Police Chief Cancels Speech

     Police Chief Bruce Roberts canceled an appearance at a question and answer session scheduled for the Fort Lauderdale Council of Civic Associations on Tuesday. 
                             
                                        

    The appearance by the Chief had been on the books for months, and comes after the Council voted last month to make Public Safety the groups’ first concern. A notification was sent out by the Council today. It follows:

    

Subject” URGENT NOTICE !!!!

May 13, 2008 Meeting Change

Chief Roberts called today an advised that he will not be attending the meeting on Tuesday to answer the questions provided by the Council. He advised that the contract negotiations were in a sensitive final stage and as such felt that it would be more appropriate to respond to our questions at the June meeting. This delay allows each party adequate time to consider the offer and come to a mutual conclusion. He apologized for the lateness of the notice but provided it as the discussions reached this stage.

Because we have not provided for an alternate speaker, I would appreciate any help you might have in filling this void.

Thanks,

Genia

     
     Industry insiders admit that the long tortured contract negotiations between the Fraternal Order Of Police and the City might be nearing a deal. The City offered their last best offer in negotiations last Tuesday. The Union head, Jack Lokeinsky, is expected to take the contract offer to his members for a vote in the coming weeks.

     The City’s offer will bring the Department back nearer the top of pay scales compared to other Broward County Police Departments. The Fort Lauderdale Police had dropped to the bottom of those scales in the last few years and morale has suffered.

     The speech cancellation also furthers speculation about the Chief’s future with the Department. High ranking officials in the Department tell me privately that the Chief’s failure to deliver the City a contract approved by his Officers might be the fatal blow that ends the Chief’s contract with the City and a long, distinguished career with the FLPD. The Chief’s contract is up for renewal in November. 

     It also renews rumors that Roberts might be considering a new career – politics. Some talk about the irony that Roberts might just be canned by City Manager George Gretsas, only to have Roberts then run for the City Commission and become one of Gretsas’s new bosses! Roberts lives in District I, currently represented by Commissioner Christine Teel.

     

    

The OBAMA Zone

     CAUTION: You are about to enter an Obama Zone


    
If you think Barack Obama is a Muslim, or if you think he is a terrorist masquerading as a Presidential candidate, or if you think he is a black radical, or if you just don’t plain like him, you may want to pass on this post.

     You see, I am supporting Obama, and when it was looking bad last week, and some were saying that Obama might even lose North Carolina, I got busy. I have a reputation of pushing people to get involved when they don’t like what’s going on, and I had to pony up!

     Off I went to North Carolina.

                                                 

      I was about there, thinking about the race, and there, right in front of me, was a sign!

                                           
    
                                                                   I started to feel better!

     I pulled into Charlotte, and it’s a big city. I didn’t have any idea where Elizabeth Avenue was (Obama Headquarters), so I asked a guy next to me in traffic; “Hey Bud, do you know where Elizabeth Avenue is?”  And get this ….  he says “are you going to the Obama Headquarters?” “Follow me”. I was certain it was divine intervention.

                                                                
                                                                   I signed up to volunteer!

                                                               

 
     Before you can say “Jack Robinson” (whatever that means), I was knocking on doors.


                                                               
    
      And at the end of a long day of walking, talking, running  from dogs, extinguishing rumors, etc., I was bushed. But then we heard that Michelle Obama was speaking at the Auditorium downtown, and I had heard that she was a really dynamic speaker, so I thought I’d see for myself.

     As luck would have it, they needed more white people to sit on the stage behind Michelle Obama (don’t want to feed into those black radical rumors!), and I was pulled out of line and sent to the stage. I hurriedly combed my hair and tucked in the tee-shirt – and I was ready!


                                    

     She was good. She spoke for about 40 minutes, no notes, lots of passion. The crowd was big and excited. I managed not to shuffle around in my seat too much, but I was sure we all had those stupid “yes I’m sitting behind the candidate and looking like a doofus” look on our faces.

     When she finished, she came by for a chat!

                                 

    
     The next day was more of the same – walking, talking, hanging doorknob political pieces and the like.

     But the mood on the street was good. I smelled victory. And by 7:30 that evening, a sweet victory it was!

Commissioner Candidate Jim Lewis

     Jim Lewis wants to replace term-limited Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner and Mayoral Candidate Cindi Hutchinson as the Commissioner for District 4. 

     Lewis is the third candidate that has thrown his hat into the ring for District 4. The others are local attorneys Coleman Prewitt and Romney Rogers. 
                                               
                                                   
                                                       
                                                                       Jim Lewis


                   
Jim sent us his Press Release about his entry into the race, and we sent him back some questions…. The exchange follows:
                  
                             ………………………………..
     Tim – So Jim, that’s a pretty impressive Press Release, sounds like you’ve been giving the issues alot of thought. When and why did you decide to run?

     Lewis – I decided to run about a month ago. I’m running because I’m concerned about the direction that Fort Lauderdale is going in. We must act swiftly, to maintain the quality of life of our residents.
                             …………………………………

     Tim – By the sound of your Press Release, you think the city has been pretty mismanaged as of late. do you place the blame for that on anyone in particular? … the current Commission?….the Mayor?…. the City Manager?…. lack of teamwork?…vision?…leadership void?…what?

     Lewis – I’m not interested in placing blame on anyone for past mismanagement of the city. I do sense there is a lack of teamwork hampering City Hall’s ability to provide quality services in an efficient manner.
                              …………………………………

     Tim – You handled some pretty famous cases in your law career, including Lionel Tate. Do you think some will hold that against you? What do you say to them?

     Lewis – My law career spans 27 years both as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Nobody likes a criminal defense attorney until it’s you or your children that are in trouble. I believe my experience with the criminal justice system will be an asset in improving Public Safety. In order to avoid any appearance of conflict, I will not accept any cases involving the Fort Lauderdale Police .
                               ……………………………………

     Tim – You say you are against any more hi-density development. Is the Downtown done in your opinion? Would you change zoning rules to stop more hi-density development on the beach and downtown?

     Lewis – I’m against anymore hi-density or hi-rise development on the beach. Downtown is close to maximum redevelopment, but luxury residential hi-rises between Broward Blvd. and Sunrise Blvd. can strengthen our tax base downtown and not overly stress our services.
                                …………………………………….

     Tim – I like your approach to the campaign – a $10,000 self-imposed limit, no contributions from the development community. You do realize that means you will basically have to finance the run mostly by yourself ?

     Lewis – I’m prepared to finance my own campaign myself, because I’m not going to allow anyone to even think they can influence my vote because they gave me money. Elections should not be bought and personal wealth ought not to be a prerequisite for public office. Ten thousand dollars is plenty of money to get my message to the residents of District 4.
                                  …………………………………….

     Tim – your current competition….an openly gay lawyer, an openly religious lawyer, and you…where do you fit in there?

     Lewis – I’m the country lawyer form the City of Fort Lauderdale. My only agenda is to insure a high quality of life for ourselves and for our children. I promise not to use this office to press any moralistic agenda. I believe in hard work, and honesty above all else.
                                  …………………………………………

    

World Famous Parrot Lounge Owner – Miffed !

      It’s the “World Famous Parrot Lounge” , and it’s locally famous owner Tim Schiavone is fighting mad. He says that the area that includes his lounge “is a f-ing mess”. Schiavone is known for his civic participation, as well as his colorful style. He was honored in 2002 as the City’s “Citizen of the Year”. 

                                  
                                          

     Schiavone’s nationally known pub is located on the northern part of the Central Beach in Fort Lauderdale. The area is a unique couple of blocks that border on Sunrise Boulevard and the Ocean. It’s known by numerous names; Sunrise Lane, The Village, The North End, or according to Tim, “the orphan of Fort Lauderdale that is looking for it’s parents” !

     Tim and his neighbors have been trying to get the City to cooperate in an ambitious improvement plan that would help the merchants enlarge the sidewalks, install better lighting, and excuse some onerous parking requirements. They say that would put the area back on the road to success, instead of it’s current backslide.

     The plan, that has been finished for years, is a $800,000 improvement. They are $300,000 short. They have a City Business Improvement grant of $150,000, the merchants are matching that with $150,000, and the Blackstone Group, that owns the old Holiday Inn next door, has committed $200,000. 
    
     They have asked the City to agree to the $300,000 shortfall, and believe the investment would come back to the City in no time with increased taxes and improved businesses. Schaivone says they have two votes for the money. Their District Rep Charlotte Rodstrom and Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson are ready to help. He says Commissioner Teel says she can’t justify the expense to her rich constituents, and Moore has said he won’t vote for it because it doesn’t help his poor constituents. About Naugle, he says, “I can’t get a straight answer out of that guy”. 

     The area has become grittier as of late. Some of the tourists’ restaurants and beach clothing shops have been replaced with tattoo parlors, T-Shirt shops, and sex shops. Schiavone says if the new improvements were to happen, “maybe we’d get a Tommy Bahama Store instead of T-Shirts shops with T-Shirts screaming Beat Me, Kick Me, #!%& Me”. 
        
              


     Schiavone came to Fort Lauderdale in 1973 from New Jersey for “sun and babes”, and has really made a positive difference in the City and the beach. Rumor has it that he hasn’t done too bad with the “sun and babes” either. He’s been a fixture at the Parrot for the last 35 years. Let’s hope for a good outcome, or Timmy may just hop on his World Famous Parrot Lounge Bus and cruise into the sunset! 
    

Seiler vs. Hutchinson….The Money Game

     Follow the money. It’s usually good advice, and in the current Fort Lauderdale Mayoral race, it’s most interesting.

     The two candidates that are raising real money are City Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson and State Representative Jack Seiler. There is another announced candidate, Steve Rossi, and speculation still abounds on other possible entries, but Seiler and Hutchinson are raising all the money, and definitely have a good head start.
      

                                                                               
                     Jack                                                                                                Cindi                     


                    
     Fort Lauderdale adopted a very progressive Campaign Finance Reform program a few years back. It makes it easier to follow the money. In the old days, Fat Cats used corporate names to hide great amounts of donations. Now, big donations can only come from real people, with their names and occupations attached. The new law also reduced the maximum donation to $250. Previously it was $500.

      Comparing the two candidates’ reports shows  patterns developing. First, there are few small donations. Seems those able to contribute the maximum are the only ones interested at this point. Seiler is mostly raising money from fellow attorneys, and Tallahassee contacts. Hutchinson is raising money from those she has come in contact with during her Commissioner career. Here is a representative sample of their reports.


                                           
Fat Cat Donors

     Jack’s Attorneys                                                 Cindi’s Developers
 
     Les Stracher – Atty.  $250                                   Kevin Buckley – Dev. $250
     Stuart Rosenfeldt – Atty.  $250                            Jack Loos – Dev. $250
     Russ Adler – Atty.   $250                                    Jim Ellis – Dev. $250
     Steve Lippman – Atty.  $250                               Charlie Ladd – Dev. $250
     Grant Smith – Atty. $250                                    Doug Eagon – Dev. $250
     Carl Linder – Atty. $250                                      Terry Stiles – Dev. $250
     Russ Klenet – Atty. $250                                    Peter Feldman – Dev. $250
     Lawrence Smith – Atty. $250                               Richard Zipes – Dev. $250
     Matthew Morral – Atty. $250                               Robert Lochrie – Dev.’s Atty $250
     Jim Scott – Atty. $250                                       Coutney Crush – Dev.’s Atty $250
     Ron Book – Atty. $250                                       Gerald Knight – Dev.’s Atty. $250


     Hutchinson is ahead in the money race, with about $27,000.  Seiler, who announced his candidacy months after Hutchinson, has about $12,000. The election is next March. Many people that are watching the race suspect both candidates might raise as much as $100,000. Are their really that many attorneys and developers around? 
    

Beach Activist Considers Commission Run

    It’s been confirmed. 

      Steve Glassman,
President of the Central Beach Alliance in Fort Lauderdale, has told us that the rumors just might be true. Not only might he hop into the race and challenge incumbent Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom for the District II seat in Fort Lauderdale, but he might even run for Mayor!

                                                  
    
     Here’s how the exchange went down by e-mail:

Steve…. Did you see the comment that was submitted in the story about you…? Seems some want you to run for Commission… Is this the start of a good rumor ?….Tim

Tim…. Thank You ; checked it out – very nice …Received some call too!

So Steve…. I’m putting together an update on the blog about who’s in the race for Mayor/Commissioners, and want to include those that have rumors swirling about them?. Is it fair to say you are one with the swirling rumors? …Tim

Tim…. Thanks for the interest…Are you bugging my phone?… In all honesty, yes – I have been approached by friends and people I don’t even know personally who have asked me to consider running for either the District II seat, or for Mayor….. Steven

     That’s at least a non-denial ! …Tim




    

What’s a Miso Spoon?


                    ……  And great Hors D’oeuvres ! 

     Read the menu below. It’s an excerpt from a campaign e-mailer sent out. If you ever thought of getting involved in someone’s political campaign effort AND getting a new culinary vocabulary, this candidate for Circuit Judge might be just the ticket!

              ” Cafe Maxx Event – The Howes for Judge Committee, Cafe Maxx, and The Wine Watch hosted a “Meet the Candidate” fundraiser at Cafe Maxx on April 16th. More than 60 guests feasted on good conversation, cocktails, and Chef Oliver Saucy’s famous Yellow Fin Tuna, Beef Tenderloin Tar tare, Shrimp and Chicken Pot Stickers, Jumbo Lump Crab and Caviar in Miso Spoons, and Melted Tomato and Mozzerella Crostini with Basil !”

    
Something tells me they are not targeting the “lunch bucket” blue collar set !

A Street Car Named Undesirable?

     The Public had it’s first chance to weigh in this Sunday on the new proposed “Wave”, a Street Car system for Downtown Fort Lauderdale. And at first blush, it seems their are quite a few Doubting Thomases !
              

                  
     About 50 readers responded with comments to the Sun-Sentinel’s Story on the StreetCar.

 (click the link for the full story  – (http://www.sunsentinel.com/news/local/broward/sflflblightrail0427sbapr27,0,41729.story 

     Of the forty comments so far, 32 were opposed, 8 in favor.

     Here is a sampling of some of the more colorful responses:

Opposed

“wires overhead, traffic tie-ups, are these guys smoking horse manure?” …

       and….

“this railplan will work when elephants fly!”

       and….

“with the bridges and traintracks… only efficient way to move people downtown is by helicopter!”

       and the ever popular….

“The DDA is smoking Crack!”

In Favor

“downtown will continue to be rebuilt, grow taller and attract even greater population”

      and….

“they have it all over Europe without all of this gloom and doom”


     Looks like the DDA will have it’s hands full to get this done…..

Breaking News ! Read it here first !

     It’s important Fort Lauderdale political news for sure ! Another candidate has filed to run for Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson’s Commission seat, and this one is sure to stir the pot !

      Nationally known lawyer Jim Lewis has thrown his hat into the ring to replace term-limited Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson. 

     You’ ll remember Lewis. He was the attorney for Lionel Tate, the 13 year-old that was sentenced to Life in prison, (once the youngest man ever sentenced to Life in America) , for killing six year-old Tiffany Eunick. The sentence was overturned, and Tate got a second break. He then robbed a pizza delivery man. 

     Lewis joins the race as the third declared candidate in District IV. The others are local attorneys Romney Rogers, and Coleman Prewitt.

     Lewis is well known in many other cases, and has also tried his hand in Politics before. He ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Jim Naugle a few years back ………

     So much more tomorrow!………….Tim 

Charter Review Board meets….doesn’t review !

     The Charter Review Board is supposed to look at the City Charter from time to time. The City Charter spells out all the rules for governing the City. How many Commissioners will there be? Will the Mayor’s position be strong or weak? Are there term limits? How long? Can the City Commission sell off the people’s land and/or parks without the people’s OK? And on and on. You can see why it’s an important board!

      When we last discussed the Charter Review Board’s scheduled meeting, we wondered if they would accomplish anything given the highly political nature of the Board, and it’s even more political make-up. And our concern played out – they didn’t even meet that time ! And that meeting was a postponement from an earlier meeting!

     So I guess we could consider yesterday’s meeting a resounding success. They met ! They picked a Chair and a Vice-Chair. And that’s about it!

     It looked dicey at first. A member was missing, and the Commission had a dictate that all their appointees needed to be present. The big-shots were there to monitor the goings-on. City Management staff came in big numbers. The City Attorney stood ready. Even Naugle, who had pushed previous Charter Boards to make his position a Strong-Mayor position, was there.

     And then it happened. Member Chris Fertig rushed in. The meeting was on.

     After a few short moments of political posturing, they picked a Chair – Attorney Greg Durden, and a Vice Chair – Attorney Chris Fertig.

     And then they basically adjourned. There was some limited talk about the two items that they perceived as their current agenda . The first was moving the City Elections to November to coincide with Presidential Elections.  Judy Stern, appointed by Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, stated that maybe lengthening term limits might accomplish that (Yikes!), and her arch rival, member Dan Lewis , mumbled that maybe shortening the Mayor/Commissioner terms might be the better route.

     They left with the understanding that they’d get together again – sometime!