Obscenities in Tallahassee and Broward

Slow news day, so I'm going to keep with one of the themes of the day and start with this video (picked up on the Juice) showing state Sen. Mike Bennett viewing "porn" on his computer during the debate for that awful abortion bill the horrible people in Tallahassee recently passed. Here it is:

The absolute best part of this is that Sen. Dan Gelber is talking about how he won't support the bill -- which forces women to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion -- because it "disrespects too many in the state of Florida."

I would, however, submit, in defense of Bennett, that the photo is about the lightest form of porn there is. I've seen worse on JAABlog. Here's the backstory on the video if you're interested.

In other news, the Broward County Commission is talking about ethics reform today, and a reporter known well to the Pulp is live-blogging the damned meeting. The content of the discussion seems to provide extraordinary evidence of a deeply dysfunctional board. Sorry to say, but the state of Broward County is very paranoid and

conflicted. I have no choice but to pick out some highlights.

First from our favorite commissioner, Stacy Ritter, who complained that she suffered the slings and arrows of a State Attorney's Office investigation in 2007 based on a "false report" in an "alternative newspaper."

The newspaper, of course, was New Times. The investigation was spurred by my reporting on perceived conflicts of interest involving her husband, lobbyist Russ Klenet. Those reports, of course, were true (the investigation, however, was a joke). See a "corruption compendium" on Ritter here (it's badly in need of updating, I'm afraid). 

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Ritter may have been specifically speaking about a report in the Miami Herald that did, indeed, contain a falsity (along with a serious underlying issue regarding her hubby's lobbying for the arena in Sunrise). Maybe she's confusing the two.   

Next is the concern of Lois Wexler, who "asked if a lobbyist can be considered a personal friend. The point is important because lobbyists cannot give her gifts, under the proposed ethics code, but a personal friend could. Newton told her, 'The lobbyist is not your personal friend. You don't want to get caught up in between that one.'"

Well, darn it, Wexler is already caught in between that one. One of her closest friends in the world is Judith Stern, with whom she vacations and who once even lived in Wexler's home. Note to Lois: If you can, just try to stop accepting gifts from your friend Stern... I mean the lobbyist... I mean... just don't take any swag from Judy, OK?

It is noted that Ilene Lieberman is the "loudest" critic of ethics reform. Well, what do you expect from a commissioner who has been known to lobby in her own county under her married name, "Ilene Michelson." It gets pretty complicated, you understand. She's worried about "malicious" complaints being filed and wants people who have the audacity to file a complaint against an elected official to have to file it under oath. She also noted that some of those who wrote the reforms have "agendas." Damn, Mrs. Lieberman-Michelson, you're starting to sound a little paranoid. Do you have reason to be?

To Lieberman's credit, she wants to bar campaign consultants from lobbying commissioners for whom they worked. This is, indeed, crucial, since it is a pattern in Broward County (look at the activities of Stern, Neil Sterling, Barbara Miller, et al.).

Commissioner Sue Gunzburger is the strongest proponent of the reform, and it will be passed (if it hasn't already). These commissioners know how hungry the public -- in light of so many recent scandals, including the conviction of their former colleague Josephus Eggelletion on money-laundering and corruption charges -- is for some type of accountability, after all.

Eggelletion must watch this stuff and wonder how in the hell he's the only one who's had to pay a price. Look at the board now: You have Diana Wasserman-Rubin announcing she won't run for reelection while she's under the cloud of a criminal investigation by the State Attorney's Office. You have Ken Keechl getting caught with his hands in his campaign cookie jar and drawing what appears to be multiple opponents. You have Ritter, who has been under investigation by the feds for the Mutual Benefits fiasco and the state for taking a golf cart from dirty developer Prestige Homes. The same developer bribed Eggelletion and apparently hired Ilene Lieberman's husband, Sunrise City Attorney Stuart Michelson, to do work for him after her vote.

It's a wonder the commissioners didn't have their attorneys up there helping them to argue these new ethics rules for them. I say this every day, but it bears repeating: We live in an incredible county. I don't know if we should be thankful or in absolute despair because of it, but the place is damned interesting.  

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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