Howard Finkelstein Refuses To Introduce Mayor Keechl


How much is a county commission vote worth?

In the case of Broward Mayor Ken Keechl, it is worth $5,400.

At least that is how it appears to Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

Finkelstein refused to introduce Keechl at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Democratic Club last weekend.  The public defender is still bitter over the mayor’s vote last year that made it harder for those accused of minor crimes to get out of jail.

Keechl voted for new tough requirements for the county-run pretrial release program.

The law was being pushed by bail bonds lobbyist Ron Book.  His clients were upset that defendants were being released from jail for free under the program, instead of paying for bonds.   

The law has made it harder for the homeless and others who commit minor crimes.  They can’t afford a bail bonds.

Under the new law instead of being released, they end up living on the taxpayers’ dime in jail while awaiting trial.

Keechl was part of seven commissioners voting for the bill. Only Kristin Jacobs and Lois Wexler opposed it.

But Keechl took the money.

Our esteemed mayor voted for the new law five days after receiving $5,400 from the bail bond industry for his re-election campaign.

Finkelstein is right.  Keechl’s vote looks tainted by the political donation.

And although the vote was 18 months ago, Finkelstein has a long memory.

So Finkelstein not only refused to introduce Keechl at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Democratic Club last weekend.  When the mayor took the podium, the public defender left the room.

“I had a call to make, Finkelstein said.   

That’s why so many people respect our public defender.  He stands up for what he believe in, regardless of the political toes he steps on.

14 Responses to “Howard Finkelstein Refuses To Introduce Mayor Keechl”

  1. Disappointed says:

    Keechl is a major disappoint to all of us who supported him. I never knew about this bail bond law, but everybody knows about how he flip flopped on the courthouse construction. He said he was against a new courthouse and then voted for it. I wonder how many contributions that vote netted Keechl.

  2. Tony C says:

    I have a problem with a 50 year old man with a pony tail and lifts in his shoe’s I can handle the pont tail, Grow up HF the Vote was 7-2 YOU LOST

  3. nothing new says:

    ditto to what ‘disappointed’ said. keechl was looking really positive his first 2 years in office, but has pretty much gone downhill since the midpoint of his term. i didn’t support him during his first election, was considering supporting him this time, until the last 18 months happened. he’s become the establishment that he campaigned against. check out his campaign reports, especially the expenditures. besides paying his partner to rent his building, this guy wines and dines with the best of them, although it seems he has slowed down a little since the newspaper reported the extent of his expenses.

  4. WasAtThisEvent says:

    I was at this luncheon. I didn’t notice any of the antics that this article addresses. Perhaps, Howard isn’t a fan of Mayor Keechl. That is his prerogative. I am not a fan of Howard. He made a COMPLETELY SEXIST comment at the luncheon while introducing Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He actually apologized before saying it too… like that made it okay? He used a completely patronizing tone and repeatedly called her “our girl.” Hey Howard…. She is a United States Congresswoman, not a girl! It was patronizing and sexist. In a room filled with feminists, it didn’t go over well. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz was gracious about it. A generous jester on her part. I wouldn’t want him introducing me. Keechl is the better for that fact. In the end, I see nothing wrong with tougher restrictions on releasing people who have done something bad enough to be in jail to begin with. Ken Keechl is doing a great job. Making the tough choices for the people of Broward. Not everyone is going to agree with every decision that he makes.

  5. BailInsights says:

    I think the argument needs to be less about who paid off of who but more about what is better for public safety. Pretrial Service Agencies are the least effective form of pretrial release. They have the highest failure to appear rates and the highest rates of recidivism. PRivate surety bail is getting a black eye for the wrong reasons. When someone is released on a financially secured bond, the failure to appear rates go down substantially along with the rates of recidivism. To get the facts on pretrial release visit and get the FREE whitepaper.

  6. southfl1 says:

    I don’t understand…he received $5,400? Was it a bribe? A gift? Or was it a “campaign contribution”. Either way, it stinks and I have a lot of respect for Howard if this is true.

    Thanks for clarifying.

  7. Charley Varrick says:

    Even if we are lucky enough to get rid of Keechl, whoever replaces him will still be in the pocket of lobbyists such as Book. It will be another case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” but unlike the song the Broward voters will get fooled again.

  8. AMarkoff says:

    There was a stunning report on Broward’s gutted pre-trial release program on NPR’s All Things Considered recently. Everyone in Broward County should learn about what had occurred in our County jail and on the Commission:

  9. This is Such Bullshit says:

    Whether bondsmen helped fund Keechl’s campaign or not, if viewed only through that perspective, no matter how he voted, some suggestion of impropriety could have been raised. That is why it is contrived and disingenuous to make so foul a suggestion. It cannot be, for example that Keechl voted as he did because he agreed with the issue and campaign contributions had nothing to do with it? Suddenly we have the ability to read into people’s hearts, minds and souls? And where is the missing link in this argument, the need for publicly financed campaigns to replace our current system?

    That’s what makes this entire tirade bullshit. It is soup without broth. Meat without tissue. Air without oxygen.

    This much is clear. Howard Finklestein is a mean spirited, self-absorbed, former junkie and notorious grandstander with a Napolean complex. His act of not introducing a colleague who just happens to be the Mayor of the county is a low class move designed to place Howard above the chief elected representative of the people. It is exactly the kind of lack of civility that is dragging our society into the mud.

    If people want to change the campaign financing laws because the way we pay for campaigns now is causing too much suspicion about voting integrity in officials, then let us stop this constant bullshit and just do that. Civility is a thing that officials need to set an example for so that others can follow. One can disagree with a colleague on a complex matter of public policy and still be civil enough to introduce them at an event. Even political rivals should be able to muster up such class.

    Elevate the discussion please.

  10. please says:

    Let remember the players…

    Keechel beat Jim Scott whose camapign was run by Judy Stern

    Judy Stern was Howard’s secretary and some say enabler back in the white old days.

    Stern is a lobbiest before the County Commission but the Bondsmen hired Ron Book over Stern

    Stern will do anything to avenge her losse to Keechel. Look at New Times she is advising Lamarca in that race.

    If you think Howard made this move out of some good intention you are a fool. Howard protests too much that he is non political. With friends like Stern you have to be political, or in Jail like Joe Eggs

  11. 5:58 Is Right says:

    King Howard uses Stern to do his political dirty work.
    He had better watch out before she drags him down in the mud along with Joe Egg, Angelo and the rest of them.

  12. LaMarca Supporter says:


  13. Sorry LaMarca Supporter says:

    Rigth from the New Times, Chip himself says he seeks Stern’s counsel on this race.

    One has to wonder why Chip would allow two rookies to go for the State House seat in his own backyard that he could have walked into… Maybe a deal was cut with Momma Stern that Chip wouldnt run against her daughter in exchange for her help in this County Commission race?

    Stern backs LaMarca, that much is sure. Today I asked the GOP chair if Stern would run his campaign if he challenges Keechl. Stern, you see, can’t stand Keechl since he beat her old boy, Jim Scott, the previous lone Republican on the board. It would be sweet revenge for the bitter Stern to come back and crush Keechl with LaMarca.

    LaMarca acknlowledged he’s had conversations with Stern about the race

  14. realist says:

    Ken doesn’t care where his campaign contributions come from, as in the case of convicted ponzi sceme lawyer Scott Rothstein. Keechl would support the Nazi party if they gave him money.