book picks the low hanging fruit



Just in time for her phony lawsuit hearing, Lauren Book is jumping on the Confederate Controversy bandwagon. I personally don't have an issue with this proposal. However, Senator Lauren Book is just using this as a PR stunt because her track record as Senator is shoddy. Her only accomplishment to date has been funneling more money to her charity, which in turn pays her roughly five times her Senatorial wages.

Speaking of hate, she is such a hypocrite. Her hate has led her to pass laws to force registered persons in Miami to live in squalor. She has made her living off the misery of others. This woman is the epitome of hate.

Senator Book is merely exploiting an issue for attention. Since she hasn't actually accomplished jack shit since taking office, she needs an easy mark. If this was such a concern for her, then why have the annual walk across Florida end on the very grounds hosting a Confederate monument? She never mentioned this before. The answer is simple-- this is merely a PR stunt.

If I lived in her district, it would be the first time in my life that I would ever vote Republican, just to spite this worthless, piss poor excuse of a Senator.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/latest-florida-senator-files-bill-ban-confederate-holidays/WRxWOCkb2qy0aUoxsfhcEP/

LATEST: Florida senator files bill to ban Confederate holidays
Sandra Nortunen  Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
1:02 p.m Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017  Florida Politics and Legislative News

A state senator has proposed a bill that would eliminate three Confederate holidays in Florida. 

Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed the bill on Friday for the 2018 legislative session, according to CBS4.

“During a time when the country is completely divided, I think we look at celebrating our unique coming together instead of some of the things that kind of create hate and divisive environments,” Book told CBS4.

The holidays on her list are the birthdays for Robert E. Lee and Confederate Jefferson Davis; and Confederate Memorial Day. 

Observed on April 26 in Florida, Confederate Memorial Day is an official public holiday in some Southern states. It was established to remember and commemorate members of the Confederate forces who died in combat. Lee’s birthday is recognized Jan. 19 and Davis’ is June 3. 

Elected in 2016, Book was born in Hollywood and is the founder/CEO of the nonprofit Lauren’s Kids. She joins others who are pushing to remove Confederate statues and monuments. 

“We are not asking people to not remember these things, but let’s not celebrate them,” she told CBS4. “Let’s not put them on a pedestal, some of the darkest times in our history.” 

So here's the Confederate Monument in Tallahassee, on the grounds of the Old State House...
Confederate memorial, within the Book protected zone. 

The memorial is to the left of the gaudy sign. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The definition of insanity: Getting Emperor Ron Book to clean up his kingdom... again

Here's the deal-- we've already been there, done that. Ron Book was finally taken to task to clean up the homeless camp in 2010 and received $1 million to do it. Barely a month in, Book kicked everyone out of temporary housing (presumably pocketed what was left) and everyone was forced to find a new camp.

http://www.oncefallen.com/juliatuttlecauseway.html

THE MAKING OF A BAD SEQUEL: THE JOURNEY TO BOOKVILLE II

"I've seen Third World countries with parks better than this." – Paul Anderson, Shorecrest community resident, in response to a community pocket park designed to prevent registrants from living in the community

It should come as no surprise that the remaining registrants were skeptical of the assistance offered by Miami–Dade County Homeless Trust  advocate Ron Book, the very man who created the JTC camp through his laws. Over the years, Book was seen as the central figure behind  the creation of the camp that mockingly bore his name sake. Book was even heckled during a community meeting formed over concerns of the  dispersal of the JTC registrants across the county. If the general public had reason to be concerned, the registrants had even more reason to be concerned for their well-being.

Ron book received $1 million to provide temporary housing to the displaced registrants, but less than three months later, the displaced registrants were facing eviction from their temporary housing. About 20 faced eviction within a single month of displacement. Despite efforts to prevent clustering, two clusters of displaced registrants formed, one at a trailer park in Allapattah, the other in a secluded area in the Shorecrest community. A number of former JTC camp registrants were even temporarily housed in the parking lot of the Florida Department of Corrections.

Ron Book claims he didn't know about conditions until last week. Maybe it is because that SOB and his bimbo daughter had never been to the camp in FIVE LONG YEARS. When Once Fallen went to the camp on separate occasions last year, he posted about the conditions at the camp, INCLUDING VIDEO! This blog also posted pics from the camp. And, as noted in the Book's phony court case against Once Fallen, the Books read this blog religiously.

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-dade-homeless-trust-wants-to-close-hialeah-sex-offender-camp-9611195

Two Weeks After New Times Story, Ron Book Wants to Close Sex Offender Camp Near Hialeah
ISABELLA GOMES | AUGUST 24, 2017 | 9:09AM

For nearly three years, county officials and police in Miami-Dade failed to respond as a tent city of sex offenders grew along train tracks near Hialeah. The squalid camp is just the latest consequence of a 2005 county law that banned sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of any school, daycare center, or park, effectively banishing them into homelessness under highway overpasses and the Julia Tuttle Causeway until they were forced into this remote industrial corner. More than 300 offenders are now registered in the area — living without running water, electricity, or plumbing.

Furious local businesses and property owners have repeatedly begged the county to do something, but their grievances fell on deaf ears. That is, until this past Monday.

About two weeks after New Times published an in-depth story about the deplorable conditions in the growing encampment, calling it a "sanitation and security nightmare," Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust workers, city officials, and police officers visited the site. Now they've announced a new campaign they claim will finally find housing for the long-transient sex offenders.

Among those supporting the move is Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book and his daughter, state Sen. Lauren Book, who both visited the camp after New Times' story was published. Book, whose day job is an ├╝ber-influential lobbyist, has long backed the county's harsh restrictions on sex offender housing. And when New Times contacted him earlier this month, he argued that "the Constitution doesn't guarantee where you can live when you break the law." At the time, he insisted he had no intention of reexamining or changing the county's rules, asserting that "it's not a question of will [sex offenders] reoffend; it's a question of when."

So has Book changed his tune? "This has got to close," he said of the camp Monday in an interview with the Miami Herald.

The lobbyist insists that, in fact, nothing has changed. Book says the county is simply allocating resources to the sex offenders for temporary rental assistance, such as first month's rent and security deposits. But he says that service has always been available to the offenders and blames them for lacking the initiative to arrange proper housing.

So why is the county finally stepping in now? "It's become a health hazard and a health emergency," Book says. Even though he had no response when New Times asked him about the tent city's sanitary risks two weeks ago, Book claims, "I was only notified a week ago. Before that, nobody ever said this was a health crisis."

He admits local property owners have filed complaints over the years but argues that the taxpayer-funded Homeless Trust "[doesn't] operate based on people complaining." Instead, Book states that the role of the Trust is to "provide assistance equally to the homeless" but that it is "not [his] job to find housing for sex predators and offenders."

Because offenders are prohibited from living in most subsidized federal housing and homeless shelters due to the restriction, it is their responsibility "to avail themselves to other funding paths for housing," Book says. "It's not a free lunch."

Even so, many county officials, such as Commissioner Xavier Suarez, insist there must be a better legislative solution to deal with the tent city. In a 2014 interview, Suarez told New Times: "That we restrict where [offenders] can live and not provide any facilities for them isn't human or logical."

Regardless, Book says the county will soon announce a deadline to shut down the encampment, essentially evicting the sex offenders once again.

Where will they go when this tent city is closed? That's up to them, Book says.

Here's the earlier Miami Herald report. Note the pic of Lauren Book bringing paperwork to "assist" the man in the wheelchair. I'd like to point out that Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com had contacted the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust earlier this year to seek help and go one response letter. After receiving that response, they were told about the current situation and further inquiries went unanswered.


On to the Miami Herald now:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article168569977.html



Tent camp of homeless sex offenders near Hialeah ‘has got to close,’ county says
BY DOUGLAS HANKS
dhanks@miamiherald.com

AUGUST 22, 2017 6:48 AM

Seven years after Miami-Dade County shut down a camp housing about 100 homeless sex offenders under a bridge in Miami, it’s now trying to deal with an encampment on the outskirts of Hialeah that has almost three times as many people registered to live there.

Police and social workers on Monday night visited the roughly 30 tents set up near warehouses that sit by railroad tracks outside Hialeah’s city limits, the legally registered homes of almost 300 people convicted of sex offenses against minors and barred from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, daycare centers and other places where children congregate.

“This has got to close,” said Ronald Book, the powerful head of Miami-Dade’s homeless board who has also lobbied for the county’s tough residency restrictions on sex offenders. “The complaints have continued to grow and grow and grow.”

The encampment, in the area for about three years, stands as the latest replacement for the one under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami that brought global attention to the county’s restrictions on homeless sexual offenders. More than 100 sex offenders lived in the encampment, some delivered there by probation officers after the convicts couldn’t find another place to legally reside.

Book said that about 270 offenders are registered as living in the tent village outside Hialeah, sitting on either side of the 3500 block of Northwest 71st Street. There is no electricity, running water or bathroom facilities, leading to complaints of human waste being tossed roadside and around the warehouses whose fences front the tents. Others use bathrooms at a Walmart and a Walgreens about a mile away.

Claudia Marie Baker, 58, who said she spent nine years in prison on child-pornography charges, has lived in a tent there for about a year. “My sister has five different real-estate people looking for places for me,” said Baker, who said she was convicted as a man, Gregory Baker. “Every place they picked, it was too close.”

The 2,500-foot restriction is far tougher than Florida’s 1,000-foot rule but matches the limit for some local governments across the country, including Lake County near Orlando and Pasco County north of Tampa. In dense Miami-Dade, hemmed in by the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean, the 2,500-foot rule eliminates wide swaths of Miami-Dade’s housing stock as an option. The county also bars sex offenders from homeless shelters where families are housed, making most of the tax-funded emergency housing off-limits, too.

Miami-Dade adopted the 2,500-foot limit in 2010 after the Tuttle controversy, replacing a patchwork of city laws that generally had the same distance in their sex-offender restrictions.

The renewed focus on a replacement tent camp also revives attention to Book’s unusual role at the center of both issues: a volunteer board chairman who serves as the county’s de facto homeless director, and a top crusader for Miami-Dade cracking down on the same sexual offenders left homeless by the residency rules he helped enact. One of the most powerful lobbyists in both Miami-Dade and the state of Florida, his position landed him at the center of the Julia Tuttle controversy, with some tent residents naming the encampment Bookville.

Book’s daughter, Lauren Book, was the victim of sex abuse at the hands of the family’s nanny, and the experience propelled both Books into becoming advocates for tougher penalties for sex crimes against minors. Lauren Book, 32, started a foundation dedicated to the cause and then won a state Senate seat last year as a Democrat representing Broward County.

In 2010, when county commissioners were considering the proposed 2,500-foot limit for sex offenders, both Books spoke in favor of the rule. That day, commissioners not only voted to pass the legislation but also renamed it the Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance.

Both Books were on hand Monday night, too, when the county invited media to cover the launch of outreach efforts at the tent encampment. After darkness fell on the tent camp in Miami-Dade, Sen. Book described the squalid village as part of a problem that requires some sort of legislative fix.

“I think the local law has caused unintended consequences,” she said. “You’re seeing it.”

Her father dismissed a suggestion that the tents standing nearly a decade after the Julia Tuttle controversy revealed a flaw in Miami-Dade’s approach.

“There are places [they] can live. You’ve got to go find those places,” he said in a telephone interview before the visit. “What sex offenders want to do is blame everybody else for the problem. They want to blame the laws and the residency restrictions.”

Gail Colletta, leader of an advocacy group pushing for changes in Florida’s residency requirements, said Miami-Dade captures the political hysteria over paroled offenders. Because most victims of childhood sexual abuse know their abusers, Colletta argued that the extreme measures governments take to keep offenders away from schools and parks don’t prevent crime but do lead to inhumane conditions like tent cities.

“Practically nobody is getting this right,” said Colletta, president of the Florida Action Committee, who described herself as the mother of a grown son who served prison time for possession of child pornography. “They’re all hung up on this false sense of security.”

The county shut down the Tuttle encampment in 2010, and Book said the homeless agency placed the more than 100 residents in private apartments and other residences outside of shelters and in compliance with the 2,500-foot limit. Monday’s deployment was designed to start a similar process, with the county offering to help with rental subsidies and placement to get the tent residents to move. The action followed a New Times story profiling the tent village in early August.

There have been other encampments in Miami since the Tuttle one closed, including one in Miami that lasted until 2012 when the city created a tiny park that triggered the 2,500-foot restriction. Book said that any former Tuttle residents living in the Hialeah encampment would have lost a prior home because Miami-Dade had determined that each registered Tuttle offender had found a place to live.

Miami-Dade’s restrictions on where sexual offenders live largely survived a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014, which was filed for anonymous plaintiffs that a lawyer said Monday were living in tents near Hialeah at the time. A federal judge rejected the bulk of the ACLU’s complaint that the local law constituted unfair punishment, but the nonprofit is appealing whether the county can enforce restrictions on offenders convicted before the law went into effect.

Jeff Hearne, a Miami lawyer working on the case, said the county rules create the problem that Miami-Dade spent Monday night trying to solve.

“It’s our position that forcing people into homelessness is punitive,” Hearne said.

Because probation rules require sex offenders to sleep at the addresses where they’re registered, he said, many tent residents could afford to live elsewhere if they were allowed to do so.

“Many of them have places they can go to,” he said. “They have family members who have homes that can keep them there. Many of them have rooms they rent to keep personal belongings. But at night, they’re forced to go out and sleep in tents.”

The county shut down the Tuttle encampment in 2010, and Book said the homeless agency placed the more than 100 residents in private apartments and other residences outside of shelters and in compliance with the 2,500-foot limit. Monday’s deployment was designed to start a similar process, with the county offering to help with rental subsidies and placement to get the tent residents to move. The action followed a New Times story profiling the tent village in early August.

There have been other encampments in Miami since the Tuttle one closed, including one in Miami that lasted until 2012 when the city created a tiny park that triggered the 2,500-foot restriction. Book said that any former Tuttle residents living in the Hialeah encampment would have lost a prior home because Miami-Dade had determined that each registered Tuttle offender had found a place to live.

Miami-Dade’s restrictions on where sexual offenders live largely survived a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014, which was filed for anonymous plaintiffs that a lawyer said Monday were living in tents near Hialeah at the time. A federal judge rejected the bulk of the ACLU’s complaint that the local law constituted unfair punishment, but the nonprofit is appealing whether the county can enforce restrictions on offenders convicted before the law went into effect.

Jeff Hearne, a Miami lawyer working on the case, said the county rules create the problem that Miami-Dade spent Monday night trying to solve.

“It’s our position that forcing people into homelessness is punitive,” Hearne said.

Because probation rules require sex offenders to sleep at the addresses where they’re registered, he said, many tent residents could afford to live elsewhere if they were allowed to do so.

“Many of them have places they can go to,” he said. “They have family members who have homes that can keep them there. Many of them have rooms they rent to keep personal belongings. But at night, they’re forced to go out and sleep in tents.”

The county shut down the Tuttle encampment in 2010, and Book said the homeless agency placed the more than 100 residents in private apartments and other residences outside of shelters and in compliance with the 2,500-foot limit. Monday’s deployment was designed to start a similar process, with the county offering to help with rental subsidies and placement to get the tent residents to move. The action followed a New Times story profiling the tent village in early August.

There have been other encampments in Miami since the Tuttle one closed, including one in Miami that lasted until 2012 when the city created a tiny park that triggered the 2,500-foot restriction. Book said that any former Tuttle residents living in the Hialeah encampment would have lost a prior home because Miami-Dade had determined that each registered Tuttle offender had found a place to live.

Miami-Dade’s restrictions on where sexual offenders live largely survived a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014, which was filed for anonymous plaintiffs that a lawyer said Monday were living in tents near Hialeah at the time. A federal judge rejected the bulk of the ACLU’s complaint that the local law constituted unfair punishment, but the nonprofit is appealing whether the county can enforce restrictions on offenders convicted before the law went into effect.

Jeff Hearne, a Miami lawyer working on the case, said the county rules create the problem that Miami-Dade spent Monday night trying to solve.

“It’s our position that forcing people into homelessness is punitive,” Hearne said.

Because probation rules require sex offenders to sleep at the addresses where they’re registered, he said, many tent residents could afford to live elsewhere if they were allowed to do so.

“Many of them have places they can go to,” he said. “They have family members who have homes that can keep them there. Many of them have rooms they rent to keep personal belongings. But at night, they’re forced to go out and sleep in tents.”

The bottom line is that Ron Book created this mess, and swept it all under the rug. He continues to blame his victims for forcing them to live in squalor. Yet, the Miami-Dade council continues to rely on Book and the so-called "Homeless Trust." We have already seen how ineffective the Book crime family is at cleaning up messes they created.

I have a better idea. Force the Books to live at the camp. Take away Lauren's gaudy tour bus, daddy's multi-million dollar bank account, his fancy cars, and the millions in tax dollars going to the Lauren's Kids charity scam. Make the Books shit in a bucket, bathe themselves in a bucket, and eat donated stale donuts and sleep in a tent. How long could they last? They'rd be BEGGING for services! Ron Book already looks like a homeless bum in a suit. He'd fit right in. As for Lauren, well, since she doesn'y like to eat, she'll keep her figure, I suppose. But she won't have as much L'Oreal makeup to hide her blemishes or her shame for being such a scumbag. For good measure, drag Pepe Diaz out of the drunk tank and into the camp as well. Hell, drag out the entire Miami-Dade council for that matter!

Speaking of the Council, FAC was kind enough to publish the council members on their website, so it is reposted here:

District 1Barbara J. JordanDistrict1@MiamiDade.gov305-474-3011
District 2Jean MonestimeDistrict2@MiamiDade.gov305-694-2779
District 3Audrey M. EdmonsonDistrict3@MiamiDade.gov305-636-2331
District 4Sally A. HeymanDistrict4@MiamiDade.gov305-787-5999
District 5Bruno A. BarreiroDistrict5@MiamiDade.gov305-673-7743
District 6Rebeca SosaDistrict6@MiamiDade.gov305-267-6377
District 7Xavier L. SuarezDistrict7@MiamiDade.gov305-694-3550
District 8Daniella Levine CavaDistrict8@MiamiDade.gov305-378-6677
District 9Dennis C. MossDennisMoss@MiamiDade.gov305-234-4938
District 10Javier D. SoutoDistrict10@MiamiDade.gov305-222-2116
District 11Joe A. MartinezDistrict11@MiamiDade.gov305-552-1155
District 12Jose “Pepe” DiazDistrict12@MiamiDade.gov305-599-1200
District 13Esteban L. Bovo, Jr.District13@MiamiDade.gov305-820-8424

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

State Sen. Lauren Book seeks restraining order to silence protester

Derek Logue peacefully protesting Lauren Book in 2015
This very blog has been cited as "violent stalking" by the Book crime family in her complaint. What a joke.

http://www.floridabulldog.org/2017/08/state-sen-lauren-book-seeks-restraining-order-to-silence-protester/

AUGUST 15, 2017 AT 5:21 AM
State Sen. Lauren Book seeks restraining order to silence protester

By Francisco Alvarado,FloridaBulldog.org

As Broward State Sen. Lauren Book prepares for her annual walk to raise awareness about child sex abuse, she wants to make sure one of her harshest critics is nowhere near her.

On July 26, Sen. Book filed a petition in Broward Circuit Court seeking a restraining order against Derek Logue, a 40-year-old Ohio man convicted of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in 2001. Logue today is an advocate for registered sex offenders.

You won’t find Sen. Book’s petition at the county courthouse. A clerk in the Broward court’s domestic violence division told a reporter it is confidential. The reason: Florida Statute 119 says that any documents that reveal the identity, address or phone numbers of a potential crime victim are exempt from Florida’s liberal public records law.

Florida Bulldog obtained a copy of her petition from Logue.

Sen. Book claims she fears for her and her family’s safety following physical threats Logue allegedly made against her online and in person during two public events in 2015 and 2016. In addition to seeking to bar Logue from showing up at her annual walk events, she wants to keep him from coming within 500 feet of her home and her offices.

But Broward Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Kaplan rejected Sen. Book’s request for a temporary restraining order on Aug. 9, noting there was insufficient evidence showing she was in immediate danger. A hearing on her request for a permanent restraining order is scheduled for Sept. 1.

Sen. Book declined comment, but her father, prominent Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book, told Florida Bulldog Logue has been harassing him and his daughter for roughly four years. “We had ignored his harassment because we don’t believe he is terribly relevant,” Book said. “He has little credibility.”

However, Book said the last straw occurred on July 8, when Logue tweeted “I think I found the official Laura Ahearn/ Lauren Book theme song” next to a link to a YouTube video for a song titled, “You Are A C—,” by Australian singer and comedian Kat McSnatch. Ahearn is executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, a New York-based advocacy group for victims of sex crimes.

Ugly lyrics

Among its provocative lyrics is this ugly line: “Why don’t you shut that scabby c— mouth before I f— up your face.” The crude video also features an image of a tombstone that reads, “R.I.P. Annoying C—.”

According to Ron Book and Sen. Book’s petition, officials from several New York law enforcement agencies advised that Logue’s tweet was a credible death threat. “We were advised to contact local law enforcement and take steps to make sure that the encounters we’ve had with Mr. Logue don’t happen again. When you cross the line and threaten to f—k up someone’s face followed by ‘R.I.P.,’ that is a credible threat,” said Ron Book.

Logue dismissed the Books’ accusations as “a load of hogwash.” He claims the petition is an attempt to stop him from exercising his First Amendment right to speak out against their lifelong campaign against registered sex offenders.

“It is easy to make me look like the bad guy because I am a registered citizen,” Logue told Florida Bulldog. “You may not like my choice of words. I do cuss and I do call people the C word. She is offended by it, but I don’t care. It’s protected free speech.”

He added, “She is simply trying to prevent me from raining on her little parade.”

Sen. Book is the founder and $135,000-a-year chief executive officer of Lauren’s Kids, a non-profit agency that has collected more than $10 million in grants from the Florida Legislature to fund an array of educational programs to convince victims and children advocates to report child sex crimes. However, the effectiveness of the programs have come under fire as Sen. Book has used Lauren’s Kids to elevate her public profile.
Derek Logue at the Tribeca Film Festival to watch the "Untouchable" Documentary

The Plantation Democrat, who was sexually abused as a teen by her former nanny, also makes an annual trek on foot from Key West to Tallahassee to raise awareness for child sex victims. This year’s walk is scheduled to begin on Sept. 9.

In her petition, Sen. Book claims that in 2015 Logue traveled to Tallahassee and organized a group of sex offenders in an attempt to disrupt the final mile of her annual walk. “The workers were warned in advance and they were able to keep the walk peaceful with the help of the Capitol Police, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” the petition says.

A year later, Logue traveled to New York City to attend a screening of the documentary Untouchable at the Tribeca Film Festival to harass Sen. Book during a question and answer session, the petition alleges. The Books are prominently featured in the movie about the impact of sex offender laws on individuals convicted of sex crimes.

“During the question and answer segment, he became unruly enough that his microphone was cut off and petitioner was surrounded by New York Police Department officers to protect her,” the petition states. Sen. Book claims she learned of Logue’s July 8 tweet after being contacted by an advocate for Parents of Megan’s Law who saw it and who filed a report with the New York field office of the FBI.

A rally planned for Miami

The petition also noted that Logue’s website OnceFallen.com and a Facebook page he is affiliated with is promoting a rally planned for Miami in September: “The coincidence is palpable.”

In his response to the petition and during an interview with Florida Bulldog, Logue said he has participated in and helped organize demonstrations across the country against sex offender registry laws and other legislation he believes discriminate against sex offenders who have done their time. He has also been interviewed on the topic by CNN, HLN and Russia Today, as well as local and regional news outlets, Logue said.

He said the 2015 demonstration in Tallahassee was peaceful even though Lauren’s Kids officials tried to report him for not registering with the state of Florida for the event. “I am free to travel anywhere in the United States of America,” Logue’s response states. “In fact, I made it a point to contact the Leon County Sheriff’s office to confirm that I would not need to register as a sex offender to visit for less than 48 hours to engage in a peaceful demonstration.”

Logue said he attended the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival because he had been interviewed for Untouchable, but the footage did not make into the documentary. He did make a brief appearance halfway through the film during scenes of the demonstration in Tallahassee. He said he only learned the Books were also in attendance when he arrived for the screening.

Logue said the documentary’s director David Feige asked him not to be too nasty to the Book family and he obliged. He denies disrupting the question and answer session. “I asked her why she preaches that sex offenders don’t deserve second chances when her father is also a convicted criminal that got second and third chances,” Logue said. “She made a snarky remark, I laughed and sat back down.”

On Sept. 21, 1995, Ron Book pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges and was fined $2,000 following a criminal investigation that found he violated state law by funneling more than $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions to at least a dozen county and state politicians.

Logue, who isn’t shy about owning up to his sex crime conviction, claims when he went to register in his home state in July, his registration officer told him someone claiming to be a state senator called to complain that he called her a c— and that she was offended by it. “I call a lot of people c—s,” Logue said. “I understand not everyone appreciates crude language. Yet, we elected a president that uses crude language and what not.”

Logue’s lawyer, Jamie Benjamin, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. Sen. Book’s lawyer, Fort Lauderdale’s David Bogenschutz, said her role as a public official makes her a vulnerable target to threats of a violent nature.

“She and several law enforcement agencies believe [Logue’s behavior] crosses the line between what is protected by the First Amendment and threats that cause individuals to have legitimate concerns for themselves and their family members,” Bogenschutz said. “If it continues, and it has continued, we need the court’s intervention to draw the line for us.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A large chunk of Lauren's Kids money goes to public relations firm

Florida Bulldog has another hard hitting article on Lauren Book and the ethical concerns of funding her organization.

http://www.floridabulldog.org/2017/06/laurens-kids-funnels-3-1-million-to-politically-connected-public-relations-firm/

Lauren’s Kids funnels $3.1 million to politically connected public relations firm
By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org
JUNE 29, 2017 AT 5:25 AM

A nonprofit run by Broward State Sen. Lauren Book and lavished with millions of dollars in state handouts by lawmakers paid a Tallahassee public relations firm with considerable political clout $3.1 million between 2012 and 2015.

The payments by Lauren’s Kids to Sachs Media Group accounted for 28 percent of the charity’s $10.8 million in expenses, according to Lauren’s Kids most recent available tax returns. In the same period, the Florida Legislature awarded Lauren’s Kids – which employs Sen. Book as its $135,000-a-year chief executive and counts powerful lobbyist Ron Book, her father, as its chairman – $9.6 million in grants.

The nonprofit’s payouts to Sachs Media for 2016 are not publicly available. A spokeswoman for Lauren’s Kids did not respond to requests to view that information.

Florida Bulldog reported last week that Sen. Book, using a loophole in state conflict-of-interest rules, voted last month to approve a state appropriations bill that included $1.5 million for Lauren’s Kids.

Millions of taxpayer dollars flowed through the nonprofit to Sachs Media as it both promoted Lauren’s Kids and cultivated Sen. Book’s public persona as a survivor of child sex abuse. Critics say the domination of Lauren’s Kids by the senator and her lobbyist-father raises concerns that the work Sachs Media does is more about making her look good, not raising awareness about unreported cases of child sex abuse.

“There is nothing wrong with an individual promoting that they have done good work,” said Daniel Borochoff, founder of Chicago-based CharityWatch. “However, it would appear the father can pull some weight to push the organization in a direction that would be beneficial for the daughter. It is more likely for that to happen more so than helping kids.”

If that’s the case, then the Books and Sachs Media are abusing the public’s trust, Borochoff added. “Nonprofit money is supposed to be used for a public benefit and not to enhance the aspirations of the charity’s officers,” Borochoff said. “But sometimes there is an overlap and it can become a side effect for someone running a charity.”

‘Proud of our work’

Sachs Media founder and chief executive Ron Sachs did not return two phone messages seeking response to a list of detailed questions emailed to him on June 12. Instead, Sachs Media president Michelle Ubben provided Florida Bulldog with a written statement noting that the firm is “not currently engaged by Lauren’s Kids.”

“We are particularly proud of our work to help the Lauren’s Kids foundation develop sexual abuse prevention curricula for grades K-12, and to raise awareness of the signs of child abuse and public reporting requirements,” Ubben’s statement read. She referred specific questions about the firm’s work with Lauren’s Kids to the nonprofit’s spokeswoman and former Sachs Media account executive Claire VanSusteren.

“We have worked with Sachs in the past to raise awareness about child sexual abuse,” VanSusteren said in an emailed statement. “[Sachs] has, over the course of several years, completed communications work and engaged a variety of subcontractors related to deliverables for state contracts.”

A former news reporter and editor who did stints as spokesman for Florida governors Reubin Askew and Lawton Chiles, Ron Sachs founded his company in 1996, specializing in corporate branding, marketing and crisis management. His early victories included a 1998 campaign to inform voters on amendments proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission and helping repeal an automatic 20 percent phone rate hike tacked onto a bill in 2003.

Six years later, Sachs landed more than $130,000 worth of work from the Associated Industries of Florida, according to a 2011 Florida Trend article. The same year, Sachs Media was retained by an anonymous group of oil and gas producers called Florida Energy Associates to do a campaign promoting the removal of the prohibition on drilling in the state’s offshore waters.

Sachs Media has also counted the Florida Chamber of Commerce among its clients, producing a web-based public affairs program called “The Bottom Line.”  Another program, “Florida Newsmakers,” features one-on-one interviews with top state bureaucrats answering softball questions. According to an online database of state contracts, Sachs Media has also been awarded small and large media jobs by various state agencies.

For instance, the Florida Lottery paid Sachs Media $150,000 in February 2013 for an educational multimedia campaign. A year later, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs paid Sachs Media $3,720 for table throws stamped with the department’s emblem. The Department of Environmental Protection awarded the firm a $316,250 contract in 2014 to produce a public awareness campaign about the importance of sea turtle nesting beaches in Florida’s Panhandle.

Sachs media faced criticism

Sachs Media has faced criticism over its business practices in recent years. In 2014, the firm dropped a lawsuit it had filed against the family of a paralyzed Broward County man after a public outcry over Sachs Media’s heavy-handed tactics against its former client, who was left brain damaged by the car of a speeding Broward County sheriff’s deputy. Sachs had claimed Eric Brody’s relatives owed the firm $375,000 for four years of public relations and media outreach services.

A year later, a state audit of a $296,105 Sachs Media contract with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs found that the agreement did not clearly establish the tasks to be performed by the firm, did not contain documentation requirements, did not sufficiently identify the activities or services to be provided and included three amendments for an additional $135,421.

“In general, the agreement had no scope of work or deliverable issues,” the audit states. “The amendments did not fall within the original scope of work and did not clearly establish the tasks the provider was required to perform.” (Ubben did not comment on the dropping of the lawsuit and on the audit’s findings.)

According to Sachs Media’s website, the firm was retained by Lauren’s Kids in 2007, the year the nonprofit was founded. “Lauren’s Kids engaged our firm to conceptualize and bring to life a breakthrough strategy that would get people aware, educated, and mobilized to prevent this dark, societal secret – child sexual abuse,” a statement on the website reads. “We branded the Lauren’s Kids Foundation and generated extensive, multi-year media coverage – including the cover of Newsweek – around an annual 1,500-mile walk for awareness throughout Florida.”

In addition, Sen. Book and her cause have been featured by Nancy Grace, USA Today, Lisa Ling, Jane Velez-Mitchell and various local media outlets due to Sachs Media’s public relations work, the website states.

Sachs Media was also involved in helping Sen. Book market and promote her autobiography “It’s OK to Tell” and her annual walk from Key West to Tallahassee, as well as producing billboards, public service announcements and a curriculum for grades K-12 about child sex abuse prevention. The curriculum features web-based video lessons starring Sen. Book and reading materials that recount how she was sexually abused by her nanny during her teen years.

In 2015, Sachs Media conducted an online survey for Lauren’s Kids that found more than one-third of female respondents and one-fifth of male respondents had admitted to being sexually abused as children. However, the accuracy of the online survey, which national polling experts dismiss as being unreliable and inaccurate, could not be verified because Sachs Media declined to provide its methodology and backup data to Florida Bulldog.

The payments

Here’s the breakdown of Lauren’s Kids payments to Sachs Media as detailed in the nonprofits tax returns:

  • $670,032 for “public relations.” That accounted or 33 percent of Lauren’s Kids’ $2 million in expenses that year.
  • $957,977 for “program support,” or 63 percent of Lauren’s Kids $1.5 million in expenses.
  • $579,772, or 20 percent of expenses.
  • $966,100 for programming support. Sachs subcontractor, The POD Advertising, was paid $349,800, with both accounting for 28 percent of Lauren’s Kids expenses that year.


The owner of a Miami-based public relations firm who requested anonymity said the amount of money Lauren’s Kids has paid Sachs Media is shocking. “It’s pretty outrageous that a PR firm is billing that much to a nonprofit,” the owner said. “Usually, you are taking on charities on a pro-bono basis or providing them with a significant discount.”

Sen. Book, a Plantation Democrat, and Ron Book did not respond to requests for comment. However, Lauren’s Kids spokeswoman VanSusteren defended the work performed by Sachs Media, noting the campaigns have taught Floridians the importance of openly discussing child sex crimes.

“We have received countless calls and messages from parents, educators and law enforcement officers sharing stories of children coming forward and disclosing abuse thanks to our curriculum program,” she said. “At the end of the day, nothing is more important than protecting childhood. That’s what it’s all about.”

For example, she said, Sachs managed content production and communications related to a Lauren’s Kids public awareness campaign called “Don’t Miss the Signs” developed in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families.

She claimed that reports of abuse to the DCF hotline rose by 30 percent during the campaign and that Lauren’s Kids has received positive feedback from numerous teachers and police officers about the “Safer, Smarter” curriculum Sachs Media produced. In her statement to Florida Bulldog, VanSusteren included testimonials from unidentified teachers and guidance counselors.

One was from a self-described educator at James M. Marlowe Elementary School in New Port Richey who said, “I love the fact that it’s simple and easy to implement. I love the fact that there isn’t a lot of prep time needed for the lessons.”

Yet, the testimonial said nothing about the curriculum’s effectiveness in preventing child sex abuse.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Surprise! Lauren Book exploits legal loophole to give herself $1.5 MILLION dollars

$1.5 MEEEELION Dollars!!!!
Another great expose' from FloridaBulldog.org finds Lauren Book voted to give herself over $1.5 Million of Florida's taxpayer bucks to continue to run her organization. Conclict of interest, anyone?

It should be noted that Lauren Book is still listed as the CEO of Lauren's Kids as of June 27, 2017, so it seems she hasn't even stepped down as she claims. Here's a 2016 contract with the state, posted in the FB.org comment section.

http://www.floridabulldog.org/2017/06/using-ethics-loophole-sen-book-votes-to-give-her-nonprofit-1-5-million/

JUNE 22, 2017 AT 5:19 AM
Using ethics loophole, Sen. Lauren Book votes to give her nonprofit $1.5 million
By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org

Broward State Sen. Lauren Book voted “yes” last month to approve a state appropriations bill that included $1.5 million for Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit she founded and leads as its $135,000-a-year chief executive officer.

A gaping loophole in Florida Senate ethics rules allowed Book to cast her vote despite her apparent conflict of interest. The same loophole also meant she didn’t have to disclose her conflict publicly.

Senators are forbidden by ethics rules from voting “on any matter” in which they or an immediate family member would privately gain – except when it comes to votes on the annual General Appropriations Act. Abstaining senators must also disclose the nature of their interest in the matter, according to the 335-page Florida Senate Rules and Manual.

“Legislators are allowed to vote on issues that may benefit their profession,” said Ben Wilcox, research director for the nonpartisan watchdog Integrity Florida. “But it becomes questionable when it is a direct appropriation to an entity that a legislator controls and that would directly benefit that legislator.”

Lauren’s Kids, whose chairman is prominent lobbyist Ron Book, the senator’s father, has in a just few years become one of the Florida Legislature’s most favored private charities. Since 2012, Lauren’s Kids has bagged more than $10 million in taxpayer-funded handouts.

Gov. Rick Scott went along with the latest $1.5 million appropriation for Lauren’s Kids while approving Florida’s $83 billion 2017-18 budget earlier this month.

How that appropriation came to be is a story itself. Lauren’s Kids only asked for $1 million.

Where did extra $500,000 come from?

But more than six weeks after the Florida legislative session ended, nobody is answering questions about how Lauren’s Kids snagged that additional $500,000. Not Sen. Book. Not Ron Book. Not Sen. Bill Montford, the Tallahassee Democrat who sits on the education appropriations subcommittee and sponsored a funding request for $1 million on the nonprofit’s behalf on Feb. 22. And not Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Kendall, who sponsored the bill in the House. Each did not respond to detailed requests for comment.

Lauren’s Kids spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren, however, provided a written statement on June 12 summarizing how Lauren’s Kids intends to use the funds and defending the organization’s mission to increase reporting of child sex–abuse incidents.

“There is no investment greater than in our children’s safety, and research shows that school-based education is an extremely effective vehicle for prevention and early intervention,” the statement read. “Lauren’s Kids is proud to partner with Florida educators to help arm students with knowledge about personal safety and accessing help.”

VanSusteren did not respond to a follow-up list of questions emailed on June 15 that again requested an explanation of how Lauren’s Kids’ funding request got bumped up from $1 million to $1.5 million between April 27 and May 8. That’s when House and Senate members went into conference committees to hash out the final budget bill. Sen. Book was a conferee for the appropriations conference committee on health care and human services. Montford was a conferee on the committee for education.

Wilcox said Sen. Book should be forthcoming about the additional $500,000 Lauren’s Kids received. “At the very least, she should be as transparent as possible on how that funding was decided,” he said. “It already doesn’t look good to the public given it is a dicey relationship for her in the first place as a sitting legislator who is also a recipient of taxpayer dollars.”

Lauren Book, 32, is a freshman legislator from Plantation. She assumed office just seven months ago after running unopposed and has quickly ascended the state’s political ranks. She is the Democratic Leader Pro Tempore and chairwoman of the Senate environmental preservation and conservation committee. She also sits on the appropriations, health policy and rules committees. Her father’s clients contributed significantly to her campaign and political action committee.

In March, Sen. Book told Florida Bulldog she was advised by Senate counsel “that it is proper that I do not abstain on these matters unless the funding directly inures to my benefit, which it will not.” Sen. Book, who was sexually abused by her nanny in her early teens, said she resigned from the board of directors of the foundation that raises money for Lauren’s Kids and that her salary was restructured to “ensure that no public dollars were used to compensate me for my work.”

At the time, Sen. Book said the Florida Department of Education requested that the Legislature provide $1 million in funding for Lauren’s Kids to continue its “Safer, Smarter” curriculum, a program that teaches students, teachers and parents how to spot signs of child sex abuse and the importance of reporting sex crimes against children.

The curriculum is made available to children at all grade levels in public and charter schools in all 67 Florida counties, but school districts are not required to teach it. For instance, Indian River County Public Schools and Orange County Public Schools do not use the “Safer, Smarter” curriculum, according to spokespersons for both districts. Miami-Dade Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, uses “Safer, Smarter” at only 80 out of 392 schools, said spokesman John Schuster.

“The curriculum is implemented as classroom guidance lessons facilitated by the school counselor or school social worker,” Schuster said. “The counseling professionals choose the classes where the students will receive the curriculum.”

Data lacking on curriculum results

Schuster said Miami-Dade Public Schools does not track or have any data confirming that the “Safer, Smarter” curriculum has resulted in the reporting of child sex-abuse incidents that would otherwise go undetected. “These reports are made directly to the Department of Children and Families and are anonymous,” he said. “We have no access to this reporting information.”

In VanSusteren’s June 12 statement, she defended Lauren’s Kids work by citing an unverified and questionable  2015 poll the organization commissioned that concluded one in three girls and one in five boys will be victims of sexual abuse by the time they graduate 12th grade. By applying those statistics to the overall public schools student population in Florida, there are “at least 540,000 child victims currently enrolled Florida’s K-12 schools,” the statement read.

VanSusteren insisted 95 percent of child sex abuse is preventable through education and awareness, and that the “Safer, Smarter” curriculum works. “Students who receive education about personal safety and accessing help in unsafe situations are three times more likely to speak up if they are being harmed,” VanSusteren said. “The funds allocated to Lauren’s Kids during fiscal year 2017-2018 will be used to continue our work to bring life-saving resources to Florida classrooms – as recommended in the Department of Education budget, as well as the Governor’s budget.”

However, the Florida Department of Education did not make the funding request for the curriculum, said department press secretary Audrey Walden. She explained the Legislature and the governor must first approve the funding and the department then disperses the funds to Lauren’s Kids and other nonprofit groups that get state money. Organizations must apply to the department and provide a breakdown on how the funds will be spent.

In its March 31 application, Lauren’s Kids stated it would spend $800,000 to print and distribute educational materials and maintain two websites associated with the “Safer, Smarter” curriculum; $100,000 to produce a digital conference; and two separate $50,000 expenditures for an evaluation survey, online training modules for teachers and principals and an educational fair.

“Please note that the department does not require schools to use the curriculum referenced,” Walden said. “It is implemented in schools at the discretion of each school district.”

According to an online legislative database used to track the Lauren’s Kids appropriation, Sen. Montford sponsored a $1 million funding request the same day that Kelly Mallette, governmental affairs director for Ronald L. Book P.A., lobbied the subcommittee on behalf of Lauren’s Kids and three other nonprofits the firm represents.

Montford, who is also the chief executive of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, has sponsored previous funding requests for Lauren’s Kids. He sits on the appropriations, health policy and rules committees alongside Sen. Book.

According to Montford’s 2016 campaign finance reports, Ron Book, his wife Patricia and his law firm each gave $1,000 to the senator’s re-election effort. Ronald L. Book P.A. also contributed $2,500 in 2014 to a now-defunct political action committee chaired by Montford.

On the House side, the re-election campaign of Rep. Nunez, who sponsored a $1 million funding bill on behalf of Lauren’s Kids, also got $1,000 contributions from Ron Book, his wife and his law firm. Montford and Nunez did not respond to four messages left with their legislative assistants the week of the June 5-9 special session.