Dean’s Defense


     I’ve been looking into the ethics charges hurled at Commissioner Dean Trantalis by pit-bull lawyer Bill Scherer at last Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.

                                      
                                                        Scherer in action

     Here’s the background

      A developer, Enrique Colmenares, bought a parcel on the Fort Lauderdale beach to build a hi-rise hotel …….

                    ………   he wanted to build this

                                   

                ..where this is……

                      

     So if you’re thinking that would be a rather tight fit, you would not be alone.

     Even the traffic experts that looked at the proposal said silly things like “the bartenders might have to ride their bicycles to work”, and “the valet parkers will have to keep pocket change on hand” to put cars in City meters in a crunch”.

     So the developers’ lawyer met with Commissioner Trantalis to gauge his opinion, and Trantalis reportedly told him it was too tight a fit, and the developer needed more land to accommodate the parking, etc.

                                        

               here comes the ethics charge – follow closely !

     ……. Scherer says in the complaint  (filed with the State Ethics Board), that on the day the developer met with Trantalis, Trantalis’s former domestic partner, Richard G. Smith, called the developer’s attorney, Scott Backman. The complaint says Smith called to try and  buy the property away from the developer for one of his clients that was looking for a site on the beach for a restaurant.

                                              
                                                            Smith

     The complaint says Smith told Backman that he had been referred by Trantalis, that the Vintro would be denied, and asked if Colmenares would be interested in selling the property.

     Trantalis calls it all poppycock, says he never referred Smith to Backman, says he doesn’t even believe the call by Smith to Backman was made on the same day he met with Backman.  He says if  the call was made on the same day that “it was at best a coincidence”. Trantalis says he knows that” sounds odd, but it is the truth”.

     He says he remembers Smith telling him about his client’s interest in the beach property, but says after that he had no knowledge what happened with the deal until he saw his name on a LOI (letter of interest) as the attorney for Smith, and told Smith that “he could not be a part of it” and that his name “needed to come off”.

     Smith says that what Trantalis says is all true, and that he never told Backman he was referred by Trantalis, that his actions were totally independent of Trantalis.

     Just another chapter in ugly politics, they say.


    
 

    

    

Trantalis Ambushed

     It was high drama.

     At the very start of a public hearing last night for a new proposed hotel at the beach, (the Vintro Hotel), Commissioner Dean Trantalis was blindsided by a very public accusation that he was guilty of ethical violations concerning the beach project.

                                

     The accusation was made by infamous Fort Lauderdale attorney Bill Scherer.

                                            
                                                              Scherer

     In a well planned out attack, Scherer basically said that a former partner of Trantalis, Rick Smith, a local realtor, had clients that were trying to buy the land away from the proposed hoteliers, and that Trantalis had to know and shouldn’t be hearing the development request.

                                          
                                                       Rick Smith

      Scherer is no stranger to local drama, having successfully sued the City of Fort Lauderdale when another development he was associated with was denied approvals.

    Scherer also sued Broward County, (he tried to overturn County term limit laws) and headed a team that represented President Bush in the 2000 vote recount.

     After Scherer made the accusations against Trantalis, and declaring that he was filing a State ethical action, Mayor Jack Seiler called for a 10 minute break to calm the room.

                                       

     When the hearing restarted, Trantalis said he would indeed recuse himself, so there could be no hint of impropriety. He said he was unaware of any wrong doing by his former partner,  and called the effort “ambush politics”.  He added that the City should not stand for it.

     He looked at Scherer and said “nice try”.

     Commissioners Roberts and Rogers agreed with Trantalis, and called out Scherer for making the public accusations.

                                        
                                              rendering of proposed hotel

    
     In the end, it didn’t matter. The Commission voted down the project 3-0, saying the building was attractive, but way too big for the proposed quarter acre lot.

     I’m sure there will be a follow-up !

                                                             Tim

                                               
                                                         

    

    

Neighborhood Full of Burglaries


     There are some Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods with little -to- no home burglaries.

     (A burglary is where some criminal climbs in your window or door and steals your things. Hopefully, you are not home when that happens.)

                                     

     Our City Managers’ neighborhood, (Bal Harbor), has had one burglary so far this year, Galt Mile has had one, Idlewyld one, Sunrise Key and Sunrise Intracoastal,  none.

     Then there is my neighborhood ! ……  The list below is the long list of my neighbors who had burglars climb in their windows (or doors) so far this year. There have been more burglaries in my neighborhood so far this year than any year on record. (The list is entitled South Middle River, but that is the PD’s mistake, it is actually a list of the burglaries in Middle River Terrace...)


                                    …………   Just not right !

Lucky 13

      Today was a very good day for 13th Street in Fort Lauderdale.  It is $1.5 million dollars better !  ……..  I’ll tell you how in a moment.

            

       The 13th Street area comprises about 15,000 Fort Lauderdalians in four neighborhoods and a substandard business district.

     It has been fighting for years to bring itself back to the splendor it once was before crime, crack, and County traffic “fixes” nearly killed it off in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

                                          
                                                           crack cocaine

     The area has a strong alliance of volunteers that has painted murals, marched against crime, pestered the City leaders, installed fancy sculptures in the medians –

                              

                         ……………………………………………………………………………………………..

                           

                        ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

                                          

      But today the area hit the jackpot – $1.5 million in County Redevelopment money, intended to bring the business district back to a “Complete Street”.

     In a year or so, the roadway will be converted back to what it used to be – a user friendly road for businesses that includes nice sidewalks, lighting, parking, and a whole array of niceties.

     Boy that feels good !

    

    
    

Update on Update !

     Just got a call from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    

     They had to decide if they were going to refund my $31.99 that I paid for a flu shot.

     Turns out, flu shots are preventative, and therefore covered under the Affordable Care Act ( with no deductible or co-pay!)

                                       

     They said the “check is in the mail”, should be in my mailbox in a couple of weeks!

                                         Yea !

    

Let’s Update

      I had a brief chat with a guy in the elevator at City Hall last night who asked “So, did you ever get that refund for your flu shot from BCBS?”.

     It dawned on me that I should let you know the outcomes of some of the things I write about so here goes  ………………….

    #1
           

      Remember that Yrral and others in the ritzy Harbor Beach neighborhood were fed up that illegal parking on residential front yards was taking place every year at the Boat Show.

                                                         Not this year!

     I couldn’t find out who should get the credit for the correction, but after we exposed it here, and somewhere between the Police and Code Enforcement officer Dick Eaton looking into the issue, things straightened out and no illegal parking was seen. I think Commissioner Romney Rogers got involved.

       ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
   #2
     The City went ahead with the extension of Sistrunk Boulevard to Federal Highway.

                                           

     It was surely the right thing to do, and I was glad that Commissioner Dean Trantalis finally went along to make the vote unanimous, 5-0.

                                               

     Mayor Jack Seiler deserves a lot of credit for passionately supporting the name extension from day one and working the issue behind the scenes, and I give the Mayor lots of extra credit for standing up to city- nitwit Charlie (Confederate Highway) King, along the way.

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

      #3
    And finally, to that guy in the elevator at City Hall –  …. BCBS has called me six times to tell me they are “working” on my request for the $31.99 refund for my flu shot.
 

    
Maybe we will know by my next update! 


     

My Flu Shot and Obamacare

     I decided that this year I was going to get a flu shot.

    I’m 57, and I’ve gotten  the flu the last couple of years and didn’t want it back this year! And as an added bonus, I realized that ObamaCare makes the insurance companies cover preventive care, and what’s more preventative than a flu shot?

     Now I’ve told you that being self employed makes health insurance expensive, and that I looked into changing to a different insurance carrier through Healthcare.gov, ( yes,I got through) when ObamaCare officially opens in January. Turns out I’ll save a lot of money, but for now I’m still with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

                                 

     So I went over to CVS in Wilton Manors, because as you see they have “pharmacists who care”.……..  Not so much!

     I presented my Blue Cross Blue Shield card to the um … caring pharmacist, who said, nope, not covered. I said “but preventative care is covered in ObamaCare without a deductible, and that part of ObamaCare started last year”.”. They said “work it out with your insurer”. Next in line!

                                       

    So I called BCBS ….. six times!

    They’ve said many things like “oh yes, it’s covered, but only at the pharmacy”, and “oh yes, it’s covered, but only at your doctor’s office, and “oh no, not covered”, and oh yes, covered, but we have to escalate to a supervisor”.

                         

      …..so, I didn’t want to spend the night at CVS, so I paid the $31.99 to the caring pharmacist, got the shot and went home ……..   no flu this year!

     I called again later that night and applied for a refund. They said they were taking it under consideration.

     I think ObamaCare will work, but it ain’t yet!