Rodstrom Lobbying For Bond Deal In Sunrise


The county commissioner who proposed tough new restrictions governing lobbyists is himself lobbying for a bond deal in Sunrise.

County Commissioner John Rodstrom says there is no conflict:

“I won’t vote on anything in Sunrise until the deal is done, Rodstrom says. “There won’t be a conflict.


john rodstrom

John Rodstrom

Rodstrom is one of the county commission’s most outspoken advocates of tougher regulations governing lobbyists.

In April, Rodstrom proposed forbidding the county commissioners from asking lobbyists to donate money to charities.

The reason: Sometime later, commissioners will be asked to vote for the clients of the same lobbyists who did them a favor and gave money to charity.

Quid pro quo.

So far, Rodstrom’s proposal has gone nowhere.

The deal Rodstrom wants to wrangle is part of a Sunrise water and sewer bond issue that could go as high as $400 million.

Rodstrom works for Sterne Agee, the brokerage he landed at in February after being downsized at Wachovia. 

 He has been in the brokerage business most of his life.  Other than Wachovia, Rodstrom has worked at Citibank, Kidder, Peabody and Merrill Lynch. He is a Columbia College graduate and received a law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Brokerage firms like Sterne Agee earn money managing bond sales for government and selling the bonds.

There will be intense competition for the business selling Sunrise’s bonds, Rodstrom notes, and no guarantee Sterne Agee will get the work.

Rodstrom has already jumped into the fray.  He is lobbying Sunrise commissioners to consider his firm.

He started with Commissioner Sheila Alu.  The two had drinks at Bova’s restaurant along Las Olas Boulevard.

sheila alu

Had Drinks With Rodstrom

“My job is to talk to people, to show them the company’s credentials, Rodstrom says.

The firm has been an underwriter on nearly 400 tax-exempt and taxable issues totaling $48.1 billion, according to its website.  Big numbers, but small by Wall Street’s standards. 

It’s particularly impressive that Sterne Agee has been around for more than 100 years, which is no small feat for a broker today.

Rodstrom has long been a bond lobbyist, or public finance marketing specialist, working deals in Broward. 

He tried to get a piece of a recent Hollywood water and sewer bond issue. The work went to another firm.

He has done previous deals at the School Board and in Sunrise.

Rodstrom should have one edge on other bond salesmen in Sunrise:  He was once acting mayor of the city.

Gov. Bob Martinez appointed Rodstrom in 1988 to run the city when the elected Mayor Larry Hoffman was charged with theft.  Hoffman was acquitted and Rodstrom returned to private life after five months. 

Still, Rodstrom will be the only bond  lobbyist seeking the deal whose  picture hangs on the wall in the Sunrise commission chambers.  That should count for something!

9 Responses to “Rodstrom Lobbying For Bond Deal In Sunrise”

  1. sunrise resident says:

    Sunrise is a poltical cesspool and always has been. No wonder they need lobbyists to tell them who to pick. I can believe anything you write about how bad the Sunrise commission is.

  2. Why says:

    This isn’t news, Nevins.
    Wake up Sunrise!
    The commission is corrupt and the mayor is beholden to everybody with money.

  3. Not Clear says:

    Buddy, help me understand this better. What is the difference between lobbying, selling and practicing law? I’m not clear.

    There are professional lobbyists that represent companies before government. They call themselves lobbyists or “government consultants” but what they are really doing is trying to sell officials into buying their client’s goods and services. They are in that business and for many that’s all they do. That part is clear.

    But then there are lawyers who appear to be doing the same thing except they call it practicing law. They’re not suing anyone but they call it lawyering just the same. It could involve getting officials to purchase a client’s services or goods, or asking government for a legislative approval of some kind, or helping a client get a particular law passed. Is that lobbying or practicing law?

    Then there are salesmen who sell goods or services to government as part of their job. They are employed to sell for a living on behalf of their firm or company.

    Is anyone who attempts to sell anything to or extract any approval from government a lobbyist? This term is thrown around so much that I’m not sure what it really means anymore.


    FROM BUDDY: The county commission’s own definition of lobbying is fairly broad: “Lobbying means communicating directly or indirectly, either in person, by telephone, or by letter, or by any other form of communication, on behalf of any other person, with any County Commissioner, or any member of any decision-making body under the jurisdiction of the Board, or any County employee, where the lobbyist seeks to encourage a decision to be made by the Board, a decision to be made by any decision-making body under the jurisdiction of the Board, or a final County procurement decision…”

    Many of the lobbyists are lawyers, including Ron Book, Dennis Mele, Bill Laystrom, Ali Waldman, etc. They are not exempted from the disclosure requirements of the ordinance just because they are lawyers.

  4. Richard J. Kaplan says:

    Just to let you know, it is prohibited in Lauderhill for a County Commissioner to lobby the city.

    I believe all cities should adopt this law. It is the only way the public could ever believe the City Commissioners selected a company that truly should have won.

    Instead City Commissioners will worry about ticking off a county elected official who exercises great power over their city, and the public will have doubt that the public good was truly served.

  5. Jaablaw says:

    I find it tiresome but not surprising that you felt the need to bring up the fact that Sheila Alu “had drinks” on Las Olas. Not just had lunch or a meeting but “had drinks”. Your loyalty towards Judge Gardiner is showing.

    FROM BUDDY: As of the writing of the piece, Alu was the only one Rodstrom had met. He is scheduling the others for meetings.

  6. Follow Up says:

    Buddy, it does sound like a broad definition. If you are a salesperson employed directly by a company to sell goods or services to government, does doing your job make you a lobbyist? Most would not think so yet under so broad a definition they might be.

    Here’s my point. John Rodstrom is employed by a firm that sells bonds to cities. It is his job to sell cities. Does that make him a lobbyist? Further, the question remains what the definition of lobbyist is in Sunrise. The writer above talks about special rules in Lauderhill that other cities don’t have. This suggests that every city gets to define this for themselves. What’s the rule in Sunrise?

    FROM BUDDY: I believe they are amending the definition.

    At the point that anyone who sells goods or services to government is deemed a “lobbyist” then I think that’s not quite what the average American would expect.

    It sounds like this issue requires some clearer definitions. Otherwise we are lumping things together that may not be at all alike.

  7. Ethics Commission says:

    Rodstrom appears to bend over backwards to obey the law. In addition to not voting for any item involving city he is involved with as an investment banker, he told us on the Ethics Commission that he also will not vote on any item promoted by any lobbyist giving him a campaign contribution for a month after the contribution was received. He also said that he never serves on any selection committee involving the financial industry.
    The entire county commission should be like him.

  8. Resident says:

    Then he shouldn’t solicit business from any of the cities in Broward County that he represents or has power over. Otherwise he is potentially using his elected position for his personal gain.

  9. If says:

    County commissioners in their real lives have to make a living just like everybody else. So if the rule becomes that no county commissioner can solicit business, then you will end up with only retired or rich people on the county commission. That is not democracy. Commissioners can influence more than just cities, they can influence individual businesses and people also. It is a powerful position but they play a necessary public role.

    I think the public can tell when an elected official is using their public authority for personal gain, we don’t like that, and we throw those types out of office.

    Democracy is a beautiful thing but it has flaws just like all systems have flaws. Nobody is going to fix those flaws without making democracy worse. It is the very liberty that causes ethical concerns that democracy exists to protect.

    The price we pay for the liberties we enjoy is the duty to manage our human imperfections and keep them in check.