Simple question: How are Broward County Commissioners Stacy Ritter and Ilene Lieberman even still in office?
Seriously. Both voted for dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, and both received something from them in return. Lieberman is now a state's witness testifying against her former political protégé, suspended Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco, and Ritter remains under criminal investigation for not only her involvement with the Chaits but also votes involving the lobbying firm clients of her husband, Russ Klenet, while misspending tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds with her husband on lavish meals.
Both should do us a favor and resign. That won't happen because they (A) they're both shameless, and (B) they don't want to lose the $90,000-plus we're paying them.
Lieberman hid her face from public view for a few months and told many that she was on her way out of politics. But she's coming creeping back, and a source says that she recently told her staff that if term limits imposed by the voters are lifted by the antidemocratic lawsuit (note the small d) filed by Bill Scherer for John Rodstrom, she'll run again.
This hasn't been substantiated, but it's not surprising to hear. Both Ritter and Lieberman outgrew any sense of decency many, many years ago. And both can still raise tens of thousands of dollars with the blink an eye. They've still got their pimps, after all, the
lobbyists and contractors who shower them with campaign money. And the pimps don't care about anything so long as they get theirs. With all that cash and some good campaign tricks and some support from the corrupted condos, Ritter and Lieberman figure they can keep getting elected even as they make a mockery of the county.
Ritter is still out doing her coffees. This week, she had on Penny Loughan of the Pantry. You'll remember that it was the Pantry that put on the dancing event that gave us so many images of Ritter dressed up as, you guessed it, a prostitute. This year, Ritter will be a judge for the event.
Right at the beginning of the video, Loughan made a joke about corruption. When it came to picking winners for the dancing event, she said, "Seeing how this is the state of Florida, I decided you could buy votes."
"Hey!" said the ever-phony Ritter, laughing. "Thanks."
"Sorry about that," said Loughan.
"Except for me," Ritter said.
"Yes," said Loughan.
Nobody showed how easy it is to buy votes in Broward County more than the Chaits -- and of course, Ritter and Lieberman went along with the dirty developers. Ritter got campaign contributions and a now-famous golf cart that we know of. Lieberman had the Chaits hire her favorite political operative, Beverly Stracher, whom the Chaits say they paid $100,000 in cash. The Chaits also put $25,000 into Lieberman's favorite charity and hired her husband, Stuart Michelson, to represent them.
People paying attention in Tamarac knew good and well that the Chaits were dirty and were paying off people long before the developers got caught and started telling their story to prosecutors. Before Lieberman and Ritter voted in favor of the Chaits' project, a Tamarac resident named Tom Gorton all but accused the officials of taking bribes and pleaded with the county not to ruin his neighborhood with the Chaits' dense housing project. Here are some of Gorton's words on August 22, 2006, just before the commission's vote to approve the monstrous project:
My name is Tom Gorton. I live in the Mainlands. I've lived there for 15 years, and I am just thinking how wonderful America is. Here we have this lawyer come up and tell us about this new development, and he spent 95 percent of his time telling you how much money he's going to give away. What about the good that this development is going to do? Why don't you tell us? But if you're just going to stand up and say: "I am going to give these people a million. I am going to give these people a million," we are not interested, and everybody here that supported it is on the list to take money from this builder. I mean, that should be raising some red flags somewheres.
The traffic, Commercial Boulevard at the turnpike is already F. It doesn't get any worse. It's just like school: You can't get a double F, triple F; it's an F. It's failed miserably. And now we are going to put 585 bedrooms in this community, 585 bedrooms. So according to the builder, he said only 44 kids for 585 bedrooms. Sounds a little strange to me, but if that's the case, let's say the 540 other bedrooms are adults, so that's going to put 1,000 cars in the morning, 1,000 cars in the afternoon that goes right through [my neighborhood]...
There is a gridlock there now. People make their appointments in the daytime after 10 o'clock in the morning and before 3 in the afternoon because they can't get in and out of the neighborhood. We are not part of the problem. We are part of the solution. We try to work around the gridlock that's there every day. It's impossible. You might wait six, seven times for a light change to get out of there.
I mean, there are so many other problems there have to be looked at. I would hope this commission board would do more study and look at it. Why should so many people be so adversely affected to benefit one person, a builder? We have a couple of thousand older people in the neighborhood. They just want to walk the street. They don't bother anybody. They don't take much from Broward County for services. They pay their taxes, and they want to be left alone. We are in God's waiting room. We just want to be left there. Just leave us alone...
I am sure we could get into the details, but all I am asking this board is, please, be the trendsetters of Florida and say enough is enough is enough.
Nobody listened to Tom Gorton. He's no pimp, and he didn't have enough money to open their ears.
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