Witness for the Intimidation

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"This is George Carter," the officer said. "He runs this place. He's in charge of all this. What he says goes."

"That man can't produce an ordinance that I'm violating," Lozman argued in a smooth, low-key fashion.

"Do you know how long he's been running this marina?" Sorrells asked, clearly not expecting an answer. "He has delegated what can or can't be done in this marina... and he's given you an order."

"This man is wasting your time and everybody else's time," Lozman returned.

Sorrells, a bit frustrated, looked back at the marina chief.

"Mr. Carter, what's the rules?" he asked.

"We don't allow it," Carter said. "It's not a construction yard. No marina would let this be done."

I was open-minded at first, but now I was leaning toward Lozman. He was bothering no one; nobody had complained but Carter. It looked like good old-fashioned ball-busting.

"You're going to have trouble here," Sorrells told Lozman ominously.

Soon, Assistant Chief David Harris arrived. You could tell he wasn't a regular cop because he was wearing a comfortable golf shirt. A big man with a thick, reddish-brown mustache, Harris didn't waste time.

"I'm thinking of slapping the cuffs on you right now," he said.

"Let me explain," Lozman tried.

"Go ahead — I gotta hear this one."

Harris really said that.

Lozman went into his spiel about how there was no rule against it, how people work on their boats out there without harassment all the time, how Carter was wasting everyone's time.

"Sir, I know the chain of command," he told Harris, producing a U.S. Marine card from his wallet.

It's true. Lozman, who is 44 years old, was in the Marines as a fighter pilot for seven years. That was after he graduated from the University of Miami with a mathematics degree at age 19. One surprise after another, this guy.

Harris wasn't impressed.

"The guy told you that you can't do construction," said the assistant chief, looking again at Carter. "That's the guy that runs the marina."

It didn't look good. Lozman dialed his cell phone and handed it to me.

"Can you tell my girlfriend to bail me out?" he asks me. "Just leave a message for Darlene."

I left a message for Darlene. As soon as I was off the phone, Harris eyed me.

"Who are you?"

I told him I'm a reporter with New Times.

"You got any I.D. to prove that?"

Damn it. I always leave the house without business cards. I searched my wallet and came up empty.

"OK, you're going to have to stand over there while we do this," he said.

Sorrells walked over to escort me away.

"No way," I told Harris. "I'm not going anywhere. This is a free country."

I really said that last part. I'm not proud.

Harris considered things for a minute and — snap — his entire demeanor suddenly changed. He said he'd let me tag along and said to Lozman, "You need to get that work done today."

It looked better for Lozman. We all walked down the dock to his boat, and Harris inspected the work. The man was tough to read. He, Sorrells, and Carter all walked back to the park area and had a powwow.

While they spoke, a well-dressed black woman appeared. It was Riviera Beach Commissioner Liz Wade. I had no idea what she was doing there. Wade joined the powwow. Then Harris came back to address Lozman.

"OK, you have to finish this today," he said. "I'm allowing you to do this because the storm is coming. That's the only reason."

Lozman was in the clear.

Then Wade walked over to Lozman. They clearly knew each other. She said something about tickets.

"I'll go write a check," Lozman told the commissioner.

He came back with an old brown leather wallet, pulled out his checkbook, wrote a check for $1,500, and handed it to the commissioner.

"This is not a payoff," Wade told me, laughing.

No, he was buying ten $150 tickets for the County Caucus of Black Politicians' Black Tie Gala to be held August 25 at the Breakers Hotel. That was the reason for her visit to the marina, to pick up the money.

"He's a young man, he's got plenty of money, and he's got time on his hands," Wade said of Lozman. "I want him to be treated fairly."

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman