Judge Geoffrey Cohen Defends His Home

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 
There has been a lot of talk since last week’s Broward County Commission debate on The Commons about the biting comments of Geoffrey Cohen.

Cohen, who lives in west Davie, pleaded with commissioners to vote against the massive shopping and office complex.

No surprise.  Cohen’s the husband of Property Appraiser Lori Parrish, who is helping lead the campaign against construction of The Commons. 

The couple will be able to hear and see The Commons from their neighborhood.

 
But Cohen is a Broward County Circuit Court judge.   That’s at the heart of the controversy.

As a judge, Cohen is supposed to stay out of politics.

Avoiding politics is in the rules set by the Florida Supreme Court. 

I read what Cohen said.  In my opinion, he never stepped over the line into politics. 

Cohen and many of his neighbors believe The Commons is too big and totally incapable with their semi-rural neighborhood.

Attacking what he saw as undo influence by The Commons lobbyists, Cohen implored county commissioners to kill the project.  

His comments were pointed.  His comments were stinging.

When you take into account that Cohen believed his home was under attack, he had a right to say what he did publicly.

Cohen wasn’t doing anything more than protecting his way of life. Wasn’t that what Washington, Jefferson and the rest of the American patriots were doing?

So Cohen was acting in the finest tradition of the American patriots defending his homestead.

You can judge for yourself. 

Here is a county transcript of what Cohen told the commissioners last week.  The parentheses and words within them are mine:

 

MAYOR STACY RITTER:  GEOFF COWEN. 

COHEN:  GOOD AFTERNOON, MAYOR RITTER, MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION.  GEOFF COWEN. I’M A RESIDENT OF WESTERN DAVIE AND LIVE IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE PROPOSED SITE.

I URGE YOU TO REJECT THIS HUGE COMMERCIAL MONSTROUSITY PROPOSED TO BE CONSTRUCTED.

THIS PROPOSED REGIONAL SHOPPING CENTER IS OF COURSE ENTIRELY INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE SURROUNDING AREA, AND IF BUILT WILL DESTROY OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. 

THE HOMES ON, ADJACENT TO, AND IN PROXIMITY TO SHOTGUN ROAD WILL SUFFER SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTION IN VALUE, AND THEIR RESIDENTS WILL LOSE THE PEACE AND ENJOYMENT THEY CURRENTLY POSSESS IN THEIR HOMES.

(Cohen doesn’t believe the developer’s promise that all traffic from the project will be funneled through Weston or unto Interstate 75.)

THE TRAFFIC ASSOCIATED WITH THE SHOPPING CENTER WOULD DESTROY OUR RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY.

I WOULDN’T WANT TO LIVE HERE ANY LONGER, AND I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT MOST OF MY NEIGHBORS WOULD  MOVE AS WELL. NO ONE WHO LIVES NEARBY WISHES THIS HUGE COMMERCIAL SHOPPING CENTER CONSTRUCTED.

THE DEVELOPER’S PROPOSAL TO RESTRICT TRAFFIC INTO AND OUT OF THIS MASSIVE REGIONAL SHOPPING MALL THROUGH A SINGLE ENTRANCE TO BE BUILT OFF INTERSTATE 75 IS NOT VIABLE, UNTENABLE, AND NOT CREDIBLE.

 
(THE) DOT (DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION) RECENTLY OPINED THAT THEIR TWO ALTERNATIVES WERE NSUFFICIENT. ONE BEING NOT VIABLE, THE OTHER DEEPLY TROUBLING. IT’S ONLY A MEANS TO SECURE APPROVAL FOR THIS PROJECT.

IF YOU VOTE FOR THIS LAND USE CHANGE, THE DEVELOPER WILL BE BACK LATER WITH OTHER PROPOSALS TO UTILIZE LOCAL ROADS IN DAVIE. THEY BELIEVE THAT YOU’LL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO APPROVE THESE NEW PROPOSALS AFTER THEIR EXPENDITURE OF LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY
IN THE INITIATION OF CONSTRUCTION.

AS YOU KNOW, THE BROWARD COUNTY PLANNING COUNCIL VOTED 10 TO 5 TO DENY THIS PROJECT.

THE PLANNING COUNCIL STAFF RECOMMENDED AGAINST ITS APPROVAL LARGELY DUE TO SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT TRAFFIC AND BECAUSE THE PROPOSAL DIDN’T COMPLY WITH LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE, AND THE PLANNING COUNCIL CONTINUES TO RECOMMEND DENIAL.

THE TOWN OF DAVIE APPROVED THE LAND USE CHANGE FOR THIS PROJECT.

THE TOWN’S COMMITMENT TO GOOD PLANNING CAN BE SEEN EVERY DAY AS ONE DRIVES ALONG I-595. ONE PASSES AGING, DILAPIDATED STRIP SHOPPING CENTERS SET AMIDST UGLY INDOOR AND OUTDOOR STORAGE FACILITIES, FAST-FOOD RESTAURANTS, MOBILE CELL TOWERS AND TACKY ROADSIDE BILLBOARDS.

I TAKE ISSUE WITH (WESTON CITY ATTORNEY) MR. (JAMIE) COLE.  THIS (DAVIE) TOWN COUNCIL HAS DONE A MISERABLE JOB PROTECTING THE RESIDENTS OF WESTERN DAVIE AND I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT.

THE TOWN STAFF CLEARLY STATED THAT THE PROPOSED LAND USE CHANGE DIDN’T COMPLY WITH THE LAND CODE BUT THAT IF THE TOWN APPROVED IT THEY WOULD WORK WITH THE DEVELOPER TO AMEND THE TOWN LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE IN DAVIE.

 
IF THE RIGHT LAWYERS AND LOBBYISTS ARE HIRED, THE TOWN LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE IS IGNORED TO ACCOMMODATE THEIR PROJECTS AND LATER CHANGED.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN A LARGER CONTINGENT OF HIGH POWERED, LAWYERS, LOBBYISTS, AND POWER BROKERS WORKING ON BEHALF OF A POWERFUL DEVELOPER, AND EVERYONE IS AWARE THAT THE PRESSURE IS INCREDIBLE AND IS BEING EXERTED UPON EACH OF YOU (COUNTY COMMISSIONERS).
 
I ASK PERMISSION FOR 30 MORE SECONDS. 

MAYOR STACY RITTER:  SURE. 

 
COHEN:  FOR THEM IT’S A JOB AND NOTHING MORE, AND FOR OTHERS IT’S AN OBLIGATION FELT FOR PAST FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND THE EXPECTATION OF FUTURE SUPPORT.

 

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MERITS OF THE CONTROVERSY, NOR IS THERE ANY REAL CONCERN FOR THE WELL-BEING OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

COMMISSIONER (DIANA) WASSERMAN-RUBIN, MAYOR RITTER, YOU WOULD NEVER SUPPORT THIS PROJECT IF THIS WERE PROPOSED NEAR YOUR HOME AND IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

(Actually, Wasserman-Rubin does live near the project in Southwest Ranches.  She isn’t as close to The Commons as Cohen.  They project is almost in his backyard.)

PLEASE TREAT MY NEIGHBORS, YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND ME AS YOU WOULD WISH THEM TO BE TREATED WERE YOU IN OUR POSITION.

COMMISSIONER RUBIN, I WOULD BE DEEPLY HURT AND OFFENDED IF YOU WERE TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT. 

MAYOR RITTER:  THANK YOU, JUDGE. 



18 Responses to “Judge Geoffrey Cohen Defends His Home”

  1. Politically Correct says:

    This is ridiculous! Geoff and his wife Lori are way to comfortable making these terrible statments in public. Imagine what tehy said to the poor Commissioners in private, if they are that horrible on public record. I think the 5 who voted to transmit are the strongest on the COmmission!

  2. Politically Correct says:

    One more thing… the project is NOT in his backyard. It is nearby but DEFINITELY not in his backyard. I think that was a false statement made by Mr. Nevins in his article.

  3. Broward County ResidentFor The Commons says:

    Didnt they have a time limit? How can one person speak so much in liek 2 or 3 minutes??
    WOW that is disgusting. How can he say, “I HAVE NEVER SEEN A LARGER CONTINGENT OF HIGH POWERED, LAWYERS, LOBBYISTS, AND POWER BROKERS WORKING ON BEHALF OF A POWERFUL DEVELOPER, AND EVERYONE IS AWARE THAT THE PRESSURE IS INCREDIBLE AND IS BEING EXERTED UPON EACH OF YOU (COUNTY COMMISSIONERS)
    and follow it up by COMMISSIONER RUBIN, I WOULD BE DEEPLY HURT AND OFFENDED IF YOU WERE TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT. Talk about hypocritical. The county commission made the right choice and thy should not have to feel bullied by this man or anyone else.

  4. Geoff Cohen is a bully says:

    Geoff Cohen should be ashamed of himself as an officer of the court getting up in fromt of the County Commission regarding political issues such as this. It is more offensive that he would get up and make such statements pointed at one County Commissioner who thankfully was strong enough to do what she believed to be the right thing even though Judge Cohen obviously disagreed. Congrats and kudos to Commissioner Wasserman Rubin for standing her ground under such enormous pressure from a fellow public official.

  5. Geoff Cohen is Right says:

    Judge Cohen is right. The Commons is wrong for the neighborhood. Move it to downtown Fort Lauderdale. Thank you Buddy for highlighting a good neighbor.

  6. Lori Parrish says:

    Thank you Buddy for the kind words about Geoff.

    There is absolutley no prohibition with respect to a judge addressing the County Commission or any other entity if their decisions effect him or his family. Geoff spoke as an indiviudual, as a homeowner and a resident of Davie.

    Judges are not required to surrender all of their constitutional rights. He would obviously not preside in any case with respect to this project. Nor is he liekly to…he has presided in criminal matters the last 15 years.

    Anyone who believes otherwise is obviously ignorant of the rules governing judges.

    Additionally, I think many of these comments were written by a Davie official who is well know for writing falsehoods and does not have the courage to sign her own name. I do.

    Lori

  7. Ridiculous says:

    No one should bully anyone else – it is ridiculous- didn’t they even try to pass a law saying kids could not bully other kids recently… So if our officers of the law and our elected officials are bullying other officials to get what they want – what kind of example are we setting? Who cares if it is against the law or not, it is unethical and that is so important. I believe The Commons to be right for Broward County. I think it will fix so much of what is currently breaking. However, that has nothing to do with my current posting or point of view on unethical actions.

  8. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Nobody seems to remember we are in a recession and people have cut their spending etc., so the Commons could end up a ghost town. So glad I live on the East Side where it is quiet and serene. Let the fat cats waster their money building more. They will pay more taxes and maybe ours can go down!!!!!

  9. No On Commons says:

    Judge Cohen is a resident and he can speak as a resident.

    And Lori Parrish knock Wasserman-Rubin out of that seat please. She needs to go.

  10. xxoo says:

    It’s not a bad project.

  11. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Both Lori and Diana are wonderful people and have lived up to the voters expectations. They both take their public service jobs very seriously and have lived up to my expectancies, but who am I????

  12. democracy now says:

    GO COHEN GO!!!!!! YOU are not afraid to stand up for the people

  13. Double standard says:

    Ok, Buddy…. let me get this straight….so it’s ok for Judge Geoffrey Cohen to “Defend His Home” But it wasn’t ok for Judge Dale Cohen to “Defend His Wife”. Double standard? The first Cohen has been around way longer- politically and is way better connected. Right? Ok, I get it now.

    And doesn’t Geoff and his wife Lori double dip at the government trough? They are both government employees…Hmm… and you don’t like that, right Buddy? But it’s ok because Geoff and Lori are so nice.

    So are we now saying that in certain circumstances it’s ok for Judges to get involved in politics when it effects their backyard or purse strings (or are a connected Judge that you have met and has a powerful wife)?

    I think Geoff may have crossed the line when he ventured into the statement about lawyers and lobbyists. And his wife is a big time Broward politician…. shouldn’t he exercise more constraint before commenting on a politicially charged issue since his wife is so entrenched in politics? Judges must be careful not to be involved with any showing of impropiety.

    But public forums are definitely ok for judges to attend. And in most cases I would say it’s even ok for them to make comments… but in this case I am not so sure.

    Anyway, do the politicians that YOU personally know and like get special treatment by you Buddy? Try not to be so transparent you may get a better following.

  14. intelligentsia101 says:

    judge cohen has every right to express his opinion to a major issue that impacts his every day life just as you and i do.

    FROM BUDDY: You agree with me. Hence, the name “intelligentsia101″ is appropriate!

  15. judge cohen to the JQC says:

    Send the transcipt to the JQC and let them decide whether he violated the rules.

  16. Sharon Kleinfeld says:

    COMMISSIONER RUBIN, I WOULD BE DEEPLY HURT AND OFFENDED IF YOU WERE TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT.

    MAYOR RITTER: THANK YOU, JUDGE.

    (This is “Judge” Cohen unethically using his judgeship to acquire favored zoning/use for his home area. Why does he not use his time to champion causes for the needy?
    Discusting!!!!

  17. Chazzer Oink Oink says:

    Opposing a zoning change in your own neighborhood is absolutely without a doubt not even close to “politicking.”

  18. Carmen Waddell says:

    Judge Cohen request to the County Commissioner sounded like any homeowner being impacted with a massive build-up next to his residential neighborhood is. I am very critical of elected officials speaking to other elected officials pro or against issues in the community when the aim is to get or hand out personal gain. How ever Judge Cohen was very clear on his presentation to the County Commission. He highlighted how he feels as a homeowner and how his neighbors feel.
    He did mentioned something that caught my attention . The developer have promised to construct the entrance at xyz area, away from the neighborhood in question. Well I also have a Brooklyn bridge to sell. The traffic that the shopping center will generate makes his promise a faulty designed of ingress and egress to the shopping center. Just by what the developer states about the ingress and egress the plans must be return to be corrected and no approval given. Now with the corrected ingress and egress into the shopping center clearly the fear of the residents of the area in question is factual and must be protected by the County Commission or any agency that have jurisdiction to approve and reject that site for such a massive shopping Center. Just take a look at shopping centers in the area of Broward county that are closed, presenting all kinds of dangers and loss of property value to adjacent home owners and do what is right for “We the People” . Yes land owners have the right to the use of their property and to developed it, as long as they respect the right of those property owners adjacent to their property.