Attacks Begin in County Commission Race

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

The gloves are off in the five-candidate race for an open County Commission seat in North Broward.

In what is the first attack in the campaign, former Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom of Fort Lauderdale branded Mayor Lisa Aronson of Coconut Creek an enemy of ethics reform.

Aronson and Rodstrom are both vying for the seat now held by long-time Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, who is term limited after 2014 election. There are three other candidates.

In a news release headlined “Ethics Reform (Or Lack Thereof) And Mayor Lisa Aronson”, Rodstrom reminds voters of the following paragraphs in a 2011 Sun-Sentinel article:

 

“Coconut Creek Commissioner Lisa Aronson said city officials were hoping to loosen some of the restrictions on lobbying, for example, because some of them work as lobbyists and would no longer be able to represent clients in front of other city governments. The escape clause should be offered to the smallest cities, she said, because they might have the most trouble adhering to the code.

The gift ban, she said, is too strict. City officials don’t make the $90,000-plus salary county commissioners do, she said, and can’t always afford to pick up their own meals or event tickets.

‘We spend a lot of time within our our communities at meetings and functions,’ Aronson said, ‘and some people even be offended if we were to turn down a bottle of water or offer to compensate them.’

Rodstrom also noted that the invitation to an Aronson fund raiser held earlier this week was filled with the names of lobbyists who do business with the County Commission. I copied the names for readers:

Hope Calhoun, Mike Colodny,
 Debby Eisinger, Joey Epstein
, Hon. Howard Forman, Bernie Friedman
, Rick Hoye, Joel Fass, Bill LaystromDr. Fred Lippman, Dennis Mele
, Dawn Meyers, Debbie Orshefsky, 
Seth Platt, Neil Schiller
, Dr. Irv Rosenbaum, Cong. Larry Smith, Judy Stern, Shelly Spivack
, Howard Talenfeld, Steve Tilbrook

Rodstrom is right. The bulk of the names on the Aronson invitation are indeed lobbyists.

Here is Aronson’s written answer to the Rodstrom news release:

“Buddy:

I am a strong supporter of ethics reform and have served as Chair of the Broward League of Cities’ Ethics Task Force since 2010, long before the County’s Ethics Ordinance was enacted for municipal elected officials.  I have been a strong proponent of encouraging our elected officials to abide by the County’s Ethics Ordinance and receive the appropriate training.

I am disappointed in my friend from Fort Lauderdale who has chosen to take a quote from 2011 out of context to try to create an issue where none exists.  

I am proud of the host committee for April 16th’s event and all my previous fundraisers.  Many have been friends of mine for decades and know I have the highest integrity as an elected official.  All of my political contributions are public record.”

 

My take:

Ethics reform is a legitimate issue in a County Commission race or any campaign in Broward County. Ethics reform was imposed by voters in 2010 as a way to curb the power of  lobbyists.

Some city officials have chafed at the idea of giving up goodies showered on them by lobbyists. Several didn’t like being prevented from working as lobbyists themselves, which was nothing more than egregious influence peddling.

Ethics reform imposed transparency. It forbid commissioners from being lobbyists.

Rodstrom’s comments are a fair examination of Aronson’s past record.

Expect a lot more of this before the August Democratic primary.  They haven’t even gotten to the other three candidates yet.

 



23 Responses to “Attacks Begin in County Commission Race”

  1. Independent says:

    If Rodstrom really wanted to be ethical, she should declare that she will not accept any campaign contributions from any company doing business with the county, nor from any of their employees, nor from any lobbyist doing business with the county.

    Now that would be ethics reform.

    Otherwise while they can’t accept gifts, etc., the bigger problem is the campaign contributions and raising money to keep them in office or applied towards their causes.

    But that is never going to happen. So who really cares. No matter how they do it, it’s all the same ethical problem, with the same old re-treads with a dysfunctional Commission.

    You want something new, then go with someone who isn’t so connected to the County already.

  2. Read between the lines says:

    The league of cities led by Aronson has been against the inspector general, the powers he has and the additional powers he is seeking to do his job better.

    Aronson didn’t say she supported the county ethics ordinance, did she?. Only supports those complying so as not to get in trouble.

    Come Lisa tell us,…

    1) do you support the County Ethics ordnance, as it is written?
    2) do you support the position of an inspector general?
    3) do you support the proposed changes the IG needs to do his job better.

    No worries folks Lisa will never answer those questions.

  3. Puhlease says:

    Get a Mirror Charlotte or try a Google search before casting aspersions for the very things you and your husband have done many times before.

  4. No Comparison says:

    Charlotte may take money from lobbyists in her campaign. She never fought against the Ethics Law, accepting every provision of it.

  5. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    The sad truth is while county commissioners thru out south Florida do get significant attention from the media and therefore the public, city officials and state legislators representing smaller areas or populations don’t get the attention they should. Frankly I never understood what public good has been served by lobbyists running campaigns n then lobbying their candidates. And, yes I believe the story Judy stern has worked against charlotte rodstrom because stern told the ft Lauderdale police union she had rodstroms vote in her pocket but rodstrom voted against that contract. I don’t see mike moskowitz another panthers lobbyist on the list, but I bet hell be there, too!

  6. What about Ronny says:

    I believe Lisa’s husband Ronny Aronson runs a chachka business? No more ethics rules that could preclude him as the spouse of a Broward Commissioner from selling his trinketss to people looking to do business with Creek or the County would probably be a nice revenue source.

  7. Watching says:

    So Read between the lines,

    Questioning an ethics law because you believe it has problems is unethical, but accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists and people doing business with the county is ethical? Frankly I think you have priorities backwards.

    By the way, all of them get those campaign contributions I mentioned so you want to talk about ethics?

  8. The Critic says:

    I’ve said iit before and I’ll say it again — welcome to the NFL Lisa.

  9. Floridan says:

    The County ethics law is not sacred text, and I don’t see arguing against certain aspects of it to be disqualifying for a candidate.

    I am more concerned that Rodstrom is running for a commission seat in a district she neither lives in nor has ever represented than I am a vague comment several years old.

  10. Watching says:

    So Floridan,

    Does that mean that Rodstrom and that other guy (though I think he just conveniently moved into it until the date of the election) is a Carpetbagger cause they haven’t lived in the district nor ever represented it?

  11. Read between the lines says:

    Dear Watcging

    My questions were based on the fact that Aronson avoided the real question. If she does not support the County Ethics Code which 70 percent of the residents of Broward County voted for that certainly is her right. But she shouldn’t evade the question.

    Look at her endorsements from city officials all or most of them take the league of cities position against the ethics code and the IG. Maybe big mouth Commissioner Peerman can chime in on this topic as she has done in the past.

  12. Truthiness says:

    Lisa Aronson’s position on ethics reform is very clear: she is AGAINST it.

    Look at her own words from 2011:

    Aronson argued that commissioners should be allowed to work as paid lobbyists while serving on the commission.

    Aronson argued to repeal the “gift ban” so that lobbyists could buy her meals, give her gifts, and take her to “conferences” around country.

    Check it out…
    http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2011/05/broward_cities_want_new_ethics.html

    Lisa Aronson: AGAINST ethics reforms.

  13. Le Peerman says:

    Always happy to oblige Read between the lines. However it is big mouth Mayor Peerman until Nov. The League of Cities has not taken a position against the OIG and what he wants or the ethics. The ethics laws have no teeth because of the way they are written. Take a look at what the OIG has done since it’s inception. Reports mostly. When they do decide they have a violation it takes forever for them to get a final decision. If a Commission will move that process forward then great but they really aren’t saying that. If a database is set up with legal opinions that are binding then having 1 Czar to give them will not be a bad thing but that isn’t completely clear. What is clear is it will cost taxpayers money. Disagreeing with the way ethics are written and living by ethics are two different things. To try to connect disagreeing with them and being unethical because of that is lame yet typical politics not really even worth me opening my big mouth about.
    Le
    http://www.broward.org/InspectorGeneral/PublicationsPress/Pages/PublicationsPress.aspx

  14. Joseph Miller says:

    The voters never voted on the ordinance. They voted for a task force to write a law to be voted up or down by the county commission. Only if the county voted it down would it go to a vote by the public and they voted for it. So, voters never voted on it.

  15. confused says:

    Maybe Aronson will read this article and see what a liar she is.

    She claims Charlotte took her quote out of context but the quite is right there out of the paper for all to see.

    What I didn’t hear was Lisa say her views from 2011 have changed and if they have not she is still out fighting the gift ban amd protecting lobbyists which is it?

  16. Qualified candidates do it better says:

    I am sure there are many good reasons the people on that host committee who had supported Charlotte in the past are no longer dong so, and residency is only a part of it.

  17. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    @Le Peerman…

    Consider the OIG report — issued over two years ago — which lambasted Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jon Allen and his felony contract bid splitting problem(s).

    As you well know, I took that report, added a whole bunch of my secret sauce, and then submitted it to the BC SAO. Upon receipt, Broward conflicted themselves out (due to a relationship with Allen’s Dad, aka Georgie Porgie) and had the case file shipped to Miami Dade. Where it apparently sat dormant for the next two years. It was only this past January that the MD SAO invited Allen down for a chat (which he demurred but did send his lawyer).

    So … what did we learn?

    1. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but methodically.

    2. The BC OIG took a year to develop the Allen report, but the MD SAO took two years to get it off the ground.

    3. Eventually, Jon Allen will be held accountable for his actions.

    4. When that happens, it will be FUCKING SO GLORIOUS EVEN YOU WILL BE SPORTING A MAJOR BONER.

  18. Tellng says:

    None of the Aronson supporters seem to be saying much in defense of their candidate. We sure know Steffens isn’t going to comment on ethics. Hard to defend something that is true. The league of cities, with Lisa at the head, wants a watered down version of an ethics code so their members can lobby and get free gifts. Hard to take away otherwise from this article.

  19. tell the truth says:

    aronson and steffens are both appointed to broward planning council
    watch how they vote

    no changes likely if on bcc

  20. Beth says:

    @Telling
    I am a Lisa supporter and I am also an employee impacted by strict ethics laws. I have to carry around dollar bills in case I attend an event and want a bottle of water provided by a company or organization that employs a lobbyist. I think ethics laws are important but a balance needs to be found between ethical and extreme.

    Commissioner Aronson is not trying to skirt anything-but a balance needs to be found between being able to do your job without it costing you money to do so or having only independently wealthy people elected so who could then afford to do their job.

  21. Charlotte Lives Where? says:

    It is amusing to see how many times Michael Ahearn will comment back and forth to himself on a blog article.

  22. Chaz Stevens, Ethnicist says:

    @Beth

    I have to carry around dollar bills in case I attend an event.

    Oh, boo hoo. Welcome to how most everyone else lives.

    That’s why you carry a wallet.

  23. Aletheia says:

    We all know that the wheels of justice turn slowly…but we can only hope that they turn methodically. It took several years before the City of Miami was held accountable for illegal budget transfers to feed its depleted General Fund, something done routinely by Lauderdale Lakes and its sleazeball of a city manager, Jon Allen. As long as we know that justice will be served and that the authorities are working diligently on the case…we can endure. But we absolutely want to see the crooks held accountable.

    Chaz Stevens has clearly laid out the ongoing fraud and deception under Allen…phony budgets and financing deals, withholding and destroying public records, retaining unqualified black-only cronies while purging qualified white employees, screwing around with City staff, bid rigging validated by the Broward OIG…the list goes on. This thief will have his day…but it would be nice for the process to move more quickly!

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