Back in the Game
John DeGroot, the former Sun-Sentinel writing coach and Sheriff Ken Jenne aide, is back at work. His new employer: Gold Coast Magazine.
The mag is a glossy mostly for rich folk, but Publisher Bernard McCormick is an old-school journalist who steers the publication into some serious stuff. DeGroot -- who left the sheriff's employ after he spoke out against BSO management about the Powertrac scandal -- will edit stories and help reporters produce first-rate pieces.
While I'm on John, I thought I'd share a recent e-mail I received from him. He later sent me a revised version, saying this one is too snotty and too much about himself, but fuck that. This one was a shitload better. It starts with the Pulp, goes to John, and dovetails to the Property Appraiser, Lori Parrish.
To: Bob Norman, blogmeister
From: John deGroot, recovering journalist
Re: Your Daily Blog-Rants
I fear for your health.
Your daily Blog-Rants must be taking a savage toll on your blood pressure and stomach acid, if nothing else.
Clearly, all your bile-infested sturm and drang over the quality of journalism in South Florida should merit you combat pay. However, given the likelihood of that, I strongly suggest You begin each day with the Serenity Prayer which goes:
"God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference."
It will help
(The Serenity Prayer is how and why I came to retire from journalism back in 1998 after four decades toiling in the once ink-stained bowels of various newsrooms.)
For the record, I learned the power of the Serenity Prayer during last job in journalism was with the Sun-Sentinel where I served as the newspaper's "writing coach."
As a veteran journalist, I was well-paid to improve the quality of what the Sun-Sentinel calls its "news product" — or what ignorant readers call "stories." Trouble was, I soon discovered (and prayerfully came to accept) the hard truth that no one on God's green earth can teach a reporter or editor certain basic journalistic skills like:
One — Intellectual curiosity
Two - The difference between what's interesting and what's not
Three — How and why "The Old Man and the Sea" works better than the "Old Man and the Ocean."
The above trinity consists of things you either know or don't. Or, more to the point, they require talent — a politically incorrect word rarely heard in the Egalitarian Baroque culture of today's newsroom.
None of the above can be coached — anymore than you can coach a three-legged horse to finish in the money.
Which is why you gotta start accepting the things you cannot change in the mundane world of corporate journalism. But don't take my word for it. Let's take something simple like the business of Intellectual Curiosity.
Hell, even cows are curious!With Rocky
So see where and how the local media falls on the Curiosity Richter Scale when it comes to former Broward County Commissioner Lori Parrish after her three years as Broward County's elected Property Appraiser.
We'll begin with a simple question like: How's the lovely Lori doing as Broward's chief elected Tax Lady?
Anybody in the local news media know?
Or am I the only one?
Or do I need to get a life?
See, as anyone who reads or watches the local news media --- this just in — IT'S HOT.
So, seeking the coolness of my office at home, I decided to dilly-dally around the internet and spend a few minutes checking out how various Broward elected officials are spending my tax dollars. (See Broward.org)
And what to my wondering eyes did appear....?
Broward County Property Appraiser — Budget Trends
Fiscal Year Total Budget
2000: $7,370,637 Bill Markham Appraiser
2001: $7,719,223 Bill Markham Appraiser
2002: $8,560,911 Bill Markham Appraiser
2003: $9,102,236 Bill Markham Appraiser
2004: $10,730,516 Bill Markham Dies (March) Rodriguez Appointed Appraiser
2005: $12,915,386 Lori Parrish Sworn in as Appraiser (January)
2006: $16,105,300 Lori Parrish Appraiser
2007: (Approved) $17,803,900 Lori Parrish Appraiser
% increase: 142%
2000 — 2003 23% - (Under Markham)
2004 - 2007 66% - (Under Rodriguez/Parrish)
(Source: Broward County Annual Operating Budgets)
Call me silly.
But even my nine-year-old grandson (who can work a pocket calculator) might decide the above numbers pose --- well — a few questions.
Like: What the hell is Lori Parrish up to?
I mean, Lori's the very same politician who -- as a then County Commissioner — raised holy righteous hell over the way Miriam Oliphant was blowing her budget during her dismal years as one of the most incompetent elected officials in the history of Broward County.
But no one in the local news media seems to know or — worse — to care.
I know I'm gonna sound like another Old Bastard bemoaning how we did it better but....
Back then, when I worked a governmental beat in the days of black-and-white TV, the one thing I damn well HAD to do was pay regular attention to how and why the politicians were spending my readers' tax dollars.
There's always the Serenity Prayer.
Even cows are curious. I like that.
Back On Barry
I'll be on Barry Epstein's radio show again Friday morning at 10 a.m. on 1470 AM or here on the Internet. We're going to talk about Riviera Beach, a whacked-out city with a helluva lot of money pouring into it.