On Saturday, I wrote and sent around a pithy
email and then posted it here about this week's
votes and meetings on the Broward County
Ethics process, along with revealing excerpts
of Broward Commissioner Stacy Ritter's
all-too-predictably self-serving comments to the
Broward Ethics Commission from Jan. 13th,
Maybe Stacy Ritter doesn't know it yet,
but becoming known around the state as the
poster-child and apologist-in-chief for rampant
public corruption in Broward County and its
existing wink-wink attitude, is not exactly the
message voters want to hear in the year 2010.
If you missed seeing those creepy and intemperate
comments of Ritter's, which only shows her
rather obvious lack of character and scruples
-not that it's news to me or many of you, I know-
go to Bob Norman's Daily Pulp post today
to see his thoughts on the matter.
For more on Ritter's husband, lawyer/lobbyist
Russ Klenet, see
After I posted that, I also emailed a copy of it
over to Broward Beat's Buddy Nevins, too.
That was the first time I've ever sent anything
to Nevins, even though I've often linked to
or referred to his stories before in emails and
blog posts, and have had Broward Beat on
my blog roll for many months.
(See his most recent post at bottom.)
Since I was pretty much able to buy the
Miami Herald whenever I wanted at my
favorite D.C. news stand, on the corner of
Connecticut Ave. & K Street, when I worked
for 15 years in the D.C. area, but not the
Sun-Sentinel, Nevins was a complete
unknown to me until I returned to South
I wrote him in part because to the extent that
I've been following his posts, it doesn't seem
to me that he's ever really written about the
specific process involved here in getting an
independent IG, per se.
Perhaps he didn't find that aspect of the story
very interesting, but I've found that seeing
the machinations in person, and hearing from
some well-informed people about what some
in the county are trying to do behind-the-scenes
to derail the ethics train, very interesting.
Interesting but shocking.
But then the unethical crowd in Broward County
government, the Broward School system and
myriad City Halls -especially Hallandale Beach,
Deerfield Beach, Sunrise- have a lot to lose
if the curtain is pulled back and their true
personas and dirty laundry is exposed,
My thinking in sending Nevins that email
was that actually seeing Ritter's politically
tone-deaf comments in black-and-white for
himself might induce him to actually show-up
Perhaps the same way it may also induce
several other local reporters to attend,
some of whom have already indicated to me
via email that they have a stronger desire
to attend and get caught up to speed,
now that they've seen this side of Ritter.
Per the Inspector General, see this
video of Bill Scherer from the Broward
Politics YouTube Channel:
On the other hand, since the Herald and
Sun-Sentinel -and all local Miami TV stations-
have utterly failed to mention tomorrow
afternoon's Broward Legislative Delegation
meeting at 2 p.m., and its import in the larger
scheme of things, I'll believe it when I see it.
Reporters actually showing-up is the
first step, oui?
Unfortunately, 4 pm Tuesday is also when
the City of Miami City Commission is scheduled
to have a meeting that will include a vote
on an interim replacement for Michelle
I also plan to be at Tuesday morning's Broward
County Commission meeting.
My plan as of now is to get some lunch after
the County Commission morning meeting and
then head over to Broward College around
1:15, along with my camcorder and tri-pod,
to scout around and find a good line of sight
in the room from which to record the meeting
and avoid extraneous bodies and heads in the
One of the few positive advantages of the
regular meetings of the Broward County
Ethics Commission getting so few people
there -five counting me last Wednesday,
including Patti Lynn from the Broward
Coalition and Kareen Boutros of the
Broward Workshop- is that I can just pop
my tri-pod on the back table, zoom-in and
My original thought had been to write
something and posting and/or sending it
out tonight, but now, I'm just going to wait
until afterwards and see how the Delegation
actually votes, after hearing public comments.
Will be interesting to see if any well-known
lobbyists show-up for the meeting.
IF they do, I'll capture the Kodak Moment
Hope some of you can make it to the meeting
and let your voice be heard so that self-evident
red herrings aren't allowed to derail this
Broward County Commission meeting
January 25, 2010
Chasing corruption out of Broward
Voters who approved the Broward Ethics Task Force in 2008 to develop a code of conduct for county commissioners must have been prescient.
In 2009, Broward was rocked by FBI arrests of County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar commissioner Fitzroy Salesman. Eggelletion pleaded guilty in December to federal money-laundering charges. He's also accused of accepting a $3,200 golf membership to vote in favor of a developer's project.
The task force must have had the golf gift in mind last week when it proposed tighter rules for gifts county commissioners can accept.
It's long overdue.
State law bans gifts meant to influence an official's vote but allows gifts worth up to $100 from lobbyists and their employers. That's a lot of freebies.
The task force wants to ban gifts, period, from lobbyists and contractors and limit gifts from anyone else to $50 or less.
That's a start -- although why public officials should be allowed to accept any gifts other than honorary plaques is anybody's guess. A sense of entitlement, perhaps, that comes with holding public office?
The task force must set new ethics rules to help the County Commission avoid the appearance of impropriety. Besides gifts, the panel is looking at rules that would limit commissioners' outside employment to avoid conflicts and their control over county contract awards. It also wants to create an ethics czar -- the equivalent of Miami-Dade County's Inspector General, who investigates county agencies.
Task force members are conflicted over whether the ethics czar should be able to launch investigations independently, without first receiving a complaint.
That's a no-brainer.
The state's Ethics Commission must wait for a complaint, as does the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission -- which ties their hands and protects powerful politicians feared by would-be whistle blowers. Both state and Miami-Dade ethics commissioners are seeking authority to conduct independent investigations.
Broward should get ahead of the curve and give its ethics boss independence to begin probes.
The County Commission can either approve the new ethics rules or put them to voters in November. Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl rightly wants to ask voters to expand the task force's ethics rules to other government officials -- the sheriff, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, clerk of courts and elected city officials. The School Board should be included, too.Broward residents have seen their share of public corruption in recent years, and it's clear they've had enough abuse. The task force should develop a tough, but workable, set of ethics rules that apply to public officials countywide.
Readers comments at:
Rothenberg Political Report
"Can Candidates Accept Text Contributions?"
By Nathan L. Gonzales
January 25, 2010
Americans are donating to the Haiti relief effort at unprecedented levels through text messaging, but can congressional candidates use them same technology to solicit contributions? For now, the answer appears to be “no.”
Read the rest of the story at:
Who’s Next After Wasserstrom?
By Buddy Nevins