Broward Politics: Speakers Shafted At Ft Lauderdale City Hall





Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis won office last month as “the peoples’ mayor.”

Trantalis joined a newly-elected commission majority that promised they would listen more to residents and less to developers and lobbyists. 

If those pledges are true, why did Trantalis and commissioners this week water down the length of time residents can comment at meetings?


Dean Trantalis



Trantalis went along with the elimination of language in a city ordinance guaranteeing speakers three minutes to speak on agenda items. 

Under the newly-written law, speakers can be allowed to go on for three minutes.  Or they can be cut off at the “discretion” of the mayor. 

A mayor can now allow a speaker two minutes. One minute. Maybe 30 seconds.  

The excuse for the change: 

Eliminating a three-minute rule will cut the length of meetings. Ending long-running meetings was a campaign issue in a city where meetings have run as late as 4 a.m

At least one woman collapsed at 1:30 a.m. and died after attending a lengthy meeting. 

So there were no arguments about ending future meetings at 10 p.m. except in extraordinary situations. Commissioners unanimously agreed to that move. 

Stopping meetings at 10 p.m. was in keeping with the commissioners’ campaign pledges to make City Hall more inclusive.

The elimination of the three-minute allotment, not so much. 

Dumping the three-minutes rule was the idea of City Commissioner Heather Moraitis. She snuck the change into the debate about ending meetings at 10 a.m.


Heather Moraitis



Moraitis noted that state law only requires that residents must have a “reasonable amount of time” to comment. She claimed eliminating the three-minutes mandate would help “expedite meetings” and help commissioners end by 10 p.m.  

The other commissioners — with the exception of new Commissioner Steve Glassman, who lived up to his promises — went along with Moraitis. 

Glassman said he supported ending meetings at 10 p.m., but said, “I don’t want to diminish the amount of time the public is allowed to speak.”

Trantalis pledged to continue allowing three-minute long comments in the future…in most cases. 

But what about the next mayor? 

13 Responses to “Broward Politics: Speakers Shafted At Ft Lauderdale City Hall”

  1. Jim Morlock says:

    I have attended all the Commission meetings since the selection and swearing in. Thus far, I have found Mayor Trantalis autocratic demeanor and actions to be disappointing. He has often been dismissive of speakers, such as the parents from Virginia Shuman Elementary who were appealing for increased school security; property owners complaining about infringements of their property rights. He has also taken up the cause of Gun Control at most of the meetings. This has taken time and City Resources away from other priorities. Also, it seems there are more awards and political pronouncements at the beginning of meeting which have taken an hour or more before business starts. Now this new two minute rule. Hopefully, this will not become a pattern.

  2. Rodney Campbell says:

    Buddy, where is your copy editor. You use 10 p.m. twice for meeting ending and then 10 a.m. twice. Which is it?


    Thanks for pointing this mistake out.

    I don’t have a copy editor unfortunately like most Internet sites. By the way, the Sun-Sentinel laid off most of them which is why you see beaucoup mistakes in both the paper and on its website.

  3. Overreaction says:

    The problem was solved this morning when Lee Chudson proclaimed in a widely distributed email that

    “I have washed my hands of public meetings”

    That should spare the taxpayers of Ft Lauderdale several hours of garbage every two weeks.

    PS: have you paid your past due property taxes for 2016 & 2017 yet?

  4. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    First i attended this meeting.And pulled it so there would be public input.I specifically rearranged my schedule to attend.I agreed with Comm.Glassman who intoduced the meetings to come to a halt at 10pm.However, w/ majority rule they can take a vote to continue.Now with the 3min.Comm.Moratis did bring up the elimination of the public speak.Mayor Trantalis introduced language where he has full discreation to limit your 3min.Also if they ended the meeting at 10pm, remaining items would be on the next comm.meeting or with majority to have the continuation on their off week.I pretty much support the mayor.As far as the 3min.To ensure your 3min sign up to do a citizens presentation.That way he has to g ive you your 3min.Also the Proclamations.My God they went for over an hour in duration.If they want to speed things up do the Proclamations in the afternoon.That way there u have the entire day to recognize the Proclamations etc.Not when the day is basically over at 6pm etc.Speaking of evening attendance it was like a ghost town in the chamber.Not only was the public scarce so was city staff, print reporter( in her defense she( brittany) was on vacation) but it was eerie and questionable why city staff was absent( many)..


    Oh, pleeeze. A few years ago the Sun-Sentinel would have sent a replacement over to cover the meeting while Brittany was on vacation.

    (They may have had somebody watching on the Internet, but a reporter can’t get the flavor of the meeting nor talk informally to sources nor get follow-up questions answered through the Internet. Its lazy journalism, fostered on the staff by corporate overlords who don’t provide them the resources to cover the community! Lazy journalism, but that is the way much of the government news is now covered at the S-S. If it is covered at all!)

  5. Art Seitz says:

    Thanks Buddy, your absolutely right! Bravo Steve Glassman. People’s Mayor??

  6. Charles King says:

    Oh Lord, forgive her for she knows not what she does. As a political legacy newbie that didn’t receive one vote in the past election I can’t help but believe that the newly minted Commissioner Heather Moraitis just isn’t aware of what she is doing. Sure she’d like to be “efficient” with her time on the job, but giving the public the right show up and call “BS” is a cornerstone of our democracy. “Gun Show” Jack Seiler and his “crooked crew” might have been able to ignore the public, sellout to the developers’ lobbyists, the public sector union goons and loot the city to its foundations but there was a price to be paid ultimately at the polls. When “Gun Show” Jack Seiler’s complicit associates got exposed and creamed at the polls 65% to 35% it was in no small measure to citizens that had showed up, spoke out, got completely ignored and got angry. That sort of thing tends to motivate citizens, especially in a place like Fort Lauderdale where only 7% voted in “Gun Show” Jack Seiler’s last election. Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission Meetings ran super long because of one person, “Gun Show” Jack Seiler and his desire to have important decisions made in the middle of the night by tired people that just wanted to go home. The meeting were super long, running into the am on many occasions because of the outrageous, controversial and anti-community measures “Jack” and company were pushing through. Maybe the new city commission should stop doing what the special interests want and get with “the people,” that way there won’t be a hundred people there to speak every other month. It would also help if they switched out the often political prayer for a “moment” of silence, eliminated or limited and even timed the nonprofit special interest “presentations” at the beginning of the meeting. These special interest attention hogs are wasting a lot of time promoting themselves. The country of Turkey must do 4 lengthy presentation a year promoting their adversarial 3rd world nation on the other side of the planet. I believe the new era city commission doubled the BS presentations to 8 at the last meeting. Aside from this move of Heather’s against public comment, I must admit, as a longtime Fort Lauderdale resident, property owner and even Republican I am distressed to see her forming this obstructionist odd couple lobbyist friendly status quo coalition with the suddenly loquacious District 3 Commissioner Robert McKinzie. Us landside voters really want City Manager “Little” Lee Feldman fired, and fired in at least as an embarrassing way as City Attorney Cynthia Everret was fired. The old regime’s Police Chief Rick “the cover up artist” Maglione and City Auditor John “the secret keeper” Herbst are thoroughly complicit and also have to go. What do you say photo finishing District 4 Commissioner Ben Sorensen, is it best to keep “Lee” twisting in the wind pulling down that huge salary and benefits or is it time to turn the majority at the polls on election day into a majority on the dais and even an agenda? As a management efficiency expert you must see that a mayor that won in a 65% to 35% landslide that doesn’t want to work with the old regime’s overpaid spineless order taking City Manager is a bad situation that can’t last much longer. Come on Ben, firing “Little” Lee would be a great way to show you aren’t taking orders from any losing campaign manager/lobbyists from the old regime.

  7. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    I was told that the paper will send Brittany to report on the meetings.I questioned why there was no media coverage.Answer- short staffed.I agree with u Buddy.However, unless there is something major on the agenda they are so short staffed, that if Brittany is not available- kick rocks.I 100% agree with u.Being the biggest municipality in the county they(SS) should make arrangements so their is coverage.As far as the above comment concerning Dean.I think so far he is doing great.He won.I respect that and stated that to him.As far as Mr.Chudson retiring from the meetings- good rittens.Take King with u…

  8. Charles King says:

    Why would I go anywhere “City Activist Robert Walsh,” I actually live in the city. I actually have an interest for myself and my family for good governance and proper decisions that look out for the city’s long term…

  9. Roustabout says:

    I’d like to say a kind word for the Sun Sentinel. After all the staffing cuts, again and again, they’re playing baseball with a three-man team, and it’s simply impossible to cover all the bases. I don’t think “lazy” is a fair label at all for the journalism they produce, especially given the huge effort they’ve put in at covering the Parkland school massacre and its aftermath. Buddy, you can justifiably roast corporate management for stripping the paper of much of its talent, but I think accusing the valiant few reporters and editors who remain of being lazy is a low and totally unwarranted blow.


    My comments were not aimed at the reporters and editors, who are doing terrific work with their hands tied behind their backs by a revolving door of corporate overlords.

    The comments were aimed at those suits from Chicago or Los Angeles or wherever who pretend they are providing journalism to the community and are not, with the exception of a few high profile stories like Parkland and the airport shooting. The underlying fabric of South Florida, the day-to-day decisions that shape the quality of life, are not covered.

  10. Well Said says:

    The Pelican does a great job here in northern Broward County……

  11. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #6 First of all Jack Seiler is no goon.He may represent some but that is what he does as an atty.Im no brown noser we had some diffferences but always respected him as mayor.

    ….By the way he could care less what you say about him.Very respected and well liked.

    Yes he could have handled the homeless issue better as well as the water and sewer fiasco.Here is the pivotable point.It wasn.t Seiler fault meetings ran so long.

    When you had a homeless man pulling every agenda item and i mean everything that took over 2hrs- just for this guy to speak on everything on the agenda.What did Jack do he worked his magic and the man got expelled from the meetings for one year.

    Be careful with Jack Seiler cause he will get even etc and just like the gift of the Irish you will never no he got you.Bravo .Yup the courts directed this guy to go nowhere near these city meetings for one yes.

    So bottom line he will get ya, and u will never know its him.That is why the meetings went on forever.Mayor Trantalis seeing what Jack went through- you bet he wants discreation how long your duration is at that podium.Trust me i would be very surprised if Trantalis doesn.t give u your full 3min.However, if u go off topic or get to cute he has the authority and discretion to pull the plug..

  12. John Doe says:

    Abby Freedman just reached out to the mother of one of the Parkland Shootings victims who is running against her to beg her to run against someone else. I can’t give my name or I’d lose my job. I overheard her and I find this to be the type of politics that is killing this country. If you can’t win fair – don’t win.

  13. Tax Paying Voter says:

    I’ve been to a few commission meetings since the platform has a few new people in the seats.

    I haven’t found the Mayor or any commissioner to be disrespectful to anyone.

    Sounds like the upset people are unhappy their candidate didn’t win…………