Update: Weston Spends Thousands To Kill The Commons


Despite overwhelming support in Weston for The Commons shopping and office complex, City Hall has spent tens of thousands of tax dollars attempting to kill it.

Some lobbyists hired by Weston have contracts with the city that pays them huge bonuses if they are successful.

The Florida Legislature prohibits success fees as do many Florida governments.  Of course, in the pay-for-play world of Broward County government, they are allowed. 

The Broward County Commission considers approving The Commons on Tuesday. 

In an article on lobbyists’ fees in the Daily Business Review, Robert Meyers, executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, explained why he believed such bonuses are wrong:  “Success fees exert undue influence.

The bulk of the lobbying by Weston was done by lobbyists in Washington and Tallahassee. 

Their goal: To stop The Commons.

This would be accomplished by encouraging the Florida and federal highway officials to prohibit any changes to the Interstate 75 exit at Royal Palm Boulevard to accommodate the project.

All this opposition is being paid for despite surveys showing that Weston residents would provide the bulk of The Commons’ customers. 

The 152-acre upscale shopping, dining and office center is planned for the east side of the I-75 at the Royal Palm Boulevard interchange — directly across the higway from Weston. 

“That’s the reason we want to locate The Commons near Weston.  Those are our customers, said Ron Book, a lobbyist for the project.

That makes sense.  Nobody is going to spend $100s million if they don’t see gold in those homes and apartment of tony Weston.

Representatives of Turnberry Associates, developers of The Commons, say polls done for them consistently show that Weston residents overwhelmingly approve of the project.  

Jodie Siegel, chief development counsel of The Commons, said developers had received 2,833 letters, e-mails and calls supporting construction of the project almost 70 percent from Weston residents.

Still, the Weston City Commission is dead set against the project, stating is would clog the community’s streets with traffic.

Last year, commissioners gave an open check book to the city administrator to hire any lobbyists he could to kill the project.

Some of this opposition I believe is petty revenge on the part of Weston.  Commissioners have long griped about the stretch of car dealerships in Davie along the east side of Weston Road. 

Weston didn’t want the car dealerships, but Davie wouldn’t listen.  Now its payback time.  

A lobbying firm run by an ex-Pennsylvania congressman and the former deputy in the Commerce Department was hired.  They got a $10,000 retainer from Weston taxpayers.  And they were promised a $50,000 success fee if they prevented any alteration to the I-75 interchange.

A lobbying firm run by the former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director estimated in its contract it would cost Weston up to $75,000 to stop the project with highway officials in Washington.  The firm was hired and has already sent the city invoices that reach that level.

A Tallahassee lobbying firm has been receiving between $5,500 and $6,000 a month.

“The point of these agreements is to be an obstacle to helping alleviate traffic.  They are obstructions, Book said. 

Whether this is good way to spend money in a recession is up to Weston residents to decide.  After all, there is always an election for city commissioners just over the horizon. 

7 Responses to “Update: Weston Spends Thousands To Kill The Commons”

  1. Weston Resident says:

    I had NO idea of all of this money being spent! This is ridiculous! We could not even have our fireworks and holiday lights. Don’t we get a say???

  2. Say yes to the Commons - say no to Weston's spending says:

    Is this the way our money is being spent? It is a shame that we voted for people that are more concerned about spending all this unnecessary money to defeat a project. We are not dealing with honest City Commissioners who have the City’s best interests in mind, we are dealing with people who are throwing away taxpayer’s monies because they decided they don’t like a project. What about what the people want? This project will be a gift if it creates jobs and helps to save our homes. It is time for us to have our voices heard. We either need to get the City Commissioners to stop spending our money or get them removed from office. These payoffs should not be allowed!!!

  3. David says:

    Of course the story is skewed to the favor or the Commons and completely avoids discussing the real issue at hand. The issue for Weston is one of Taxes and Services provided. The Commons will be in Davie paying Davie taxes for Weston services. That is THE problem for Weston residents. Of course, they would enjoy the fine shopping and dining… but they will pay for it in tax dollars for the increase in Weston services.

    What needs to be addressed is an approach to share tax dollars from the Commons to address the increase in required Weston services. These include: road maintenance, Police, Fire and other services. Some may be designated as “Broward” Services… but they are paid for by Weston.

    I sure hope that a resolution is reached. The issue is not about having the Commons fail, or not open.. it is about being fair to Weston residents.

  4. Heather Peters says:

    This just angers me to no end. Among the millions of other reasons that make Florida so UN-appealing…to find out that my hard earned money is being spent in this fashion is the icing on the cake. Quality,affordable,commerical sites in the surrounding areas of Weston are much needed in my eyes-just look at all the “For Lease” signs in the windows of the Weston storefronts. How about supporting our small business owners?

  5. Politically Correct says:

    I am glad that I am not a Weston resident.

  6. Weston Resident says:

    Upon reading the few replies of which I know there will be more, just another reason to finally say I’m done with Weston.

    I have lived here for 13 years and have disliked every moment. Weston never offered my the luxuries I could afford, but it always increased my taxes.I am a snob, and the reason for being in Weston was the schools. Now the schools are just as overcrowed as ever and the dilemma now is the same as before. Send my children to private school.I moved to Weston to avoid the need for private school. Well we finally decided that Cypress Bay being a great,great school, also is the most crowded high school in the country, yes country, that private school is the better option. So now we can finally leave.
    I have been here when Weston had a certain mystique, which is all gone. Yes we had great home values, but that all changing. Weston had so many people moving into the neighborhood, trying to make a fast buck, that those people dont even belong here. They dont spend money in the area, can barely pay their taxes muchless the morgatge.Why dont we look at how many residents are behind on their fees to their associations. And forget english being the primary language. I am starting to feel like a foreigner in my own neighborhood.

    Weston spends money on an quarterly report that must cost a fortune. I would love to see who owns the printing company. It has to trace back to someone on the Weston Commission. Just look at the lousy offerings from our cable company, that was rammed down our throats for another 10 years. Even if you dont want the service, you pay $35.00-$40.00 per month on your city of Sunrise water bill for advanced cable. We can not even get a decent “On Demand” offering. With Comcast every television show is available on Demand. Wow, we have HBO, MAX, A&E and movies.

    I understand the need for Weston and Davie to come togeather to find common ground to allow the Commons to exist. Yes I agree, i dont like car alley on Weston Road. But I believe the Commons are correct, this shopping center would be fabulous and our area needs an exclusive shopping center. If the Commons is built, we can really call Town Center the disaster it really is.

    For those that question why not help the local shop owners, I would if they would offer something that I would buy, and then when I go in, the sales associate cannot speak english and its my fault that I leave. I get that nose thing, like huh. For crying out-load, how does Weston survive without a decent Deli and bagel shop. And I am not talking about bread with a hole, and Toaster and Roaster doesnt cut the mustard. I will tell you why, becuase what makes Avenutra, Boca Hollywood, Ft.Laudedale, Coral Spring and Parkland successful, is not the demographics of Weston anymore.

    Commons I would love to see your shopping center be built, but I do believe that you should redo your study. Davie wants you, and I dont blame them. Weston watch out, home values are dropping and nows the best chance to finally get out of here. You are no longer catering to my needs, and I might sell my house for less money, but now I can get a better deal now moving to one of the towns I just mentioned and portability tax issues make it easy. Hey we lost our star quarterback, Mr. Mario. I believe he lives in Parkland or Jupiter now. But we did get his Anthony’s Pizza.
    Weston is going to need to traffic and exposure that the “Commons”, because it is of my opionion, that Weston is on a downward spiral. The true visionaries of Weston are no longer living here.

    Commons, this might be a blessing. The people that make Aventura and Boca sucessful, are moving out of Weston. Its not the same melting pot your reports show. Take the time to re-evaluate and possibly redo your Commons Study. The people in Weston donot support the locals, so you better be dead on.

    Weston, I am sorry. If your not living in Windmill or the Country Club, and belong to the club, then I feel like I am in another country. I am tired of constantly going somewere else to do my dining and shopping and laslty I want a neighborhood that nows how to communicate what I want not what the council wants. Hey if you just leave Weston and go to anywere outside of its domain, you can even save yourself $.10-$.15 per gallon on your gas. Think the property taxes are high here.

    I started above saying I am a snob, but some of the things I have said, others feel, they just dont voice themselves. Good luck Weston, I am going to spend my tax money in an area that really wants me. Weston just wants one thing your tax money. With that Weston offers the cleanest, one of the safest and well serviced neighborhoods you could want. But it is not intune with what it will need to keep me here. For what we pay to live in Weston, I can live in alot of other neighborhoods that dont tell me to use a garbadge can that so friken big that it screws up how I park my cars in my gargage and we have already been cited for keeping the garbadge can outside, that it canot be kept out of neighbors view. Give a break, what was wrong with my rubbermade.

    Sorry for the mispelling, and apparently I have some pent up frustration living in Weston. Now that we have to spend the money on private school, I feel like I finally got a get out of Jail Card, and my wife says she hasnt seen me this happy in 13 years.

    Weston, I sound like its good riddens if you dont want to live here. The silver lining in all this is that the housing prices have dropped to make it now affordable to leave. What is replacing me is not going to put up with your council. There is an arrogance moving into Weston that make me a piece of cake. Watch out.

  7. Ellis Traub says:

    The erstwhile Mayor of Weston is oblivious to the real world! It’s apparent that a) he believes that, if the residents of his town are wealthy enough to want to be able to shop at an upscale city center like The Commons and support the project, he can afford to use their plentiful tax money to deprive them of the privilege, b) he’s miffed only because he can’t add the revenues from The Commons to those the town receives from the commercial development they’ve jammed onto Weston Road without, themselves, having given any consideration to the very same issues they’re raising now, and c) the issue of fairness is bogus because the impact of traffic from the project will be virtually imperceptable. Most of what little traffic increase is anticipated will be from Weston residents, and most Davie residents using Weston’s roads spend their money in Weston.

    Davie is “downstream” of Weston, so while the traffic movement from Weston eastbound to Ft. Lauderdale goes through Davie, there’s doggone little traffic wanting to travel westbound to see where Weston meets the Everglades!