Volume 2 Number 15
April 11, 2005










TEXT VERSION

 


 

I have been meeting across the state with small business leaders to discuss topics of mutual concern in Sarasota, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach, Naples and Fort Myers. 

Small business plays a vital role in keeping Florida's economy moving forward.

According to the US Small Business Administration, the estimated total number of small businesses in Florida in 2003 was 1,540,500.  Small businesses employ 2.9 million people or 45 percent of the state's private workforce. Their economic contribution to the state is estimated at over $33 billion.

As Florida’s chief financial officer, it is my responsibility to make sure small business continues to expand.  That means making sure our fiscal environment is one that is accessible for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

I am committed to working with small businesses throughout the state to ensure we are doing everything we can to continue moving forward.

This means we need a world-class education system to provide the workers we need for our growing economy.  We need a fair tax structure and regulatory environment so that our businesses aren't burdened needlessly. We need to eliminate the substitute communications tax so that businesses aren't threatened with that liability.

It is also time to eliminate the intangibles tax, something Governor Bush and I am committed to doing. Reform of our legal system will ensure fair access to courts is not a license for abuse of the judicial system.

We have to expand the availability of affordable health care for employees to make sure that health care stays available to working Floridians.

Finally, this past year showed the importance of providing hurricane relief throughout the state. With hurricane season fast approaching, I can’t stress enough the importance of preparation.  

 

Gadsden, Florida's fifth county, was formed in 1823. It once ran from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Suwannee River to the Apalachicola River. Quincy, the county seat, was incorporated in 1828. The courthouse, above, was built in 1912.



CFO Gallagher welcomes Carlos Muniz as general counsel.

GALLAGHER NAMES NEW GENERAL COUNSEL

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that Carlos Muniz, former deputy general counsel to Governor Jeb Bush, has been tapped to serve as general counsel of the Department of Financial Services.

Muniz, who has several years of corporate law and civil and administrative litigation experience, replaces Pete Dunbar, who recently returned to his private law practice at Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell and Dunbar, P.A.  Muniz will start April 12.

“The citizens of Florida and the employees of this department will be well served by Carlos Muniz’s experience and intellect,” Gallagher said.  “I am looking forward to having him on the team.”
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GALLAGHER RELEASES LIST OF TOP TEN THREATS TO FLORIDA’S INVESTORS 

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher released a list of Florida’s top ten scams used to cheat investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Gallagher said that while his department is always on the lookout for crooks peddling bogus investments, the best defense against these characters often is a vigilant citizenry.

 “The calls we get from Floridians to check out an investment or the person selling it often lead us to unregistered investments and unlicensed salesman and brokers,” said Gallagher.  “When the public calls us to verify a deal, they not only protect themselves, they might also protect others by tipping off our investigators.”
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  • Personalized tags with the firefighter background may be ordered.
  • A maximum of 5 letters/numbers can be imprinted on the tag.

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    FIREFIGHTERS LICENSE PLATE HOTTEST SELLER IN 2004

    The Florida Salutes Firefighters specialty license plate was the hottest selling new plate in 2004.  In a celebration in the Capitol Courtyard, it was announced that its 10,000th license plate was sold and its $200,000 in proceeds will benefit charities throughout the state. The tag, depicting a firefighter with a patriotic background, was sponsored by the Florida Professional Firefighters.   

    The plate, which went on sale throughout Florida last June, was ranked 38th out of a field of 91 specialty plates in 2004, according to the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.
     

     “Florida has specialty plates for many worthy causes, from child abuse prevention to wildlife conservation,” said CFO/Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher.  “This new tag is a wonderful way to show the men and women of fire-rescue here in Florida and throughout the nation that we appreciate their heroic service to our communities.”
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    GOVERNOR BUSH, GALLAGHER AND CABINET HONOR FLORIDA’S OUTSTANDING FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE PERSONNEL

    Governor Jeb Bush, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and the other members of the state Cabinet honored fire and rescue service personnel from around Florida for outstanding contributions to their industry and their communities.

    Ten fire and rescue workers from throughout Florida were recognized for their work in 2004, including one firefighter who on-duty pulled a victim from a burning building and off-duty saved a life by applying the Heimlich maneuver to a patron in a restaurant.    

    “These men and women are role models, but all who answer the call to serve and protect the public are heroes,” said Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal.  “I extend my gratitude to each and every one who puts on that uniform and responds when the alarm sounds.” CONTINUED






    A signer translates as CFO Gallagher speaks.



    Consumer specialists from the Department of  Financial Services help with hurricane claims.

    JUPITER TOWN HALL MEETING HELPS OUT CONSUMERS WITH INSURANCE CLAIM PROBLEMS

    An estimated 300 North Palm Beach County residents came out this week to tell  Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher their problems and meet with consumer specialists to help solve the lingering problems created by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne.

     


     



     

     

     

     

     

     









     

    UNLICENSED POMPANO BEACH PSYCHOTHERAPIST ARRESTED AGAIN

    State insurance fraud investigators arrested an unlicensed psychotherapist a second time for practicing psychotherapy without a license and fraudulently billing insurance companies.  Lubomir Lacho, 53, of 2832 N.E. 32nd St., was arrested this morning at New Hope Counseling Center, located at 3500 N.E. Fifth Ave.  It appeared he had a full schedule of patients for the day.

    Investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, arrested and charged Lacho
    on three counts of insurance fraud, six counts of third-degree grand theft, three counts of second-degree grand theft, six counts of unlicensed practice of mental health counseling/psychotherapy, and one count of first-degree organized scheme to defraud.  The charges reflect billings of more than $111,000 to insurance companies and patients.  The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association assisted in the investigation.

    “These patients were put at risk of not getting the care they really need,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “And this man has clearly shown his intent to operate outside the boundaries of good medicine and the law.”  CONTINUED



    IDENTITY
    THEFT

     

     

     

    KEEP ACCOUNT INFORMATION SAFE

    Don't take e-mail scammers' bait

     
    Do you like to fish? So do the crooks. Only thing is, they are not fishing for bass, they are fishing for money.
     
    "Phishing" is the hottest Internet scam to come along. It is a simple scam and most deceiving in the manner in which it is perpetrated. ID thieves copy and paste the logos of your bank or credit card company into phony e-mails and send them to you over the Internet. The e-mail says they need to verify your account information or that your account has been compromised. If you click on the link posted in the e-mail you are immediately directed to a form you must complete. Fill out the form and presto, your ID and money will be stolen.
     
    The crooks are hoping you will provide the information without investigating the source of the e-mail. Unfortunately, they are usually right. People tend to provide the information only to realize after hitting the enter key that perhaps they acted too hastily. The fact is, banks and credit card companies do not contact customers via e-mail, phone or mail to request or verify security information about passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs)."
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    STATE FIRE MARSHAL K-9 OFFICER RETIRING TO LIFE AS SOUTH WALTON FIRE DISTRICT STATION MASCOT

    She isn’t doggone tired yet, but Savannah is retiring after serving eight years as the State Fire Marshal’s Office K-9 accelerant detective for the Northwest Florida region. 

    She will live in the lap of luxury – at least as she sees it.  The yellow Labrador Retriever will become the mascot for South Walton Fire District Station #2.  She will go to work daily with Chief Les Hallman and hang out around the fire house to greet visitors. 

     “She has been invaluable in finding accelerants and helping detectives solve cases,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher.  “She has also taught hundreds of school children arson awareness through demonstrations at local schools.”  CONTINUED