Up until now, the Maytag Repairman has been getting more action in Fort Lauderdale than the leading Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama.
There has been lots of examples of how weak his support has been. In the Presidential Primary in January in Broward, Hillary Clinton whooped Obama 57% to 32%. And in the grassroots efforts, things have not been much better. Take the Obama House Parties, (events at supporters houses to spur support for Obama). To say they have been lightly attended is probably an understatement. “Let’s just say we had lots of leftover meatballs”, said Cindy Smith, wife of mine and an Obama supporter who helped host an Obama Party last month.
But now that it’s beginning to look like Obama may be the inevitable nominee for the Democrats, things are beginning to shift. The County is still a strong Clinton County, and Fort Lauderdale one of the Clintonest parts of it, but many of the Party leaders are either announcing their support for Obama, or are now declaring that they are prepared to get behind him should he be the nominee.
Commissioner Ritter speaking at her brunch for Obama
The Broward Obama support is being loosely led by the dynamic duo of County Commissioner Stacy Ritter and her Tallahassee lobbyist husband, Russ Klenet. Ritter and Klenet were bit by the Obama bug last year, and have traveled to many States to work for the Obama for President primary battles. Most recently, they sponsored a well attended Sunday morning brunch at their swanky home in Parkland.
The brunch drew about 50 from around the County, and included many Broward notables, including fellow County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, and leaders from Margate, Lauderdale Lakes, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, and other Broward Cities. Also supporting Obama are Coral Springs’ Mayor Scott Brook and Commissioner Roy Gold, Lauderhills’ Commissioners Bates, Holness, and Benson, Lauderdale Lakes’ Levoyd Williams, Oakland Parks’ Murphy, State Reps. Thurston, Jenne, Waldman, and Gibbons, and infamous local attorneys Mitchell Berger and George Platt.
The Broward County Commission is said to boast at least four Obama supporters; Ritter, Jacobs, Keechl, Lieberman and possibly more. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission has only one Commissioner supporting Obama, Commissioner Carlton Moore. Mayor Naugle has been a supporter of Huckabee, Rodstrom has been a big supporter of Clinton, Hutchinson hasn’t decided yet and Teel didn’t reply to an inquiry.
Meet the Colonel
U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Earl Rynerson (Ret.), thinking he may want to be the next Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, to be exact.
Rynerson, 55, has been exploring the possibility of adding his name to the growing list of Mayoral candidates. He started by sending out his extensive resume to all the City’s Neighborhood Presidents, and meeting with the local leaders that responded.
His biggest shortfall? Nobody knows who he is!
Though Rynerson admits that’s so, he isn’t bothered by the detail. He points to his successful military career, (Desert Storm Veteran), his well documented successes in the business world, and his service in San Francisco as a ranking member of the Human Rights and Social Services Commissions as proof that he’s got the right stuff.
Rynerson has lived in Fort Lauderdale with his partner Michael since 2001. He started on the Las Olas Isles in Fiesta Way, then Seven Isles, and finally landed in Victoria Park, where he has started an anti-crime watch program in response to the recent violent crime there. He says he has spent most of the last seven years getting his business, Clad Tile and Stone, profitable, and now that that’s been accomplished, he’s ready to jump in and get the City going in the right direction.
He says he “has an itch” to run for Mayor, and has been deeply troubled by the direction the City has taken. He calls the current Mayor, Jim Naugle, “nut-job Naugle”, and says the City is in serious need of an “image polishing”. Rynerson believes that the first job of a Mayor should be to “make people proud of their City”. He also says the Mayor should be the Spokesman for the City, build consensus, and be a mouthpiece for a diverse City.
Rynerson is no wallflower, and was embroiled in some controversies in San Francisco while serving as a Mayoral appointment to the Social Services Commission. He was chastised by Homeless Advocates when he called for reduced welfare payments to the Homeless, calling the stipend “drug and alcohol allowances”. He shows his independence in other ways as well, as evidenced by him forming his own Political Party, calling it the Leadership Party.
He has formulated some opinions on City issues, though he says he wants to meet with many citizens and their groups for imput. He’s troubled by what he sees as an inflated budget, but is also concerned that the Police are not resourced enough. He says any City employee jobs that pay over $200,000 a year “would be suspect”. On growth and redevelopment, he says he thinks redevelopment in the right spots are good, and he singles out the Sistrunk corridor and the Riverwalk as areas that could use help. He says the Riverwalk area has begun to “look crappy”.
Rynerson says he will make a solid decision on whether to run in a couple more months. When asked about the substantial opposition he will face if he gets in, he says, in what appears to be his forthright manner, “we don’t need another carreer Politician for Mayor of Fort Lauderdale”.
Looks like it could be an interesting year for Fort Lauderdale.
The unsuccessful attempts of the City Commission to reach a contractual agreement with the Fraternal Order Of Police has blood boiling throughout the Department and consequences for the City.
The Police, who have been working without a contract since last year, have taken their frustration to levels not seen since the early 1990’s, when work slow downs and major morale problems caused the City to reach the ominous title of “the Most Crime Ridden City in America”.
The fight has now centered around City Manager George Gretsas and David Hebert, an Assistant City Manager charged with overseeing the Police. Gretsas and Hebert do not have the authority to end the contract impasse, that job falls squarely with Mayor Naugle and his City Commission. But the FOP has targeted the City’s Management over the stalemate, claiming unfair labor practices, intimidation, and officious interference with their duties. Last week, the rank and file held a nearly unanimous “No Confidence” vote on the City’s Management.
Cops in Happier Times
Some of the signs of the ensuing battles of the war:
1.) A chart, showing the pay increases of the Manager and his command staff compared to rank and file Police Officers, being circulated throughout the community –
Name Last year’s Pay This year’s Pay Increase
Gretsas $294,399.00 $315,210.00 7.07%
Scott $202,846.00 $213,183.00 5.10%
Gunn $198,902.00 $213,019.00 7.10%
Hebert $191,584.00 $209,257.00 9.23%
Roberts $192,292.00 $205,850.00 7.05%
Police Officers from 2003 This Year Per Year
$60,216.00 $63,897.00 1.22%
2.) and more telling, some of the sharpest of vitriol showing up on a Law Enforcement Chat Blog (LeoAffairs.com) from some Officers about the Police Brass and City Management…..
on Police Chief Roberts …. ” The chief was not considered since we consider him garbage and the anti Christ “
on Assistant Police Chief Carter …. ” He hides behind a little gay man and licks his shoes”
on Assistant Manager Hebert ….
“David H repeatedly reinforced the philosophy of don’t let the door hit you on the way out. His condescending attitude spread like stage 4 cancer and he cannot be told anything. He was one of the main reasons I left.”
It’s time to settle these disputes, resolve the Contract, and get back to solving the problems that face the City. Who will step up and lead?
Oh my God ! … a Mountain too!!
a billboard somewhere in the Georgia Mountains ! ……….
The Nation is talking about race. The talk has been generated due to the possibility of the first African-American President, or more accurately, the first Mulatto President (Senator Obama’s father was Black and his mother White).
And talking about race is important, and uncomfortable. We baby boomers grew up in an America where the color of one’s skin did matter. We still remember the race riots of the 1960’s, the assassination of Dr. King, and forced busing.
On the other hand, there is no question that the Country has come a long way since then. There are the most obvious signs: it is no longer socially acceptable to utter racial epithets, (the “N” word has been erased from usable public language), and most folks now disregard bigots and racists. And there are the more substantial improvements, such as more attention to inner-city schools, and better opportunities of upward mobility for Blacks.
So all this got me thinking about our town, and how much progress we have made in the issue of the racial divide. And it led me to the map below. It describes the demographic make-up of our City – by geography.
It shows that though we may have made progress in disregarding color as important to the judging of one’s character, we still don’t live together.
This is a map of the City.
The darkest area in the map is where most of the Blacks in Fort Lauderdale live. Those boundaries are basically west of Federal Highway, between Broward Blvd. and Sunrise Blvd., and run to the City’s western border at US 441. Some of the neighborhoods in this section are 90% or more Black.
The lightest areas on the map have the fewest concentration of Black citizens. Many of these neighborhoods are as much as 95% or more White. The medium shades on the map are diverse to some degree, but generally are either predominately Black, or predominately White.
Does it matter? ….Will it change over time?…. Does it need to? ….I’m curious what you think.
What does this Thursday’s Fort Lauderdale Charter Review Board meeting and a train wreck have in common?
Hopefully nothing, say most members of this highly important City Advisory Board. But many members are concerned about the prospect for success, considering the Board’s membership, the wide range of issues that it could face, and the question of whether the Commission will even take their recommendations they might reach seriously.
The Board is charged with reviewing the Charter, a document that spells out all the rules for the structure of running the City. Thursday, it could discuss, among other items, moving the City’s Elections to November to coincide with the country’s Presidential Elections. This would increase the length of the Commissioners’ and Mayors’ terms from three to four years. Other items being mentioned in the community include adding at-large Commissioners to the dais, adding a Commissioner to represent the Beach, changing to a Strong Mayor form of government, and allowing the Mayor and Commissioners to directly hire and/or fire the Police and Fire Chiefs.
The Board will finally meet Thursday, after meetings were postponed due to members’ schedules. The Mayor and Commissioners each have one appointee. The Charter Board, like most of the City’s Boards, is advisory in scope, as it’s conclusions and recommendations can be accepted or rejected by the City Commission.
Here is the type AAA roster of the Board –
Dan Lewis – is one of the County’s most well known Political Consultants. He was a Commissioner in Miramar and a former Fort Lauderdale Mayoral candidate. He says he is “not optimistic” about the Board’s chance of success. He says the Commission will “do whatever it wants to do, regardless of any work done by the Committee”. Lewis, considered a probable Chair or Vice Chair of the committee, due to his stature and experience, says he intends on reintroducing the recommendations that the Commission ignored the last time the Board met. The previous Board sent the Commission a list of 19 suggestions, and at least three items were adopted: a City Code of Ethics, an independent Auditor, and the ability of City Commissioners to appoint there own assistants.
Judy Stern – Probably the County’s most infamous political strategist, is widely expected to lock horns with Lewis. The two have history together – not at all good. Their relationship has been called a “political blood feud” , as evidenced by Judy’s comment on Dan… “Dan is a Madman”. and Dan’s comment on Judy …”Judy is trying to sell out the City”. Hopefully, this history will not portend the fireworks that could be coming.
Chris Fertig – one half of the City’s power team of Chris and Mary Fertig, became famous when the duo wrestled the Broward County School Board into treating the eastern schools in Broward County better. He says he has “high hopes” that the Board can reach a consensus on some important issues. He thinks he can help keep the focus on progress. But when asked if he thinks the Commission will take their recommendations seriously, Fertig replied, “only if they agree with them!”. Fertig had floated the idea of a shift to a Strong Mayor form of government during the Board’s last effort, but said it was DOA. He doesn’t know if it will reemerge this time around.
Susan Tramer – a former City of Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning Director, and Broward County Planning Council Director, is known as a reflective and bright policy wonk, and could be one of the calming influences on the Committee. She is married to Downtown Development Authority attorney John Milledge.
Dr. Ron Wright – a former Broward County Medical Examiner, Forensic Pathologist and Attorney, has recently returned from India where he was testifying in a murder trial. The Board’s recent postponment was to accomodate Dr. Wright. He says he hopes the Board’s strong set of personalities won’t stall progress. He also said that the Board’s expected effort to endorse a November Municipal Election is “probably the right thing to do”. Asked to comment on the chances of the Board having a successful term, he said he hoped so, but that he didn’t know if he would be “holding his breath”.
I’m taking the Doctors’ advice and continuing to breathe! ….
Today marks one year from Fort Lauderale’s first-ever City Election where term limits guarantee a new slate of characters.
The election will take place on March 11th, 2009. Term limits restrict the Mayor and Commissioners to (3) three-year terms. But the law was not retroactive, so this year finally retires Mayor Jim Naugle with 23 years on the City Commission, and Commissioner Carlton Moore with 20 years. Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson was voted in the year term limits became law, and is term limited at the nine years she has served. She is running for the Mayoral spot.
So far, two candidates have filed to run for Mayor: Hutchinson and Representative Jack Seiler, a former Mayor of Wilton Manors, and currently a State Representative for District 92. Three candidates have filed to fill Moore’s seat. Yesterday, the first candidate to announce a run for Hutchinson’s seat got in the race.
The candidate is Coleman Prewitt, a 41 year-old lawyer and Downtown resident in the Las Olas Grande. Prewitt says he is jumping in after being “turned off by the current Commission,” and feeling that the City needs a new direction. He says he feels the City is at the “end of an era”, and looks forward to “taking the City into the future”.
Others are expected to join him in the race for the open seat.
Meet Bobby DuBose
Bobby eating with Tim at Betty’s Soul Food
Restaurant on Sistrunk at N.W. 22 Road
I met up with Bobby for breakfast recently. I wanted to find out for myself why there is a growing buzz surrounding his candidacy to replace Carlton Moore on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Moore is term limited and running for a County Commission spot currently held by John Rodstrom.
I came away thinking that there are good reasons for the buzz! I was impressed.
First off, DuBose, 37, is easy to meet. He seems well grounded and comfortable in his own skin. He is self-employed as an insurance adjuster, and he points to his self- employment as a bonus ( it gives him the flexibility he’ll need to serve as a City Commissioner). He is married, and has a three year-old son (who he says is “going on seventeen”). He didn’t miss a beat when questioned on the issues facing the District and the City, and wasn’t afraid to admit that he didn’t know enough about an issue to comment.
DuBose’s civic background seems a bit limited, although he was a leader in the local branch of the NAACP, served on the City’s Marine Advisory Board, and has been active as a member of his Dorsey Riverbend neighborhood.
His supporters make quite an impressive list. The support runs from Congressman Alcee Hastings, former State Representative Chris Smith, Representative Perry Thurston and Representative Ari Porth, to Art Kennedy and Margaret Birch and a host of other well known names in the area.
Also, in what could be a more telling show of support, the well known Downtown Lawfirm of Blosser & Sayfie has scheduled a fundraiser for him at their Las Olas office. Commissioner Carlton Moore is NOT on the list, but DuBose says that is due to Moore’s focus on his difficult race for the County Commission.
Here is an array of issues with Bobby’s answers:
TWO-LANING SISTRUNK BOULEVARD – DuBose says he is OK with the compromise making the road three lanes, as he felt it was more important to “get something done” than fight to the death for the two lanes.
N.W. 7th AVENUE – SISTRUNK REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT – DuBose says that issue is a ‘hot one”, and feels that the “will of the people is not being addressed”, particularly in reference to the community’s insistence on a “decent” grocery store. Expect DuBose to revisit that issue if he is elected.
POLICE ISSUES – DuBose says the community’s relationship with the Police “needs alot of work”, and that there is a “disconnect”. He says he will work hard to “bring the sides together”. He says that crime in the District is a “HUGE” concern of his, (he ‘s a skeptic of the City’s claim that there’s been less crime in the area), and says that he will organize more anti-crime walks in the community. He feels that there are “two sides” to the Police Contract dilemma, and that he would need more facts to know how it should be solved.
CITY MANAGER Gretsas – He says that the “verdict is still out,” and that he has heard mixed reviews and wants to wait and judge the Manager’s performance for himself.
GROWTH – DuBose is a proponent of Redevelopment, “especially in District III”. He says that we can’t be an “old dinosaur”. He points to a healthy tourism industry as a reason to continue to redevelop the beach and the downtown.
MAYOR Naugle’s GAY BASHING – does not agree with the Mayor on his position on the city’s gay population.
There are two other candidates who have filed to run for the District III seat, but neither one could be reached despite repeated attempts.
One thing is for sure. DuBose will have some mighty big shoes to fill when Moore retires after 20 years representing District III. I’m suggesting a new gym membership and some training in boxing!
note from Tim…. don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive updates!…thanks
Former Commissioner Dean Trantalis is very upset over Mayor Jim Naugle’s homophobic message in the current addititon of the City’s newsletter “the Focus”., and it’s not just Jim Naugle who he is furious at.
In Naugle’s latest article, he continued his focus on his priority of stopping “gay sex” at City parks and bathrooms. The “Focus” is mailed to all Fort Lauderdale residents.
The article created quite a stir in the community, and Gay residents demanded that the City Commission rebuke Naugle at their latest meeting. The commission, with Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson leading the effort, agreed to keep any more Naugle missives from appearing in the publication. They agreed to replace Naugle’s column with a column of their own. (See Sun-Sentinel’s Politic Blog at http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/)
The effort, which was the strongest admonition yet of the Mayor by his Commission, didn’t pacify Trantalis when it came to the statements of his handpicked successor, Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom. Below is a copy of an e-mail sent by Trantalis to Rodstrom yesterday.
Naugle’s recent statements regarding the gay community, especially in
light of the death and beating of two individuals who were GLBT members, has
enraged the entire community. The statements which he included in his State
of the City address, and now his most recent attack in the Focus article,
are clear signs that this guy is not going to let up. We can all say that,
oh well, he’ll be gone in a year so let’s just grin and bear it. Well,
unfortuantely, that doesn’t work. We all thought that the mayor would have
had his round last summer, and having seen the community response, would
have just felt satisfied that he said his peace and would move on with the
business of the city. That is clearly not the case.
The gay community and its friends are planning a significant response to
the mayor’s latest actions. In its fight, its leaders will look to see who
is with them and who is not, and specific moments will be seen as tests to
determine community loyalty. Yesterday afternoon, at the conference meeting,
we were looking for a response from the other commissioners like yourself to
stand up to the mayor and insist that he not demean the city and the
position of mayor in his continual diatribe about bathroom sex which only he
seems to think is a problem. Many eyes were on you, Charlotte, and frankly
your attempt to try to shove the issue under the rug is being viewed as your
agreement with the mayor and his beliefs. You cannot look to find excuses
for the mayor when he conducts himself in an inexcusable manner. You can see
that he is unapolgetic, is shameless, and your looking to appease the anger
with a motherly pat on the head is making people in the GLBT community
I say this to you because I have always supported you and I believe in
your continued role as our commissioner. But Charlotte, this issue hits too
close and too hard for me to ignore and for you look indifferent. People are
dying because of their sexual orientation and being ruffed-up right here in
our own back yard–at the Floridian no less!! You cannot dig your head in
the sand; as much as we all hoped that the issue would have gone away it has
returned and with a vengeance. His rhetotic has emboldened people to attack
innocent victims and your refusal to stand up against the mayor or anyone
else who speaks his point of view is being interpreted as your agreeing with
Charlotte, you need to make a strong and bold statement real soon and in
a very demonstrative way. I can only hold back the anger for so long. (I
even convinced Coleman Pruitt to run in district 4 and not against you.) But
to let the mayor continue to offend and to especially put lives at risk is
just not acceptable. The city does not deserve to have as its mayor someone
who revels in filth, and certainly, with such a large GLBT population that
exists in Ft.Lauderdale, we need to know that we have people who are there
to protect us.