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Steve Geller: Will He Get His Fingers in Sunrise?

Wild art: Millions of dead sardines turned up in Redondo Beach today. Suspected cause: Winds drove them into small areas where they basically smothered each other.
Wild art: Millions of dead sardines turned up in Redondo Beach today. Suspected cause: Winds drove them into small areas where they basically smothered each other.
Daily Breeze
Geller with state Sen. Eleanor Sobel
Geller with state Sen. Eleanor Sobel

​The law firm of former state legislator Steve Geller, Greenspoon Marder, is in the running. Listed as the rep of the law firm isn't Geller, though -- it's his brother Joe, who has been spotted attending recent commission meetings. But you just know Steve Geller would love to get a foothold in Sunrise after his stinging defeat to Broward Mayor Sue Gunzburger in November. 

Also applying is Pam Kane, a former assistant Broward County attorney who is now with the Boca Raton firm of Sachs Sax Caplan. Kane, a Nova law school grad, is an ex-wife of lobbyist Jim Kane, noted lackey of the Forman family empire.

Vying hard for the spot is Sam Goren -- the city attorney who represents half the damned municipalities in Broward Town. When is enough enough, Sam? 

The commission is expected to make its choice later this month.

Inside, a blast from the past regarding Pam Kane that indicates she's not real great when it comes to dealing with an aggressive press. 

Back in 1999, then the very persistent New Times reporter Harris Meyer was digging into Jim Kane's lobbying activities on the basis that they conflicted with his work as an oft-quoted pollster. Things got a little dicey when he bumped into Pam Kane while doing his reporting. An excerpt from the resulting cover story, which if full of names -- some now notorious -- from Broward's past: 

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​After New Times published critical articles earlier this year about Hamilton Forman and Hvide Marine, for which Kane also lobbies, he stopped returning phone calls from this newspaper. Over a period of a few months, New Times left at least six phone messages for him, e-mailed him twice, and stopped by his office twice to talk to him, with no response. Finally this reporter knocked on the door of his Fort Lauderdale home one evening last month. His wife, Pam, answered and said her husband wasn't home. She then asked if the visitor were a reporter. He handed her a New Times business card and asked that her husband call him back. "Get out," she snapped. "I'm going to call the police."

The next day Kane called the managing editor of New Times, alleging that the reporter had trespassed and frightened his wife, who was alone with their young child. He said that he was too busy talking to other reporters to return calls from this newspaper. A day later this reporter was having lunch at Charcuterie Too, the cafeteria at the downtown Broward library in Fort Lauderdale, which is just down the street from New Times' office, when he saw Pam Kane walk by his table. No words were exchanged, but the next day Jim Kane called the editor again, warning that his wife was thinking about filing a complaint accusing the reporter of "stalking."

Kane finally agreed to a phone interview but only to discuss politics in general. He was genial and expansive, boasting that he was the first pollster to predict that Clinton would carry Florida in 1996. He criticized the media and his fellow pollsters for focusing too much on who's winning and who's losing and not enough on important issues like affirmative action. But when asked who owns Florida Voter and whether he should disclose his potential conflicts of interest, his affable tone vanished. "Since we're talking about disclosure, I think it's only fair to tell you that my wife thinks you're a stalker and has reported you to the Broward Sheriff's Office. Before you write anything, you should know that." He abruptly ended the interview.

Later that week this reporter was standing in the food line at Charcuterie Too with a fellow reporter when he saw Pam Kane again and said hello to her. "Get away from me," she said angrily. "I don't want you talking to me. When I get back to my office, I'm calling [Sheriff Ken] Jenne."

This may not have been the first time the Kanes appealed to higher political authorities for protection. Last month Alexander Cocalis, the former chief of litigation for the Broward County Attorney's Office, filed suit against the county in federal district court, charging that he was fired last December because he criticized Pam Kane, who works as an assistant county attorney. The 67-year-old Cocalis, who worked for the county for 26 years, wrote a scathing memo to his superiors, which, according to court records, accused Ms. Kane of incompetence and urged that she be removed from important litigation. Less than two months after he wrote the memo, he was fired without explanation by newly appointed county attorney Russell Morrison. He alleges in his lawsuit that the firing violated his constitutional free-speech rights.

Cocalis had consistently received outstanding performance ratings, and commissioner Scott Cowan wrote a memo after Cocalis' firing stating that Morrison dismissed Cocalis "without cause." Pam Kane has also received strong performance reviews. She started working in the county attorney's office in late 1992, while living with Jim Kane before they were married, according to court records. Since then her salary has soared from $48,000 to $85,230.

When he complained to his superiors about Ms. Kane, Cocalis says, they told him that they couldn't do anything because she was protected by Commissioner Parrish -- an allegation Parrish vehemently denies. But on her job application, Ms. Kane listed Parrish as her lead reference, along with Austin Forman and William Scherer. Scherer, her husband's investment partner and a strong Parrish ally, helped arrange for Morrison to be appointed as the new county attorney. Cocalis says Jim Kane's influence with the county commissioners will be a central issue in his lawsuit.

But Parrish denies that she had any role in Cocalis' firing. "Jim wouldn't come to me to protect Pam's job," she says. "He's a great guy. He's not like that."
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