By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
If there's one thing that South Florida has in bountiful profusion, it's egregious behavior. New Times staffers are connoisseurs of the scandals, scams, malfeasances, and outrages that blossom in the Broward-Palm Beach sunshine. Every year, they like to reflect on the worst of the worst. Here are their favorites for 2005:
He didn't just rip out the Marlins' guts; he jettisoned the legs (Juan Pierre), the shoulders (Carlos Delgado), the back (Josh Beckett), the heart (Mike Lowell), the soul (Jeff Conine), and the pierced nipples (A.J. Burnett), even though the team was a decent middle reliever shy of contending again in the National League East. "You're giving us a minor league team at major league prices," one Marlins fan fumed during a party this month for season-ticket holders. (There will be no refunds, the team announced. Now, step away from the box-office window.) Loria will sink even further into South Florida infamy when he follows through on his threatened move to another city. Of course, it'll be easier to move the team without all those bloated salaries. By then, though, fans will be so tired of seeing the Marlins lose that they'll cheer the moving vans.
Who could ever forget Brooks? The chief executive of DHB Industries, parent company of Point Blank Body Armor in Pompano Beach has made millions as one of the nation's premier war profiteers. Point Blank has raked in $700 million, largely from no-bid government contracts, despite sending defective body armor to the troops overseas. According to recent lawsuits, Brooks cashed in about $185 million worth of shares just before news broke that the military would recall thousands of defective vests. But war profiteers are a dime a dozen. We'll always remember Brooks as the impresario of a $10 million bat mitzvah party for his daughter in November at New York's Rainbow Room, complete with performances by 50 Cent and members of Aerosmith. According to reports, Brooks donned a hot-pink jumpsuit with chains and diamonds for the occasion
The mayor of Hollywood has this vision for her city, see. Skyscraping condominium towers, a police department that will kick your ass if you ask questions, and, well, a boooring nightlife. Of course, she doesn't talk to us any more, but we get the picture from recent actions. Mayor Mara has been issuing incentive checks to condo developers as if they were supermarket discount coupons. Among the most egregious is a proposed $8 million incentive for two political insiders former city employee Cynthia Miller and former City Commissioner and state Rep. Ken Gottlieb to build yet more condos on city-owned land. While disregarding serious problems in the city's Police Department, she has gone after the city's lively (gasp!) nightclubs. In July, she led a victorious effort to put tighter restrictions on alcohol licenses, while DJs were prohibited from spinning records past midnight in establishments that serve alcohol. The reason: DJs were promoting "anti-establishment feelings." Now, just who represents the establishment around here?
The mayor of Riviera Beach is doing his best to turn over a large tract of his city to developers, while homeowners are taking pure, unmitigated selfishness to unforeseen heights. These sociopaths want to keep their houses. In what may be the biggest eminent-domain case in the U.S. since the 1960s, Brown is pushing for residents who live on the waterfront to git out and make way for a jet-set playland, including yacht basin, aquarium, and condominiums. As for the homeowners, they should make an all-American "sacrifice." If they'll just get over themselves. "For their own selfish reasons, some people want to live near the water and pay little or no taxes," he says. "Who wouldn't? But city government has to look out for all residents." Those holdouts are "cheating the poorest members of our community," Brown adds. In fact, most of the residents who would have to relocate are black and working class. Meanwhile, Brown has some 'splainin' to do on other fronts. Like, why did he rack up thousands on city credit cards to pay for dinners at Carmine's, plane tickets for his girlfriend, Dolphins tickets, and clothes from Chico's?
The Broward County Circuit judge sentenced a 19-year-old "near-illiterate" prospective juror to four months in the clink (he ended up serving 30 days) after he misrepresented himself on a questionnaire. The man, who had been twice arrested for minor offenses but not convicted, asserted that he didn't have an arrest record. Couldn't she just have chopped off one of his hands? Then the Miami Herald reported that O'Connor herself failed to disclose on her 2003 judicial application complaints alleging racial and religious discrimination that a black prosecutor and a Jewish prosecutor filed against her when she headed the Fort Lauderdale U.S. Attorney's Office. The jailed juror said he didn't understand the questions asked of him in the selection process, but what was O'Connor's excuse? The state board that reviews justices declined to file formal charges, but it could ask another question: Are you a vindictive hypocrite or just dim?
Even for residents of Boca Raton, the home of rich reprobates, this former Tyco CEO stands out. Last June, Kozlowski was convicted, along with his former finance chief, Mark Swartz, of looting Tyco of more than $600 million. The lavish spending on the company dime has become legend. Before he was caught, Kozlowski, 58, the son of a Newark, New Jersey, police detective, acquired an $18 million apartment on Fifth Avenue, a Nantucket beach house, and an eye-opening waterfront mansion in Boca. He tooled around on a Harley, plied the waves on his own yacht, partied with A-list celebrities, and made generous donations of Tyco money to charities, who thought their benefactor was the ever-charming Kozlowski. But he became famous for hosting a $2 million toga party in Sardinia for his wife's birthday, complete with an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David that served as a vodka dispenser. Kozlowski is now serving a 25-year sentence on grand larceny and other charges.