Frm. State Senator’s Meltdown Over One Word On Website

BY BUDDY NEVINS 

You would think former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith would have a thicker skin by now.  

After all, Smith was an elected politician for 21 years. His world was the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature, where he was attacked almost daily. 

But apparently all that GOP ire was nothing compared to one word in a Sun-Sentinel website headline.

That word was HANDOUT. 

That one word triggered a podium-pounding, voice-quivering impassioned public meltdown by Smith this week.

Chris Smith

Speaking to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, Smith claimed that the paper was insulting a black man when it described in a headline that his request for $100,000 in city money a HANDOUT.

Smith wanted the money for a wings restaurant he plans to build in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s black community. 

But the request for $100,000 was sometimes overshadowed by Smith’s complaints about the Sun-Sentinel. He repeated his complaint on Twitter: 

Smith preferred the word INCENTIVE to HANDOUT, he told the commissioners. The city money was an incentive to build in the hard-pressed inner city, not a handout to politician, he said. 

His argument got the quivering editors at the Sun-Sentinel to back down. 

I wonder if the Sun-Sentinel’s white editors would have made the same decision if Smith hadn’t complained that the headline insulted “a black man”?

Browwardbeat does not have the original headline. We do have the bloodless replacement:

FORMER STATE SENATOR WANTS ANOTHER $100,000 FROM CITY FOR NEW WINGS PLACE ON SISTRUNK

 

These journalism questions divert attention from the financial questions. 

Smith got $100,000 from the city. 

Outspoken activist Charlie King called the money “political payola” to Smith involving perhaps black support in city elections. 

Apparently Mayor Dean Trantalis is not part of the alleged political machinations. Trantalis was the only vote against giving Smith the money. 

The $100,000 was extra money to cover cost overruns. Smith had already received $350,000 from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

The money was given to Smith although the plan is highly risky to anybody who knows anything about finance.

First of all, restaurants are among the toughest businesses to operate. They must cope with everything from the constant need to hire reliable employees (Chipotle has at least 150 percent turnover annually!) to the changing cost of food.  A fast food or casual dining restaurant also faces some of the fiercest competitors in American business. 

And some would say Smith already made a life-changing mistake in financing the proposed restaurant. A mistake which could jeopardize his future. 

He and his wife poured all of their savings and emptied their retirement accounts to pay for their dream of opening a restaurant, Smith told commissioners. 

That may be okay for a 20s-Something, but Smith is 49. 

Hmmmm

It seems to me that Smith has a lot more to concern himself with than one word. 

Which leads me to wonder. 

If one word caused Smith to go on the war path, what’s he going to do when a customer complains about his wings?

XXXXXX

Note: An earlier version of this story contained information about a delinquent taxes owed by Smith’s business property. After the post, Smith says he paid the taxes. Thus, I decided it was only fair to remove this portion of the post.



16 Responses to “Frm. State Senator’s Meltdown Over One Word On Website”

  1. Dont subsidize junk food says:

    This restaurant could be considered a health hazard subsidized by the public. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2018 suggests that Southern cuisine, including fried food such as wings, contributes to African-Americans dying at younger than whites due to heart disease and hypertension.
    Maybe he will grill the chicken and serve veggies instead of fried accouterments.

  2. Bob says:

    The Fort Lauderdale CRA needs to be dissolved. It’s a cesspool, as you have reported in the past

    http://www.browardbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/memo-15-16.11-CRA-Operational-Audit-Final-Report.pdf

    The city can’t find the pennies to repair sidewalks in most of the city, but it’s a virtual golden shower in the CRA. Fireworks, retirement parties, nothing seems out of bounds.

    If I’m not mistaken the city had to relieve a former city manager of his oversight responsibilities in the CRA due to rampant mismanagement.

  3. Chaz Stevens, Retired says:

    Is Chris Smith a younger male version of Sylvia Poitier?

    Deerfield Beach circa 2011, $30K of taxpayer money was earmarked for Poitier’s “outreach.” Or reach around, you decide.

    $10K of that went to Poitier’s friend, Mae Faegin, who (a) bought a car with it so she could take people to the mall and (b) never provided any receipts.

    Also around that time, another $200K in CHDO (Community Housing Development Money aka HUD) went to Poiter’s daughter and another family member.

    All this makes me wonder … who is doing marketing for Smith — could it be Terry Scott? When it comes to handouts, Scott’s got his porky little hand well out.

    If I wasn’t retired, I’d gladly come to Lauderdale and put my foot up his ass.

    PS Those just tuning in … Poitier was arrested, jailed, removed from office, and has never returned — thanks to yours truly.

    She was one of three elected officials that got yanked thanks to me.

  4. Chaz Stevens, Retired says:

    Also, let us not forget about Jonathan Allen and Eric Haynes.

    The black three Amigos… Or maybe the Black Pep Boys.

    https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/lauderhill/fl-lauderdale-lakes-haynes-fined-20160302-story.html

    This whole bullshit that “I’m of this skin color therefore you must be a racist if you don’t agree with me” … that’s just bullshit.

    We don’t want to give you $100K for a wings joint that’s going tits up in less than a year.

  5. The voice of Reason says:

    @ 3 & 4
    Chaz, darling…

    What would it take to get you back to Broward to run for a school board seat?

  6. Reply to #5 says:

    A bottle of Jim Beam and a few pills

  7. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    So do the math.He received almost 500 thou.I mean I agree with Mayor Trantalis.I also agree with the majority sentiment by these comments as well.Ok ” handout” has tag etc inappropriate, well how about calling it free money to Mr.Smith.More of the same.Comm.Glassman also to be mentioned campaigned that this sort of practice he would not endorse,but yet votes to recommend.I mean it’s all glitz and glamour with Comm.Glassman( call him Glitz & glamour Glassman.And just a couple of months ago he and others voted( all of them) to give land dev atty Robert Lockerie client 3 million dollars for a hotel project.All this CRA handouts( yes and I back the description from the Paper handout) that if u take taxes monies u collect from slum and blight neighborhoods etc should go back into these same neighborhoods.For structure,roads ,greenscape.Not to give it to residents etc that want to start businesses etc.The whole CRA it’s just a money grab from these who’s who down here.Change will come.Vote them out people…PS.how about a female topless barbershop.Huh.Wet your whistle there guys.How about 500 grand for it.Why not.See what I mean.Use your own money people not tax dollars for your endeavors….

  8. sick of politics says:

    CRA again failed to due their job, yes it is a handout an forgivable loan to a politician. Watch the video of CRA meeting 10/15 the 3 stooges making fools out of themselves, 1st Moraitis states she backs this grant because of the great work Smith did in Tallahassee, ie a political gift, next Glassman sounds like a bigger stooge, making notes and adding up numbers last minute to total $65,000 and admits he doesn’t see a $100,000 but as a politician votes yes. McKenzie has to race bait and makes a fool out of himself storms out of room like a child, he being a questionable as to his true residence and campaign fund misuse, he can’t make a reasonable argument so just makes noise like a 747 with a bad muffler. Yes folks like a old comedy act this our the ones that make decisions for us total fools. Fire the CRA management and vote out the 3 stooges!!!! One promised change the other was unopposed and the last well ask Judy Stern why ???

    Charlie King you nailed this Guy from the start, Mayor was spot on.

    This town just doesn’t just stink of sewage in the streets.

  9. Same story different day says:

    The CRA is a government tool for redevelopment that operates on a budget generated by the increase in property taxes within the CRA. If Smith didn’t pay his property taxes he should never have been eligible for the $350k “handout” in the first place let alone the additional $100k.

    Where is the CRA oversight, where is the CRA due diligence. This isn’t Overtown!

  10. Cut to the chase says:

    We all know that the 350,000 was a thank you kiss to a key black politician for supporting the Wave re-route/Loop through the black neighborhood so that they could shake down the black CRA for 7.5 million which was a blatant and obvious disproportionate share of the cost.

  11. It is not 1960 says:

    Someone should remind McKinzie (ardent supporter of the Smith handout) that the race riots were in the 1960’s. Using his repeated race baiting tactic in 2019 in Democratic Broward where they are so blatantly Democratic that they wouldn’t even let the lone Republican serve as ceremonial Mayor is just a sad and pathetic played-out crutch. Who is McKinzie calling racist exactly? Democrats were the ones asking questions.

  12. Floridan says:

    Do I think this is a wise investment of public funds? Probably not.

    Do I think the use of the word “handout” by the Sun-Sentinel was ill-advised? Yes, especially if that word has not been used for other projects.

    I’m not sure what the CRA’s boundaries are, but if TIF funds are paid by Sistrunk businesses, it is incumbent on the CRA to invest in that area.

    FROM BUDDY:

    In a very cursory search of the Sun-Sentinel’s archives, I found several other CRA-funded projects in Broward described as “handouts” including a resort in Hollywood, a restaurant opened by a notable chef and a business in Boca Raton. All were owned by white folks.

  13. Charles King says:

    It does look like there is still a place for fist pound politicians, if not the ones that pound the podium with their shoes.

    Kudos to Mr. Dean Trantalis, “The People’s Mayor” for being the only one with the guts to make a stand with the people and stare down this self entitled race based politician and his brutish advocate Commissioner Robert McKenzie, calling it out for what it was and actually voting against it to boot.

    Fellow Tallahassee politicians’ wife Commissioner Heather Moraitis shamefully went out of her way to say that both she and her swampy husband, currently the chairman of the Broward Republican Party George Moraitis fully support this and encourage Chris to come back for yet more money.

    Young Ben “Pee Wee” Sorensen couldn’t write the check fast enough once The Smiths made it to his office to tell him what they had to offer….

    Commissioner Steve Glassman attempted to shave $25,000 off the political payola but in the end dared not stand up to Smith’s fist pound and his constantly interrupting and disrespectful advocate Commissioner Robert McKinzie’s intimidation tactics, who has since his swampy colleague were bounced from office last year has become a real enemy of decorum and professionalism at city hall.

    In fact after Chris Smith’s humiliating display upstairs, McKinzie accosted me downstairs by the elevators, calling me a racist loudly in front of a lot of people, maybe repeating it 10 times. He even in an attempt to get a rise out of me told me that he didn’t want my kids playing with his kids, that I’m teaching them the wrong things. This from a guy who’s only homesteaded property remains in the city of Plantation where his kids presumably live.

    At any rate, back to former Senator Chris Smith, the CRA stooges that don’t seem to check anything and the four gutless or in on it city commissioners that gave an additional $100,000 in CRA property tax money to a guy that hasn’t even been paying his own property taxes into the CRA.

    CRAs are cesspools of corruption that Tallahassee politicians like Chis Smith and George Moraitis have injected into every local community across the state, putting very tempting slush funds of found money at city elected officials’ disposal. Is it any surprise the public trough trained Tallahassee politicians like Chris Smith would one day come calling themselves? The good news is Chris Smith will most likely never live this down politically, wouldn’t it be hilarious if the Tripp Scott dropped the suddenly uninfluential politician like the bad habit that he is and the Senator actually had to make his living at this CRA side business doing actual honest to God hard work servicing the very constituents he elbowed out of the way to get the money for himself? I think it would be.

    I’ve include the four city commissioners’ email address below in case you’d like to let them know about your wishes as citizens and where you think they should go. I’ve also included the Mayor if you would like to extend a well-deserved atta boy. PS Do yourself a favor and go to the city website and watch what transpired on this item for yourself, see if myself, the Sun Sentinel and Broward Beat are exaggerating in any way what transpired. The fist pounding was real and was only escalating when the Mayor told Chris Smith that’s enough and to go have a seat.

    dtrantalis@fortlauderdale.gov
    hmoraitis@fortlauderdale.gov
    bsorensen@fortlauderdale.gov
    sglassman@fortlauderdale.gov
    rmckinzie@fortlauderdale.gov

  14. Simple Q and A says:

    Any given weekend you can drive around Sistrunk and find men and women on street corners selling incredible bbq and other food to get by. Those folks may not have a brick and mortar business but they know how to run a food business. Would any of these people be given a half mil to open a wing joint? No. From the looks of it the only thing Smith and his family know about wings is eating them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Everybody loses it every once in awhile. Instead of attacking him, Chris Smith should be commended for investing his own money and his time and effort in this project to help his own community.

  16. Charles King says:

    Hey Buddy, Is it true that Chris Smith paid his property taxes on this CRA scam on the taxpayers one day after you published his unpaid bill?

    FROM BUDDY:

    I have a note about Smith paying his taxes at the bottom of the story.

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