Well, I said it wasn't a problem until it was a problem, and it became a problem.
So Lyn Evans is no longer doing part-time research work for the Pulp. Earlier today, I gave her the choice to either keep working for New Times part-time for peanuts or to continue working as well-paid investigator for attorney Bill Scherer. I not only expected her decision but respected it.
This move reflects absolutely nothing regarding my opinion of Evans. She's hard-working and a true corruption fighter. And she was loyal to the Pulp. Think about it: If she were doing Scherer's bidding while working for me, do you think she would have had the confrontation with State Attorney Michael Satz captured above? Satz, remember, is a friend of Scherer's and employs his daughter as a high-ranking prosecutor. How about this one with Sheriff Al Lamberti? More recently, she tracked Mayor Ken Keechl down in a county parking lot, and he refused to comment on his controversial campaign spending, saying something about how low people would go to sell newspapers. Unfortunately, her Flip had a technical problem and we didn't catch it on video.
These were tests by fire and are just a few examples of Evans' work during the
short time she worked for me. I'm quite sure her other employer never would have authorized these things had she been on his dime at the time. And if you think confronting the most powerful people in town is easy, try it some time. The truth is that nobody is going to be happier about this development than the politicians who come under the scope of the Pulp. They don't have Evans to fear anymore.
But I knew that her work for Scherer could be perceived as a conflict of interest for me and the blog. For the record, I didn't know that she was working as an hourly investigator for Scherer until after she contacted me about the job and after I had pretty much set my mind on hiring her. When she told me, I immediately knew it was a complication. Scherer, after all, is suing the Rothstein crowd on the part of about $100 million in alleged Ponzi losses, and he's the attorney in the lawsuit against former Judge Larry Seidlin. But I hired her and rationalized it this way: Evans was a freelancer who would have no direct contact with the blog or any editorial power over it. She would work on what I asked her to work on. It was apples and oranges, so long as I was the one eating them.
And I wasn't going to let up on Scherer one iota. When questions were raised about Scherer's lawsuit to kill voter-mandated term limits, I slammed it. When questions were raised about the FBI investigation and Scherer's son's company, Gulf Building Corp., I answered them. When Hamilton Forman died, I reported on the fact that Scherer, one of his protégés, had been ousted as general counsel from the North Broward Hospital District over allegations of wrongdoing (made by me).
Nothing had changed in that regard. Or so I rationalized. The truth is that perception is everything, and I knew when I posted the videos Evans had taken at the Kasler deposition that it would lead to a sort of public referendum on this issue. I also knew I was beginning to feel in my gut that the situation might not be tenable. It was affecting my work, just not in the way some critics might think. I was considering, for instance, not reporting on the Seidlin case at all because of it. Understand, I was the one who broke the Kasler story in the first place. That wasn't an option, so I put up the videos and, again, disclosed Evans' relationship with Scherer (for the third time or so) and let the chips fall where they may.
Now the public has spoken. Some of what has been said has been incisive and instructive, some of it out in left field, but the bottom line is that the work relationship can't stand. I made a mistake, pure and simple, not because Evans was anything less than a good part-time assistant researcher but because it raised too many questions in the minds of the people who make this blog great, namely all of you.
Now it's time for us to get back to the real work.