Little Neighborhood Gets No Respect

     It’s a little neighborhood with big issues, but their luck might be changing! (I’ll get to that in a minute).

     It’s called Progresso Village, and it’s on the south side of Sunrise Boulevard, just west of Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.


             

     The neighborhood has been battling crime and blight for years, and lately things have gotten worse.

     Look at their neighborhood sign closely, you will see it’s missing a letter! That’s because thieves in the area keep stealing their metal sign letters for scrap!

     But, the worse news is  – that sign pictured above is the good sign!

                         

     No, they have not renamed the neighborhood  – gresso Village!
                              ………………………………………..

     But there is some good news. The neighborhood elected a new President, and he’s quite the character.


                        

      He is Bradford Cohen, and he became somewhat locally famous when he was on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, some years back.

      He didn’t win the apprentice, but gained immortal status on the show when his bravado had him waive his “exemption” from being fired, believing it would show his confidence. Trump said although Cohen was the best on the team, “an impulsive move like that could sink a company”. He was fired!
 
    
Cohen used that celebrity to go on to T.V as a legal commentator, making many appearances on Fox, CNN, Nancy Grace, etc.

     Anyhow, back to Progresso Village.

     Cohen says he ran for President because he owns a rental house in Progresso Village ( he lives in Victoria Park) and was concerned about the direction of the neighborhood ( the former President owned rental property in Progresso also, and didn’t even live in the City!) 

             
                                    Cohen’s rental house

    
Cohen says he hopes to “lessen the crime, band the neighbors together to watch neighbor’s backs”, and speak with a unified voice to the City.

                   I’ll keep you informed on his progress – in Progresso!

Where’s (Tim) Waldo ?

     You regular readers know I sometimes veer off course and post something totally unaffiliated with our usual, hard driving political discourse.

     This will be one of these times!    Humor me?

                       …………………………………………………

     OK, a quiz!

     The wife and I have been away this past week. Now just to see how smart you really are, I’m going to post some pics (clues), and we’ll see how many of the pics (clues) it takes you until you guess where we’ve been!

                                       
                                          wife and I in ????

     Here goes!

                                       
                                    this means we took a plane !



                        

         
Went to a Zoo ?  ……………………….   Nope


                   
                          Went off to see King Tut ? ……….    Nope


                    
                                       Paris?  …………..   Nope


                               
                                                I said Nope !!



                           
                                    arrested by Buford T. Pusser? …….  Nope



                                    
                                    New York ? 
….. with palm trees ? ….  Nope



                          
                                 somewhere with a Volcano …..  Yep


                     
                                      side trip ( don’t get confused )

 
                 
                                    Only one pic (clue) left !     



                    
                                              Busted !
                                                     



    

Tour it with Tim !

     Introducing the “Tour it with Tim”  –  program!
                           
                      …………………………………………….

     Now I know it sounds a little odd, ….  but our Sewage Treatment plant, down on the 17th Street Causeway, is a fascinating place. The City has probably spent a billion dollars on it’s scrubbers, scrapers, oxygenators, deep wells etc.
 
     And there are a lot of other amazing things and places in Fort Lauderdale, like the Water Plants, the Bonnet House, the operating room at Broward General, the secret areas of the Police Department, that you may know about, and have even paid for through your taxes, but have never seen.

                                            


       As a Commissioner, I was fortunate enough to get a behind the scenes tour of just about everything in the City – and I think you should be able to see all of them, too ! …..
     So I’ve decided to ask the City Management, Bonnet House, Broward General etc.,  if we could take some tours of these fascinating things –  together.

     Wanna join me?

    
The first tour will be  ……  the Police Department.  I hear they have quite a nice tour planned for us – Crime lab, jail, burglary detectives, etc. The Chief will be joining us …  ready to answer your probing questions / get them ready!

                                              

     To join in on this first tour, next Wed. Feb. 29th …  4 pm  …. you’ll have to let me know by e-mail because space is limited. E-mail at ( Tim@TimSmith.com) or if you like, just post a comment on this blog post and say “I’m in”.

    
We’ll meet at the “fishbowl” at the Police Department, (I’ll give you specific instructions, parking etc., after you confirm)…

    Now, if you don’t get in on this tour, ….here’s a little picture of next month’s fun!

                                

                                   the Sewage Treatment Plant 

                                  
                                        (Work yourself up to that one!)

        

              

High Priced Harry


     Lots going on in the City of Fort Lauderdale! 

     Thank you all for participating on this blog –  speaking your mind. (no cursing please!)
                                ……………………………..

      Today, there was a contentious City Commission meeting. Part of the contention surrounded a new development for the City Attorney, Harry Stewart.

     
You might recall that Stewart decided to call it quits as City Attorney at the beginning of this year, (opting out, for a bonus for retiring early). Stewart has been the City Attorney for about a dozen years, and is the highest paid employee in the City ( I’ll tell you how much in a minute – I don’t want you fainting just yet!)

     The rationale for paying Stewart the big bundle is that he is one of the best and the brightest. Few dispute that. And the best and brightest saves the City an even bigger bundle in lawsuit savings.



                              
                                     Steward with lesser paid Manager Lee Feldman!

     
Today, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission officially asked Stewart to stick around a little longer while they looked for his replacement, but it didn’t come without some friction. The Commission thinks it will take a few months to find his replacement.

     Now as we’ve said, Stewart makes a serious pile of cash as City Attorney. The discussion today was  – is it worth it to keep Harry on board for a few months, or should the Commission just say goodbye now!

                                  
                                                     
                                             pile of cash

     
     
The decision was 4-1. Keep Harry around. 

    Charlotte Rodstrom strongly says no!

     Rodstrom charged Mayor Seiler with working “outside the Sunshine”. Rodstrom said she was pissed, said she was annoyed at the process! Told her colleagues that they could “beat up on her” all they wanted.

     Commissioner Rogers spoke. Rodstrom interrupted. Rogers says to Rodstrom –  “you’re cutting me off, I didn’t interrupt you”.



     
The Commission decides to keep Harry on a month -to- month basis. 


    Are you sitting down?

  
 This last year, 12 months of Stewart’s salary and benefits costs the City
 
                                    $382,000

    
Hopefully they can find Stewart’s replacement quickly – another best and brightest – ( only cheaper).
     


     
     


     

     

 

C. Rodstrom Quitting Already?

     City Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom opened a campaign account, this past Friday, to run for County Commissioner.

    
The most amazing thing about that is …. Rodstrom opened the account for the County  position, just 2 weeks after winning re-election to her seat as District II City Commissioner!

     This request below
 was on Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom’s web site, just a few weeks back, when she was running to be elected to her third (and last, due to term limits)  3- year term on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission ……



     

  
 

      When Rodstrom asked to be allowed to “continue serving as your City Commissioner”, I guess she forgot to add ” but just until  I scoot off to the big leagues, the County Commission!”

      
The County seat that City Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom has aimed her sights on, is the seat now occupied by her husband, County Commissioner John Rodstrom. 

                                
                                      John Rodstrom holding check
    
              F
ollow me now!

     John Rodstrom is term limited on the County Commission, but his friend, attorney Bill Scherer, is suing in the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the term limit law voted in by 80% of the citizens of Broward County, which would let Rodstrom serve another ….. say, … millennium or so !
 
     Apparently, attorney Scherer and friend John Rodstrom suspect they are about to lose at the Supreme Court hearing, and John Rodstrom will have to leave the County Commission seat after all, so it’s time to run wife, Charlotte Rodstrom, for the County seat!

    C. Rodstrom raised $67,000 to run for the City seat. It is expected that she will raise a few hundred thousand to compete at the County level.

     Whether she wins the County seat or not, ( County primary in August, General Election in November), Rodstrom will have to resign the City seat, and the City will have to hold a “special election” for her seat, which the City will be required to pay for.

     Maybe we should ask the Rodstroms to pick up the tab! 
     

    

This Black Man May Surprise You!

     Help Me Howard Finklestein says the Fort Lauderdale Police are mistreating the black community by using DWB ( driving while black) , BBB (biking while black) even WWB ( walking while black) to unjustly stop and arrest black people.

                             
                                    Help Me Howard

     But Fort Lauderdale community activist (and black man) Torren Poole calls Finklestein’s stance –  “racial profiling garbage spin!”.

    
Poole disagrees with Finkelstein, says he wants to “go on record”, that he supports the local Police. Poole, who recently organized a community get together to fight crime in his N.W. neighborhood, calls himself “just a guy who woke up”.

     Literally, Poole woke up a few years back when he was awakened one morning at 5 a.m. by his wife who said, “somebody’s coming in the house”!
 
     Poole confronted Alonzo B. Brown ( a black man about Poole’s age) breaking into his house.
 
     Alonzo Brown, who had earlier served time for molesting a 12 year old, had broken into the wrong house this time. When Brown pulled his knife on Poole and tried to stab him, Poole hauled off and punched Brown so hard he knocked him “clean out!” Poole says he hit Brown so hard, “I even dislocated my knuckle with the punch”. Before the Police could arrive, Brown woke up and Poole knocked him unconscious again.

     Brown says it’s time to stop crying foul about Police stops.

     The Chief of Police is a black man, for God’s sake” he says. Poole thinks the profiling is a necessary evil that people in his community are going to have to live with to fix his area. “What are we gonna do, sit around and sing Kum-ba-ya?” he asks. 

                                          
                                              black Chief
 
     “We gotta shake ’em ( the community), shake the tree! ” He says part of the problem is the community, who are sometimes afraid to back the Police.
     “We gotta let the Police do their job”. “Black people gotta do their part”.”We need to come together, specially my black people”.


                               
                                                     Poole
    
     Poole is passionate, and pissed! Shortly after the home invasion by Brown, Poole says his shed was broken into and all his work tools, his air compressors, even his kids bicycles were stolen.

     A few weeks later, Poole saw a young black teen riding down the street on one of the bikes. “I ran out and grabbed the bike, called the Police.


                                     
                                                teen thief

     When the teen went to his hearing, so did Poole. A public defender came over to Poole and asked if he was a relative, there to support the thief. “No”, he said “that is the fool that broke in my tool shed”.


 

Today on Fort Lauderdale Beach !

     Seen today at the beach  …..

          
Death defying high wire act !


              

     Well maybe not high   … maybe not death defying  …
 
              ….but he also juggled when he walked the rope! – pretty cool !

Harry Stewart’s Golden Parachute

     It’s called the Bonus Incentive For Early Retirement Program, (BIFERP) and it’s purpose is to get the older, more expensive Fort Lauderdale City Employees to retire early and save the City some big bucks!

     Now that the City’s top earner, City Attorney Harry Stewart, is one of the employees retiring, the buy out plan that saves the City the big bucks will probably cost, well – some big bucks !

                 
                        Stewart

     Stewart’s been the City Attorney for about a dozen years. He was considered quite a coup for the City when hired in 2002, being one of the most knowledgable, and most experienced attorneys in Florida law, affecting cities.

      Insiders will tell you that Stewart has saved the City millions in lawsuits during his tenure, and cautioned politicians not to pass laws that would draw more. On the negative side, some neighborhood activists say he is anti-neighborhood, that he backs up his bosses (the Commission) regardless of the law.


     Anyhow, the way the Early Retirement Plan works, in order to talk the old timers to bail out early, they can get up to 32 months of time added to their pension calculations. About 400 employees were eligible for the program, and something like 130 opted in.

      I’ve e-mailed numerous people to find out the exact amount of the costs/savings in Stewart’s case, but haven’t had any luck getting the hard numbers, yet.

        Here’s how the bureaucratic description of the program clears it all up! 

            ……. Employees that terminate their employment under an ERP under this program and elect to begin receiving an immediate pension will have their retirement reduced  by the early retirement reduction factor, 5/12’s percent for each month preceding a Group 1 member NRD (up to a maximum of 60 months), and 1/2 for each additional month, the retirement preceding the Group II member NRD. On the other hand, employees that terminate their employ under an ERP under the program and elect to defer their monthly pension benefit until their NRD will not have a reduction factor applied against the monthly pension benefit.

     
Now that we’ve cleared that up ( Yikes!) let me take a guess what we’ll all be paying Stewart in his golden years !!  – 


                             ………………………………………….
                                
                                  My Guess

     Stewart now makes somewhere around $300,000 a year to be the City’s top attorney…..



      He would have normally retired with a yearly pension of somewhere around $60,000 a year….

      When you add the buy-out, he’ll get somewhere around another $1200.00 per month ( about enough to gas up his fishing boat), or around $14,000 more per year.
  
      So instead of paying Stewart his current $300,000 salary, and have him stick around for more years, we’ll only be paying him $74,000 ( and he’ll be fishing!). Sounds like a good deal for everyone!

      Of course that’s before we hire the new, highly paid City Attorney!
 

          

    

Moving the Historic Shippey House ….Update

     Preservation activists are still in the middle of trying to save “the house”.


              


     It’s one of the oldest homes in the City -( 1914 )- referred to as the Shippey House, named after it’s long time owner ……..

                      … 
                           Judge Fred Shippey,
 
    
Broward County’s second Judge. 

     Shippey was well known in his day. He was a “marryin” Judge, who married most folks in the area, including “Tarzan”! 

     The house fell into serious disrepair over the last decade or so, and was about to be demolished, when local citizen activists decided to try and save, and restore it.

     The restoration effort is being led by …

        
                        activist Alysa Plummer, (shown here with Mayor Jack Seiler)  

     
It’s been a tough road for Alysa and her “Friends of the Shippey House“, and it’s not over yet!

     A “memo” from the Fort Lauderdale Legal Department highlights the challenges. The memo tells City Manager Feldman that “the House is still sitting on the Moving Company’s girders awaiting attachment to the non-existing foundation”.

     The foundation was to have been in by now, but a dust-up with the House moving company owner had him request that his “name be removed as contractor from the permits”.

    
Also, the memo states that the house is sitting on city parking spaces that are costing the city “$218.00 per diem”.


       
                      
hole the house is supposed to be in by now

     Plummer is undeterred, in her standard, pleasant way.

     This morning she reports that there is a new contractor on record, that a fund raising  effort last week raised the funds needed for the completion of the foundation, and that the fact that 3 members of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission attended the fund raiser is a good sign that things are still on track.

                         …… I’ll keep you informed   .

                                                Tim



 

Readers Send in the Darndest Things!

     So, a reader sends me this picture and it got me to thinking….

     Which of our leaders ( Local, State, or Federal) do you think has the attributes so clearly evident in this fellow below? …

     Let me know …