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Judge Stays Mayor's Political Execution

Out Of The Frying Pan

Mayor Oliver Parker can breath easy for a while. A Broward Circuit judge has thrown a recall effort to remove the much-reviled-at-the-moment Lauderdale-By-The-Sea honcho out of office, Melissa Hoyos reports in today's Sun-Sentinel.

I've been paying attention to the turmoil in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and have to say the decision by Barry E. Goldstein doesn't surprise me very much. The grounds on which the petition recall was based were shaky and ticky-tack. The fact that Parker voted for a special assessment to fund fire service that (apparently illegally) also funds EMS service just never felt seemed like proper grounds for a recall under the current laws. To call it misfeasance seemed a stretch simply on the common-sense level.

Here's the irony: In defending the recall, Parker may have given the people a new reason to knock him out of office. He used the minutes of a commission meeting to defend himself against the suit, specifically a passage wherein he asks the town's finance director if the assessment is going towards EMS. Problem is that tapes of the meeting show the question was never asked. The scandal is shaking up LBS, with Town Clerk Alina Medina, who is in charge of the minutes, under all kinds of fire. Before Medina is sacrificed, everyone should ask the question: Who was to benefit from the addition of the phantom question?

After the jump: A Few Must-Reads

-- Fred Grimm's column on a court effort to overturn slots in Broward County. The lawsuit, as Grimm puts it, alleges "that the petition leading to Florida's 2004 racino referendum was lousy with fraudulent signatures." The thing was thrown out of court last year by Circuit Judge Nikki Ann Clark, who wrote: "Any improper signature gathering which may have occurred on the petitions was cured by the election in which the voters approved the slot machines amendment.''

Read that again. In Clark's world the ends apparently always justify the means. By that logic, petition fraud would be institutionalized -- so long as the thing was successful. No wonder it got reversed. But still, it's going to be a snowy day in Hallandale before a court shuts down the slots operations.

-- Jennifer Sorentrue Hector Florin write in the Palm Beach Post about a feud between Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish and her counterpart in Palm Beach County, Gary Nikolits on the method in which they assess property. In the story is the quote of the day, from Parrish: "He says I'm doing things illegally. I'm married to a Broward County Circuit judge." Thanks for reminding us of the fascist mentality that runs through the decision-making set in this place, Lori. Nice.

-- Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo tackles George Bush's ill health care plan. Mayo writes: "Actually, Bush's plan might be worse than nothing. It would reward high-income workers in low-cost plans, penalize middle-class families who live in high-cost states and might prove utterly irrelevant in reducing the ranks of the 46.5 million uninsured Americans or the overall cost of health care."

My own personal favorite quote from our failed president is his suggestion that Americans "treat health insurance more like home ownership." What, so nobody can afford it? What an imbecile.

-- I've been totally delinquent in following the Michael Vick saga, so I dutifully direct you to Stuck on the Palmetto, where Rick has composed a nice breakdown on the case, using an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article as a guide (one of the AJC writers, by the way, has one of the better names in all of newspaperdom: D. Orlando Ledbetter).

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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

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