Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl and his domestic and business partner, Ted Adcock, bought at the wrong time.
They paid $455,000 for the little house/converted office at 612 NE 26th Street in Wilton Manors on April 28, 2006. It was a property that sold for just $92,000 in 2001.
Today, the 1,200-square-foot house/office is appraised at just $232,300.
Thankfully, Keechl and Adcock have a rock-solid renter who, like clockwork, pays the hefty sum of $3,100 a month on the property.
It's Keechl himself, candidate for the Broward County Commission. He's made the 1,200-square-foot building his campaign headquarters and cuts a check for the house he owns every month from his giant war chest.
It's been mentioned in newspaper reports that Keechl is paying rent to Adcock, but what's been missed is
that Keechl is a co-owner of the property. It would seem that such an arrangement might be construed as the mayor personally benefitting from his campaign -- a no-no -- but Keechl, through his law firm, said he checked it out and determined it was legal.
Just as he did in the case of his high-rolling trip to San Francisco, the mayor is playing close to the edge of legality, though. More and more, it looks like he's using his campaign coffer -- which has been stuffed full with $332,000 from special interests -- to upgrade his personal life.
And it appears from looking at the properties he owns with Adcock that he may need all the help he can get. In addition to the upside-down property on 26th Street, the couple also bought a property in 2006 on NE 37th St. in Wilton Manors for $550,000. It's appraised at $330,000 today. Another property they bought in 2005 for $409,000 is appraised at $274,000. Still another property on NE 14th Street was purchased in 2006 for $439,500. Today, it's appraised at $226,000.
That's rough stuff. No wonder he's using the campaign money to beef up the bottom line on one of the properties.
Another thing Keechl likes to do is eat out on the campaign dime. A lot. Click here to go through his most recent campaign expenditure report. J. Alexander's, anyone?
-- I reported yesterday that several BSO sources had told me that Sheriff Al Lamberti's new executive officer, Don Prichard, is the nephew of west Broward land baron and developer Ron Bergeron. Well, they were wrong, and so was I for reporting it without getting confirmation. I spoke with Prichard today, and he told me wasn't a relative of Bergeron's in any way, shape, or form. I regret the mistake.
Not to excuse my error, but the rumor is so pervasive at BSO that nearly everyone had heard it. Even sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal told me today that he had heard it and had no reason to question it. Prichard told me it's been going around for about a year.
"I've heard the rumor for a year now," said the 28-year-old Prichard. "Once something spreads around here, it spreads quick, and it's hard to stop."
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I asked him what his relationship with Bergeron was, figuring he had to know him or the rumor would never have started. He said he goes to the Bergeron Rodeo every Wednesday night and knows Bergeron from that event. But he said he wouldn't consider himself a "friend" of Bergeron's and had spoken to him only briefly on BSO-related matters in the past.
"I know him as an acquaintance because I grew up in Davie," Prichard told me. "I wouldn't say I was a friend of his. I've known him two or three years, but I'm not close to him. He knows that I go to the Wednesday-night rodeo, and I know he goes to the Wednesday rodeos. Because I'm a Davie person, they assume I'm related to Ronnie Bergeron or tied to him in some way."
What was absolutely correct is that Lamberti is trying to woo Davie to bring its police department into the fold of BSO. Prichard -- who joined BSO in 2001 at age 19 and did a tour of duty in Iraq with the Army National Guard -- said he accompanied the sheriff to a Davie Town Council meeting on the matter recently.
It's clear that a lot of the consternation over Prichard's appointment to the command staff concerns his age and relative inexperience (compared to, say, a lieutenant with 25 years). Prichard said he can't do anything about that but promised he would strive to be fair to everyone in the agency. "I try to do what's right," Prichard said. "I try to keep everything fair. I don't care who you are, I am going to do what's right for everyone. And I believe that's what the sheriff wants too."