Strange History Of A Fort Lauderdale Candidate (And His Wife)

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

 

New Year’s Day is when we look back at events of the past year.

Browardbeat.com is changing that traditional game plan. We are looking back at the history of a Fort Lauderdale Commission candidate.

* 2012: Walter Duke, the darling of the development industry in this month’s south Fort Lauderdale City Commission race, was involved in a controversy involving fraudulent voting. He was never formally accused of any crime.

Duke at the time was a Dania Beach commissioner. He since has moved to Fort Lauderdale and almost immediately began running for a commission seat in his new home.

Broward has a number of smallish communities where City Hall is divided into angry, feuding factions. Dania Beach has long been one of those places.

While he was on the commission, Duke was a lightning rod. People loved him or really, really hated him.

Frequently at Duke’s side was his politically-active wife, Lisa Duke. She, too, was a controversial figure.

 

Walter Duke and Lisa Duke

 

 

In the Fall of 2012, the Broward Sheriffs Office investigated 332 names of voters in a probe of absentee voting in the August primary. The investigation began after complaints that huge numbers of primary absentees were collected and dropped off at the Supervisor of Elections.

During the investigation, rumors swept City Hall that Lisa Duke had been involved in gathering illegal ballots. The talk sparked a Channel 10 story which flatly stated that Lisa Duke had turned in six illegal ballots — five from felons and one from a dead person.

Walter Duke sent out an unusual news release on Dania Beach stationery defending his wife.

 

 

Browardbeat.com and then the Sun-Sentinel wrote about the unusual defense. Here is the Browardbeat.com link.

*2014: Walter Duke was the target of a Channel 10 story a series of reports after the mayor and Commissioner Bobbie Grace refused to excuse Dania Beach Vice Mayor Chickie Brandimarte from a commission meeting.

Brandimarte was in the hospital recovering from surgery and at one point was in the intensive care unit. She recovered and remains on the commission.

According to the city charter, the vice mayor could be removed from office if she misses another commission meeting.

Duke refused to tell Channel 10 why he didn’t vote to excuse the absence.

Channel 10’s piece is linked here. 

Maybe all this is an indication that Duke could fit right in on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.

He’s thin skinned, as proven six years ago by his response to the news story on his wife. The current commission is known as a clutch of prima donnas.

He’s combative, as proven four years ago by his attempts to throw an ill opponent off the commission while she was hospitalized four years ago. Current Mayor Jack Seiler hasn’t gone that far. But he is campaigning for Commissioner Bruce Roberts who is running against Commissioner Dean Trantalis, a Seiler commission opponent.

Based on his past, Duke will make a perfect commissioner….if voters want to turn Fort Lauderdale City Hall into Dania Beach.



15 Responses to “Strange History Of A Fort Lauderdale Candidate (And His Wife)”

  1. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    I was at the supervisor of elections off.when his wife dropped off rhose ballots.Yes.Ni one questioned her etc.She xame in dropped rhem off faster than a gal takes off the prom dress in prom night.You are right about him.One thing going for him is because he is sooo cozy with the developers he will maje deals for better-meant if the district.In other words he will state to the developers ok u want to build rhis or that in return i want this or that for my district.Residents in this district go with Duke.You are right Buddy about him all the more reason to vote for him….

  2. A reader says:

    Here’s hoping history does not repeat itself. Fort Lauderdale does not need another prima donna who cannot be civil to other commissioners and the public.
    As for the wife: is the word “ethics” or the word “honesty” in her vocabulary?

  3. poetic justice says:

    while we are on the topic of nepotism…. and two powerful politicos in one family, how do you feel about father and daughter teams?? Those in the know are saying that Howie Fink., is running his daughter for PD when he retires in a few years? (You must already know that, due to your friendship with Howie). His daughter is a PD in Miami, she’s 27, right? Her name is FINKLESTEIN. He says, he’s banking on name recognition to carry her through, probably a safe bet.

    FROM BUDDY:

    This is the first time I’ve heard that Howard Finkelstein is supporting his daughter Shayna Finkelstein for public defender. Until I hear it from Howard, I won’t believe it.

  4. Julie Berry says:

    Buddy,
    I remember when Frank Herhold asked me to have lunch with Walter and Lisa probably 5 years ago. Frank had such high respect for both of them. We talked of an issue in Dania and he was very clear that the welfare of the residents was first and foremost. The lack of substance on the post gives me pause. I have gotten to know Walter and Lisa in business through the years but mostly in community involvement. Besides the fact that I have seen both of them attending community meetings and sessions 24/7 and working tirelessly. I’ve also seen the passion they have for the people. Lisa is involved and supportive and intelligent. She probably intimidates people because she is a force. I feel that our community benefits from her involvement, as well. She is a wonderful person. I am not friends with either of them and have never socialized with them. I have just gained respect for their level of involvement and support for our community. Have you ever had lunch with them? Try doing so. I believe moving forward is good as I truly see the benefit of Walter’s leadership and representation of our community.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Julie Berry

  5. Sturman and Glassman should win says:

    Buddy, it will be interesting to see what the voter turnout is for this election. There are clear cut candidate choices that are opposite the attitude and direction of the current pro development commission, and there are candidates such as Duke, Sorenson, Roberts and Smith, that will continue the pro lobbyist and pro development direction. Duke, Sorenson, and Smith have all told the Sun Sentinel that Bahia Mar was a terrible deal for the City, yet Duke and Sorenson refused to speak at the Commission meeting, and Smith spoke in favor of it. Sturman and Glassman are the best choices to remedy the bad choices of the current commission, but it all depends on whether people show up to vote.

  6. Just One Vote says:

    There are still isolated pockets of desirable affluent neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, and they are in District 2 and 4, east of Federal/US 1 (slightly less so in District 1 but the wife of a Tallahassee elected was so qualified there were no challengers).
    So the lifeblood and future value and desirability of those affluent neighborhoods in 2 and 4 are on the line if the voters elect the wrong candidate. Unless a prudent, homeowner/resident-centric candidate is elected, the cachet of desirable Fort Lauderdale will be lost.
    Permanently.
    This city is on the precipice of either recouping its image and graces, or losing them forever to desirable enclaves in Palm Beach County, and they have their own issues as well. Certainly the transient well healed rental population will come and go at all price points because they are here for a career move, the scene or family, but the luster will be off the pearl.
    Nationally the names of Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Miramar, Coral Springs and Hallandale don’t bring to mind the same iconic recognition, reputation and image of Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood (FL) may ring a bell. And Pompano and Hollywood continually work to unseat Fort Lauderdale from its one of a kind status with no luck. Perception is everything. Perceived value even moreso. The so-called leadership of the last nine years was more detrimental to the city than any other in its 100+years history.
    If you are a registered voter and care about the city in Districts 2, 3 and 4, vote wisely and not for incumbents on the dais today, carpetbaggers looking to step up from Dania Beach or has-beens that miss the power of their former elected office. Voters – carpe diem on January 16.
    A sea change is needed.
    Three years is a long time, and then again, a blink of the eye. Do not squander your vote and with it the future of Fort Lauderdale. If you are not at the mayor debate Thursday January 4, it will reportedly be on a webinar type connection from Sun Sentinel.
    Thank you Buddy for the forum.

  7. Developers for Duke says:

    As I remember, Ms. Berry, don’t you currently, as well as 5 years ago, with Mr. Herhold, work for Stiles Development? Isn’t Stiles one of the largest developers in South Florida? Good try.
    Another good point you raise, just 5 years ago, he’s on the commission in Dania, after living there for a short period of time, and then rolls into Fort Lauderdale running for the city commission from the nano second he moved here.

  8. Tim Smith says:

    I spoke against Bahia Mar on both occasions .. people should tell the truth… Tim

  9. tired of self serving politicians says:

    One of the oddest behaviors of Walter Duke was that of resigning from his commission seat in Dania Beach 9 months before his term ended so he could move into District 4 in Fort Lauderdale. If his reason for serving as a city commissioner is because he loves public service, why didn’t he serve the people who elected him in Dania Beach?

    Another odd behavior of Walter Duke is making statements like ” I will shut the door at City Hall to lobbyists.”. Walter’s campaign treasury reports list campaign donations from 8 lobbyists who are registered with the City of Fort Lauderdale. Where is the truth?

    Walter Duke is indeed the darling of developers. One of his clients is the developer who is completing the Bahia Mar project. One of his clients is the firm who built the 45 story rental complex next to Stranahan House. How can Walter the politician divorce himself from Walter the businessman when his business is dependent on development?

    Residents of Fort Lauderdale, not development companies, need representation on the city commission. And, they need representation from an official who will not resign to to further his own interests.

  10. Julie Berry says:

    Developers for Duke
    Firstly, I do not work for Stiles Develooment. My license is with Stiles Realty however my work is third party and I do not work on any Stiles projects. Secondly, I do not hide my name in my post. I speak openly and personally. I am not speaking on behalf of Stiles or Stiles Develoment. I am a native, live in east Fort Lauderdale, concerned about numerous issues and passionate about the marine industry. Walter’s experience has given him knowledge and a passion to support the marine industry. I wouldn’t consider his consistent posts about the water and sewage issues a pro-development isssue either. Honestly, I just see them everywhere, working hard and getting involved. What is your name and background? I don’t get on these posts often so maybe others know who you are.

  11. Thou protest too much says:

    Oh, so sorry, Stiles Realty, not STILES Dev, so you work for Stiles, no you dont work for Stiles, sounds like political speak to me.
    Ooh, so impressed, you live in East Fort Lauderdale, rather condescending.
    What knowledge exactly, from living in Dave or living in Dania?
    So you are interested in development as a realtor or kinda sorta working for STILES or not?
    No need to respond i no longer wish to discuss, i have heard enough.

  12. Developers for Duke says:

    My goodness Ms. Berry, curiosity got the best of me and i googled your name. Wow, Senior Vice President Stiles Corporation/Principal. And here i was buying into that third party political speach.
    Or is that another Julie Berry in East Fort Lauderdale.

  13. Julie Berry says:

    Thank you for googling me. I would like to google your name, too. This is my last response as I really can’t reply to someone is too afraid to reveal themselves. Yes, I supported Walter. I have never seen the other district candidates and I am quite involved. I haven all of the other commissioners and Walter. Also, my last and very important comment I must make. I am proud to be with Stiles. I would never hide it. When I talk to people, there is immediate credibility. Terry Stiles was a successful developer who did more for this city as a non politician than most anyone! He worked tirelessly to lead commmittees and fly around the country for meetings for the betterment of our city, even when he was ill. He spoke at events up to a two months before he died. That’s passion. It is people with the drive of these “self serving” developers who make things happen. And “self serving” attorneys. And self serving “citizens. And “self serving” auto dealers and….. Thank God for Terry with his vision who dedicated his time to these efforts which did not benefit him directly in any way. In fact, some created conflict that took him out of being able to get business but it was his passion to see our area improve. He was an honorable man. Thank God for Jack Seiler, Bruce Roberts, Dean Trantalis, Robert McKenzie and Romney Rogers who are willing to forfeit their personal lives and loss of work for our community. Terry Stiles was driven, he had a vision you may not care for but it changed our city to a thriving beautiful city and his son Ken is carrying on the legacy! And you? My guess is that this blind post must be an opponent post so I will say, though I don’t know you, thank your for your time and willingness to run. I speak personally because living in certain areas of east Fort Lauderdale, we deal with some area specific issues. Yet certain development is beneficial to the city. It’s the balance between the two that’s difficult. I would rather hear your thoughts than your comments just trashing the opponent. But I don’t know you or what you have done. I see Walter out there everywhere. Only Walter has reached out and asked for opinions and how he can benefit and also for support. That’s why I support him. I would like to hear your thoughts though. If you are running and looked me up, please contact me and let’s meet.

    FROM BUDDY:

    In my opinion, Terry Stiles did more than any politician. He had a love for the community. Many of the out-of-town developers only see Fort Lauderdale as a pay check. Terry Stiles saw it as home.

  14. Tired of self serving politicians says:

    @13
    You say:
    “Only Walter has reached out and asked for opinions and how he can benefit and also for support.”

    That is exactly the problem with Walter Duke,. He wants to know how HE can benefit. 100% of his household income comes from development. He and his wife both work at the same company. He is everywhere looking for business from developers, not looking to represent residents.

  15. I Witnessed It All says:

    When Walter Duke first ran for Dania Beach City Commission, he became a candidate before he even moved his voter registration to Dania Beach. Prior to becoming a candidate himself, he had NEVER VOTED in ANY municipal election in any city where he lived.
    During his re-election campaign in 2012, he got into a verbal altercation with a Dania Beach constituent, and hit him so hard that welts were raised on the victim’s flesh. If this sounds unreal, there is a Hollywood Police Report as well as a Broward State Attorney’s investigative report.
    Lest Mr. Duke claim that the report exonerated him because charges were not filed; the State Attorney’s Office declined to press charges because the attack occurred “in the heat of the moment.” Go figure that one out.
    So, Walter Duke is not just out only for himself, and the darling of developers. He is a sadist who assaulted a constituent, and tried to get a fellow Dania Beach Commissioner (then age 77) kicked off the City Commissionwhile she was in Intensive Care!
    And let’s not forget the dead voter!

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