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For a man who was invited to offer spiritual advice to local Roman Catholic attorneys, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gave a speech in Fort Lauderdale last week that was surprisingly full of bile and self-pity. His talk followed a special mass organized by the St. Thomas More Society of South Florida to invoke "divine guidance" for attorneys, judges, and government officials. Can we get an "Amen"?

Thomas' appointment to the court was confirmed in 1991 after tense Senate hearings during which Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment. Thomas says that he doesn't like to talk about that painful time. But he did so anyway, at great length. He claims that, contrary to well-documented accounts, his camp had no coordinated strategy for winning confirmation. He says he relied on religious faith alone and that his most memorable and controversial line -- that the hearings were a "high-tech lynching" -- resulted from "letting the Holy Ghost speak" through him. Whoa, a channeling justice?

Thomas saved his sharpest scorn for all the unnamed "nihilists" in Washington who are "hell-bent on ruining society... There's an arrogance in our town that grows out of the comforts of nihilism and moral relativism. It's only by the grace of God that not only am I on the court but that I am sane." Questionable.

Writing about ourselves can be troubling. And often biased.
But when those who should know say that a newspaper article had an effect on an issue and, indeed, became news as a result of the controversy that it stirred, it's hard to ignore. So here goes.

It seems that for the first time in at least six years, a prodevelopment issue in Hollywood went down to defeat by a 5-0 vote. And some of the key players point to an article in this paper as the reason.

"Hooray For Hollywood!" written by Harris Meyer, profiled lobbyist Alan (call me an attorney!) Koslow and explained how he is the king of variances. In other words, he can get developers what they want. For a price. And he and his law firm in turn make political contributions to certain Hollywood politicos who happen to be mayor and commissioners. Of course votes can't be bought.

It seems the always prickly Mayor Mara Giulianti and her gang of prodevelopment cronies took exception to the facts, so much so that the city commission hearing on the matter of the Turtle Nest development came to a standstill as arguments, shouts, and derision toward the article crescendoed. At one point Giulianti, who is always running for mayor and looking for a reason to attack commissioner John Coleman, screamed that Coleman called her a racist in the article, which wasn't true.

Much screaming about nothing? Possibly, but the Sun-Sentinel, at least the Hollywood edition, didn't think so. Its headline: "News story derails discussion of Hollywood hotel." The story said Mara claimed "the article about her" was false and defamatory. The New Times story wasn't about her, but she was quoted about development issues. While the Sentinel usually has blanket coverage of Hollywood meetings, for some reason this story about our story didn't make the Fort Lauderdale editions. Hmmm.

Finally the crowd started shouting down the mayor by saying this wasn't why they came, so let's get back to the issue. Coleman added, "Will someone please write a letter to the editor so we can get back to city business?" We second that motion.

-- as told to Tom Walsh

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Tom Walsh
Contact: Tom Walsh