Flagler Village Up, Low Income Housing, Down

     The debate is about the affordable/low income housing hi-rises proposed for the neighborhood called Flagler Village. That’s the area off of US 1, south of Searstown, west of Federal Highway. Depending on who you believe, there are either 3, 4 , or 5 low income, hi rise projects, planned for the same area at the same time.
     when we think of low income housing 

The poli-drama played out yesterday in front of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.


     And If it seems like deja vu to you, it is.

     Two weeks ago, the Commission agreed to give a developer $125,000, to use as a match to apply for a State grant to build one of the projects, a 103 unit tower.

     The Commissioner for the area, Charlotte Rodstrom, initially voted for the low income project, but immediately caught hell from the Flagler Village neighborhood, and the neighborhood across the highway, Victoria Park.

     One speaker, Victoria Park’s prolific commenter Charles King, acknowledged that by saying ” I know I’ve been harsh and brutal, especially to you Charlotte”. Rodstrom quipped “that’s OK, just don’t do it again”.

     Rodstrom then opted to “reconsider” her yes vote, which any Commissioner can do at the next meeting, (if they are on the winning side of an issue),  and turned it into a no vote.

     The rest of the Commission then voted to overturn their earlier vote and sent the developer packing without the subsidy. 

     Seiler stuck with his yes vote, ( as did Dubose), but said he would not consider any more of the low-income projects until the City developed a strategy of where they should go.

     Romney agreed, saying the process of approving and funding the low-income projects was ” messed up”. Dubose followed by saying they (low income) should be placed ” all over the City”, not just in the CRA areas.

     Harbor Beach, Coral Ridge, Las Olas ? …nah, relax


Rodstrom Drawing Opponent ?

     He’s picked up the paperwork to file to run against Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom.


His name is Lester Zalewski, and he is currently the Vice President of the Central Beach Alliance.


     He says that he hasn’t made up his mind, that he has until Friday, that’s he’s in the preliminary phase.

      He also says he began to think about running after Rodstrom proposed a new Walgreens at the entrance to the beach without conferring with the neighborhood.

     And, he says that he feels that competition ” spurs the best in people”. 

     Zalewski also says he knows a lot about the rest of District II, because ” as a land speculator”, he traveled through much of the District by car “and by bicycle”, looking for deals.

     Zalewski said he would let me know this week what he decides.


Seiler Draws Challenger

     I just received this e-mail from Earl Rynerson. 


     Should I run for Mayor of Fort Lauderdale?
     I’ve finally made my decision.

     I’ve been asked this question a lot over the last few months, even by our current Mayor: “Well Earl, are you going to run?”
I’ve given it a lot of consideration. Over the last three years (since the last election), I have enjoyed providing you my thoughts about what is really going on at City Hall, criticizing the actions of a number of people there, offering suggestions and thoughts on how things should be different.

     I’ve also written a “Vision for Fort Lauderdale” (20 chapters in all) that focuses on what we can do to make our City better, more progressive and less costly in the future. This Vision was written with the input from dozens of people here in our City. That document is meant to be a “starting point” from which we can all contribute and refine the future direction we need to go in.

     I’ve ruffled the feathers of many of the “Old Guard” here in the City who don’t want to see any change (or improvement). They like things just as they are. These people are generally the wealthy, the well-connected, and special interest groups. They’ve been running things here for decades.

     As most of you know by now, I have been particularly disappointed by our elected officials not facing economic realities and looking for ways to reduce spending. Other cities around our country have been successful in making the necessary (and sometimes painful) cuts to their budgets. Yet our budget has grown from $345 Million to $635 million in just the last 8 years. Almost double in size! We have a spending addiction. Our Mayor, rather than reduce spending, continues to hand out pay raises to City employees, and has been raiding the City’s savings account to cover the higher costs.
     This cannot continue.
     I have asked for advice from a number you on whether I should run again. You’ve been very supportive. One person who was affiliated with Jack’s campaign last time has told me: “Jack has given the go-ahead to certain groups that if you decide to run, they should attack you personally. He won’t do it directly, but his supporters (ie: City employee Unions) have been told to go ahead. And it will be vicious, Earl. The funding for this effort will come from sources outside the City.”

     I’m a veteran. I’ve served our Country for 20 years in the military and am a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. I volunteered for both Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and was in Middle East days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. I’m a small business owner here in Fort Lauderdale and have been successful in my business despite the severe economic downturn. I chose to move here from San Francisco more than 10 years ago because of the quality of life I saw here. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish so far in my life.

     So since today is Veteran’s Day (11-11-11), I think it’s as good a time as any to let you know:
     I intend to complete the necessary documents at City Hall in the next few days and file for my candidacy as the next Mayor of Fort Lauderdale.
As Bette Davis said (in the movie All About Eve): “Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride”…..

Earl Rynerson

Updates and an Invitation!

     You regular readers will remember the effort to have a little street over off of Northeast 13th Street renamed   …………………..
                                         Gerry Cooper’s Way

     It’s in recognition of all the things Cooper donated to in these parts, and all the years of volunteering on many City Boards…. and you might remember that we purposely decided to call it Gerry Cooper’s Way, with the apostrophe, (with a double entendre), because Gerry was known as doing things Gerry’s way!

     You may also remember that the City wouldn’t pay the $300 necessary for the street sign, ( though they have paid for other such signs)  so we asked you to pledge a dollar or more to make it happen!

     It took a while, but you made it happen ( and made my wallet pretty full of $1 bills !)

                       So now you are all invited to 


     The highlights will be the famous Randall’s – Sausage and Green and Red Pepper subs, and the local 60’s – 70’s band Sunday’s at Five …. (everything’s free) …. The Mayor, City Manager, and some Commissioners will be in attendance  …..


         NEXT …….

     We reported last on the campaign bucks that the Mayor and Commissioners have received for their re-election efforts.

     I told you that Commissioner Dubose was in the large money lead, and that Commissioner Roberts  was bringing up the rear….  But, as it turns out, Roberts reports were not all listed on the City Clerk reports, due to some glitches in reporting law enforcement addresses…

    And now I can report that Roberts has surpassed Commissioner Rogers. Roberts now has $13,595.00, edging out Rogers by a few thousand – I’ll stay on top of this interesting horse race!


Ft. Lauderdale Commission Election – Follow the Money

     You’ve been asking me what the hell is going on?

     …. the elections for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, the Big Dog Commission in the County, is only a couple of months away, and you want to know who is running against the incumbents! Well, here are the …. 

…. and their challengers 


  …..  No image available ? …
that’s because there aren’t any challengers, as of now. There are a number of reasons for this, I think.
    For one thing, this Commission hasn’t been embarrassing us like former Commissions. They’ve been hard at work. Taxes haven’t gone up, and the proverbial trains are running on time, for the most part. 

     They finally got a new City Manager, and the confusion with the redistricting might have played a part.

     Also, it’s still not too late, and I bet at least one challenger will file!

     But regardless of whether the pols have any competition,  there’s still plenty of money filling their warchests. just in case! So here’s the breakdown, so far,  on who got what, from whom, and how much* (the why you’ll have to figure out for yourself .

             *info comes from the Fort Lauderdale Clerk’s office.


     Mayor Seiler …..

     You’d think Jack would have the biggest warchest, but he only comes in second ( that’s why he gets 2 dollar signs) with $21,475.00 so far.

     His take was mostly in $250. increments, which is the maximum people can give in Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale has the most restrictive campaign financing system in the County due to a policy adopted in 2002 ( introduced by me!).

     Seiler has the usual lobbyists ( Ron Book and wife, George Platt and wife, Tom Mcdonald, the usual lawyers (Lochrie, Tilbrook, Crush, Milledge, Coker, Don Hall), and some usual developers Peter Henn, Loos, and Motwani.

     Jim Naugle donated, as did Chris Wren (from the DDA) Jack Lokinsky ( from the Police Union) and Susan and Bill Telli (the sham petitioner in the effort to get rid of Term Limits).

     Judy Stern is in for $250.

     The most unusual donation was from fellow Commissioner Romney Rogers.

 District I
Commissioner Roberts

     Bruce has raised the least so far at $6600.00. 

     Most all came in $250. increments. Attorneys Lochrie, Hall, Crush, Milledge, Tilbrook, developer Motwani, and Judy Stern, in again for $250.

District II
Commissioner Rodstrom
(just seeing if you’re
paying attention)

     Charlotte came in a close third with $19,130.00, most all in $250. increments. 

     Again, the usual lawyers, but more of them – Lochrie, Crush, Tilbrook, Milledge, Moskowitz, Holland, and Hall.

     The lobbyists – Mcdonald, Platt, (with five family members), Ron Book and wife.

     The developers ( yep, I said developers) – Motwani and Loos.

     City bigshots like Jesse Gaddis, Barbara Jones, Doug Eagon, Mctigue, Abdo, Chapelle, Gustafson, and  Maroone.
The term limit Tellis are in for $250.

     And Judy Stern is in for $250.!

District III
Commissioner Dubose


     He’s smiling because he’s – 

          ……. the big money winer with $28,227.

     Bobby’s got what all the others have, just more of it,

     Add Caldwell Cooper, Bob Huebner, every breathing Forman, Stiles, Morgan, Art Kennedy, Toothakeer, Tripp, Ali Waldman, Mitch Berger, Murray, and famed lobbyist Bernie Friedman.

     Dubose also raised money from every fraternity name I’ve ever heard of – Kappa, Alpha, Delta, Sigma, Theta, Phi – you name it!

     Dubose had the most small donations as well as the most $250. donations, with a lot of $50., $100., and one $75 donation.

     And , Judy Stern is in for $250.

     Also add ( for the unusual) Efrem Zimbalist III ( father produced the F.B.I. T.V. show?), in for $250.

District IV
Commissioner Rogers

 Cal Deal picture ( I think)

     Romney edged out Roberts to take fourth place ( hence the four dollar signs) , with $11,125.00. 

     Roger’s donaters were similar as the rest, included all the Formans
, Lochrie, Loos, and Platt, but I couldn’t find Judy Stern  anywhere ( probably a temporary glitch).

     Rogers benefitted from the term limit duo Tellis, and received the max from Guardabassi ( infamous father wrote anti-gay missives).

     Jack Seiler returned the favor and donated to colleague Rogers.


     Stay tuned for announcement of a campaign debate I’m thinking of sponsoring, even if it’s only the incumbents!


Life of an Activist !

     Activist Penny got dreadful news – leukemia.

     To make matters worse, an old four acre chop shop behind her townhouse in Fort Lauderdale started a massive ground pollution clean-up soon thereafter.


     Penny says she can’t open her windows, can’t go outside. She says the smell of the diesel and the gasoline laden dirt is suffocating.

     She thinks something is amiss and has called the City and the EPA, (and me!). So far she says the assault just keeps going day after day.

     I told her not to trespass on their property, but if she could get some pictures from the street, I’d pass them along, maybe something could be done to lessen the intrusion …

                                     here’s what happened !


Racism ? … Pioneers, in After Midnight Vote!

     It was one of those Commission meetings that hurt. Police escorting leading citizens from the chambers!

     I remember them all too well.

     This painful meeting erupted after midnight last night. It pitted an area that looked promising for a come back before the economy soured, called Flagler Village, (around Searstown and south to the downtown), and the District Commissioner for our neediest area, Commissioner Bobby Dubose.


                                         Alan Jean, Commissioner Dubose, Senator Smith   

     The battle was all about affordable housing in Flagler Village.

     First came the speakers who opposed the project, a 103 unit affordable housing project looking for a city government subsidy.

     The opposition was strong.

     One of the city’s leading pioneer developers, Alan Hooper was very upset.

     He said his developments, (heralded as pioneering developments in a once rough area), would soon be “sandwiched” by affordable housing. He said his customers say they will not buy next to affordable housing. He said that “we ( the area’s residents”) need to have a say on where to put them ( affordable housing)”.

                    Hooper in happier times           Hooper’s Avenue Lofts in Flager Village

         (Ironically, Hooper once proposed moving the city’s vagrant population out of the downtown into other neighborhoods north of Flagler Village).
      Other speakers said they bought into a dream that was turning into a nightmare. They spoke of the neighborhood turning back into a “slum”. Said homeless were “lurking behind trees”. 

     One area owner said if the low income projects came in, the area would go downhill and never come back.

     Commissioner Dubose was incensed. He said the speakers comments were “troubling, disturbing, insulting”. He was clearly emotional – spoke of an “undercurrent”. He said that the folks in the Northwest (who weren’t allowed to cross east of the railroad tracks after dusk in the past, were just finally  “celebrating crossing the railroad tracks”. 

     He admonished the opposition that ” people that qualify for affordable housing aren’t bad people”.

     This harangue incensed Hooper in the audience. Hooper stood and started to rebuff Dubose, saying “I have to address that”. 


     Mayor Jack Seiler tried to restore order by banging his gavel, and saying no, no, no Alan, please be respectful, but it was too late.

     Hooper was being escorted from the Chambers by Fort Lauderdale Police.

     The Commission finished their deliberation and passed the subsidy 4-1, with Commissioner Rogers opposing. 

     It’s not the last we will hear of it. The Commission agreed that there needed to be a “strategy”, so Flagler or other neighborhoods wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the city’s affordable housing…

            Stay tuned ! 




Art Seitz Responds

     My latest reporting on the infamous Art Seitz drew a lot of attention, mostly from the folks that live on the beach – with him.

     And yesterday, Art himself called me to “set the record straight”!

     But I had a demand of my own first, for Art. I only had one picture of Art that I run when he makes news, and I needed something new, something fun. 

     So Art agreed, and here’s what I got !


     I guess that’s really Art Seitz, but it looks to me more like a cross between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.!

     And just who are those babes with you Art?

     But back to the story.

    …… Art says that he wasn’t banned from speaking at the Central Beach Alliance , as I reported. He says ( and others back-up) that he was only silenced for the moment, because he wouldn’t stop talking when asked to by the President.

     Art says he was just trying to make the point that the Central Beach Alliance was “illegitimate” . He says the by-laws of the organization haven’t been followed since Mel Rubenstein was President…. and he says he “gave notice” to the President that he was coming to the meeting to do just that…

     And he says that according to the by-laws, there was no quorum present, and the meeting shouldn’t have gone on….

     And he says that a former beach President Steve Glassman is really running things from behind the scenes.. says Glassman has shanghaied the association.

     And he says that the current officers are pawns, reluctant to serve. Art says he tried to take the new president, John Weaver, on a tour, and “educate” him, but that Weaver wouldn’t go….
     Then Art started on the topics of ISHOF and the Bahia Mar …..

                     ….and I voted him off my blog island