Members of the "Mitch Ceasar Mob" earn a steady paycheck for their political influence | Bob Norman | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Members of the "Mitch Ceasar Mob" earn a steady paycheck for their political influence

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In the case of Ritter, Goldstein has taken a whole lot more than just a couple of hundred bucks. In 2006, when Ritter first ran for County Commission, she upped the ante for Goldstein, paying her $2,381 for undefined "campaign services" and more than $300 extra for various reimbursements. Not a bad payoff.

Ritter paid Goldstein $9,000 in a seven-month period last year, all for "campaign consulting." Forget that Goldstein isn't a professional campaign consultant. Even Goldstein admitted she did no consulting.

"I gave out fliers," she says. "I walked with her. Uh, let's see, what else did I do? I guess I did everything you would want me to do."

When I asked if she believed she'd earned the $11,500 that state records show she's been paid by Ritter, she audibly gasped.

"You're saying I made $11,000? No way," Goldstein said. "I'm almost sure I was never paid that much. I don't even know what I made, but that doesn't sound right."

No, it doesn't sound right. That's way too much money for passing out fliers and walking around with someone. Wrong as it is, the practice appears to be legal, and the Democratic Party has no rule against its officials taking money from candidates. Now, though, the mayor has taken it a step further and put Goldstein on the county payroll.

That's right: Now the people of Broward County are footing the bill.

Goldstein confirmed that she's working part-time in Ritter's district office in Coral Springs, where she puts in 18 hours a week. At $20 an hour, that comes to $360 a week. So what does she do to earn that money?

"I coordinate her speaking engagements. That's my job," she says. "I call all the clubs. I set up times for her to speak. There's no politicking involved, just updating the community. I love Stacy in spite of all that is going on, which I can't believe."

So her sole job is to line up Ritter for speeches. That's sounds heavily political, if not outright campaigning. But Goldstein calls it "updating the community" and "education." We're not sure what Ritter calls it. Her office asked for written questions, and she hadn't responded by presstime.

The hiring of Goldstein by Ritter on the public dime is an example of the Ceasar Mob mentality at its worst. And it's an example of the mayor's sheer arrogance. But no wonder she's arrogant: She has an army of condo dwellers who refuse to acknowledge her wrongdoing.

Goldstein isn't the only profiteer; in fact, she's not even a prominent member of the Ceasar Mob. If Goldstein is a soldier, then the aforementioned Shifrel, another member of the county's Democratic Executive Committee, is a capo.

State campaign records show that Shifrel, who has called himself both a lobbyist and a political activist (nice combo, huh?), has pulled in $30,000 since 2000 from a dozen politicians running for state office alone. In 2006, Ritter joined in and tithed Shifrel $1,500 for her County Commission race.

He's a political jack-of-all-trades, not only providing political "consultation" but also selling political T-shirts, lapel stickers, and fingernail files, otherwise known as "tchotchkes." Where there's a buck to be made off his influence in the party and friendship with Ceasar, Shifrel will be there.

And if you think it's about political ideals, think again. Back in 1996, Shifrel took $2,500 from Big Sugar, which isn't exactly known as a great friend of the Democratic Party — especially its environmental wing.

Another Ritter favorite is Diane Glasser, underboss of the Ceasar Mob and Broward's longtime Democratic state and national committeewoman. Last year, Glasser was a superdelegate at the Democratic Convention. She's also a veteran political hustler and profiteer. A quick look at state races shows that she and her daughter, Lori Glasser, have taken in nearly $60,000 from candidates since 2000. That's a lot of tchotchkes.

She and her daughter have also collected money from city and county candidates, including Ritter, who paid Diane Glasser $1,500 in 2006. In addition to that, Ritter was one of Glasser's great benefactors when she was in the state Legislature, paying Lori Glasser and her company, Glasser Enterprises, $13,100 from 2000 to 2002.

You getting the picture? So long as you pay your protection money to the Ceasar Mob, you don't get any troubles from them. And you might just pick up a few hundred extra votes in Kings Point, especially if you don't forget the bagels (campaign records show that Ritter spent more than $1,300 at Westside Bagels to feed the ever-hungry condo community).

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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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