Broward News

A Five-Alarm Bullshit Fire

Deetjen (far left) with Jeb Bush

In light of Deerfield Beach City Manager Larry Deetjen's racist blowup at the Palm Beach County Airport, I feel it is incumbent upon the Pulp to allow Deetjen a full airing of his defense. It comes in the form of a memo he wrote to Deerfield Beach City Attorney Andy Maurodis five days after he was accused of getting into the face of a black parking cop and yelling racist statements at him (like "Your people never get better jobs because of the way you act!"). It should make your B.S. meters go berserk. Below is the brunt of his memo (with footnotes!):

On Saturday, March 18, 2006, my wife and I took my 88 year-old mother-in-law, Catherine Russell, to the airport to fly home to Massachusetts .... My mother is elderly, frail, hard of hearing, and uses a wheelchair[1]. We parked curbside at the airport to unload her bags, help her into her wheelchair, and check her in curbside. We have done this in the past with no problems. Unfortunately, on Saturday morning, we encountered some unexpected difficulties getting her expeditiously checked in curbside. PES Cruz then approached me abut my parked car. I explained the situation to PES Cruz, who not only told me that I could continue parking curbside in order to make sure my wheelchair-bound, elderly mother-in-law was finally checked in and given an escort to her terminal, he even offered to help[2]. Minutes later PES Kirby approached my car. PES Kirby was utterly indifferent to the needs of my wheelchair-bound, elderly mother-in-law. Without any care at all for the situation or for what PES Cruz had already given me permission to do, PES Kirby instructed me to move my car and thereby leave my mother-in-law behind and unattended at this busy airport sidewalk[3]. When I refused to do so[4], he threatened me, including by writing a parking ticket, by calling additional officers to the scene in a bald attempt to intimidate me, and by at one point threatening to put a "boot up my ass."[5] I took exception to his bureaucratic attitude, his utter indifference[6], his threats, and to the fact that he chose to ticket me for something that Cruz had explicitly told me I could do. I may have told him that I intended to fight the ticket. In the few words that we exchanged, however, I never once made any of the racially biased statements falsely attributed to me in Captain Burke's report[7].

Although I was given a $10.00 parking ticket as a result of this affair, you will note that the ticket makes no mention of any alleged racially biased statements, or even any perceived rudeness on my part[8]. ...

... It it unclear to me how PES Kirby can "make a formal complaint" against me when I am not his supervisor or even his fellow employee. I was just a private citizen dropping my mother-in-law off at the airport on a Saturday morning. I would like, however, to "make a formal complaint" as a citizen and an airport customer against PES Kirby for his conduct toward me and my mother-in-law on Saturday. In particular, I would like to "make a formal complaint" against PES Kirby for his discrimination against and insensitivity to the disabled and the elderly. Please advise me how I can go about making such a complaint[9] .

________________________ 1. Deetjen plays the cripple card all over the place in the one-and-a-half page memo. He uses the phrase "wheelchair-bound elderly mother-in-law," or some version of it four more times (some have been deleted here for space).

2. Cruz specifically denied that he allowed Deetjen to park illegally for any period of time.

3. Here, Deetjen is totally misleading Maurodis and everybody else who reads this. What the city manager doesn't mention is that his wife, Lynn, was with his mother-in-law at all times. According to Cruz, the entire squabble occurred while Lynn was wheeling her mother to the terminal. Deetjen wanted to wait in the illegal spot until they returned. Cruz explicitly states that he told Deetjen he had to move his car.

4. Deetjen here admits that he believes he's above the law, or at least above the officer in charge of parking at the airport.

5. This sentence has the stink of untruth all over it. For one, writing a ticket isn't a threat. It's a routine police action. Secondly, Kirby telling Deetjen he was going to call for back-up only indicates that it was Deetjen was doing the intimidating. Boot up the ass? Nice touch.

6. Bureaucratic attitude and indifference? What was he, a menace to society with a badge or a haughty desk clerk?

7. Kirby and Cruz both reported the racist statements — and their version was accepted as truth by upper PBSO brass and the BSO, which conducted its own review of the investigation upon Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini's request.

8. Since when would an officer scrawl anything about racist comments on a parking ticket?

9. Not obnoxious at all. Not one bit.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman