A Make or Break Year For Mike Satz: 2011


Next year is a make or break one for State Attorney Mike Satz.

It is a year when he will have to produce some highly visible convictions.

Former county Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin and former School Board member Stephanie Kraft have to end up with guilty verdicts.  If not,  the well-publicized investigations of them will look like costly mistakes.

Big public courtroom losses could generate an opponent for Satz in 2012.  So next year, he also will find out if he is going to have a tough re-election.

The courthouse blog JAAblog, some in the public defender’s office and some criminal defense attorneys have been searching frantically for a candidate to run against Satz.

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said he is staying out of the effort.

“There would be nothing more inappropriate then me trying to determine who the state attorney should be,” Finkelstein said. “I don’t know if anybody else in my office is doing anything.”

Let me tell you, Howard, there are some in your office that want Satz gone.

Frantic is an understatement.  They are in a frenzy.  Mention Satz and some of these defense attorneys become nearly hysterical.

So far they have found no candidate.  Nobody.  No one willing to take on the durable state attorney, who first won election in 1976.

The defense attorneys have a lot of complaints against Satz.

The Complaints

One complaint:  Satz prosecutes a lot of minor drug crimes, convicting mostly minorities.  Okay, but how does a candidate use that against him?

Another problem with Satz is that his office seldom prosecutes shootings by cops that look extremely questionable. You can’t tell me that cop shooting in Broward is always justified.

Satz has also been accused of being soft on public corruption.  Not lately:

  • Former Hollywood City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom was convicted in September 2007 for two counts of official misconduct for falsifying voting conflict forms to disguise his interest in businesses he lobbied for.  He was sentenced t0 60 days in jail.
  • Former Parkland Mayor Robert Marks pleaded guilty in November 2007 to perjury.  Sentenced to one year probation.
  • Former Coconut Creek City Commissioner Robert Dearing pleaded no contest October 2008 to one count of falsifying records for contending he was a resident of Coconut Creek while living in Coral Springs. He was sentenced to pay Coconut Creek $10,989.
  • Former Davie Town Manager Chris Kovanes was convicted in October 2009 of money laundering, an organized scheme to defraud and theft from the Town of Davie in excess of $400,000.  He’s doing 12 years in prison.
  • Former County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion is doing time for bribery.
  • Several other government inspectors and supervisors are in the slammer because Satz convicted them of stealing the public’s money.
  • Wasserman-Rubin and Kraft await trial, along with two Deerfield Beach commissioners.

I don’t believe Satz ignores public corruption.

I do believe that voters want their State Attorney to primarily fight street crime.  We all want to feel safe in our homes and on the street.

That’s what Satz believes, too. He has always focused on violent street crime.

Satz Can Be Beaten

Sometimes people forget that the job of state attorney is largely an administrative post.  Satz runs an office with hundreds of employees.  He deals with a multi-million dollar budget.  He must lobby legislators for every dime he gets.

I’m told that Satz is not a warm and cuddly boss, but he knows his stuff after all these years.  The office gets the job done.

Still, Satz is far from perfect. Sometimes the wrong people have been convicted.

“He railroaded mentally ill people into the electric chair,” one Satz opponent charged.

I’m quite certain he didn’t do it all himself, but if that is true, the buck stops at his desk.

And in this era of anti-incumbency, Satz has been there a long time.  A long, long time.

A campaign could be run against him just on the fact that we’ve had eight governors during the time Broward had only one state attorney.  Term limits is a powerful issue.

Longevity means  he has a lot of political contacts and can raise money.  But that also means Satz could have trouble with an energized, vigorous younger opponent.

The ideal candidate to take on Satz would be a former judge.  A former tough judge.

Lee Seidman?  That name will give JAABlog and the PDs the willies.

Only joking, fellas.  I hear he has moved to North Carolina.

A former prosecutor would be a great candidate.

I’ve heard names like one of Satz’s own prosecutors, Tim Donnelly, director of Satz’s public corruption unit.  And Assistant State Attorney Catherine Maus, who is behind some of the public corruption probes.

I’ve heard Assistant State Attorney Priscilla Prado mentioned. And veteran assistant U. S. Attorney Lawrence Lavecchio always comes up.

I have no idea if these lawyers want the job, can raise money or have the ability to campaign in a county with more people in it than a dozen states.

One person constantly mentioned is Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu. She is currently an assistant state attorney in her day job.

She’s a good campaigner, but hasn’t really had a tough race in years.  She has a decade worth of votes in Sunrise that could be picked apart and made into campaign fodder.

How about her vote to steer a no-bid contract for city attorney to County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman’s husband, Stuart Michelson?

Alu also would have the bare minimum of legal experience required under the law when taking office five years.

No, Alu is more suited to run for Lieberman’s county commission seat.

So as I told Bill “Mr. JAAblog Gelin a few months ago, all this talk about getting rid of Satz is just talk…until you find a candidate.

Because without a candidate, we most likely have got Satz until 2016.

32 Responses to “A Make or Break Year For Mike Satz: 2011”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Author says:

    Any word on Wapner?

    Actually, I left one other possible candidate out: Sam Fields, who is a veteran defense attorney. After two years worth of Browardbeat.com columns, he would have the atheist vote sewed up. Unfortunately, he would get no support from Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus or believers in Zeus.

  2. ontheequator says:

    Hey … what about Ritter and Lieberman? How long can Satz dance around their allegations?

    FROM BUDDY: There is no statute of limitations as long as they are in office. It starts running when they leave.

    Right now there are only allegations against those two. I really have no idea when or if they will file anything against them.

  3. Hammerhead says:

    Just goes to show you that the only way to give Satz a run for his money is to be a politician first and an enforcer of the law first. That is and has always been a big part of the problem.

    By the way Buddy, I know that people want to feel safe, but how do you differentiate between people feeling safe in our homes and on the street while putting less emphasis on being ripped off by dirty/corrupt politicians?

    I feel like I’m being raped and beaten by these corrupt politicians daily; much more than I feel the effects of pot dealers and traffic offenders. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of feeling safe from violent crime, but I don’t think you can speak for me when you diminish the importance of the public corruption deterrent that our state attorney should provide.

    I believe that if this pattern does not change soon, many of us will have to take our taxes and go feel safe in our homes and on the streets in some other place. How would that help our local economy or public safety? I guess one argument is less citizens per law enforcement officer. I’ll give you that one.

    This example has happened as recent as two/three years ago when many joined the exodus to Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, etc…the cost of living drives the local economy (for the stable revenue source…we the people), not how nice Seiler & Co. tries to make S. Florida look to the out of staters.

  4. Alistair says:

    Mr. Satz’s concern is with convictions. Period. The distinction between violent and nonviolent is not made. Consequently sentences for violent defendants are shorter than they should be. If more attention was focused upon violent criminals they would be kept off the streets longer.

  5. ASA Sheila Alu says:

    Buddy my Old Friend:

    I will say this again for the 100th time. I am NOT running for State Attorney! The Assistant State Attorney’s who work under Mr. Satz are hard working talented lawyers who are extremely proud to serve the people of Broward County. We all work hard and long hours under difficult and stressful circumstances. However, you will not find one of us who is more proud to serve under this State Attorney than I. In all the years Mr. Satz has been in office, he has never been subject to any type of scandal. Given the limited funds our office has to prosecute criminals, I think we do a great job. I doubt you will find anyone in the public who thinks we shouldn’t prosecute drug dealers. Drug addicts burglarize homes and will think of nothing of slitting your throat to get money for their next fix. We find no joy in locking up drug addicts, but until the legislature funds the money we need for treatment facilities we will continue to keep these people from committing crimes against the people of Broward County. The real problem is the lack of funding. I doubt anyone could do a better job than Mike, and I plan on supporting him if he runs for re-election if he asks for my support. As for his stance on public corruption, these crimes are difficult to prosecute as our office doesn’t have unlimited funds as the federal government does to investigate these crimes. However, 2011 will be quite interesting…

    Wishing you a safe and Happy New Year.

    Others are talking about you and continue to talk about you.

    I am just reporting it.

  6. Miss Bottom Line says:

    Short of having naked pictures published Mike Satz will never lose an election.
    Here is the math:
    1. ALL of the Republicans will vote for him.
    2. Most of the Democrats will vote for him.
    This is not an endorsement. This is reality…

  7. Three words says:

    Ari Abraham Porth

  8. Floridan says:

    @Hammerhead “This example has happened as recent as two/three years ago when many joined the exodus to Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, etc…”

    Don’t be naive. If you think these locations offer any respite from public corruption, you are sadly mistaken — in fact, in many cases, it’s much worse (and with less exposure or oversight).

  9. Six Words Say says:

    Ari Abraham Porth. Are you kidding?

  10. TThe Long Black Robe(Ret) says:

    Mike Satz will be State Attorney as long as he wants. I was “inside” the system and Satz does a great job with very restricted resources, as Ms. Alu said.

  11. Truthiness says:

    I’ll throw out at least three more names into the mix as possible viable Democratic primary challengers to Satz:

    1. John Fry
    2. Ron Gunzburger

    and, if he is willing to do it (and I know he keeps saying “no”) …

    3. Howard Finkelstein himself!!

    Howard would destroy Satz in a primary, and he could use the SAO post to truly bring about justice in Broward.

    FROM BUDDY: Yes, Howard might be able to beat Satz. However, he told me this week he has no interest in running for State Attorney.

  12. Truthiness says:

    Also, Buddy, I believe I read in the South Florida Times that attorney Charles Cherry announced he is running against Satz in 2012. Cherry is well known in the Fort Lauderdale black community and was once a prosecutor in Satz’s office maybe 20 years ago.

    FROM BUDDY: He hasn’t opened a campaign account.

  13. lil' b says:

    you talking about the same ASA Alu who had a hissey fit in open court, stomped out and quit her job??? Coincidentially the day before the Sheriff election, only to take the job back after her pal Israel lost Also, the same Alu who waited almost a year to report all she saw regarding Sheinberg and Judge Gardiner while I guy sat in jail.

    Her lack of years is not all that would hold her back.

  14. Jonesy says:

    Buddy has touched a nerve at. The pro Mike comments tell the story. They are nervous like never before. The do nothing high salary and fat pension jobs of the higher ups are on the line.

    This is simply another corrupt agency in the most corrupt town in Florida. The public will see it that way and the SAO types know it. Factor in no wants an elected official for 30 odd years and Mike is history, if a real candidate emerges.

  15. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Did you hear the comments from Sheila Alu-“for the 100th time I am not running for State Att. Who would vote for you. I see a woman who wanted to get a name for herself and went out to dinner with what they thought was a friend and in the course of conversation you took what you heard to the bank so to speak. I frankly don’t know who would trust you?And all this talk about infiedelties(this one that one-you know what i’m talking about)So you are basiclly an FBI informant, no more no less. They have 100’s of you. J.Edgar Hoover your not,although you could probably fit into his dresses from what I’ve heard.


    Let me make it clear. Others are talking about Sheila Alu. I’m just reporting it.

  16. Alan says:

    I don’t feel safe. In fact no one I know feels safe. Sociopaths running around with guns everywhere. If this man has been in office for such a long time it is certainly partially his fault the streets are not safe. I would vote for anyone but this man.

    You bring up a very interesting political point. I agree with you that many people do not feel safe in their homes, when shopping or when driving to work. Will this rub off on Satz? I don’t know, but clever political ads could make him the victim of this feeling.

  17. Hammerhead says:

    @Floridan – my point did not imply that there is no corruption in the areas mentioned, but does represent an area of the US that many fed up South Floridians are fleeing to as a means of avoiding the high taxes and cost of living associated with inefficient government and corrupt officials. If the problem is not resolved soon and with purpose, the exodus will resume. That is not naive that is historical data.


    What abour this?

    A federal judge a decade ago found that Broward residents basically paid a “lobbyist tax.” Extra charges were tacked on to a bond issue to pay lobbyists. What about all the other government services, rezonings, land use approvals and purchases that involve lobbyists?

    The amount adds up to millions of dollars a year. How many cops, fire fighters and public employees could keep their jobs with this money?

  18. Chaz Stevens, Author says:

    @Robert Walsh

    In the future, when commenting, I ask that you remember the following words from Harlan Ellison;

    “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”

    Additionally, as a professional satirist, let me that you spend much less time taking cheap shots at Sheila Alu and devote more resources to improving your wordcraft and delivery, as both leave much to be desired.

    Oddly, you attempt to somehow demean Alu’s attractiveness. Is there something in your upbringing or perhaps in a failed relationship that makes you bridal (pun not intended though a tangential reference was) when confronting a woman who has the trifecta of intelligence, success and beauty?

    Individuals such as Alu should be celebrated for their achievements, applauded and praised for their efforts, yet you strangely conflate Sheila’s triumphs with Hoover’s dress collection.

    Leading me to wonder…

    If it’s a fight over her shoes, just ask. She might let you try them on, however a gentleman (yourself quite obviously not included in such a list) never asks if he can take a sniff.

    Oh and leave the Choo’s out of it. They are definitely off limits.

    Chaz Stevens, Author
    New Times 2010 Activist of the Year

  19. Broward Attorney says:

    Bill Gelin and his extremely biased JaabBlog is behind Larry Lavechio and most of the names you cite Buddy.
    Donelly, Maus, Alu and Ari Porth would never run against their boss.
    Bottom line: 2012 winner for State Attorney will be Mike Satz.

    Newsflash: JAAB and Bill Gelin are reporting Charlie Crist is running against Mike Satz.

  20. Dear Broward Attorney says:

    Mrs. Gelin works for Howard Finkelstein. Get the picture. Who do you think is behind all this about Satz?

  21. Another Broward Lawyer says:

    You give too much credit to Jaablog.
    Ask any courthouse lawyer, the same answer will be given. The SAO is an anachronism and change is overdue.

  22. Jaemi Levine says:

    John Fry???? lol not so much and he is not a Dem.

  23. 1st Time says:

    Satz has never had a credible opponent since he won in 1976. Adam Balkan had barely five years as a lawyer when he ran. Nobody else has ever run. The right candidate could easily win by playing the fear card. Satz’s checkered record of goof ups and misses will see to that.

  24. Wayne Arnold says:

    I have shook Mr. Satz hand once or twice but I do not personally know the State’s Attorney. I do remember when he won his first election to that office in 1976. We lived in West Broward and had read good things about him so we were proud to cast our vote for Mike Satz and we will continue to vote for him. I think his over three decades in office have proven to be exemplary. He has never been a publicity hound or a back slapping politician. He just works hard and gets the job done. This is why I believe the voters of Broward keep re-electing him.

  25. Broward Attorney says:

    Hey Jaablog aka Bill Gelin, start looking to SAO race for 2016. Satz is in come 2012.

    PS AUSA Lavechio is a scary guy with lots of skeletons in his closet.

  26. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Who is this Chaz Stevens-nothing but a big mouth from Deerfield Bch. And you got Activist of the Year-good for you. I only comment I whats reported My spelling is alot to be desired, so what. Mr.Stevens please tell Att.Alu I would be more again more then happy to report to her,all these comments or attitudes towards her. I certainly don’t make this stuff up. One retraction is alleged indiscretions. Let me guess Chaz or should I say Activist Of the Year- no job, living off what? tell us ,enlighten us. Are you employed? What do you do to advance the general welfare of the resident,besides bullying people with your smart ass comments. I stick to the issues.And Buddy Att.Alu went on your blog and made comments. She publiclly went on this blog by her own ADMISSION.She is also a Public Elected Offical, in Sunrise. So basiclly,I call it,like I see it.So Mr.Activist(Stevens) you took down some corrupt potiician in your City in which you live-Big deal. And to be more direct Ms.Deputy do right,did you commit Adultery ?If not then I will call my source and let them know. secouds after they see your blog comments. Oh and I know for the 100″th time your not running for State Att. Please.

  27. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    Mr. Walsh is obsessed with Ms. Alu’s sex life. It has nothing to do with her job as ASA or her job as Sunrise city commissioner. Go back to the bathroom with your Playboy and leave Ms. Alu alone. She is a fine public servant

  28. hmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    Walsh based on previousy posts on here and Broward Politics blog is at best a cheerleader and worst a hack for Judy Stern and Rodstrom. Usually all he ever does is talk about how great they are. I have no idea, but I would not be surprised after Stern ran both of Wishner’s losing campaigns that there is bad blood between Alu and Stern, leading to Walsh’s comments.

  29. The Real Truth says:

    Alu’s campaigns are always run by Dan Lewis. Lewis ran for mayor of Fort Lauderdale once and lost. Stern and Lewis hate each other. I don’t know why. It goes back years. Stern would work against any Lewis candidate and that includes Alu.

  30. Satz vs. Finkelstein says:

    Finkelstein reminds me of Captain Renault in Casablanca. (Gambling! What gambling?) “Opposition to Satz. What opposition to Satz?”
    Everybody in the courthouse knows that Finkelstein is stirring up the opposition and trying to find a candidate because Satz is standing in his way to be King of the Courthouse with Bill Gelin as his press secretary.

  31. disagree says:

    The last thing Howard wants is opposition to Mike Satz. Remember from this past year opposition for one can lead to opposition for all (regardless of whether they are good candidates). If this was not true, why has Howard not backed Gelin’s quest to get Satz an opponent. Gelin himself has blogges about how Finkelstien remains silent on this issue. Do you think Howard wants to stand in a room as Mike Satz goes on about being a crime fighter while Howard is implied to be the criminals defender? Can Howard be beat? Nope. Howard would much rather have the summer off than have to put in time campaigning. Thanks to the cowtowing of Vic Tobin and the indifference of Satz, Howard is the king of the courthouse.

  32. Tell says:

    Nervous much?