The Dirty Dozen of 2007

Rush, Naugle, Loria... and, hey, what's going on in the criminal justice system?

Jim Naugle — It was a year of rampant foot-in-mouthness for the longtime Fort Lauderdale mayor, beginning with wild charges about the city needing to protect itself against homosexual mashers who use public restrooms for trysts. The city needed a $250,000, sex-proof beach restroom, Naugle said. He went on to characterize homosexuals as not "gay" but "unhappy." Not satisfied with the stir that created, he called a news conference to make an apology — and promptly apologized for underestimating the severity of the problem of gays hooking up in public bathrooms, noting a growth of HIV infections in Broward County. The result was big demonstrations against Naugle at City Hall by irate gay groups and complaints from representatives of the tourism industry that he was alienating some of Fort Lauderdale's best-heeled visitors. DM reading: 6 (Neanderthal grandstander.)

Fitzroy Salesman — The Miramar commissioner got agitated in a local Winn Dixie in November and pulled out a .45, shouting, "Do you know who I am? I will shut this bitch down." Salesman is the Dirty Dozen's own Dirty Harry, a hard-living gunslinger who happens to be a real-life player in the South Florida political scene. He narrowly kept his seat on the Miramar commission when he was acquitted on a drunken-driving charge in 2006. He's also a chum of County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, who can count on Salesman to support marginally shady deals like a proposed Miramar contract with a waste management company for whom Eggelletion was a lobbyist. Salesman dutifully leaped to support that cause, even though the contract was voted down by the rest of the Miramar City Commission. You'd think that flashing a .45 in a supermarket might end a political career. That may happen now that the state attorney is bringing aggravated-assault charges against Salesman, with a possible mandatory three-year minimum jail sentence. DM reading: 7 (Take that gun away.)

Rush Limbaugh — He's bloviator numero uno, selected here not for his relentless drumming for the Bush party line but for the lies he spreads about global warming: It's all an invention of "environmental wackos," Limbaugh tells his 12 million weekly listeners, despite scientific proof to the contrary. When Charlee Lockwood, an 18-year-old Yup'ik Eskimo from Alaska, told a congressional committee that climate change had pushed moose far away northward, decimated fish at her family's fish camp, and reduced wild berries, Limbaugh said her account made him "really want to puke. I just want to throw up." Testimony like Lockwood's, he said, was just Democrats "exploiting a young child" in order to "grow the size of the government and increase their control over everyone." Lockwood, undismayed, said global warming threatened her and her people's traditional way of life. DM reading: 10 (Promoter of the big, dangerous lie.)

Ray Ferrero Jr.
Ray Ferrero Jr.
Jeffrey Loria
Jeffrey Loria

James Baker — Dania Beach water treatment plant supervisor James Baker almost single-handedly tried to resurrect Jim Crow rules in his city department, segregating black employees in a separate bathroom, relegating them to behind-the-building parking spots, and displaying a Confederate flag in his office. It was "you people" when he addressed black employees. Of course, Baker didn't get fired by the city for all of this. He got sensitivity training. DM reading: 7 (Where are his supervisors?)

Stacy Ritter — The two-headed political creature known as Ritter/Klenet — for County Commissioner Stacy Ritter and her husband, lobbyist Russ Klenet — is a force to contend with when vying for county business. It works something like this: As a commissioner, Ritter helps to steer public business to certain companies (and sometimes even votes for them); Klenet and/or his lobbying firm represent companies that profit from those contracts. Two companies that come to mind are URS Corp., the construction contractor overseeing projects at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, and Vista Health Plan, which provides health services to the county. Both had links to lobbying firms that Klenet worked for. Both were favored by Ritter for lucrative county contracts. But, hey, who's worried? This is Broward. DM reading: 9 (Shocking shenanigans.)

Michael Gates — He sent Donald Baker to jail in 2004 based largely on evidence from a jury-rigged video, purportedly showing Baker assaulting a deputy in a jailhouse incident in 2003. The video had mysterious lapses, Baker complained, so it failed to show how deputies were actually assaulting him. Circuit Court Judge Gates clucked his tongue, invited Baker to appeal, and then sent the hapless Hollywood man to cool his heels in jail for five years. Granted, this is what happens every day to defendants who can't afford a dream team at the defense table. But presented with evidence that stank to high heaven, Gates' indifference here is extraordinary. Oh yeah: Gates let Baker out in November, almost three years into his sentence, on the condition that Baker give up his right to appeal, among other things. True, the heartless system chews up hapless folks such as Baker and spits them out like used-up gum. But it's the Judge Gateses who keep the grinders grinding. DM reading: 8 (Unprotesting injustice cog.)

Larry Seidlin — For a few weeks last year, Seidlin controlled the fate of the corpse of Anna Nicole Smith, a situation that could move him to tears. But the sentimental judge apparently has a flipside: a lust for material things. And it gets ugly sometimes. New Times' Bob Norman revealed that Seidlin allegedly used his seat on the bench to extract gifts (including an expensive Louis Vuitton purse for Mrs. Seidlin) from at least one lawyer representing clients in his courtroom. He also allegedly wheedled big bucks out of an elderly widow in his Fort Lauderdale apartment building, including tuition payments for his daughter's private school and a discount on the price of an apartment the old lady owned. Seidlin retired from the bench last summer. Now he's supposedly up for one of those whimsical TV judge shows. He's also reportedly under investigation by the State Attorney's Office. DM reading: 7 (Just another petty chiseler.)

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