27 Apr Watchdog.
Our friends over at the Boca Magazine take the time to tell the tale about us, our work at MAOS, and Scooter The Blog Dog.
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On April 13, 2011, disgraced Deerfield Beach city commissioner Sylvia Poitier turned herself into the police amid allegations that she falsified court documents.
Four days later, Scooter, the yellow Labrador owned by local blogger Chaz Stevens, ingested an inordinate amount of fat from an unknown source. Stevens, who jump-started the allegations against Poitier, believes the fat was laced with poison; it took four blood transfusions and more than
$7,000 $14,000 in veterinary bills to save Scooter’s life.
Such coincidences have become all too common for the author of My Acts of Sedition, a website/blog (myactsofsedition.com) dedicated to uncovering corruption in and around Deerfield Beach.
Stevens has spearheaded efforts that eventually resulted in charges against former commissioner Steve Gonot for grand theft, official misconduct and falsifying records; and against former mayor Al Capellini for unlawful compensation. He also has cleaned up corruption and increased transparency in the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority.
Over the years, Stevens has received threatening e-mails and cease and desist letters, he’s been sued, and his car has been keyed. Because of its provocative name, his website has been investigated by “government cyber sleuths” looking for terrorists. That week in April, when the Poitier story was dominating headlines, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies patrolled Stevens’ house many times, day and night, concerned for his personal safety.
Unsurprisingly, Stevens doesn’t go out much anymore.
“I’ve been called everything,” he says. “I go after people who are bad eggs, who are probably breaking the law, who don’t want the spotlight shone on them, who will do everything in their power to keep it away. When I do my job, it’s dangerous.”
Stevens, 47, describes himself as “not politically aware until about 10 years ago,” when he started My Acts of Sedition. He is a graduate of Deerfield Beach High School and the Florida Institute of Technology, with a degree in applied mathematics. His day job is still “software consultant” and he has worked for mom-and-pop companies as well as large corporations.
Stevens tries to keep his political muckraking away from his 9-5 obligations, but he’s garnered such a reputation that his employers inevitably bring it up. After all, at its height of web traffic, My Acts of Sedition was garnering thousands of unique visitors a day, a high number for a non-journalist’s blog, with a controversial name, no advertising, and a limited geographical scope.
The blog’s content has ranged from deep investigative pursuits to sheer mischief. Stevens once doctored up a fake screen shot of Gonot’s office, creating the appearance of a hidden camera; police swept the building and found nothing.
“[The site] was just this homegrown thing that sort of caught on,” Stevens recalls. “It was inherently self-limited. I loved to use the F-bomb. I loved to ridicule people. I had a writing style I liked, but I couldn’t really break free.”
With Stevens evolving into a more professional reporter, he decided to end My Acts of Sedition last year and replace it with a more buttoned-downed website, the Broward Post, last November. It lasted only three months before Stevens brought back My Acts of Sedition because, he says, “it’s 100 times more fun.”
Even though he charges for advertising, Stevens loses money on his site. His activism remains, as it always has been, a labor of love-one that he will continue as long as politicians are corrupt. But he’s already seen systemic change.
“People now don’t do what they used to do,” he says. “They’re afraid a Chaz Stevens will come along and jack them up. I believe I was helpful in changing the air here. I’m an average guy; I’m not special. I just happen to be really tenacious. I don’t give up.”