January 16, 2018 - When Galt Ocean Drive residents voluntarily self-assessed funding for the broad range of civic upgrades known as the Galt Mile Improvement Project in 1995 (pink aggregate sidewalks, new traffic signals and signage, interred utility lines, pavered crosswalks, new landscaping, etc.), the City agreed to maintain the many improvements in “a Disney-like manner.” They didn't. Having watched the landscaping cycle through 12 years of avoidable brownouts, frustrated Galt officials were delighted when Commodore resident José “Chepo” Vega volunteered to pressure the City into keeping its promise. After eight years of fighting to keep our home safe and beautiful, Chepo retired last year. Scrambling to fill his shoes, neighborhood officials serendipitously hit the jackpot when Galleon resident John Jors picked up the gauntlet and hit the ground running. For some insight into his first few months as the neighborhood's block maintenance liaison, Read on...
December 2017 LaMarca Letter
January 5, 2018 - In his December 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca cites the newly built Ravenswood Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility and the new Animal Care and Adoption Center for having respectively scored Gold and Silver LEED certifications; apprises travelers about using the recently released 2018 Port Everglades Cruise Guide to build an entire vacation around a cruise; reminds Broward boaters to heed the slower seasonal speed limits to avoid collisions with migrating Manatees; and applauds the Broward Water Partnership Rebate Program for saving a record breaking 1.5 billion gallons of water as of October 2017. While LaMarca’s Holiday Season missive extolls two recent County projects for meriting LEED Certification, few of his Broward constituents are conversant with the LEED Program, or why their elected officials celebrate LEED certified projects. This may help...
Round 2: ELSS Opt-Out First Update
December 27, 2017 - Seeking to recapture a $multi-billion windfall, Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists deployed a Declaratory Statement to circumvent State Law by manipulating a "skewed" interpretation of the Florida Fire Code, thereby authorizing local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) - an arbitrary stewpot of fire safety features that invariably include a sprinkler system. Angered by this mercenary maneuver to relegate the intent of the legislature and scam $billions from association homeowners, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R – Fort Lauderdale) teamed with Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff to file legislation providing associations with the right to opt-out of the costly ELSS. With one exception, every Florida lawmaker in both chambers approved the bills. When Governor Scott broke his word and vetoed the legislation, lawmakers began crunching a revised strategy for 2018 - until fate smiled - and convincingly inveighed the legislation's current readiness for Round 2.
Fire Wiz Jeff Lucas Boosts Fire Rescue
December 17, 2017 - Dispatched from each of the City's eleven Fire Stations, Fort Lauderdale firefighters annually respond to 55 thousand reported fires and medical emergencies. Fire Marshals don’t rescue people endangered by fire, or provide those threatened by medical emergencies with a chance to survive a harrowing ordeal. In the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Fire Prevention Bureau is answerable to Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas, whose unique talent for engendering cooperation has manifested a sea change in Bureau operations. By crafting enforcement policies that incorporate the concerns of homeowners, merchants, neighborhood associations and civic organizations – while enlisting them as partners – Lucas has nosedived the number and severity of fires in Fort Lauderdale, an achievement that quietly merited a litany of honoraria from the City, the State and his peers.
November 2017 LaMarca Letter
December 8, 2017 - In his November 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca outlines how the recent expansion of Slip 2 in Port Everglades will enable the berthing of today's longer ships adjacent to the newly renovated Terminal 4, including Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class ships, Princess Cruises’ Royal-class ships, and those of Carnival Cruise Line - currently the primary user of the newly extended berth; welcomes the 9th Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit to the Broward County Convention Center in mid-December; exhorts Broward taxpayers to take advantage of early-payment discounts for recently received property tax bills; applauds County Veterans Services Officers for helping Broward’s 127,000 veterans navigate the Veterans Administration System for benefits. While noting how the recently elevated ratings of bonds issued by Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will enhance the airport's long term financial stability, LaMarca also observes how FLL cured an FAA dilemma that might have cost hundreds of $millions with a $2.5 million high-tech fix.
Roberts: Go Big Go Fast
November 30, 2017 - In his November/December 2017 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner & Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts updates progress for "Go Big, Go Fast!”, a comprehensive initiative launched by the City of Fort Lauderdale Public Works Department to improve, replace or enhance the City's aging infrastructure. Roberts details the status of 18 projects central to upgrading the City's water and wastewater system. He enumerates ongoing District 1 projects in Palm Aire West, Bayview from Sunrise to Commercial Boulevards, Twin Lakes and Lake Estates. Completed projects in 8 District 1 locations include the installation of speed humps, radar signs, striping/swale work and flexible delineators. Roberts provides a County email address for reporting downed stop signs and lists upcoming November and December events. He offers news-hungry constituents email updates while providing contact information for Robbi Uptegrove, his invaluable Commission Assistant.
Beach Funds, Hot Spots & the Wish List
November 21, 2017 - After twenty years of knocking heads with foot-dragging bureaucrats in Tallahassee and Washington DC, while fending off demagogues who view tidal erosion as the “wages of sin” for befouling pristine barrier islands, delighted Galt Mile residents spent 2016 watching an armada of trucks ferry sand from upstate mines to severely eroded north Broward beaches. For two decades, officials advocating for beach renourishment argued that the beaches were indispensable to State and local tourism economies and provided the only real protection for people and property threatened by hurricanes and tropical storms. At the outset of the Segment II beach fix, Broward Beach boss Nicole Sharp assured Galt Milers that when the protection was tested, and storm surge snatched up yards of new beach, any eroded "hot spots" could be refilled without another excursion through regulatory hell. When fate sent Irma, Sharp rolled up her sleeves...
October 2017 LaMarca Letter
November 11, 2017 - In his October 2017 constituent update, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca anticipates legislation that may provide a reliable funding source for renourishing eroded beaches and maintaining (and/or sand bypassing) coastal inlets - where 85% of the downdrift sand is lost to tidal erosion. LaMarca thanks FDOT for awarding Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) $27 million, half the $54 million pricetag of a planned five-gate remote terminal east of Terminal 4, reviews a plan by President and CEO Stacy Ritter of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau to increase the agency's investment in digital advertising while using predictive analytics to harvest consumer feedback, welcomes prospective pet owners to "Roll with the Big Dogs", an incentivized invitation to bring home a supersized pet pooch with a Hefty Bag of free supplies. Since the county finally awoke to the need for a regional plan to fortify infrastructure increasingly overwhelmed by rising sea levels, LaMarca closes by recruiting constituents to help document tidal flooding in their neighborhoods during the autumn King Tides - generating data useful for mitigating the local impacts.
The Storm Debris War
October 28, 2017 - Shortly after Hurricane Irma pummeled Broward on September 10. Fort Lauderdale officials announced that the storm buried the city in 1 million Cubic Yards of debris. After first clearing the roadways (an estimated 60,000 cubic yards of sand was removed from A1A within two days of the storm), bulk trash haulers were scheduled to remove the debris by making three passes in each of 11 City Zones - as mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) regulations. The first pass (completed on October 15), collected storm-generated debris. While Fort Lauderdale targets the remaining mess, City officials are closely monitoring their contractors and subcontractors, as haulers across the state have been jumping ship - and heading for greener pastures (a bigger payday). When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma diluted regional recovery resources, Cities covered in debris used windfall contract rates to lure subcontractors from neignboring municipalities - thereby sacrificing their eligibility for FEMA reimbursement.
September 2017 LaMarca Letter
October 19, 2017 - In his September 2017 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca inventories the impacts of Hurricane Irma, lists Recovery Resources that serve as a financial safety net for individuals, repairs damage to their homes, offsets Businesses losses, and provides low interest Small Business Administration Disaster loans that help return storm victims to solvency; lists important Telephone Numbers that help residents restore lost access to communications, protect against post-storm scams and report price gouging for survival necessities. He observes that the Segment 2 beach renourishment exceeded expectations as a bulwark against Storm Surge while protecting $billions in upland property; and describes how the County teamed with the Humane Society to rescue abandoned pets and rebuild their strength before boarding them on flights to shelters across the country. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma steamrolled Texas and Florida, the resulting shortage of recovery resources triggered a bidding war that spanned the southeastern states and fueled a regional epidemic of price gouging and actionable contract violations.
The Irma Dividend
October 10, 2017 - On September 26, 2017, the Galt Mile Advisory Board convened an 11 a.m. luncheon meeting at Casa Calabria in the Ocean Manor Hotel. Not surprisingly, the meeting agenda was dominated by Hurricane Irma. Following a series of association damage reports submitted by officials from a dozen member condominiums and cooperatives, GMCA President Pio Ieraci announced that Galt Mile homeowners, tenants and business owners are eligible for financial relief from FEMA, and could apply in person, online or by calling the agency. After detailing his experience with the process, Ieraci concluded, “If a claim is approved, funds can either be mailed to the applicant, or deposited directly into his or her bank account.” While some of our neighbors sailed through unscathed, thousands more were forced to purchase airline tickets and inland hotel rooms - while others had to replace food that spoiled when power was interrupted. Galt Mile residents who sustained losses shouldn’t hesitate to apply for relief, especially since it was funded by your prior contributions to Internal Revenue.
Water & Sewer Rates Roller Coaster
September 30, 2017 - On August 28, 2017, Galt Mile officials Pio Ieraci, Eric Berkowitz and Fred Nesbitt met in City Hall with Commissioner Bruce Roberts, City Manager Lee Feldman and staffers from the utility billing department - specifically - those who generate invoices for water and sewer services. It was the latest in a series of meetings convened to correct a longstanding billing inequity that unfairly inflates water and sewer charges for association homeowners. Significantly enhanced during a 2009 rate reconfiguration implemented to plump water and sewer revenues prior to a City venture into the bond market, the billing disparity has since widened from a seriers of annual rate hikes. Correcting this discriminatory invoicing policy will save every Galt Mile condo or co-op owner hundreds of dollars each year. Read on...
August 2017 LaMarca Letter
September 20, 2017 - In his August 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca regrets the Broward Board’s decision to decline a replay of the nominal FY 2017 millage reduction he successfully spearheaded last year; notes that WorldCity’s annual compilation of Port Everglades’ trade statistics heralds a rebound after several years of tentative growth; reviews the fast-growing number of new routes that contributed to FLL’s status as the fastest growing large hub airport in the country; advises constituents to enroll in AlertBroward, a new emergency notification system that provides subscribers with important information about an emergency; and closes by inviting Broward students to participate in the Mayor’s Art Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Broward Cultural Division. Read on...
Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee and Maria in Play
September 8, 2017 - With Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee and Maria in play - a few informational resources seem appropriate. Click Here to a boatload of hurricane links, Click Here to the National Hurricane Center or Click Here to the National Weather Service. For a list of local hotels (with contact info) Click Here and then click the Broward City of your choice. ALSO - Click on your preferred killer storm below:
Galt Sun Trolley & BCT Bus Bunco
August 22, 2017 - In his June 2017 Newsletter, District 1 Commissioner Bruce Roberts marked the Sun Trolley's 25th anniversary by applauding a litany of new services. Not surprisingly, he failed to mention that petulant bureaucrats at Broward County Transit (BCT) celebrated by defunding the Galt Mile Sun Trolley Route. Not to worry - Sun Trolley Executive Director Robyn Chiarelli has assured Galt Mile officials that the service will not be interrupted or reduced. As observed by Galt Mile President Pio Ieraci “BCT is no friend to the Galt Mile.” A BCT Bus layover has been blocking a handicap access ramp on Galt Ocean Drive since construction commenced on A1A. The busses often park on the sidewalk, or extend into the street and impede or block traffic (including an EMT). When asked by the City to relocate the Route 72 bus layover outside city limits, BCT officials instead agreed to return the busses to their original site at 41st Street and A1A when construction is complete, presumably in September. By the way, if a few more Galt Milers ride the Sun Trolley each month, BCT will be forced to restore the choked funding. For a snapshot of the Galt Link's bumpy evolution, and a summary of the BCT bus blockade Read on...
July 2017 LaMarca Letter
August 8, 2017 - In his July 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca explores how improvements to Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) - jointly funded by the County and Southwest Airlines - benefitted both stakeholders and travelers; cites the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance for contributing to the County’s regional leadership in job growth; and warns constituents to prepare for the seasonal threat of hurricanes through November and the active transmission of Zika by mosquitoes that proliferate during South Florida’s May through October rainy season. Check it out...
ELSS Retrofit - Round 2
July 24, 2017 - In response to a May 4, 2016 Declaratory Statement authorizing local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Engineered Life Safety System, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis teamed with Senator Kathleen Passidomo and association advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff to enact legislation enabling associations to forego this regulatory scam. Governor Rick Scott promised to withhold a veto if the bills were amended to require approval by 2/3 of the association’s voting interests to forego an ELSS retrofit - in lieu of a simple majority. Although the legislation was amended as suggested, he didn't keep his word. On June 26, 2017, the Governor vetoed the legislation. At a subsequent July 18, 2017 meeting with Galt Mile officials, Moraitis and Bogdanoff agreed to refile the legislation in the 2018 legislative session. Here's what happened...
June 2017 LaMarca Letter
July 15, 2017 - In his June 2017 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca concludes that a significant increase in local property values should sufficiently enhance the County’s ad valorem revenues to cut taxes without impacting services; details competitive improvements to Port Everglades’ Southport Turning Notch, describes how a long-term agreement between the Port and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will mutually enhance revenues; observes how these improvements helped elevate the Fitch Rating outlook on Port bonds from “stable” to “positive”. LaMarca applauds a Broward County Libraries Division program that temporarily enables free internet access for veterans, active military members and their dependents; congratulates ten County departments for winning a record 16 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards; invites participation in the Broward Academy’s ten-week educational series that examines the panoply of County Government services; and verifies that a key County E-911 Dispatch upgrade was approved for installation - as 30-year old intermittently operational radios are recycled into bullets and bottle tops..
Roberts: Retail; Sun Trolley; Tax Cut
July 2, 2017 - In his June / July 2017 message to constituents, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts notes how the values of South Florida retail markets are currently among the highest in the nation, as Fort Lauderdale's prosperity is bolstered by a robust economy, an unemployment rate below the national average, and total employment figures that reached a record high in 2016; announces the Sun Trolley's 25th year as the city's Community Bus Service; outlines a snakebit plan to insure the navigability of the city's canals by charging the cost of dredging to the owners of properties that line the canals (the plan was subsequently vaporized). Roberts laments how the legislature's placement of an additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption on the November 2018 ballot will tank City revenues; applauds 4 District 1 participants in the City of Fort Lauderdale's first Neighbor Leadership Academy Class and reviews a litany of planned improvements to the stretch of Sunrise Boulevard from Searstown eastward to the Gateway Shopping Plaza, an FDOT brainchild waitlisted for funding by Broward MPO.
Oxy vs. Skag
June 21, 2017 - At the February 18, 2010 GMCA Advisory Board meeting, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts lamented an explosion of disreputable local pain clinics, noting that within a few years, their numbers in South Florida jumped from 4 to 176. Drawing on his long experience as the City’s top cop, Roberts knew that the vast majority of drugs dispensed at these clinics wind up on the street. To many city officials, having unwittingly become the lynchpin of an East coast drug network seemed more intolerable than the thousands of lives it abruptly extinguished. Seven years later, as the Pill Mills fade into an embarrassing historical footnote; South Florida autopsy tables have never been busier. Here’s what happened...
May 2017 LaMarca Letter
June 5, 2017 - In his May 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca details how to respectfully dispose of old, tattered and torn American flags that are no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, admonishes constituents to adequately prepare for the June 1 through November 30 Hurricane Season, encourages those seeking a new pet to drop in on the special “Beach Bud” adoption event, which heavily incentivizes welcoming a larger dog into one's family. LaMarca opens by outlining Broward County measures to combat a nationwide epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, a devastating scourge that overwhelmed South Florida morgues, decimated thousands of families and claims a record number of victims each month. How the campaign to close Pill Mills helped catalyze this crisis will be posted in the Tallahassee section. For LaMarca’s May 2017 insights, read on...
Roberts: FXE; Census Data; GABP
May 27, 2017 - In his May 2017 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts notes how Fort Lauderdale is in one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan regions; celebrates the 70th birthday of Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport (FXE); announces new LauderWorks and LauderStreet websites that provide information about road closures, special events and Public Works projects throughout the City; honors FLPD Sergeant Monica Ferrer for facilitating Fort Lauderdale’s recognition as a Purple Heart City; invites constituents to attend The Great American Beach Party on May 27; applauds this year’s nominees for induction into the annual Fort Lauderdale Walk of Fame; and closes by welcoming participation in the upcoming 2017 Telephone Town Hall Meetings” (speak with Roberts on June 14 at 7 p.m.).
Bogdanoff Bags The Bill - Endgame
May 12, 2017 - Last May, Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists successfully engineered a regulatory loophole to circumvent a 2010 State Law that enables high rise association homeowners to forgo spending $millions on retrofitting their home with fire sprinklers. Since then, associations that legally opted out of the sprinkler retrofit have been ordered by local Fire Marshals to install as Emergency Life Safety System (ELSS). Since an ELSS in older buildings includes a sprinkler system, when Statehouse Representative George Moraitis learned that Fire Sprinkler Association lobbyists circumvented the intent of the legislature in order to bloodlet $billions from association homeowners, he filed legislation that will allow high rise associations to also opt out of the ELSS. Given her intimate familiarity with the legislative process and the specific issues at stake, former Representative and State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff also headed to Tallahassee. Last month Bogdanoff updated Galt Mile officials about the legislation’s progress through the first half of the session. Bogdanoff’s reports covering the frenetic second half of the session follow next, including an endgame that proved a double-edged sword.
April 2017 LaMarca Letter
May 10, 2017 - In his April 2017 constituent update, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca uses a pictorial roadmap to demonstrate how the Broward Convention Center will evolve into a full blown Exposition Community featuring a Headquarters Hotel surrounded by venues for entertainment, shopping, dining, and recreation - for both visitors and residents, announces the precursor to a lucrative long-term agreement between Port Everglades and Royal Caribbean Cruises, invites constituents to share in a rebate for promoting water conservation to our friends and neighbors and details how a newly installed State-of-the-Art Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system will expedite emergency response times countywide - and help convince stakeholders that the Broward County Office of Regional Communications and Technology (ORCAT) and the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) can work together without a 15-round Smack Down.
A Fat & Healthy Beach
April 25, 2017 - When construction vehicles rolled into north Broward beachfront staging sites on January 4, 2016, two decades of mind-numbing frustration began melting away. Although thousands of Galt Mile residents are delighted with the restored beach, their twenty-year ordeal provided first-hand insight into the structural consequences of tidal erosion. While watching the new sand migrate south along the coast, many are understandably apprehensive about County intentions to maintain the newly widened beach. To this end, Broward beach boss Nicole Sharp is overhauling the County’s Beach maintenance protocols. After projects in Port Everglades and Segment III stabilize the Broward coast, Sharp's plan to surgically address "Hot Spots" eviscerated by Mother Nature may not be a walk in the park - but it will help keep the beach fat and healthy, while postponing a return to the regulatory rat's nest from which we recently emerged.
ELSS: April 2017 Legislative Update
April 15, 2017 - When a skewed interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC) was implanted in a May 4, 2016 Declaratory Statement, it authorized local Fire Marshalls to demand that thousands of Florida high-rise associations retrofit a $multi-million Emergency Life Safety System (ELSS). Angered by a scheme that relegated the intent of the legislature, Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 653, which would provide associations with the right to opt-out of the costly ELSS. Since members of the Fire Marshall's union openly employed by the Sprinkler associations are fighting to preserve their anticipated windfall, Association Advocate Ellyn Bogdanoff - who sponsored the 2010 Sprinkler opt-out legislation - is lobbying on behalf of Moraitis’ bill. On April 8, 2017, former State Senator Bogdanoff sent a message to GMCA officials to help update thousands of Galt Mile residents threatened with this questionable $multi-million assessment. Her week 5 review of the bill's progress recounts the obstacles that were overcome and those that remain. See where we stand...
March / April 2017 LaMarca Letter
April 6, 2017 - In his March / April 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca describes how a staged photo shoot of our recently widened beach will carry multiple messages to the State and Federal agencies charged with funding beach projects, blending a "Thank You" card with an invoice and a cordial reminder that their investment will yield a whopping tourism dividend. LaMarca also details how NEPA surveys required for Port Everglades' improvements will safeguard the environment; notes how a Port pilot program to enhance turn times expedited its first shipment of perishable cargo; welcomes Silversea Cruises' newest luxury cruise ship – Silver Muse – to its new winter homeport; applauds recognition of Broward's green communities by “Keep America Beautiful”; details how an Animal Care Division web portal will facilitate spay and neuter services for “community cats”; and explains how thousands of new parking spaces at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will enhance the explosive growth anticipated for FLL in 2017. Read about it...
Bogdanoff in Tallahassee
March 27, 2017 - On May 4, 2016, a State official issued a questionable interpretation of the Florida Fire Code (AKA: a Declaratory Statement) that empowered local Fire Marshals to require most high-rise associations to install an Emergency Life Safety System (ELSS). An undefined blend of fire safety elements (which includes fire sprinklers), Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal Jeff Lucas characterized an ELSS as “more expensive than fire sprinklers”. Upon learning how a bureaucrat circumvented the Statutory right of associations to opt-out of the sprinkler retrofit, Statehouse Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 653 on February 6, 2017. The bill would enable association unit owners to decide - by a full membership vote - whether their association should fund a $multi-million ELSS. Former State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, who authored the 2010 opt-out law, traveled to Tallahassee to help Moraitis enact his bill. Since the success of this bill will determine whether most Galt Mile unit owners will be forced to cough up a $multi-million assessment, Bogdanoff updates the legislation's progress with weekly reports. Read her recent messages...
Evolution of a Homeless Program
March 18, 2017 - In 2005, Broward County implemented a plan entitled “A Way Home: Broward County, Florida’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness”. Blending junk science and urban legend with untested theories about the root causes of homelessness, the plan required homeless candidates to demonstrate "housing readiness" by enduring a prolonged psychological, medical and sociological gauntlet of treatment, counseling and classes while bouncing between shelters and the streets. The vast majority skated when faced with this daunting regimen, and the program’s overall impact on homelessness was negligible. After Congress adopted Federal laws in 2009 that precipitated a nationwide "housing first" initiative, the Broward "A Way Home" plan and local homeless assistance programs were adapted to access new Federal funds. Since then, hundreds of homeless individuals and families have been housed, including more than 500 homeless veterans, and scores of our "chronic homeless" population. See what happened...
Roberts: Galleria; Bad Bill; Galt A1A
March 7, 2017 - In his March/April 2017 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts anticipates another attempt by Galleria developers to placate leery City planners, introduces seawall compliance requirements, disparages a vacation rental bill by State lawmakers that would usurp the right of City residents to govern themselves, discusses a plan to decrease the number of pedestrians annually flattened by motoring tourists, reviews the progress of A1A renovations along the Galt Mile, provides a half dozen marginally useful City telephone numbers, applauds a mobile showers program for the homeless, invites perusal of newly available online police data, describes Symphony at the Waterways – a recently completed high-end senior living facility, enumerates a spectrum of parks programs, thanks constituents for marshalling through the Segment II beach renourishment, extolls employee happy talk on You Tube and notes a growing libretto of City accolades. Finally – skim some pedantic commentary...
ELSS Ambush: Switching Scams
February 21, 2017 - Last May, Fire Sprinkler Associations successfully engineered a regulatory loophole to circumvent a 2010 State Law that enables high rise association homeowners to opt out of a costly sprinkler retrofit. Although many associations have since been contacted by local Fire Marshals about installing a $multi-million Emergency Life Safety System (ELSS), some have been directed to immediately install a full sprinkler system. Leveraging their required system approval, some local Fire Marshals have also specified an engineer and contractor for these installations. On February 6, 2017, former Representative and State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, who sponsored the 2010 sprinkler opt-out legislation, defined this dilemma while Representative George Moraitis announced having filed an ELSS opt-out bill - hopefully precluding one of the costliest rip-offs in Florida History. - Read on...
January / February 2017 LaMarca Letter
February 12, 2017 - In his January / February 2017 LaMarca Letter, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca thanks officials in the County’s Natural Resources Division for their relentless pursuit of the recently completed Segment II beach renourishment, welcomes $8 million awarded by HUD to fund 19 projects for which ending homelessness is a shared objective, credits a collaboration among stakeholders in the Broward Water Partnership with new conservation measures, applauds “Fast Lane”, an expedited information check-out feature of the Broward Library’s new service model and observes that the 2016 Sea Turtle nesting season was earmarked by an unprecedented number of Loggerhead, Green Turtle and Leatherback nests. Unfortunately, many of this year's avalanche of Turtle nests failed to produce hatchlings. Curious? - Read on...
Hi-Tech CarJacks & Publix Robberies
January 30, 2017 - With the exception of a summer hiatus, the Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) hosts an Advisory Board meeting on the third Thursday of each month. Among the monthly agenda items is a security report. In their capacity as law enforcement liaisons to the Galt Mile Community Association, FLPD Officers Tom Gestal and George Brandner provide the Advisory Board with a snapshot of local crime trends and recommendations for protecting local residents against emerging threats. Since September, they have been updating the Advisory Board about a spike in car thefts that predominantly impact several models of Infiniti. Unlike the standard smash and grab tactics that leave windows broken, or keylocks ripped from car doors, Gestal and Brandner noted how vehicles that were stolen or plundered were left undamaged. In January, Gestal warned about a series of violent robberies that victimized supermarket shoppers. To avoid becoming a target... Read Gestal's advice...
Roberts: Body Cam, FLPD Chief, Sunny TV
January 19, 2017 - In his January / February 2017 message to constituents, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts updates A1A roadway improvements bordering the Galt Mile neighborhood, describes a new online app useful for locating permit data, briefly bios Rick Maglione, appointed interim Chief of Police when Frank Adderley relocated to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, applauds the “Cops 4 Kids” program for providing schoolchildren with mentoring and positive role models, reviews the final stage of the Segment II Broward Beach Renourishment, notes improved graduation rates for traditional high schools in the Broward County Public School System and reports the launching of Hello Sunny TV, which streams live coverage of events, on demand content and realtime local beachcams to laptops, tablets and smartphones. To protect FLPD officers and the public by enhancing transparency and accountability, Roberts announces the long awaited implementation of an FLPD body worn cameras pilot program. For Roberts' 2017 kickoff message, Read on...
December 2016 LaMarca Letter
January 10, 2017 - In his December 2016 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca highlights some of Port Everglades 2016 benchmarks, topped by Congressional approval of a funding venue for the Port’s Master Plan improvements. By paving the way to deepen the port's channel and expand its turning notch, the new Federal law will enable the port to share in a post-Panamax economic jackpot. LaMarca also applauds Broward County for out-pacing most of the State’s other metro areas for job growth, noting that District 4 is the statewide leader for creating jobs in the fields of trade, transportation, and utilities. LaMarca closes his message by enumerating the health benefits of bike sharing - a sort of testament to Broward B-Cycle on its fifth Birthday, when it became the fiscal ward of health insurance carrier AvMed. After being rescued, the bikes were rebranded. See How...
New Local Scam Targets Seniors
December 30, 2016 - The holiday season is traditionally a time marked by inclusion, family, serene coexistence, charity – and a palpable uptick in fraud. The high profile personal data hacks of 70 million Target customers in 2013 and the fiasco at Sony in 2014 both took place during the holiday season, and it’s no coincidence that December was named National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Although Holiday Season scams are a worldwide phenomenon, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics confirm that the slime balls who drive this niche industry auger a preference for Floridians. Nick-named "Fraud Lauderdale" by insiders working both sides of the "Confidence Industry", the Venice of America features the 3rd highest complaint rate in the United States - Scam Central. FLPD Galt Mile liaison, Officer Tom Gestal recently informed the Advisory Board about a new scam. After targeting seniors in a half dozen Broward municipalities, an unusual yet effective "Fraud Ring" has arrived at the Galt Mile. It can only hurt you if you don't know how it works. Check it out...
Homestead Express - 2017
December 20, 2016 - The Florida Constitution provides all legal Florida residents with a tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of their owner/occupied homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and other “permanent residences” - if they qualify. Homesteaded properties are eligible for the protective “Save Our Homes” tax cap. Also available are a host of traditional and new exemptions for seniors, veterans, widows/widowers, active military, the blind, disabled persons and properties with build-outs for Mom, Dad, Grandma and/or Grandpa. Apply for exemptions in person, at an outreach event (Beach Community Center), by mail to BCPA, interactively online or by requesting “homesteads-on-wheels” (for house-bound applicants). Although exemption applications are considered "timely" if submitted by the March 1, 2017 "soft" deadline, they will still be accepted until the September 18 "hard" deadline if accompanied by any moronic excuse for tardiness. If you miss that, a "Good Cause" sob story won't make a difference - you're screwed!!! Learn about the 2017 incarnation of the Homestead Express!
November 2016 LaMarca Letter
November 30, 2016 - In his November 2016 LaMarca Letter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca announces the grand opening of the newly constructed Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center, welcomes the world’s largest cruise ship - Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas - at Port Everglades, notes how the decision by Air Emirates to service the Greater Fort Lauderdale area will enhance international services at Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport, describes the TechGateway Initiative - a partnership between the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and Broward County Public Schools that will symbiotically benefit local students and the region’s fast-growing Tech Industry, applauds Broward County Parks for providing Veterans with an assortment of free camping services in November, and reminds boaters to avoid collisions with manatees that seasonally return to local waterways - usually in November
Roberts: Surtax, Best of Web, Stormwater
November 20, 2016 - In his November / December 2016 Newsletter, after welcoming the Holiday Season, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts makes a pre-Election Day effort to engender approval for the ill-fated penny sales tax - for the third time in 5 months. Building on last year’s 8th place ranking in data and technology by Digital Cities, Fort Lauderdale rated Digital Cities 2016 “Best of the Web” recognition by for its new website’s bells and whistles. After reporting a Commission decision to decline approval for couching an upgraded Galleria in a massive mixed-use complex laced with condos and poorly planned public use trade-offs, Roberts snapshots progress of a 2014 10-year plan to compensate for rising sea levels with a 3-phase reconfiguration of the City’s Stormwater infrastructure. Roberts wraps up his message with calendar tweaks.
October 2016 LaMarca Letter
November 10, 2016 - In his October 2016 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca announces a resumption of the Segment II Broward Beach Project - couched in a “before and after” comparative pictorial, outlines an award winning water main project at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and congratulates airport director Mark Gale for his appointment to the Board Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, applauds Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division for upping its live release rate and participating in the Perfect Exposure Project - which equips staff with shutterbug skills to facilitate animal adoptions. - Check it out...
Soaking Fort Lauderdale Ratepayers
October 31, 2016 - In July of 2009, the City of Fort Lauderdale announced a new set of water and sewer rates for utility customers. When questioned about its impact on associations, City officials peddled pablum lifted from the Fort Lauderdale web site “The rate changes will result in an increase of less than $10 per month for 72 percent of single family residential customers.” Since association homeowners are evidently included in the other 28%, Galt Mile Managers, association Treasurers and Finance Committee members surmised that their share of the burden would be somewhat larger. Although assured by City officials that “The rates for single family homes and multi-family residences are identical.”, members of the neighborhood association’s Advisory Board soon learned that association homeowners are charged up to 90% more than their single family counterparts - for the same services. Curious? - Read on...
September 2016 LaMarca Letter
October 21, 2016 - In his September 2016 constituent update, Broward District 4 Commissioner Chip LaMarca reports having realized a political objective central to his ideological zeitgeist – a tax cut. Sweetened by the fact that the 1% millage reduction will take place in Broward County, where LaMarca recently observed how voters “never met a tax they didn’t like.” Exercising his longstanding advocacy on behalf of local and regional economic engines, LaMarca applauds a property purchase that will expedite complementing the County’s Convention Center with a Headquarters Hotel and retail campus, notes how new technology and a consultant’s recommendations may smooth contentious stakeholder concerns about the Countywide E-911 service, describes how grant funding will help facilitate kitten adoptions and announces the opening of the new Animal Care and Adoption Center in October.
October 12, 2016 - Given the political fireworks launched during Presidential elections, most voters would rather flip a coin than self-educate about Ballot questions or proposed Constitutional Amendments. As a result, unscrupulous politicians and industrial juggernauts religiously use them as vehicles for realizing outrageous measures that would otherwise wither under marginal scrutiny. Although five (5) Proposed Amendments were certified for the ballot, one of them – Amendment 4 - was approved by voters participating in the August 30 Primaries. Of the other four (4) proposed Constitutional Amendments that will appear on the November 8, 2016 general election ballot, one of the two that impact the proliferation of solar energy was admittedly crafted to scam a snoozing Florida electorate. Unfortunately it may work. Don't get caught napping while our energy industry drives up your bill. Read on for this year's Constitutional Clutter.
August 2016 LaMarca Letter
September 20, 2016 - In his August 2016 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca congratulates eleven County departments named by the National Association of Counties for Achievement Awards (four snagged by the Risk Management Division); notes that Port Everglades rated Green Marine Certification and won German-based Hapag-Lloyd as a new customer; cites Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) for a Green Practices Program that earned the J. Bryan Cooper Environmental Award for its Sustainable Strategic Initiatives in Terminal 4 and newly opened Concourse G; warns constituents to prepare for Hurricane Season and introduces a new mobile access to online tax data. LaMarca also details State and County efforts to choke off the slippery Zika Virus. After racing across South America and the Pacific, this mystery pandemic surged into South Florida, where health authorities worldwide know little more than we do about stamping it out
Roberts: PACE; Sales Tax, FXE; King Tides
September 10, 2016 - In his September / October 2016 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts prods constituents to complete hurricane preparations, suggests a new financing option for energy-efficient property improvements, thanks Fort Lauderdale bean counters for a spending plan that enhances City services while freezing the millage, congratulates the Budget Division for earning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, reviews sales tax ballot initiatives to upgrade failing infrastructure, applauds Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) for hosting a drill to sharpen tactical emergency response, welcomes the installation of Global Entry Kiosks to expedite Customs procedures at FXE, encourages utilization of the CodeRED emergency notification system, updates high-level staff changes and alerts residents to impending flood risks during September’s King Tides.
July 2016 LaMarca Letter
August 15, 2016 - In his July 2016 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca explains his recognition by the Florida Association of Counties for successfully lobbying Tallahassee lawmakers to boost allocations to beach renourishment projects and Seaport improvements, examines a new funding source for homeowners and businesses planning energy-saving property enhancements, reviews how a litany of new partnerships, improvements, and business agreements have strengthened Port Everglades’ operational and economic underpinnings, and applauds a new Broward Library Division service model that increased certain branch hours of operation without exploding the budget.
Retrofit Roulette in Tallahassee
August 3, 2016 - In the past few months, Florida community association homeowners have been perplexed by unexpected regulatory bear traps. A requirement to retrofit condominiums and cooperatives with a budget-busting automatic sprinkler system, which the Florida Fire Code limits to existing high-rise associations, has suddenly evolved into a mandate for every association in the State, regardless of size. Although Broward Senator Jeremy Ring, Senate sponsor of the governing 2010 statutory opt-out amendment, informed DBPR Director Kevin Stansfield that the agency misinterpreted the relevant Statutes, it hasn't detered DBPR from enforcing a law that seemingly doesn't exist. Simultaneously, a May 2016 Declaratory Statement has empowered local fire marshals to require the installation of sprinklers in associations whether or not they voted to forego a sprinkler retrofit.
June 2016 LaMarca Letter
July 21, 2016 - The June 2016 message from Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens with a Property Tax primer, tracking an Ad Valorem dollar through the FY 2016 - 17 budget process. An ardent fan of Broward transportation infrastructure, our District 4 Commissioner recounts events at an FDOT-hosted Wave Streetcar Industry Forum and commends Port Everglades for helping client shippers comply with safety-based container weight verification requirements. After explaining how a joint Broward / Palm Beach water reclamation project will benefit both counties, LaMarca invites constituent participation in the Broward Academy’s ten-week educational series - which explores the panoply of County Government services.
Moraitis: June 2016 Post-Session Update
July 12, 2016 - In his June 2016 Newsletter, District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis outlines how the 2016 State Budget may impact constituents. Moraitis takes pride in State contributions to planned improvements in Port Everglades, asserts that legislative leaders proved conversant with the importance of Beach Renourishment, reviews a series of appropriations to Everglades Restoration, cites a controversial tax cut package – capped by a “Back to School” sales tax holiday, describes a “historic investment” in Florida schools and applauds a $500,000 award benefitting Homeless participants in the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Rapid Rehousing Program. In contrast with last year's dysfunctional legislative gauntlet, the 2016 budget process was a love-fest.
Boat Show: Back in the Soup
July 3, 2016 - For the second time in a decade, Fort Lauderdale residents watched plans to improve Bahia Mar turn to vapor. During the past 40 years, the 39 acres of Barrier Island real estate stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway served as epicenter of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. As the last few years of its Bahia Mar contract wind down, city officials fear that this Fort Lauderdale fiscal engine may weigh anchor and sail into some other South Florida coastal venue, destabilizing our municipal economy and sucker-punching the city budget. After reduced building heights cost them 8% of their condo sales, developers claimed that since city lease negotiators and boat show officials were eating their lunch, they declared that the project is "no longer economically viable" and pulled the plug - unless...
New Law: Screening Military Tenants
June 26, 2016 - On June 14, 2016, Executive Director Yeline Goin of the Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL) alerted the Galt Mile Community Association to a legislative change that impacts how associations must process certain prospective lessees - specifically - the men and women who defend our country. On August 8, 2015, Florida Senator Aaron Bean (R - Jacksonville) filed Senate Bill 184 – a piñata of eclectic benefits for veterans and active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Unanimously approved in both houses, the bill was enacted on April 15, 2016. After July 1, 2016, Associations will have to follow a new set of rules when screening servicemembers for tenancy eligibility - as per State Law.
May 2016 LaMarca Letter
June 16, 2016 - In his May 2016 constituent Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca snapshots the Segment II Beach Renourishment and outlines a planned 2020 Segment III South County beach fix. LaMarca also reviews recently expanded services at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, examines County progress in transforming the Greater Fort Lauderdale - Broward County Convention Center from a local meeting venue into a world class conference magnet, details how a May 14 Hurricane Preparedness Open House at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center helped frame links between planning and survival, and explains how SWIM Central, a County program that teaches kids how to swim, befits May’s designation as National Water Safety Month. Now that the Galt Mile Beach has reclaimed it's robust 1960's zeitgeist, Nicole Sharp is exploring measures to prevent the beach from melting back into the sea.
George Moraitis: 2016 Homeless Update
June 6, 2016 - Despite Florida’s fetid reputation as a mine field for the homeless, Fort Lauderdale maintains one of the State’s most effective homeless safety nets, as roving teams of Homeless Advocates and FLPD officers annually make roughly 8,000 referrals to critical services for anyone who stumbles over the question “Where did you sleep last night?” In 2009, the City implemented a new weapon against this crippling epidemic. $1.5 billion made available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 fueled the creation of Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Programs (HPRP) in participating jurisdictions, including Fort Lauderdale. Impressed with it's significant impact on the City's chronic homeless population, Representative George Moraitis has evolved into a passionate program advocate, and applauds the legislature for allocating $500,000 to continue housing those whose survival would otherwise be questionable. For his take on the City's progress, read Moraitis' May 2016 constituent update.
Roberts: Galt A1A, E-911, Body Cameras
May 24, 2016 - In his May / June 2016 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts alerts constituents to the City’s preliminary exploration of an independent Emergency 911 (E911) service, applauds the ISO Certification merited by the City’s Strategic Management System and strong Water and Sewer Bond Ratings assigned by Standard & Poors and Moody’s Investor Services, summarizes the progress of FDOT’s rehabilitation of A1A along the Galt Mile, updates FLPD’s planned approval of a Body Camera Program, solicits requests to investigate Properties that may be unregistered vacation rentals, and invites constituents to attend two FDOT public meetings - a May 24 review of planned improvements to the I-95 interchanges at Commercial Boulevard and Cypress Creek Road and a May 25 discussion about the Wave Streetcar Project. Roberts' message to constituents cloaks a costly message to the County, which may save your life!
April 2016 LaMarca Letter
May 15, 2016 - In his April 2016 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca welcomes Broward Navy Days Fleet Week festivities to Port Everglades, notes that the F-35 Lightning “Joint Strike Fighter” will make it civilian debut at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, enumerates “BrowardPetFix” spay/neuter programs such as SNIP, Portable Sterilization Units, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), and Returned-to-Field (RTF), applauds two restaurants in Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (Shula Burger in Terminal 1 and Food Network Kitchen in Terminal 3) for their recognition by USA Today “10Best” Readers’ Choice National top 10 list and cites a Sea Turtle Conservancy grant that enabled Broward County to protect nesting Sea Turtles by crafting and installing Sea Turtle informational signs at county-wide beach access locations.
Bahia Mar: Rebirth or Snake Oil
May 8, 2016 - Fort Lauderdale's two-legged economy is driven by tourism and the Marine Industry. Since the Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show identifies South Florida’s $11.5 billion Marine Industry with the City of Fort Lauderdale, when a rumored relocation by Show Management CEO Efrem Zimbalist III threatened to hijack the yearly windfall, nerves in City Hall were stripped raw. While the world’s largest Boat Show is distributed over 7 sites in the city, including most of the City’s major Marinas and the Convention Center, ground zero is the Bahia Mar Resort & Marina at 801 Seabreeze Boulevard. The 39-acres of barrier island that cradles Bahia Mar from the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal is owned by the City of Fort Lauderdale - and a new lease is up for grabs.
Calling for Help: 911 is Still on Hold
April 26, 2016 - Ten years after 80% of Broward’s voters mandated a countywide consolidation of emergency dispatch services in 2002, public officials from the county and its 31 municipalities finally acknowledged that doing so would shave precious minutes from the emergency response time – where the difference between life and death is often measured in seconds. For decades, emergency calls that were fielded in one of a dozen dispatch centers throughout the county were chronically dropped or “misdirected”. In other words, some people calling 911 about a robbery, break-in or a body on their front lawn might just as well have reported the incident to Dairy Queen. The county-wide system implemented on October 2014 has faced horrific growing pains, which a consultant may soon correct. This is what's happening...
Gerrymander: A Tallahassee Team Sport
April 17, 2016 - After four trials, three special sessions and eight rulings from the Florida Supreme Court, the lines delimiting Florida’s State Senate districts and Congressional districts were finally redrawn. Although the new district boundaries may minimally impact many jurisdictions, not so for the Galt Mile. A congressional district map and state Senate map used to define political boundaries since 2012 were both recently struck down by the courts when a coalition of voting rights groups spearheaded by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause provided evidence that districts were designed to protect either the Republican majority or incumbent Democrats. In 2010, Florida voters approved a constitutional prohibition against gerrymandering; five years later, the courts gave it teeth. Wanna see how?
March 2016 LaMarca Letter
April 9, 2016 - In his March 2016 constituent update, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca cites a study that demonstrates how synchronicity between Broward’s key Transportation hubs fiscally fuel our community, reports that another lucrative Port Everglades tenant extended their relationship by 20 years, notes the onset of Sea Turtle nesting season, outlines how several competitive water conservation contests successfully met their objectives, describes Broward efforts to upgrade an antique county-wide Emergency 911 Radio system and details how unclaimed items abandoned on Broward County Transit busses are passed to charitable or educational groups for donation. Read on...
Sine Die 2016: Surviving Assn Bills
March 26, 2016 - With a handful of exceptions, dozens of association bills filed during the 2016 Legislative Session were finally exiled to the ever-expanding Tallahassee boneyard. In the last week of the session, a set of companion bills in the House and Senate were poised to become legislative trains, repositories for bits and pieces of stalled legislation whose sponsors hoped to rescue from death on the calendar. Senate Bill 1050 filed by Senator Jeffrey Brandes (R - St. Petersburg) and House Bill 1187, sponsored by Representative James W. “J.W.” Grant (R - Tampa), relating to the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR), were besieged by lawmakers with bills destined for oblivion. Like most 2016 association bills, these trains never left the station. Take a look at a few survivors...
Chlorine Noodle Soup
March 17, 2016 - Late last Summer, a few Galt Mile residents sent emails to the neighborhood association complaining about the odd taste of their tap water. One of our neighbors surmised that vengeful kids, having been ejected from the beach by the Galt Mile Security Patrol, somehow sabotaged their association's water. In fact, the perpetrator was the City of Fort Lauderdale. From May 10 through June 14, Water Services will temporarily alter the chemical purification process as part of a regular water distribution system maintenance program. Some may sense a strange taste or acrid odor, while others won't notice any difference. Since it takes approximately two weeks for the chlorine to clear, any perceived changes should dissipate by early July. For the 411 on the H2O, Read on...
George Moraitis: Mid-Session Update
February 2016 LaMarca Letter
February 28, 2016 - In his February 2016 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca reports meeting in Tallahassee with officials from other Florida coastal communities to solicit lawmaker support for a reliable beach maintenance funding resource, describes how the Port Everglades Advocacy Team lobbied Tallahassee lawmakers to annually allocate at least $25 million to insure that Florida seaports remain economically competitive, details how a free Mobile Passport Control smart phone / tablet app can expedite processing by U.S. Customs for travelers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, invites budding Broward entrepreneurs to hone their business skills at the 2016 Capacity Building Conference on March 4th and 5th, and applauds Broward County Library for showering patrons with a staggering 1.2 million eBooks in 2015. For the Commissioner's February update, Read on...
Beach Project: Plowing Thru Segment II
February 19, 2016 - After seventeen years of rain-dancing in Tallahassee, Congressional foot-dragging and gridlock in Washington DC and nearly two decades of broken promises by Broward officials, back-hoe excavators, bulldozers, front end loaders and off-road trucks descended on several beachfront staging areas along the North Broward coast. On January 4, the Broward Segment II project was launched in three municipalities. In Pompano Beach, a crew cloistered at SE 12th Street headed north. After initially heading north, another crew assembled at Palm Avenue in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea turned south toward Galt Ocean Mile. In Fort Lauderdale, a third staging area was located at Vista Park in Lauderdale Beach heade north, where the beaches at L'Hermitage and Southpoint were expanded. Approaching from different directions, the two crews will have completed replenishing the Galt Mile Beach by the end of March. Maybe you should cross your fingers...
Return of the Bogus Estoppel Bills
February 10, 2016 - During last year’s legislative session in Tallahassee, two Florida Lawmakers proposed bills in the House and Senate that would enhance the profitability of their “day jobs”. HB 611 was filed by Rep. John Wood (R - Winter Haven) while companion Senate Bill 736 was filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland). Although described by Realtors as the “estoppel certificate” bills, homeowners in more than 46,000 Florida community associations knew the legislation as “The Home Tax”. Fortunately, the bills were abandoned on April 28, 2015. Unfortunately, these wallet worms are back. Five months after the bills died on the Calendar, Wood (a realtor) filed House Bill 203 on September 18, 2015. Two months later, on November 3, 2015, Stargel (who owns and operates two Polk County Real Estate firms) filed a companion bill, Senate Bill 722. If these nest feathering bills aren't improved, prepare for a new budgetary line item in next year's spending plan.
January 2016 LaMarca Letter
January 31, 2016 - In his opening 2016 Newsletter, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca polishes the economic halo adorning Port Everglades, including a record-breaking number of cruise passengers serviced on December 20, a decision by corporate cash cow Florida International Terminal LLC to renew its lease, and an unprecedented jump in rail freight attributable to the recently completed Intermodal Container Transfer Facility. Given his passionate concern for pets and Broward’s feral fauna, LaMarca reviews three newly approved programs crafted to abate the occupancy rate in the County’s animal shelter, and steers cat-lovers to grant recipient “Stray Aid & Rescue”, a mobile Wilton Manors spay/neuter clinic that will also vaccinate for rabies, clip an identifying ear notch and treat for debilitating feline bugs - for only $2 (a negligible co-pay to subsidize the rabies shot). LaMarca closes with an opportunity for ambitious conservationists to win $1000 for engineering and implementing a local water conservation program. For the Commissioner's first 2016 District 4 update - read on...
Roberts: FLPD: Vacation Rentals; NTAS
January 24, 2016 - In his January / February 2016 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts celebrates Fort Lauderdale’s designation as a Digital City for using technology to facilitate municipal objectives, notes that the Winterfest Boat Parade snagged 9th place in the 10Best and USA TODAY’s Readers’ Choice awards for Best Holiday Festival (although he neglected to mention that Fort Lauderdale was named number 3 in the Readers’ Choice runoff for Bikini-Watching), applauds the City’s number 10 ranking in a 4th quarter 2015 Industry Report by HomeVestors / Local Market Monitor listing the Top Ten Cities for Real Estate Investment, considers a pilot program that implores smokers to desist in certain City Parks, endorses “Reality Check”, which enables FLPD officers to treat wayward juveniles with a portable version of Scared Straight, warns against “self-radicalized” terror-mongers using the internet to up their game, summarizes initial impacts of the City’s new Vacation Rental Ordinance and relishes Port Everglades’ record-breaking growth. May as well get started...
Banned Bus Booted Back to Galt Mile
January 12, 2016 - On August 10, 2015, Broward County Transit (BCT) Operations Representative Oscar Correa told association officials that Broward County buses would clog Galt Ocean Drive throughout the A1A Greenway project’s duration - which he estimated at “two - possibly three years.” After three months of fomenting fear and frustration while chewing up public and private infrastructure, the neighborhood association and Commissioner Chip LaMarca negotiated their removal with Broward County Transit Director Tim Garling. In October, Broward County Transit (BCT) announced that the layover sites of four Broward bus routes would no longer obstruct Galt Ocean Drive. In December, one of the Route layovers was smuggled back to the Galt, reviving fears that Correa was right. What happened?
December 2015 LaMarca Letter
January 2, 2016 - In his December 2015 message to constituents, District 4 County Commissioner Chip LaMarca applauds Broward County Transit (BCT) for launching full-featured new buses onto local thoroughfares, describes how a burdensome access glitch to the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center will soon be corrected, advises pet owners to protect their furry companions against rabies, wandering off or getting snatched, and cites local photographer Fred Johnson for landing the cover page of the 2016 Florida Association of Counties Calendar. About buses - although we were promised that Buses from Routes 72, 36 and 11 would no longer use the Galt Mile as a depot, perhaps you noticed that Route 72 buses are again being stacked along Galt Ocean Drive. Is this a mistake - or did our Broward Officials play fast and loose with the truth??? We'll soon see.
Segment II: Sandman at Hand
December 22, 2015 - For the past year, Galt Mile residents were repeatedly assured that the Segment II beach renourishment would begin following the November conclusion of Sea Turtle nesting season. It didn’t. For some veteran Galt Mile residents, nearly two decades of crushing disappointment replaced enthusiasm for the project with a numbing cynicism – on a hair trigger. Having grown accustomed to flimsy excuses, bureaucratic foot-dragging and political double-talk, leery Galt Mile residents attending a December 16 Segment II kickoff meeting seemed incredulous when project planners announced the January 4 start date. Working with the Feds, the State and 3 North Broward municipalities, Broward Officials finally pulled it off. During a Q & A, when Broward Beach Administrator Nicole Sharp divulged project details, even diehard skeptics conceded that the Beach is about to be fixed. See for yourself...
November 2015 LaMarca Letter
December 11, 2015 - In his November 2015 Newsletter, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca updates his District 4 constituents about the Segment II Beach Renourishment, notes that Port Everglades is entering the Preconstruction Engineering & Design (PED) phase, invites you to pay your property taxes, outlines the Conservation Pays rebate program for High Efficiency Toilets (HET’s), describes FPL's SolarNow exhibit at the Young at Art Museum and Library, applauds the Broward County Aviation Department's new Maintenance Facility for earning the LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification, outlines free NewVenture courses for budding entrepreneurs, and exhorts boating enthusiasts to watch for Manatees that migrate into the intracoastal to forage when the temperatures warm. For the Commissioner's District 4 November update - read on...
Galt Link: New LBTS Hookup
December 4, 2015 - From his seat on the Board of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA) - the Sun Trolley’s parent agency - Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts learned that the Galt Mile route's ridership statistics inexplicably tanked along the leg that serviced Holy Cross and Imperial Point Hospitals - threatening the viability of the neighborhood's bus service. Installed last December as Sun Trolley Executive Director, Robyn Chiarelli cut a deal with Galt Mile Officials. After launching an informal referendum to determine if the declining ridership was due to a statistical glitch or the neighborhood's evolving transportation proclivities, Chiarelli used the resident feedback to reconfigure the Galt Link. While no one was watching, she simultaneously resolved an inherited fiscal snafu that might have otherwise crippled the service. Curious? - read on...
October 2015 LaMarca Letter
November 24, 2015 - In his October 2015 Newsletter, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca updates his District 4 constituents about the impending Segment II Beach Renourishment, applauds Port Everglades for earning LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for energy-efficient improvements to Cruise Terminal 4, welcomes the next generation of informational Sea Turtle signage headed for Broward beaches and announces a series of free ACT and SAT preparation courses offered at seven branch Libraries (although not available at the Galt Mile branch).
Roberts: Boat Show; King Tides; P.L.A.Y.
November 15, 2015 - Opening his November - December 2015 Newsletter with a measure of Holiday Season gratitude for his constituents, their input and our City, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts welcomes the economic windfall generated annually by Fort Lauderdale’s International Boat Show, issues a blistering warning about the dangers of celebratory illegal fireworks, details a progressive after-school program called P.L.A.Y., cites the City Website for achieving a third place national ranking for government websites, reports City efforts to beat back the autumn King Tide seasonal flooding, credits the Transportation and Mobility Department (TAM) with securing a $42,000 grant to fund three additional painted intersections, notes that the City scored awards for “Small American Cities of the Future 2015/16” in the Overall and Economic Potential categories, invites participation in a combined Open Streets - Winterfest Family Fun Day event on November 22, bids farewell to a relatively uneventful Hurricane Season, and applauds the 300 volunteers who advanced 20 community projects by participating in the October 24 “Make a Difference Day” events. Among the topics parsed in his newsletter, his description of the current King Tide seasonal flooding as “unprecedented” carries a warning - which concerns you!
Knock the Rust off Governing Docs
November 1, 2015 - On October 19, 2015, Association Attorney Donna Berger blogged about a threat to associations that never knocked the rust from their governing documents. If the declaration, Bylaws, etc. that anchor an association aren’t regularly updated, the structure and protection they was designed to provide erodes. Berger likens relying on outdated documents to using a map where the topography has completely changed. Getting lost in a statutory Twilight Zone can cost a bundle - payable by unit owners. Over the past few years, lawmakers enacted a litany of new rights and protections for association homeowners - which may not apply to your association - or YOU!
LaMarca: Enjoy the Ride!
October 23, 2015 - On April 28, the Broward Commission sought to legalize services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) by amending the Motor Carriers Ordinance with stiff regulatory requirements for drivers, maintenance standards for their personal vehicles, incremental insurance coverage, even a mandated local business office, prompting the TNCs to suspend access to its online platforms for Broward customers. As Uber recruits pressured reluctant commissioners with a truckload of emails rife with abusive complaints, they conceded to empowering the TNCs to self-regulate, while verifying compliance by perusing their books twice annually. Having successfully engineered the elimination of regulatory roadblocks, the TNCs resumed service in Broward following enactment of an October 13 Ordinance revision amenable to their business model. Read on for LaMarca's take on the sea change...
Feds OK Beach Project
October 15, 2015 - Once again, the Galt Mile community is anxiously awaiting the long-delayed Segment II Broward Beach Renourishment. Every non-comatose Galt Mile resident knows the project is scheduled to begin in November 2015 - just days away. Given the shrinking beach’s critical importance to the neighborhood’s economy and their quality of life, Galt Mile homeowners - and their associations - have passionately pursued its rescue for more than twenty years. 50 years - if you harken back to a 1965 entry in the Federal Register, when the 89th U.S. Congress appropriated a then whopping $1,093,000 to flesh out Broward’s severely eroded coast (Section 301 of Public Law 89-298, October 27, 1965). While the Galt Mile has never been this close to a beach fix, diehard skeptics numbed by decades disappointment will refrain from celebrating until they feel new sand between their toes. Here's where the project stands...
September 2015 LaMarca Letter
October 1, 2015 - In his September 2015 Newsletter, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca probes the 2016 Broward spending plan (later approved by the County Commission), summarizes the most recent chapter of the County’s political tug-of-war with Uber and Lyft, describes how five deep-pocketed developers armed with political capital hope to bag the Convention Center Hotel, welcomes an early taste of the windfall fueled by the competitive improvements to Port Everglades, and underscores September’s designation as “National Preparedness Month” with events conceived to protect property owners from meteorological mayhem. The following may help fill in some blanks. - read on...
The Galt Mile Bus Blockade
September 23, 2015 - About two weeks after the Galt Mile A1A Greenway Project kicked off on July 27, 2015, residents in several local associations noticed daily traffic jams in front of their homes – invariably caused by Broward County buses. Dismayed association officials soon learned that the buses - often parked on both sides of Galt Ocean Drive – weren’t an anomaly. Seeking to minimize traffic impacts on work zones adjacent to planned A1A Greenway improvements, FDOT and the City asked Broward County Transit to shift buses that ordinarily "layover" on A1A - to Galt Ocean Drive. As a result, buses that formed up three and four deep on the east side of A1A just south of 41st Street were now boxing in Galt Mile associations - while threatening their drivers and pedestrians. To find out whether the problem will spread - or end - read on...
Roberts: Galt A1A; Fire Award; Sharrows
September 15, 2015 - In his September 2015 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts updates his Galt Mile constituents about the improvements currently underway along their section of State Road A1A, applauds Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue for its recognition as a "Class 1" agency by the Insurance Services Organization (and for completing accreditation through the Commission of Fire Accreditation International), explains how the City’s upgraded credit rating will lower the tax bite for debt repayment, reviews a controversial Vacation Rental Ordinance crafted to quell concerns about abusive tenants without financially crippling responsible and compliant landlords, announces the inaugural implementation of “sharrows”, an infrastructure design feature that may help abate runaway cyclist and pedestrian fatalities, invites constituents to fill vacancies on City Boards or Committees and welcomes their attendance at his twice-monthly pre-agenda meetings. Read on...
LaMarca: Dog Days in District 4
August 31, 2015 - Following a year of high-testosterone ring toss for control of a County ordinance, the Broward Board and Uber are crafting an endgame that allows both sides to claim victory – and save face. Elsewhere in his August 2015 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca benchmarks a year of speeding cargo to railheads across the US via the Port Everglades Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) - progeny of the Port and the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR), showcases pet-tracking facial recognition technology by Finding Rover, announces the Third Annual Go SOLAR & Renewable Energy Fest, applauds recognition of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) as “Airport of the Year” by the Air Line Pilots Association International, celebrates August as Water Quality Month and invites constituents to "Stay Connected" using County social media. Check it out...
Galt Mile A1A: Speedway to Greenway
August 24, 2015 - What a mess. The long-rumored transmogrification of A1A along the Galt Mile is upon us. Since 2006, City and State (FDOT) bureaucrats have been pledging to transform the Galt Mile’s blighted A1A “speedway” into an opulent beach boulevard that safely embraces vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles while appealing to visitors and local residents. When neighborhood residents voted to approve their preferred design option in 2009, recessionary pressures compelled planners to split the venture into two less financially intimidating projects. An initial component that was completed in February, 2013, reduced the number of traffic lanes from 6 to 4, and modernized roadway infrastructure in preparation for a second project meant to “fine tune” traffic control and enhance the route’s appearance. Its successful completion will also deliver on a 6-year old promise to elevate the County's most decrepit stretch of A1A into a thoroughfare worthy of its 2009 designation as a "Florida Scenic Highway." Its about time...
Beach Lighting: The Code Letters
July 31, 2015 - When Fort Lauderdale passed its original Beach Lighting ordinance in 2003, official State policy was to dig up turtle nests on heavily populated “donor” beaches and transplant the eggs in mostly barren “recipient” beaches. The City plan backfired when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reversed its policy in 2006, and prohibited moving the nests without good cause. Instead of enforcing its ordinance on stretches of uninhabited beach, Commissioners suddenly faced blacking out heavily populated beach neighborhoods - endangering residents and visitors; drivers and pedestrians; while shredding its tourism economy. Commissioners optimistically assumed that Code officers would enforce the ordinance selectively, suppressing poorly conceived provisions that marginalized public safety. Unfortunately, as Code Managers were expunged amid administrative shake-ups, departmental policy flip-flopped between cooperative outreach and abusive tactics that immersed the ordinance in controversy while impairing its objective. During the past decade, these management lapses were often punctuated with caustic notices threatening civil fines for non-existent or unverified violations. At a July meeting engineered by City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, Code Compliance and Galt Mile officials addressed the latest version of this ill-conceived chronic threat and outlined a plan to quash future incarnations. To connect the dots, read on...
LaMarca: Summertime in District 4
July 22, 2015 - In his July 2015 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca laments the threatened departure of transportation network companies (TNCs) Uber and Lyft from Broward County, reviews an honorarium for 28 Broward County centenarians, announces newly available online access to Business Tax Receipts required by the County for all Broward businesses, celebrates July as Park and Recreation Month by citing benefits available in Broward parks, promotes a Defensive Driving Course to curb preventable collisions in deference to National Safety Month, seeks to protect pets from the adverse impacts of stressful Independence Day festivities and recommends a Training Course offered by the Office of Economic and Small Business Development that could equip building trades entrepreneurs with a competitive advantage. Tap in...
Roberts: Fleet Win; Storm Plan, CO Gas
July 9, 2015 - In his July 2015 message to constituents, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts explains how the City complemented its hurricane preparedness strategy with planned applications for Federal funding, distilled its highly technical Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) into a user-friendly fiscal primer, credits Fleet Services Program Manager Carlos Berriz for the City Fleet clinching the 36th top spot in a field of 38.000 American public fleets, details how the Uptown Link - a shuttle bus launched last summer to service the Cypress Creek corridor - was administratively melded into a Sun Trolley and lists noteworthy municipal events through September. Jumping on two incidents recently splashed in the media as attacks by the “Silent Killer,” Roberts takes a hard look at Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. So should you...
Galt Mile Sun Trolley: Use it or Lose it!
June 26, 2015 - Late last year, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts warned neighborhood association officials of a possible threat to the Sun Trolley’s Galt Mile route. Along with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca, Roberts serves on the Board of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA), the Sun Trolley’s parent agency. Having learned about an inexplicable decline in ridership on the Galt Mile route segment along Oakland Park Boulevard to Federal Highway, which services the Coral Ridge Mall as well as Holy Cross and Imperial Point Hospitals, Galt Mile officials met with interim Sun Trolley Executive Director Tara Crawford following a June 18 Advisory Board meeting. Since a drop in ridership could be used to downsize or end the neighborhood’s local bus service, association officials stressed how truncating the service would burden Galt Mile residents, and explored options to either enhance ridership or mitigate the impact of a service cutback. Here's what happened...
LaMarca: May - June 2015 Update
June 14, 2015 - In his May - June 2015 Newsletter, Commissioner Chip LaMarca adds another chapter to last month’s missive about legalizing Transportation Network Companies in Broward. The District 4 Broward Commissioner also describes County plans to open a Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center that will house approximately 400 dogs and cats in a more comfortable environment than many of the homes they might be adopted into. LaMarca closes his message with an infrastructure update. Having rifled a quarterly asset management report filed by FDOT Maintenance Division, the Commissioner applauds the structural health of county bridges. However, the report also reveals some disconcerting data about those spans most often traversed by Galt Mile residents. Take a look...
Broward Beach Boss Bags Brass Ring
June 1, 2015 - After reviving the dormant Segment II beach project in 2011, former Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers spent the next 3 years chasing the required State and Federal permits. Having won a hard-fought struggle with FDEP for a State permit, when his crusade for a Federal Permit was taken hostage by NOAA Fisheries, an agency in the Commerce Department, Myers retired - passing the baton to Broward Natural Resource Administrator Nicole Sharp. Joined by District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca, new beach boss Sharp hunted the remaining regulatory brass ring – a Federal Permit to reclaim vanishing Segment II beaches. Since the high-powered politicians recruited by Myers failed to dent the bureaucratic brick wall that cloisters Federal Agencies, Sharp turned to a resource for whom the federal regulatory jungle serves as a playground. It worked. The Segment II beach fix is scheduled to begin in November! Here's how she did it...
Roberts: Road Fix; CodeRED; High Tides
May 20, 2015 - In his May 2015 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts explains how the Vision Zero Initiative can reverse the city’s astronomical pedestrian fatality rate while enhancing bike safety, offers contact information for reporting a variety of municipal concerns, lists dates when anticipated high tides may spur seasonal flooding in low-lying areas, spells out registration protocols for the CodeRED notification system, applauds Fort Lauderdale’s recent citation by NerdWallet as the 11th Greenest City in America and reviews the Advisory Board seats currently available to prospective District 1 volunteers. Describing a budgeting measure implemented to curb our tax bite, Roberts outlines how microsurfacing will stretch revenues by extending the useful life of municipal infrastructure. However, unless the city can successfully address unanticipated misconceptions about the project's purpose, public appreciation for the ad valorem relief could be marred by a firestorm of disappointment.
LaMarca: Early Spring Update
May 10, 2015 - In his April – May 2015 message to constituents, Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens by reporting his receipt of an elusive federal permit for the long-awaited Galt Mile beach renourishment and projects a November project kickoff. After applauding county measures to conserve water, LaMarca reviews Broward infrastructure improvements, citing fiscal hallmarks achieved by Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, "Green" Paratransit and Express buses launched by Broward County Transit and construction of a Biogas Cogeneration Electric facility that will morph organic waste into electrical power for the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Pompano Beach. LaMarca also updates the controversial entry of transportation network companies (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.) into the Broward market, a local microcosm of a simmering conflict between unregulated web-based services and their traditional brick and mortar counterparts, which may change how the world does business!
Gypsy Dent Grifters Sting Galt Mile
April 26, 2015 - On your way out of the supermarket, while juggling groceries earmarked for the trunk, some guy parked next to you points out a dent in your car. Inveighing that this is your lucky day, he holds out a business card and mentions that he is an auto body repair technician who just got home from a long day at the service garage. What might ordinarily cost you $700 - $900 at the auto body shop, he will do for a mere $250. What’s more, you can watch as he restores your vehicle’s former glory. How can you go wrong? After carefully eyeballing his embossed laser-cut business card, you agree. When you wake up tomorrow, and you realize that you actually gave a stranger $250 to destroy the finish on your car, you'll spend the day struggling with whether you should file a police report - or make believe it never happened. You're not alone - Gypsy Dent Scammers have arrived on the Galt Mile!
Lawmaking Realtors Pursue Profits
April 15, 2015 - Among the most controversial 2015 association bills are House Bill 611 filed by Rep. John Wood (R - Winter Haven) and companion Senate Bill 736 filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel - known as the “estoppel certificate” bills. Owners of properties governed by a community association must provide buyers or lenders with a statement of their financial status with the association prior to selling or refinancing their homes. As per State law (s. 718.116(8), F.S.), a condo seller (usually through a realtor or title company) will ask the association for a summary of his or her property's association debt as of a certain date - known as an Estoppel Certificate. Drafted by realtors and supported by title companies, the legislation was designed to flip the script, and shift the cost of preparing estoppel letters from the realtors’ paying customers (sellers) to the associations – an attempt to saddle the seller’s neighbors (that’s us) with the expense. Not surprisingly, the bills' legislative sponsors are both realtors who will directly benefit if successful. Golly Gee Willikers!!!
Roberts: Bike Plan, Quiet Zone, Bridges
April 4, 2015 - In his March - April 2015 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts introduces Lewis Landing as the City’s newest Park, notes technological improvements to Fort Lauderdale’s online Property Information Reporter, applauds the City’s participation in the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program, expresses his intention to serialize planned infrastructure improvements in his newsletters - beginning with the Bridge Master Plan and recognizes the Transportation and Mobility Department for having snagged the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization’s prestigious Transit Priority Award. The Commissioner opens his message to constituents with an enigmatic heads-up for those disturbed by paralyzing noise – either from heightened seasonal air traffic at Executive Airport or federally mandated train horns. Ironically, their respective endgames differ as night and day.
Developer Statutes OK Latent Defects
March 26, 2015 - When mortgage bankers cold cocked the world economy, and eliminated disposable income from the average family budget, overnight, millions of people could no longer afford their own homes; much less buy a new one. With the housing market at a standstill, developers with time on their hands turned their gaze to Tallahassee, where they are deified by lobbyists and worshipped as campaign cash cows by lawmakers. Fed up with court-ordered penalties for delivering substandard construction, in 2009, developer trade associations embarked on a multi-year strategy to block defrauded homeowners from plundering future profits. Since the courts refused to back off when developers were caught violating State law, they bought play for pay politicians to circumvent the offending statutes. While consumers snoozed, 4 such bills became State Law. Those strange fingers you feel on your wallet belong to a rookie lawmaker whose 2015 bill threatens every Floridian, with a special land mine for association homeowners.
Galt Presidents Council Kicks Off 2015
March 18, 2015 - On February 2, the Galt Mile Presidents Council convened its first 2015 meeting at Fountainhead Condominium. The agenda, traditionally packed for the year’s inaugural meeting, addressed a threat to the Galt Mile Sun Trolley, a media driven controversy over the City’s Homeless policy, and a predictable outburst during a Beach Renourishment update. Ordinarily, Presidents Council meetings are kept confidential, ostensibly to promote a free exchange of ideas (which range from revelatory to hysterical). Since many of the issues undertaken at the February meeting are of critical concern to all Galt Mile residents, traditional “discretion” will be set aside. See for yourself...
LaMarca: March 2015 in District 4
March 5, 2015 - In his March 2015 Newsletter, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca reviews a regulatory benchmark for Port Everglades, record passenger traffic at Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport, Broward’s environmentally friendly commuter mini-buses, tax incentives for expanding businesses, an FP&L solar energy pilot program, a County adoption program for homeless pets, a Centennial celebration of the 13th Annual Broward Water Matters Day and a County event commemorating National Women’s History Month. Given his unrelenting support for Port Everglades, it’s no coincidence that LaMarca’s March message to constituents opens by applauding a long-awaited Federal green light for infrastructure improvements that will cement the Port’s future as a regional economic powerhouse. Here's Chip...
Chepo: Cutting the Galt Mile Canopy
February 20, 2015 - In early November, 2008, Commodore resident José “Chepo” Vega emailed a complaint to the Galt Mile Community Association about the “precarious” state of landscaping along Galt Ocean Drive. A few days later, he followed it up with an offer, exclaiming “While I was walking in front of my building, I saw someone walk into a low hanging tree limb. It could have blinded him. Why doesn’t the City pay attention to the landscaping on our block?” Since Advisory Board members were fed up with a decades-long cycle of neglect and block-wide brownouts followed by unconvincing apologies by Parks officials, when Chepo volunteered his time and horticultural acumen, he was appointed as the neighborhood's first Block Maintenance Liaison. Chepo has pressed, pushed, pulled and prodded City, County and association officials to whip the block into shape. While annually amputating dangerous low-hanging branches, Chepo observed that half the block's trees are gnarled, twisted and puny, resembling runted cartoon mutants. Here's why...
Roberts: Lobby List, Firehouse, King Tide
February 8, 2015 - After opening his January/February 2015 newsletter with an outpouring of gratitude for the absence of an opponent in the municipal primary - and a plea to support his fellow incumbent Commission candidates - District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts enumerates the City’s stand on issues soon to be undertaken by the Legislature, announces the completion of an interim facility that will temporarily house Fire Station #54 until the permanent structure is erected (City Project #P10914) at 3201 Northeast 32nd Street and outlines how recently implemented infrastructure improvements diminish the adverse impacts of rising sea levels due to Global Warming. Before closing with an offer to help constituents address their municipal concerns, Roberts welcomes Jenni Morejon as the new Director of the Department of Sustainable Development, the parent agency of Building Services and Code Compliance, two City divisions that are shaking off a bumpy history. Read on...
2015 Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival
January 30, 2015 - On Saturday, March 7, 2015, the 3rd Annual Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival will unfold in our back yard, resurrecting last year’s sequel to the 2013 inaugural event, when thousands of local residents and visitors were rewarded with a delightfully entrancing weekend afternoon – right across the street. The festival is produced by BocaRaton.Com and The Bites! Network – in partnership with the Galt Mile Community Association. From 4 to 8 PM, attendees will choose from scores of fine artisan wines, craft beers & spirits while enjoying distinctive food tastings; live cooking demonstrations; and authoritative insight into pairing each dish with the perfect libation - as outlined by some of South Florida’s most experienced sommeliers and renowned Top Chefs. To otherwise sample these extraordinary signature offerings, restaurant patrons would have to visit each establishment and order its iconic fare - an exercise that would take months and cost a fortune. Instead, you can spend a lazy Saturday afternoon trying them all, one masterpiece after the other, while strolling across the street from your home. By the way, as per an understanding negotiated by the neighborhood association, attending the event will enhance the value of your home. How? Read on...
Galt Mile Construction Migraines
January 19, 2015 - Throughout 2013 and 2014, the Galt Mile was bubbling with construction. Weeks or months after attending Special Assessment meetings convened to fund the improvements, unit owners watched engineers and contractors reincarnate badly eroded building features - preserving the value of their homes and their quality of life. Last year, some of the neighborhood’s largest associations underwent extensive concrete restorations, insuring that Plaza South, SouthPoint and Plaza East remain among the City’s most important properties. The neighborhood association monitors these projects, watching for unanticipated or abusive regulatory obstacles that might unfairly burden assessed unit owners and impede furure improvements for every association. Despite political tripping hazards rooted in turf protection, bureaucratic arrogance or garden variety stupidity, Galt Mile associations survived a tricky year.
Homestead Express: 2015
December 29, 2014 - The Florida Constitution provides all legal Florida residents with a tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of their owner/occupied homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and other “permanent residences” - if they qualify. Homesteaded properties are eligible for the invaluable “Save Our Homes” tax cap. Also available are a host of traditional and recently added exemptions for seniors, veterans, widows/widowers, active military, the blind, disabled persons and properties with build-outs for Mom, Dad, Grandma and/or Grandpa. Apply for exemptions in person, at an outreach event (Beach Community Center), by mail to BCPA, interactively online or by requesting “homesteads-on-wheels” (for house-bound applicants). Although exemption applications are considered "timely" if submitted by the March 2, 2015 "soft" deadline, they will still be accepted until the September 18, 2015 "hard" deadline if accompanied by any moronic excuse for dragging your feet. If you miss that, a "Good Cause" sob story won't make a difference - you're screwed!!! Learn about the 2015 incarnation of the Homestead Express!
Galt Mile Holiday Season Leftovers
December 17, 2014 - As we wend our way through the Holiday Season, events sometimes meld into a blur, and occasionally slip by unnoticed. While their relative impacts are less than critical, the following news snippets are either enlightening, or scratch an itch. In one recent incident, after a disabled Coral Ridge Towers South resident was victimized by a local merchant, his caretaker and a local news personality teamed up to script a final chapter worthy of the Holiday Season. Those with a passing curiosity about what happened to Commissioner “No” will learn the outcome of her latest local endeavor to re-enter public service. Finally, a summarized agenda item from the December GMCA Presidents Council meeting at Plaza South illuminates the status of our long-awaited Beach Renourishment. If you enjoy easy reading, check out these Holiday Season leftovers!
Galt Mile Sun Trolley - A Bumpy History
December 10, 2014 - While most Galt Mile residents maintain vehicles in the garage or parking deck, our demographics include a larger than average community of dedicated pedestrians. Some lament being barred from a driver’s license by a DMV eye exam. Others evangelize the wellness dividend of endless constitutionals. Few will admit that they were forced to choose between a car, prescribed heart medication and one daily alternative to canned tuna fish. For necessities they can’t reach on foot, they needn’t humble themselves by asking for a lift – they board the Sun Trolley. For scores of our neighbors, the community bus is more than an eclectic party favor, it’s their sole access to medical or “quality of life” resources the rest of us take for granted. For an inside perspective of the Galt Mile Sun Trolley's bumpy history, Read on....
Galt Mile: Predators vs. Security
November 29, 2014 - As homeless-related incidents proliferated in the City over the past decade, they also exploded across the Galt Mile, mushrooming from a handful of cordial tithing opportunities to robberies, thefts and assaults. For years, a few well-meaning snowbirds slipped daily handouts to homeless regulars who were fixtures on nearby association or sidewalk benches. As predicted by four consecutive District 1 Police Commanders, these congenial bench dwellers were soon replaced by roving groups of street punks. While investigating a variety of security strategies to beat back the growing threat, the neighborhood association stumbled on an option that fell into the "Goldilocks Zone" of Security Services. Although rated by Security Pundits as "highly effective", the service was among the least expensive alternatives - a serendipitous impact of Galt Mile's tightly packed demographics. After the community's beachfront associations unanimously approved initiating the Galt Ocean Mile Security Patrol in 2006, the crime rate dropped precipitously. Unfortunately, predators who slipped through the cracks have staked out several neighborhood sites, turning them into gauntlets.
Roberts: Homeless, Bullet Train, A1A Fix
November 20, 2014 - In his November - December 2014 Newsletter, after conveying seasonal tidings, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts announces the construction kickoff for All Aboard Florida’s downtown Fort Lauderdale station, reviews construction progress along A1A, asks constituents to name citizen volunteers worthy of official recognition, applauds NOVA students for recruiting a record number of “Adopt-A-Neighbor” volunteers (who assist homeowners with property improvements) and encourages registration for local CodeRED emergency alerts. After warning about elevated threat levels for storm surge ascribed to seasonal high tides, he concludes with a list of upcoming municipal events. However, in his opening message, Roberts laments an emotionally charged media campaign - orchestrated with the help of politically vested outsiders - and designed to reverse a city policy that balances the needs of the homeless with those of the general public.
So - Who's Driving the Bus?
November 10, 2014 - The 2014 general election unleashed a second nationwide Republican wave in the last 15 years. This temperamental political alchemy twice flushed Rick Scott into the Governor’s Mansion by a handful of votes. . By garnering 48.2 percent (2,861,390) of the vote, versus 47.1 percent (2,800,808) for former Governor Charlie Crist, Scott pulled off his paper thin (64,267-vote) repeat victory. In 2010, he ambushed Alex Sink by 61,000 votes. Depending on which side of the aisle they call home, Floridians have Broward voters to either thank, or blame, for the next four years of Scott’s erratic stewardship. It seems that many West Broward voters used Election Day to catch up on their sleep. The following is a rundown of those currently empowered to make decisions on your behalf, and the stats they generated on November 4. Also posted are the voter responses to the 3 proposed constitutional amendments and the 2 Broward ballot questions. Dig in...
Homeless: New Laws for New Plan
October 31, 2014 - On July 20, 1993, the City of Fort Lauderdale passed Resolution 93-143, in which Beach Rule 7.5(c) prohibits panhandling, begging and soliciting on the Fort Lauderdale beach and nearby sidewalks. The nation’s first city to prohibit the homeless from begging “in a nonthreatening manner” in a public place, when outraged constitutional watchdogs – spearheaded by the ACLU – heatedly beat a path to the courthouse, the entire nation was dumbfounded when they got the boot. Carefully navigating a First Amendment tightrope, both former City Attorney Harry Stewart and predecessor Cynthia Everett have successfully drafted a half dozen ordinances that curb behavior deemed dangerous, inappropriate, a health hazard, or just plain disgusting (i.e. defecating on the sidewalk). Enacted in conjunction with a revised policy to address homelessness and reclaim city parks and sidewalks commandeered as flophouses. City officials claim that the new policy will deter activities that enable homeless behavior while increasing resources to programs and organizations that address the root causes of homelessness.
Broward Ballot Backwash
October 11, 2014 - The 2014 General Election Ballot contains two questions raised by Broward County, one sponsored by the Broward Board of County Commissioners and one proposed by the Broward School Board. Given the ethical tar pit that serves as the Broward County Commission’s historical bioniche (along with numerous County agencies - including the School Board); approving these initiatives without some measure of insight is tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. The following missive will help Galt Milers sort through the two issues. After the official title and ballot summary (as featured on the actual ballot) - we scripted a brief diagnosis of underlying issues surrounding each voter “inquiry”. While most voters will see past the reauthorization oversight glitch in the first ballot question, the second question will epidemically fuel an $800 million Election Day migraine.
Constitutional Target Practice
October 2, 2014 - On November 4, 2014, as Floridians reconfigure their Federal, State and local governments, Galt Mile residents will wrestle with decisions about their representation on the County Commission (Chip LaMarca or Ken Keechl), in the Florida Statehouse (George Moraitis or Scott Herman), in the Florida Senate (Maria Sachs or Ellyn Bogdanoff) and on the "Hill" (Lois Frankel, Paul Spain or Raymond Schamis). We will also be asked to decide myriad open Judgeships and positions on District Boards and Commissions. Given the limited impact they have on our lives, most voters would rather flip a coin than self-educate about filling more obscure elected positions (County judges, the Water Board, Children's Services, etc.). Unfortunately, since this also holds true for most Ballot questions and proposed Amendments, unscrupulous politicians use them as vehicles for realizing outrageous measures that would otherwise wither under minimal scrutiny. The 2014 ballot houses three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution and 2 Broward County Ballot questions. Sponsored by tricky doggies, some aren't what they appear to be. Read on...
LaMarca: Budgets & Buses
September 24, 2014 - In his Autumn 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca disparages plans by the Broward Commission and Broward County Transit to stick it to Taxpayers – and fare payers. For years, the County Board relentlessly funded an endless quest for pork. When the recession vaporized the seemingly bottomless property tax windfall, it forced a temporary suspension of irresponsible county spending. As the housing market rebounded last year, LaMarca proposes to leave some of the incremental property tax revenues in your pocket. Having finally implemented policies that began reversing years of decline, Broward County Transit (BCT) earned an upswing in ridership. Instead of utilizing increased farebox revenues to finance additional improvements, BCT decided to bang their new customers. Transit Gurus agree that nothing deters ridership like a fare hike. What's wrong with this picture?
Roberts: Hurricanes, Bus Link, Firehouse
September 10, 2014 -In his September - October 2014 Newsletter, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts exhorts District 1 constituents to adequately prepare for hurricane season, announces a recently launched Uptown Bus Link that more conveniently connects destination sites in the business district along the Cypress Creek corridor, reveals a new city telephone number for non-emergency public safety calls, acknowledges three Fort Lauderdale beach resorts named in Florida’s Top Ten by travel website “emantravels.com”, applauds recognition by Firehouse Magazine that Fort Lauderdale’s Firehouse 2 was the second busiest in the state and its Engine 8 was the busiest in Florida and number 10 in the nation, asks that constituents protect themselves by exercising prudent public safety measures and concludes with a list of upcoming civic events. His opening reference - a reminder to prepare our families for hurricane season - should disturb some Galt Mile associations - since they haven't updated their hurricane preparedness plan in almost a decade. Here's a test. Do you know anything about your association's Hurricane Plan?
Docs vs. Glocks
September 1, 2014 - During a July 21, 2010 medical interview with 26-year-old Amber Ullman, Ocala Pediatrician Dr. Chris Okonkwo asked the Summerfield mother of 3 girls about child-proofing her home. Consistent with 1983 TIPP protocols established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, medical director Okonkwo of Children’s Health of Ocala routinely asks if stairways and backyard swimming pools are gated with childproof locks, if each child has a car seat and bicycle helmet, whether smoking parents do so in the house and if driving teenagers have cell phones. When the physician asked if guns were kept in the home, Ullman went ballistic, prompting Okonkwo to end his tenure as her pediatrician - and triggering a series of cosmic showdowns. Within months, Florida lawmakers passed a law that criminalized free speech in the examining room, as Florida physicians who ask gun owning parents if they store their guns safely can be fined $10,000 or lose their license. Welcome to the Gunshine State!
A Galt Mile Secret Weapon
August 14, 2014 - Unless association officials are familiar with what neighboring associations are paying for security personnel, maintenance staffers, bookkeepers, receptionists, department supervisors, general managers, landscapers, etc., the association risks allocating too much or too little to fill open positions. Every competent association Treasurer is keenly aware that poorly managed compensation will skyrocket annual unit owner maintenance assessments. In 1996, Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) officials explored the benefits of building a database that member associations could use to better manage labor costs. While saving Galt Mile associations untold $millions in the following 18 years, the annual Presidents Council Wage & Salary Survey evolved under the radar. Its time to let in some sunshine. Here's how it works...
A1A: Final Fix and Facelift
August 6, 2014 - Shortly after Superstorm Sandy mangled 4 blocks of A1A and sliced away much of the Galt Mile beach, on December 10, 2012, more than 300 local residents, their elected City, County and State officials and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) bureaucrats converged on the Beach Community Center. Since our future, both individually and as a community, hinges on the fate of our beach, we needed to know what remedies were being considered to restore Fort Lauderdale’s devastated coastal infrastructure. FDOT District Secretary Jim Wolfe explained how a turn lane and a greenway would be added to the 2-lane thoroughfare that was hastily carved from the roadway’s 2 surviving southbound lanes. After outlining plans for the $8.3 million short-term fix that was subsequently completed in June 2013, Wolfe said that the long-term solution would feature an elevated roadway bookended with bike lanes, and structural protections that would immunize A1A to future storm damage. Following 18 months of navigating its statutory construction process, FDOT kicked off the final plans to restore A1A on July 28. Here's how they are currently rebuilding Fort Lauderdale's Ocean Highway ...
LaMarca: Summertime in District 4
July 27, 2014 - Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens his July 2014 Newsletter with news of a County program conceived to reverse an annual summer spike in the tragic drowning deaths of local children who never learned how to swim. Turning to his older constituents, he warns against being lulled into paralysis by a decade of cyclonic calm (Superstorm Sandy excepted), urging utilization of Broward’s recently enhanced online Hurricane preparedness resources. After recommending a wide range of little known summertime family activities offered in Deerfield Island Park, LaMarca lists a series of "Let’s Talk Transit" meetings (that you already missed) and harkens to new art and performance projects that celebrate the upcoming "Broward 100" Centennial (which you haven’t missed). Given the seasonal inflation of Broward's homeless community, our District 4 Commissioner concludes by describing new homeless initiatives funded by healthy federal grant. See why this should resonate with Galt Mile residents...
Roberts: Award; Action Plan; Budget
July 19, 2014 - In his July - August 2014 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts savors municipal accolades bestowed on the City of Fort Lauderdale by the National Civic League. The League’s 1953 Chair, pollster George Gallup, characterized the All-America City Award as “A Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship.” All-America City Award finalists help define their homes by submitting three outstanding community projects. Specifically, the city was recognized for anticipating that a Chinese Menu of neighborhood improvements would ameliorate the failed culture of a school annually distinguished by an illiterate graduating class and transitioning a diurnal commercial storage district into a 24/7 Arts Center – “FAT Village”. A third project, entitled “Northwest Gardens Healthy Places” glorifies a reclaimed neighborhood’s “walkability”, while deliberately omitting how the creative bartering of contractor tax credits was leveraged to build a thriving neighborhood in the heart of a decaying ghetto. Why? Read On...
LaMarca: Reclaiming Room Nights
June 30, 2014 - In his June 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca advocates stoking one of our County’s key economic engines. Strategically located at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades tourism nexus, enhancing the County’s aging Convention Center with a dedicated hotel and a facelift will plug a fiscal leak through which the County loses tens of $millions in new business every year. Without an affiliated hotel, the Convention Center is precluded from even bidding on more than one third of the prospective convention opportunities – those that require dedicated lodging. To compete with other second tier convention cities that offer onsite lodging, the Center must offset their lack of a hotel with a laundry list of expensive perks, further squeezing embattled profits. Three prior attempts by the County Commission to correct this competitive shortcoming fizzled, squelched by economic eccentricities, questionable judgment, turf protection... and greed. Number four could prove the charm - if the Broward Board avoids the pitfalls that earmarked those failures!
The Beach vs. The Bureaucrat
June 22, 2014 - A bureaucratic blood blister that threatened the chronically delayed Segment II Broward beach project with an added 18-month freeze has been excised. To help quash one of the more asinine impediments faced by this snake-bit project, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca scripted major roles for the entire Broward Congressional delegation, both of Florida’s U.S. Senators, the Galt Mile Community Association and an army of Galt Mile residents. With officials in Pompano, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Fort Lauderdale playing bit parts, the eerie plan placed the beach fix back on track for its post-Halloween kickoff. In finessing or slugging their way over, around or through some of the Beach Project's most exasperating, infuriating and pointless obstacles since its inception 49 years ago, LaMarca and retired beach boss Eric Myers got a taste of the frustration experienced by Galt Mile residents for decades. For a tour of the asylum, Read on...
Fort Lauderdale Tilts at Windmills
June 12, 2014 - On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) into law. A Keynesian response to the recessionary tar pit in which the previous administration couched our economy, the stimulus package sought to offset the loss of private spending with government spending. In addition to annually salvaging 1.6 million jobs from 2009 to 2012, the fiscal gambit helped avert a looming depression. The Recovery Act also funded a series of Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Challenges, starting with the $1/watt SunShot Challenge, which seeks to make solar power cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels by the end of the decade. Obama then launched the EV Everywhere Challenge, which set 2022 as the deadline for creation of a five-passenger electric vehicle that could economically and functionally compete with internal combustion engine vehicles. To help achieve this objective, after assembling a consortium likened to the Manhattan Project for Battery Technology, the DOE funded demonstration and deployment projects across the country (including 4 electric vehicle charging stations fueled by wind turbines in Mills Pond Park). What's more, if this consortium keeps hitting its marks, our planet is in for a wild ride!!!
Assn Advocates Grease the Wheels
May 27, 2014 - A majority of the content in the 2014 Omnibus Association Bill was adopted by sponsors Moraitis and Ring from a legislative agenda created by collaborating association officials from across the state and tailored by Community Association advocates. Prior to the Legislative session, these association officials examined the operational pitfalls and regulatory inequities that encumber common interest communities – and characteristically inflate the financial burden on unit owners. With organizational guidance from association advocates, the issues were prioritized and compiled into a legislative wish list. For decades, legislation favorable to association homeowners was enacted once every five or six years. In the five years since 2009, four major association bills were brought to fruition via the above process. While Statehouse Representative George Moraitis (R - Fort Lauderdale) was instrumental in driving this legislative windfall, he had a secret weapon. Working with association officials and the Galt Mile's voice in the Florida Statehouse were a unique cadre of legislative catalysts who call themselves "Association Advocates." As a result of their efforts, Galt Mile residents will enjoy more than a dozen new rights and protections as of July 1, 2014. Read on...
2014 Omnibus Association Bill
May 19, 2014 - Last year, our District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis teamed with State Senator Thad Altman (R - Melbourne) to pass House Bill 73, the 2013 session’s Omnibus Association bill. Broadly supported by association officials and advocates, the legislation repaired a litany of statutory glitches, erased deadlines for costly elevator and generator retrofits, forged tools to deter foreclosure-related delinquencies, simplified approval for 2-year board terms, strengthened financial reporting requirements for condominiums, approved impact glass windows for hurricane mitigation and shaped a dozen other Association improvements, many of which provided cooperatives with certain rights and protections historically monopolized by condominiums. Having pledged to continue addressing Statutory shortfalls in this year’s session, in February, Moraitis and Broward Senator Jeremy Ring filed 2014 association bills with scores of new rights and benefits, including the extension of several other essential Condominium protections to cooperative homeowners. Unanimously approved in the Statehouse and Senate, READ ON for a comprehensive summary of the new association bill's bag of tricks...
Roberts: Chlorine; Wind Power; Crime
May 12, 2014 - District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts opens his May 2014 Newsletter with optimistic news about the falling crime rate, describes Mill Pond Park as the City’s “in situ” laboratory for a tech-enhanced sustainable power source, reveals a new email address for Commission meeting input, notes a scheduling change for the Sun Trolley’s Galt Mile route, updates progress towards realizing the projected Schlitterbahn Waterpark, announces a cyclical chlorination cleanup of the City’s Water System, welcomes an improved Lauderserv Citizen Request Management System powered by QAlert technology and applauds a new study that cites Fort Lauderdale as the number 3 municipality in the nation for foreign-born tech entrepreneurs (after Miami and San José, California). While chlorinating the water system is largely a beneficial and safe process, the City should reveal the potential health risks to those with compromised immune systems or undergoing dialysis. For Roberts May 2014 constituent update, Read On...
LaMarca: Mayors; Vote Site; Navy Days
May 3, 2014 - In his May 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca lists agenda items from a District 4 Mayors Summit, affirms approval for an early voting site convenient to the Galt Mile, announces receipt of a long-awaited federal reimbursement for the South Broward Segment III beach renourishment completed in 2006, discusses in progress transportation projects along State Road A1A and the I-595 Express and recalls Broward Navy Days events during Fleet Week. In this final item, LaMarca refers to the USS New York, a warship fitted with skeletal steel salvaged from the World Trade Center's “Ground Zero” and named after the State and City where an unfathomable catastrophe unfolded on September 11, 2001. 7.5 metric tons of twisted Twin Tower steel forms the bow stem of an amphibious transport designed to fight the war on terror. Read on...
Animal House: Disability Bill Busts
April 25, 2014 - During the 2014 Legislative Session, bills were filed in the Statehouse and Senate that would prospectively impact how requested service animals must be integrated into no-pet and pet-friendly community associations. Currently, two Federal Laws – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) – as well as a Florida Statute (Chapter 413.08, F.S.) dictate how associations must accommodate animals that provide therapeutic benefits to disabled persons. During the past decade, there has also been an epidemic of pet owners who abuse Federal and State disability laws to fraudulently circumvent an association’s no-pet rules. By soliciting documentation evidencing a fictitious infirmity from a complicit medical professional, owners have sought to immunize themselves against association repercussions for harboring a house pet in contravention of the governing documents. Sponsors claimed that the legislation would help clarify Disability entitlements while addressing burgeoning abuse. As occurs with predictable regularity in Tallahassee, they seem to have lost sight of their objective. Read on...
Roberts: NextDoor, Quiet Zones, Bus Link
April 18, 2014 - In his April 2014 Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Bruce Roberts looks at the progress of local Bridge Repairs, a new bus link that better integrates the City's economically burgeoning uptown neighborhoods, a Broward MPO effort to quell growing concern about a serious obstacle to the proposed All Aboard Florida high-speed rail link connecting South Florida and Orlando, availability to District 1 residents of the free NEXTDOOR social networking software (the potential backbone of a virtual "Neighborhood Watch") and recognition by the National Complete Streets Coalition of Fort Lauderdale's 3rd place national ranking for having successfully implemented the program's policies. Although most South Florida residents are aware of the All Aboard Florida (AAF) rail project, familiarity with "Quiet Zones" - as referenced in the newsletter - is largely limited to residents in communities exposed to a daily blast cacophony by locomotive horns. Unless local MPOs along the project's planned route find some grant money, taxpayers will have to fund Quiet Zones to protect adjacent communities. They are not cheap! Read on...
Florida Home Grown Flood Insurance Fix
April 4, 2014 - As the Feds mop up the flood insurance nightmare they catalyzed two years earlier, some Tallahassee lawmakers are promoting legislation that would supposedly provide a “robust, competitive, private market alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” Senate Bill 542, sponsored by Florida Senator Jeff Brandes (R - St. Petersburg), rolls out a welcome mat to private insurers willing to write residential flood policies in Florida. Built on the belief that flexibility will breed competition, Brandes’ bill would provide policyholders with menu options for selecting benefit amounts and deductibles, allowing homeowners to decide how much or how little coverage they want or need to purchase - ranging from a property's full replacement cost to the residual balance on a mortgage. It would also enable carriers to offer a buffet of insurance products from which policyholders can pick and choose, parceling coverage for contents, living expenses, secondary structures, etc. If the bill performs as marketed, it will be rubber-stamped by grateful lawmakers in other States with threatened flood plain communities. If not, the fiscal fate of those constituencies will remain hostage to the kneejerk eccentricities of a conflicted Congress.
Flood Insurance Wack-A-Mole
March 25, 2014 - When recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy saddled the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with a $24 billion debt, the U.S. House and Senate scrambled to pass The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12). Along with extending the program's shelf life by five years, it tightened operational protocols, mandated a plan to repay the Katrina debt, modernized mapping technology and otherwise enhanced its actuarial credibility. Using faulty FEMA affordability projections, bill provisions that eliminated rate subsidies veiled a fiscal time bomb that later triggered homeowner hysteria in 20,000 communities across the Country and mass apoplexy on Capitol Hill. To avoid rate-shocking homeowners with annual premium increases of $2000 to $10,000, and crippling the recovery of tenuous housing markets, Congress fast-tracked relief legislation to the White House, where President Obama signed the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 into law on March 21, 2014. Broward homeowners dodged a bullet!
LaMarca: D4 Doings, Beach Botch, Vote
March 16, 2014 - In his March 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens by touring March municipal events in Pompano, Lighthouse Point (his hometown) and Deerfield Beach. The Commissioner closes with a plea to “get out the vote”. Bookended by these District 4 housekeeping pleasantries, LaMarca ignites a flare for constituent help with the long-delayed Segment II beach renourishment. The Broward Shore Protection project mandates regulatory approvals from myriad Federal, State and local agencies. LaMarca and Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers have been religiously slugging their way through these regulatory minefields. By the end of January, one obstacle remained - a boilerplate biological opinion by NOAA Fisheries. Upon investigating why repeated phone calls, emails and official correspondences went unanswered, they learned that the documentation sent to NOAA Fisheries - a line office in the Department of Commerce - was sitting UNOPENED on a bureaucrat's desk - ostensibly due to insufficient agency resources. Although County officials lack the juice to crack the Federal malaise, LaMarca contends that our Congressional representatives wield the appropriate political capital. That's where you come in. WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!
2014 Pre-filed Association Bills
March 8, 2014 - In 2014, the annual dog and pony show in Tallahassee began on March 4th. As always, lawmakers whose agendas are shaped by the demands of proactive constituents or score-keeping campaign contributors jump-start their legislative wish-list by filing before opening day. This year, Representative George Moraitis filed House Bill 807 (HB 807) on February 4, 2014. Two days later, Senator Jeremy Ring (D - Broward) filed companion Senate Bill 798 (SB 798) in the other chamber. The bills form the early skeleton of the 2014 Omnibus Association Bill. Several Association bills that were pre-filed seek to increase the Safe Harbor limits that enable banks to dodge paying assessments on units frozen in foreclosure limbo. Others address the statutory underpinnings of Commercial Condominiums, the termination of an association, towing junkers left in the association parking deck and long-awaited rights and protections for parcel owners in Homeowner Associations. To see how the 2014 session is shaping up... Read on...
FLPD: Nailing the Bad Guys with Math
March 1, 2014 - By crunching data that marries historical consumer behavior with emerging trends, Walmart and Netflix adapt how they tailor their on-shelf product mix to specific events (i.e. what they stock before a hurricane, or after a holiday). Long utilized in business, predictive analytics has now been adapted to fight crime. Using the technology to "stop crime before it happens", the municipalities of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Rochester, Santa Cruz and Philadelphia ascribe sizable drops in the crime rate to predictive analytics. In January 2013, the City of Fort Lauderdale teamed with IBM to adapt its proprietary advanced analytics module to crime prevention under the company’s “First of its Kind” program, wherein researchers and clients use real-world applications to shake out the wrinkles of cutting-edge technologies. After an anticipated drop in Fort Lauderdale's crime rate, the City plans to implement the technology to streamline every City Department. Welcome to the 21st Century!
Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival
February 23, 2014 - On Saturday, March 1, 2014, the 2nd Annual Galt Mile Wine & Food Festival will filter through our back yard, resurrecting last year’s blockbuster inaugural, when thousands of local residents and visitors were rewarded with a delightfully entrancing weekend afternoon. The festival is produced by BocaRaton.Com and The Bites! Network in partnership with the Galt Mile Community Association. From 4 to 8 PM, attendees will choose from scores of fine artisan wines, craft beers & spirits while enjoying distinctive food tastings; live cooking demonstrations; and authoritative insight into pairing each dish with the perfect libation - as outlined by some of South Florida’s most experienced sommeliers and brilliant Top Chefs. To otherwise sample these extraordinary signature offerings, restaurant patrons would have to visit each establishment and order its iconic fare - an exercise that would take months and cost a fortune. Instead, you can spend a lazy Saturday afternoon trying them all, one masterpiece after the other, while strolling across the street from your home. By the way, as per an understanding negotiated by the neighborhood association, attending the event will enhance the value of your home. How? Read on...
Winn-Dixie: Frog Becomes a Prince
February 16, 2014 - Until recently, the Galt Mile Winn-Dixie has struggled to shed a reputation for sub-par service, product lines befitting a third world banana republic and an environment more conducive to changing tires than handling food. Notwithstanding divergent opinions about the store’s customer service and product availability, raw convenience prompts almost every Galt Mile resident to cruise the aisles on a regular basis. After decades of failed attempts to improve the store, a rupture in natural law elevated the Galt Mile Winn-Dixie into a viable competitor for shoppers long loyal to Publix and Whole Foods. While implementing a marginally successful post-bankruptcy reorganizational comeback, former Winn-Dixie CEO Peter Lynch experienced a revelation. Instead of performing long overdue modest repairs to badly deteriorated stores that ran $1 to $2 million per store, Lynch would spend $5 to $6 million to completely gut the store's shell, and build upscale, attractive markets with product lines tailored to the community - a process called "Transformation". Since the company began developing Transformational stores in 2010, each new store turned a profit. Fortunately, the Galt Mile store was one of a handful selected for this process each year. In short, we lucked out. Check it out - you will not believe your eyes!
Help Save the Beach!
February 9, 2014 - Beach renourishment projects require regulatory approvals from myriad Federal, State and local agencies and stakeholders. To comply, Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers spent the past few years submitting volumes of required documentation, timely responding to redundant agency inquiries and endlesly tweaking project parameters. In turn, every agency with standing approved the Segment II project... except one. Despite having received all the required documentation from Myers, the National Marine Fisheries Service (AKA NOAA Fisheries) - an agency in the Department of Commerce - remained silent. Phone calls, emails and official correspondences went unanswered. Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca repeatedly went to Washington D.C., where he learned that all of Myers' documentation was sitting untouched on a bureaucrat's desk - collecting dust. During a pathetic Potomac "two-step", he was informed that the agency lacked the resources to read the documentation and return an opinion, despite having expeditiously done so for similar projects to the north and south of Segment II (Hollywood and Hillsboro). Since County Commissioners are ill-equipped to awaken dormant Federal bureaucracies, LaMarca and neighborhood association officials agreed that the logjam would only be broken if Galt Mile residents pressured our larger-fisted Federal Lawmakers to disturb the agency siesta long enough to send one lousy boilerplate opinion to the County. In short, WITHOUT YOU - OUR BEACHES WILL NOT BE FIXED!!! Read on to learn how you can help save our beach!!!
LaMarca: 2013 - The Year in Review
January 30, 2014 - In his first Newsletter of 2014, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca takes us on a 12-month jaunt through the challenges he faced in 2013. Long concerned for the wellbeing of Veterans, LaMarca opens by radiating satisfaction for having engineered a free Broward Bus Pass for low-income Vets and participating in many of last year’s Fleet Week events - despite the Fleet’s conspicuous absence due to cost-cutting measures in the Military. LaMarca outlines his involvement in municipal events across his District 4 domain - including a mid-Summer Resource Fair in Deerfield Beach, the redevelopment of Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach (and thwarting the planned departure of its popular Beach Library from the Barrier Island), the evolution of a Culinary Arts District in Oakland Park, a “bridge to Pier” revitalization project along Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and the reclamation of storm-damaged A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Touching on Beach Renourishment and Port Everglades, LaMarca also revisits his commitment to enhancing the County's critical infrastructure while celebrating a limited victory against the often fatal practice of texting while driving. Read on for 2013 - the Year in Review!
Roberts: Algorithms; NCIP; New Bridge
January 23, 2014 - Commissioner Bruce Roberts opens his February 2014 newsletter by rolling out the welcome mat to new constituents from Laudergate Isles and Bal Harbour who were shifted into his jurisdiction - after the 2010 Census documented a sizable population disparity in the City's four Commission Districts. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s decision to beat back a rising crime rate with predictive analytics represents a paradigm shift in local law enforcement. Instead of beleaguered Police analysts pouring through thousands of reports in criminal justice databases to uncover crime connections, an IBM algorithm will crunch the data almost instantaneously. In every City where the technology was implemented, the crime rate plummeted. While it doesn't predict crime, as occurs in the Sci-Fi epic "Minority Report", it substantially increases the opportunity for Police Officers to be in the right place at the right time to either disrupt criminal activity or make quality arrests. Listed among the planned NCIP projects in the Commissioner's newsletter, a replacement of sidewalks throughout the Galt Mile neighborhood has been approved by the City, although it has neither been scheduled - nor funded. Read on for the whole update...
Fort Lauderdale Water Park
January 10, 2014 - When the City of Sarasota hijacked the Baltimore Orioles spring training program in 2008, the vacated Fort Lauderdale Stadium wound up in the City Commission’s lap. They could have either held a garage sale to attract another club, which would mean fixing it up and taking a beating on the rent, or consigning the once proud facility to a slow death hosting little league finals. Although City Commissioners endorsed a Schlitterbahn Development Group plan to redevelop the property into a 64-acre world class Water Park at a June 15, 2010 Commission meeting, it melted down when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused to consent, as required by the 1947 agreement that conveyed the property to the City. Now that the City and Schlitterbahn have finally hammered out mutually agreeable terms with the FAA, the revived plan will transform Lockhart Stadium into a state-of-the-art tournament-sized multi-use athletic field that will permanently house the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, an immense futuristic Water Park, a Sports Village and a Resort featuring tree-top cabins with five-star accommodations - right down the block on Commercial Boulevard!!!
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by Pio Ieraci
A New Day
As defined in our by-laws, the Galt Mile Community Association is dedicated to improving the operation of our buildings by cooperative efforts and study, improving and protecting the area and the environment within the Galt Mile community and to securing the cooperation of City, County, and State authorities in the furtherance of these objectives. It serves to promote amicable relations among neighboring associations (and their residents) and an environment that lends itself to mutual assistance and cooperation.
In essence, GMCA is a forum to identify and address concerns of its member associations, their residents and common neighborhood objectives. It also provides a resource for members to analyze and educate themselves about mutual issues and interests, including legislation relevant to the operation of its member associations, maintenance of safety and living standards, the rights of their owner-members and the value of their homes.
Every member association is a fully autonomous entity whose resident-members have the right to decide for themselves who should represent them and the rules under which they choose to live - free of outside interference. As such, we do not participate in the internal governance of any member association sought and legally propagated by its member-owners. Every Association in good standing enjoys equal access and full participation notwithstanding the ideology of its current administration.
While individual associations are capable of resolving their internal issues, there are many shared problems that can only be resolved through cooperation. Eliciting the political assistance necessary to effect local neighborhood improvements or protect our rights in Tallahassee and Washington requires the cooperative unity afforded by a strong neighborhood association. For decades, the Galt Mile Community Association has also been a platform for individual associations with similar needs and problems to take advantage of our collective experience by directly sharing information.
I believe that the key to our continued success will hinge on full participation. Every Association should have a reliable voice in the creation of policies that affect us all and a designee responsible for bringing critical data back to their membership.
We’ve never faced more extraordinary challenges. Although our legislators took their best shot at alleviating our insurance dilemma, it appears that their efforts will not prevent enormous hardship for thousands of our residents. Despite our internal security, neighborhood crime is taking an increasing toll on hapless victims - our friends and neighbors! Fortunately, close cooperation among our 26 member associations is producing effective responses to many of these issues. By inviting broader input, we hope to continue developing answers to upcoming challenges.
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