Southeast Florida Roundup
‘Corrupt trough' – The North Broward Health District hits a low
In the last 18 months, the long-dysfunctional, taxpayer-supported North Broward Health District hospital system, which now goes by the name Broward Health, has reeled through a tempest of troubles of its own making.
The district agreed to pay a $70-million federal health care fraud settlement over improper payments to doctors. A CEO killed himself. He had just had heart surgery but also reportedly had hired a private detective and feared his office was bugged. In a controversial move, his interim replacement was sacked over concerns about a violation of federal anti-kickback laws. A state inspector general started reviewing suspect contracts. A suspended member of the board that oversees the district sued the governor for reinstatement. An independent review organization, which the district had to hire as part of its settlement with the feds, complained of being stonewalled by the system’s chief compliance officer. The FBI is said to be investigating purchasing.
The district “has always been a corrupt trough of money,” says Alan Levine, once Florida’s Secretary of Health Care Administration, whom then-Gov. Jeb Bush asked to head the district in 2006 to reform it. Levine, now CEO of a Tennessee health system, effected some reforms before leaving in 2008. “I just couldn’t get it done fast enough. There were significant issues with corruption and governance. You have very influential people putting pressure on you. ”
The North Broward district, which covers the northern two-thirds of the county, is one of the nation’s 10 largest public systems. Inevitably, comparisons are drawn to south Broward’s Memorial Healthcare, a public system that’s widely seen as better managed, largely thanks to its now retired CEO, Frank Sacco. Some would like to see Broward Health merged with the south district or turned over to the private sector.
“A lot of it has to do with leadership,” says Dominic Calabro, CEO of Florida TaxWatch, which in 2009 recommended a review of the 16 hospital taxing districts in Florida.
The aviation industry continues to be big business in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Emirates chose Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to launch daily flights between Dubai and FLL; JetSmarter, a service likened to UberPool for private aviation received $100 million in new investment funding and “unicorn” status; Aviation Inflatables, a company specializing in maintenance, repair and overhaul of airline emergency evacuation equipment including inflatable rafts, celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in Sunrise with Governor Scott and local dignitaries on hand; and Broward College has announced a new Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Sciences for students seeking to study pilot and aviation management.
BOCA RATON — Computer services firm NTT America laid off 51. » Jack Nicklaus was chosen to design the course for the new, private Via Mizner Golf & City Club near downtown.
FORT LAUDERDALE — Grupo Alco, a Venezuelan firm that relocated to south Florida, plans to build a hotel on a less than two-acre site, for which it paid $3.6 million, near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
FORT PIERCE — The National Science Foundation awarded a $3-million grant to expand a job-training program for nuclear power plant workers at Indian River State College into two new areas. The Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training will add environmental management and life and plant sciences.
HOLLYWOOD — Attorney and lobbyist Alan Koslow, 62, of Hollywood, received a year in federal prison for agreeing to launder money. His co-defendant, Susan Mohr, 57, also pleaded guilty. Undercover FBI agents, posing as people needing to launder cash from illegal gambling and narcotics sales, had Mohr and Koslow launder money for them. Koslow formerly worked for Becker & Poliakoff, which wasn’t involved in the activity.
JUPITER — Former councilwoman and trust and probate attorney Kathleen Kozinski, who served on the Judicial Nominating Commission and a Florida Bar discipline committee, pleaded guilty to a federal criminal tax charge and was sentenced to eight months and ordered to pay $923,695 in restitution to the IRS. The solo practitioner failed to report all of her income and claimed expenses and deductions to which she wasn’t entitled.
PLANTATION — Farmers Insurance Group laid off 103 employees in Plantation as it consolidates.
PORT ST. LUCIE — Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies won’t get any more state incentive money after failing to reach job-creation goals that were part of an incentives package when it moved to Florida. The state Department of Economic Opportunity won’t allow the final $3.5-million payment, out of a total of $32 million, to go forward. Torrey Pines reported in 2015 that it had 85 employees making more than $60,000 per year on average. Its target was 189 jobs.
SEBASTIAN — Marine Bank & Trust bought a Valley National Bank branch in Sebastian, Marine’s third location in the county and its first outside Vero Beach, along with the branch’s more than 500 customer accounts and $13 million in deposits.
Targeting Customer Service
Nexus Shooting, a firearms retailer and gun range in Davie, sent out a help-wanted email blast in December for seasonal and permanent jobs. “If you DON’T have the typical ‘I know more about guns than you and you are not worth my time!’ attitude that seems to be the norm at most gun shops, then you’ll fit right in! NO prior firearm experience is necessary.”
The ad went on to say that it prefers hiring people with good customer service skills and teaching them about firearms. Founder Bernard Hsiao’s project aims to make a gun store and firing range unintimidating to the uninitiated while keeping veteran shooters happy with good service and facilities. It has 40 shooting lanes, both traditional and “Nexus” electronic “self-healing video screen” lanes that offer reactive and moving targets along with skill drills and beginner and concealed-weapon permit classes.