Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Keith London Cannot “Recall” If He Hired Private Investigators

Keith London Cannot Recall Hiring Private Eyes While Fellow Commissioner Michele Lazarow Records Interview

In an interview with REDBROWARD, Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Keith London could not recall whether he hired private investigators to help him find a GPS tracking device. London and fellow Commissioner Michele Lazarow, a very close ally, attended last week’s Plantation City Council meeting. London lauded the work of Lazarow in organizing protestors at the meeting. Before the meeting, Lazarow deflected questions to London.

Last October, Keith London and Michele Lazarow held a press conference to discuss the discovery of GPS tracking devices on their vehicles. A week earlier, in front of WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman’s camera, London took GPS devices off vehicles owned by himself, Lazarow and candidate Annabelle Taub. London turned the devices to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Lazarow and fellow ally Anabelle Taub were locked in a tough political campaign against controversial Democrats on the November ballot. Taub challenged Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian. Last August, Julian admitted to accepting favors in exchange for his vote on a city development project.

When Lazarow’s opponent, Alexander Lewy claimed the whole matter was a “political stunt, her lawyer shot down the claim. “A crime has been reported,” Brian Silber said. “Evidence has been disclosed and they are reviewing this matter to determine if a violation of criminal law has occurred and who committed the crime.”

“It has become pathetic that the opposition can’t stand on a record,” said London, “and all they are trying to do is play dirty politics.” Lazarow was just as upset as her political ally, London. “I’m furious,” said Lazarow. “To me, it reeks of desperation, political desperation.”

LONDON DEFENSIVE

Keith London was not interested in divulging much information regarding the FDLE case. Instead, London complained REDBROWARD and our “ilk” accused him of committing perjury. REDBROWARD never accused London of anything. At the time, REDBROWARD reported there was no reason to doubt Commissioner Keith London was being followed. He shot video of one man who WPLG later identified as a local private investigator. London and Lazarow were attacked by their opponents who dominated Hallandale Beach City Hall.

London seemed more concerned with why REDBROWARD was interested in Hallandale.

When asked how he knew to check underneath his car for a GPS tracking device, London said,”numerous people told me you might want to look under your car.” When asked who these “numerous people” were, London said he could not recall. When asked if he hired McGarry and Associates, a private investigation firm, London said he could not recall.

When asked if he could recall hiring any private investigator, Commissioner Michele Lazarow tried to interupt the interview. She refused to answer any questions about private investigators.

Keith London asked REDBROWARD if we had any evidence he hired McGarry and Associates. When pressed, London said he could not “remember” if he hired any private investigator.

At the October 2016 press conference, there was something Michele Lazarow’s lawyer said about coincidences that got our attention.

Michele Lazarow’s attorney Brian Silber did not mince words. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” said attorney Brian Sibler. “To tell me it isn’t the political opponent of these people, you’re going to have to tell me that it’s a coincidence that Commissioner Lazarow, Commissioner London, and Anabelle Taub all got GPS trackers on their cars ‘by accident.’ What a coincidence that is.”

COINCIDENCES PILE UP

REDBROWARD reported Vice Mayor Keith London’s lawyer also claims he found a GPS tracker on his car. Last April, former Broward Health chairman David Di Pietro claimed he found a GPS tracking device on his car. Like Keith London, Di Pietro claims he was being followed prior to finding the device. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Di Pietro found the device, removed it and placed it on his washing machine. “And then, in another twist, he said it appeared to have been stolen. He said most likely the person who snatched it gained entrance with a key hidden near a door to the garage. But he said he did not file a police report.” Di Pietro, married to Broward County Judge Nina Di Pietro, was removed from his post as Broward Health Chairman by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Di Pietro sued the Governor to get his title back.

David Di Pietro’s “Legal Dream Team” for his lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott included Brian Silber and Jay Spechler. Both men appeared with the Hallandale Beach commissioners at the press conference. Di Pietro has advised London on political matters in the past.

What are the odds that the David Di Pietro Legal Dream Team lands two GPS tracker cases in a six-month period? Sure, it could be a coincidence.

But why did David Di Pietro fail to file a police report in April? Not only did he think he was being followed. Not only did he find an illegal tracking device, someone allegedly broke into his home to steal that device!

In July, POLITICO reported on alleged spying involving the new chairman of Broward Health. Reporter Christine Sexton wrote Broward Heath board members wanted to know, “Who authorized a private investigator to delve into an alleged ethics violation against Rocky Rodriguez, the chairman of the board that oversees Broward Health?” Broward Health Commissioner Brian Ure told POLITICO he ordered staff to find out who approved the hiring of McGarry and Associates, Inc.

“We have policies and procedures and processes in place for how allegations or complaints or alleged ethics violations are supposed to be investigated,” said Ure, who himself was recently cleared of an anonymous wrongdoing allegation. “But I have very little confidence that whatever policies we put in place are actually followed.”

According to POLITICO, Frank McGarry refused to say who hired his firm and whether he was paid. POLITICO obtained a document entitled “surveillance team report,” which detailed surveillance of Chairman Rodriguez’ son, Brandon Rodriguez. The document included photographs and video of Brandon Rodriguez.

MORE COINCIDENCE?

Following the press conference, Brian Silber blogged about the Hallandale Beach case on his personal vanity website. In a November post, Silber asked, “Corruption in Hallandale Beach: Are GPS Trackers Illegal?” Silber made the case that Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper was behind the trackers. Silber wrote, “The mayor is running around town spreading false rumors that her political opponents, Commissioner London and Commissioner Lazarow, are having an affair and acting immorally.”

Silber wrote that “hate ads” aired on television “that depict covert surveillance footage of her walking next to Commissioner London and sitting in a car with him have aired on television.” Silber claimed the ads implied London and Lazarow were “having sex.” Silber wrote that the GPS trackers were discovered around the same time as the ads were shown on television.

To give a better perspective into the use of GPS tracking devices, attorney Brian Silber interviewed a local private investigator. “For legitimate and lawful uses of GPS trackers for surveillance, we will be speaking with private investigator Rich Allen, of McGarry and Associates, a Fort Lauderdale private investigations firm,” Silber wrote.

Silber said Allen had over 35 years of experience as a police detective and private investigator. He said Allen had to turn away clients who wanted to use GPS trackers for “illicit and unlawful purposes.”

Sibler wrote, “I can only imagine what that might entail – my guess is it includes husbands who want to track their wive’s boyfriends, business owners who want to track their partners, and people hell bent on revenge, blackmail, or political gain.”

According to Allen, the GPS trackers on London and Lazarow’s cars were not police trackers. “They are consistent with the cheapo trackers some low level private investigators use. Having looked at them myself, I agree,” Silber wrote.

Silber said, “Research into the finance reports filed by the mayor, vice mayor, and two political actions committees revealed that some of the people and corporations who contributed to the mayor and vice mayor’s campaigns for re-election are the same people and corporations who funded a political action committee that funded a second political action committee responsible for publishing the hate ad.”

Silber asked his readers to, “Read that last part again. It gets complicated – purposefully.”

Research by REDBROWARD revealed that some of the people and corporations who contributed to Commissoner Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub’s campaigns are the same people and corporations who funded a political action committee that attacked their opponents.

THE “LOBBYIST”

In December, REDBROWARD revealed Evan Ross, the controversial lobbyist behind several gaming industry-funded political committees orchestrated the October 2016 “illegal surveillance” press conference featuring the Hallandale Beach Commissioners and their lawyers, Brian Silber, Jay Spechler and David Di Pietro.

Evan Ross of Public Communicators Group issued a press release announcing the October 24, 2016 press conference. Ross wrote, “Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow as well as commission candidate Anabelle Taub will discuss illegal activity involving tracking devices placed on their vehicles. All three have been subjected to unlawful surveillance.” Ross claimed the matter was tied to Vice Mayor Bill Julian’s “admissions…he solicited and agreed to accept possibly illegal benefits from the developer of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.”

Ross announced documents and video evidence would be provided at the press conference. At no time did Evan Ross mention he operated political committees funded by Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Casino, a inter-city rival of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.

REDBROWARD previously revealed the big contributions from gaming interests to Hallandale Beach Commissioners Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub. According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Taub received the same exact contributions in September 2016.

Just days before the November election, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub received maximum contributions of $1,000 from political committees created by Evan Ross.

On July 26, 2016, State campaign records show Evan Ross’ Public Service paid $500 to McGarry & Associates, Inc for “consulting” work. This is same firm that employs Brian Silber’s GPS expert Richard Lee Allen.

One month later, WPLG Local 10 reported Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian was recorded on audio discussing acceptance of bribes. The Channel 10 story claimed the recording was made when Julian mistakenly called the number of a robocall ad.

DID PRO-LAZAROW/TAUB COMMITTEE PAY FOR ROBOCALL?

In February, REDBROWARD reported the robocall which allegedly caught Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian admitting misdeeds may have come from the man behind shadowy pro-gaming political committees. In August, WPLG Local 10 reported Julian  “accidentally left a recording of a private conversation on a voice message after apparently failing to hang up the phone.” According to the report, a “mysterious robocall” had attacked Julian for his support of developers tied to the Diplomat Hotel. Julian called the number for the robocall. Reporter Bob Norman stated, “On one of Julian’s calls, he apparently failed to hang up his phone and inadvertently left behind an audio recording of a private conversation.”

In her final campaign treasurer’s report, Anabelle Taub lists a November 4, 2016 in-kind contribution from Public Communicators Group for $200 worth of robocalls. According to State of Florida records, Public Communicators Group is managed by Evan Ross of North Miami Beach.

Evan Ross appears to have played a significant role in Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub’s campaigns. In a November 5, 2016 “Dirtiest Election In Broward County“ editorial, the Sun-Sentinel noted the gaming interests’ role in the Hallandale Beach elections. The editors said the Diplomat Hotel and Gulfstream had competing interests in the city. While the newspaper noted the large contributions to the Diplomat-backed committee, they never mentioned the political committees controlled by Evan Ross. But the Sun-Sentinel did quote Ross in the same editorial.

“’If the city wants to take that land from them, Gulfstream could potentially have damages that could exceed $60 million because you have the value of the barns, the cost to rebuild them, the cost of the land they would have to put them on, the jockey housing, then the disruption to their business,’ says communications consultant Evan Ross, who’s had conversations with Gulfstream officials and is a friend of London and Lazarow.”

Evan Ross told the Sun-Sentinel that Gulfstream wanted to work with Hallandale Beach. “[T]hey just don’t want to be strong-armed into giving it away or pressured into getting a deal done in an unreasonable amount of time,” Ross said. He declared a deal could be reached within 12 months if Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub won the election.

INTIMIDATION GAMES ARE COINCIDENCE TOO?

After REDBROWARD began writing about these issues, associates of Keith London’s team became very interested in this website.

In September, REDBROWARD revealed intimidation tactics used against this reporter to stop stories regarding the Young At Art children’s museum in Davie. On September 6, attorney Bruce Green sent a preservation letter to Broward Health Commissioner Sheela Van Hoose regarding REDBROWARD.com. Green is one of the lawyers who sued Florida Governor Rick Scott after David Di Pietro was removed as chairman of Broward Health. Jay Spechler, another one of Di Pietro’s lawyers, is married to Mindy Shrago, the executive director of Young At Art.

In August, Spechler was enraged after REDBROWARD asked about a item related to the museum.

Green’s letter arrived two weeks after Spechler became angry about our line of questioning. Days later, a Spechler emissary tried to broker a “truce.” The emissary was told Spechler should contact REDBROWARD directly. The next day, an anonymous post on a blog featured a photograph of this reporter’s family including two minor children.

One could reasonably take the legal action and family picture as a threat.

Coincidence?

On Friday, November 25, 2016 police were called to a party at private home near Fort Lauderdale. Guests and neighbors called police to report a suspicious vehicle repeatedly driving by the home.  Witnesses said the vehicle would slow down and take pictures of guests in the yard. This reporter witnessed the car drive by the home.

Police were able to locate the vehicle. When the police officer asked the driver why he was taking pictures, he identified himself as a private investigator. The officer told REDBROWARD the driver said, “Lawyers and politicians don’t like their pictures being taken.” While the middle-age male passenger was not identified, the driver was positively identified as Richard Lee Allen, the private investigator with McGarry & Associates, Inc. who was interviewed by attorney Brian Silber.

Coincidence?

Now, after REDBROWARD reported she called a local lobbyist a “fat cow” and attacked private citizens after losing the vote in Plantation, Michele Lazarow made veiled threats on her Facebook page in another late night meltdown.

Saying she was feeling “wicked,” Michele Lazarow wrote, “So like when someone writes mean things about you, but you do some intel and find WAY more better dirt on them. Then you just wait…”

Commissioner Anabelle Taub responded with, “If those two ever fuck with you while I am around, I think my political career will be over (lol!). XOXOOXOXO”

Lazarow replied, “Oh but what I found on him tonight Mimi. He is going to be so upset. I can’t wait!”

Taub answered, “If he posts things about you and commits libel, go for it! I am so sick of JS and her fucking soldiers! I am sorry you’re going through this.”

Does “JS” stand for Judy Stern? Where did Lazarow get her “intel” from? A private investigator? Her lawyers?

Is this the way politicians are supposed to speak in an open forum?

According to an FDLE spokesperson, the Hallandale Beach “inquiry is still active.”


 

Political Committee Operative Behind Controversial Hallandale Beach Robocall?

The robocall which allegedly caught Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian admitting misdeeds may have come from the man behind shadowy pro-gaming political committees. In August, WPLG Local 10 reported Julian  “accidentally left a recording of a private conversation on a voice message after apparently failing to hang up the phone.” According to the report, a “mysterious robocall” had attacked Julian for his support of developers tied to the Diplomat Hotel. Julian called the number for the robocall. Reporter Bob Norman stated, “On one of Julian’s calls, he apparently failed to hang up his phone and inadvertently left behind an audio recording of a private conversation.”

Following the report, the Broward State Attorney launched an investigation into Bill Julian’s actions. “We received a complaint. We’ll review that. We’ll investigate it,” said assistant state attorney Tim Donnelly.

Last November, Anabelle Taub, a close ally of Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow, defeated Bill Julian.

MYSTERY SOLVED?

In her final campaign treasurer’s report, Anabelle Taub lists a November 4, 2016 in-kind contribution from Public Communicators Group for $200 worth of robocalls. According to State of Florida records, Public Communicators Group is managed by Evan Ross of North Miami Beach. REDBROWARD previously exposed Ross’ role in shadowy political committees funded by gaming interests in Hallandale Beach.

According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Taub received the same exact contributions in September 2016.

In October, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub recorded large contributions from out of state gaming interests.
Just days before the November election, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub received maximum contributions of $1,000 from several political committees created by Evan Ross. On October 31, Lazarow received a $1,000 contribution from each of the following committees: Good Government, Public Service, and Progressive Principles.

On November 3, Anabelle Taub received $1,000 contributions from Good Government, Public Service, Progressive Principles.

Lazarow and Taub also received $1,000 each from the Ethics Matter political committee. This committee was funded by gambling interests.

ROSS’ ROLE IN LAZAROW & TAUB CAMPAIGNS

Evan Ross appears to have played a significant role in Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub’s campaigns. In a November 5, 2016 “Dirtiest Election In Broward County“ editorial, the Sun-Sentinel noted the gaming interests’ role in the Hallandale Beach elections. The editors said the Diplomat Hotel and Gulfstream had competing interests in the city. While the newspaper noted the large contributions to the Diplomat-backed committee, they never mentioned the political committees controlled by Evan Ross. But the Sun-Sentinel did quote Ross in the same editorial.

“’If the city wants to take that land from them, Gulfstream could potentially have damages that could exceed $60 million because you have the value of the barns, the cost to rebuild them, the cost of the land they would have to put them on, the jockey housing, then the disruption to their business,’ says communications consultant Evan Ross, who’s had conversations with Gulfstream officials and is a friend of London and Lazarow.”

Evan Ross told the Sun-Sentinel that Gulfstream wanted to work with Hallandale Beach. “[T]hey just don’t want to be strong-armed into giving it away or pressured into getting a deal done in an unreasonable amount of time,” Ross said. He declared a deal could be reached within 12 months if Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub won the election.

ROSS ORCHESTRATED HALLANDALE BEACH PRESS CONFERENCE

Last December, REDBROWARD revealed Evan Ross orchestrated the October 2016 “illegal surveillance” press conference featuring Hallandale Beach Commissioners and their lawyers, Brian Silber, Jay Spechler and David Di Pietro.

On a Sunday afternoon, Evan Ross of Public Communicators Group issued a press release announcing the October 24, 2016 press conference. Ross wrote, “Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow as well as commission candidate Anabelle Taub will discuss illegal activity involving tracking devices placed on their vehicles. All three have been subjected to unlawful surveillance.” Ross claimed the matter was tied to Vice Mayor Bill Julian’s “admissions…he solicited and agreed to accept possibly illegal benefits from the developer of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.”

Ross announced documents and video evidence would be provided at the press conference. At no time did Evan Ross mention he operated political committees funded by Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Casino, a inter-city rival of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.

In late October, just two weeks before the Hallandale Beach election, Commissioners Keith London, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub claimed they found GPS tracking devices underneath their personal cars.

At the time, Commissioner Keith London claimed he was being followed by private investigators. He provided WPLG Local 10 News with a cellphone video he shot of a private investigator in a parking lot. “It has become pathetic that the opposition can’t stand on a record,” said London, “and all they are trying to do is play dirty politics.” Lazarow was just as upset as her political ally, London. “I’m furious,” said Lazarow. “To me, it reeks of desperation, political desperation.”

According to Channel 10, London and Lazarow “have publicly accused Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper of being involved in the espionage, but Cooper, when reached on the phone, said she had nothing to with it.”

As REDBROWARD previously reported, Michele Lazarow’s attorney Brian Silber did not mince words. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” said attorney Brian Sibler. “To tell me it isn’t the political opponent of these people, you’re going to have to tell me that it’s a coincidence that Commissioner Lazarow, Commissioner London, and Anabelle Taub all got GPS trackers on their cars ‘by accident.’ What a coincidence that is.”

Silber denied the GPS press conference was a political stunt. “A crime has been reported,” Brian Silber said. “Evidence has been disclosed and they are reviewing this matter to determine if a violation of criminal law has occurred and who committed the crime.

Brian Silber blogged about the Hallandale Beach case on his personal vanity website. In a November post, Silber asked, “Corruption in Hallandale Beach: Are GPS Trackers Illegal?” Silber made the case that Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper was behind the trackers.

Silber wrote, “The mayor is running around town spreading false rumors that her political opponents, Commissioner London and Commissioner Lazarow, are having an affair and acting immorally.” Silber wrote that “hate ads” aired on television “that depict covert surveillance footage of her walking next to Commissioner London and sitting in a car with him have aired on television.” Silber claimed the ads implied London and Lazarow were “having sex.”

Silber wrote that the GPS trackers were discovered around the same time as the ads were shown on television. Silber said, “Research into the finance reports filed by the mayor, vice mayor, and two political actions committees revealed that some of the people and corporations who contributed to the mayor and vice mayor’s campaigns for re-election are the same people and corporations who funded a political action committee that funded a second political action committee responsible for publishing the hate ad.”

Silber asked his readers to, “Read that last part again. It gets complicated – purposefully.”

To give a better perspective into the use of GPS tracking devices, attorney Brian Silber interviewed a local private investigator.

MCGARRY & ASSOCIATES

“For legitimate and lawful uses of GPS trackers for surveillance, we will be speaking with private investigator Rich Allen, of McGarry and Associates, a Fort Lauderdale private investigations firm,” Silber wrote.

Silber said Allen had over 35 years of experience as a police detective and private investigator. He said Allen had to turn away clients who wanted to use GPS trackers for “illicit and unlawful purposes.”

Sibler wrote, “I can only imagine what that might entail – my guess is it includes husbands who want to track their wive’s boyfriends, business owners who want to track their partners, and people hell bent on revenge, blackmail, or political gain.”

According to Allen, the GPS trackers on London and Lazarow’s cars were not police trackers. “They are consistent with the cheapo trackers some low level private investigators use. Having looked at them myself, I agree,” Silber wrote.

ROSS’ POLITICAL COMMITTEES PAID MCGARRY & ASSOCIATES

On July 26, 2016, State campaign records show Evan Ross’ Public Service paid $500 to McGarry & Associates, Inc for “consulting” work. This is same firm that employs Brian Silber’s GPS expert Richard Lee Allen.

One month later, WPLG Local 10 reported on the secret recordings of Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian.

REDBROWARD asked Richard Lee Allen if he performed any work in Hallandale Beach. Allen said, “no comment.” REDBROWARD asked Richard Lee Allen if he performed any work for Keith London, Anabelle Taub, Michele Lazarow or their lawyers. Allen replied, “no comment.”

REDBROWARD tried to get answers from Brian Silber. At first, Silber denied even knowing Richard Lee Allen. Silber admitted to knowing McGarry & Associates but he did not want to answer any questions. “Can you leave me alone,” Silber said.

In a Facebook post last October, Commissioner Michele Lazarow wrote, “If Anabelle Taub and I are elected, the culture of corruption will quickly become a thing of the past.” Since the election, secret recordings led to the firing of the Hallandale Beach city attorney and the city manager was fired. The city manager is suing the city for wrongful termination.

Residents of Hallandale Beach who believed Lazarow deserve answers regarding her ties to Evan Ross, shadowy political committees and the gaming industry. Are these gaming interests behind the firings of the city attorney and city manager?

Why did Evan Ross’ political committees hiring the McGarry & Associates private investigation firm? Did McGarry & Associates perform any work for hid committees in Hallandale Beach?

Was Anabelle Taub’s robocall the source of the Bill Julian audio? What is the source of the City Attorney secret audio?

Did the lawyers for Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub employ McGarry & Associates to work on their behalf?

Why are so many political committees and private investigators involved in Hallandale Beach politics?

Residents deserve answers.

On Wednesday, an FDLE spokesperson told REDBROWARD their investigation into the Hallandale Beach is ongoing.

 

Dale Holness Endorsement, Hallandale Beach Censorship Signal End Of Sun-Sentinel?

Bill Julian, left. Rosemary O’Hara & Dale Holness

To borrow a line from the Bard of Avon, “I come to bury the Sun-Sentinel, not to praise it.” Over the last week, the paper of record for Broward county has abandoned its duty, to its readers and its reporters, to stand up to politicians and their cronies. Last Saturday, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed the re-election of highly controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness. A few days later, the newspaper made national headlines when POLITICO revealed the Sun-Sentinel pulled a story regarding alleged corruption in Hallandale Beach.

On Wednesday, WPLG investigative reporter Bob Norman exposed a recording of Hallandale Beach vice mayor Bill Julian admitting his vote for a condo development in exchange for a favor. “What they don’t know is they’re buying the food bank a frigging van that I couldn’t tell anybody,” Julian said. Norman said an attorney for the developer “secretly promised him that they would buy the Hallandale Food Pantry, Julian’s pet project in the city, a new van.”

According to Julian, the attorney, Debbie Orshefsky promised to back his re-election campaign. “Orshefsky tells me, before this, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have 300 people out in the street for you when you run for office,'” the vice mayor said on the phone.

After listening to recording, Julian admitted to accepting favors in return for his vote. Norman reported, “Julian immediately admitted that he had agreed to accept those gifts during negotiations in a meeting with one of the project developers, Michael Meyers, and Orshefsky, a partner in the Holland & Knight law firm and one of the most prolific development attorneys in South Florida.” Julian admitted he asked for the van to be given to the food pantry.

“People are going to think that I’m taking bribes,” Julian said. “They are going to say, ‘Wow, Bill, after all these years, he turned out to be another criminal.'”

One would assume the South Florida Sun-Sentinel would be all over this story. Normally, local television reporters don’t cover the Hallandale Beach beat. These local government stories are covered by Sun-Sentinel reporters and Hallandale Beach bloggers like David Smith.

SUN-SENTINEL KEEPS REPORTERS AWAY FROM HALLANDALE BEACH MEETING

As it turned out, the Sun-Sentinel did not want to cover the Hallandale Beach scandal. First, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat reported the paper pulled a Hallandale Beach story from its website. Then, the story made national headlines. POLITICO reported the paper “killed” the story. Marc Caputo said killing the story was “A move by the newspaper’s leadership that appears to be part of a pattern of censoring controversial stories, according to multiple sources inside and outside the Fort Lauderdale newsroom.”

Sources told Caputo that reporters were forbidden to attend Thursday’s Hallandale Beach Commission meeting by publisher Howard Saltz. At this meeting, two commissioners were threatened with arrest for speaking about the Julian scandal. Mayor Joy Cooper ended up cutting the meeting short. Bob Norman and Channel 10 got the whole mess on video.

“Saltz kills stories in the classic way: He nitpicks them to death,” said one source familiar with the newsroom discussions of the story. “So here he was saying, ‘oh, this is just an allegation. We don’t have all the facts. It’s not responsible to put this out there. We don’t have comment from Julian.’ And then what happens? They stop [reporter] Susannah [Bryan] from covering the meeting the next day and getting comment from Julian.”

Buddy Nevins told Caputo, “I keep hearing that stories are being killed from time to time and no one knows why….The reporters feel they shouldn’t rock the boat.”

Shouldn’t the Sun-Sentinel reporters “rock the boat” when an elected politician admits on audio and video to accepting gifts in exchange for his vote? Isn’t this the duty of a public watchdog? Why didn’t Saltz send every single reporter to Hallandale Beach to cover this story?

“AND ABSENT A BETTER CASE TO FIRE THE INCUMBENT–WE ENDORSE HOLNESS”

In its surprising endorsement in the Broward County Commission, District 9 race, the Sun-Sentinel editorial board actually wrote the following: “and absent a better case to fire the incumbent — we endorse [Dale] Holness. What? Is this a joke?

We know times are tough at TRONC and the Sun-Sentinel, but we’re pretty sure they have access to the internet. Plus, they should have access to old copies of their own newspaper. Hell, the editorial board could just call up their own reporters.

They needed a “better case” to fire Dale Holness?!?

The editorial board wrote, “But Holness, a real estate broker, is not without controversy. In recent years, he has faced foreclosures, delinquent taxes and code violations on properties he owns. He largely blames the recession.” They said he made the “mistake” of meddling in other Broward county races. A mistake?!? As in, oops I didn’t mean to do that?

Come on Rosemary O’Hara, that’s it? That’s your due diligence? You could make a better case to give Holness the boot?

What about the Sun-Sentinel story two weeks ago showing Dale Holness used taxpayer money to send campaign newsletters? Brittany Wallman wrote, “Holness read from the piece at the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board candidate interviews. At the interview, Smith referred to the newsletter as ‘that sheet that he uses at every campaign rally … paid for by the county.”’ Wallman reported Broward taxapyers spent more than $5,000 on the newsletter.

Let’s get this straight, Holness admits to using public funds to bolster his campaign AT HIS MEETING WITH THE SUN-SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD and you still endorse him? In the endorsement you said, “In the end, we decided to endorse the incumbent because he’s been in the trenches fighting, with some success.” Yeah, he’s been fighting with the public money.

Did you talk to Sun-Sentinel reporter Lisa Huriash? In 2013, she reported Dale Holness was not paying his property taxes. Huriash reported, “Broward Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness owes almost $13,000 in unpaid property taxes on five apartments he owns in Lauderhill, records show.” Holness blamed the economy and this reporter for breaking the story.

“I believe we ought to be good stewards,” he said. “And I’m very conservative in my expenditures. In my personal life I don’t spend unless it’s important for my children.” Yeah, but he’s not a great steward of neighborhoods in District 9.

For that story you should have called up Sun-Sentinel reporter Megan O’Matz. In 2012, she reported how Holness treated his tenants. She wrote, “But for years Holness held title to a Fort Lauderdale rental property that became an unattractive wreck. He did not repair it. The house fell into foreclosure and city code violation fines began mounting — totaling $6,425 currently and still growing.”

“At the Fort Lauderdale house, it was Holness, one of the county’s top elected officials, who was owner for eight years. White boards now cover the windows. Bottles and other trash are scattered around the lawn. A screen enclosure over the backyard patio is shredded. Public notices from the city and bank representatives are taped to the front door and garage.”

This is the guy you said was in the trenches fighting for his district?

What about the questions surrounding whether Holness even lived in the district? This reporter found ample evidence Holness was lying about his residency.

In 2013 we reported Holness appeared to be thumbing his nose at residency laws regarding Broward County Commissioners. Very strong evidence indicated Holness lived outside the district he represents, though Article II, Section 2.01 A(3) of the Broward County Charter clearly states each commissioner “must be a resident of the particular district upon election.”

According to records from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections (SOE), Holness registered to vote within District 9 by claiming to live in a small, older 940-square foot townhome in the Royal Oaks townhome development at 2630 N.W. 52nd Avenue in Lauderhill. Property records from the Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) show Holmes owns the small home but does not list it as his primary residence for his homestead tax exemption. Broward tax collector records show Holness owes $2,586.86 in delinquent taxes.

A visit to the townhome showed it was being used as storage facility. When confronted by Bob Norman, Holness continued the charade. “My home … is at 2630,” said Holness, referring to the unit 2630 NW 52nd Avenue, one of several homes Holness, a landlord, owns in the neighborhood.” The property handyman told Norman that nobody lived in the unit. Norman described Holness’ home as “a small run-down housing unit in Lauderhill stacked to the ceiling with furniture and boxes. A realtor’s locked box hangs from the door knob. The refrigerator isn’t plugged in and its door is wide open.”

Don’t these stories make a compelling case NOT to endorse Dale Holness? Shouldn’t the residents of District 9 expect better from their public servants? Don’t they deserve better from their politicians and their newspaper?

2014 ENDORSEMENTS JUST AS BAD

Sadly, Rosemary O’Hara and the Sun-Sentinel editorial board have a poor track record when it comes to endorsements. Instead of acting as public watchdogs, they have tended to protect insiders and the status quo. In 2014, we exposed their shameful endorsement of then Judge Steven Feren.

We wrote, “As evidenced by their endorsements this week, the Sun-Sentinel editorial board has given up. And they want you to wave the white flag of surrender too. Instead of fighting the corruption, the lazy politicians and slimy consultants, the Sun-Sentinel editorial board wants you to ‘hold your nose’ and vote to keep things the same.”

In their endorsement of Feren, they called Feren the “underwhelming favorite.” They spoke about his reputation of being lazy and leaving working early. When asked if he takes Fridays off, Feren told them he’s just as likely to leave early on a Monday. “I’m just as likely to leave at 4 o’clock on a Monday or Tuesday as I am on a Friday,” Feren said. “Judges aren’t elected to punch the clock.”

Once again, the editorial board ignored the evidence showing Feren was not fit to remain on the bench.

RED BROWARD reported on Feren’s removal from juvenile court after the Fourth District Court Of Appeals ruled he was being unfair to juvenile defendants. The appellate judges feared Feren was pushing Broward’s youth, assuming the charges against them proved their guilt. Feren was punishing minors for proclaiming their innocence.

Then, there was the case of little Lilly Baumann. Two-year old Lilly went missing in May 2014 when she disappeared with her racist, conspiracy theory-loving, gun-toting mother. Lilly’s dad, Robert Baumann, begged for full custody of Lilly. He brought pictures of Lilly playing with boxes of bullets to Feren, hoping he would protect Lilly from her mother and her boyfriend. He showed racist YouTube videos posted by the boyfriend. Baumann gave Feren pictures of Lilly clad in Confederate gear among strangers.

Feren ignored Baumann’s plea. He told Lilly’s mom to buy gun locks. Two months after awarding joint custody to Megan Everett, she vanished with Lilly. She left a rambling letter discussing the evils of vaccinations, black history and Abraham Lincoln.

When Robert Baumann was at his most vulnerable, when he feared for the safety of his little girl, he believed Judge Steven B. Feren would protect him.

Broward voters ingored the Sun-Sentinel and Feren was defeated. Luckily, one year later,  the FBI found Lilly Baumann.

WHO IS MAKING THE DECISION?

During this year’s Sun-Sentinel editorial board interviews, REDBROWARD received troubling phone calls about the process. Candidates complained that non-employees were attending the interviews. Others were told reporters sitting in on the interviews were not allowed to ask questions.

On August 16, editor Rosemary O’Hara responded to our questions about the interview process. She wrote, “I’m not sure I understand your question about who attended interviews? But the answer is depending on the race, it was myself, Gary Stein, Andrew Abramson, my husband Tom O’Hara (an FAU visiting professor, former newspaper editor and freelance journalist), and/or Randy Schultz, a former newspaper editor and freelance journalist. We also had reporters and editors attend some meetings, although they are not involved in deciding our endorsements.”

Did we miss “Bring Your Spouse To Work” day? Why are former editors sitting in on meetings? Do they have any frame of reference when it comes to Broward politics? Why are you ignoring the wisdom and first hand knowledge of your reporters? And what’s up with Randy Schultz?

Last we heard, he was wrapped up in political scandal in Palm Beach. Ace investigative reporter Jose Lambiet reported Schultz and one of his top lieutenants had a cozy relationship with the Palm Beach State Attorney. In 2011, emails obtained by Lambiet revealed an ultra-cozy relationship between State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and at least two of the newspaper’s figureheads.

“In one email dated Nov. 2, 2011, Rhonda Swan, one of the newspapers’ editorial writers, bypassed the proper channels and asked McAuliffe to get involved in a criminal investigation where she was named,” Lambiet reported.

In other emails, Randy Schultz, the newspaper’s Editorial Page Editor, “appeared to coach McAuliffe on how to write op-ed pieces published in the Post,editorials where McAuliffe refuted criticisms of his administration or advanced his political agenda.” Two years later, Schultz opted for a buyout from the paper.

So why is this guy involved in Broward politics?

Does anyone at the Sun-Sentinel have a cozy relationship with Dale Holness or Bill Julian?

Broward voters deserve editors that will empower reporters to ask tough questions. Reporters deserve editors that will back them up when they “speak truth to power.”

We deserve answers. We deserve better.