Random Thoughts On Hollywood Sludge Case
-- Dan Abbott's days should be numbered as city attorney. He fought like hell to keep Keith Wasserstrom from being charged, even making a special trip downtown to plead with prosecutors to go easy on him. He's claiming all over the TV news that he knew every aspect of the deal and believes Wasserstrom was in the right because the commissioner didn't vote on the deal. That just proves that either Abbott is ignorant of Florida's unlawful compensation statute or he's just as corrupt and/or mindless as Wasserstrom. Voting is only an issue in the Florida' Code of Ethics -- which are toothless. It has has nothing to do with unlawful compensation. It's the deal, stupid. And Wasserstrom definitely struck a corrupt deal when it came to the sludge contract in his city. For the promise of future lobbying work with Schwing Bioset, he pimped the company all over City Hall. On top of that, he installed his uncle, Arnold Goldman, as the middleman in the whole scheme.
Yes, Wasserstrom blatantly sold out his elected office -- and Abbott apparently approved of every single bit of it. You're wrong, Dan, and you let down your commission. The only honorable thing left for you to do is resign.
-- Michael Satz, faced with an unmistakable crime, clearly cut a compromise. He (rightfully) threw Wasserstrom to the wolves and (wrongfully) gave Giulianti a break. She should have been charged with
official misconduct. She knew damn well what was going on and defended it in her own column in 2004 when she admitted that she knew her son's law firm was going to profit from the arrangement with Schwing Bioset from a "third party." Giulianti also had the same bogus argument Abbott is using in that column, likely not by coincidence.
At the same time, Wasserstrom certainly drove this thing. He's a fall guy to a certain extent, but he's no scapegoate. The man obviously became enthralled with the idea of being a sludge king. And he was brought along by a buffalo farmer named Larry Wakinyan, a shady middleman who played his Native American status to the hilt to help sell Schwing Bioset to the city. Wakinyan was the guy dressed up in Indian regalia at the initial meeting who said out of the blue to the commission: "We've done nothing under the table. We've paid no kickbacks, and we will never do that."
It was a classic WTF? moment. And a lesson: Whenever somebody denies a crime that nobody has accused him of, there's a decent likelihood that the man has a guilty mind.
-- The Barbara Miller factor. Satz and Giulianti both have B.M., as I like to call her, as their campaign manager. They are tied together. Not saying it played a role in Satz's decision to go lenient on the mayor, but it's worth noting.
-- Whit Van Cott. He's the almost comical former utilities director for the city. And he was so baldly in favor of Schwing Bioset that he threatened to quit if the commission didn't vote for the company. He would rant and rave and cajole and throw his hands up in the air, begging commissioners to vote their way. In other words, the guy seemed wired. Read this if you don't believe me -- it's hilarious. Then he quit his job not long after the deal was struck and slinked off into retirement. Talk about a stink.
-- Comments are loading up at the Sun-Sentinel site at a record rate. The vast majority of them are appallingly ignorant. Some are anti-Semitic (Wasserstrom and Giulianti are Jewish), some are angry Republicans who think the Sentinel is being biased by not labeling them as Democrats (apparently unaware that local races aren't party specific). So many others are misinterpreting the case so badly it's comical.
Anybody who really wants to understand the case, here's a compendium of stories about it. They outline the case and illuminate a lot of side issues and intangibles involved in the corruption. Call it one-stop shopping:
-- Ooh That Smell, April 15, 2004.
-- Message Control , July 22, 2004.
-- River of Sludge, July 29, 2004.
-- Hollywood Sludge, Revisited , April 28, 2005.