In her "Facets of the Diamond" column in the South Florida Sun-Times, Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti, who is perfect in every way, complains about uncivilized, meddling reporters who won't leave her alone. She says that now they're snooping into her move on up from her single family home in Emerald Hills to a deluxe apartment in the sky (okay it's a condo at the Villas of Positano, which she voted on to approve before buying her condo). I don't know if the newspaper she mentions below is the Sun-Sentinel or the Miami Herald, but I've heard tell that the Sentinel's John Holland is going through five years worth of e-mails she's sent (at least the ones that didn't mysteriously disappear during the Keith Wasserstrom corruption investigation). More scuttlebutt: The Sentinel has spent $70,000 on public records for its upcoming onslaught of coverage. There's blood in the water, folks.
Without further adieu, here's Mara's complaint:
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So, what's the ugly? People started telling me that rumors were being spread around that I got my condo for free. Or at a discount because, How could she afford it on her salary?? Well, as Mayor, I'm not allowed to get it for free or for a discount. So, the rumors are clearly being spread to damage my reputation, and/or lose me my upcoming re-election bid. One thing is correct, I couldn't afford it on my Mayor's salary but I'm married to a retired Neurosurgeon, and the people passing the rumors know that.
Do you want to know what is even uglier? A newspaper reporter called my realtor to find out who I sold my house to, what they did for a living, and what they paid for it. My realtor told the reporter that she wasn't about to
give out the information before the closing and to wait a week and the name and selling price would be public record. That would have been too civilized for her or her newspaper. The reporter then showed up at the doorstep of a neighbor, asking her the same questions, as well as some incredibly rude and impertinent ones! What an invasion of privacy! (That's what you have to put up with every day when you are a mayor or other high profile person.)
Not to be deterred by a sense of decency, another reporter from the same newspaper learned that I had rented my temporary furnished apartment from somebody who owns properties and a restaurant in Hollywood. It wasn't exactly a secret - I told lots of people who owned the building, how I found out he had furnished apartments, and how pleased I was to have gotten a short-term place that accepted my cats and had a kitchen. (I thought I would have to live in a motel.)
The reporter wanted to know if I didn't think that was a terrible thing for me to do -- to rent from someone I know, in case the gentleman comes before the City Commission for something in the future. Is that unbelievable?
There is virtually nobody who owns an apartment in Hollywood who wouldn't fit that description! Where do they think I'm supposed to live? From whom am I allowed to rent? As Mayor, I can't live outside of the City! But they're the Press, they do whatever they please and threaten you if you don't give them a comment.
The problem about the mean-spiritedness of people who spread false rumors about elected officials to help their candidate or hurt the candidate of official they don't like, goes deeper than character defamation. The same goes for the intrusion into every aspect of an elected official's life by the daily news media and, especially, the printing of innuendo or twisting the truth to make a 'better' story. It may sell newspapers, but it also has other ramifications. It hurts the electoral process. How? I think that Public Service is noble and rewarding. I am definitely not sorry that I have dedicated my life to it. Being able to shape the community you love and to make it better than when you found it is satisfying and uplifting. It has made the 50 or 60 hours a week I put into the job a labor of love.
Yet, I can't find many decent people who want to run for office. Most of the time, when I find somebody who has vision and is smart, accomplished, and caring, they don't want to run for office. They tell me I'm crazy, they have to give up time from their job and their family and have their personal life exploited as 'news.'
Recently, a friend told me that he thinks that some of the people who are running nowadays seem to do it for the title and care more about promoting themselves than improving the community. I told him that's because some of the best people for the job aren't running. When I asked him if he would ever consider running, he just laughed.
So, now you've heard the tale of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But, it's not in my nature to dwell on the negatives. So, I'm looking forward to walking the Broadwalk tonight and finding another great place to eat, breathing in the salt air, and feeling the balmy breeze on my face. Does that make it all worth it? It does for me.