A Street Car named “Controversy”

              Who don’t like a Street Car ?

Well, that depends on where it’s going! 

     The Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, a Board appointed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, made up of property owners in the Downtown, unveiled the latest version of a plan for a Downtown Street Car system at a Special City Commision meeting held this past Tuesday. The plan, years in the making, has drawn substantial support among many.

     But, as usual, the devil was in the details! 

    The meeting, requested by the DDA through their Chair, JacK Loos, a longtime developer and kingmaker, started the meeting by standing from his seat and telling the Mayor and the Commissioners that they had come for a decision. And the decision included money.

     The plan calls for a Street Car system similar to the one in Portland Oregon . It runs by overhead electric wires, is able to cross a bridge, and is paid for, substantially, by the Downtown property owners. The assessment will run unit owners in the Downtown $99. a year, and commercial property owners from 5 cent to 12 cent a square foot of commercial space. But the plan’s financial plan calls for a Fort Lauderdale City monetary contribution – and there comes the rub!

     The routes, chosen by the DDA, with assistance from a nationally recognized transit consultant, left out too much of the City’s downtown, according to some. Tim Smith (that’s me) attended the meeting with the intention of supporting the Street Car plan, but was surprised that the system stopped abruptly at NE 6 St. on the north side, yet went all the way to SE 17th Street on the south side. Smith argued that if the route didn’t go all the way to Sunrise Boulevard, or at least Searstown, it would miss the opportunity to provide a link to the 25,000 people that live in the neighborhoods north of Sunrise Boulevard. Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, who represents the District, agreed, and pushed for the northern extension.

     Also, Commissioner Carlton Moore, who represents the NW section of City, told the Downtowners that they could forget his support if they didn’t bring the Street car to his district through an attachment up Sistrunk Boulevard.

     The Authority asked for a postponement, after Mayor Naugle seemed to agree with Moore and Rodstrom. Another meeting is scheduled for 30 days, when many hope a new plan will include those additional areas.

Commissioner Hutchinson..Republican or Democrat ?

The following listing from the Broward Republican website, (Browardgop.org ..dated today), was sent to Tim Smith’s Fort Lauderdale with this question: ……..

     Yo Tim,…. why is Cindi Hutchinson’s name still listed as a local Republican Elected Official in the Republican’s website, when I read month’s ago that she has switched back to the Democrat Party that she was initially a member of ?…..   I figure that ‘s a fair question ! …Cindi, will you respond?….. 

                               Republican Party  of Broward County


                         County & Municipal Elected Officials
                                     Fort Lauderdale
                                    100 North Andrews Avenue
                                   Fort Lauderdale Florida 33301
                                    Tel: 954-828 5000
                                    Fax: 954-828-5667

                           Commissioner Christine Teel, cteel@fortlauderdale.gov
                           Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson, chutchinson@fortlauderdale.gov

Democrats Annual Dinner Misses Mark

     In a year when Democrats seem to have all the momentum nationally, you’d think the infamous Broward County Democrats would pull off an annual dinner that would be one for the record books. You’d be wrong.

     Last night at the Coral Springs Marriott Hotel, Democratic Party enthusiasts gathered for their annual soiree, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. The yearly dinner always draws a collection of Democrats that want to either see, or be seen.

     Most of the party bigshots were in attendance, including Howard Forman, (Clerk of the Courts and former State Senator), Lori Parrish, (Property Appraiser and former County Commissioner),Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Campbells, the Rodstroms, Stacy Ritter, Austin Forman, Sue Gunzburger, Lois Wexler, and others, too numerous to mention.

     So why did the dinner seem such a big flop to many in attendance?

                                                   Party Chair Mitch Cesear
     Maybe it was the organization, or the apparent lack thereof. Party Chair Mitch Cesear seemed to have a more difficult job than usual herding the attendees in place. The VIP reception (which costs $125 in addition to the $150 entry fee) broke late and many lingered in the hallway outside the ballroom to mingle with the powerful. Cesear had to get stern with the crowd to usher them into the Ballroom for the night’s events.

     As Cesear struggled to begin the program, the party goers were still mingling and talking. “Shush” was the word of the night, and when that didn’t work, “Percy sit down” and “Albetta – quiet” rang out from the lecturn. Noone seemed to be paying attention even as the Keynote Speaker, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, late for another obligation, was introduced just as the clatter of the salad plates were hitting the table. 

      Governor Rendell seemed lackluster in the delivery of his speech, which appeared unpracticed and was short on inspiration. The crowd continued to mumble, and Rendell finished his talk just as the last of the main dishes (standard chicken –  rubber) hit the tables.

     The rest of the event just seemed to fade away, as most of the attendees flowed out of the ballroom with no apparent adjournment.

     Hopefully for the Party, the election process in the fall will be pulled off much more successfully than last night’s affair.