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  • Thursday, September 13, 2007


    U.S. Consumers Should Boycott Southwest "Islamic Fundamentalist" Airlines

    If you are a woman flying on Southwest Airlines, here is how Southwest Airlines would apparently prefer you to dress.

    According to the Associated Press on September 12, 2007, a second young woman has come forward to claim that Southwest Airlines employees made her cover up on a recent flight, leading jet-setters to ask: Will my outfit fly?

    Setara Qassim said a flight attendant confronted her during the trip from Tucson, Arizona, to Burbank, California, and asked whether she had a sweater to go over her green halter-style dress.

    Qassim, 21, told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles she was forced to wrap a blanket around herself for the rest of the flight. She complained that if Southwest wants passengers to dress a certain way, it should publish a dress code.

    Each airline has filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation a series of statements about its obligations to its passengers and its limitations of liability. These tariffs and conditions are the terms of your contract with the airline, also known as a Contract of Carriage.

    With regard to clothing, Southwest Airlines' Contract of Carriage provides:

    "Carrier may refuse to transport or remove from the aircraft at any point any passenger in the following categories as may be necessary for the comfort or safety of such passenger or other passengers:
    (1) Persons whose conduct is or has been known to be disorderly, abusive, offensive, threatening, intimidating, or violent, or whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive;"

    Southwest — which dressed its stewardesses in hot pants and called itself "the love airline" back in the 1970s — relies on employees to decide whether a passenger's attire may offend other customers. Apparently, Southwest Airlines allows its employees to decide on an ad-hoc basis when a person's clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive. They claim they usually exercise this authority only when there are complaints from other passengers that someone's clothing makes them "uncomfortable."

    However, let us assume, for the sake of argument, I found a certain man's business suit and tie to be patently offensive and it made me uncomfortable. Do you suppose Southwest Airlines would make the person cover up his or her suit and tie so that I would feel more comfortable? Of course not. So what's really going on?

    Who gets to decide what is or is not offensive? Who are these self-righteous, moralistic clothing police going around looking up young women's skirts in airports and then complaining because they see too much? Perhaps Southwest Airlines should decree that all woman should wear burkas so that no one could possibly be uncomfortable with anyone's clothing choices. Isn't that the direction in which we are heading if we continue allowing the airlines to act as the clothing police? I thought we were fighting a war in order to preserve and protect our open and free American society from the repression inherent in the Islamic fundamentalist way of life? Southwest Airlines acting as the clothing police is just plain un-American!

    As a private company, Southwest Airlines claims the right to refuse to transport, or remove from its aircraft, just about anyone it wants to for almost any reason. However, consumers are also free not to choose Southwest Airlines for their air travel needs. As long as Southwest Airlines feels it is appropriate to act as the clothing police by catering to the prudish sensibilities of a certain uptight and priggish segment of their passengers in refusing to transport young women whose clothes are deemed too "revealing" or otherwise "inappropriate," then I believe it is appropriate for U.S consumers to decline to be transported by Southwest Airlines.


    I Call Upon You: Avi Frier of The Florida Jewish News

    On September 7, 2007, before the trial of subsequently-convicted Keith Wasserstrom was concluded, Avi Frier, publisher of The Florida Jewish News, proclaimed Wasserstrom's innocence of all charges and blasted the local South Florida media for shoddy journalistic ethics here. Frier wrote:

    When all this is over, I call upon the Herald, the Sun Sentinel, and the New Times to do the same thing that Michael Irvin requested. Devote as many pages to Keith’s innocence as you did to his guilt. For every time you ran that awful mug shot on the front page, run the dashing headshot with the toothy grin the rest of us are accustomed to. Pursue the truth with the same intensity. Don’t lose the intensity. Don’t lose the intensity.

    Now that Wasserstrom has been convicted on two felony counts, I call upon Avi Frier of the The Florida Jewish News to devote as many pages to Keith's guilt as he did to his innocence. For every time you ran the dashing headshot with the toothy grin, run that awful mug shot. Pursue the truth with the same intensity. Don't lose the intensity. Don't lose the intensity!

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007


    Keith Wasserstrom: Convicted Felon!

    Suspended Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom was convicted Wednesday, September 12, 2007, on two felony charges of official misconduct for violating the state's conflict of interest laws.

    What happened? Let's review.

    Let's go back to the October 12, 2006 Press Release issued on Keith's behalf by Keith's former attorney Larry Davis:

    "Before the vote on whether Hollywood should enter into the contract, Keith obtained clear advice from Hollywood City Attorney, Dan Abbott, regarding the potential for ethical conflict and the state of the law as to his involvement with Normandy Group. Attorney Abbott specifically advised Keith that, if he recused himself from voting on the contract, and if he disclosed to the board his relationship with Normandy, he would not breach his ethical duty or violate the law. Keith followed Attorney Abbott’s advice, recused himself from the vote regarding the contract with Schwing-Bioset, and with Attorney Abbott’s assistance, Keith prepared and filed conflict disclosure forms."

    Apparently, Keith was pinning his political and professional future on the advice of then-Hollywood City Attorney Dan Abbott. Apparently, following Abbott's advice did not turn out so good for Keith. The problem is Keith forgot the City Attorney's ethical blessing is a GIGO (garbage-in, garbage-out) issue: it only works if you fully disclose all pertinent facts to the City Attorney. I am willing to bet Dan Abbott would say Keith did not fully disclose all of the pertinent facts to him in seeking his advice.

    Back to the Press Release:

    "Keith is confident that the charges levied against him have no support in law or fact, and he will be cleared of these charges. He has not broken any law nor has he violated any ethical obligations to his constituency and his community."

    So Keith, how confident that you will be cleared of these charges are you now? I think the problem is that Keith was overconfident.

    Keith appears to suffer from excessive pride. The Greeks called this sin hubris. Hubris is a Greek word that is sometimes translated into English as "pride" or "arrogance." Hubris involves a combination of excessive pride, ambition, and self-confidence. It means thinking you are better than you really are, as in the expression: "Pride goes before a fall." In a sense, a person who commits the sin of hubris creates his own sense of morality that may run counter to the basic moral rules of the society. In tragic literature, the punishment for hubris is often a slow and painful death, in which the hero must first be stripped of personal possessions and public favor.

    Keith appears to be well on his way: as a convicted felon, he is stripped of public favor. After he is disbarred, he will lose his profession and his ability to financially support himself and his family in the luxury to which they are accustomed.

    Of course, people like Keith always blame someone or something else for the consequences of their actions instead of putting the blame where it belongs: on themselves. Rarely will you hear someone like Keith admit that he has only himself to blame for the wreckage of his life. Rarely will you hear someone like Keith admit that he did anything wrong or apologize for his transgressions. For Keith's felony convictions, you can bet Keith will blame everyone and everything other than his own decisions and actions. Perhaps Keith will blame Dan Abbott, his uncle Arnold, the newspaper reporters, the media, the prosecutors, the judge, the jury, his former law partner(s), the relatively low salaries paid to city commissioners, or even anti-semitism, but never will he blame himself.

    True to form, Keith hired a criminal defense attorney who appears to have been well-suited to represent Keith's holier-than-thou response to the felony charges lodged against him. Keith's trial defense was suffused with hubris. Keith wore a yarmulke on his head during the entire trial (presumably to emphasize his pious religiousness). In addition, for the first day of his trial, Keith selfishly pulled his kids out of school and made them attend the trial in order to, in essence, use them as props, so the jury could see what a "wonderful family man" Keith is. (Keith's son was heard to remark that he was bored and would rather have gone to school).

    I am grateful the jury was apparently not taken in by the smarmy, unctuous, patronizing arrogance, and supercilious condescension inherent in Keith's attorney Milton Hirsch's arguments that Keith had only "pure motives," was not motivated by money, and "in many ways, he was indeed doing God's work." What, God falsifies ethics forms so he can shill for a sludge company?

    Did Keith and his attorney really think people are so naive and credulous as to buy into a story that was so obviously not true? During opening statements, Hirsch held up a penny and said of his client, "He made not a single, shiny penny." Apparently, Keith's defense was not worth a single, shiny penny either.

    Keith's friends, god bless 'em, are still loyal. "This verdict won't have any impact on how people who really know Keith feel about him,'' said Avi Frier, a longtime friend and publisher of the Florida Jewish News. "Keith is honest to his own detriment sometimes. If the jurors knew the real Keith, how he has such great integrity, they wouldn't have convicted him.''

    However, it appears Keith was convicted precisely because the jury saw the "real Keith." The jury was shown in great detail that Keith's conduct did not measure up to his much-vaunted integrity. Thousands of pages of court records shed light on how Wasserstrom operated as a commissioner. The records and e-mails showed Wasserstrom spoke disparagingly of some commission colleagues, helped spread false information about companies bidding for the city sludge contract and asked another lawyer to investigate a resident who opposed Wasserstrom's choice for the contract. This is someone who has "such great integrity?"

    Unfortunately, it appears Keith may still have farther to fall. In February, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation found Wasserstrom voted on projects involving companies that had paid him more than $400,000 for lobbying activities, legal services or to handle transactions through Wasserstrom's title company.

    According to the Sun-Sentinel, through his law firm or title company, Celebrity Title, Wasserstrom received more than $250,000 from MCZ/Centrum Development, which has done four large condominium projects in Hollywood. The records also show his companies received more than $160,000 for lobbying efforts and title work on behalf of Triad Housing Partners, which unsuccessfully sought to build on Hollywood Beach.

    On Feb. 8, Assistant State Attorney Catherine Maus announced two new criminal investigations based on the Sun-Sentinel findings, and two weeks ago she confirmed they remain open but wouldn't comment further.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007


    Outlaw Political Vanity Spending

    South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo wrote recently:

    Ken Jenne is gone as Broward Sheriff, but his felony-tainted name is still everywhere at the Sheriff’s Office – enmeshed in the agency’s logo on shirts, pins, doors, buildings, flags, business cards and stationery.

    It will probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace all the Jenne-branded equipment and supplies.

    Jenne’s not the only one who did this. Just about every elected constitutional officer --from Broward Property Appraiser Lori Parrish to Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes -- plasters their names in as many places as they can.

    Why? Because they want to keep their names familiar to voters. It’s one of the powerful advantages of incumbency.

    Plastering, weaving, printing, embossing, or emblazoning the names of public officeholders into or on every item of personal property belonging to an agency must be at least as expensive as removing the names or replacing the items when a new office holder is elected or appointed. What is the public purpose or justification for spending taxpayers' money on this kind of self-aggrandizement of the office holder? Officials are elected to serve the people, not to gratify their narcissism and massive egos.

    Perhaps the total amount of taxpayer money spent in placing or removing office holder names is not a large percentage of of an agency's annual budget, but why should taxpayers be forced to tolerate such wasteful expenditures of money? The Florida legislature should seriously investigate outlawing or limiting this practice for all Florida public agencies and office holders.

    Monday, September 10, 2007


    Excellent News for Keith Wasserstrom?

    According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

    Broward Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus today dismissed a felony corruption
    charge against suspended Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, saying he is
    "presumed innocent" of obtaining unlawful compensation. That means the
    jury will consider only the four remaining felony charges, that Wasserstrom lied
    on his conflict of interest statements and that he misled the mayor into lying
    on hers. The maximum penalty for each of those counts is five years in
    prison. Lazarus agreed with the defense that the state had failed to prove
    its case on the main corruption count.


    Southwest Airlines: The Clothing Police

    Southwest Airlines, recently in the news for banning a female passenger for wearing clothes one of its agents found too "revealing," apparently also bans passengers for wearing clothes with political messages.

    Southwest boots woman for shirt
    Lorrie Heasley to sue for being asked to leave a flight due to profane, politically charged shirt.

    October 7, 2005: 3:00 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Southwest Airlines kicked a woman off one of its flights over a political message on her T-shirt, the airline confirmed Thursday, and published reports say the passenger will sue.

    Lorrie Heasley, of Woodland, Wash., was asked to leave her flight from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., Tuesday for wearing a T-shirt with pictures of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a phrase similar to the popular film title "Meet the Fockers."

    A spokesman for Southwest Airlines (down $0.03 to $15.18, Research) told CNN that the airline used the "common sense" approach when they decided to escort Heasley from the plane in Reno, Nevada, during a stopover between Los Angeles and Portland, Ore.

    The airline felt that the T-shirt was offensive and that other passengers would be outraged by it, the spokeswoman said, adding that the incident is about "decency."

    "I have cousins in Iraq and other relatives going to war," Heasley told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "Here we are trying to free another country and I have to get off an airplane in midflight over a T-shirt. That's not freedom."

    According to the airline spokeswoman, Heasley was asked to leave after she refused to cover up her T-shirt, an account that conflicts with Heasley's version in the Gazette-Journal.

    Heasley told the newspaper that she agreed to cover her shirt with a sweatshirt, but it slipped as she slept. After she was ordered to wear her T-shirt inside-out or leave, she and her husband chose to leave, the paper said.

    The 32-year-old lumber saleswoman said in the report that no one from Southwest said anything about the shirt while she waited near the gate at Los Angeles International Airport, nor did anyone mention the shirt as she boarded the aircraft.

    Southwest Airlines (down $0.03 to $15.18, Research) spokeswoman Marilee McInnis told the Gazette-Journal that the airline's contract with the Federal Aviation Administration contains rules that say the airline will deny boarding to any customer whose conduct is offensive, abusive, disorderly or violent or for clothing that is "lewd, obscene, or patently offensive."

    FAA spokesman Donn Walker told the newspaper that no federal rules exist on the subject.

    "It's up to the airlines who they want to take and by what rules," he was quoted as saying. "The government just doesn't get into the business of what people wear on an aircraft."

    Heasley wants Southwest to reimburse her and her husband for the last leg of their trip and pay for her gasoline, a $68 rental car from Avis and a $70 hotel bill, according to reports.


    David Bogenschutz: Deceptive Pile of Excrement or Credulous Flunkie?

    A public statement made last year by Fort Lauderdale Attorney David Bogenschutz on behalf of his client former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne does not appear to square with the facts.

    According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Jenne's attorney David Bogenschutz issued a statement on Jenne's behalf last year saying:
    Jenne is an "honest public servant," and, "At no time during [Jenne's]
    long and distinguished career has he ever violated … the trust placed in him
    by the public that he continues to serve."
    However, according to the Sun-Sentinel on September 5, 2007:

    Jenne will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and
    three counts of tax evasion. Another key concession: Jenne will admit that
    he abused the public trust, which increases the odds he will lose his public

    In light of Jenne's admission that he broke the law and abused the public trust, how does Bogenschutz retain any credibility after publicly vouching for Jenne's honesty and declaring that Jenne never violated the public trust? Bogenschutz's statement was more than declaring his client is innocent until proven guilty. Bogenschutz's statement implied that Bogenschutz himself had personally investigated every allegation of wrongdoing that had ever been made against his client and was personally vouching for his client's innocence.

    Perhaps Bogenschutz does not believe that anything Jenne did was dishonest? Perhaps Bogenschutz does not believe what Jenne did violated or abused the public trust? Perhaps Bogenschutz, at the time he issued his statement, did not know what Jenne had done and simply accepted at face-value Jenne's protestations of innocence? Perhaps Bogenschutz simply did not tell the truth?

    Perhaps Bogenschutz is a criminal defense attorney and saw it as his job to make a statement like that on behalf of his client? If so, then why should the public assume any such statement has any truth value?

    Sunday, September 09, 2007


    Wasserstrom Partisans Riding High on Windol Green Testimony May Overly Optimistic

    Avi Frier, publisher of the The Florida Jewish News, launches an impassioned attack on what he sees as the lack of journalistic ethics demonstrated by reporters covering the Keith Wasserstrom scandal here:

    Keith Wasserstrom’s Media Trial
    By Avi Frier - FJN

    "[Journalists should] make certain that headlines, news teases and
    promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations
    do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of
    From the Code of Ethics of theSociety of Professional Journalists

    It seems to me that a number of my colleagues at the Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, New Times, and other local news publications are in dire need of a journalism ethics refresher course.

    Or perhaps I am giving them too much credit; the term "refresher" assumes they ever learned this Code of Ethics in the first place…

    Almost a year ago, when Hollywood Commissioner (and Jewish community activist) Keith Wasserstrom was indicted on corruption charges, a media feeding frenzy began. Seeming to use the prosecution’s statement as their sole source of information, our local newspapers delivered the following "facts"
    of this case (in a nutshell):

    That when the Hollywood City Commission voted to choose Schwing Bioset to process their waste water, they had chosen the company that was "rated dead last" among the other bidders for the contract.

    That by choosing Schwing Bioset, the city was needlessly spending millions of dollars more than they would have/should have/could have spent to get better service from a better provider.

    That Schwing Bioset was chosen because the choice had been orchestrated by Commissioner Wasserstrom.

    That Commissioner Wasserstrom had orchestrated this choice because he stood to make millions of dollars in lobbying fees when cities other than Hollywood hired
    Schwing Bioset to process their waste water as well.

    That getting other cities to hire Schwing Bioset would be very easy once Hollywood was on board, since, through a process known as piggybacking, the other cities could
    circumvent the bidding process, since Hollywood had already researched the
    company and handled the bidding process for them.

    That, although Wasserstrom disclosed his relationship with Schwing Bioset, and filed the necessary Conflict of Interest Disclosure Forms with the city, he knowingly and deceitfully withheld his plans to make millions piggybacking Schwing Bioset into other cities after the Hollywood deal was done.

    So I’m seeing these stories in the newspapers, one after another. At first, I couldn’t believe a word of it. No one who knew Keith could believe these allegations! We’re talking about a truly religious man here. Not a corrupt faker who hides behind his Yarmulke as he cheats you blind. Keith is one of those people you can really trust.
    But then more news reports come out with information that seems to back up the
    allegations. More stories. And more. All front page. And soon, even the people
    who knew Keith were starting to wonder.

    People began to talk. Could he have done it? One news report quoted an elected official in Hollywood, suggesting that Keith wasn’t bad; he was naive. Sure, he did it, but he didn’t mean to.

    More people began to talk. What if he did it, whether he meant to or not?
    Could all of these upstanding, trusted news sources be wrong? You may
    even have wondered the same thing yourself.

    Well, wonder no more. This week, I learned the answer. Our local journalists were more interested in giving you a big story than they were in giving you the whole story.

    Where did I learn this, you ask? I learned it from watching Keith’s trial, which began
    on Tuesday. I learned that Schwing Bioset was "rated dead last" only because
    of their price. They were rated best in every other area: pollution levels, environmental impact, ability to deliver what they promise, etc. But they were
    more expensive, so they lost points in the overall rating scale.

    So, had the City Commission chosen a competitor strictly based on the ratings of the
    committee that analyzed each bidder, they may have saved piles of money, but
    parts of our fair city would stink like piles of dung.

    Could the newspapers have found this out? Sure they could. It was all public record, and the information was located in the same files the reporters had to access in order to deliver the skewed information they did deliver.

    And how about the piggybacking? According to one of the prosecution’s star witnesses, former purchasing director Windol Green, piggybacking would never have applied to a major project like constructing and maintaining a waste water treatment plant. Piggybacking, it turns out, is a process reserved for commodities like computers, paper clips, and golf balls. If Hollywood had gone through the
    competitive bidding process to purchase a truckload of golf balls, and
    Hallandale realized they too needed to purchase a truckload of golf balls, they
    could buy their golf balls from Hollywood’s vendor, since Hollywood had already
    bid out the purchase.

    But for a major project to fill needs specific to each city? Not possible to piggyback. Every city needs to go through their own bidding process. Could the newspapers have found this out? Sure they could.

    Do you think they didn’t interview Windol Green when the story broke? Of course
    they did.

    So if there were so many holes in the case against Keith, why didn’t the local media let us know about any of them?

    The answer is really quite simple.

    In the grand scheme of things, Hollywood is a pretty boring place. We don’t get our fair share of Rush Limbaugh drug busts, Larry Craig bathroom antics, or Michael Vick dog fights. So when a juicy scandal comes our way, we jump at the opportunity!
    So what if we don’t report the whole truth? At least we gave you a great story.
    So what if we ruined a man’s life in the process? At least it didn’t happen to us!
    And what will be when the jury finds him innocent? We’ll either blame a loophole, or bury the story on page 27. We have more important things to do than let you know that what we swore was a scandal really wasn’t! We have bigger, juicier scandals to look for!

    In December 1996, a topless dancer accused Dallas Cowboy Erik
    WIlliams of raping her while teammate Michael Irvin held a gun to her
    head. As one might expect, the media jumped right on it. The pair was found
    guilty in the newspapers and on TV before they were even charged by the
    police. The end result? The accusation was false. The stripper admitted to
    police that she had fabricated the entire story. And Michael Irvin made one
    request of the press: "Rerun it, rewrite it, reprint it," he said. "Just like
    you did, with the same intensity that you did - the same intensity. Don’t lose
    the intensity. Don’t lose the intensity."

    When all this is over, I call upon the Herald, the Sun Sentinel, and the New Times to do the same thing that Michael Irvin requested. Devote as many pages to Keith’s innocence as you did to his guilt. For every time you ran that awful mug shot on the front page, run the dashing headshot with the toothy grin the rest of us are accustomed to. Pursue the truth with the same intensity. Don’t lose the intensity. Don’t lose the intensity.

    However, leaving aside the inaptness of Frier's comparison of a completely fabricated rape story to the actual facts of Wasserstrom's dealings in relation to Schwing (the dispute being whether Wasserstrom's conduct was illegal or not), it may be a bit premature for Mr. Frier to proclaim Wasserstrom's innocence. Under Florida law, Wasserstrom could still be found guilty regardless of whether "piggybacking" was actually a realistic possibility in this instance, or whether or not Wasserstrom actually made "one shiny penny" from the deal. See Sec. 838.016(3), Florida Statutes 2007->Ch0838->Section%20016#0838.016">here.

    See this from Bob Norman of The Daily Pulp Blog:

    The Miami Herald's Todd Wright has proven himself a good reporter, but he got it dead wrong about the Keith Wasserstrom corruption trial in a big way this morning. On a day featuring two star witnesses in the trial -- Mayor Mara Giulianti and Wasserstrom's uncle, Arnold Goldman -- Wright led with ... Windol Green?

    Green, for those of you who don't know who he is (which excludes Mrs. Green), is a former Hollywood bureaucrat who had very little role in the affair. But Wright saw great significance in him, writing:

    Windol Green, now retired, testified that the state's theory about how Wasserstrom planned to profit from a city sludge-processing contract has a fatal flaw: There was no money to be made, Green said.
    Prosecutors said Wasserstrom expected to pocket lobbying fees when other cities ''piggybacked'' on the 2004 Schwing Bioset contract. But Green told jurors there's no way other cities would have tried to share that contract.

    Wright then belabored Green's testimony in his article, writing that it "appeared to damage the state's case significantly."

    Poppycock, utter nonsense. Green's statement about piggybacking, in the eyes of the law, is absolutely meaningless. The statute for the unlawful compensation specifically states that it doesn't matter whether or not money was made by the elected official -- it's the intent and whether a corrupt deal was struck that matters.

    In other words, being incompetent doesn't excuse corruption.

    And the fact that a corrupt deal was solidified later in the day, when Goldman, the real star of the day (Mara notwithstanding), testified that he and Wasserstrom were planning for other municipalities -- including Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade -- to piggyback on the Hollywood contract as they pushed the Schwing Bioset contract through Hollywood. And that, good jury, is all that matters.

    UPDATE: September 10, 2007 - Excellent news for Keith Wasserstrom:

    According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

    Broward Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus today dismissed a felony corruption charge against suspended Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, saying he is "presumed innocent" of obtaining unlawful compensation. That means the jury will consider only the four remaining felony charges, that Wasserstrom lied on his conflict of interest statements and that he misled the mayor into lying on hers. The maximum penalty for each of those counts is five years in prison. Lazarus agreed with the defense that the state had failed to prove its case on the main corruption count.


    Politicians Behaving Badly: Former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne

    Fla. Sheriff Resigns in Corruption Probe


    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne resigned Tuesday [September 4, 2007] after agreeing to plead guilty to federal tax evasion and mail fraud charges after a corruption investigation uncovered crimes in his outside business dealings, federal prosecutors said.

    The plea deal came as Jenne faced a possible grand jury indictment on more serious money-laundering charges, and it likely will mean at least a year in prison for the longtime force in state Democratic politics.

    Under the agreement signed Friday, Jenne will plead guilty to three counts of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said.

    "Ken Jenne has been a staple of South Florida government for decades. For many years, he served Broward County well," Acosta said. "But he stayed too long, and in the end, he lost sight of what it means to serve the public."

    The total involved in the wrongdoing amounted to more than $80,000, including payments made from sheriff's office vendors to Jenne's secretaries, who arranged for the money to go to his personal accounts.

    Jenne made his resignation official Tuesday morning in an e-mail to his employees and in a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

    "I need to turn my attention to myself and my family," Jenne wrote in the e-mail.

    As St. Petersburg Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet put it here: "Jenne sold his office and his integrity for about $84,000."

    I find Jenne's statement interesting. When Jenne was putting $84,000 from Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) vendors in his own greedy little pockets, where was Jenne's attention turned other than to himself and his family?

    I think it is also fair to ask where was this egomaniacal scumbag's attention turned to other than himself when he plastered his name on practically every item of personal property and parcel of real property belonging to the BSO such that it is now going to cost Broward County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove his name?

    When Jenne began the job as Sheriff, he had the BSO logo redesigned to include his name. Now, getting rid of it from the many places it’s located is a daunting task, BSO officials said.

    The logo, which prominently featured the words ''Ken Jenne'', has been displayed throughout BSO's 14 district buildings, as well as on SWAT uniforms, supplies, stationery and promotional items.

    “I’m 69 and was a journalist for 40 years and I never seen an elected official put his name on so many things, said John de Groot a former aid of Jenne.

    BSO has already ordered 82,000 labels to cover Jenne’s name on binders, letterheads and envelopes.

    Some SWAT team members have used masking tape on the back of their black T-shirts to cover Jenne’s logo and they’ve written in acting Sheriff Lamberti’s name. Others simply used black marker to scribble out Jenne’s name.

    Lamberti said he has no intention of putting his name on such items. "It's not about me. It's about the men and women who work here. It's about them. The agency doesn’t belong to me."


    Great Quote

    "No man is fit to govern who hesitates about disobliging the few who have access to him for the sake of the many he will never see."

    ----British politician Thomas Babington Macaulay.

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