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
Santeramo is now under criminal investigation by the Broward State Attorney's Office and the Broward Sheriff's Office. The Federal Elections Commission has launched a separate inquiry into the campaign donations, which were given primarily to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink.
Meanwhile, the American Federation of Teachers sent an administrator down to Broward to run daily operations and help get the union out of its current mess. Perhaps former School Board members Stephanie Kraft and Beverly Gallagher will have some advice for Santeramo on how to handle his new abundance of free time.
7. Donald Trump
Donald Trump didn't cause everything that's wrong with America — that would mean he actually followed through on something. But he's certainly a symbol of our troubled times. Trump's popularity shows that the American people are willing to blindly accept a man not for what he is but for what he says he is. Not because he's made our lives better but because he's the loudest, rudest voice in the gladiatorial sparklefest that has usurped our national discourse. Why do we worship a man whose real-estate deals, political future, and hairdo are largely false promises?
The Donald is not going to make us rich. And he's certainly not going to take a job so laborious and degrading as leader of the free world. In fact, he's going to keep doing the only thing he's good at: sticking his name on other people's massive projects and telling us, through every available media channel, that we're not as good as he is. Trump blustered onto the South Florida scene when he bought Palm Beach's opulent Mar-a-Lago estate in 1985. Since then, he's peppered our land with buildings bearing his name. There's the Trump Hollywood condominium, which sits mostly empty like an unfinished thought, a Potemkin village of beachfront arrogance. There's the Trump International Hotel, a monstrous building on Fort Lauderdale beach that was abandoned partway through construction and now faces foreclosure. Trump stripped his name from the building in 2010, ducking out when it looked like the project was going to fail.
Trump titillated the world when he announced this spring that he might, just might, be running for president. The media salivated to follow his every move. Eventually he gave up, plodding back to another season fake-firing people on The Apprentice. Finally, people started to realize that this man should get nowhere near credible politics. Most members of the Republican primary circus turned down invitations to a debate that Trump was scheduled to "moderate" December 27. Even Michele Bachmann, the embodiment of irrelevant posturing, had other things to do. Finally, Trump backed out of that promise as well.
When you see silliness and ineptitude around here, look deeper. There's a good chance it's just a blemish above a rotten core. Last year, we railed on this Deerfield Beach city commissioner's bungled handling of the city's annual Mango Festival, which spent $25,000 of city money on wasted food, a broken sound system, and a handful of disappointed guests.
Meanwhile, Poitier had more trouble cooking. In April, county prosecutors charged her with five misdemeanor counts of falsifying public information. The charges stemmed from a high-interest loan she arranged years ago from her brother to a city agency, the Westside Deerfield Businessman Association. Poitier's daughter and cousin already worked at the housing-related agency, and her brother Lionel Ferguson stood to profit nicely from his loan of $46,000.
That would have been perfectly legal (though decidedly sketchy) if Poitier had simply followed the rules and declared this conflict of interest when her turn came to vote on matters related to the agency. But she didn't. In fact, in May 2006, she proposed a shift of $100,000 in grant funding to the agency, then voted "yes" on her own proposal — all without uttering a peep about brother dearest.
The charges from April of this year don't involve that specific action. Instead, they name other occasions when she did abstain because of her daughter and cousin but failed to mention her brother. Apparently a half-truth isn't enough for Broward County prosecutors, and it shouldn't be enough for the people that Poitier and her colleagues across the county claim to represent.
When her trial began in mid-November, Poitier's supporters piled onto a bus to the courthouse and packed the room. "Good morning, Sylvia," they chorused. Mayor Jean Robb, who had rented the bus, told her, "I need you back in your seat on Wednesday." Not so fast: Poitier was found guilty on four counts. Her sentencing is in January.
9. Al Lamberti
If the Broward Sheriff's Office deputy who's putting the cuffs on you is an attractive, busty woman in uniform, remember to smile. There may be cameras nearby.
In 2009, Sheriff Al Lamberti made a deal with Discovery Communications to feature BSO deputies on the TLC show Police Women of Broward County. The result is like a mashup of Cops and Real Housewives. It features the officers chasing down perps for drug-dealing, burglary, and rape — and also at home and off-duty. One episode showed Detective Andrea Penoyer in a pink bikini, sunbathing at the beach. It's nice for empowered women on the job to get some credit, especially in a male-dominated field. But critics of the show, including Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, say that its premise is salacious and that BSO's dalliance with celebrity is wholly inappropriate. "The show is nothing more than train-wreck television that exploits victims and arrestees alike for shock value and ratings," wrote Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes in a court document.
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