…… got crime?

     They say when economies tank, crime inevitably follows. 

     Fort Lauderdale is no exception, at least in January.  But was crime up in your neighborhood? We’ll answer that for you in just a minute.

     Let’s look at the Big Picture first. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department reports that violent crimes City-Wide (murder,rape,robbery, and aggravated assault), were up 10% this January over last January. And property crimes (burglary, car thefts/break-ins, and other larcenies) were up 4% over last year. 
     But these increases are relatively small compared to increases in cities like Boston, St. Louis, Orlando, and Detroit, where violent crime categories have surged 20% to 30%. And Fort Lauderdale Police officials say February numbers, due out any day, are looking much better. But where are the most serious problems occurring in Fort Lauderdale?  …………   and ……….

      what neighborhood is winning the least coveted “most crimes” distinction so far this year ?  ….  

     It’s South Middle River, with 36 major crimes already reported in the first month of 2009. South Middle River is a  sprawling neighborhood north of Sunrise Boulevard and east of Powerline Road. It has dozens of ways in and out (a crook’s preference), hodge-podge zoning that inhibits homeowners looking out for their neighbors, and a very diverse make-up that includes a mix of gays moving in and gentrifying, and many of the city’s poorest Haitian immigrants.

                                          FLPD keeping watch on SMR’s drug dealer problems  

      Compare SMR’s crime totals (36), to other neighborhoods in the city. Here is a sampling of safer neighborhoods, crimes reported,  in January:

Bal Harbour – 0
Beverly Heights – 1
Collee Hammock – 2
Dolphin Isles – 1
Nurmi Isles – 0
Galt Ocean Mile – 3
Harbor Beach – 1
Rio Vista – 3
Sunrise Intracoastal – 0

     But there are other neighborhoods with substantial amounts of crime also: 

     Mayor Jack Seiler’s
neighborhood (Coral Ridge) reported (12) crimes, Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ (Imperial Point) reported (7) and coming in near the top of the list, at #3, with (25) crimes reported,  is Dorsey Riverbend, home of

                                                 Police Chief Frank Adderley !
(feeling the pain!)

     To find out how your neighborhood ranks, click on the link below ……..


City Commission – Where to Start?

     The tasks must surely seem daunting.

    High hopes are riding on the success of the new five!

                                 Rogers…. Dubose…. Roberts……
not Rodstrom….. Seiler

And as they get down to work, suggestions are being made about just where they ought to start. Sure, they’lI have the budget, normal purchases, and ongoing things to attend to, but I’m talking big picture here. I’m including a few of my own suggestions below, and I hope you will comment  (be brave!) and add your own thoughts to the list.

                     Election Reform – While it’s still fresh in our memories, we should change the way we elect our Commissioners and Mayor. A dismal 12% of  the City’s registered voters bothered to come out and vote on March 10th. That’s disgraceful.
We should change election day to November to coincide with the Presidential elections. We will need to change the length of the terms for the Mayor and Commissioners to four years (it’s now three) to make it work.  We  should probably adjust the term limits to (2) 4 – year terms instead of the current (3) 3- year terms. Critics say the City might get lost in the shuffle if we move the elections to November, but could we really be any more lost than 12%?

And while we’re at it
, new restrictions on those shadowy groups that contribute outside the City campaign finance system should be instituted. 

                       City Manager
–   It’s no secret that Commissioner Rodstrom wants to oust  City Manager George Gretsas. The question is whether she’ll have two more votes to accomplish that with her new colleagues. It will be unsettling for all if the answer isn’t evident up front, and soon. It sounds like a majority want Gretsas to stay under certain conditions. If that’s the case, spell out the conditions for Gretsas staying and get on with it. If there are three that want to hire their own Manager, then get on with that.

                        The Vision Thing
– It was a staple at all the debates. What should the City look like in the future?  What is the plan?  Is there consensus?  Should the citizenry be included in the answer? The only sensible answer is YES ! … Figure out a public process to reach City-Wide consensus on what the City wants to be when it grows up!  Do it sooner than later and you’ll have a game plan to follow that has fresh citizen buy-in! 

Land Use Code Changes – This issue has been moving in an excruciatingly slow fashion for the last few years.
      It was started by an amazingly broad-based  group of Fort Lauderdalians some years ago and sent off to the Commission for review. It proposes changes to the City’s rules about building most everything. (Large townhouses need to be set back at the second floor, where’s the place for garbage cans to sit when they’re not at the street, green building techniques should be encouraged , those sorts of things). The old Commission sent it into committee/consultant hell and little has happened. We should make the changes to the planning rules now while things are slow, and we’ll have a more agreeable citizenry when things heat up again..

                       ………. OK, there’s a short list from just one citizen. I hope you will add to the list. The Mayor and Commissioners have been known to read this blog! …………..Tim

Glorious Day!

     We have New Leadership in Fort Lauderdale.

                     Dubose, Rodstrom (partially hidden by Judge),Seiler, Roberts, Rogers 

     This morning, the five took the oath of office before a standing room only crowd. They thanked their families and their friends. They spoke of new opportunities, collegiality, and high hopes. Now, they must get down to business.

     It’s the first time in 50 years that a new City Commission had four new members. Only Rodstrom was kept over to this Commission. But all five seemed to be “chomping at the bit” to get started. They meet this evening for their first session. 

     Let’s all get behind this new Commission and wish them Good Luck !


Bruce Roberts’ First Day on the Job

     As luck would have it, just this past week, my mad scientist, grossly talented, computer guru buddy, NAME REDACTED,  , found a way to hack into the  “Super – Top Secret – Never Before Detected – City Hall Gretsas Cam!”    


Yep, it’s the dreaded and feared G.G.SPYCAM  that has been whispered about  City Hall for years; ….”Gretsas has us bugged”, …..”Watch what you say”, ….”Where are those friggin cameras?”  are the common refrains.

     And just in time for the new Commission, we hacked in successfully, and thought we’d listen in to the very start of new District I Commissioner Bruce Roberts’ term. 

     Here’s the audio account:

     Day 1 – Roberts walks in his Commission office for the first time. Secretary follows him in.
Secretary  –  ” hello Chief …   er, uh, …Commissioner…er, uh …Bruce , er uh

Roberts – ” Commissioner will do” , “just don’t slip and call me Teel, or your you-know-what will be you-know-what!  …. ha ha ha ha ah ha ha ah ha  !

                                                 (Roberts seems in high spirits)

Secretary – ” Yes sir, Commissioner, you can count on me sir “.

Interrupted by ringing phone ….. 

    Secretary  – “OMG, it’s the Gretsas HotLine!    

Roberts – “I’ll take it, and maybe you ought to give me some privacy

Secretary leaves quickly)

Roberts – “hello, brand new City Commissioner Bruce Roberts speaking”

 Gretsas – “well er uh, hello Chief, er uh, Commissioner, er uh, SIR”

Roberts –  …  click

Gretsas – “Commissioner, Sir, ….. *#!%, he hung up !”

(Gretsas hits redial)

Roberts – “you were my boss, now I’m your boss, Commissioner Bruce Roberts speaking!”

Gretsas – “yes sir, is everything to your liking? , SIR! – did you enjoy the little breakfast muffins made into the little Police Cars?” … “And I noticed your car was a bit dirty, and I have Hebert down there scrubbing away!”

Roberts –
” get that little peep squeak away from my wheels!…And NOW! …. and by the way, you have 24 hours to repaint this office. It’s Pink, for God Sakes !! And it smells like woman’s perfume!…… Are you trying to test me already Georgy?”

Gretsas – 
” uh, no sir, er, new paint – first thing – and the smell, I’ll take care of it personally!”

(Roberts hangs up and fall into his chair chuckling…. rings secretary)

Roberts  Secretary, get me Lt. Bellsy on the phone, and tell him to get over here tout suite with his bug detector equipment……   Somebody told me these offices are bugged!”



So, Who Else Won Yesterday?


     The General Election. 

     It happens every three years here in Fort Lauderdale. And as is usually the case, just a smidgen over 10% of us went to the voting booth and elected our fearless leaders for the next cycle.


                                                                lonely voting booth!

     So we now know that the team of Seiler, Roberts, Rodstrom, Dubose, and Rogers will fill out that most important roster and decide how much to tax, what roads to fix, whether we need new Fire trucks, etc.

     But the new City Commission were not the only winners yesterday. There were other winners, even though they weren’t on any ballot.
  Here’s how I see it:

     ……. Fort Lauderdale’s Voting Process –

     It’s a big winner for sure. The term limit law that finally and completely kicked in this year gave us a new City Commission that has four new members. That will guarantee the City new ideas, new energy, and a positive feeling that we can shed off the ugly baggage of the past.

     ……. Decorum,Decency,Manners
     It’s been fun and entertaining at times to watch all the shenanigans and insanity on the Commission dais, but unproductive. This new group seems to get that. It’s the people’s business, and it should be done with respect. We should see a whole lot more this time around.

    …….. New King Makers

     We love to hate Judi Stern, the queen of brash politics, but there are new campaign consultants quietly surging onto the scene. Mark Ketcham is the most notable, having just won another election against an incumbent ( he led Bruce Robert’s campaign to victory over incumbent Teel this time, and had a big win for Ken Keechl over incumbent Jim Scott last year). Also, former State Rep candidate Alain Jean won strong as campaign manager for Bobby Dubose.

                                                          New King Maker Ketcham ?

     …… Fort Lauderdale Police – 

     If it wasn’t Mayor Naugle calling them lazy, or City Manager Gretsas likening their Union boss to a feral cat, it was Teel blaming them for an out of control budget, (even if it was only a tiny fraction of the increase in City spending). Now, one of theirs (Roberts) will be sitting on the dais, and Mayor-Elect Seiler and Commissioner Rodstrom are expected to be Police friendly.

                                                          Mounted Division FLPD               

      …… Me! 

      I endorsed four out of the five City Commission winners on this blog over the last month ! 
Whew …
I’ve been sweating it!
                                                      Tim Smith – Student Council Pres. 1969

And … The Commissioner Seat Goes To ……

     It’s finally over!

     Fort Lauderdale has a brand – spanking new City Commission. Three of the five have never served as elected officials before !….  This is about as close to a clean slate that you’ll ever get in politics.

     Here’s how it went down:

     In the hard fought race in District I, it’s Bruce Roberts beating the incumbent Christine Teel, by a tiny margin.  

                                                             Commissioner Roberts

  In District III, the winner, by a wide margin, was Bobby Dubose


                                                         Commissioner Dubose

     And in District IV, it’s Romney Rogers, by a comfortable margin.

                                                            Commissioner Rogers

These three will join Mayor-Elect Seiler and re-elected Commissioner Rodstrom on the dias.

      Congratulations New Commissioners, and Congratulations Fort  Lauderdale ……

                                       ……………..   more in-depth analysis tomorrow!



Fun With The Flintstones!

     ( sing the following to the tune of  “The Candy Man”!)

Who can take the Flintstones ? ( who can take the Flintstones )
Add in E. Clay Shaw ? ( add in E. Clay Shaw )

Driver Romney Rogers in Bedrock they’ll have a ball !

The Cal Deal Man Can ( the Cal Deal Man Can !)


          to see the rest of Deal’s political message, you click http://www.fortlauderdaleobserver.com

                                ………….. and
Vote Tomorrow

Final Battles For Commissioner Seats!

     In less than a week, on Tuesday March 10th, we will know the full make up of the new Fort Lauderdale City Commission.   

     But before we get to that uplifting news, the bitter battle between District I Commissioner Christine Teel,  and former Police Chief Bruce Roberts will have to be settled.

     It’s been a tense tussle. Here they are debating last week!

                                                                       If looks could kill !

      You might recall that the Teel/Roberts grudge match started heading south a few weeks back when a shadowy group called the Integrity Counts Committee started sending mailers with Teel’s face stuck on a package of Oscar Mayer Bologna (and other such indiscretions).

     Mayor Naugle complained loudly at the next Commission meeting and demanded that the group sending the Bologna mailer come out of the shadows and claim who they were. Naugle even proposed that the City send out mailers in Teel’s defense.

     But what a difference a few weeks makes! Now, mailers are hitting mailboxes by a new shadowy group, Fort Lauderdale Responsible Government Committee, that paints Roberts in the most unfavorable lights! 

     Here is one of the mailers:



     If there is a way to find out conclusively who is behind this clandestine effort, I couldn’t find it. These groups time their efforts so they don’t have to show who they are until after the elections are over. By then, no one cares! 

     But rumors do abound, and some political insiders told me that they think the powerful Forman family, and developer Jack Loos might be two of the likely suspects behind the new anti-Roberts efforts!

     Maybe it’s time for some more campaign finance reform!