Broward Politics: See Vintage Palm Cards That Reflect Change In County

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

It is no secret that Broward County’s politics has morphed dramatically in the last several decades. 

I recently found the 41 year-old palm cards below that vividly illustrate the demographic changes more than the reams that have been written.

These cards were passed out by the most powerful Democratic condo leaders just as the era of condo political influence was getting underway in 1978. 

Who were they?

Largely retirees. Mostly blue collar. Many graduates of the Depression-era ward politics of the New York City area and the Northeast.

Boy, could they round up votes and deliver!

Check out the members of the Political Action Committee of the City of Lauderhill endorsement list from the primary 41 years ago:

 

 

 

Almost all have Jewish-sounding names. Every one represents a condominium containing hundreds of voters.

Those condo residents voted religiously. The turnout approached 80 percent in some precincts. 

Today those condos are filled with French Canadians, Caribbean Americans and African Americans who don’t vote in the same large numbers. 

Also, look at the endorsements. 

Yes, Mitch Ceasar once ran for state House. He didn’t win and went on to run the Broward Democratic Party for years. 

Also note that Robert Lockwood never won a seat in Congress and stayed Broward’s Clerk of the Courts for decades. Robert Shevin never became governor. Alan Becker never became Attorney General but founded a major law firm that remains in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

It was a different era in more than one way. There were no qualms about mixing politics and city government…just like they did in the political wards of the Northeast.

The Lauderhill PAC operated out of the city’s code enforcement bureau, according to a Fort Lauderdale News political column I wrote.  

Tip off: Dan Paley on the endorsement list was the city’s chief code enforcement officer. Paley denied in the column that he was using city resources in the 1978 campaign. 

Here are some more old endorsement cards that may interest you: 

 

 

 

William Woliver was only one of the condo bosses in the then-new Hawaiian Gardens. Among the others that probably took part in this endorsement list were Moe Bernstein, Murray Schwartz, Hy Brown, Jerry Jerome, Frank Erlick, Sam Vinicor, Herman Gold, Lou Bookbinder, Harry Rosencrantz, Lottie Albert (The only woman in the group, who died last year at 102.), Victor Reisner, Milton Rochin, Dave Kaplan and Mike Wilenfeld.

Hawaiian Gardens today is not the same and the vote turnout is minuscular compared to the past. Parts of the complex are roughly 80 percent French Canadian and many other residents are Caribbean or African American, according to the condominium’s website.

 

Note the endorsement of Russ Barakat, who was later the Broward Democratic Chair. Barakat never won a seat on the Broward County Commission, but he did win a place in a Federal penitentiary for corruption involving bond deals. 

Barakat’s downfall cleared the way for Ceasar to take over the party. 

 

The following sheet passed out at the primary polls that year is from the Concerned Citizens South Beach in Hollywood.

The group represented at least a dozen new voter-rich high rises along Hollywood Beach like Quadomain that are now filled with those who seldom vote. Or are ineligible to vote, like French Canadians.

 

 

Note the endorsements include Walter Young, the incumbent state House member from Pembroke Pines. During his 20 years in the Legislature, Young was known as “Mr. Education”  for his pursuit of more money for schools. A middle school and a community center in Pembroke Pines are named for Young, who died at 94 in 2016. 

The endorsements also include J. Herbert Burke, a South Broward Republican congressman and former Broward County Commissioner. Three months earlier Burke had been charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest at the Centerfold strip club in Dania. 

The incident later became part of the book Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen, and a film starring Burt Reynolds and Demi Moore

As I remember it, the Burke incident embarrassed the The Fort Lauderdale News, which is now the Sun-Sentinel. At least within the newspaper industry.

 The News got a tip that Burke was in jail and ignored it. The Miami Herald jumped on the tip and got a devastating photo of the disheveled Burke in custody.

Competition between The Miami Herald and the Fort Lauderdale News was intense in Broward Count back then. The News’ staff heard about that miss for a long time. 

The influx of all those Jewish voters perplexed the largely non-Jewish power structure. Many decided that the way to appeal to these retiree super voters was to support Israel. That type of pandering still goes on, although I’m sure this doesn’t work for all Jewish voters today.

This is part of an endorsement for then Sheriff Ed Stack passed out at Sunrise Lakes Phase I Condominiums, who was running a successful race for Congress:

 

 

 

 

I can’t remember all the movers-and-shakers in Phase I, but my guess is that condo politico George Kurland was involved.

Broward County has changed, but is still the same in many ways.

Go to the polls and it seems like everybody is passing out palm cards. Do they really work?

This is an era of more independent voters. It is doubtful that the palm cards can move more than a handful.

But with some elections decided by only a few votes, no candidate can ignore the few gullible voters that can be swayed by a piece of paper.

 

 

 

 

Buddy Nevins, a young Fort Lauderdale News staffer, at the time of these events

 

 

 

 



5 Responses to “Broward Politics: See Vintage Palm Cards That Reflect Change In County”

  1. Remembering When says:

    Thanks for the memories.

  2. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Sometime in the 1980’s the City of Lauderhill had a political split and there were two PAC’s, the PAC of Lauderhill and the Concerned Citizens of Lauderhill PAC.

    Councilwoman Ilene Lieberman who was endorsed by the PAC of Lauderhill for Mayor in 1988, against Mayor David Kaminsky by the Concerned Citizens. Former Mayor Eugene Cipolloni who was defeated in 1984 also ran in this race and wasn’t endorsed, even by the club that he ran just a few years before.

    Ilene won with something just over 50% of the vote.

    Both PAC’s survived for awhile, fought between themselves. Then each ultimately were dissolved a few years later.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Richard J Kaplan was mayor of Lauderhill for over two decades and retired in 2018.

  3. Rightwinger says:

    This will be another memory. Madam Clerk leaving the Broward Clerk of the Courts. Criminal charges in Saturday Sun Sentinel. Comes around, goes around. The rear Forman will be coming back.

  4. Jester says:

    You haven’t changed a bit. 😎

  5. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    1978 THAT IS HARDLY HISTORY. For Heavens’ sake in 1938.the FORT LAUDERDALE POLITICAL POWER STRUCTURE WAS WELL ESTABLISHED. IT DOMINATED POLITICS COUNTY WIDE UNTIL SOCIAL SECURITY ENABLED WORKING CLASS JEWS TO RETIRE TO SOUTH FLORIDA. They then dominated BROWARD BUT NOT FORT LAUDERDALE AS RETIRING WASP MILITARY MOSTLY NAVAL SETTLED IN THE CITY. That’s the situartion TODAY except for the Black Communities ; i.e. Native born, Immigrant who have reolaced Jewish retirees as residents n voters.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Hey Count,

    In 1938 the Fort Lauderdale political power structure was well established because there was almost nobody living West of U. S. 441.

    Social Security and pensions, of course, had a lot to do with blue collar workers retiring in Broward.

    More important, some clever developers bought wide swaths of land which was available in West, North and South Broward. They built condo communities. Those communities were extensively promoted in newspapers and on televisions in the New York area and in the rest of the Northeast.

    By the way, not all of West Broward was filled with Jews. There were a lot of retired blue collar Italians, too.

    Also, Fort Lauderdale was not only filled with veterans of World War II. A lot of Spring Breakers fell in love with the city and stayed. Or moved here as soon as they could.

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