Brow Mayor Tim Ryan’s Failed Attempt To Keep Public From Speaking





Broward Mayor Tim Ryan tried, but he couldn’t keep the public from speaking at a workshop on the future of the smelly Mount Trashmore landfill.

Ryan, counting votes,  saw that a majority of other commissioners wanted to allow public comment.

So the mayor caved.

UntitledTim Ryan: Didn’t Want To Hear From Public 



The public will be allowed to speak at the Feb. 3, 12:30 p.m. workshop.

The issue is vitally important to tens of thousands of North Broward residents plagued for years by the landfill’s foul smell. Landfill owner Waste Management has paid repeated fines for environmental violations.

A firm that runs an incinerator at the landfill wants to change its contract with the county. The workshop would discuss these changes, which could affect the landfill.

A half dozen cities plus businesses such as the Festival Flea Market and Sun-Bergeron recycling have protested against any new agreement which would expand the landfill or raise waste dumping rates.

Despite the issue’s importance, Ryan at first said there was no reason for anyone but commissioners speak at a workshop. His reason: The public would get a chance to speak at a second meeting when a final vote would be taken.

Ryan was backed by an opinion from County Attorney Jodi Armstrong Coffey, who said there was no “requirement” the public speak at workshops.

No requirement, but no prohibition either.

Allowing the public to speak would take too long, Ryan said. He added that he was “not interested” in having 50 or 100 people line up to give their opinion.

What unmitigated gall! This is a commissioner earning $100k-a-year for a job whose only requirement is to show up at a meeting once a week.

Other commissioners had more sense. They disagreed with Ryan.

“I don’t have any problem with opening it up for public comment,” Stacy Ritter said,

Commissioner Lois Wexler agreed: “Any meeting I ever chaired…there is always, always time for public comment.”

My take: If people want to drive to downtown Fort Lauderdale to participate in their government, let them.

Tragically, it took Ryan and the Commission over an hour to reach this same conclusion and allow the public to speak.

Over an hour. To decide whether to listen to the public. Really. I kid you not.

And politicians wonder why there is such cynicism and apathy about government.



16 Responses to “Brow Mayor Tim Ryan’s Failed Attempt To Keep Public From Speaking”

  1. Owl says:

    Dear Buddy,

    You wrote that Mayor Ryan earns over $100,000 per year (plus benefits) for a job that requires only attendance at a weekly meeting, and that is true. What bothers me even more, however, is that each of the Commissioners are elected officials placed in their positions by the will of the people and, therefore have the obligation to listen to the voters, yet unlike other Commissioners, Mayor Ryan doesn’t care.

    On the “Mount Trashmore” issue, his thought process isn’t based upon the odor, it’s because he doesn’t want discussion regarding the placement of asbestos tainted dirt there. That issue alone has changed the opinion of many local residents who before were accepting of the landfill. Mayor Ryan is aware of this (see article below).

    I realize that the “Mayor” title is largely ceremonial in that all Commissioners have an equal vote. I also know that the Mayor is set on a rotation basis and that Chip LaMarca should be Mayor now but Tim Ryan wanted it badly. You got the position Mayor Ryan, now do your job.

    Actually, the commission is only meeting three times-a-month for the first three months of 2015

  2. Real Deal says:

    If residents are allowed to speak at a workshop regarding a matter, they still have the right to speak on the same matter on the record when it comes up on the agenda. It is a waste of time and a purposely inefficient way of taking testimony since the matter is not being discussed at it’s most ripe point before the public has a chance to comment.

    The purpose of a workshop is to give the decision makers an opportunity to review information that may need a vote in the future. The purpose of a public hearing is to hear from the public regarding such a matter, and the purpose of a commission meeting is to take action on that matter with public input.

    We are now confusing hearings with workshops and commission meetings. It’s undisciplined thinking, politically motivated as evidenced by ignoring the advice of counsel, and an embarrassing way to run government.


    “The purpose of a workshop is to give the decision makers an opportunity to review information that may need a vote in the future.”

    I agree. One component of that information is what constituents think, especially when it is an issue that is of great interest to the public.

    In many cases, commissioners make their decisions at the workshop. I believe their decision process should include hearing from the public.

  3. Missing the Point says:

    Buddy, I was at today’s County Commission meeting and you completely missed the point of Mayor Ryan’s remarks.

    He said, multiple times that the Commissioners can call upon members in the audience to give testimony at a workshop. The point of a county workshop is to bring staff and other witnesses up before the Commissioners to provide information. It’s an informal setting and no votes are taken.

    Also, in this particular instance, the workshop is going to be followed by a Public Hearing on a later date. The Public Hearing is itself an unrestricted opportunity for members of the public to testify on a given issue.

    Why then do you feel that the workshop should include a public hearing when a separate public hearing has already been scheduled?


    I saw the entire item debated and I missed nothing.

    I believe this matter was of sufficient public interest to warrant hearing from the public during a workshop. By the time the public hearing takes place, many commissioners may have made up their minds based on the workshop. It is the commissioners’ job to hear from the public at the same time they receive the other information.

    Workshops now allow comments from lobbyists and other insiders — you call them “other witnesses.” Why not the public?

    By the way, the optics of arguing that the public shouldn’t be heard is just horrible and stupid. It reenforces the commonly held belief that commissioners are isolated from the public and only care what insiders tell them. In this instance, Ryan was both Dumb and Dumber.

  4. Talks like a politician says:

    Some folks in Dania Beach, Tim Ryan’s home territory, have observed for many months that Mayor Ryan does not listen to residents when they try to talk to him. One particular resident has emailed, called, and written to Ryan for months regarding the dirt piles constantly creating a dust cloud over Melaleuca Gardens to no avail. It has been revealed this week that some of the dirt piles contain asbestos.
    A decision to remove the contamination was made only after the Dania Beach City Manager (Bob Baldwin) and the Dania Beach City Attorney (Tom Ansbro) contacted the County Administrator (Bertha Henry). Several residents including the President (Rae Sandler) and the Vice President (Chris Johnston) of the MG Homeowners Association became involved and let the community know about the problem. Mayor Salvino is backing shutting down the dump next to Melaleuca.
    Tim Ryan paid no attention to the residents until the news media became involved. Now, he seems more concerned about the contractor’s legal rights to use the dump property than he is concerned about the health and safety of Dania Beach residents.
    So many politicians feather their own nests and forget about “public service”.

  5. Floridan says:

    Be careful what you wish for. Too often I’ve seen well-meaning citizens undercut their position on a issue by confusing a public hearing with mob rule.

    After a couple dozen citizens have spoken with passion but at the same time without a good understanding of the underlying issues or the legal limits of government action, they make the lobbyists look like a combination of Francis Bacon and Louis Brandeis.

    A much better tactic is to organize the opposition and delegate the speaking to a few people who know the issues and can make the salient points in a concise manner.

    However, few are able to resist their moment in the spotlight and frequently with regrettable results (such as calling the elected officials or those on the other side of the issue crooks or “on the take”). Not the best way to win.

  6. Real Deal says:

    So is Buddy saying there should be no distinction between public hearings and workshops and commission meetings? These things may have different names but they must all be treated exactly the same way? Only in Florida (isolated as we are from the rest of the civilized world) could something that bizarre be suggested. People have plenty of time to testify. Let these decision makers do their work please.

  7. confusious says says:

    Refresher. This is an item that was already placed on the agenda by Ritter and Shareif without a workshop. It is an extremely complex issue with endless ripples of impact throughout this County.

    Now an after the fact workshop so that the very people that have been at it on this agreement since July can let the sunshine in so everyone can hear and see what they are representing.

    The public has been kept in the dark far too long on this. Thanks to forwardthinking and inclusive minded commissioners, the public will get to say their peace.

  8. Broward resident says:

    The fact of the matter is that a workshop serves ONLY one purpose and that is for Staff to get all of the Commissioners on the same page as to what their prerogative is regardless of the public’s best interest. Staff drives the workshops, and ONLY staff responds to inquiries from the Commissioners unless a stakeholder is asked a question by a commissioner. VM Kiar passed legislation in Tallahassee that stated ALL public meetings are required to provide an opportunity of the public to address a Board. Often times the Staff withholds information from the Commission, information that is pertinent to constituents. The residents of Broward County do not hire County Staff they hire the Commissioners. In order for the Commissioners to understand all perspectives they must hear them. I grow weary of complaints from the dais of people not wanting to take the time to do the jobs they are hired to do.

  9. Tim Doesn't Care says:

    Re: Tim Ryan

    He has horrible constituent services. When you call his office you get ignored, passed on and never get answers. He goes to no meetings or events in his district. He is just a placeholder and a bad one at that.

  10. wally&pepe says:

    Such arrogance. Kind of like Barbara Sharief saying she doesn’t want Uber giving her email address. Too bad! It’s your JOB!

  11. Clarke Anthony says:

    From the day he was elected, Tim Ryan has not represented the people of Broward county. He began his term by voting against the regional emergency dispatch service, which has certainly saved lives (it was instituted despite Mr. Ryan’s opposition) of Broward County residents, in addition to saving tax dollars by preventing duplication of efforts.

    Then he turned a blind eye to residents in his home city plagued by asbestos-laced airport debris.

    Now, he has no problem with “Mount Trashmore” impacting the quality of life for thousands of residents in NW Broward; and does not want to hear from the affected residents.

    Stick to your private law practice Mr. Ryan. There, you don’t have to waste your time listening to the general public, who you have repeatedly put in harm’s way.

  12. Bob Adams says:

    You’re right Buddy, several people are missing your point. It’s about access to our elected officials. While there may be no requirement to allow the public to speak at a workshop, there is no prohibition. It is up to the presiding officer; in this case, the County Mayor. This was definitely a bad call.

    This is a huge issue that affects the quality of life of many Broward residents. Any elected official who truly wants to represent his or her constituents needs to re-read Commissioner Wexler’s words “Any meeting I ever chaired…there is always, always time for public comment.”

  13. Maybe says:

    Barbara Sharief opposed public comments at workshops also. complaining the meetings would last till midnight.


    Indeed, Sharief initially opposed allowing the public to speak at the meeting. She was following Ryan’s lead.

    Sharief was also one of two commissioners — Stacy Ritter was the other — who tried to shove these changes through the commission with almost no public notice in December. The rest of the commission blocked this chicanery.

    Waste industry lobbyist Mike Moskowitz, who is peddling this new contract governing the offensive landfill, handled legal work for Sharief last year and is Ritter’s close personal friend.

  14. Old Timer says:

    Even though it is a ‘meeting held in public’ and not necessarily a ‘public meeting’ … there is always a better outcome when listening to the public.

  15. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Ryan’s gaffe is nothing compared to Jack(ass) Seiler’s contempt for the US Constitution…

    Food Not Bombs of Fort Lauderdale has filed a federal lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale over the city’s recent homeless feeding ordinance. The group is saying that the city violated its First and Fourth amendment rights through the regulations passed in October last year. Since the ordinance was passed, members of Food Not Bombs have continued to defy it and feed the homeless at Stranahan Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. They say that the ordinance keeps them from practicing their freedom of expression, speech, and association.

    The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, is asking for the ordinance to be struck down as well as for the group to be awarded damages for said violations. The group has in the past called this ordinance a “homeless hate law.” A series of five ordinances was passed by the city in 2014 to crack down on the homeless population. They were designed to stop panhandling and discourage people from sleeping on public property.

    See also: Vote Out Jack Seiler Rally Going Down in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday

  16. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I have to tell you Mayor Ryan (although I didn’t support him when he ran -I do now). I think he is doing a great job chairing the meetings. The jab to Comm.Lamarca was hystrical(the Italian Stallion). Then the Rocky theme-Comm.Wexler got a big kick out of it. Chip you finally got a appointed mayor that likes you. Mayor Ryan get on him for shaving his legs). Keep up the good work. I think the wprkshops should be for the commissioners. I agree w/ Mayor Ryan and Comm.Shariff. Who you kidding Stacey Ritter you would shoot someone w/ yor fathers antique gun if you were their till”midnight”. I mean bravo Att.Coffey(don’t let that soft voice fool you-). I mean when it comes to “public hearings etc then the public gets a chance to speak. I mean a workshop is just what it is a workshop. No policy decisions are made at that time. Lets face it the lobbyist etc and their pals will be the ones speaking at these workshops anyway. Mayor Ryan you are funny and keep up the good work. I like him….. No Mafia huh Chip Lamarca-. (too funny-you also are doing a good job)…