UPDATED: Florida Ethics Commission OKs Political Graft
A garbage executive named James Feeley wants to build a giant garbage transfer station in Sunrise that the people don't want and the city doesn't need. It's so unpopular that neighboring Tamarac is sending busloads of angry residents to protest it tonight.
But Feeley, who has had extensive business ties with Wayne Huizenga, might not have to worry about those things. After all, he has a commissioner in his pocket, a buddy in the mayor, and a weak and unfathomably stupid Florida Ethics Commission looking over the situation at the moment.
Feeley's plan -- which is called "Green Now" and is deceptively billed as a recycling center -- isn't allowed under the city's current garbage contract and will do nothing for the city except make sure there are a whole lot more stinky trucks full of garbage from other towns, not to mention the 26,000-square-foot facility itself. One commissioner, Sheila Alu, is fighting it hard.
Yet the aforementioned mayor, Roger Wishner, and his chief ally on the commission, Don Rosen, are fervently backing Feeley and trying to push through his proposal. One reason for this is that Wishner, who used to be in the medical waste business himself, is a longtime friend and colleague of Feeley's. Another is that Feeley contributed $5,000 to an electioneering communications organization -- or legalized political slush fund -- called Liberty and Justice for All that funded attack ads against
Rosen's last opponent, James DePelisi. And a third reason is that Rosen is being paid by Feeley. Rosen's company, Eveton Safety Services, contracts to provide safety instruction with Feeley's company, Ace Waste.
You would think that since Rosen is being paid by Feeley, he would have a conflict of interest if he voted to approve Feeley's controversial transfer station. In fact, such a vote would have all the earmarkings of a corrupt quid pro quo deal that would fall under the state's felony unlawful-compensation statutes.
Yet somehow, that's not how the Florida Ethics Commission views it. A lawyer named Christopher Anderson determined that Rosen can vote on the matter. Anderson, chief assistant general counsel for the ethics commission, opined that Rosen didn't have a conflict of interest because he was being paid by Feeley's Ace firm rather than Feeley's Green Now company.
UPDATED: Of course, we can all see through this nonsense. It's a shell game, and either way, it's Feeley paying Rosen and Rosen using the power of his elected office to benefit Feeley. Any idiot can see that, except apparently Anderson. Even more astounding and troubling is the nearly insane way that Anderson wrote this trip: This is one sentence fromAnderson's opinion (the link also includes letters from Sunrise City Attorney Stuart Michelson)
While the votes/measures likely would inure to the special private gain or loss of the requesting company, and to that of its owners (e.g., the natural person who is an owner of both the requesting company and the company with which Mr. Rosen's company does business), the facts presented to now indicate that the votes/measures also would directly affect the company with which Mr. Rosen's company does business, do not indicate that Mr. Rosen, as opposed to his company, is retained by the other company, assuming the other company would be affected by the votes/measures, do not indicate that either Mr. Rosen's company or Mr. Rosen are retained by the natural person who has an ownership in the other two companies, and do not indicate the company with which Mr. Rosen's company does business is "a parent organization or subsidiary" of the requesting company.
In addition to the fact that the opinion is based on horrid logic, it's one of the worst-written screeds in Florida history. This is the kind of drivel and dreck that comes from the people supposed to be watching over elected officials in our state, folks. But don't just blame Anderson; also blame his boss, Philip Claypool.
If you want to call either one of them to let them know how you feel about their idiocy, the number is 850-488-7864. This has got to stop -- and you can do some good by letting them hear your voice.
Basically, Anderson has said that graft is legal in Florida. According to his official opinion, any businessman trying to influence any Florida politician can pay that politician to do his bidding so long as he finds an out-of-the-way company to provide the cash. As ridiculous as this is, it's par for the course for the ethics commission. This is the same ethics commission, after all, that allowed Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter to vote on issues lobbied by the lobbying firm of her husband, Russ Klenet. The rationale: If another lobbyist in the firm worked the case, there would be no conflict. It's just another shell game. (Klenet is another Wishner buddy -- it was the mayor who cast the deciding vote to allow Klenet to keep his public contract as Sunrise's paid lobbyist.)
The funny thing is, these guys, Wishner and Rosen, think that just because of the laughable oversight from the state that they are going to get away with their shenanigans on behalf of Feeley. The two of them, especially Rosen, better understand that the ethics commission has no teeth when it comes to state felony laws and the FBI, which has been known to poke its nose into Sunrise in the past. The two of them are also pushing to build the so-called Everglades Corporate Park on the west side of the Sawgrass Expressway. That time, they were doing the bidding of big campaign contributor Ruden McClosky, the project's lobbyist, which held major fundraisers for both men before the vote.
The two of these guys haven't brought all that garbage to Sunrise yet, but they already stink.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.