Political Slime in Surfside

Personal overwhelms political in tiny town

Burkett responded coolly, but Benes wouldn't stop talking; after his microphone was turned off, he started yelling, "Pornographer!" at Weinberg, an attorney who has represented a company involved in Internet pornography. Then three rabbis surrounded the Cuban exile and escorted him from The Shul. Throughout the entire escapade, Mayor Will sat beside Benes, laughing. He left the meeting with Benes.

Will, who decided he didn't want the hassle that comes with the virtually unpaid job anymore, is a surprisingly candid politician. He's also excitable, especially when it comes to the subject of Burkett and Weinberg. "Maybe it sounds paranoid, but I took it upon myself to find out why a guy like Charles Burkett would take it upon himself to take a dollar-a-year job where you get more calls from people about dogs shitting on the beach than anything else," says the 57-year-old schoolteacher. After digging through public records, he became convinced that Burkett wants to enhance the value of properties owned by one of his trusts in the Surfside Business District. (Will is not clear about exactly why that is a nefarious undertaking.) Burkett points out that his family sold the property in question twenty years ago.

An unsubtle paranoia creeps into the language used by both sides. McLaughlin says of Novack that he "calls all the shots in this town and he always will." She also says that Will is "deranged." One candidate, who would only say so on condition of anonymity, called Novack "a mastermind" and "an evil genius."

On the other side, Benes says exactly the same thing of Burkett: "The man is a mastermind, but he's bad. The only thing I can't figure out is why he's doing this."

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