An Exit Interview With George Gretsas

     Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas will only hold that special title for two more days.

     As you may know, as of Saturday, July 31st, Manager Gretsas will just be another former Fort Lauderdale City Manager. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission decided not to renew his contract by a vote of 3-2.

     One citizen activist, Cal Deal, who’s plenty happy to see him leave, just sent me this  …

                             
                            See it tick down to 5 p.m. Saturday at  www.fortlauderdaleobserver.com/countdown

I spoke to Gretsas today about his time here in Fort Lauderdale, about his admirers, and his detractors, and about his future plans.
                                    ………………………………………….
     me   …  “So George, only two more days left …  how’s it feel ?”

     Gretsas … “it’s an interesting time … sad to leave people you care about …. I loved this job”

     me …  “when did you first see Fort Lauderdale, and what were your impressions?”

     Gretsas … “I came here for a couple of hours when I was in White Plains   ….. we were working on our downtown and I came to take some pictures of Las Olas  ….  magnificent …. natural resources …. quality of life…. a special city”
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     Gretsas came to work here on August 1, 2004, so he’ll be leaving just at six years of employment. This was him back then …

                                                     

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     me … “did you know when you signed on six years ago that this would be a temporary job?”

     Gretsas … “everything in life it temporary …. City Manager jobs are more volatile than most jobs….. political whims”

     me … let’s settle a few rumors !

     Gretsas … Oh no!      
    
     me …  “Some say you’ll stay in town and run for the City Commission?”

     Gretsas … [chuckles] “I’ve never said that to anyone”

     me … “and some say you are getting married here in October, so you will be staying here”

     Gretsas … ” I am getting married in Miami on October 30th”  [location due to wife’s family] …. “and my preference is to keep my place on the Fort Lauderdale Beach, if I can” (regardless of his future employment)

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     Gretsas has hardcore fans and bitter opponents….. He has been praised in the press, and beaten in the blogs…  This picture showed up after a difficult public discussion of his employment contract.

                                    

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     me … ” Does Fort Lauderdale know what it wants to be when it grows up?”

     Gretsas … “there’s lots of conflicts, lots of different views …. I say our best customer is an educated consumer   …. but there are the malcontents  ….. only happy with dysfunction …. just a handful of people …. but they get as much traction as all the rest ….”

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     Gretsas ferociously defends his performance here in Fort Lauderdale. He points to ( and crows!) about the poor fiscal conditions he inherited when he arrived, and the solvency of the City today. He says no one person can take credit for that, but is proud of his accomplishments,  ” like a plant you nurture”.

     He says he worked hard, often until 10 or 11 at night, long days and weekends.
 
     He scoffs at suggestions that the major increases in the budget during his tenure were avoidable…  ( He says he did exactly what his bosses wanted). I asked ” it’s not all new cars and fancy furniture?” ….   he yelped “absolutely not”.

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     me … ” Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom doesn’t like you one bit…. what’s behind that?  … and are her criticisms fair?

     Gretsas … “I don’t know what’s behind it, you’ll have to ask her….. I tried really hard to try and please her…… I thought all along (spiritually) that our relationship was redeemable  …. Rodstrom just does her thing”

                                                                                

                                                                                        Rodstrom on the campaign trail

     me …  and Commissioner Bruce Roberts, did the bad blood just run too deep”

     Gretsas …. ” it didn’t for me, but we had significant philosophical disagreements”

                                                                                                

                                                                                        Roberts as Chief of Police
                                                        
           
      me … “any advice for incoming Manager Love, and those that will come after her?”

    Gretsas … ” just do what the bosses want… within the law …. within your moral comfort”

 

Mystery Solved !

     Ever since I posted a story about incoming interim Fort Lauderdale City Manager Allyson Love, things  have gotten a little crazy around here  …..

     You’ll remember that I couldn’t find a picture of Allyson anywhere, even though she has been serving the citizens of Fort Lauderdale for over two decades. So I did what any self respecting, non-regulated blogger would do, I used a fake picture!

     Well, the lack of any known real pictures of Love just got the conspiracy theorists a-buzzin !

     Since she had been holed away for most of those years counting cash in the basement of the City Budget Office, she really hasn’t been that public. But some folks are always looking for a sinister story !

                                                                               
                                                                                         Love Money 

      Some wrote and said they didn’t believe “Allyson Love” really existed at all. One theorist said he had proof that she was “invented”, so the insiders could smuggle away cash without anyone finding out!

     And one of the local walnuts actually said that he thought Love would really turn-out to be Gretsas in drag, and that he had found himself a slippery way to stay in Fort Lauderdale as manager!

      Well nonsense all !   ……  a picture of the real, living breathing –  Allyson Love – just arrived – mystery solved….. here she is !!

                                                        
                                                                         the real Allyson Love

                                                                                   

Where’s Waldo?

    

     But it’s not really Waldo we’re looking for …..

     What am I talking about ? …. well, it’s what you have been asking for all week ! …. where’s the real incoming Fort Lauderdale City Manager Allyson Love’s picture ????

      I informed you last week about the impending end of Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas’s employ, and the choice for his replacement, long time public servant Allyson Love. I couldn’t find a picture of Allyson anywhere , so I used a stand-in picture of some stranger until I could reach Love, (she was out of town on vacation in an undisclosed location  – the Appalachian Trail again? , and couldn’t be reached) .

     While I was waiting, I received the following picture from a reader who thought he had a picture of Allyson !

She’s Love?    ……. No, she’s NOT !

     Nice try though reader ….. I think that’s the back of the head of Miriam Oliphant !

     Anyhow, there’s good news….. I heard from Allyson this morning …. She’s back in town, back at work, prepping for her new important ( though reportedly short term) job as City Manager.

      She says she’ll send me her real pic when she gets a minute !!!! 

                  Stay tuned  ….. Tim

No Drama Love

     Interim Fort Lauderdale City Manager Allyson Love. Got a nice ring to it! Don’t you think?

     At 3:18 a.m. Thursday morning, ( yes, that’s the middle of the night) the Fort Lauderdale City Commission  identified current Assistant City Manager Allyson love as the new City Manager that will take the baton from George Gretsas on the last day of his employ – July 31st.

                                                              
                                                    Gretsas photo as new City Manager – 2003
            
     If you read this blog, ( or any political blog for that matter!) you know the controversies and consternation of Gretsas’s final year as Manager, so I’m not going over any of that.     

     Today is Love’s day. And I rightfully describe her as No Drama Love.  From all I can tell, she’s all business, scandal free, and from what I can tell, has no detractors. She’s stayed mostly under the radar for those decades, head down, and has earned the respect of her fellow workers. 

     It was really a bright move by the City Commission to choose her. They needed a smooth transition, no fireworks, and they’ll get that with Love. The Commission did indicate that her’s might be a short term, and another interim might actually take over before a permanent Manager is found, but  for now, she’s the cat!

     Allyson Love has spent more than 20 years working for the City of Fort Lauderdale, most all of that time in the mind numbing areas of City Finance. Her promotion to Assistant City Manager only happened in January of 2009. She started to gain attention in 1999, when she identified widespread problems with the City’s HOPWA (Housing of persons with Aids) monies, and furthered those budget sleuthing creds by uncovering “irregularities” with the City’s vendor programs in 2005.

          This is not a picture of Allyson. She’s been so no-drama, I couldn’t find a picture of her anywhere! But she does look something like this !

     During the fiscal upheaval of 2003-2005 in the City, Love was quoted as saying, “I haven’t seen my daughter much, when I get home, she’s usually in bed”. Now that she’s taking the top spot, she might not see her daughter even that much! 

                                             Good Luck Love !

End Vagrancy Now !

     The Fort Lauderdale City Commission might be about to make a big mistake.

                                 
                                                  
     The Commission is reacting to pressure from the powerful Downtown Development Authority to solve the age old problem of vagrancy. But this time around, it might be at the expense of a nearby neighborhood. The Authority is rightfully tired of losing business and image due to chronic vagrants, and wants the vagrancy problem gone – kaput – nada – out a here ! So the Commission is looking at kicking the can down the road a piece.

     My advice?  …….  Don’t do it !!

     The idea on the table is to lease a building somewhere out of the downtown core and put out word that chow is on !….. Sure, that will alleviate the problem downtown, but it will just move it on! And of course no neighborhood  wants this problem. Life is hard enough without the government stepping in to help!

     Victoria Park is the latest neighborhood up at bat, and predictably, they are screaming foul! ….. Their opposition leader, Charles King , says to move the problem to a “worthless” building out in Commissioner Dubose’s district …( Yes, he actually said that!)

     Guess what?   ….. If you build it anywhere, even more troubled souls will find their way to Fort Lauderdale !!   
   
                         
                               they will come !

     Before the responsibly run Homeless Assistance Center was built on Sunrise Blvd.across from the South Middle River Civic Association in the late 1990’s, the City housed all homeless, including the chronically vagrant folks, in a big tent downtown.  It was a total mess.
     
      
Truth is, we shouldn’t tolerate inhumane conditions in our City, period.  Leaving people out to sleep in doorways and the bushes is wrong, just plain wrong.  We need to take them in, help them with the issues that made them homeless to start with, get them back in the mainstream. 

     We need to insist on it. And if they don’t want to be taken in, don’t want our help, …… my opinion? ……  help them find another town.