Herald Gets It Wrong On Wasserstrom Trial

The Sentinel's Mike Stocker wins Pulp Photo of the Week Award.

The Miami Herald's Todd Wright has proven himself a good reporter, but he got it dead wrong about the Keith Wasserstrom corruption trial in a big way this morning. On a day featuring two star witnesses in the trial -- Mayor Mara Giulianti and Wasserstrom's uncle, Arnold Goldman -- Wright led with ... Windol Green?

Green, for those of you who don't know who he is (which excludes Mrs. Green), is a former Hollywood bureaucrat who had very little role in the affair. But Wright saw great significance in him, writing:

Windol Green, now retired, testified that the state's theory about how Wasserstrom planned to profit from a city sludge-processing contract has a fatal flaw: There was no money to be made, Green said.

Prosecutors said Wasserstrom expected to pocket lobbying fees when other cities ''piggybacked'' on the 2004 Schwing Bioset contract. But Green told jurors there's no way other cities would have tried to share that contract.

Wright then belabored Green's testimony in his article, writing that it "appeared to damage the state's case significantly."

Poppycock, utter nonsense. Green's statement about piggybacking, in the eyes of the law, is absolutely meaningless. The statute for the unlawful compensation specifically states that it doesn't matter whether or not money was made by the elected official -- it's the intent and whether a corrupt deal was struck that matters.

In other words, being incompetent doesn't excuse corruption.

And the fact that a corrupt deal was solidified later in the day, when Goldman, the real star of the day (Mara notwithstanding), testified that he and Wasserstrom were planning for other municipalities -- including Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade -- to piggyback on the Hollywood contract as they pushed the Schwing Bioset contract through Hollywood. And that, good jury, is all that matters.

Too bad Judge Lazarus can' t strike the Miami Herald article from the record.

(The story by Ihosvani Rodriguez in the Sun-Sentinel was on point, by the way).

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman