When it comes to longevity, Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman has beaten all the odds. Having served as the county's top dog for ten years, he's not only survived far longer than the average four- to five-year tenure of most county administrators but is one of the longest-serving county chiefs in the state, according to Ken Small, who tracks such things for the Florida League of Cities. Weisman, 50, owes his longevity to no one but himself. The key to the one-time utility chief's success may be that he never wanted the job in the first place. He accepted it in the wake of the nasty ouster of his predecessor only on the condition that he could return to his deputy administrator post if he didn't like the rarified air at the top. With the goal only of being a good administrator, he's been able to resist the seductive urge to become involved in the always-petty and always-dangerous world of politics. He gives his publicity-conscious bosses straight answers -- whether they want to hear them or not. Wearing his trademark short-sleeve dress shirts, he was a calm voice during last year's post 9/11 anthrax scare, during the 2000 election debacle that put Palm Beach County on the national map, and during courthouse construction snafus, budget cuts, and lesser crises that erupt regularly in the county governmental center. Never heard of him? Don't worry. Bob likes it that way.
Greed is both America's driving force and its incurable sickness. One particularly egregious symptom: the obsession with property values. The lust for high-end real estate reinforces old prejudices, creates paranoiac provincialism, and often leads to a stifling conformity that strangles the imagination -- but hey, it fattens the wallet. (Yes, Weston, we're talking about you). All of these facts conspire to make the property appraiser's Website a most delectable pleasure of the guilty variety. The site feeds that unhealthy instinct Veblen called "pecuniary emulation." You usually can't find out your coworkers' salaries, but, on Bill Markham's database, you can damn well learn how much they paid for their houses. Look up your boss and confirm once and for all that the nincompoop is making way too much money. Look up politicians, pastors, friends, neighbors. Find out their square footage and what they pay in taxes. You know you want to know, so get down off your high horse and log on. On a more practical note, somebody told us it can also help gauge the value of a home you are buying or selling. Just remember to follow the instructions: last name-comma-no space-first name, like say, Rodstrom,John (who has a house assessed at more than $700,000 on Nurmi Drive in Fort Lauderdale, if you're curious).
Greed is both America's driving force and its incurable sickness. One particularly egregious symptom: the obsession with property values. The lust for high-end real estate reinforces old prejudices, creates paranoiac provincialism, and often leads to a stifling conformity that strangles the imagination -- but hey, it fattens the wallet. (Yes, Weston, we're talking about you). All of these facts conspire to make the property appraiser's Website a most delectable pleasure of the guilty variety. The site feeds that unhealthy instinct Veblen called "pecuniary emulation." You usually can't find out your coworkers' salaries, but, on Bill Markham's database, you can damn well learn how much they paid for their houses. Look up your boss and confirm once and for all that the nincompoop is making way too much money. Look up politicians, pastors, friends, neighbors. Find out their square footage and what they pay in taxes. You know you want to know, so get down off your high horse and log on. On a more practical note, somebody told us it can also help gauge the value of a home you are buying or selling. Just remember to follow the instructions: last name-comma-no space-first name, like say, Rodstrom,John (who has a house assessed at more than $700,000 on Nurmi Drive in Fort Lauderdale, if you're curious).
Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager Pete Witschen has been trying to get out of his job for a few years now. He has applied for most every open city manager position in the country -- and came very close to escaping South Florida a few times. But his dismal record in Fort Lauderdale haunted him and ultimately knocked Witschen out of contention again and again. There were the improper relationships with female underlings -- a city planner and a police officer -- that our unapologetically moralizing mayor, Jim Naugle, didn't approve of. Poor Pete was very mad when this newspaper broke that story and madder still when the Charlotte Observer cited our article while Witschen was trying to get a municipal job in North Carolina. And we can't forget those pesky city discrimination cases, which have exacerbated racial tensions and are going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Witschen, bluntly put, has been a piss-poor leader; city manager Floyd Johnson did the right thing to pay Witschen six months' salary and show him the door. Too bad the decision didn't come several years ago.
Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager Pete Witschen has been trying to get out of his job for a few years now. He has applied for most every open city manager position in the country -- and came very close to escaping South Florida a few times. But his dismal record in Fort Lauderdale haunted him and ultimately knocked Witschen out of contention again and again. There were the improper relationships with female underlings -- a city planner and a police officer -- that our unapologetically moralizing mayor, Jim Naugle, didn't approve of. Poor Pete was very mad when this newspaper broke that story and madder still when the Charlotte Observer cited our article while Witschen was trying to get a municipal job in North Carolina. And we can't forget those pesky city discrimination cases, which have exacerbated racial tensions and are going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Witschen, bluntly put, has been a piss-poor leader; city manager Floyd Johnson did the right thing to pay Witschen six months' salary and show him the door. Too bad the decision didn't come several years ago.
We're no fans of Plantation Councilman Ron Jacobs. He's one of those suburban politicians that, when you see him in action, you wonder how much Valium and other assorted sedatives you would find in the medicine cabinets of those cozy middle-class and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in Plantation. Jacobs is, in short, a self-satisfied ass with a perpetual smirk on his face. But we must give him his props on deciding to investigate disabled activist Fred Shotz when Shotz began snooping around the city to find Americans with Disabilities Act violations. Jacobs sicced a private investigator on Shotz and soon had a video showing Shotz, who gets around in a wheelchair, standing up to pump gas into his car. The councilman's instincts on this one were correct -- Shotz, in our opinion, is as crooked as the path of the average I-95 driver. Before he started his ADA business, he was the radio "Love Doctor" who lied about his educational background and masqueraded as a sex therapist. Before that, he was a Yippie who ran around with Abbie Hoffman (he claims). Now he's an outspoken nudist who runs around suing everything he sees in federal court. We believe in the ADA and want to see it enforced. And we believe Plantation is doing a lousy job of making its facilities accessible to the wheelchair-bound and deserves to get its ass kicked. Just not by Shotz. So when Dr. Love alleged in federal court that Jacobs, Mayor Rae Carol Armstrong, and city attorney Don Lunny violated his civil rights, we were hoping Shotz would lose. And federal magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer upheld our ever-waning faith in the justice system by throwing Shotz's case out with the garbage this past March. Unfortunately, it surely won't slow Shotz down, whether he be on wheels or his own two legs.
We're no fans of Plantation Councilman Ron Jacobs. He's one of those suburban politicians that, when you see him in action, you wonder how much Valium and other assorted sedatives you would find in the medicine cabinets of those cozy middle-class and upper-middle-class neighborhoods in Plantation. Jacobs is, in short, a self-satisfied ass with a perpetual smirk on his face. But we must give him his props on deciding to investigate disabled activist Fred Shotz when Shotz began snooping around the city to find Americans with Disabilities Act violations. Jacobs sicced a private investigator on Shotz and soon had a video showing Shotz, who gets around in a wheelchair, standing up to pump gas into his car. The councilman's instincts on this one were correct -- Shotz, in our opinion, is as crooked as the path of the average I-95 driver. Before he started his ADA business, he was the radio "Love Doctor" who lied about his educational background and masqueraded as a sex therapist. Before that, he was a Yippie who ran around with Abbie Hoffman (he claims). Now he's an outspoken nudist who runs around suing everything he sees in federal court. We believe in the ADA and want to see it enforced. And we believe Plantation is doing a lousy job of making its facilities accessible to the wheelchair-bound and deserves to get its ass kicked. Just not by Shotz. So when Dr. Love alleged in federal court that Jacobs, Mayor Rae Carol Armstrong, and city attorney Don Lunny violated his civil rights, we were hoping Shotz would lose. And federal magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer upheld our ever-waning faith in the justice system by throwing Shotz's case out with the garbage this past March. Unfortunately, it surely won't slow Shotz down, whether he be on wheels or his own two legs.
Lucious Boyd savagely raped and killed Dawnia Hope Dacosta, a 21-year-old church singer who was saving herself for her dream man. Two other women swore he raped them as well, but juries didn't believe them. One of those women, Michelle Galloway, wept and shook in our arms when we found her for a story we were doing back in September 1999. The I.D. of murdered Melissa Floyd was found on the grounds of Boyd's family funeral home in Fort Lauderdale. And a teenaged girl named Patrece Alston disappeared while on a day trip with him in 1998 and hasn't been seen since. In an impromptu jailhouse interview, New Times sat across from Boyd in September 1999, after the rapist and killer was charged with Dacosta's murder. Boyd seemed scared to talk; his dull black eyes looked like those of a tired animal in the wilderness. Death by the state is too good for him. Let him get in prison what he gave to unsuspecting women while he was free.
Lucious Boyd savagely raped and killed Dawnia Hope Dacosta, a 21-year-old church singer who was saving herself for her dream man. Two other women swore he raped them as well, but juries didn't believe them. One of those women, Michelle Galloway, wept and shook in our arms when we found her for a story we were doing back in September 1999. The I.D. of murdered Melissa Floyd was found on the grounds of Boyd's family funeral home in Fort Lauderdale. And a teenaged girl named Patrece Alston disappeared while on a day trip with him in 1998 and hasn't been seen since. In an impromptu jailhouse interview, New Times sat across from Boyd in September 1999, after the rapist and killer was charged with Dacosta's murder. Boyd seemed scared to talk; his dull black eyes looked like those of a tired animal in the wilderness. Death by the state is too good for him. Let him get in prison what he gave to unsuspecting women while he was free.
Really, how can one argue for capital punishment when the state's decision rests on the word of people like Scheff? This guy is the kind of cop who doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good case. Frank Lee Smith -- a poor black man with a hard past and no money -- faced the chair because of Scheff's worse-than-dubious investigative techniques. Smith was saved from execution only because cancer got him first: He died a horrible death in prison before DNA tests proved he was innocent of killing a six-year-old girl. More recently, BSO is having serious second thoughts about the conviction of two teen boys, Tim Brown and Keith King, for the murder of BSO Deputy Patrick Behan in 1990. A former deputy recently boasted to undercover agents that he killed Behan. The Brown and King convictions stand, but a look at those cases, particularly King's, shows that the investigation -- supervised by now-Major Scheff (that's right; he's been promoted) -- was full of problems, including jailhouse snitches who perjured themselves and numerous recantations by key witnesses. We just hope the next BSO convict found innocent is still alive when it's time to go free.

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