It was the kind of sloppy political sabotage you'd expect in a banana republic. But hey, we're talking about Deerfield Beach. So we shouldn't be surprised that the punishment for Thomas Noland is roughly equivalent to the kind you'd expect for a prince in a corrupt kingdom: a fine of $250 for the 20-year-old son of Peggy Noland, on whose behalf Thomas and friends embarked on a raid of rivals' campaign signs on the eve of the March 10 election.
The disposition of Noland's case is here, on Acts of Sedition, the blogging lair of Chaz Stevens, a deeply jaded soul whose Bukowski-esque rants would seem excessive if they dealt with any city but Deerfield Beach.
Noland is a Deerfield Beach firefighter, and his campaign sabotage is unrelated to another ethics-related investigation, wherein firefighters are accused of campaigning for Peggy Noland while they were supposed to be working for the city. I phoned the city manager's office for an update on that investigation, but I have yet to hear back.
Peggy's husband is also a longtime firefighter, and during the campaign, she admitted to a lapse in judgment -- "ethics violation" might be the better term -- in casting a commission vote for that department's generous pension plan.
The department could have made an example of Thomas Noland. Instead, it let him keep his job in exchange for that $250 and a letter of apology. Don Cleveland, one of the losing mayoral candidates who saw his own signs vanish from the yards of supporters, says the episode illustrates the need for an independent campaign regulatory body that actually has some teeth. "The election law is a sham," he says. "There's no enforceability until after an election, and then it's too late because the scoundrels have won the day."