Stacy Ritter just can't stop herself.
It seems that everything the Broward County commissioner does sends a stench heavenward. One reason for that may be that she doesn't do anything at all unless it is to benefit her; her lobbyist husband, Russ Klenet; or the people who helped get her elected -- namely, the lobbyists and contractors who fill up her campaign coffers.
Speaking of campaigns, with the midterm elections out of the way and Ritter up for 2012, she's already on the trail. Last Monday, she had her first of many promised "Coffees With Stacy" at the Tamarac Cafe Diner.
The location is in the heart of condoland, where the political machinery has made Ritter's ignominious political career possible. Above, you can see a video snippet where Ritter fields a question about the "insults" hurled at her. She said she, like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, gets "hammered" because she doesn't "shy away from making tough decisions."
Presumably absent was one of Ritter's greatest political benefactors, Marc Sultanof, who was recently hit with criminal corruption charges for allegedly taking cash and car payments from dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait. Ritter accepted a golf cart from the Chaits, which is part of a State Attorney's Office investigation into her dealings. (Accepting the golf cart was presumably one of those tough decisions she had to make, like supporting clients of her husband and his former firm and supporting the runway expansion that every power broker in Broward is pushing for.)
Here's one of my problems with this coffee thing: Sitting at Ritter's side is her paid county aide, Norma Goldstein. You'll remember that Goldstein is a condo politico commando and "campaign consultant" whom Ritter used to pay with campaign money. But last year, Ritter put Goldstein on the county payroll as an "aide," despite the fact that Goldstein has no discernible skills other than wrangling up voters for politicians at the Kings Point Condos.
Politicians pay Goldstein to help them get votes by... what?... holding coffee get-togethers at the Tamarac Cafe Diner? Usually politicians pay Goldstein $200 or more to put one of these things together for them. Here's one for Judge Destry.
Presumably Ritter isn't paying Goldstein a dime for these events, since she's hooked her up on the taxpayers' payroll.
Stacy, as far as I'm concerned, you're paying off one of your campaign consultants on my dime. And I want that $200 back. As a matter of fact, just reimburse us her salary. She's being paid by taxpayers to help your campaign, not the county, and we all know it.
Another problem: The first "guest" Ritter has out to help draw people to her little campaign clutch was Broward County Assistant Budget Director Marci Gelman. If you want to watch a video of Ritter and Gelman, click here, but I caution it's so dull that it might induce a crying jag. (Also, airport buffs, here's a video of her defending the runway expansion.)
Stacy, I don't want our assistant budget director, who assumedly makes in the six figures, out working for your campaign. OK? I want her doing the county business at a time of crisis. Now I want you to reimburse her hourly wage for whatever time she spent with you and her time in preparing for your interview.
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I've emailed Ritter to ask her questions about her new coffee campaign and will update when she replies. This all might seem like a small thing, but it's part of the same huge pattern: Stacy Ritter is abusing the public trust yet again.
And nobody could make this stuff up.
After the jump, a liberal website hammers -- I like that word -- Congressman-Elect Allen West's Sunday appearance on Meet the Press.
So Allen West appeared on Meet the Press. Here's what one writer, George Zornick of Think Progress, had to say about it:This morning on NBC's Meet the Press, Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL) somewhat puzzlingly joined the show's panel, which also featured Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, author and reporter Richard Wolffe, and the New York Times' Robert Draper. West is not yet a member of Congress and is known mostly for his history of extreme statements targeting Islam, liberals, women -- all issues host David Gregory chose not to explore with West, instead asking him somewhat banal questions about things like TSA screenings and a possible Sarah Palin candidacy...
West has, after all, said that Islam is "a totalitarian theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion." He believes that terrorism is part of being Muslim: "This is not a perversion. They are doing exactly what this book (the Quran) says." West is proud of these beliefs -- he says that "[u]ntil you get principled leadership in the United States of America that is willing to say that," we won't be able to "secure Western civilization." So it seems natural that Gregory might ask West if he thought every Muslim passing through airport security should be profiled, since, after all, West's logic dictates that every Muslim is a terrorist. But Gregory did not ask that question.
Gregory also failed to ask West about the recent high-profile scandal involving Joyce Kaufman, the hate-radio host West briefly planned to hire as his congressional chief of staff. Kaufman also has a history of saying inflammatory things, like that when illegal immigrants who commit crimes, the U.S. "should hang you and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it." Kaufman withdrew after an individual in Florida threatened government buildings after hearing Kaufman say on cable news that "if ballots don't work, bullets will."
Meet the Press also ignored West's history of making blatantly misogynistic statements, and while the show's graphics bolstered West's stature by noting that he served in Iraq, there was no mention that he resigned from the military after facing a court-martial for his brutality while interrogating an Iraqi.
By not revealing West's virulent bigotry, Meet the Press prevented its viewers from understanding the full context of his opinions. The opinions of a virulent bigot were treated as if they are just another part of the political conversation. By ignoring it, Meet the Press enables extremism. By treating extremists as if they are normal, Meet the Press normalizes extremism.