Undercurrents | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


There is a certain fear that as Broward County matures it will become as dull as the Sun-Sentinel; thus spirited readers rejoice when they discover deep within the paper signs of rip-roaring life.

Such a moment came last week in the pseudo-expose of Pompano Beach Commissioner George Melcher, who violated commission residency laws by moving to Fort Lauderdale. Never mind that Melcher leaves office next week; a scandal is a scandal to the sensation-seeking Sun-Sentinel, whose headline screamed: "Pompano Official Resides Elsewhere."

Readers staggered through the story, paragraph after somber paragraph on boring laws and pompous politicians, when, suddenly, an oasis! There was humor, ridicule, fun! There was Ed Foley, evil editor of the Pompano Ledger.

Foley had masterminded a residency scam: Melcher was using Foley's house as his official address and would continue to do so until he leaves office. After gleefully acknowledging the commissioner didn't really live there, Foley added, "He's welcome to if he needs to. As long as he keeps the flaps buttoned up on his long johns, I don't have a problem."

Flaps? Long johns? Could the cheeky editor be poking fun at the weighty Sun-Sentinel? With Melcher exposed and Foley uncovered, New Times demanded answers: How could a newspaper editor do such a thing? And do Pompano men really wear long johns?

Melcher and Foley have a certain history. In 1995 Commissioner Melcher helped switch the city's legal advertising from the Sun-Sentinel to the Ledger. Foley promptly called it Pompano's "official paper" -- and used the official city seal for Ledger business purposes. When anti-Foley commissioners objected, the editor persisted, vowing, "They'll never take me alive!"

The following year commissioners revoked the advertising, resulting in a still-pending federal civil rights suit, Pompano Ledger v. City of Pompano Beach. Commissioner Melcher is a star witness -- for Foley.

So what did the editor think of the expose on Melcher? "Everybody knew it," Foley said. "He listed his voting address as my house. The rest of the commissioners that hated him, they knew damn well and they knew I was laughing at them too."

What about the alleged long johns, Ed?
"George just bought a log cabin or something up in Tennessee, and I got this image in my mind that he's like Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae. When he retires he's going up to his log cabin, so I figured he's leaving Dogpatch. That's what everyone calls Pompano."

There may be a media conspiracy at work here. Foley is executive producer of the annual Yellow Feathers Comedy Show, where news and political types laugh together in mutual self-importance. Foley's producer is Steve d'Oliveira -- the Sun-Sentinel reporter who exposed Melcher and Foley.

Who knows. At Saturday's Yellow Feathers show, Foley and d'Oliveira may team up for a skit on hard-hitting Sun-Sentinel journalism. Now that's comedy.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail [email protected].