Let's look at the bright side of the latest scandal to rock the Hollywood Police Department: When four cops get busted, it usually means promotions for a few good cops. This would certainly be the case in a department that badly needs some tweaking of its apparent culture of corruption. With calls for Chief James Scarberry's resignation, there are plenty of incentives to make at least a symbolic effort at polishing the department's awful image.
Sgt. Jeff Courtney was among the four Hollywood cops busted in an FBI sting taking cash from undercover agents seeking police protection for drugs and illegal gambling. Surely, Tailpipe surmised, the department would fill his position with a qualified officer of unimpeachable integrity. Good, hard-working cops do exist in the department, though they're often afraid to speak out publicly for fear of retaliation from the bad cops still on the force.
Those sources tell Tailpipe that, to fill Courtney's vacancy, the Hollywood Police have promoted Officer Brian Joynt.
If the name sounds vaguely familiar, check the New Times archives ("Hollywood's Finest," June 30, 2006). That's Officer Joynt, who in 2000 aroused the suspicion of Fort Lauderdale cops when they noticed his van regularly cruising a drug-dealing hot spot. The incident led to a performance review that found Joynt's paperwork to be often full of inaccuracies. The review also found that he took long stretches of sick leave with no explanation and that neighborhood activists had seen him parking his squad car for hours on end near the same Hollywood Beach bar.
After the chief ordered Joynt to submit to a drug test, a sample of hair came back positive for ecstasy - a finding Joynt blamed on nasal medication and prescription medication for dental work. Scarberry fired Joynt in 2000, but Joynt won an appeal by arguing that the officer who conducted his drug test didn't wear rubber gloves.
Still, Joynt was listed as one of 42 problem cops identified in an independent investigation of the department.
After five years behind a desk, plus another two on patrol, Joynt is now reportedly a commanding officer in Hollywood. Tailpipe hoped to speak with Joynt, but Capt. Tony Rode, the department spokesman who handles those media requests, did not return calls.
What's the lesson here? Says one officer: "It seems like the only guys who don't get promoted are the good cops."
Since Tailpipe delved into a kayaking incident in the Port Everglades entrance channel two weeks ago, the anti-Tailpipe missives and anonymous obscenities have rained down, both on the New Times website and on the letters-to-the-editor page.
Tailpipe got the story all wrong, say members of the January 20 meetup.com kayaking excursion, during which a participant was rescued from the path of an oncoming tanker. "To say that this story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright embellishments is putting it very mildly," one e-mail claimed. The piece "borders on slander," another said.
Kai Story, leader of the meetup.com group, who categorically refused to discuss the incident with Tailpipe before publication, has suddenly become a chatterbox. Tailpipe's account, he wrote in a letter to the editor, "is completely inaccurate and damaging people." The only error made was the kayaker's failure to wear a life jacket, Story wrote.
This is a pathetic crock.
Here's what's indisputable about the excursion: At least one member of the group, identified as Jack Bauer, drifted away from the safety of the north wall of the channel into more open water. Bauer's open-cockpit kayak swamped, and Bauer ended up in the water. A freighter being towed by two tugboats was coming into the port. John Estey, captain of a passing towboat that was bringing a disabled pleasure boat into port, pulled Bauer out of the water before the tanker reached him.
How close was the approaching fuel-laden tanker? Estey said it was about 75 feet away. In his opinion, if Bauer had not been rescued when he was, he would have died.
Members of the meetup.com group say it was nowhere near that, though a picture on the meetup website shows a huge ship looming over Estey's towboat. But even they have acknowledged that the tugboats that controlled the 800-foot ship were blasting their horns and furiously reversing to slow it down. Wrote one kayaker just after the excursion: "Honestly, I can't stop laughing. The tugboats screaming at us to get out of the way...")
Even Story admitted in his remarks on the web that Bauer's "flipped" kayak came at "the worst place and time" and that it was a situation "that could've quickly led to disaster." He concluded: "Were mistakes made? ... YES... and valuable lessons learned too."
So why are these guys massaging the truth and attacking Tailpipe? Noted one e-mail: "These comments [by Story and other members of the meetup.com group] are being used as some sort of damage control... Kai, while a great guy & paddler, has effectively co-opted the meet-up idea and site to run his own personal guide & rental business."
It's time for Story to own up to the errors including his own. Lesson number one: Maybe the worst place from which to assess a close encounter with a big ship is the cockpit of a kayak.) Continue to plan trips, Kai. Learn your lessons, and while you're at, stick it in your ear.
Take Mitch Ceasar. Please.
Mitch Ceasar, don't quit your day job. In a March 1 appearance on NBC 6's morning show, South Florida Today, the chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party admitted to having aspirations toward a career in comedy. Jealous that the star of Judge Larry Seidlin is rising faster than his own, and maybe hoping that some Hollywood producers were still watching, Ceasar broke into a lounge act commentary on the Anna Nicole Smith case.
"What you really have is a white trash soap opera, but frankly that's being incredibly unfair to white trash," Ceasar quipped.
Rough start. Take another shot, chairman. What do you make of those reports that prior to her death Anna Nicole was seen staggering around the Hollywood Hard Rock casino, apparently in a drug-induced haze?
"I don't think it had anything to do with drugs. My explanations have to do with the fact she got an incredibly slanted breast implant."
Pretty crude stuff, Mitch. This material would make Andrew Dice Clay gag.
"The real issue has been about the disposition of Anna Nicole's body -- not... how many guys in North America have been with that body."
That crack offends on several levels -- mostly for its complete lack of originality or wit. Crowd's turning against you, Mitch. Speed it up.
"We know what it means when an attorney faints in South Florida. What does it mean?"
Mitch, no one's asking that question but you. No one wants to hear the answer. We've got to
Fair enough. You're going out with a bang.
"South Florida continues to be the Bermuda Triangle of weirdness, but unlike the Bermuda Triangle, unfortunately, nobody disappears."
That's where you're wrong, Mitch. Give him the hook, boys.
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Ten minutes later after the instructional segment on growing orchids host Tony Segreto slapped on a grave expression and stated: "We're getting a number of comments already about Mitch Ceasar, who we had on earlier." Indeed, Segreto had introduced Ceasar as a "good friend," joking that he was such a regular that the station gave him a 401(K). But Ceasar's comedic turn may have put the kibosh on all of that.
"We wanted to apologize for some of the comments (Ceasar) made," Segreto said. "We certainly did not expect the comments that he made today to come out the way they did. As it is now, NBC 6 is not planning to have him back on the show."
The crowd goes wild.
As told to Edmund Newton