May 15


Monday Morning Read

Michael Joseph's digs in West Palm Beach, which he purchased for a record $15.9 million, shares a waterfront view with Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago. And OTB chief Henry Wojtaszek scurries to his car when a reporter poses questions.

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Michael Joseph and his Clover Group have been in the news of late — that’s an understatement — as they were in 2021 when they bought a mansion that shares a waterfront with Mar-a-Lago, home to you-know-who.

Here are snippets published in September 2021 by The Real Deal, a real estate website, regarding Joseph’s purchase of a West Palm Beach mansion for $15.9 million.

The two-story home in the Prospect Park neighborhood has six bedrooms and nine and a half bathrooms, according to Completed in 2017, it totals 9,483 square feet on 0.7 acres, property records show.

It is diagonally across the Lake Worth Lagoon from Mar-a-Lago.

The deal marks the highest price ever for a single-family home sale in West Palm Beach. 

Other tidbits: The agent representing Joseph in the deal said the house was “really built it to perfection. Every single wall had marble on it.” The house also includes a three-level movie theater.

Four months earlier, the Real Deal reported, Josephs sold their previous Palm Beach mansion for $10.5 million.

Keep in mind that Clover fired Peter Rizzo, who ended up suing the company in federal court last week, claiming it could no longer afford to keep him on the payroll. That’s after, Rizzo said, he raised objections to what his lawsuit characterized as “racist and illegal housing discrimination practices.

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OTB chief Henry Wojtaszek sounded pretty defiant last week. That is, until a Niagara Gazette reporter started asking questions.

Wojtaszek, CEO of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., is a marked man in light of a deal approved by the state Legislature that shifts voting power on the OTB board from rural counties controlled by Republicans to urban counties in the hands of Democrats. Reforms to the trouble agency are expected to follow, including Wojtaszek’s dismissal. The longtime GOP power broker termed the legislation, included in the state budget deal, as “politically motivated” during an appearance on WEBR AM 1440. He said OTB will stay the course.

“We’re going to keep doing what we have been doing,” he said during his radio appearance.

Mark Scheer, a reporter for the Gazette who previously worked for Investigative Post, attempted to interview Wojtaszek at the conclusion of his radio interview. He followed the OTB boss as he left the building and repeatedly asked Wojtaszek for a few minutes of his time to answer questions. Wojtaszek, holding a cell phone to his ear, kept walking until ducking into his car. Scheer recorded the chase on his cell phone’s camera. It’s worth watching.

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George Santos was indicted the other day. Don’t forget who got paid to help elect him to Congress: Big Dog Strategies, the local political consulting firm headed by Chris Grant, late of the Chris Collins camp. Also supporting Santos: Nick Langworthy, the former GOP boss who was elected to Congress himself last fall.

The Supreme Court last week overturned the convictions of Louis Ciminelli and Alain Kaloyeros on charges of corruption involving the Buffalo Billion, saying prosecutors pursued the case using a law that wasn’t applicable. Here are reports from WGRZ (including a sound bite from me) and The Buffalo News.

Ken Kruly, in his Politics and Other Stuff, offers his take on Mayor Byron Brown’s proposed city budget — some reality, at last — and the latest developments at the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. .

The Columbia Journalism Review offers its take on the demise of BuzzFeed News and what it means for the future of media.

What are the most-trusted national news organizations? Read on.

The Pew Research Center offers facts about mothers. Of particular interest: The average age of a first-time mother has grown to 27, and the number of children women are giving birth to has dropped from more than three to two.

A story to bring a smile to your face: Muhammad Ali’s night at a prom, the night after a heavyweight bout.