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Where's the Leadership, Sheriff?

The photo above is one that the Broward Democratic Party didn't want you to see.

Or at least the part of it showing lobbyist Judy Stern with a sign denouncing offshore drilling. The photo was taken at the "Hands Across the Sands" protest last June. The Democratic Party's website, bluebroward.org, covered the rally and included the photo, but Stern was cropped out of it. Only the man at her right, who happens to be Ken Evans, an area leader for the Broward Democratic Executive Committee, was shown. 

Someone sent me the unedited photo just yesterday. There's good reason for the Democrats to erase Stern from the photo. She's one of those sneaky lobbyists, after all, who are best hidden behind the curtain. But it's not only the fact that she's a lobbyist but what she has lobbied for. Stern represented the infamous Calypso natural gas pipeline project that enraged beach residents in Fort Lauderdale. That plan called for the construction of undersea terminals off the coast and pipelines that would pump highly flammable natural gas to shore under the ocean floor. 

It was so unpopular that former Gov. Charlie Crist killed the Calypso project himself in 2009 to a literal standing ovation from residents. 

A year later, Stern had suddenly become a 

great environmentalist. Of course, her daughter, Barbra, was making a run for the state Legislature as well, so a quick rah-rah at the party's protest certainly wouldn't hurt that either.

Evans, as an aside, was one of the rabblerousers who heckled Allen West at his town hall meeting at Cavalry Chapel on Tuesday. On that topic, I'll say this: I really don't like the fact that the Dems are sinking to the level of the Tea Party, but if anyone deserves to be shouted off the stage, it's Allen West. 

-- So let's get this story about the judge right. 

Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes is enjoying Easter dinner at her sister's house in Deerfield Beach. Apparently there is a burglar on the loose in the area. BSO deputies mistakenly surround Holmes' sister's house, believing the burglar is inside. 

The judge is packing heat. She pulls out her gun. The deputies announce who they are. Holmes announces who she is. The deputies are unimpressed and order the family out of the home at gunpoint. From Elgin Jones' story

The family told deputies they are the homeowners and that the officers were at the wrong house.

Still, the deputies continued to order the family outside with their hands up. After they came out of the house, the deputies ordered them to lie on the ground but they did not comply.

Holmes continued identifying herself as a judge. She told the deputies she was coming out and would place her weapon on the ground. As she came out through a side door, deputies began yelling, "Put the gun down!" After she placed her gun on the grass, they yelled, "Get away from the gun" and "Get on the ground."

Holmes again identified herself as a judge and explained that she has a bad back and therefore unable to lie on the ground.

At that point, the family was being held at gunpoint with their hands in the air. The Scarletts' 16-year-old daughter Kiana was escorted outside at gunpoint. 

One of the deputies recognized Holmes and told her she could put her hands down.

A neighbor said she too told deputies they were at the wrong address but they continued to search the house.

"I told one of them they had the wrong house and he went to tell the rest of them," said Diandra Evans, a neighbor who witnessed the incident. "They owe them an apology because they made a mistake."

Because Holmes is black, this story has resounding racial overtones. Jones also reports that Holmes called Sheriff Al Lamberti after the incident but he hasn't returned the call. 

My take on this is that if BSO had apologized to Holmes and her family for getting it wrong, then none of this would even be coming up at this time. They would have squashed it. 

Instead, BSO has apparently dug in its heels, compounding its mistake. 

The apparent lack of an apology or any accountability by Lamberti or his agency for rousting the peaceful family at Easter only bolsters those who would claim, right or wrong, that this was the work of an unprofessional, arrogant, and possibly racist team of deputies. 

Where's the leadership, sheriff?

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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