The hits keep coming for lobbyist Russ Klenet.
As if investigations regarding his work for Mutual Benefits fraudster Joel Steinger, a State Attorney's probe into his Broward County Commissioner wife Stacy Ritter's involvement with dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait, and civil charges stemming from dubious reimbursements he received from his wife's County Commission campaign weren't enough.
Now word comes that one of his plum jobs is about to be plucked. Klenet for the past decade or so has served as legislative counsel -- i.e., lobbyist -- in Tallahassee for the Broward League of Cities. It's a job that doesn't pay extraordinarily well (the exact pay isn't known but is suspected to be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range), but it has provided him with a résumé builder, great contacts, and a nice platform from which to gain more business from area municipalities.
Now it looks like he's out. The league put the job out for bid, and its executive committee has recommended another local legal and lobbying firm, Colodny Fass, to take the job. The recommendation goes to a board vote on December 9, when it will almost surely be passed (it would have happened this week, but Broward League members, AKA our city commissioners, were in Denver at another one of those public officials' wining and dining sessions with special interests).
Mike Colodny, founding partner of the firm, confirmed this morning that Colodny Fass had been recommended for the job. "This is a big opportunity for us," Colodny said. "There are loads of issues out there, especially in this economy."
Don't cry too much for Klenet, though. According to his last filing in Tallahassee, he's still making a total of something like $200,000 annually to represent six Broward cities -- Sunrise, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Lauderhill, Coconut Creek, Oakland Park, and Parkland.
-- After I reported on Shark Tank blogger Javier Manjarres, the allegations started streaming in, the most serious of which involved a burglary with assault charge in 1995, when Manjarres was 22 years old. Inside, read Manjarres' explanation.
Manjarres pleaded guilty to a felony charge of burglary with assault in 1995 and was sentenced to a term of probation with adjudication withheld. He said it all amounts to stupid mistake from his youth.
The incident occurred, he said, after he became suspicious that his then-longtime girlfriend was cheating on him. He says he became aware of a suspicious address, drove to it, and sure enough his girlfriend's car was parked outside.
"I knocked on the door and the guy came to the door and he came at me and he tackled me from behind," Manjarres told me. "I'm like, 'Dude get off me.' I was laughing. He ran into his house and I kicked the door once. It didn't break the door open, but it cracked the door. Then the guy came back out and I squared off. He came at me and it was one right cross and a left cross and he went down. That was it for him."
He said the burglary charge was for solely for breaking the door and there was never any allegation that he tried to take anything.
"I told the cop that I kicked the door, and he said, 'I'm going to have to arrest you for burglary,'" said Manjarres. "Under Florida statute, that's considered breaking and entering. It was a fistfight. I had to plead no contest because I had already admitted it to the cop. I shouldn't have said anything. Live and learn."
-- One more thing about the Broward League of Cities thing. These officials don't even pretend that they aren't going to these hotels around the country on the taxpayers' dime to sell themselves out to the lobbyists and contractors who stuff them full with steak and drinks at fancy restaurants. Here's how they bill the Congress of Cities Exposition, which went down in Denver this week with numerous local elected officials at the trough:
Come and show your product and/or services to 4,000 mayors, council members, city managers, city clerks and other key city employees. By doing so you can be in the best position to tap into this $300 billion marketplace! The Congress of Cities Exposition remains the largest and most representative municipal exposition in the country bringing quality decision makers to you to network and conduct business with.
The Congress of Cities Exposition will continue to showcase a full range of municipal interests including solid waste and recycling, transportation, information technology, telecommunications, insurance and finance, water and wastewater treatment, environmental engineering and planning, architecture, recreation, and public safety.
I called it a whorefest in the past, and I'll go ahead and call it a whorefest again.