The three-day suspension for FLPD Sgt. Steven Greenlaw for bodyguarding Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein is a joke but not unsurprising. The department was up to its ears in Rothstein, from his good buddy Chief Adderley on down. Forty-nine officers worked the off-duty Rothstein detail, spokesman Francis Sousa among them, and they pulled in $300,000 in extra money. Basically Rothstein pimped out the department. Singling out one guy for serious punishment was never in the cards.
That the department was essentially at the beck and call of one of the great criminals in Broward County history has shocked and appalled the people of that city. It should have led to sweeping changes in the department. In essence, nothing was done. Taking real action would have had to come from the city's leaders, and they came up wanting. The outrageous murder case of Bernice Novack only intensifies the idea that FLPD needs an overhaul. Don't hold your breath.
The case of BSO Lt. David Benjamin, however, is another matter entirely. He was in business with Rothstein for a dubious consulting company and accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Rothstein without notifying his direct boss at the time, Sheriff Al Lamberti. He also escorted Rothstein through Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when he fled the country to Morocco. His actions were far egregious, and I don't expect that when it's all said and done, he'll get off nearly as easily as his FLPD counterparts.
But how slow can the authorities be? Consider that in a couple of months the anniversary of Rothstein's flight to Morocco will come around. There are still numerous arrests to come from the federal side, but the idea of swift justice is all but (still) dead in Broward County.
-- I told you yesterday that I had interviewed Broward County Commission candidate Angelo Castillo. I'm going to share a lot of what he said over the next several days, but I want to start with red-light cameras.
[UPDATED: I also need to clarify something. Yesterday when I wrote about Castillo and consultant-lobbyist Judy Stern, I added a general line or two about corruption in Pembroke Pines. Castillo said it wasn't fair because he has done nothing corrupt and because there are no allegations that he had. I had to agree with him on that point -- the juxtaposition wasn't fair. There will be more to come regarding problems in the Pines, but I deleted those lines from the post.]
Michael Mayo has done some interesting work on the pitfalls of red-light cameras recently and how their use may be expanded to produce revenues for cash-strapped governments. Few know that Castillo was one of the pioneers in having the controversial, lawsuit-inducing cameras installed in Pembroke Pines, which was the first city in Broward to get them up and snapping. I asked him why he did it, and he said, "To save lives."
Inside, read more about Castillo's take on the cameras and why he believes in them.
I asked Castillo why he took an interest in red-light cameras.
I was driving home one night, and I saw that an ambulance had left the scene of an accident, and what was left behind was this mangled bicycle. I called to find out what happened and found out a kid coming home was struck by a car that went through a red light. Luckily somehow the kid survived. But the sight of the mangled bicycle was seared into my conscience, and I couldn't get rid of it. I also spoke with senior citizens who told me, "We feel like we're locked in and can't get out of here. We can't get across the street in time, and people go through red lights."
He said he did it all on his own, without outside influence. Castillo said he read everything he could find on red-light cameras and spoke with a company, which the city authorized to put one red-light camera at the intersection of Pines Boulevard and 129th Avenue.
We have a fire station there and a red light. We had the legal right of way. They started surveilling. Bob, there are people speeding through standing red lights. Reckless, reckless! It's the T-bone accidents that are really causing the problem.
From there, they had the company, American Traffic Solutions Inc., install them across the city. The city has handed out hundreds of $125 tickets, with $70 going to the company and the balance going to the city. But Castillo said it's not about producing revenue and only about safety.
People say it causes rear-end collisions because people screech to a halt because of the cameras. But that's because the car behind them is too close... It can also be used to get a picture of a license plate of [cars involved in other crimes]. People say, "Hey that's Big Brother." Hey, you know what? Obey the laws in Pembroke Pines, don't come here doing bank robberies and terrorism, and you're fine. There is no such thing as a right to privacy when you're outside and going through a red light. People say they get caught with their girlfriends in the car. Well, now you've learned, when you're with your girlfriend, stop for the red light.
If elected to the commission, will he push for more red-light cameras in the county?
I wouldn't disagree with it so long as the cities in my area wanted it.