At most police departments, it's the chief of police who fires officers. In Hollywood, it's the officers who dump the head man. In the past decade, Hollywood police union leaders have successfully ousted Chiefs Rick Stone and Richard Witt after they attempted to clean up a department notorious for corruption and brutality. In fact, in January, former Chief Witt won a $201,100 jury verdict after he tried to expose corrupt hiring practices. Stone has a lawsuit pending.
Last week, the Hollywood police labor union went for the hat trick. On March 21, the Police Benevolent Association's treasurer, Lt. Jeffrey Marano, and four Hollywood PBA representatives met with City Manager Cameron D. Benson to deliver the message: Chief James H. Scarberry must go.
It takes a lot of chutzpah for Marano to throw his weight around these days, in Tailpipe's opinion. The cop's a public embarrassment who's cost taxpayers beaucoup dollars. On February 2, Marano and his cronies protested outside the county courthouse against Broward State Attorney Michael Satz for his prosecution of Broward Sheriff's detectives who falsified reports, forcing Scarberry to apologize publicly for his officers' actions. A month later, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale awarded a $225,000 verdict against Marano and company for the 1996 case of Dwight Edman. Marano and another officer strip-searched and interrogated Edman after falsely implicating him in a drug deal.
Marano, who has been sued five times for excessive use of force and was once accused of associating with a Hollywood Hills madam, is a powerful force in the department. Because he has long controlled off-duty work details -- security work that means extra income for officers -- he's been able to consolidate enough power and loyalty to rival even the police chief. But that power is dwindling. Marano's increasingly erratic behavior of late has caused many of his former loyalists to withdraw their support, says one senior-level officer who asked not to be named.
Asked about his meeting with the city manager, Marano downplayed the significance. "There's no effort to oust Jim Scarberry," he says. "The problems are nothing we can't work out."
Well, maybe. For the first time in a decade, though, Hollywood's city manager isn't siding with the influential PBA. In a letter to Marano dated March 23, Benson, who did not return repeated calls seeking comment, explained that the police union will have to work out any problems it has with the chief.
"Chief Scarberry has my complete support," Benson wrote, adding: "I trust after our discussion today, the PBA recognized our direction and will demonstrate a commitment to the organization."
But knowing Marano, a 26-year veteran whom even critics describe as a tough-as-nails cop, this won't be the end. Scarberry is a wanted man at the PBA.
Here Come da Pussy
Jason L. Taylor gets Tailpipe's 2005 Big, Big Foot in Mouth Award. Sorry, no more nominees accepted. The category is closed.
Taylor, who's 24 years old, stepped out of the gray mass of the unexceptional last December when he and another man allegedly burst into an early-morning Mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church and stole wallets and purses from parishioners at gunpoint. Something like that captures your attention. You'd think that Taylor, who's being held without bail on robbery charges, would be diligently pursuing his defense in such a serious case. But Taylor is a man who apparently sweats the small stuff.
On March 18, he appeared before Judge Leonard Feiner in a case that stemmed from a traffic stop last summer. This Taylor, who doesn't play for the Dolphins, was charged with, among other things, possession of marijuana and drunken driving. The, um, repartee that was exchanged is still ringing through the halls of Broward Circuit Court.
"You can't hold me forever," Taylor lashed out at the judge when he lost a bid to be freed. "Pussy motherfucker."
"Oh, button it up," Feiner commanded.
"Can't hold me forever. Believe that!" Taylor blustered.
"Go rob another church," the judge lobbed back.
"You'll see," Taylor shouted as he was being led out of the courtroom. "I'll walk free, pussy motherfucker."
"Ahhhh, whoa!" Feiner bristled. "Come back -- bring him back here. I'm finding you in direct criminal contempt."
Taylor was shocked -- shocked! -- at such outrageous behavior by the man in robes. "Full of shit, man," he declared. "Full of shit. That's all you is: full of shit. You and the rest of these motherfuckers: full of shit."
"I'll sentence you to 60 days -- not that it makes much difference in your case, but what the hell," the judge mused.
"I say, you can't hold me forever, pussy motherfucker," yelled Taylor.
"I can hold you for at least 60 days," Feiner countered.
"You been wantin' to do that anyways, motherfucker," Taylor raged.
"OK," the judge said matter-of-factly, "that's another 60 days."
Less at 11
You were wondering why local politics in Broward County registers barely a ripple in public awareness, creating big-time opportunities for chiselers and cheats? A study by the University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center offers the obvious explanation. Local TV, the sole source of news for most viewers, isn't covering local politics.
The center analyzed news broadcasts during the hot one-month run-up to the November 2004 election. It found that South Florida stations (four English language, two Spanish) devoted an average of 4 minutes, 37 seconds out of each half-hour news broadcast to election coverage. Most political news focused on the Bush-Kerry race. Contests important to Broward such as the campaigns for property assessor or supervisor of elections received barely a mention. As for state initiatives relating to slots or teenage abortions or congressional contests? A big goose egg.
Here's a breakdown of the average half-hour of news before Election Day:
Advertising: 8 minutes, 44 seconds
Sports and weather: 5 minutes, 10 seconds
Elections: 4 minutes, 37 seconds
Presidential coverage: 2 minutes, 36 seconds
Noncandidate coverage: 1 minute, 21 seconds
All other races (local, state, federal): 54 seconds
Crime: 2 minutes, 42 seconds
Local interest: 1 minute, 26 seconds
Teasers, intros, music: 1 minute, 54 seconds
Health: 1 minute, 20 seconds
Other: 1 minute, 28 seconds
Unintentional injury: 1 minute, 11 seconds
Business/economy: 36 seconds
Government (nonelection coverage): 17 seconds
Iraq: 15 seconds
Foreign policy: 23 seconds
-- As told to Edmund Newton