Broward Politics: Refreshing! Fort Laud Mayor, Commissioners Keep Campaign Promise

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Three Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners did something so unusual this week that it deserves mention.

Mayor Dean Trantalis and Commissioners Steve Glassman and Ben Sorensen lived up to their key campaign promise.

 

 

Dean Trantalis

 

The voted to kill The Wave streetcar project as promised. 

No equivocation. No weaseling. No lies.

How refreshing!

The vote was 3-2.

Commissioners Robert McKinzie and Heather Moraitis voted to continue The Wave. 

Moraitis was elected to her first term this year without opposition. After her pro-Wave vote, Moraitis was accused of not getting the message from Trantalis, Glassman and Sorensen’s election.

 

 

Heather Moraitis

 

 

See this widely-circulated email from Jim Morlock, a luxury home real estate sales exec:

 

“…Heather Moraitis’ vote FOR the WAVE was a disgrace and embarrassment to her District, the Citizens of Fort Lauderale and the Conservative values of the Republican Party which she is supposed to represent. She was obviously not listening to the Citizen presentations’during the meeting. Her head was buried in papers where she sat at the dais, apparently rehearsing for her futile and nonsensical presentation in support of the WAVE. 

“Her political future deserves to be in great jeopardy as a result of her sad and disappointing performance tonight…”

 

The Wave was designed two decades ago to spur downtown development. 

But with Fort Lauderdale building industry booming, critics felt the streetcar was unnecessary.

Critics charged that the fixed rail system with overhead wires would further clog streets by taking a lane of traffic.

The Wave also was called outmoded because it was planned before the advent of alternative transportation methods such as Uber/Lyft and ride sharing electric bicycles/scooters. 

And The Wave essentially went…nowhere. 

It’s planned route missed destinations with a lot of potential riders like the performing arts center and Las Olas Boulevard’s restaurant strip. 

It will cost the city millions to get out of existing contracts tied to the project. It would have cost the city millions more to help pay for the construction and operations of The Wave.

Killing The Wave was a major blow to the Downtown Development Authority.  

Should it be a fatal blow? 

The taxing agency was created years ago by the Legislature when downtown Fort Lauderdale was filled with empty lots and one-story structures. A vehicle for developers and their hirelings, its stated mission is to “to stimulate and sustain economic development and livability in Downtown Fort Lauderdale by facilitating public and private investment.”

Are taxes and an expensive government agency — DDA’s budget is $28.3 million this fiscal year. — needed for this anymore? Can’t City Hall take over the functions of the unelected taxing district and eliminate a costly unelected bureaucracy? 

That’s perhaps a discussion for another day.  

Today Fort Lauderdale residents can revel in the realization that three City Commissioners lived up to their promises. 

They stood up to developers and their high-paid lackeys. They killed an unnecessary waste of money that would have further eroded the quality of life. 

 

John Milledge, DDA’s lobbyist, appears unhappy after The Wave defeat. (photo: Art Seitz)

 

 

They waved goodbye to The Wave. 

Trantalis, Glassman and Sorensen should be congratulated. 



28 Responses to “Broward Politics: Refreshing! Fort Laud Mayor, Commissioners Keep Campaign Promise”

  1. Boonie says:

    Heather – you let us down. Why ? Are you expecting $omething in return ? Most of those lobbyists live in Parkland…. Your voters live here. Are you listening?

  2. Sunset the DDA says:

    Time to sunset the DDA
    Continue to levy the tax to retire the debt and then end the tax. No expense for director and staff.
    New commission majority can appoint new members who take the position that the DDAs job is done, declare victory and then end it. All assets then to become the cities.

    It the downtown then wanted to have a Business Improvement District like the beach has for joint marketing or events then fine.

    The enabling legislation said the DDAs mission needs to be consistent with the city’s plan and If the city says no wave so be it. The DDA is subservient to the City.

  3. Sober as a Judge says:

    Congratulations. Now we have nothing. Years lost. No improvement at all. Nothing. Well done, sir.

  4. Talks like a politiciand says:

    The politicians, Trantalis, Sorenson, and Glassman, talked about killing the Wave, and now they have done exactly what they promised their constituents. Indeed, refreshing!

    The idea to disband the DDA is fantastic. The DDA is obsolete, its purpose antiquated, just like the Wave. Eradicating the budget for the DDA would free up money which could be used towards fixing the infrastructure in Fort Lauderdale, upon which the DDA has encouraged building after building with no regard for the overtaxed sewage system.

  5. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    This was actually a no brainer.When you have the majority of the residents voicing opposition i was not surprised at this out come.

    The major problem was the overhead power wires to operate the trollies etc.

    So they pay back the Feds etc.Oh it will cost money to shelf this thing.I say its better if it cost Ft.lau say 8-10 mill as opposed to over 150mill to get the Wave up and running.

    Now what this comm.should do is see what other avenues they can take to come up with something similar.That doesn.t cost over 200mill and won.t be powered by overhead wires etc.

    Now with Comm.Moratis and some of your distaste or disdain etc on her support of the Wave.She will learn quickly that to go against the majority of her constituency is never a good thing and will come back to haunt her.Unless she thinks three yrs.from now that she will run unopposed again.Not in this life time.

    Again she will learn.

    So far Mayor Trantalis has lived up to his campaign promises.Next tackling this NW CRA those that were thinking your in store for a boat load of money- think again.To the majority of this comm.- good job..

  6. Maxine K. Streeter says:

    It was brave of Mayor Trantalis, Vice-Mayor Sorenson, and Commissioner Glassman to look out for the taxpayers and not cave to the “Downtown movers and shakers” who have had their way with City Hall for years. Well-done Gentlemen.

    BRAVO Mr. Morlock.

    In addition, Ms. Moraitis’ statement advocating demolition of the War Memorial Auditorium and dismissal of any opinions concerning the historical significance of the building to the City and community was appalling to the audience and astonishingly tone deaf.

  7. just saying says:

    Commissioner Moraitis will be on the minority end of many 3-2 votes between now and March 2021.
    Its a new day in Fort Lauderdale.

  8. Good riddance says:

    The DDA have only themselves to blame.

    They were so mesmerized by Seiler and his ability to keep the public in the dark that they forgot two things. 1/ they are a taxing authority and 2/ facts matter.

    What is shocking and utterly deplorable is that even today we don’t have all the facts. Perhaps the DDA should have spent less time manufacturing an outcome and more time doing their job.

    This is not over by any means but a shot has been fired across the bow of the DDA and they don’t have a City Hall to give them cover anymore.

    As for the Chamber of Commerce they may want to have a come to Jesus moment of their own as it is clear that Dan Lindblade has lost the plot. We are the City of Ft Lauderdale not a sideshow for rich white dudes with a secret handshake east of the tracks.

  9. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Heather Moraitis and Robert McKinzie are not the only bozos… this “clown car” also features Mayor Beam Furr and commissioners Barbara Sharief, Tim Ryan, Steve Geller and Mark Bogen…

  10. A New Era in Fort Lauderdale says:

    @1. Boonie
    The district 1 commissioner was NOT elected. There were no other candidates, she was not the incumbent. She did not ‘Win’ the election.
    Her predecessor was unopposed in 2015 and thereby retained his seat. He did not ‘Win’ the election.

    She has an education background and a Masters degree.
    That said she will soon realize, if not last Tuesday night, that Fort Lauderdale citizens, taxpayers and voters do not need any education.
    If she wants to be re-elected in 2021 she has to start working for the citizens and taxpayers of Fort Lauderdale.

  11. Jean Brady says:

    Moritis is for the Wave and building high rises but when it came to Building those high rises at the Galeria and surroundings she didn’t want them. Could it be that her husbands parents live in Sunrise Intracostal which is behind the Galleria?

  12. John Henry says:

    I don’t trust any of these three “anti-development” Commissioners. New building plans are still being approved every month. Meanwhile the outdated sewer system is still one flush away from a total implosion.

    This project isn’t dead. It’s just not going to be funded through the City. What’s the chances the County will step in to plug the funding hole?

    The powers that be may have lost this battle but they’ll still win the war.

  13. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #8.Right on.Mr.Linblade doesn.t get it.This comm.works for residents, not him.Also speaking in regards to this comm.Just got the payroll for the 8th floor.( oh it pays to answer the phones etc up there).Mayor Trantalis ast.pulling in 87g and change.Moratis new ast- been there a month pullin in 70g.Mckenzie ast.pullin in 87g and change.Glassman ast pullin in 75g.Sorenson ast- 87g.Comm coordinator coming in at 107g.Her poor ast coming in at 48g.That ast.paid the lowest.Inciedently this comm.ast has been there the longest but the bottom of the barrel.So there u have it…

  14. mrkneeley says:

    The reason the WAVE was taken out of the DDA’s hands…….and the reason the DDA had to lease the park to the City for $500K goes back to the FTA Grant Swap scam that DDA and City staff concocted to cover the expenses of D.C. lobbyists working on securing federal funds for a new courthouse (yes they were trying to use federal funds to pay for lobbying the feds for more funds……not a generally accepted practice) They got caught and the feds quietly blew a gasket….the project management was shifted from DDA to FDOT. There is a pathology of cronyism and self-dealing in Fort Lauderdale that finds its top dead center at the Downtown Development Authority.. Follow the “negative carryover” in the DDA budget…..it just appeared out of nowhere….right after they got outed for the grant scam

    https://fortlauderdalefreepress.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/fort-lauderdale-dda-tries-to-swap-federal-streetscape-grants-for-lobbying-cash/

  15. Urban Miss! says:

    On Tues evening we all witnessed a great event! One that gave residents of Fort Lauderdale hope and promise of a positive, bright and optimistic Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully gone are the days of special interest and waste. Our voices were heard and our newly elected officials hear us and did the right thing to end this nightmare. S Bravo…simply…BRAVO!
    Shame on Moralities and Mckenzie…absolutely no excuse for such stupidity.
    The last 10 street car projects across the country ended up coming in 82% over budget. Sidney, Australia’s light rail has come in so far over budget that there is a 110M per mile “DAMAGES” lawsuit…then you have to add into it over $100M per mile in construction…google it!!
    I am hoping they will get with the program or step aside…we aren’t doing business like this any longer in Ft L!! We simply can’t afford it!!

  16. Here since 59' says:

    Exactly what does the DDA do for/with $28 million per year? You’ve got to be kidding me! What do they spend that kind of money on?

  17. Boyd Corbin says:

    So long WAVE. Next stop: Infrastructure. Everyone already knows about the sewer leaks. But what about the green water coming out of Ft Lauderdale’s Fiveash water treatment plant that serves 8 cities in Broward County? Instead of properly filtering the water, tons of chlorine and ammonia used (for us to drink) to keep down bacteria. However, that creates dangerous cancer causing chemicals that harm your liver, kidneys, cause low birth weight and increase miscarriages by 65%. The Peele Dixie plant got nanofiltration a decade ago while the Fiveash improvements were voted down by the Ft Lauderdale city commission including Trantalis. The Broward Department of Health has NOT been following EPA guidelines for drinking water testing. They NEVER test the water for certain harmful chemicals during the 10 weeks out of the year of free chlorination. During his campaign, Bruce Mackenzie explained they had to keep stealing $16m each year from the utility fund instead of using those funds for infrastructure as is supposed to be done. He got voted out. NOW is when the three amigos need to rescue the poor townspeople who are forced to drink and bathe in contaminated water. Olay!

  18. Florida Joy says:

    I met McKinzie and didn’t even realize he was a commissioner. He is incredibly involved in the community and making sure his district has a voice. I have since attended several commission meetings and he has always remained a champion of progress, logic and reason.

  19. German Garcia says:

    It might be hard to believe but there are members of the community that want the Wave. It’s not fair to characterize Heather as not listening to the public. From my perspective she took the time to make sure we all understood the implications of saying no to the project and she recognized that there was an underserved opinion that went unrepresented and overcast by one organization with nothing to do amassing on these public meetings. It’s easy to oppose a project but now that we are where we are what are the alternatives? We all left those meetings agreeing that public transport was important, here’s every naysayers chance to put up their ideas. Let’s hear them. Heather was doing her job.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Of course, some residents favor The Wave. The election results, however, were clear. Candidate Bruce Roberts favored The Wave in the mayor’s race. Dean Trantalis won easily. Plus, two candidates who opposed it won City Commission seats.

    Elections are the surveys that count.

  20. Zach J says:

    It’s pretty disappointing to see all this great development happening around us and yet we stall in other essential infrastructure plans like transportation. Am I supposed to continue to rely on ride sharing? It’s ridiculous that people can tear down a solution with rhetoric and not offer any viable solutions. Autonomous vehicles? They are still far from mass adoption even in the markets they are currently serving.

  21. The Truth Comes Out says:

    @14.mr.kneeley
    If that doesn’t illustrate the shenanigans of fraudster Seiler and his henchmen Feldman and Herbst, nothing else does. Lawyers know the precise edge to push the legal limits to, and they will parse their words if caught. The only good news is Seiler will never be elected again once the full expose is made and all his dirty laundry hung out on the line. As to what is DDA and what do they do? Its a taxpayer funded refuge for ex- city planning staffers a la Chris Wren and Jenny Morejon all funded by the City tax payers. Tear up the DDA operating contracts, break the lease and shut them down Mayor Trantalis.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The DDA was created by the state Legislature. It can only be abolished by the Legislature. I wonder if Fort Lauderdale would be able to put a financial squeeze on the agency?

  22. Stormwatch says:

    There should be an elevated lite rail going from the Tri-Rail station at 95 and Broward Boulevard east along Broward Boulevard, then looping around the downtown, with stops near both the Federal and State Courthouses, Himmarshee, Broward General, and Las Olas. Do it similar to the metromover in downtown Miami.

    FROM BUDDY:

    This is a great idea.

    But Miami’s Metromover was opened in the 1980s — I covered the inauguration of service. — when government was more inclined to spend money for infrastructure. It was built before most of the glass high rises and amenities such as the AAA arena existed. It joined directly to the Metrorail, which funnels passengers from South and Northwest of the downtown.

    A transit system was suggested at the time for Fort Lauderdale and never got enough support.

    Face it. Fort Lauderdale was a parochial backwater until recently and was controlled by a City Hall that lacked vision. It was only developers, who saw there were dollars to be made, that turned downtown more urban. City Hall did very little except slavishly grant almost every developer’s request.

  23. Disappointed says:

    Mrs Moraitis was smart enough to keep her opinions, or those of the people who have her in their pockets, to herself prior to walking on to the commission unopposed. The voting record she is accumulating will not serve her well in her reelection. Ft Lauderdale voters won’t support her unless she starts to do what is best for her constituency. Just ask Bruce Roberts. He has plenty of time on his hands to chat.

  24. GLS says:

    It should be pointed out that commissioner Moraitis’s support speech used sunk costs as justification for voting against the resolution (for continuing the wave). Anyone who has taken economics 101 knows that sunk costs should have no bearing on rational decisionmaking. You should only consider future and recoverable costs. Sunk costs are neither.

  25. Boonie says:

    @10… You are correct.
    Displeasure clouded my brain at the time.
    lol.

  26. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #13 correction.There was a miscalculation concerning the comm.coordinator ast.She is paid 62g and change, not 48g.Records req.error- not mine.So these salaries are very reasonable now that correction was made..

  27. My Vote Was Heard says:

    Great times in Ft. Lauderdale!

    The time has come for the elitists & self-interest people to take a hike. Their kind no longer has an “in” on the dais. We the people have taken OUR city back!

    To sit in that meeting and here big shots trying scare tactics on how losing the Wave will destroy the city was SHAMEFUL and EMBARRASSING. This city hasn’t failed without it up to now, has it? It’s not going to fail tomorrow or any other day, either. We need something that will benefit ALL of the city and we tax payers, not just a small area dof downtown. We need something that won’t asd to the already problematic traffic issues.

    And shame on 2 coward commissioners who had obviously been sleeping during the campaign process and DIDN’T speak for/to anyone else but the Benjamin$. Those days are gone too.

    Will the Mayor and Commission always get it right? Probably not. But we do know, 3/5ths of them listen to us little people & we have had our hopes and faith restored.

  28. My Vote Was Heard says:

    @ 12 John Henry:

    “I don’t trust any of these three “anti-development” Commissioners.”

    I haven’t heard any of these commissioners say they’re “anti-development”. Please, tell us when those words have been spoke by them. What I do hear from them is OVER development needs to slow down.

    How many more (un)affordable housing developments need to be built? If construction of high-rise condos and apartments stopped for 4-6 years, you still wouldn’t run out places for people to live.

    I don’t trust anyone who feels every spot of ground needs to have something on This isn’t now, nor will it become the concrete jungle of Miami-Dade, as long as the rest of us have a voice. The same voices that were heard this past election saying we have had enough of the hand outs to the special interest.

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