Tourism Industry Retirement Could Trigger Political Upheaval








A change in South Florida tourism is looming and could trigger an upheaval in Broward County politics.

Nicki Grossman, who has run the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for two decades, is considering retirement.


nicki grossman

Nicki Grossman


Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon, she tells

Her departure comes at a crossroads for South Florida tourism. With Cuba looming as a fierce future competitor, the struggle to keep tourists dollars flowing to Miami and Fort Lauderdale will be intense.

Cruise ships could move their homeports to Havana, damaging the economic base of local ports.

Airport traffic could fade as tourist may fly to Cuba directly, bypassing South Florida.

New ideas will have to be proposed. Just counting on age-old lure of sun and beaches will not work anymore since Cuba has both and is a fresh exotic destination.

So any new director of the Broward tourism bureau will be fighting a defensive battle.

Grossman, 69, will be a tough act to follow.

As bureau director for two decades, she enticed more upscale visitors to the area. She reached out to black and LGBT tourists. She encouraged numerous new hotels.

Taking the job in 1995, the razor sharp and media savvy Grossman was a shrewd Hollywood and County Commission veteran from a political family. She put all her political skills to work for tourism.

  • Her father was Malvin “Mal” Englander, a Miami Beach councilman and vice mayor in the 1960s, plus a well-known lawyer. He died earlier this year at 94.
  • Her husband Mel Grossman was elected a Broward Circuit Judge in 1978, the same year Nicki Grossman won her first term on the Hollywood City Commission. He retired this year.
  • Her sister Patti Englander Henning was a Broward County judge from 1981 to 1985 and a circuit judge since then.

Nicki – she is one of those public figures who everybody knows by her first name – was first elected to the Hollywood Commission in 1978.

She won a seat on the Broward County Commission four years later, in 1982.

A decade later she lost an ultra nasty, scorch-and burn campaign for Congress to Peter Deutsch. That 1992 election was most notable because portions of the voting in Dade County were delayed due to Hurricane Andrews.

Then she became Broward’s tourism czar, a job from which she will soon retire.

Here is what has local pols whispering:

County Commissioner Stacy Ritter wants to replace Grossman, according to numerous Government Center sources.

Ritter only would say, “I’m running for re-election.”

But if Ritter is picked by Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry to replace Grossman and cancels her re-election, it will kick off a struggle for the open commission seat.

“I would hope Stacy would stay there. She’s done a good job,” Mayor Michael Udine of Parkland says. “If Stacy doesn’t run, I’m definitely running.”

Then the dominoes begin to fall because Udine’s seat would be open.

Udine most likely will not be the only one to consider an open commission seat if Ritter moves on.

So there is a lot more than the future of tourism at stake in who is next to lead the bureau, with its roughly $50 million annual budget from the convention center and bed tax dollars. Political futures could be affected, too.





18 Responses to “Tourism Industry Retirement Could Trigger Political Upheaval”

  1. hackme says:

    Udine is weak and totally unknown in this county.
    Ritter has proven to be a political self serving creature
    what we need is a worldly multilingual person who can make this region relevant
    It will be difficult to fill Nicki’s shoes! that is for sure

  2. professional says:

    I hope this time we get a professional and not another political hack. Grossman has done an ok job with her limited talent. We can reach our potential with a competitive process. Look at the failed attempt to get a convention hotel. Glad Grossman is getting out of the way and will enjoy her pension. Is she and her husband in the drop and how much will they get when the cash out? Lets not make a bad choice with the Critter, I mean Ritter.

  3. politics as usual says:

    I really like Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland and Larry Vignola of Coral Springs. They should both also consider running as they are young, energetic and show great leadership potential.

  4. Let Freedman Ring says:

    Any truth to the rumor that Abby Freedman is considering a run for the county commission seat if Ritter doesn’t run? Freedman no longer has children in the public school system and would likely move on from the school board. I would assume Abby would have the full backing of both Stacy and Sheriff Israel as they are all close friends.

  5. What does the position pay? says:

    What does Nikki Grossman earn per year?

  6. Michael Udine says:

    Great. If the speculation plays out I will bring my A game. Always enjoy good elections.

  7. The Guess Who says:

    Weird that Udine wants to replace Stacy yet signed that letter slamming her on uber. Hope he least had the courtesy to call her before it went out.

  8. Confucius says:

    Why is everyone so certain that Ritter would get the appointment at the CVB? so certain that there’s speculation about political dominoes falling?

    Maybe Bertha Henry would be interested in someone whose qualifications go beyond a love of fine dining and travel. Or maybe they would be looking for someone who is able to work well with others, and who would take direction from the county, and who actually has the experience necessary to manage a $20 million budget?

  9. Talks like a politician says:

    @ # 8

    Let’s hope so!

  10. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I moved to Ft Lauderdale and Broward County in 2004 because the antiques, book, coin, and stamp clubs, dealers, and shows in Miami’s Coconut Grove, on Miami Beach and elsewhere in Miami-Dade County were closing while Hollywood, Dania Beach, and Fort Lauderdale had antique, book, coin, and stamp dealers, clubs, and shows. Unlike the non-governmental support with locations and notifications in Miami-Dade, the governments in Broward County actively supported such activities for residents and tourists. Today, not exactly NADA, but close to NADA!
    The tourist development has been un-imaginative, boring, and, frankly like too many government offlicials, Yetta-based and focused when not aimed at the high value tourist who in fact has long been replaced with the foreigner looking to safeguard his wealth with a US home in Florida.
    Too much Broward Resort Tax money goes to purely non-Tourist and way back West from the Tourist Areas of the Coastal Cities projects that have ZERO TOURISTS’ INTEREST! but plenty of political support both on the County Commission and in local city halls.
    The next “Tourist Czar” should NOT BE YET ANOTHER POLITICAL HACK, and certainly not the TOTALLY UNQUALIFIED STACEY RITTER, but someone from a MARKETING BACKGROUND. You certainly need someone with Latin American and European economic and cultural knowledge – THAT LETS OUT NEARLY ANYONE IN POLITICAL LIFE IN THIS COUNTY! – but a “creative” “marketing flare” is ESSENTIAL! They don’t need to be UNDER 40, BUT CERTAINLY WITH THE ABILITY TO WORK WITH YOUNGER PEOPLE AT THE VERY LEAST!

  11. Golden opportunity says:

    @ #5

    The pay is about $250k salary with benefits of another 90k or about $340,000.

    But the retirement can be the key. If it is someone with years of service in the state pension plan, they get a chance to pump up past years service at the higher rate.

    I estimate Nicki and her husband will get about $1,000,000 in their drop accounts and about $400,000 per year in retirement.

    So Ritter with years of service in the legislature and county commission, after serving five years at CVB, would have her years of service pension based on the 250k salary and not the 100k of a county commissioner.

    Pump it up!

  12. YOURE WRONG says:

    @5 & 11 – It is public record.. Nicki Grossman after being in the position for 20 years is currently getting paid $177,000, not $250,000.

  13. Squandered potential says:

    Remember in the early 90s when Ritter and Debbie were the future of the Democratic Party of Florida. The Florida Senate, Congress, Statewide office, the sky was the limit. Debby lived up to her potential and Stacy…a career on the Broward County Commission and now has to beg Bertha Heny to be tourism czar. She was early in with Obama and couldn’t capitalize it into anything. I guess it’s not all bad, she has Table 1 at the Cook and Cork plus a golf cart.

  14. No Vote says:


    These next three comments by the anonymous “No Vote” and “Vote No See Article” were off topic. So you don’t see them here.

    This post was about Nicki Grossman, the tourist council and the possible effect on politics. It is not about the far-right McCarthyite fantasies of some fanatics about Sheriff Scott Israel.

    Try to stay somewhere near the topic, folks.

  15. Sam The Sham says:

    This county pretty much gets the government it deserves. I predict we will get another “Perfumed Princess” instead of someone competent and professional.

    Poor Nicki needed a job 20 years ago and the commission felt sorry for her and got her appointed to her cushy job with a lavish lifestyle. The same will happen this time where connections are more important than merit and ability.

    It is like the parrot in the dirty joke said, ” Same whorehouse, different girls.”

  16. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Why when I asked Miss Henry a question about the county’s policy on a major issue she told me 14 years ago the County made a decision that binds us forever and I distinctly remembered Mr Nevins writing here on this blog my city Ft Lauderdale ‘ mindless over development in the Beach was – my paraphrase of his comments – baked in 20 or more years ago, and now Mr Sham intimates because an unqualified failed candidate for Congress more than a generation ago got the top tourist job, now another politically failure has to get because Broward lives Topol!

  17. woopsiedoo says:

    Ritter lacks the sophistication and class necessary to be the tourism czar in broward county. we are already in the shadows of dade county. why wouldnt we find someone really qualified to take this county to the next level? this county is out of control with county staff retiring after they manage to screw the citizens for many years in the future. dont let them do it with such an important post.

  18. Maybe! says:

    Of course Ritter wants it! She will resign her position right now if Grossman left today! What else will she do when term limited? This position comes up every 20 years pays well and she will not loose relevance in the political scene in Broward. Who wouldn’t want it.


    Ritter is not facing term limits. She has another possible four-year term starting in 2016, if she wins re-election.