Broward's Destiny Couple?

The Gottliebs have reason to celebrate.
The Gottliebs have reason to celebrate.

-- Here's what they call a blind item: This Broward County commissioner was asked to come in voluntarily to be interviewed by prosecutors in the State Attorney's ongoing corruption probe, without immunity, and after initially agreeing to do so, backed out of it? Allegedly there are ongoing talks in hopes of the commission changing her mind (big hint there).

-- Why did Rick Scott win? Answer: Bill McCollum. On top of his being a charismaless candidate, he wears his pants way too high to look senatorial. The other reason is that Scott had the most effective ad of the entire election season, as noted here a couple of weeks ago. But that wouldn't have been possible had not McCollum spoken out of both sides of his mouth. With Rick Scott in on the Republican side, the governor's seat is for Alex Sink to lose.

-- Here's Tom Francis' scorecard for political operatives in the Broward elections. Poor Barry Harris, Jack Shifrel, and Judy Stern all fell on their faces for the most part. Isn't that horrible news?  

-- Jennifer Gottlieb wasn't to be stopped yesterday at the polls, as predicted. But depending on how the absentee and provisional voting goes, the Broward School Board chairwoman could still face a runoff election with Susan Madori, who snagged nearly 30 percent of the vote with no money and no endorsements (other than from the tea party). We won't know the answer for a day or two. Gottlieb prevailed despite the fact that her pet and totally unnecessary $25 million school in Hollywood is under investigation by the statewide grand jury, news of her romance with a School Board banker, and the fact that the entire school district has been wracked by corruption and mismanagement during her tenure. It's a testament to Gottlieb's surprising political tenacity, a trait she shares with her husband Ken, who of course also won a judgeship last night. With other political couples blowing up all around us, the Gottlieb's success begs the question: Are they Broward's couple of destiny? Well, let's start from the beginning. The Gottliebs were deeply steeped in politics when they started dating in  

in 1992. When they married in 1993, JenJen, as she calls herself, was merely 20 years old. Ken was 29, a five-year attorney, and had just been elected to the Hollywood City Commission. They had known each other for years, though, growing up in the same Hollywood neighborhood together. Ken Gottlieb once said in a speech that on their second date, they stood on a street corner holding signs on Hollywood Boulevard for then-state legislator Howard Forman, who is now the Broward Clerk of Court. "Whenever I held signs for a political candidate, they would honk; and sometimes you'd see a finger or something like that," Gottlieb quipped in his 2006 farewell speech to the Florida Legislature. "But this time, I just got the honks. I knew she was the right one after spending six hours on the corner talking to her and I didn't have to spend any money."

So the relationship was steeped in politics from the get-go. Within five years of the wedding, Gottlieb had won his own seat in the state House. But after he was term-limited out, he floundered. First he appeared to try to cash in on his public service by teaming up with a developer in Hollywood and asking the city for more than $8 million in incentives (aka handouts). Fortunately for the taxpayers that didn't work out for him and, in 2008, he took a stinging loss to Eleanor Sobel in his 2008 bid for the Florida Senate. Gottlieb seemed like he might be finished in the public realm. But his wife won the school board seat in 2006 to keep the family in politics and Ken jumped into the judicial race this year, and the rest, as they say, is history.

-- Deerfield Beach Democratic boss Bernie Parness upset losing judicial candidate Lee Jay Seidman at the Century Village polling place so much that Seidman's camp threatened to file a criminal complaint against him. That was because Parness managed to corner the market, as it were, on Village residents who were brought in by bus from the clubhouse to vote. Here's how it worked:

Parness, president of the Deerfield Beach Democratic Club, would ride on each bus with residents and hand out out his palm card of favored candidates to them. Then the bus would roll up to the polling place, bypassing all the candidates and volunteers there to try to influence voters. The candidates and volunteers, in fact, were forbidden by law from approaching the bused-in voters because they were within 100 feet of the voting place.

In other words, Parness cornered the market on those voters. And he has no apologies.

"I am a resident and was allowed to be on the buses," Parness told me. "I was exercising my freedom of speech. I have the right to talk to anybody on that bus who will speak to me, and no [political] conversation took place within 100 feet. The conversation took place when they got on the bus three miles away."

He said it was only later that someone from Seidman's camp contacted him.

"My girlfriend got a call from his office, and they said we're violating the election laws and they were going to file charges," said Parness. "My answer is, go right ahead. We've done nothing wrong; we've done nothing illegal."

All the brouhaha, by the way, involved five mostly empty buses containing no more than 100 voters, he said.


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