Odds and Ends

     Two items on Tuesday’s City Commission meeting of interest!


     1.) Extending terms for the elected officials ?

                     


     The Charter Review Board is recommending that each term of office for Mayor and City Commissioners be extended from 3 to 4 years.
 
     Currently, the terms are three years long, and the Mayor and Commissioners can serve for up to three terms ( nine years total). The Advisory Board ( I’ll get to their make – up in a minute), says the City Charter should make the terms 4 years long ( which will give Mayor/Commissioners a possible total of up to 12 years).

  Also, the Board says the current Commission’s term should be extended 20 additional months, so that their terms will go to the next Presidential election in 2016, instead of expiring in March of 2015 as it says now.

     Now changing the elections to November is a good idea, there will be a much larger turn out of voters, but making the elected officials terms longer is a very bad idea

     Fort Lauderdale finally enacted term limits in 2000. Before that, Mayor/Commissioners could serve forever ( and some did!). Nine years of service on the City Commission is plenty. As the saying goes –  

     Politicians are like diapers, and need to be changed often for the same reason!

     The Board recommending these changes had only 4 members – here are three of them  ….

                               
                                  Clay Shaw – former politician


                                   
                                Alain Jean – works for politicians



                                   
                                            Judy Stern !            
     
                                          
(need I say more ? )

     2.) Red Light Cameras


     The Red Light Cameras are back on the City Commission agenda to add a whole bunch more of the little bastards!

                                    

     There are about 8 of them now, and I got snagged at the one just east of I95 on Sunrise Boulevard..  I ( just barely) cruised through that red light, costing me about $150.

     The stats on the cameras are troubling.

     Although it’s called the Red Light Safety Program, accidents at the Red Light Camera locations have actually gone up!

     And the financials are ridiculous. The cameras grossed $1,062,000, but after the State gets its share, the company gets its share, and the costs for the program are taken out, the City only netted $74,000 so far.

     If we are going to keep them – and get more – at least drive a better bargain!

Popeye Change of Address

     Popeye has moved.

               

     But it’s not like he has to fill out a change of address form for the Post Office.

     He has been booted out of his old home – the outdoor elevator at the Home Depot. He says the new boss at H.D. “is a ball buster”.
 

               

     He says his life has gotten tougher. He says he spends most nights out on the corner of Sunrise Blvd. and NE 4th Avenue with a tarp over him and his wheelchair….

     I worry for Popeye. But he’s the “Man that won’t come in from the cold”!

     He has tried the shelters, says they are dangerous. His life fell apart years ago, and there doesn’t seem to be any forward progress.

      I always expect the next thing I hear about him
won’t be good. 



            

     Popeye only has one good foot, the right one. Last time I wrote about him, some good samaritan brought him a pair of shoes. He says that right shoe now has a big hole in it.  He says he wears ten and a half, but if you bring him a left shoe only, make it an eleven  ..

      As I drove away he yelled ” and I need a shirt!”

Predestined Neighborhood Activist ?

     People have called me lots of things    …..   but one that I actually like is

                                  
Neighborhood Activist

     Little did I know, until I looked through that box that Mom sent me long ago, that I was 

                                       Predestined

    to be one of those “activists”  …..  Check out the following writings from “Timmy”,  when he was just aged seven !


                              
                                     Timmy at 7, musings below !

                                                                                  November, 1963
       
       
        

          Predestined !
     
     
     

Sistrunk Makes It To Federal ?

     Almost.

    
Earlier in the week, it looked like Sistrunk Blvd. had made it all the way to Federal Highway!


                   

    
You see, lots of efforts have been put into our most needy part of the City for the last few years, including this multi- million dollar road project on Sistrunk Blvd.

     And this week, the new signs went up for that project, but inexplicably, Sistrunk Blvd. crept eastward, all the way to Federal Highway (Sistrunk used to stop at Andrews Ave.) 


                 


     But that didn’t last long.

     Victoria Park resident and rogue activist Charles King saw it and sent an e-mail inquiry to Commissioner Rodstrom’s office.


                                     
                                              King

      Here are some excerpts from King’s inquiry –

     It must be a mistake or a conspiracy at this point so late in the game, one or the other. It isn’t just one sign, there are a bunch of permanent ones along those streets through there. I just think if they were going to change addresses and rename the street for 3 blocks, they should have told people first, publically….
 
     From my point of view as a 39 years old native, Sistrunk Boulevard is probably the scariest street in Broward County, a place where terrible crimes, drugs and prostitution went on for decades without anyone caring……
 
     Saddling Flagler Village with that baggage would be highly counterproductive to getting young professionals who might be living with their parents right now out in the western suburbs to move to an area bordering Sistrunk Blvd. The young people might not care but the parents most certainly will. …. 

      …. doing it as a giant secret if this isn’t a mistake is really wrong…..
 
     I keep re-hearing Commissioner Dubose’s words in my ears from the late night you guys voted to give that government subsidized low income developer $125,000 in taxpayer CRA dollars. He gave a little speech about “being the most offended he had ever been in his entire life that night” and that the government subsidized low income high-rise towers proposed being part of the process of “finally crossing the tracks in this city.”
                                 ……………………………………….

     
Well King can worry no longer – according to the City, the Sistrunk street signs were a mistake, and the signs have been removed – east of Andrews …


                       

     ….. the signs remain, over by the RR Tracks, where many think Sistrunk still belongs!
     
    

Who Wants Charlotte’s Seat?

      Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Charlotte Rodstrom will have to submit her resignation for her City Commissioner seat next month, (the one she won a few months back!) as she is running for the County Commission seat currently held by her husband, County Mayor John Rodstrom ( who is term limited, we think, but the Florida Supreme Court will say definitively next month).




     But Rodstrom won’t have to quit the City just then, as the resignation won’t take effect until the County Commission election day in November. 
 
     If Rodstrom wins in November, it’s off to the County Commission, and a special election is called to fill her City Commission seat. If she loses, most people think she would be able to join in and run in the special election to regain her old seat. ( The law regulating that is somewhat murky, and the lawyers haven’t opined yet).

     But there are some that aren’t waiting to see how that plays out –  they are poised and ready to start running for the open District II City Commission seat now!

      Here’s what I’m hearing

 
Lester Zalewski,
who ran against Rodstrom last time around, says he is running.


 William Stanton, who ran LXR, locally ( think Bahia Mar), until last year, and has served on numerous Boards around the City, is telling folks that he is looking at getting in.


  Friends of Bradford Cohen, local criminal lawyer and infamous for being fired by Donald Trump on Apprentice, say Cohen is toying with idea of running again ( he ran in the District II open seat in 2003), and has recently run and won the President seat of the neighborhood Progresso Village.
 

Steve Glassman, who ran the Central Beach Alliance for quite awhile, and ran  unsuccessfully against Rodstrom in 2006, says he is looking at running for this open seat, but hasn’t made his mind up yet.


 Chuck Black, President of the Lake Ridge neighborhood, and  former head of the City’s Navy League, is talking to people about possibly getting in.


 Former District II Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, who didn’t run for re-election after his first term (2003-2006), but came back three years later to run for the open Mayor seat election that Jack Seiler won, has told friends he is definitely running for the seat, and will probably announce next month when Rodstrom submits her resignation.


      There is only one person who some rumors say might run, that I’ve been able to put the rumor to rest- because he says unequivocally that he won’t run…. no way…no how !..



                                                    ……


                         Let me know if you’ve heard anyone else thinking of running


                                                        …. Tim

Team Seiler

    It’s a good time to challenge Team Seiler to tackle some big issues! 

     I’ll get to them in a minute!



             
                             Commissioner Roberts …. Fire Chief …..  Mayor Seiler

     
      John “P” Jack Seiler has been good for Fort Lauderdale.

     He’s just begun his second term ( fourth year) as Mayor.
 
    When he took over from Jim Naugle, ( 25 years on the Commission), the City didn’t act like a team. It was the greedy developers and their lobbyists against the whiny neighborhoods. It was the right wing religious against the protesting gays and lesbians. It was Naugle against Carlton Moore, and progress in the Northwest. 

    
The City was often marginalized, sometimes a  national embarrassment!

                        ……………………….

     Seiler and his team has mostly changed that.

     That’s why I think it’s a good time to challenge that TEAM to do more!

     Because maybe they can!

    

     The Homeless Problem

     I have to give the TEAM credit as of late. They have pushed new laws to stop the aggressive panhandling, bussed people back to their homes up north, landscaped the tortured Stranahan Park. 

     But it’s time to double down. Soon it will be summer, many of the homeless will leave, and the Commission should take that respite to enact more solutions and be ready for the seasonal onslaught next winter.



            

      American (NOT) Golf Course

     Now here’s a problem that needs a big solution ! …  This 18 hole golf course closed down in 2006. It’s been sitting here like this ever since. It’s in Commissioner Roberts’ District, which has the biggest tax base and no big park.

     The Commission is pretty smart and resourceful. I think they could come up with a plan to make this a big winner – they should!


                


        The Missing RiverWalk

     Here’s another very tough problem. Our Riverwalk is supposed to start at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and go right onto Las Olas. It doesn’t. It stops here behind the old Pantry Pride grocery store and drops into the river. 

     It’s not connected due to a dispute with the property owner – developer Jorg Perez. Perez was ready to build the City its’ Riverwalk connection in conjunction with a high rise condo, but was stopped when the City sued him in an attempt to take his land for a park. The effort failed, and the building lot is just an eyesore on trendy Las Olas and the Riverwalk is a casualty.

                   ………………………………………..

     I challenge TEAM Seiler, because they are acting like a team, have lots of capability between them, were just elected, and have three years before the heavy political pandering has to start again!

     I hope they take the challenge!   

Cheap Motel …. by the Half Hour !

     Who says all of the Fort Lauderdale Motels are too expensive !


                


      This beauty will only set you back $17. – for the half hour!


        


     The “motel”, is just off Sistrunk Boulevard, just west of I-95.

     And it’s quite well known – to the area’s prostitutes, the Fort Lauderdale Police, and the City’s Nuisance Abatement Board!

     It’s currently under control of the Nuisance Abatement Board – for the second time.

     Here is a Police Report which will tell you all you need to know about the “services” provided within! 


                
     The Motel is a scourge for this low income neighborhood, but has been tough to control, or shut down, even though the Nuisance Abatement Board and the Police Department continue to try.  

     But they have been able to arrest the owner – 

                                 
                  owner – 60 year old Tania Ouaknine, booking photo

      Ouaknine says – “They say I am running a whorehouse,”  “I run a motel. The only thing that I don’t have is the five stars.”

    
The City and the Nuisance Board don’t buy it. They have imposed conditions that Ouaknine must abide by, or face stiff fines and possible closing, including –

     ….. placing a sign saying the property is under control of the Nuisance Board

     ….  Place 16 cameras around property, making the video available to Police

     ….  Prohibit room rentals for less than one day duration

    …..  Pay investigative fees of $672.00

    ….. Face a $250.00 daily fine if the items in the Nuisance order are not followed 


                         I’ll keep you posted – Tim
    

Bonett House Tour A Blast!

     You should have come! 

                      
                            Bonett House and grounds!

     The private, after hours tour of the 1920’s Bonett House was truly a blast!

   

     The 35 acre historic House is well hidden, just off the beach, south of Sunrise Blvd..

     We were only supposed to come with 20 people, but somehow 26 showed up ( I was never good at math!).

     The tour group was composed of neighborhood presidents, business leaders, historic group leaders, even a City Commissioner (Rodstrom).

     The tour got off on a good footing, when the World Famous Parrot Lounge owner Tim Schiavone, showed up with a giant (free!) tub of the Bonett House drink –

                                

                             …….. the Rangpur Rum Punch!

     …..the recipe is a well guarded secret, but the house owners, Frederick and Evelyn Bartlett, reportedly belted down a few, daily, on the veranda of the amazing house.

                                      
                                         the Bartletts

     
     The citizen’s group was lucky to be given the tour by the House Director, Karen Beard, and the House’s Development Director, Patrick Shavloske.


                     
                                     Shavloske behind screen door

     The house is so full of wonderful art and whimsy. I was so taken, I even tried this old, but dangerous, circus trick –


                  


     The House doesn’t allow pictures inside the very open style home, so you’ll have to go see the amazing inside yourself. The drawing room, kitchen, music room, art studios, etc. were all very impressive.

     We finished the tour out back on the pond that used to have gators, until Sunrise Blvd. was cut through and denied access.

              

   
     The tour over, I thanked Karen and Patrick and Tim, and the House workers, and Art Seitz for some of these pictures  – 

     …..there was only one thing left I wanted to do – 


             
                       

                       Have another one of those Rum Puches!



     

    




Set Up The Big Top!

     It’s a great idea that’s been totally fouled up –

                           Citizen Presentation Program


    
      It happens at the first meeting of the month of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Any citizen that has something to say, can fill out an application and get his/her three minutes to vent.

  Unfortunately, this great idea has been hijacked by a few grandstanders, and some assorted wackos –  turned into a circus side show!
 
    
Here’s how this month’s circus went!

                  


     It started out normal enough. Here, Salvation Army’s Jim came to complain about the clothing donation boxes that are sprouting up around the City. His complaint was that the boxes were NOT Salvation Army boxes, but some “out of towners”. He thought only the Army’s boxes should remain.


                           

     The Commission listened repectfully, then Mayor Seiler gave Jim the bad news. The City doesn’t allow ANY clothing donation boxes, and all of them would be removed. Jim slinked off, appearing confused, disappointed – 

          – the program went down hill from there

                   

     Look up gadfly in the dictionary, you’ll get Art Seitz. Art never misses his chance on Citizen Presentation Day!

     His application said this months’ topics for his three minutes would be – 

               …ISHOF
              ….. A1A Greenway
              …. Scenic Highways
              ….. Bahia Mar
             ….. Lobbyists, campaign donations, Commissioner e-mails , …

    
Art’s three minutes came and went!

                       

     Commissioner Rogers gave the Mayor a look – ( a picture is worth ….)


     ….. then further down hill the presentation’s rode!


                             

     It was Dr. Sue’s turn. If the Mayor was watching, he should have turned her away for her lack of fashion sense right off!

     Sue came from Bellevue, Washington for her three minutes! Her application said she was going to talk about mistreatment of the homeless, and Police abuse of the badge. Instead she mumbled incoherently for at least three minutes ( seemed like more!) about Darfur, her house and it’s view, all sorts of daffy things. 

     For Commissioner Dubose, it took all he had to keep a straight face – 

            

      Then came the show that people actually came to see– 

          The Robert Walsh Show.

     
Walsh is the City’s main malcontent, and Walsh says anything he wants to – no holding back from this guy – Walsh never seems to miss a citizen presentation opportunity either !

             

      Walsh’s application said he would be talking about Police Chief Frank Adderley’s “abuse of power, dereliction of duty”, and that the Chief ” is a disgrace”.

      Walsh’s last line in his application was meant for another reason, but surely could be a postscript for the entire Citizen Presentation Program – 

                       “total mess in plain English” 

      
     

 

     


                           
    




Citizen Tour You Can’t Miss!

     The third Citizen Tour is Wednesday, April 11th, and is the most fun one yet ! And YOU are invited!

                          
                                The Bonett House on the beach

     The Bonett House is one of Fort Lauderdale’s best kept secrets. It’s on the beach, but unless you knew it, you wouldn’t know it. It’s tucked away in a most beautiful tropical setting, on the west side of A1A, just south of Sunrise Blvd.

    
The House was built in 1920, the land a gift to his daughter by Hugh Taylor Birch. Birch had bought – something like 40 acres-  of beachfront property for $5000., as nobody else wanted to live at the unpopulated, mosquito laden beach!

                         
                                   unpopulated beach !!!     
     
     The Citizen tour is a private, backstage tour, held after closing hours.
 
                                             
                                                  monkeys live there


     After the fascinating tour of the House and Grounds by Patrick Shavloske, the Development director of the House, we will all be treated to the special cocktail that the Bartletts drank back in the 1920’s (as they held up at their secluded, empty beachfront Shangra La) – the Rangpur Rum Punch ( lots of ingredients including Maple Syrup!), served up by the infamous beach pub owner, Tim Schiavone, of the World’s Famous Parrot Lounge.

                      
Space is limited – here’s the deal

                                           Tour: 

                             Wednesday, April 11th
                                           5 p.m.
                              $10 donation required
              
                         * if you want to attend, either post a comment on this blog, like -” hell yea Tim, I’m coming for the Rangpur Rum Punch”, or send me a private e-mail to Tim@TimSmith.com and tell me you’re in ! … Hurry!


                                                 
Tim