Hooray for Hollywood

Even with a housing bust and bad court verdicts, the show goes on.

Giulianti's administration has even less support among condo-owners on the beach, another powerful lobby.

"The people who live here and vote here, she doesn't care a whole lot about how we feel," says Cynthia Greene-Eason, president of Condos of Hollywood Beach. Greene-Eason's homeowner's insurance has tripled in the past year, an experience common among her members. With property taxes increasing at the same time, it's becoming too expensive even for these relatively wealthy residents. On the other hand, the real estate market is so soft, they can't sell.

The condo residents on the beach want their neighborhood to keep its village-like character, but that may not be a priority shared by Giulianti, who seems to want more condos.

Commissioner Beam Furr says skeptics like Andre Brown (following image) need to have faith.
Commissioner Beam Furr says skeptics like Andre Brown (following image) need to have faith.
Andre Brown
Andre Brown

"The whole city is being built into oblivion," an exasperated Greene-Eason says. "I look out from my 17th-floor condo, and there are cranes everywhere. It looks like Jerusalem, Israel."

Giulianti has ruled Hollywood for 20 years — with a two-year hiatus between 1990 and 1992 following an electoral defeat — but if she wants to keep her throne, she must hope that by the election in March 2008, her ambitious redevelopment plans have finally borne fruit.

The public-corruption case against Wasserstrom figures to be the most combustible issue in the next mayoral campaign. Broward State Attorney Michael Satz has charged Wasserstrom with four counts of official misconduct and one count of unlawful compensation in connection with his lobbying for Schwing Bioset, a wastewater treatment company that sought — and received — a sewer contract from Hollywood.

In that vote, commissioners were asked to overlook the apparent conflicts of interest that came with the contract and to spend more money for the sake of future profit, because this was an opportunity that couldn't be missed.

Though Wasserstrom recused himself from the commission vote on Schwing Bioset, he is accused of falsifying conflict-of-interest forms in which he claimed not to be a paid lobbyist. Wasserstrom has admitted publicly, in a New Times article ("Ooh, That Smell!" April 15, 2004), that in exchange for his marketing Schwing Bioset, he would be compensated by Normandy Group as a paid lobbyist for the company, which is run by Arnold Goldman, the ex-husband of Wasserstrom's aunt.

Wasserstrom also alleged that Giulianti's son Stacey, a partner in Wasserstrom's law firm, was "involved." Indeed, Giulianti recused herself from voting on the contract. But she denies knowledge of Wasserstrom's double-dealing.

She agreed to answer questions from New Times via e-mail.

"He [Wasserstrom] never told me anything," Giulianti writes. "I learned about [Wasserstrom's] relationship when he said things publicly at the meeting."

But she admits to pursuing the matter in a private capacity. "I was so confused about what [Wasserstrom's] relationship was with Arnold Goldman and whether or not he was his uncle that I finally emailed ONE EMAIL, unfortunately, from my home, asking Mr. Goldman to explain his relationship so that I could file a conflict-of-interest form that is accurate."

Giulianti is at a loss to explain the e-mail's disappearance. "I always copy myself at City Hall on anything that is about city business," she says. "I don't know why or how this one was lost."

In lieu of that note, she offers a summary: "He had sold his business in Boca and was bored," Giulianti says of Goldman. "Keith was very excited about a wonderful project and told [Goldman] that the Native Americans involved were from out of state and needed a contact here. He [Wasserstrom] referred them to him [Goldman]."

The arrangement sounds anything but benign: A city commissioner hooks up a family friend as a lobbyist for a business, then that commissioner lobbies his own city to accept that business' pitch with the expectation that he'll soon be paid, not directly by the firm but through the family friend.

Giulianti — who doesn't explain why, if she was privy to this arrangement, she didn't blow the whistle herself — abstained from a vote on the Schwing Bioset contract out of concern for her own conflict through her son. "I asked my son what I should do — if I had a conflict. He said he didn't know much about it, but that I should just do whatever Keith asked me to do."

Was she herself subpoenaed? "Yes, I was subpoenaed," she says. "I probably would not have testified if it was up to me to do voluntarily." In fact, in its case filings, state prosecutors allege that Wasserstrom misled Giulianti about his relationship with Schwing Bioset.

But that doesn't mean Giulianti is safe from criminal indictment. Documents made public November 7 suggest the mayor had a bigger role in the Schwing Bioset contract than she's admitted publicly. There were several e-mails between Giulianti and Goldman, rather than the one she has claimed. (Others were lost when computers belonging to Giulianti, Wasserstrom, and Goldman all mysteriously crashed.) And their exchanges were far more detailed than Giulianti has acknowledged. At various points in the correspondence, the mayor gives Goldman advice about how to win a favorable vote from a hold-out on the commission, Fran Russo.

Russo did not return calls seeking comment.

Giulianti is now trying to distance herself from Wasserstrom. In her statements to New Times, she took exception to a question identifying Wasserstrom as her ally on redevelopment issues. "Keith was not an ally any more than Fran [Russo], Cathy [Anderson], and often, Beam [Furr]," Giulianti writes.

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