Broward County has some tall buildings, lots of yachts with eight-digit price tags, and a billionaire or two, but it doesn't have celebrities. Oh, there's that overexposed football player guy who'll do a television pitch for anything from chicken wings to drain-clearing gadgets if you pay him enough money. But genuine, klieg-lighted, paparazzi fodder?
Tailpipe has big hopes for Stacey Honowitz. The 44-year-old state prosecutor, number two in the Broward State Attorney's Office's Sexual Battery Unit, has become a fixture on the evening talk-show circuit. You want the prosecutorial side of a major sex case? Honowitz pops right out of the Rolodexes of producers for Larry King, Nancy Grace, Joe Scarborough, Greta Van Susteren, and the rest. She can be counted on to come in with a measured assessment of the odd angles in Michael Jackson's pedophilia trial or what the evidence seems to show in the Duke lacrosse team case while muscling past big-mouthed, defense-minded bloviators like Mark Geragos.
She's also attractive. Certifiably so. Six years ago, Glamour magazine gave her a Best of You award for having the most beautiful lips in the country and using them to help others (speaking out for rape victims and children who have been molested). The 'Pipe has always been partial to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo in the lips department, but he concedes that Honowitz does have a sultry, warrior-like demeanor, with that Joan of Arc pageboy and aquiline nose, somewhat reminiscent of Jennifer Garner about to deliver a roundhouse kick. (You say, what difference does it make what she looks like? Back off, lacy boy. We're talkin' about television and celebrities here.)
And the kick-ass Honowitz whether she's correctly identified as a Broward assistant state attorney or (as is more likely the case) misidentified as a "Miami prosecutor" or "Florida state attorney" speaks from the perspective of her 19 years as a sex crimes prosecutor.
"I started getting calls about eight years ago, because I was involved with a lot of high-profile cases," Honowitz says.
Those cases have not always been unmitigated triumphs for Honowitz. Her prosecution five years ago of Beth Friedman, the North Lauderdale teacher accused of having sex with one of her seventh-grade students, ended with acquittals on ten felonies. Friedman was found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, and given a year of probation. More recently, Honowitz's case this year against alleged nannycam baby assailant Claudia Muro ended with acquittals on all charges after a video that purported to show her violently shaking an infant was found by experts to be unreliable.
Still, Honowitz has spent a lot of time in court at the prosecutor's table, and she's made a lot of appearances on television.
The formula for hyping interest in a hot crime story on the national talk shows is this: Get a reporter who's covering the current trial (or the arrest of the defendant) to give a brief synopsis, then call in a stable of lawyers to analyze, argue, and bluster, often based on little more than what they've read in the papers. The defense lawyers never concede that, say, the guy photographed plunging a knife into a victim's back might be guilty. The prosecutors see traces of evil in every defendant's passionate profession of innocence.
Honowitz can't match Nancy Grace for sheer, eye-rolling, venomous dismissal of any defense claim. But she can still dish out a mean plate of incrimination.
Asked by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC whether she believed child killer Andrea Yates' insanity plea is credible, Honowitz exploded. "She murdered five kids," Honowitz said. "She's not insane." For sure?
Honowitz says she's careful not to tread on other prosecutors' toes. "I'm not in a position to criticize any other person" involved in a trial, she says. "I'm not there to be the Monday-morning quarterback."
That doesn't apply to judges or defense lawyers, though. Pity the judge who lets a convicted child molester off easy.
"Why these judges choose to let offenders go free or let them live in a neighborhood and be in the environment, they`re setting themselves back up," she said. "Because what happens is, inevitably they re-offend."
So what does Broward State Attorney Mike Satz think about Honowitz's side job as a TV pundit? "We ask that anyone who is asked to appear on TV clear it with Chuck Morton, our chief assistant state prosecutor, or Mr. Satz, even for the occasional afterwork appearances like these that don't involve our cases," Satz spokesman Ron Ishoy tells the 'Pipe.
Tailpipe says, keep it coming, Stacey. She's not always right, her positions can be knee-jerk prosecutorial, and she's giving the ineffectual Satz a pit-bull image. But at least she lends a little glamour to our lackluster Broward precincts.
Craig Discovers La Ti Da
Local Internet scavengers finally got a measure of recognition when fortlauderdale.craigslist.org went live. Craigslist, a free classified-ads site with eyecatching postings for used couches and chump jobs and no-strings-attached sex, added Fort Lauderdale among its hundreds of Hydra heads because of "noisy user requests," a flack explained to Tailpipe.
Browardites had apparently been reduced to using the Miami and West Palm sites to troll for sugar daddies and sublets. One such user posted a calumny on the Miami site messageboard the day of the Fort Lauderdale site's launch: "This board is in trouble now when fort lauderdale has its own craiges list this miami board full of dipshits and stupids is going to get even worse when the three people with some brains leave!!!!!"
If the people with brains in fact did ditch the stupids, they wasted no time in peppering the new site with the unmistakable stamp of Fort La Ti Da. Tailpipe reviewed some of the pioneers.
The first want ad: "im a drummer looking for COVER band! influences are all alternative, classic rock, punk, pop, anything girls will dance too. looking for a band of good guys who want to jam and have fun, 20 yrs ext and ready to go."
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The first "casual encounter" personal ad: "NO STRINGS BJ FOR BI/STRAIGHT - m4m - 37. GREAT WAY TO END A WEEKEND WITH NO STRINGS AWESOME BJ - HOST OR TRVAEL REPLY WITH PICS AND STATS."
The first post on the "rants and raves" section railed against Republicans in nonhilarious fashion. The 'Pipe was more taken with the third post: "We just purchased in January a luxury condo in Broward, just this week a renter moves in the area and decides to park his State Trooper car next to all the Mercedes and jaguars. If there are no commercial vehicles allowed because of the ugly lettering, isn't this the same thing? It was nice to know we were surrounded by professionals but now this police vehicle implies white trash."
Should this kind of tackiness actually be allowed in our fair city?
As told to Edmund Newton