The Police Chief That Would Be Commissioner

     His name is Bruce Roberts. He is our former Police Chief.

                                                           Police Chief Roberts

He was a Cop for a long time, some 35 years. Here is a picture of him in his early Cop days, with his Special Undercover Squad back in 1979.

     If you can’t pick him out, he’s the guy in the middle, with the long hair and beard, (the last thirty years has not been especially kind to him, follicly speaking!)

     Now, after a successful career in law enforcement, starting as a Patrolman and ending up the Chief of Police, he’s got a new goal, Fort Lauderdale District I City Commissioner.

I interviewed him recently, and here are the results. He was quite candid.

Tim – So Chief, did you ever have to shoot anyone?

Bruce –  I did! My partner and I were tailing a couple of guys that  had just robbed someone at a night depository at a bank on Sunrise Boulevard. We made a felony stop, and before we could do much, they came out of the car with a blazing shotgun. One of their bullets went through my legs and flattened the tire on the squad car. Pretty scary!. We had to shoot them.

Tim So now that I know you can shoot the bad guys, why have decided to try and replace Commissioner Christine Teel as Commissioner ?

Bruce – I think she’s abdicated her responsibility as Commissioner. She’s let the City Manager set policy, and hasn’t been listening to her constituents. Also, she was initially in favor of the grotesque pay raises at the City. Also, I think I will bring more energy to the position.

Tim – When you resigned as Police Chief, you were pretty pissed! You said some tough things about City Manager Gretsas. Do you think you will keep him on as Manager if you’re elected?

Bruce – I think you know me well enough to know I’m not going to make personnel decisions without all the information and without due process.

Tim – Ok, fair enough, but you said at the time that the Manager’s office had held back important Police Safety equipment, what was that about?

Bruce – Actually, that was Assistant City Manager David Hebert. We had new important AR-15 rifles scheduled for purchase and Hebert said if the Police Union wouldn’t bargain, “maybe the rifles don’t get ordered.”  …..   (Tim note – Hebert denies this claim)

Tim – So what are your plans if elected?

Bruce – It’s going to be a tough budget year, the first year, but I know what needs to be done and have done it. I’ll  fall back on the primary purpose of government;  Police, Fire, EMS, Water. Sewer, and Trash. And as a Commissioner, with my colleagues, and the citizens, I’ll set the direction and policy for the City to meet the challenges we’ll face together.

The Lowdown in Blacktown

     Zip Code 33311.   ……    The Sistrunk Boulevard Area

     In the City of Fort Lauderdale, it’s more accurately known as District III. With a few exceptions, it borders Sistrunk Blvd. – south and north. It’s the historically black section of town. Until the 1960’s, blacks had to stay there all the time, at least after dark.

      It once was a thriving community. But after desegregation, the area began to get worse. Many of the educated and professional blacks moved away. Commerce dried up. It’s been a struggle since then. Lots of crime, slums, blight.  It’s currently over 80% black, mostly poor. In contrast, much of the east side of town is over 80% white.

     For the last twenty years, it’s elected official, and most important leader, was Carlton Moore. Over the years, he became powerful, but controversial. He fought ferociously for his area. He bickered with Mayor Jim Naugle. He made things happen, but also did silly things like driving on a suspended driver’s license, and being in arrears on taxes. There are now 4 candidates to fill his seat, but more may get in.

     His last day was last Tuesday, and in typical Carlton Moore fashion, he went out with a bang. One colleague, Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, tried to cut his last day short by declaring his last day Monday. She had legal opinions she said, but he ignored her and stayed and voted and fought – right through his last day.

     Now he’s a private citizen and there’s a temporary replacement in his seat until the election in March. Change is coming to Sistrunk.

     I talked at length today with LaRhonda Ware, the President of Dorsey Riverbend, one of the major neighborhoods off Sistrunk. She’s considering jumping into the race for Commissioner also, says she is 98% certain, but is nagged by the “numbers”. She only wants to get in if she thinks she could win!


     Ware is quite outspoken, and has an interesting take on which of the candidates might win the seat. She thinks Nadine Hankerson, and Cameron Mizell have the best shot at the seat (if she doesn’t run). She says they are more traditional candidates, are grassroots, and “know the older people better”, the ones that vote.

     She says Bobby Dubose and Pam Adams chances are slim. She thinks one of them will get Moore’s endorsement. She says they will collect more money from the lawyers and such on the whiter side of town, but “it won’t matter”.

     She thinks our city has become a “joke”, and says her peeps are tired, and fed up. They want a grocery store, and banks. She says they want the “bad guys gone”.  She says the City isn’t totally responsible for District III’s troubles. She think’s the fault lies about 50/50, split between the City and the residents of the area. But she also said her community is changing, that new people are slowly moving in, lots of interracial couples.

     She knows she will have to decide if she will run by about Thanksgiving, and after that isn’t worried. She says the “people will speak”.



The Candidates on Gays and Government!

     Fort Lauderdale, for years, has been in the middle of the controversy surrounding the rights of gays. And Fort Lauderdale has a lot of gay citizens.

     In fact, some demographic studies, based on US Census information, have the Fort Lauderdale/Miami Metro area ranking 4th on the list of American cities/metro areas with the highest gay population. As a percentage of population, other studies show Fort Lauderdale’s ranking at 23rd, Key West at 7, Orlando at 95, and Wilton Manors at number 1.

     So when an issue comes around that affects the lives of gays and lesbians, it always affects our City!

                                   giving a nutbucket a forum

     The latest such item came on November 4th with the ballot issue known as  Amendment 2. The Amendment said that in Florida, marriage could only be between a man and a woman, and that no other legal union that was the “substantial equivalent” of that would be valid. Critics say that language might also include civil unions or domestic partnerships.

     The constitutional amendment passed with 62 % of Floridians in favor and 38% opposing.
     In Broward, the results were much closer, 52 % in favor and 48% opposing…..Fort Lauderdale opposed the effort, with 46% in favor and 54% opposing ….(Wilton Manors weighed in at 25% in favor, 75% opposed.)

     This issue, and similar issues can have local consequences, so I asked the Candidates for the Fort Lauderdale Mayor and Commissioner jobs how they came down on the issue.

     Mayoral Candidates……
Steve Rossi ……. campaign has elected not to comment on any blogs for the duration of the campaign

Rynerson ……. opposed – says “religious fundamentalists should stay out of peoples private affairs”

Jack Seiler
………opposed – says “my concern is the adverse impact it could have on domestic partnersips and civil unions”

Trantalis …… opposed – says the amendment is a “slap in the face for anyone seeking equal rights”

District I

Inger Garcia
….. says her “personal vote is private”, but that she is the ” last to judge anyone in their personal relationships”

Bruce Roberts ….. opposed –  says gays should have “many of the benefits we straights take for granted”

Commissioner Teel  …… evaded giving an answer

    District II

Howard Elfman ….. opposed –  called it a “divisive and bigoted amendment”

Steve Glassman …. opposed  – says our City needs “new leadership to afford all our residents equal rights”

Commissioner Rodstrom – opposed – for personal reasons

     District III

Pam Adams …. opposed – says we should “treat everyone with respect” and that the amendment was “not just a gay issue”

Bobby Dubose …. opposed – says he believes “marriage is only between a man and a woman, but the amendment went further and was not clear” 

Cameron Mizell …. called too late to be included

Nadine Hankerson …. does she really exist?

    District IV

Jim Lewis …. opposed – says he is a strong family guy, but the amendment was “unnecessary, and government should stay out of people’s private lives”

Coleman Prewitt …. says he “strongly opposed it and voted against it”

Romney Rogers …. in favor – says he “voted in favor, with the majority,” but believes in domestic partnership contracts and the need for gays to “legitimize” . Doesn’t want to be labeled as homophobic (like his neighbor Jim Naugle).

On The Mean Streets!

     A dangerous situation in N.E. Fort Lauderdale last night! …..A domestic dispute turns into a stabbing…….

     The violent culprit leaves her bleeding and flees from the 1600 block of N.E. 3rd Avenue …….. F.L.P.D. chases him down to the Citgo Gas Station at the intersection of N.E. 13th St. and N.E. 4th Avenue. 

                         He goes to jail….. she goes to the hospital ….

                       ……….. and the car goes to impound


                    violent crime……up 9% over last year in Fort Lauderdale

My Readers Make Me Laugh!

      I just received a comment, in the form of a photo, on my latest blog post from Cal Deal, well known activist and edgy computer maestro……….

      Here it is……….

              When asked for a comment, Seiler responded “To the Moon Alice !”

                       See the previous blog post if you don’t get it!

Candidates at the Council!

     You can generally tell when the City Elections are nearing by attending the
    Fort Lauderdale Council of Civic Associations.


     Because the proportion of politicians (and wanna-be politicians) to regular attendees will increase ten-fold !

     The Council is a collection of neighborhoods and civic groups in the City. They meet monthly at City Hall, and are made up of mostly neighborhood Presidents and opinion-makers. They discuss the myriad of issues that affect the City. If you are running for office, you should be there !

     The Council has been around for about 30 years and currently boasts 51 memberships. Some years it’s been an very effective group that the Mayor, Commissioners, and City Managers take seriously. Sometimes not. When I was a City Commissioner, we often referred to them ( affectionately, of course) as the Council of Trouble Makers! 

     Here is their current leader, Genia Ellis. Ellis is probably more clued in than any citizen in Fort Lauderdale.  
      Ellis makes it her business to know what’s going on. She attends all City Commission meetings, serves on Boards, and runs the Citizen Volunteer Corps. Ellis has led the Council for about 5 years and is term limited out in a few months. Who her successor will be is still up in the air.

    Here’s a list of the candidates (and current officials) that showed up at the Council last night to see and be seen. 

                             District IV Candidate (Hutchinson’s district)
                             Coleman Prewitt with Adriane Reesey who 
                             ran unsuccessfully for Supervisor of Elections

                            District III Candidate (Moore’s former district)
                                              Bobby Dubose
                            District II Candidate (Rodstrom District)
                                             Howard Elfman

District II Candidate Steve Glassman 
with anti-development activist Shirley Smith

                          Mayoral Candidate and former City Commissioner
                                                       Dean Trantalis

Mayoral Candidate and former State Rep
                                            Jack Seiler

District III (newly appointed)
                               Commissioner Dr. Magdalene Lewis

                                       Mayor Jim Naugle *

*  photo taken after I asked Jim for an interview for this blog…. He said not just yet…. actually he said “don’t hold your breath” ! …. Come on Jim!

After Protest, Gretsas Rejects Own Pay Raise

     It seemed like the whole world was glued to their T.V. sets last Tuesday night, waiting to see who would be the next President of the United States . 

     Well, nearly the whole world. The exception was the Fort Lauderdale Mayor and City Commissioners, and a group of angry protestors that attended Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. The meeting lasted until nearly midnight. 

                                      The Angry Mob !

The angry citizens had come to the City Commission meeting to object to the final reading of a resolution that would have given a 5%, across the board pay raise to all of the City’s non-union employees.
     That non-union group includes all of the City’s upper management, and at the top of the food chain is City Manager George Gretsas, City Attorney Harry Stewart, the City Clerk and City Auditor. The Big Four take down over $750,000 yearly from the City.  

     The pay raise resolution had passed on first reading weeks ago, with all but Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom voting yes, but had built up lots of opposition in the community over the past few weeks. 

     Among others attending the meeting to oppose the pay raise was Mayoral candidate Earl Rynerson. He came with a contingent of protestors that wore red shirts emblazoned with the message “No Pay Raises”. The group contended that in these tough economic times, a pay raise for those at the top was ridiculous. 

                                 Some of the Red Shirt Protesters

     The protesting worked. City Manager George Gretsas, after a long disertation of his accomplishments during his tenure, volunteered to forego his raise. The City Attorney, City Clerk and City Auditor quickly followed.

     The pay raise, without the Big Four included in it, passed, with Mayor Naugle, Commissioner Hutchinson, and Commissioner Moore voting yes, and Commissioners Rodstrom and Teel opposing.

      Sometimes the squeaky wheel can demand some grease!