Police Lt. Jeff Marano, the Police Benevolent Association secretary and Teflon-tough cop who has been sued five times for excessive use of force, may finally be losing his grip at the Hollywood Police Department. For more than a decade, Marano, operating like a departmental ward heeler, has been able to consolidate so much power within police ranks that he has successfully ousted two chiefs, Richard Witt and Rick Stone. The good lieutenant is the one who doles out off-duty security assignments, which can mean beaucoup bucks for cops looking to supplement their salaries.
But Marano's power is slowly fading, his critics say. On March 21, he and four other union members lobbied Hollywood City Manager Cameron D. Benson to fire current Chief James H. Scarberry. The power play was unsuccessful. Prior to a Police Benevolent Association meeting earlier this month, some officers distributed an unsigned letter throughout the department and the union claiming to represent "80 to 100 Hollywood PBA members who have voiced their recent dissatisfaction with the PBA."
The six-page letter blames Marano for, among other things, keeping PBA financial records secret, giving preferential treatment and work details to "Jeffsters" (officers loyal to Marano), and creating discord between the police union and City Hall. The letter also blames the PBA leadership for a series of damaging stories by New Times Staff Writer Trevor Aaronson, who has been investigating corruption and brutality at the third-largest law enforcement agency in Broward.
Primary among the officers' concerns, however, is the PBA's selection of Marano to lead the upcoming police contract negotiations with City Hall. They fear that Marano, who did not return calls for comment, will represent not the police union but his own inflated ego.
"As soon as Jeff Marano decides that you are no longer his friend, the relationship is over," the letter reads. "In reality, if you are on your fourth or fifth chief, shouldn't you take a long, hard look at yourself and do some self-analysis? You can't keep saying, 'It's them, not me!' But even Jeff's closest friends admit, 'He's out of control!'"
Tailpipe has just one question. If Marano is on his way out, how come nobody signed the letter?
"Do what he can't do, Dale!" came the cry from the journeyman slugger's corner. "Box!"
The only difficulty for Dale Brown in his May 20 bout for the vacant International Boxing Federation cruiserweight championship (175 to 200 pounds, a step below heavyweight) was that his opponent, O'Neil Bell, could box. By the time Brown's corner started shouting, Bell had already opened a veritable bullet hole between his opponent's eyebrows.
Bell was banging at the outside of Brown's left eye, on a cut that by the fourth round would tinge the 32-4-1 Canadian's chest, shoulders and face a gruesome shade of high pink.
Bell (24-3-1), a cagey Jamaican, took a unanimous decision in 12 rounds over the Canuck. The fight provided everything a boxing fan could ask for, even for the $150 some of the modest crowd of about 300 paid for entrance into the Seminole Hard Rock Casino ballroom, where the fight transpired under the watch of Tribal councilmen, dapper gamblers, and walls decorated with gold records (like David Bowie's "Let's Dance"). That the Sun-Sentinel devoted precisely three sentences to the fight in the months preceding, and ran only a wire story after it, suggests the local media are a step or two behind the times.
In the wake of its most important fight yet, though, Hollywood is on its way to becoming a premier boxing venue. Look for a rusty cylinder at ringside; Tailpipe will be the one with the black bowtie.
Warrior's Boxing, the Seminole-owned gym and promotion company that hosted the fight, has come a long way since staging small fights in casinos; ESPN2 broadcast last week's fight live, and Warrior's head Jesse Robinson -- decked out in a dark suit with a pink vest and bow tie -- was looking forward to the opening of the 5,600-seat Hard Rock Live arena at the casino this summer.
"It's only going to get better," he said, which goes without saying, given how easy it was to miss a title brawl between a Jamaican and a Canadian in Broward County.
Who's Spiking Who?
"See what a tough life I have?" Andre Fladell asked no one in particular. This was a rhetorical question, meaning he didn't expect anybody to answer. The only required response was to marvel at Fladell's enviable role on Delray Beach on April 19. Fladell, aged 50 plus, was aswim in professional cheerleaders.
Tailpipe could have mashed his modest, friendly face into the sand. Why didn't he think of this?