A Good Time To Be A Corrupt Politician





Lighthouse Point Commissioner Earl Maucker had a warning for the news media this week:

Since no reporter covers his city, the commissioners could be stealing it blind nobody would notice.

Buffeted by the winds of change, the Old Media has cut its coverage back to the point where Lighthouse Point is not unique. Broward’s cities have been particularly hard hit by the lack of coverage.

The problem is there is nobody who has replaced the Sun-Sentinel and other Old Media outlets.

Speaking to the Fort Lauderdale Forum’s session on the state of journalism today, Maucker commented from a unique perspective. He is an office holder and the former editor of the Sun-Sentinel.

Another speaker at the breakfast meeting was another ex-editor of the Sun-Sentinel – Gene Cryer.

Maucker and Cryer were my bosses.

Crier noted that when he ran the paper from 1979-1994, every city in Broward and South Palm Beach Counties was covered. He pointed out that the deteriotating economics of the newspaper business today prevented that kind of coverage.

Crier said the paper had roughly 370 journalists two decades ago. Current Sun-Sentinel Editor Howard Saltz told the Forum that the paper had half that number today.

UnknownHoward Saltz


So cities like Lighthouse Point and North Lauderdale and Coconut Creek seldom see a reporter. Much of the rest of Broward, too, goes uncovered.

The Sun-Sentinel, once a fierce watchdog, has become a toothless poodle. Almost 50 percent of the news copy in one edition this week appeared to be simple rewrites of news releases. In some cases the Sun-Sentinel didn’t even bother to rewrite the news release, which I know since I got the same e-mailed release.

You can’t blame Saltz.

Saltz does the best he can with the resources dribbled out to him by his bosses at Tribune Publishing.  In the latest quarter’s financial reports released in early November, Tribune lost $156,000, while revenue fell almost 5 percent to $404 million.  Although the economy is improving, advertising revenue ominously fell 9.5 percent and digital advertising was down 7.4 percent.

So Saltz, who I met for the first time at the Forum, has his work cut out for him.  The Sun-Sentinel under Saltz’s command did win a Pulitzer last year for public service.

That well-earned Pulitzer for cops driving too fast on the highways is little consolation for the vast majority of residents in Broward. They just want the Sun-Sentinel to tell them what is happening in their community.

To his credit, Saltz had the Sun-Sentinel endorse a candidate in every race on the November ballot except a water district.

My question: If they don’t cover the communities, how do they know enough about the issues to endorse a candidate?

The problem of local journalism is insolvable at the current time. The Sun-Sentinel doesn’t have the money and never will.

There are a handful of city papers, but their quality is questionable.

Blogs and community website fill in where they can, but almost all don’t have not enough money to fund real journalism. Too many are poorly written or have hidden agendas. Others survive on handouts, i.e. charity.  Still others are written by people like me who have other sources of income.

The journalism honchos at the Forum conceded that no one has figured out yet how to make real money covering local news on the Internet.

So this might not be the best time to be a journalist.

But one thing the Forum panelists appeared to agree upon: It’s a great time to be a corrupt politician…because nobody in the media is watching.




19 Responses to “A Good Time To Be A Corrupt Politician”

  1. Really says:

    When is it not a good time to be a corrupt politician in Broward. Even if you are the rare corrupt Broward politician who gets caught and goes to prison you can still be hired by judicial candidates for their races.

  2. Richard J Kaplan says:

    It’s more than just not sending reporters to cities to cover them. My city has some coverage, but not like before. They rarely even print news releases from cities.

    But I am most amazed about was the non-story earlier this year that nobody covered until it was over.

    In the past, when cities opened their filing periods for candidates to register to run for office, the papers would list every day who had filed. They made it a point that the public would be aware of the filing period and the candidates.

    This year, the first time filing periods were moved to June from September, they didn’t publish a word about the move or filings until after it was closed. Then they listed who was running for office and who won unopposed.

    To me that story should have been automatic and I don’t have a clue why that wasn’t covered.

    I guess someone thought it wasn’t newsworthy. But then if it isn’t who is running for office, what is?


    Richard Kaplan is the mayor of Lauderhill, a city in west Broward County, Florida

  3. rafael wagan says:

    North Lauderdale? What happens there?


    That’s the point. We have no idea what’s happening there.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Earl Maucker is on target. I serve on a city commission that is never covered. There have been a number of times I wish a reporter was in the audience to hear the foolish statements and see the foolish votes my colleagues cast. The city would be run differently if someone were watching.

    I always thought we were ignored because our city is comprised of people of color. Now I know that even white towns like Lighthouse Point are ignored by the Sun-Sentinel, too. In my city, there is no reason to buy the Sun-Sentinel in print or online.


    Sadly, the comment you made about ignoring minority cities appears to be true. Just read the paper. I believe that the business interests who run the paper don’t see money in the minority community. They rather concentrate on cities where the residents have more money to spend.

  5. Who we do have says:

    Thanks goodness for Chaz Stevens

  6. Barbara Cole says:

    I totally agree with all the statements made and as someone that covered my town LBTS for years then stopping to assist in grandparent duties it’s sad to say the least! My take is most communities are now run by their Town Managers and their employees / contracted out buddies with a rubber stamp from the majority on the dais which is often counter to what they ran on to get elected! Just look at development decisions as well as a plethora of newly drafted ordinances amounting to busywork that keeps the professionals employed while they usurp the voters as well as the appointed boards and voted in commissions but not known until after the fact as seen recently in LBTS and Boca Raton on who has the final say in major decisions of development- TM assigned personnel not commissioners! More of this will be the norm especially with no coverage prior to the actions being finalized and commissions doing what they are told with no opposing discussion to make them think twice!

  7. Priorities says:

    Shouldn’t we be less concerned that this corruption is occurring under the nose of the media and more concerned that it is happening under the nose of the IG?

  8. Alice McGill says:

    Dania Beach is one city that often makes the news because of the actions of the former mayor and his sidekick, the current vice-mayor. The part of the stories that is lacking is the issues facing residents. This leads to an even less informed electorate.
    Also compounding the problem of an ever growing group of low information voters is the requirement to pay to read online stories in the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel. Many can’t pay. Many won’t pay. The dumbing down of the public continues.

  9. who is paying attention says:

    The IG has investigative powers but NO prosecutions powers. Like a dog that barks but does not bite.

    @Who do we have says
    Yes thankfully we have Chaz Stevens and Buddy Nevins

  10. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    A third generation South Floridan said the problem with South Florida is no one really lives here, people come here but never really develop roots as their kids and grandkids move away. Frankly the only people who stay for more than one generation are those with real estate here and no chance to develop it elsewhere.
    As for “recent” ends to local coverage, I was on an Area Policy Board in the 1980s in Manhattan, and The New York Times never covered local politics except the actions of City Council or old Board of Estimate when someone at the paper lived in a neighborhood and had an axe to grind. The former owner of one weekly started columns about Community Board Districts and Councilmembers, and, as I said, he”s the FORMER OWNER because his paper never was profitable and the local coverage was ended by the new buyer.
    The Miami Herald killed the local bureau on Miami Beach, taken over from a Miami Beach paper they purchased, in the 1990s – well before the internet and the end of department store ads.
    Yes, in the 1950s, 1960s, into the 1970s we had local newspaper coverage of local politics, but it ended with the 1990s.
    But here in South Florida there is another problem, NO ONE CARES because, as my Mother said, you only move to florida if you are OLD, SICK, or BROKE, young people, active people, go north or west, they don’t stay here.
    Its the population here who don’t want local news, IF THERE WAS AN INTEREST, THERE WOULD BE LOCAL NEWS in a PRINTED FORM. Look, here in Germany there are 4 national coin magazines published each month, available on newspaper stands all over the country. In the USA there are 2 national coin magazines, one US coins, one foreign coins, RARELY AVAILABLE IN BOOK STORES NEVER IN NEWSTANDS. If there is an interest, something exists, if there is NO INTEREST, IT DOESNT.
    For Heavens’ sake, Bobby Dubose, Dean Trantalis, and Bruce Roberts voted to have a PLANTATION RESIDENT put on the FORT LAUDERDALE CITY COMMISSION, do you think in any other city ON THE PLANET this kind of crap could go on? And it WAS COVERED IN THE PAPER! So where is the OUTRAGE!

  11. Delray Resident says:

    Even in cities they have reporters it is nothing like it used to be. Here in Delray we have a reporter who covers every meeting. While she means well, she has absolutely no teeth in her stories whatsoever. The Palm Beach Post doesnt even seem to consider that Delray is in the County. The bloggers seem to be our our only ray of hope

  12. Aletheia says:

    Here’s a news flash for Mayor Kaplan from Lauderhill…not about filing periods…but about a city’s Assistant City Manager/Finance Director/Executive Director of the Housing Authority helping himself to $875,000 in loans meant for low income families. Yes, Kennie Hobbs from Lauderhill has been feeding at the public trough and making quite a mess. Hobbs is part of the…cabal that includes jon allen, eric haynes, rod harvey, corey alston, etc.

    How come no mention of that, Mayor Kaplan…even though the story has been featured on WSVN news and reported on by Chaz Stevens? Is there any justifiable reason why a well paid ($165,000 per year) public servant should be abusing….a program intended for those in need? Not a peep from you or your city manager, Charles Faranda about it! Shameful! But at least the authorities know about it and are investigating.

  13. Chris says:

    If it wasn’t for commissioners Lazarow and London, most of the shenanigans in Hallandale City Hall would never come to light!

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    Thanks for the kind words.

    I filed a complaint against Hobbs with the SAO and IG.

    Let’s see where that leads.

    And as far as the mayor, he’s been hiding his income off his disclosures for years. Don’t look his way for accountability.


  15. Richard J Kaplan says:

    First Aletheia the story is about how the newspaper covers city news stories not about the Housing Authority. That’s why I didn’t mention it.

    Next, while I recognize Chaz’s work, his article was just a republish of Channel 7’s work. It isn’t his article.

    Finally, your statement that the loans giving Mr. Hobbs were for low income families is totally wrong and is one of the ways Channel 7’s coverage mislead people.

    It is from employee pension funds designated to be loaned solely to employees of the city that Mr. Hobbs qualified for. It was approved by the Housing Authority Board, not the City Commission nor Mr. Hobbs, following the required procedures they established so that there would be no conflict in granting the loan.

  16. FTL Voter says:

    Look at the harmless fluff coverage the Sentinel gives to the county commission. Posts about what colored socks a lobbyist is wearing, complaints that she has to walk through a metal detector, weird quotes from commissioners about wildly insignificant stuff, and petty nothing tweets. What is the point of that vapid coverage?

  17. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    I see Chaz is blogging under alais’ now.

  18. Leslie Feldman says:

    Bingo, spot on.
    It’s a shame the newspaper executives have been on auto pilot for 30 years, and now do not have a clue on how to fix it.
    It’s not that tough, really.

  19. Chaz Stevens says:

    Mayor Kaplan

    You don’t mind if I call you Dick, right?

    Listen Dick.

    Hobbs story will be out later this week.

    Stay tuned.