Undercurrents

When Americans With Disabilities Act Out

One man might really appreciate what's happening in Plantation. But unfortunately, Richard Nixon is dead. We must not forget, however, that we owe Tricky Dick for immersing us in the dark side of politics. Otherwise the Plantation story might be shocking. It goes like this: A crusading, antiestablishment Plantation councilman named Lee Hillier asks a disabled guy to snoop in city buildings to make sure they're in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Then a status-quo Plantation councilman named Ron Jacobs gets the city to hire a private investigator to snoop into the disabled guy's life. Jacobs was clearly trying to cover up the city's ADA violations by slandering someone -- a cripple no less. All you had to do was read City Link last week to see that it was a simple case of Good (disabled guy) vs. Evil (Plantation government). But the disabled guy in question, one Fred Shotz, isn't quite the do-gooder fellow City Link made him out to be. In fact the guy should be investigated. And he was.

Shotz is a former Yippie who claims he broke his back at Woodstock when he was hit by a car. He then came to South Florida, where he leapt into nudism with a vengeance. Later he and his wife became the "Love Doctors" and marketed themselves as "family therapists" who could teach regular folks how to have really good sex. They got a radio show, sold soft-porn "instructional" videos, and became expert witnesses in sex cases. Problem: They weren't doctors. The state did some snooping, and in 1991 they were both convicted of lying about their backgrounds. The law was later overturned, but that doesn't change the essential fact: Shotz was not who he claimed to be.

Shotz then got into the ADA game. He got in a wheelchair and started measuring ramps and ashtrays and toilet paper dispensers. He found violations everywhere he looked and made money by telling businesses how to fix them. Shotz is a paid expert witness in ADA cases, and he also sues governments and businesses in federal court. He admits that he's been accused by some of his potential customers of extortion: Either hire Shotz or he'll sue your ass. Shotz denies he's ever done this.

Now Shotz is suing Plantation for snooping on him. What Jacobs did certainly wasn't laudable. But what Hillier did -- bringing Shotz into this mess -- was worse. "If I'd known about his past," Hillier admits, "I wouldn't have asked Shotz.


"Lois, we're sorry. In last week's issue, we kind of picked on Broward school board member Lois Wexler for her voting to hire renowned influence-peddler Billy Rubin as a school board lobbyist. Rubin, we pointed out, funneled Wexler some $2000 in campaign contributions before he was hired. And we quoted education activist Charlotte Greenbarg as saying Rubin's hiring was "political payback."

What we didn't make clear was that Greenbarg was talking about nearly all the board members, not just Wexler. Wexler, bless her heart, simply provided us the best example. Rubin also funneled $1000 or more (usually more) to the campaigns of Paul Eichner, Judie Budnick, Diana Wasserman-Rubin, Miriam Oliphant, Darla Carter, Robert Parks, and Carole Andrews -- none of whom opposed giving Rubin the $110,000 contract. The only one not lavished with Rubin dough was Stephanie Kraft -- and she was the lone board member who didn't vote for him. Hmm. Do we detect a pattern here?

 
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