BY BUDDY NEVINS
Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo is ready.
He’s ready like a rodeo bull in its chute. He’s pawing the ground. He’s snorting. He’s can’t wait for the gate to open.
And when gate opens, Castillo is off and running… for the county commission.
Angelo Castillo, former candidate Sam Lopez and Diana Wasserman-Rubin
This speculation is prompted by incumbent Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin’s latest trouble. She is on the ropes.again.
Investigators suddenly pounced on Wasserman-Rubin this week, subpoenaing records in her 2005 ethics violations case.
That’s the case where she voted for county grants that earned her husband Richard Rubin $15,000. The grants were for parks, trails and open space in Southwest Ranches, which is in Wasserman-Rubin’s district. Rubin got a bonus for any grants Southwest Ranches received on the projects.
In 2007, Wasserman-Rubin admitted wrong doing, received a public censure and reprimand from the Commission on Ethics. Ethics commissioners rejected their own staff’s recommendation of a $1,000 penalty and hiked it to $15,000, which is the bonus Richard Rubin made.
Wasserman-Rubin may have thought the case ended in 2007, but flash forward to today. Now with subpoenas flying, Wasserman-Rubin’s re-election in August looks tenuous.
Here are a few observations:
(1) State Attorney Mike Satz is under fire for not doing enough to curb public corruption. The latest shot was fired this week by state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, who lashed out at Satz for failing to prosecute public wrongdoing.
What better way to show you are doing your job against public corruption than pluck off some low hanging fruit, like an old 2005 ethics case that was already investigated?
(2) Richard Rubin has long been a thorn in Wasserman-Rubin’s side, even before they were married.
On April 30, 1995 I wrote in the Sun-Sentinel along with the fabulous reporter Robin Benedick:
“Our Broward County public school system has done it again: Given work to the boyfriend of a board member.
Richard Rubin is just completing a $ 5,800 contract to help develop rules that would require schools to be in place before development.
(The figure of $ 5,800 is significant. The staff can hand out consulting contracts under $ 6,000 without having to take proposals from others wanting the job.)
Well, he is a Hollywood land-use specialist who has worked for at least three Broward cities in the past. And he has been dating member Diana Wasserman for the past year.”
How about this one from me in March 2001, four months after his wife’s election to the county commission?
“(Richard) Rubin suddenly has two new jobs since his wife’s election, both with insiders who do business with the county commission.
He is part of the Craven Thompson engineering firm’s land use study for Southwest Ranches. He has been hired as a land use expert by the Shutts & Bowen law firm.”
(3) A Castillo victory is no slam dunk.
Castillo is heavily favored to win the southwest commission seat if Wasserman-Rubin faces criminal charges.
The Pembroke Pines commissioner says he is interested in her job only if she leaves.
But he has a powerful political enemy in Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis. Word is that Ortis would love to run Castillo out of politics.
And others are interested in the plum, $95,000-a-year part time commission job. A political consultant told me today that he was contacted this week by elected officials interested in making the run.
Stay tuned. It’s getting to be a very interesting political year.