Christie: Moore sex controversy throws moral test for political candidates out the window

NEW YORK — Beverly Young Nelson (L) speaks to the media with her lawyer Gloria Allred, at a news conference where she has accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was 16 on Monday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

There is no more moral test for political candidates. There is only hypocrisy.

That’s about the only conclusion you can come to in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the Republican candidate to fill an Alabama seat in the U.S. Senate.

For those of you who’ve been too busy binge-watching “Stranger Things 2” on Netflix or traveling overseas like President Donald J. Trump, The Washington Post published an explosive report last week in which four women say Moore pursued them sexually or romantically when they were in their teens — allegations corroborated by more than two dozens witnesses. The youngest accuser, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he sexually touched her.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Roy Moore.

Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations made by Corfman, and is staying in the race.

But as expected, this news touched off an avalanche of condemnation from Democrats. And more importantly, dozens of Republicans — including Marco Rubio of Florida — have also offered more tepid calls for Moore to drop out of the Senate race, “If the allegations turn out to be true.”

Well, at least in Corfman’s case, her stepfather has corroborated her story. And Mike Ortiz, an ex-boyfriend of Corfman told CNN she relayed the story to him when they dated for about two years around 2009. Corfman’s description to the Post fits what she told him to a tee, he said.

“But I believed her when she told me and I still believe her,” he said on CNN. “She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

What’s been eye-opening for many observers is hearing Bible-thumping, morality preaching evangelicals in Alabama imply just the opposite. Yep… these same evangelicals who castigate liberals and progressives for the slightest moral failing are willing to set aside the word of four women accusing the former judge of sexual assault. A fifth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, came forward on Monday with a detailed and particularly creepy encounter with Moore when she was 16 years old.

Conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity asked Moore Friday on his show whether Moore would have dated teenagers when he was in his 30s.

“No, not generally,” said Moore, who also said he always asked the permission of a girl’s mother before dating her.

Uh… “not generally”?

Small wonder Republicans are scrambling ahead of the Dec. 12 special Senate election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, with the deadline for replacing a candidate on the ballot well past. The polls now have them virtually tied at about 46 percent; putting the GOP’s already tenuous 52-48 Senate majority in further jeopardy on big votes like tax reform.

Dozens of Republicans — including Marco Rubio of Florida — have offered tepid calls for Moore to drop out of the Senate race, “If the allegations turn out to be true.” (Editorial cartoon by Ken Siers)

On Monday, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell had enough. The Kentucky conservative  came around to calling for Moore to drop out of the race, after saying “I “believe the women.” Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of M0ntana publicly rescinded their endorsements after the Hannity interview. And the Republican’s senatorial campaign committee has pulled its funding.

Even those recriminations, however, smack more of political calculus than moral turpitude.

Over the weekend, a former prosecutor who once worked alongside Moore in the early 1980s told CNN it was “common knowledge” at the time that Moore dated high school girls.

“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Still, Moore remains defiant.

“To think grown women would wait 40 years before a general election to bring charges is unbelievable,” he said at an event in Alabama over the weekend. He later added, “Isn’t it strange after 40 years of constant investigation, that people have waited four weeks before a general election to bring their complaint? That’s not a coincidence.”

I agree. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t usually come out unless someone is running for office. The bigger the office, the more stuff that will typically come out.

The Rev. Tom Brown, pastor at First Baptist Church of Gallant, speaks to the media before the church service Sunday, Nov. 12, in Gallant, Ala. The First Baptist Church of Gallant is the church the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore attends. “He’s always been a man of character, of integrity, of honor, and there’s nothing in those 25 years that I’ve seen that would challenge that,” Brown said. “That’s all I can go by.” (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Again, that hasn’t much weakened Moore’s support among the evangelical Christian voters of Alabama who write the whole thing off as a Washington establishment plot.

That would be a bit easier to accept if these same good people hadn’t bought, hook line and sinker, the false allegations that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. These same voters, with regard to Moore, now ask: “Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”

Here’ another couple questions: Whatever happened to their morality test? Does anyone really believe these same Moore supporters would give Democratic rival Jones the benefit of the doubt if such allegations were made?

Moore says he will sue The Washington Post over the story.

No, he won’t.

He says that he will come forward this week with evidence that some of the women have been paid to make the accusations.

No, he won’t.

But will that matter to the moral hypocrites who still support Moore despite these awful allegations?

No, it won’t.

Streeter: Please, don’t blame the women for what Louis C.K. did

Louis C.K. arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

The surprising admission by comedian Louis C.K. to allegations that he exposed himself to fellow female comedians and writers prompted the following post by Palm Beach Post Entertainment writer Leslie Streeter:

On Friday, comedian Louis C.K., the latest in a cavalcade of celebrities accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, confirmed the story of several writers he’d worked with and other comedians that he’d masturbated in front of them. And even though he’d always asked permission before doing so, he admits now that when someone works for you and their livelihood and possibly their future reputation depends on you, it’s not really a request. Twitter’s full of a lot of people who weren’t in those rooms, but are still full of opinions about how the female victims of his workplace grossness should have reacted.

And my response to them is to stop talking about things you don’t know about. I know about it. It happened to me.

I was an eager and naive 22-year-old taking the bus home from my first newspaper job, in Miami, a city I’d only lived in for a few months. I was Mary Tyler Moore. I was Rhoda. I was gonna make it after all. I was…sitting on the bus bench on a rainy day, under the enclosure, when a man maybe in his 20s sat next to me.

Leslie Streeter (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

It was immediately clear there was something wrong, that he was too close, too not casual. I was a nice girl, so even though my Baltimore-bred Spidey Sense told me to get up, he hadn’t really done anything, right? What if my moving made him feel bad? He was of a different race than me. Were my fears racist? I prayed the bus will come faster, and glances over at him. He was staring at me touching himself.

Oh my God!

I let out a yelp and stood up quickly, trying to figure out where another bus stop might be because there weren’t a lot more buses coming and I would be stuck there, pre-cellphone, an hour away from home. And it was raining. So I started to walk to the bench outside of the enclosure and he looked at me — I will never forget this — with this hangdog look inviting pity… Pity!… For him.

And he said, “You’re so pretty. Can’t I just look at you while I do this?” I didn’t say no. I wanted to. I wanted to scream it. But I didn’t want to say anything, I didn’t want to acknowledge him. But this sick bastard took that as permission. I didn’t want to make him mad. He might have been violent, because if he was bold enough to do that in daylight in public, who knows what else he’d do? And I needed the bus. And I was alone here on this stop in this not-nice neighborhood with a man touching himself in front of me.

I know that there are people who would say that this was just a crazy person, a garden-variety creep. That this was just a friendly-neighborhood perv, without the raincoat, and I wasn’t in any danger. But safety isn’t always about being held at knife-point. It’s about someone deciding that they want something from you and that your physical and mental and emotional safety do not matter. It was my fault for being there. For being someone this guy thought was pretty. It was not my fault!

NEW YORK, NY — An exterior view of The Paris Theatre on November 9, 2017 in New York City. The premiere for the movie was canceled after Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct by five women was reported by the New York Times. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The same goes for those brave women who came forward to tell this story about Louis C.K., a beloved comedian who admits that even though he later called some of them to apologize years later, he knows that his favorable reputation in the business would inoculate him from repercussions. These aren’t even new accusations – they’ve been floating around for years and even I, an entertainment reporter in Florida, had heard them. People are now believing these stories because there are so many of them now, like an ugly avalanche. At least one of these women left comedy because of what was done to her. And all she, and others, did was come to work, and dare to be in the same space as someone who didn’t care about their physical, mental and emotional safety.

Who, for all of his money and influence, turns out to be just another pervert at the bus stop.

Christie: Do Palm Beach County Millennials really want micro-apartments?

Billionaire developer Jeff Greene’s seemingly abrupt decision to scrap his much-anticipated plans to build Banyan Place is doing nothing to stifle concerns about a reputation for not following through on big project ideas. (The Palm Beach Post)

Well, that was disappointing.

I’m talking about billionaire West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene’s seemingly abrupt decision to scrap his much-anticipated plans to build a 12-story, 348-unit micro-apartment project called Banyan Place.

Yep. Greene — handing ammunition to critics who say he doesn’t follow through on big project ideas — is telling all those West Palm Beach Millennials who were looking to him for some relief from Palm Beach County’s workforce housing crisis to look elsewhere. At least for now.

“I jumped the gun,” he told the Post’s Tony Doris. “I should have done a lot more research before I went through the entire entitlement process and spent a lot of people’s time on it.”

RELATED: Plan for downtown West Palm micro apartments is scrapped

No kidding. Greene announced this project back in February, and has jumped through all the necessary zoning hoops to get final city commission approval in June.

Not that it means that much to South Florida Baby Boomers, who tend to like their space. But their kids and grandkids — read Millennials — are not thought to be as picky in that regard.

Greene says the projected rents — about $995 to $1,200 a month for 340 to 560 square feet — are just too low to make sense; especially when you add in upscale kitchens, bathrooms, and washers and dryers.

But is it possible that when it comes to space, the county’s Millennials don’t fall too far from the family tree when it comes to elbow room? Especially if you’re asking for $1,000 for what is essentially their bedroom in their parents’ home (sans mom’s home-cooking to boot)?

Greene said the projected rents for Banyan Place — about $995 to $1,200 a month for 340 to 560 square feet — were just too low to make sense; especially when you add in upscale kitchens, bathrooms, and washers and dryers.

Maybe.

But “at end of the day,” Greene told Doris, “I ran numbers. If you have a choice of a small room with no view, or a 30-story building with views of everything, (it) can’t compete” with other nearby projects about to be completed near the downtown West Palm Beach Brightline station.

“I’m stepping back now to see how they all do.”

Greene’s right about competition. The city, behind Mayor Jeri Muoio, is experiencing something of a renaissance as it seeks to make itself more attractive to Millennials. Take 312 Northwood, the new apartment complex that just opened at the corner of Dixie Highway and 23rd Street. A few weeks after the doors opened this summer, the building was already 25 percent full, with residents paying between $1,400 to $1,850 for one and two-bedroom apartments, and some apartments as high as $2,300 a month.

Developer Neil Kozokoff expects the property’s 100 units — 75 of which have views of the Intracoastal Waterway — to be fully leased by the end of the year . At that point, he’ll consider building 102 apartments on land he owns nearby.

Greene said he is moving forward with his One West Palm office/hotel/condo towers at 550 Quadrille Blvd., a two-building, 30-story project that would include the city’s biggest Class A office tower.(Contributed)

Those aren’t “micro-apartments.” But TBCG Capital Group’s five-building project on the west side of Northwood Village is planning some. The 3.5-acre tract dubbed the “anchor site” will also include offices, retail space, townhouses and apartments — including workforce housing.

Whether Greene’s decision to cut bait is just a Jeff Greene thing or a competition thing, there’s no denying that the city’s and county’s issues with affordable housing for a burgeoning young white-collar workforce is at crisis levels.

Not only can 75 percent of the county’s households not afford the median price of a single-family home, but rents north of $1,800 per month for a typical 1,100-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment have kept many young professionals from moving out of their parents’ homes.

RELATED: Editorial: Builders must continue to step forward with workforce housing

That’s why Greene’s decision, though understandable, is disappointing.

Aggressive ideas like micro-apartments are needed if West Palm Beach and other local municipalities are going to make a dent in this burgeoning crisis. In fact, West Palm Beach has staked the future of its downtown on shelved projects like Greene’s, which had the added bonus of a pedestrian passageway on its east side, connecting Banyan to Clematis Street through the courtyard of popular Subculture Coffee. That 20-foot-wide strip of land currently dead-ends, preventing any connection between the boulevard and the popular entertainment street.

Whether micro-apartments are the way to go remains to be seen. The concept seems much more of a Northern, big city phenomenon, but might work in tandem with high-speed rail, as leaders in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami believe.

Developers need to continue to step forward with fresh concepts, and cities need to continue to offer incentives for them to do so.

Here’s a suggestion: Talk to Millennials, many of whom are now well into their late 20s and 30s, and find out what they really want.