Plantation’s Armstrong Is One Tough Cookie


Rae Carole Armstrong


Rae Carole Armstrong may look like a grandmother with her crown of grey hair framing a seasoned face.

But this grandmother has balls!


Armstrong this week demonstrated how she has kept Plantation on track for a decade as mayor and 15 years before that as a council member.

Lasar-like focus.  Whip smart.  The strength to stand up to lesser-minds on the city council.

At this weeks council meeting, Grandma Armstrong not only vanquished city’s pet lobbyist Carl William “Bill Laystrom Jr.

She also  kept Council member Jerry Fadgen at bay when he tried to salvage the scandal-prone Planatation Athletic League.



For 2 ½ years, Laystrom has been trying to shove an apartment complex next to a residential neighborhood of east Plantation.  

Laystrom is so ubiquitous at city hall, I’ve heard him called Plantation’s Sixth Commissioner.  He seldom loses.

This time he was selling a high-density project cloaked with a tony name of a Portuguese island Madeira. It is designed to invoke tropical splender.

All I could think about was another Madeira — fortified wine.  Cheap vintage, dressed up. But still cheap wine. 

After hearing Laystrom’s council presentation, I believe the project for accuracy’s sake could have been named Wild Irish Rose apartments. Or MD 20/20 Isles.  Nothing fancy. Just straight up tacky.

Well, the Madeira name didn’t sell either when the project ran into Armstrong.

Armstrong has been fighting to save the residential character of east Plantation since joining the council in 1983.  She was the first woman on the Plantation council when it was the ultimate Good Ol’ Boys Club.

In 1984, 2,000 residents of Park East signed a petition asking that 32 acres near the southwest corner of W. Sunrise Boulevard and U. S. 441 be kept residential. 

The project was owned by another council member, Neil La Hurd

La Hurd was a charter member of the Good Ol’ Boys Club.  He didn’t vote.  But under Good Ol’ Boy Club Rules, he sat in the audience during the debate.  A presence. 

Despite this pressure, Armstrong voted with the residents. But there were three votes to turn the property into an office park.

The 400-plus unit Madeira would be built in the same approximate location behind Rick Case’s Acura dealer. 

The project’s concept seemed ridiculous to me:  Rents up to $1,845-a-unit next to a car dealership! 

But it was the density, the five-story buildings and the strange design (i.e., residents would have to walk downstairs and hundreds of feet to dump their garbage) that caused Armstrong to stand up to Laystrom.again and again at the meeting.

Council member Sharon Uria seemed to beg the influential lobbyist for forgiveness “Don’t hold this against me, Bill when she opposed the project. 

Armstrong had no such qualms.

The complex was too tall, too dense and wrong for the neighborhood, she repeatedly told Laystrom.

“Its just not compatible, Armstrong snapped.

The audience clapped.  The council followed her lead and unanimously voted the project down.

Laystrom left defeated.



The sad saga of the Plantation Athletic League continued this week. 

Armstrong has demanded that the PAL clean up its act and find new board members to run the city’s youth athletic programs.  Or else she will find someone else to do it.

PAL is missing tens of thousands of dollars. It is also alleged PAL stonewalled the city staff when they tried to investigate wrong-doing. The board even hired a lawyer to fight against the city.

It turns out that PAL is so dysfunctional that no one can figure out who is authorized to run the multi-million dollar non-profit organization.  Armstrong said she doesn’t know who to negotiate with from PAL.

PAL held a confused “election in June for a new board.’s post on the story is here.

Council member Fadgen tried to defend PAL. He said “philosophically he doesn’t want the city to operate the athletic programs anymore than he wants the government to operate General Motors. He wants the old PAL members involved.

Armstrong fired back that she has no objection to cooperative PAL members.  She didn’t want the city to operate PAL.  She would find volunteers to run the program under the general supervision of the city.

She formed a task force to fashion a solution.

That’s the way it should be.  The city spends millions annually to maintain athletic fields and facilities that up to now are mostly used by PAL. The city should supervise its investment.

Robin Moselle, a Plantation parent, said she knew of a “core of volunteers willing to step up and help run the program without the involvement of the current PAL board. 

Fadgen and his supporter, Council member Uria, help the mayor, not obstruct her. They are late-comers to the PAL debate.

Where were they for the past year when the mayor was battling to protect Plantation parents against the outrageous behavior of the PAL board?

Nowhere to be seen or heard!

Now that Armstrong has acted, they want to complicate the situation.

They are wrong.  The mayor is right.

But Armstrong doesn’t need me to protect her.  If she can overcome Bill Laystrom and his developer clients, she can handle Fadgen and Uria

Because Grandma Armstrong is one tough cookie.  If she had been in Little Red Riding Hood’s forest, she would have easily turned the tables on the wolf.  

Before the wolf ate Grandma Armstrong, she would have been serving  wolf sandwiches.

20 Responses to “Plantation’s Armstrong Is One Tough Cookie”

  1. Strong Mayor's Rock says:

    Nothing beats a mayor that has authority to carry out business. An elected CEO is the trademark of a well run community. The rest is management by committee, a nice concept that too rarely works better.

  2. Sam's Groupie says:


    You could have written this story without reference to her grey hair and age. You wouldn’t have referred to a male mayor as “Grandpa” or described his grey hair. Despite the admiration for her skills and strength, your article is still sexist and ageist.
    You should be better than this.

  3. Informed Parent says:

    Once again, Buddy, right on the mark, thank you. And many thanks to Lady Armstrong. This was a huge win for the children of Plantation and the PAL organization.

  4. PAL Friend says:

    OK PAL Groupies – I want to remind everyone of ImKate’s blog and Jim Davis’ blog in the last Sentinel article.

    Let’s all give opinions, but please, let’s all stay nice! No character assassination and no name-calling.

  5. mustbecrazy says:

    Here is some of what I said earlier in my Sentinel post. I want a forum to have my voice heard. Somewhere other than on these blogs. The meeting Monday night at 7:30 was a great idea, not because of any perceived “crisis” but as a way for us parents to be heard.I don’t know about any of you but I cannot be at a council meeting at midnight when my kids are home sleeping. I hope that this task force is also a forum for parents to be heard. Without input from us, without hearing our stories and our suggestions they cannot do their due diligence.

  6. Informed Parent says:

    Once again, Buddy, right on the mark, thank you. And many thanks to Lady Armstrong. This was a huge win for the children of Plantation and the PAL organization.

  7. Plantation General Hospital - there goes the neighborhood says:

    The real “ballsy” person at the madeira hearing was the CFO from plantation general who opposed the development because people without health insurance are the “kind” of people that would live there. The hospital would suffer economically as they would have to provide indigent care for those “kind” of people. What an outrageous statement, only outdone by a city council that let this guy make that kind of comment with calling him on it. A very slippery slope for the hospital and the council – wonder when that will come back to bite them!

  8. Way to go, Rae Carol! says:

    Mayor Armstrong has done what no one else has been able to do…. Finally break the incestuous chain of PAL Presidents/ Executive Boards, they may have had different names, but were one in the same. Perhaps we will now have openess and new ideas within PAL. As for last nights speakers and Buddy’s comments about Uria and Fadgen- right on target! Where have they been this past year?( I almost threw the remote at my TV when Sharon said she must not be in the” right clique” to get information about PAL. Seriously, Councilwoman?! ) Lesser minds, indeed. Go, mayor!

  9. Task Force Follower says:

    The task force met last night (Thursday) and it was open to the public. I hope when they announce the next meeting, so we can all attend.

  10. S only says:

    Interesting remark about Buddy’s being sexist and ageist (is that a word?). Whaddaya expect? Buddy’s a guy. Hooray for Mayor Armstrong! I was proud, proud of her. You go girl! (not you go grandma!)

  11. S only says:

    And a few words to Mr. Laystrom: tell your client to start completely over. A few fewer garages or apartments here and there is not going to change the character of the monstrosity you called a “luxury development”. You also droned on and on and on and on. Get to the point, sir. Don’t you know that after the first 10-15 minutes, you lose your audience?

  12. Plantation Resident says:

    Fadgen and Uria are idiots. They are tools of the old PAL board and out to subvert the mayor anyway they can. They are controlled by Laystrom. They are bad commissioners.

  13. strong leader says:

    Mayor Armstrong is the ideal politician. She makes good decisions for her city and her constituents despite pressure from lobbyists and politicos. I am sure she is also a wonderful grandmother but I do not see what one has to do with the other. I see the Mayor as a strong successful leader not a doting, frail, cookie-baking grandma (not that there’s anything wrong with that- because who doesn’t love a homebaked cookie from grandma?…). Great praise for Mayor Armstrong’s leadership.

  14. Resident with suspicions says:

    PAL has eroded into a political activist group trying to get people elected. Great job Mayor. Break it down and rebuild it back to what it was intended to be.

  15. Mag says:

    It’s nice to hear the Mayor fighting for Plantation, but I think it’s too late.

    The City has become way to developed. More massive buildings being built and more density around the Fountains will destroy whatever is left. It’s time to take the family and go.

  16. KCK says:

    Whooppee, so Armstrong defeats Laystrom for a 5 story complex.

    Well there’s already a 5 plus story complex behind Plantation Ford, there’s also fairly new townhomes between Ford and Rick Case. That whole area is multi-family.

    On the otherhand Armstrong was drooling over the idea of multiple 14 story condos/retail at Broward Blvd. and University. Plantation does not need 14 story buildings.

    It’s not that Armstrong has balls, quite the contrary, she has no balls when it comes to looking bad to the Plantation East homeowners.

  17. Plantation Resident Also says:

    KcK – All the areas you enumerated are near commercial areas or existing apartment areas, not NEAR private homes. The mayor and the council all acted in the best interest of Plantation and the mayor did a fine job speaking in behalf of the residents.

    You are the quintessential complainer. Always whining and never contributing anything positive. Shame on you.

  18. KCK says:

    Plantation Resident,
    You apparently don’t know Park East well do you? The whole area is private homes surrounded by multi-family and commercial. An additional 5 story development would actually fit in well.

    Since I’m the “quintessential complainer”, please explain the positives of 2 – 14 story buildings and 800,000 additional retail space at one of the most congested intersections in our city?

    We are a suburb, let Sunrise make the mistake of trying to be Ft. Lauderdale West with their multi-story dream.

    Let me guess, you think the Tao eyesores look good?

  19. KCK says:

    Sorry to all those who can’t see Armstrong for what she really is.

    Same thing happened in November as well. BTW, how’s that hope and spare change thing working out for you????

  20. Plantation Resident Also says:

    KcK – You’re confusing me. You think TAO is an eyesore, but a 5-story building next to homes is good?

    I know Plantation East very very well. I have friends there and drive around quite often.

    Years ago, Plantation designated a “Downtown” and “Midtown” section, and the constructions were in these zones.

    Speaking of which, my many friends at the Acres hate looking up and seeing the TAO buildings.

    So, in your opinion, if a developer proposes a 5-story building over at the empty lot at Broward and Hiatus, that it’ll be good?

    KcK. admit it, you’re arguments are all over. You just don’t like the mayor. But you don’t really believe in anything worthwhile. You will on whine and whine and talk like you care.

    Hope and spare change comment speaks volume of the kind of person you are.