Here's the latest in potentially explosive photographs: It shows Scott Rothstein arm-in-arm with Sheriff Al Lamberti. At the far right is Undersheriff Tom Wheeler, the fellow installed in the position by his former frat brother, Gov. Charlie Crist. The youth on Rothstein's right isn't identified, nor is the man at Lamberti's immediate left, whose face is obscured. I have my suspicions, but I'll keep them to myself at this point. UPDATED: Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal confirms the obscured man in the photograph is Lt. David Benjamin, as suspected. The youth is Lamberti's son, Nick. Leljedal said the game was the National Championship football game at Dolphin Stadium last year between Florida and Oklahoma on January 8, 2009. Leljedal says that Lamberti didn't accompany Rothstein to the game and that he was there as the part of the "security detail" that BSO conducted at the game. He said Benjamin and Wheeler "may" have also been working the detail but was certain that they too didn't accompany Rothstein to the game or sit in his luxury box. We know that Benjamin, however, has sat in Rothstein's box during at least one Dolphins game in the past. A source close to Rothstein confirmed to the Pulp that both Benjamin and Wheeler flew to events on Rothstein's chartered jet as well. Lamberti never took such a trip, the source said. But I'm wondering -- just wondering, mind you -- if the sheriff and his command staff really did any security work at the game. It's one hell of a perk, and Lamberti will be doing the hard work of guarding football players at the Super Bowl next month as well, Leljedal said. One thing to note: Sheriff Lamberti, unlike, say FLPD Chief Frank Adderley, has so far managed to keep his hands clean in this Rothstein mess. The same can't be said for Lamberti's command staff, especially Benjamin, whom the sheriff has removed from his role as his personal "executive officer" and has ordered several investigations. It seems that Lamberti placed his trust in people who went astray, almost as if Benjamin and Wheeler were operating a shadow agency behind Lamberti's back. It may not be that dramatic, but there's some evidence to support it. " He's learning that some of his friends can betray him and that they were not friends," said attorney John Contini, a friend of Lamberti's who has his ear. "He has learned he had a Judas in his camp. Those that did wrongful things will be severely disciplined." In other news, I heard from attorney Scott Saidel, who is representing Kim Rothstein, and he demanded that I
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take down the posts about Kim, among other things. His main beef was with some of the more outrageous comments aimed at Kim. He asked that a whole lot of comments be taken down, claiming they violate NT's own policy against "obscene" comments, among other things.
You know, I've gotten a lot of flak over the vulgarity in the comments on this blog. Some of the comments I don't like myself, as I've made clear. I'm just not a fan of base viciousness. Some of them, frankly, have made me laugh my ass off, though. The best standup I've ever seen has been dirty as hell (Richard Pryor being the gold standard). The U.S. Supreme Court definition of obscenity says a thing must be of prurient nature, must be completely devoid of scientific, political, educational, or social value, and must violate the local community standards to qualify as "obscene."
With that definition in mind, I went through all the comments on the recent three Wendell posts and found about nine comments total that I felt applied. They seemed truly valueless (and anonymous, let's not forget). On Friday, you'll remember I asked people to stop with the more abusive comments, and I took down the over-the-top "pulp" comment. That one was right on the borderline, because it was darkly funny and may have had some satiric value, but it purported to be from me and therefore was deleted.
The thing is that I don't feel that I "monitor" the comments -- I read them like everyone else. The only reason I pulled those comments yesterday evening was because Kim's lawyer contacted me and asked me take action. When someone contacts me directly about a gratuitous and anonymous comment and says it's not true and asks me to take it down, I usually go ahead and do it. But otherwise, this is pretty much free turf. It can, as you've seen, become a bit of a madhouse. The religious content, the bigotry, and the trash can all lead it into almost unreadable territory, and I don't like it any more than you do. But that's a price we pay for a free forum.