Who is in this photo, and why should it put a small chill into you?
You can see the answer inside, but first let's hit some quick news.
First, the Miami Herald: "With Josephus Eggelletion in prison for corruption, this Central Broward district is in dire need of new leadership."
I'll agree with you there. But who does the Herald endorse to fill his seat? Lauderhill Commissioner Dale Holness, a longtime Eggelletion crony.
Seriously, Herald, it's time to get out of the endorsement game. It's embarrassing. The newspaper also endorsed Angelo Castillo, saying he was "brimming with big ideas."
Does the Herald have any idea the shape that Castillo is leaving Pembroke Pines in? Does it know about the $67 million "infrapasture" (that's my word) where the mythical "City Center" was supposed to be built. Castillo supported that boondoggle and voted to bring in Stiles Corp. to do $46 million or so in infrastructure on the land that sits dormant today. When Castillo -- who says the city is now hoping for a rebound in real estate prices to salvage that deal -- cleans up his own house, he might be able to talk about cleaning up someone else's.
The newspaper didn't even mention Castillo's $162,000-a-year job as head of the government-funded Broward House, which gets $2 million a year from the county itself. It's a conflict that recently prompted Castillo to drop out of the race before reentering it (the sorry ethics commission gave an opinion saying it was OK after Castillo spent $4,900 in campaign money on ethics lawyer Mark Herron). Think about this: If Castillo gets the commission seat and its $90,000 salary, he'll be making a quarter million dollars a year on two taxpayer-funded jobs. How obscene is that?
If Castillo is making $162,000 to run an important taxpayer-funded charity, how does he have time to run a campaign? He should be earning all that bloated Broward House money, not running around the county touting his own name and trying to get another job. Another key question: If he's making $162,000 a year at a taxpayer-funded charity, how can he have enough time to run the county too?
It doesn't add up. It's a fatal flaw and has the appearance of an unmitigated sham. On top of all of it, Castillo is a darling of lobbyists and the whole corrupting power crowd that has led to the mess we're in now. Check out his first campaign report here for proof. And he's tied to that awful lobbyist Judy Stern (Castillo's wife, Lisa, was on Stern's payroll before taking on the role of his campaign manager). In other words, not only does his campaign speak of personal greed but it's backed by the county's forces of greed. That's greed squared.
And the Herald comes out with a glowing endorsement of the guy? Also endorsed by the Herald was Ken Keechl. I could go on and on here, but you just get the idea.
Speaking of the culture of corruption, hit the jump and go inside to see about that photograph.
The folks in that photo are, of course, State Attorney Michael Satz and Broward School Board Member Robin Bartleman.
Yes, they're just schmoozing at a political event (which one I haven't yet determined). But it reminds us that Satz -- who is handling a major corruption investigation right now -- is ultimately a politician. It's always been said he was too close to the political structure, relying on the same special interests as all the others, to really clean up the county.
I have hope that he's going to rise above that conflict. But let's look at the connections involved in this photograph alone. Bartleman is a School Board member heavily tied to campaign consultant Barbara Miller and lobbyist Neil Sterling, a pair who have essentially served as the heart of darkness at the School Board, representing health and construction clients before the board and reaping literally billions in rewards. Miller was instrumental in getting Bartleman elected in 2004, and the two remain close friends.
From an October 29, 2009, Herald story:
"Board member Robin Bartleman traded e-mails with Miller, mostly about local politics or a group with which the two were involved. Miller once asked Bartleman to spot her $10 and she'd pay her back. Bartleman signed one of her e-mails, 'Love, Robin.'"
Another board member in the Miller-Sterling sphere is, of course, Jennifer Gottlieb, who is BFFs with Miller. Another is Stephanie Kraft, whose husband was secretly on Sterling's payroll. Bob Parks (that's Dr. Robert D. Parks to you) and Maureen "The Dim One" Dinnen are also chums.
The kicker: Barbara Miller has run Michael Satz's campaigns in the past. They too are very chummy.
Human nature dictates that Satz would have a hard time conducting a corruption-busting investigation into Sterling and Miller. It's a problem. That's why the Sterling investigation is a good job for Sheriff Al Lamberti and his corruption guy, former FBI agent Al LaManna. If we can get enough corruption units in this town, each one can take out the political posses of the other and Broward County might actually become less a cesspool.