CONNECT WITH:

Zachariah Zachariah

Zachariah Zachariah

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Fort Lauderdale heart doctor and major GOP fundraiser Zachariah P. Zachariah has picked up two influential allies in advance of his federal insider stock-trading trial this summer.

Former Florida Attorney General and top Democrat Bob Butterworth and Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Melanie May, both Broward residents, testified under oath two weeks ago as character witnesses for Zachariah.

Their depositions are not public, and neither responded to requests for comment. They are identified in court records.

Judge May supported Zachariah despite judicial rules that discourage testifying as a character witness.

Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from giving such testimony voluntarily “because to do so may lend the prestige of the judicial office in support of the party for whom the judge testifies.” It says judges may testify if subpoenaed, but nevertheless “should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness…except in unusual circumstances where the demands of justice require.”

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Proposed Bahia Mar PUD

Proposed Bahia Mar PUD

Spurred by a pair of high-profile zoning battles, a dozen Fort Lauderdale neighborhood associations have called on the city to halt the use of an innovative ordinance meant to encourage “unique” development.

Upset residents insist the city slap a moratorium on its eight-year-old Planned Urban Development scheme – commonly known as a PUD.

Some see the PUD as a nightmare that will corrupt the character of neighborhoods and allow large new buildings near their homes. Others call the PUD a saving grace that can breathe new life into a community.

Tens of millions of dollars in development dollars are potentially at stake; not to mention millions more in future property taxes and other projected income to the city.

The PUD is the planning vehicle for developers seeking to supersize beachside Bahia Mar, and to expand significantly First Presbyterian Church’s presence in the Colee Hammock neighborhood off fashionable Las Olas Boulevard.

Gus Boulis

Gus Boulis

Anthony Moscatiello, top, Anthony Ferrari, left, and James Fiorillo
Anthony Moscatiello, top, Anthony Ferrari, left, and James Fiorillo

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

It was Fort Lauderdale’s murder of the decade: the 2001 gangland-style slaying of day-cruise casino cruise ship kingpin Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis.

On Oct. 1, it’s coming to a movie theater near you.

The three men charged in 2005 with conspiring to kill Boulis have yet to go to trial in Broward Circuit Court. The one who’s out on bond – Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello – will have the opportunity of watching both the murder and himself portrayed on the silver screen.

Bagman is about hotshot Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the nation’s biggest political scandal since Watergate. Actor Kevin Spacey plays Abramoff.

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.orgBus9734-01

A whistleblower’s allegations about possible corruption and wasted public funds at Broward County Transit (BCT) have sparked a quiet internal county investigation that’s already led to the suspension of one ranking transit official.

The unidentified county employee’s accusations are in a 12-page whistleblower complaint filed with the county’s Office of Professional Standards in March.

Broward Bulldog has obtained a copy of the complaint that does not name the whistleblower, whose name is also protected under state law.

The most serious claim in the complaint: Two top transit officials appear to have “misled” the county commission into wrongly awarding a $13.3 million, no-bid contract last year to a North Carolina company that sells digital communications equipment for buses.

The First Presbyterian Church is in the foreground. Behind are the proposed Family Center and parking garage/office buildings.

The First Presbyterian Church is in the foreground. Behind are the proposed Family Center and parking garage/office buildings.

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

First Presbyterian Church’s $20-million plan to build a big new family center and a parking garage off Las Olas Boulevard finally returns to Fort Lauderdale City Hall next week for a zoning board showdown with irate neighbors in historic Colee Hammock.

After several delays, the board is expected to approve or reject construction on June 16 following final arguments from supporters and opponents. But with both sides vowing to appeal, the five-member city commission will likely make the final decision amid political fireworks this summer.

The row is a classic power struggle involving some of the biggest names in town. It could shape the size and style of development for years to come on the lesser eastern stretch of Fort Lauderdale’s swankiest boulevard.