Ever heard of the Deerfield Observer? It's a so-called "community newspaper" -- you know, one of those local Chamber of Commerce rags. Some Deerfield locals have been cheering a pending personnel change at the newspaper that was announced on Friday: The resignation of long-time Managing Editor Judy Wilson. Why? Because Wilson was a cheerleader for (over)development forces and a devout defender of embattled City Manager Larry Deetjen and the heavily conflicted Deerfield mayor, Al Capellini.
Here's her resignation letter:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
June 2, 2006
After considerable thought, I have decided to seek new opportunities and new challenges and so will be leaving as managing editor of the Observer the end of June.
Working with the business community to create this fine publication has been a wonderful experience, but the goal has been accomplished.
May everyone stay healthy and happy and enjoy success.
I don't know why Wilson resigned, but don't expect the Observer to change. If possible, it could get worse. The owner and publisher is a businessman and Republican opportunist named J. David Eller. You may remember him as the Jeb Bush partner involved in a scandalous sale of water pumps to Nigeria. Read about him and his company, MWI, in this St. Pete Times article. Bush-El -- it may be the scariest sounding company in the history of the world. This from a 2002 St. Pete Times report by Sydney P. Freedberg:
A contractor for the district for decades, MWI has been dogged in recent years by negative publicity about a 1992 deal to sell pumps to Nigeria with the help of a $74-million loan from a U.S. export agency.
As Eller's partner in a marketing firm called Bush-El, Bush twice traveled to Nigeria to promote MWI's pumps. He says he refused any commission in the Nigerian deal because of the appearance of a conflict of interest: The money was a federal loan and his father was in the White House.
In June 1999, former MWI employees revealed to the press that the FBI was investigating how the company handled the U.S. loan in the Nigerian deal.
Last month, the Justice Department filed a civil complaint against MWI and Eller, saying they improperly funneled one third of the $74-million to a Nigerian agent as commission money. In turn, the complaint says, the agent and other company officials paid Nigerian government officials who then bought MWI pumps.
The federal complaint also says that Eller twice flew suitcases of cash to offshore tax havens to hide his assets.
MWI has denied wrongdoing and called the allegations against Eller false and "shameful."
The complaint does not mention Bush. Asked if Bush and Eller are still close friends, the governor's spokeswoman replied, "Not relevant."
This is the guy who runs the Fourth Estate in Deerfield Beach -- and you wondered how it became one of the most incestuous and corrupt towns in South Florida?