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Heard On Sundial: Miami-Dade's State Attorney, UM Workers' Reopening Concerns, High School Sports

Football player celebrates
Devon Betty, center, celebrates with the fans after the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders defeat the Edgewater Eagles 28-23 for the Class 7A FHSAA State Championship at Daytona Stadium in Daytona Beach on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019.

On this Thursday, July 30, episode of Sundial:

Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office And Its Shadowy Charity 

Defendants in Miami-Dade County are being asked to pay anywhere from a couple hundred to $100,000 to charitable organizations with ties to the county’s State Attorney’s Office, according to a year-long investigation by WLRN’s Daniel Rivero.

He scoured hundreds of documents and met with legal experts to better understand how this practice is unfolding. Rivero’s story highlights dozens of instances where these payments have occurred.

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“We have been able to find a couple other jurisdictions that do employ some kind of an arrangement where charitable contributions are a factor in plea deals. ... But to be very clear, there’s nothing at all along the lines of what’s happening in Miami-Dade County, where the charity that’s getting the money was literally created by the State Attorney’s Office and then where that same office literally plays a role in determining where the money goes,” said Rivero.

We spoke with Rivero about his investigation into the State Attorney’s Office and the defendants paying charities as part of their plea agreements.

Faculty And Staff Upset About UM's Reopening Plan

Students at the University of Miami have the option of taking classes in person, online or a hybrid of both, but many faculty say they were not given that option. 

Now, 588 members of the school’s teaching staff have signed a petition calling for the university to give them similar options. Other members of the university’s workforce have also spoken out about the reopening plan and say those who are in the frontlines were not consulted on the university’s decisions.

“We should include in the conversation the staff of the university as well,” said Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel, a professor and chair at the university’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. “We wanted to have the option to make that decision and we would have liked to have known that these options that were offered to students were going to be extended to them before they actually went out in an email and a video to parents and students.”

We spoke with Martinez-San Miguel about the petition, as well as the dilemmas teachers are facing as they prepare to return to classes in the fall.

High School Sports In Florida

High school sports were scheduled to start this week. But after facing backlash, the Florida High School Athletic Association made the decision to push back the start of fall sports to late August

The decision worries schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties — it means they might not be able to compete for state championships.

“They [Miami-Dade and Broward Counties] know that they're the best region in the state and they have a lot of leverage over the FHSAA because if they're not competing in the state championships, no one feels like the best of the best are there,” said David Wilson, a Miami Herald sports reporter.

The association will hold another meeting by Aug. 17 to update any policies before the start of practice, leaving many to wonder what will become of high school sports. 

We spoke with Wilson about the association’s plans for the fall.

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.