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The historical content of the Galt Mile Community Association’s Web Site is catalogued and chronicled in these archives. This content is comprised of articles and anecdotes that are no longer current, but may be useful from a historical perspective.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Please Note - Many of the links included in these articles from the past are no longer active.


Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

January 2007 Newsletter

January 10, 2007 - During the past five weeks - since his installation as our County Commissioner - Ken Keechl has conducted an intense investigation into County fiscal mechanics. Fulfilling a campaign pledge to track where our dollars disappear to once in county hands, Keechl is looking under the rugs and behind every door to nail the disconnect between what we pay and what we get! To say that he hit the ground running grossly understates the opening chapter of his official tenure. In his first report last November, he confirmed a promise to keep us up to speed with his progress. In this January report, Keechl shares insight into his strategy. He also clarifies an underlying rationale for these updates. Our freshman Commissioner aspires to rally constituents behind his efforts in an attempt to serve notice on the County bureaucracy that they are being watched! Read on... - [editor]

“Our Shared Vision for Broward County”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
By electing me to the Broward County Commission on November 7th, you, the residents of
District 4, sent a powerful message to the Broward County Commission. You supported a new vision for Broward County. Your votes signaled that you wanted lower taxes; fiscal accountability; more green spaces; lesser density on our beaches; and a full-time county commissioner representing District 4 and always being available to you. In my five short weeks as your Commissioner, I hope my actions and my votes as your Commissioner have already reflected my determination to fulfill our shared vision.

The easiest pledge to keep, of course, is the only one totally within my control; that is, to be your full-time County Commissioner.

In the last five weeks, I have been on the job every day. I have met with numerous Department and Division directors and numerous administrative staff in an attempt to become intimately familiar with the inner-workings of the vast Broward County bureaucracy. I want to know where-and how-our property tax dollars are being spent. I want to know exactly who supports our shared vision for Broward County and, more importantly, who doesn’t. I’ve already learned that Broward County’s government is comprised of many hard working and intelligent employees who share our vision, but desperately seek leadership to guide them. This leadership must, of course, come from the nine Broward County Commissioners. I am cautiously optimistic that collectively the Commission will provide this leadership.

2007 Broward Board of County Commissioners
The more difficult goals to achieve will be those based on policy: again, lowering taxes, protecting our green spaces from development, lessening density on our beaches, and ensuring fiscal accountability. Why will these goals be more difficult to achieve? You already know the answer—special interests. Please don’t misunderstand me. I truly believe that all of my colleagues want what is best for Broward County. But you shouldn’t underestimate the influence of well-financed special interests. So how do we level the playing field and achieve our goals? It’s really quite simple: by making your voices heard—and not only at election time. Don’t forget what occurred several months ago when the voters showed up in mass at the County Commission to complain about their proposed property taxes. Suddenly, the County Commission began looking for ways to cut the budget. I agree that this should have been done earlier, and the results were less than stellar. But a lesson was learned. The Broward County Commission will listen—when confronted. I would encourage each of you to go to the Broward County website at and email all of the County Commissioners. Tell them you want lower taxes, more green spaces, lesser density on the beaches and fiscal accountability.

In the meantime, I will be diligently fighting for our shared vision for Broward County from the dais. Don’t let my colleagues forget that they work for you. And you can be certain I won’t forget it.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site and Click Here to send him an email.

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

February 2007 Newsletter

January 23, 2007 - Ken Keechl continues to keep his promise to communicate with his constituents. In his February Newsletter, he describes the substantial networking he has undertaken to formulate effective coalitions targeting tax reduction and controlled development. Having met with municipal commissioners throughout Broward County, Keechl has already begun ascertaining who his potential allies are and who doesn't share his agenda! He also spells out which issues he expects to confront during the upcoming month. He launched his first defense of the Broward Beach Renourishment Project, preventing the diversion of funds required for restoring the beach. Consistent with his commitment to responsible oversight of Broward’s natural resources, Keechl intends to deter future cost overuns for the Central Broward Regional Park and insure proper cleanup and maintenance of Deerfield Island Park. Our Commissioner eagerly anticipates participating in the impending budget process, the forum that holds the key to tax relief! Read on... - [editor]

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“Looking Out For District Four”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I hope to utilize your monthly newsletter to keep you informed about my activities as your County Commissioner. I also believe you have the right to know what is transpiring before the Broward County Commission. And you have the right to hear it from your County Commissioner.

During the election, I pledged to be your “neighborhood” Commissioner. In addition to attending your homeowners’ meetings and being available to hear your concerns, I have spent a great deal of time since my election, meeting with those City Commissioners located within District 4. I have now visited some or all of the City Commissioners in Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Oakland Park, Lighthouse Point, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach. Whether Democrat or Republican, I want your City Commissioners to understand that to better represent your interests, I need to hear from them as well. As I see it, while my job is to represent all 1.7 million residents of Broward County, I have a special obligation to protect the interests of the residents of District 4—after all you elected me for that specific reason.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Christine Teel
So how have I been looking out for District 4?

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom
Well, in the last month, I worked closely with Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Christine Teel to finalize the purchase of a piece of property located on Bayview Drive. We did this by combining Broward County Park Bond funds with Ft. Lauderdale general revenue funds. Working together, we were able to create a small, but priceless, piece of green space in Coral Ridge on which the city will establish a small park for local residents in East Ft. Lauderdale. I don’t have to tell you the importance of preserving every last piece of green space. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Sadly, District 4 probably has less green space than most, if not all, of the other eight districts in Broward County. Preserving as much green space as possible, while I represent you, is extremely important to me. The future quality of life for our families depends on our actions now.

Deerfield Beach Commissioner Pam Militello
Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom and I have met repeatedly and we are working together to address issues of importance to those residents living on the central portion of Ft. Lauderdale Beach. She and I share a common vision. We want less growth and density on our barrier island. I am confident that together we can make our vision a reality. Similarly, I have met with Deerfield Beach Commissioner Pam Militello to strategize about a joint effort to tackle a variety of environmental issues of importance in Deerfield Beach. She also shares our vision. I will be telling you more about our collaborative efforts in the near future.

Baltimore Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium
From the dais of the Broward County Commission, I have been looking out for our interests as well. When the Baltimore Orioles recently returned to the Broward County Commission to renegotiate several portions of their contract, I ensured that no changes were made that would affect the future availability of Broward County bed taxes for beach shoreline restoration purposes. I doubt I would have voted to utilize our bed tax dollars for this venture in the first place, but the deal was done before my election. So when the Baltimore Orioles returned seeking more concessions, my job was simply to ensure that this project wouldn’t effect future funding for the beach shoreline restoration. I’m happy to say that I succeeded.

Deerfield Island Park
Lastly, the Broward County Commission is in the process of approving a contract for vegetative debris removal for Deerfield Island Park. As many of you know, Deerfield Island Park, along with several other parks, incurred tree devastation and loss due to Hurricane Wilma. As this is an environmentally sensitive park, hand labor will be utilized instead of heavy equipment.

In the upcoming month, the Broward County Commission will be holding a workshop to begin the budget process. I will continue to advocate my unwavering position—no increased property taxes. Also, the Broward County Commission will be holding a workshop to discuss the status of the Central Broward Regional Park. There have been unacceptable cost overruns associated with this project. As a result, my colleagues and I have been closely monitoring this project. We are now considering how to recoup some of this money, possibly by selling naming rights and by allowing advertising at the park once it opens. We have a property tax crisis on our hands. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am in favor of utilizing innovative ways to increase revenue.

As usual, if you have questions, comments, or concerns I can be reached at (954) 357-7004 or

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site and Click Here to send him an email.

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Click to Community Association Institute, Southeast Florida Chapter web site

Community Association Trade Show & Exposition

Please join us for this free event featuring speakers recognized Statewide and over 40 exhibitors demonstrating goods and services for community associations.

Click to Community Association Institute, Southeast Florida Chapter web site Representatives from Citizens’ Property Insurance are scheduled to attend the event to discuss the insurance crisis in the State of Florida.

Don’t miss an opportunity to participate in a program led by Karen Salvat, focusing on the rights and responsibilities of owners and board members, roles and functions of community associations, community rules, regulations, budgets, assessments and other important issues.

The Date: Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Time: 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m.
The Place: Signature Grand
6900 State Road 84
Davie, FL 33317

There are Continuing Education Classes & Credits for Managers

  • Insurance (2 ceu) 9:30 – 11:30 am
  • 2007 Legal Update (2 ceu) 1:00 – 3:00 pm

The cost of Continuing Education Credits is $30.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members. Lunch Included in Registration Fee. Advance registration recommended – please send payment with your name and CAM # to POB 244264 Boynton Beach, Florida 33424.


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Host A YFU
International Exchange Student!

Bob Wolfe of BCPA
Bob Wolfe
January 30, 2007 - On January 30th, Bob Wolfe from the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office sent this information to Galt Mile residents interested in temporarily expanding their nuclear family. If you would consider hosting a bright english-speaking teenager from abroad, READ ON! – [Editor]

Click to YFU USA web site
Youth For Understanding (YFU) is a private, non-profit, volunteer-based educational youth exchange organization, operating in over 50 countries. We are currently seeking families to host international high school exchange students for the upcoming 2007-2008 school year.

Founding Exec Director Rachel Andresen
Began in 1951, YFU USA annually exchanges more than 2,500 high school students through the YFU host family program. Host families enjoy learning about another culture through sharing family life with an exchange student in their home.

A YFU international exchange student is typically between 16 to 18 years old and must pass an English proficiency examination as part of their program qualification process. They also must demonstrate strong academic performance and obtain positive recommendations from teachers.

You can join thousands of American families who are selected to be YFU USA host families each year. Host families are as different as Americans themselves. They come from all ethnic, racial, economic and religious backgrounds. They live in cities, small towns and rural communities. Some have teenagers themselves, some don’t. Quite simply, any two people related by blood or marriage can be a host family — whether you have young children, adult children or no children. Single parent households and non-traditional family units can be considered for hosting too. Host families open their hearts and homes to their international student, providing room and board, love, guidance and the shared experience of everyday life in America.

If you would like more information on how to become a YFU host family, please call Molly Vongsaly at 866-493-8872 ext. 224, email at or local YFU Area Representative Mark Ketcham at 954-779-3713, Visit our website at to find out more about hosting, studying abroad or volunteering.

Bob Wolfe
Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office

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Presidents Day

Kidnap - Assault - Robbery

February 25, 2007 - It happened again! Another Galt Ocean Mile resident was viciously attacked within shouting distance of his home. A well-liked octogenarian, the 8-year Galt Mile condo owner was playing cards with several buddies on Sunday night. Having achieved some success at the game, he aspired to prolong his brief rendezvous with Lady Luck. He hopped into his car and contemplated a trip to the Hard Rock Casino, where he hoped to extend his winning streak. He headed south on Galt Ocean Drive, stopping at the intersection with A1A before making the left towards Oakland Park Boulevard.

Galt Ocean Drive - A1A Intersection
Apparently loitering near the southern end of the block (by Southpoint and L’Hermitage), two men suddenly approached his vehicle. Producing a gun, one jumped into the passenger seat while the other occupied the back seat behind the driver. They proceeded to kidnap the victim, ordering him to drive south on A1A.

Old Cleveland Clinic
After making the left turn onto A1A, he passed the intersection of A1A and Oakland Park Boulevard, where he had originally planned to turn onto the bridge. However, they ordered him to continue south on A1A. After a minute or so, they told him to pull into the darkened property formerly occupied by the old Cleveland Clinic Hospital on the west side of A1A.

Showing extraordinary presence of mind, he did something that probably saved his life. Before exiting the car as ordered, he flipped the keys onto the floor, out of the line of sight. When one of his abductors ordered him to surrender the keys, he told him, “I threw them away.” Angered by this act of defiance, the perpetrator produced a billy club and whacked him soundly across the head.

Fire-Rescue Station 54 on 32nd Street
After recovering his senses, he quickly assessed his situation. Although the $359 that used to occupy his pocket was gone (along with his attackers), his keys were right where he hid them. Bleeding profusely from the head and dazed, he weighed his options. A former firefighter, he considered going to Holy Cross Hospital or Fire-Rescue Station 54 on 32nd Street. Not in the mood for any bureaucratic entanglements, he returned home.

Holy Cross Hospital
Following his ordeal, he contacted his daughter, an FBI agent. She rightfully advised him to not pursue the incident, concerned for his future safety. If the perpetrators are caught with the weapon, they might get six months. If they don’t have the gun at the time they are apprehended, they may get one month. Either way, she advised him that remaining anonymous is his best protection against any future retribution these criminals may plan.

Car Keys - a Life Saver?
She also agreed that his gambit to stash the keys probably saved his life. While the assault and robbery netting a few hundred dollars is clearly not worth a murder rap, had they taken the car, they may have re-evaluated whether or not to take his life as well. He explained, “If they took the car and left me alive, they would likely have been picked up within a few hours. However, if my corpse is found down the block from my home, it could give them a few days to cash the car out.” He continued, “The Police wouldn’t know who I was until after I was reported missing. They wouldn’t know if I walked there or not. By killing me, it would have bought these guys time to unload the car. When I eliminated the car as a factor in their decision, they didn’t have a good reason to kill me.” If not for his quick thinking while in fear for his life, it is likely that he would have become a statistic.

FLPD Assistant Chief Mary Negrey - formerly head of Police District 1
A few days later, while describing his experience, he said that he would actively support any anti-crime initiative supported by the community. As is common with victims, he sought to assume some of the blame for his nightmare, stating, “I should know better than to go out after 10 PM.” After a few moments, he stated that our local security was a disaster. “Sure, we have security guards that make the building safe, but what happens when we go outside,” he commented. “Our cops can’t protect us.”

Chief of Police Bruce G Roberts
During the past year, the GMCA Advisory Board met with former Assistant Chief of Police Steve Robitaille and current Assistant Chief of Police Mary Negrey (when she was Major Mary Negrey and charged with supervising and implementing police strategy in the Galt Mile neighborhood). They explained how resources are primarily allocated to areas that suffer rapes, murders and other Part 1 crimes. In a luncheon meeting with Fort Lauderdale’s Chief of Police Bruce Roberts, he confirmed that this is standard for municipal police departments. Since Galt Mile residents are victims of what is characterized as Quality of Life crimes, they are at the back of the line for municipal security resources.

Galleon President Donna Oppert
A disquieting fact arose during our conversation. I told him that following the armed robbery at the Galleon in December, police confirmed that a team of armed robbers were operating in the Galt Mile neighborhood, having recently committed 5 other assaults. Based on his description of the crooks that kidnapped, assaulted and robbed him and Galleon President Donna Oppert’s description of the team that accosted her neighbors, it appears that this is a second team. Evidently, there are now several different criminal enterprises victimizing Galt Mile residents. He said that his attackers could easily have been mistaken for some of the homeless people wandering along the block. These bad guys have found a way to camouflage themselves by blending seamlessly with the unfortunates who sleep on the benches and use the facilities of our local merchants.

He asked, “What is happening with the neighborhood security plan? Our building agreed to participate a while ago. $5 per month is very inexpensive for protection that we desperately need.” It was explained to him that the security assessment will actually be $20 per year ($1.66 per month), He said, “I can’t imagine anyone opposing it being started right away.”

Unfortunately, some Board members in one of our member associations don’t believe that these incidents take place with frightening regularity - ostensibly because they haven’t as yet been personally victimized. Meanwhile, our friends and neighbors will continue falling prey to criminals exploiting an admitted hole in Fort Lauderdale’s police strategy. The victim of this most recent attack closed with a comment and a question. He said, “If something isn’t done to improve local security, I intend to move up north near my daughter.” He also posed a question about the plan asked by hundreds of other concerned Galt Mile residents during the past year, “If it’s ready to go, what are they waiting for?”

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Budget Season Opens

Broward Budget Bites County Coffers

In the State of Florida, the twin terrors of insurance and taxes have become public enemies #1 and #2. No longer considered ordinary accessories to our economic system, these two anathematic headliners have been redefined as the greatest threat to Florida’s economy. Every politician in the State has elevated them into their platform’s crosshairs. The Governor’s first major political spectacle was the January 16th Special Session on Insurance. Tax bills are the legislative “common cold”. Every legislator files an entry into the club, if for no other reason than to demonstrate empathy with their constituents’ pain.

The Broward County Commission
The Broward County Commission pays annual lip service to tax relief. Just before they tackle the budget, Commissioners announce the need to attack waste and abuse, trim the governmental bureaucracy and cut spending. That is usually where it ends, except in the media. Last year, following a month of spinning the need to cut the budget, they increased it from $3.043 billion to $3.159 billion. Then they performed some slight of hand. As a sort of burnt offering to their failed “intentions”, they formed eight Budget Committees designed to review aspects of the budget and serve as a forum to challenge the need for spending. In that the Broward Board of County Commissioners is essentially the Budget Committee, these were actually Budget Sub-Committees.

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
This year appears to be different. When Jim Scott lost his bid for re-election, the commission seemed to lose one the few budget hawks that dogged peers to cut spending... and taxes. However, the man responsible for Scott’s defeat, Commissioner Ken Keechl, has proven Scott’s equal as a bulwark against tax and spend policies. Eagerly anticipating his chance to actualize a campaign promise to cut the budget, Keechl said, “People have said to us over and over they don’t want any more tax increases. I suggest our staff start looking for $54 million in cuts, with nothing off the table.” The $54 million Keechl seeks to obliterate is the amount Broward Budget Director Kayla Olsen projected as the deficit in the 2008 $3.7 billion budget. Escalating shortfalls are projected to run from $54 million in 2008 to $61.6 million in 2012, predicated on level property values. Even if the county limited increases to state-mandated services, union contracts and other fixed expenses, the deficit would still amount to $18.6 million. Factoring in a slight increase in property values lowers the deficit range, anticipating shortfalls of $18.6 million to $26.1 million.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom
The tax windfall derived of exploding property values is over. The possible legislative doubling of Homestead Exemptions to $50,000, as supported by the Governor, will further lighten county coffers by $60 million in lost tax revenues. Concurrently, expenses are skyrocketing. Costs attached to the work force threaten the County’s fiscal stability. Exploding pension benefits and runaway health insurance costs will pave the way for perpetually increasing deficits. Broward County also shares a problem that plagues every property owner – punishing property insurance premiums.

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr.
In view of the enormous fiscal strain pressuring Broward voters, the prospect of offsetting these liabilities with additional taxes is non-existent. Additionally, County Commissioners have come to the realization that talking tax cuts while spending prodigiously will not wash in this climate. Rodstrom, Keechl and others have publicly promised significant spending cuts to mitigate the deficit. Breaking with tradition, Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr. advocated instituting a “zero-based” budgeting process that forces every dollar to be scrutinized, instead of an incremental strategy that presupposes continued funding for existing programs. He explained, “If we are going to implement this vision, everything is on the table.” Eggelletion admonished that “every department will have to justify every dollar, program and employee in the budgeting process.”

Broward County Administrator Pam Brangaccio
County Administrator Pam Brangaccio conceded that services will suffer, although no determination has been made about which ones and how much. To minimize departmental disruption, decisions about the distribution of cutbacks will be made by those most familiar with the ensuing consequences. She intends to rely on the middle management personnel whose responsibilities will increase proportionately to the cuts and the Department Heads who will have to offset the loss of resources with increased efficiency.

Brangaccio’s strategy should lessen the severity of the pinch and lend credibility to the overall process. Budget instructions are sent to each Department in March, describing the extent of the haircut they must undergo. In April, the Departments return their budgets to the Office of Management and Budget where they are analyzed and any capital requests are reviewed and prioritized. By clearly illustrating the expected consequences of their budget cuts, departments enhance the prospect for their budget clearing the commission fairly intact.

While the Broward Board of County Commissioners exercises direct control over their own house, their relationship with constitutional county officers installed by the electorate under State law is somewhat cloudy. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of Courts, the Public Defender’s Office, Property Appraiser Lori Parrish, the Broward State Attorney, our Legislative Delegation and Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes chew up half the county’s operating budget. Although the County Commission technically holds sway over their budgets, constitutional county officers can appeal to the Governor for relief.

Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs
Despite this having been a source of political strife in the past, Commissioners believe that Governor Charlie Crist will not upset the apple cart. Crist has repeatedly proclaimed the importance of relieving the financial pressure on constituents from both taxes and insurance costs. Overturning commission cuts will be spun as upping the tax bite. Confident that the State will not interfere with county efforts to rein in deficits, Commissioner Kristin Jacobs indicated that prospective complaints to Tallahassee would not deter the commission from making comparable cuts to their resources. She exclaimed, “If it means calling the bluff of the constitutional officers and have them run ... crying, ‘The County Commission is trying to cut us,’ fine.”

Given the current fiscal environment and the anti-tax momentum fueling spending cuts, there appears to be adequate political will to bring serious cuts to fruition. District 4 Commissioner Ken Keechl has repeatedly confirmed his intention to ensure the necessity of every dollar spent by the county. Questioning whether the Commission’s prior spending targets were worthy of continued support, Commissioner John Rodstrom said, “I can’t tell whether every bus route we added is something we should keep.” Asserting that money contributed to certain non-profit organizations might be more productively allocated, he said, “We need to know – these not-for-profits we are contributing to, where is the money going?”

Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger
Commissioner John Rodstrom and Commissioner Sue Gunzburger proposed a sort of fiscal anti-inflammatory to lighten the bite. If they can find several sacrificial big-ticket items, they can safely add back scores of smaller yet painful cutbacks. Postponing the county government center will give the commission significant budgeting flexibility. Likewise the new courthouse, which received the cold shoulder by voters last November. In addition to bond revenues, grant money, loan proceeds and some user fees, Capital Budget construction projects burn through truckloads of tax dollars.

While most Commissioners claim to favor trimming impending deficits, the September budget adoption deadline is still a long way off. Mayor Eggelletion illustrated the nature of the political mine field that Commissioners must navigate during the budget process. He described what happened when cuts were proposed at a recent workshop. “When someone mentioned cutting social services or mental health, they went, ‘Oh, no, not that!’ Asking an angry constituent whose pet program is threatened with termination to adopt a broad view of budgeting runs contrary to any political survival instinct. Commissioner Kristin Jacobs focused on the moment of truth, “Which one of our services are we not going to do anymore?” Fade to black...

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

March 2007 Newsletter

March 1, 2007 - While campaigning for the District 4 Commission seat, Ken Keechl repeatedly told constituents that he would do whatever was necessary to restrain spiralling tax assessments. Confessing ignorance about County fiscal mechanics, he promised to familiarize himself with the enigmatic budget process wherein the benefits received never seem to justify the resources collected. March heralds the beginning of that process. In this month’s Newsletter, he reaffirms his commitment. After leading off with a tip useful for determining whether or not our Commissioners actually raised taxes while promising relief, he describes some of the components integral to the budget formula! Commissioner Keechl prescribes spending cuts to remedy a projected $54 million budget shortfall instead of another tax increase. However, if at least 4 of his Commission peers don’t join him, we stand to suffer consecutive deficits into the next decade. Read on... - [editor]

“It’s All About Property Taxes”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
During my campaign for the Broward County Commission, I made several fundamental promises to you. First and foremost, I promised you that I would never vote to increase your property taxes. I intend to keep my promise.

Let’s start with the basics. Just exactly how can you determine if the Broward County Commission is increasing your property taxes for its next fiscal year, 2008? It’s simple: Look for the soon to be published state-defined “rolled-back” millage rate. This “rolled-back” rate is determined yearly in Tallahassee. It is determined by the total amount of property taxes in the current year’s budget, plus an increase in estimated new taxes from new construction growth.

If the Broward County Commission votes to establish a millage rate for the fiscal year 2008 higher than the “rolled-back” millage rate, it’s a tax increase. Period.

Our budgeting process is now underway. We have completed our first budget workshop and it seems to me that most of the County Commissioners recognize the high level of anger and frustration felt by the average Broward County taxpayer. Based on the Broward County Office of Management and Budget’s rough estimate, we have been told that we must eliminate approximately $54 million dollars from our $3.7 billion dollar budget in order to establish a budget that doesn’t raise property taxes. Obviously, it can be done; however, the real question is whether 5 of the 9 County Commissioners have the will to do so.

Trust me. As a Broward County Commissioner, I’ve already learned it’s easier to say “yes” than to say “no” when someone is requesting money.

Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish
Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne
From now until September you will hear the Broward County Commission “educate” you with regard to the difficulties the Commission will face in eliminating $54 million dollars from our budget. Fair enough. You will learn that about a third of the budget revenues come from “enterprise” funds. These are revenues generated by the airport, seaport, garbage collection, and the water department which cannot be utilized for any other purpose. You will also learn that about half of the budget is comprised of funds requested by Broward’s Constitutional Officers (such as our Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections, etc.) You will learn that it is procedurally difficult (but not impossible) to force these elected Constitutional Officers to tighten their own budgets. All of these facts are undoubtedly true.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein
Supervisor of Elections<br>Dr Brenda Snipes
Nevertheless, it is without question that you elected us to make the hard decisions. As one of my colleagues often says, “If you can’t make the hard decisions, you don’t deserve to sit up on the dais.” He’s right; it’s time to listen to the voters and make these necessary budget cuts. We must tell our Constitutional Officers that they, too, must tighten up their budgets and share in our burden. We must slow down, if not decrease, the size of Broward County’s governmental workforce. We must eliminate - and refuse to fund - services that aren’t absolutely necessary. We must stop capital projects that aren’t essential, unless they can be constructed without increasing the amount of ad valorem property taxes. We have to determine our priorities and fund accordingly.

Again, the budget process is just beginning. Obviously, I can’t predict how my colleagues will vote with regard to the upcoming fiscal year 2008 budget. But I can again tell you how I will vote. After all, campaign promises should be kept by elected officials.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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What’s Up at Winn Dixie

March 5, 2007 - During the February meeting of the Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board, some members brought up a topic that arises intermittently. Not included in the spectrum of high priority issues currently facing our residents, it is more accurately characterized as an irritant. However, its status as a neighborhood institution engenders either concern or curiosity. In a nutshell – what’s the deal with Winn-Dixie?

The topic automatically stimulates a host of familiar questions. Are they coming out of bankruptcy? Are we allowed to take the shopping carts across the street? Are they expanding their inventory? What supernatural force is responsible for their being out of whatever anyone needs at the time that they need it? While these issues admittedly elicit only “moderate” concern from some people and none from others, several board members have been repeatedly asked by residents in their associations to get some answers. The Advisory Board distilled these concerns down to two title issues, shopping carts and available stock. A seconded motion to investigate these two items was unanimously approved.

Initially, sending a letter populated by relevant queries to the store’s corporate parent was suggested. Concerned that some mid-level marketing supervisor in community relations would respond with a flurry of disjointed generalities, the person in charge of the local store was contacted instead. Fortunately, Store Director Timothy Haas of the Galt Ocean Mile Winn-Dixie Marketplace was able to adequately address both issues.

Shopping carts are a double edged sword. While some residents find it convenient to wheel their groceries from the store all the way to their kitchens, this activity creates problems on several levels. Associations do not have extra personnel available to return the carts. Some have implemented rules requiring anyone who wheels one in to subsequently wheel it out. Unfortunately, this often results in the carts accumulating on the sidewalk in front of the building. Other Associations have prohibited the carts from their premises - requiring residents to transfer their packages from the Winn-Dixie cart to an association cart upon entering the building. However, this also results in the supermarket carts being left on the sidewalk.

This creates a huge problem for Winn-Dixie. At any given time, a significant number of their carts are unavailable for use by shoppers. They’ve tried to compensate for these habitual cart-jackings in a variety of ways. They originally made arrangements with their former landlord, Danebelt Management, to collect the carts from the street. Eventually, they recruited additional staff for this purpose. Additionally, the fleet of carts that they must maintain to adequately service their customers must be significantly expanded to offset those stranded “off-property”. Manager Haas said, “Many customers who complain about the lack of carts will roll their groceries down the block without a thought. Strangely enough, some of them even accuse us of being negligent for not actively prosecuting scofflaws.”

Most Galt Mile residents object to the carts cluttering their sidewalks. Associations do not want them inside their premises. Mr. Haas confirmed that Winn Dixie is frustrated by their constant battle to retrieve the carts taken off their property in order to have enough for their customers. He explained that although they don’t want to alienate customers, they have decided to pursue a strategy to deter what is essentially theft. They finally posted signs warning that they will prosecute anyone responsible for removing the carts from their property. While the threat of jail time and a sizable fine has had some impact, it hasn’t resolved the problem.

Mr. Haas said that the company is preparing to affix devices to the carts that will incapacitate them once outside a designated perimeter. When a magnetic catchment area is penetrated, one or more wheels on the cart will cease to turn, immobilizing the cart. Mr. Haas said that this effort was already underway. Having proven very effective in other outlets, the magnetic perimeter and the immobilization devices will soon be installed in the Galt Mile store.

Tim Haas also spoke to the second issue – how they determine which items to stock. Purchasing is handled by Winn-Dixie corporate. They contract with certain vendors that offer them a variety of products. What does this mean to us? If you’ve seen a product on the shelf, unless it’s been discontinued, you can get it. Tim said, “If we ran out of a product that we ordinarily carry, we can get it for you very quickly. If anyone wants something they don’t see, they can ask me or a manager about the item and we will order it. It will likely be here within a couple of days. If corporate has no relationship with the vendor, we can let you know.” He explained, “As a rule, if you’ve purchased it here before, we can get it for you.”

Galt Mile Residents Line up in front of Winn-Dixie after Hurricane Wilma
Some Galt Mile residents remember facing a crossroads a few decades back, at which time they had an opportunity to support the establishment of a Publix Supermarket at the present Winn-Dixie site. Hoping instead for a rolling arboreal greenspace directly across the street, neighborhood residents overwhelmingly nixed the project. Considering some of Winn-Dixie’s past problems, those residents are generally filled with regret at having opposed the Publix. Some enjoy entertaining the prospect that Publix can be lured back to their original target site. Forget it!

Given the current reality, directing our efforts towards improving the Winn-Dixie is our best option. A few years ago, reeling from corporate financing problems, the store appeared to be operating as if they were conducting a garage sale. Products were left in boxes that were strewn about the premises. Shelves were half empty and employees seemed confused. In fact, they have made a remarkable transformation. The store is better organized and corporate has made visible investments towards its modernization. Areas that appeared perpetually dirty have been cleaned up. Residents dissatisfied with Winn-Dixie’s product shortcomings simply make an occasional trip to the Publix down the block!

For all of its historical drawbacks, the vast majority of Galt Mile residents appreciate the convenience of having the supermarket close at hand. Their efforts to improve the store are convincing many previously alienated customers to return. If you haven’t shopped there for a while, giving Winn-Dixie another shot will likely entreat you to a pleasant surprise. They are on the right track.

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Buses, Beaches and Budgets

Les Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association
March 11, 2007 - The Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board meeting started at 11 AM on February 15th. President Pio Ieraci opened the meeting by introducing Les Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association. Accompanied by Marketing Director Rabia Qureshi, Les runs the
Sun Trolley. Personable and obviously enthusiastic about his mission, he detailed new developments affecting our local bus service and cleared up some misconceptions about its operational protocol.

Sun Trolley Marketing Director Rabia Qureshi
In former incarnations, the Sun Trolley was known as the jitney, the shuttle and the City Cruiser. Incorporated in 1992 to combine business resources and expertise with government efforts to solve local transportation problems, it was developed by the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Transit to provide inexpensive bus service to a host of local destinations. Operated under the auspices of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association (DFLTMA), funding comes from the public and private sectors, including grants from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Downtown Development Authority, as well as dues and in-kind contributions from the private sector. Hollingsworth explained, “Each of its 9 routes is designed to relieve traffic congestion in certain neighborhoods targeted for inexpensive or free local shuttle service.”

Click to Sun Trolley Web Site
Mr. Hollingsworth passed out copies of the Galt Ocean Mile route map and timetable to Advisory Board members. While the 25¢ fare will shuttle you between Galt Ocean Drive, the Coral Ridge Towers complex, the Beach Community Center, the Coral Ridge Mall and the North Beach neighborhood, connections with existing Broward County Transit bus routes extend your range to include every major county location. Although the timetable displays the standard arrival and departure times for each of its designated stops, Hollingsworth stated that the stops should be considered as a sort of guideline, not a firm schedule. Hollingsworth clarified that the drivers will pick up passengers that flag the Sun Trolley anywhere along the route. They also disembark riders at any accessible route location. By contacting dispatch, customers can pre-arrange to be picked up in front of their building. Regency Tower President Dott Nicholson-Brown commented, “It sounds like it operates like a taxi service.” The Galt Ocean Mile service runs Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Hollingsworth said that they are constantly soliciting input useful for boosting ridership. In fact, their timetable admonishes, “When it comes to our safety, we can always use another pair of eyes. Look around. Be aware. If something does not look right, let us know.” The Executive Director also alerted the Advisory Board to a new wrinkle anticipated for the Galt Ocean Mile route. The route currently connects locations along the Barrier Island from Galt Ocean Drive to North Beach, detouring to include the Beach Community Center. It crosses the Oakland Park Bridge to Coral Ridge Mall. Hollingsworth indicated that they expect to extend the route to Holy Cross Hospital. He said that they are awaiting approval from the City, Broward County Transit and the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association. He promised to alert us upon receipt of a green light for the extension.

Following the address by Mr. Hollingsworth, the meeting focus returned to the agenda. While addressing issues ranging from how Winn Dixie shopping carts clutter Galt Ocean Drive sidewalks to the possible redevelopment of a sizable neighborhood area, Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl bolted in, seemingly out of breath. Before reaching a seat cleared for him when he entered the room, the frazzled Commissioner declared, “I apologize for being late. After being delayed by several emergency meetings, I became stuck in traffic.”

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
An oft-repeated mantra Keechl deployed while campaigning for the County Board seat was his pledge to be a full-time Commissioner. Our freshman District 4 voice on the Commission has been running on eight cylinders. He set the bar for participation in County business at an unprecedented level, attending every meeting supportive of his stated agenda and relentlessly networking as necessary to fulfill his campaign commitment.

Focusing initially on Beach Restoration, Keechl said, “There are few things more important than preserving our beach. The beach is central to all of our lives and its health is critical to the county’s future.” He added, “and that of the entire State.” The Commissioner warned of a new threat to the impending beach renourishment. The Beach Restoration Project is fueled by dedicated County, State and Federal funds. He said that certain competing agendas in Tallahassee and Washington pose a threat to resources earmarked to save the beach. “I’ve given addressing these obstacles top priority. I’ve contacted Congressman Ron Klein to assist us in Washington and Jim Scott’s relationships in Tallahassee should prove invaluable.” GMCA President Pio Ieraci asked the Commissioner whether he knew of any new obstacles uncovered by Nova Southeastern University while monitoring post-project environmental repercussions. The Commissioner said that after speaking with Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins, he was confident that the project would resume after the 18 month mandated delay.

Congressman Ron Klein
Following a pregnant pause, Keechl said, “I would like to discuss an issue that is critically important to every Broward resident. Broward holds the final say over development within the County. Over the past few years, there has been an ongoing struggle over land use between the County and its municipalities. Without enforceable countywide standards to serve as a balance against uncontrolled development, residents would have no recourse to municipalities bartering away their few remaining green spaces.”

In fact, Keechl understated the conflict. Although the Broward County Charter underwrites the Commission’s authority to control development, the Commissioners in turn empowered the cities with self-determination by writing into the County Commission’s Redevelopment Initiative that, “Broward County acknowledges that municipalities will continue to lead in initiating, planning and managing redevelopment including approving development plans, site plans, zoning petitions, providing local infrastructure, etc.” In early 2004, a controversy arose when plans for the Swimming Hall of Fame's projected move to Pompano Beach elicited the County’s disapproval because it overburdened the Barrier Island. On February 19, 2004, the Broward County Planning Council further empowered County Commissioners by authorizing the development of new land use regulations that would have squarely relocated unquestioned control of municipal and other development to the County Commission. The cities were apoplectic.

Hollywood Senator Steven Geller
Spearheaded by Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Miramar, Pompano Beach, Davie and Weston – and supported by every Broward City and Town – they formed a coalition to block Broward County from this unprecedented attempt to wrest control of the cities’ growth from municipal leaders. Hollywood Senator Steven Geller enlisted Senator Michael Bennett (R-Bradenton) to sponsor Senate Bill 2956, designed to cleanly eviscerate Broward’s control over municipal land use and relocate it to the cities, relegating County authority to little more than a rubber stamp. By adding the appropriate language to a local government bill (House Bill 143) sponsored by Representative Gustavo Barreiro (R-Miami Beach), State Representative Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) launched the sister bill in the House, asserting that “Cities should control their own destiny, not some massive, monstrous county government.”

Republican Lobbyist John M. (Mac) Stipanovich
Inches from a crushing legislative defeat, Broward loosed Republican stalwart John M. (Mac) Stipanovich and their 22 Tallahassee lobbyists on Governor Jeb Bush. The County Commission also dispatched their sole Republican Commissioner and former Senate President Jim Scott to plead with the Governor to quash the bills. Expressing his resentment at having to referee the sticky issue of home rule vs. development, Governor Bush threatened to veto any legislation that upset the balance between the cities and the County. As such, the conflict has since remained in a state of simmering stasis.

Broward County Commissioner Jim Scott
Keechl explained, “We are fortunate to have Jim Scott fighting for us in Tallahassee. His familiarity with the issue comes from direct experience.” Changing his tone, Keechl paused, “As many of you know, Jim Scott and I have had issues stemming from the campaign. Despite our differences and some of the ill will inflamed by a tough fight for the District 4 Commission seat, I respect his achievements. Although I disapproved of his decision to represent developers in their bid to build high end housing on the American Golf Course, his service in the House, the Senate and the County Commission has clearly benefited Broward residents.”

Keechl continued, “When I was first elected, I promised to serve all the District’s residents, not only supporters. I promised to be a full-time representative and make decisions based on what was best for the County. Soon after I was sworn in, the Commission was faced with selecting a firm to lobby on behalf of the County in Tallahassee. I supported adding Jim Scott’s firm, Tripp Scott, to the list of potential candidates. Jim’s substantial experience in the State Capitol will be a tremendous advantage.”

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr.
Commissioner Keechl said that he received a good deal of flack from some of his supporters who expected him to be guided solely by partisan ideology. “We must be realistic. The Commission is uniformly populated by Democrats. Scott can open doors in the predominantly Republican Capitol that we can’t.” Keechl intimated that there’s too much at stake to make critical decisions based on party lines, stating, “If we don’t get the best person for the job, everyone in the County will pay the price.”

GMCA Director Ralph Hamaker
The Commissioner said that he also shared Scott’s dedication to trimming the budget, controlling spending and cutting taxes. Keechl described last week’s budget workshop, confirming that Commissioner John Rodstrom, Mayor Josephus Eggelletion and he opposed funding the $3.7 billion budget with a tax increase. When asked about the $54 million deficit, Commissioner Keechl said that he directed his staff to find offsetting spending cuts. Commenting on the Mayor’s stated intention to apply zero-based budgeting, Keechl applauded Mr. Eggelletion’s decision to place everything on the table. Keechl admonished that while the Commission is vociferously supportive of fiscal responsibility now, the resolve demonstrated by some of his Commission peers may wither as the September deadline for budget adoption nears.

Broward Commissioner Keechl’s Aide Kathy Singer
When GMCA Director Ralph Hamaker of Coral Ridge Towers South asked Commissioner Keechl how we can influence the Commission to intensify support for beach renourishment, tax relief, and other issues favorable to Galt Mile residents, Keechl encouraged constituents to communicate with every commissioner. “Let them know what you think they should do,” said Keechl. “When you send an email, it is impossible to ascertain whether you live in their district. When I receive emails, I assume the senders are constituents and pay attention to their concerns. After all, these are County issues.”

Keechl identified his commission aides as Kathy Singer and Natalie Levy. He invited constituents to contact them with issues when he is unavailable. Since Ms. Singer previously served as Jim Scott’s aide as well, she is familiar with many District 4 problems and provides some continuity to his office. If Keechl’s staff intends to keep up with their new boss, they might consider investing in several pairs of sneakers and fill the water cooler with Gatorade!

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Tragedy at Coral Ridge Towers East

Coral Ridge Towers East
March 23, 2007 - On Monday, March 19th, tragedy struck
Coral Ridge Towers East. Like every Association in the Galt Mile neighborhood, the HUD Cooperative at 3300 NE 36th Street and State Road A1A spent the past year recovering from the effects of Hurricane Wilma. As insurance benefits trickled in, they were applied to a wide variety of damages. Since Wilma, CRTE President Richard Creal and the Board of Directors have been struggling with insurer QBE over desperately needed benefit payments. The Board retained an engineering firm, Swaysland Professional Engineering Corp. (SPEC), to provide authoritative guidance and oversight for structural repairs and concrete rehabilitation.

Captain John Labandera
To verify the condition of the concrete balconies, 57-year old Delray General Contractor Ed Salzano was suspended from the building in a safety harness to perform the required inspections. Shortly after 11 A.M., the harness broke and Salzano fell 14 stories to his death, landing on the pool deck. CRTE residents that heard the screaming called 911. According to Fort Lauderdale police Captain John Labandera, the harness broke while Salzano was inspecting the balconies on the building’s south side. Police spokeswoman Detective Katherine Collins said “Something gave and caused him to fall. We’re not sure if it was the harness or the rope.”

Detective Katherine Collins
Swaysland Professional Engineering Corp. (SPEC) is a well known engineering company with a long history of Galt Mile construction oversight. Owned and operated by Stan Swaysland, Associations addressing complicated construction challenges often use SPEC when they require multiple engineering disciplines. Office manager Kay Swaysland, Stan’s wife, said, “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family. He’s a wonderful man, husband and the father of three children. He was always optimistic and always friendly. The news is very upsetting. We’ve worked with him for 25 years.”

John Evans, another well known SPEC engineer, confirmed that Salzano was doing a repellation, a precautionary inspection common for 30+ year old structures on the Barrier Island. He repeated that losing Salzano sent a shock wave through the company. Although a self-employed general contractor who owned a business called EGS Enterprises Inc., Salzano worked closely with Swaysland for decades, performing inspections similar to the one responsible for his demise.

Compliant with their standard operating procedure, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials are investigating the accident.

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

April 2007 Newsletter

April 1, 2007 - * Broward’s District 4 Commissioner Ken Keechl targets the Broward County Charter in his April 2007 Newsletter. The County’s “constitution” houses Broward’s governmental structure, including the powers wielded by the Broward Board of County Commissioners. The Broward County Charter Review Commission is currently taking input to determine whether to propose a complete reorganization of County government, a strong mayor form of government, redistricting, changes to the way constitutional officers are selected and a host of other issues. He encourages us to participate in a series of public hearings convened to decide which alternatives will be placed on the November ballot. Read on... - *[editor]

“Charter Review”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
I would like to take the opportunity this month to discuss with you an extremely important, but not well-known, body that has the ability to propose substantial changes to the structure (and authority) of the Broward County Commission: the Broward County Charter Review Commission.

Click to Broward County Charter
The powers granted to the Broward County Commission are derived from Broward County’s Charter. In essence, this document is Broward County’s “Constitution”. Its many provisions include a “citizens’ bill of rights”; the number of County Commissioners (9); the manner in which we are elected (in single member districts); and the length of our terms (4 years). It is our Charter that also provides the Broward County Commission with a rather unique County power — its ultimate supremacy with regard to many municipal land use decisions.

Broward County Charter Review Commission Section 6.01 of the Charter provides for the appointment of the Charter Review Commission in June 2000 and every six years thereafter. As a result, the current Charter Review Commission's term began on June 2006. The Commission is authorized to conduct a comprehensive study of any or all phases of county government.

Why should you care? The answer is because the 19 members of the current Charter Review Commission have the power to place Charter amendments directly on the ballot in November 2008. And while it takes a supermajority vote of the Charter Review Commission to exercise this power, if 13 members agree to propose a Charter amendment, the Broward County Commission has no say in the matter. The proposed Charter amendment shall be placed on the ballot for a vote by Broward County’s residents.

The current Charter Review Commission is deliberating on a monthly basis and taking testimony from elected officials and the public. Many important Charter amendments are being contemplated.

Some of the many issues under consideration by the Charter Review Commission include the following:

  • Should Broward County have a “strong mayor” form of government?
  • Should the number of Broward County Commissioners be increased or decreased?
  • Should Broward County Commissioners continue to be elected in single member districts or should they be elected county-wide?
  • If the County retains single member districts, should the districts be re-drawn more often than every 10 years, and by whom?
  • Should the Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections, and Clerk of the Courts be appointed rather than elected?
  • Should the Charter contain a specific Code of Ethics?
  • Should the supremacy of Broward County’s authority with regard to many municipal land use decisions be eliminated?

These are just a few of the many important issues under consideration by the Charter Review Commission. More information about the Charter Review Commission can be found at Public hearings will be occurring throughout the year. I encourage your attendance and input at these public hearings.

As usual, if you have any questions, comments, concerns or problems, please feel free to contact me. Remember, I work for you.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Commissioner Teel’s April Newsletter

April 6, 2007 - Commissioner Christine Teel must balance her focus between the interests of District 1 and those of the City. As a rule, her newsletter embodies that balance. She ordinarily updates the progress of necessary neighborhood improvements, evaluates the productivity of community programs and projects and brings perspective to issues threatening citywide budgets, safety or quality of life. Her latest newsletter digresses from her usual format, focusing instead on one of Fort Lauderdale’s unsung founders.

SE 2nd Street was recently named after James D. Camp, Sr. This marginally interesting fact left the average city resident wondering who he was and why a downtown thoroughfare now bears his name. Before assuming the responsibilities adherent to serving on Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission, Commissioner Teel was a nurse. Not surprisingly, she was also a civic activist. These two aspects of her background underwrite her qualification to clarify Mr. Camp’s entitlement to posthumous recognition. His lifelong interest in Medicine influenced the direction taken for many of his civic contributions. A shared commitment to healthcare and civic betterment stimulated Commissioner Teel’s newsletter topic. READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

I would like to talk about an important person in Fort Lauderdale’s history whose legacy of community and civic activism has most likely touched all of our lives, in one way or another. The gentleman’s name was James D. Camp, Sr. Recently the late Mr. Camp was honored by the City of Fort Lauderdale by having a street (SE 2nd Street) named for him in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Commissioner Christine Teel
James D. Camp was born on a farm in Ben Hill, Georgia (now part of present day Atlanta) on March 30, 1896. James had an early dream of becoming a doctor, however, like many of us, his life took a turn and he did not become a doctor but rather a banker. He became a talented banker with a keen sense of the business – going through both the boom and bust that occurred in Fort Lauderdale in the 1920s. James had moved with his wife Margueritte Byrne Camp and their daughter, Helen Marie, from Georgia to Fort Lauderdale in 1925 during Florida’s boom. Shortly thereafter the 1926 hurricane hit and financial prospects became bleak, the area’s economy hitting bottom in 1928, shortly before the entire nation’s stock market crash. On a much happier note, James’s son, Jim, Jr. was born that same year.

Granada Apartments became Broward General Hospital
Mr. Camp, however, rode through these tough financial times. Around the time that the Ft. Lauderdale Bank & Trust Co went into receivership due to its financial burdens, James, along with other notable Fort Lauderdale citizens, formed a group that organized the institution that eventually became the Broward Bank & Trust Company (later known as the Broward National Bank). Mr. Camp became its president in 1938. Mr. Camp went on to become active in the state’s Florida Bankers Association, becoming its president in 1949. He also became president of Fort Lauderdale National Bank and Coral Ridge National Bank, as well as serving as chairman of Broward Bancshares, a bank holding company that served as an umbrella group for those institutions.

Holy Cross Hospital in 1955
Camp never lost his interest in the medical field. He became active in the establishment of two major hospitals in the area, serving as the first chairman of the Hospital Commission governing Broward General Hospital at its establishment in 1937, and being appointed co-chairman of the community-wide fundraising efforts to establish Holy Cross Hospital, a hospital that continues to grow in serving the needs of residents.

In addition to an interest in ensuring that Fort Lauderdale residents had access to excellent medical care with these hospitals, James was also committed to providing quality higher education. The Governor of Florida at the time, Leroy Collins, appointed him a member of the State Board of Control, now known as the Board of Regents. In this position, he was extremely active in the establishment of Florida Atlantic University.

Among his other civic and humanitarian activities were Mr. Camp’s involvements in the Community Chest drive, the War Bond drive in Broward County during World War II, his service as president of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club and his active involvement in the Rotary Club.

Mr. Camp was also part of a group of businessmen that developed the residential Las Olas Islands known as Coral Isles.

James Camp, Sr. is truly one of Fort Lauderdale’s notable founders; he leaves a rich legacy that serves as an inspiration for its current residents.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns. I can be reached at 954-828-5004 or via e-mail at

Christine Teel                

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40-year or Older Building Safety Program

Galt Associations face Additional Building Expense

April 7, 2007 - The 40-year or Older Building Safety Inspection Program now in effect throughout Broward County was created in 2005. Patterned after a Miami-Dade County program in effect since the 1970’s, it calls for structural and electrical safety inspections for buildings 40 years old or older and every ten years, thereafter.

Click to 40-year or Older Building Safety Inspection Program
Since Broward and Dade County have both experienced structural building failures, this program was implemented to minimize potential reoccurrences and promote adequate focus on hurricane mitigation deficiencies. None of the member condos and coops in the Galt Mile Community Association are exempt from this requirement.

4564 El Mar Drive Balcony Collapse in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (2006)
Because Hurricane Wilma overwhelmed the administrative resources of virtually every Broward municipality, some cities could not implement the program in 2006. However, all jurisdictions have subsequently become current with inspections and plan reviews and are now prepared to respectively implement the program. This includes Fort Lauderdale.

Municipalities are authorized to establish a fee for reviewing the Safety Inspection Reports. The City of Fort Lauderdale Building Services Department charges a $300 fee at the time of submittal.

If the reports confirm that the building is safe, the Association will not be required to have another Building Safety Inspection for ten (10) years. In the event the report proves there are structural or electrical deficiencies, the Association will be afforded one-hundred-eighty (180) days to obtain the required permit(s) and complete the necessary repairs. Any property affected by the 40-year or Older Building Safety Program will receive a certified letter detailing relevant requirements.

Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals Official Seal As per Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals (Policy #05-05), “The owner of a building or structure subject to Building Safety Inspection shall furnish, or cause to be furnished, within ninety (90) days of Notice of Required Building Safety Inspection, the Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals Building Safety Inspection Certification Form to the Building Official, prepared by a Professional Engineer or Architect registered in the State of Florida, certifying that each such building or structure is structurally and electrically safe, or has been made structurally and electrically safe for the specified use for continued occupancy, in conformity with the minimum inspection procedural guidelines as issued by the Board of Rules and Appeals.”

An Open Forum was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 in the City Commission Chambers (100 N Andrews Avenue) to address misconceptions and elicit input concerning the program.

Building Services Director Valerie Bohlander
An Open Forum was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 in the City Commission Chambers (100 N Andrews Avenue) to address misconceptions and elicit input concerning the program. Earlier, GMCA President Pio Ieraci spoke with Fort Lauderdale Building Services Director Valerie Bohlander to explore ramifications of the Safety Program requirements. When confronted with a host of issues facing condos and coops currently undergoing expensive mitigation construction and structural rehabilitation, she offered to allay GMCA member concerns at the April 10, 2007 Presidents Council meeting, one day before the scheduled Open Forum. Her appearance afforded GMCA member association representatives direct access to address any confusion about the overall plan or problems unique to any particular member association.

City Manager George Demetrios Gretsas - Helps Fix Building Department
Bohlander has made remarkable progress resolving many of the problems that have long plagued the city’s building division. City Manager George Gretsas credits Bohlander with lowering the inspections turnaround time to a day. Plan review that used to take nine weeks is now down to three. While admitting that they still have a long way to go, Bohlander recently pointed out that the department had already issued over 12,000 permits by early March and expected to process about 50,000 for the year compared to the 38,882 they issued last year. Bohlander also re-established “chief” positions for each construction discipline to enhance accountability in the chain of command.

Since City Manager Gretsas took the reins in 2004, he reorganized the City’s advancement format, basing promotions and raises more on merit and less on longevity. Bohlander was rewarded with a two-year contract and a 17 percent pay increase, from just less than $118,000 in October 2004 to $138,112 now. Her roughly $180,000 total package includes pension, car allowance and other benefits. Other than cost-of-living adjustments, her raise was entirely merit-based.

Joined by Building Official Curtis Craig and Assistant Building Official Chris Augustin, Bohlander detailed the rationale for the Building Safety Inspection Program at the April 10th Presidents Council meeting. In 2006, a balcony fell off a building at 4564 El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The spontaneous collapse could have been foretold had the structure been inspected and its structural integrity examined. She said that as of 2007, 3 Galt Mile Associations would be notified about their required compliance with the Inspection Program, although uncertain about their identities. Among the likely candidates are Edgewater Arms and members of the Coral Ridge Towers Complex.

When asked how the Building Department determines the Structures age, Bohlander stated that they secure confirmation from the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office. Officially incorporated as Galt Mile Apartments, Inc., Coral Ridge Towers (CRT Original) was the first of the four co-op buildings in the Coral Ridge Towers complex built in the 1960’s with HUD financing. CRT Original successfully satisfied its 40-year HUD mortgage obligation in April, 2003, rendering it four years past due. Coral Ridge Towers North (Galt Plaza Apartments, Inc.) was next and Coral Ridge Towers East (Shore Drive Apartments, Inc.), built in 1966, was third of the four coops. However, Edgewater Arms, another coop, was first occupied in 1957, predating the CRT complex by 6 years. Over the next few years, two thirds of our member associations will face the mandated inspection. The cost for a structural inspection could range from $5 thousand to $20 thousand, depending on the size and complexity of the structure. The electrical inspection should be substantially less.

For information about the 40-year or Older Building Safety Program, please call (954) 828-6446.

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Galt Ocean Mile

Food 2007 Drive

April 27, 2007 - In mid-January, former Playa del Sol President Domenic Faro called the Galt Mile Community Association about an organization with which he had recently become involved. Mr. Faro serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Feeding Program, a small budget charity performing a multimillion dollar service for our community. Since Domenic is also the owner of Fort Lauderdale Real Estate, a realtor located in the Galt Mile Shopping Plaza (Winn-Dixie, etc.), he enjoys the unique perspective of those who both live and work in the Galt Mile neighborhood.

Domenic Faro
After describing the mission of the Cooperative Feeding Program as providing counseling and support to help families experiencing economic hardship out of the throes of difficult times, he requested the opportunity to address the February Presidents Council meeting. He was hoping to enlist the participation of our member associations in collecting food, personal hygiene products, baby formula and other basic necessities.

Donated Foodstuffs On February 5th, accompanied by Marc Hamelsky of L’Hermitage, Domenic made a pitch to a full house of association presidents and civic leaders. 16 of GMCA’s 26 member associations agreed to help feed the hungry.

Cooperative Feeding Program Kitchen at NW 33rd Terrace in Fort Lauderdale
In October 2005, The Cooperative Feeding Program celebrated 20 years of service to the hungry and homeless of Broward County. From the humble beginnings of distributing a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless, today they provide 1.2 million meals a year. Currently Broward County’s lead agency in the provision of services to the hungry and homeless, the agency's dramatic development has reflected the growing numbers and needs of the poor in our community. A totally private, federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that operates solely on the funds and gifts generated by socially conscious individuals, businesses and organizations like ours, the Cooperative Feeding Program fed 29,000 families and over 75,000 individuals last year. Rents were paid and move-in costs were provided to help families facing homelessness avoid that tragic disgrace. The organization provided this wide range of services with a remarkably pork-free 7% administrative overhead - audited.

Cooperative Feeding Program Pantry
Domenic Faro and food drive co-chairman Marc Hamelsky rolled up their sleeves. Over the next month, volunteers distributed special large and small collection bags to each of the participating associations. The large bags were central collection repositories and the smaller bags were distributed by each association to residents wishing to donate products. From March 15th through April 15th, thousands of Galt Mile residents donated thousands of pounds of canned meats and fish, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned meals, soups (canned and instant), peanut butter & jelly/jam, dried milk, pasta, rice, cereal and paper & plastic grocery bags. Baby food and baby formula (powdered or canned) and diapers of all sizes also filled the repository bags. Galt Milers donated reams of hygiene supplies such as small shampoos, conditioners, soap, toothbrushes, razors, and shaving cream to help those living on the streets and barely making ends meet. Each week, Cooperative Feeding Program volunteers visited our buildings, collecting the full bags and leaving empty replacements.

Following the final pickup, CFP’s Scott Woodburn corresponded with each of the participating associations, summarizing the final results of the Galt Ocean Mile Food Drive. His April 17th letter was a comparative study of the donations contributed by each of our members that opted to lend a hand. Some of the compiled statistics are quite startling.



Edgewater Arms & Plaza South are the Champs CONGRATULATIONS to all our food drive participating Condo Associations and leaders as 5,207.1 lbs of food was collected during our month long food drive.

Manager Charlie Baldwin for Plaza South - most food donated
Our overall Food Drive Total Pounds Champion of our “1st Annual” Galt Ocean Mile Food Drive and will hold the annual food drive Total Pounds Champions trophy for the year is PLAZA SOUTH under the leadership of Charles Baldwin, General Manager. Plaza South collected 958.5 pounds of food, great job.

Annemarie Adams for Edgewater Arms - most food donated per unit and Recognized Champion
Following in second place was Edgewater Arms, under the leadership of Annemarie Adams with 642 lbs and in third was Bonnie Leavitt’s Coral Ridge Towers ”Original” with 582.6 lbs followed closely by Candace Brown’s Regency Tower with 548.5 lbs, and Ellen O’Neil’s Ocean Riviera with 502 lbs.

Candace Brown for Regency Tower
Rounding out the group was Playa Del Sol (446 lbs), Galt Towers (300 lbs), Regency South (298 lbs), Fountainhead (294 lbs), L’Hermitage II (265.5 lbs), L’Hermitage I (217 lbs) and Ocean Summit with (153 lbs).

As we analyzed the results, I have decided there will be two Championship Trophies awarded. Not only were the total pounds of food donated a significant accomplishment but also the pounds per unit seemed to be a most compelling argument for top honors also. Therefore, our Food Drive LBS/UNIT Champion of our 1st Annual Galt Ocean Mile Food Drive and will hold the annual food drive LBS/UNIT Champions Trophy for the year is EDGEWATER ARMS under the leadership of Annemarie Adams with a spectacular 7.64 pounds of food per unit donated during the food drive.

Ellen O’Neill for Ocean Riviera
Rounding out the group was Plaza South (2.9 lbs/unit), Regency Tower (2.7 lbs/unit), Ocean Riviera (2.5 lbs/unit), Fountainhead (2.3 lbs/unit), Coral Ridge Towers ”Original” (1.8 lbs/unit), Regency South (1.5 lbs/unit), Playa Del Sol & L’Hermitage II (1.2 lbs/unit), Galt Towers (1.1 lbs/unit), L’Hermitage I (1 lb/unit) and Ocean Summit (.7 lbs/unit)

Bonnie Leavitt for CRT Original - most food donated per unit and Recognized Champion
We will have an appropriate awards ceremony in the near future, stay tuned for details.

A parting thought:

We all stumble upon things that are broken as we journey through life; it is how we lend our hand to the repair that creates the legacy of who we are.

Thank you to everyone who made this our first annual Galt Ocean Mile Food Drive such a wonderful success. May the blessings you have shared with the many that are less fortunate in our community be returned to you and your loved ones.

From everyone at the Cooperative Feeding Program thank you!

Scott A. Woodburn
CFP Development

Collection Results
(Top Twelve Associations)

Total WeightWeight per Unit
AssociationTotal lbsAssociationLbs/Unit
Plaza South958.5 poundsEdgewater Arms7.64 lbs/unit
Edgewater Arms642.0 poundsPlaza South2.90 lbs/unit
CRT ”Original”582.6 poundsRegency Tower2.70 lbs/unit
Regency Tower 548.5 poundsOcean Riviera2.50 lbs/unit
Ocean Riviera502.0 poundsFountainhead2.30 lbs/unit
Playa Del Sol446.0 poundsCRT ”Original”1.80 lbs/unit
Galt Towers300.0 poundsRegency South1.50 lbs/unit
Regency South298.0 poundsPlaya Del Sol1.20 lbs/unit
Fountainhead294.0 poundsL’Hermitage II1.20 lbs/unit
L’Hermitage II265.5 poundsGalt Towers1.10 lbs/unit
L’Hermitage I217.0 poundsL’Hermitage I1.00 lbs/unit
Ocean Summit153.0 poundsOcean Summit0.70 lbs/unit

Cooperative Feeding Program Headquarters - NW 33rd Terrace in Fort Lauderdale
Every resident who contributed food and sundries needs to know that they are nothing less than heroes to the future recipients of their bounty. While every participating association is a great source of pride to our entire community, we salute Plaza South for their massive effort - and we are surprised and delighted that Edgewater Arms, the Galt Mile’s smallest association, was second overall and convincingly first in donations per unit. Altogether, Galt Mile residents donated 2.60355 tons of food to hungry neighbors in one month! CONGRATULATIONS... and thanks!

The Cooperative Feeding Program is headquartered at NW 33rd Terrace in Fort Lauderdale (on the N. W. corner of Broward Blvd. and NW 33rd Terrace). Call them at (954) 792-2328, fax them at (954) 792-9982 or click here to send an email. Office and Emergency Pantry hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 4 PM. The Community Kitchen serves from 9 AM through 11 AM, Monday through Saturday and Sundays from 11 AM through 12:30 PM.

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

May 2007 Newsletter

May 1, 2007 - * Commissioner Ken Keechl took a trip to the State Capitol. Fulfilling an annual obligation expected of the nine Broward County Commissioners, Ken grabbed his portfolio of pro-Broward legislation and headed north to Tallahassee. While he met privately with Senators Atwater, Rich, and Ring and Representatives Skidmore, Bogdanoff, Seiler, Porth, Kiar, Jenne, and Gibbons to plead Broward’s legislative case, he took the opportunity to make points for issues to which he has a well-known commitment. It’s no secret that property tax reform, over-development, and environmental protection resonate with our District 4 County advocate. His May Newsletter recounts his Tallahassee objectives and subsequent achievements. Read on... - *[editor]

“Tallahassee Update”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
As many of you may know, the 2007 legislative session is underway in Tallahassee. As I write this article, the Florida House and Senate are more than halfway through their 2007 regular session. Many important bills that have the potential to affect our lives in Broward are being considered.

As is customary, each of the nine Broward County Commissioners was asked to travel to Tallahassee for a week to meet with various Florida Senators and Representatives. Our purpose is to advocate for those bills that would benefit Broward. Just as importantly, each Broward County Commissioner is also asked to advocate against those bills which would adversely affect our quality of life.

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr.
When asked by the Mayor whether I would travel to Tallahassee to “do my part”, I said “yes”, but only during a week when the Broward County Commission was not in session. I strongly believe that my first priority is to be sitting up on the dais when the Broward County Commission is in session, utilizing my vote to protect the interests of District 4. The Mayor agreed to my scheduling request and I visited our Broward-based elected officials in Tallahassee during the week of April 9th. While there I had the opportunity to meet privately with Senators Atwater, Rich, and King and Representatives Skidmore, Bogdanoff, Seiler, Porth, Kiar, Jenne, and Gibbons.

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl talks with legislators in Tallahassee
I voiced three major concerns with each of them. You can probably guess by now what they were: property tax reform, over-development, and environmental protection.

I reminded these elected officials that the property tax crisis affects every resident of District 4, regardless of political affiliation. I advised them of the promise I made to you during my campaign—that I would never vote to raise your property taxes. I reiterated to them that I strongly support property tax reform that limits the ability of counties and cities to raise your property taxes year, after year, after year. Nevertheless, I urged caution during this process. My message was simple. Every elected official-on a state, county or municipal level- must vote to decrease property taxes. Now. We must not, however, unintentionally eviscerate county and municipal governments in the process. I left Tallahassee with the belief that all of our Broward-based elected officials, republican and democrat, agreed.

I also asked each of these elected officials to oppose an awful bill that would eliminate the County’s ability to supervise many land use decisions of municipalities. As I have written before, we are fortunate that our County Charter grants this additional protection to Broward’s residents. Clearly, this power should be used sparingly. City Commissioners should be trusted to make land use decisions that are in the best interests of their residents. But, in reality, that doesn’t always happen. Whether it’s a landowner’s attempt to build McMansions on our dwindling number of golf courses, or a speculator’s attempt to increase density on our already overdeveloped barrier island, your County Commission (and specifically your County Commissioner) must retain the ability to just say “no” when city commissions lack the will to do so. I am extremely pleased to tell you that every elected official I met, republican or democrat, agreed to oppose this bill.

Ken Keechl tries to rescue Broward Wetlands in Tallahassee
Lastly, I asked each of these elected officials to oppose an equally offensive House bill that would basically eliminate the ability of Broward County to protect Florida’s critical wetlands. I reminded them that Broward, Palm Beach and other counties are the last line of defense for the protection of wetlands, and the only line of defense for wetlands under ½ an acre. I stressed the fact that this bill undermines the traditional approach to environmental protection in Florida, which is that local governments serve as the last line of protection, filling in the gaps where state and federal requirements do not adequately address the needs of the community. Again, I received a positive reception from the vast majority of the elected officials. I am cautiously optimistic that this bill will not become law.

I’m now back home in District 4 and looking out for your interests. As usual, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. I work for you.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Construction on NE 34th Street

Commissioner Christine Teel invites Galt Mile Residents and other interested parties to a meeting with representatives from the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Il Lugano project for an update on the construction as it nears completion.

Rendering of Il Lugano on the Intracoastal
Il Lugano on the Intracoastal
The Beach Community Center
The Beach Community Center

  • Commissioner Christine Teel
    Commissioner Christine Teel
    • Thursday, May 17, 2007
  • Time:
    • 10:00 a.m.
  • Location:

For more information, please call Catherine Wichmann, Assistant to Commissioner Christine Teel, at the City Commission Office at 954-828-5033 or 954-828-5004. Click Here to email Commissioner Teel.

Christine Teel
City Commissioner, District I

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

June 2007 Newsletter

May 25, 2007 - * Thirteen years after requesting guidance from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) about tailoring the area's main air link (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport) to the needs of the county constituency, the flying public and local residents, the Broward County Commission received a reply. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) composed by the FAA and third party consultant Landrum & Brown documents nine alternatives for the Commission’s consideration (eight expansion strategies and an obligatory “do nothing” option, useful primarily for comparison purposes). In his June newsletter, Commissioner Ken Keechl examines the issues surrounding this political “Hot Potato” and enumerates potential consequences. He describes one option (the “B1c Alternative”) to expand the Southern Runway (9R/27L) at a cost of $694,856,230 that seemingly best balances the operational needs of the Airport, mitigates adverse environmental impacts and aspires to consider neighborhood concerns about noise, traffic, strain on public services, etc. Prior to committing his support, our District 4 Commissioner would like to know what you think! - *[editor]

“Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport Runway Expansion”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
The Broward County Commission has an extremely important decision facing us. On June 5th we must finally decide whether to expand the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport runway. I have been studying this issue for months and I continue to welcome input from the business community and the residents of District 4.

In 1994, the Broward County Commission submitted a proposal to the FAA to address existing and anticipated future airfield capacity and delay issues. The Commission’s primary goal was (and is) to enhance the airport’s capacity to accommodate aircraft traffic through the year 2020 in a manner that would maintain an average flight delay at or below the industry-acceptable 6 to 10 minute average.

Although there have been various amendments over the last 13 years, the Commission basically proposed expanding the “southern runway” from its current length of 5,276 feet to 8,000 feet. The Commission’s proposal would also widen the southern runway from 100 feet to 150 feet. This proposal is commonly referred to as the “B1c Alternative”.

Working with an independent third party consultant, the FAA has now issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Its purpose is to evaluate the potential environmental impact of the “B1c Alternative” and to suggest additional reasonable alternatives. The DEIS must analyze the operational costs and benefits of all of the expansion alternatives. Importantly, the DEIS must also take into account the ramifications of not expanding the southern runway.

B1c Alternative - Southern Runway (9R/27L) Expansion Alternative
According to the FAA, since the commencement of commercial service in 1953, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International has become one of the busiest and fastest growing airports in the U.S., accommodating more than 22 million passengers in 2005. The FAA has identified our airport as one of the 15 airports nationwide that will require additional capacity by 2013. The FAA has predicted that annual aircraft operations are projected to increase by 2.2 percent annually from 2006 to 2012 and by 2.3 percent annually from 2012 to 2020. What does this really mean? If the FAA is correct, by the year 2020 average flight delays will increase from 6 minutes per aircraft to 26 minutes per aircraft. Consider this: for each aircraft that takes off on time, another will average a 52 minute delay.

Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area
The FAA has also stated that the expansion of the airport will actually reduce annual air pollutant emissions as compared to doing nothing. Why? Because the FAA predicts a net reduction in aircraft operations on the ground during taxi and departure queue delays.

There are, of course, arguments against the runway expansion. Some argue that the projected increase in airport traffic is overstated. Others take exception to any increased noise for those residents who live next to the airport. And some opponents have argued that the projected cost of the runway expansion (which is not paid by property taxes, but by the users of the airport) is nevertheless understated. These are all valid concerns which I will take into account before I make my decision.

Whether I vote for or against the runway expansion, you can be assured that my decision will be made after listening to both proponents and opponents of the expansion, and it will be based on what I believe is best for Broward County. You deserve nothing less.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Condo Crane Crashes
Chabad Roof

Construction at Playa del Sol
June 19, 2007 - Early Saturday morning on June 2nd, after being lulled to sleep by Tropical Storm Barry’s intermittent white noise winds,
Playa del Sol residents were awakened by a resounding crash. Most drifted back to sleep, attributing the noise to some debris being tossed about by the 4:30 AM storm winds. Playa residents curious enough to make their way to the window were startled by a light show of sparks radiating from the tangle of downed power lines. Upon arising, the others also learned that the 300-foot arm of the 165-ton crane parked at their entrance was disengaged by the strong winds during the night and crashed through the roof of the Chabad Lubavitch across the street. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Front Entrance to Mikvah on A1A
The crane was required for work being performed on the Association’s roof. Playa del Sol is located at 3600 Galt Ocean Drive and while the Chabad Lubavitch is at 3500 North Ocean Boulevard, the Orthodox Temple’s rear entrance faces Playa del Sol. Just north of the Chabad Sanctuary are the Filstein/Martin Torah Academy at 3518 North Ocean Boulevard, the Temple’s Mikvah at 3536 North Ocean Boulevard and the Emunah Café & Book Store at 3558 North Ocean Boulevard. The crane arm demolished the Mikvah, a ritual bath used for physical and spiritual immersion and cleansing. While used regularly by married Orthodox Jewish women following menstrual cycles, the $1 million Mikvah facility is frequented by men as well.

Mangled Crane Arm Dangling from Mikvah Roof
The crane penetrated the roof in multiple locations, exposing the mangled interior to the storm’s heavy rains. Although downgraded to a Tropical Depression later that day, Tropical Storm Barry’s 45 mph winds were amplified to almost 60 mph by inter-building vortices before carrying the heavy crane component all the way to its ultimate target on North Ocean Boulevard (A1A). Barry’s 3 - 6 inches of rainfall quickly saturated the bath house, adding substantial water damage to the structural devastation. The Mikvah floor was covered in a soup containing large sections of roofing material, deteriorating chucks of drywall, sheets of twisted insulation, cracked flooring tiles and bent and broken pipes. The fully saturated nearby exercise equipment continuously leaked water.

Detective Katherine Collins
Detective Katherine Collins, spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, attributed the incident to storm winds. In compliance with Standard Operational guidelines, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was contacted. As per its mandate, OSHA will perform a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the event. Although electricity was knocked out in the businesses along the east side of North Ocean Boulevard, the condos along Galt Ocean Drive were spared that inconvenience.

After evaluating the damage, Building maintenance supervisor and Chabad Congregant Ronnie Cook declared, “Water was pouring out of everything, it was a mess.” Upon first entering the premises, Cook exclaimed, “Part of the roof was missing, I couldn’t believe it.” Faced with an enormous rehabilitation effort to reclaim the Mikvah, Cook surmised, “A lot of water damage, a lot of structural damage. It’s going to have to be rebuilt.” Waxing nostalgic about the loss, Mr. Cook said, “A lot of time and energy put into it. A lot of thoughtful hearts and we have to do it again, only better.”

Maintenance Supervisor Ronnie Cook Checks Mikvah Damage
Since the event occurred on the Sabbath, the day of rest, repairs had to wait until after sundown on Saturday evening. A prohibition against the performance of any work – or use of equipment – during the Sabbath also precluded any temporary rehabilitation of the premises by congregants prior to religious services later that morning. While services proceeded without electricity, construction workers and Florida Power & Light Co. employees started cleaning up the mess.

The Lamplighter In a monument to irony, the Torah lesson or “Parshah” scheduled for the Sabbath service was entitled, The Lamplighter. In a passage from Numbers 8:1-12:16 that was read aloud and discussed among 50 candle-bearing congregants, Aaron, the brother of Moses, was commanded to light the lamps of the menorah prior to the tribe of Levi being initiated into the service of the Sanctuary. The candlelit environment provided a poignant backdrop to the service.

Crane Arm Spans Access to Chabad Mikvah
Grateful for the absence of damage in the darkened main sanctuary, Assistant Rabbi Yitzchok Naparstek said, “Everything is regular, normal. It’s a challenge, but this is what we stand for. Everything is up to God.” Addressing the Sabbath prohibition against immediately commencing repairs, the Rabbi said, “We have to wait now until night to get started. For now, we’re just thanking God that no one was hurt in this fall. It’s a building and it will be rebuilt.” Yes Rabbi, from your lips to God’s ear.

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Sidewalks and Saplings

June 29, 2007 - One of the irritating mysteries facing Galt Mile residents has been the confusing condition of our sidewalks and landscaping. A few years ago, the City started to rehabilitate the landscaping along Galt Ocean Drive. Despite the obvious improvements acclaimed by residents, the project was halted abruptly. When the Galt Mile Community Association inquired about the aborted progress, City of Fort Lauderdale Urban Forester Gene Dempsey explained at a Presidents Council meeting that a horticulturist was hired to ensure that the flora planned for the area was environmentally appropriate. When asked by suspicious association officials about the City’s historically “intermittent” commitment to maintaining the Galt Mile in a “Disney-Like manner” (as contractually guaranteed) and about the aesthetic adequacy of the new horticulturist’s intentions, Mr. Dempsey made two promises. He said that he would personally oversee the project timetable and ensure its aesthetic objectives.

Hurricane Wilma understandably shifted the City’s commitment – and residents’ expectations – to the back burner. When Fort Lauderdale finally dug itself out from the Storm’s disastrous effects, Parks and Recreation Director Phil Thornburg restated the City’s commitment to upgrading the neighborhood’s neglected landscaping. Following the City’s selection of Atria Landscape Development Corporation as the contractor charged with implementing the landscaping upgrades, District 1 Commissioner Christine Teel agreed to keep Association officials posted about the plan’s progress.

Green Buttonwoods in front of Southpoint
The City Commission authorized the purchase of trees costing $87,276 from the Atria Landscape Development Corporation in Pembroke Pines, the lowest of eight bidders. The contract included the removal of tree trunks and root balls for $28,080, the planting of 80 Myrcianthes Frangrans – Simpson Stoppers (in Sidewalk Cutouts) for $34,276 and 60 Clear Trunk Sabal Palmetto Sabal Palms for $11,400.

On April 17, 2006, Ricardo Lanati of the Atria Landscape Development Corp. notified Urban Forester Gene Dempsey that Atria had “completed the 1st stage of the Galt Ocean Mile Project, by removing and stump grinding around 300 trees and Palm stumps and trunks.” The 244 Green Buttonwoods (reminiscent of the trees on the Addams Family front lawn) and 50 Coconut Palms had been cut to a height of 4 feet and carefully removed in stages to avoid damaging water and utility lines entangled in their root balls. Lanati explained, “We have capped all of the irrigation lines that were broken, and we are coordinating with Mr. Cliff from the City of Fort Lauderdale for the reinstallation of the irrigation where possible.” The extensive root systems of the trees slated for removal also threatened damage to the sidewalks and the cover grates upon extraction. Lanati said, “There was no damage reported on the sidewalks or tree grates.”

Stumped Green Buttonwoods trunks in front of Southpoint
Lanati also described the 2nd stage of the project last April. “This week we are going to proceed on the repairs of the irrigation and the electric lines and by the middle of the week will start bringing the trees.” Lanati expected to plant the Myrcianthes Frangrans – Simpson Stoppers – on the east side of the block. Evidently, the number of trees required to adequately line the block was grossly underestimated. If unable to locate additional Simpson Stoppers, Lanati offered to substitute Silver Buttonwoods (Conocarpus erectus sericeus) 6’ – 8’ standard, at the beginning and end of the block. 80 Silver Buttonwoods were also scheduled for planting on the west side of the street. Lanati said, “The Silvers will blend very well in the area, and with the Washingtonians, and Sabals, around the Publix* [sic* - Winn Dixie] parking field. There is an existing group of Silvers, as well, in the area near L’Hermitage.”

Myrcianthes Frangrans-Simpson Stoppers
Incredibly, the City ran out of trees about halfway down the block. Whoever was responsible for determining the number of Simpson Stoppers required to fulfill the contract had evidently miscounted. Instead of planting the substitute Silver Buttonwoods “at the beginning and end of the block” as intimated in Lanati’s correspondence, they were planted in front of every association north of Galt Ocean Club, where Atria ran out of Simpson Stoppers. As if personally plagued by Murphy, the newly planted six-foot trees started dying all along Galt Ocean Drive. The sidewalk planters were in a permanent state of disarray, housing an assortment of dead fauna and wood chips. The specialty lighting along the block remained unrepaired and the street was lined with a combination of broken sidewalks and sidewalk sections repaired using varying colors of aggregate. The sidewalks that we paid for through a special assessment were being morphed into a disconcerting crazy-quilt.

Fort Lauderdale Parks Department Director Phil Thornburg
Following an inquiry by Commissioner Christine Teel last summer, Parks Department Director Phil Thornburg notified the Commissioner on September 13th that the lighting on the east side had been repaired and the west side would be completed by the end of the following week. He also said that Department personnel were monitoring the recently planted trees, replacing the ones that failed to thrive. He promised that the palms and silver buttonwoods would be pruned and that mulching would continue. Maria, a Parks Department employee whose years of grooming Galt Mile landscaping had endeared her to local residents, had been previously reassigned to other duties. She would be returned to work on the Galt Mile.

Since then, the sidewalk beds have been substantially rehabilitated. The new plantings are miraculously surviving. Returning Maria to her former duties has ostensibly helped produce an expected dividend. The lamps are back to full functionality and the original horticulturist has evidently passed into history. Still on the table are the cracked and uneven sidewalks, the lack of an aggregate color standard and the size and health of the trees planted along the block. To clarify the underlying rationale for these persistent problems, a meeting was arranged on June 20th between the City and GMCA representatives.

Scraggly Green Buttonwood, reminiscent of the tree gracing the Addams Family Lawn
At 8:30 AM, Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Terry Rynard and Parks Foreman Tim Southby met with GMCA President Pio Ieraci to tour the block and identify outstanding deficiencies. The “elephant in the matchbox” was clearly the replacement trees. Although Parks and Recreation has swapped out the dead saplings for live saplings, neighborhood residents have long been at a loss to understand why saplings were planted at all. While the “Addams Family” Green Buttonwoods were admittedly poor candidates as keystone tree staples, at least they were medium sized trees, affording a modicum of shade and the promise of a graceful maturity. Why were they being replaced with baby trees suffering from multi-week life spans? Although Galt Mile demographics currently reflect a precipitous drop in the average homeowner’s age, many residents resent a 10-year loss of tree growth in the bargain.

Stumping Machine on west side of Galt Ocean Drive

Although empathetic with residents’ disappointment, Tim Southby sought to clarify the Department’s underlying reasons for deliberately planting undersized trees. “The silver buttonwoods that we have planted on the walkway were chosen for their size for many reasons,” exclaimed Southby. “The openings in the sidewalk are only so big. Many of the old root systems are still in the ground from the old trees and from other trees along the sidewalk. Electrical and irrigation for these trees runs through these openings, causing us to use smaller and not as mature specimens as we would like to have used.” Southby was referring to the same problem discovered by Atria’s Lanati last year, when the contractor’s plan to effortlessly extract the stumped trees like inflamed wisdom teeth was thwarted by root system entanglements. Foreman Southby continued, “For this reason we have had to stake and strap the trees in ways we normally would not like to have to use. We know that it isn’t the most attractive method but it is working.”

Newly Planted Trees Strapped and braced until capable of self-support

The storm-shocked Green Buttonwoods (and their predecessors along the Galt) were foolishly planted adjacent to electrical lines feeding the street lighting, water lines for irrigation, sewer and drainage components and cable wires. Additionally, Green Buttonwoods are notorious for propagating extensive root systems. When these root systems were exposed during the course of the project, the contractor realized that he was in over his head. Atria discovered that the roots were inseparably entangled with electrical lines, water and gas pipes, telephone cables and other utility lines. As observed by curious residents and association officials casually tracking the project’s progress, the thick profusion of roots had also embedded themselves into the sidewalk panels, adjacent perimeter walls, even the street curbs.

Green Buttonwoods responsible for damage lined Galt Sidewalk
The contractor tried cutting while City Parks officials considered poisoning and burning to shrink the offending root systems. Their efforts were futile or rife with dangerous consequences (i.e. poisoning). Since the root balls anchoring the Wilma-shredded green buttonwoods appeared to represent an insurmountable obstacle, the plan to extract them and plant new trees in their place was returned to the drawing board for strategic reconsideration. Despite the inclusion of necessary repairs to damaged utility lines, the revision still lacked an effective methodology to replace the tenacious trees.

Root Systems Entangled Tree Grates
City officials had to find a way to plant new trees without first having to remove the stifling remnant root balls. Initially, unsupported trees were planted in whatever space was available amid the overcrowded root remnants. As often as not, they died. If they could somehow sustain the trees following their initial implantation, the replacements’ chances for survival would increase substantially. Tim Southby explained steps recently taken by the Parks Department to accomplish this objective, “We are also currently topping off most of the buttonwoods to stop adding more stress to the lower trunk and the root system. This will allow the trunk to thicken up and give it the strength that we need to allow the strapping to come off and make the sidewalk area more appealing.” By initially keeping the tree small, its growth resources will be directed towards bulking up the trunk, affording it earlier support self-sufficiency. Tim contends that this strategy, in combination with concentrating scheduled fertilization, will visibly shorten the period during which the trees appear to be undersized.

While confirming that insufficient planting space due to the intractable residual root systems is primarily responsible for the new trees’ poor survival rate, Southby shed light on some contributing factors to their abbreviated life spans, “We have also encountered many trees destroyed by vandalism which has been noted by residents of the Galt and some have been destroyed by contractors working on certain buildings.”

Strapped and Staked Sapling fights to survive
About halfway through the tour that started at Southpoint and headed north up Galt Ocean Drive, Tim Southby and Terry Rynard were asked how long the trees would have to remain strapped to stakes before acquiring adequate strength to support themselves. They assured us that the strapped up condition of these small silver buttonwoods is a temporary irritant. “We hope by June of 2008 the strapping will come off most of the trees except for the ones that we have had to replace in the last few weeks,” predicted Southby. To place the extent of the problem into perspective, he added, “The landscape crew has replaced 35 buttonwoods on the Galt since March of 2007.”

Assistant Parks Director Rynard agreed with Southby’s assessment, exclaiming “You won’t have to wait ten years to see substantial growth. We’re making the best out of a bad situation. We plan to intensively fertilize the new trees. Once they are firmly rooted, we should see some rapid growth.” Southby blamed the old root balls for some of the damage sustained by the aggregate sidewalks originally installed as part of the Galt Mile Improvement Project. He explained “The root systems spread under the entire area. We found them wrapped around the tree cover grates and they dislodged sidewalks.”

Dislodged Aggregate Panel Rising Above Grade
When confronted with cracked and upturned sidewalk sections, Rynard said that the City would attempt to level the affected areas. While some of the tripping hazards can be ameliorated by grinding and patching the aggregate, addressing the crazy quilt effect doesn’t lend itself to simple structural corrections. Utilities, contractors and vendors whose contractual maintenance obligations require excavation or demolition of original sidewalk sections are responsible for returning the area to its pre-construction state. Unable to accurately match the pink hues utilized to color the original aggregate, each vendor installs a different color variant, resulting in a discordant concrete patchwork.

Cracked Aggregate is Serious Tripping Hazard
Another municipal oversight contributes to the patchwork dilemma. Surprisingly, the city failed to stockpile adequate reserves of the original pink aggregate used for the Galt Mile Improvement Project. The token amounts set aside for repairs were exhausted within several months of the Project’s completion.

Braced Palms in full Sidewalk Beds
The Improvement Project was financed through a self-levied assessment on the residents of the Galt Mile neighborhood – not the city. In exchange for the community underwriting project costs, the City agreed to maintain the improvements “in a Disney-like manner”, intimating that municipal maintenance would be attentive and utilize high quality materials. During the past decade, GMCA officials have contended that the City has intermittently been in breach of this contractual commitment.

Outside consultants have recommended that the City underwrite a professional attempt to approximate the original aggregate recipe using samples of existing aggregate as a control guide. Upon issuing a permit for the next excavation of Galt Mile sidewalk, the demolished sidewalk aggregate could be collected and submitted for analysis. A formula similar to the original mix could be reconstructed and tested for consistency, product resilience and strength. Mandating that excavations be repaired using the newly redeveloped aggregate formula would eliminate further aesthetic inconsistency.

Palm Beds Cleaned Up
Some of the convoluted rationale expressed by city officials for previous failures to adequately maintain the landscaping and the sidewalks has served to indiscriminately cloud overall municipal credibility. Nevertheless, the current Parks Department team has recently made palpable improvements to both. Following a shaky start, Director Phil Thornburg and Assistant Director Terry Rynard have assembled a team with the skills and political will to effectuate the long overdue upgrades. Unlike past disappointments wherein supervisory personnel were seemingly arbitrarily “exchanged” as a palliative to expressions of local frustration, current Parks Foreman Tim Southby is not only competent, but is authoritatively familiar with the obstacles he is charged with overcoming.

Well-kept Sidewalk Beds
Rynard and Southby have thus far transformed the sidewalk beds from little “boot hill”-style brown yards into flourishing well-manicured islands of environmentally appropriate tropical flora. Before charging in with another round of failed plantings, they took the trouble to diagnose the underlying problems, formulate a plan that should circumvent the root ball dilemma and create a planting and fertilization schedule engineered to expedite growth. Having completed these preparations, they ask only that their newly implemented tree replacement strategy be afforded the opportunity to bear fruit. Notwithstanding a natural proclivity for suspicion in view of recent disappointments, their request for patience is reasonable.

After touring the block with the two Parks officials, GMCA President Pio Ieraci summarized his outlook, “Considering Parks Director Thornburg’s well-deserved reputation for candor and integrity, I am very encouraged by the intensity with which Assistant Director Terry Rynard and Parks Foreman Tim Southby have characterized their mission on the Galt Mile.” Optimistic about their having participated in a walk-through organized to better understand community expectations, Ieraci said, “In contrast with past meetings, I believe that the officials responsible for our neighborhood landscaping and street maintenance are familiar with our concerns and have developed a workable plan. Although the problems are a lot more complicated than we assumed, the Parks Department plan should ultimately result in a beautiful tree-lined thoroughfare. ” Ieraci said that he was impressed with Tim Southby’s detailed conversance with the community’s landscaping pitfalls and Terry Rynard’s uncompromising intention to see the Galt Mile upgrades through to completion. “For the first time since the Galt Mile Improvement Project, our local Parks personnel and the Parks Administration are pulling together to fix the problem. Whether or not this is a seed change will become apparent over the next few months.”

Time, as always, will tell...

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Galt Mile Beach at 4000 Block

Bad Day at the Beach

Galt Mile Beach at 4000 Block
July 12, 2007 - When most of the Galt Mile’s current residents were considering where to anchor their lives and those of their families, the Galt Mile beach was arguably the single most compelling factor for narrowing that decision. A catalyst for regeneration and growth, the beach is the beating heart of the Galt Mile neighborhood. In contrast, two tragic fatalities - one accidental and one questionable - marked June 2007 as a bad month at the beach.

On Saturday, June 30th, in the late morning, a snorkeler swimming in the ocean near the 4000 block of Galt Ocean Drive called to startled passers-by for help. Playa del Mar and Ocean Summit beachgoers watched with concern as a Samaritan scrambled into the ocean to render assistance. At 11:15 AM, the distressed swimmer was retrieved to the shore, immobile. Upon their arrival, Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue performed CPR, attempting to revive the 50-year-old victim. Following repeated futile ministrations, he was pronounced dead by attending EMS personnel.

Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Katherine Collins
Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Katherine Collins, FLPD’s Public Information Officer, commented that “no lifeguards monitor that section of the beach.” Describing where the victim was snorkeling when overcome, Detective Collins said, “He was well out there.” She explained that while snorkeling, the swimmer probably encountered a rip current. By the time his cries for help elicited assistance, he was already overcome by exhaustion, drained by a sustained, futile attempt to struggle against the rip current. Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue confirmed that the strong winds and tides over that weekend seriously heightened the risk to swimmers by rip currents.

Rip currents are, by far, the single greatest cause of beach fatalities in Florida (80%). These shoreline phenomena claim the lives of Galt Mile residents and visitors almost every year. Although unable to adequately safeguard swimmers by posting lifeguards along its entire beachfront, Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue initiated an information campaign this year to help abate local drowning statistics. Being trapped in a rip current is often an eminently survivable experience. By swimming parallel to the shoreline for a relatively short distance, even an average swimmer can escape the mostly narrow area gripped by the irresistible rip current.

Rip Current Configuration

Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue, a division of Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue, sent representatives throughout the municipality’s beachfront communities to teach residents how to avoid becoming a rip current statistic. At the April 10, 2007 Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council meeting, Ocean Rescue personnel gave Association officials a brief seminar about the State’s primary beachfront killer. They clearly demonstrated that, barring catastrophic complications (i.e. sudden cardiac arrest, overwhelming panic, heart attack, etc.), most rip current fatalities were avoidable. Volumes of flyers and educational materials covering the subject were distributed following the address.

Click Here for a Larger View During the next few weeks, Ocean Rescue staffers visited dozens of Barrier Island condominiums and coops, dropping off posters, hand mail and additional materials to bolster their initial effort. Included in the Presidents Council address and the distributed materials was an explanation of The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Uniform Beach Warning Flag system - designed to alert swimmers to potentially hazardous beach conditions. Some of the indicator flags are intuitive (green flag: low hazard, calm conditions; yellow flag: medium hazard, moderate surf/and or currents; red flag: high hazard, rough conditions, strong surf and/or currents (rip currents). Others require interpretation – purple flag means marine pests are present (jellyfish) and a double red flag (red over red) means that water access is closed to the public – “Keep Out”. Although the system isn’t implemented in areas not monitored by lifeguards, Ocean Rescue finally created a web site that displays the appropriate flags each day and offers additional current information about local ocean conditions. It is highly recommended that residents and visitors check the online beach report or call (954) 828-4597. It is a no-brainer if the kids plan to hit the beach.

A two-minute telephone call might have averted the June 30th drowning. Detective Collins declared that the victim’s name would be withheld until his family was notified. The Saturday morning tragedy represented the second of two incidents haunting Galt beachgoers on June 30, 2007. Two weeks earlier, the stage was being set for another beach fatality, one in which fate played second fiddle to behavior described by an observer as “barbaric”.

Casual Patricide

Playa del Sol
On June 15th, Playa del Sol residents Robert Michael Yurkanin Jr. and Robert Michael Yurkanin Sr. descended from their 20th floor apartment to enjoy a day at the beach behind the 29-story condominium located at 3500 Galt Ocean Drive. Built in 1976, Playa del Sol is one of the premier condominiums lining the beach in the prestigious Galt Mile neighborhood. Upon the passing of Gertrude Yurkanin in 2003, unit 2005a was deeded to the co-habiting father and son. Despite their comfortable high-end environment, the family endured the emotional burdens suffered by an Alzheimer’s patient and a younger caregiver.

Once at the beach, 84-year-old Yurkanin Sr. stripped off his swim trunks and stood naked on the sand. Despite the Alzheimer-motivated nature of his father’s behavior, Yurkanin Jr. flew into a rage. Hurling a stream of invectives, 50-year-old Robert Jr. grabbed his father, who either fell or was pushed to the sand in the ensuing struggle. To deter potential interference by concerned neighbors, he characterized his seemingly abusive behavior to onlookers as the “only way he is going to learn.” Yurkanin Jr. then dragged his father into the water, apparently intending to force him to redon his swim trunks. During the several minutes they were situated in waist-deep water, Yurkanin Sr.’s head was repeatedly submerged as Yurkanin Jr. elevated his father’s legs to guide them into the previously discarded swim suit.

Robert Michael Yurkanin Jr.
Having succeeded in again dressing his father, Yurkanin Jr. dragged him back toward the beach, leaving him prostrate at the water line. After the incident, Yurkanin Jr. opted to go for a swim. Shocked by what appeared to be dispassionate abuse, aghast witnesses called 911 and proceeded to create a photographic record of the tracks made from the body having been dragged across the beach. While worried neighbors were calling for an ambulance, Robert Jr. forcibly commandeered the cell phone and attempted to reverse the request for help, insisting that paramedics weren’t necessary and, if dispatched, would be refused permission to provide emergency assistance to his father. Notwithstanding Yurkanin Jr.’s protests, an EMS team was immediately dispatched to Playa del Sol.

Fort Lauderdale Detective John Curcio
Upon the arrival of rescue workers, Yurkanin Sr. was still lying prone in the sand, unconscious. Police confirmed that he wasn’t breathing when emergency treatment commenced. Paramedics transported the stricken Alzheimer’s patient to Holy Cross Hospital. On Monday, June 16th - the following morning - Robert Michael Yurkanin Sr. passed away.

Two weeks later, on June 30th, police charged Robert Michael Yurkanin Jr. with murder in the June 16th death of his father. A forensic investigation revealed the death to be a direct result of complications from near-drowning. According to an arrest warrant filed by Fort Lauderdale Detective John Curcio, the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that his death was therefore a homicide. In addition to the felony murder, Yurkanin Jr. was charged with aggravated abuse of an elderly person. Prior to exercising the arrest warrant, the police elicited testimony from a battery of witnesses whose willingness to cooperate seemed fueled by their anger over Yurkanin Jr.’s seeming indifference to the incident’s depravity.


German Physician Alois Alzheimer
Previously camouflaged by a host of conditions related to the natural degeneration that accompanies aging and assorted varieties of dementia, the new millennium brought Alzheimer’s into sharp focus. A brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906, it embraces a broad spectrum of symptomatic expression.

The disgust and anger suffered by witnesses and others familiar with what transpired are natural reactions to what is clearly abhorrent and callous behavior. That the participants are father and son serves to further inflame those passions. However, as expressed by a neighborhood physician familiar with syndromes ancillary to the disease, the casual brutality displayed is not unique in homes plagued by Alzheimer’s.

Click to the Alzheimer’s Association Web Site In fact, prior to filing final charges, the prosecutor must first ascertain whether the homicide was reckless or intentional. The Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research, targets caregiver stress as one of the most insidious consequences of the disease. If organization of an appropriate and effective support system is neglected, the lives of the patient and every family member deteriorate into unmanageable sources of unrelenting pain and suffering. With time, to survive the persistent pressure, they nourish a growing emotional detachment. As the normal behavioral restraints are so muted, dispassionate abuse becomes neither extraordinary nor “unusual”.

A Jury is likely to write the final chapter As such, the prosecutor is charged with considering these potentially mitigating factors and evaluating the extent to which they are relevant to the case. Should the State find that this psychological shielding is inapplicable and/or inappropriate, it will find its way into a defense attorney’s toolkit. Absent a guilty plea, Robert Michael Yurkanin Jr.’s fate will likely be decided by a jury of his peers.

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Commissioner Teel’s Budget Newsletter

FY 2008

Commissioner Christine Teel and City Manager George Gretsas
July 22, 2007 - Commissioner Christine Teel represents the residents of District 1 on Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission. As the Galt Mile neighborhood’s voice in City government, Commissioner Teel has fought tirelessly to advance our interests as part of a progressive citywide agenda - a difficult balancing act under the best conditions. Her bi-weekly pre-agenda meetings, held in preparation for the following day’s City Commission meeting, are vehicles she created to solicit input from district residents. Several times each year, she publishes a newsletter designed to communicate directly with her constituents. A political veteran of Fort Lauderdale’s fiscal decline and subsequent recovery, every summer she composes a correspondence dedicated to detailing goals, objectives and consequences adherent to the City’s budgetary intentions. Summarizing City Manager George Gretsas’ fiscal handiwork and the impending budget’s anticipated constituent impact, her annual “Budget Newsletter” is replete with tools useful for determining how new tax reform legislation affects each taxpayer. READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

Commissioner Christine Teel
It is time, once again for the proposed budget to be reviewed by the City Commission. Our City Manager, George Gretsas, was faced with some unique challenges in putting together a budget for fiscal year 2008. The budget needed to be reduced by approximately 11 million dollars, due to the recent tax reform bill passed by the State Legislature. The main test of this current budget is to manage this reduction without significantly reducing the quality and level of services expected by the citizens of Fort Lauderdale.

City Manager George Demetrios Gretsas - New Budget Proposal
To meet this challenge, the City Manager has met with all of the Commissioners to determine their goals and priorities for the upcoming year. In addition, he has formulated his initiatives in this current budget to address these Commission goals and priorities and provide citizens with tax relief, all the while keeping the City on course for long-term financial stability. The current proposed budget builds upon the momentum of the past three years, and focuses on the five major goals and objectives discussed at the Commissions’ annual goal setting conference.

The Five major goals and objectives are:

  1. Minimize impacts due to property tax cuts by the State
  2. Continue to focus on quality of life issues
  3. Develop plans for the City’s future
  4. Improve neighborhoods
  5. Improve City infrastructure

It is very important to the City Manager and the City Commission, in working together toward all of these goals and objectives, to keep in mind the City’s overall financial health and to continue to provide a high level of service to the citizens of Fort Lauderdale.

Click Here to Proposed 2007/2008 Annual Operating Budget
The Proposed 2007/2008 Annual Operating Budget is accessible from the City of Fort Lauderdale Website:

  1. Go to

  2. Under “What’s New?” click on Proposed 2007/2008 Annual Operating Budget

  3. When on budget website page again click on Proposed 2007/2008 Annual Operating Budget

  4. Click on the pages symbol on the upper left-hand side of the screen to view thumbnail images of the pages.

  5. Click on the desired thumbnail image of page to enlarge - all 79 pages are online.

(It is necessary to have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer to read and print the pages.)

Public Hearings on the City budget will be held at the September 5th and September 18th City Commission Regular Meetings at 6:00 pm. You are welcome and encouraged to attend.

According to Broward County Property Appraiser, Lori Parrish:

  • “The bottom line is the statutory roll back law takes effect this year—but it cannot yet be determined if or how much you will individually save on your November tax bill, please watch for your TRIM (PROPOSED TAX NOTICE) in August, 2007 for specific tax information. Voters will cast ballots on proposed constitutional amendment in January 2008. We’ve posted full copies of the property tax roll-back law and the proposed amendment on our website at and will soon have an interactive calculator to compare how much you’d save - if any under the competing options”.

This information will assist you in understanding the upcoming changes to your tax bill. You may also find it helpful to bring your TRIM notice with you to the City’s public hearings on the budget.

Have a wonderful summer!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. I can be reached at City Hall at (954) 828-5004 or by e-mail at

Christine Teel                

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

July/August 2007 Newsletter

August 3, 2007 - * In keeping with his commitment to achieve certain fiscal and environmental objectives and post his constituency, District 4 County Commissioner Ken Keechl devoted his July and August “Summer of 2007” Newsletter to describing four examples of hard progress toward these ends. During Commissioner Keechl’s first eight months in office, the Commission agreed to responsibly expand the servicing capabilities of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, slice nearly $100 million from the County Budget, adopt a Boat Facility Siting Plan that increases the number of boat slips while protecting Manatees and amend Broward’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan to better protect the County’s dwindling green space from development. - *[editor]

“Making Campaign Promises A Reality”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
After 8 months in office, I am absolutely convinced that there have never been so many important issues facing our County. I ran for this office promising you a change from the status quo. You agreed that a change in direction was necessary. As you will read below, we are making progress. I would like to use my summer newsletter to briefly advise you of four important votes recently taken by the County Commission, each which reflects our shared vision of an environmentally sensitive, fiscally conservative, Broward County.

  1. By a 6-3 vote, the County Commission has voted to extend the southern runway at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Intl. Airport.

  2. County Commission is lowering your property taxes.

    • In furtherance of my campaign promise to you, since my election I have led the charge on the County Commission to lower property taxes. With the help of the Florida legislature, I have been successful. All of my colleagues and I have approved, in concept, budget cuts of almost $100,000,000.00. It wasn’t easy, and we are not done, but collectively we have instituted a hiring freeze; agreed to eliminate unnecessary expenditures; and re-evaluated the need for each and every program offered by the County. While we have not officially agreed on each cut, we have reached a consensus on the vast majority of the reductions. If I have my way, this is only the beginning. My philosophy is simple. I recognize that this is your money, not ours. With each proposed expenditure, I ask myself the following question: Is this item truly necessary? If not, I have, and will continue, to vote against it.

  3. By a 9-0 vote, the County Commission has adopted a Boat Facility Siting Plan with an incorporated Manatee Protection Plan.

    • Number of Boat Slips in Broward County
      One of Broward’s most unique attributes is our abundance of waterways. Broward currently has 30,739 legal boat slips. The commercial and residential communities have repeatedly requested more. While these requests are reasonable, there is no doubt that along with an increase in boat usage, comes a corresponding and devastating impact on our manatee population. The County Commission, working closely with all marine and environmental stakeholders, has now adopted a Boat Facility Siting Plan that allows for an additional 4,392 boat slips in Broward, while simultaneously creating a workable plan to ensure that manatee deaths are minimized. Importantly, the manatee protection element will be funded by user fees and not by property taxes. I am also proud that the Plan reserves 513 boat slips for future public use. This successful endeavor clearly shows that when the business community and the environmental community work together, everyone benefits. I am convinced that we can be an environmentally sensitive, pro-business county if we only try.

  4. Lastly, by a 9-0 vote, the County Commission has directed staff to amend Broward’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan to strongly discourage golf course conversions and to require environmental contamination inspections.

    • The protection of our dwindling green spaces was a campaign promise I made to each of you. As a result, I have led the charge to protect our few remaining golf courses from residential conversions. I am thrilled to advise that my colleagues agree and we have unanimously voted to forward these important policy mandates to the appropriate entities for comment and eventual approval. When final, it will be the official policy of Broward County to “strongly discourage” the conversion of these few remaining open spaces. Moreover, any applicant who nevertheless decides to seek such a land use change will be required to provide a Phase I and Phase II environmental report showing the absence of environmental contamination, a difficult endeavor due to the traditional use and build up of pesticides and arsenic-laden herbicides on golf courses.

Clearly, in eight months, we have made substantial progress in furthering our shared vision for District 4 and Broward County. Of course, many important issues have yet to be addressed. I look forward to being your advocate. Together, we can, and will, make Broward County a better place for our families.

As usual, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at or 954 357 7004. Remember, I work for you.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Property Apprasier Extends Office Hours for Trim Season

BCPA Offices also to open for 3 Saturdays to help working families.

Bob Wolfe of BCPA
Bob Wolfe
August 28, 2007 - On August 20th, Bob Wolfe from the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office sent this information to Galt Mile residents considering requesting assistance from the Property Appraiser to understand components of their TRIM notices. The basis for upcoming assessments, the TRIM notice is often the key to successfully adjusting potential tax indebtedness. READ ON! – [Editor]

Fort Lauderdale - Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish announced special office hours to assist taxpayers during the “Truth-in-Millage” (TRIM) season of August and September.

Sample TRIM Notice
“Our office is mailing over 825,000 notices of proposed property taxes and to better accommodate the schedules of working families, our offices will be open additional hours to assist taxpayers,” said Parrish. The Main Office located in Room 111 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 South Andrews Avenue, is always open weekdays (M - F) from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM. - but we are extending hours and will stay open until 7:00 PM on weekdays during September 4 - 18, 2007.

The Main Office and the Plantation Office will be open for special weekend hours of 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on three Saturdays: August 25, September 8, and September 15. All commercial valuation questions must be directed to our main office. Residential and tangible personal property appraisers are assigned to both offices during this period.

The West Broward Branch Office is located in Suite 111-A at 1 North University Drive in Plantation and is open weekdays from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

The TRIM or proposed property tax notice is designed to inform taxpayers of their 2007 property assessments, exemptions and proposed tax rates for each governmental entity. These notices inform taxpayers of their rights as to both challenging property assessments and speaking out at various governmental budget hearings. Any taxpayer who seeks to challenge a property assessment or late file for a qualified property tax exemption should file an appropriate value or exemption petition on or before September 18, according to rules set by the Broward County Value Adjustment Board.

For further information on assessment, exemption and valuation appeal process, please visit or call 954-357-6830.

Contact Bob Wolfe of Inter-Governmental Media Relations at (954) 445-5732 or at for further information.

Bob Wolfe
Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office

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Broward Prescription Drug Benefit

Discount Drug Card Free to Broward Residents

September 5, 2007 - The Medicare Prescription Drug benefit was designed to demonstrate that the United States was competitive with virtually every other civilized nation in assisting its elderly survive their golden years. When it was discovered that the underlying legislation was actually authored by the pharmaceutical industry, the reason for the benefit’s negligible effect became apparent. The deal was simple. Dozens of participating legislators and federal officials received lucrative guaranteed positions in the pharmaceutical industry in exchange for ensuring that the medications covered by the Prescription Drug benefit were purchased from bona-fide industry members at exorbitant non-negotiable prices.

Administration and legislative officials proclaimed that their motive for “illegalizing” cheaper Canadian drugs was ostensibly to protect the American public from the questionable manufacturing oversight of our northern neighbor’s pharmaceuticals. In what appeared to be another “Wag the Dog” accommodation, this unsubstantiated concern mushroomed overnight in response to a nationwide outcry against a host of monopolistic practices placed into the legislation by the pharmaceutical industry – at the public’s expense. Other contradictory provisions, such as the statutory preclusion against bulk purchases to save money, were such transparent pork tariffs that participating legislators openly characterized them as industry ransom.

In stark contrast with programs enacted for other federal agencies, such as the Veterans Administration, the legislation mandates that Medicare is not permitted to negotiate prices of drugs with the drug companies. The Veterans Administration, which is allowed to negotiate drug prices and establish a formulary, pays 58% less for drugs, on average, than Medicare Part D. For instance, Medicare pays $785 for a year’s supply of the popular cholesterol drug Lipitor (avorstatin), 50% more than the $520 paid by the VA. To better demonstrate the disparity between agencies able to negotiate bulk prices and those saddled with an industry price list, Medicare pays $1,485 for a year’s supply of another cholesterol drug – Zocor – while the VA pays only $127.

Medicare Prescription Drug Bill House Sparkplug and PhRMA President Billy Tauzin
Following the legislation’s enactment, unfolding events further supported the contention that the benefit promoted as “a great leap forward” in American healthcare was actually another profit center for the pharmaceutical industry. Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., who steered the bill through the House of Representatives, retired soon after and took a $2 million a year job as president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main industry lobbying group.

Former Medicare Administrator Tom Scully
Congress was told that the program would cost $395 billion over the first 10 years when voting on the legislation. Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster later told Congress that he had actually revised the cost estimate to $534 billion before the vote, but was told by Medicare boss Tom Scully to withhold the new numbers if he wanted to keep his job. Simultaneously, Scully was negotiating jobs for himself with high-powered Washington law firm Alston & Bird – where he became a lobbyist with the pharmaceutical industry 10 days after the legislation was signed by President Bush – and the private equity-investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.

During the pre-vote fanfare, Tauzin cited the following congressmen, staffers and federal officials whose support was instrumental for its success. When staff director John McManus of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health left Congress a month later to start his own lobbying firm, he counted among his clients PhRMA, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Merck. The Finance Committee’s Linda Fishman landed a lobbyist’s position with Amgen. Energy and Commerce Committee chief of staff Pat Morrisey took a job lobbying for Novartis and Hoffman-La Roche. Jeremy Allen went to Johnson & Johnson, Kathleen Weldon went to lobby for Biotech company Biogen and Jim Barnette left to lobby for Hoffman-La Roche. Former senators Dennis Deconcini, D-Arizona, and Steve Symms, R-Idaho, and former congressmen Tom Downey, D-N.Y.; Vic Fazio, D-California; Bill Paxon, R-N.Y., as well as the former House Minority Leader Robert Michel, R-Illinois, all registered as lobbyists for the drug industry after working on the prescription drug bill. Also subsequent to passage of the bill, pharmaceutical industry profits were increased by several $billion... and the hits just keep on coming!

At the end of the day, seniors still desperately need help with prescription drugs. Someone in Broward County government was listening. The County launched a discount card program to help consumers cope with the high price of prescription drugs. The program is available at no cost to Broward County taxpayers.

The Broward County Commission
With some County Commissioners characterizing any impending tax reform as a threat to critical services, the County was politically constrained from directly funding any effective assistance with prescription drugs. Instead, they took advantage of a proven fiscal strategy for lowering costs. Taking a page from the health insurance industry, they hopped on a volume discount bandwagon. By promising a palpable increase in their patient loads, HMOs and PPOs are able to enroll physicians in their “participating physician panels” in exchange for their accepting a lower fee for certain basic services. Participating doctors correctly surmised that once this incremental business walked into the office, the few dollars they lost to subsidize the “medical loss leaders” were easily offset by the potential profits anticipated from delivering a lifetime of medical services to these new patients - and their families.

The concept translates seamlessly to dentists, the retail drug business, home health care, opticians, physical therapy and most other healthcare fields. Volume discounts power the insurance industry and, in particular, the health insurance industry. By controlling utilization with missionary zeal and subsidizing claims expenses with premiums of subscribers who underutilize services, the mainstream insurance industry realizes huge profits. However, any business can take financial advantage of the principle without the high powered actuarial and administrative components. Enter: Discount Cards – a time-tested marketing ploy that benefits the customer with marginal risk to the merchant.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) sponsored a discount card program for prescription drugs. The nationwide program enjoys panel participation by most large nationwide and regional pharmacy chains (Walgreens, CVS, Winn-Dixie, Publix, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, etc.) and a healthy roster of independent local drug stores. Broward County opted to join the plan, opening the benefits to every Broward County resident.

There are virtually no restrictions. The County is making free prescription drug discount cards available to all County residents, regardless of age, income, or existing health coverage. In addition to dozens of Broward pharmacies, a national network of more than 57,000 participating retail pharmacies also will honor the NACo prescription discount card.

Cards can be picked up free of charge at many Broward County government facilities, including parks, libraries, transit facilities, the downtown Governmental Center and the County’s five Family Success Centers. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. Cardholders and their family members may use the card any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance.

The cardholder pays the negotiated discount price or the pharmacy’s retail price, whichever is lower. The average discount is 20 percent. The discount cards may be utilized alternatively to other insurance coverage. When the discount price is lower than the co-pay required by an insurance plan, the cardholder can select the option that affords the greater savings. It is an excellent vehicle for filling in the coverage gaps that afflict most insurance plans. For instance, if Medicare Part D plan doesn’t cover a drug, the card can be used to abate the cost.

The program is administered by Caremark Rx, Inc., a leading pharmaceutical services company with broad experience in managing drug discount card programs for sponsoring clients. In addition to frequenting participating pharmacies, cardholders can take advantage of a mail order service accessible by telephone or the internet. The Mail Order Direct program lets you purchase a 3-month supply of select medications at an additional discount through Caremark mail service pharmacy. Prescription refills can be requested 24 hours a day by calling a toll-free number on your prescription label or by logging on to All you need is your prescription number and credit card number. Although overnight or second-day shipping is available for an additional charge, standard shipping and handling is free!

The program has a useful safety feature. When the cardholder is taking a medication that may conflict with another prescription, the pharmacist is alerted if the prescriptions were obtained using the Broward County NACo discount card. Cardholders can also receive discounts on pet prescriptions at participating retail pharmacies.

This is a good deal. It costs nothing to taxpayers, lowers prescription drug costs for every Broward resident and is not only useful throughout the county, but across the country! For additional information, call toll-free 1-877-321-2652 or Click Here to access the Broward County Prescription Drug Discount Card web site.

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

September/October 2007 Newsletter

September 19, 2007 - * Broward County governance is a function of the Broward County Charter and State law as interpreted and applied by the Broward Board of County Commissioners. The County Commission elicits the assistance of 76 boards, committees, commissions, task forces, agencies, and authorities to diagnose, update and implement policy. Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion, Jr. recently designated County Commissioners to join the 700 County citizens appointed to these vehicles. District 4 Commissioner Ken Keechl was seated on the Broward Alliance, the Downtown Ft. Lauderdale Transportation Management Authority (DFLTMA), the Public Safety Coordinating Council and the Value Adjustment Board. In his September/October newsletter, Commissioner Ken Keechl reviews his assignments and discusses how each one could impact his constituents. - *[editor]

“County Commissioner Keechl’s Committees”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
Being your County Commissioner entails more than just attending weekly County Commission meetings and workshops. In November of each year, the current Broward County Mayor appoints County Commissioners to various committees and organizations created by the County Commission, the Broward County Charter, and the Florida Legislature. I thought I would use this newsletter to briefly discuss some of the committees to which I have been appointed.

  • Broward Alliance: As we all know, a healthy local economy requires attracting new business to Broward County. Click to Broward Alliance web site In furtherance of this goal, the Broward Alliance seeks to encourage a stronger and more diversified economy by promoting increased public/private sector collaboration; focusing on new investment and job growth; and by enhancing the competitiveness of Broward's business climate. During the last year, the Broward Alliance has been successful in encouraging businesses to transfer or expand their businesses in Broward County from outside Florida and the United States.

  • Click to Downtown Ft. Lauderdale Transportation Management Authority (Sun Trolley) web site Downtown Ft. Lauderdale Transportation Management Authority (DFLTMA): Fort Lauderdale is one of thirteen cities within County District 4. The mission of the DFLTMA is to allow for continued growth and economic development in downtown Fort Lauderdale while avoiding increased traffic congestion. The DFLTMA seeks to marshal business resources and expertise and to combine them with government efforts to solve local transportation problems. The TMA recruits companies in the downtown community to become participating employers and partners with us to resolve common transportation concerns. I currently serve on the DFLTMA with County Commissioner John Rodstrom and Ft. Lauderdale City Commissioners Teel and Hutchinson, along with many business leaders.

  • Public Safety Coordinating Council: This Council consists of various individuals including an appointee from the County Commission, the Sheriff’s Department, corrections, the judiciary, the Public Defender’s office and the State Attorneys office. We assess the population status of all detention or correctional facilities owned or contracted by Broward County and we formulate recommendations to ensure that jail overcrowding doesn’t occur. Additional issues we address include assessing the availability of pretrial intervention or probation programs, work-release programs, substance abuse programs, and mental health programs.

  • Value Adjustment Board: While our Property Appraiser is doing a great job, disputes regarding property value assessments are inevitable. The Value Adjustment Board consists of three Broward County Commissioners and two Broward County School Board Members. We sit in a quasi-judicial capacity and hear appeals when there is a disagreement between a Broward County taxpayer and the Broward County Property Appraiser concerning the amount of property assessments, or the denials of exemptions or, classifications to properties. Sitting on the Value Adjustment Board gives me the opportunity to utilize my business and legal background to ensure that every taxpayer is given a fair and impartial hearing whenever a dispute arises.

As usual, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at or 954 357 7004. Remember, I work for you.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Parking Meter Madness

September 24, 2007 - In the public parking lots along the south end of Galt Ocean Drive, Galt Mile residents have utilized the available spaces after hours as a “free parking” opportunity for years. When inhabitants of the opposing condominiums were subjected to construction projects narrowing parking availability on their premises, they casually parked across the street. From 6 PM until early the next morning, residents of Southpoint, Commodore, Playa del Sol and Ocean Riviera could leave their vehicles in these lots without having to feed the meter. Aside from the few areas temporarily occupied by local diners at nearby area restaurants and patrons of a local Art Gallery & outlet that stages intermittent after hours events, spaces were always readily available all evening. The neighborhood’s abundance of nightly free parking has come to an end.

Parling Lot Servicing South Galt Mile
The City of Fort Lauderdale has been fiddling with the parking meters. The first adjustments were noticed by shoppers frequenting the commercial establishments along the narrow strip mall. Patrons of Jon Paul Jewelers, the barber shop, Business World and Giuseppe Pomodori suddenly had to double the coinage for a parking space. The quarter that used to buy an hour only buys a half hour. Merchants had to start stocking extra rolls of quarters for distribution to agitated customers.

The City wasn’t done. They wanted more. After doubling the hourly intake, the parking equipment technicians attacked the meters’ timing solenoids. Meters that for years went “off duty” at 6 PM, were pressed into overtime service. People parking at 7:30 or 9:45 PM still had to cough up quarters. Unaware of this second adjustment, when dozens of Galt Mile residents and guests parked their cars in the evening, they found tickets inserted under their windshield wipers a few hours later. People who parked overnight for years, always careful to get out the next morning, also found municipal IOUs decorating their windshields. Unwitting victims naturally did what they could – mutter under their breath, crumple the offending ticket and curse the city.

The new parking policy has had another negative impact. While there aren’t many vendors open past 6 PM, patrons of those shops suddenly found themselves hunting for quarters alone in the dark. Elderly customers would have to run into the store, get change, run back to the car and return to the store.

Nick’s Italian Restaurant
An establishment seriously crippled by the City’s new levy on overnight parking is Nick’s Italian Restaurant. For years, hungry patrons would park without concern while dining or watching the entertainment. On October 24, 2005, the roof was blown off the building housing the restaurant. Nick’s underwent a prolonged renovation, finally reopening earlier this year. Like every other Galt Mile merchant struggling to recover from extensive storm damage, they had to alert area residents to their resurrection and recultivate good will. As former regulars started to filter back in, they were greeted with either a ticket or the prospect of a mid-meal 100-yard dash to feed the meter.

First opened in 1974, Nick’s is located at 3496 North Ocean Boulevard, on the corner of 35th Street and A1A. While there are a few parking spaces in front of the restaurant, the majority of diners park in the mall lot on Galt Ocean Drive. Patrons without adequate coinage must either make two round trips to the restaurant’s cashier or interrupt their meal to pay up. If a diner decides to enjoy the live music and dancing upstairs, the meter’s maximum 3-hour capacity necessitates another round trip.

Nick's Proprietor Dominic Santorelli
After recapitalizing Nick’s second coming and opening the doors, owner Dominic Santorelli found himself swimming against the tide. After a night of dining and dancing, customers would thank him for a wonderful experience before leaving. A few minutes later, they would return, blaming him for the $25 ticket they waved under his nose. After a string of similar demotivating incidents, he contacted Commissioner Christine Teel and asked her how he was supposed to overcome this threat to his survival. Our District 1 Commissioner told Dominic about some of the new parking technologies in which the City recently invested and how they could help manage the problem. There were, however, two obstacles that needed addressing before her recommendations could be actualized. First, Galt Mile residents would have to be made aware of the new parking venues and how to use them. Secondly, the existing meters would require replacement with upgrades capable of utilizing the new technology.

Commissioner Christine Teel
Commissioner Teel explained two of the new technologies for which installation is currently underway throughout Fort Lauderdale. One concept utilizes a Pre-Paid Single Space Parking Meter Debit Card. Parking customers who use single space meters in the downtown district, beach, and courthouse areas may purchase these pre-paid debit cards to pay for parking. There will initially be no charge for the actual card and customers may purchase parking time in $25 increments up to $100. While there is no expiration date on the card, which is considered cash, the unused balances on cards that are lost, damaged, or stolen are non-refundable. To enable these debit instruments, the City is installing parking meters manufactured by Duncan Solutions (formerly Duncan Parking Technologies) that house card readers capable of servicing the dedicated debit cards and contain LCD displays to serve as the interface for what is essentially a mini-ATM. While it doesn’t dispense cash, it can offer balance data for an inserted card.

Click to Duncan Solutions Web Site
Card enabled Parking Meter
To use the debit card, customers who park at single space parking meters must insert the card into the card slot on the front of the parking meter. The first insertion will display the balance remaining on the pre-paid debit card. For each subsequent card insertion in the parking meter, the allowable parking time will increase by one hour up to the maximum parking time allowed on the meter.

The Pre-Paid Single Space Parking Meter Debit Card can be purchased from Parking Services at 290 N.E. Third Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Parking Services plans to work with the local business community to provide more convenient merchant outlets for the public to purchase these cards in addition to the City’s Parking Customer Service office. Programs will ultimately be available here in the City for bulk purchases of parking cards by area merchants and businesses.

Parking Services is currently working with the companies that supply parking meters to the City to create one pre-paid debit card that can be utilized in all of the single space and multi-space parking meters in the City. However, since this project will probably take at least one to two years to implement, the order in which neighborhoods receive the upgraded meters assumes critical importance.

The complimentary customer parking that area merchants could offer with the debit card will not help if they are out of business by the time the city makes the system locally available. Optimally, the city should coordinate the installation of the upgraded meters with any planned parking rate increases or meter utilization extensions. However, since the city must now play catch-up, it should prioritize installations to minimize the damage precipitated by unannounced changes in time and cost for metered parking. Parking areas serving businesses critically threatened by these questionable meter rate hikes and time extensions should be given primary consideration.

SmartPark In-Car Parking Meter With SmartCard
Businesses closed by Hurricane Wilma experienced the same insurance underpayments that plagued Associations and individuals. Those that fought their way back to viability instead of depositing the benefit check and hitting the road are walking a fiscal tightrope. Their survival depends on recapturing adequate local good will to achieve a break-even cash flow. For businesses forced to contend with insane tax assessments and outrageous windstorm insurance premiums to be pushed into Chapter 11 by an indiscriminate parking meter policy is inexcusable. Once the business folds, the City not only loses the attendant tax revenues, its former customers no longer provide parking revenues. In cases where the business's customers are the primary or only source of parking income, the city effectively shoots itself in the foot. Plans for any neighborhood improvements funded by the discontinued parking revenues can still serve as museum exhibits.

SmartPark in-car parking meter
Another remedy recently introduced by the Parking Services Division is a new in-car parking meter known as SmartPark. A small pocket calculator-size electronic device made by Ganis Systems, it uses a SmartCard that’s loaded with a prepaid amount of parking hours. According to the City, the SmartCard is inserted into the SmartPark, which is then placed inside the vehicle and displays the parking zone selected. There are initial one-time fees of $55 for the SmartPark unit and $10 for the SmartCard. Customers can preload the SmartCard in increments of $25, $50, $75, $100, $150, $200, and $250.

Parking and Fleet Services Director John Hoelzle explained, “With SmartPark, motorists pay for actual parking time only. This state-of-the-art technology is a cashless operation that provides ease of use and comfort for our customers.” The in-car parking device may be used at most single space parking meters, municipal parking lots and municipal garages in Fort Lauderdale.

For more information about the Pre-Paid Single Space Parking Meter Debit Card and the SmartPark in-car parking meter, call the Parking Services at (954) 828-3700.

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Commissioner Teel’s Autumn Newsletter

September 30, 2007 - In April, Commissioner Christine Teel’s Newsletter explained why James D. Camp had a downtown street named in his honor. Her September Newsletter applauds the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) committee for having approved the funds to replace the fountain in Jack Kaye Park on Bayview Drive. Our City Commissioner took the opportunity to edify constituents about the park being officially renamed. Jack Kaye’s late wife Harriet will join her husband as the park’s namesake next year when the park is redesignated Jack and Harriet Kaye Park.

Commissioner Teel explains why this honor is being accorded to Jack’s recently deceased better half. An ardent civic contributor, Harriet served as the Broward County anchor of a national patriotic organization - Freedoms Foundation. In accord with the Foundation’s mission to “teach Americans about America,” an endowment she arranged will educate hundreds of Broward students about the historical legacy upon which our nation was built. READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

Commissioner Christine Teel
I hope everyone had a pleasant summer and that you had some time to relax and enjoy all that Fort Lauderdale has to offer. The City Commission is back to business after the August hiatus. It looks like it will be a busy year and I’m looking forward to working with my constituents on matters of importance to District I and the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Fountain in Jack Kaye Park
I would like to inform and update everyone on the fountain in Jack Kaye Park on Bayview Drive. This jewel in the park was constructed almost 50 years ago, and like many similar structures, has outlived its life expectancy. Many people have inquired about the fountain, wondering why the city has not repaired it. City staff has examined the structure and in addition to contacting local experts, staff has communicated with a company in Boston that is experienced in the restoration of fountains from this period. They, along with city staff, feel that replacement rather than restoration is the solution to the problem.

Jack Kaye Park
This project was presented to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) committee and I’m delighted to inform you that they have approved the funds to replace the fountain. This project is currently scheduled for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Assuming that the funds won’t be needed for any emergency projects that impact the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Fort Lauderdale, we can look forward to seeing this project underway as scheduled.

Harriet Kaye
The Jack Kaye Park, for those of you not familiar with it, was dedicated to Jack Kaye in 1998. His wife Harriet passed away on March 27, 2007, and the park will be rededicated on January 26, 2008 as the Jack and Harriet Kaye Park, as a memorial for their tireless community service in Coral Ridge, where they resided, and throughout Fort Lauderdale.

Harriet Kaye left her estate to the Freedoms Foundation of Broward County, where she served as president for six terms. Jack and Harriet were actively involved with the Freedoms Foundation for many decades. Located in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the Foundation hosts four-day conferences and historical tours for students from across the country. All costs are covered by private donations. The Foundation’s mission is to “teach Americans about America.” Harriet Kaye’s generosity will send 100 students to the Valley Forge campus in 2008, and will allow students from Broward County to share this experience for years to come.

Jack and Harriet Kaye Park is adjacent to George English Park on Bayveiw Drive and Sunrise Boulevard. Since the construction is about eighteen months away, Parks & Recreation will be installing a bed of plants and flowers to beautify the fountain in the interim. I hope everyone has an opportunity to visit the park when you’re in the neighborhood and enjoy this quiet respite in our flourishing city.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns. I can be reached at 954-828-5004 or via e-mail at

Christine Teel                

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Keechl Backs Beach and Budget

Follows through on Fiscal and Environmental Agenda

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
October 6, 2007 - On September 20th, Broward Commissioner
Ken Keechl addressed a luncheon meeting of the Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board. Of the myriad County issues he was confronted with during his first term, our District 4 representative on Broward Board of County Commissioners has repeatedly demonstrated a priority interest in two areas. Initially key planks in his campaign platform, Commissioner Keechl steadfastly supports sound fiscal and environmental policies.

Prior to running for his Commission seat, Keechl was committed to preserving Broward’s remaining pockets of green space. During the 14 years he served as an Assistant City Attorney in Plantation, Keechl’s astute management of land use cases prevented developers from gobbling up that city’s dwindling municipal green space. In fact, one of the issues grounding his race for the 4th District commission seat centered on a developer’s plan to build 61 homes on the 18-hole American Golfers Club. By focusing the disorganized local opposition on what he described as an inequitable sacrifice of an important local asset, Keechl thwarted the project. Adding perspective to his motives, Keechl clarified that while he advocates growth, development must be accompanied by proportional public services, adequate traffic accommodation and environmental balance.

Click to Broward County Beach Preservation Project Web Page Commissioner Keechl’s support for the Broward Beach Protection Project meshed comfortably with this environmental advocacy. Once elected, he familiarized himself with the issues surrounding Broward’s effort to reclaim the 21 miles of County coastline considered “critically eroded” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). He told the Advisory Board members, “Restoring the beach benefits every Broward resident. Whether you consider tourism our first or second largest local industry, it is clearly dependent on a healthy beach.”

GMCA Advisory Board
At the April, 2007 Advisory Board meeting, members requested that the Commissioner investigate rumored fiscal and political threats to the project. Federal legislation unfavorable to beach renourishment projects and an Administration proclivity to fund military shortfalls with resources allocated to environmental infrastructure cast a shadow on the project’s future. In Tallahassee, legislators fighting for budget dollars attempted to redirect the project’s dedicated State funds to fuel other agendas.

Former Broward County Commissioner Jim Scott
Commissioner Keechl agreed to verify whether or not these alleged obstacles warranted concern. He would request newly elected Congressman Ron Klein’s assistance with federal issues, ask District 4 Broward Commission predecessor and former Florida Senate President Jim Scott to look into adverse rumblings in the State Capitol and ask Broward Beach Administrator Stephen Higgins for his unique perspective.

Stephen Higgins of the Broward County Environmental Protection Department’s Biological Resource Division
Having since put in the required legwork, the Commissioner painted a positive outlook for the project’s prospects. He confirmed that the project financing was intact. Federal and State allocations, while disconcertingly dilatory, were slowly rolling in. This was previously confirmed by Mr. Higgins in August, following receipt of a $2.8 million reimbursement from the US Army Corps of Engineers for the federal share of preconstruction engineering and design costs for Segment III.

The Commissioner reminded attendees that the 18-month monitoring period implemented to gather data useful for facilitating the Segment II renourishment was completed in September, 2007. Following completion of the Segment III renourishment in March of 2006, monitors from Nova Southeast University Oceanographic Center and a coalition of outside engineers (Coastal Planning and Engineering, Inc. and Olsen Associates, Inc. – a joint venture of coastal engineering consulting firms) joined county scientists to begin examining the environmental effects of repairing the County’s shoreline from the Dade County line to John U. Lloyd State Park. The data accrued by these biologists and engineers is being collated and forwarded to the State, where FDEP will prepare a report to the Governor and Cabinet detailing project impacts.

Nova Southeast University Oceanographic Institute - Click to Web Site Commissioner Keechl said that the reports appear positive. “I’ve spoken with Beach Project Administrator Steve Higgins and Jim Scott about the suspected threats to the beach project,” said Keechl. “They’ve assured me that state and federal remuneration has already begun. The 18-month monitoring period is over and the observers seem satisfied. Aside from the usual operational and bureaucratic delays, no major obstacles are threatening to derail the rehabilitation of our beach.” Summarizing his assessment of the fiscal and environmental status of the Beach Project, the Commissioner exclaimed, “It appears that there are no fatal flaws!”

Sand Borrow Sites Keechl also spoke to an obstacle first revealed by Higgins in his August update, the County’s search for sand. The project documentation that formed the basis for the State permit designated the waters off Deerfield Beach as “Segment I”, wherein the project’s sand “borrow sites” were all located. Higgins said, “Borrow area No. 1, which has enough material with which to construct Segment II, now has a higher percentage of rock in it after removing sand for Segment III. We’ll need to investigate that. We’ll also look for additional sand offshore, but I’m not confident that we’ll find any significant new deposits. Accordingly, we will also be looking for more remote sources of domestic sand (e.g. offshore central FL and in the Gulf of Mexico) and for non-domestic sand, with emphasis on Bahamian aragonite. When we find the sand we’re going to use, if it’s different from the sand we had proposed to use in our previous plans, we will have to do some re-engineering of the project and redo some of the permitting.”

Commissioner Keechl said that Beach Administrator Higgins described another sand alternative, recycled glass sand. While conjuring a vision of walking across a gauntlet of broken beer bottles, the reality is actually quite reassuring. Glass is primarily silicon dioxide, which is also the main component of sand. It is technologically feasible to create glass grains of any size, shape and color, allowing for a blend aesthetically indistinguishable from and chemically compatible with Fort Lauderdale sand. Test plots have already been installed in the upper beach. The next phase of testing in the surf zone is expected sometime in 2007 – 2008.

While acknowledging that the additional delays wrought by the unanticipated sand hunt are understandably frustrating, the Commissioner remains optimistic, intimating that delays are to be expected for a project as extensive and complex as the multi-stage Broward County Beach Renourishment. Keechl confirmed Higgins’ estimate that construction on Segment II wouldn’t begin until fall of 2009.

Port Everglades Inlet Sand Bypassing
Commissioner Keechl asked the members for input about a beach renourishment technology known as sand bypassing. He specifically voiced concern about its impending implementation at the Port Everglades inlet. In a nutshell, Sand bypassing is the act of capturing sand from the updrift side of a stabilized inlet and mechanically transporting the material to the beaches on the downdrift side of the inlet. Why? Sand ordinarily migrates south along the coastline until it arrives at certain inlets that interrupt the flow, creating “erosion hot spots” that evacuate at a heightened level. Installing erosion control structures (groins) designed to slow the sand loss postpones the need for future renourishments, saving $tens to $hundreds of millions.

Port Everglades Inlet Sand Bypassing
The Commissioner said, “When I look down the beach, I would prefer not having my view spoiled by huge concrete construction elements and similar man-made structures.” Upon bringing this objection to Higgins’ attention, our Beach Administrator told the Commissioner that he would investigate the viability of installing devises that weren’t visually disconcerting. He recently completed a feasibility analysis of bypassing at the Port that examined system limitations, installation constraints and a review of potential alternatives. Keechl expressed the hope that “they could find some way to incorporate the technology into an unblemished shoreline environment.”

Outfall Pipe Discharge
A project issue of particular importance to several Galt Mile Associations is the County’s concern about their antiquated outfall pipes. Recognizing the significant part played by the Galt Mile Community Association in supporting the Broward Beach Project, last September Mr. Higgins met with the 6 member associations still dependent on these structures. Whether the pipes were used to evacuate A/C condensate or well discharge, he recommended that they commence investigating alternative technologies to replace their respective functions.

Fountainhead Water Towers Await Installation
Over the years, many beachfront associations whose A/C depended on these outfall pipes upgraded to a more efficient, less expensive technology based on cooling towers. While several of their obsolete remnant outfall structures remain offshore, these Associations no longer need them. Of the 6 Associations still reliant on their outfall pipes last year, Fountainhead has already installed cooling towers, relieving them of further dependence on their outfall pipe. Plaza East representative Ismet Baker told the Commissioner that his association plans to install cooling towers on their roof to ensure operational continuity of their Air Conditioning once their beach is enlarged. Ocean Club, Plaza South, Ocean Summit and Edgewater Arms are in varying stages of researching functional replacement of their outfall structures. Since it could take almost a year from initial investigation to final installation of various replacement alternatives, the sand-search delays will give those associations adequate time to get the job done.

Plaza East Roof - Room For Water Towers
When Andy Surdival of Plaza South asked Higgins last year about the fate of the existing outfall pipes when Segment II actually begins, he responded, “The County would have to remove them prior to installing the sand.” Since the existing pipes all extend past the mean high water line into State-controlled jurisdiction, their independent removal would ordinarily require associations to negotiate a mind-numbing DEP permit process marked by extraordinarily expensive engineering costs and a complicated underwater demolition. Commissioner Keechl noted that the County’s intention to remove the structures means that each of those associations will save $hundreds of thousands.

The Commissioner then changed his focus, transitioning to another of his priority planks, fiscal responsibility. A longtime advocate of tax reform, he explained that Broward County was required to apply a 5% tax reduction to comply with the new tax law. While applauding the tax reform legislation passed with unanimous bi-partisan support, he expressed serious reservations about some of the other proposals knocking about the State Capitol, including the constitutional amendment on the January 29th ballot. If passed by the Florida electorate, property owners would be offered the opportunity to exchange their “Save our Homes” tax cap for a Homestead Exemption on steroids.

The additional tax benefits contingent on the amendment’s passage would inure predominantly to property owners already enjoying Homestead protection. Commissioner Keechl explained that one of the primary motives for tax reform was to extend protection to non-homesteaded property owners and businesses, neither of which will be achieved by passage of the amendment. He remarked that most Broward citizens expressed a willingness to sacrifice certain services to help rescue the State from an impending recession. A sizable tax cut built around a formula that brought tax assessments into better balance was overwhelmingly prescribed by economists, bankers, realtors and property owners. In fact, the only organized opposition to this strategy came from some local government officials unwilling to relinquish control over their annual tax cornucopias. Since the amendment’s benefits are largely limited to some homesteaded properties with marginal relief for certain waterfront businesses, it does nothing to rebalance the tax burden. Instead of slowing the growing exodus of non-homesteaded property owners and businesses from the County and/or the State, it will likely inflame the culpable tax disparities.

Since the amendment treats school districts no differently than any local government, even its supporters concede that its implementation will loot educational funding of approximately $3.5 billion. During the past decade, the monolithic cohesion that powered South Florida legislative delegations to dynastic regional achievements has splintered into a handful of loosely allied local partisan fiefdoms. The resulting political vacuum was quickly filled by North and Central Florida lawmakers whose rural inland agenda was largely intolerant of urban South Florida’s problems. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have been systematically short-changed for educational resources. Budgetary adjustments to offset South Florida’s higher cost-of-living impact on teachers’ housing, educational materials, repair costs, maintenance expenses and construction costs are repeatedly denied, skewing the formulaic distribution of budgeted educational funds and lottery allocations. As such, the educational baggage consequential to the amendment’s passage will be disproportionately devastating to Broward schools. Since the legislature’s record of low educational spending as compared to other states cannot be divorced from Florida’s low graduation rate, it isn’t unreasonable to question the credibility of Tallahassee legislators who address this threat to education with a promise to “fix it” during the next session.

Keechl also warned against some of the proposals that relied on an incremental State sales tax to fund local needs. He registered doubts about the Constitutional crazy quilt that would result from 67 individual county sales tax referendums dividing the State into “sales tax counties” and “property tax counties”. The Commissioner admonished, “An incremental sales tax will also expose some businesses to double taxation.”

Commissioner Keechl expressed pride in having found adequate savings to fund Broward’s 5% statutory tax cut and a $54 million budget deficit. He said, “A majority of the savings were achieved by freezing positions, cancelling projects for which the need was questionable and identifying areas where Broward fees were out of step with comparable jurisdictions.” For example, since Broward bus fares were frozen for ten years, it was reasonable to increase them to the level of fares charged by neighboring counties. In describing Broward’s lagging fare structure, he referred to the Farebox Recovery – the amount of revenue that a transit agency receives from passenger fares to help finance operating costs. Broward’s recovery rate of 24% is the lowest in South Florida.

To put the County Commission’s budgetary achievement into perspective, Keechl reminded Advisory Board members that the Commission only exercises control over roughly half of the revenues in the County’s operating budget. He said, “Tax revenues allocated to elected County officials such as the Broward County Sheriff, the Clerk of Courts, the Public Defender, the Property Appraiser, the Broward State Attorney, our Legislative Delegation and the Supervisor of Elections are shielded from any Commission cost-cutting. These Constitutional Officers decide for themselves whether they will relieve or worsen the deficit.”

Click to Florida Association of Counties web site Commissioner Keechl also disparaged the disinformation campaign waged by some local officials seeking to preserve an unimpeded access to property tax windfalls fueled by the overheated real estate market. Umbrella organizations for local government officials such as the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) actively instructed their members in the use of fear tactics aimed at swaying public opinion against tax reform. Characterizing their tactics as “despicable”, Governor Charlie Crist pledged, “Not one firefighter will be let off, not one police officer; and shame on the local governments who put that fear in you.” Commissioner Keechl confirmed that, “Broward County residents will suffer none of the cutbacks to critical police or fire services that were threatened by tax reform opponents.”

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr.
The Commissioner acknowledged finding some allies on the Commission who were instrumental in delivering the required savings without sacrificing any priority services. He credited Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion, Jr. and Commissioner John E. Rodstrom Jr. with “staying the course and making the tough decisions.” In March, virtually every County Commissioner responded to the public outcry for tax reform by proclaiming their intention to cut costs. Keechl predicted that most would fall off the tax cut wagon as TRIM Season approached. When given the opportunity to actualize their new-found frugality, some of his peers targeted any commissioner who proposed cutting costs as a proponent of regressive policies. Not surprisingly, they nevertheless took credit for balancing the budget. Although he refused to identify some of his fellow commissioners as disingenuous, his instincts were on target.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom
Commissioner Keechl focused on one issue that left him scratching his head. For some inexplicable reason, the County Commissioners voted to cut positions in child support enforcement, an area already devastated by vacancies. When parents fail to support their children, the responsibility falls to local government. Your taxes pay for the unfunded healthcare, child care, educational needs, etc. Enforcing child support collection is not only the best way to protect the child’s access to necessary resources; it is one of the most morally justifiable actions that our County takes on behalf of children.

Trying to justify the 5-4 vote to thwart child support enforcement, several commissioners claimed that child support is rife with abuse, contending that a woman making $30 K annually isn’t entitled to assistance collecting legal child support. Keechl responded that it was easy enough to find out whether the claimed abuse was real. He said, “I proposed that participants be means-tested.” Strangely enough, the same commission majority declined. Since the imputed savings are negligible and the forfeited returns are sizable, this action will likely wind up costing County taxpayers a bundle. However, if it protects besieged fathers from having their bowling money expropriated for schoolbooks by their ungrateful 7-year olds – perhaps the 5 anti-child support commissioners are actually civil rights heroes. It is unlikely that this will be the last time a suspicious County agenda falls through the cracks at midnight. Hmmmm... life in the big city?

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Captain Peney Catalyzes Security Patrol

Galt Mile Fights Back

Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Todd Penney, Governor Jeb Bush and Lt. Governor Frank Brogan
October 14, 2007 - This past June, those beachfront members of the Galt Mile Community Association located within the City of Fort Lauderdale initiated a neighborhood security patrol. The patrol is comprised of active Fort Lauderdale Police officers contracted to patrol the beach and Galt Ocean Drive north to Galt Towers before turning around and heading south again. Organized as a private professional police unit, the patrol is supervised by Captain Todd Peney, a highly decorated FLPD officer. In addition to the training and experience imputed to all FLPD police officers, they have special familiarity with our unique needs. The patrol is not an experiment in neighborhood policing. It is an extension of an existing security program that has successfully lowered the crime rate in the Lauderdale Beach neighborhood just south of the Galt Mile community.

Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Todd Penney
After suffering 45 reported crimes and hundreds of “incidents” in 1999, the Lauderdale Beach Homeowners Association, along with
L’Hermitage I and II, hired active Fort Lauderdale Police Officers to man an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) for the beach and a Police Jeep to patrol the street. The success of similar patrols organized by neighborhood civic groups depends primarily upon how they’re administered. When the civic sponsors of any plan decide that they are adequately knowledgeable about operating a security patrol, they quickly learn that they are mistaken. To properly utilize the skills of active police officers, they must be organized under an equally professional chain of command – not a group of concerned, yet inexperienced, homeowners. After exploring their alternatives and interviewing candidates, directors of the Lauderdale Beach Homeowners Association met Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Todd Peney, the recipient of 23 Departmental and 57 Public Commendations. Currently assigned to the Patrol Division in Police District 3, Captain Peney has proven to be the catalyst they needed to develop a successful program. One year after implementing this program, the number of reported crimes dropped precipitously – to two.

FLPD Assistant Chief Mary Negrey - formerly head of Police District 1
While tracking the number of reported crimes or Part One crimes is a legitimate method of measuring the success or failure of a security program, it doesn’t accurately illustrate the crime problems faced by the Galt Mile community. At a February 16, 2006 meeting of the Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board, Major Mary Negrey of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department reported that her District One unit (covering the Galt Mile) was primarily beset by “Quality of Life” crimes.

She explained that police resources are prioritized according to the need exhibited by each neighborhood. In every major municipal police force, manpower and equipment are allocated primarily to neighborhoods victimized by high crime rates and/or significant crimes. Given that the City wasn’t about to take officers from high crime areas to monitor the Galt Mile beach and sidewalks, she explained the Department’s strategy for areas like the Galt Mile. They hand out pamphlets in shopping areas, community centers and similar venues alerting residents to avoid leaving valuables in plain sight of their unattended vehicles. Holding up a flyer she brought to so demonstrate, she read, “Be careful not to leave your keys in the car or your cell phone on the car seat!” Aside from official exhortations to be mindful of our surroundings, she made it clear that we were already receiving the level of protection statistically commensurate with our needs. If we wanted to address the burglars, thieves and muggers committing these “Quality of Life” crimes, we were on our own. Those unfamiliar with Major Negrey have since asked whether she is a credible authority. Suffice to say that she was subsequently promoted to Assistant Chief of Police.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle warns Advisory Board that taxes are too high every year
To support his contention that taxes are too high, Mayor Jim Naugle’s annual address to the GMCA Advisory Board admonishes that the Galt Mile neighborhood contributes as much in taxes as the downtown business district. Angered by the City’s refusal to break with proven police theory and reallocate resources to neighborhoods according to tax base instead of need, some association representatives endorsed a strategy based on the enigmatic proposition that if we did nothing to protect our residents, the City would have to shift police personnel from high crime areas to the Galt Mile. After three decades of applying political pressure to elicit adequate neighborhood security (screaming, threatening, crying, “negotiating”, posturing, etc.), the truth of Major Negrey’s explanation has become inescapable. Notwithstanding our annual tax contribution, no administration would ignore time-tested police theory and strip protection from high-crime “battlefield” areas to protect wealthy strollers from perpetrators often misidentified as “homeless” persons and absent-minded shoppers from thieves. For decades, civic leaders were constrained to gnashing their teeth while neighborhood residents were subjected to a half dozen incidents every week.

Galt Mile Patrol Area
In 2004, the neighborhood association finally decided that angrily refusing to do anything while family, friends and neighbors suffered muggings, robberies and assaults was futile and pointless. They voted to launch another investigation into creating a private security patrol. The final product would have to meet a tough set of criteria. To accommodate representatives upset with the principle of paying for any manner of incremental police protection, the cost would have to be negligible to the average Galt Mile resident. Conversely, hiring a squad comprised of uniformed senior citizens and inexperienced part-time college students might actually invite more crime.

A real cop in a police vehicle or an ATV could cover the beach and/or the street more effectively than 4 rent-a-cops on foot. Hiring off-duty Fort Lauderdale police officers had an added value. Whenever an officer has cause to assert authority, he/she is automatically classified as “on duty”. If and when a suspect is cornered, they don’t have to contact FLPD to make an arrest. They are automatically empowered to detain and arrest alleged perpetrators. They also have unlimited access to FLPD’s substantial support services – at no additional cost.

Assistant Police Chief Stephen Robitaille
When the highly successful plan implemented by the Lauderdale Beach Homeowners Association was initially considered, the high per/unit cost paid by the Lauderdale Beach homeowners weighed against it. However, when two previously overlooked factors were considered, the plan was reevaluated. Since the Lauderdale Beach community is composed primarily of single family homes, their per unit cost is substantial. However, by spreading the expense over the Galt Mile community’s high density demographics, our minimal cost for a reasonable level of protection drops to a meager $20 per unit annually. Secondly, during the 5 years since they initiated the patrol, the Lauderdale Beach Homeowners Association had outfitted their participating professional police officers with substantial resources. They built a headquarters housing a high-tech communications network and purchased a police car to patrol the street and an ATV to patrol the beach. In addition to facilitating access to both the street and the beach, the fully equipped security HQ is conveniently located right down the block.

Major Paul Kiley
When the GMCA Advisory Board met with assorted city officials during 2005 and 2006, members took the opportunity to elicit input about the neighborhood’s security alternatives. In addition to Major Mary Negrey, association representatives queried then Assistant Chief of Police Stephen Robitaille, City Manager George Gretsas, City Commissioner Christine Teel, Major Paul Kiley (Major Negrey’s replacement upon her promotion to Assistant Chief of Police) and Assistant City Manager Kathleen Gunn. Assistant Chief Robitaille and Major Kiley spoke to the advantages attendant to using professional police. Aside from the training and experience that each officer brings to the patrol, it eliminates a communications bottleneck that diminishes the effectiveness of community policing. The seamless access to Departmental resources uniquely available to active police officers is invaluable and irreplaceable.

City Manager George Demetrios Gretsas - Apply for Municipal Support
At a March 16, 2006 Advisory Board meeting, members asked City Manager George Gretsas for guidance about our security dilemma. After learning the details of the neighborhood security plan, he stated that “the plan might be eligible for municipal support.” Gretsas explained that if we implemented the plan and were able to demonstrate a successful outcome, we could apply for municipal resources to underwrite its fiscal future. When asked if the City would consider financing the security patrol immediately, Gretsas responded, “Why should any City Commissioner risk supporting a neighborhood program untested on the Galt Mile? It must have a successful track record to earn eligibility.” He explained that when he evaluates any program or system in city government, he applies a simple rule, “If it works, it stays – if not, it gets replaced.” The City Manager clarified, “If the plan is implemented and after a reasonable period the participating associations agree that it works, the City would have a basis to support the program.” He recommended that we evaluate the program after it has been operating for a full year by asking each association if the patrol satisfied its expectations.

To avoid inflaming local fears and concerns in high-end neighborhoods like the Galt Ocean Mile and Lauderdale Beach, incidents are deliberately handled with discretion by FLPD. Ironically, this policy has deluded some residents into believing that they don’t occur. Similarly, well-intentioned Association Board members and security personnel, seeking to allay security concerns of association building residents, follow FLPD’s example and treat these incidents with extreme discretion, bordering on secrecy. As an unfortunate consequence, the number of officially reported crimes does not accurately reflect the area’s level of criminal activity. For decades, the beachfront area from the Palms Condominium and the Ireland’s Inn north to the Fort Lauderdale City line near the McDonald’s on A1A actually experienced from 6 to 12 “incidents” every week. Despite FLPD’s best efforts, embarrassing information is regularly leaked to the media, creating a skewed impression that the target association is a security risk. Since the patrol officers are active FLPD, participating associations and their residents that are victimized can freely file police reports without risking public embarrassment or exposure to any threatened “retribution” – if they so choose.

Attendees at Security Patrol Kickoff Event
Front (L to R): Eric Berkowitz, Pio Ieraci, Rose Guttman, Police Chief Bruce Roberts
Leah Glickfield, Kevin Songer, Fern McBride, Major Paul Kiley
Rear (L to R): Sgt. Todd Jackson, Officer Steve Kraft, Captain Todd Peney, Captain Jan Jordan

Chief of Police Bruce G Roberts
At a June 10th Advisory Board kickoff event in the Galt Ocean Club, Fort Lauderdale Chief of Police Bruce G. Roberts applauded the Galt Mile Community Association for establishing a neighborhood security patrol. Reinforcing the sentiments previously expressed by FLPD officers Robitaille, Negrey and Kiley, he agreed that staffing the patrol with active FLPD personnel should significantly heighten its effectiveness. The Chief also complimented the participating associations for seeking to proactively protect their residents against the type of neighborhood crimes that ordinarily slip between the cracks.

GMCA director Ralph Hamaker from Coral Ridge Towers South
Defining the patrol’s jurisdiction, Captain Todd Peney said, “The total patrol area extends from the lower North Beach hotels and condos, includes the Lauderdale Beach single family residences and penetrates the Galt Mile beachfront Associations north to Galt Towers. Your officers will patrol the beach and the local streets.” Captain Peney added, “We’ve just been supplied with a new police vehicle at no cost to the Galt Mile members.” GMCA director Ralph Hamaker from Coral Ridge Towers South asked the Captain if the patrol could be expanded to include the four Coral Ridge Towers coops and the northernmost GMCA Associations located in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The Captain explained that since the contiguous patrol area would be preserved, extending the patrol north to include the L-B-T-S associations only requires verifying the absence of any jurisdictional obstacles. Two factors impact patrolling the Coral Ridge Towers complex. The Captain said, “Although their separation from the beach area is an obstacle, the four buildings’ proximity to one another is a security advantage. If you want, we can explore extending the patrol in the future.” Captain Peney and several of the patrol’s police participants explained that patrol officers would informally visit participating associations through the balance of June.

Fort Lauderdale Police Department On Monday, October 1st, Captain Peney updated the Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council at Plaza South. He described the progress made by the security patrol as it incorporated the new Galt Mile territory into its jurisdiction. Captain Peney also explained some of the neighborhood’s changing security vulnerabilities and answered questions about the patrol’s organization.

Regency Tower President Dott Nicholson-Brown
At the outset, when asked by Regency Tower President Dott Nicholson-Brown whether the patrol officers visited the participating associations in June, Captain Peney confirmed that they met mostly with available security employees. Since each association’s security department is charged with contacting the patrol when necessary, the Captain wanted his officers to familiarize themselves with their personnel and the various Association layouts. He said that since this two-way process was designed to help edify both association and patrol personnel, it would continue.

GMCA President Pio Ieraci
A member asked how the patrol should be contacted. GMCA President Pio Ieraci explained that each participant was given a contact number that they were supposed to pass on to their security supervisor or manager. Another Association representative asked if the patrol was only for associations. Ieraci responded, “Absolutely not! The patrol is available to every resident of the participating associations.” He continued, “Any resident facing an emergency should call security. If appropriate, security will contact the patrol.” Ieraci clarified, “We recommended that security have the number because they are always available. While it is logical for on duty Security to be charged with contacting the patrol, each association will decide for itself who should make the call.” Ieraci emphasized that the patrol should not be contacted capriciously. He explained, “If the patrol responded to a frivolous call placed by some resident with an irresponsible agenda, it could unnecessarily slow their response time to a real emergency. Since each association’s security is likely to be familiar with their residents, they are better positioned than some 911 operator to ascertain whether the call is warranted. However, if there is any indication of a medical issue, 911 should be called immediately.”

Beach without Street Lights
Captain Peney explained some of the law enforcement issues currently affecting the Galt Mile’s crime rate. Several years ago, the City of Fort Lauderdale was one of five Broward County jurisdictions that passed a turtle-safe lighting ordinance. When every beachfront Galt Mile Association unexpectedly received a non-compliance violation notice earlier this year, the GMCA negotiated an arrangement that balanced the survival needs of sea turtles with the security needs of residents. In exchange for eliminating the most egregious lighting violations, Galt Mile Associations were permitted to maintain sufficient lighting to guarantee adequate safety and security. Unfortunately, since neither the city nor other beachfront associations followed our lead, the “Ocean Highway” was plunged into darkness a few months ago.

A1A - Lights Out
Southpoint Director Mike Katz expressed his support for darkening the beach areas to lower the sea turtle disorientation rates responsible for confused hatchlings marching to oblivion. GMCA V.P. Eric Berkowitz explained that the city intends to install special lighting that would illuminate the streets without adversely impacting the sea turtles. He asked, “Since the City knew that darkening the local streets would cripple police efforts, why didn’t they install the alternative lighting before they pulled the plug?”

FDOT's Ann Broadwell
Captain Peney said, “Responding to a request from Florida Fish and Wildlife, the Florida Department of Transportation decided to turn off the beachside lighting along A1A before new turtle-safe lighting could be installed by the City.” A post-meeting investigation revealed that Ann Broadwell of the Florida Department of Transportation local District 4 office zapped the beachfront street lights. She explained that since FDOT receives huge stipends from Washington, they had to yield to federal pressure to extinguish the coastal lighting. Closer scrutiny revealed that the federal guardians of “The Endangered Species Act” simply implemented precepts from a 2001 paper she authored for the John Muir Institute for the Environment that proposed new FDOT Lighting Standards for “Sea Turtle Lighting Zones.” Whether caused by this “catch-22” tautology or poor communication, any responsibility for this questionable decision has been absorbed into a political black hole.

Sign Warning that A1A Street Lights are off The City’s failure to coordinate decommissioning the street lights with the installation of their turtle-safe replacements precipitated an overwhelming influx of vagrants to Barrier Island beach areas. Not surprisingly, crime skyrocketed. The significant police presence ordinarily assigned to the Las Olas area was barely adequate to protect tourists from the unexpected onslaught. However, beachfront communities north and south of the protected Main Beach area were inundated.

Ocean Sky Beach & Tiki Bar
Captain Peney reported that the patrol has succeeded in clearing the Galt Mile Beach and Lauderdale Beach of transients seeking to occupy the darkened beach on a nightly basis. The beaches north and south of this “demilitarized” zone are experiencing understandably heightened incident rates. In contrast, those rates for beach areas policed by the Security Patrol have decreased.

Ocean Manor Beach & Tiki Bar
The Captain said that although incidents were for the most part fairly evenly distributed along the Galt Mile Beach, the areas proximal to the Ocean Manor and Ocean Sky hotels experienced heightened activity. Among the issues regularly confronted by the patrol officers are swimmers in distress, behavioral disturbances by hotel guests or Tiki Bar patrons and “trespassers” masquerading as hotel guests, condo residents or visitors.

Motels under Surveillance
The Captain also expressed concern about local sites identified by FLPD as “hot spots” – areas and/or buildings in which crime proliferates and criminals congregate. Evidence of prostitution, drugs and stolen goods has attracted active monitoring of some motels on the west side of A1A. Captain Peney said, “Perpetrators congregating in those locations to engage in illicit activity don’t necessarily stay there all day. They come out into the neighborhood to shop or get something to eat. If they see an opportunity, they will pounce.”
Motels under Surveillance at night
Since the “illicit activities” mentioned by Captain Peney, such as prostitution and drug dealing, are conducted 24/7 – the perpetrators are always an active threat to innocent residents who inadvertently draw their attention. It is not uncommon for some “bad guys” to walk or drive the local streets seeking an easy score. He said that residents should try to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense to adapt their behavior to their environment. It is no coincidence that many of the mugged, robbed and assaulted victims broadcast convincing evidence that they were inebriated or carried exposed valuables in a casual, inattentive manner.

Deauville Hostel & Crewhouse
Captain Peney described 3 local incidents (2 strong-arm robberies and one armed robbery) that recently took place within a few days. On September 10th, a Plaza East woman leaving the Winn Dixie at 10:45 PM was accosted on the way to her vehicle. A shirtless man threw her to the ground and escaped with her purse. On September 13th, three women who departed the Tiki Bar at 3 A.M. were walking along Galt Ocean Drive when they were approached by 2 men who demanded their purses. In the ensuing struggle, a victim who refused to release her purse tripped and was dragged by one of the perpetrators. They ultimately forced two of the purses loose and escaped. The third incident took place on September 18th. Police followed a car suspected of involvement in a previous local incident to 29th Street and A1A when they were flagged down by a pedestrian claiming to have been the victim of an armed robbery. His description of the perpetrators matched some suspects surveilled earlier. After arranging a felony stop, the suspects were identified as the perpetrators, the stolen goods were recovered and the defendants were taken into custody at the Deauville Hostel & Crewhouse (formerly the Deauville Inn) at 2916 N. Ocean Boulevard.

Captain Peney said that he was contacted by several neighbors of the women accosted on Galt Ocean Drive. They evidently sent angry emails mischaracterizing the incident. The emails contended that the police took 15 minutes before arriving at the scene. Captain Peney stated that he was at the patrol headquarters when the call came in. He jumped into his squad car and arrived at the described location about 90 seconds later. He immediately established a perimeter and contacted the detectives and the K-9 patrol – two additional police units. Within ten minutes, the arriving detectives started interviewing the victims and K-9 established the likelihood of an unreported vehicle being used in conjunction with the escape.

Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Todd Peney and Governor Jeb Bush
Representatives of the victim’s Association simultaneously sent similar emails to the Galt Mile Community Association repeating their inquiry about the patrol’s response to the emergency call and requesting that GMCA investigate the incident. They also asked why a vacant police vehicle is parked in front of one of the buildings. GMCA officials met with the Association representatives after interviewing the patrol participants and collecting the police reports and the activity records. One association representative surmised that the victims were apparently under the impression that the detectives who took their statements were the first responders. They were, in fact, the second of three units that converged on the scene. Inasmuch, the relatively sizable police response was a direct result of Captain Peney’s request for the additional investigative units while constructing a perimeter. Times documented in the call records are consistent with the police report. After reviewing all the relevant data, the Association representatives acknowledged that the actual police response was worthy of commendation – not criticism. Since the Association officials thought that some of the data uncovered during the investigation might needlessly embarrass the victims, it was determined that the names of the victims and the Association be withheld.

After responding to questions about other local law enforcement issues, Captain Peney emphasized the importance of getting the facts straight before commenting on an incident. He said, “If anyone is concerned about something they saw or heard, they should notify the neighborhood association and request that they look into it. If we discover a deficiency in the patrol, we will correct it. Very often, however, anecdotal evidence is inaccurate and incomplete. The few minutes it takes to verify some story is time well spent and will likely save you some unnecessary future embarrassment.” When confronted with the violation of a friend or neighbor, every member could easily empathize with the initial feelings of helplessness that quickly turn into anger, fomenting the need to lash out. To everyone’s credit, it was unanimously agreed that future incidents would first be thoroughly investigated before critical allegations are leveled.

Fort Lauderdale Police Car
The Captain also explained the mysteriously mobile empty police car. Each of the patrol officers has an assigned fully equipped City police cruiser which is organized by the officer. If available, they prefer using their patrol car instead of the Association vehicle upon reporting for duty. When this occurs, they randomly park the extra patrol car along Galt Ocean Drive, affording the neighborhood association an additional “pro bono” deterrent. Captain Peney exhorted, “Don’t be confused if you see the cruiser in the same location for several days. It is moved during almost every shift. After using the patrol car, an officer may park it in the same spot that he picked it up.” Peney assured members that its value as a deterrent is enormous, “The vast majority of bad guys will move on if they think a police officer is nearby.”

Council Chairman Pio Ieraci told members that participants would receive copies of the daily activity reports depicting the hourly location of patrol officers during the course of each shift. Pio said, “Instead of watching the beach while someone else watches the street, these activity forms will provide a daily confirmation of the patrol schedule.” Since the existing checklist activity forms currently only list locations in the Lauderdale Beach neighborhood, the officers must write in Galt Mile activity. When additional forms are printed, the Galt Mile locations will be added.

Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Raul M. Diaz
Captain Peney exclaimed that the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is engaged in performing an ongoing study of neighborhood crime rates. Captain Raul M. Diaz is charged with maintaining the relevant crime statistics for each Fort Lauderdale community. Prior to his appearance before the Presidents Council, Captain Peney requested an official crime stats update for the Galt Mile patrol area in Police District 1. Captain Diaz reported that crime on the Galt is down from this same time last year. He indicated that there were 13 crimes during this period in 2006 as compared to 11 this year. Crime stats are also low in the adjacent Lauderdale Beach patrol area. However, the number of crimes afflicting almost every other local neighborhood association – such as Coral Ridge to the west, Imperial Point to the north and the Central Beach Alliance just south of us – is significantly higher than in the Galt Mile community.

Following a promise to update the Council again in future meetings, Captain Peney received an ovation from attending association officials. After thanking the Captain for attending on the heels of an 18-hour day, Council Chair Pio Ieraci explained that any evaluation of the program’s progress must be rooted in facts. GMCA will carefully follow the neighborhood crime statistics, changes in the crime environment and criminal activity rates in surrounding communities to ascertain the effectiveness of the security patrol. He admonished that baseless “pool talk” and unverified anecdotes are virtually worthless for that purpose.

He also stated that GMCA was considering the formation of a security committee composed of neighborhood residents charged with acting as a liaison between the patrol and the neighborhood association. They would recommend relevant improvements, investigate suspicious incidents and consider requests for expanding the patrol’s jurisdiction. Hopefully, this will help the security patrol evolve into its most effective incarnation prior to the expiration of the 12-month evaluation period. When the City assumes responsibility for the project, it will also assume full control, which leaves the Galt Mile community about nine months to tweak the project into its final form.

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Commissioner Teel’s October Newsletter

Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport
October 25, 2007 - Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport is an integral General Aviation transportation facility serving Southeast Florida. In addition to being an important destination and embarkation point for a wide variety of personal, charter and corporate air traffic, it houses aviation businesses and flight training schools wherein local residents can learn how to fly helicopters and/or small aircraft. Unfortunately, the airport has been the site of a series of mysterious accidents. As required by federal law, accidents involving people’s lives and personal property are subjected to thorough investigations to ascertain liability and flesh out databases useful for enhancing safety. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is tasked with discharging this critically important responsibility, they have failed to adequately explain why four aircraft crashed into nearby local roadways during the past few years and, more importantly, implement whatever operational improvements are required to address this disturbingly dangerous proclivity.

June 2005 Crash at NE 56th street
To this end, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission passed a resolution insisting that the FAA fulfill its obligation. To imbue the Agency with resources adequate to the task, the Commission also requested that Congress allocate almost $10 billion to fund the training, equipment, certifications and inspections required to improve the facility's cloudy safety record. To be effective, our congressional representatives must make room on their agendas for the resolution. In her October Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Christine Teel frames the issue, explains the Commission’s action to help mitigate the recurring disasters and asks for our help. While our local federal officials will politely acknowledge the resolution's relevance, without a clear indication of its importance from their voting constituencies, its effectiveness will be very limited. Familiar with the political mechanics in Washington, our Commissioner has opted to enlist those constituencies - US - to help give the resolution legs. After all, your home could be the next landing pad for Charter Flight #6643! READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

Commissioner Christine Teel
We have all been concerned about the increase in aviation accidents involving aircraft from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, the most recent being a crash landing near Commercial Boulevard and I-95. These incidents, in densely populated areas, have miraculously occurred without causing devastating results to either people or property on the ground. In an effort to prevent reoccurrences in the future, I encouraged my colleagues on the commission to pass a resolution urging congress to appropriate the necessary funding for thorough and timely investigation of these types of incidents, preventative safety inspections of both the aircraft and crews, and implementation of stricter safety guidelines. The commission unanimously approved the following resolution on October 2nd that will be forwarded to the Florida Congressional Delegation.

  • WHEREAS, the City of Fort Lauderdale is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport; and
  • WHEREAS, the City of Fort Lauderdale has established standards, rules and regulations for businesses located at the facility; and
  • WHEREAS, the City of Fort Lauderdale City Commission is concerned with the safety and welfare of all its residents and desires to ensure that aircraft and airmen operating in the area meet all standards of safety, maintenance, and training; and
  • WHEREAS, four aircraft accidents have occurred on roadways surrounding Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in the past two-and-a-half-years, and
  • WHEREAS, the Federal Aviation Administration (the “FAA”) retains authority for the safety of civil aviation and the operational aspects of flight and its major responsibilities include regulating civil aviation to promote safety by issuing and enforcing regulations and standards regarding the manufacture, operation, and maintenance of aircraft; certifying airmen; and ensuring the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace; and
  • WHEREAS, the FAA Administrator has submitted a budget request to the United States Congress which includes $9.4 billion for safety programs and said budget request provides funding for inspecting aircraft, certifying new equipment, and ensuring the safety of flights procedures and the competence of airmen; and
  • WHEREAS, in order to accomplish this mandate, the FAA must ensure that adequate staffing is available and that said staff is fully trained to perform these critical safety functions,


  • SECTION 1. That the City of Fort Lauderdale City Commission urges the United States Congress to approve the Federal Aviation Administration 2008 Budget request and that the budget include sufficient appropriations and adequate training for increased safety inspections of aircraft and airmen operating in Fort Lauderdale.

  • SECTION 2. That the FY 2008 budget request for FAA includes, at a minimum, $9.4 billion to meet safety goals, that include targets to reduce U.S. commercial air carrier and all general aviation fatal accidents in FY 2008.

  • SECTION 3. That the City of Fort Lauderdale desires prompt and efficient investigations of aircraft accidents and the implementation of measures to prevent such accidents from occurring in the future.

  • SECTION 4. That a copy of the Resolution shall be provided to the Florida Congressional Delegation.

ADOPTED this the 2nd day of October 2007.

To further emphasize the critical nature of our requests I encourage everyone in your neighborhood association to contact the following members of Congress:

I will continue to coordinate the efforts to improve the safety of aviation at Executive Airport.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. I can be reached at city hall at (954) 828-5004 or by e-mail at

Christine Teel                

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Golf Traco Windows Tournament

Join your CAI-SEFL friends and colleagues this October and enjoy a day of fun on the fairways. Show your support for the Chapter and join your ‘golfing buddies’ for a day on the links. Golfing experience is not necessary; this is a fun, social event.

The Date: Friday, October 26th, 2007
The Time: 12:00 Noon
The Place: Bonaventure Country Club
200 Bonaventure Boulevard
Weston, Florida 33317

Tournament Information

Contests for men and women include: Closest to the Pin and Longest Drive. To assist with those missed shots, Mulligans will be available for purchase. Beverages will be available to keep participants fully hydrated.

  • 12:00 Noon - Registration
  • 1:00 p.m. - Shotgun Start
  • 5:00 p.m. - Tournament Awards Dinner & Raffles
  • All golfers automatically entered into drawing for a hi-def TV, courtesy of Community Association Banc!
  • Awesome hole-in-one contest prizes!

After Golf

CAI Golf Tournament An awards dinner will wrap up the day’s activities. Trophies will be provided to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the team that struggles the most!

The East Course at Bonaventure Country Club

Nationally Famous #3 Waterfall Hole
The East course, designed by Joe Lee, is a par 72 that measures 7,001 from the Blue tees. This course has been rated as one of Florida’s top ten. Our East course is a classic Florida layout with holes routed through strands of mature palms and hardwoods, and around numerous water hazards and expansive bunkers.

Players including Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, and Jesper Parnevik have competed here in the prestigious Dixie Amateur Tournament. The nationally famous #3 waterfall hole is a must play for all visitors to South Florida.

Click to Community Association Institute, Southeast Florida Chapter web site For more information, call Jill Proietti at 954-816-0661 or Email: Click Here for the 2007 Golf Tournament page on the Southeast Florida Chapter of CAI web site.

Click Here to register for the CAI-SEFL 2007 Golf Tournament. Click Here for info about sponsorship opportunities for the Golf Tournament.

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Halloween Hysteria

Click Here to Halloween Hysteria Web Page

Halloween Hysteria will happen on the Galt Mile on Saturday, Oct 27, 2007 from 10 am till the Ghouls come home! Visit your favorite merchants for howling hot discounts and screaming good fun!

Click Here for the downlow about Halloween Hysteria on the Galt Mile!

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Homestead Exemptions Made Easy


All legal Florida residents are eligible for a Homestead Exemption on their homes, condominiums, co-op apartments, and certain mobile home lots if they qualify. The Florida Constitution provides this tax-saving exemption on the first $25,000 of the assessed value of an owner/occupied residence. You are entitled to a Homestead Exemption if, as of January 1st, you have made the property your permanent home or the permanent home of a person who is legally or naturally dependent on you. By law, January 1st of each year is the date on which permanent residence is determined.

“Permanent residence” means that place where a person has his true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he has the intention of returning. A person may have only one permanent residence at a time; and, once a permanent residence is established in a foreign state or country, it is presumed to continue until the person shows a change has occurred. Fla.Stat.Ann. § 196.012(17).

The filing period for homestead exemption for 2008 is March 2, 2007 through March 1, 2008. There is no cost to file for Homestead if you file by the March 1st deadline. Note: You may still “late file” for 2007 from March 2 - September 18, 2007, but there is a $15 fee set by state law and additional (but simple) paperwork required. Between September 19 - December 31, 2007, late filing for 2007 exemptions is much more complex, and may require attendance at a formal hearing before a Value Adjustment Board Special Magistrate prior to an exemption being approved by the Broward County Property Appraiser.

When filing an application you must bring the following items listed below, dated prior to January 1, 2007. To claim 100% coverage, all owners occupying the property as Tenants in Common (i.e., proportional share co-owners) must file in person on jointly held property. In the case of a husband/wife (“Tenants by the Entirety”) or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (“JTRS”), any one owner may qualify for 100% coverage – although it is always highly advisable to have all eligible owner-occupants to file. If you are married and the Deed has different last names for a husband and wife, a marriage certificate must be presented if the deed does not indicate the two co-owners are “husband and wife.”

Proof of Ownership: Recorded Warranty Deed, Co-op Propriety Lease, Notice of Proposed Taxes or Tax Receipt, if in your name(s). A deed must be presented if the property is jointly owned. IF THE PROPERTY IS HELD IN A TRUST, EITHER A NOTARIZED CERTIFICATE OF TRUST OR A COMPLETE COPY OF THE TRUST AGREEMENT IS REQUIRED.

Proof of Permanent Florida Residence, ALL DATED PRIOR TO JANUARY 1, 2007. Acceptable forms of proof are as follows:

  • FOR ALL APPLICANTS: Florida Driver’s License (“Valid Only in Florida” driver license is not acceptable) or Florida Identification Card is required IN ADDITION TO ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
  • FOR NON-US CITIZENS: The items listed above AND proof of permanent residency, resident immigrant status (such as a “Green Card”), asylum/parolee status (or other PRUCOL status).

PRUCOL is an acronym for “Permanently Residing in the United States Under Color of Law.” PRUCOL applies to individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e. lawful temporary residents, refugees, political parolees, asylum grantees, deferred deportation, etc.). Essentially, it includes aliens living in the U.S. with the knowledge and permission of the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and whose departure that agency does not contemplate enforcing.

Click to USCIS Web Site Following the September 11, 2001 tragedy, the functions of the Immigration and Naturalization service (INS) were transferred from the Justice Department to the Department of Homeland Security. Upon dissolution of the INS on March 1, 2003, immigration service functions were imparted to the newly formed USCIS.

Pursuant to Rule 12D-7.007(3), Florida Administrative Code, anyone residing in the U.S. under what is considered a “temporary” visa (E-, F-, H-, J-, L-, M-, N-, O-, P-, TC- or R-class visa) is INELIGIBLE for a Homestead Exemption. Similarly, anyone here under “Temporary Protected Status” is also ineligible.

Note: it is generally against the law for a Florida resident to drive in Florida with an out-of-state license or tag if he/she claims Homestead Exemption (Sections 320.37 and 322.08 of the Florida Statutes).

The Florida Department of Revenue application form (DR-501) requests the following information for all owners living on the premises and filing.

  • Date of each owner’s last Florida permanent residency
  • Date of occupancy for each property owner
  • Social Security numbers of all owners filing (including the Social Security numbers of any married spouses, even if not named in the Deed) are required
  • Florida Drivers License and/or Vehicle Tag numbers
  • Florida Voters Registration number (U.S. citizens) or Immigration number (not U.S. citizens)
  • Current employers of all owners
  • Addresses listed on last I.R.S. income tax returns

Florida Statute 196.011(9) (a) requires the owner to notify the Property Appraiser whenever the use of the property or the status or condition of the owner(s) changes so as to change the exempt status of the property. If the status of the property or the owner(s) alters Homestead eligibility, the law requires notification of the Property Appraiser’s office by March 1st. Failure to so notify the property appraiser exposes the property owner to 10 years of retroactive tax indebtedness plus 15 percent interest per annum and a penalty of 50 percent of the taxes exempted.

If you have a Homestead Exemption in any other state or county (or an equivalent residency-based exemption or tax credit, such as New York’s “S.T.A.R.” exemption) on another property you also currently own, you will not be eligible for a homestead until you surrender the exemption in that other jurisdiction.

Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Nance Parrish
The Homestead Exemption does not transfer from property to property. If you had this exemption last year on another property and moved, you must file a new application for your new residence. Notify the Property Appraiser to cancel the exemptions on your former home. Property purchased during last year may show qualified exemptions of the seller. The sellers’ exemptions will not carry over to this year; you must apply for your own exemptions!

The amount of the homestead exemption granted to an owner residing on a particular property is to be applied against the amount of that person’s interest in the property. This provision is limited in that the proportional amount of the homestead exemption allowed any person shall not exceed the proportionate assessed valuation based on the interest owned by the person. For example, assuming a property valued at $40,000, with the residing owner’s interest in the property being $20,000, then $20,000 of the homestead exemption is all that can be applied to that property. If there are multiple owners, all as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the owner living at property filing receives the full $25,000 exemption.

Too often, many taxpayers ignore their TRIM Notice until it is too late by law to challenge an assessment or fight a proposed tax hike. But, if you act timely, you can best protect your rights. The first thing to understand is how your taxes are calculated. It is based upon a simple math formula: TAXABLE VALUE x TAX MILLAGE RATES + SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS = TAX BILL. It also reminds property owners that they can save money by paying early. Paying in November earns a 4% discount. The discount decreases to 3% in December, 2% in January, 1% in February and full price in March.

Sample TRIM Notice
While the Property Appraiser’s Office exerts no influence over tax rates, if the market value as shown in the box “Your Property Value This Year” is higher than the market value of your property as of this past January 1, a Deputy Property Appraiser will discuss your market value and how it was calculated on request. If you still feel your market value is too high following such a conference, you can file a simple petition with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB).

The Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) is the independent appeals board that has initial jurisdiction over challenges to any property valuations (the “assessed value”), denials of exemptions, denials of classifications, and other similar matters. As mandated by Florida Statute 194.015, the VAB is composed of three members of the Broward County Commission and two members of the School Board. The Board is completely independent of the Property Appraiser’s office. As per Florida Statute 194.035, the Value Adjustment Board appoints Special Magistrates - who are all qualified, professionally designated real estate appraisers and/or attorneys - to conduct the hearings. The only question the Special Magistrates can determine is whether the market value of your property as shown on your TRIM Notice is higher than the property’s market value as of last January 1st.

The process is triggered by filing an appeal application form and a statutory $15 filing fee with the VAB by the mid-September deadline indicated on your TRIM Notice. The fully completed petition must be filed with the Clerk of the Value Adjustment Board, Broward Government Center, 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 120, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 - BEFORE THE DEADLINE. In accord with the provisions of Florida Statute 194.034 (d), it is required that you furnish the VAB Appeals office all the information or documentation that will be used to support your conclusion of value. Failure to provide the following information to the Property Appraiser no less than 15 days prior to your hearing precludes its use before the VAB.

The following documentation should be filed in DUPLICATE:

  • Copy of lease or leases.
  • Certified copy of Gross Rental Income and Miscellaneous Income.
  • Certified copy of Expense Statement.
  • Copy of any appraisal reports made on the subject property within three (3) prior years.
  • Original construction costs plus cost of any improvements, add-ons or additions (include indirect costs such as profit, and overhead, interim finance charges, discounts, survey, architect’s fees, legal fees, permits, etc).
  • A list of any comparable properties you intend to submit to the V.A.B. which would tend to substantiate your claim for adjustment of subject property to include sales price, date of sale, sales price per square foot, and/or units of comparison, apartments, single family dwellings square feet of living area, breakdown of sale between land and improvements. Also, list date of sale and adjustments for differences you may deem appropriate.
  • Any contracts for Deed prior to closing.
  • Original Amount of Mortgage, terms and balance owed on January 1 of the current year.
  • Original copy of Closing Statement.
  • Other items you may deem supportable as to your Petition before the V.A.B.

You have probably surmised that this information should be compiled with the assistance of the Property Appraiser staff, VAB staff and/or an attorney. To contact VAB, go to the VAB office, Room 120, Governmental Office, or call 954-357-7292, press 3 then 4. To elicit assistance from the Property Appraiser’s Office, contact either their main office (Room 111, Governmental Center, 954-357-6830) or one of their satellite offices. If someone will be representing you at the hearing, they must have a letter of authorization or power of attorney attesting to that fact. This applies to anyone whose names are not included on the deed.

Residents 65 years or older as of January 1st may qualify for the additional $25,000 Senior Exemption. Qualified seniors must have a total 2006 household adjusted gross income not in excess of $24,214 (adjusted annually for inflation by the Department of Revenue) to be eligible for the additional exemption. This exemption must be applied for annually. While the exemption applies to the county portion every Broward resident’s taxes, only those residents living in cities that adopted the exemption may apply it to their municipal tax bite. The filing period is between January 1st and March 1st each year.

There are two Homestead Exemption filing periods. Traditionally, property owners apply between January 1st and March 1st for the previous year’s benefit. With the advent of “Pre-Filing”, owners who purchased properties after January 1st can file from March 2nd to December 31st for the following year.

IF YOU MISSED THE MARCH 1st DEADLINE TO FILE FOR THE PREVIOUS YEAR’S HOMESTEAD, Florida law allows for late filing until December 31st. The Broward County Property Appraiser’s office accepts late Homestead applications at the Main Office in Room 111 of the Broward Government Center in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and helps taxpayers prepare the mandatory petitions to the Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) for all eligible properties. For a late application to be granted for 2007, the petition filed for a qualified property with the VAB must be accompanied by a $15 non-refundable filing fee. If the application is filed after the September TRIM Notice deadline (September 18, 2007) for a good cause hearing with the Value Adjustment Board on or before December 31st (actually – they will accept the application until the close of business on January 2nd), the Value Adjustment Board will hold a hearing to determine if it will hear the petition. Good cause must be demonstrated for not having filed the petition by the September deadline.

  • If granted “Good Cause,” a petition must be filed and the mandated $15 non-refundable filing fee must be paid to the VAB prior to being heard by a Special Magistrate for approval or denial.
  • If denied “Good Cause” by the VAB, the petitioner is entitled by law to appeal to the Circuit Court, pursuant to Sec. 194.171, Fla. Stat.
  • Applications with petitions can be filed only at the Broward Governmental Center, 115 South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale (just South of Broward Boulevard) in Room 111 (Property Appraiser) or Room 120 (VAB).

CAVEAT EMPTOR! As you are doubtless aware, an appeal is a lawsuit. Lawsuits cost thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees, retainer fees for lawyers ($250 to $500 per hour) and court costs. If unsuccessful, these costs would be incremental to the possible doubling or trebling of property taxes implicit in the loss of the homestead tax exemption. An appeal is anything but a consequence-free “toss of the dice”.

The Property Appraiser’s Main Office at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 111, in downtown Fort Lauderdale (just south of Broward Boulevard) is always open weekdays from 7 am until 6 pm. The telephone number is 954-357-6830. The Broward County Property Appraiser maintains a web site at

The Property Appraiser maintains a West Broward Branch Office that is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. The West Broward Branch Office is located at 1 N. University Drive, Suite 111-A (NW corner of Broward Blvd. & University), Plantation, FL 33324 (954-370-3700).

Beach Community Center
In addition to the two local Property Appraiser’s offices available to residents in Broward, the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office will conduct special taxpayer sign-up sessions for the 2007 Homestead Exemption and Senior Exemption at City Hall, the Beach Community Center, and various Homeowners and Civic Associations from September through April. As part of this Outreach Program, the Appraiser’s Office will send Deputy Property Appraisers to the meeting locations to assist members and new area residents with their property tax exemptions filings.

Beach Community Center (3351 NE 33rd Street) sign-up dates are:

  • Friday, September 28th – 10:00 AM
  • Friday, October 26th – 10:00 AM
  • Friday, November 30th - 10:00 AM
  • Friday, January 25th - 10:00 AM
  • Friday, February 29th – 10:00 AM
  • Friday, March 28th – 10:00 AM
  • Friday, April 25th – 10:00 AM

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Town Hall
Jarvis Hall in the L-B-T-S Town Hall (4501 Ocean Drive, L-B-T-S) sign-up dates are:

  • Thursday, September 20th - 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, October 18th – 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, November 15th - 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, January 17th – 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, February 21st – 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, March 20th – 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, April 17th – 11:00 AM

In addition to helping property owners with Homestead Exemptions, Property Appraiser staffers will assist residents to apply for:

  • WIDOW/WIDOWER EXEMPTION: Bring copy of spouse’s death certificate, newspaper obituary, or memorial card.

  • DISABILITY/VETERAN’S DISABILITY EXEMPTION: Ask us about the filing requirements for partial and full versions these exemptions.

  • SENIOR’S ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION: Bring copy of spouse’s death certificate, newspaper obituary, or memorial card.

Note: Homebound persons and other qualified individuals with disabilities who cannot readily leave their home to visit one of our offices may also file for a Homestead Exemption. Please call: (954) 357-6910 to arrange for a visit from the Property Appraiser’s Homebound Outreach Program.

File for Your Homestead Exemption Online - CLICK HERE
The Property Appraiser’s office has instituted a new Online Homestead Filing Program. While the Property Appraiser’s Outreach Program is remarkably convenient for new filers, the internet-based program is even easier. You can save time, gas-money and avoid lines and crowds that assemble at the four local Broward offices or the outreach centers.

FYI – Scott Lewis is the Broward County Property Appraiser’s condo and co-op supervisor in the Real Property Office. Scott can be reached at (954) 357-6832 or by email at

Galt Mile Residents

  • Please contact Bob Wolfe of Inter-Governmental Media Relations at (954) 445-5732 or at for further information.
  • Click Here to access the Broward County Property Appraiser web site in English, Spanish or Creole.
  • Click Here for additional information about Homestead and other Exemptions.
  • Click Here for info about additional Senior Exemptions
  • Click Here for info about new Tax Reform Legislation
  • Click Here for info about the TRIM (Truth in Millage) Notice
  • Click Here for info about the Broward County Value Adjustment Board (VAB)
  • Click Here to file a petition to the Broward County VAB or check its status - ONLINE
  • Click Here for all Exemption & Appeals forms
  • Click Here to access the Online Homestead Filing Program and file for your exemption the easy way!
  • Click Here to check the status of your 2007 Homestead Application (may take until late May)
  • Click Here to use the Home Buyer’s Tax Estimator
  • Click Here to get a copy of your tax bill
  • Click Here to see copies of deeds, mortgages, liens, release of liens and court judgments

Click Here to download a petition to place a homestead portability amendment into Florida's Constitution on the November 2008 ballot (Transfer up to $400,000 of sheltered value to any new homsteaded property in the state.)

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Commissioner Teel’s November Newsletter

November 7, 2007 - Planning for the future is one of the critical responsibilities assumed by City Commissioners. As expressed by Commissioner Christine Teel in her November Newsletter, the key to planning is input. The City has hired a Colorado-based Parks and Recreation consulting firm to help formulate plans for molding our limited green spaces into successful recreational resources. While this authoritative guidance and the intuitive contributions from city officials are important adjuncts to an effective plan, its success will ultimately turn on public input.

The City has already convened several well-attended public meetings and organized focus groups to develop objectives that resonate with city residents. However, their input must be carefully integrated into a Parks and Recreation Long Range Strategic Plan considerate of neighborhood needs, historical perspective and access to funding. The plan must also demonstrate the flexibility necessary to accomodate changing demographics and lifestyle diversity. Commissioner Teel has committed to updating the Galt Mile Community about the plan’s evolution and its funding consequences. READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

Commissioner Christine Teel
The City Commission and city staff routinely delve deeply into the services provided to the taxpayers. We look at all aspects of a particular service, including if it meets the needs of our citizens, how it can be improved, are there obstacle that need to be overcome, will it meet future needs and how will any changes or improvements be financed. These questions can only be answered with the help of our residents, so they are encouraged to participate in the planning process.

We recently launched a Parks and Recreation Long Range Strategic Plan initiative to ensure that Fort Lauderdale has adequate green-space and recreational programs and activities for all age groups now and in the years ahead.

The City is conducting this planning initiative in partnership with its citizens and GreenPlay LLC, a nationally renowned parks and recreation consulting firm. The goal of the plan is to identify the City’s parks, facilities, recreation, and open space needs, and create a long-term vision that proactively plans for and addresses these needs in the future.

Click to City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation web site Public involvement is a key component of this process. The City recently hosted two public meetings along with a series of focus groups to obtain input about our parks and recreation needs. More than 100 City residents, parks users, community leaders and recreation enthusiasts participated in the meetings. The groups were asked to respond to a variety of questions to assess customer satisfaction; parks, recreation and open space needs of the community; and other parks and recreation issues that they felt should be addressed in the comprehensive plan. The input received will be incorporated into the overall plan as we move forward.

Click to GreenPlay web site In addition to the public meetings, the Parks and Recreation Long Range Strategic Plan will include an inventory and analysis of the City’s existing facilities, an assessment of programming needs, as well as recommendations for changes to the parks system to meet these needs.

The plan will take into account the City of Fort Lauderdale’s neighborhoods and residential areas, the Downtown, Northwest and South Regional Activity Centers, and the Barrier Island / Beach areas, and will reflect the City’s historical context. Ultimately, the plan will seek to integrate with other City efforts to advance a common vision and create an active, diverse, livable and sustainable community that provides recreational opportunities that are relevant to the lifestyles and demographics of our community.

As with any plans for changes or improvements, there are always costs associated with them. We are challenged with prioritizing the wish lists and finding funding sources that don’t hurt the very people we are trying to help. I will update you on our progress as the plans are further refined and the funding sources are identified.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. I can be reached at city hall at (954) 828-5004 or by e-mail at

Christine Teel                

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Beaujolais Nouveau

Click Here to Beaujolais Nouveau Web Page

Beaujolais Nouveau on the Galt Mile is scheduled for Thursday, November 15, 2007 from 7 to 10 pm! The New Grapes are In! Enjoy Tastings of the New Beaujolais, Hors d‘oeuvres & Prizes at participating locations.

Click Here for details about Beaujolais Nouveau on the Galt Mile!

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Commissioner Ken Keechl’s Corner

November/December 2007 Newsletter

November 24, 2007 - *Broward County dodged a slew of political and fiscal bullets this year. The Broward Board of County Commissioners faced down a sizable budget deficit and met the newly legislated State Tax Reduction parameters without precipitating the County’s predicted demise! In his November/December Newsletter, County Commissioner Ken Keechl reviews his first year of public service. He rightfully exhibits pride in having successfully pursued the fiscal and environmental objectives he defined during his 2006 campaign for the District 4 commission seat. Performing the political equivalent of ice skating uphill, Commissioner Keechl persistently pressured his commission peers to offset an anticipated $54 million 2008 budget deficit with spending cuts. Following the recent redevelopment of nine Broward golf courses portending a loss of 700 acres of dwindling green space, the Commissioner fought to legally deter the developer-driven conversion of golf courses into “McMansions” by toughening land use regulations. His votes to relieve both airport congestion and the insufficient number of County boat slips were accompanied by strong environmental caveats. Not surprisingly, when he opted to support enhancing the regulatory business climate, Commissioner Keechl also acted to insure that economic growth didn’t carry an environmental price tag. - [editor]*

“County Commissioner Keechl’s First Year”

by Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
I know it’s hard to believe, but it has been a year since I became your County Commissioner. Without a doubt, the last year has been the most fulfilling and exciting time of my life. Thank you again for your vote of confidence in me. I believe that we are making progress in creating a Broward County that is environmentally sensitive, fiscally responsible, and business friendly.

As your representative on the Broward County Commission, I have been a watchdog for your tax dollars and I have consistently voted against unnecessary expenditures. When you first elected me, most of my colleagues didn’t agree with me when I suggested cutting 50 million dollars from next year’s budget. However, after much prodding, my colleagues and I cut appropriately 90 million dollars from next year’s budget. And guess what? The world didn’t end.

Click to Golf Course Conversion Policy Recommendation Here is my promise to you: Last year was only the beginning. I will continue to advocate for fiscal restraint - and without hurting those residents who rely on County services as a “safety net.” And I will continue to insure that when the County Commission does spend your tax dollars, we do it wisely and carefully.

During the next twelve months, I will also continue on my mission to protect our dwindling golf courses from residential and commercial development. As I discussed in an earlier newsletter, my colleagues have agreed, in concept, to amend the County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan to “strongly” discourage the conversion of golf courses to non-recreational uses. The legal process is time consuming, but the final vote will occur next year. Already, my colleagues are being courted by high powered lobbyists and developers to change their position on this issue. I have repeatedly reminded them of their previous vote, and I will continue to encourage them to remain committed to the protection of our precious green and open spaces. I am confident that soon we will be victorious.

Number of Boat Slips in Broward County
Lastly, I recognize that a strong economy is necessary for Broward County to thrive and, as a result, the Broward County Commission must be business friendly. Without a healthy economy, tax revenues will fall and higher employment will be inevitable. As a result, I have voted in favor of proposals to assist in the expansion of our local economy, while, at the same time, minimizing any collateral negative environmental effects. As a discussed in an earlier newsletter, I voted for the expansion of the southern runway at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. After studying the FAA’s various reports, I concluded that this step was necessary to avoid future gridlock and, in the long run, was environmentally advantageous. I also voted in favor of a boat siting plan that created an additional 4,392 boat slips throughout Broward in response to an overwhelming commercial and residential demand. However, I voted for this plan after insuring that it contained a strong manatee protection element — funded solely by the users of the additional boat slips and not your property taxes.

Again, thank you for your support. I look forward to the year ahead. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, or would like me to speak to your homeowners’ or civic association, please feel free to contact me at or (954) 357-7004.

Until next month...

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl

Click Here to access Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl’s official web site, call his office at (954) 357-7004 and/or Click Here to send him an email.

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Death Traps, Tripping Hazards and a
Floating Gas Station

December 9, 2007 - On December 3, 2007, City Commissioner Christine Teel addressed a meeting of the GMCA Presidents Council at L’Hermitage I. Dozens of attending association officials were briefed about several previously expressed concerns relevant to the neighborhood’s well-being. Among the issues undertaken by our District 1 City Commissioner were repairs to sidewalks along Galt Ocean Drive, properties long-frozen in a dangerous state of disrepair and the city’s consideration of Calypso – a mysterious project designed to enhance and diversify delivery capabilities for natural gas while protecting energy accessibility during catastrophic weather events. Enthusiasm for the project is somewhat belabored by its potential for city-wide obliteration.

Galt Mile Community Association Presidents Council
The sidewalks framing Galt Ocean Drive have been structurally decimated by FP&L, Comcast, AT&T (Bellsouth), landscape contractors, Teco Energy (Peoples Gas), catastrophic weather impacts, Broward Water, municipal maintenance projects, and developer demolition. Component to the Galt Mile Improvement Project, the Galt Mile’s main thoroughfare was lined with pink aggregate sidewalks underwritten in full by a resident assessment. Under agreement with the city, in exchange for having the project funded by its resident beneficiaries, the City would maintain the improvements in a “Disney-like manner,” alluding to the meticulous efficiency with which the Kissimmee theme park is preserved. Over the past few years, the sidewalks have been seriously neglected. Demolished panels were either replaced with a randomly tinted variety of incompatible materials or left in disrepair, resulting in a patchwork quilt fraught with tripping hazards. The effects of weather damage and natural deterioration have been summarily ignored.

GMCA Advisory Board member Roslyn Greenspan from L’Hermitage I has spearheaded efforts to focus municipal attention on properly maintaining the sidewalks. In response, Commissioner Teel agreed to investigate the maintenance hiatus and hopes to resolve the issue amicably.

Dislodged Aggregate Panel Rising Above Grade
The serial hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 wrought havoc across the entire state. During the past two years, associations and private homeowners were enmeshed in struggles with contractors and insurance carriers to repair damages and recover the associated expenses. Some property owners declined to repair damage to their structures. Unfortunately, many of the neglected properties have become a blight on the community. Ranging from eyesores to deathtraps, these structures have stimulated the Building Department into taking an active part in enforcing their compliance with safety codes.

Where is the Other Half of Mr. Kelley's Roof at 3365 Galt Ocean Drive
For instance, the structure at 3365 Galt Ocean Drive in the strip mall at the southern end of the block has languished in a state of disrepair for years. Commissioner Teel explained that she has been following this case religiously since fielding complaints from neighboring businesses and pedestrians concerned about the unstable roof and a suspected mold infestation. Formerly occupied and still owned by Rohan Kelley, an attorney whose name continues to grace the property, she courteously described his attempts to rehabilitate the property as dilatory. Long-term failure to meet safety codes has attracted the attention of the Special Magistrate. Evidently, the permit to repair the roof was approved on November 9, 2007. The remaining permits are still in the review process. She recommended that concerned residents contact Mr. Kelley, “encouraging him to move ahead as soon as possible to begin the work.”

Deadly Overhang Bombs Pedestrians at 3408 N Ocean Blvd
She is also monitoring a parcel on the west side of North Ocean Boulevard (A1A) opposite Plaza East. The dozens of dangerous rusting metal support rods that extend up from ground level are suggestive of an eerie crop of wild rebars. Concrete structural elements strewn randomly about the property add to the alien appearance of the environment. Another property on the east side of A1A a few blocks south, 3408 North Ocean Boulevard, sports a dangling roof overhang from which chunks of wood and metal occasionally drop to the sidewalk frequented by unsuspecting pedestrians. Commissioner Teel reported that the property owner was scheduled to appear before the Special Magistrate on December 6th to face violations for ignoring repeated orders to cure structural problems with the fascia, soffits and facade.

The Calypso Deepwater Port and Pipeline

The Commissioner advised Council members about the planned construction of a Deepwater Port off the Coast of Broward County directly opposite the Galt Mile beach. The Calypso Deepwater Port (DWP) is a facility for tankers carrying liquefied natural gas to dump their load, vaporize the liquid fuel into a gaseous state and send it through a pipeline towards Port Everglades where it will be introduced into another pipeline for distribution across the region. Few Galt residents are aware of this project’s existence, much less its purpose or impact. When asked to explain the project and summarize its rationale, Commissioner Teel offered some background on the Calypso Pipeline and the offshore gas station being considered by the City Commission.

Click to Florida Public Service Commission Web Site Florida is already the third largest consumer of petroleum and electricity in the United States, and Florida’s demand for electricity is expected to increase by more than 37% between 2005 and 2015, according to the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). To address the need and capitalize on the opportunity, Calypso U.S. Pipeline, LLC has developed a pipeline to transport natural gas to the Florida market. A wholly owned indirect subsidiary of SUEZ Energy North America, Inc. or SENA (formerly known as Tractebel North America, Inc.), Calypso U.S. Pipeline, LLC created the Calypso Pipeline to make landfall at Port Everglades, travel west for approximately 5 miles primarily along an existing industrial corridor, and ultimately connect to the existing Florida Gas Transmission pipeline system.

Click to Map of Florida Gas Transmission pipeline system
Florida’s forecasted 2014 demand for gas-fired electricity generation will require approximately 1.2 billion cubic feet per day of additional natural gas according to FPSC. The Calypso U.S. Pipeline is designed to supply 832,000 MMBtu of natural gas per day or two thirds of the state’s projected 2014 demand. That’s enough fuel to produce approximately 5000 megawatts of electricity, which, according to the Florida Public Service Commission, will satisfy about 40 percent of the state’s planned increase in total electric generation capacity over the next 10 years.

Natural gas is the cleanest, most environmentally friendly of all the fossil fuels. It is colorless, odorless and non-toxic. A chemical, ethyl mercaptan, is injected into the gas flow of pipelines and distribution companies to give the gas an identifiable odor. This is done as a safety factor, so that leaking gas can be detected by the smell. The combustion of natural gas results in virtually no atmospheric emissions of sulfur dioxide or particulate matter. Although it does emit carbon dioxide, reactive hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, its atmospheric impact is far less dangerous than those of other fossil fuels.

Tanker Carrying Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for Regasification
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the same natural gas used by millions of Americans for heating and cooking, only in a liquid form. When chilled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, natural gas liquefies. Although it is not compressed, in its liquid form LNG occupies 1/600 of its gaseous volume, allowing it to be more efficiently transported by ship and stored in tanks. It is re-vaporized to its gaseous form and sent to customers via pipeline. The danger posed by transporting, storing and otherwise handling liquefied natural gas is comparable to most other liquid fossil fuels. The United States was the world’s fourth largest importer of liquefied natural gas in 2006, after Japan, South Korea and Spain.

24-inch Pipeline Placed into Dedicated Ditch
Florida is currently 100% dependent on Gulf Coast sources for its natural gas supply. This lack of diversity can expose Florida customers to unexpected shortages, particularly during hurricane season. The installation of another facility on the Atlantic coast would geographically diversify access for Calypso’s ship-based deliveries of LNG. If operations were disrupted in one location, the other would continue to be available for fuel deliveries. Since the transport vessels are designed to rapidly detach from the buoy and move out of harm’s way in the event of severe weather conditions, disruption of energy deliveries during hurricanes will be minimized. After a storm passes, Calypso’s ships will reconnect to the buoys and immediately resume pumping natural gas into the pipeline system.

Click to Calypso Web Site The pipeline will transport natural gas from proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification facilities – the Calypso Deepwater Port (DWP) – being developed by Calypso LNG LLC, another SENA affiliate. The Calypso DWP will serve as an offshore delivery point for connection to specially built LNG tankers. The LNG tankers will vaporize stored LNG and send it through the buoy system into the Calypso U.S. Pipeline, which will transport the natural gas onshore to Florida customers.

The Calypso DWP (the proposed regasification facility) is a submerged offloading buoy and anchoring system that will reside approximately 120 feet below the ocean surface when not in use and serve as an offshore delivery point for natural gas. The Deepwater Port project is proposed to be located approximately 8 to 10 miles offshore from Port Everglades, and connect directly to the Calypso Pipeline.

Click to SUEZ Web Site The Calypso DWP project’s sponsors are well positioned to accomplish their objectives. SENA’s parent, SUEZ Energy International, has global experience in engineering, construction and operation of LNG facilities and gas pipelines. It is currently the only major energy company that – in addition to a diversified LNG supply portfolio – owns and operates LNG facilities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (at Everett, Massachusetts, serving the New England market, and at Zeebrugge, Belgium, serving the central European market). As the second largest importer of LNG into the U.S., SENA claims to be uniquely qualified to safely and efficiently build and operate the pipeline.

Click to SUEZ Energy International Web Site Basically, we are facing the installation of a floating gas station. It’s submerged “gas pumps” float up to meet specialized ships that carry the fuel – liquefied natural gas. The liquid is vaporized (returned to a gaseous state) and fed into the pipeline through which it is pumped to shore and connects with another pipeline that distributes it throughout the region.

Calypso Deepwater Port (DWP)
Using the submerged unloading buoy system, the DWP will be capable of servicing two types of LNG vessels simultaneously; a storage and regasification ship (SRS) and a transport and regasification vessel (TRV). The westernmost buoy (West Buoy) would be sited approximately 7.7 miles from shore in 805 feet of sea water (FSW) and would connect to the sea floor with eight mooring lines, using six suction piles and two gravity anchors. The easternmost buoy (East Buoy) would be sited approximately 10.3 miles from shore in 932 feet of sea water (FSW) and would connect to the sea floor with nine mooring lines, using six suction piles and three gravity anchors. Except during severe weather conditions, to perform maintenance or for inspection, the SRS would remain moored “semi-permanently” to the East Buoy. Conventional LNG carriers would call on Calypso DWP and transfer LNG to the SRS approximately every two days. TRVs would call on Calypso DWP and moor to the West Buoy every 4 to 7 days (averaging once every 5 days).

Click to Maritime Administration Calypso Web Entry When not connected to an SRS or a TRV, the unloading buoy would remain submerged about 100 feet below the sea surface, supported by buoyancy elements. When the SRS or TRV arrives at the DPW, a marker buoy and retrieval line would be used to locate and recover the unloading buoy. The unloading buoy and its attached riser pipeline would be retrieved from its submerged position and hoisted to the forward part of the SRS or TRV and attached to a mating cone within the hull. Both SRS and TRV would be equipped to vaporize LNG cargo to natural gas through an onboard closed-loop shell-and-tube vaporization system before odorizing and metering gas for send-out through the unloading buoys.

Click to USCG Deepwater Ports Web Site On March 1, 2006, Calypso filed a Deepwater Port License Application (Docket number USCG-2006-26009) with the U.S. Coast Guard, which has jurisdiction for the permitting, operation and security for such facilities located in federal waters. However, when the application was deemed incomplete on March 22, 2006, a list of data gaps was provided to the applicant. A revised application was submitted to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Coast Guard (USCG) for review on September 25, 2006. MARAD and USCG deemed the application complete on October 13, 2006. The Coast Guard secured a third party contractor (ENTRIX, Inc.) to begin an environmental review and develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The initial meeting to scope public input was held on December 6, 2006 in the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North (6500 North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale) which resulted in the Maritime Administration issuing a stop clock letter on January 26, 2007. The “Stop Clock” letter was lifted on August 31, 2007. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) – a preliminary impact instrument – was placed on the docket for public comment, with notice posted in the Federal Register on November 2nd. A 45-day public comment period closed on December 17, 2007. Upon receipt of a November 1st notice by the Coast Guard that their license application is deemed complete, president and CEO of SUEZ Energy North America Zin Smati remarked, “The receipt of the Coast Guard’s letter is an important project milestone because it sets in motion a defined timetable for the regulatory review process. We can now be confident that the project will remain on schedule so we are ready to be the first project to deliver an important new source of energy to the Florida market in early 2010.”

Click to South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Calypso Brochure
Surprise! You had until a week before Christmas Eve to share your feelings about the installation of a floating gas station about 7 miles seaward of the Galt Mile beach. Three sites were considered for this floating gas pump. Instead of the buoys being located 8 to 10 miles from the Florida coast, the other locations would have placed the buoys only 7 miles out to sea. They would have been closer to their Port Everglades landfall, required a shorter pipeline span to bring the gas onshore and therefore would have created proportionately less environmental disruption. The length of pipeline required to connect the Calypso DWP to its onshore target is 5 miles for the proposed project location while it is only 4.1 miles and 3.5 miles for the two rejected alternative sites. The plan’s Executive Summary admits that “the total area of sediment disturbed during construction at Alternative Port Locations 1 and 2 would be less than the proposed action, which would result in less turbidity during construction.” In short, since locating the DWP off the Galt Mile beach requires the longest pipeline span, it portends proportionately more disruption to the surrounding ocean environment.

Click to ENTRIX, Inc Web Site The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was charged with considering the full compliment of positive and negative project ramifications. How the port would affect the ocean environment, noise levels, air and water quality, local hard bottom, marine life, coral proliferation and a host of other factors were weighed on balance. Stringent criteria had to be met as required by Federal and State Environmental, Maritime and Wildlife agencies. The DEIS claims that natural gas is difficult to ignite, non-toxic and disperses rapidly by rising into the atmosphere, unlike leaks of heavier petroleum products such as oil. It declares that gas leaks do not result in the same environmental devastation as seen with other fossil fuels.

Aftermath of the 1944 Cleveland Natural Gas Disaster
On the down side, the history for Deepwater Port LNG facilities is paper thin. We will be “beta testing” this strategy for the industry, transforming Fort Lauderdale into a LNG laboratory in which residents serve as lab rats. Ominously, the first onshore LNG facility in America suffered a major accident, incinerating one square mile of Cleveland in 1944, killing 131 and leaving 680 people homeless. Although findings confirm that leaks are mostly absorbed into the atmosphere and dilute to the extent that ignition is unlikely, if a tanker discharged its full cargo, the gaseous “spill” could travel for miles before reaching its ignitable dispersion level. A 1977 Oxnard, California Environment Impact Report determined that a LNG accident in which a full tanker’s contents were released would send an ignitable gaseous vapor cloud some 30 miles before dissipation defused the threat of ignition. Since the energy content of a typical 125,000 cubic meter LNG tanker is equivalent to seven-tenths of a megaton of TNT, or 55 Hiroshima bombs (as per a 1982 Lovins & Lovins Pentagon study entitled “Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security”), any miscalculation inherent in this untested technology could instantly transform Fort Lauderdale into one of Jupiter’s moons.

Aftermath of the 1944 Cleveland Natural Gas Disaster
The thrust of that study admonished that huge energy concentrations (as typified by LNG facilities) were significant security risks. Released as a book in 2001 after the 9/11 devastation at “ground zero”, it focused on the vulnerability of LNG installations to concerted terrorist attack. This prospect elicits questions about the quality and cost of planned facility security and the limits of liability for the owners of the installation, the tankers and the pipeline.

Aftermath of the 2004 Algerian Natural Gas Disaster
Although existing laws protect foreign LNG vessel owners and the corporate LNG deepwater port operators, they ignore the City and its residents. All LNG vessel owners are protected by The Limitation of Vessel Owner’s Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. §181, et seq. (enacted by Congress in 1851 to provide U.S. ship owners a chance to be competitive with foreign-flagged vessels whose liability was limited under European seafaring codes); which limits the owner’s liability to the post-disaster value of the vessel and its cargo contents. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that when a ship sinks after a calamity, the sinking marks the termination of both the voyage and the vessel’s value – thus severely limiting the ship owner’s liability. This means that an LNG tanker disaster that results in the total loss of the vessel and total loss of its cargo would result in minimal financial liability for the LNG vessel owner – notwithstanding prospective widespread damage to property or infrastructure in the $billions. The vessel owner’s financial liability in such a scenario for all property damage would be zero, and for loss of life and bodily injuries would be limited to just $420 per vessel ton. LNG deepwater port facility operators are protected by the Deepwater Port Act’s financial liability limitation of $350 million. The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) amended the Deepwater Port Act (DWPA) of 1974, 33 United States Code 1501, et seq., to include natural gas. The damages limitation was created for offshore oil ports contemplating sufficient liability for an oil spill and cleanup costs, not LNG storage and processing facilities capable of incinerating entire communities. In essence, if circumstances go awry, we will have to foot the bill.

Click to Federal Register Web Site It seems that the only group with standing whose input was neglected are the people who live closest to proposed facility – us! Few people peruse the Federal Register or can claim familiarity with the applicable technology. Although notice requirements were legally met, attempts to realistically elicit constituent input were woefully inadequate. ENTRIX, the third party contractor hired by the Coast Guard, was responsible for preparing the Public Notices and coordinating public meetings. Whoops!

Click to a Brochure that Describes the Calypso Deepwater Port - DWP Tanker & Facility View from the Beach
While there are several good reasons for the development of improved energy access, why this floating service station is being located adjacent to our beach is far from clear. It would be logical to position the Port closer to the latitude of its Port Everglades landfall instead of several miles north. After her attempt to clarify the project issues for a thoroughly surprised audience, Commissioner Teel realized that her Galt Mile constituency – despite their proximity to the proposed construction – was largely uninformed about the new deepwater port and the decisions surrounding site selection. When asked about whether the project would mar the ocean view from the beach, while the 8-mile distance to the DWP should place it on the horizon, it would still be clearly visible. Although vaporous gas leaks dissipate harmlessly into the atmosphere, an inquiry about a natural gas leak while in a liquefied state was left unanswered. Understandably, concern was expressed about a tanker full of material cryogenically stored at -260 degrees spilling into the surrounding ocean environment.

On December 4th, Commissioner Teel sent an email expressing what she considered to be good news. She said, “Today at our Commission Conference meeting I asked for the Calypso Gas project to be presented to us at a soon-to-be-arranged meeting which will include the public. I hope to have a date soon to share with you and hope to have the meeting held at the Beach Community Center. The Mayor also wants to include Lauderdale-By-The Sea.”

Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl
At the December 20th GMCA Advisory Board meeting, President Pio Ieraci asked Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl about the County’s participation in the Calypso Project. Keechl confirmed that since the County wasn’t party to the project’s development, he was unaware of its adverse impacts. Given the reluctance of local communities to risk living with these volatile, untested technologies, Administration-backed Federal laws created to govern licensing procedures for the establishment of LNG facilities deliberately minimize local input. In fact, an amendment to a recent energy bill that empowered Governors to veto LNG projects located within their jurisdictions was defeated with Administration assistance.

President George W. Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
President George W. Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke called for the development of additional LNG capacity to enable more efficient access to global natural gas resources. On May 18, 2001, President Bush signed Executive Order 13212 (“Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects”), requiring all executive departments and agencies to “expedite their review of authorizations for energy-related projects and to take other action necessary to accelerate the completion of such projects.” As the official licensing agencies, the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration must consider input from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Environmental Protection Agency and local residents. They can fulfill their obligation to post official notice of relevant hearings by inserting highly technical monuments to confusion in the Federal Register and local papers. Residents that serendipitously stumble across such notices are apt to interpret the Calypso project as a multicultural dance program instead of a potential source of municipal self-annihilation.

Click to Energy Information Administration (EIA) Web Site As to the project’s underlying financial motivations, in 2004 the Florida Power & Light Resource Group opted to partner with SENA in sponsoring the Calypso pipeline and deep water port. They sought to buy into the company’s planned local LNG operations. After analyzing project costs and other potential “liabilities”, FP&L withdrew one year later, stating that participation “would not be in the financial interests of their customers.” Not a bad call in view of the cost increase for residential natural gas from $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2004 to $17 in 2007. Decidedly, sharing the blame for a potential city-wide disaster would send the stock into a tailspin and create a chronic – possibly terminal – public relations ulcer. It appears as if there is a lot more to this frozen gas anathema than has been revealed.

When Commissioner Teel notifies us about the public meeting date, it will be sent to each association and posted on the Galt Mile web site. Perhaps we will discover Calypso LNG LLC’s depth of experience with operating LNG Deepwater Port facilities, the consequences of a full-vessel cryogenic liquid discharge, why SENA decided to park their gas pump next to our beach despite the incremental negative environmental impact and whether an onshore wind can carry an ignitable gas cloud 7 miles to the Galt Mile beach and the “Venice of America”.

To learn what’s transpired since this article was posted, Click Here.

Information and Response Links

  • U.S. Coast Guard Calypso DEIS Executive Summary
  • To review the rest of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), enter “26009” in the Docket ID Box on the Advanced Search - Docket Page ( web site) and click “Submit”. Click on the single entry - USCG-2006-26009. There are nine pages of relevant documents. The DEIS documents start on the 4th page, in the sequence USCG-2006-26009-0084 through USCG-2006-26009-0112.1. (Its much easier than it sounds!)

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Commissioner Teel’s December Newsletter

Fort Lauderdale Plan Review
December 24, 2007 - Like many other major metropolitan communities, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s neighborhoods have developed in fits and starts. In the absence of carefully regulated Master Plans developed and endorsed by community residents, neighborhood growth has often been a function of fashion, fad and marketability – changing radically in mid-stride with economic booms and busts. Sunny blocks lined with one and two story homes were randomly peppered with high-rise structures that effectively blocked out the sun. Driven to maximize negotiable square footage in highly desirable locations, opportunistic developers perceived green space and setbacks as unproductive fiscal liabilities during heated real estate markets.

Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations In her December Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Christine Teel laments the consequences of unplanned, disorganized development wherein communities are stripped of their character along with any semblance of environmental balance. A two-part therapy is recommended to avoid further adulteration of the City’s resources - planning and local input. The vehicles best-equipped to engineer and oversee these ambitious efforts are the Planning and Zoning Board and the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations. After eliciting input from residents about their local preferences for controlled growth, enacting effective modifications to the Fort Lauderdale Unified Land Development Regulations (ULDR) will help actualize their neighborhood vision. READ ON... - editor

From The Desk of
Commissioner Teel

Commissioner Christine Teel
During the past decade there was considerable redevelopment throughout Fort Lauderdale. Many, once relatively low scale, single and multifamily dwelling neighborhoods were finding numerous large-scale dwellings being built. Some residents supported the change in character of their neighborhoods, while others opposed the changes.

The Planning and Zoning Board and the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations have expressed concerns associated with recent development. The Council has provided a set of proposed modifications to the Fort Lauderdale Unified Land Development Regulations (ULDR) in an attempt to address some of the changes occurring within the built community. Some of the concerns expressed include:

  • Abrupt change in scale, particularly height and mass, from existing smaller buildings to new larger structures;
  • Minimal distance between buildings on adjacent properties, leaving minimal room for shade trees and mature landscaping;
  • Dominating garages and expansive vehicular use areas in the front yard, which are not visually attractive, reduce pervious areas and space for landscaping, and negatively impact pedestrian activity along the street; and
  • Insufficient architectural details and minimal façade undulation of variation in building height, creating boxy massive structures that stand in stark contrast to existing adjacent buildings.

The City recognizes the problems and concerns and wants to address them in a comprehensive way. We are soliciting proposals to select a consultant(s) to undertake the Neighborhood Development Criteria Revisions Initiative. The objectives of this planning initiative include:

  • Identifying the perceived negative issues resulting from neighborhood redevelopment;
  • Providing opportunities for the community to work together to create a vision for the future neighborhood redevelopment patterns;
  • Proposing recommendations to modify the City’s ULDR to carryout the established vision; and
  • Enacting ordinance changes to mitigate identified negative impacts new development has upon existing neighborhood character and building patterns.

This initiative will be in two phases: Phase I will be the ULDR Modifications Plan that includes the research and analysis, public outreach, and draft ULDR modifications plan; Phase II includes the draft ordinance process, followed by the approval process for the ordinance amendments.

While the building boom has slowed down, the cyclical nature of redevelopment will cause an upward trend in the future. This is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for what future development should look like in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Once a consultant has been selected I look forward to having the residents in District I involved in the process and to offer their recommendations so that we all have an impact on the redevelopment in our neighborhoods for the future. I’ll provide updates as the Neighborhood Development Criteria Revisions Initiative progresses and I look forward to your input on this extremely important City project.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. I can be reached at city hall at (954) 828-5004 or by e-mail at

Christine Teel                

To familiarize yourself with the the City’s Unified Land Development Regulations, Click Here to Fort Lauderdale’s municipal code. Click on Chapter 47. - editor

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Vote Easy Vote Early!

Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda C. Snipes
Supervisor of Elections
Dr. Brenda C. Snipes
December 29, 2007 - You do not have to wait until Election Day to vote. You do not need an absentee ballot or some special dispensation. In fact, it’s significantly easier to vote early than to wait for the day that thousands of your less organized neighbors flock to pungent polling places. On Election Day, registered voters must travel to a single designated polling location. As part of election reform legislation in Florida, early voting has been an available option since 2002. For two weeks prior to the election, registered voters can opt to cast their votes at any of several different Broward sites. From Monday, January 14th through Sunday, January 27, 2008, registered voters can avoid the traffic and the lines that plague overcrowded polling places.

Portable Voting Station
Voting Station
To expedite the experience, bring your driver’s license. Of all the forms of identification acceptable for voting purposes, poll workers are able to process driver’s licenses most quickly.
Voters should bring a signature-bearing photo ID. Besides state-issued driver’s licenses or Florida Identification cards, other accepted forms include passports, employer IDs, buyer’s club cards, student IDs and credit cards with imprinted photographs. If the photo ID does not include the voter’s signature, another piece of identification with a signature is required. A voter information card, popularly characterized as a voter registration card, isn’t required. That doesn’t mean that you needn’t register to vote. If you didn’t, you can’t!

ES&S iVotronic Touch Screen
ES&S iVotronic
Touch Screen
To adequately prepare yourself, bring a sample ballot, palm card or newspaper listing with your choices already marked. Check the districts on the ballot against a voter information card or sample ballot before finalizing your vote. If you suspect an error, have a question or just want some company, summon a poll worker. However, if you’ve already pushed the voting button, it’s too late. Pressing the red button functionally ends the voting experience.

Press Vote Button to Finish
Press Vote Button to Finish
If you expected to be elsewhere on January 29th and received an absentee ballot, you must bring your absentee ballot with you if you decide instead to vote at the polls - early or otherwise. The absentee ballot must be cancelled before eligibility is reinstated to vote at the polling site. Despite the flexibility and convenience, there is an intuitive drawback to early voting. Historically, there has always been an inevitable blizzard of last-minute news coverage or other information about the candidates that is generally revealed during the final days of a campaign. While this information may be helpful in selecting a candidate to support, if you are already comfortable with your decisions, then weigh in early.

On January 1st, new election laws passed by the Florida Legislature during the regular session were supposed to go into effect. The new laws preclude early voters from using employee IDs or Buyers Club Cards for identification purposes. Voters using provisional ballots only have two days instead of three to prove their identities. However, implementation of these and other changes to existing law have been temporarily suspended until the U.S. Department of Justice signs off on the changes. Because five Florida counties were found guilty of discriminatory practices, the Justice Department reserved the right to approve any alteration to the election process in Monroe, Collier, Hillsborough, Hendry and Hardee Counties. Since Florida law requires that voting standards must be uniform throughout the State, until Justice approves the changes for the five counties, they can’t be applied anywhere else. The Department of Justice has until January 25th to OK or sink the legislation.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle
The City of Fort Lauderdale is considering moving municipal elections from their historical spring venue to November. By changing to the more popular classic Election Day format, the city will save the cost of holding an additional election dedicated to filling City Hall office seats. Election statistics confirm that the November date will also realize more than three times the voter turnout for municipal elections. If the City Commission discusses the issue in January, as stated by Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, the change could be implemented for the 2008 City vote. Some relevant statistics are as follows:

In 2000:

  • March 14, 2000: 19.9 percent turnout
  • September 5, 2000: 13.2 percent turnout
  • November 7, 2000: 66.2 percent turnout

In 2004:

  • March 19, 2004: 17 percent turnout
  • August 31, 2004: 18.5 percent turnout
  • November 2, 2004: 68.7 percent turnout

Click Here to enjoy an excellent tutorial about using the computerized ES&S iVotronic voting machines. You control how fast (or how slow) the interactive demonstration proceeds. Following are a set of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Early Voting, serving as a Poll Watcher, serving as a Poll Worker, using the Touchscreen system and voter registration. Also available is information about absentee ballots, a precinct locator, polling places and the office locations for the Supervisor of Elections.

  • Click Here to review some frequently asked questions about early voting.
  • Click Here to review some frequently asked questions about serving as a poll watcher.
  • Click Here to review some frequently asked questions about serving as a poll worker.
  • Click Here to review some frequently asked questions about the touchscreen system.
  • Click Here to review some frequently asked questions about voter registration.
  • Click Here to learn about absentee ballots and Click Here to request one.
  • Click Here to find out your precinct.
  • Click Here to find your polling place (once you know your precinct - see above).
  • Click Here for the Broward SOE office locations and contact information.

Dates and Deadlines



  • January 7, 2008 - Last date for supervisors to approve poll watchers for early voting sites for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.131, F.S. - no later than 7 days before early voting begins)

  • January 9, 2008 - Last date for supervisors to appoint poll workers for early voting sites for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 102.012, F.S. - at least 20 days before each election)
  • January 14, 2008 - Early voting begins for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.657, F.S. - on the 15th day before an election)
  • January 15, 2008 - Noon - Poll watcher designations for the Presidential Preference Primary due (Section 101.131, F.S. - prior to noon of the 2nd Tuesday preceding the election)
  • January 22, 2008 - Last date for supervisors to approve poll workers for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.131, F.S. - On or before the Tuesday before the election)
  • January 22, 2008 - Last date for supervisors to mail sample ballots to voters in lieu of publication for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.20, F.S. - at least 7 days prior to an election)
  • January 23, 2008 - 7 AM - Canvassing Board may begin canvassing absentee ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary due (Section 101.68, F.S. - 7 AM on the 6th day before an election)
  • January 23, 2008 - 5 PM - deadline for supervisors to receive requests for absentee ballots to be mailed to voters for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.62, F.S. - no later than 5 pm on the 6th day before an election)
  • January 24, 2008 - 1st day to provide absentee ballots to designees for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.62, F.S. - up to 5 days prior to an election)
  • January 25, 2008 - Last date for supervisors to mail absentee ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.62, F.S. - no later than 4 days before the election)
  • January 25, 2008 - 5 PM - deadline for late registration for individuals covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act (Section 97.0555, F.S. - 5 pm on the Friday before the election)
  • January 27, 2008 - Early voting ends for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.657, F.S. - on the 2nd day before an election)
  • January 28, 2008 - Last date to publish sample ballot in newspaper of general circulation in the county for the Presidential Preference Primary (Section 101.20, F.S. - Prior to the day of the election)
  • January 29, 2008 - Presidential Preference Primary Election (Section 103.101, F.S. - on the last Tuesday in January)
  • January 29, 2008 - 11:59 PM - Preliminary election returns must be filed with the Department of State (Section 102.141, F.S. - By 11:59 PM on election night)

Click Here to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections web site.

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