Okay ladies and gentlemen, it's time to once again play America's favorite political parlor game---Name That Party! And today we have a special two-part episode: Broward County and Jersey City. First up Broward County but I warn you, it won't be easy to figure out the political party to which the protagonists belong. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has certainly played along in keeping the party label under wraps as you can see in this story:
School Board member Beverly Gallagher, County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman were arrested and charged in a public corruption probe Wednesday.
FBI agents showed up at the Governmental Center shortly after arresting Eggelletion at his home. Agents interviewed Eggelletion's staff at the time, but took no records and did not search his office.
On Thursday, federal investigators focused largely on two fronts: the school district, and allegations of contractor misconduct in the city of Miramar, where two businessmen were accused of helping to pay bribes to Miramar officials.
Government agents who questioned school district officials wanted to know about the process of awarding construction contracts, whether contracts could be steered to selected companies and about lobbyists' influence on the School Board, according to district officials who spoke on condition of not being identified.
The agents also asked about the school district's controversial audit of payments made for repair work after Hurricane Wilma struck in October 2005, the sources said.
Hmm... Fortunately the Sun-Sentinel has kept this game competitive by declining to mention the party label of all three of those arrested for public corruption. So I guess I am going to have to figure it out on my own via deductive reasoning. What is the major political party in Broward County? Let me think... Nope. I still can't figure that out so let me check another Sun-Sentinel story about one of the accused. Surely that newspaper will slip up and reveal the party label in this profile of Beverly Gallagher:
Throughout a relatively brief political career, Beverly Gallagher has been variously viewed as a hard working advocate for students and teachers, or an untrustworthy operator who juggled the truth.
"She was very level headed. She was well thought of," said Margaret Wolter, who worked with Gallagher in the late 1990s as a school activist.
"She lied to me," said Miramar Mayor Lori Moseley, another former school activist who later split with her friend.
Prosecutors say Gallagher, 51, did more than lie. She was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of fraud, extortion and bribery, and swiftly suspended from the Broward County School Board...
Well, I checked the rest of the story to no avail. Those Sun-Sentinel writers are sure slick and really know how to play this game. Okay, one more try. Perhaps Sun-Sentinal columnist, Michael Mayo could prove to be the weak link:
Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher allegedly took home $2,000 in a plastic bag with leftovers from a Plantation restaurant.
Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, stylish to the end, allegedly took $15,000 in a black leather day planner.
Former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman allegedly took his first $1,500 payment from undercover agents in a plain envelope.
On Wednesday the three sat near each other, in handcuffs and leg shackles, in the jury box of U.S. Magistrate Lurana Snow's Fort Lauderdale courtroom...
Damn you, Michael! I checked the rest of your column and you were completely successful in maintaining the secrecy of their party label. You sure taught me that all the Sun-Sentinel writers are real pros when it comes to playing Name That Party. However, I am one step ahead of you. I'm simply going to go one county north and discover the elusive party label in the Palm Beach Post. True, the South Florida newspapers pool their services so the same local stories appear in all the periodicals but I have found a loophole. The Post also has story on this corruption probe from the Associated Press. Surely the AP will reveal the party label:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Three prominent politicians in Florida's second-most populous county were arrested Wednesday on federal corruption charges, accused of accepting thousands of dollars in cash from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen seeking illegal favors...
DRAT! Foiled again! No party label mentioned in the rest of the AP story. However, don't count ol' PJ out just yet. I have an ace up my sleeve in the form of a column from the political writer of the Miami Herald, Beth Reinhard. Got that? Political. It's a slam dunk that a political writer would reveal the politics of the accused. So let us now go through the mere formality of checking Ms Reinhard's column for the party label while I begin to envision my game prize of a free vacation to the Caribbean paradise island of Culebra. Yes, I am already tasting the rum I will be sipping on the Culebran beaches. So take it away, Beth! I shall remember you when I dive for tasty lobsters from that tropical shore:
In one fell swoop, the feds this week accomplished what the voters of Broward County had not, knocking down two ethically challenged yet durable elected officials.
County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and School Board Member Beverly Gallagher had waved red flags for years. The third politician arrested this week, ex-Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman, was suspended twice from office before voters finally slammed the door on him in March.
The reaction in Broward political circles to the arrests? It's about time.
Okay, enough with the tease routine, Beth. You can go ahead and reveal their party label:
...What is it about public office that makes politicians think they are allowed to be friends with the people lapping at the public trough? The criminal complaint describes Gallagher texting with an undercover agent she thought was a subcontractor during a school board meeting. They had met at a ``social function'' in Fort Lauderdale. To build a relationship with Eggelletion, undercover FBI agents donated $5,000 to the commissioner's private golf foundation.
The Broward arrests even made a Palm Beach Post blogger who has watched five public officials go to prison in recent years wonder: ``Is Palm Beach County's corruption crown in danger?''
Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler, who served 12 years on the school board, pointed to the sway officials continue to hold over multimillion dollar public contracts. Broward does not limit the number of commissioners who sit on committees vetting potential contractors. The bigger the project, the more popular the committee.
``This was a long time coming,'' Wexler said. ``It may not make me popular with my colleagues to say that, but oh well.''
What the...? No party label? You too, Beth? I mean you are a political columnist so why couldn't you have done your job (and win me the prize) by naming their political affiliation?
Okay, I give up. Name that Party is just too tough for me to play any more. ...BUT WAIT! I've been granted a reprieve by the game host. He is allowing a special bonus episode in which I get a chance to guess the party label of another scoundrel. And the great thing is, I have been given the clue that party label of freshly busted Jimmy King of Jersey City is the same as that of the arrested Broward County officials.
And now to scour the pages of NJ.Com which covers New Jersey news:
Unsuccessful Jersey City City Council candidate James "Jimmy'' King faced a federal judge in Newark this afternoon and admitted he took $5,000 to $10,000 in bribes in exchange for his future official assistance of development projects proposed by a man who turned out to be a federal informant.
By pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, the 67-year-old King is expected to be sent to prison for 10 to 16 months when he is sentenced on Jan. 5.
The charge normally carries a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars.
As a now convicted felon, the longtime figure in Jersey City politics loses his right to vote, hold office, sit on a jury and own a firearm.
King made no comment as he left the courtroom, but in the hallway, his attorney, Arthur Abrams of Jersey City, said his client is remorseful.
"He is very sorry for what occurred,'' Abrams told reporters.
The hearing before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares took about a half hour during which King was extremely respectful.
Asked by Linares how he wanted to plead, he said: "Guilty, your honor."
And once again the party label of the perpetrator appears nowhere in the story. Is there even any slight clue that could help me out here? A convicted felon and a longtime figure in Jersey City politics? Sorry, no clue there.
It looks like if I am going to have any chance to luxuriate in Culebra, I will just have to make a wild guess. And I guess that the political party to which all these corrupt politicians belong is...
Oh no! The buzzer went off which means I ran out of time. Game over. The newspapers have just made it too tough to ever have a chance of winning this Name That Party game.
Sniff! Goodbye Culebra!