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!

Mayoral Candidate Steve Rossi – he’s looking at you !

     He’s Steve Rossi, and he’s a member of an elite club; “Candidates for Fort Lauderdale Mayor” . There are two others besides Steve that are already declared, Commissioner Cindi Hutchinson and Representative Jack Seiler.  And at least two others are exploring getting in the race, local businessman Earl Rynerson, and former City Commissioner John Aurelius.

     Steve would be one of the relatively total unknowns in this mayoral race, if it weren’t for bus benches, bus shelters and billboards . As you see here, Steve’s serious looking mug is staring at us daily at any number of intersections around the City, the County, even the State. His firm estimates that his likeness resides in over 100 locations, including billboards as far away as Sebring and Key West. It’s a big part of his marketing strategy for his Law Firm, and Rossi figures it might just serve his mayoral efforts as well.

                        


                                 
    
      And Rossi will need the additional exposure, and more, as the other two declared candidates are very well known politicos. Undaunted, Rossi says that might be a positive for him, as the country “seems to be in a mood for change”.
 
     I spoke with Steve by phone yesterday in a tightly scheduled phone conference. He appears extremely organized and disciplined, and apologized for calling 11 minutes late. He schedules his day like a surgeon, and stopped a few times during the interview to leave himself reminders to check on issues that we talked about.

     But with all the structure, Steve isn’t all that opinionated. He say’s he likes meeting people and “asking them what they think”. He says he is a “sponge” for information. 

     He has formed an opinion on current Mayor Jim Naugle, (who hasn’t ?). He says that he doesn’t know him personally, but that ” it would be nice to have a mayor that doesn’t create controversy”. On City Manager Gretsas, he says he doesn’t know enough yet to comment.

     Steve says he is starting his campaign in earnest soon, and expects to be at all the usual forums, where citizens will actually be able to put a voice to the bus bench pictures!

     
    

Big Beach Buildings … Part II

     Last weeks’ unanimous vote by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission for the new beachfront mega-hotel  “Ocean Wave”,  has many of the citizens wondering just what is going on. The picture is starting to get a little clearer.

     The unanimous vote seemed odd due to the “Read My Lips”  declarations of at least three of the Commissioners that the days of approvals for such buildings were over. Mayor Naugle and Commissioners Teel and Rodstrom had run on anti-beachfront development platforms and won their elections handily for doing so.

     When I wrote about that inconsistency last week, folks inside the beach’s political structure called and wrote to help me understand. They say that to find out why politicians change their minds, go peek at the minds of their bosses, John Q. Public.

     Some beachfolk tell me that the Central Beach Alliance is trying to change their image. The organization has been known for years for their fierce stands against beach high-rises, although nearly all of their members live in beach high-rises. Some told me that the souring economy has many worried that the progress made in removing the decrepid buildings of yesteryear on the beach will ACTUALLY STOP !

     Then their are the cynics! One beach condo leader tells me that the changes in opinions are more sinister. He says that the supreme leader, Steve Glassman, has his eye on political office himself and is making nice with the development community to help him in a future run. Glassman has been spotted dining with at least one local developer. Glassman says he is amused and flattered.  The same insider postulated that there may be others within the organization with “undeclared interests”

     May the games begin!

Big Beach Hotels Now OK ?

     The times, they are a-changin!

    
It was just a few years ago today, Mayor Naugle and his crew vote nay…
     The big hotels were out of style, they guaranteed they’re gone awhile…

     But it’s introduced to them and they say, a big new hotel, we say YEA!…
     We’re  Mayor Naugle’s Big Giant Hotel Band !!! ………
                          …………………………………..

     But all goofiness aside, the days of raucous Public Hearings about proposed new Beach hotels might be over.

     Here are a few of the comments from the three vote anti-redevelopment majority a few years back;

     Teel: “another example of another building on too small a lot …10 lb.s of sugar in a 5 lb. can …..  
      and, “I think were are going to regret jamming on these buildings along the waterfront…..            
 
     Rodstrom: If you’re a developer, I’m not your candidate…..
     and “I’ll fight the greedy developer”……

     Naugle: I heard a clear message during the campaign, I can’t support going forward…

     
     But t
his week all five members of the City Commission voted in favor of a new beach mega-hotel, the Ocean Wave. The Wave needed special votes to approve it, because it’s length (325 ft.) and height (245 ft.) exceeded beach development rules.
            
                  
                                  artist’s rendering of Ocean Wave
                    

    Here are the comments from the Commission before their affirmative vote this week on the Ocean Wave;

    NO COMMENTS ! ……  looks like the times, they are a-changin……..