UPDATED: The Cold Cash Courthouse
UPDATED: After a way-too-brief respite from the public eye, Mike Good is back. The question is whether anyone wanted him to return at all.
The former Hallandale Beach manager, who was fired recently amid controversy, just qualified to run for Cooper City Commission against John Sims in the November election.
"The guy that never shows up for work and spends a lot of money is going to try to work on our city," Sims quipped.
Good was fired in June after several months of chronic absences, despite the fact that his pay package was worth an obscene $275,000. He reportedly was due a staggering $300,000-plus severance package as well. The guy was also dogged by dubious business practices.
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Sounds like he'll fit in well. There will be more on this later.
I was on the verge of posting some substantial bloggery, but it's not ready yet. So I'm going to riff on a couple of other important matters instead.
This morning, the Sun-Sentinel had a solid story about the Broward County Courthouse parking garage wars. Whoever wins the parking contract for the new $328 million courthouse will have a veritable cash machine at their disposal for years to come. It's worth a mint.
Naturally we have a lobbying sleazefest in the works. In one corner, we have Jim Blosser and Bernie Friedman (representing William Scherer's bid), and in the other we have Ron Book and John Milledge (representing a proposal from Frank Fazio, John Loos, and Stiles Corp.). One thing not addressed in the article was the cold hard cash involved in this process.
These lobbyists use their wallets as much as their words to try to persuade county commissioners to vote their way. Let's start with Blosser. Last September 29, he threw a fundraiser for Commissioner and then-candidate Suzanne Gunzburger in which he and his firm, Blosser & Sayfie, bundled up a total of $1,600 for Gunzburger to take back with her. Adding two $500 checks was Scherer. But it was their well-heeled friend, H. Wayne Huizenga, who outdid both of them with a $2,000 Gunzburger giveaway in the form of $500 checks from four companies (H Aviation, The H Group, Huizenga Holdings, and the Sunrise Land Group). There were a few other notable names in the mix, including sometimes controversial builder Bob Moss, contractor William Derrer, and courthouse designer Cartaya & Associates. In all, Gunzburger got $18,250 that day, the lion's share of it from the fundraiser.
Mayor Ken Keechl got some help from Scherer and the boys as well. On June 5, 2009, he was given several thousand dollars from the same cast of characters, Blosser, Scherer, Huizenga, et al. Seventeen days after that, Diana Wasserman-Rubin got a ride on the same gravy train. Unfortunately for Scherer, any hopes of a long-term investment paying off there went up in smoke when Wasserman-Rubin was hit with criminal corruption charges in July.
If you think all that money and attention doesn't have a profound influence on these puppets -- I mean politicians -- then Swerdlow and I have some land to sell you down by the port. Thankfully, it's counterbalanced by all the largesse bestowed upon them by the other side. I'll fill you in on money from Book, Stiles, et al. a little later.
After the jump, I introduce you to a player on the fringe of the Chait scandal.
I've always thought of attorney Michael Moskowitz as sort of the Ari Gold for machine politicians like Stacy Ritter and Ilene Lieberman and their wheeler-dealer husbands.
He's always on the fringes, the go-to guy. When Ritter's husband, lobbyist Russell Klenet, gets in serious trouble with Mutual Benefits Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger, it's Moskowitz to the rescue, serving as his attorney to help get him through some tough depositions and investigations.
When Ritter's father, Ed Portner, literally comes to her home to shoot her, she escapes and runs to the nearby home of, yes, Moskowitz.
Heck, he even let Ritter work for his law firm, Moskowitz Mandel Salim & Simowitz, back when she was a state legislator.
Moskowitz is also tight with Lieberman and her hubby, Stuart Michelson, but the stories there just aren't quite as well-known. Moskowitz makes big money with the help of his connections too. Check his list of clients here. He was one of the guys hired (along with Klenet) to lobby the county for the ES&S voting machine company that turned into a multimillion-dollar boondoggle. Moskowitz is also the guy who helped work out a no-bid contract with Sheltair to expand its charter business at the airport (you want to see bundling, check out the contributions that Sheltair throws out to the commissioners). When that came up in 2004, it was Moskowitz friend Ilene Lieberman who insisted that there was no need to put it out for bid because Sheltair was an existing tenant.
You'll also notice Broward County on his list of clients. Moskowitz not only lobbies the county at times but he works for the county as well, collecting taxpayers' dollars. In 2008, as first reported by the Miami Herald, the County Commission voted unanimously to give Moskowitz $100,000 in legal work related to the airport.
It's cozy at the top, and it gets cozier. Moskowitz is also a state committeeman for the corruption-plagued Broward Democratic Party. He has thrown lavish fundraisers at his home in Parkland for numerous politicians, including Bill and Hillary Clinton. His son, Jared, grew up in this political opulence and was whisked right into a seat on the Parkland City Commission in 2006. At the time, he was 25 and the youngest elected official in Florida.
Before the vote to give the Moskowitz law firm -- which Jared also has worked for and now works with as general counsel for AshBritt -- the county work, Jared Moskowitz voted to give lobbyist Klenet $6,500 a month to lobby for Parkland.
Yes, it's a tangled web they weave. Not saying there's anything illegal, but it sure doesn't smell quite right.
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