Thursday, November 09, 2006

First MVB "Worthy Award" Given To Three Public Corruption Fighters

MVB is proud to honor three Miami-Dade County public officials with our first "Worthy Award." These gentlemen are responsible for rooting out public corruption, a daunting job if ever there was one.
  • Christopher Mazzella, the county's Inspector General,
  • Joseph Centorino, Chief of the Public Corruption Unit at the State Attorney's Office,
  • Robert Meyers, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade County Ethics and Public Trust Commission.
The formal awards ceremony took place in Little Haiti at Churchill's Pub last night. After Bob Enzyte, MVB's award giver, was patted down and his cummerbund tightened to insure a modicum of decorum, he stepped up to the podium and told the crowd that the MVB Worthy Award was inspired by "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," a 1963 movie starring Phil Silvers, Spencer Tracy, and Jonathan Winters among others. The parallels between the film and life in Miami-Dade County were eerily similar starting with the title of the picture which resonated with local relevance. In the movie, the characters will stop at nothing to get rich, just like many of our public "servants." When Jonathan Winters yells, "It's the Big 'W,' I tell ya, the Big 'W'!", they are led to believe that four palm trees resembling a "Big W" mark the spot where a recently deceased old guy's (Jimmy Durante) riches are buried. MVB liked the idea of taking a negative symbol that served as a beacon for cutthroat opportunists and transforming it into a postive one used in an award that recognizes the efforts of those men and women fighting corruption in a public sector palm covered world gone mad by greed.

"Thank God," Enzyte said, "they wanted to call it the 'Worthy Award,' otherwise they'd still be looking for other symbolic connections and we wouldn't be here." As the crowd chuckled, Enzyte looked over at Verticus Erectus, the MVB publisher. By his dead-eye expression, one could tell Erectus didn't think it was funny.

Enzyte's mouth began to twitch. He turned away and grabbed his cummerbund as if it were a security blanket. "Anyway," he continued, "the 'Worthy Award' represents the yin to MVB's 'Wall of Shame's' yang. Of course, it might be a lot harder finding 'worthy' public servants than it is those ripping off the public, but that's okay, because this award is made from genuine Swarovski crystal and it ain't cheap."

"Svarsky? Yang?" someone yelled from the bar. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Yeah! We want the 'Dixie Dawgs Unleashed'!"

"Yeah?" Enzyte screamed back and, with a jabbing, twisting finger for emphasis, added, "Well f*** you!"

"Bob?" Erectus' voice rose over the background chatter and the clinking of glasses in a steady, drawn out manner.

Enzyte could tell his boss was not pleased. Immediately a perspiration moustache appeared, glistening under the harsh spotlights. He turned toward the three honorees and wiped the sweat away. Even though they were seated behind a table on the stage and were looking up at him, it seemed they were looking down at him, judging him from their position of superior masculinity, reminding him that he was an unworthy lesser man who was nuts to boot. Enzyte tried to smile. He nodded toward the three worthies. "Excuse me," he said before turning to the bar. "My apologies to the bar. The 'Dawgs' will be up right after this."


That cheer cut the tension and when the scattered laughter died down, Enzyte introduced Christopher Mazzella. Upon accepting his award, Mr. Mazzella characterized his job as a "street fight." With over 30,000 employees and a nearly $7 billion budget, there is a lot that can go wrong. He told the large crowd gathered around the candle lit tables enjoying their Curry Night buffet that 5 percent of all public dollars are lost to "fraud and ineptitude" which is about $344 million a year for Miami-Dade County.

After the crowd stopped choking on their potatos vindaloo, Mazzella went on to say that there are two types of corruption: the "traditional" kind involving kickbacks and bribery and a second kind catagroized by "waste, fraud, and abuse of power."

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Centorino said Miami-Dade County public corruption "is like a cancer that is far advanced before it comes to light" and that it was not seen until the media began exposing it in the 1990s. Because it was so bad, he thought it would take a generation to clean it up. Now he thinks that "maybe we are halfway there."

"What can we do to help?" a drunk shouted from the circular bar.

Centorino said you need to have a "level of outrage" that will make you want to "go into public service for the right reasons."

"Well," the drunk shouted back before falling off his barstool, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!"

"Me, too!" his buddy agreed. "Let's arrest all dem city hall bastards now!"

Centorino patiently explained that although a lot of the stuff we read in the paper about our public officials might look like "outrageous and unethical activity," that doesn't mean it's criminal. According to Centorino, criminal behavior must fit within the "narrow confines of the criminal statutes."

"Does that mean we can't arrest commissioners for babbling on about not having enough water?" another barfly shouted across the lovely English barmaid Alex's tattoos. "Or when one of them shows signs of para...paranoia on the po...podium?"

"No comment," Centorino commented.

At that point, Enzyte stood up and took the mike. "Although I'm sure you'd love to, right, Mr. Centorino?"

Centorino yanked the mike from Enzyte's hand and nodded at a big, burly cop lurking in the shadows. The cop pushed his way through the dark pub, knocking candle lit tables and diners askew to get to the stage. Enzyte was thrown up against a wall and handcuffed-- but not before his pants and his cummerbund fell to the ground. When the cop whipped Enzyte around to escort him off the stage, that's when we heard the first scream. It was Brooklyn, the other barmaid who can only be described in the vernacular of a Russ Meyer movie press kit as "pneumatic." She missed the first time (see here) Enzyte hosted an event and was unprepared for what she saw.

"I'm thinking of suing MVB," she cried. "I don't think I'll ever be the same after what I saw tonight."

When Erectus was told Brooklyn might sue him, he sighed and said, "I don't blame her. I thought Bob had stopped self-medicating, but I guess not. Anyway, I'm going to have a talk with her to see what I can work out."

Unfortunately, following Enzyte's arrest, and the riot it precipitated, the third recipient of the MVB Worthy Award could not be found. In case Mr. Meyers is reading this, your award was last seen in Brooklyn's hands as Erectus, with an arm around her shoulders, led her weeping from the pub toward his Rolls Royce. Please advise if you still want it.

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