Gadfly Chaz Stevens brought down a couple Deerfield Beach politicians

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"I thought, 'Fuck me, is that not nepotism right there?' " he recalls. "I got pissed off. So I got liquored up online, and I made these signs that said 'Anybody But Peggy' with what was like a Ghostbusters' symbol on it. Then I put my website address right on the sign. Why? I didn't want to do this anonymously."

He went out and plastered his signs up and down the street.

"Then I get a knock on the door," he says. "It's a deputy. 'Can you just do me a favor?' he asks me. 'Can you take them down? No harm, no foul.' I said sure."

Stevens says that when he got back from taking down his signs, there were two sheriff's cruisers in the driveway. "It's a big issue now," he says. "They say, 'We need to do an investigation. What's your Social Security?' "

But it wasn't over yet. A big black sedan rolled up to his house next.

"This guy gets out, and he's fuming," Stevens recounts. "I was about to laugh. It looked like his blood vessels were about to burst. He looks at me and says, 'Did you put these signs up?' "

He asked the man who he was.

"I'm City Manager Larry Deetjen," was the reply.

"Well, I'm with the Peggy Sucks Campaign. Now why don't you get out of my yard."

He says Deetjen calmed down a bit when Stevens' father, Jim, came out, because Deetjen knew the longtime Deerfield resident. But he told Stevens that he was taking the signs to the Zoning Board and that it was a $50 fine for every one he put up.

That was Stevens' maiden voyage into Deerfield politics. Deetjen, who was allied with Capellini, resigned amid controversy in 2006 after a series of scandals capped off by a racist outburst at an airport. (After that, Stevens took to calling the black sedan "Racist One").

Now Stevens is celebrating the demise of Capellini, who is facing a felony unlawful-compensation charge. The corruption charge involves an office building deal that I first reported on in 2006.

The truth is that State Attorney Michael Satz usually won't investigate public corruption without a citizen's complaint. Stevens filled that role — and all he did was write a quick letter with a New Times article attached.

"My letter was a lot more powerful than my one vote," Stevens says. "I voted Al Capellini out of office."

When people question how much credit he deserves, Stevens, who says he has an IQ "north of 140," counters: "The novice copies; the genius steals."

He again employs this maxim when explaining his role in Commissioner Gonot's downfall, which is full of intrigue and secrecy.

You might think Stevens would have been an ally of Gonot's given that they shared a common enemy in Capellini. Not so. Stevens went after Gonot just as hard, goading him on his blog by, among other things, calling him Shitbird. Not the highest level of political discourse, but it had its desired effect: Gonot railed against Stevens, saying he was sure his antagonist was crazy and possibly dangerous.

The Gonot camp responded by spreading information about Stevens, some of which he felt was privileged, including the make of his car. It dawned on him one day that Gonot's campaign manager, Brad Chalker, a community service aide for the Coconut Creek Police Department, must have been pulling law enforcement information up on him.

So Stevens complained to Coconut Creek City Manager John Kelly, who began an investigation and learned that Chalker had indeed pulled up Stevens' driver's license info. In addition, it was learned that Chalker had engaged in sex-related communications on his computer that the city deemed inappropriate. He was fired.

Chalker defends looking up Stevens' info. "I was concerned this guy was going to show up somewhere or knock on my door. I wanted to see his picture to see what he looked like if I did run into him. I didn't know what he was capable of, and if he was around me, I wanted to know it."

After damaging the Gonot camp with the Chalker firing, Stevens teamed up with Tauber, the Capellini loyalist who had led a failed effort to have Gonot recalled from office.

Tauber, who has described Stevens as "radioactive," doesn't like to talk about his involvement with bringing down Gonot. But Stevens doesn't mind.

He says Tauber began to email him information about Gonot's bank account and said the information was coming from a good source: Gonot's wife, Debbie, with whom the commissioner was going through a divorce.

"Debbie Gonot was passing the information to Chris Tauber, and he was ultimately getting it to me," Stevens says. "I never saw the bank records. Tauber told me he had seen the bank records. It was a BankAtlantic account, a joint account between Gonot and Debbie."

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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