Then he used his vast wealth to run for office. He barely appeared in public or spoke to the media, and when he did, he rarely said anything of substance. (He promised he'd donate his salary to the taxpayers.) With his mother as his chief spokesperson, he was little more than a mysterious gazillionaire with an awkward side-mouthed grin. In America, that gave him a chance at winning.
His prospects were shot, however, once the public heard about his great seaward adventures. First, his luxury yacht Summerwind — on which he's hosted everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Mike Tyson — damaged a coral reef off the coast of Belize. Then former crew members began coming forward, describing the sinful goings-on aboard what seemed to be some sort of floating den of iniquity. There were claims of cocaine and strippers and boxers getting blowjobs, and, worst of all, serious mistreatment of the crew. Several former employees claim Greene berated them mercilessly (often while inebriated) and eventually stiffed them on paychecks. Just the kind of behavior we want from a politician.
Dirt Meter: 6 (That he ever was a serious contender in the first place is a sad commentary on the modern political system.)
Before voters threw him out of office in November, it seemed like Ken Keechl, the recently ousted mayor of Broward County, had every political advantage possible. He had the power of incumbency and more than half a million dollars in campaign funds. He was a Democrat and the first openly gay county commissioner in a heavily Democratic district that includes the entire city of Wilton Manors. But his spending was extravagant, he used campaign money for a number of questionable expenditures, and he ran one of the dirtiest races local politics has seen in some time.
Keechl championed ethics reforms and transparency for commissioners' dealings with lobbyists. But during his year with the ceremonial "mayor" title (a different commissioner serves as "mayor" each year), he hosted a gala attended by dozens of lobbyists and people with business before the commission. He asked fellow commissioners to declare it an official Broward County event so the new transparency law did not apply. He let members of the media attend the fundraiser, but only if they agreed not to photograph or interview anyone inside.
He also regularly spent campaign funds on things like wine, food, and travel and to pay the mortgage on a building he and his domestic partner own. He also paid for a deluge of ads and mailers, labeling his opponent, Chris LaMarca, a "convicted criminal" for a college-age DUI charge. Keechl outspent his opponent by $440,000, but LaMarca won the election, and Keechl's time on the commission screeched to a halt after just one term.
Dirt Meter: 5 (In the end, voters just couldn't trust Mayor Ken.)
There was a time when the Mango Festival was one of the biggest events of the year in Deerfield Beach. At its pinnacle in 2005, performers like R&B legend Keith Sweat graced the stage and a whopping 60,000 attendees strolled through the gates. This year, though — the 25th-anniversary edition — the event was a total disaster. And the brunt of the responsibility probably belongs to Deerfield Beach Commissioner Sylvia Poitier.
Poitier championed the festival, assuming an informal position as a leader of its nonprofit committee and encouraging the City Commission to put up $25,000 of taxpayer money. There were early warning signs. Organizers told food vendors there would be 40,000 people but told security to expect about 3,500.
In the end, only a few dozen people showed up to the first day of the event. Checks from the organizers bounced, the sound system failed, the few people who did buy tickets felt incredibly ripped off, and vendors who paid hundreds of dollars for booths ended up throwing away most of their food and threatening a class-action lawsuit.
Poitier blamed the festival's failure on poor planning by the city's parks department and the city manager. She asked that the commission atone for the city's failures by granting the festival a second chance this summer. When another commissioner dared to point out that anyone who thought it'd be a good idea to try that whole thing again is either completely clueless or utterly corrupt, Poitier called her detractors racist.
Dirt Meter: 6 (Where did all that money go, Sylvia?)
Donald Bradford is president of Primate Products, a South Florida-based research facility that imports monkeys from around the world and sells them to animal research labs. Some of the monkeys end up in controversial "vivisection" experiments. Bradford's clandestine, warehouse-esque facility has long been a target of animal-rights activists.