Are Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Bought And Paid For? You Decide

 

Update: An earlier version did not make the point that Commissioner Romney Rogers was the only “No” vote against the project. I’m sorry if my mistake in leaving his vote out led anybody to believe he supported it.

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

I have always been amazed how cheap it is to influence a Broward politician.

Take Fort Lauderdale.

The city’s was roasted for “misconduct” in the award of a $32 million contract to build the planned Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center. The Inspector General said that the city’s bid process contained widespread “deficiencies” and a “violation” of state law governing purchasing.

No favoritism towards the winner of the contract — Recreational Design and Construction (RDC) – could be proven, the IG report stated.

But I gotta wonder if favoritism was there and just couldn’t be proved.

I looked at the campaign contribution reports for the four city commissioners who voted for the project — Romney Rogers was the only “No” vote. The contributions came in while they were discussing the project which was eventually handed to RDC.

RDC’s lobbyists were James Blosser, Hope Calhoun, Alain Jean, Neil Sterling and Stephanie Toothaker.

These five RDC lobbyists gave the five commissioners thousands of dollars in contributions. Here is just one sheet of contributions to Commissioner Bruce Roberts from individuals associated with the project or RDC (click to enlarge) :

 

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Bruce Roberts: The former police chief got money, too. (Fort Lauderdale has a $250 contribution limit on city races.)

 

 

 

Note lobbyist Blosser’s wife held a fund raiser for Roberts (The first contribution listed.). Others associated with the project are listed on other sheets of Roberts’ contributions.

Roberts is not alone.

Former Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom got at least $2,500 and then wrote a paean to the project in her newsletter, saying it represents “a major improvement” for the city.

Commissioer Bobby DeBose got roughly $1,600. Mayor Jack Seiler picked up $1,850.

We’re not talking huge sums. But believe me: This money buys access.

The lobbyists get their calls answered and get appointments with commissioners. For the average resident, reaching their commissioner is not as easy.

All this for a few grand and that backs up my point.

Fort Lauderdale’s Commission has always been a bargain basement buy for lobbyists. Lobbyists spread around a few thousand and win (are steered?) a deeply flawed $32 million contract.

Some believe the Fort Lauderdale commissioners are political whores. If so they are common streetwalkers, not chic call girls.

 



15 Responses to “Are Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Bought And Paid For? You Decide”

  1. Thank you Buddy says:

    Well said Buddy. They got money in 2009, served the lobbyists, connected insiders, attorneys and applicant developers well, and got re-elected in 2012 with more dnations. A few thousand dollars as campaign “contribution” is chump change when lobbyists and attorneys bill $300, $400, or $500.00 an hour. Sadly the $32Million belongs to the city taxpayers, particularly beach tax payers who fund the Beach CRA. Go ahead and build your worthless project because it will never see the crowds, venues and events they dream about and will serve as a “monument”-al failure to the supreme lack of vision of the 4 plus Dean Trantalis predessor. It will follow the looser and empty Riverwalk project in stature and glory.

  2. Sellout Seiler says:

    Anybody check Seiler’s law firm’s clients?

  3. Chaz Stevens, Night Terror says:

    The thought of Jack Seiler dressed up as a whore … kinda frightens me in the same way clown do.

  4. NCog55 says:

    This bundling action makes me crazy. It infects every election in Broward County, from the bottom up.

  5. Kevin says:

    Buddy,

    this is one of the political rules of Florida I talk about in my Florida Politics classes at FIU: the fact that Broward politicians seem to be easier to influence with $$$ than others. Part of it it, I think, the comparatively small amount of money spent on campaigns here than in M-D or PB, and the fact that a large % of the money collected by candidates in Broward goes to the 4-7 “campaign manager/lobbyist/leeches” that take advantage of the candidates.

    Example, nobody in the City of Miami would seriously be able to contest — let alone win — the mayor’s race with less than $1 million. If anybody collected anything close to that kind of money in Broward for a non-federal race, it would be shocking.

    Kevin.

  6. Lauderdale Gal says:

    Nobody is selling their votes for a few hundred dollars. Absurd. Fort Lauderdale is one of the most accessible and consumer friendly cities in Broward County. They allow anyone to speak at their meetings and frequently take meetings with the public.

    The Swimming Hall of Fame has been a gem for Fort Lauderdale for decades. The sad truth is that the facility is dilapidated and needs to be renovated. It fills thousands of room nights yearly and is an economic engine that needs public support. Making this out to be some boondoggle or strong arming by lobbyists does our community a disservice.

  7. Alice in Wonderland says:

    The politically correct term is “Crack Whores” with the exception of Roberts he is to be referred to as a “Chardonnay Whore”.

  8. CORRUPT! says:

    CORRUPT!

  9. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Kevin, so you’re saying many of Broward’s and Palm Beach’s pols are $2 whores, while Dade’s are $1000 call girls? Yes, I can see that in color even.

    But do you think M-Dade’s pols, leeches and other ticks stink any less than Broward’s or PB’s? They’re the same firms/people a lot of the time. Guess they consider they’re getting bargains.

    Unfortunately the taxpayers who don’t feed at the trough pay for it all.

    And to make it even worse, the establishment in control of it all gives us very few decent choices to vote for.

  10. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    You can single Comm.Bruce Roberts all you want. To call him a poltical whore? Realy. Funny I would trust him for just about anything. Do you think he would sell out for a couple of grand? This is a man while as Police Chief took in every cocaine cowboy, to every Tony soprano want to be, and never took a cent. when he could have pocketed thousands, if not more. Some of your comments are not only unwarranted , but have no merit what so ever…

  11. Rex says:

    Shouldnt Neil Sterling be in jail for the Broward School Board debacle.

  12. Duke says:

    Nothing new here. Been going on for years. Ya’ll shoulda been around Hacienda Village back in the late 70′s / early 80′s before it got so bad that Red Crise high tailed it and Davie annexed em.

  13. Your Pal Al Lameberti says:

    Yes Rex he should.

  14. tell the truth says:

    BrowardBeat got the story started first – nice to see this. deteriorating quickly prompted this? deteriorating since Oct 2005 wilma damage!
    Maybe the contract can be terminated? Knowing how city writes contracts we will pay dearly to terminate, get sued, or both a la West Construction South side school debacle

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2013/07/24/broward-inspector-general-dings-fort.html

    “”….Most significantly, the city agreed to a provision in the contract that shielded $1.66 million of reimbursable labor costs from audit, despite RDC’s history of double-billing the city and maintaining inadequate accounting processes,” the report states….””

  15. Sunnie says:

    Just spent another beautiful weekend on pompano Beach- Ft. Lauderdale. I watched a Broward County Commissioner’s meeting and have to say that if Broward county says “Yes” to Indycar races, it is obvious that y’all are bought and paid for. The rumor in the racing world is that a street-race is on the agenda.

    http://www.racer.com/fort-lauderdale-indycar-event-planning-continues/article/306978/

    Broward County has a short memory when the likes of Nick Hunter Reay and his gang can run the show. Google Nick Hunter Reay and see what money can buy.