Gerry Cooper, one of Fort Lauderdale’s leading citizens, is gravely ill and might not pull through.
Cooper built an empire of rental buildings over the last three decades throughout Fort Lauderdale. He has also served in many volunteer capacities, including the Rotary Club, the Sister Cities Program, the Planning and Zoning Board, and many others.
Cooper’s son, Caldwell Cooper, choking back tears, told me that his dad is “one tough son of a bitch”, but added that things aren’t looking good.
Gerry has been battling Leukemia for many years, and is in a undisclosed hospital in the North East, fighting for his life.
I met Ted today in Stranahan Park. One of the City’s neighborhood Presidents called me this morning and wanted to see what all the fuss was about in Stranahan Park, and asked me to take him down for a look.
We met Ted shortly after arriving. Ted said I should probably remember him from Tent City. Tent City was the open air frenzy of a homeless camp just north of Broward Blvd. and just west ( outside the windows) of City Hall.
Thankfully, Tent City closed at the end of the 1990’s.
Ted lived there back then and says he was the leader of the pack. He said he marched into the Mayor’s office one day and demanded toilets for the camp. He said former Mayor Jim Naugle just said “OK”, and Ted was shocked to see the toilets being trailered in a few weeks later. He says he became “Mayor Ted” of tent city from then on.
Naugle said OK
Ted hasn’t been homeless the whole time since then. He was living indoors for awhile, courtesy of the State, for a conviction of armed robbery (Ted says he was innocent).
Ted’s intelligent. He says he can’t work due to lots of physical problems ( he mentioned diabetes), and can’t get into an apartment,( with first last and security) on his meager $651 a month in social security payments.
Ted says there are quite a few like him there. He says there are also many who “don’t want to change”. He says there are also quite a few with drug and alcohol problems. And some with mental problems – “that’s a whole different story”, he said.
Ted says if the current Mayor would give him a call, he could fill him in on the situation and a few good solutions. Ted’s phone number is 954-687-3325.
Looks like the Fort Lauderdale City Commission’s latestplan to open a Vagrant Feeding Camp off Sunrise Boulevard is dead on arrival. ( thank God ! )
The proposal, which passed out of the Commission Conference meeting just yesterday, with Seiler, Rogers, and Roberts in favor of the feeding center, and Rodstrom and Dubose opposing, didn’t last 24 hours.
This morning the building owner apparently balked at the short term lease of 3 months. That detail had been proposed by Mayor Seiler, who favored a short term trial period in case the feeding center had problems.
This e-mail was received by the Commission this morning from Genia Ellis, member of the homeless task force. Ellis is also member of the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club that sits next to Stranahan Park where most of the feeding currently occurs.
….. Ellis’s e-mail follows …..
“Rumor from the property owner is that a 90 day arrangement probably won’t be acceptable so we are likely back to no site – and – according to Harry’s comment, we probably would not have complied with the walking distance of the court order. One can understand that a property owner would need a reasonable commitment and would step back. We also understand the fiscal challenge of the city. There is not easy solution however one needs to be found – the public and residents have rights and considerations that should be respected and addressed as well.
Designate a city garage or public lot in the downtown for the interim until you can give us a city site downtown. This would not be my choice but in the absence of foreseeable location, I am willing to try anything. It is pointless to random search for district locations until you address downtown. Commissioner Rodstrom offered this 2 years ago and it got no traction however I will tell you that in the absence of any place – a garage with portable bathrooms and picnic tables is better than the dirt on the ground…..recognizing that there is a loss in parking revenue.
For over 2 years the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club and Public Library have endured and begged for some help. Children have stopped coming to the library or using the park for anything. The City is no longer doing mid day events in Stranahan as they have done for year because the business people in town stopped coming for being harassed. The downtown residents and businesses are also suffering from the lack of action and the increase in the homeless population. While we talk about “NIMBY” – this is their backyard and we are ignoring their needs. We have lost the use of our public parks because of fear, filth, abuse and control. Panhandling is aggressive and frightening, incidents of bad behavior are on the rise, arrests in the park are increasing because of the population that is there – and they are not just the homeless but the thugs that mingle in for cover.
Currently we must scrub all of the picnic tables and benches every Saturday morning before the public arrives at 8 AM for the Urban Market because of the feces, alcohol and vomit that is left overnight by those sleeping on that equipment. The Park Rangers have to remove the drunks routinely on Saturday morning.
Downtown is our hub and our city face….it is a place that we have all worked very hard to revitalize and activate. It is a primary economic driver for our city.
Reconsider some of the city properties in the downtown in the interim as we search for district locations….please just make a concerted effort to start to do something.
I urge you to take a proactive role in finding a solution and location – as a member of the Task Force we are very frustrated because of the changing direction and the lack of a cohesive commitment of the Commission. I recognize that you all are concerned about those in need – we just need to do something about it. Help us find an answer before we lose the commitment of those that have remained at the table all of this time. Most will seek other ways to be effective”.
I’ll keep you apprised of further developments! ….Tim