THE HERALD 

 

David Arthur Walters

Hypothetical Ethics Question
“Sleeping Joe” Centorino has a case cut out for him

By Walter Davidson SPECIAL TO THE HERALD July 29, 2013 MIAMI BEACH—South Beach wildcard journalist David Arthur Walters posed a Hypothetical Question on Friday to Joe “Sleeping” Centorino, Director of the Miami Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust: “Hope you had a nice vacation, Joe. A hypothetical question has been raised in your absence. Would it be ethical for Jose Smith to have outside employment as counsel to SunPost editor/owner Kim Stark, to advise her not to accept articles criticizing him and any of my work at all, his fee being declared SunPost's Best City Official 2013 plus a 10% discount on full page campaign ads when he runs for office?”

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Miami Beach City Attorney Jose Smith recently denigrated Walters, at least to Kim Stark, owner/editor of SunPost, while implying he would sue them for defamation if she published Walters’ stories after Walters, for the sake of journalistic balance, gave him the opportunity to respond to criticism within the articles before he submitted them to a publisher—he said he intended to submit them to the Washington Post, not the SunPost, so Smith apparently got his Posts mixed up. As a matter of fact, Stark did name Jose Smith Best City Official 2013, stating that, “The warm and engaging Jose Smith was a good city commissioner when he sat on that body in Miami Beach. Remove the inevitable politics related to holding elected office, and Smith is an even better city attorney than he was a commissioner. A steady factor in city hall and for a typically fiery city commission, Smith’s intelligence, wisdom and tact make him an essential component in the city’s stability. Smith has demonstrated throughout his career that there some who still believe public service is a higher calling.” (sic) Walters said he felt sorry for Stark and her SunPost. “She should be writing for a resume mill,” he said. “Let prospective employers and readers of her private weekly beware of anything she says, because this resume is absolutely false and misleading, and perhaps delusional. Not the kind of ‘delusion’ that Smith prefers to attribute to anyone who criticizes the city, which was the kind of delusion that led Soviet psychiatrists to commit critics to gulags for ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ for not realizing they were already living under the best of all possible governments.” When asked if he had evidence that proves Smith exploited his powerful office to gain private advantage as suggested in his question posed to the Ethics Commission, Walters said not, and he said that was why the question was posed as a “merely hypothetical.” “I would not be surprised if the both of them sold out,” he said in a 7,500-word response, with 25 pages of exhibits, which we have whittled down to sufferable size. “I have no evidence from her, as I do in respect to mayoral candidate Gongora…. I have an email from her wherein she admits promising not to publish anything incidental to Gongora’s alleged corrupt offer to Leroy Griffith at Club Madonna to sponsor an ordinance amendment that would allow him to sell liquor at the totally nude club provided he hire his lobbyist, who once referred to himself as ‘the Prince of Darkness,’ to poll the commissioners on the issue…. “After Stark actually encouraged me to write a feature on the negligence of the Florida Bar and the Ethics Commission in Gongora’s case, apparently to find out what I knew,

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perhaps to discover if there exists an illegal recording or not, she rejected my work, saying she had made a deal with Gongora not to say anything negative because his feelings had been hurt by one of her columnists…. “I notice Gongora has not been criticized since in her pages. Quite to the contrary, he has been flattered by lengthy articles, and I notice his advertisements too…. “As for Smith, he has repeatedly emailed her, extolling her paper while defaming me…what he said was so incredible as to be ludicrous…. I had his denigrations published elsewhere after she rejected my articles that quoted his calumny so people would get a better idea of who is representing their city…. “She has every ethical right to an independent editorial perspective no matter how ridiculous it might be, but I do not believe her opinion in this matter is independent of her need to please the power clique that corrupts our great city on the beach…. By sucking up to them, she is only repeating the mistake that led to the previous bankruptcy of her family’s publication….journalism would be better off shining a light up their rears…. The SunPost is becoming a booster sheet. She needs to hire an independent editor and to pay her writers…. “Mind you again, my question to Sleeping Joe was hypothetical… and by referring to his longtime colleague in a particular context, I hoped to arouse him to casuistry…that might expose unethical relationships between politicians and the press…. In other words…” Stark did not comment by deadline. We do not know if she sold out to Smith. We agree with Walters that her resume of Smith is utterly false. Smith’s many years of service prior to being appointed City Attorney in 2006 and acquiring the nickname “Magic Eight Ball” is commendable, but he has been one of the worst city attorneys ever as the city became a virtual racketeering operation culminating in several arrests. Maybe he will redeem himself as mayor or commissioner after he leaves his current post. But that is all beside the point, for the question posed by Walters is merely hypothetical. ##

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