Who Won, What They Won, and What’s Next?

     Thanks for humoring me and playing along with my ” how did the Smith’s spend their summer vacation” pictorial quiz!

     Believe it or not, 546 bloggers signed in to read that post yesterday, including some new readers from the U.K. ( why – I don’t know! ).

     Anyhow, I can now report that although you readers to this blog profess that you are the swiftest of the swift, none of you got it exactly right.

     Having said that, you basically got it right collectively.

     Ray rightly called the starting point of the road trip, Portland, Maine, Jim figured out the midpoint, Great White Mountains in New Hampshire, and quite a few of you figured out the final destination, Montreal, Canada! ( Thank you to George and Caldwell for admitting you cheated with Google .)

     So I’ve decided to give all of you the Grand Prize – a one week stay in the new luxury cabin we bought in the shadow of the mountains in Vermont  …..


     I thought it looked like it leaned a bit to the left, but here is Cindy convincing me that it was just an optical illusion!

     Call Cindy for your reservations !

     Oh, and what’s next? …… 

     Coming this week, some analysis of the changing of the political districts,

    …… and, why the Commission might now be considering blessing some commercial stores by the Las Olas bridge after having to settle a lawsuit for a half a million dollars a few months back, for the last Commission stopping commercial stores by the Las Olas bridge – go figure !

Fun First !

     Political heat is picking up in Fort Lauderdale as the summer is ending, and there are a few good controversies brewing that I’m itching to share with you!

     But first, I thought I’d have a little fun!

     You see, Cindy and I were hating summer, too hot, and decided to get away to a cooler climate for a week. We just got back, and I decided to see how smart you really are !!

     Here are some pictorial clues  ….  let me know how long it took for you to figure it out! ( if you do! ) 


     It was a road trip, though we came across this airport we could have flown into !

     There were some things that looked just like home !

     We came across this historic house they were trying to save ( the little sign says ” Friends of the Gingerbread House” . Would Charles King be calling this Gingerbread Junk?

     And apparently, the City Commission might not have been being too helpful, as evidenced by the next picture!


     Anyhow, back to your quiz ! 

     Our summer vacation was far away, in a distant land! And they had funny rules ! Look how fast they let you drive down their country roads!


     And with these roadside dangers, that seemed really foolhardy!


     OK, only two clues left !!

     When you give them your good hard earned money for some cookies and milk, they hand you back monopoly money!


     The final destination of the road trip was worth the odd trip there! Here is one of their cultural icons, the third largest Dome in the world  …..

                                Saint Joseph’s Oratory

     OK, go for it! ….  Guess where we spent our summer vacation and win the big prize! 

                                       Tim and Cindy


Preservationists Scramble

      News that the only Historic Preservation group in Fort Lauderdale was going out of business by the year’s end struck a nerve in the preservation community, and might have changed the group’s plans!

     The Broward Trust for Historic Preservation was out of money and out of steam, and decided their only option was to go out of business, according to the group’s President, Diane Smart.

     Enter a group of citizens to the rescue!


     After I reported the possible folding of the Trust in a blog post a few weeks back, a group of about fifteen residents, concerned with preserving Fort Lauderdale’s dwindling history, and hell bent on saving the group or starting a new effort, met in the 1916 Annie Beck House, (that was saved from the wrecking ball and moved a few years back from off Las Olas into the Middle River Terrace Park) to strategize. 

     For some background, the Broward Trust has been fighting to preserve some of Fort Lauderdale’s historic structures for over a decade. 
                                           Lauderdale Beach Hotel

     One example, the City’s oldest beachfront hotel ( circa 1939) was slated for demolition, and the Trust and the developers came to an agreement to save the important front of the structure, and let the developer go ahead and remove the rear portions of the building for their mega Condo behind.

     But not all of the Trust’s work has been as collaborative with the development community.
     The biggest fight between the two lasted about a decade and centered around the oldest house in the City (1905), the Stranahan House. 

                                      Frank and Ivy’s pad on the river

     A new Condo was planned to go on the north side of the House, and a long protracted fight and lawsuit ensued. Though the development planned on keeping the House, even “showcasing” it, the preservationists felt it would “loom” or obscure the cherished house.
     The developers won in the end, but the battle ran right up to the recession, and that scuttled plans for the development ( at least so far). Neither the development community or the preservationists have truly trusted each other since.

     But these possible new members of a reworked Broward Trust just might give preservation a fresh start.

     Steve Glassman , Vice Chair of Broward County’s Historical Commission, says historic preservation has always been perceived as an “us VS. them”  
mentality, but thinks it’s been mostly “fueled by the media” . He says he thinks a new effort can bring the two sides together .

     Here are just some of the “resources” some activists would like to see saved.    

                                       Jolly Roger Hotel on the beach

                                                        Oakland Park mall

  Pier 66

                                                          Sheraton Yankee Clipper

The group plans on meeting again in September to nail down their plans. 

     I’m curious what you think – add a comment ( just choose a pseudonym if you want to remain anonymous, and I won’t give you up!)


Could it have gone BOOM BOOM ?

     It was discovered this morning in the science class at the Bethany Christian School on South Federal Highway in Rio Vista.

   Bomb Squad closes South Federal

     Crytalized Ammonium Nitrate !

Here is Webster’s definition

Definition of Ammonium nitrate

1. Noun. Used as an explosive and fertilizer and rocket propellant.

     Federal Highway has been closed down and the school evacuated as the Fort Lauderdale Police Bomb Squad took control of the situation this morning. Ammonia Nitrate was the ingredient used in the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing.

     Unconfirmed reports say it was a science lab ingredient that had gone bad and fortunately discovered in time by a new science teacher.

     South Federal is expected to be closed for some part of the day.



Warning ….. This Sucks!

     For those of you that read this blog regularly, (between two and three thousand people a week!), you may want to read the Sun-Sentinel newspaper’s reporting below on the latest machinations to hit the Fort Lauderdale Visioning efforts ….. 

     ……….  but remember the warning – it really does suck !


Fort Lauderdale vision project hit with infighting

By Scott Wyman August 10, 2011 05:38 PM

Former City Commissioner Tim Smith is out as the head of Fort Lauderdale’s effort to draw up a long-term vision for its growth.

Smith stepped down as chairman of the Visioning Committee amid a coup d’etat Tuesday night. Members were angry that Smith had not defended a name they wanted for the project and that he supported adding a representative from the city’s Council of Civic Associations to the group.

The tiff adds to the controversy surrounding the vision project – which has drawn objections because of its estimated $300,000 price tag. The City Commission agreed this spring to fund the first phase of the project at a cost of $54,000.

“It’s all sad, and I don’t know what to do because I still believe in the project,” Smith said.

The Visioning Committee had touted the city hiring the consulting firm Wallace, Roberts & Todd to craft a comprehensive look at the city’s future. They said the city’s vision had been too hodge-podge and that officials needed help gaining focus.

The group wanted to call the project “Imagine Fort Lauderdale.” But Smith learned behind the scenes that Mayor Jack Seiler had concerns because Austin, Texas, uses “Imagine Austin.” Then former Mayor Rob Dressler suggested a naming contest, which the City Commission then decided to pursue.

That led to a recent city survey of residents about what to name the project and then a vote on four choices. The top vote-getter was “Fort Lauderdale – Our City, Our Vision.”

At the same time, the civic association – which is the umbrella organization of Fort Lauderdale’s powerful neighborhood groups – sought a seat at the table. The City Commission agreed before it went on its summer break and is set to name a representative of the civic association when it returns later this month. Smith – who rose in politics as an activist in Middle River Terrace – backed the idea.

The Visioning Committee, though, does not – even though its members include Dan Lindblade of the Chamber of Commerce. Smith’s critics said they didn’t want special interests on the committee and voted to tell the commission that they didn’t want a civic association representative.

Smith said he resigned in the face of the challenge, but still plans to stay on the committee and fight for the visioning project.

“It was going downhill, and it wasn’t about me but the future of the city so I just decided to step down as chair,” he said.

City Commission – What They Been Doin ?

     The Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners are in their last year of a three year term. 
     Soon you will be seeing them on the campaign trail, looking for another three years of employment. 

     So I decided to check back on their work product over the last year to see just  – what they been doin? 


….. Here is a list of the items that they have talked about in their planning meetings, at least two times or more, and the outcomes ( if there were any!) 

    these items came up twice over the last year                     the outcomes

   ………..  surplus city owned property                        new policy/ sold some of them
   ………..  palazzo lawsuit                                            settled with developer for about $450,000
   ………..  red light cameras                                        program in flux due to statewide problems
    these items came up three times                                      

   ………..  Lockhart stadium                                      negotiating for a water park there
   ………..  Vision for the City                                     hired consultant for first phase at $50,000
   ………..  Neighborhood Stability                             formed city policy/doled out federal monies

    four times

   ……….  Las Olas/ Downtown                                   changing policies/ appropriated money
   ……….  PUD (Planned Urban Development)           placed the zoning in moratorium

    five times

  ……….  City’s 100th birthday                                   planned events/ appropriated money
   ………  City Manager                                              looked for one/ hired one
   ………  Southside School                                       investigated management possibilities
     six times

    …….   homeless                                                    no progress
    …….   North West                                                 planned and progressed/ spent money

     eight times 

     ………  City Pools at the beach                            talked alot – tentative plans

     eleven times 

     ………  the beach                                               planned/ progressed – spent lots of money!

Can She Save The L.O. Post Office ?

     Robin Merrill, of  Mission Gifts, is always a woman with a mission! 

   But today, her mission is a little different than usual – she’s trying to save the Las Olas branch of the United States Post Office from closing. And if energy means anything, it just might stay open!

                          Las Olas Post Office branch – 1400 block of E. Las Olas

     The station dates back to the 1940’s, according to Marilyn Rathbun of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, and is an integral part of the Colee Hammock neighborhood it resides in.

     But this year, as part of the restructuring of the USPS, all locations that gross less than $600,000 a year are being slated for possible closing. The Las Olas branch grosses about $500,000, so they are now in the middle of an evaluation that will take 60 days to see if they should be on the hatchet list.

     Merrill says the community needs and the importance of the stations are also being taken into account, so Merrill is telling anyone and everyone who will listen about the importance of the L.O. station

     Merrill owns and runs the Christian Cultural Development Foundation, which is located a bit east of the Post Office on Las Olas. The non-profit foundation, and its Mission Gifts and Art Gallery on Las Olas, sells fair trade items from around the world and furthers its belief in social justice and curbing global poverty.

     She says all the businesses and residents rely on this station, and love the fact that they can walk to it.

                                                    Merill Mailing !

     Merill has set up a Facebook account, Save the Las Olas Post Office, and wants you to visit the site and “like it” so she can show the USPS the positive responses. She also has a website ”  SavetheLasOlasPostOffice.com ” and asks if you will write and call your Congressman and Senators! You can reach Robin Merrill at 954-828-1505.

                             Good Luck Robin !