The Toll of Public Service

You know those before-and-after photos of presidents showing how much they aged during their years running the country? 

Here's one example: 

clintonbill.jpg
​i





















That's a big difference, but it's nothing compared to what spending time in the Florida Legislature does to a politician. Inside, see the photographic evidence of a stunning transformation of one formerly prominent local state senator. 
Here's Steve Geller when he entered the Legislature at the end of the 1980s:

gellersteve.jpg
Perfectly regular-looking fellow, right? Well, look at what 20 years of legislative life did to him:  

gellerafter.jpg
On a positive note, Geller to his credit has lost a fair amount of that girth -- free meal, anyone? -- since leaving office. But just think of it: If term limits hadn't forced him to leave the Senate, he would still be growing.

Let this be a cautionary tale for all who dare to enter Florida politics. 

Here's a little push into the weekend: 


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50 comments
Wood Shed
Wood Shed

Every taxpayer in the state of florida should go to Tallahassee when they are in session to witness the happy hour that occurs everyday after the days session is over. Just a clue, the bars and restaurants roll out sidewalk bars and tables, the bartenders are cute coeds, and our elected officials drink and wink at each other for hours at a time, use their state credit cards to pay the tab, give a hefty tip, and try to get coeds phone #s and then they go home, condo, etc, shower up and then go out to dinner until about 11 - 12 at night. I got so disgusted with the happy hour, that I couldn't stomach to go out and see the dinner wink and drink scene. Thats how the girth grows. A Beer Belly and Prime Rib Belly on our dime. Its like they all living a college coeds dream at their later years.

Wood Shed
Wood Shed

How many free meals do you think it took to get that girth. and were they at that infamous restaurant in Parkland? or is that out of his district? the hair loss is from playing bedfellows to to the lobbyist under the blankets and the girth just evidences the greed and payoffs.

Guest
Guest

Good Morning All!

Time wounds all heels. -- Dorothy Parker

Randi Krotch
Randi Krotch

G*d versus LA Fitness:Years ago, we prayed to ease our fear of death.Now we cope with a cardio workout.HAPPY EASTER!

Christy
Christy

Say No to Drugs. R.i.p.

C.Z.

Details will be released today probably. Friend of a friend local college.

B_tan
B_tan

condolences, christy

B_tan
B_tan

Heh, it's chica night on the blog!

Christy
Christy

Happy Easter, Happy Passover!!

Dr_augusta
Dr_augusta

I dunno Bob. I think "Californai Girls" by the Beach Boys is a helluva lot more danceable!

B_tan
B_tan

Another topic change:Rick Scott thumbs his nose at EPA guidelines on Earth Day. http://www.miamiherald.com/201...

Guest
Guest

Unbelievable!.... I knew he'd be bad for our State and now this...Does he own a bottled water company? Just kidding about that but he will ruin our state and reverse all progress.. I'm so totally opposed to this Governor, Crook Scott!

Guest
Guest

Topic Change: Excellent story in Todays' Sun-Sentinel

Benjamin still not cleared in Rothstein case

By Brittany Wallman April 22, 2011 02:05 PMA top official at Broward Sheriff’s Office who escorted Ponzi mastermind Scott Rothstein to his waiting getaway jet to Casablanca still has not been cleared of wrongdoing a year and a half later, but remains in a high level position.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti gave tough talk in fall 2009 about the allegations against his right-hand man, Lt. David Benjamin, saying he had “clearly stepped over the boundary about what’s permitted by a BSO deputy’’ and would be investigated by the agency’s Internal Affairs division.

Friday, Lamberti said he couldn’t comment on it because “it’s currently an open I.A. investigation.’’

Benjamin, a longtime friend of Rothstein’s, had a private business that might have done unsanctioned work with him, the sheriff said in 2009. He also provided Rothstein a personal escort to the waiting private jet to Morocco, BSO said, as Rothstein fled, temporarily, from investors in his crumbling Ponzi scheme.

Rothstein’s case is long closed. So are the cases of some other law enforcement officials Rothstein had personal or business relationships with, including Fort Lauderdale officers who guarded his home. But Benjamin’s case remains open.

He’s been allowed to work during the investigation, and is making $106,104 running the Juvenile Assessment Center, BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said.

Rothstein orchestrated the largest financial fraud in South Florida history - a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison; his incarceration whereabouts are a government secret.

Benjamin is one of two top BSO insiders who were close to Rothstein. The other, Undersheriff Col. Tom Wheeler, was cleared by BSO of wrongdoing for taking free jet trips with Rothstein.

Lamberti said he was investigating Wheeler, and BSO officials maintained that for a year, until Lamberti admitted in December that no such investigation was done. He said Wheeler’s jet trips with Rothstein were looked at, but weren’t a policy violation.

“We changed the policy,’’ he said Friday about officers accepting things of value. “I was uncomfortable that it was not a policy violation. If that happens now it is a policy violation. If it’s a conflict or has the potential to be a conflict, you can’t do it.’’

Both Wheeler and Benjamin are close allies of Lamberti’s. Hired in 1986, Benjamin worked for years in Pompano Beach and then Weston, until Lamberti was appointed to the job in September 2007 and brought him in close. Benjamin and Wheeler, with Rothstein, helped get Lamberti elected in 2008, working together on the campaign, political consultant and former Rothstein associate Roger Stone told the Sun Sentinel.

Benjamin rose to high levels under Sheriff Lamberti, despite a past that includes being suspended for lying and making a disparaging ethnic remark about a co-worker, records obtained by the Sun Sentinel show.

Suddenly, in the space of a month in early 2008, when Lamberti filed paperwork to officially run for his seat, Benjamin was given several raises, a total $13,232 bump, promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, and pulled in close to the sheriff to be his executive officer. Soon after, Lamberti elevated Benjamin to temporary captain status, running Internal Affairs, his personnel file says.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation looked at Benjamin for its national academy in July 2009, the personnel file reflects, just months before Rothstein’s world fell apart and Benjamin’s career took a swerve. Benjamin was removed from his Internal Affairs post immediately.

Benjamin was commended for good work 52 times over his career.

But he also was suspended a day and demoted, when BSO said he lied about why he’d seized someone’s gun and hadn’t checked it in as evidence. He was accused in that 1994 case of creating a “completely fictitious’’ explanation that passed culpability to another employee, a move that “can be described as nothing less than an outright lie,’’ his Pompano Beach chief, Stanley Tipton, wrote in his disciplinary letter. Tipton wrote that Benjamin also had made an “obvious and disparaging reference’’ to the other employee’s “ethnic background.’’

Coleman-Wright said Benjamin’s performance since then warranted his promotions.

Federal authorities said Rothstein’s relationship with top law enforcement officials in Broward was part of a game to “curry favor’’ in order to deflect their scrutiny.

Rothstein also was friendly with Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley, and with

anonymous
anonymous

$106,000 salary. He should be fined $106,000 a year, and spend some time in jail. You know why Lamberti hasn't closed the case, it's so Benji can keep taking $106,000 from taxpayers. This town is disgusting.

Guest
Guest

Now will someone explain to me why Benjamin, aside from the Rothstein shit, after the lies and other unethical wrong doings, still has his job???

Amazing_Karnack
Amazing_Karnack

Pulpman,

Karnack says this post illistrates why you are the man. Souless and Soulful all in one post. Karnack says you do have a way.

Guest
Guest

Father Time is sometimes not very kind to some folks. What counts is what's inside. Then again there are those that are rotten to the core no matter what the outside looks like.

Steve-O
Steve-O

Just watched the episode of True Crime with Aphrodite Jones on the Rothstein Affair. This has been the most thorough treatment of it to date but everyone still tiptoes around the main issue: The Corruptibility of Law Enforcement. Scotty Boy got his start representing the Plantation Police Union and there is a clear conflict of interest in them investigating the murder of Melissa Britt Lewis. No mention again of the shameless actions of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department as it was Rothstein's personal bodyguard. Passing reference is made to Al Lamberti and the influence that SR had over him but BSO's deep involvement in the ponzi gets overlooked.The complicity of law enforcement is the key to any good scam in Broward County. Always has been, always will.

Punk
Punk

Geller, simply because you taken the healthy step to accept the possibility of being pompous I will cut you slack. First and foremost, take humility lessons and start listening to people. Hear what they say, consider how You might help Them instead of the predictable opposite from you. Renouce making friends like Joel Steinger or taking on clients like them. Elevate your personal standards. Use your insurance knowledge to identify ways that residents and business can get better coverage at reduced cost. Write about, talk about it, take the insurance companies to the cleaners. You say you're not a bag man for the insurance companies. Prove it. We get screwed by insurance companies every single day. Show us you can stop it. I'm very unimpressed with your record as a legislator in that regard. We pay the highest insurance in America, on your watch. So you have a long way to go to convince me but fine show me. That's a great place to start and if you do these things yes I will consider changing my mind about you.

Sofedup
Sofedup

Whatsthepoint....You don't know anything about his career? Been under a rock, eh? He's the one who while in the legislature got a bill passed raising the bar for state oversight of development that coincidentally (yeah, right) just fit a client he was representing. There's lots more. Just google his name. Or are you related? Which would account for your memory lapse.

Whatsthepoint
Whatsthepoint

Sofedup, so as not to disappoint Bubba, I'll try to respond in a gentlemanly fashion.

I haven't been under a rock, but I don't make it my business to know the personalities or predelicitions of the entire cast of Florida politicos. I'm sure I could look at a list of lobbiests or politicians, find one of whom YOU knew nothing about, and make a comment such as "He/she was the one that blah blah blah and then so forth and so forth. Geez, how can you not know that?"

In response to your query, I did google him. The first search response that came up (other than stevegeller.com, which might be a biased source) was his wikipedia entry. Whereupon I learned that he was "was the author of the Steve Geller Autism Coverage Act, which forced health insurance companies to cover Autistic children's rehabilitation/medical costs" and supported legislation mandating stricted oversight of carnival rides after a little girl died on one. No mention of the bar for state oversight of development, etc., which you mentioned.

Now, with fear of appearing narcissitic, I'll quote my previous post: " Don't know whether he's a local good guy or bad guy or something in between."

I never defended Mr. Geller, nor did I try to justify any of his actions. In fact, the entire point of my post was that there WAS NOTHING TO CONDONE OR CONDEMN written in the article, other than the fact that the man got fat over a period spanning over two decades, AND THAT I THOUGHT A POST OUTLINING HIS SHADY DEALINGS (IF ANY) WOULD BE MORE RELEVANT AND APPROPRIATE! (I hate internet shouting, but wow, hitting that capslock key feels kinda good!).

For you to respond insulting my worldliness "been under a rock?" or motivation for posting "are you related?" just because I didn't immediately jump on the "make fun of the fat guy" bandwagon is paranoid, juvenile, and an indication of your probable knee-jerk reaction to statements or situations rather than taking a methodical, logical approach with an open mind and discerning eye.

Whether you are a liberal or conservative, I feel that your comment epitomizes much of vitriol and hysterics currently being attributed to tea party activists. All bluster, anger, and indignation, very little constructive problem solving or objective analysis. Have a good day, and remember, not everyone is in on some giant conspiracy. Some of us might genuinely hold different viewpoints, or want clarifaction of an assertion made in this blog.

Steve Geller
Steve Geller

What'sthepoint:

Thanks for trying to apply some common sense. This is the wrong blog for that. Bob simply makes things up. Once he decides that you're evil, he'll write crap about you for no reason whatsoever.

I happen to have an excellent reputation in Tallahassee, where I was known as one of the straight shooters, etc. I was never a partier there, never went to the bars chasing skirts, never a hint of being someone that a bag of cash would influence. I voted against the insurance industry most of the time, and fought for lower insurance rates. I received legislative awards from numerous consumer groups. I generally voted pro labor/pro consumer/ pro lawyer/ pro-public education. The large business groups, who generally opposed labor/lawyers/public education/consumer groups were not very fond of me. Like the Autism bill (where I fought the Insurance Industry) or the Amusement Ride safety bill (where I had to fight Disney and the Carnival industry), both of which you referred to, I had a long record of fighting for people that needed fighting for, against big business. I had more pari-mutuels in my Legislative district than any other legislator in Florida, and I did support this industry. It's not an anti-consumer industry, unlike some of the others

I cast about 100,000 votes in my 20 years in Tallahassee. We average about 5,000 votes/year. It's real easy to take some of those votes out of context and exploit them, if you have an agenda, which Bob does, although I've never understood why. Just an example. If you have a bill with 20 provisions in it, and you like 18 of them, and dislike 2, you generally vote for the bill, unless the 2 are so fundamentally wrong that you have to vote against the 18 items that you like. Either way, you're subject to attack for either voting against the 18 good things, or voting for the 2 bad things. Sometimes on a controversial bill, a deal is made, where the other side will remove 85% of the things that you don't like, in exchange for everybody agreeing to support the bill.

Without re-arguing everything that Bob has written, he went after me for a few things in particular. One was representing clients in front of local governments, mostly on zoning decisions, which are quasi-judicial. Florida Statutes specifically permit Legislators to appear in front of local governments, even if they're not lawyers, and even if they're not on quasi-judicial matters. Some people think this is wrong. I will only point out that if I were a litigator, I would have more influence over Judges (whose salary and working conditions are determined by the Legislature) than I would over cities, or I could have voted with the Insurance guys, and received lots of Insurance work for my firm (I didn't), or I could have been a Realtor (they have a great lobbying team and have numerous issues in Tallahassee) and received listings from big businesses whose industries I votes for, or I could have been a teacher or College professor, and fought for more funding for my employer, etc. I suppose I could have been a Newspaper Reporter. The Press lobbies Tallahassee extensively on numerous issues, such as advertising, taxation, etc. Unless you have a full time Legislature, with salary sufficient that you're prohibited from earning outside income, there is a potential for conflict in virtually any job that a legislator works inn. Any "crusading reporter" will find a conflict, and once one writes about it, some pile on.

According to this blog, I was always about to be indicted and convicted on the Mutual Benefits case. I guess nobody told Law Enforcement about that, because not only was I not indicted or convicted, I was never even interviewed about the Mutual Benefits case by any law enforcement agency on the city, county, state, federal, international, or Pan-Galactic levels. That's because I had nothing to do with it. Selective facts certainly can lead to wrong conclusions. Mutual contributed to me and then I voted for them. Sounds terrible. They were located in my Legislative District, I was the senior Legislator from Broward, and had previously passed legislation in that area (viaticals) that even Bob admitted was pro-consumer. Of course they contributed. They weren't one of my largest contributors, nor was I one of the largest recipients of funds from them. They gave a lot more to Republicans, who were in charge. I voted in favor of a bill they supported. So did everyone else. The vote was 37-1 yes in the Senate, and 113-1 yes in the House. Everyone voted in favor of the bill.

Bob has a blog, I don't. I'm sure he'll continue to make things up, or slant them. Not much I can do about it. Don't for one second think that he's been fair or accurate. Hey, maybe he can go to work for Fox News?

Steve Geller

Whatsthepoint
Whatsthepoint

I appreciate your response. You should start a blog. Or become a counter-point commentator on this one. I'd check in on "Steve's slant", especially if it portrayed a "former" insiders view on whats really going on with regards to current political machinations and manipulations..

Guest
Guest

I don't agree with you about Bob Norman. He is courageous in his reporting of the truth and telling the real story, we the public might never know about if it were not for him. Thank you, PULP!

Guest
Guest

Truth be told I'm not far off from agreeing with you. However you are massively over weight. You should go on a diet and I'm sure you'll be healthier and feel and look 100% better.

Steve Geller
Steve Geller

Punk Move:

Most of what you said is flat out wrong. 2 out of three anyway.

By the way, the Bill Clinton pictures were 8 years apart. Mine were about 22 years apart. First was before I was elected, second was after I retired.

There is an insurance crisis in Florida despite my best efforts, not because of them. I fought the insurance industry continuously, but lost. In my opinion, they are the strongest lobby in Tallahassee. Except on one or two occasions when we had to compromise on legislation, or there were multiple sections of bills and I liked most (see my previous post), my record was clear and consistent in favor of lower prices. I authored the legislation that set up the "Super Cat Fund" that kept insurance prices in check for the two years it was in effect. I'm the one that sucessfully demanded that we bring in Insurance executives to testify under oath as to the high cost of insurance. The Republicans repealed much of what I did as soon as I left. I received numerous awards from groups familiar with my insurance record, from groups like the Florida Consumer Action Network (Ralph Nader's Insurance group)(and no, I'm not a Nader fan any more), Other Consumer groups, the Trial Lawyers (who were the arch-enemy of the Insurers), etc. I never received one award from Insurers or Insurance related groups. Yes, I was an expert in this area, but by any objective standards, my record was solidly pro-consumer, not pro-insurance.

Every Lawyer in town has a story of how I tried to shake them down for a piece of a project? A flat out lie. Unless you have me confused with another lawyer, because there were 1 or 2 that I can think of that might meet that description. How would I do that? In my entire career, I only recall co-counseling cases with three law firms, all of whom were close friends, that conrtibuted to my campaigns, etc. In two of the three cases, I brought them in on one or more cases, and they brought me in on one or more cases. Your statement is simply not accurate. And although I did very well for a few years during the go-go years of zoning and land use, my overall earning record was no better than most "A-V" rated lawyers, and worse than many. I certainly could have attracted large corporate clients by voting with the business community more. I didn't vote with them, and didn't seek the large corporate clients. Teachers, the PTA, working people, small businesses, etc. continuously gave me high marks and awards. The conservative large business groups continuously ranked me poorly, and didn't give me the awards. That's a record I'm proud of.

In reference to the pompous attitude, I didn't think so, but there have been a number of comments, and it's certainly possible that I was without meaning to be. Hard to judge your own demeanor. I know I was friendly, but perhaps pomposity snuck in.

Wanted to set the record straight, which is generally a losing proposition on blogs.

Steve Geller

The REAL Geller
The REAL Geller

Steve, you were not the worst guy up there and you did some good over your years. But you can never say you were not a bag man for the insurance companies because you were. Because of you we have an insurance nightmare in Florida. You were the go to guy on insurance. Because of you we pay the highest rates for home and auto insurance. Further, your choice of friends was terrible. Further still, every lawyer in town has a story about how Steve Geller tried to shake them down for a piece of a fee on this project or the other. The things people were a little worried about saying while you were in office, knowing you were somewhat vindictive, have not been forgotten. You were also a very pompous guy who did not like being around regular people very much. You also think that because you have some intellectual talent nobody else's viewpoint is important much less worth considering. These are the right ways to describe your time in office. You missed many more opportunities to do good by using your elected office to push your legal practice and that's just terrible. Yours is not a career that can ever be measured by what you did but by what you chose not to do or passed up on doing.

anonymous
anonymous

How many stolen taxpayer's dollars are represented in that fat belly! It's a wonder his face didn't take on the look of a cow. Mooooo.

Whatsthepointofthis
Whatsthepointofthis

Bit of a mean, ad hominem, attack with no redeeming newsworthy or journalistic content, wouldn't you agree? Mr. Norman?P.S. - Care to post a before and after of yourself spanning any given 23 years of your life as a comparison?

anonymous
anonymous

What!? Didn't you see the Aphrodite Jones show last night which featured several scenes with Bob Norman? The Pulp is SMOKIN' HOT! If his successful muckraking work has negatively aged him, what did he look like 20 years ago? Clark Gable???

Bubba
Bubba

"Bit of a mean, ad hominem, attack with no redeeming newsworthy or journalistic content, wouldn't you agree?"

Did you really mean that as a summary of Geller's career?

Whatsthepointofthis
Whatsthepointofthis

Bubba.I understand where you're coming from. I mistakenly applied journalistic standards to bloggers. But I realize that bloggers don't claim to be journalists and therefore shouldn't be held to those same standards. Your claim that "Physical attributes, regardless of pettiness, are a grand part of blogging" is probably accurate (being an amatuer I really don't know), and I made the mistake of mixing values for the "old" media with those of the "new" media. I guess I'm just a bit old fashioned and behind the times...which really sucks considering I just turned 30.Anyways, thanks for setting me straight. I'll save that type of criticism for the MSM, and gracefully recognize that there are "fun" and "opinion" elements to blogging that are every bit as important to that medium as objective facts are.

Bubba
Bubba

Wow, a gentleman (or gentlewoman) on this blog. Don't give up your values. The commentary above was not to single you out or make a personal criticism.

Whatsthepointofthis
Whatsthepointofthis

Nope. Don't know much about the fella, don't know much about his politics, can't recall the gist of any anecdotes or scandals I may have heard about him. Don't know whether he's a local good guy or bad guy or something in between. Have absolutely no knowledge of his career beyond the very general (was a state legislator, is a lawyer).

And after reading this "article", the only thing I DO know about him is that *GASP* *SURPRISE* he has aged in 20 years. That was my point.

I started reading this blog during the Rothstein scandal, and enjoyed both the style of writing as well as the relentless push for the truth. However, I've come to be increasingly disappointed with the posts as many of them seem to be merely filler or personal attacks.

This post just seems to be a waste of the writers obvious talent and determination, and I was questioning the point of it.

Punk Move
Punk Move

By the way, to make things clear. I know a whole bunch about Mr. Geller and am by no means an admirer of him. But there is a line to be drawn if only between gentlemen on what gets written and published. There used to be and should be today.

Punk Move
Punk Move

There are several Bob Normans. One is an occasionally gifted journalist who doggedly pursues a story and roots out the truth. The other is a self-indulging jerkoff who just gets off saying ugly things about others. Then there's the unsatisfied Norman who laments what could have been in his own career and takes it out on others. Too infrequently we see the caring Norman who too rarely has anything positive to say about anyone. Then there's Captain Crusaider Norman who likes to drive home his own sometimes on point and as often not public policy views. Then there's the crimefighter Norman who only views laws through his own untrained eyes, who presumes to try cases in the news, it's a mixed bag. But the fact most likely in this case is he found an old Geller picture and decided to have fun with it. This is how Norman amuses himself. He thinks that's funny. In the old days a stunt like that would have been handled very differently than today.

Gator
Gator

If you're tryingto figure out this blog, think junior high school.

Joe6
Joe6

This shitbird lawyer got fat eating tax dollars, eating campaign dollars and perhaps bribe dollars

Father Crime
Father Crime

Style and writing doesn't change with the story. The story is just more or less interesting. You found Rothstein to be more interesting than most, no doubt. Until Rosenfeldt, Adler, Levin, Szfranski, Ritter, Klenet, Lieberman, Michelson, etc. get arrested, a guy has to fill in with something, so he's focusing on other crooks on the ground. You gotta love it, Broward County is such furtile ground for a corruption story a minute. Who has time to tell them all.

I hope everyone does notice that most of the big stories are about people with either law degrees or some law enforcement training. Show me a crook and I'll show you the illusion of a "law component" in their past. Am I correct?

Bubba
Bubba

I understand your questioning the post. However, many of the responses posted to the blog are based on the idea that the blog responders are familiar with the politician, his activities and they do not like what they have observed. Thus, the comments do not start out saying I have known of Geller for 20 years and here are all the things that he did that I don't like. They get right to the point. Physical attributes, regardless of pettiness, are a grand part of blogging.

Thus, I have followed Geller for 20 years and dispite his girth and lack of hair, he sucked and was not a good legislator. (IMHO)

Also, he is a lawyer (how about that Parkland Man??)

unowho
unowho

You can tell Rick Scott is "truly" devoted by his hairline!!!

unowho
unowho

Hey "BUBBA" ......2nd

Bubba
Bubba

What is the reason for the hair loss? Public service? I doubt it.

Easter
Easter

To everyone that reads this blog.

HAVE A BLESSED AND HAPPY EASTER!2011 years ago a man walked this earth. No one can deny that. Whether he was a prophet, a teacher, or the Son of God it is undeniable that he changed the course of history. His message was simple.Love God.and Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Guest
Guest

To each his own.....Happy Easter

anonymous
anonymous

If the look of his stomach says anything, he probably ate his hair, along with everything else in sight.

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