Catherine Maus is the chairwoman of Fort Lauderdale's Planning & Zoning Board. And that isn't right.
Maus is perfectly smart enough and certainly seems of fine enough character to serve in such a capacity. In fact, I'm sure that she, as a lawyer, is a very valuable member and a conscientious one. The problem is that the position represents a glaring (potential) conflict of interest with her other job. You see, Maus is a public corruption prosecutor for Michael Satz. She is the one who convicted former Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom and is currently prosecuting the corruption case against former Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini. Maus is undoubtedly one of the best public corruption prosecutors ever to work under Satz, who has a history of putting patsies in those jobs and overpaying them in an apparent (and successful) attempt to do nothing.
But a public corruption prosecutor taking a government post is like a journalist taking the same job. Or a cop moonlighting at a mobster's nightclub. Maus is supposed to be completely unbiased and uninfluenced in her work as an assistant state attorney. She shouldn't be rubbing shoulders with the Fort Lauderdale commission or be directly involved in any way with the political process that she is supposed to police. Hers is a holy occupation; Maus should vow abstinence from such worldly pursuits. There should be no mud mixed in the milk.
Consider that Maus was appointed to the post by Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom. How could Maus possibly take a case involving Rodstrom, who has done her the favor of naming her to the board? Or Rodstrom's husband, John Rodstrom, the veteran county commissioner? Or the couple's circle of political friends, which includes mega-consultant and lobbyist Judy Stern, downtown lawyer Bill Scherer, and the like?
But it's more the general idea. Think about if I was appointed by, say, Josephus Eggelletion to a county board. Ridiculous. I'm a watchdog, right? So is Maus, only she is the state's official watchdog.
Charlotte Rodstrom told me Maus was originally appointed by Dean Trantalis.
"She is about as squeaky clean as they get and I am honored to have her serving for me," Rodstrom told me this afternoon. "She's impeccable."
Fine. And it's not that I think Maus would show any favor or do anything wrong. Again, she's been an exemplary and hardworking prosecutor and I have little doubt she's an excellent member of the zoning board. She just shouldn't be in a position where any of those questions can be raised or where her political relationships could interfere with her crucially important day job. The position itself indicates possible political aspirations, which again, don't jibe with her duties as government watchdog for the public.
She should resign her post with the city and devote herself entirely to the job in which she is so valuable to the people of Broward County.