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The historical content of the Galt Mile Community Association’s Web Site is catalogued and chronicled in these archives. This content is comprised of articles and anecdotes that are no longer current, but may be useful from a historical perspective. The categories are chronological. Scrolling down delves deeper into the past. If you encounter any difficulty locating a particular story, report, or graphic, feel free to Contact us with your dilemma and assistance will be forthcoming.

Please Note - Many of the links included in these articles from the past are no longer active.


2016


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

BCT Buses; Port Checkpoints; Pet Tags & Calendar Pic

Click to Chip LaMarca December 2015 Newsletter 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,
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA DECEMBER UPDATE
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.

In acclaiming the 31 new buses purchased by BCT, LaMarca refers to “MyRide Broward”, a real time bus tracking system that alerts riders to when the next three buses will arrive at any particular bus stop. Click to MyRide Broward Deploying Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to locate buses and estimate arrival times, the continuously updated information is instantaneously transmitted to smart phones and other online devices (i.e. tablets, computers, etc.). After the projected launch date in spring of 2016, the real time output will be made available on the Broward County Transit website (Broward.org/BCT).

Luxurious New BCT Express Bus
LUXURIOUS NEW BCT EXPRESS BUS
17 of the new buses are articulated - carrying up to 57 passengers in two attached compartments totaling 60 feet in length. Five others are 40-foot, diesel hybrid-electric powered buses seating 38 customers, fully accessible with a low-floor design and a ramp for wheelchair boarding through the entrance door. Since the last nine 45-foot buses are dedicated to long-distance service (Express routes to Miami, etc.), BCT took a page from the airlines, as their 55 high-back seats have extra hip-to-knee space, and each is equipped with LED reading lights, individually controlled air conditioning vents, 110-volt electrical outlets, Wi-Fi and USB ports.

Click to Local 1267 Teamsters Contract Although overlooked in LaMarca’s newsletter, of far greater relevance to Galt Mile residents was a recent BCT rider alert advising that buses from Route 72 may once again “layover” on Galt Ocean Drive. Unlike buses that pick up and discharge passengers along a route, a layover site serves as an on-street depot, where three or four buses are stacked while drivers stretch their legs, eat lunch, or parse a few hours to achieve enlightenment (as authorized in their union contract). Since they invariably interfere with traffic, layover sites are located along wide, multi-lane thoroughfares, where motorists can skirt around the anticipated blockage – or on largely vacated streets.

Traffic must pass through Playa del Mar Bus Gauntlet
TRAFFIC MUST PASS THROUGH PLAYA DEL MAR BUS GAUNTLET
When construction on the Galt Mile A1A greenway project began in July, BCT officials relocated the layover sites for buses in Routes #36, #55 and #72 from A1A to Galt Ocean Drive, ignoring how Route #11 buses were already laying over on a beachside street too narrow to legally support a bike lane, much less anchor four bus routes. The resulting traffic plug blocked the street, undermined association operations and threatened the lives of residents.

BCT Buses Block Regency Tower Driveways and Cutout
BCT BUSES BLOCK BOTH REGENCY TOWER DRIVEWAYS & CUTOUT
For almost three months, three or four buses regularly left unattended on both sides of the narrow street pinched off traffic, blocked drivers from entering or exiting association driveways, usurped association cutouts ordinarily used for waste removal, move-ins / move-outs and large load deliveries and blocked Click to Brittany Wallman November 20, 2015 Article Fire-Rescue EMTs headed for Galt Mile associations. Since the blockade wholly obstructed a view of the street, daily accidents were narrowly averted by alert association security personnel assigned to escort pedestrians across the street and guide departing drivers around the buses onto Galt Ocean Drive.

Journalist Brittany Wallman
JOURNALIST BRITTANY WALLMAN
Inattentive bus drivers damaged street lamps, signage, trees, sidewalk panels, curbs & association landscaping. In a November 20, 2015 article that capped a 3-year exposé, Sun Sentinel Reporter Brittany Wallman credited a BCT driver on the Galt Mile (Route 55) with 16 collisions, 25 written warning slips and 30 days of unpaid suspension. When shrugged off by BCT operations personnel, angry Galt Mile residents, managers and board members contacted the neighborhood association for help.

Broward County Transit Director Tim Garling
BCT DIRECTOR TIM GARLING
On August 25th, when Galt Mile officials detailed the potentially disastrous repercussions for County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, he brought BCT Director Tim Garling to the table – who agreed to either re-route the buses or find alternative layover sites. Shortly thereafter, LaMarca informed Galt Mile officials that Route 72 buses would layover at El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea while buses from Routes 11 and 36 would no longer service Galt Ocean Drive, leaving only Route 55 buses to clutter our street. Officially approved at a mid-September BCT administrative transit hearing, the corrective measures were implemented on October 11, returning Galt Ocean Drive to its residents


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Route 72 Bus on Galt Ocean Drive
ROUTE 72 BUS ON THE GALT
Click to Broward County Transit On December 28, several Galt Mile residents notified the neighborhood association that Route 72 buses were once again parking on Galt Ocean Drive. Allowing for the prospect of an administrative foul-up, Galt Mile officials shot emails to LaMarca and Garling, asking why the anathematic conveyance was again blighting Galt Ocean Drive while demanding its removal. Given Garling’s promise to relocate the route’s layover to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, how LaMarca and Garling plan to address this surreptitiously revived threat will be forwarded to the Advisory Board, member associations and neighborhood residents. Stay tuned.

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center
GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE/BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER
For years, the aging Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center has been leaking customers, competitively hampered by the absence of an integrated hotel and an idiotic requirement that optometrists, stamp dealers, crafters, biomolecular researchers and other conventioneers or expo-goers driving to the Center (or its attached garage) show a government issued-ID, undergo vetting for arrest warrants, have their car trunk inspected while asked, “Do you have any weapons?”

Old Port Everglades Security Gate
OLD PORT EVERGLADES SECURITY GATE
Putting Convention Center visitors through a security grinder was an unintended consequence of a poorly planned reaction to 9/11. After the Trade Center went down, former Governor Jeb Bush assigned 141 National Guard reservists from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery (who lived from Fort Pierce to Fort Lauderdale) to protect the port, specifically the huge stores of petroleum that supply gas stations in 12 South Florida counties and jet fuel dumps in South Florida Airports. By erecting a temporary security gate (made permanent in 2005) at the nearby 17th Street and Eisenhower Boulevard shared access to the Convention Center, the County serendipitously burdened the Center’s future patrons with invasive security protocols meant instead for visitors to the port.

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center & Headquarters Hotel
CONVENTION CENTER & HEADQUARTERS HOTEL
Although 3 different plans to improve the center and correct the security gaffe went south during the past decade, Broward officials are finally addressing these competitive impediments. Having eroded longstanding opposition by local hoteliers to building a Headquarters Hotel, the County is crafting plans to enhance and expand the center, and has already begun severing access to the convention center from the port’s security envelope.

The $12.7 million plan to relocate the security gate replaced a planned bypass road that spiraled from $30 million to $93 million before being quashed by the County Board in 2013. The relocation price-tag included revisions to the port’s fiber-optic security infrastructure and navigating costly regulatory dogma with the Coast Guard, the Broward Sheriff and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. To check out the rest of Commissioner LaMarca’s December 2015 Newsletter – Read on... - [editor]

 

December 2015 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Wishing you the closeness of friends, the comfort of home and the tranquility of a renewed spirit throughout the Holiday Season and a New Year marked by good health, happiness and prosperity.

Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

New Broward County Buses in Service

Chip LaMarca Rides New Broward Luxury Express Bus
LAMARCA ON NEW BUS
More than 30 new Broward County Transit buses are currently or will soon be on the road serving customers. Those customers will benefit from Broward County's nearly $26 million investment by having a more comfortable ride and more reliable vehicles. All buses will be equipped with updated technology as part of the MyRide Broward real time bus tracking system, coming soon to BCT! The new buses will serve various routes and serve thousands of customers each day. Broward County Transit (BCT) provides safe and economical bus transportation via fixed route, express, community bus and paratransit services to its customers. Annually BCT provides nearly 40 million rides to customers and operates 44 major routes within 410 square miles of Broward County, as well as carrying commuters to Miami and connecting with neighboring transit agencies. For more information about BCT or for help planning your trip, visit their website or call customer service seven days a week at 954.357.8400 or TTY 954-357.8302.

Port Security Checkpoint Demolition Scheduled

Old Port Everglades Security Gate
OLD PORT EVERGLADES SECURITY GATE
Visitors to the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center will enjoy easier access to the Center and the parking garage once demolition of the old checkpoint to enter Port Everglades is completed sometime later this month. In the past, all visitors entering Eisenhower Boulevard from 17th Street Causeway had to clear a security checkpoint, showing a driver's license or passport, before turning into the Center and its attached garage, which also provides access to a Cruise Terminal. The new checkpoint was built south of 20th Street, and south of the Convention Center, eliminating the need to clear security. Cruise passengers will clear security once they enter Terminal 2. The relocation of the new security checkpoint and demolition of the old checkpoint are among the many projects that make up the Seaport and Convention Center Security Improvement Project, which separates the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center from the Port's controlled access area to allow for improved traffic flow in and out of the Convention Center. For more information, visit porteverglades.net.

Animal Care Clinics make it easy to protect and identify pets

Microchips Help Locate Lost Pets
MICROCHIP - FIND LOST PETS
Rabies vaccinations and Pet Registration Tags are required by law, and Animal Care makes it easy to protect your pet by offering a series of monthly events throughout the County so that dogs and cats can be vaccinated, registered and micro-chipped, quickly and conveniently. There is a $300 fine for pet owners who do not have their dog or cat vaccinated against rabies and a $300 fine for pets that are not registered with the County.

Cost for a one-year rabies vaccination and Broward County Pet Registration Tag is:

  • $25 if your pet is spayed or neutered

  • $35 if your pet is not spayed or neutered

Pet Registration Tags Save Lives Microchips, with free registration, are also available at each Rabies Clinic for $15. Micro-chipping is a permanent form of identification. Once the chip is registered, pets are safeguarded in case they become lost or stolen. Each Rabies Clinic takes place from 9AM to 2PM. To attend a Rabies Clinic event, pet owners must be a Broward County resident. No appointment is necessary and customers are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. All dogs must be on a leash and all cats must be in carriers. No cash or checks please; only debit and credit cards will be accepted. For a complete schedule of the 2016 clinics, visit our website.

Broward County Resident Wins Calendar Cover

Sunrise at Fort Lauderdale Beach

 

Click to Florida Association of Counties A photo showing a beautiful morning along Fort Lauderdale Beach is the "awesome weather" photo for the 2016 FAC Calendar. "Sunrise at Fort Lauderdale Beach" in Broward County is the chosen cover photo for the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) 2016 Calendar. The winning cover photo was one of many photos submitted by Broward resident Fred Johnson. The 2016 Florida Association of Counties Calendar is for sale on the FAC website.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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LBTS Gives BCT Route the Boot

Route 72 Bus on Galt Ocean Drive
WHY IS ROUTE 72 BUS BACK ON THE GALT?
January 12, 2016 - After three months of fomenting fear and frustration while chewing up public and private infrastructure, in October,
Broward County Transit (BCT) announced that the layover sites of four Broward bus routes would no longer obstruct Galt Ocean Drive. Buses from three of the four routes were relocated, leaving only those from Route 55 to clog the narrow beachfront artery. Suddenly in December, despite a promise by County officials to mitigate the bus barricade, buses from Route 72 enigmatically reappeared on Galt Ocean Drive. Having worked to purge the buses, Galt Mile officials flashed back to an impromptu remark by BCT Operations Representative Oscar Correa, “You can expect these buses to block your street while the A1A Greenway Project proceeds over the next two to three years.” WOOF!

Regency Tower President Eileen Bendis
REGENCY TOWER PRESIDENT
EILEEN BENDIS
Click to Broward County Transit In contrast with buses that simply thicken local traffic by picking up and discharging passengers along a route, by definition, a layover site acts as an on-street bus depot - where three or four buses serving a particular route are stacked while drivers take a stroll, grab a long lunch, adjust for scheduling glitches, or snooze through their shift. When irate Regency Tower President Eileen Bendis tried to find out why empty BCT buses were blocking her association’s driveways, Broward County Transit Project Manager Arethia Douglas explained that the drivers were following work protocols enumerated in their union contract, although conceding that these don’t include leaving buses unattended for two or three hours.

Since layover sites invariably impede traffic while prompting complaints about pollution and noise, they are expressly located along wide, two to four-lane thoroughfares (like A1A), where motorists can navigate around the blockage – or they are consigned to sparsely populated outlying streets - tactically sequestering their innately adverse impacts. When the resulting traffic plug is loosed on a heavily populated local street, it wreaks havoc.

Havoc on Galt Ocean Drive

Click to FDOT
Galt Mile in 1993
GALT OCEAN MILE IN 1993
To accommodate Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) construction of the Galt Mile A1A Greenway, buses from Routes #36, #55 and #72 that historically laid over on A1A just south of 41st Street, were shifted to Galt Ocean Drive last July. Galt Ocean Drive was already hosting the layover for Route 11 buses. BCT Project Manager Douglas also told Bendis “I knew this was a bad idea,” when FDOT officials asked her to transplant the layovers to a busy residential street that’s technically too narrow to even support a bike lane. Without informing neighborhood officials, tiny Galt Ocean Drive was suddenly burdened with anchoring four of Broward’s busiest bus routes. As Douglas anticipated, the layovers blocked the street and stymied association operations. They also threatened the lives of local residents.

Waste Managenment Pickup at Cutout
Traffic must pass through Playa del Mar Bus Gauntlet
TRAFFIC MUST PASS THROUGH PLAYA DEL MAR BUS GAUNTLET
In 1996, streetside association cutouts were built and paid for by Galt Mile residents participating in a $3.8 Million self-assessed neighborhood improvement project. Despite City assurances that they would only be used by the public as loading zones, County buses left unattended in the cutouts blocked waste removal pickups, moving vans for residents relocating to or from the building, and large-load deliveries. Vacated buses parked in front of association driveways blocked drivers from entering or exiting the property.

BCT Buses Block Regency Tower Driveways and Cutout
BCT BUSES BLOCK BOTH REGENCY TOWER DRIVEWAYS & CUTOUT
The blockade’s threat to residents and property, as detailed in the September 2015 newsletter and summarized elsewhere in this edition, was substantially mitigated when impacted associations funneled additional resources into bulking up security. Since three or four buses abandoned daily in front of Playa del Mar and Regency Tower wholly obstructed a view of the street, scores of accidents were narrowly averted by incremental security staffers assigned to escort pedestrians across the street and guide departing drivers around the buses onto Galt Ocean Drive. Unfortunately, they were less successful when trying to locate the drivers of vacated buses that blocked EMTs responding to emergencies in Galt Mile associations.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
Repeated pleas for relief by frustrated Board members, managers and residents were ignored by BCT Operations personnel. By late August, angry emails began pouring into the neighborhood association. Having sent Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca pictures of four Broward buses parked in front of Playa del Mar and another three buses blocking both Regency Tower driveways, Galt Mile officials described how the bus barricade blocked traffic, documented damage to both public and association property, and imparted how the buses endangered local residents while crippling association protocols. At a subsequent August 25 discussion arranged by LaMarca with Broward County Transit Director Tim Garling, GMCA President Pio Ieraci exhorted Garling to remove the buses before someone is hurt - or killed.

BCT Flea Circus Moved to LBTS

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Town Commission Meeting
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA TOWN COMMISSION MEETING
Broward County Transit Director Tim Garling
BROWARD COUNTY TRANSIT
DIRECTOR TIM GARLING
Conceding that the situation was intolerable, Garling agreed to undo the damage. He crafted a remediation plan for approval at a September BCT administrative transit hearing. While he could re-route buses attached to Routes 11 and 36, given the dearth of local municipal parking lots or other appropriately cloistered locations, finding alternative layovers for Route 55 and 72 buses would prove more difficult. On September 8, Garling approached the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Town Commission with the prospect of moving the Route 55 and 72 layovers to El Mar Drive between Hibiscus Avenue and Palm Avenue (in front of the old Holiday Inn). Since the former hotel was awaiting planned redevelopment, locating the layover adjacent to a block-long construction site would minimize resident complaints about noise and exhaust emissions.

Layover Site in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
LAYOVER SITE IN LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA
(THE OLD HOLIDAY INN)
The Town Board agreed to host one of the two routes, rejecting the Route 55 buses while approving the layover for Route 72 - as long as BCT respected the Town’s traffic laws and parking rules. Despite a BCT promise to comply, Commissioners added a loophole: the layover could be terminated by LBTS Town Manager Connie Hoffmann on 30-days’ notice. Two prospective impediments prompted the Caveat; a possible conflict with future construction at the adjacent old hotel site, and the reputed propensity for BCT drivers to ignore rules or laws. On October 11, Garling announced that buses from Routes 11 and 36 would no longer service Galt Ocean Drive, and buses from route 72 would layover in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, leaving only buses from Route 55 on the Galt Mile. The BCT website simultaneously affirmed that the Route 36 and 72 layovers would be discontinued on Galt Ocean Drive.

Route 72 Bus on Galt Ocean Drive
ROUTE 72 BUS ON THE GALT
On December 28, when Galt Mile officials learned that Route 72 buses were once again parking on Galt Ocean Drive, they notified LaMarca, requested an explanation and demanded their removal. When one of the BCT drivers was asked why the Route 72 buses had returned, he said that BCT officials moved the layover back to the Galt Mile because LBTS residents kept pulling down BCT signage. Given the difficulty of finding locally viable layover sites, it seemed unlikely that BCT would desert a location approved by the Town Board because some Yahoos vandalized a sign. After a few days without a response from LaMarca or Garling, Galt Mile officials decided to explore a more credible prospect.

LBTS Boots the Buses

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Town Manager Connie Hoffmann
LBTS TOWN MANAGER
CONNIE HOFFMANN
BCT didn’t leave El Mar Drive because vandals molested their sign - they were booted out of LBTS by the Town Manager. As provided in the minutes of the LBTS November 10 Town Commission meeting, “Regarding the buses on El Mar Drive, Town Manager Hoffmann noted that the Town is receiving complaints related to noise and exhaust fumes. Buses have been asked not to park on the sidewalk. ...This issue will be brought before the Commission with a recommendation at a later time.” Two weeks later, at the November 24th LBTS Commission meeting, Hoffmann said “I have given the County Mass Transit folks the 30 days’ notice that we promised them - that we are withdrawing our approval of their use of El Mar Drive as a rest layover for their busses. The reasons for this action are excessive noise, documented damage to our property, and their drivers’ failure to follow instructions on where to park the busses. The County will cease to use that area by December 21st and has promised to repair the damage they have done to light fixtures, our sidewalks, and water meters.”

Bent Signpost between Regency Tower and Playa del Mar
DAMAGED SIGNPOST AT REGENCY TOWER & PLAYA DEL MAR
Click to Local 1267 Teamsters Contract When Hoffmann invoiced the Broward Transportation Department (parent agency to Broward County Transit) for infrastructure damaged by reckless drivers, her frustration resonated with Galt Mile officials. A bent signpost between Regency Tower and Playa del Mar serves as a reminder of driver proclivities to play pinball with parked vehicles and sidewalk infrastructure. Since buses parked along both sides of the street often hopped the curb (onto the sidewalk), Galt Mile residents with smart phones texted association officials when BCT drivers broke a curbside sewer drain, cracked aggregate sidewalk panels, collided with a street lamp, cracked cutout pavers and damaged adjacent vehicles.

Neither Garling nor BCT Operations personnel are strangers to neighborhood complaints about layover sites or chronically negligent bus drivers on the County payroll. While most BCT drivers are competent and courteous, provisions in Broward’s agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1267, prevent the County from washing out drivers who cause up to four collisions or run 4 red lights - every two years.

Bad Apples and Broken Promises

Journalist Brittany Wallman
JOURNALIST BRITTANY WALLMAN
For years, Sun Sentinel journalist Brittany Wallman has been adding to an ongoing exposé of Broward bus drivers who, despite driving records blemished by dozens of accidents and scores of moving violations, continue to drive for the County. To imbue her articles with statistical credibility, Wallman organized County Records into a 750-page online database of customer complaints filed against drivers employed by Broward County Transit between 2010 and 2013. Accident & incident reports were also compiled into a 1,290-page database.

Click to Local 1267 Teamsters Contract Wallman laments how a termination process mandated by the union contract, when coupled with management’s fear of arbitration, made it nearly impossible to discharge a county bus driver for incompetence behind the wheel. To terminate a driver, management must demonstrate the driver’s involvement in more than 4 preventable accidents or having run more than four red lights during the previous 24 months. In fact, according to Article 10, Section 3 of the contract, “After twenty-four (24) months all materials pertaining to discipline in an employee's file will not be used for disciplinary purposes.” After 2 years, accidents are expunged from the driver’s record as a cause for termination, allowing BCT drivers a virtually unlimited number of preventable accidents without getting canned – as long as they don’t cause more than 4 within a 24-month period.

BCT driver Charles Raymond Smith
BCT DRIVER CHARLES RAYMOND SMITH
Since a five-member Accident Review Board (two of whom are named by the bus driver’s union) decides whether accidents were preventable, nearly 75% of the accidents are exempted from consideration (they don’t count!). Even if the standard for termination is met, when a driver invokes a right to arbitration, BCT management folds like a cheap suit. After a slap on the wrist, the driver is back on the road - and causes more damage.

Click to Brittany Wallman November 20, 2015 Article Nearly half of the 629 County drivers between 2008 and 2013 had clean records (zero preventable accidents). Of the 3,556 reported accidents (and their $7.1 million cost to County taxpayers for bus-related injuries and property damage), the vast majority were attributed to just under ten percent of the drivers (59 - to be exact). In February, Wallman featured the driving antics of 69-year-old Fred Fischer, who - despite rear-ending 13 vehicles and crashing his bus 21 times while enduring 19 suspensions and 32 disciplinary actions - is still driving a County bus. More recently and closer to home, on November 20, 2015, she looked at the driving record of 62-year-old North Lauderdale resident Charles Raymond Smith, whom Wallman credited with 16 accidents, receiving 25 written warning slips, and serving 30 days of unpaid suspension. Wallman also observed that the 21-year County driver is currently plying his trade in a Route 55 bus, placing him at ground zero in the Galt Mile neighborhood.

Click to Route 72 Layover Rider Alert
BCT Bus Accident
BCT BUS ACCIDENT
The LBTS Town Commission evicted the County buses because drivers broke the rules that BCT promised to follow, ignoring repeated warnings against parking on the sidewalk and capriciously destroying town property – just like they did on the Galt Mile. Also, since LBTS wouldn’t tolerate the noise and exhaust fumes at a location that’s largely uninhabited, BCT officials thought it less egregious to move the offending layover to a site smack in the middle of 14,000 Galt Mile residents. As BCT was being tossed out of LBTS, a Rider Alert was posted on the BCT website, announcing that the Route 72 layover was being returned to Galt Ocean Drive on December 20, 2015.

Migraine or Minor Setback?

Armed with the LBTS meeting minutes, on December 30, GMCA President Pio Ieraci sent another message to LaMarca and Garling. Referencing an attached copy of Hoffmann’s rationale for ousting BCT buses, Ieraci inquired “If ‘noise, fumes, drivers who do not follow instructions & damage to property’ is not acceptable to LBTS, why would it be acceptable to the Galt? We were promised that only the #55 bus would layover on the Galt. We formally request that bus #72 be relocated IMMEDIATELY to someplace other than the Galt. I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter. Happy New Year!”

More to come... and a happy and healthy New Year… to you and your family!!!

 


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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

FLPD || Vacation Rentals || N.T.A.S.

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
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.

Property Rights Ping Pong

For more than a decade, Fort Lauderdale officials had cautiously considered regulations to deter transient tenant vacationers from raising Hell in residential neighborhoods. They simultaneously sought to avoid collapsing the City’s tourism and Real Estate markets, fiscal engines critical to Fort Lauderdale’s economic health. Satisfying these competing objectives would require navigating a regulatory and political tightrope.

Representative Mike Horner
REP. MIKE HORNER FILES 2011 VACATION RENTAL BILL
Fearful that local officials in more than a dozen jurisdictions were about to barbecue a lucrative cash cow, the legislature quickly pumped out a law that precludes cities from imposing new rules on vacation rentals - House Bill 883 filed by former Representative Mike Horner (R – Kissimmee). The Statute doesn’t affect preexisting regulations (local laws passed before 2011), nor does it alter the rental rules forged by community associations. It does restrict cities from prohibiting vacation rentals, dictating the term of a lease or limiting the number of times the property is leased annually.

Trashed Vacation Rental
TRASHED VACATION RENTAL
In the five years since then, the conflict between Vacation Rental landlords and their abused neighbors has exploded, as the cultural progeny of Spring Breakers turned short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods into month-long imprints of Animal House. Increasingly enraged by noisy weekend parties in rental properties marked by front lawns covered with garbage and a dozen decomposing vehicles, residential Homeowners in communities like neighboring Lauderdale Beach demanded relief of City officials.

Broward County Circuit Court Judge Dale Ross
BROWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE DALE ROSS
Barred by Statute from prohibiting the transient leases, the City tried to regulate vacation rentals with land use provisions, citing landlords for commercial activity banned in residential neighborhoods. When challenged in 2012, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Dale Ross closed that back door, observing that City Law “does not address how a homeowner may use their home. Furthermore, the city has failed to cite to an ordinance preventing a homeowner from conducting short-term leasing of a single-family home.” Back to square one.

Former Senator John Thrasher
FORMER SENATOR JOHN THRASHER
In 2014, enactment of Senate Bill 356 (filed by former St. Augustine Senator - now FSU President - John Thrasher) loosened the State stranglehold on local regulation. While local laws are still barred from prohibiting vacation rentals or limiting the duration or frequency of leases, the amended Statute - Chapter 509.032, F.S.(7)(a) - now provides for local inspections to verify compliance with the Florida Building Code and the Florida fire Prevention Code. To circumvent the residual preemption, Fort Lauderdale took a page from the State. The Division of Hotels and Restaurants licenses vacation rentals. As intimated in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s November 13, 2014 Advisory Legal Opinion, nothing in State Law prevents municipalities from also requiring local licenses to operate within their borders, or enforcing compliance with local safety regulations.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Vacation Rental Registration Web Page Patterned after a similar Flagler County law that already survived a Court challenge, Fort Lauderdale’s Ordinance C-15-29 mandates compliance with Florida Building Code occupancy standards, which limits two guests to each bedroom. Guest vehicles must be legally parked “within the subject property,” not on the street. The properties must comply with current health and safety requirements for transient establishments. Along with fire extinguishers on each floor, a rental property must feature an interconnected and hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detection and notification system.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Vacation Rental Registration Web Page The ordinance bars sexual offenders or sexual predators from occupying rental properties located within 1,400 feet of a school, school bus stop, child care facility, park or playground. Property owners must provide proof of having paid the $300 State licensing fee, a $750 initial registration fee to the City (which subsequently drops to $500 annually) as well as county and state taxes. Once an inspector confirms that the property meets State and local requirements, and the owner is issued a Certificate of Compliance, the property can operate as a Vacation Rental. Licensed venues must also submit to $75 annual safety inspections and provide a local contact capable of addressing emergencies within 1 hour of notification.

Galt Mile snowbirds who purchased units for their planned retirement - and speculators who play the housing market - often fund their investment by renting their Galt Mile property to tenants approved by association screening committees. To avoid the maintenance and security pitfalls that afflict transient housing, most association documents restrict members to renting their units once each year, although some provide for a second lease – usually in cases of proven hardship. When sneaky tenants bolt to dodge the balance of a lease expense, the snowbirds and speculators left holding the bag often collectively pressure associations to loosen rental restrictions, and expand the number of leases that owners can execute annually.

Since media hype surrounding the City’s Vacation Rental Ordinance was primarily comprised of anecdotal nightmares by single-family homeowners, many Galt Mile residents are under the mistaken impression that it doesn't apply to condominiums or cooperatives. In fact, it applies to “any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, three-family, or four-family house or dwelling unit...” Hundreds of Fort Lauderdale condominium owners renting thousands of units will be forced to cough up the expenses required to achieve compliance with the ordinance. Fortunately, since the ordinance exempts properties rented to Transient Occupants less than “three (3) times in a calendar year,” those strict association rental requirements shunned by Galt Mile snowbirds and speculators will now shield them from the new law’s substantial annual fees and costly compliance requirements. Hey... we dodged a bullet! To check out the rest of Commissioner Roberts’ January / February 2016 Newsletter, read on – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER
BRUCE G. ROBERTS
FORT LAUDERDALE NAMED 2015 DIGITAL CITY: The City achieved a top-ten ranking in the 2015 Digital Cities Survey, a program of the Center of Digital Government. Every city, town, village and consolidated city/county government in the U.S. is invited to participate in this annual survey, which examines an organization’s comprehensive use of technology programs. Click to Digital Cities Survey Ft. Lauderdale ranked eighth overall among communities throughout the nation with a population between 125,000 and 250,000. The City was recognized for its innovative uses of data and technology to promote civic engagement, support citywide policy, and operate efficiently. Cited initiatives that enhance open government and facilitate community collaboration include the Granicus Legistar System and the e-comments tool, citywide telephone town hall meetings, Property Reporter, EthicsTrac, financial transparency portal and the Lauderserv customer service application. The information Technology Security Division’s recent organization-wide employee training initiative demonstrated proactive efforts to maintain a secure network infrastructure. Also, through our comprehensive Strategic Management System and diligent performance measurement in Clearpoint, we were recognized as a proven results-oriented organization that monitors progress on the collective goals through the City’s Vision and Strategic Plans. Kudos to our full team of Community Builders for their efforts in using technology to drive innovation and enhance services!

Click to 10Best and USA TODAY Readers' Choice contest for Best Holiday Festival Click to Winterfest Boat Parade WINTERFEST BOAT PARADE: We are pleased to announce the Winterfest Boat Parade made the list for the 10Best and USA TODAY's Readers' Choice contest for Best Holiday Festival.

Click to Best Markets Top 10 List FORT LAUDERDALE AMONG TOP CITIES FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT IN Q4: Grand Rapids, Mich., topped the Best Markets Top 10 List, with Orlando second. Texas cities remain strong, with San Antonio #3, Dallas #4 and Austin #5 rounding out the top five. "In the last year, prices in all of the top 10 housing markets have increased by at least 6 percent,” said HomeVestors co-President David Hicks. The fourth-quarter 2015 Best Markets Top 10 list for real estate investing includes (in order from 1-10): Grand Rapids, MI; Orlando; San Antonio, TX; Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Charlotte, N.C.; Salt Lake City, UT; and Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Smoking in Park Sign Initiative Click to Fort Lauderdale No Smoking in Park Resolution VOLUNTARY PILOT PROGRAM ENCOURAGING NEIGHBORS/VISITORS TO NOT SMOKE IN CERTAIN CITY PARKS: It is recommended that your City Commission adopt a resolution encouraging neighbors and visitors not to smoke in certain parks by participating in a voluntary pilot program with the American Lung Association (ALA) and authorize acceptance of $1,000 from the ALA for the purchase of signs which will be designed by the City, to be displayed encouraging neighbors and visitors not to smoke. Four civic associations have passed resolutions requesting to participate: Imperial Point - Dottie Mancini Park; Tarpon River – Hardy Park; Victoria Park – Holiday Park; and Middle River Terrace – Middle River Terrace Park. City parks attract individuals and families who enjoy and engage in healthy recreational programs and activities. In addition, there are strong environmental reasons to encourage patrons not to smoke. The trash that is created by cigarette butts tossed on the ground is a significant environmental issue.

Click to FLPD Reality Check FLPD PARTNERS WITH THE REALITY CHECK PROGRAM: The Reality Check Program – founded by Larry Lawton – is designed to prevent teens and young adults from making bad choices by providing a first-hand account of the consequences and results of poor decisions. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department has recently acquired 10,000 Reality Check video gift cards, through the use of Law Enforcement Trust Funds. These video gift cards will be carried by our officers so that they are readily available to the community as officers encounter teens, young adults and parents who might benefit from hearing about the realities of a life of crime or bad conduct. The gift card gives viewers access to a video that can be viewed on any computer, smart phone or tablet. The video covers topics such as choice making, consequences of being arrested and avoiding and dissolving bad associations. The FLPD believes knowledge is power. We hope that as our community youth hear the experiences of someone who has been exposed to the criminal justice system, they will understand that the choices they make today have the potential to affect the rest of their lives. The FLPD is committed to our community, and this partnership between them and The Reality Check Program is a positive step for our community youth.

Click to National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin - December 16, 2015 NATIONAL TERRORISM ADVISORY SYSTEM BULLETIN: We are in a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland. Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice. Recent attacks and attempted attacks internationally and in the homeland warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness. Click to National SAR Initiative Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI are providing additional guidance to state and local partners on increased security measures. The public should expect an increased presence of law enforcement across communities in the weeks ahead. More stringent security should also be anticipated at public places and events. This may include a heavy police presence, additional restrictions and searches in bags and the use of screening technologies. There are 3 types of Advisories: BULLETIN: Describes current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism. ELEVATED ALERT: Warns of a credible terrorism threat against the U.S. IMMINENT ALERT: Warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorism threat against the U.S.

  • Click to FBI field offices How You Can Help: Community leaders, co-workers, friends and family can help by recognizing signs of potential radicalization to violence. For more information visit: https://nsi.ncirc.gov/ -Report threats or suspicious activity to the FBI or your local authorities. FBI field offices can be found at http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field

  • Click to Ready.Gov website Be Prepared: Expect increased security across most U.S. cities and plan ahead to anticipate delays and restricted/prohibited items. -In populated places, be responsible for your personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of the nearest security personnel. Keep cell phones in your pockets instead of bags or on tables so you don’t lose them during an incident. Carry emergency contact details and any special needs info with you at all times. For more visit: http://www.ready.gov

  • Stay Informed: The U.S. Government will provide additional information about any emerging threat as additional information is identified. The public is encouraged to listen to local law enforcement and public safety officials. -We urge Americans to continue to travel, attend public events and freely associate with others but remain vigilant and aware of surroundings while doing so, particularly during the holidays.

If you see something, say something,..report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Vacation Rental Ordinance VACATION RENTAL REGISTRATION PROGRAM UPDATE: On 11/1/15, the City’s Ordinance C-15-29 which governs the registration of vacation rentals became effective. 50 applications were received prior to that deadline date. Since the ordinance became effective, 76 properties have registered as vacation rentals. Three of the registered properties have been awarded a Certificate of Compliance. Summary as of 12/18/15: 76 vacation rental applications received; 3 certificates of compliance issued; 31 applications determined to be complete and ready for inspection; 42 vacation rental applications incomplete and require additional information; the 76 applications received will generate $68,970 in registration ($750) and business tax ($157.50) fees, of which $45,375 has been collected to date. The registration process is completely paperless. Applicants are able to view legislation regarding the program and submit applications, payments and complaints electronically. To date, staff has received 50 complaints regarding properties that may be operating illegally. Of those, three of the properties reported have submitted applications and are actively involved in the registration process. The remaining 47 properties are under investigation.

Port Everglades Cruise Passenger Record
PORT EVERGLADES SINGLE DAY CRUISE PASSENGER RECORD
PORT EVERGLADES DEVELOPMENT: Port Everglades broke its own world record for the most cruise passengers to embark and debark in a single day with 53,485 guests. The Port hosted eight cruise ships on December 20, 2015, including Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Conquest, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Silhouette, Holland America Line's Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, Princess Cruises' Regal Princess and Royal Princess, and Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas. And Port Everglades welcomes back Costa Cruises to Broward County. An Italian cruise line owned by Carnival Corporation, Costa Cruises has sailed from Port Everglades since the 1960s and is returning for the winter season following a four-year hiatus.

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
ROBBI
UPTEGROVE
OFFICE CONTACT: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: ruptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Click To Commissioner Roberts' web page EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at RUptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Port; FIT Lease; ICTF; Feral Cats; Free Spay/Neuter & Save H2O

Click to Chip LaMarca January 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Watches Beach Renourishment
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA WATCHING BEACH RENOURISHMENT
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.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Hosts Beach Renourishment Meeting
LAMARCA HOSTS BEACH RENOURISHMENT MEETING
Since initially elected to the Broward Board, LaMarca has repeatedly equated the County’s fiscal future with the adequacy of its infrastructure. While most Broward residents view renourishing County beaches as integral to their quality of life, LaMarca’s perception of District 4 beaches as economic engines served as a more effective platform for dismantling regulatory obstacles in Tallahassee and Washington DC. His monthly District 4 Newsletters often update competitive infrastructure enhancements to other fiscal keystones; build-outs for transportation hubs (Port Everglades, Hollywood - Fort Lauderdale International Airport, etc.) and framing the Convention Center with a dedicated Headquarters Hotel.

Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board approves Port Everglades Dredging
CIVIL WORKS REVIEW BOARD APPROVES DREDGING
To cement its future as a regional economic powerhouse, Port Everglades is racing to implement $600 million in self-funded Master Plan improvements. Last February, the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board approved dredging the channel to 48 feet (50 feet with allowable overdepth) and expanding the Southport turning notch (which includes construction of five additional supersized berths), thereby adding Port Everglades to the short list of Gulf and East Coast pit stops for monster post-Panamax vessels that plow across the Panama Canal. The third signature improvement - Florida East Coast Railway’s (FECR) Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) - was completed in 2014.

Allure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas at Port Everglades
ALLURE OF THE SEAS & NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS - PORT EVERGLADES
Actually, the Port’s record 53,485 travelers weren’t exactly unexpected, as eight of the world’s largest cruise ships were simultaneously berthed on December 20. Of the thousands of vacationers who redeemed “Thank You Points” to bootleg a Holiday-at-sea, 6400 oozed from Royal Caribbean International’s big dog - Allure of the Seas (along with a crew of 2394) and another 3200 from Navigator of the Seas (with a crew of 1181). Princess Cruises Royal Princess and Regal Princess each carried 3600 passengers (with crews of 1346 apiece) while Holland America’s MS Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam each hauled 2104 guests and crews of 929. Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Conquest brought in 2974 more cruisers and a crew of 1180 and Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Silhouette added 2850 passengers and 1246 crew members. With these eight floating villages accounting for 37,383 warm bodies, it didn’t take much foot traffic to provide the remaining 16,102 - and crush the five-year old former record by a mere 120 Port patrons.

Click to SAAM
Florida International Terminal LLC at Port Everglades
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL LLC
Hooking the Florida International Terminal LLC (FIT) for another decade was Holiday cheddar negotiated by Port Officials. Two years after being formed in 2004 by Latin American Port Operators SAAM and Agunza, FIT opened in Broward (2006) to service some of the huge post-Panamax ocean carriers anticipated in the Port’s Master Plan. Initially, FIT was handling 76,170 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the standard industry measurement for containers) at its outset. Having grown 105% in the past decade, FIT moved 156,045 TEUs in FY2015 - although much of the growth was realized in the past year - when Port Everglades was selected as the first and last U.S. calls for SeaLand and APL’s North American Express Service (NAE/ACX) to Latin America.

Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) opens an on-site Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF)
FEC OPENS ICTF IN JULY 2014
Click to American President Lines SeaLand - an ocean freight shipping company that recently opened headquarters in Miramar - was acquired in 1999 by Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company (14% global market share). APL (American President Lines Ltd.) - the world’s fifth-largest container transportation and shipping company - is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, a global transportation and logistics company. The joint SeaLand/APL service selected FIT to provide cargo handling and stevedoring service at Port Everglades, and generates more than 20,000 container moves annually.

Click to SeaLand It’s no coincidence that SeaLand/APL moved their business to Port Everglades upon completion of Florida East Coast Railway’s (FECR) Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF). Increasing the intermodal facility’s available capacity from 100,000 to 450,000 lifts a year – and keeping cargo off congested highways – expedited freight to 70% of the U.S. markets within 4 days, fattening bottom lines. As observed by LaMarca, by handling a 26 percent jump in product during its first year of operation, the ICTF also plumped the Port’s containerized cargo volume by 5%. The $millions in new tax revenues funneled from the Port into State and local coffers would otherwise show up on County trim notices. For LaMarca’s January 2016 message in its entirety, Read on – [editor]

 

January 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County:

Port Everglades Breaks World Record

Port Everglades
PORT EVERGLADES
Broward County's Port Everglades broke its own world record for the most cruise passengers to embark and disembark in a single day. An astonishing 53,485 guests had the privilege of visiting Port Everglades on December 20th, 2015. The Port's last record was set March 20th, 2010 with 53,365 guests. Broward County's Port Everglades is consistently ranked as one of the top three busiest cruise ports in the world. The Port's widespread fleet of cruise ships provides guests with a range of cruise vacation choices. For details and more information about Port Everglades, please visit www.porteverglades.net or email PortEverglades@broward.org.

FIT Renews 20-year Agreement at Port Everglades

Florida International Terminal LLC at Port Everglades
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL LLC
Florida International Terminal LLC (FIT) is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Broward County's Port Everglades. Recently, FIT renewed its long-term marine terminal lease, which is projected to generate $57 million over the next 10 years of the agreement. The agreement also includes two five-year renewal options.

Click to Florida International Terminal Website This agreement will support an estimated 400 direct local jobs and 1,060 total jobs statewide that will generate more than $72 million in personal income and nearly $7 million in state and local taxes each year. Construction is expected to begin in early 2017 and be completed by the end of 2019. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion will ensure that Port Everglades can continue to handle future growth in container traffic. Port Everglades is the top ranked container port in the state of Florida.

FEC’s Broward Facility Boosts Rail Freight Traffic

FEC’s Intermodal Container Transfer Facility
FEC INTERMODAL CONTAINER TRANSFER FACILITY
The Florida East Coast Railway’s (FECR) 43-acre intermodal facility in Broward County is bringing more cargo through South Florida. The Intermodal Container Transfer Facility helped boost cargo volume at Port Everglades. There was a 26 percent increase in volume at the facility during its first year of operation.

Click to Florida East Coast Railway Website Containerized cargo volumes at Port Everglades grew by 5 percent during 2014 and it is attributed to the increase in new and expanded cargo service, including the first full operational year of FECR’s intermodal facility. Customers are now provided with faster deliveries and more efficient cargo handling due to less containers having to be trucked through interstate highways.

Broward County Saves Community Cats

Click to Community Cats Website In order to reduce the number of unwanted animals entering the County's shelter by lowering the overall birth rate of puppies and kittens and helping our community animals be healthy and safe, the County Commission agreed upon three programs: the Spay, Neuter Incentive Program (SNIP), the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, and the Return-to Field (RTF) program.

Click to Community Cats Website The SNIP program, which is similar to the county’s Stop Pet Over-population Together (SPOT) program, helps SNIP providers perform pet sterilizations for owned dogs and cats for income-eligible Broward County residents. A co-payment will be established with no co-payment for low-income residents, $10 for median income residents and $70 for a resident earning above the median income. The second program, TNR, consists of humanely trapping, sterilizing, vaccinating, ear notching and returning feral cats to the location they were obtained from. The TNR program service providers will perform sterilizations and additional services as outlined in the agreement at an established reimbursement amount of $50 per cat. The agreement also provides for a trapping reimbursement in the amount of $25 per authorized trapping trip regardless of the number of cats obtained. The RTF program will conduct a similar process to cats that enter the County’s shelter. RTF service providers will perform sterilizations and additional services as outlined in the agreement at an established reimbursement amount of $50 per cat. Shelter staff are also allowed to immediately sterilize, vaccinate and return cats, rather than waiting three days, and authorize their return to the streets where they were living.

Great News from Stray Aid & Rescue Spay/Neuter Clinic

Click to Florida Animal Friend Stray Aid & Rescue operates a mobile spay/neuter clinic in Wilton Manors. Florida Animal Friend awarded the organization $25,000 to spay/neuter 714 cats in zip codes 33304, 33313, and 33441. There will be a $2 co-pay to cover the rabies vaccination. All cats will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies, ear notched to show that they have been "fixed", and given Ivermectin for ear mites, mange, and intestinal parasites. This program will continue until July 31st, 2016.

Click to Broward Public Library Foundation These cats are not only reproducing, but suffering as well. They are in dire need of help and the organization cannot do all of this alone. Help is needed from residents and business owners to be proactive to trap and bring these cats to the clinic. Kitten season is just around the corner and help is needed to get ahead of it. More information and instructions about this program can be found on the Stray Aid & Rescue website www.strayaid.org.

Broward Water Partnership Launches Neighborhood Water Challenge

Click to Conservation Pays Website Residents in participating Broward Water Partnership communities are eligible to participate in the Neighborhood Water Challenge from April through May 2016. The contest consist of two categories: Water Conservation and Outreach and Education. In the Water Conservation category, neighborhood teams of 2 to 5 can get together to conserve water. Neighbors have to work together over a two month period to save water. Water savings will be determined by comparing 2015 water bills with 2016 water bills. The second category, Outreach and Education challenges contestants to create and implement an outreach program to help their neighbors understand that conservation and reuse are about using all of our water resources wisely.

Each first place winner will receive $1000 cash. Second place winners will receive a water-conserving irrigation system. Contestants must register by March 15, 2016. Program details are available at ConservationPays.com.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Segment II - Sandman at Hand

Segment II Beach Construction Plan Begins
SEGMENT II - L'HERMITAGE BEACH REPLENISHED
February 18, 2016 - When a brigade of construction vehicles
rolled across Broward County on January 4, a time-hardened layer of skepticism was pealed from the Galt Mile - like a rancid Band-Aid. 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. The equipment belongs to bid-winning contractor Bernie Eastman, proprietor of Eastman Aggregate Enterprises. Having recently fleshed out 5 miles of beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (LBTS), Eastman’s intimate familiarity with the Broward shoreline proved an insurmountable advantage during the October 2015 Segment II bidding process.

Segment II Beach Construction Plan Begins in Pompano
SEGMENT II - 12 STREET IN POMPANO
Of Broward County’s 24 miles of sandy beaches, 21.3 miles were originally declared “critically eroded” by the Coastal Engineering Section of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Nearly half of these depleted beaches were replenished during the South Broward Segment III project completed in March of 2006, when 1.7 million cubic yards of sand dredged offshore Deerfield Beach was deposited along 6.2 miles of the 8.1-mile span from the Dade County line to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. As originally conceived, the Segment II project was anticipated to do the same for 10 miles of North Broward beaches, adding 935,000 cubic yards of sand to the County shoreline from Hillsboro Inlet to just north of Port Everglades. The plan was scrapped after Hurricane Sandy.

Click to 'Water Resources Development Act For years, beach and port projects underwritten by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) were frozen as Congress played partisan political ping pong with the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, a multi-$Billion pork-fest and funding Piñata for the nation's ports, inland waterways and beaches. When Sandy turned picturesque East Coast cities and towns into post-apocalyptic wastelands, ACOE scooted around the Congressional shell game.

LBTS Beach Fix - Near Commercial Boulevard
LBTS NEAR COMMERCIAL BOULEVARD
To restore eligible East Coast beaches pulverized by Hurricane Sandy, the Corps triggered its Flood Control and Coastal Emergency program (FCCE) authorized by Public Law 84-99 (PL 84-99), which empowers the Corps to directly provide disaster relief on its own authority. Along with scores of Northeastern coastal communities, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea jumped on the FCCE bandwagon, severing dependence on the County’s then tenuous Segment II beach fix. From November 2013 through February 28, 2014, Corps contractor Eastman Aggregate Enterprises trucked 126,700 cubic yards of beach quality sand from the E.R. Jahan Ortona sand mine in Moore Haven to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, where it was dispersed along 5.1 miles of eroded shoreline.

New Segment II Beach Plan Project Limits
SEGMENT II PLAN PROJECT LIMITS
LBTS was no longer dependent on Segment II sand. Also, the ten miles of north county coast originally planned for renourishment was reduced by half. Instead of buying 935,000 cubic yards of sand, the remaining 4.9 miles of eroded beach would only require 750,000 cubic yards of sand. What remains of the Segment II project are two stretches of beach. About 170,000 cubic yards of sand is currently being spread along the 1.4 mile northern reach, which begins at SE 4th Street in Pompano Beach and extends south, ending about 700 feet into Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (behind the Ocean Colony Condominium). The longer 3.6 mile span from Commercial Boulevard - across the Galt Mile - to Terramar Street in Fort Lauderdale, will receive 550,000 cubic yards of sand.

Broward County Beach Renourishment Project Web Site On January 4, the Broward Segment II project was launched from beachfront staging sites in each of the three municipalities. In Pompano Beach, Eastman cloistered a crew at SE 12th Street. For two weeks, beach fill operations moved north to SE 4th Street, after which the contractor turned south. Construction is expected to reach to the Ocean Colony Condominium in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea by late April.

LBTS - Palm Avenue Staging Area
LBTS - PALM AVENUE STAGING AREA
Another crew assembled at Palm Avenue in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and initially headed north along the beach. After a few days (before reaching Commercial Boulevard), it turned south toward Galt Ocean Mile. A week later, construction along the Galt Mile Beach had proceeded past Plaza South.

Beach Fill South of L'Hermitage
BEACH FILL SOUTH OF L'HERMITAGE
In Fort Lauderdale, a third staging area was located just south of the Galt Mile at Vista Park in Lauderdale Beach. Moving north, Eastman’s crew built out the beach areas behind L’Hermitage and Southpoint within a few weeks. In pressing fill operations from two different directions, project planners hope to complete construction along the Galt Mile beach by the end of March (before Sea Turtle nesting season suspends the project), as Eastman’s converging crews are expected to meet behind either Playa del Mar, The Regency Tower or Galt Ocean Club.

Beach Construction Vehicles at Vista Park
CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES AT VISTA PARK
Following completion of the Galt Mile beach fill in late March, the staging areas will be vacated as Eastman’s crews move to NE 18th Street in Fort Lauderdale, a staging site for the southernmost project segment. After continuing operations through the end of April, Eastman will pack it in until Sea Turtle Nesting Season ends in November, when the crews will reoccupy the SE 18th Street staging area, along with a second launch point on Sunrise Boulevard. Nine to ten weeks later, the final curtain comes down on the Segment II project.

Click to Eastman Aggregates Web Site At a December 16 public meeting convened by project planners at the Sonesta Hotel. Broward Beach Administrator Nicole Sharp, project contractor Bernie Eastman, and Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca reviewed stakeholder concerns and invited questions from attending association officials and homeowners. Concerned about how their respective beaches would be impacted by the project, some Association officials asked about the size and location of dunes and how existing vegetation would be integrated with new flora.

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Hosts Beach Renourishment Meeting
LAMARCA HOSTS BEACH FIX MEETING
Broward Natural Resource Administrator Nicole Sharp
BROWARD NATURAL RESOURCE
ADMINISTRATOR NICOLE SHARP
Although Sharp had explained that areas allocated to dune restoration or vegetation would be balanced with adequate recreational space, homeowners inquired about how this would specifically apply to their respective beaches. More importantly, they wanted to know when each beach would be overrun by construction. Unable to accurately address inquiries about the existing condition of individual association beaches, Sharp invited attendees to contact her at nsharp@broward.org.

Beachfront Galt Mile Associations
BEACHFRONT GALT MILE ASSOCIATIONS
Over the next month, while Sharp visited a few associations that contacted her to discuss project issues, she still lacked a reliable vehicle for addressing the concerns of all 23 beachfront associations. Since she had no way of determining exactly when the contractor’s crews would arrive at each association beach, she was also stymied by inquiries into when the construction would impair beach access for each association’s homeowners and visitors.

Beach Fill Behind L'Hermitage
BEACH FILL BEHIND L'HERMITAGE
After the January 21, 2016 Advisory Board meeting, Galt Mile officials and Sharp explored whether pictures of the beach adjacent to each association might assist with responding to these inquiries. To facilitate this option, L’Hermitage Advisory Board member Len Sanders offered a helicopter for snapping aerial shots of each beach. Forwarded to member associations on January 30, some of the resulting photographs provided a useful basis for discussing how to best balance dunes and vegetation with recreational space, although others did not. Also, Sharp was still unable to predict construction progress with sufficient specificity to provide association officials with a credible operational timetable.

Click to Segment II Beach Presentation Sharp had informed Galt Mile officials that a scheduling conflict precluded her attending the February 1 Presidents Council meeting at Plaza South. Standing in for the Broward Beach Administrator was Beach Program Specialist Greg Ward, who works hand in glove with Sharp on Segment II issues. An official County contact for Beach Renourishment inquiries, Ward was instrumental in creating the Beach Project presentation at the December 16 introductory meeting, where these issues were first raised by association officials.

Following his introduction, Ward informed the Presidents Council that each association would be contacted shortly before the contractor rolls across its beach, thereby providing its officials with an opportunity to impact how their dunes and vegetation are configured. As such, association officials could only provide their members with a loosely estimated timetable until they receive the call from County planners. A few days before construction is planned for each property, the administration can provide unit owners with a more reliable start date.

Click to Segment II Beach Costs Addressing a security concern posed by Galt Mile officials, Ward explained that dunes needn’t be placed adjacent to a seawall, where they might be abused as springboards for trespassers. Speaking to fearful rumors about an 11-foot high mountain of sand blocking access to the beach, Ward assured attendees that the dune heights were modest and mildly graded (the State Permit defines a vertical/horizontal ratio of 1:2, yielding a gradient of about 26.5 degrees). When an association official observed that even modest-sized dunes might present an access impediment to elderly beachgoers, Ward described how dunes can be configured in a manner that doesn’t impair beach access, such as carving a downward slope toward the beach egress to provide a level pass-through.

Although Ward’s plan falls short of providing the kind of reliable notice that association officials and unit owners would have preferred, it does give associations a hand in shaping their beaches. Also, if fill operations continue to move at the current pace, beachfront Galt Mile Associations may be out of the woods by the end of March, ending our neighborhood’s twenty-year tenure as a regulatory pincushion. More to come...

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Beach $$; PEAT; Passport App; Capacity Building & eBooks

Click to New Broward TNC Law Web Info
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Segment II Staging Area
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA AT BEACH STAGING AREA
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.

Fixing a Funding Breakdown

Click to EDR Beach Report While accompanying Broward beach officials through the mind-numbing regulatory and fiscal gauntlets prerequisite to replenishing beach infrastructure critical to the State’s tourism economy, LaMarca learned that their frustration was shared by officials in coastal jurisdictions all over the State. Shortly after launching the Segment II beach project, LaMarca traveled to Tallahassee to help mitigate future fiscal impediments. Under the auspices of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, LaMarca joined with counterparts in other Florida beachfront communities to help establish a dedicated funding resource. Drawing on a January 2015 study by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR – research arm of the Florida Legislature) at the request of former House Speaker Will Weatherford, the visiting local politicians prepared a presentation for influential legislative leaders that focused primarily on the fiscal impact of beach renourishment.

EDR Beach Investment Analysis

Click to EDR Beach Report Entitled “Economic Evaluation of Florida’s Investment in Beaches”, the EDR report calculated the Return on Investment (ROI) of Beach Restoration, assessed the economic risk of disasters and concluded that beaches are the most important feature of Florida's “Brand”. During the study’s 3-year review period (covering FY 2011, 2012 and 2013), the state invested $44 million in the Beach and Management Restoration Program (roughly 30.5% of the total cost shared by Federal, State, and local sources). This investment directly increased State GDP an average $2.4 billion per year.

Click to EDR Beach Report By identifying each revenue source and calculating its tax impact, the study tracks how the incremental GDP plumped state revenues by $237.9 million over the three year period. After crunching complex funding formulas to validate the raw data, the report concluded that $44 million invested in the State Beach Program “generated a positive return on investment of 5.4”, based solely on tangible financial gains or losses to state revenues. Since in-state tourism was not included in the analysis, the actual ROI exceeds 5.4.

To quantify the protective value of replenished beaches against catastrophic weather events (hurricanes, storm surge, etc.) and man-made disasters (i.e. the BP oil spill), the EDR analysis utilized beach restoration data for Fiscal Years 2003-2004 through 2013-2014 to address how low-impact, average and high-impact disasters stunt the State economy. The scope included lost tourism revenues, the cost of restoring neglected beaches shocked by disasters, and heightened damage to property adjacent to heavily eroded beaches.

Click to EDR Beach Report For an average disaster, EDR calculated a loss of $921.1 million in visitor spending, reducing state tax revenues by $55.3 million. A high-impact disaster, while requiring a State appropriation of $79.9 million toward a “Federal-State-local” cost-sharing partnership to repair the damaged shoreline (i.e. beaches restored under the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Program), would also precipitate the loss of approximately $56.8 million in tax revenues. Of course, this pales compared to the incremental post-catastrophic repair costs to property left unprotected by severely eroded beaches. The report estimates that a high impact storm “would result in $159.5 billion worth of property damage, of which $80.4 billion would be uninsured.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner
SENATE PRESIDENT ANDY GARDINER
Consistent with its mandate, the report seeks to capture economic benefits in project selection, asserting “While it may not be feasible to determine return on investment on a project-by-project basis, it is possible to include measures of economic benefit as part of the ranking process.” In other words, the study recommends adding a project’s estimated economic impact to the list of parameters currently used to prioritize State funding.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
HOUSE SPEAKER STEVE CRISAFULLI
In addition to caucusing with the top dog in both chambers – Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Steve Crisafulli – the visiting County officials scheduled meetings with Senators Alan Hays, Tom Lee, and Jack Latvala and Statehouse Representative Ben Albritton.

Senator Tom Lee
SENATOR TOM LEE
While Hays and Latvala both sit on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee chaired by Lee, Hays also serves on the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. Latvala chairs the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee while seated on the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism. In the other chamber, Albritton serves on the House Appropriations Committee and chairs the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Having imparted the EDR research to Florida’s legislative leadership and heavy hitters in Committees at the nexus of Natural Resources, Conservation, Tourism and most importantly – Appropriations, LaMarca and the other coastal County officials also provided these key legislators with a potential funding source that wouldn’t increase taxes.

Capsizing Florida’s Future

Click to Polifact - Scott on the Environment Click to Polifact - Scott on the Environment When Governor Rick Scott incapacitated the State’s 5 regional water management districts, neutered enforcement of anti-pollution laws, packed regulatory boards with developers, polluters and land use lawyers, and stripped the state budget of funds that insure safe drinking water and clean air, the statewide bi-partisan backlash by angry residents and skull-blocked citizens groups was legion, prompting lawmakers to quickly restore some of the divested funds. Budget cuts Scott initially brandished as recessionary palliatives in 2010 were enigmatically deepened each year despite the recovering economy. By 2014, the centerpiece of Florida’s Land Conservation program – Florida Forever – lost over 95% of its funding.

Voters Approve Amendment 1

Click to Florida’s Water and Land Legacy To deter future Gubernatorial - or legislative - attempts to eviscerate funding critical to the State’s environmental infrastructure; conservation watchdogs (Florida’s Water and Land Legacy) filed Ballot Amendment 1. Despite opposition by lawmakers who regularly raided the fund to flesh out personal pork projects, the popular Amendment became Article X, Section 28 of the Florida Constitution following its approval by 75% of the Florida electorate on November 4, 2014 (passage only requires 60% approval).

Click to Documentary Stamp Tax Info By setting aside 33 percent of net revenues from an existing excise tax the state collects on documents when real estate is sold (the “Documentary Stamp Tax”) - estimated at more than $700,000 annually or roughly $15 - $19 billion over the 20-year life of the measure (the amount fluctuates with the economy), the Constitutional Amendment enables the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites.

Click to Florida’s Water and Land Legacy Despite their victory at the polls, Florida residents were quickly disabused of the belief that the State’s Constitution would protect Florida’s natural resources from political whimsy for the next 20 years. Enraged by the loss of a flush funding squeeze toy, lawmakers implemented a strategy to circumvent the Constitutional mandate. In short, they ignored it.

Lawmakers Face the Court

In crafting the 2015 budget, instead of using Amendment 1 funds to protect environmentally sensitive lands and waterways from development, lawmakers allocated the funds to pay the salaries of state workers for the parks and forest services, Florida Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers and employees at the Division of Historical Resources and Cultural Affairs. The money paid for vehicles, office equipment, risk management insurance, damage awards for Civil Rights Act violations, and $5 million to polluters who try to restrict their pollution to their own lands. Amendment funds were also allocated to capital projects, such as sewage treatment plants and the new reservoirs heavily lobbied by agribusiness. In many cases, Amendment 1 funds addressed expenses not remotely connected to the environment. All told, only $50 million was spent on conservation lands while more than $230 million was siphoned off to the general fund.

Click to Sierra Club Click to Florida Wildlife Federation Despite lawmaker protests, the courts will now decide whether lawmakers met their Constitutional burden. A suit filed last June in Leon County (Tallahassee) by the Amendment’s supporters (the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and the Sierra Club) claims that lawmakers violated the Constitution and wrongly diverted funds. In response, Legislative leaders moved that the judge dismiss the suit, asserting that separation of powers immunizes lawmakers to judicial review. Although it’s usually not a good idea to deliberately tick off the judge who’s hearing your case, another motion inferred that the Legislature’s innate power to appropriate funds somehow supersedes the State’s Constitution.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds
LEON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE GEORGE REYNOLDS
Although the argument was colorful, since the same Constitution empowers the Legislature, it didn’t work. On December 3, 2015 Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds ruled that the case against the legislature could go forward, although he tossed out a request requiring state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to transfer $237 million from the general-revenue fund to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Since Atwater serves in the Executive branch, which is not constitutionally empowered to allocate funds, the request was later redirected to the Legislature.

Click to Sierra Club On November 12, a second suit was filed by the Gainesville-based “Florida Defenders of the Environment”, seeking to block Florida’s environmental agencies from spending wrongly allocated funds. In justifying this legislative bait and switch to constituents, lawmakers are claiming that they technically complied with a “broader interpretation” of the Constitutional amendment.

The legislature’s reaction to Amendment 1was neither surprising nor novel, as lawmakers used the same shell game to backfill educational funding after implementation of the State lottery. Educational funding reallocated by lawmakers to other purposes was replaced dollar for dollar with lottery money, thwarting voter intentions to enhance Florida’s abysmal educational system. Conservationists have observed that the same tactic is now being used to maintain developer control of the State’s environmental agenda.

County Officials Make their Play

Exploring a Beach FundGiven the huge impact that Florida's beaches have on the State’s economy (notwithstanding their importance to the quality of life of almost every Floridian), the visiting County officials suggested annually cloistering $50 million of the Amendment 1 revenues in a dedicated fund to maintain Florida beaches. The strategy was timely, as the current controversy provides lawmakers with incremental political reasons to support the proposal.

Unlike most conservation investments, Florida beaches make money. The EDR report maps out how these economic engines provide the lawmakers with fiscal resources that would otherwise be lost to the State. While spitting in the face of the electorate may have provided some lawmakers with a gratifying cathartic experience, it doesn’t play well with the folks back home. Since maintaining the State’s beaches is squarely part of the amendment’s original mandate, using the funds for beach renourishment would provide embattled lawmakers with credible evidence of Constitutional compliance – which is currently in short supply. In addition to redeeming some trust with embittered constituents, it might score points in the courthouse. Whether or not this plan bears fruit, it was certainly worth a shot. For the rest of LaMarca’s February 2016 message to constituents, read on... – [editor]

 

February 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as your County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities each day from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Coastal Commissioners Head to Tallahassee to Push for Designated Beach Funding

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca Watches Beach Renourishment
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA EYES BEACH FIX
The Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association and a group of coastal county commissioners from the Panhandle to South Florida joined forces in Tallahassee to discuss the significant role that beaches play in our state's economy. Meetings with state lawmakers included discussions to encourage designated funding for beaches using money reserved for the environment with the passage of Amendment 1.

Click to Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association Website Our beaches are extremely important for our residents and keeping them healthy is what drives our economy. Reports from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research confirm that the statewide beach management program generates a positive return on investment of 5.4 for each dollar that is invested in our beaches. Protecting our beaches is an ongoing process that must be continuously funded to keep their beauty and essence intact.

Port Everglades Advocacy Team Heads to Tallahassee

2016 Port Everglades Advocacy Team
2016 PORT EVERGLADES ADVOCACY TEAM
Port Everglades is a tremendous economic engine for Broward County with an economic impact of $28 billion. This month, the Port Everglades Advocacy Team (PEAT) which is composed of Port Everglades and Intergovernmental Affairs staff, members of the local business community and myself took an advocacy trip to Tallahassee. The team met with several key Legislators and decision makers to thank them for their support of the Port’s infrastructure and to encourage a continued effort of support to provide for future successes.

Port Everglades Advocacy Team meets with George Moraitis
PT EVERGLADES ADVOCACY TEAM & GEORGE MORAITIS
Broward County's Port Everglades, along with other Florida Ports recommend that the Florida Seaport Transportation Economic Development Council (FSTED) program receive a minimum of $25M annually to adequately support seaport infrastructure. According to a study commissioned by the Florida Ports Council, for every $1 invested in Florida Seaports, Florida’s economy experiences $6.90 in economic activity. The Port is such a valued asset to our community. It helps create jobs and also has a great economic impact on Broward County.

Eligible Travelers Have a Mobile Option for Customs and Border Protection Declaration at Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Mobile Passport Control Reader
MOBILE PASSPORT CONTROL READER
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Broward County's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) announced the expansion of Mobile Passport Control (MPC) to FLL. MPC is the first official app to expedite a traveler's arrival into the United States. Eligible travelers submit their passport information and customs declaration form to CBP via a smartphone or tablet app prior to arrival. Android and iPhone users can download the Mobile Passport app for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Click to Mobile Passport Control Info The app does not require pre-approval, is free to use and does not collect any new information from travelers. Travelers choosing to use the app will no longer have to complete a paper customs declaration form. As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.

There are five easy steps to MPC:

  • Download the Mobile Passport Control App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store prior to arriving.

  • Create a profile with your passport information.

  • Complete the "New Trip" section upon arrival in the United States.

  • Submit your CBP Declaration form through the app to receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code.

  • Bring your passport and smartphone or tablet with your digital bar-coded receipt to a CBP officer.

Broward's Inaugural Capacity Building Conference

Click to Capacity Building Conference Page The Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development will host the 2016 Capacity Building Conference on Friday, March 4th and Saturday, March 5th, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. The purpose of the conference is to assist business with charting a course for success by strengthening their core capacities in general business operations. Business owners and residents are invited to attend this free event to learn, engage in stimulating conversation and encourage key connections. Register online now to join more than 800 registered conference attendees looking to energize their businesses. For more information visit Broward.org/econdev.

Broward County Libraries Circulated 1.2 Million eBooks in 2015

Click to February 9, 2016 Broward County Library WOW News In 2015, Broward County Libraries circulated 1.2 million eBooks to our customers. BCL was one of only 33 libraries in North America that was able to circulate more than one million digital titles in one year.

If you're interested in learning how to download free materials from Broward County Library, including music, movies, TV shows, music videos, eBooks and eAudiobooks, visit Broward.org/library. All are free and open to the public with no registration required.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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What’s that Strange Taste?

City Chlorinates Water

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. Water Services temporarily altered the chemical purification process as part of a regular system maintenance program.

Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
ROBBI UPTEGROVE
On March 11, 2016, Robbi Uptegrove (Commission Assistant to Commissioner Bruce Roberts) sent a memorandum from City Manager Lee Feldman to the neighborhood association exhorting a repeat performance of last year's purification effort. Entitled, "Chlorination of the City's Water Distribution System", the memorandum expanded on a press release in the online City News - a notice posted on the Fort Lauderdale website exclaiming "Preventive Maintenance Scheduled for May 10 - June 14, 2016". The message reported in the Fort Lauderdale City News is as follows:

 

Free Chlorination
Chlorine Attracting Water
Preventive Maintenance scheduled for May 10 to June 14, 2016

Chlorine Attracting Water
CHLORINE ATTRACTING WATER
The City of Fort Lauderdale will temporarily return to using free chlorine in its drinking water system. This preventive maintenance procedure will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 10th and will end at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

Free chlorination is a common practice for water systems using combined chlorine disinfection. The chlorination period is anticipated to be transparent to water customers; however, some may notice a slight change in the taste or smell of their tap water. Some customers may also see water running from fire hydrants in their neighborhoods, which is part of the normal maintenance process.

This procedure will affect the City of Fort Lauderdale, as well as Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Port Everglades, Village of Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors, and sections of the Town of Davie, Oakland Park, and Tamarac (east of State Road 7/441).

Click To City of Fort Lauderdale 2014 Water Quality Report The City of Fort Lauderdale maintains the highest standards to ensure that clean, high quality drinking water is delivered to its customers. The City's drinking water meets federal, state and local drinking water quality standards.

Click To City of Fort Lauderdale Customer Service Center Click To Lauderserv For more information, Fort Lauderdale utility customers may contact the 24-hour Customer Service Center at (954) 828-8000 or online at www.fortlauderdale.gov/customerservice. Customers who receive a utility bill from other municipalities or entities should call their respective water provider’s customer service phone number for more information.

 

Click To Fiveash Water Treatment Plant
Water Chlorimination
Chlorimination Bar

Click To EPA discussion of Chloramines in water disinfection The City utilized the same blend of chemicals to treat our drinking water last summer - from August 11 through September 15. Altering the disinfection chemical mix is typically performed once or twice per year over a two to four week time period. This semi-annual treatment application is prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Click To role of Chloramines in water treatment The disinfection of our treated water is normally achieved by adding chloramines (commonly formed when chlorine reacts with ammonia) at the treatment plants. The introduction of chloramines (chlorimination) reduces microbial growth (biofilm) on filter media that could increase filter head loss build-up (pressure). Although effective and safe, oxidation of the ammonia (nitrification) reduces it's effectiveness throughout the distribution system. Since a "dose" of free chlorine reverses the adverse effects of nitrification, Public Works regularly switches from chloramines to free chlorine to maximize its disinfectant impact.

The periodic switch to free chlorine effectively reduces biological re-growth in the distribution system and helps maintain chlorine residual levels at the extremities of the distribution system during the normal chloramine disinfection process.

It is not unusual for residents to experience a slight change in both the taste and smell of the water during this process. The water will remain safe for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other daily needs. For the vast majority of residents, adverse health effects are not expected.

However, while persons currently undergoing dialysis can safely drink chlorinated or chloraminated water, both chlorine and chloramines must be removed from water used in dialysis machines because this water comes into direct contact with blood. Anyone suffering from a compromised immune system can be more susceptible than others to harmful organisms in water. As such, transplant patients and people with AIDS should consult with their health care provider to determine whether the temporary change in disinfection chemistry will affect their treatment.

Karl Rove
Karl Rove
In addition, residents with a fish tank or pond, including grocery stores and restaurants with lobster tanks and fish containers at bait shops, that rely on city water should contact a pet or aquarium professional to determine the need for any adjustments to their aquarium treatment procedures. Unless neutralized by products readily available from aquarium supply stores, chlorine and monochloramine can be harmful to fish because they directly enter their bloodstream through the gills and block the growth of beneficial bacteria in the fish tank.

City Manager Lee Feldman
City Manager Lee Feldman
Since it takes approximately two weeks for the chlorine to clear, any perceived changes to the taste and smell may persist through early July. At least, that's what the City wants us to believe. In 2012, an angry septuagenarian from Plaza East insisted that Karl Rove spiked the water!

In his memorandum, City Manager Feldman assures residents who call the city for information that "the Customer Service staff is educated on the chlorination process and is available to accommodate any inquiries." For more information about the City’s water quality, please visit http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/home/showdocument?id=10032 to view the City’s most recent Water Quality Report (2014). Here’s mud in your eye!

Click To Peele Dixie Water Treatment Plant

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Cruise $$; Port Lessor; Turtle Season; Saving H2O & E911 Radio

Click to New Broward TNC Law Web Info
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
DISTRICT 4 COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
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.

Port Poll

Click to Port Survey Report
Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak
PORT DIRECTOR STEVEN CERNAK
Entitled “Port Everglades Cruise Passenger Survey”, LaMarca refers to a May 25, 2015 survey (by Port consultants AECOM and Dickey Consulting Services) that explores how the region incrementally profits from the nine cruise lines, one ferry and more than 40 cruise ships that anchor the Port’s vital cruise industry. Commenting on the study’s conclusions, Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak observed “This study validates what we have long known - that our local economy benefits from the cruise industry. But, we are seeing that hoteliers are taking advantage of the opportunities that having a cruise port in their backyard offers. Just look at the number of new hotels that have opened around Port Everglades in recent years and the creative pre- and post-cruise vacation packages offered on Sunny.org in the Cruise & Play section.”

Click to Port Survey Report Click to Port Survey Report Although the largest percentage of cruise customers were characterized as “local” (from the southeast region of the country), the second largest number herald from the Midwest (i.e. wherein Toronto was #1) - followed by the Northeast, West and Southwest. To the dismay of the city’s Boutique hoteliers, cruise clients who descended on Fort Lauderdale from across North America largely gravitated to nationally familiar hotel chains, as Rodeway Inn and Holiday Inn topped the list of hotels where passengers stayed before the cruise.

Bagging the Blue Chips

US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Committee
US ARMY CORPS OF ENG. CIVIL WORKS COMMITTEE
Click to Florida International Terminal Website Since cornering a seat on the County board, LaMarca has been stumping Tallahassee and Washington DC on behalf of county Transportation infrastructure, specifically - Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Once the US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Committee approved the planned Port Everglades expansion last year, Port Everglades Director & CEO Steven Cernak got busy. While the Master Plan Improvements would undoubtedly attract new shipping customers, unless he could tie up those carriers primarily responsible for the Port’s fiscal growth, the anticipated gains could be diminished by the departure of these lucrative enterprises.

King Ocean Terminal
KING OCEAN TERMINAL
In January, Cernak announced a 20-year agreement with the Florida International Terminal LLC (FIT) - which serves as the first and last U.S. port of call for SeaLand and APL’s North American Express Service (NAE/ACX) to Latin America. In FY2015, FIT moved 156,045 TEUs (20-foot equivalent container units, the standard industry measurement for shipping containers). On February 10, 2016, Cernak signed a 20-year pact with King Ocean Services, a terminal operator and a carrier (with 15 company-owned vessels serving Central America and the Caribbean). Headquartered in Doral, Florida (11000 NW 29th Street, Suite 201), it operates terminals in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and Jaxport (Jacksonville).

U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer
U.S ATTORNEY WIFREDO FERRER
Click to King Ocean Website After shrugging off a PR hiccup in 2011, when U.S Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, DEA, ICE and BSO Officials nailed nine King Ocean employees for smuggling more than 150 kilograms of heroin and cocaine into the United States through Port Everglades, the company consolidated operations in the Port. In preparation for transferring two of its eastern Caribbean services from PortMiami that annually generated 47,500 TEUs, King Ocean increased its presence in Port Everglades to 41.1 acres in 2014, adding the 7.3-acre Midport marine terminal to its existing 33.8-acre Southport terminal. In FY2015, King Ocean moved a record 153,984 TEUs.

Turtle Time

Click to Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program Website With the return of Sea Turtle nesting season, association beaches will once again be patrolled by Nova students charged with reporting perceived lighting violations to the City of Fort Lauderdale. In the past, self-appointed “crusaders” have marched into association offices and fraudulently claimed that they were licensed to violate associations for breach. If this occurs, call the police and have the scammer arrested. Only Code Compliance officers from the City of Fort Lauderdale are empowered to enforce the municipal beach lighting ordinance. Following a meeting with Galt Mile officials, Code Compliance has agreed to discontinue the practice of introducing themselves with a letter threatening endless penalties for non-compliance. Instead, they will work with association officials to find resolutions that also address the security needs of homeowners - and the fiscal constraints of the association.

Diving for Dollars

Toilet Rebate Click to Conservation Pays Page As for LaMarca’s invitation to enter the Neighborhood Water Challenge; a quick trip to the “Conservation Pays” website reveals the announcement “Neighborhood Water Challenge has closed” - but you can still get a rebate for installing a Watersense Certified toilet that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less. Initially, many water-saver fixtures were poorly engineered, and had to be flushed several times – defeating their purpose. They now function as advertised. Grab the rebate and see for yourself. In the aggregate, installing these puppies will significantly slice your association’s water bill, which you pay for in your assessments. Since Fort Lauderdale’s skewed billing formula inequitably burdens association unit owners with subsidizing the water & sewer charges invoiced to single family homeowners (more on that in the near future), we’ll gratefully take all the help we can get.

Radio Static

Old Radios Click to Broward Radio System Upgrade Info Replacing Broward’s Aging Emergency Radio System is part of a comprehensive effort to consolidate the dysfunctional patchwork of municipal and BSO emergency 911 dispatch services under a single County umbrella. While commonly perceived as a minor component of the larger project, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman – who helped negotiate the consolidation terms on behalf of Broward’s 31 municipalities, has come to terms with the timelines anticipated for these upgrades – save one. A radio system that garbles police, fire and medical emergency transmissions – and randomly stops working – was keeping Feldman “awake at night.” Asserting how such a dangerous deficiency should warrant an expedited replacement, Feldman remarked “The radio system is the part where people shouldn’t be sleeping.”

Old Radios
Maxwell Smart Shoe Phone
BSO ISSUE SHOE PHONE
Unconvinced by a 2015 County claim that its obsolete radio system would be replaced by 2018, Feldman asserted that a five-year timeline was more credible. Shunning the static-plagued County squawk boxes, Feldman spent $5 million to rehabilitate FLPD and Fire-Rescue radios – adding five years to their useful life – insuring reliable emergency communications until Broward completes upgrading the antique County system.

Bus Booty

BCT Bus Lightfingered Louie LaMarca rightfully applauds the Broward County Transit (BCT) policy of turning over unclaimed property to various charitable institutions for donation. Thanks to forgetful bus passengers and Broward Transportation Director Chris Walton, a steady stream of bikes, baby strollers, books and backpacks are redirected to local thrift shops or homes with tight budgets. Of course, BCT generosity seldom includes abandoned items of palpable value, which rarely survive the spontaneous predations of weak-willed passengers – or light-fingered drivers. For Commissioner LaMarca’s March 2016 constituent newsletter, read on... – [editor]

 

March 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as your County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities each day from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Port Everglades Cruise Industry Benefits Broward County’s Economy

Click to Port Everglades Passenger Survey A recent study identifies Broward County's Port Everglades as a growing tourism magnet for the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. The study confirms that our economy benefits from the cruise industry. Sixty-two percent of the cruise passengers surveyed for the study stayed at least one night prior to their cruise vacation, staying an average of 3.4 nights, and 21 percent planned to stay an average of 2.6 nights after their cruise. Expenditures before and after the cruise were nearly identical. However, guests planned to spend more money on land tours after the cruise than before the cruise, $80 spent on land tours before the cruise and $133 to be spent on land tours after the cruise.

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Website Another benefit to cruising from Port Everglades includes the Port's proximity to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). More than 21 percent of the cruise guests surveyed said that they came directly from FLL, and an overwhelming 66 percent said they selected FLL because of its close proximity to the Port. The baseline study was conducted by Port consultants AECOM and Dickey Consulting Agency, and can be found on the Port's website at porteverglades.net/about-us by selecting STATISTICS in the left navigation.

Port Everglades Renews 20-year Agreement

King Ocean Terminal
KING OCEAN TERMINAL
King Ocean Services Limited Inc., which functions twice-weekly from Port Everglades with services to Venezuela, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, has renewed a 20-year lease agreement with Broward County's Port Everglades. The agreement calls for a minimum 72,000 container lifts annually over an initial 10-year term with two five-year renewal options. King Ocean has been operating in the Port since 1994 and recently celebrated its 22nd year at Broward County's Port Everglades. Based on King Ocean's minimum guarantee of 72,000 container lifts annually, this agreement will support an estimated 385 direct local jobs and 1,021 total jobs statewide that will generate more than $69 million in personal income and $6 million in state and local taxes each year. The agreement is estimated to generate approximately $56 million in revenue to the Port during the initial 10 years.

Click to King Ocean Website This agreement includes relocating King Ocean's terminal within the Port's Southport cargo area during construction for the Southport Turning Notch Extension project. The project will lengthen the existing deep water turn-around area from 900 feet to 2,400 feet, which will allow for up to five new cargo berths. Construction is expected to begin in early 2017 and be completed by the end of 2019.

Sea Turtle Nesting Season is Here

Click to Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program Website Broward County is known for its beautiful beaches and every year from March through October, sea turtles make their way onto the beaches of South Florida to lay the eggs of the next generation. In 2015, the number of nests documented by the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which is administered and funded by Broward County and carried out by Nova Southeastern University (NSU) was the second-highest number of documented nests since 1981 when the program began. In 2015 3,240 nests were found in total. Starting March 1st, Lighting Ordinances take effect in order to combat excess artificial lighting pollution along the beaches of Broward County. Every coastal municipality within the County is required to enact and enforce a lighting ordinance requiring people to turn off beachfront lighting during the sea turtle nesting season.

Nova Students Check Turtle Nest
NOVA STUDENTS CHECK TURTLE NEST
Click to Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Institute Website Also starting in March a team of nearly 40 researchers and students from NSU will make their way daily to the nearly 22-miles of Broward's shoreline to look for new turtle nests and check on existing ones. New hatchlings don't always make it out of the nest on their own and Broward's Sea Turtle Conservation Program team members will give them a helping hand.

County Water Partnership Results in Multi-Million Gallon Water Savings

Click to Broward Water Partnership program Since October 2012, residents, business and nonprofits in Broward County have save nearly 750 million gallons of water. Through the Broward Water Partnership program, which includes the County, 18 utilities and local governments in the county nearly 8,000 toilet rebates, 5,647 low-flow showerheads, 7,890 kitchen and bathroom aerators and 16 pre-rinse spray valves for commercial kitchens through the ConservationPays.com program.

Click to Capacity Building Conference Page Along with conservation support the Partnership engages in community an annual outreach in order to involve residents in the community while also rewarding people for becoming engaged in conserving water efforts and education about conservation. The 2015 Broward Mega Money Saving Record Breaking Wild Water Switcheroo made on very lucky Broward County resident who won a complete retrofit of water and energy saving devices and fixtures including toilets, faucets and showerheads, a new irrigation system, new refrigerator and dishwasher.

Click to Neighborhood Water Challenge Rules Web Page It is not too late to join this year’s Neighborhood Water Challenge sponsored by the Broward Water Partnership program. The Neighborhood Water Challenge is open to Broward residents, non-profit organizations, civic associations and other associations and starts April 1st. There are two ways to win; contestants can complete the water conservation challenge or the outreach and education challenge.

Click to Water Optimizer Page The water conservation challenge requires two or more neighbors can form a team and commit to saving water during April and May 2016. The outreach and education challenge, contestants can develop a conservation education idea and use it, then tell us how it went. Winner receive $1000 in cash, second place is a WaterOptimizer™ irrigation system.

Click to Conservation Pays Page For more details about the contest and rebates can be found at ConservationPays.com.

County Takes Big Step to Replace Aging Emergency Radio System

Click to February 9, 2016 Broward County Library WOW News The County's efforts to improve the aging Public Safety Radio System continue. The new equipment will strengthen back-up capability in the event that the primary system becomes impaired or overloaded. It will also strengthen interoperable communications capabilities with other existing 700MHz interoperable systems, and intelligence and information sharing and coordination.

Broward 911 Call Center
BROWARD 911 CALL CENTER
Also earlier this month, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to begin the procurement process to replace the existing Alphanumeric Paging System (APS) which is no longer supported by the equipment manufacturer. The APS will directly interface with the County's three regional public safety call centers.

Click to Broward Office of Regional Communications and Technology website All of these projects will not only enhance the County's Public Safety Radio System, but will also improve the County's Regional Consolidated E911 Dispatch System and regional public safety interoperability. For more information on regional communications projects, please visit the Office of Regional Communications and Technology website.

Broward County Transit Donation Program

Click to Broward County Transit Broward County Transit (BCT) buses services 410 square miles with in Broward County and connects with Miami –Dade Transit, Palm Tran and Tri-Rail. BCT buses have approximately 121,235 passenger daily and 37.2 million trips annually. It is no surprise that many items are left behind on Broward County Transit (BCT) buses and are sent to Lost and Found at the end of the day. As soon as the items come in off the buses or from transit centers to Lost and Found they are logged and tagged. Customer service staff can help any customer who is looking for a lost item as soon as they believe they lost by contacting 954-357-8400.

Click to Broward County Transit Unfortunately, after 90 days, many of those items still haven't been claimed. At that time, the items become eligible for donation, which benefits many members of our community. BCT initiated a donation program in 2015. This programs allows many organizations to benefit from unclaimed, reusable items left on buses. So far, BCT has donated more than four hundred bikes and cell phones, dozens of backpacks, purses, clothes, strollers, umbrellas, lunch bags, books and more to a rotating group of charitable or educational groups who then donate them to those in need.

If you would like to be considered for a donation, please contact BCT at bctmarketing@broward.org for consideration.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

Click To Top of Page



Emergency 911 Dispatch Operator
EMERGENCY 911 DISPATCH OPERATOR
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”.

As defined in a 2012 study supporting a unified county system “Misdirected calls are those cell phone 911 calls routed by cell phone towers to a dispatch center other than one that can actually dispatch emergency units.” 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. While eliminating the delays and dropped calls that epidemically dogged interstation transfers, consolidation would enhance responder safety, evolve a uniform set of performance metrics, roll back spiraling costs and actualize a longstanding mythical benchmark – county-wide closest unit response.

Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan
SUNRISE MAYOR MIKE RYAN
Broward Commissioner Lois Wexler
BROWARD COMMISSIONER LOIS WEXLER
In 2011, a committee was constituted to explore the impacts of consolidation. Co-chaired by Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan and Broward Commissioner Lois Wexler, the Broward County Consolidation Communications Committee (BCCCC) included City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, city managers, municipal police and fire chiefs, mayors, city commissioners and Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, who served as medical director for emergency medical services in many Broward jurisdictions, including Fort Lauderdale’s Fire-Rescue EMS and the Broward Sheriff’s Office EMS (until he was recently found dead in his Lauderdale-by-the-Sea condominium, apparently a suicide).

Click Here to Fitch & Associates
the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi
THE LATE DR. NABIL EL SANADI
In the four months from November 2011 through March 2012, the committee held 24 meetings and spent more than 300 hours on information gathering, analysis and debate before releasing a March 1, 2012 Final Report. A consolidation plan documented in the BCCCC report was vehemently endorsed by every police, fire and medical response agency in the county – and quickly approved by the Broward Commission.

The Consolidation Plan

Click Here to 2010 Feasibility Analysis web page The 2012 plan sought to replace 11 (reduced from 12 when Deerfield Beach merged operations with BSO) mostly flimsy “Public Safety Access Points” (i.e. dispatch centers or PSAPs) with three “category-5 hardened”, demographically centralized “flee to” sites; each fitted with sufficient communication capabilities, multiple power sources and data back-ups to either share the load or unilaterally manage the entire county. To win support from Broward towns and cities, especially those with independent dispatch services, plan advocates would have to demonstrate improved response times and lower cost.

In a letter to the County’s municipalities, Broward Administrator Bertha Henry tapped a 2010 feasibility analysis to outline how a consolidated 911 dispatch would yield an estimated annual $7.7 million windfall from a 20% reduction in telecommunications personnel. The elimination of administrative and support redundancies and reduced property maintenance cost (servicing 3 integrated dispatch sites instead of 11) would expand the projected annual savings to $10 million.

Click Here to 2010 Feasibility Analysis web page As recommended by the BCCCC, 28 city managers from participating municipalities, County Administrator Bertha Henry, Sheriff Lamberti, and representatives from the Broward County Police Chiefs Association and the Broward County Fire Chiefs Association coalesced into The Broward County Consolidation Implementation Advisory Board (BCCIAB). Empaneled to map the details for an independent county-wide response system, they submitted a Final Report on February 1, 2013.

BSO Bunco

Of the agenda items tackled by the Board, its single most difficult objective would be achieving consensus on who pays for what and how much. Since the Broward Sheriff’s Office had systematically obscured a decades-long tax-funded shell game, the Implementation Committee had to painstakingly unravel a Gordian Knot of ad hoc agreements, disparate pricing formulas, and a litany of sub-rosa cross subsidies prior to hashing out a final plan.

Click Here to Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) This Rubik’s Cube of emergency services featured 7 self-funded municipal programs, 14 cities that contracted with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) for dispatch services while the remaining jurisdictions used BSO “on the cuff”, bleeding County taxpayers for their Emergency 911 (E-911) costs. In addition to servicing the County’s unincorporated areas, BSO used Broward tax dollars to fund dispatch services in cities without service contracts. Among these municipal deadbeats were Davie, Lauderhill, Hallandale Beach, Miramar’s police department (its fire department’s dispatch was self-funded) and the opulent towns of Sea Ranch Lakes and Hillsboro Beach.

As the County’s incorporated cities and towns matured, many established independent police and fire services. To cushion the budgetary impact of its shrinking jurisdiction, the Broward Sheriff’s Office marketed a Chinese Menu of “a la carte” Public Safety services. To sew up service contracts with reluctant municipalities, BSO would sweeten the package with a “below cost” garage sale on 911 emergency services.

North Broward Detention Center
NORTH BROWARD DETENTION CENTER
As a result, the smaller towns that usually contracted for comprehensive BSO police and fire services also received dispatch, as did towns that selected either police or fire services, while larger cities could augment their self-funded Police or Fire-Rescue with a BSO dispatch pact. County auditors alleged that deficits accounting for 3% - 21% of a municipality’s total BSO contract were often couched in obscure budget line items, such as administrative overhead or retiree health benefits. Buried in the huge BSO operating budget, these municipal shortfalls were systematically tucked into in the county millage.

The Sheriff’s Office also used the taxpayer-funded service as bartering currency, as in a 1991 arrangement with Hallandale Beach to provide future dispatch services in exchange for certain radio frequencies. To grease an expansion of the North Broward Detention Center in 1993, BSO gifted Pompano Beach with free dispatch, quietly burying the annual $2.5 million cost in our TRIM Notices.

County Administrator Bertha Henry
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR BERTHA HENRY
Exposing these slippery funding practices and pricing policies threatened to ignite a political dirty bomb. Homeowners in certain jurisdictions were double-taxed (invoiced for dispatch services in city and county tax bills) to provide others with a free ride. For Instance, while taxpayers in Fort Lauderdale funded their dispatch services with their city taxes, their county taxes were used to absorb the cost of BSO dispatch services for cities like Pompano. This inequitable funding practice had proliferated throughout the county for decades. When Lauderdale Lakes ran up a nearly $9 million deficit on its BSO service contract, Broward taxpayers unwittingly subsidized that city’s fiscal mismanagement.

County Auditor Evan Lukic
COUNTY AUDITOR EVAN LUKIC
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
FORT LAUDERDALE MAYOR JACK SEILER
The political kindling exploded when County Administrator Bertha Henry announced that the free lunch had ended, and unless a credibly funded consolidated system was implemented, the County would bill every municipality for the actual cost of BSO dispatch. City Managers went berserk. Municipalities acclimated to freebies insisted they continue. Some angry officials in double taxed towns demanded reimbursement as others sought damages. Several municipalities countered with a threat to build their own systems, thereby depriving the County system of critical funding.

Histrionics by municipal officials who told constituents that they were suddenly blindsided by BSO fiscal antics were largely disingenuous, since County Auditor Evan Lukic warned in 2009 that taxpayers in cities with self-funded police and fire services were subsidizing BSO clients. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explained the overnight epidemic of county-wide municipal hysteria “It wasn’t a big deal when they (the county) bore the cost of dispatch, but now it is.”

County and Cities Cut Deal

Click Here to Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) When tempers cooled and the political posturing abated, prospective litigants agreed to postpone threatened legal actions as county and municipal officials worked to grind out a final plan. In an agreement negotiated between the county and its municipalities (reluctantly spearheaded by Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman), Broward County would implement the restructured service. The County would fund the project by blending an existing annual allocation to the Broward Sheriff’s Office with a bump in county taxes.

Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman
FORT LAUD. CITY MANAGER LEE FELDMAN
After approving the plan on May, 6, 2013 by a 5 - 4 vote, the Broward Commission rechanneled $18.7 million originally headed to BSO and allocated $22.5 million of the $50.3 million realized by the 2014 property tax increase to fund the $42.6 system cost. The difference was temporarily plugged with general fund revenues. Those who opposed the plan, including LaMarca, did so because cities that would no longer have to pay for a county-funded dispatch hadn’t agreed to pass that savings to their taxpayers. The dissenting Commissioners contend that the increase in county taxes should have been complemented by a larger decrease in municipal taxes, since the county plan also costs $10 million less than the $53.1 million price tag of the retired fractured system. In rebuttal, city officials claimed that the savings would lessen the sting of planned municipal tax hikes necessitated by revenue shortfalls.

Click Here to Coral Springs Click Here to Plantation Going forward, the County will manage north Broward emergencies from a center in Coconut Creek; take mid-county calls at a Sunrise PSAP while a Pembroke Pines center will service the South Broward region. Leery of committing to an untested system, Coral Springs and Plantation opted out, saddling their taxpayers with the funding cost of their independent local dispatch as well as the County system - at least until the County system proves under fire that it can deliver better response times at a lower cost. So far, it hasn’t.

Training Disaster

Nationwide Scrutiny Shortly after the project launched in October of 2014, costs skyrocketed and response times took a dive. As one of the largest consolidation efforts ever attempted, along with vested municipal stakeholders and Broward residents, the plan was closely scrutinized by jurisdictions and Public Safety industry pundits across the country. Fearful of the political fallout from a fast-developing fiasco; formerly supportive officials threatened to bail. To restore the project’s credibility, glaring problems had to be resolved, including critical hardware glitches, insufficient staff training and obsolete software.

Office of Regional Communications and Technology
RICK CARPANI - REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
Overseeing the transition was the former director of Broward County’s Office of Regional Communications and Technology (ORCAT), Rick Carpani. Poorly prepared for their new responsibilities, staffers who took calls were often rude or unprofessional, dispatchers regularly sent units to the wrong address – or the wrong city – and disconnected callers were rarely called back. In a backhanded stab at rallying his troops, Carpani announced “I am absolutely disappointed where it stands. Everybody has to give up the sandbox mentality and say, ‘We’re all in this together.’ His appeal to “Kumbaya” fell on deaf ears; as the problem was less about attitude than training.

Robert Pusins, Executive Director of the BSO Department of Community Services
ROBERT PUSINS, BSO
Robert Pusins, Executive Director of the BSO Department of Community Services, had been tasked with supplying the centers with trained personnel. Conceding that his Department underestimated the training required for dispatchers and call-takers who were new to the job and the cities to which they were assigned, Pusins admitted “We took in employees from other agencies that didn’t have the same level of training and certifications that we needed.” The diluted training regimen brought the project to the brink of failure.

A County database was created to track project complaints. Of 373 complaints lodged between October 2014 and the end of April, 2015, 157 (42%) were the fault of the operator or dispatcher. Only 10 were attributed to caller errors. A February County report observed “The operator-related tickets lead to delayed response times, first responder safety concerns and administrative overhead.”

County Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COUNTY COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
When BSO officials told attendees at a Broward Budget workshop about their planned solicitation of a 14.6 percent increase for dispatch services in last year’s budget, County Commissioner Lois Wexler – who had campaigned on behalf of consolidation – suddenly jumped ship and distanced herself from the project. In a blaze of political theatrics, Wexler announced “I’m not going to be part of that fraud. I’m just not. This onion’s going to have to be peeled way, way back.”

Click To Police Department’s Tips web page Wexler is somewhat less than popular on the Galt Mile, having repeatedly attempted to close the Galt Mile Library as a budget measure, while refusing to do the same for libraries in her district. She also sponsored a County ordinance that blatantly discriminates against Broward’s association homeowners.

Click Here to Fitch & Associates At the May Budget Workshop, Commissioner Chip LaMarca told participants “We’re now into this thing and we have to hire a consultant to find out what we did wrong.” An advocate of staying the course, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman maintained that the problem was fixable, noting how “its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.” LaMarca’s recommendation was realized on January 5, 2016, when the county hired consultant Fitch & Associates to examine the system and identify the changes required to meet stakeholder expectations.

Old Radios Old Radios Another systemic deficiency was known to the county long before the consolidation began - marginally functional antique radios. In June 2015, the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association complained to Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry about outages and static on the radios used by police and fire personnel to communicate with dispatchers. In a letter, they described how unreliable radios prompted police departments in Davie, Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Sunrise to perform hourly roll calls and implement two-person patrols. Having conceded that the obsolete Motorola radio system was nearing its “end of life,” Carpani had anticipated its replacement with a new system in 2018 – but not by him. When offered a private sector opportunity he described as “phenomenal”, Carpani grabbed the brass ring and hit the road on November 13, 2015.

Bouncing Back

Director Brett Bayag, Office of Regional Communications and Technology
ORCAT DIRECTOR BRETT BAYAG
Since then, the system has demonstrated steady improvement under the guidance of Carpani replacement Brett Bayag, as operators and dispatchers intensively trained with mapping tools to heighten their geographical IQ. The system now exceeds a State requirement that 90% of the calls be answered within 10 seconds – a benchmark that’s being met even when the system is heavily stressed by high call volumes.

computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system The beefed-up training protocols have also measurably increased the productivity of caller interviews, enabling dispatch to better equip response units with accurate addresses, reliable descriptions of suspects and/or victims and otherwise relevant incident data. Enigmatically, the improvements haven’t extended to fire-rescue processing times, which remain below county standards.

computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system Thus far, calls routed to any of the three centers could only be fielded by that center’s operators (except for calls placed on the non-emergency line, 954-764-4357, which are answerable at all three call centers). Beginning in April, an automatic call distributor will make all incoming calls accessible to every center, buffering the impact of regional staffing shortfalls. Burned by past mistakes, Pusins ramped up county-wide geographical training for staffers who will now be responsible for navigating emergencies anywhere in Broward.

Click Here to Poppy's Pizza The importance of compensating for temporary staffing deficiencies was dramatically demonstrated by a September incident at the Sunrise Call Center. An optometrist’s office employee who called for help when a man passed out was ignored for eight minutes while an on-duty call taker discussed the vagaries of her luncheon order with Poppy’s Pizza. Eight staffers were busy with other calls while four others who were supposed to be on duty couldn’t explain why they weren’t. This near-fatal parody of a morose Three Stooges episode played out under the nose of an oblivious supervisor. Fortunately, the victim was revived. The employee later informed investigators that she had been making personal calls while on duty throughout her 12 years with the agency.

Future Improvements

computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system Looming large on Bayag’s timeline is a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system projected for implementation in 2017. At an estimated cost of $4.2 million, the new CAD is a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency web based system which will process and analyze data from a broad range of sources, communicating with the consolidated E-911 system, the radio system, regional law and fire records systems as well as the paging & toning systems. Capabilities integrated with the CAD software include automatic vehicle location, resource location and in-vehicle mobile mapping. If treated with respect, it will also cook breakfast.

Fire Alert System To expedite lagging fire-rescue processing times, a new fire station alerting (FSA) system will be interfaced with the existing Motorola Premier One computer-aided dispatch system and the Project 25 trunked radio system infrastructure, replacing the obsolete Zetron Model 26/6 system by 2017.

Click Here to Mission Critical Partners A year later, Bayag plans to drop-kick the antique analog radios (likely future collectibles on eBay) and install a $45 million APCO Project 25 digital radio system that will provide for built-in redundancy (add back-up capabilities if the primary system becomes impaired or overloaded) and penetrate dense inner city concrete canyons. Receive-only sites in Tamarac and Deerfield will be replaced with full transmit/receive towers and new towers will be added in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and North Lake. Endorsed by technical consultant Mission Critical Partners and county-wide police and fire stakeholders, the system will also feature a 5-Channel multicast site along Alligator Alley (I-75) for improved coverage in the western half of the County over the Everglades.

Fire Alert System Coral Springs, Plantation, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale have refused to use the County’s flawed radios. While exponentially increasing the risk for victims at crime scenes and medical emergencies, radios that randomly break off communications with dispatch also imperil first responders. Characterizing the danger the as intolerable; last year Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman approved a $5 million police and fire-rescue radio rehabilitation to insure their reliability until the County retires its snake-bit squawkers – theoretically in 2018.

Cell Phone Crisis

Cell Tower One persistent glitch has eluded correction. Since Coral Springs and Plantation have adamantly declined to participate until the County’s performance metrics meet or exceed those of their local systems, when incidents in adjacent towns and cities are reported by cell phone, if the cell tower that relays the signal is programmed to send 911 calls to a non-participating dispatch center, the call must be redirected back to the proper jurisdiction, burning precious minutes.

Click Here to FCC Cell Tower Info The problem’s footprint is large, since roughly 80% of emergency calls initiate from cell phones. Last year, roughly 9,000 calls mistakenly routed to Plantation had to be transferred, while Coral Spring had to re-route 3,881 emergency calls. Since this obstacle burdens every dispatch center on the planet, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently met with the nation’s four largest wireless providers to explore a resolution. In short, cell phones fitted with a methodology for pinpointing their locations in three dimensions would have to be interfaced with software that parsed entire neighborhoods in three dimensions. The problem isn’t “how,” but “how much?” The cost per carrier is estimated at $25 million and would save roughly 10,000 lives annually. Following the carriers’ intensive lobbying effort, the agency tanked requiring the expenditure. Until cost-effective technology cures this vulnerability – or the two cities agree to get with the program – emergencies along their borders that are reported via cell phones will remain prone to interstation ping-pong.

Waiting for Fitch

City Commissioner Bruce Roberts
CITY COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
While acknowledging palpable improvements to the County system, some participants have expressed trepidations about its future. Among them is City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, who imparted that the City is reconsidering its options. On February 18, Roberts described some recent dispatch failures to the Galt Mile Advisory Board; as Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue units were sent to the wrong address and prolonged delays hampered EMS response to medical emergencies – not to mention the September pizza meltdown – which the local media got wind of in January – before going viral. Roberts admonished, “Unless things improve soon, we may be better off funding our own center.”

Dispatch Center at Broward Sheriff's Office Communications Center
BSO COMMUNICATIONS DISPATCH CENTER
Process watchdogs are concerned about persistent in-fighting between the BSO, which has a contract to operate the new system, and the County Office of Regional Communications and Technology, which maintains the system’s technological backbone. The County is also at loggerheads with officials in local police and fire trade associations, who claim that the County has unilaterally made critical operational decisions, ignoring their input. Specifically, they have expressed resentment over not having been empowered to select the consultant.

Fitch Consultant Dr. Bruce Moeller
FITCH CONSULTANT DR. BRUCE MOELLER
Like Roberts, many of the project’s municipal and county participants are anxiously awaiting a diagnostic project report by Fitch & Associates, a highly regarded firm whose consultants specialize in identifying and correcting the problems that afflict dispatch programs. Contracted to customize solutions for the Broward program based on industry best practices, Fitch threw in an added benefit. Dr. Bruce Moeller, a former Sunrise Fire Chief and City Manager, is one of the Fitch consultants assigned to the Broward project. While Fitch technicians craft solutions to IT black holes and administrative missteps, Moeller’s 7 years as BSO Fire-Rescue Director may afford him the credibility to broker a truce in the BSO – County turf war.

Tamarac Fire Chief Mike Burton
TAMARAC FIRE CHIEF MIKE BURTON
If Fitch insights convince stakeholders that the program’s disheartening failures can be fixed, it would go a long way to reversing their waning confidence in the consolidated system. Fortunately, most of the project participants are less apprehensive about the transition, and try to remain focused on the benchmarks that objectively measure progress. At a recent consolidation workshop, Tamarac Fire Chief Mike Burton put his spin on the project’s status, “We have seen some improvements in the system. The number of misdirected calls have been cut by 90 percent. We have interoperability, which wasn’t always the case. The system will continue to develop and get better.”

Production Line Under the 2002 electoral mandate, the project was belatedly launched to save lives threatened by response delays often caused when incidents are reported by cell phone in areas bordering on two or more dispatch systems (it also saves $10 million annually). Until wireless companies retool production lines to install EXISTING location technology that eliminates the vulnerability, consolidation is the only cure. Of the 10,000 lives claimed by the glitch annually, a sizable number are ended in our backyard. Lives that could have – and should have – been saved.

Pizza OrderWhile the initial consolidation gaffes were implementation failures (i.e. inadequate training, etc.), the more recent foul-ups were caused by poor judgement, chronic indolence, irresponsible behavior, ineffective supervision, etc.; the type of errors that congenitally afflict Broward agencies. The young lady who spent eight minutes ordering pizza while neglecting a medical emergency admitted to making on-duty personal calls throughout her 12 years on the job. The problem had proliferated for a decade prior to the consolidation, and could have been corrected years ago by demanding a level of employee discipline commensurate with their responsibility to save lives. Instead, it was ignored.

Production Line Your Fired In the unlikely event that some municipality’s officials abandon the consolidation effort and build another self-funded system, once again placing their residents at risk (while inflating their tax bills), they may have to explain their supposition that sacrificing those lives was simply the cost of doing business – collateral damage. PSAPs inevitably face growing pains - and employees in any Broward municipality have no inherent immunity to poor judgment, chronic indolence, or irresponsible behavior. Ask Lee Feldman – who pink slips bad eggs with surprising consistency.

 


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City Simmering Over Bahia Mar

Bahia Mar Resort & Marina Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show May 8, 2016 - Despite recent diversification inroads, 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.

Tate Capital Real Estate Solutions Rok Acquisitions, LLC TRR Bahia Mar LLC – a partnership comprised of Tate Capital, Rok Acquisitions, Rialto Capital Management and RCI Marine – purchased the current 47-year city lease on the iconic property from the Blackstone Group in July of 2014. The 2014 Boat Show drew the largest turnout since 2008. After scrutinizing the new lease-holders’ planned improvements, and negotiating enhancements to the event’s future navigability, the boat show signed a 30-year contract, prompting a citywide sigh of relief. The condition – the Boat Show skates if the developer doesn’t deliver the goods.

Rialto Capital Management
2015 Planned Bahia Mar Redevelopment Rendering
2015 PLANNED BAHIA MAR REDEVELOPMENT RENDERING
Seven months later, the developers submitted a proposal to Design Review before the July 14, 2015 City Commission meeting. The 2.4 million-square-foot plan anticipates three new condo buildings totaling 625 units, renovating the aging 188-room legacy hotel, demolishing the 115-room adjunct to the south, adding new hotel rooms, an 18-foot-wide pedestrian walkway bordering retail, restaurants, public space, a fishing village and a huge parking garage with a 16-foot ceiling that would annually transition into exhibition space for the Boat Show, replacing the transient exhibitor tents that pepper the site every November.

2015 Planned Bahia Mar Restaurant
RESTAURANT IN PLANNED BAHIA MAR REDEVELOPMENT
A 5-story hotel annex would contain 48 new hotel rooms, 25,551 square feet of retail/grocery along the pedestrian promenade, and a pool deck. Two 39-story condo towers would feature 269 and 256 apartments along with 39,248 square feet of office space, restaurants and retail outlets. A new five-story structure would house 100 residential units, the convertible parking garage, 35,000 square feet of office space and a 17,125-square-foot fitness center. Freestanding restaurants at the site’s southwest and northwest corners will bookend a park on the Intracoastal and a 4,600-square-foot fishing village will host retail and outdoor dining.

2006 Bahia Mar Redevelopment Plan Rendering
2006 BAHIA MAR REDEVELOPMENT PLAN RENDERING
This wasn’t the first plan used to convince the Boat Show to stick around. In 2006, Blackstone subsidiary LXR Resorts cobbled together a $500 million development plan featuring twin high-rise condos, renovation of the hotel and construction of a 290-room Waldorf Astoria – among other improvements. Four years later, the plan’s scope was cut in half before being scrapped in 2013 over secondary financial considerations, prompting renewed relocation angst by Boat Show owner Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) and producer Show Management. Their concerns were allayed when the current leaseholders promised an alternative redevelopment plan in 2014, which was subsequently approved by Boat Show officials. Here’s what happened.

LXR Vice President Peter Henn
LXR V.P. PETER HENN
LXR Luxury Resorts One year after LXR Vice President Peter Henn revealed its 2006 Bahia Mar improvement plan, Blackstone bought Hilton Hotels for $26 billion ($47.50 a share) in 2007, and planned to integrate Hilton’s brands (Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Homewood, Waldorf, etc.) with other hotels in its portfolio, such as La Quinta Inns and Suites and a group of luxury hotels like the Boca Raton Resort and Club and the Boulders Resort and Spa in Arizona. Having executed what ultimately proved to be the most lucrative Leveraged Buyout (LBO) in history, Bahia Mar’s Waldorf luxury branding was approved within minutes of Blackstone’s call to its new Hilton subordinates.

Hilton Hotels The project was later halved when neighborhood activists forced an expulsion of the two condo towers in 2010. The remaining $250 million plan would have placed a 26-story Waldorf Astoria next to a renovated Doubletree branded Bahia Mar hotel. Approved by the City Commission in 2011, it would also include a beach community center, a police command center, a trolley stop and the boat show improvements – except Blackstone had other plans. Blackstone took Hilton public in a December 11, 2013 IPO. Within months, the $20 opening share price skyrocketed past $25. In June of 2014, Blackstone began liquidating its Hilton stock, raising $2.33 billion.

Anbang Insurance Group A month later, it put the Hilton’s Waldorf-branded Boca Raton Resort and Club on the market and sold its interest in the Bahia Mar lease to TRR Bahia Mar LLC, followed by a second $2.59 billion sale of Hilton stock in November of 2014. In May of 2015, Blackstone sold another 90 million shares at $29.85 for $2.69 billion – dropping its stake in Hilton below 50%. Some speculate that the company retrieved the $5.6 billion it used for the Hilton LBO; others insist that they are cashing out in preparation for selling a portfolio of luxury hotels to China’s Anbang Insurance Group, which just purchased the Waldorf Astoria from Blackstone – the flagship of Hilton’s Waldorf brand.

Blackstone Group After LXR finally won neighborhood approval by surrendering most of the project’s planned profit centers during a seven-year negotiation, when parent Blackstone sent the revised terms to the City, city officials sought a larger share from the sale and resale of the greatly reduced number of project condos. No longer babysitting Hilton, seven years was enough for Blackstone – their offer was final. They could either sit on the profitable property, or sell out. While TRR’s lease purchase included the Doubletree Bahia Mar, the Waldorf brand took a powder when Blackstone bolted.

Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning Board
FORT LAUDERDALE PLANNING AND ZONING BOARD
The current project was cobbled together by EDSA, Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, ID & Design International, Flynn Engineering Services, and Kimley Horn. The proposal also conceives a 100-year lease (to comply with the City Charter – a 50-year lease with a 50-year extension option) between the City and Rahn Bahia Mar LLC, spearheaded by Miami developers Jimmy Tate and Sergio Rok, who collectively hold a 58% stake in the lease. On December 16, 2015, the Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning Board approved the proposed $400 million Bahia Mar redevelopment, and forwarded the plan to the City Commission for review.

Bahia Mar Developer Jimmy Tate
BAHIA MAR DEVELOPER JIMMY TATE
Since current beach area zoning tops off residential buildings at 24 stories, the developer submitted a rezoning request to enable construction of the 39-story condo towers. If granted, Bahia Mar would feature the tallest beachfront condos in the City. In recent years, the City Commission accommodated requests from beach neighborhoods to limit the size of oceanfront construction. Fearful that the 31 and 32-story Palm I and II towers would incentivize developers to wall off the ocean, their call for a 240-foot (24-story) zoning height restriction resonated with most Fort Lauderdale residents, who complained that ocean views were devolving into an exclusive commodity reserved for beachfront homeowners. The Bahia Mar rezoning request was placed on the City Commission’s February 2, 2016 meeting agenda.

Bahia Mar Shadows
BAHIA MAR SHADOW STUDY
On the evening of February 2, hundreds of city residents and local business owners jammed City Hall, most of whom took issue with the beachfront skyscrapers. Faced with condemning entire blocks to daily spans of darkness as shadow-casting towers blot out the sun, or – as decried by Mayor Jack Seiler“I would hate to see a couple of bulky 24-story buildings,” the Commission hosted a marathon opportunity for public input. Except for a handful of real estate investors, most of the 80 speakers blasted the size of the towers and how incremental traffic would paralyze surrounding neighborhoods.

Bahia Mar City Commission Meeting
BAHIA MAR - CITY COMMISSION MEETING
While studying project renderings provided by the developer, City Commissioner Romney Rogers noticed that the landmark hotel was dwarfed by the adjacent structures. He remarked “The towers themselves overwhelm the hotel. The scale is over the top, as far as I’m concerned.” Also disinclined to approve the oversized towers, Mayor Jack Seiler added “I have some issues with the height.” The rezoning request was hotly contested until 4:15 a.m. Before adjourning the meeting, the Commission postponed any decision until the March 1 meeting, when the public input would continue.

Fort Lauderdale City Commission
FORT LAUDERDALE CITY COMMISSION MEETING
On March 1, Commissioners echoed resident grievances with the tower heights. Disaffected by the development’s flaws and dubious about the lease valuation, Seiler commented, “We need to get a revised site plan, and we need to get an appraisal” Throughout the meeting, Commissioners planted a trail of breadcrumbs for the developer, casually intimating that a more palatable project size would quell their concerns. Before adjourning, the Commission voted to resume the public hearing at the May 10 Commission meeting.

Bahia Mar Condo Towers - 10 Stories less
BAHIA MAR CONDO TOWERS - 10 STORIES LESS
Heeding Commission trepidations, the developer agreed to trim 10 stories from each condo tower, recess the South Tower an additional 20 feet to enlarge the entrance plaza at Seabreeze Boulevard, expand the park to over an acre, and clip one parking level from the north condo garage. The fitness center and 13,000 square feet of office space were pared from the plan. Reducing the 400-foot towers to 299 feet would win points with the Commission on May 10, and cool opposition by local residents. By shrinking the towers, the developer will lose income from the sale of 49 fewer condominium units, revenues that would have funded the fitness center, the scratched office space and the lost parking.

Proposed Bahia Mar Convertible Garage
PROPOSED BAHIA MAR CONVERTIBLE GARAGE
The convertible parking garage / exhibition space is also being reduced. Developer Jimmy Tate explained, “We gave the boat show a world-class facility and they said they didn't want it.” The two air-conditioned levels originally conceived to house exhibitors will be combined into a single level with an 18-foot ceiling – and no air conditioning. Tate likened the open space with a high ceiling to the tents historically used by Boat Show exhibitors.

Bahia Mar Public Meeting
BAHIA MAR PUBLIC MEETING
In what appeared to be a trial run for May 10, a Town Hall style public meeting was convened at City Hall on Tuesday, April 26 at 6 p.m. Local residents renewed their complaints about the size of the buildings, the project’s impact on the city’s failing water and sewer system, how the additional traffic would tax neighborhood streets while impairing evacuation routes / emergency access. While some residents objected to high-rise buildings blocking beach access or their view of the ocean, others explored whether the City would be adequately compensated for a 100-year lease on one of its most desirable properties. Also preparing for May 10, attending developer representatives took copious notes while remaining mute throughout the proceedings.

Bahia Mar Lease The City and the developer have been negotiating the lease since the property was first acquired. The developer’s current 47-year lease undermines the city’s negotiating leverage, since the developer can still realize a profit from the hotel and marina without building the improvements required to lock up the Boat Show. As of the December Planning and Zoning Board meeting, the 107-page proposed lease set no time limit for building the planned improvements, and the developer could only be held in default for non-payment of rent.

Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Boat
FORT LAUDERDALE FIRE-RESCUE BOAT
Fort Lauderdale Police Department Boat
FORT LAUDERDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT BOAT
The annual base rent jumps from $300,000 to $1 million. Revenue shared by the City from the marina, retail and office space will increase from 4.25 percent to 5 percent. The City will get a 1.1 percent taste of every condo sale. The park can be used for city events 12 times each year and the ballroom twice annually. The City also snags two boat slips to park Police or Fire-Rescue vessels.

former Broward Commissioner John Rodstrom
FORMER BROWARD COMMISSIONER JOHN RODSTROM
Although the $42 million “net present value” of the current lease jumps to $99 million under the proposed agreement, activist watchdogs questioned why the City would receive less than $3 million annually when the Boat Show alone brings in more than $5 million in one 4-week span. In a January 15, 2016 Bahia Mar commentary, the Sun-Sentinel editorial board noted that former Broward Commissioner John Rodstrom – who long served as the Broward Board’s fiscal lynchpin – observed that “the city was valuing the land at $12.8 million – peanuts for a big waterfront site.” While challenging sufficiency of the agreement’s initial valuation metrics, residents also inquired how rental and profit-sharing formulas evolve over the combined century-long lease term.

Sergio Rok and Jimmy Tate
SERGIO ROK AND JIMMY TATE
Should the City Commission approve the rezoning request on May 10, the developer will have to shield the next ten Boat Shows from the disorientation that ordinarily accompanies a decade of construction. To realize their projected sales windfall, Jimmy Tate and Sergio Rok must also convince condo homebuyers that they will hardly notice the jackhammers and rivet guns while circumnavigating bulldozers on the pedestrian walkway. Despite the recent Canadian currency meltdown, Tate and other real estate pundits are convinced that the units will move.

Bahia Mar - Crap Shoot? Some local residents are leery about the project’s commitment to inclusion, and fear the development of a walled Yuppie playground that caters exclusively to insiders. If so, the project could drain neighborhood resources without benefitting its residents. However, if the project is rolled out as promised, the developers will have salvaged the Boat Show, helped revitalize a deteriorating City neighborhood, and created a unique destination site for tourists and local residents. For the second time in a decade, community leaders are working to safeguard the interests of their neighbors without tanking the project.

The City Commission, neighborhood residents and the developer are closing in on a compromise. If they can’t find a formula they like, it won’t matter. If they can’t find a formula they can live with, we all lose.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Fleet Week; Air Show; Pet Fix; FLL Top 10; Turtle Signs

Commentary

Click to Chip LaMarca April 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA APRIL MESSAGE
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, 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 and invites constituents to "Stay Connected" using County social media.

17 Stars on the deck of the USS Cole
17 STARS ON DECK - USS COLE
Among the vessels visiting Port Everglades for Fleet Week is the USS Cole. For the men and women stationed on the ship, the war on terror began on Thursday, October 12, 2000. Nearly one year before the attacks of 9/11, while located off the coast of Yemen, the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole was attacked by suicide bombers from a cell within the al-Qaeda network; and supervised by Osama bin Laden. While the USS Cole was refueling at a port in Aden, Yemen, two suicide bombers navigating a small motorboat full of explosives sidled up along the ship’s port side, exchanged greetings with sailors who had begun lining up for lunch in the galley, and stood at attention just before the explosives blew a hole 40 feet wide in the side of the ship at 11:18 a.m. Bahrain time, killing 17 crew members and wounding 39 others. After more than 550 tons of steel was replaced for $250 million, the fully operational vessel was turned into a floating memorial - with 17 large gold stars on its deck.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTERS
Despite the Thunderbirds renowned aerial acrobatics, the headliner at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Three years behind schedule and roughly $200 billion over budget, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program finally became operational in July of 2015. In development for nearly 15 years, the single-seat Lockheed Martin F-35 is the most lethal and versatile aircraft of the modern era. This 5th Generation fighter combines advanced stealth capabilities, radar-jamming abilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology and its specialized helmet display gives pilots a 360-degree view of their surroundings.

Click to New Broward Registration Tags Info Pet owners and animal advocates will appreciate the lineup of programs included in BrowardPetFix, the County Animal Care and Adoption’s comprehensive spay/neuter initiative. SNIP replaces the former SPOT Program, which sunset last year. Along with Portable Sterilization Units, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), and Returned-to-Field (RTF), the program provides pet owners with spay/neuter services while humanely stemming the proliferation of feral cats.

Click to Airport Shula Burger Click to Food Network Kitchen Shula Burger and Food Network Kitchen at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport won recognition in the Best Airport Grab-And-Go Dining category in 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest sponsored by USA TODAY. Chicago's O'Hare Airport is the only other airport on the list with two winning restaurants. Acquired by USA TODAY in January of 2013, 10Best.com uses a team of local travel experts who live in the city they write about so the content is constantly updated, providing users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

Click to Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program Florida beaches serve as nesting grounds for approximately 80 percent of the global population of Loggerhead sea turtles - and 90 percent of the US population. Green sea turtles mostly nest along the southeast coast of Florida while Leatherbacks, the rarest species of sea turtle, nest almost exclusively on the east coast of Florida. Broward County is ground zero. As LaMarca points out, the signs were installed to warn English and Spanish-speaking beachgoers against disturbing the nesting sites - or placing their sticky mitts on the eggs. For the rest of LaMarca’s April 2016 message to constituents, Read on... – [editor]

 

April 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Broward Navy Days Fleet Week

Click to Navy Days Fleet Week 2016 During Fleet Week 2015, more than 8,000 South Florida students, residents and veterans toured the visiting Navy and Coast Guard ships. Fleet Week 2016 is just around the corner. Beginning May 2nd through May 9th Port Everglades will host the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship, the destroyers USS Farragut and USS Cole, and Coast Guard cutters Robert Yered and Dependable and others at the signature event. Due to security restrictions at Broward County's Port Everglades, tours must be reserved well in advance of the ship arrivals and each visitor must undergo security clearance. Registration to tour one of the vessels is open.

For more information, including schedules, ship tours and registration information visit http://www.browardnavydaysinc.org/

Fort Lauderdale Air Show

Click to Fort Lauderdale Air Show The 2016 Fort Lauderdale Air Show is back, set for May 7-8, 2016, and the promoters have many new aerial surprises for this year. The show will feature multiple jet demonstration teams from three nations. Our headliners, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, will perform along with their North American counterparts, the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. We also welcome the Breitling Jet Team from France as they all perform over the crystal blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful beach. This year’s show will also be the very first civilian air show in history to feature the F-35 Lightning “Joint Strike Fighter”.

For more information, please check out the show’s Facebook page at Fort Lauderdale Air Show or their website at http://fortlauderdaleairshow.com/

New Comprehensive Spay/Neuter Initiative

Click to New Animal Care and Adoption Click to New Broward RAnimal Care and Adoption Division The Animal Care and Adoption's comprehensive spay/neuter initiative BrowardPetFix includes all spay/neuter programs designed to service Broward County residents and reduce the number of unwanted pets throughout the community. The programs include sterilization options for owned dogs and cats, as well as programs specifically for Community Cats.

Commissioner Chip LaMarca on Broward's spay/neuter initiative
COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA ON BROWARD'S SPAY/NEUTER INITIATIVE

Click to Broward SNIP Program Info The new programs are: SNIP, Portable Sterilization Units, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), and Returned-to-Field (RTF). SNIP is open to all Broward County residents who have an owned dog or cat. SNIP services include spay/neuter surgery, a rabies vaccination, and a Broward County Registration License Tag. SNIP sterilization services are provided through a network of veterinary providers. Broward County residents must apply online to the program at Broward.org/Animal.

Click to New Broward Registration Tags Info The new portable sterilization unit also provides sterilization services for owned dogs and cats in the community, as well as Community Cats. The sterilization services are only provided by appointment and it is currently stationed at Delevoe Park, 2520 NW 6th St., Fort Lauderdale. The sterilization unit will stay at Delevoe Park for about six months and then it will move to another targeted area in Broward County where the services are in high demand. Spay/neuter services can be scheduled by calling the Humane Society at 954-463-SPAY.

Click to Broward SNIP Program Info Through the TNR program, Community Cats are sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, ear-notched, and returned to the neighborhood in which they were found. Broward County Animal care partnered with many veterinary clinics to provide these services. The RTF program is for healthy Community Cats that enter the Animal Care’s Adoption Center, where they are sterilized, given a rabies vaccination then placed back in the neighborhood in which they were found.

To apply to the SNIP Program, or for details regarding any other BrowardPetFix program, visit Broward.org/Animal.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Restaurants Recognized in National Top 10 List

Click to USA TODAY 10Best Readers Choice Awards Info USA Today and their readers have recognized two restaurants in Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in their National top 10 list. The contest sponsored by USA Today names the two winners, Shula Burger in Terminal 1 and Food Network Kitchen in Terminal 3, in the Airport Grab-And-Go Dining category in 10Best Readers’ choice travel award contest. See the full list of winners.

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport The contest is promoted across USA Today Travel Media Group’s digital and mobile products and social media outlets. Nominees are announced and promoted by USA Today and through Gannett media outlets, including the websites of its 81 local newspapers and 43 television stations.

Informative New Sea Turtle Signs

Click to Informative New Sea Turtle Signs Sea turtle season is well underway on the beautiful white sand beaches of Broward County. Broward's beaches support vital nesting grounds for loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles and leatherbacks. In order to help in the protection efforts during the sea turtle season the Sea Turtle Conservancy has awarded Broward County a grant to create and install permanent informational sea turtle signs at heavily-used public beach access locations throughout the County. In partnership with the municipalities, the County has selected the locations for the informational signs to be installed April 26-27, 2016. The signs will be in English and Spanish and will be beneficial in providing beach goers with safe sea turtle practices.

Click to Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program For more information on how to help create a more sustainable environment for sea turtles, contact the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program at 954-519-1255.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

Galt A1A || E - || Body Cameras

Click to Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts May/June 2016 Newsletter
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
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.

Emergency 911: Reversing Course

Dispatch Center at Broward Sheriff's Office Communications Center
BSO COMMUNICATIONS DISPATCH CENTER
Anyone who uses E911 to successfully dodge an imminent threat is forever changed by the realization that few governmental services are as critically important to our lives. As described by Commissioner Roberts, a city plan to explore abandoning the floundering County-run system and regain control over local 911 dispatch services are an emergency response to recent events. Since Fort Lauderdale - until now - advocated a county-wide 911 dispatch, the City decision to consider a 180-degree reversal of its policy begs some additional context.

Broward Voters Approve Consolidation More than a decade after 80% of Broward’s electorate voted to consolidate eleven disparate emergency 911 (E911) services operated by the County and various municipalities, a committee was empaneled in 2011 to craft a consolidation roadmap. Co-chaired by Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan and Broward Commissioner Lois Wexler, the Broward County Consolidation Communications Committee (BCCCC) included City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, city managers, municipal police and fire chiefs, mayors, city commissioners and the medical director for the Broward Sheriff’s Office EMS. After banging heads for almost two years, County and Municipal negotiators agreed that Broward County would fund and implement the restructured service.

Click Here to Coral Springs Click Here to Plantation Approved by the Broward Commission on May, 6, 2013, the consolidation plan was launched on October of 2014. County call centers in Coconut Creek, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines would service the North, central and South Broward regions. Except for Coral Springs and Plantation, which stuck with their in-house dispatch services, Broward’s remaining 29 municipalities agreed to participate in the consolidated County system.

Click Here to Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO)
Office of Regional Communications and Technology
RICK CARPANI WALKS
Almost immediately, a rift between the Sheriff's Office and the Broward Commission led to a series of foul-ups, as staffers who were insufficiently trained by the Sheriff's office nearly tanked the County Board’s consolidation plan. After slowly improving over the next year, Director Rick Carpani of the Broward County Office of Regional Communications and Technology - who directed the consolidation program - bailed out for a job in the private sector. Despite attempts by Carpani’s staffers to pick up the slack, municipal project stakeholders grew increasingly alarmed as ongoing dispatch blunders nurtured a high-profile media sideshow.

Galt Mile Advisory Board
GALT MILE ADVISORY BOARD
Although most of the project’s municipal participants stood fast, encouraged by a 90% reduction in misdirected calls and unprecedented interoperability, on February 18, 2016, City Commissioner Bruce Roberts informed the Galt Mile Advisory Board that Fort Lauderdale was considering an independent emergency service. This seemed strange - for several reasons. First, Fort Lauderdale was one of the project’s staunchest advocates, as Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman had played a key role in leveraging the County to fund and operate the system. When bungled calls by dispatch employees were treated like comic relief by local media, Lee Feldman characterized the plan’s drawbacks as fixable, repeatedly commenting “Its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.”

Cell Phone Glitch: Part II

Click Here to FCC Cell Tower Info Click Here to FCC Cell Tower Info Secondly, creating another system would resurrect a threat mitigated by the consolidation. Cited by the FCC as responsible for 10,000 deaths annually, it was one of the primary reasons why the county’s municipalities had agreed to finally consolidate dispatch services. When incidents that occur in neighborhoods bordering two different systems are reported by cell phone, if the cell tower that relays the signal is programmed to send 911 calls to the wrong dispatch center, the call must be bounced back to the proper jurisdiction, wasting precious minutes that often spell the difference between life and death. Since roughly 80% of emergency calls are made from cell phones, about half the calls initiating from Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods bordering other municipalities on the north, west or south would be misdirected, and plagued with response delays.

Cell Tower In the mid-1990s, when cellphones were largely used outdoors (because sufficient “signal” was rarely available indoors), the FCC set an industry deadline: two-thirds of cellphone calls must transmit location data to 911 by 2002. Unlike the pinpoint accuracy of GPS units deployed by the military, the “off the shelf” GPS in ordinary cellphones only met the FCC standard if used outdoors. As cell phones increasingly replaced land lines, when a 911 system’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) is unable to digitally prompt a cellphone’s location data, the carrier’s system sends an estimate based on the location of cell towers carrying the transmission - a slow and inaccurate process.

Click Here to FCC 911 Location Accuracy Rule The glitch won’t be fixed anytime soon. After meeting with the nation’s 4 largest wireless carriers last year, the FCC implemented new rules that require carriers to steadily increase the percentage of cellphone calls to 911 that transmit accurate indoor and outdoor location data. Drafted in part by the carriers, the new rules call for delivery of location data for 40% of cellphone calls by 2017 and 80% by 2021. Although the carriers could admittedly correct the problem within one year by fitting every new cellphone with technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, since that would require a $25 million investment to retool production lines, the carriers convinced the Agency to ignore the deadly repercussions - and approve the extended timetable.

Lastly, installing new hardware, correcting myriad “bugs” in next generation software while building “category-5 hardened” Emergency dispatch infrastructure will herniate Fort Lauderdale family budgets. Absent a windfall grant, the projected $8 million annual price-tag for actualizing the plans discussed in Commissioner Roberts’ Newsletter will be exclusively borne by City taxpayers.

Broward County: Asleep at the Wheel

Broward Officials Nod Out Broward Officials Nod OutWhy would City officials explode our tax bills, suffer an increase in misdirected emergency calls and risk a frenzy of media-hyped blowback over project pitfalls? The answer is simple. Fort Lauderdale officials no longer believe that the Broward Board will fulfill its promise to build a countywide 911 Emergency System - and they aren’t alone. When the County’s consolidation Director bolted last November, and left the project without a technological rudder, instead of instituting a replacement process to keep the project on track, County officials took a six-month siesta.

Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan
SUNRISE MAYOR MIKE RYAN
As co-chair of the Broward County Consolidation Communications Committee, Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan has consistently been one of the consolidation effort’s most vocal advocates. Like Roberts and Feldman, Ryan rationalized the steady stream of inaugural-year fiascos as growing pains. When the project director abruptly left, Ryan joined with every municipal stakeholder in requesting an expedited replacement process.

Click Here to Broward League of Cities Stonewalled by the county for months, apprehensive municipal project participants began tracking a litany of dispatch failures that were no longer attributable to any employee learning curve - but the absence of expert oversight. A system responsible for the lives of Broward residents was being mangled by inexperienced departmental subordinates who were unqualified to manage any E911 program, much less one of the largest and most complex emergency response consolidations ever attempted in the United States.

Broward Fire and Police Chiefs Associations E911 Joint Statement Alarmed by the lack of a response from County officials, Associations representing the County’s police chiefs and fire chiefs issued a December 10, 2015 Joint Position Statement detailing how County PSAPs were operating “in a vacuum devoid of experience and expertise.” Together with the Broward League of Cities, they urgently warned the County Board about “the lack of public safety operational experience in the county's operation.”

County Administrator Bertha Henry
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR BERTHA HENRY
Although their concerns were echoed by city officials (and hundreds of angry Broward residents) fearful of a growing toll measured in crime victims, medical disasters and burnt-out properties, County Commissioners remained mute, fueling suspicions that the Broward Board was unwilling – or unable – to address the leadership vacuum. Instead, County Administrator Bertha Henry announced that the selection process to restore a qualified E911 director would begin once project consultant Fitch & Associates issued their report. While the public took this to mean that the county and the consultant would soon restore oversight, officials familiar with the $100,000 Fitch contract knew better.

Click Here to Fitch & Associates Frustrated and angry, on February 2, 2016, Ryan sent a letter to the Broward Board questioning why the County administration hadn’t lifted a finger to replace the director of a regional Emergency response system. Since the County agreement with Fitch provides for a process divided into two 120-day phases beginning with data collection and analysis, with a report capping each phase, an incredulous Ryan points out that six to eaight months would pass before a search committee is empaneled.

Click Here to Fitch & Associates After announcing the Broward job offer and receiving nationwide applications, a selection committee must investigate the candidates before conducting interviews and debating their qualifications. Unless they stumble on a top flight prospect that is collecting unemployment benefits, Ryan observes that the selectee must be provided sufficient time to give notice and “unwind from an existing job.” Given the County’s search-selection protocols for “top management”, Ryan laments that another six months would pass before an experienced director could begin to unscramble operational impediments, virtually insuring more than an additional year of response delays marked by thousands of avoidable casualties.

Broward County Commission
BROWARD BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Skull-blocked by County intentions to “go a full year without a director possessing the necessary public safety experience to manage and oversee one of the most important functions of local government,” Ryan told the County Board “The Broward League of Cities, as well as the police chiefs and fire chiefs associations, have called upon the Board of County Commissioners or the Charter Review Commission to initiate discussions regarding the creation of an Office of the Director of Public Safety Communications that would be independent of the county administration’s office. The decision to delay replacing the E911 director proves yet again what so many have been saying; we must change the management of the E911 system and it begins with taking that responsibility away from the county administration.”

The Gambit

Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman
FORT LAUD. CITY MANAGER LEE FELDMAN
City won't wait much longer for County to fix Crippled Broward E-911 System Since the County system’s dispatch failures due to lapsed management are eminently correctible, Roberts, Feldman, Ryan and dozens of municipal stakeholders are stupefied by the Broward Board’s decision to allow our last line of defense against crime, fire and medical crisis to muddle through for another year without qualified management. They also contend that the County’s service suffers from underfunding, a complaint also lodged by BSO. Roberts commented, “I don't think we can wait too much longer. We were assured we would not have any degradation of services.”

Broward Officials Nod Out Broward Officials Nod Out While Fort Lauderdale’s plan is unlikely to force the county to surrender control of the consolidated system to a more qualified independent entity, laying in the groundwork for a self-directed E911 may convince the County to expedite installation of an experienced director. It could also catalyze other municipalities to follow Fort Lauderdale’s lead, amplifying pressure on the County.

If the gambit works, every Broward resident wins. If it doesn’t, and stakeholder suspicions prove correct about the county administration’s inability to operate a successful E911, when City officials embark on convincing Fort Lauderdale residents that coughing up $8 million annually will buy significantly more protection than the county delivered, at least they will be equipped with an operational plan. Roberts’ early spring message to constituents also flips a message to the County from Seiler & company – “Your move.” For Commissioner Roberts May / June 2016 Newsletter in its entirety, read on... – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER
BRUCE G. ROBERTS
CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE WORKING TO BRING 911 COMMUNICATIONS BACK: Select staff within the City, are working to return 911 operations, including call takers and dispatch, to the City of Fort Lauderdale. In January, a team was formed with key members from Information Technology Services (ITS), Fire, Police, Human Resources, Public Works and the City Manager’s Office. The team meets weekly to discuss options regarding location, layout, technology needs, hiring and training of 911 staff, and project management. Team members suggest non-emergency public safety calls be incorporated and consolidated with 911 operations.
Emergency 911 Dispatch
EMERGENCY 911 DISPATCH
One consideration is to cross train non-emergency call takers and 911 call takers as a best practice. The team has determined that hiring a consultant with expertise in developing, managing and operating a 911 Communications Center is necessary. A Request for Proposals (RFP) is being developed to establish the requisites for the consultant. Team members contacted Broward Sheriff’s Office for our City’s data and statistics to be incorporated in the RFP. The current vision will allow the consultant to manage the entire project, providing a turn-key solution. The chosen consultant will design the project and provide a cost analysis, implement the project and hire and train staff with input from Police and Fire management, and operate the center for a given amount of time. The consultant will then turn over operations to the City. Click to Emergency 911 Snafus Team members are currently researching any possible grant money available for this solution. The RFP should be completed and submitted sometime in May. Choosing a suitable location has been a challenge. The old Bank Atlantic building on West Cypress Creek Boulevard and in close proximity to the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is currently being considered. The team has toured the location and is evaluating possible space. For essential technology connection, it will be necessary to run fiber optics between this building and the EOC. Public Works has been consulted to perform the task of dredging underground to lay and connect the fiber between the buildings. The building’s wind load rating is a concern amongst team members. They are currently evaluating materials being used for roof renovations. It is imperative that the City’s 911 Communications Center withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The team will continue to meet weekly and put continuous effort into developing a detailed project plan and total cost for this vital undertaking. In the meantime, please continue to advise us of problems you may encounter with the current system.

Click to International Organization for Standardization CITY RECOGNITION: : Fort Lauderdale is the first of Florida’s cities to earn Municipal Certification from the International Organization for Standardization, following successful implementation of a comprehensive strategic management system exceeding global quality standards. Our citywide management system, developed as a framework to deliver quality services that build community, is based on these principles: neighbor satisfaction, leadership, community builder involvement, process enhancement, a systematic approach to management, factual decision-making, mutually beneficial supplier relationships and continual improvement. Click to Standard & Poor's Fort Lauderdale Water & Sewer Bond Ratings The International Organization for Standardization is an independent, non-governmental entity comprised of subject matter experts that develop international standards to support innovative and facilities solutions to global challenges. Fort Lauderdale and Dallas are the only Cities in the United States to achieve this certification. In addition, the City’s water and sewer bonds have just earned the AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s, reflecting “a strong service area economy, low industry risk, strong market position, and very strong operational management assessment.” Click to Standard & Poor's Fort Lauderdale Water & Sewer Bond Ratings And Moody’s Investor Services has assigned these bonds the Aa1 rating, acknowledging the strength of a well-managed system supported by a strong liquidity position and competitive rate structure, a sound capital improvement program, and sufficient water supply and system treatment capacities to at least 2035.

NORTH OCEAN BOULEVARD FDOT PROJECT

The SR A1A project is progressing on schedule:

  • Recently Completed Activities:

    • Drainage improvements on the west side of the road

    • Concrete curb and driveway construction

    • Installation of FPL service points, though they may be relocated at 40th Street

    • New mast arm and pedestrian signals installation

    • Paving for the first layer of asphalt north of 34th Street (was completed on April 7)

  • Ongoing / Upcoming Activities:

    • Brick paver installation is ongoing and is expected to be completed soon

    • Lighting installation on the west side of the road

    • Completion of west side activities is expected in May and traffic will then be shifted to the west to allow work to begin on the median

  • Overall Time Update:

    • The project is expected to be completed in summer 2017

    • The contractor is scheduled to be working 10 hours/4 days per week, but recently have been working five days lately

Click to Fort Lauerdale Police Bodycam Info POLICE BODY WORN CAMERAS PILOT PROGRAM: The Police Department incorporated the City Commission’s recommendations into the policy and is currently waiting for input from the FOP. Click to Fort Lauerdale Police Bodycam Info The Police Department will then submit the mutually agreed upon policy to the City Attorney’s Office for review before receiving additional suggestions from the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB) and Council of Civic Associations. Florida House Bill 93 (Law Enforcement Officer Body Camera) was signed into law by Governor Scott and is now in effect. The Body Worn Cameras and Digital Evidence Management System Request for Proposal packet is being drafted and is expected to be released soon.

Click to May 25 2016 Wave Streetcar Meeting VACATION RENTALS: If you would like the City to investigate a property that may be an unregistered vacation rental, please e-mail VacationRental@fortlauderdale.gov or call 954-828-5207. For more information, log on to http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/departments/sustainable-development/code-compliance/vacation-rental-registration-program

FDOT: Below are two important dates regarding projects from FDOT:

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
ROBBI
UPTEGROVE
Office Contact: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: ruptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Click To Commissioner Roberts' web page EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at RUptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Beach Fix; Airport; Conventions; Hurricane Meet; Water Month

Commentary

Click to Click to Chip LaMarca May 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA APRIL MESSAGE
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.

Sharp Opens the Sand Bank

Click to Public Law 89-298 Web Page In 1965, the 89th U.S. Congress authorized funding to fortify Broward’s shrinking beaches (Section 301 of Public Law 89-298, October 27, 1965). Twenty years ago, former Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins gave legs to the Congressional intent by formulating the Broward County Shore Protection Project. After struggling with unprecedented regulatory obstacles for 14 years, Higgins stepped down after rehabilitating South County beaches.

Former Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department Deputy Director Eric Myers
FORMER BROWARD BEACH
ADMINISTRATOR ERIC MYERS
When Eric Myers revived the project two years later, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca agreed to run political interference in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. After scoring a hard fought State Permit (0314535-001-JC) with the help of LaMarca and Nicole Sharp, Myers faced County retirement protocols, and passed the baton to Sharp. To penetrate dilatory federal bureaucracies holding the project hostage, the Galt Mile association and LaMarca recruited Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, George Moraitis and Lois Frankel. It worked. Newly designated Broward Beach Administrator, Sharp finally brought the chronically snake-bit Segment II Project home.

Segment II Beach Construction Plan Begins
SEGMENT II - L'HERMITAGE BEACH REPLENISHED
When construction vehicles rolled into north Broward beachfront staging sites on January 4, 2016, longtime Galt Mile residents blew off two decades of mind-numbing frustration. In the wake of construction crews traveling north from Vista Park in Lauderdale Beach and south from Palm Avenue in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, the beach behind each Galt Mile association was enlarged by 70 - 100 feet. Finally converging on Regency Tower and Galt Ocean Club by April, the crews embarked on a second pass along the Galt Mile Beach, popping thousands of sea oats into sand dunes configured to each association’s specifications.

LBTS - Palm Avenue Staging Area
LBTS - PALM AVENUE STAGING AREA
Beach Construction Vehicles at Vista Park
CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES AT VISTA PARK
After they plump the final mile of Segment II beaches in November (from NE 14th Street to Terramar Street), Broward Beach Administrator Nicole Sharp and Beach Program Specialist (and Dune-Meister) Greg Ward will turn their attention to skeletal south county beaches and building a sand-bypass at Port Everglades.

Point of Americas - and our old sand
POINT OF AMERICAS - AND YES - THAT'S OUR OLD SAND
Sand that ordinarily migrates south along the coast collects at the north side of the Port Everglades inlet (adjacent to Point of Americas), where 85% is lost seaward to tidal erosion. As a result, when sand placed along south county beaches during the 2005 Segment III renourishment drifted south into Miami-Dade County, it was never replenished by sand migrating south from beaches in Fort Lauderdale and points north. The $53.7 million Segment III “replay” will rehabilitate sand-starved South County beaches.

Click to Port Everglades Sand Bypass The Port Everglades sand bypass project is intended to transfer 50,000 to 80,000 cubic yards of sand annually from the north to the south sides of the Port Entrance, restoring the currently disrupted littoral drift. The low-tech plan entails constructing an offshore sand trap to collect alongshore migrating sand for transport to the south side of the inlet. When adjacent Points of America residents opposed blasting the sea bottom, the plan was redesigned by raising the lower elevation above the hard rock and widening the trap to maintain sufficient storage capacity.

Re-establishing the natural southerly flow of sand along the coast would also substantially reduce the frequency and scope of future renourishments. Instead, occasional beach fills could address “hot spots” along a more stable County coastline. Since all parties to the cost-sharing agreements ultimately allocate tax revenues to fund these projects, taxpayers would save $millions.

Former Broward Beach Administrator Steve Higgins
FORMER BROWARD BEACH BOSS STEVE HIGGINS
The sand bypass was originally proposed by former Broward beach Guru Stephen Higgins, who observed “Unless the entire Broward coast is treated and maintained like a single structural entity, this project will fail. The stability of every segment depends on the stability of its adjacent segments.” In 2014, Eric Myers told Galt Mile officials “Every big deep-water inlet is a huge barrier to the drift of sand along the East Coast. Had we built the sand bypass at Port Everglades, beaches in South Broward County would still be healthy.”

Broward Natural Resource Administrator Nicole Sharp
BROWARD NATURAL RESOURCE
ADMINISTRATOR NICOLE SHARP
Nicole Sharp describes the historical “segmented” approach to beach management as an anachronistic exercise in futility, opting instead for a long-term regional plan. Mindful of the accelerated rate that natural resources are degraded by climate change and rising sea levels, Sharp has developed a beach management program that proactively meets the growing risks.

Click to Project Partnership Agreement Despite her brief tenure as the County’s Natural Resources Administrator, Sharp impressed stakeholders who were initially skeptical about whether she could navigate unprecedented regulatory pitfalls and deliver a result that eluded predecessors for decades. While helping Eric Myers battle FDEP and Florida Fish & Wildlife for the State permit, Sharp was the main closer for the complex agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, nailing the critical Federal Permit without giving up the farm.

Renourished Regency Tower Beach - and Dunes with Sea Oats
RENOURISHED REGENCY TOWER BEACH - AND DUNES WITH SEA OATS
When several Galt Mile associations – including Plaza East and Ocean Club – expressed trepidations about sacrificing recreational space for dunes and beach vegetation, Sharp promised to tailor their beaches to meet their needs, conceding the final decision to each association’s administration. Instead of mandating compliance, which falls squarely within her wheelhouse, Sharp and Greg Ward used lessons learned by Higgins and Myers to convince project stakeholders – including every Galt Mile association – to support the voluntary inclusion of dunes and dune vegetation on their respective beaches. Virtually the entire Galt Mile has since imparted how the final result exceeded expectations. Not a bad opening act for someone with two years in the driver’s seat. For LaMarca’s May 2016 message to constituents, Read on... – [editor]

 

May 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Beach Renourishment Update

Click to Segment II Beach Renourishment Presentation Broward County’s beautiful beaches have never looked better! The Segment II Beach Renourishment project has been completed in most areas just in time for the sea turtle nesting season. The Segment II Shore Protection Project commenced January 4, 2016 and over 80 percent of the project has been completed. Approximately 800,000 tons of sand has been placed (total 1M tons) on our beaches. The 1.4 mile stretch in Pompano Beach and northern Lauderdale-by-the-Sea were completed in full from Southeast 4th Street in Pompano Beach to Sunset Lane in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. South of the pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and Fort Lauderdale beach we completed the work through The Galt Ocean Mile and the Lauderdale Beach neighborhood. The northern limits of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, from Datura Avenue to NE 14th Court, were also completed. In order to complete the Segment II Renourishment project, the remaining sand placement is planned to start after sea turtle nesting season concludes on November 1st, 2016. Sand placement will resume at Northeast 14th Court, which is the northern limits of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park south to Terramar Street. The project also provided for the construction of 1.5 miles of dunes. This will complete the project and we plan to keep the permits open in order to do periodic maintenance and in the case of an emergency due to a storm. This would save us from having to start the arduous permitting process over again from scratch.

Segment II Beach Renourishment - Before and After
BEFORE SEGMENT II BEACH RENOURISHMENT       AFTER SEGMENT II BEACH RENOURISHMENT
The Segment III Shore Protection Project is estimated to begin in 2020 with an estimated cost of $54 million. The Beach Management Plan was recently completed for the Segment III Shore Protection Project. A truck haul is planned for Dania Beach, Hallandale Beach and Hollywood Beach with an estimated volume of 980,000 cubic yards of sand. Dunes are another great resource that can help sustain local beaches. The Dune Grant Program was initiated in 2015 and is awarded on an annual basis. It assists coastal property owners to create, restore or enhance dunes along their residence. More...

New Services at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2016

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is making great strides by providing new services in 2016. JetBlue added flights to Barbados in April and Aguadilla (Puerto Rico) and Nashville in May. Click to Jet Blue Update Flights to San Diego and New Orleans will be added later on this year. Spirit added new flights to Philadelphia in April. Norwegian Air Shuttle will add a very exciting new service to Paris in July and Southwest will add the much anticipated entry into the international market at FLL with Nassau service starting in August. The outlook for 2016 is very bright. Based on published airline schedules and historical data, FY 2016 should end with total traffic up 9 percent over FY2015. It is also forecasted that FLL could reach 29 million passengers for the 2016 calendar year.

New Convention Center Hotel and Expansion Update

Broward County Convention Center Hotel Rendering
BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL RENDERING
Broward County’s Convention Center Hotel and Expansion project is moving forward. The initial plans presented by developer Matthews Southwest Holdings provides a starting point for the project to move forward with revisions that are expected throughout the entire design process. The developer presented plans for an 800 room Convention Center Hotel that would include retail space, restaurants and plenty of open space to take advantage of the Intracoastal Waterway and Broward County's Port Everglades. The hotel would also meet requirements to be LEED Gold certified. While there are still many details about the design, parking availability, transportation and traffic flow, the next steps of the process will provide for reconciliation of the design and negotiations for the final plan. Once the design plan is finalized, developers estimate that construction could begin in 2018 with a soft-opening in August 2020. More...

Hurricane Preparedness

Click to Broward County Hurricane Preparedness Guide Hurricane season is upon us and it is important to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Broward County held a Hurricane Preparedness Open House this month in order to assist residents with hurricane information. Hurricane season is between June 1st and November 30th and it is critical to start planning now. Featured presentations by the Emergency Management Division, Broward Sheriff's Office, American Red Cross-Broward County Chapter and others include topics on how to prepare your family for a hurricane, what to do before, during and after a storm, services available to those with special needs or who are at risk, how to register for important emergency services, and how to receive emergency alerts. More...

May Is National Water-Safety Month

Click to Swim Central Click to National Water Safety Month Broward County offers many water-based attractions including water parks, parks that provide beach access, cable water-skiing, fishing, boating, and more. This summer while residents and tourist enjoy the many attractions that Broward County has to offer it is important to be aware and understand how to be safe in the water. May is National Water Safety Month, and in observance residents and tourists are encouraged to make water safety a priority. Broward County’s primary resource and referral service for available swim programs, SWIM Central, has reached more than half a million children since its inception in 1999. More...

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Boat Show: Locked in Limbo

Bahia Mar Resort & Marina Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 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.

Tate Capital Real Estate Solutions Rok Acquisitions, LLC When a 2006 LXR Resorts plan to develop the iconic City property hit the skids in 2013 - South Florida developers Tate Capital, Rok Acquisitions, Rialto Capital Management and RCI Marine picked up the pieces. The new partners formed TRR Bahia Mar LLC to purchase the residual leasehold from LXR corporate parent Blackstone, develop the site and lockbox profits.

Bahia Mar Developer Jimmy Tate
BAHIA MAR DEVELOPER JIMMY TATE
RCI Marine After almost two years of negotiating with the City, local residents and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, on June 17, 2016, Miami developer Jimmy Tate sent a letter to city officials formally withdrawing the development application by TRR Bahia Mar LLC, citing how “for reasons beyond our control, the approval process has strayed from its proverbial path.” Tate complained “It was unfortunate that a few individuals had turned a collaborative effort between the developer and the community into an ugly debate over certain issues. We have seen ugliness and heard hatred in speeches and comments from members of the community who do not even know us as people...”

Broward Palm Beach New Times
New Times Reporter Jerry Iannelli
NEW TIMES REPORTER JERRY IANNELLI
The abuse lamented by Tate was largely drawn from a series of unusually long Commission meetings and a late April Town Hall-style meeting. While most of the registered speakers rattled off one of several legitimate concerns, a few resorted to venomous personal potshots. Describing the 8-hour May 10 Commission meeting, New Times reporter Jerry Iannelli wrote “Over hours of testimony, the meeting morphed into something out of Rod Serling’s nightmares – scores of residents repeated similar concerns about traffic, beach shadows, sea-level rise, and moral rectitude, in what felt like an endless loop where reality had folded in upon itself.”

Bahia Mar Condo Towers - 10 Stories less
BAHIA MAR CONDO TOWERS - 10 STORIES LESS
Like most developers, Tate has been called worse. Although miffed about intensifying abuse by disgruntled project opponents, Tate ultimately identified the reason for his group’s decision to bail out. Outlining how diminished financial incentives no longer justified their investment, Tate claimed that the project “is no longer economically viable for us.” Criticism from local residents and the City forced the developers to scale back two planned 39-story condominium towers to 29 stories. Since condo sale profits generate the project’s fiscal fuel, the loss of 230,000 square feet of floor space stripped 49 condo units from the project and tens of $millions from the developer’s bottom line.

Palm Beach Socialite and restauranteur Patricia Murphy
RESTAURANTEUR PATRICIA MURPHY
Bahia Mar Candlelight Restaurant
BAHIA MAR CANDLELIGHT RESTAURANT
In 1962 – three years after Palm Beach socialite Patricia Murphy opened her Candlelight restaurant on Bahia Mar – the City Commission handed her a no-bid 50-year lease that ceded autocratic control of the entire property in exchange for a paper-thin cut of the profits. Ironically, our elected whiz kids viewed this as a strategic coup, and to help reel in the “Mark”, they also declared Murphy’s income as tax-free (which a court overturned later). In addition to permanently turning Bahia Mar into a tenant’s fiefdom, this “sweetheart” entitlement left the City without future recourse to a more equitable deal. The heritable lease has since been sold several times – as well as extended.

Bahia Mar Lease In negotiating a new 50-year lease with a 50-year extension – as requested by the developer – the city sought to minimally improve on its skeletal financial stake in the city-owned property. In exchange for tailoring the building code to the developer’s construction needs, the annual base rent would have jumped from $300,000 to $1 million. Revenue shared by the City from the marina, retail and office space would have increased from 4.25 percent to 5 percent. The City would have gotten 1.1 percent of every condo sale and a 1 percent transfer fee if the property changes hands.

Pros and Cons Although hamstrung by Patricia Murphy’s legacy, the city was providing a dirt-cheap hundred-year lease on one of the most desirable beachfront properties in South Florida, along with a Chinese menu of zoning fixes, and wanted a bit more. Characterizing the City’s refusal to prematurely cap the lease terms as another toxic obstacle, Tate exclaimed “Once we felt the city still wanted more, we didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

2015 Planned Bahia Mar Redevelopment Rendering
2015 PLANNED BAHIA MAR REDEVELOPMENT RENDERING
The proposed development plan was initially conceived to transform an aging Bahia Mar into a magnetic destination site for visitors and city residents, while anchoring a revitalization of adjacent neighborhoods. However, most of the project’s citywide support coalesced in response to a threatened relocation of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to a more modern venue – elsewhere on the South Florida coast.

Broward Palm Beach New Times Several neighborhood associations voted to support the development plan while other local residents complained bitterly about potential gridlock; shadows on the beach, undisclosed lease terms and zoning violations. Although residents in surrounding neighborhoods are split over whether the controversial plan’s withdrawal is an answered prayer or a lost opportunity, City officials – and taxpayers – are once again skull-blocked by the prospective loss of a regional economic engine.

Show Management TRR Bahia Mar still has a 46-year lease on the property and five years remaining on its contract to host the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show at Bahia Mar. The deal with the City was contingent on the developer signing the boat show to a 30-year contract. In his letter, Tate admitted having failed to negotiate a lease with Show Management, which operates the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and the event’s owner – the Marine Industry Association of South Florida (MIASF) – exclaiming that the lease terms they demanded “are not even close to being fair and equitable.”

Show Management CEO Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III
SHOW MANAGEMENT CEO EFREM “SKIP” ZIMBALIST III
Following the receipt of Tate’s letter by the City, Show Management CEO Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III and MIASF Executive Director Phil Purcell issued a joint statement to quantify how the boat show was impacted by the news. Admittedly “disappointed” by the developer’s withdrawal, Zimbalist and Purcell affirmed having “actively supported” the new design plan and were pleased with its provisions for the boat show. They also committed to work with the developer on any new proposal.

MIASF Executive Director Phil Purcell
MIASF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PHIL PURCELL
Seemingly perplexed by Tate’s aspersive remark about the fairness of their lease demands, Zimbalist and Purcell said that although a long term lease had been generally discussed early in the process, “formal negotiations of specific terms had not yet begun” when the developers withdrew their plan.

Marine Industry Association of South Florida Having worked with Tate for almost two years, both boat show officials know that the developer’s letter is also a poorly choreographed wake-up call. While defusing increasingly antagonistic project opposition, withdrawing the application dramatically sends a simple message to stakeholders about whether or not their specific objectives are negotiable – or a dead end. If a proposed project addition or change is not economically viable (i.e. accompanied by a way to pay for it), it goes. The letter intimates why stakeholders shouldn’t confuse the developers with Santa’s elves.

Risk and Reward In a follow-up interview, Zimbalist expressed an expectation that Bahia Mar and Show Management would agree on a long-term lease in the next year or two, stating “There’s still an opportunity to negotiate, whether it is with the current plan or not.” Under either scenario, Zimbalist observed that Bahia Mar “is not a world-class facility and needs to be improved.” Zimbalist said that Show Management and the MIASF were willing to enter a 30-year contract with the developers and keep the show at Bahia Mar, as long as the rental terms “mirror the ups and downs in the economy over the life of the contract.” As for the upcoming 2016 boat show, Zimbalist said Show Management will unilaterally upgrade the site before the November event.

Tri-County Marine Industry Valuation
TRI-COUNTY MARINE INDUSTRY VALUATION
If TRR Bahia Mar and the boat show can cut a 30-year deal without developing the property as a full blown destination site, it would quell the recently rekindled fears of city officials and Fort Lauderdale residents about losing the boat show – and preserve the impressive economic benefits that accrue to the municipal host of South Florida’s $11.5 billion Marine Industry.

Each year, the world’s largest boat show dumps more than $500 million into our local economy – and its departure could splash red ink on every Fort Lauderdale TRIM Notice. Although city officials have repeatedly reassured Zimbalist and Purcell of their commitment to a shared future, without the active cooperation of Tate & Company – the City’s tenant and the boat show’s landlord – this dog won’t hunt. If Mr. Zimbalist’s instincts prove reliable, the parties will find common ground. If not, when the current Show Management contract winds down, the taxpayers who pick up the looming deficit won’t be happy campers. More to come...

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Prop Tax; Wave Streetcar; Cargo Mass; Reclaimed H2O & Civics

Commentary

Click to Chip LaMarca June 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER LAMARCA
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 participation in the Broward Academy’s ten-week educational series exploring the panoply of County Government services.

The Wave: Developmental Crapshoot

Click to Wave Streetcar Website As reviewed by LaMarca, the Wave Streetcar Industry Forum took place on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Riverview Ballroom). The meeting was convened by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to inform candidate Design-Build teams about the elements and considerations that comprise a participating vendor’s contractual obligations. On May 25, a Wave Streetcar Public Information Workshop was also held at the Broward Center, enabling interested residents, business owners and vendors to solicit additional information, ask questions, and offer comments. Both meeting were earmarked by prayerful pot shots at an elephant in the room – as officials dropped hints about why a slow, expensive and intermittently reliable transportation experiment was justified by mythic economic development dividends.

Click to Wave Streetcar Map The project’s inaugural phase is a 2.8 mile segment spanning the New River that will link the hospital and courthouse districts on the south side with the downtown business core on the north side (i.e. it will ping-pong between from Southeast 17th Street and Sistrunk Boulevard). A circulator/distributor service with connections to regional bus and rail systems, its five (5) streetcars will make stops at 13 stations along the route.

Click to Downtown Development Authority Click to Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization The federal government currently subsidizes roughly half the project costs, and the balance is shared by the state, Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA); the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMPO) and nearby property owners. State funding is appropriated annually by the Legislature.

Click to Wave Streetcar Assessment Resolution On July 9, 2013, the City Commission approved a special taxing zone in adjacent neighborhoods, where residents and businesses signaled strong support for the project. Soon afterwards, property owners within a half mile of the streetcar service paid the first of 25 annual $99 assessments. By 2038, more than 8200 taxpayers will have each paid roughly $2500, pumping $20,590,000 into the project.

Click to Wave Flagler Village Loop The project has been dogged by discouraging delays and a fiscal quagmire. The escalating cost of construction materials and a series of project tweaks have added $53 million to the original $142 million price tag, exploding the bottom line to $195.3 million. On October 21, 2014, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted to pay for a newly added $7.5 million loop at the northern end of the system in Flagler Village. Running along N.E. 6th Street, the loop was conceived to expedite the redevelopment of both Flagler Village and Sistrunk Boulevard to the west.

planned Vehicle Maintenance and Storage Facility
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE AND STORAGE FACILITY
Broward County kicked in an additional $5.8 million to fund an improved supervisory control system for the streetcars, which the county will operate and maintain. A residual deficit of 22.6 million will be funded according to a formula for cost overruns: 50% of unanticipated expenses will be paid by FDOT, 25% by the County and 25% by the City.

Click to South Florida Regional Transportation Authority When the Feds chipped in $71.21 million to cover half the original project cost in 2012, the operational kickoff date was projected for 2016. It has since been postponed to 2020, as construction is now expected to begin in late 2017. In part, the project was delayed when the planned Vehicle Maintenance and Storage Facility was relocated from Broward Boulevard to SW 18th Street and SW 1st Avenue at the southern end of the route. The structure will be perched on a two-foot base to mitigate flooding and hardened against Category 5 hurricanes.

Click to Federal Transit Administration Other delays are attributable to a change in management. The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) - which operates the Tri-Rail - recently ceded control of the project to the Florida Department of Transportation, a transition that requires approval by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the execution of new Interlocal agreements. FDOT District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly informed stakeholders that the revised timetable is reliable. When queried about the new cost estimates, O’Reilly assured the County Commission, “We’re really confident in this number.”

FDOT District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly
FDOT DISTRICT 4 SECRETARY GERRY O’REILLY
A secondary Wave project would add 5 miles to the initial route, extending the system east to Port Everglades and the Broward County Convention Center, and south along Andrews Avenue and Federal Highway to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Noting that FDOT wouldn’t have been interested in managing the development of a simple downtown loop, O’Reilly observed, “This region needs a transportation system it can grow on,” and characterized the Wave as “the fundamental backbone for a transportation system for this county and this region.”

Click to Florida Department of Transportation While FDOT and the County envision streetcars as mainstays of a regional transportation system, other stakeholder aspirations are less ambitious. The Broward Board has expressed an intention to provide the western suburbs with Wave service, a plan endorsed by FDOT. In contrast, if the system simply helps expedite development in Flagler Village and the Sistrunk Corridor while pleasing some visiting tourists, City officials & the DDA will be delighted.

Galt Ocean Mile in 1993
GALT OCEAN MILE IN 1993
In 1996, after voting to create a dedicated taxing district, thousands of Galt Mile homeowners assessed themselves $690 or $390 apiece (depending on proximity to the project) to pay for neighborhood improvements. If you ask any of those residents to prioritize the specific enhancements they voluntarily funded, everyone’s top three answers will include “We buried the utility lines.”

Overhead Electric Lines Since streetcars are typically powered by overhead electrical lines, locals will have to suppress this instinct. The vehicles will also be equipped with batteries, which will power the streetcars for short distances without the overhead wire, such as over the Third Avenue New River Bridge.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
FORT LAUDERDALE MAYOR JACK SEILER
Not surprisingly, the installation of overhead wires has become a growing source of consternation. In addition to tarring communities along the route with an infrastructure earmark suggestive of a factory town, many of the existing trees that interfere with the wire are targeted for removal. Among those angered by the impending revival of overhead lines is outgoing Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who remarked “I keep picturing Las Olas with overhead wires and trees coming down to accommodate streetcars. I’m frustrated by this, too. It drives me nuts.”

Wave Streetcar rendering
WAVE STREETCAR RENDERING
When FDOT vehemently supported a regional streetcar plan, it triggered a sub-rosa conflict among transportation industry Gurus and government spending watchdogs. If measured by the factors ordinarily used to judge transportation infrastructure, streetcars are a dud. These rolling carbuncles are slow, expensive to build and operate, and difficult to schedule. However, if implemented properly, they appear to provide a backdoor cure for certain varieties of urban blight. With a few glaring exceptions, cities all over the country that have recently added streetcars to their transportation arsenals have reported economic development dividends in the $billions. In short, streetcars are a trade-off.

Portland Streetcar
PORTLAND STREETCAR
Unlike the dozens of Heritage streetcar systems that serve as mobile tourist attractions, cities like Seattle, Portland, Tucson and Atlanta integrated modern streetcar systems into their primary transportation infrastructure. Although their marginal impact on congestion - and the carbon footprint – was disappointing, these systems earned recognition as developmental assets.

Atlanta Streetcar
ATLANTA STREETCAR
In Atlanta, when a nearly identical 2.7 mile downtown loop with 12 stations opened a few years ago, ridership was marginally viable until they began charging a dollar fare, after which it plummeted to less than 1000 passengers per day, reducing projected 2016 fare income to less than 6% of operating costs (break-even). Despite triggering Federal scrutiny and repeated warnings about inept management and a pathetic safety record, the streetcars won modest praise from builders and local vendors.

Seattle Streetcar
SEATTLE STREETCAR
Claims by city officials that the streetcar generated $1.5 billion in real estate investment were debunked in an Atlanta Journal Constitution exposé, which disclosed the actual amount as far less, although still sufficiently substantial to merit a subsidy. For example, Atlantic Seafood Market proprietor Kim Seak reported realizing a 10% increase in business following the start of service and co-owner Octavian Stan of Condesa Coffee said his company moved to the Atlanta World Building to be close to the line. CEO Jay Clark of Southeast Capital Companies credited the streetcar for his decision to build a $50 million residential housing complex near Edgewood Avenue.

Tucson Streetcar
TUCSON STREETCAR
Tucson’s 4-mile route connects 40,000 students in the University of Arizona to the downtown core. Running every 10 minutes during peak hours, last year it had about 4,000 daily passengers – mostly students. City officials attribute a downtown economic development boom to the streetcar. Their $100 million streetcar investment in 2014 returned more than $1 billion – almost overnight. Nearby Scottsdale is exploring a similar project. Within two blocks of what is arguably the most successful streetcar system in the United States, Portland officials estimate incremental development at $3.5 billion. Since Seattle opened its South Lake Union Streetcar, $2.56 billion was invested into the neighborhood.

Washington D.C. Streetcar
WASHINGTON D.C. STREETCAR
Conversely, the outlook for new projects in Dallas, Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City is bleak (having spent more than $20 million to install less than a mile of track in the Anacostia neighborhood, Washington DC officials stopped cold – and moved the project to Union Station). Of course, other local factors influence the extent to which these systems catalyze community reinvestment, including the availability of commercial or government subsidies, pre-existing utility infrastructure, a supportive regulatory environment for public/private partnerships, government tax incentives and more importantly, the primary source of ridership – whether the system will transport tourists to Rodent World or actually help residents shop, play and/or go to work.

Whether the Wave takes a page from the whiz kids in Tucson or the whack jobs in Washington DC is a crap shoot. Either newly flush beneficiary neighborhoods will attract ever-relocating Yuppie Troglodytes or a stretch of Las Olas Boulevard will pointlessly be permanently imprinted with the industrial ambiance of an airport perimeter road. 6 to 5 and pick 'em. For LaMarca’s June 2016 message in its entirety, Read on – [editor]

 

 

June 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County:

Property Tax Break Down

Property Tax Distribution The Broward County Fiscal Year (FY) 17 budget process is well in progress. In March, the Board held a pre-budget workshop to discuss preliminary general fund projections for the upcoming year, with subsequent meetings on May 17, June 7, and June 21, 2016. Additional workshops will be held throughout the process, and the budget timeline for FY 17 will conclude with two public hearings later this year. With a nearly 8 percent increase in overall property values in Broward County, the total value has increased to $150.4 billion. It is my thought that it is time to cut taxes, reduce the millage rate and return some of the tax dollars back to the people who know best how to spend it for the needs of their families. Having gone through a very difficult recession, the economy has recovered substantially and there are sufficient funds to run the necessary services of Broward County Government.

Property Tax Distribution The property taxes that residents pay, also known as ad valorem taxes, along with miscellaneous fees, transfers, fund balances, and sales tax amount to a County General Fund budget of approximately $1.1 billion dollars. This represents approximately 26 percent of the County’s overall $4.2 billion budget. The property tax revenues are allocated to fund several different areas. Every $1 from Broward County taxpayers is distributed in the following manner: 24 cents to County Government, 33 cents to the School Board, 23 cents to cities, and 20 cents to special districts. The County then divides its 24 cent portion: 12.34 cents to Sheriff's Office and other Constitutional and Judicial offices, 8.77 cents to County Commission programs, 1.31 cents to mandated payments to cities and the state, 1.04 cents to voter approved debt service, and .54 cents to capital projects.

Property Tax Distribution

 

The budget process for FY 17 will continue with a Workshop in August and two Public Hearings in September. For more information regarding the Broward County Budget process please visit Broward.org/Budget/.

Wave Streetcar Update

Wave Streetcar Forum
WAVE STREETCAR FORUM
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced the completion of the Wave Streetcar’s project design phase last month at the Wave Streetcar Industry Forum with partners such as Broward County Transit, the City of Fort Lauderdale and many other Wave Streetcar partners. FDOT will start a Design-Build procurement process for Design-Build teams to bid on the project. It is expected to be advertised in July 2016, which will lead to an opening of the construction bids in the spring of 2017. Funding is now in place to advance the project to the next stage.

Click to Wave Streetcar Website The Wave Streetcar will be a pivotal addition to the community by providing transportation and economic development. This transit system will encourage significant private investment, estimated at approximately $4 billion of new development by 2030, with an estimated $70 to $80 million in new tax revenue. It will create hundreds of engineering and construction related jobs, 40 new permanent streetcar system jobs and new office and retail employment from new development. The Wave Streetcar will also provide environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions, reduction in per person utility consumption and a reduction in vehicle miles travelled. The system will promote a more efficient usage of mass transit opportunities.

Port Everglades and New International Container Weight Verification Requirements

VGM Scales at Port Everglades
VGM SCALES AT PORT EVERGLADES
Broward County’s Port Everglades ongoing capital improvements and expansion ensures that it continues to handle future growth in container traffic. The Port is considered a world-class cargo handling facility which serves as an ideal point of entry and departure for products shipped around the world. Most recently, the availability of on-port scales are already in place to handle the new international container weight verification requirements which will go into effect on July 1, 2016. These certified scales are available at several locations in Port Everglades in order to weigh export containers and should help shippers meet the new requirements without providing for service delays. In order to ensure compliance with the new verified gross mass (VGM) requirements, ocean shippers are encouraged to confirm availability and fees with their contracted marine terminal operators.

Click to Florida International Terminal Website Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) the International Maritime Organization approved the new container weight verification rules. The new rules require the shipper of a packed container, regardless of who packed the container, to verify and provide the container's gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative prior to it being loaded onto a ship.

More information about Broward County's Port Everglades is available at Porteverglades.net/

Partnerships for Regional Solutions to Reuse and Conserve Water

Click to Broward County Water and Wastewater Services Website A new regional partnership has been formed between Broward County Water and Wastewater Services and the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. The cooperative project that will be constructed will utilize reclaimed water and conserve drinking water supplies in South Florida. Both County Boards have approved an inter local agreement (ILA) that will be implemented and provide for the initial steps of engaging in the preliminary design of the project.

Click to Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department Website The project consists of three sections: expansion of the existing Broward County North Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant's reuse capacity from 10 million to 26 million gallons per day, installation of approximately 5.8 miles of a 42-inch reuse transmission piping as the source pipe for the reclaimed expansion into Palm Beach County and also the North Springs Improvement District, and expansion of the reclaimed system into the southern portions of Palm Beach County. This regional solution provides significant benefits to customers in both Broward County and Palm Beach County. The project is expected to be completed by 2020 in Broward and additional distribution components are set to continue to be enhanced in Palm Beach County beyond 2020.

2016 Broward County Academy

Broward County Government Center
BROWARD COUNTY GOVERNMENT CENTER
Broward County provides a community education outreach series that provides residents of Broward the opportunity to learn about County government and the many available services that the County provides to residents, businesses and tourists. The Broward County Academy is a ten week interactive program that helps create public awareness about County programs and services while also increasing community involvement in local government.

Click to Broward Academy Website The curriculum highlights the Airport, Seaport, Human Services, Emergency Management, Water and Wastewater, Cultural, Libraries, Parks, Community Wellness, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Enterprise Technology Services, Animal Care, Transit and several other County Agencies. Broward Academy will give participants a better understanding of what Broward County Government is, who it serves, how it serves residents, and what it does to improve the quality of life for all who live, work, and play here.

The 2016 Academy sessions will be held on ten consecutive Thursdays from 6-9PM beginning September 8 and concluding with graduation ceremonies on November 10. Classroom lectures will be combined with behind-the-scenes tours and interactive experiences. Applicants must be age 18 or older and reside in Broward County. The deadline for applying is August 5, 2016. Applications for the Broward County Academy are available here, by e-mailing BrowardAcademy@Broward.org, or by calling the Broward County Office of Public Communications at 954-357-6990.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Beach ROI; Seaport ROI; Port Everglades; Broward Library

Commentary

Click to Chip LaMarca July 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA JULY MESSAGE
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.

Tactics and Timing in Tallahassee

The Florida Association of Counties The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) bestows its annual Presidential Advocacy Awards on county commissioners from across the state who advance its legislative agenda. As mentioned in the newsletter, LaMarca was recognized for having successfully “secured increased state funding for beach renourishment and key Port Everglades projects.”

Click to EDR Beach Report For years, LaMarca and other local officials in coastal communities lobbied Tallahassee lawmakers for additional beach renourishment funds. Annually, they would futilely explain to lawmakers how a healthy beach promotes tourism while providing the only real protection against storm surge devastation, which threatens lives, property, and the local coastal economy in oceanfront communities. In 2016, LaMarca and eleven other visiting coastal county commissioners revised their tactics, replacing the empathetic appeal with a fiscal risk – reward analysis of beach renourishment projects. Using the lawmakers’ own research, they documented the projects’ return on investment (ROI).

Click to EDR Beach Report Drawing on a January 2015 study by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (research arm of the Florida Legislature), when LaMarca provided Florida’s legislative leadership and key members of budgeting committees with statistical evidence of how every dollar plowed into beach renourishment projects returns $5.40 to the State economy, the lawmakers responded with a 50% increase in breach renourishment funding, raising the allocation from $25 million to $37 million.

2006 Seaport Study 2006 Seaport Study - Return on Investment Using a similar tactic to thicken funding for seaport improvements, LaMarca and other members of the Port Everglades Advocacy Team turned to a 2006 study by the Florida Department of Transportation and Cambridge Systematics. Teaming with District 93 Statehouse Representative George Moraitis, the group provided key lawmakers and State transportation officials with documentation demonstrating that every $1 invested in Florida Seaports pumps $6.90 into Florida’s economy. This advocacy “primer” prompted lawmakers to approve a 40% boost in resources – from $15 million to $25 million – allocated to the Florida Seaport Transportation Economic Development program (FSTED), the funding spigot for improvements to Florida Seaports.

Port Everglades Advocacy Team meets with George Moraitis
PT EVERGLADES ADVOCACY TEAM & GEORGE MORAITIS
Another factor facilitated LaMarca’s 2016 four-baggers in Tallahassee (and his subsequent FAC accolade). While successfully framing each issue with a cost benefit analysis before exploiting the enlightened self-interest of vetting lawmakers, LaMarca’s agenda was also expedited by the budgetary lovefest that punctuated the 2016 legislative session. Since every seat in both chambers is up for grabs in the upcoming election, lawmakers carefully weighed how the home folks would feel about coughing up tax revenues that might otherwise have been contributed by healthy beaches and seaports. Whether primarily promulgated by tactics or timing, at the end of the day, LaMarca brought home the bacon.

The Price of PACE

Click to PACENation After flourishing in California and other states, the PACE program addressed in LaMarca’s newsletter was finally authorized when Florida lawmakers approved House Bill 7179 in 2010, enacting Chapter 163.08, Florida Statutes. The loans generally extend to 20 years and feature a 7 percent interest rate. A funding cap equal to 20% of a property’s just market value can be increased with lender approval or if an energy audit verifies that energy savings exceed the cost. In some cases, loans financing certain energy-saving improvements pay for themselves, as savings on electric bills meet or exceed the loan payments.

Solar Panel Array
SOLAR PANEL ARRAY
The funds are repaid via a voluntary non-ad valorem assessment attached to the borrower’s property tax bill. A property owner’s credit rating doesn’t impact eligibility as long as the borrower has no bankruptcies within 7 years and is 3 years current with property taxes and mortgage payments. If the property is sold, the assessment can be repaid as a condition of sale or transferred to the new owner, who continues to receive the benefit and cost savings of the improvements.

Impact and Regular Glass Windows Depending on an association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R's) as well as the physical design of a particular unit, Galt Mile homeowners may be eligible for PACE funding, although they may need to obtain written association authorization affirming that the property owner is allowed to install the proposed eligible products. While these are generally energy efficiency and water conservation products and renewable energy systems, they include impact windows and doors commonly installed by Galt Mile homeowners, water heaters, and high efficiency HVAC systems. The construction is generally turnkey, as it requires no money down, is performed under permit, and the vendor gets paid only after the completed work is approved by the property owner.

Impact and Regular Glass Windows While PACE financing was flowing to approved borrowers across Florida (including Miami-Dade County since mid-2013), it was denied to homeowners and businesses in Broward and Palm Beach Counties until last October. Legal challenges by the Florida Bankers Association delayed the program’s expansion into Broward, as County officials hesitated to approve a program clouded by legal uncertainty. Lenders objected to the higher lien priority ascribed to PACE loans versus their standard mortgages. PACE loan repayments are included in the borrower's property taxes. Since the taxman sits at the head of every table, the PACE debt takes precedence on the lien line.

Renew Financial Companies that provide PACE financing apply for validations on their bonds that back the loans. Instead of using the court as a forum to directly challenge the lien priority or the enabling legislation, lawyers representing the Bankers Association contested these bond validations, arguing that PACE loans should not be allowed to leapfrog mortgages when collateralized assets are plundered following a default. Ultimately, the conflict made its way to the Florida Supreme Court, which docketed the case last October.

Ygrene Energy Fund Click to PACE Broward On Thursday, October 15, 2015, Banker Association attorneys were “zugzwanged” by the State’s high court. Before they could once again recycle their lower court arguments, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Florida Bankers Association lacked the standing to argue this issue. Once relieved of prospective legal entanglements, Broward officials finally approved the program. 11 Broward municipalities initiated programs until the Broward Commission launched a county-wide approval on June 14, 2016, along with a 120-day window within which municipalities could opt out. The County cut deals with two PACE funding providers, Renew Financial, administering the “RenewPACE Program”, and Ygrene, managing the “Clean Energy Program”. Their terms vary, so solicit proposals from both.

Federal Housing Finance Agency The PACE program is burdened by similar concerns on the Federal level. On December 22, 2015, the Federal Housing Finance Agency proclaimed that its lending units wouldn’t refinance mortgages on homes with PACE financing, asserting that the PACE loans would first have to be repaid. The Obama administration has been working with federal agencies to address the repayment questions and to encourage PACE lending nationwide. Despite these impediments, the program continues to gain momentum.

While the PACE program’s unusual advantages have triggered a race by homeowners and businesses to participate, borrowers are admonished to carefully explore the benefits and liabilities of incurring a debt to the taxman. For LaMarca’s entire July 2016 constituent message, Read on... – [editor]

 

July 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

2016 Presidential Advocacy Award from the Florida Association of Counties

Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca recieves FAC 2016 Presidential Advocacy Award
CHIP LAMARCA GETS FAC AWARD
As your Broward County Commissioner, a priority of mine has always been to advocate for the needs of our community. In my efforts for Broward County, the most effective way to move our legislative priorities forward has been to head to Tallahassee to fight for our community at our State Capitol. This year it was an honor to be the recipient of the Presidential Advocacy Award from the Florida Association of Counties for my efforts in advocating for two very important state funding sources.

This year, we have been able to secure increased state funding for beach renourishment and key Port Everglades projects. The result was an increase from $25 million to $37 million for beach renourishment projects and an increase from $15 million to $25 million for the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) program. While these efforts have been productive, there is still so much more we need to do. I will continue to advocate for the needs of Broward County and its residents.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in Broward County

Click to PACE Broward The Board of Broward County Commissioners recently approved a county-wide property assessed clean energy (PACE) program that will allow property owners to receive up-front financing and repayment of debt for a variety of energy related home improvements. Homeowners and businesses now have an opportunity to obtain financing for solar panels and other energy saving updates, as well as important hurricane resistant upgrades like impact windows and doors. This financing method will allow people to make these types of improvements that otherwise would be very expensive, without impacting their credit scores.

This program includes several provisions that enhance consumer protections. These provisions include PACE-funded improvements, which must be properly permitted and installed by licensed contractors, and they must meet applicable federal, state, and local energy, wind, and building code standards.

For more information on the PACE program please visit Broward.org/NaturalResources or call 954-519-1265.

Port Everglades Update

Port Everglades
PORT EVERGLADES
There are many exciting new things happening at Broward County’s Port Everglades: partnership agreements are being made to continue the port’s environmental stewardship, pilot programs are being created, luxury ships are returning, new cargo ships are being welcomed, and agreements for existing cargo ships are being renewed. Port Everglades is in the heart of one of the world's largest consumer regions, including a constant flow of approximately 110 million visitors statewide and 6 million residents within an 80-mile radius. With all of this exciting news, it is great to see that Port Everglades will continue to handle future growth in all areas.

Port Everglades - EPA Agreement Port Everglades has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study air emissions. The Port already meets environmental standards for air quality and this agreement will take the port’s commitment to environmental stewardship to another level. As part of the partnership agreement, the port is providing a baseline emissions inventory for EPA's analysis. A consulting group will collect the data needed to generate a 2015 emission inventory for the port. The partnership will allow the EPA to develop future methods, provide lessons learned, and provide practical examples to be shared with other ports, related agencies and stakeholders to support and encourage sustainable development. The port is truly an example of good stewardship.

Automated Passport Control Kiosk at Port Everglades
AUTOMATED PASSPORT CONTROL KIOSK
AT PORT EVERGLADES
In cruise related news, Port Everglades will be the first U.S. cruise port to test and launch Automated Passport Control Kiosks and Mobile Passport Control Kiosks that are designed to help facilitate and expedite secure entry into the United States after a cruise vacation. Broward County's Port Everglades and its cruise line partners, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, are working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to launch these two pilot programs this summer. The Port is also welcoming the return of Crystal Cruises, the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line. Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will sail a total of eight sailings to and from Port Everglades beginning October 27, 2017.

Crowley operates the largest cargo terminal at Port Everglades
CROWLEY OPERATES PORT'S LARGEST CARGO TERMINAL
In cargo related news, Port Everglades welcomed Nordana’s newly built cargo ship M/V Frijsenborg, a 179.46 meter long cargo ship with gross tonnage of 21,970 that is equipped with modern air emission control scrubbers that can handle heavy lift, yachts, rolling stock and containerized cargoes. The Port also renewed a long-term agreement with Crowley Liner Services. The new 10-year, $157.8 million lease and operating agreement with the Broward County Board of County Commissioners is for a 99-acre marine terminal. This agreement also includes two five-year extension options. Under the terms of the new lease, Crowley's estimated annual regional economic impact, based on the projected level of activity by lease year six, will support 1,208 direct jobs, produce $209.5 million in personal income, yield $306 million in business services revenues, generate $103 million in local purchases and deliver approximately $19.5 million in state and local taxes over the term of the agreement. For more information on Port Everglades, please visit PortEverglades.net.

Library Hours Expanded

Click to New Library Hours Several Broward County Libraries will have expanded service hours starting this summer. In District 4, the Deerfield Beach Percy White and Imperial Point Branches will now be open to the public 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday. The Library Division’s new service model features increased hours of library operation within the system’s existing budget. It is directly related to a key initiative of the Library Division’s Long Range Plan to create service delivery models that reflect current trends.

These expanded hours give residents more access to the library system’s many resources and services such as free public-computers, events, literacy and computer classes, children's programs and more. Other libraries in Broward County with expanded hours are the Fort Lauderdale Branch Library that is now open five days a week instead of two. The Century Plaza/Leon Slatin, Lauderhill Towne Centre, Pompano Beach, Riverland and Sunrise Dan Pearl branch libraries will all now be open six days. In the coming months, Broward County Libraries will offer expanded library hours at more locations under the new service model. These new hours are reflected on the Library’s website at Broward.org/Library.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

PACE || Sales Tax || FXE

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
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 simulated disaster training 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 in Sustainable Development and Neighborhood Support and alerts residents to impending flood risks during September’s King Tides.

Tailoring the Tax

Click to Broward MPO Comparisons Click to Broward MPO Comparisons When Broward voters hear that County officials are considering a “sales tax”, they sweat bullets. Given the number of County officials sent to the Big House for unspeakable acts with the County cookie jar, County residents have come to equate approving a sales tax with providing heroin to a junkie. Notwithstanding the statewide 6% sales tax, every prior attempt to add an incremental levy was surgically dismembered on Election Day.

Click to Broward Sales Tax Info Click to Broward MPO Comparisons Since controversial sales tax skirmishes between warring County and City officials concluded with an uneasy truce on June 22, Broward residents will decide the fate of two interlocked surtax proposals on November 8, 2016. While there is clearly a desperate need to fund infrastructure and transportation, approval may hinge on the extent to which our elected officials have reclaimed credibility auctioned off by predecessors. Given the costly alternative, the measure may break with tradition – and survive. In his Newsletter (see below), Roberts frames the issue as sufficiently important for a second consecutive review.

Transportation vs. Infrastructure

FDOT District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly
FDOT DISTRICT 4 SECRETARY GERRY O’REILLY
As the 2.8-mile Wave Light Rail loop in downtown Fort Lauderdale picked up momentum, County officials grew increasing convinced that similar projects could anchor a county-wide transportation system. Shortly after the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) - which operates the Tri-Rail – relinquished control of the Wave project to the Florida Department of Transportation, FDOT District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly remarked, “This region needs a transportation system it can grow on,” and characterized the Wave as “the fundamental backbone for a transportation system for this county and this region.” Intrigued by the reputed developmental benefits ascribed to streetcar projects nationwide, O’Reilly’s observations prompted the County Board to envision light rail projects blanketing the County – with links to Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise and the Nova Southeastern University complex in Davie.

Click to A Penny at Work FDOT and County officials are already considering 14 miles of light rail projects, with another 6 miles on the drawing board. Since realizing each mile of light rail infrastructure would cost an estimated $68 million, and $millions more for operational capital, they needed a reliable funding spigot - like a Transportation tax. For months, the County Commission considered a series of surtax proposals to mollify transportation gridlock, enable a county-wide light rail expansion, enhance bus service, and improve traffic signal synchronicity (eliminate red light creep). On April 14, 2016, when the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (Broward MPO) first approved a Transportation tax by a 19-6 vote, they anticipated allocating 70% of the proceeds to the County and 30% to Broward cities. The split was largely configured around the County’s estimated outlay for building and operating its planned light rail expansion.

Click to A Penny at Work As visions of a regional transportation system entranced the County board, officials in Broward’s 31 municipalities were pan-frying their own agenda. The Cities are losing a race to replace infrastructure claimed by age and erosion. Deteriorating water and sewer systems, aging municipal buildings, battered fleet vehicles, marginally maintained parks and city streets peppered with potholes and cracks are melting down city budgets. Municipalities are also struggling with the fiscal impacts of Global Warming.

King Tide A1A Flooding
KING TIDE FLOODING ALONG A1A
After Superstorm Sandy chewed on the Broward coast, Fort Lauderdale enhanced the resiliency of its shoreline by burying heavily muscled drainage technology under A1A. Coastal cities are also dumping truckloads of cash into fortifying neighborhoods submerged by King Tide flooding several times every year. Since Washington DC and Tallahassee won’t allocate adequate resources until blocks of downtown Miami are drifting across the Florida Straits, city taxpayers are stuck with the tab. If the County’s fiscal alchemists were crafting a sales tax, the Cities wanted in. As Roberts points out, roughly 30% of the resulting income stream would be borne by visiting tourists, reducing the squeeze on local residents.

Click to A Penny at Work Sales Tax Overview Working separately, the County board approved a ballot measure soliciting a 75-cent increase to the sales tax while the cities sought an infrastructure surtax of one dollar. With the County and cities both chasing independent sales tax ballot initiatives, a ludicrous 29% increase would confront Broward voters with a 7.75% sales tax, the highest in the State – virtually guaranteeing the failure of both ballot measures. Instead, City and County officials temporarily set aside long-simmering turf feuds and began negotiating a formula that both sides could live with – and hopefully survive a November 8 electoral gauntlet. To make the ballot, any compromise would have to be pressure-cooked and jet-packed to the Supervisor of Elections by a June 24 deadline.

County Commissioner Mark Bogen and Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer broker compromise plan
COUNTY COMMISSIONER MARK BOGEN AND WESTON MAYOR
DANIEL STERMER BROKER COMPROMISE PLAN
At the June 22 County Commission meeting, in a room packed with Mayors and City Commissioners from across the county, the issue came to a head. Spearheading negotiations for the municipalities was Weston Mayor Dan Stermer, who opened the meeting with an eerie proposition to the county board, “Will you marry us?” After voting against two compromise plans that failed by 4 – 4 votes, County Commissioner Mark Bogen submitted a third compromise plan he brokered with Stermer and switched sides, engineering its approval by a 5 – 3 vote (Commissioners Tim Ryan, Dale Holness and Chip LaMarca dissenting – LaMarca opposes any tax that lasts for three decades).

Splitting the Penny

Click to Broward MPO Comparisons Under Bogen’s proposal, the combined surtax increase would be downsized to one cent on each dollar, hiking the existing 6% sales tax to 7%. Some purchases are exempt, including groceries, medical services, fuel, prescription drugs and utilities. The penny increase would be equally divided between a County Transportation Tax and a Municipal Infrastructure Tax, and posed to voters as separate ballot questions. If approved, the half-penny County Transportation tax would be wholly allocated to Broward’s transportation coffers. For the first 20 years, the other half-penny would be distributed to Broward municipalities based on population demographics, and budgeted to infrastructure improvements.

Click to Broward MPO Comparisons After 20 years, Broward would also snag 40% of the infrastructure tax proceeds, providing the County with a 70% share of the combined surtax over the final ten years of the program – the split originally conceived by Broward MPO. The fiscal shift is timed to coincide with County plans to build a costly light rail system in West Broward during the final decade of the measure’s lifespan - which would otherwise leave a gaping hole in the County budget.

Click to Interlocal Agreement The plan also revised provisions that rankled the cities. For example, a requirement that cities spend 13% of the proceeds on TTM Projects (transportation, transit and mobility) was scrapped, ostensibly enabling Broward municipalities to more effectively prioritize their respective infrastructure needs. City and county stakeholders anticipate raising between $12.6 and $12.9 billion over the 30-year term of the combined surtax.

Click to A Penny at Work Before the meeting adjourned, the County Board voided its original 75-cent ballot measure. Over the next few days, the municipalities scrambled to repeal their prior ballot proposals and executed an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) that details the regulatory mechanics of the compromise plan. The ILA mandates formation of a Transportation and Infrastructure Surtax Oversight Board by January 15, 2017.

A 5-member panel will appoint members of the oversight board based on the professional credentials specified in the ILA for each selectee (i.e. Accountant, Architect, Attorney, Engineer, Finance Professional, etc. - see Roberts' list). In turn, the nine-member oversight board will approve spending and audit projects. Seven of the nine board members must be Broward Residents and all will serve 4-year terms. Elected officials – and anyone employed by or contractually linked to a city or the county – are barred from serving on the appointing authority or the oversight board.

Selling the Sales Tax

County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey
COUNTY ATTORNEY JONI ARMSTRONG COFFEY
In a July 13 memo, County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey warned that state law prohibits local governments from using public funds to advocate for ballot initiatives. Despite Coffey's admonition, proponents set aside $1.1 million in tax dollars to promote local support. To circumvent the statutory prohibition, local officials will spin ads plastered across buses, benches & billboards, and blasted from radios and televisions as voter education.

Weston Mayor Dan Stermer
WESTON MAYOR DAN STERMER
On September 8, Stermer suggested that elected officials attend a two-hour training session before confronting the home folks. While navigating a legal tightrope between education and advocacy, Stermer reacted as if leading a charge up San Juan Hill, announcing “Let’s go. It’s time for us to get active. We need every member of every City Commission; we need all nine county commissioners, to actively go out and solicit votes and educate people on why they should vote yes.”

County Commissioner Lois Wexler
COUNTY COMMISSIONER LOIS WEXLER
Having enlisted some 150 city and county officials to beat the streets, Stermer and County Commissioner Lois Wexler cobbled together a privately funded Political Action Committee with a $500,000 war chest. While convincing constituents of the daunting need to salvage critical infrastructure and develop a county-wide transportation network, local officials will have to overcome the hardened skepticism of some longtime residents, who fear that the funds may once again be frittered on pork.

Click to A Penny at Work To help engage Broward residents, a website called A Penny at Work (apennyatwork,com) lists City and County projects that are targeted for funding. Sorted by City and category, this online resource enables residents of any Broward municipality to see which of their neighborhood parks, structures, roadways or City services may be upgraded. An advocacy website entitled Move Broward Forward (movebrowardforward.com), outlines the surtax plan, summarizes eligibility criteria for operating and capital investments, details how resources will be distributed, and offers media updates.

Click to Move Broward Forward Should either measure fail, neither one will be implemented. If so, and officials turn to an ad valorem alternative, the lost $12.6 billion could show up on local TRIM notices. If both ballot questions are approved, Broward MPO estimates that roughly $3.8 billion will be contributed by visiting tourists, and local residents would only have to cough up the $8.8 billion difference. If proponents are able to successfully clarify how this benefits Broward voters, the new funding stream stands a good chance of off on January 1, 2017, and terminating on December 31, 2046.

Sales Tax Since sales tax distributions would replace property tax revenues as the lynchpin funding source for every city’s growing infrastructure deficit, unless the oversight board is packed with a collection of stiffs and political hacks, approving the sales tax should lower the average property tax nut in Broward municipalities. The estimated benefit to each city (the basis for millage relief) is substantial, ranging from $85,875 in tiny Lazy Lake to $588,207,357 in Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Broward FDOT Although the County should clear an estimated $7,485,581,785 for gridlock mitigation, light rail expansion and other capital improvements; and its impact on the County millage should also be favorable. As long as some bureaucrat (or contractor) doesn’t try a hand of three card monte with the planned transportation system’s fiscal metrics, and FDOT delivers its long-term package on budget, this could actually perform as promised.

That said, it’s your call. To peruse Commissioner Roberts’ September / October 2016 Newsletter in its entirety, read on – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER
BRUCE G. ROBERTS
BE PREPARED: Welcome back from summer break. Hopefully, everyone had a nice time with family and friends. As residents of South Florida, we are never far from the possible dangers associated with hurricanes. The most important step everyone can take to survive a hurricane is to prepare. If you have not completed your hurricane preparations, the time to do so is now. For hurricane preparedness information and a handy check list, visit www.fortlauderdale.gov/hurricane. For National Hurricane Center updates, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS:

  • Hurricane Emergency Hotline 954.828.8888

  • 24-Hour Neighbor Call Center 954.828.8000

  • Police Department Non-Emergency 954.828.5700

  • Emergency 911

Click to Florida PACE Funding Agency Click to Ygrene Energy Fund PACE (PROPERTY ASSESSED CLEAN ENERGY) PROGRAM: The City currently participates in this program, which provides a funding option for retrofitting your home or business with energy efficiency improvements or hurricane protection. Two companies, Ygrene Energy Fund and the Florida PACE Funding Agency, provide this service. Our experience with Ygrene Energy Fund has been: 354 applications received; 26 projects completed and funded for $485,000 (average project size of $18,653); 102 projects currently in construction ($1.8 million); average value of properties: $300,000; and average equity in the property: 52%. Since we just joined the Florida PACE Funding Agency, we do not have experience to report as of yet.

Click to 2017 Fort Lauderdale Proposed Budget BUDGET UPDATE: The Preliminary Budget for FY 2017 was presented to the City Commission on July 12, 2016. At the meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to pass a resolution proposing no increase to our current millage rate of 4.1193 per $1,000 of taxable value for FY 2017, which begins on October 1.
Fort Lauderdale Budget Manager Laura Aker Reece
FORT LAUDERDALE BUDGET
MANAGER LAURA AKER REECE
This marks the 10th consecutive year that Fort Lauderdale has maintained the same millage rate. Kudos to our Community Builders for improving operations that enable us to continue to provide outstanding, cost effective, and value-added services to our neighbors without having to increase the millage rate. The draft budget addresses numerous neighbor priorities including: beach renourishment; improving traffic flow; upgrading streets and sidewalks; enhancing public safety and emergency management; strengthening water and sewer infrastructure; creating safer, more walkable and bikeable streets; combating flooding and sea level rise; advancing sustainability; and investing in technology to streamline plan review and permitting. It provides us with the resources to continue to deliver quality services to our neighbors while investing in social capital to build community, expand civic engagement, and enhance quality of life. The proposed budget also moves us closer to achieving our citywide vision of creating a diverse, active, livable, and sustainable community. A special thank you goes out to our Budget/CIP and Grants Division. Under the leadership of Laura Reece, these tireless Community Builders spend countless hours throughout the year working with every City Department to put the budget together. As a reminder, the public hearings on the budget are scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers on Wednesday, September 7, and Monday, September 12. I encourage you to review the proposed budget online, and to attend one of the upcoming public meetings.

http://fortlauderdale.gov/home/showdocument?id=16399

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Smoking in Park Sign Initiative AWARD-WINNING BUDGET: Speaking of the budget, congratulations are also in order for the Budget/CIP and Grants Division for earning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting, and is a prestigious achievement for our entire organization. In order to qualify, we had to meet nationally-recognized guidelines along with 14 specific criteria related to our budget, financial plan, operations guide, and communications. This award speaks volumes about the tremendous leadership, dedication and commitment of our Budget Division, as well as all our Community Builders who contribute to this process. Thanks to staff for adhering to stringent principles and best practices to create a quality budget, while ensuring sound management of our financial resources. Congratulations on this fantastic achievement!

Click to FLPD Reality Check SURTAX RESOLUTION: This article was in our July/August newsletter but I felt it important to repeat: The County Commission held a special meeting on June 24th and took actions to address the Transportation and Infrastructure Surtax issues. The County Commission approved a ½ cent surtax for Transportation and ½ cent surtax for Infrastructure to appear on the November 2016 ballot. If approved by voters, this would raise the sales tax in Broward County from 6% to 7%. According to the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), approximately 31% of this increase would be borne by tourists. The framework for distribution and use of the funds were also approved via an interlocal agreement. The major terms of the Agreement include the following:

  • 30 year Transportation and Infrastructure Surtax time period

  • ½ cent Transportation tax is allocated 100% to county

  • ½ cent Infrastructure tax is allocated 100% to cities (per capita) for 20 years

  • Year 21 the infrastructure tax is split between the cities and county with cities receiving 60% and county 40% (10 year split of tax revenues)

  • Establishing an independent nine member Transportation and Surtax Oversight Board:

    • Click to Sales Tax Oversight Board One former elected official

    • One former City or County Manager

    • One Certified Public Accountant

    • On member of the Florid Bar

    • One finance professional

    • One urban planning or land use professional

    • One engineering or construction management professional

    • One professional architect

    • One professional environmental scientist

Click to Sales Tax Oversight Board The above Board will be appointed by:

  • Designee of the President of Nova Southeastern University

  • Designee of the Broward Workshop

  • Designee of the Broward County Council of Chambers of Commerce

  • The joint designee of the Broward County Auditor and the Broward League of Cities” Auditor

  • Director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Environmental Studies

The above ILA is contingent upon 51% of the cities (via population count) taking action to: (1) repeal the existing 1 cent uniform Infrastructure surtax resolution and send to Supervisor of Elections; (2) adopt a uniform resolution for ½ cent Infrastructure surtax; (3) adopt a resolution approving the County ILA. By the way, it is important to note that each ballot question is dependent on the other for passage; voters must approve both or both fail.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) FXE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT TRAINING: Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport recently hosted a simulated disaster training drill in cooperation with the Fort Lauderdale Police and Fire Rescue Departments, as well as Reva Air Ambulance. The exercise simulated an accident between a Lear 35 aircraft and a Robinson R44 helicopter on the airport runway. A total of 50 people participated in the drill including firefighters, paramedics, police officers, command staff, airport and emergency management personnel, and volunteers. Special thanks to Reva Air Ambulance for providing the aircraft and moulaged volunteer victims, which heightened the realism and authenticity of the drill, while enabling participants to gain maximum value from the exercise. Being prepared for the possibility of a potential emergency and knowing how to respond is paramount to the effective management of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, as well as the entire operations of our City. Through exercises like these we are able to test our emergency operations plan, while sharpening our tactical response, decision-making procedures, and coordination with internal and external agencies. I congratulate FXE for taking the lead in this important exercise and thank our Community Builders in Police and Fire Rescue for providing the essential response and support mechanisms during the drill.

Global Entry Kiosk at FXE
GLOBAL ENTRY KIOSK AT FXE
NEW GLOBAL KIOSK AT FXE:: If you're checking in at FXE's Customs facility, make sure you check out our new Global Entry Kiosk! This modern convenience makes it easy for corporate and leisure travelers to enter the United States and gives FXE a competitive advantage that further strengthens its position as one of the nation's leading General Aviation airports.
Passenger Using New Global Entry Kiosk at FXE
PASSENGER USING NEW GLOBAL ENTRY KIOSK AT FXE
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) recently selected FXE as the first General Aviation airport in the country to receive a Global Entry kiosk, which is a CBP program that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to expedite entrance into the United States upon arrival. With the kiosk, preapproved travelers no longer need to complete a Customs declaration before landing, and may skip process lines at checkpoints. Instead, they can simply check-in at the kiosk by scanning their passport or resident card and their fingertips for verification and completing the Customs declaration online. The Global Entry Kiosk strengthens FXE's commitment to providing corporate and leisure travelers with outstanding customer services, while enhancing the airport's position as the gateway to Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Fort Lauderdale CodeRED STAY INFORMED IN AN EMERGENCY: Sign up for CodeRED™ and get City notifications delivered to your phone! The City of Fort Lauderdale uses CodeRED™ to send notifications to your phone about water main breaks, gas leaks, evacuations and other life safety emergencies. The City may also use CodeRED to communicate road closures, water main repairs and other types of non-life safety matters. Residents or business owners with a Fort Lauderdale address may register for CodeRED on the City's website at www.fortlauderdale.gov/codered or by contacting the 24-Hour Neighbor Call Center at (954) 828-8000 or www.fortlauderdale.gov/lauderserv. Registration is FREE!

Click to Fort Lauderdale Lauderserv Click to Fort Lauderdale CodeRED STAFF TRANSITIONS: City Zoning Administrator Anthony Greg Fajardo (954-828-6852, AFajardo@fortlauderdale.gov) has been named Director of our Sustainable Development Department after more than 10 years with the City. Christian (“Chris”) Carbonera has been selected as our new Neighbor Support Coordinator within the City Manager’s Office. If you have an issue regarding day-to-day operations of the City, please contact Chris at 954-828-5063 or CCarbonera@fortlauderdale.gov. You may also report issues to our 24/7 Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000, as well as the City’s online Lauderserve system at http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/departments/city-manager-s-office/public-affairs-office/lauderserv.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Schedule for King Tides KING TIDES EXPECTED SEPTEMBER 16-21, 2016: Flooding in low-lying areas is more likely in the fall months, as the close proximity of the moon, high tides, rising sea levels, and inclement weather conditions combine to exacerbate flooding risks. As a coastal community with numerous low-lying areas and 300 miles of canal coastline,
Flooding during King Tides
FLOODING DURING KING TIDES
Fort Lauderdale neighbors are advised to be especially vigilant from September through December, when tides are expected to be at their highest levels for the year. While the City maintains an extensive stormwater master plan and is instituting both aggressive maintenance and innovative adaptation solutions to address drainage, including the installation of tidal valves, the location and natural geography of the City makes neighborhoods susceptible to flooding. Remember that flooded streets may be covered in either fresh or saltwater. Please take caution whenever driving on flooded streets. When in doubt, turn around. Visit the City website for upcoming high tide dates and learn how to prepare for these types of weather events.

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
ROBBI
UPTEGROVE
OFFICE CONTACT: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: ruptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Click To Commissioner Roberts' web page EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at RUptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

NACo; Port; Airport; Zika Virus; Hurricane Plan; TaxSYS

Commentary

Click to Chip LaMarca August 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA AUGUST MESSAGE
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.

Rockefeller and the Monkey Bugs

John D. Rockefeller, Senior and Junior
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, SENIOR AND JUNIOR
On May 14, 1913, Master of the Universe John D. Rockefeller, his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Rockefeller’s principal advisor for oil and gas matters and philanthropic endeavors - Frederick Taylor Gates, chartered the Rockefeller Foundation in New York State. A fiscal midwife for scores of medical keystones, the $3.4 billion lunch bucket funded the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. In the U.S., the Foundation established the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Harvard School of Public Health, annually ranked numbers 1 and 2 nationally for such institutions. In Canada, it opened the School of Hygiene at the University of Toronto.

Virologist Dr. Max Theiler
VIROLOGIST DR. MAX THEILER
Click to Rockefeller Foundation With more government funding cascading through this multi-headed medical research juggernaut than any other family of institutions, it’s no surprise that their medical benchmarks include the 1937 development of attenuated live vaccine “Stem 17D” by South African virologist Dr. Max Theiler, which prevents Yellow Fever. A graduate of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Theiler directed the virus laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute. A year before Theiler developed his Nobel Prize-winning vaccine; the Rockefeller Foundation funded the Yellow Fever Research Institute in Entebbe, Uganda. Later renamed the East African Virus Research Institute, it was nationalized in 1977 after winning regional acclaim and reorganized as the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Click to Uganda Virus Research Institute
Rhesus Macaque
RHESUS MACAQUE
In 1947, the Institute’s scientists caged a rhesus macaque at a field station in a nearby forest. The monkey developed a fever, and researchers finally isolated a transmissible agent from its serum in 1948. The new virus was named Zika after the site of the field station near Entebbe, the Zika Forest. Other noteworthy arboviruses discovered at the institute include Chikungunya virus, West Nile virus, Bwamba virus, Semliki Forest virus, O'nyong'nyong virus, and Kadam virus.

Measuring the Damage

Like dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses, Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, and is primarily spread by the mostly diurnal female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Researchers later found the virus in other arboreal mosquito species of the Aedes genus, such as A. africanus, A. apicoargenteus, A. furcifer, A. hensilli, A. luteocephalus, A. vittatus – each with an incubation period of about 10 days.

Click to Guillain–Barré syndrome Causing mild symptoms or none at all, in most cases, the infection known as Zika fever or Zika virus disease is similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. Symptoms generally last for less than seven days, and may include fever, conjunctivitis (red eyes), malaise, joint pain, headache, and a maculopapular (bumpy red) rash. While the illness cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines and there is no specific treatment, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and rest may relieve the symptoms. In rare cases, Zika infections in adults have been linked to Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Click to Zika and Pregnant Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, potentially resulting in microcephaly (an underdeveloped brain and skull), severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. In January 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance for enhanced precautions in affected countries, and a recommendation that pregnant women consider postponing travel. When detected locally, health officials in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica advised women to postpone pregnancy until more is known about the risks. Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact or blood transfusion.

Click to Zika and microcephaly Prevention is currently limited to decreasing mosquito bites in areas where the disease occurs (and proper use of condoms). Efforts to prevent bites include the use of insect repellent, pesticides, larvicides, mosquito nets, covering much of the body with clothing and eliminating the carrier mosquitoes’ breeding habitat (getting rid of standing water where they reproduce).

Through the 1950s, Zika had been restricted to a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. Like Yellow Fever, the vertebrate hosts of the virus were primarily monkeys in a so-called enzootic mosquito-monkey-mosquito cycle, with only occasional transmission to humans. From the first reported human spillover in 1952 until 2007, there were only 14 confirmed human cases of Zika infection from Africa and Southeast Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.

Racing across the Planet

Click to Pan American Health Organization Zika warning list In April 2015, the outbreak began in Brazil, where an estimated 1.5 million people were infected by Zika, triggering a case cluster of Guillain–Barré syndrome and over 3,500 cases of microcephaly reported between October 2015 and January 2016. It spread to other countries in South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, prompting the Pan American Health Organization to publish a list of countries and territories that experienced “local Zika virus transmission.” The list included Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Click to Zika Worldwide By August 2016, more than 50 countries had experienced active local transmission of Zika virus, including the United States. According to the CDC, more than 3,000 people were diagnosed with Zika across the U.S.; 731 were pregnant women. Of the 17,000 cases reported in the territories – mostly in Puerto Rico – more than 1,000 were pregnant women.

Local transmission in Florida was initially confined to two small areas in Miami-Dade County. With no evidence of active transmission for 45 days, on Monday, September 19, 2016, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) – the lead agency for repelling the pandemic – lifted an alert from the one-square mile Wynwood arts District just north of downtown Miami. Following the discovery of 4 new cases on Friday, September 16, the second active transmission zone was expanded from 1.5 square miles to 4.5 square miles in Miami Beach between 8th and 63rd Streets. Aerial insecticide spraying to combat mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus started in Miami Beach on Friday, September 9. By September 17, 93 locally transmitted cases were reported in Florida (35 in Miami Beach) along with 670 travel-related cases.

Click to Rockefeller Foundation By mid-September, the department was conducting 17 active investigations, including 13 in Miami-Dade, one in Pinellas and three in Palm Beach counties. The department continues door-to-door outreach and targeted testing in Pinellas, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties while conducting mosquito abatement and reduction activities in neighborhoods under investigation. As of September 17, the 109 reported cases in Broward are supposedly travel-related – and there are conflicting reports about the number of infections that were locally transmitted.

Neutering Broward Mosquitoes

Click to Pan American Health Organization Zika warning list Two of the carrier mosquito species (AKA vectors) thrive in Broward County, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (the Tiger Mosquito). Neither species breed in the lakes, canals, roadside ditches or retention ponds that cover the county; opting instead for artificial containers that hold standing water - such as uncovered buckets, flower pots, fountains, ornamental ponds, children’s toys, planters, gardening equipment, pet bowls and discarded tires.

VectoBac WDG
VECTOBAC WDG
Broward County periodically performs preventive aerial spraying during daylight hours, targeting mosquito larvae with a commercial product called VectoBac WDG. Unlike the pesticide Naled used for aerial spraying in Miami Beach, where it was rumored by neighborhood protesters to cause birth defects, VectoBac WDG features impressive safety credentials. Its active ingredient – the AM65-52 strain of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) - is a naturally occurring, biodegradable bacterial mosquito larvicide which is not harmful to humans, pets, aquatic habitats or environmentally sensitive areas. The product is certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), registered for use by the US Environmental Protection Agency and listed by the World Health Organization as a recommended formulation for control of mosquito larvae.

Broward Emergency Management announces Zika Spraying
BROWARD EMERG MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCES ZIKA SPRAYING
In addition to disseminating FDOH Zika Updates, the City of Fort Lauderdale has dispatched a Code Enforcement Special Response Team and crews from Parks and Public Works to eliminate mosquito breeding habitat citywide. As directed by FDOH, Broward County and Fort Lauderdale are requesting help with control and prevention from homeowners and merchants. Associations can cooperate by emptying water from outdoor trash containers, garden and pool equipment, buckets, ash trays, and equipment or vehicle tarps that catch water. Discard container tops, cans and bottlecaps. Sedentary decorative fountains should be drained. Active fountains and swimming pools that are properly maintained pose no threat. Assigning a maintenance staffer to these tasks for 10 minutes each morning will help protect our families for pennies a day. For LaMarca’s August 2016 message to constituents, Read on... – [editor]

 

August 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Broward County Receives Innovation Awards

Click to NACo Achievement Awards Presentation The National Association of Counties (NACo) has awarded Broward County eleven Achievement Awards recognizing several effective and innovative county government programs. The Broward County Human Resources Division received two awards, one award for an employee assistance program and another for an educational roadshow for County employees. The Office of Economic and Small Business Development was recognized for developing the Technical Assistance Training program which provides certification and training for local small businesses to boost their ability to bid on Broward County projects. The Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division was awarded for developing hydrologic models that help bridge the communication gap between scientific research and policy makers to provide a more proactive response to future climate scenarios and sea level rise. This department was also recognized for the County’s commitment to enhancing community resilience and protecting the environment. The Libraries Division was awarded for creating a year-long program of events and education outreach in support of a mayoral initiative "Broward Means Business," which promoted County, state and federal programs that help mentor and finance Broward County businesses.

Broward Risk Management Division - 4 Awards
RISK MANAGEMENT DIVISION
The overall winning Division was Risk Management with four awards. The first was for Safety and Occupational Health for providing an Exceptional Automated External Defibrillators (AED) Program Enhancement. Next was an award in the Liability Claims Section for providing innovation in a liability video that demonstrates a more timely and efficient way to handle claims. The Risk Management Division was also recognized for an innovative Property Insurance Premium Savings Program and a Workers’ Compensation Medical Cost Reduction Program.

The services provided by Broward County divisions and departments are a great example of residents’ tax dollars at work providing the best quality of life for residents in our community.

Port Everglades Update

Click to Green Marine Broward County’s Port Everglades has recently earned its first Green Marine certification. Green Marine is the largest voluntary environmental program for the maritime industry in North America. The Port earned this certification by benchmarking specific environmental performance indicators including air emissions, water standards, community impacts and environmental leadership.

Click to Green Marine Port Everglades recently welcomed a German-based shipping line as part of its Mediterranean Gulf Express (MGX). Hapag-Lloyd has announced the addition of Port Everglades to its MGX rotation from Valencia, Spain. It is expected to add approximately 300 to 400 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the industry's standard container measurement) weekly at Port Everglades providing additional shipping options for customers. More information about Broward County's Port Everglades is available at porteverglades.net

Fort Lauderdale International Airport Update

Click to Florida Airport Council J. Bryan Cooper Environmental Award Broward County's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) received the J. Bryan Cooper Environmental Award for its Sustainable Strategic Initiatives. Broward County’s Aviation Department (BCAD) successfully implemented Sustainable Strategic Initiatives at FLL to help conserve and protect our natural resources. A Green Practices Program and a Water Resources Protection Program were implemented in the maintenance facility. The expansion and modernization project of Terminal 4 also included numerous green design and construction elements. The features reduce water use by 40 percent and provide 90 percent natural light, which reduce electric energy usage. Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport The building also used reflective roofing materials to reduce heat and workers recycled more than 50 percent of the construction debris. Recognition was also given to the Aviation Department for its use of electric cars and the new “Park Assist” system in the parking garages that helps reducing idle time, fuel consumption and air emissions.

New Concourse in Terminal 4 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
NEW CONCOURSE IN TERMINAL 4 AT FLL
FLL has also opened Concourse G in Terminal 4 with new concession areas and five new gates. The next phase of the expansion and modernization project will include an Interactive Walkway and nine new gates. This project is expected to be completed by mid-2018 which will include 12 international gates and two domestic gates. Additionally, construction at Concourse A is currently underway in Terminal 1. This addition will include a Customs Inspection Facility with five gates handling both international and domestic flights, to be completed May 2017.

Zika Virus

Zika Virus Mailman
ZIKA DELIVERY
Zika virus cases have recently been confirmed in South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, some of these cases have been transmitted locally. The Broward County Mosquito Control Division is working closely with the Florida Department of Health and Code Enforcement partners in Broward's 31 municipalities. The Mosquito Control Division is also actively involved in the effort to reduce breeding sites. These efforts include: conducting door-to-door back pack spraying, draining standing water where possible, treating standing water with long-lasting larvicide, eliminating mosquito habitats, setting up mosquito traps and sampling adult mosquitos to gauge effectiveness of the above-mentioned treatments.

Click to Broward Online Zika Info Residents are also encouraged to help reduce the mosquito nuisance by remembering to drain and cover. You can also contact the Mosquito Control Division and request spraying in your neighborhood by calling 954-765-4062 or completing the online Mosquito Spray Request Form. For more information on protecting yourself from mosquito-borne diseases, visit Broward.Org/Streets/Mosquito.

Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?

Click to Broward County Hurricane Preparedness Guide While summer is almost behind us, South Florida residents should still be on alert since we are in the height of hurricane season. For the months of August and September, it is important to continue to use the Broward County Hurricane website in order to be informed during hurricane season. Resident are also encouraged to be prepared for any emergencies that might occur. Being prepared means having a plan and knowing what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or a hurricane. Testing your hurricane preparedness knowledge can also help you become more prepared for hurricane season. Test your hurricane preparation knowledge by clicking on the link and check to see if you can identify proper evacuation procedures, shelters, supplies, and notifications that can keep your family safe during this hurricane season.

For more information please visit Broward.org/Hurricane

Mobile-Friendly Property Taxes Website

Click to Browrd County Taxes Click to Broward Mobile The Broward County Records, Taxes and Treasury Division recently launched a mobile-friendly version of Broward.County-Taxes.com. The website now offers citizens a more efficient and easily accessible way to print receipts and bills, pay bills, and do searches by name, address, or account number. All the functions that can be accessed through the original website format can now be accessed by tablet or mobile devices. The County continues to make strides in offering more easily accessible options for all Broward County citizens. For more information, visit the County's Records, Taxes and Treasury website or call 954-831-4000.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Tax Cut; Convention Center; E 911 & Animal Adoptions

Commentary

Click to New Broward TNC Law Web Info
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Segment II Staging Area
DISTRICT 4 BROWARD COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
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.

New County Spending Plan

Click to Budget Info In describing how the $4.7 billion County budget for FY2017 justifies a tax reduction, LaMarca attributes a spending plan increase of $505 million primarily to costly infrastructure projects. These allocations include $286 million to modernize and improve airport terminals and fund new technology at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, $55 million to improve cargo and cruise passenger operations in Port Everglades and an $82 million appropriation to upgrade deteriorating County water and sewer infrastructure.

Click to Budget Info
Broward County Homeless Assistance Center
BROWARD HOMELESS ASSISTANCE CENTER
As usual, approximately half of all county property tax revenues will be funneled to the Broward Sheriff's Office. The $460.2 million earmarked for the Sheriff in FY2017 exceeds last year’s allocation by $24.2 million. Most other County Agencies and Constitutional Offices (excluding the Property Appraiser’s Office) will realize an increase of 5.5&. The homeless budget will be increased by $1.9 million in 2017. A total of $13 million will fund programs such as rapid rehousing and homeless assistance centers, hopefully thinning its adverse impact on the Galt Mile.

Rebuilding a Regional Economic Engine

Click to Matthews Southwest Holdings For the past decade, the County has been leaking $100 million in annual revenues as longtime customers of the Broward County / Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center relocated their business to competing venues that offered an integrated hotel. The objective of this project is to stop that leak. County Commissioners are convinced that investing in a full service Convention campus will reverse the trend, and turn the aging exposition showcase into a vital economic engine.

Broward County Convention Center Hotel Rendering
BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL RENDERING
In April, Texas developer Matthews Southwest Holdings presented plans for a 400,000 square foot expansion of the existing 600,000 square foot convention center. Following discussions with hotel operators Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Omni, Matthews reduced its initial 1,000-room project, conceding that an 800-room AAA 4-diamond rated convention center headquarters hotel was more feasible. Purchasing the Portside Yachting Center was critical to its evolution into a destination site for residents and visitors. With the additional 4 acres, the convention center and hotel could be nested in an area peppered with retail stores, entertainment venues, night clubs, and restaurants - all serviced by intermodal transportation. It also enables the design team to better exploit the open space and maximize access to the adjacent Intracoastal Waterway. The hotel would meet the requirements for LEED Gold certification. Revenues raised by user fees will help lower the County tax bite.

County E-911 Buys a Back-Handed Plaudit

Dispatch Center at Broward Sheriff's Office Communications Center
BSO COMMUNICATIONS DISPATCH CENTER
Office of Regional Communications and Technology
RICK CARPANI WALKS
Since the Broward County Office of Regional Communications and Technology (ORCAT) was empowered to install, oversee and govern the newly consolidated emergency 911 dispatch operated by the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO), the County Board and BSO have been locked in a struggle for control of the County-wide system. However, stakeholders and system advocates were perplexed by the County’s refusal to replace former ORCAT Director and Broward’s primary E-911 system architect Rick Carpani, who resigned in favor of the private sector on November 13, 2015, leaving subordinates and backup personnel to run an untested regional emergency dispatch operated by trainees who were admittedly poorly prepared.

Click Here to Fitch & Associates While leaving a system necessary to the survival of both victims and responders in the hands of those who lacked the requisite E-911 training and/or experience, on January 5, 2016, the County Board hired consultant Fitch & Associates to examine the system and identify the changes required to meet stakeholder expectations. Skull-blocked by the County decision to leave the system rudderless for months while awaiting the Consultant’s prognosis, municipalities that supported the consolidation suddenly threatened to bolt - including Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Fitch & Associates E911 Report The first of two consecutive Fitch and Associates E-911 studies was released on August 29. Specifically contracted by County Administrator Bertha Henry to comparatively assess the system’s performance metrics against national best practices, it was crunched and issued prior to the planned January 2017 implementation of new system technology. Given the longstanding conflict between BSO and the County Commission, a study recommendation to better define stakeholder roles was something less than an epiphany. Another suggestion to measure response performance by collecting public feedback might have proven productive if every high profile staff-gaffe wasn’t first mulched into media fodder. Among its few contributive insights, the study confirmed that Stakeholder reservations about the County’s E-911 program may have been overstated - not exactly a ringing endorsement.

County Administrator Bertha Henry
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR BERTHA HENRY
In fact, Henry admitted that the issues addressed in the study were long known to stakeholders - and many were proactively corrected prior to the study’s release. If the same rote strategy is rubber-stamped into the second report, turning to the consultant will have proven a consummate waste of time and county resources. Since the staffing issues targeted by the consultant fall squarely in ORCAT’s management wheelhouse, perhaps the County Board will finally provide ORCAT with a fully credentialed Director, qualified to manage one of the nation’s largest E911 projects. For the rest of LaMarca’s September 2016 message to constituents, read on... – [editor]

 

September 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as your county commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Property Taxes Decrease in FY2017

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar and Commissioner Tim Ryan Discuss Budget
BROWARD MAYOR MARTY KIAR AND COMM. TIM RYAN ON BUDGET
As your County Commissioner I have always advocated strongly for the need to reduce the millage rate for Broward County residents. After six years of advocating this issue, the County Commission has finally agreed that they could support a reduction, while still maintaining the high level of services that Broward County residents have come to expect from their county government. The proposed one-percent reduction sets the FY2017 millage rate at 5.669. Based on this recommended budget and millage rate reduction, the average median-priced homesteaded property taxpayer will see no increase in County property taxes. The median homesteaded value in Broward County this year is $214,100. I believe that this is still too high, but I am grateful to my fellow commissioners that we are starting the process of reducing the cost of government.

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Website The total recommended budget for FY17 is $4.7 billion, which includes all tax supported and non-tax supported funds. Overall the total budget increases by $505 million with substantial funding provided for large projects at Port Everglades, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Water and Wastewater services. It is also important for me that you know that both Port Everglades and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are enterprise operations and they are not funded with property taxes. They are businesses that create their revenues through customer fees to operate at the port and airport. The FY2017 budget won't be final until the public has a chance to comment. Click to Port Everglades Public hearings are set for September 15th and September 27th, beginning at 5:01 p.m. at the Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Avenue-Room 422 in Fort Lauderdale. Final budget approval is expected after the second public hearing. The fiscal year 2017 budget takes effect on October 1, 2016.

Moving Forward with Convention Center Hotel and Expansion

Broward County Convention Center Vision Plan
BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER VISION PLAN
This past month we took a major step forward in the plans to expand our existing Broward County Convention Center and build a new Convention Center Headquarters Hotel. We are advancing with developer Matthews Southwest Holdings, a Dallas-based developer with expertise in hotel and convention center development, with the addition of Balfour Beatty Construction to the development team, a leading U.S. commercial developer with their state headquarters located in Broward County. The Commission also approved a pre-development agreement for the design and build the project. Another major component of this project was the approval of the purchase of development rights for over four acres of land adjacent to the current convention center known as the Portside Yachting Center. This $30.3 million investment provides Broward County additional development entitlements for the overall project and will allow for better access to the Convention Center campus and expand design options to meet the needs of the City and the County.

Broward County Convention Center Hotel Rendering
BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL RENDERING
The planned expansion and new on-site hotel at Broward County's Convention Center is expected to bring economic benefit not only to the local community, but also throughout the state which will include more annual events, as well as new, permanent full time jobs. It will also create over $96 million in future annual tax revenues (in present value) – over $70 million to the State of Florida and $21 million to Broward County and $2 billion in recurring economic impacts over a 20-year period. Incorporating a convention center hotel and expanding our current convention center will allow Broward County to become a leading destination for conferences and expositions of all sizes.

For more information and updates on the Convention Center expansion and hotel project, please visit www.broward.org/CCExpansion.

Broward County Regional 911 System Update

Click to Broward Emergency 911 Broward County’s Office of Regional Communications and Technology has been working extensively to ensure that the Regional Consolidated Communications System is efficient, effective and performing to meet and exceed the national standard. Recently, Phase one of a two phase consultant’s report highlighted that the Regional 911 system is meeting and exceeding the national standards quantitatively. The report also identified several opportunities for improvement which include; overstaffing issues, defining stakeholder roles, and addressing operations and system improvements. The County has already started to address some of these issues by introducing new policies and procedures, training and investing $113 million in operations and systems improvements. The new multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency web-based CAD will replace a 22-year-old system the County inherited in 2012 and interface to the E-911 System, Radio System, Regional Law and Fire Records Systems, and Paging and Toning Systems - all systems vital to receiving, processing and implementing rapid response to 911 calls for help. Phase 2 report will include the consultant’s recommendations for improvements and we expect that report in the coming months.

Broward Emergency 911 Call Center
BROWARD EMERGENCY 911 CALL CENTER
Another effort to enhance the quality of service experienced by residents using the Regional System is the launching of a new online feedback form, which is now available at www.Broward.org/911. This new feature will provide residents the ability to submit details about their experience including the location of their E-911 call, a brief description of their call experience, and provide contact information such as phone number and/or email, if they wish to be contacted about the call. By implementing these efforts, we are continuously committed to enhancing public safety in our community in order to keep our residents and visitors safe.

For more information and updates on Broward County’s Regional 911 System, visit Broward.org/CommunicationsTechnology.

Animal Care Receives Funding

New Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center
NEW BROWARD COUNTY ANIMAL CARE AND ADOPTION CENTER
Broward County’s Animal Care and Adoption department has received grant funding from the Community Foundation of Broward. The funding will provide more than 100 Foster Kits for the Foster Care Program. On average, more than 1,300 kittens are fostered each year. Kittens stay in the Foster Program until they are at least two months old, or weigh at least two pounds. At that time, they are placed into adoption. The grant of $30,000 will help to provide a special Foster Kit to Foster Care parents which includes; a supply of kitten food, feeding bowls, cat pan and liners, litter and a scoop, and a special carrying bag to hold all of the supplies. I am also very pleased to announce that our brand new 40,000 square foot, state-of the-art Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center will be opening to the public in October. Every kennel in this new facility will be air conditioned and will have the best of creature comforts for our visitors. For more information, please go to www.broward.org/Animal/Shelter2016.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can stay connected by subscribing to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Skewed Water Bills Bilk Galt Mile Budgets

Blurb on Fort Lauderdale Website 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 automatically parroted a statistical assertion drawn from the City 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 obviously grouped with the other 28%, Galt Mile Managers, association Board Treasurers and Finance/Budget Committee members reasonably surmised that their share of the burden would be somewhat larger. When members of the neighborhood association’s Advisory Board sought to learn how the new rates were applied to the City’s water & sewer customers, they were assured that “The rates for single family homes and multi-family residences are identical.” To our chagrin, we soon learned that a skewed billing formula inflated charges to association homeowners by up to 90%.

Fort Lauderdale Water & Sewer Invoice Water  Billing Department Over the next six months, association water & sewer invoices shot through the roof. After reviewing the new rate schedule, Advisory Board members also discovered provisions in the formula that unfairly burden association members with huge increases spared to single family homeowners. To further cloud matters, association water & sewer invoices were incongruent with the new rate schedule. When building managers called the Water Department to request assistance with reconciling unintelligible invoices, not even department supervisors were able to decipher the seemingly arbitrary charges. For several months, customer service requests were met with unkept promises that “someone” would call back.

Shopping for Money

Click to Waterworks Budget web site Click to Waterworks 2011 web site In 2001, Fort Lauderdale embarked on a mammoth improvement project called “Waterworks 2011”. Implemented to modernize the City’s water, wastewater and sewer infrastructure, a majority of the upgrades were targeted for completion by 2011 (before the City’s Centennial celebration), hence the snappy moniker. Since the City’s Water and Sewer Utility is organized as an Enterprise Fund, the project didn’t feed on tax dollars. Funding the upgrades with a titanic tax hike during a recession was a non-starter - and serial hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 had emptied the City cookie jar. The $557 million initially budgeted ($323 million for improvements to the water system and $233 million for wastewater upgrades) was drawn from revenues raised through bond issues in 2003, 2006 and 2008. A common practice, many municipalities issue bonds repaid by ratepayers to finance their utilities. In May 2005, the program budget was hiked to $689 million. Due to extraordinary construction cost increases in 2007; the budget was later increased to $768 million.

On July 21, 2009, the City Commission approved a surprise plan to boost income from water and sewer services by 20%. The huge increase wasn’t required to maintain funding levels for these services. Since revenues paid into an enterprise fund should only be used for fund expenses, the new cash bucket could not be used to offset deficits elsewhere in the City budget. Only a fraction of the projected income would address the fund’s operational expenses and the balance couldn’t be spent on anything else. Budget watchdogs questioned where the money was going. The consultant who recommended the 20% hike blamed it on “draught conditions and use restrictions.”

Conservation lowers Water Sales For years the City waged marginally successful campaigns promoting water conservation as palliative to the environment and the family budget. Finally, the recession prompted consumers to carefully monitor utility meters and conserve electricity, gas and water. Since funding for the whopping Waterworks 2011 project was dependent on how attractive Fort Lauderdale’s water business was to potential bond purchasers, the City’s municipal bond consultant warned that the 23% drop in water sales since 2005 due to conservation use restrictions threatened to lower the bond ratings - which would skyrocket the cost of money and sour future investment. To engineer the blue chip profit margins required to intoxicate prospective bond investors, the City Commission approved the draconian 20% rate hike, belatedly bleeding customers for the money they saved by conserving water.

Click to Burton and Associates 2009 Rate Study Milian Swain & Associates A series 2008 Water & Sewer Bonds Feasibility Report recommended that the City perform and implement a rate study to “stabilize” funding for Capital Improvements. Awarded the project, the St. Augustine firm of Burton and Associates completed the Final Draft Report on May 13, 2009 (FYI - Burton and Associates was acquired in early 2016 by Colorado-based Hawksley Consulting – a spin-off subsidiary of engineering mega-firm MWH Global – which was acquired in May 2016 by Canadian design juggernaut Stantec - Yikes). The Burton Rate Study was sent to environmental engineers Milian, Swain & Associates, Inc. to vet its environmental soundness and to Fidelity Financial Services to insure that it would meet investor expectations for fund profits. Fidelity Financial Services LC On July 2, 2009, Frank Hall of Fidelity Financial Services wrote to former Director of Public Works Albert Carbon “The City of Fort Lauderdale proposed utility rate structure will be viewed favorably by the rating agencies, assuming that there are no significant operating expenses beyond the amount previously projected.”

Ghost Fees

Click to Burton and Associates Grounding their rate plan on the Burton and Associates Rate Study, the Commission enacted City Ordinance C-09-21, amending the water, wastewater and stormwater rate schedule for 250,000 water & wastewater customers in Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Oakland Park, Sea Ranch Lakes, Wilton Manors, parts of Davie and Tamarac and parts of unincorporated Broward County. It was initially increased by 10% (5% on August 1, 2009 and 5% on August 1, 2010). Usage rates were also reorganized, that is to say, the financial burden was redistributed to ratepayers in single family homes, multi-family properties and commercial customers. Lastly, a list of bogus new charges was hatched. Since the new rates alone wouldn’t adequately fatten the fund’s bottom line, the Water Services Department would also bill customers for services they didn’t deliver.

Click to Water Rates Ordinance C-09-21 Of these “ghost” fees used to jerk profits, the “Service Availability Charge” held a special paradox for snowbirds. Customers who discontinue active service would now incur a monthly charge for the “theoretical availability” of water and/or wastewater service to their property. Since the City incurs fixed costs to maintain a degree of service readiness for a property, they are charging residents for the opportunity to buy water as an offset to this outlay.

Snowbirds that simply turn off their water must still minimally pay $6.86 a month for water they don’t receive and at least $10.06 a month to discharge the non-existent water (sewer charge). To escape this charge, former or intermittent customers could no longer simply stop using water; they must either prove that they no longer own the property, or remove any toilets, sinks, faucets, spigots and water meters. If they decide to reinstall these fixtures, they are charged $150 to reconnect. A decade after his home was flattened by Hurricane Wilma, a former customer who later tried to sell the empty lot first had to settle a lien for thousands of dollars that had since annually accrued from this thinly veiled tax.

Whether crafted to satisfy projected annual operating expenses, capital funding requirements, operating and capital reserve targets – or to ensure compliance with the terms of the bond issue – the 2009 Rate Study also recommended annual five percent (5%) Water and Sewer rate increases through Fiscal Year 2014. However, the City Commission balked at approving the future annual increases, anticipating that a planned 2011 rate study might auger a revision to the funding formula.

Shareholders vs. Ratepayers

Burton and Associates’ Senior Vice President Andrew Burnham
BURTON AND ASSOCIATES
VP ANDREW BURNHAM
They were right. Two years later, the City once again recruited Burton and Associates to craft the 2011 rate study. On August 23, 2011, while reviewing the 2011 study at a City Commission Workshop, Burton and Associates’ Senior Vice President Andrew Burnham praised the report for successfully balancing water conservation measures with the City’s bondholder obligations. A closer inspection of the Bond Issues revealed why the projected income from the exploding Water and Sewer rates far exceeded the system’s operational expenses. Buried in each Bond Issue was a Rate Covenant contractually backed by the City.

It states, “The City has covenanted in the Bond Resolution that it will fix, charge and collect reasonable rates and charges for the use of the services and facilities furnished by the Water and Sewer System and that it will adjust such rates and charges from time to time by increasing or decreasing the same or any selected categories of rates and charges as often as it shall appear necessary so that the Net Revenues received in each Fiscal Year... will equal at least one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) of the Principal and Interest Requirements for such Fiscal Year, on all Bonds then Outstanding plus one hundred percent (100%) of all amounts required to be deposited to the Reserve Account, the Renewal, Replacement and Improvement Account, the Subordinated Indebtedness Account, and the Rate Stabilization Account for such Fiscal Year.”

It also provides that if the City collects Impact Fees (which it does), and includes those receipts in calculating its compliance with the rate covenant, “the City further covenants that the Net Revenues received in each Fiscal Year, together with the Impact Fees..., as applicable, will be sufficient to provide an amount in such Fiscal Year at least equal to one hundred thirty percent (130%) of the Principal and Interest Requirements for such Fiscal Year on account of the Bonds then Outstanding.” The rate schedule would have to generate sufficient revenues to fund the system's operational needs, plump a Chinese menu of support accounts and reserves, cover 130% of its elephantine debt service while inflating a profit bubble large enough to impress investors. Actually, this was a minimum requirement – the fund cushion usually hovered between 150 to 200% of the debt.

Along with a new Master Meter Volume charge and Non-Residential Impact Fees, the “2011 Rate Study” prompted the City Commission to adopt an annual rate indexing policy for Water and Sewer services. The annual rate adjustment would be scheduled as the greater of (1) the annual change (measured in May of each year) in the United States Consumer Price Index Water & Sewerage Maintenance Series (the “CPI”), or (2) five percent (5%).

Click to Water Rates Ordinance C-11-21 Ostensibly due to fast-growing repair and replacement costs, the 2011 Rate Study recommended complementing the annual 5% rate hike with a 1.0% and 1.75% increase for Fiscal Year 2012 and Fiscal Year 2013, respectively. On September 20, 2011, the City Commission enacted City Ordinance C-11-21 (Effective October 1, 2011), once again amending the water, wastewater and stormwater rate schedule. Commissioners adopted a Water and Sewer rate increase of 6.75% for Fiscal Year 2012 (i.e., 5.75% actual change in the CPI for May 2011, plus an additional 1.0%). For Fiscal Year 2013 the City adopted a 6.75% rate increase (the annual 5% increase plus an additional 1.75%). The City Commission also established the 5.0% rate increase for Fiscal Year 2014 that it deferred two years earlier, along with a 5.0% annual increase for each Fiscal Year thereafter. . Upping the bond rating from “AA” to “AA+”, Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Paula Costa cited “...management's demonstrated willingness to adjust rates on a regular, recurring basis.”

Bond Counsel Albert del Castillo, Esq.
BOND COUNSEL ALBERT DEL CASTILLO, ESQ.
By 2014, tumbling interest rates prompted City Manager Lee Feldman to buy down the fund’s early debt. The steroidal rate hikes wouldn’t only address the “fast-growing repair and replacement costs”; they would “quick-fix” a bottom-line boost to the fund’s financial projections in preparation for another run at the bond market. On November 4, 2014, the City issued Series 2014 bonds, raising $121,520,000. Along with minimum fees of $25,000 and $20,000 for Bond Counsel Albert del Castillo, Esq. and Disclosure Counsel Steve Bullock, P.A., respectively – the proceeds were directed toward refinancing $31,865,000 of its Series 2006 Water and Sewer Revenue bonds and $98,660,000 of its Series 2008 bonds. The buyback netted an estimated value savings of $9,930,510, with an average annual savings of $660,651.

On April 19, 2016, the City raised another $164,609,000 by the sale of Series 2016 Water and Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds. The proceeds were used to knock off the remaining $53.1 million in Series 2006 Water and Sewer bonds, $31 million of its Series 2008 bonds, $72.4 million of Series 2010 bonds along with the outstanding balances of $5.6 million and $11.8 million for 2003 and 2004 State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans. The net present value savings was estimated at $10.2 million.

Rate Rip-Off: Galt Mile Drops the Ball

Fearful of clarifying how each painful boost to water & sewer charges was a gift to investors, officials instead focused on how the financial burden would be equitably distributed across the customer base. To help spin this distortion, the new rate scales for single and multi-family homes were made the same. Unfortunately, how they are applied was not.

Association Homeowners Ripped Off The rate ordinance openly punishes residents living in condominiums and cooperatives. Identical multi-tier rate scales that increase with consumption (water charges) - or discharge (sewer charges) - are applied to water & sewer customers in single family and multi-family homes. Increased by 44% since 2009, in 2016 - 17, the 5 tiers or “rate multipliers” used as water consumption coefficients are $2.10, $4.65, $5.81, $7.84 and $11.37. Although these rate tiers were applied across the board (along with fixed commodity charges), the block rate formula used to calculate consumption and discharge costs (1000 gallons per month multiplied by the number of units) force customers in common interest associations to pay more than their single family counterparts.

Click to Fort Lauderdale 2016 - 2017 Water and Sewer Rates Except for customers who use or discharge less than 1000 gallons of water per month, rates from a higher tier (AKA “block rate”) are invoiced to multi-family homeowners who use or discharge the same amount of water as single-family homeowners. As a result, an association unit owner can pay up to 90% more than a single family homeowner for identical water consumption and sewer discharge. For example, the block rate for a single family homeowner who uses 2000 gallons per month is $2.10 for each 1000 gallons (total of $4.20). A condo owner who consumes the same 2000 gallons is billed at a block rate of $2.10 for the first 1000 gallons, and at a block rate of $4.65 for the second 1000 gallons (total of $6.75) - 61% more than the single family homeowner.

Click to Fort Lauderdale 2016 - 2017 Water and Sewer Rates The disparity continues when these 2 homeowners dump their used water. The single family homeowner is charged a sewer block rate of $3.71 for draining off every 1000 gallons (total of $7.42). The comparable sewer block rate for our condo owner is $3.71 for draining the first 1000 gallons, and $8.22 for the second 1000 gallons (total of $11.93) or 61% more than the single family homeowner. With every rate increase, the discrepancy widens, as does the tax differential. Since funds budgeted annually by Galt Mile associations for Water & Sewer expenses range from $60,000 to $220,000, this inexplicable 45 - 90% “premium” inflates unit owner maintenance charges by tens of $thousands, seriously cutting into the family food budget.

Galt Mile President Pio Ieraci Addresses Association Officials
GALT MILE PRESIDENT PIO IERACI
ADDRESSES ASSOCIATION OFFICIALS
Commissioner Bruce Roberts
COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
When this inequity was posed to City Commissioner Bruce Roberts at the January 21, 2010 Advisory Board meeting, he offered to bring several water department specialists to the February Presidents Council meeting, affording association officials an opportunity to air their concerns to a presumably authoritative resource. At the February 1, 2010 meeting in The Galleon, when queried about the disparity in how the block usage rates were applied to single family homes and associations, the two purported experts from Water Services claimed they were barred from discussing any single family customer’s invoices without their express permission. Preoccupied with incessant beach renourishment delays, salvaging the Galt Library from the 2010 Broward budget axe, and battling the mandated sprinkler retrofit – when confronted by the City officials’ clumsy dodge, the neighborhood association dropped the ball – and the billing disparity was relegated to the back burner.

Rate Parity Revisited

City Manager Lee Feldman
CITY MANAGER LEE FELDMAN
Six years later, when Galt Mile Treasurer Fred Nesbitt discovered inexplicable spikes in the water bills of a half dozen Galt Mile associations, he asked Commissioner Bruce Roberts to investigate the bills in hopes of revealing some shared rationale for these billing anomalies. At a follow-up meeting with Roberts and City Manager Lee Feldman, Galt Mile officials altered the agenda, and revisited the billing inequity that forces association homeowners to pay more than single family customers for identical services.

Galt Mile President Pio Ieraci
GALT MILE PRESIDENT PIO IERACI
Feldman initially suggested that the discrepancy might be ascribed to a higher cost incurred by the city for maintaining the water and sewer lines servicing an association. Galt Mile President Pio Ieraci pointed out that the city must maintain roughly 600 water and sewer lines for 300 single family customers. In contrast, for the 300 unit owners in a high-rise common interest community, the City must only maintain the two or three metered lines (i.e. domestic water, irrigation, etc.) that service the association building. Once the lines enter the structure, maintenance responsibility is assumed by the association and paid for by the unit owners. The city spends far less on readiness expenses for the two or three lines used by association homeowners than for hundreds that service a comparable number of single family customers.

Galt Mile Vice President Eric Berkowitz
V.P. ERIC BERKOWITZ
Galt Mile Treasurer Fred Nesbitt
TREAS. FRED NESBITT
Ultimately conceding that there seemed no justifiable reason for the skewed billing formula, Feldman told the Galt Mile officials that another rate study was in progress, and when completed, would provide an opportunity to explore elimination of the double standard. When Galt Mile V.P. Eric Berkowitz asked if such a correction might be made retroactive, Feldman went mute. If the disparity is quashed, how much unit owners will save on assessments will depend on the degree that consumption rates are decreased for associations or increased for single family homes. To achieve rate parity without eroding Fund revenues, the final formula will likely be calculated by averaging the two block rate scales. If so, the current 45 - 90% premiums paid by associations will be halved, and the savings passed to unit owners. Hopefully, completion of the rate study will end the double standard. If not, we’ll be back.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Bahia Mar Lease While there is no Florida statute or administrative code that restricts municipalities from using Enterprise Fund revenues for General Fund expenses, such prohibitions are often regulated by bond covenants - or mandated in the Enterprise Fund’s Organizing documents as a “best practices” provision that returns profits to customers in the form of a rate reduction. Not surprisingly, local governments have been moonwalking around these restrictions for more than 3 decades, shifting supposedly dedicated funds to remedy bad luck or bad planning.

Christmas 2015 Water Main Break
CHRISTMAS DAY 2015 WATER MAIN BREAK
When a 2011 budget shortfall was pressuring City Commissioners to break a 2009 promise to maintain the millage rate, City Manager Lee Feldman took advantage of a 30-year old Florida Supreme Court decision that allows municipalities to earn a reasonable dividend from a City-owned utility (like any other shareholding investor), which the City could use for whatever purpose deemed in the public interest. Using this loophole, Feldman legally transferred $5 million from the Water and Sewer Enterprise fund to diminish the General Fund deficit. The modest transfer continued annually until 2016, when Feldman upped the budgetary Band-Aid to $20 million.

Fort Lauderdale Annual Water and Sewer Investment Since the initial 2009 rate increase, the City had annually claimed credit for maintaining water and sewer rates substantially below those of neighboring municipalities. Feldman’s large transfer triggered suspicions that the savings was a by-product of infrastructure neglect. These fears were fanned by claims in a March 2016 city report that Fort Lauderdale was only spending $19 million annually for system maintenance, less than two thirds of the $32.9 million allocated annually by the average city, especially since 40% of Fort Lauderdale’s deteriorating water & sewer lines are more than 60 years old.

When Sunrise Boulevard at N.E 20th Avenue was closed by a ruptured water main on Christmas Day in 2015, City spokesman Chaz Adams announced “The city is not experiencing a significant increase in the frequency of pipes breaking. Unfortunately, when pipes break on a major holiday, it creates the misperception that they are occurring with greater frequency.” Fort Lauderdale Annual Water and Sewer Investment The March report refutes Adam’s Fairy Tale, noting 55 ruptured water mains 3 years ago and 93 last year while extrapolating 156 breaks in 2016.

Mayor Jack Seiler
MAYOR JACK SEILER
Irate budget watchdogs, neighborhood leaders and the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board questioned why revenues were being stripped from the Water and Sewer Fund to subsidize the budget instead of rebuilding the failing infrastructure. To dampen growing anxiety, City officials offered a variety of responses. Mayor Jack Seiler noted that the $20 million transfer staved off an 18% property tax increase. Spokesperson Chaz Adams said that the City report about underfunded infrastructure maintenance had mistakenly omitted projects financed through a separate wastewater fund. Combining the outlays, Adams inveighed that the City was spending more than $40 million annually on system upgrades. Irked by the transfer, District 2 Commissioner Dean Trantalis said, “I would want to reverse the policy and start using the money where it was intended.” Admitting that the City has been operating without a cohesive maintenance playbook, both Seiler and Bruce Roberts referenced a master plan that was currently being compiled, which would expedite the replacement of aging pipes and planned fortifications against flooding exacerbated by rising sea-levels.

Moving Money
District 2 Commissioner Dean Trantalis
COMM. DEAN TRANTALIS
While nobody wants a tax hike, residents are understandably fearful that skimming revenues from the Water and Sewer Fund may short-change infrastructure upgrades required to maintain the system’s structural integrity. However, if the City complied with the rate covenant, ratepayers have already funded the system’s operational & maintenance requirements, fleshed out the reserve accounts and provided for 130% of its Olympian debt service.

In short, whether the transfer was creative fiscal management or slippery book-cooking depends on the account from which the money was appropriated. If the transferred funds were wholly sourced from the hefty debt cushion forced on ratepayers to protect bondholders, it didn’t reduce repair and replacement funding, and fears of bartering the system’s future are unfounded. Conversely, if the funds were pilfered from infrastructure maintenance, ratepayers forced to cough up an offset down the road will be paying for the same repairs twice. As a savvy City Manager, it is highly unlikely that Lee Feldman would shoot himself in the foot – but anything is possible in City Hall, so how about 7 to 5 and pick ‘em?

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Segment II Beach Fix; Airport Updates; Animal Division Kudos

Commentary

Click to Chip LaMarca April 2016 Newsletter
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Segment II Staging Area
COMMISSIONER LAMARCA AT BEACH STAGING AREA
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.

Former Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins
FORMER BROWARD BEACH
ADMINISTRATOR STEPHEN HIGGINS
New Segment II Beach Plan Project Limits
SEGMENT II PLAN PROJECT LIMITS
As LaMarca reports, the final stage of the Segment II Broward Shore Preservation Project will expand the Fort Lauderdale beach between Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and Terramar Street. Although that beach doesn’t qualify as a particularly popular destination site for Galt Mile residents, its renourishment should spin off a fiscal dividend.

The Beach plan’s original architect was former Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins. In characterizing the backbone of his beach maintenance policy, Higgins observed, “The sustainability of any beach segment depends on the structural integrity of the adjacent segments.” Prior to his 2011 retirement, Higgins hammered home that tidal erosion can be diminished to the extent that the County shoreline is inclusively addressed as a single structural entity.

Broward Natural Resource Administrator Nicole Sharp
BROWARD NATURAL RESOURCE
ADMINISTRATOR NICOLE SHARP
While subsequent beach bosses Eric Myers and Nicole Sharp reconfigured the Segment II plan as required to meet evolving regulatory concerns, they remained faithful to Higgin’s strategy. Simply put, since completing the final leg of Segment II will help stabilize the entire Broward coast and extend the useful life of the beach fill, it will also serve to delay the need to bang taxpayers for the next “shared cost” round of sand, a consequence that should resonate favorably on the Galt Mile. For LaMarca’s October 2016 newsletter in its entirety, Read on... – [editor]

 

October 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as a County Commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Beach Renourishment Project Set to Resume

Click to Fort Lauderdale Conference of Minority Transportation Officials On January 4th, 2016, after nearly twenty years in the making, the Segment II Shore Protection Project commenced. The project was 80% complete by the end of April when it was temporarily halted for the peak of sea turtle nesting season. Nearly four miles of beach were built and renourished with approximately 800,000 tons of sand and miles of protective dune habitat were restored. New dunes were also constructed along the new beach, complete with sea grape and sea oat plantings. 1.4 miles in Pompano Beach and northern Lauderdale-By-The-Sea was completed in full from Southeast 4th Street in Pompano Beach to Sunset Lane in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, north of Anglin’s Pier. The southern Lauderdale-By-The-Sea/Fort Lauderdale beach was completed from Datura Avenue, south of Anglin’s Pier to NE 14th Court in Fort Lauderdale, which is the northern limits of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.

Beach Renourishment north of NE 14th Court in Fort Lauderdale
BEACH NORTH OF NE 14TH COURT IN FORT LAUDERDALE
Work stopped in front of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and will resume on November 1, 2016, following the end of sea turtle nesting season. At that time, sand delivery operations will recommence using the NE 18th Street and Sunrise Boulevard access points in Fort Lauderdale. Approximately one mile of beach remains to be completed, from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park at the north to Terramar Street to the south. The remaining portion of the project is scheduled to be completed by mid-January 2017.

With the devastating conditions that we could have experienced from Hurricane Matthew recently, it is essential that we continue the efforts of saving and renourishing our beaches in Broward County. South Florida beaches are an economic engine that attract more than 9.3 million visitors per year, while contributing $548 million to Broward County’s economy and creating 17,700 full time equivalent jobs.

For more information please visit http://www.broward.org/beachrenourishment. You can also learn about the importance of beach renourishment by watching Video: Beach Renourishment Explained.

Fort Lauderdale

Pre-construction conditions Fort Lauderdale near NE 16th Street (March 2016)
Pre-construction conditions Fort Lauderdale near NE 16th Street (March 2016)

Post-construction conditions Fort Lauderdale near NE 16th Street (June 2016)
Post-construction conditions Fort Lauderdale near NE 16th Street (June 2016)

Galt Ocean Mile

Mid-construction conditions along Galt Ocean Mile (February 2016)
Mid-construction conditions along Galt Ocean Mile (February 2016)

Post-construction conditions along Galt Ocean Mile (March 2016)
Post-construction conditions along Galt Ocean Mile (March 2016)

Pelican Grand

Pre-construction conditions near Pelican Grand (March 2016)
Pre-construction conditions near Pelican Grand (March 2016)

Post-construction conditions near Pelican Grand (April 2016)
Post-construction conditions near Pelican Grand (April 2016)

Pompano Beach

Pre-construction conditions Pompano Beach south of SE 12th Street (January 2016)
Pre-construction conditions Pompano Beach south of SE 12th Street (January 2016)

Post-construction conditions Pompano Beach south of SE 12th Street (March 2016)
Post-construction conditions Pompano Beach south of SE 12th Street (March 2016)

Fort Lauderdale International Airport Update

Pavement restoration after water main installation
PAVEMENT RESTORATION AFTER WATER MAIN INSTALLATION
Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) “FLL West Side Water Main Improvements Project” was recently awarded first place for the Project of the Year Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Broward Branch which recognizes projects that demonstrate design and construction excellence. In order to meet the water needs of today and the future development engineers designed, and installed more than 5,000 feet of underground pipes, with minimal disturbance to traffic and airport operation during construction.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Conference of Minority Transportation Officials In other FLL related news, our very own airport director, Mark Gale was recently appointed by the Broward County Aviation Departments as a Member of the Board Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). The COMTO’s mission is to ensure a level playing field and maximum participation in the transportation industry for minority individuals, businesses and communities of color through advocacy, information sharing, training, education, and professional development. Mr. Gale has been a long time active member and was chosen because of his leadership, efforts and accomplishments.

Animal Care and Adoption Initiatives

Click to New Broward Animal Care and Adoption Division Broward County Animal Care and Adoption is dedicated to helping animals in every way possible. Live Release Rate is an important way Animal Care measures success and it is a measure of how many dog and cats are rescued, adopted, returned to their owner or released in a given timeframe. The estimates revealed that several changes implemented this year could produce a live-release rate of 70% or greater for FY2016. In FY2015 the total live-release rate was 59%. As of this summer, the live-release rate is approximately 76%. Some of these initiatives included the Portable Sterilization Unit, new Spay and Neuter Programs and the creation of a Community Cat Management Program. We are very proud of our progress and are working hard to become a “No Kill County.”

Click to Perfect Exposure Project Additionally, Broward County Animal Care recently participated in the Perfect Exposure Project in early October in order to enhance the staff’s photography and marketing skills. The Perfect Exposure Project is designed to develop the creative and marketing skills of shelter staff and volunteers. The goal is to save more lives through effective photographing and promotion of adoptable pets. Along with hands-on training the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption staff also received photographic supplies at no cost to the county.

For more information on these programs and other animal care information please visit http://www.broward.org/Animal.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can subscribe to E-news and social media sites. Sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Commissioner Bruce Roberts

Surtax || Best of the Web || Stormwater

Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
COMMISSIONER BRUCE ROBERTS
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.

Commentary – Bogus Tax Bites the Bullet

Click to A Penny at Work On Election Day, the Broward electorate rejected a funding source coveted by Broward County and its 31 municipalities. When voters scrapped one of the two half-penny surtax Ballot Questions, the other one died by proxy. Although Broward voters pathologically boot sales tax ballot requests, pundits and stakeholders polled departing voters to help determine whether either proposal should be recycled – or buried.

Click to Wave Flagler Village LoopThe County had announced plans to ask the electorate for permission to fund a half dozen Wave-style light rail systems with a seventy-five cent sales tax (ostensibly for “Transportation Infrastructure Improvements”), and split proceeds with its cities on a 70 – 30 basis, but the cities wanted a bigger cut and unfettered spending discretion. When the County balked, the cities threatened to place their own one cent sales tax proposal on the same ballot. The two initiatives would have incrementally driven up the County sales tax to 7.75% (the highest in the state), virtually guaranteeing “Mutually Assured Destruction” - the failure of both ballot questions. Instead - they rolled out a bargaining table.

Weston Mayor Dan Stermer
WESTON MAYOR DAN STERMER
The County’s 31 municipalities, led by Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer, staunchly opposed 7.75% (the highest in the state)tethering revenues to transportation infrastructure improvements, each citing a litany of more pressing needs. The cities sought funds to enhance stormwater drainage, upgrade fire and police fleets, fix roads, rehabilitate aging City buildings – and plug other deficits. They also didn’t trust the County to fairly administer the distribution of ad valorem resources collected over the proposed 30-year surtax lifespan. Since this Chinese menu of municipal shortfalls also varied by Jurisdiction, eclectic funding objectives were collectively marketed as “infrastructure improvements”.

Click to Broward MPO Comparisons Finally, on June 22 the County and Cities agreed to share the proceeds derived of two separate half penny surtaxes. Although revenues collected in the first 20 years would be divided equally between the County and Cities, during the final ten years, the County would also snag 40% of the Cities’ infrastructure income stream, upping its share to 70%. In total, about 59% of the estimated $13 - $15 billion combined windfall would be channeled into County coffers (roughly $8.8 billion) - leaving the Cities to divvy up the remaining 41% (about $6.1 billion) - based on their respective population demographics. To insure unilateral commitment, unless both measures were approved at the polls, neither would be implemented. In hindsight, perhaps “Victory or Death” was an overly ambitious endgame.

Click to A Penny at Work
County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey
COUNTY ATTORNEY JONI ARMSTRONG COFFEY
Despite a July 13 memo by County Attorney Joni Armstrong Coffey exhorting that state law prohibits local governments from using public funds to advocate for ballot initiatives, proponents who burned through $1.1 million in tax dollars to plaster ads across buses, benches and TV screens tip-toed around the statutory prohibition by characterizing the promotional expenditures as “Voter Education”. A website called “A Penny at Work” listed the projects that the County and each municipality would fund with anticipated revenues. Adhering to the tenets of Coffey’s memo, County and City Commissioners who pumped out constituent newsletters carefully avoided advocacy terminology while describing surtax benefits – as exemplified by Commissioner Roberts’ thrice delivered surtax message.

You Reap What You Sow

County Commissioner Steven Geller
COUNTY COMMISSIONER STEVEN GELLER
Prior to winning his seat on the Broward Board, Former Hollywood State Senator Steven Geller commented “When somebody tells me what they’re going to build in 30 years, I have very little confidence. Those are not even accurate guesses.” A staunch advocate of Broward’s Transportation infrastructure, County Commissioner Tim Ryan repeatedly voiced doubts about whether Broward voters would deliver a thirty-year supply of blank checks to their respective cities.

For decades, Broward residents watched scores of local officials tried and jailed for monkeying with public funds – and three times as many who dodged the clink by selling out crooked cohorts after being caught and turned by Federal Authorities. Although stakeholders hoped that multi-level oversight would help diffuse the lingering impact of this sustained abuse, thousands of Broward voters remained skull-blocked about showering 30 years of unknown successors with annual truckloads of discretionary cash.

County Commissioner Tim Ryan
COUNTY COMMISSIONER TIM RYAN
Unlike advocates entranced by the prospect of a bottomless wallet, numerous officials warned that two interlinked half penny surtax proposals would fatally confuse an electorate already distrustful of local government spending. Ryan remarked, “Many, many people will look at it skeptically. Why? …because government has a long and storied history of wasting money.”

Needless to say, the sales tax crashed and burned. Although the county proposal squeaked through by 51 percent to 49 percent, voters crushed the city measure by 38.2 percent to 61.8 percent. The result wasn’t unexpected. While some cities made a credible effort to educate residents about the benefits, others took a nap. As a result, a sizable pool of voters descended on the polls with a hand-waving knowledge of the surtax. Despite a widely promoted admonition that both half-penny sales tax proposals would have to pass for either to be enacted, thousands of voters said yes to one and no to the other.

When questioned about why they tanked the surtax upon exiting the polls, some voters complained that attempts to educate the public in their city were disjointed and lacked credibility. Others generally opposed sales taxes as unfair and regressive (creating a greater burden on lower-income residents.) While agreeing with the underlying reason for the tax - and acknowledging the need for infrastructure upgrades, many voters concluded that elected officials were in no position to make promises about how the revenues would be spent over thirty years.

Selling Snake Oil

Click to A Penny at Work The only readily available resource for exploring how each governmental beneficiary would disburse its share of the tax revenues was the promotional website “A Penny at Work”. Unfortunately, the website created as much confusion as it dispelled. Revenues anticipated by recipient municipalities didn’t match with the cost of their planned projects - often by a country mile. For instance, although Davie would have taken a $330 million bite of the apple, the City listed $95 million in projects, leaving Davie residents unclear about where Commissioners would bury the remaining $235 million. Conversely, Hollywood planned to fund $1.861 billion in project costs with its $495 million share of the windfall - prompting Hollywood voters to load up on Pepto-Bismol.

Click to Sun Sentinel Editorial Closer to home, the $147 million in projects listed by Fort Lauderdale is only 25% of the $588 million earmarked for the County’s largest city. Not one City Commission had approved any of the municipal lists posted on the website. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board opined that the lists were creative writing exercises by City Managers, who merged their respective cities’ 5-year Capital plans with long-term wish lists. Although projects listed by the municipalities proved useless for extrapolating how each city would allocate its share of the annual distribution, at least each project was fitted with a cost estimate. The County’s fiscal intentions were more obscure.

Click to Broward FDOT County plans to enhance transportation infrastructure were driven by growing public frustration with gridlock and the lack of a countywide transportation system. Since more than 80% of the County share would have been spent for operations and maintenance of existing bus routes and a proposed light rail expansion, the costs were omitted for hundreds of Broward County projects listed on the website with the exception of the $1.5 billion light rail extension to Port Everglades.

Wave Streetcar
WAVE STREETCAR SERVICE - RENDERING
After outlining enhancements to its bus service, Broward County Transit busted out its centerpiece - Streetcar service at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale / Hollywood International Airport, and a 14-mile extension into West Broward along an east – west thoroughfare (probably Griffin Road), ultimately linking Sawgrass Mills, Nova University, the BBT Center, etc. While Streetcars are slow and inflexible – essentially a second rate transportation venue – Commissioners and FDOT officials were sufficiently intrigued by their rumored positive impact on development to gamble $billions on a handful of initial routes.

County proponents had also promised to quell widespread concerns about gridlock by synchronizing traffic signals, listing eleven “Adaptive Signal Control” projects and fifteen “Fiber Optic Network Improvements” as funding recipients. County traffic engineers recently reported that these projects would have no measurable impact on gridlock since timing of traffic lights had already been optimized. Proponents fishing for votes used this scam to bait the hook.

The sales tax featured one unique fiscal benefit. Since more than 30% of the revenues would be provided by visiting tourists, Broward residents would only have to cough up less than 70% of project costs. Voters had to weigh this subsidy against a clear-as-mud spending libretto, and the eerie prospect that some of those who may ultimately select funding targets were currently exploring the mysteries of Kindergarten.

Back to Square One

Click to A Penny at Work Since the County surtax would have been approved if it hadn’t been linked to the City proposal, it may be revisited on a future Broward ballot. The Cities may return to the drawing board, abandon the proposed tax or revive a plan originally crafted by the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, where funds that flow to the County are distributed to the cities – a protocol abhorred by City officials. More likely, they will take a page from 17 other Broward municipalities and address recession-borne infrastructure deficits in the bond market.

Click to Broward County Click to Palm Beach County In Palm Beach, officials asked for a sales tax capped at $2.7 billion to fix roads, upgrade schools, fund several new projects in different cities – and sunset after 10 years – or when the cap was reached. It passed. In Broward, officials asked for a Golden Goose and said “trust me”. It failed. What a shock. To check out the rest of Commissioner Roberts’ November / December 2016 Newsletter, read on – [editor]

From The Desk of
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts

Click to A Penny at Work
Commissioner Bruce G. Roberts
DISTRICT 1 COMMISSIONER
BRUCE G. ROBERTS
SEASONS GREETINGS: The Holiday Season is right around the corner so I would like to wish you all a safe and family-filled time. Our District continues to grow with new neighbors, projects and enhancements. We truly appreciate the opportunity to work with and serve you, as we find solutions that will allow the City to remain one of the most beautiful and best cities in which to live, work, play and raise a family. Be safe and let us all welcome 2017 with high spirits, a vision for the future and a pride in our home - Fort Lauderdale!

Click to A Penny at Work SURTAX RESOLUTION: This article was in our July/August AND September/October newsletter but I felt it important to repeat: The County Commission held a special meeting on June 24th and took actions to address the Transportation and Infrastructure Surtax issues. The County Commission approved a ½ cent surtax for Transportation and ½ cent surtax for Infrastructure to appear on the November 2016 ballot. If approved by voters, this would raise the sales tax in Broward County from 6% to 7%. According to the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), approximately 31% of this increase would be borne by tourists. The framework for distribution and use of the funds were also approved via an interlocal agreement. The major terms of the Agreement include the following:

  • 30 year Transportation and Infrastructure Surtax time period

  • ½ cent Transportation tax is allocated 100% to county

  • ½ cent Infrastructure tax is allocated 100% to cities (per capita) for 20 years

  • Year 21 the infrastructure tax is split between the cities and county with cities receiving 60% and county 40% (10 year split of tax revenues)

  • Establishing an independent nine member Transportation and Surtax Oversight Board:

    • Click to Sales Tax Oversight Board One former elected official

    • One former City or County Manager

    • One Certified Public Accountant

    • On member of the Florid Bar

    • One finance professional

    • One urban planning or land use professional

    • One engineering or construction management professional

    • One professional architect

    • One professional environmental scientist

Click to Sales Tax Oversight Board The above Board will be appointed by:

  • Designee of the President of Nova Southeastern University

  • Designee of the Broward Workshop

  • Designee of the Broward County Council of Chambers of Commerce

  • The joint designee of the Broward County Auditor and the Broward League of Cities” Auditor

  • Director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Environmental Studies

By the way, one third of all Florida counties have an additional surtax. It is important to note that each ballot question is dependent on the other for passage; voters must approve both or both fail. For additional information, please visit our City website or go directly to www.APennyAtWork.com where an interactive site exhibits all of the proposed projects to be funded by this revenue.

Click to Best of the Web Digital Government Achievement Awards - 2016 Winners 2016 BEST OF THE WEB WINNERS DEMONSTRATE TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION, SERVICE DELIVERY IMPROVEMENTS: The city of Fort Lauderdale website features more than 40 services through its newly redesigned site, which launched in December 2015. The responsive and clean design allows users to navigate through services and the various departments without having to click through cluttered indexes. Additionally the portal is optimized for mobile phones and tablets, and features a feedback option on every page. A sign language translation option is available on each page and translates Web text to sign language for improved ease of use. A custom-built Ethics Trac application offers better transparency in the city by tracking the details of government/lobbyist interactions. This feature eliminates the need for manual logging and expedites public noticing. The implementation of a citizen request management system lets residents request services and report issues quickly and easily. By using Scorecard, citizens can track progress on key initiatives and look at the city's larger strategic plan.

Click to Galleria Live GALLERIA LIVE PROJECT UPDATE: The project was not approved 6-2 at the Planning & Zoning Board on Wednesday, 10/19/16. At this time, we are not aware of their plans for moving forward. I will keep you updated.

Click to Fort Lauderdale Stormwater Master Plan STORMWATER INFORMATION: The City Stormwater system includes more than 171 miles of stormwater pipe, 2,324 manholes, 1,258 outfalls, 37 drainage wells, 8,288 catch basins and 4 pumphouses. From Fiscal Year 2011 to 2016, the City has expended just over $39,207,000 within the Stormwater program. This equates to approximately $6,500,000 annually. $7,082,000 has gone towards Capital Project Improvements (new infrastructure) to address flooding issues and improve stormwater operations. $32,125,000 has gone towards Operations and Maintenance of the stormwater system, to include staffing, vehicles and equipment that provides for cleaning and repairs of infrastructure, responding to stormwater issues, repair/replacement of stormwater components (catchbasins, pipes, etc.), and swale maintenance and construction. Recognizing the impacts of stormwater and tidal-related flooding issues, in April 2014 the City Commission approved development of a comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan, utilizing a three phase approach over the course of ten years (FY 2014 through FY 2024) to address flooding in the City.

  • Click to Fort Lauderdale Stormwater Master Plan Phases Phase I (FY15 – FY19) consists of 37 localized stormwater projects with known storm or tidal flooding issues at an estimated cost of $10,027,000. Of these 37 projects, 17 have been completed, 3 are in construction, 9 are in design and 8 are planned for future years. $2,082,000 has been spent to date, with $835,000 encumbered and an additional $3,007,000 available in the FY17 budget.

  • Phase II (FY 2015 - FY 2018) consists of citywide modeling and analysis to design projects on an area basis. In April, 2016, the City contracted with Hazen and Sawyer to complete citywide hydraulic modeling with risk-adjusted metrics for project valuation. This $7M+ effort, scheduled for completion in December 2017, will produce designs of stormwater projects for seven priority neighborhoods with insufficient infrastructure and recommendations for the City Commission for a stormwater bond to fund construction of Phase II project.

  • Phase III (FY 2019 – FY 2024) consists of construction of Phase II projects ($150M - $200M) and development of citywide standards for long-term stormwater solutions, incorporating proactive measures to adapt to climate change, future sea level rise impacts, and adoption of higher levels of service (acceptable water levels on the street during weather events) for design. Designs for the remainder of stormwater infrastructure within the City will be completed and is estimated at $750M+.

SAVE THE DATES:

  • Click to Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 11/07: NWPFH CRA Workshop with Commission-noon; 8th floor conference room

  • Click to Light Up Fort Lauderdale 11/03 - 07: Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show – http://www.flibs.com

  • 11/07: Light Up Lauderdale - 6 pm; Esplanade Park

  • Click to Turkey Trot Fort Lauderdale 11/09: Parks, Recreation and Beaches Advisory Board Workshop with Commission-noon; 8th floor conference room

  • 11/24: 6th Annual Turkey Trot – 7:30 am; DC Alexander Park (501 Seabreeze Boulevard) To register: http://turkeytrotftl.com

  • Click to Christmas on Las Olas 11/29: Fire Bond Committee Workshop with Commission – noon; 8th floor conference room

  • 11/29: Christmas on Las Olas – 5-10 pm; E Las Olas Blvd. between SE 6th and SE 11th Avenues

  • 12/14: City Commission Investment Policy Workshop

Fort Lauderdale Commission Assistant Robbi Uptegrove
ROBBI
UPTEGROVE
OFFICE CONTACT: Robbi Uptegrove – 954-828-5033; email: ruptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. In addition to hosting the pre-agenda meetings twice a month, I am also available to attend your HOA meetings to update your neighborhood on what is going on in the City as well as answer any questions/concerns you may have. Please contact Robbi to schedule.

Click To Commissioner Roberts' web page EMAIL LIST: If you would like to be on our email list so that you receive information pertaining to the City – especially District 1 (i.e. news releases, meeting notices, events), please let Robbi know and she will add you.

Bruce G. Roberts                

If you need to reach Commissioner Bruce Roberts, please contact his assistant Robbi Uptegrove at 954-828-5033 or by e-mail at RUptegrove@fortlauderdale.gov. To access the City Commission Meeting Agendas and Minutes, Click Here. To actually watch the meetings recorded and archived on the Commission Meetings Video Webcast and Archives web site, Click Here.

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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Animal Center; Port; Airport; TechGateway, Vets & Manatees

Commentary

Click to New Broward TNC Law Web Info
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Segment II Staging Area
DISTRICT 4 BROWARD COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
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 Iniative - 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.

Animal House

Click to New Broward Animal Care and Adoption Division In the past few years, pet advocates worked with the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division to increase the live release rate while closing in on a long-sought objective – becoming a “No-Kill” County. The County recently completed construction of a state-of-the-art facility tailored to this purpose – a $16.5 million Animal Care and Adoption Center. The facility will help the Division realize its mission parameters – reuniting owners with lost pets, rescuing neglected and/or abused animals, facilitating the placement of stray, surrendered or impounded animals into nurturing homes (adoptions), configuring innovative and humane programs to control pet overpopulation (sterilization programs) and promoting responsible pet ownership (providing Rabies Clinics and pet identification resources).

Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center
BROWARD COUNTY ANIMAL CARE AND ADOPTION CENTER
Click to LIVS Associates The 40,000 square foot, fully air conditioned animal haven is LEED certified and deploys cutting edge technology to improve and maintain the health and well-being of lost or abused animals. Architect LIVS Associates and contractor Stiles Construction crafted an environment that incorporates natural light with a modern floor plan to create bright and spacious areas dedicated to customer service and animal care.

Click to Stiles Construction Following an inspection of the facility prior to the October 27 ribbon-cutting ceremony – LaMarca enumerated some of the Division's successes during the past year, remarking “This new building will allow us to build on this success.” Also attending the event, Broward Commissioner Beam Furr added “This building is beautifully designed and will encourage people to adopt an animal. My own pets would be happy here.”

Port Everglades – Ups & Downs

Harmony, Allure and Oasis of the Seas
HARMONY OF THE SEAS, ALLURE OF THE SEAS AND OASIS OF THE SEAS
Newly arrived at Port Everglades, Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, and Holland America’s MS Koningsdam, are their lines’ biggest and most expensive floating billboards. Harmony of the Seas joined Royal Caribbean’s two other Oasis Class vessels at Port Everglades, Allure of the Seas and its sister ship - Oasis of the Seas, temporarily clustering the world’s three largest Cruise ships in our back yard. Port Everglades is the closest port to the Caribbean (a license to print money for the cruise industry) with facilities capable of accommodating these maritime goliaths – but not for long.

Holland America’s MS Koningsdam
HOLLAND AMERICA’S MS KONINGSDAM
This mini-armada’s sizable PR dividend to Port Everglades will soon fade, as Oasis of the Seas is being transferred to Port Canaveral. In two years, Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will probably abandon their shared Terminal 18 in Port Everglades and relocate to PortMiami. In July 6, 2016, Miami-Dade County approved construction of a massive $247 million Cruise Terminal funded by Royal Caribbean Cruises to manage the company’s huge Oasis Class vessels in PortMiami. Called the “Crown of Miami”, the new facility is scheduled for completion in 2018. The Miami deal has an estimated economic impact of $500 million and will generate approximately 4,000 jobs. Of these, many of the more substantial permanent jobs will be lost to Port Everglades.

Crown of Miami at PortMiami
CROWN OF MIAMI AT PORTMIAMI
Port Everglades seems to be taking some fiscal body blows - having served as the home port for Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class vessels since Oasis of the Seas arrived in 2009, followed by Allure of the Seas in 2010. Last year, Royal Caribbean sent its Quantum Class ships, the world's second largest cruise vessels, to home ports in New Jersey, Australia and China. Although the company hasn't yet disclosed how much of their business will be stripped from Port Everglades when the new PortMiami Terminal comes on line, port officials have indicated that Royal Caribbean currently accounts for 15% of PortMiami passenger traffic, which will jump to 30% in 2018, increasing the port’s annual head count from 5 to 6 million passengers. Royal Caribbean will also reclassify its home port as PortMiami.

Assembling Harmony of the Seas at STX France
ASSEMBLING HARMONY AT STX FRANCE
Click to STX France An as yet unnamed sister ship to Harmony of the Seas is currently being assembled at the bankrupt STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, birthplace of all four Oasis Class ships, and is scheduled for completion in 2018. As per cruise pundits, while both Oasis class vessels may make the transition to Miami, the company is unlikely to abandon the hugely profitable Broward market, and may replace the departing ships with the vessel currently under construction in France – or not.

Carnival Splendor
CARNIVAL SPLENDOR
As turnabout is fair play, a new agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines and Broward County will relocate the Doral-based company’s cruise operations from PortMiami to Port Everglades. In 2017, Carnival will begin the transition by moving the Carnival Splendor to Port Everglades from PortMiami, where it will join the Carnival Conquest and 3 new vessels that Carnival is planning to launch. Broward’s new deal with the world’s largest cruise company will make Port Everglades Carnival’s home port through 2030, with a 5-year option.

Crystal Serenity
CRYSTAL SERENITY
The accelerating implementation of Port Everglades’ Master Plan improvements continues to attract new business. As LaMarca observes, Crystal Cruises – having earned more “World’s Best” accolades than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort in history – will also be returning to Port Everglades after an eleven-year hiatus, beginning with the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in 2017.

FLL Expands International Service

Click to Emirates Airlines at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport In updating constituents about the addition of Fort Lauderdale to an exclusive list of North American cities serviced by Emirates Airlines (especially those unfamiliar with the airline’s meteoric evolution), LaMarca understates the size, scope and international prominence of Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport’s (FLL) newest air provider.

Click to STX France Emirates Airlines is ranked 4th worldwide for the annual number of international passengers, 6th by revenues, 7th for the number of countries served and 4th for the number of passenger miles flown. It’s the 5th largest airline in Asia - and only Federal Express delivers more freight than Emirates SkyCargo service.

Click to STX France Long deemed the “Academy Awards of the Aviation Industry”, the Skytrax World Airline Awards are highly coveted accolades measuring quality of service – the world airline industry’s global benchmark of airline excellence. This year’s World Airline Awards event was held at the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire, England, where Skytrax announced the world’s Top 100 Airlines in 2016. By a vote of airline customers around the world, Emirates Airlines took first place.

Manatees and Last Call

Manatee Season
MANATEE SEASON
The Florida manatee is a native species found in many of Florida’s waterways. Reduced to a handful of survivors and bordering on extinction, manatees were finally listed as a federal endangered species in 1966. Although the Florida manatee population has grown to over 6,000 animals (as of 2012), their seasonal migration from warmer springs and energy center discharge canals to local waterways takes a toll on the still small keystone species.

While disease, cold snaps and other environmental factors claim hundreds each year, many of the boater collisions that killed 86 manatees in 2015 were preventable. Since remaining attentive is rarely an option if inebriated, by adopting a “designated driver” policy while on board, Florida boaters can significantly reduce that statistic – while dodging a trip to the tank – or the morgue. For the rest of LaMarca’s November 2016 message to constituents, read on... – [editor]

 

November 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as your county commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Animal Care and Adoption Center Grand Opening

Chip LaMarca, Commissioner Lois Wexler, Animal Care Director Thomas Adair, Broward Mayor Marty Kiar, Commissioner Beam Furr
COMMS CHIP LAMARCA, LOIS WEXLER, ANIMAL CARE DIR
THOMAS ADAIR, MAYOR MARTY KIAR, COMM BEAM FURR
The new Broward County Animal Care Adoption Center opens to the public on Tuesday, November 15th at 11AM. The new facilities provides shelter and care for up to 500 stray, surrendered and/or impounded dogs and cats. Last year more than 6,000 animals were adopted and the unprecedented growth in the sales of licenses has resulted in additional revenue of nearly $1 million that will be used for future sterilization programs. The many new features in the new facility will allow for the Animal Care staff to build upon that success and continue the efforts of reducing pet overpopulation through innovative programs and services.

New Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center
NEW BROWARD COUNTY ANIMAL CARE AND ADOPTION CENTER
The new shelter is located on six acres at 2400 SW 42nd Street in Fort Lauderdale. It features the latest in modern sheltering with an expanded clinic to service and care for shelter pets, centralized cleaning and disinfection system, specialized isolation rooms for advanced disease management and a stand-by generator in the event of unforeseen power outages. Customers and pets will now be able to enjoy a special outdoor interaction area and meet and greet rooms for adoption considerations. Best of all, the entire building, including all kennel areas, is air conditioned. Providing the best space for our four legged friends to feel safe from rain and heat while also having the opportunity to use the outdoor interaction area for playtime. More...

Port Everglades Update

Harmony, Allure and Oasis of the Seas
HARMONY OF THE SEAS, ALLURE OF THE SEAS AND OASIS OF THE SEAS
Broward County’s Port Everglades continues to expand services to residents and travelers from around the world by welcoming two newly built cruise ships this month. Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest Oasis Class ship, Harmony of the Seas will be welcomed this month to Port Everglades, offering seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings for up to 5,497-passenger guests. This is the largest cruise ship in the world and she will share Terminal 18 with the Allure of the Seas. Holland America Line's new 2,650-passenger MS Koningsdam cruise ship is one of the new additions to Port Everglades cruise lineup. Click to Port Everglades The cruise ship will sail to the Caribbean on itineraries ranging from four to 11 days from Fort Lauderdale starting in November 2016 and running through March 2017. Another new cruise ship will be added to the summer 2017 roster with Carnival Cruise’s Carnival Splendor, and luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises will begin sailing from Port Everglades in October 2017. More...

Fort Lauderdale International Airport Update

Click to Emirates Airlines at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Click to Emirates Airlines at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) recently announced the launch of Emirates Airlines, with a new daily service between FLL and Dubai International Airport, starting December 15, 2016. Fort Lauderdale will now be the 11th city in the United States to have service provided from Emirates for South Floridians as well as travelers from around the world. Emirates Airlines will operate a GE-powered US-built Boeing 777-200LR aircraft in a three-class configuration on the route, offering eight First Class suites, 42 Business Class lie-flat beds and 216 Economy Class seats for travelers. Most recently, British Airways added a nonstop flight from Fort Lauderdale to London, launching July 6, 2017. The route will be operated by a 777-200 aircraft three days a week (four per week during peak summer). The aircraft features 275 seats across three cabins: 48 in Club World (business), 24 in World Traveler Plus (premium economy); and 203 in World Traveler (economy).

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Website FLL continues to improve to meet the demands of travelers through a series of expansions and renovations. Since opening the new South Runway in September 2014, FLL is focused on expanding its international gates at Terminal 4 from 10 to 14 and adding gates in Concourse A in Terminal 1 for both international and domestic flights. Terminal modernization continues in Terminals 1, 2 and 3. The addition of the South Runway alone has grown passenger traffic an average of 9% since the runway opened, commercial operations have increased an average of 7% per month and August 2016 vs August 2014 had 80 more daily aircraft operations. More...

Broward County Public Schools and Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Partner

Click to Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Click to Broward County Public Schools In order to promote the technology industry, education and careers in South Florida the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance (GFLA) has partnered with the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS). This partnership assists in creating a bright future for the technology industry in our community and local students in the tri-county area. The TechGateway initiative showcases technology companies in South Florida and, through the partnership with BCPS, students are becoming aware of the needs in the technology industry.

Click to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Website In addition, BCPS middle and high school students are encouraged to take part in a TechGateway App Challenge. The TechGateway App Challenge allows students to use their computer science skills by designing, storyboarding and creating an app that incorporates the TechGateway map to increase awareness about technology companies doing business in South Florida. The student creations will be showcased on December 6, 2016, at the Kathleen C. Wright Administration Center, as part of National Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11, 2016.

Broward County Parks Offer Specials for Veterans

Click to Broward Parks November 11th is Veterans Day, a day we honor and give thanks to our Veterans, both past and present, as well as to their families for the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. Broward County Parks are showing their appreciation this month to our Veterans and their families by offering camping specials for Veterans in several Broward County Parks. The specials apply for all active-duty and honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve Units. Different types of specials are available in C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park and Target Range, Quiet Waters Park, and T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park.

For more information on the specific specials in each park please call the park of your choice.

Manatee Season

Manatee Season
MANATEE SEASON
Manatee season is upon us, beginning November 15th, 2016 and lasting to March 31st, 2017. As the temperature cools, manatees begin to move south towards warm waters. Boaters are encouraged to be on the lookout for greater numbers of manatees moving into Broward County’s waterways. Click to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Manatee Web Page Manatees can be difficult to see as they often swim and rest just below the water's surface. To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should obey all posted speed limits, wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee "footprints") that indicate the presence of manatees. If you see a sick, injured, or dead manatee, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Wildlife Alert Number at (888) 404-FWCC (3922), *FWC or # FWC on a cell phone or with a text to tip@myfwc.com.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can subscribe to E-news and social media sites. Please sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.

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Holiday Fraud 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. More specifically, “marks” that visit or reside in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.

Click to Consumer Sentinel Network data book The FTC recently created a data book that serves as a repository for consumer complaints received by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network, state and federal law enforcement agencies, national and state consumer protection agencies and consumer watchdog organizations (NGOs). The Consumer Sentinel Network data book includes national statistics, a state-by-state listing of top complaint categories and a listing of states and metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints per capita.

Click to Consumer Sentinel Network data book Scam Contact The top ten complaint categories are: Debt Collection (29%), Identity Theft (16%), Imposter Scams (11%), Telephone and Mobile Services (9%), Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries (5%), Banks and Lenders (4%), Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales (3%), Auto-Related Complaints (3%), Television and Electronic Media (2%), Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users (1%). Complaint details, which include the specific losses sustained in each of the 3,038,379 complaints submitted in 2015, are only available to law enforcement. Of the $billions lost by victims, the most popular payment vehicles in 2015 were wire transfers (61%) and credit cards (14%). Victims were primarily sourced by telephone (75%), email (8%), scam websites (6%) or snail mail (4%).

Click to Consumer Sentinel Network data book In 2016, Data Breach Stats compiled annually by the Identity Theft Resource Center lists the thousands of corporations, small businesses, banks, Government agencies and medical institutions from which hackers plundered 35,233,317 confidential records rife with financial, health care, insurance and other personal data during the course of 980 separate breaches. This burgeoning multi-$billion industry has given rise to a clandestine war between geeks attacking or defending corporate and government databases, where the spoils are bartered using anonymous TOR Browsers to crawl through unsavory marketplaces in the bowels of the Dark Web.

Fort Lauderdale: Fraud Central

Florida Fraud Click to Consumer Sentinel Network data book state Fraud Rates Unfortunately, by clocking 1,510.2 fraud cases for every 100,000 residents, the Sunshine State ranks Number 1 in the United States for fraud complaints - and 3rd in the nation for identity theft cases (217 for every 100,000 Floridians). The FTC data book affirms that 50% of the Florida fraud cases resulting from stolen personal data were sourced from a breach of Government Documents (tax records, benefit statements, etc.). In another 18% of the Florida cases, pilfered data was used to commit Credit Card fraud (i.e. bank records, etc.). Also popular with Florida identity thieves is telephone or utilities fraud (8%), bank fraud (8%), loan fraud (3%), and employment-related fraud (2%).

Click to Consumer Sentinel Network data book Metropolitan Statistical Area Rates Florida Fraud Whether a native Floridian or having moved here to cap pursuit of a lifelong dream, Galt Mile residents live at ground zero of fraud central. The FTC data book ranks the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area 3rd in the nation for identity theft, with 300.7 complaints for every 100,000 residents.

Hacker Andrew Hodirevski
HACKER ANDREW HODIREVSKI
William Henry McCarty AKA Billy the Kid
MCCARTY - BILLY THE KID
The mastermind behind the infamous Target hack is Andrew Hodirevski, a then 17 year old Russian kid from Odessa (hacker names are “Rescator” and “Helkern”) who co-founded the now-defunct hacker forum “Darklife”. While fraud media coverage will typically focus on youthful hackers who break into $billion secure networks with a laptop and a Frappuccino – possibly for the same reason the New York Sun followed the exploits of William Henry McCarty (AKA William Bonney or Billy the Kid) in the 1880s – Florida crooks predominantly juggle low-tech tactics that exploit the vulnerabilities of target populations. New scams that surge through neighborhoods are usually variations of an earlier version, and are often transitory by necessity. Once the local target population gets wind of a scam, the crooks move to a more fertile hunting ground.

FLPD & Galt Mile Advisory Board

Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board
GALT MILE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION ADVISORY BOARD
FLPD Officers Tom Gestal and George Brandner serve as law enforcement liaisons to the Galt Mile Community Association. Each month, they provide the neighborhood Advisory Board with a snapshot of local crime trends and recommendations for protecting Galt Mile residents against new threats. At the December 15 Advisory Board meeting, FLPD’s Tom Gestal warned about a Credit and Debit Card scam that was fleecing Fort Lauderdale seniors. From Gestal’s description, the thefts were meticulously planned, and the players seemed more like trained thespians than some itinerant collection of bangers.

Hunting for Personal Documents in Dumpster
DUMPSTER DIVING FOR VICTIMS' DOCUMENTS
Scammers broke into victims' mail boxes
SCAMMERS BREAK INTO VICTIMS' MAIL BOXES
Speaking to the unusually ardent preparation that preceded each incident, Gestal explained, “The crooks would research their intended victims by dumpster diving or breaking into locked mailboxes.” By collecting credit card and bank statements, bills and invoices, the crooks killed two birds with one stone. In addition to learning about the sufficiency and location of assets, it also provided the basis for a script they would later enact to win the victim's trust. After examining the information, the crooks would customize each scam to the mark’s personal banking activities.

The One-Act Senior Scam

Click to FLPD Posing as a bank investigator for cardmember services, a crook would call to warn victims that their debit cards may have been compromised. Reading from the pilfered bank statements, the caller would confirm the account data and accurately review recent charges, “which enhanced their credibility with the nervous victim,” said Gestal. Using a businesslike tone with a sense of urgency, they would inform the victim that their card account must be quickly frozen to prevent unauthorized use, and their debit card replaced. Of course, they would need the PIN number to close the compromised account.

Phone Scam Apologizing for the inconvenience caused by “the breach”, the scammer told victims that a bank representative was being dispatched to his or her home to switch out the old card for a new one with a clean security chip. While distracted on the phone, a well-dressed second player soon arrived at the victim's home and requested the supposedly adulterated card - along with any credit cards issued by the bank, promising to shortly return with replacement cards.

Debit Card Scam Explaining that the scammers have been using several variations of this basic script, Gestal moved to a second scenario in which the scammer informed the victim that police had arrested a man in West Palm Beach for making unauthorized charges to the victim's account. After describing how the perpetrator was being processed at the police station, the bogus investigator explained that the PIN number was required “to reverse the charges”. While still on the phone, the second player arrived at the house wearing either a business suit or a hospital uniform. Having been told that the debit card must be destroyed and replaced, each victim gratefully turned over his or her cards, and futilely waited for scammer number 2 to return. Gestal commented that each of the victims admitted to believing the scammers were bank employees, and didn’t become suspicious until they realized that their visitor was not going to return, usually several hours after surrendering their bank cards.

Phone ScamIn both cases, the crook who first made contact kept the victims on the phone before, during and after the second scammer’s visit, offering continuous assurances that their funds were safe, and later, that the second bogus bank employee would soon return with replacement cards. By tying up the phone and engaging the victim throughout the entire charade, the crooks precluded victims from calling the bank – or the police – at least before the scammers could hit the ATM or begin racking up fraudulent purchases.

Scammers Roll across Broward

Scam Suspect caught on Walmart Security Video
SCAM SUSPECT CAUGHT ON WALMART SECURITY VIDEO
The second scenario described by Gestal actually took place in April, when two women used the same script to swindle as much as $20,000 apiece from seniors in a Sunrise community. Identifying herself as an employee of either Chase or Bank of America, a female scammer who called 30 different elderly residents in Sunrise Lakes (off Pine Island Road) baited the hook by asking if they had authorized a man to use their debit cards for purchases in Boynton Beach. After enumerating the dates and locations of recent purchases listed on pilfered bank statements, she elicited PIN numbers to supposedly clear their accounts of charges made by the non-existent Boynton Beach straw man. Admonishing that the compromised cards must be destroyed and replaced immediately, she informed each victim “I’m sending a lady to pick up the card.” While still on the phone, a second female crook arrived at the victims’ homes and collected their bank cards while promising to return with a card protected by a security chip. After each sting, the scammers pulled cash from ATMs before embarking on shopping sprees at Rooms To Go, Target, Walmart and other local stores.

Surveillance pictures of Scam Suspects
SURVEILLANCE PICTURES OF SCAM SUSPECTs
In another twist on the scammers’ script, a Davie man was informed that the police had detained a man for making unauthorized purchases with his debit card, but the “suspect” had claimed that he was the cardholder’s son. Since he had no son, the “mark” thanked the phony fraud investigator for her part in quashing the theft. When he subsequently reported the crime, the victim told police that when a polished professional man in a business suit came to his house to replace the card, he remembered thinking, “This bank is really going out of their way to help me.” The bank replaced $5000 later siphoned from his account.

Click to BSO While investigating a series of subsequent ATM withdrawals and retail purchases made with the scammed cards (including a big-screen television), detectives from the Economic Crimes Unit in the Broward Sheriff’s Office retrieved a security camera video of two women consummating a transaction at a Walmart on May 22, one of them seemingly adorned in medical scrubs. Broward police said the perpetrators were working with associates, and moving through neighborhoods in Broward County.

Scammer Irene Eljeanetta Garrett
SCAMMER IRENE ELJEANETTA GARRETT
On August 10, 2016, police arrested 35-year-old Irene Eljeanetta Garrett of Pompano Beach. Linked to 5 of the Sunrise ripoffs that netted more than $10,000, Broward Police said she belonged to a “ring of fraudsters.” When word of the scam spread though Sunrise, the crooks shifted their one-act play from Sunrise to target seniors in Tamarac and Lauderdale Lakes. After picking her up, when police showed Garrett pictures of her and accomplices taken by surveillance cameras at ATMs, a Walmart and a Winn-Dixie, Garrett admitted to participating in the scam, and confirmed the involvement of others. Those with information were advised to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS, where they could anonymously disclose promising leads, and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

Click to BSO According to media reports, when later interviewed by the police, several victims paid a back-handed compliment to the swindlers for their acting ability. Agreeing that the crooks were “extremely well-rehearsed and convincing,” Gestal said that most of the victims told police that they believed the alert to be authentic primarily due to the scammers' familiarity with their banking transactions. Gestal surmised “Without the bank statements taken from mailboxes or extracted from the victim’s garbage, it probably wouldn’t have worked.”

Opening the Act in Fort Lauderdale

Debit Card Scam Since the thefts in Sunrise, Tamarac and Lauderdale Lakes, the scammers have cut a swath across Broward and Palm Beach Counties, bilking seniors in Davie, Pembroke Pines, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. Following Garrett’s arrest, Detectives working scores of open cases learned that this mobile cadre of bunco artists is headed by a female suspect who directs the stings. Despite losing a player, this traveling band of thieves is currently plying their trade in Fort Lauderdale. Gestal was particularly disturbed by how the crooks targeted seniors before engineering invitations into the victims’ homes, remarking “They could have lost a lot more than their money.”

Debit Card Scam Observing how the crooks abandoned each neighborhood shortly after local residents were made aware of the threat, Gestal asked for help with disseminating information about the scam before the crooks make their next round of calls, and suggested that the Advisory Board pass on some relevant insights. Cutting to the chase, Gestal said “Bank representatives will never ask for a PIN number or send an employee to a customer’s home to replace a bank card, banks mail out replacement cards. If you receive a call or an email from a bank claiming that your account has been breached, and requesting your personal information, it’s a scam,” adding “If anyone is concerned upon receiving such a call, hang up and call the telephone number on the back of your card to determine the state of your account – and then call the police.” Congratulations, you’ve been inoculated. In the spirit of the season, perhaps you can do the same for your neighbors.

Turnabout is fair play. If you do receive a call from the scammers, keep in mind that the Broward Crime Stoppers are still offering $3000 for help with bagging these creeps. As recommended by Gestal and BSO, hang up and either dial 911 or call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Be safe and Happy Hunting.


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Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Port Progress; Broward Jobs; Broward B-Cycle & AvMed Rides

Commentary

Click to New Broward TNC Law Web Info
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca at Segment II Staging Area
DISTRICT 4 BROWARD COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
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.

Port Everglades: A Twenty-Year Marathon

Post Panam=x Vessels Navigate Panama Canal
POST PANAM=X VESSELS NAVIGATE PANAMA CANAL
The new federal law described by LaMarca caps a two-decade marathon effort to cement the port’s future as a regional economic powerhouse. In 1997, Port Everglades officials began pleading with the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to approve funding for 3 Master Plan projects. The enhancements would enable the port to accommodate the anticipated explosion of Post-Panamax vessels from Asia and the Pacific via the newly expanded Panama Canal. Since faster and cheaper shipping of goods between the East Coast and Asia would allow American farmers and manufacturers to better compete with South American and European counterparts, the resulting economic cascade would guarantee Post-Panamax adapted Gulf and East Coast seaports revenue windfalls and thousands of new jobs.

Compare Panamax and Post-Panamax Since Post-Panamax ships are 25% longer, 50% wider and have a deeper draft than the largest vessels navigating the Panama Canal prior to its expansion (a configuration called “Panamax”), Port Everglades’ channel would have to be deepened from 42 feet to 50 feet, and the 900-foot Southport Turning Notch would have to be lengthened to 2,400 feet while its perimeter is reconfigured to berth and service five additional monster vessels. The third project, construction of an on-site Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) to enable the seamless transfer of international cargo containers between ship and rail, was completed on July 16, 2014 - funded by a public-private partnership forged by the port and the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). By significantly expediting the delivery of goods to market, the ICTF has equipped the port with an unmatched competitive edge.

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility
INTERMODAL CONTAINER TRANSFER FACILITY
When the Panama Canal Authority estimated that five or six operational ports on the U.S. East Coast could handle the resulting tornado of cheaper goods, it triggered a frenzy of construction planning by East Coast seaports competing for a piece of the Post-Panamax Golden Goose. However, without approval by the Army Corps of Engineers, planned improvements would remain frozen on drawing boards, and Port Everglades would be out of the running.

Click to Port Everglades Draft Environmental Impact plan On June 28, 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers finally released its Draft Environmental Impact plan for “Navigational Improvements to the Port Everglades Harbor,” a regulatory roadmap for implementing the Master Plan improvements. A year later, in August 2014, the Corps of Engineers announced that it would recommend dredging the channel.

Broward Political and Business Leaders Support Port Everglades
BROWARD LEADERS SUPPORT PORT EVERGLADES
After 18 years of gridlock, Congress finally passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2014 (WRDA 14), providing the Corps with long-awaited funding protocols. In mid-February, 2015, LaMarca joined Congresswoman Lois Frankel at a meeting in Washington D.C. with staff from the South Florida Congressional Delegation, State, County and City elected officials and Broward business leaders, to prepare for a make-or-break hearing by the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board.

Civil Works Review Board approves Port Projects
CIVIL WORKS REVIEW BOARD OKS PORT PROJECT
The panel assesses whether locally approved projects provide national economic and environmental benefits - an eligibility prerequisite for Federal cost-sharing. On February 27, 2015, the Civil Works Review Board unanimously approved the final environmental and economic feasibility studies for dredging the Port Everglades channel to 48 feet (50 feet with allowable overdepth) and expanding the Southport turning notch.

Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick of the Army Corps of Engineers signed the Chief of Engineers Report
LT. GENERAL THOMAS P. BOSTICK SIGNS CHIEFS REPORT
On June 26, 2015, Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick of the Army Corps of Engineers signed the Chief of Engineers Report for the Port Everglades improvements, certifying the project as environmentally sound and economically beneficial to the United States. The Chief’s Report was required to include the project in the 2016 federal legislation authorizing water and navigation-related projects (WRDA 16).

Broward Officials Celebrate Chiefs Report Approval
BROWARD LEADERS CELEBRATE CHIEFS REPORT SIGNING
Since the Chief’s Report serves as a recommendation for Congressional approval, it also benchmarks a transitional segue from the pre-construction, engineering and design (PED) phase to the authorization phase. The anticipated $374 million funding feedbag would be comprised of $190 million in federal dredging money and $183.1 million in Port revenues, supplemented by State contributions. NO TAX DOLLARS are in the mix!!! Modifications to the draft mitigation plan and contract procurement were expected to take approximately 2 years, followed by five years of construction beginning in 2017.

President Barack Obama Signs WIIN Act
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SIGNS WIIN ACT
After hammering out a 2016 version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 16) in September, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act on December 10, 2016. Signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 16, 2016, the Act provides for the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure critical to the Nation’s economic growth, health, and competitive muscle.

Click to Water Resources Development Act of 2016 While the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA 16) is incorporated into Title I of the WIIN Act, Title II includes improvements to drinking water infrastructure around the country and addresses control of coal combustion residuals, Title III improves water storage and delivery to drought-stricken communities, addresses federal dam maintenance backlogs, and approves water settlement agreements that benefit taxpayers and several Native American jurisdictions.

Click to Army Corps of Engineers - Port Everglades To keep pace with increasingly massive post-Panamax vessels, WRDA 2016 no longer treats deeper harbors as a local option, but as a key competitive priority for seaports, and updates the cost-sharing formula for harbor deepening projects. Going forward, the federal government will be responsible for 75 percent of the dredging costs for projects that excavate the harbor up to the 50-foot depth required for post-Panamax ships, instead of the prior 45-foot threshold sufficient for smaller Panamax vessels. More importantly, the Act loosens the Congressional death grip on waterways funding.

WRDA 2016 authorizes nearly $16 billion in federal appropriations for USACE-approved activities. Specifically, the law authorizes 30 USACE “Chief Reports” submitted to Congress since the enactment of the WRDA 2014 bill. Having chipped in its Chiefs Report in June of 2015, Port Everglades is one of eight new navigation projects recommended for funding. And it only took 20 years.

Broward B-Cycle: Rescued & Rebranded

Romney Rogers, Chip LaMarca and Barbara Sharief in Esplanade Park
ROMNEY ROGERS, CHIP LAMARCA AND BARBARA SHARIEF AT EVENT
Using State funds meted out by Broward County, B-cycle opened its Broward bike-sharing operation on December 14, 2011. Five years later, after fleshing out 27 bike docking stations with roughly 275 basketed bicycles, the bike-sharing enterprise faced an increasingly empty cookie jar. On its fifth birthday, LaMarca joined City Commissioner Romney Rogers and Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief in Esplanade Park on December 15th to celebrate Broward B-Cycle’s new partnership with AvMed, a $789 million not-for-profit health insurer based in Miami.

Click to AvMed Rides Overnight, the blue and white Broward B-Cycles were replaced with bikes cloaked in AvMed’s sunshine yellow corporate colors. Broward B-Cycle logos imprinted on each bike were overwritten with the operation’s new name - AvMed Rides. The website was also rebranded as “AvMed Rides”. In fact, the only discernable remnant of Broward B-Cycle is a small graphic adjacent to the new logo that states “powered by Broward B-Cycle”.

Broward B-Cycle Manager Jeff Torkelson
AVMED RIDES MANAGER JEFF TORKELSON
Despite the new trappings, daily operations are still run by Broward B-Cycle. During the event, B-cycle manager Jeff Torkelson described a planned expansion, citing his intention to add more stations in heavily populated East Broward before migrating west. While the bikes may have evolved into rolling billboards - at least the popular program will survive with AvMed’s backing, and according to Torkelson, grow into “the first county-wide system in the nation.”

AvMed Rides Yellow Bikes
AVMED RIDES YELLOW BIKES
While locking up some new advertising, AvMed anticipates that its investment will also yield the kind of dividend that inspired health insurers to jump on the Healthways Silver Sneakers bandwagon. Actively promoting a healthy lifestyle saves carriers a bundle on hospitalizations and doctor visits. AvMed announced that it will incorporate Broward B-Cycle into its “WELLfluence Program”, which incentivizes clients to participate in wellness venues supervised by health care professionals and closely monitored by parent company SantaFe Healthcare, Inc. AvMed’s bean counters won’t measure the success of this collaborative rescue by totaling rides or receipts, but with an insurance algorithm applied to future claims. For the rest of LaMarca’s December 2016 message to constituents, read on... – [editor]

 

December 2016 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Dear Broward County Residents,

I am honored to serve as your county commissioner, representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing communities in between. Here are some recent highlights from Broward County.

Port Everglades Update

Click to Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act We are now one step closer to the official authorization of the Port Everglades Widening and Deepening project. The Senate passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation “WIIN” (previously the Water Resource Development Act of 2016 “WRDA 16”) this month by a vote of 78 - 21. The same bill was previously passed by the House of Representatives 360 - 61. The WIIN Bill authorizes critical investments in water infrastructure projects, specifically it authorizes the Deeping and Widening at Broward County’s Port Everglades.

Post Panamax Monster
POST PANAMAX MONSTER
Broward County’s Port Everglades is the third busiest Port in the country, setting a record for cruise ship passengers in a single day with 54,700 passengers, 3.77 million passengers in 2015 and over $27 billion in trade operations in 2014. The expansion and deepening project will ensure the capability of the port to accommodate larger cruise ships and the new Panamax ships. This project will create thousands of construction and permanent jobs; and support the local South Florida economy. The passage of this bill will then move our project from the Authorization Phase into the critical next phase, Appropriations. This great accomplishment was only made possible because of the great collaboration and advocacy of many South Florida leaders.


South Florida Port Supporters work to pass Congressional Port Funding
Broward County Congressional Delegates, local elected officials and community leaders celebrate the signing of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act by President Obama.


Port Everglades Mangrove Wetlands
PORT EVERGLADES MANGROVE WETLANDS
In other Port related news, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently gave the Port Everglades Wetland Enhancement Project a “Notification of Trending Towards Success.” This green initiative is addressing a berthing capacity shortfall by developing new wetlands that support wildlife and ecological quality in the center of an urban, industrial seaport. The Port successfully cultivated 16.5 acres of nursery-grown mangrove and native plants on property that was originally dry land intended for other uses. This notification is a key component to the Port's berth expansion effort because it releases 8.7 acres of an existing mangrove conservation easement adjacent to docks. The acres that have been released will be expanded to make way for up to five new cargo ship berths. The project also recently won IHS Maritime and Trade magazine's Dredging and Port Construction Innovation Award in the "Working/Engineering/Building with Nature Award" category.

Click to Port Everglades Additionally, Port Everglades has exceeded one-million TEU’s (20-foot equivalent units, the industry's standard container measurement), for the third consecutive year. A total of almost 1.04 million TEUs have been reported this year. Furthermore, bulk and break bulk cargo increased 13 percent from 1.56 million tons in FY2015 to 1.76 million tons in FY2016. Petroleum volumes also increased by 3.6 percent from more than 116.8 million barrels in FY2015 to 121.1 million barrels in FY2016.

More information about Broward County's Port Everglades is available at porteverglades.net.

Broward County’s Job Growth

Click to Greater Fort Lauderdale-Alliance Job Growth Data Broward County is becoming a leader in the state for job creation. The Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield metro area had the highest annual job growth compared to all the metro areas in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities with an addition of 6,700 jobs and financial activities with 3,600 jobs in October 2016. The annual job growth rates for financial activities increased by 6.3 percent; manufacturing increased by 5 percent; leisure and hospitality increased by 4.4 percent; education and health services increased by 3.9 percent; and trade, transportation, and utilities increased by 3.7 percent.

Click to Greater Fort Lauderdale-Alliance Job Growth Data In Broward County, year over year we see job growth and sustained improvement in the local economy. The continuation of assisting companies create, expand and retain high-wage jobs in high value targeted industries also helps to develop more vibrant communities and improves the quality of life for our area’s citizens.

Broward B-Cycle Bike Sharing Program

Click to Emirates Airlines at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport With South Florida’s beautiful Fall/Winter weather it is the perfect time to take advantage of Broward B-Cycle Bike Sharing Program. It's a fun, affordable and convenient way to get around town. It's also the latest way to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and carbon emissions. There are 27 public bike stations throughout Broward County, mainly in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Pompano Beach.

Click to Broward BCycle Website On its fifth year running, there are currently nearly 1,300 annual members enrolled using this active transportation system. Since the program launched on December 14th, 2011, more than 128,000 riders from the Southeast Florida region, cities across the U.S. and other countries have taken; 182,435 bike rides, 651,630 miles have been ridden on Broward B-cycles, 32,098 gallons of gas saved, and 631,865 lbs. of carbon emissions reduced.

For more information please visit Broward B-Cycle.

Contact Us

Click to Stay Connected The Resident's Guide to Government provides a convenient resource to help people stay connected to their local government. It includes contact information for County officials and Federal, State, and local agencies. Visitors can subscribe to E-news and social media sites. Please sign up at Broward.org/District4 to receive email updates from our office. If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward County Commission Meetings

Click to Video Central Web Page The Broward County Commission meets generally on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. (Commission Meeting Schedule and Agenda are listed here: broward.org/Commission/Pages/Meetings.aspx) Residents can view live coverage of the Commission meetings on Comcast Cable channels 12 and 77; Advanced Communications channels 64 and 25; AT&T U-verse channel 99, and through the County's website at broward.org/video/ The County Commission meetings are rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. each Friday following a Tuesday Commission meeting.



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