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Broward History

In addition to the State of Florida and the City of Fort Lauderdale, Galt Mile residents are subject to the jurisdictional regulations and standards of Broward County. Nine district County Commissioners take turns exercising Mayoral prerogative for rotating one-year terms. Charles "Chip" LaMarca ably represents the Galt Mile community on the County Commission. County government actions and intentions are monitored, evaluated and revealed here. Of course, a priority concern to Galt Mile residents is the value of their homes. Another county institution, the Broward County Property Appraiser’s office, determines the property values that serve as the basis for our tax obligation as well as our equity access. Appraiser Lori Parrish is hungry for input. She wants to know what’s on your mind. In the B.C.P.A. page, she answers queries by county residents about appraisals, “Save our Homes” amendment concerns and an assortment of important tax exemptions. If the answer to your question isn’t there, just Ask Lori!

Click to Broward County Web Site
BROWARD COUNTY
Comparable to the ecosystems blanketing South Florida, Broward County’s prehistory is remarkably rich. Skeletal remains of big-game hunters who lived 10,000 years ago have been found as near as Vero Beach on the east coast and Charlotte Harbor on the west. Indians designated by archaeologists as “Archaic”, Broward’s first permanent residents, turned to a diversified pattern of hunting and gathering from 4,000 to 2,000 years ago. The major village of Tequesta, near the mouth of Miami River, probably was not more than a couple of centuries old when the Spanish visited it in 1567. While the Tequesta and Calusa Indians successfully resisted European imperialistic agendas, they succumbed to the diseases with which they were “gifted” by the Spanish. When the Spanish ceded Florida to Great Britain at the end of the French and Indian War, the roughly 80 remaining Indians in southeast Florida left for Havana in 1763. Following the American Revolution, the British ceded the area back to Spain in the Treaty of Paris after holding sway for only 20 years.

Ohio Born Frank Stranahan
FRANK STRANAHAN
Enter - from the Bahamas - the Robbinses: Joseph, and his wife and daughter moved to the south side of the New River, possible just above the mouth of Tarpon River. Farming farther upstream were the Lewises: Surlie, Frankee and at least two children who, like Robbins, were British. Although the Spanish feared that they were a fifth column for a possible British reoccupation of the peninsula, in 1793 Spain was too preoccupied with preparing for war with France to evacuate the settlers. The United States obtained Florida from Spain in 1821. Colonel James Gadsden, who conducted the first survey in 1825 of today’s Broward County, was not impressed. A road would be impractical, he wrote, because “the population of the route will probably never be sufficient to contribute to [its maintenance], while the inducements to individuals to keep up the necessary ferries will scarcely ever be adequate.” ...not exactly a visionary.

Railroad Magnate Henry M. Flagler
HENRY M. FLAGLER
Resentful of being pushed southward by settlers who coveted their rich north Florida pastures, Seminole Indians attacked and killed Major Francis L. Dade and 104 of his 107 officers and men in an ambush north of Tampa that set off the Second Seminole War on December 28, 1835. After three years of skirmishes, a force of Tennessee Volunteers and army regulars, commanded by Major William Lauderdale, established a stockade on New river. Not surprisingly, he named it after himself, thus establishing Fort Lauderdale. After the war, Seminoles who had escaped “relocation” (internment) to Oklahoma had the area pretty much to themselves for the next 50 years, where they cultivated gardens in Pine Island, west of present-day Davie, and roamed the Everglades in search of game. By 1891, enough settlers arrived to justify a post office and the Bay Stage Line, operating over a shell-rock road between Hypoluxo at the south end of Lake Worth and Lemon City, now part of Miami. Passengers on the two-day trip stopped overnight at New River, where they stayed at an overnight camp run by an Ohioan named Frank Stranahan.

Former Florida Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward
GOVERNOR NAPOLEON
BONAPARTE BROWARD
When Henry M. Flagler learned that Miami was unaffected by the great freeze of February 1895, he decided to extend his railroad south from Palm Beach, reaching the New River by February 22, 1896. Realizing that he needed to lure paying passengers to South Florida, Flagler’s land companies sought immigrants from both North and South. Swedes from the Northeast formed the nucleus of Hallandale, and Danes from the Midwest founded Dania. Southern farmers, lured by better land and milder winters, joined the Danes and Swedes and founded Pompano and Deerfield. Southern and Bahamian blacks did much of the fieldwork. Dania became the area’s first incorporated community in 1904, followed by Pompano in 1908 and Fort Lauderdale in 1911. Formed from portions of Dade and Palm Beach counties in 1915, Broward was named for a former Florida governor who drained the Everglades to open land for development, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward. After World War I, the county’s population went from 5,135 to 14,242 between 1920 and 1925 for a gain of 9,107. This first land boom actualized the area’s value as a tourism destination.

Joseph Young - Architect of the City of Hollywood
JOSEPH W. YOUNG
In the 1920s, Joseph W. Young turned a low-lying tract between Hallandale and Dania into his dream city of Hollywood-by-the-Sea. The lakes, the broad boulevard, the eastern golf course and the traffic circle were all part of Young’s master plan. By 1925, charters were granted to Hollywood, Deerfield, Davie, and Floranada, north of Fort Lauderdale. Early in 1926 Hollywood absorbed both Dania and the unincorporated Hallandale community. To handle the transportation-dependent influx, the Seaboard Coast Line was extended southward toward Miami. Northern newspapers crashed the speculative market by painting a hurricane’s flattening of Hollywood as a world class disaster, predating the Depression by three years. In 1927 Dania regained its independence, Hallandale became a city and Floranada, shorn of much of its territory, was reincorporated as Oakland Park. On December 19, 1939, the British cruiser “Orion” chased the German freighter “Arauca” into Port Everglades, where she remained until 1941 when seized by the United States. As far as Broward’s future was concerned, however, the most significant thing about the war was the plethora of training bases that were established. Every airfield in the county, plus the future site of Broward Community College’s central campus became a World War II training facility.

1926 Hurricane Flattens Hollywood - Crushes Burgeoning Real Estate Market
1926 HURRICANE FLATTENS HOLLYWOOD
In the 30 years from 1940 to 1970, Fort Lauderdale’s population shot from 17,996 to 139,590. Hollywood went from 6,239 to 106,873; Pompano Beach from 4,427 to 38,587; and Hallandale from 1,827 to 23,849. Plantation, which was just getting started in 1950, had grown to 23,523 by 1970. Thousands of servicemen stationed in Broward were permanently infatuated by the fantasy lifestyle they tasted. Hillsboro Beach, Hacienda Village and Wilton Manors were added by 1947. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea was next in 1951, followed by Plantation and Lazy Lake in 1953; Margate and Miramar, 1955; Lighthouse Point, 1956; Pembroke Park, 1957; Lauderhill, Cooper City, Sea Ranch Lakes, and Pembroke Pines, 1959; Sunrise, Davie, and Lauderdale Lakes, 1961; North Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Parkland, and Tamarac, 1963; and Coconut Creek, 1967. In 1974, after the county’s population soared toward a million, the speculator-driven hot South Florida market again became the victim of a recession which swept the nation. In 1976, the market revived and the 50,000 unsold condominium units were finally absorbed. A new county charter gave Broward’s government broad powers to monitor and improve the quality of life and the environment. Passage of the 1977 Land Use Plan limited urban sprawl and helped insure that the area’s natural, economic and social resources would be balanced against growth. Following a twenty-year lull, growth exploded again after the Millenium. Fueled by dollars relocated from the deflated equities market and foreign investment due to the weak dollar, Broward’s current real estate boom has also been superheated by unrestrained speculation. Some industry consultants envision a “best case scenario” as one in which the current overdevelopment is reasonably absorbed in 2006. Some, however, don’t anticipate this “soft landing”. Broward’s 1.7 million residents anxiously await the conclusion of this chapter! So do I.

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Click to Swim Central Web Page Click to Swim Central Web Page October 11, 2014 - The 2014 General Election Ballot contains two questions raised by Broward County, one sponsored by the Broward Board of County Commissioners and one sponsored by the Broward School Board. Given the ethical tar pit that serves as the Broward County Commission’s historical bioniche (along with numerous County agencies); approving these initiatives without some measure of insight is tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. Inasmuch, the below review contains the official title and ballot summary (as featured on the actual ballot) - along with a brief diagnosis of the issues surrounding each voter “inquiry”.

REFERENDUM FROM BROWARD COUNTY COMMISSION;
Passage requires 50% plus 1 vote

Ballot Title: REAUTHORIZATION OF THE CHILDREN’S SERVICES COUNCIL OF BROWARD COUNTY

Official Ballot Summary: Shall the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, which provides early learning and reading skills, after school programs, developmental health, preventive, and other children’s support services in Broward County, be reauthorized to continue in existence as a district with voter-approved taxing authority, with independent oversight and accountability as required by law, and shall not be subject to reauthorization by referendum.

Below the Radar

Click to Children's Services Council of Broward In short, the Children’s Services Council of Broward County is asking whether taxpayers should assume that the Council will always perform productively; and therefore allow the agency to be automatically funded in perpetuity free of statutory oversight. In the Ballot Summary, the Council claims to provide early learning and reading skills, after school programs, developmental health, etc. This is misleading. In fact, it provides money to projects, groups or agencies that actually provide these services. To successfully fulfill its mandate, the Council must accurately forecast which of these enterprises can best deliver cost-effective sterling results – and match them to client needs.

In politics, the expression “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” alludes to the chronic neglect suffered by voiceless (disenfranchised) populations, exemplified by the largest such demographic, our kids who haven’t yet reached voting age. Not surprisingly, since local elected officials realize negligible political capital from addressing the litany of threats to kids, local programs designed to protect school-aged children and their families had been endemically underfunded across the State.

Florida Legislature Enacts Law to protect at risk Kids
FLORIDA LEGISLATURE PROTECTS AT RISK KIDS & FAMILIES
Since local public officials had little incentive to adequately fund desperately needed assistance programs, in 1986, Florida lawmakers enacted Section 125.901, Florida Statutes, which authorizes each county to create a Children’s Services Council (CSC) and an independent special taxing district to provide funding for children’s services. The statute additionally mandates that each local Council include the County's Superintendent of Schools, a local school board member (chosen by the board), the HRS district administrator or designee, a member of the County Commission, the judge assigned to Juvenile Cases, and 5 members appointed by the Governor to serve 4-year terms.

When independent studies repeatedly revealed gross inadequacies in how services were delivered to Broward children and their families, the Broward County Commission placed the issue on the September 2000 ballot, whereupon voters approved the special taxing district for Broward County. For the next ten years, the Broward Children’s Services Council, and those approved in other Florida counties, enjoyed automatic and unobstructed funding, until events uncovered a systemic “monkey wrench”.

Senator Joe Negron
SENATOR JOE NEGRON
In 2010, state lawmakers passed a bill supported by Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart), mandating that children’s councils demonstrate to voters that they are deserving of reauthorization every 12 years (starting in 2014 for the Broward Council). On learning that the Martin County children’s services council planned to build a $4-million headquarters, Negron went ballistic since the agency doesn’t actually provide services, but simply funnels public funds to worthy projects.

Click to Children's Services Council of Broward Skull-blocked by their intention to divert resources allocated to help kids into a monument to bureaucratic megalomania, Negron decided that these self-important “Yahoos” needed oversight. Two years later, the Executive director of the Hillsborough County Children’s council got the boot in 2012, when news reports disclosed insupportable spending “eccentricities”, including $450,000 blown on no-bid contracts.

Click to Children's Services Board of Hillsborough County The 2010 statute also allows the eight Florida counties with approved CSCs to request that voters change the 12-year reauthorization timeframe – or completely eliminate periodic reauthorizations. Make no mistake; the Broward agency has cultivated a stellar reputation. Its administrative costs are $2.6 million, less than four percent of its budget (actually 3.7%). It funds 150 wide-ranging programs among 100 non-profits, accounting for 2,300 jobs and helping 150,000 children, with everything from swim lessons to anti-delinquency and anti-abuse programs.

Kids in CSC Summer Camp Dance for a Music Video
KIDS IN CSC SUMMER CAMP DANCE FOR A MUSIC VIDEO
Last year, the council helped place more than 9,000 disadvantaged children in after-school and summer programs, delivered subsidized child care for 1,230 children from working-poor families, and sent 2,600 families at risk for child abuse to family-strengthening programs. Funding such critical programs for struggling children and moms is a service that merits both approval and support.

Click to Sun Sentinel Editorial Board CSC Assessment However, as observed by the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board, “a periodic public review – an amplified public accounting – is a good thing for such unelected taxing authorities.” If the agency toes the line, there is little chance that it will be denied reauthorization. Since taxing authorities mostly fly below the radar, an agency shielded from public scrutiny can easily fall prey to inappropriate or destructive operational practices, prompting bloated staffs, no-show jobs, fairy tale salaries, golden parachutes, no-bid contracts and – as Negron discovered – a propensity to spend tax dollars on property rather than services.

Click to Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County Since the 2014 budget for the Broward Children’s Services Council weighs in at $69 million, touching base with taxpaying voters every 12 years is far from onerous and serves as an invaluable deterrent to bureaucratic mischief. As concluded by the editorial board “It’s not too much to ask that children’s services councils be held accountable to their benefactors – the voters – every now and then.”

2014 Broward County Commission
2014 BROWARD COUNTY COMMISSION
The Broward Commission had to decide whether the proposed ballot language should enable voters to intermittently reauthorize the Council or eliminate the need for future reauthorizations. In Palm Beach County, a similar ballot initiative requests that voters enable their council to tax homes and businesses in perpetuity without occasionally checking the books.

Leery of politicizing the Council and considering how the legislature ignored 1600 other local Florida boards and districts with taxing authority – many tarred by multiple incidents of proven fraud and theft – and only burdened CSCs with costly voter reviews because of a single case of suspected monkey business in Martin County, the Broward Commission drafted a reauthorization request that precludes future voter referendums. Although denied an opportunity for oversight every 12 years, Broward voters must still decide whether they should reauthorize an agency that frugally delivers desperately needed services for kids and families while consistently achieving excellent results. With a current millage rate of 0.4882, it costs less than 2 cents of every dollar on your tax bill.

QUESTION FROM BROWARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD;
Passage requires 50% plus 1 vote

Click to School Board of Broward County Ballot Title: SCHOOL BOARD BOND ISSUE FOR FACILITIES:

Official Ballot Summary: Shall the School District of Broward County fund improvements to and replacement of public school facilities throughout the District, including safety enhancements and instructional technology upgrades, by issuing general obligation bonds in total principal amount not exceeding $800,000,000 to be issued in multiple series, bearing interest at not exceeding maximum legal rates, maturing within thirty years, and secured by the full faith and credit and ad-valorem taxing power of the District?

Below the Radar

Beverly Gallagher leaves Court with family
BEVERLY GALLAGHER AT COURT WITH FAMILY
Stephanie and Mitchell Kraft Mug Shots
STEPHANIE AND MITCHELL KRAFT MUG SHOTS
The Broward School Board is infamous for oafish incompetence and a history steeped in fraud. Ferreting through a rat’s nest of corrupt Broward School Board officials in 2010, the Feds convicted and incarcerated long-time member Beverly Gallagher and arrested Stephanie Kraft (on the board since 1998) and husband Mitch for unlawful compensation, bribery and conspiracy; while additionally charging her with official misconduct. Repeatedly postponed for three and a half years after the 2010 arrests, Kraft’s trial was last docketed for September 15, 2014.

Click to Florida Supreme Court Grand Jury Report about Broward School Board In February 2011, a Florida Supreme Court grand jury issued a scathing 51-page report about the school board’s unconscionable mishandling of construction funds, concluding “The evidence we have been presented concerning the malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of the Broward County School Board (Board) and of the senior management of the Broward County School District, (District) and of the gross mismanagement and apparent ineptitude of so many individuals at so many levels is so overwhelming that we cannot imagine any level of incompetence that would explain what we have seen. Therefore we are reluctantly compelled to conclude that at least some of this behavior can best be explained by corruption of our officials by contractors, vendors and their lobbyists. Moreover, many of the problems we identified in our inquiry are longstanding and have been pointed out by at least two previous Grand Juries. But for the Constitutional mandate that requires an elected School Board for each District, our first and foremost recommendation would have been to abolish the Broward County School Board altogether.”

Broward Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie
BROWARD SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS ROBERT RUNCIE
Their pathetic notoriety doesn't alter the fact that Broward Schools are collapsing. Subsequently recruited to the sinking District to help reverse slipshod policies, rebuild credibility, and rehabilitate severely eroded infrastructure, Superintendent Robert Runcie described the advanced deterioration, stating “It’s well documented in the district what our needs are. Schools like Northeast [sic - High School], where the ceiling leaks and caves in, and the kids probably have to go across campus in a canoe when it rains because of the drainage problem. Or Stranahan, which has such a laundry list of issues that it’s a good candidate for replacement. Look at Plantation High School or Western High School. They don’t have sufficient cafeteria space, so they have to go to tents and makeshift canopies outside. And we’ve got technology in the schools that is more than a decade old. Some computers are running Windows 98.”

Click to Florida Virtual School Web Page
Broward Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie with Award
RUNCIE WITH AWARD
Before 2008, Broward schools received $2 for every $1,000 in taxable property value. When the state Legislature responded to the economic downturn by mandating that local taxing authorities cut Ad Valorem rates, Broward Schools had to make do with $1.50 for every $1,000. According to Runcie, the $800 million request would raise that rate back to about $2 for every $1,000 in property value. While acknowledging past mismanagement, Runcie contends “If we want to live in the past and not look at the future of our kids, I just don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re not going to invest in the future of our communities – we’re not going to invest in the future of our kids – because of what a couple of people did.

Click to Florida Virtual School Web Page Click to U.S. Security Associates Web Page Runcie was drafted from Chicago, where he engineered impressive improvements in the nation’s 3rd largest school district while serving as Chief of Staff to the embattled Chicago Board of Education. In Broward, Runcie hit the ground running, and was recognized as “Superintendent of the Year” by Florida Virtual School last September. Inflaming Runcie’s problems is the sad – yet unsurprising – fact that the foul-ups haven’t abated. This past May, the school board settled a dispute with disaster-recovery firm AshBritt for work performed after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Although the district’s chief auditor concluded in 2009 that the District was overbilled $765,608 by AshBritt, the district agreed to walk away from the table with only $210,000. Also, the district paid security firm U.S. Security Associates $129,000 for unnecessary security guards long after their contract expired in 2009 and frittered $1 million to Royal Concrete Concepts of Jupiter for a 2012 Pembroke Pines construction project that Runcie had previously cancelled.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
MAYOR JACK SEILER
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby Dubose
COMM. BOBBY DUBOSE
When the Fort Lauderdale City Commission discussed the School Board’s planned Bond Issue at the June City Commission meeting, Commissioners were leery about whether the funds would be allocated to improve Fort Lauderdale schools. Despite Commissioner Bobby Dubose’ belief that Stranahan and Northeast High Schools would be beneficiaries of the anticipated $800 million chestnut, Commissioners refused to schedule a workshop to address the issue until the Broward School Board submitted a written list of projects they pledged to fund. Dubious about the Bond Issue’s prospects, Mayor Jack Seiler commented “It’s a very difficult bond issue on this ballot. I don’t know if enough time has passed. I am concerned they rushed this thing.”

Given the Broward School Board’s lamentable lack of credibility, this is a mind-numbing decision for Broward voters. Unfortunately, Broward students are being penalized for actions taken by arrogantly corrupt officials, asinine policies and crippling fiscal decisions. Although the dilapidated schools desperately need resources, Broward residents are understandably fearful of throwing good money after bad. The fate of this measure hinges on public willingness to trust a new Superintendent ostensibly equipped with the skills and determination to reclaim the sinking district. While Runcie is promising unprecedented transparency, squeezing out an $800 million bond issue guaranteed by Broward taxpayers may require divine intervention. Amen.


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Bad Time for Tax Hike; Bad Time for Fare Hike

Click to Swim Central Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca prepares for budget hearing
LAMARCA PREPARES FOR BUDGET HEARING
September 24, 2014 - In his September – October 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca laments ill-conceived plans by the Broward Commission and Broward County Transit to stick it to Taxpayers – and fare payers. The Broward County Commission annually pays lip service to tax relief. Just before they tackle the budget, Commissioners announce the need to attack waste and abuse, trim the governmental bureaucracy and cut spending. That is usually where it ends, except in the media. When the recession vaporized the seemingly bottomless property tax windfall, it forced a temporary suspension of irresponsible county spending.

Former Governor Charlie Crist, House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt vow to drop taxes like a rock
FORMER GOV CHARLIE CRIST, SPEAKER MARCO RUBIO AND
SEN PRESIDENT KEN PRUITT VOW TO DROP TAXES LIKE A ROCK
In 2007, following a month of spinning the need to cut the budget, the County Commission increased it from $3.043 billion to $3.159 billion. In 2008, tax reform legislation passionately demanded by former Governor Charlie Crist and passed with unanimous bi-partisan support mandated a 5% statutory tax rollback for local governments, forcing Commissioners to choke back long ingrained tax and spend instincts. In 2009, when Florida voters passed Constitutional Amendment 1, the additional Homestead exemption slashed property tax revenues statewide, further pressuring Commissioners to control spending.

Click to (now-disbanded) Broward County Ethics Commission Web Page Having watched Federal Prosecutors systematically fine and/or incarcerate a parade of Broward Commissioners for fraud, kickbacks, and other ethical or financial indiscretions, by 2010 Broward taxpayers seemingly awoke from a stupor. Fed up with the Commission’s poor stewardship of public funds, in November of 2010, 57% of the Broward electorate voted to create a Broward County Ethics Commission and formulate a Code of Ethics to better regulate the actions of those elected to the Broward Board (a similar 2002 referendum calling for an ethics panel was virtually ignored by Commissioners). Serving as a wake-up call, this line in the sand seemed to have a sobering effect on the Commission, although short-lived. As tanked property values annually prompted commission members to press for a millage rate increase, enraged Broward taxpayers characterized any millage increase as a tax hike, convincing a temporarily deflated County board to back off.

Click to Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry's FY 2015 Budget Message As the housing market rebounded last year, the expected increase in property tax revenues would provide the Broward Board with additional resources, enabling restored funding for critical services thinned by the recession. A 7.2% increase over 2014 revenues projected in the FY 2015 tax roll should fatten County coffers by $51 million. Marketing their strategy as a proactive, outcome-oriented approach to budgeting, Commissioners plan to freeze the 5.7230 millage rate. However, increases of $68.7 million in the operating budget and $24.4 million in debt service were partially offset by a capital budget decline of $64.6 million, leaving a budgetary mushroom of $28.5 million. Although anticipating that this modest increase would unnecessarily burden the average tax bill in his September message to constituents, LaMarca is far more concerned by the Board’s propensity for underwriting spending with tax increases instead of economic growth – a keystone of the Commission’s notorious pre-recession fiscal footprint.

Click to Broward County Transit Web Page According to Broward County Transit, the FY14 service improvements that enhanced ridership and on-time performance also boosted transit revenues. Agency plans for additional service enhancements will require incremental funding in order to increase utilization and farebox recovery (income that a transit agency receives from passenger fares to help finance operating costs). Having successfully capitalized on the improvements and lucrative new services – such as the popular Breeze Service and Express buses to Miami – Broward County Transit is on a roll. As ridership continues to increase, so should revenues.

Click to Broward County Transit Web Page Facing blue skies and immersed in optimism, BCT enigmatically decided to shoot itself in the foot, a reaction congenitally practiced by most County agencies. Instead of building a growth plan that funds infrastructure improvements with growing revenues, BCT decided to squeeze it’s newly won customers. Over a 2-year period, the proposed FY 2015 Broward budget will raise the monthly (31-day) pass price for seniors, kids and the disabled from $29 to $40 (a 38% increase). For other adults, the monthly pass would increase from $58 to $70, and the cost for a seven-day pass would jump from $16 to $20. A one-way ticket would increase from $1.75 to $2, and the $4 all-day passes would cost $5. BCT claims that they are only catching up with higher transit fares in Miami and Palm Beach, but the all-day pass price for seniors, the disabled and youth will increase from $3 to $4; while a comparable ticket in Miami is $3.50 and only $2.80 in Palm Beach.

Broward County Transit Director Tim Garling
BROWARD COUNTY TRANSIT DIRECTOR TIM GARLING
Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan
COMMISSIONER TIM RYAN
Although Broward Transit Director Tim Garling said he believes ridership would “rebound after dipping slightly,” most transportation aficionados disagree, citing how nothing dampens ridership like a fare hike. Accusing the County Board and the BCT of sending mixed messages, Broward Commissioner Tim Ryan spoke against the increase, remarking, “We’re always trying to drive up ridership. One of our big themes is trying to increase use of mass transit. You seem to be going in the other direction when you talk about increasing fares.” Complaining that the issue causes him “heartburn”, Commissioner Marty Kiar opposes the large increase in monthly fares proposed for disabled, seniors and youth, commenting “Like libraries and parks, public transportation will always be subsidized by taxpayers as a whole, but they’re important services to provide.” Garling declared that the system needed the extra $5.5 million projected by the increase because “County Taxpayers subsidize 66 percent of the cost of the average bus ride in Broward.” Since the national average is about 72 percent, his observation seems somewhat less than relevant.

Click to Public Works LLC Web Page The fare hike must also pass Federal regulatory muster. To comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which addresses discrimination in most areas of public life in the U.S., the fare increase cannot “disproportionately burden” or create a “disparate impact” on low-income riders (defined by BCT as reporting an annual household income of less than $25 thousand). Commissioned by the Broward County Human Services Department on June 14, 2014, a study entitled A Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment by private consultant Public Works, L.L.C. reported that Broward has higher levels of poverty and a higher cost of living than most of the State, while providing “Insufficient Affordable Public Transportation.”

Click to newly commissioned Broward Needs Assessment Click to Lets Talk Transit Web Page Repeatedly referenced in BCT-sponsored Let’s Talk Transit community meetings held throughout the summer, the study observes that “Transportation remains a constant issue for those struggling to remain self-sufficient while working in low-paying jobs, as well as for those who must travel to sites around the county to receive services. Participants in every consumer focus group noted they are often not able to afford transportation to apply for benefits and take advantage of on-going support services. Older adults in particular in the focus groups expressed difficulty in affording transportation. Three-quarters of E-Survey respondents noted transportation as a major barrier to services.”

Click to Title VI Fare Equity Analysis - Low Income Chart Click to Title VI Fare Equity Analysis Prepared in accordance with the requirements specified in the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Circular 4702.1B, “Title VI Requirements and Guidelines for Federal Transit Administration Recipients,” dated October 1, 2012; the BCT drafted a Title VI Fare Equity Analysis, which notes that 66% of the impacted BCT ridership is from low-income homes. How does the BCT circumvent this regulatory obstacle? On page 8, the agency concludes that the two-stage fare increases, “do not cause disparate impacts or disproportionate burdens on Title VI protected populations. No additional analysis or alternatives are necessary to implement this fare change proposal.” Shazam! Problem solved.

Aside from a universal fee increase, how do the planned service changes impact Galt Mile residents? In keeping with the historical County perception of the Galt Mile as cash cow for subsidizing County programs we neither use nor benefit from, BCT plans to discontinue U.S. 1 Breeze bus service north of Broward Boulevard while increasing service to the south. If nothing else, these Bozos are consistent. For LaMarca’s Autumn message, read on... – [editor]

 

September - October 2014 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Public Hearings Planned for County’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

Click to Broward Budget Message Web Page Members of the public wishing to comment on the proposed Broward County fiscal year 2015 budget will have an opportunity to do so on Tuesday, September 23rd, starting at 5:01 PM, at the Broward Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave, Room 422 in Fort Lauderdale. The FY 2015 recommended total budget, which includes tax supported and non-tax supported funds, is $4.1 billion. Click to Broward Budget Message Web Page Overall, the total budget increases by $28.5 million due to an increase in the operating and debt service components and a decrease in the capital budget. The $28.5 million represents an increase of less than one percent in the total $4.1 billion budget. Under the current proposed budget the total property tax rate will remain the same as this year. Most taxpayers will see a small increase in their county taxes, which comprise approximately 23 percent of their overall property tax bill. A homestead property owner, with the average taxable value, whose value goes up 1.5% can expect to pay approximately $17 more in county property taxes in FY 15. Now is not the time to increase taxes or fees on taxpayers. I will work hard to encourage the other commissioners to roll back the tax rate so that Broward residents see a savings instead.

Public Hearing to be Held September 23rd on Proposed Bus Service Adjustments and Increases to Bus Fares and Passes

Broward County Transit Breeze Bus Service
BCT BREEZE BUS SERVICE
The Broward County Commission will hold a public meeting at 2 PM on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at the Governmental Center, Room 422, 115 South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, to receive public comments on Broward County Transit (BCT) proposed bus service adjustments and bus fares and pass increases. If approved, the proposed increase to bus fares and passes would become effective over two fiscal year periods: October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. The proposed bus service adjustments will become effective October 13, 2014 for the 595 Express Bus Service, and in January 2015 for the US 1 Breeze. For more information, including details on the proposed bus fare and service changes, call the BCT Customer Service Center at 954-357-8400 or visit Broward.org/BCT Again, now is not the time to increase the cost of such vital transportation services for those most in need.

If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org. You can also stay up to date by viewing our website Broward.org/District4, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
District 4 in the

Swim Central; Cane Tweets; Deerfield Island; and Broward 100

Click to Swim Central Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
LAMARCA PLANS MAYORS SUMMIT
July 27, 2014 - In his July 2014 Newsletter, County Commissioner Chip LaMarca laments a spike in the number of local children who drown every summer - simply because they never learned how to swim – and cites a newly expanded County program conceived to reverse this seasonal tragedy. Turning to his older constituents, LaMarca warns against being lulled into paralysis by a decade of cyclonic calm (Superstorm Sandy excepted), and promotes utilizing Broward’s recently enhanced online Hurricane preparedness resources.

Deerfield Island Park Sign After reviewing a litany of summertime family activities depicted on the Deerfield Island Park web page, LaMarca lists a series of "Let’s Talk Transit" meetings (that you already missed) and harkens to new art and performance projects that celebrate the upcoming Broward Centennial (which you haven’t missed). He concludes by applauding how a healthy federal grant will fund new County homeless initiatives.

The homeless initiatives should resonate with Galt Mile residents, especially those forced to confront the slime balls who took up residence on the beach next to L’Hermitage. By toggling the First Amendment, these shadowy scofflaws shifted seamlessly between extorting money from intimidated residents and relieving themselves in the adjacent dunes.

L'Hermitage I Manager Patricia Quintero
L'HERMITAGE I MANAGER
PATRICIA QUINTERO
When L’Hermitage I Manager Patricia Quintero asked the Galt Mile Advisory Board’s FLPD representative to quash this daily threat to her residents, the officer explained how a revolving door in the legal process turns an arrest into a 4-hour guided tour of the jail and a free meal, after which the released panhandler can make a bee-line back to the urine-soaked flophouse carved from the beach.

L'Hermitage Panhandlers intimidate Residents and Beachgoers
L'HERMITAGE PANHANDLERS INTIMIDATE RESIDENTS
One model citizen intercepted a passing L’Hermitage septuagenarian and threatened to kill her dog. When the police finally responded, they evidently overlooked the open bottles of booze being soaked up in public as they cruised by without stopping. Another disgusted resident grabbed her camera, approached the intoxicated celebrants and bravely announced “Smile for your local City Council,” and snapped a photo which she sent to Commissioner Bruce Roberts – who then added his name to the growing list of complainants. Although the police made two arrests, the panhandlers continued threatening anyone within earshot – for weeks. Roberts agreed with Quintero and other Advisory Board members that little would change without sustained police sweeps.

Click to Fort Lauderdale No Pandhandling Web Page Making rounds in a daily itinerary that includes the gas station on the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard, the Mills Corner (Walgreens) strip mall, the Galt Mile Reading Center, the Winn-Dixie dumpsters and the Galt Ocean Marketplace parking lot, another homeless person who “works” the Galt Mile explained why his aggressive “colleagues” selected the L’Hermitage location to set up shop, since any of the City’s public beach access streets would provide them with a steady stream of cash-flush visiting tourists. Once assured that he would not be identified, he remarked “Everyone knows that Galt Mile people are a soft touch. We follow the money.”

Click to No Panhandling Ordinance Although the City’s new “No Soliciting” ordinance has helped reclaim City parks that recently served as bedrooms for both native and visiting homeless vagrants, neighborhoods are a different animal. Ignoring repeated pleas by Police Officials to divert their contributions from local panhandlers to organizations that address the root causes of homelessness, a handful of chronic Galt Mile donors inadvertently painted a target on the neighborhood. Pressured by the neighborhood association, FLPD teamed with the Galt Mile security patrol and L’Hermitage officials to finally depopulate the beachside ashram.

While the 48 additional beds funded by the County’s planned Homeless initiatives will help address the larger problem, whether or not these predators return will depend on the future tithing habits of well-intentioned Galt Mile residents. As FLPD Major Michael Gregory observed, “People confuse members of the homeless community with the predators who exploit them. Those that prey on the homeless won’t hesitate to prey on your families.” For LaMarca’s summer message, read on... – [editor]

 

July 2014 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
Stay Safe this Summer

Click to Water SMART Broward Web Page Every year an average of eight children drown in Broward County. What makes that number so tragic is that these deaths are preventable. Now SWIM Central is part of Water SMART Broward, a new initiative to get all organizations in the County that emphasize water-safety working together toward a common goal of preventing child drowning. That goal entails providing educational resources for parents and guardians. While SWIM Central has been extremely successful providing over a million lessons since 1999, Water SMART Broward will take it to an even larger scale – to reach more people and save more lives. Already dozens of partners have joined the cause. For more information, call SWIM Central at 954-357-SWIM (7946), or visit WaterSMARTBroward.org.

Hurricane Season is Here. Don’t be Complacent!

Click to Ready Broward Web Page Click to Hurricane Preparedness Hurricane Wilma in 2005 was the last major hurricane to hit Florida. Now is not the time, however, to become complacent over hurricane preparedness for your home or business. By planning ahead and being prepared, you will substantially lower your risk of personal injury and property damage. Log on to Broward.org/Hurricane for more information on hurricane preparedness. Review the County’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide, signup for Ready Broward Twitter Alerts on Twitter.com/ReadyBroward, and consider the recommendations outlined in our Shopping Guide, a convenient way to spread the cost of your hurricane kit supplies over eight weeks. Don’t be complacent this hurricane season! Be “Ready. Set. Safe.

Family Fun

Florida Inland Navigation District and Broward County offer new access to weekend boaters at our county park
FLA INLAND NAVIGATION DISTRICT & BROWARD COUNTY
OFFER NEW PARK ACCESS TO WEEKEND BOATERS
Deerfield Island Park

Deerfield Island
DEERFIELD ISLAND
Deerfield Island is a 53.3-acre nature-oriented park offering outdoor recreational opportunities and environmental education. Accessible only by boat, this roughly triangular park is bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway and the Hillsboro and Royal Palm canals.

Deerfield Island Shuttle
DEERFIELD SHUTTLE
A free boat shuttle transports park patrons from the dock at Sullivan Park to the island on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends only. The last shuttle returning to the mainland departs the island at 4:30 p.m. Minors must be accompanied by a parent/guardian to ride the shuttle. The shuttle is dependent on weather conditions, so please call 954-357-5100 to confirm the shuttle is operating if the weather looks questionable.

  • Deerfield Island Marina
    DEERFIELD ISLAND MARINA
    Marina: There is a marina with six slips for boats no longer than 25 feet and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The park is wheelchair accessible at high tide only.

  • Intracoastal Dock: A new 170-foot-long dock is now open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis for park visitors who travel by boat. Docking is not permitted during the week, and overnight mooring is not allowed.

  • Deerfield Island Boardwalk
    DEERFIELD ISLAND BOARDWALK
    Nature Trails: The island has two main trails. The half-mile Coquina Trail includes an observation platform overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. The trail explores the eastern side of the island, meandering through what was once a pineland. The three-quarter-mile Mangrove Trail, which includes a 1,600-foot boardwalk, passes through a mangrove swamp along the park's western shore.

  • Programs and Hikes: There are various programs and hikes held at Deerfield Island Park every month. For more information on programs and how to preregister for them, visit the park's Quarterly Calendar page, located on the left navigation menu.

  • School Groups: This natural area abounds with learning opportunities for students of all ages. From outdoor laboratory experiments to group learning exercises, we can ensure that students receive the information they need while having a fun experience. Come explore our natural areas.

  • Deerfield Island Picnic Shelter
    DEERFIELD ISLAND PICNIC SHELTER
    Picnic Shelter: There is one small picnic shelter (capacity 40), available by reservation, with tables, grills, water, electricity, an area for volleyball, and a horseshoe pit. Other picnic tables and grills are located along the boardwalk and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Deerfield Island Park
    1720 Deerfield Island Park, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441
    Phone: 954-357-5100 (phone inquiries taken at Quiet Waters Park)
    Fax: 954-357-5101
    Email: QuietWatersPark@Broward.org

“Let’s Talk Transit” Invites Residents to Give Feedback

Click to Lets Talk Transit Web Page In an effort to gain community feedback on the benefits of transit and the community’s vision for future transit services, Broward County Transit (BCT) will host, "Let’s Talk Transit," a series of community outreach meetings. This month meetings will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 7, at the African-American Research Library & Cultural Center (Seminar Room No. 1), 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; Tuesday, July 15, at North Regional Library (Auditorium – Room 154), 1100 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek; and Wednesday, July 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Miramar Branch Library, 2050 Civic Center Place, Miramar. Meetings are free and open to the public. Visit Broward.org/BCT.

News from “Broward 100: Celebrating the Art of Community”

Click to Broward 100 Web Page Broward 100 will commemorate Broward County’s centennial with bold, innovative art and performance projects that attract visitors and bring Broward residents together using our arts, sports and recreation venues, natural attractions and incredible diversity to creatively bridge, bond and build their community. Broward 100 is framed by four distinct cornerstones of community engagement: VisualEYES, Inside Out Broward, Calendar 100 and the Grand Finale. http://www.broward100.org. The public is also invited to help name the concluding event in October 2015.

Broward County Receives Grant of Nearly $9 Million to Assist Homeless Population

Click to 595 Express Web Page The Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership has been awarded a grant of nearly $9 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant award funds 18 renewal projects that will aid supportive services, 12 are for permanent housing projects funding 684 beds, five are for transitional housing projects funding 428 beds and one is for supportive services projects serving 40 clients in permanent supportive housing. Most importantly, the renewal funds created 48 new and permanent supportive beds for the area's homeless.

If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954-357-7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org. You can also stay up to date by viewing our website Broward.org/District4, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Weighing a Windfall from Recaptured Room Nights

Convention Center Hotel Back on County Agenda

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER CHIP LAMARCA
June 30, 2014 - In his June 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward County Commissioner
Chip LaMarca advocates stoking one of our County’s key economic engines. Strategically located at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades tourism nexus, enhancing the County’s aging Convention Center with a dedicated hotel and a facelift will plug a fiscal leak through which the County loses tens of $millions in new business every year.

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center
GREATER FT LAUD/BROW CNTY CONVENTION CNTR
Warehousing thousands of guests who attend the 280 annual Convention Center events in 50 different local hotels is a marketing nightmare. After recalling several bungled prior initiatives to build an adjacent hotel in his June Newsletter, LaMarca acknowledges, “…we have lost major contracts with clients since these projects have failed.” Specifically, he refers to the loss of 18-year convention center customer ARVO (Association of Vision in Ophthalmology) – which sent their 13,000 guests to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle in 2013, Orlando in 2014 and will send them to Denver in 2015 and again to Seattle in 2016. Following their annual gathering, Harley-Davidson said in 2012 that they would look elsewhere in the future for a Convention Center with a hotel. Scores of other convention customers, including the 9,000 attendees from an annual Department of Defense contractors’ convention, warned that if Broward couldn’t provide them with fully integrated lodging, they would not return.

Click to Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Web Site Without an affiliated hotel, the Convention Center is precluded from even bidding on more than one third of the prospective convention opportunities – those that require dedicated lodging. To compete with other second tier convention cities that offer onsite lodging, the Center must offset their lack of a hotel with a laundry list of expensive perks, further squeezing embattled profits. LaMarca mentions three prior attempts by the County Board to correct this competitive shortcoming. In varying proportions, they were squelched by stupidity, turf protection... and greed.

R. Donahue Peebles
R. DONAHUE PEEBLES
When the Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center opened in 1991, an initial County attempt to build a related hotel abutting an International Trade Mart flopped. When reconsidered in 1997, threats of an African-American tourist boycott prompted the County Commission to exclusively evaluate hotel plans submitted by minority-owned developers. Shortly after real estate magnate R. Donahue Peebles was awarded the hotel contract, the County learned that it had inadvertently agreed to cover any payments defaulted by the developer. When partnering hotel Management Company Wyndham International pulled out along with the National Baptist Convention – another project partner – Peebles threw in the towel and sued the County for development costs. He lost; and the project washed out for the second time.

Click to Hilton Hotels Web Page Click to Marriott Website On November 1, 2007, the Broward Commission selected a bid winner from two world-class hoteliers (and their partner developers), each of which presented plans for a 1,000-room Convention Hotel on 17th Street - next to the Broward Convention Center on Eisenhower Boulevard off Southeast 17th Street at Port Everglades. Rejecting a plan submitted by Marriott and developer Hensel Phelps Construction, a ten-person selection committee chaired by tourism Guru Nicki Grossman that included 8 Broward Commissioners instead awarded the project to Hilton Hotels and their developer FaulknerUSA by a close six to four vote.

Former JP Morgan Banker Chris Romer
FORMER JP MORGAN BANKER CHRIS ROMER
Both bidding teams planned on using hotel revenues to repay $400 million raised from Broward-authorized tax exempt bonds. While Marriott declined any public backing, Hilton wanted an annual $6 million pledge of hotel bed taxes as a guarantee against missed loan payments. Also, if the hotel took a dive, Broward taxpayers would pay down the debt service. Hilton’s ace-in-the-hole was former Executive Director Christopher Romer of JP Morgan Securities, who pledged to purchase all $398 million of Hilton’s bonds, while Marriott would have to patiently hunt for investors in a recessionary credit market.

Since Marriott’s plan was financially self-sufficient while Hilton placed every Broward taxpayer on the hook for their debt, President Mark Schultz of FaulknerUSA, Hilton’s partnering developer, conceded that opponent Marriott’s deal was far better for the County. When informed that the Commissioners ignored the risk to taxpayers and selected his team’s less favorable project, a disbelieving Schultz declared, “I’m shocked!” Most residents were not surprised. Broward Commissioners had achieved nationwide notoriety for pilfering the County cookie jar while throwing taxpayers under a bus. Opting for expedience over prudence, our County Commissioners were primarily driven by enlightened self-interest as Hilton lobbyists offered committee members a more intriguing buffet of personal and political “incentives” than their Marriott peers.

Click to JP Morgan Chase vs FaulknerUSA Lawsuit When word got out that Hilton banking partner JP Morgan Chase was suing FaulknerUSA for $6.1 million in defaulted loans from a similar project in Austin, Texas, the questionable County decision became juicy media fodder. In addition to a $6.6 million court judgment stemming from a hornet’s nest of litigation over flooding problems in the Austin Hilton Convention Center Hotel, FaulknerUSA was facing $millions more in liabilities from 17 lawsuits (and 68 liens) by irate condo owners, unpaid subcontractors and project organizer Austin Convention Enterprises Inc. Despite under-the-table damage control “agreements” between project lobbyists and suspiciously vested public officials, the project began to unravel.

Click to Hensel Phelps Construction Website
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry
BROWARD ADMINISTRATOR
BERTHA HENRY
After demanding proof of FaulknerUSA’s fiscal health in January of 2008, County Administrator Bertha Henry stoically announced, “There is nothing that says Faulkner is dropping out of this deal, but they have to respond to us that they have the wherewithal to do this project. We will not enter into a development agreement with a company that is not stable.” Seeking to hedge against anticipated County intentions to sever besieged FaulknerUSA from the project, Hilton brought Hensel Phelps Construction – the partner of rival bidder Marriott – to an emergency meeting with County officials. With Commissioners circling the wagons in classic “CYA” formation, Hilton’s frantic eleventh hour attempt to salvage their project by switching dance partners proved futile.

Pork Budget On December 8, 2009, the County Commission officially pulled the plug on the $400 million project, but not before frittering away another $1.6 million in pork payouts to LMN Architects; Hospitality Real Estate Counselors; the law firm of Siegel, Lipman, Dunay, Shepard & Miskel; the engineering firm Craven Thompson & Associates; the urban planning firm Hughes Hughes Inc.; the architectural firm Arch Alliance and the law firm of Squire Sanders - primarily for thinking happy thoughts. To avoid threatened legal action, intimidated Commissioners also refunded FaulknerUSA’s $2 million deposit – with interest. The after-effects of this fiasco lingered for years, as deflated County Commissioners tried to distance themselves from attempts to revive the project.

Broward Workshop President Charles Caulkins
BROWARD WORKSHOP
PRESIDENT CHARLES CAULKINS
Click to Broward Workshop Website They had other reasons for dragging their feet. While a convention center hotel would clearly boost the county’s recovering economy, area hotels that had been lodging conventioneers for decades would lose room night revenues. Since hotel chains reliably contribute to election campaigns, their local avatars were politely obliged by nervous Commissioners, who repeatedly nixed the project. Although hoteliers are still concerned about the competition threatened by a dedicated convention center hotel, lingering fears have annually abated since the County emerged from the recession with a burgeoning tourist economy. Chairman Charles Caulkins of the Broward Workshop, a group of 100 County business leaders, conceded “There’s not the opposition there once was.”

Complementing the plans for a dedicated hotel, a 200,000 square-foot expansion of the existing 600,000 square-foot convention center will include an integrated retail space offering convenient access to nightlife, shops and restaurants. Spooked by this potential source of competition, local businesses and commercial property owners worked behind the scenes to torpedo the project - unless they were afforded input into how participating merchants are selected.

Portside Yachting Center's Mark Ellert
PORTSIDE YACHTING
CENTER'S MARK ELLERT
When a 2013 study by hospitality consultant HVS demonstrated the need for more hotel space and meeting facilities near the Convention Center, it spurred renewed interest in the convention center hotel last year. It also prompted concerns by Mark Ellert, a partner in Portside Yachting Center, which owns buildings next to the convention center. Asserting the need for a Master Plan, which by definition would mandate soliciting input from neighboring businesses, Ellert said “We need a vision for a world-class convention center destination, and it’s best capitalized by collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders” – a transparent pitch for a seat at the table.

Dr. Harry Moon
DR. HARRY MOON
This year, the scales may have finally tipped in the project’s favor, as even traditional opponents have conceded to the inevitable realization of a one-time infrastructure enhancement that would inject $hundreds of millions into the local economy. Also recommending its development under a Master Plan, last year The Broward Workshop re-ranked the convention center as a top priority. Former Chairman Harry Moon declared “The county commission has kicked this ball around for too many years. It needs immediate attention.”

Convention and Visitors Bureau President Nicki Grossman
CONV. & VISITORS BUREAU
PRES. NICKI GROSSMAN
Ceding that Broward cannot compete with world class convention destinations like Miami or Orlando, President Nicki Grossman of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau aspires to at least be competitive with second-tier cities such as Nashville. If the center were fleshed out and complemented with onsite lodging, Grossman observed “Then we could compete fairly with other tier-two convention sites around the country.”

Click to Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau Website Grossman offered another reason for why the timing is right. When the County built the convention center in 1991, it was funded in part with bonds repaid with the “bed tax” revenues collected from visitors who patronize Broward hotels and motels. When those bonds were finally retired last year, Grossman asserted that it was “the appropriate time to bring up convention center expansion.”

Click to Hensel Phelps Construction Website While reviewing several design concepts at an April 1, 2014 County Commission Workshop, Consultant HVS summarized the project’s envisioned economic impact, projecting an additional 721 permanent jobs and a 20-year economic return of $1.1 billion. The County would snag $21 million of the overall $96 million in additional tax revenues. The local economy would realize an annual benefit of $83.1 million. Conversely, every participating consultant predicted that if none of the improvements were implemented, the Center’s decline would accelerate, hammering revenues.

Click to Port Everglades Web Site Having exclaimed “Let’s do this, let’s get it done,” after the meeting, County Administrator Bertha Henry would next present four suggested design concepts to County Commissioners, who must decide which design options offer the biggest bang for the buck. Almost certainly, these will include partial demolition of a poorly placed parking garage that obstructs a view of the Intracoastal. Another consequence of poor planning, access to the site has long been impeded because of its proximity to Port Everglades. Although currently forced to navigate federally mandated Port Security checkpoints before entering the center, visitors will soon use a planned bypass road to circumvent the bottlenecks and enter directly. “Not to worry,” said tourism Czar Nicki Grossman, “The project is funded and set to be completed by early 2015.”

Urban Design Architect Takeshi Kamiya
URBAN DESIGN ARCHITECT TAKESHI KAMIYA
Adding that the site’s unique waterfront location would distinguish Broward’s offering from tier-two competitors, consultant Takeshi Kamiya of HKS Urban Design Studio insisted, “Make sure this is about the water. It’s a waterfront place.” Kamiya’s mantra evidently resonated with Nicki Grossman, who commented “People have a different expectation when they’re on the Intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale than when they’re in Minneapolis.” Unilaterally advised by every consultant to exploit the waterfront site, other options that Commissioners will consider include a waterfront public park and a pier tricked out for visitors.

Hopefully, the County Commission will avoid the pitfalls that plagued their 3 earlier attempts to fully develop competitive Convention Center infrastructure, especially since LaMarca has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to expose the nest feathering machinations that earmarked or precipitated those failures. LaMarca has supported Broward infrastructure projects, including this one, since he was first elected to the County board. For his current take on the project, read LaMarca’s June 2014 update below... “Broward County Convention Center Revisited: Version 4.0”. – [editor]

 

Broward County Convention Center Revisited: Version 4.0

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
As a County Commissioner and a local small business owner, I understand the vital importance of strengthening our local economy in Broward County. Tourism is one of our principal industries that we rely on in South Florida. We can reestablish ourselves as an international and domestic leader in the tourism industry by building a world-class convention center hotel and expanding our existing LEED Gold convention center facility. This has been a goal of mine since being elected in 2010.

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center
GREATER FT LAUD/BROWARD CNTY CONVENTION CNTR
Broward County has supported the many initiatives that have gone into making our Convention Center the best it can be in order to standout from those of our surrounding neighbors to attract new business. The concept of a Headquarter Convention Center Hotel is not a new idea. As a matter of fact, it has been a recurring project before the Broward County Commission for many years as I have noted before in this newsletter. The concept was put forth in the early 1990’s and has come before the County Commission in various forms a total of three times and never came to fruition. According to Nicki Grossman, the President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, we have lost major contracts with clients since these projects have failed. Nicki and her team have created a portfolio of hundreds of wonderful hotels in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Area. This portfolio of hotels has kept many large conventions coming back year after year. Unfortunately, we are now learning that some of our convention business cannot commit to returning to our sunny paradise. They cite our lack of a convention center hotel and a need for a larger convention facility, which is another goal of this expansion.

Click to ARVO Web Site We have lost an estimated $61M in 2006, $47M in 2007, $43M in 2008, $54M in 2009, $33M in 2010 and $35M in 2011. One group in particular, ARVO - the Association of Vision in Ophthalmology was a client for dozens of years and booked 20,000 room nights annually. Broward County expects to lose $400 million in business and 960,000 room nights between 2008 and 2016 for lack of a convention center hotel and the expansion needed to compete with sites in other second-tier cities. Additionally, we have lost business due to the size of our convention center. This impact has averaged $8M annually.

Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center Hotel Rendering
BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL RENDERING
Broward County is picture perfect destination for business conferences, annual meetings, and international expositions. The missing piece in Broward County being the first choice for many business or trade groups is our lack of a headquartered Convention Center hotel. This hotel in concept should be physically located adjacent to our Broward County Convention Center and be attached so that visitors can come and go from their meetings to their rooms and the amenities of such a facility.

Unemployment Shrinks Projects like a convention center hotel are needed to bring jobs to the local economy. We have seen a steady decline in unemployment numbers, which indicates that we are heading in the right direction. At 5.0% we remain lower than our neighboring counties and our state in this key indicator. This impact has been felt all around our county.

The consultants hired by the county have provided four different conceptual designs and an analysis of the feasibility of expanding the convention center and adding an adjacent hotel. The consultants have held stakeholder meetings with various homeowner associations, government agencies and department officials in the county to receive meaningful feedback and apply those to the master plan. Some of the key input from the community at public forums were utilizing the waterfront view, creating an iconic building and destination, providing entertainment, connection to nearby hotels and retail, including outdoor green space, pedestrian oriented development, accessibility to boats/water taxis, and traffic improvement.

Miami Beach Convention Center
MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER
Palm Beach Convention Center
PALM BEACH CONVENTION CENTER
We need to move forward with this project now. If we don't take action we will most certainly become an afterthought to our neighbors to the north and south. Palm Beach County has pledged to invest $27 million dollars towards a $100 million project and Miami-Dade County has been in talks to invest nearly $100 million towards a project that has estimates closing in on $650 million. We can do this without leveraging any vital tax dollars because we have the most valuable asset to offer at Port Everglades, waterfront property. I expect to see a creative process like a Public Private Partnership. I will continue to advocate for this project at the County Commission and I hope a Headquarter Convention Hotel will finally become a reality. It is crucial that we work together to bring a Convention Center hotel to Broward County.

As always, it is an honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Mayor’s Summit; Early Voting; Beach Debt; Street Projects and...

Click to USS New York Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca announces Mayors Summit
LAMARCA PLANS MAYORS SUMMIT
May 3, 2014 - In his May 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca lists agenda items from a District 4 Mayor’s Summit, affirms that an early voting site convenient to the Galt Mile was finally approved, announces receipt of a long-awaited federal reimbursement for the Segment III beach renourishment, discusses in progress transportation projects and recalls Broward Navy Days events during Fleet Week. In this final item, LaMarca refers to the USS New York, a warship fitted with skeletal steel salvaged from “Ground Zero” and named after the State and City where an unfathomable catastrophe unfolded on September 11, 2001.

Former New York Governor George Pataki and then Secretary of the Navy Gordon England Name USS New york in 2002
FORMER NY GOV. GEORGE PATAKI AND THEN SEC. OF
THE NAVY GORDON ENGLAND NAME USS NEW YORK
Less than a year after the insidious 9/11 attacks, in a September 7, 2002 ceremony aboard the USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum docked in New York City, former New York Governor George Pataki announced “On September 2001, our nation’s enemies brought their fight to New York... The USS New York will now bring the fight to our nation’s enemies well into the future.”

Click to USS New York Web Page State names are ordinarily reserved for submarines. However, Governor Pataki wrote a letter to then Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, requesting that he break with tradition and name a surface ship after New York to commemorate the victims and heroes of 9/11. The request was granted on Aug. 28, 2002, nine days before the accommodation was announced at the ceremony on the Intrepid. Actually, this would be the sixth time that a ship was named for New York in U.S. Naval history (excluding the USS New York City, a 1979 nuclear powered attack submarine decommissioned in 1997).

Steel from WTC poured into form to create Bow Stem
STEEL FROM WTC POURED INTO FORM FOR BOW STEM
Steel salvaged from the World Trade Center (WTC) wreckage and acquired by Governor Pataki was tested and approved by the Navy for use in constructing an amphibious transport dock ship of the San Antonio class, a new class of warship designed for missions that include anti-terror special operations. After being melted down at a foundry in Amite, Louisiana and sent to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) shipyard in Avondale, LA, 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center was incorporated into LPD-21, a 684-foot amphibious transport dock ship later christened the USS New York. It carries a crew of 360 sailors and can deliver 800 combat-ready Marines ashore by helicopters and assault craft (along with helicopters, the flight deck can handle the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft).

USS New York en route to Fort Lauderdale
USS NEW YORK EN ROUTE TO FORT LAUDERDALE FLEET WEEK
Fifth in a series of new LPD-17 San Antonio class warships, others in the series named for places relevant to 9/11 include the USS Arlington, commemorating the site where another hijacked jetliner struck the Pentagon, and the USS Somerset, named for the Pennsylvania county where United Flight 93 crashed as its passengers battled hijackers, thwarting plans to murder countless others at another Washington target.

USS New York Motto on Bow - Never Forget!
USS NEW YORK MOTTO ON BOW - NEVER FORGET!
Captain Kevin Wensing
CAPTAIN KEVIN WENSING
On Sept. 9, 2003, 7.5 tons of WTC scrap steel was specifically smelted for use in the ship’s bow stem, the foremost part of the ship that cuts through the water. Overseeing the event was Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who reminisced “Those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence. It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.”

Also there when the trade center steel first arrived, foundry operations manager Junior Chavers recalls when he touched it with his hand, “hair on my neck stood up. It had a big meaning to it for all of us.” Chavers described the pervading sentiment at the foundry and the shipyard “They knocked us down. They can’t keep us down. We’re going to be back.” Not surprisingly, the ship’s official motto is “Never Forget.” To see how this tidbit befits Commissioner LaMarca’s May 2014 update, read on... – [editor]

 

May 2014 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Commissioner Chip LaMarca hosts District 4 Mayors Summit
COMM. LAMARCA HOSTS MAYORS SUMMIT
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
I was honored to host the mayors and city managers from district 4 for our second Mayors Summit in April to discuss the key issues in our community. Our focus was on beach re-nourishment, economic development, tourism, human services, transportation and the proposed convention center expansion and hotel. These are quality of life issues and it’s of utmost importance that we have an open dialogue about how we can work together to better serve our residents, businesses and visitors.

Coral Ridge Mall Approved for Early Voting
CORAL RIDGE MALL APPROVED FOR EARLY VOTING
I am pleased to report that the Broward County Supervisor of Elections will be adding the Coral Ridge Mall as an additional early vote location for the upcoming elections this year. This site will provide better access to early voting for those living and working near the beach.

More good news! Broward County received a check from the Army Corp of Engineers for $10.1 million, which is the reimbursement for the beach re-nourishment project completed in 2006 in Segment III (Hollywood, Dania Beach and Hallandale Beach). This project added $1.4 billion to county property values along the beach and the beach attracts 13.4 million visitors a year, spending $10.6 billion annually in Broward County.

Click to 595 Express Web Page Broward County has a number of key transportation projects underway. The 595 Express lanes opened in April. I-595 is Broward County's major east-west thoroughfare used by residents and visitors to get to work, shops, entertainment venues, the airport, the Port, the beaches and it is also vital to the shipment of freight and goods around South Florida. Improving mobility along the I-595 corridor isn't just a necessity for residents and visitors, it will have a significant impact in South Florida's economy.

A1A from Sunrise Blvd to 18th Street Click to Broward Navy Days Fleet Week Web Page In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation will be reconstructing A1A from Sunrise Boulevard to NE 18th Street in Fort Lauderdale with one lane in each direction, a dedicated north-bound turning lane and a wide beachfront promenade on the east side with a paver sidewalk and decorative, turtle-friendly lighting and landscaping. They will be adding wide bicycle lanes in both directions and constructing two pedestrian crosswalks. Construction is expected to begin by August 2014 and be completed by March 2016 at a cost of $10.1 million.

LaMarca with Capt. Teets and Captain Boardman - a District 4 Native
LAMARCA WITH CAPTAINS TEETS AND BOARDMAN
Lastly, Broward Navy Days hosted the 24th Annual Fleet Week as Port Everglades welcomed the USS New York, USCGD Dependable, and USCGC Bernard C Webber to Broward County. The USS New York is an amphibious transport dock ship that was forged with recycled steel from the wreckage of the twin towers at the World Trade Center. Hundreds of Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen participated in a week of activities, demonstrations and community service projects. I hope you had the opportunity to meet and talk with some of our great military personnel.

If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954.357.7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org. You can also stay up to date by viewing our website www.broward.org/commission/district4, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office. I look forward to continuing to make Broward a better place to live, work and play.

As always, it is an honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
District 4 Doings; Feds Block Beach Fix; Get Out the Vote

NOAA Fisheries holds Beach Renourishment Hostage

Click to District 4 Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMM. LAMARCA AT BEACH RESCUE MEETING
March 16, 2014 - In his March 2014 Newsletter, District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca opens with a quick tour through a series of March municipal events in Pompano, Lighthouse Point (his hometown) and Deerfield Beach. The Commissioner closes with a plea to get out the vote. Bookended by these District 4 housekeeping pleasantries is an emergency call for constituent help with the long-delayed Segment II beach renourishment.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Click to Web Site The Broward Beach Renourishment project demands regulatory-mandated approvals from myriad Federal, State and local agencies. Since late last year, LaMarca and Broward Beach Administrator Eric Myers have been slugging their way through those regulatory minefields that still blocked the Segment II Beach Renourishment. In Tallahassee, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) had laced a draft permit agreement with language that would force Broward taxpayers to assume fiscal responsibility for mitigating adverse marine impacts unrelated to the renourishment effort. By blending acrimony with diplomacy, Myers and LaMarca finally snagged State approval without giving away the store.

Click to National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA) Web Site By the end of January, one obstacle remained. Despite having diligently submitted mountains of mandated documentation while timely responding to endlessly redundant agency inquiries, the project slammed to a halt. Among the oceans of regulatory minutia required to complete the Federal permit is a boilerplate biological opinion by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries). When repeated phone calls, emails and official correspondences went unanswered, Myers and LaMarca learned that the documentation sent to NOAA Fisheries (AKA - National Marine Fisheries Service) - a line office in the Department of Commerce - was sitting UNOPENED on a bureaucrat's desk. A Commerce Department spinmeister explained that the delay resulted from a shortage of Federal resources!!!

Galt Mile Community Association (GMCA) President Pio Ieraci
GMCA PRESIDENT
PIO IERACI
Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department Deputy Director Eric Myers
BROWARD BEACH
BOSS ERIC MYERS
Following discussions with incredulous project stakeholders in Pompano, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Fort Lauderdale (including the Galt Mile Community Association), on January 28, 2014, an enraged LaMarca sent an email to GMCA President Pio Ieraci that detailed the problem and suggested a resolution. Since the Federal obstacle is unresponsive to County political efforts, neighborhood residents should instead engage our Congressional representatives, who are better equipped to awaken narcoleptic Commerce Department bureaucrats, request the long-delayed biological opinion and kick-start the Beach Project.

We Need Your Help! In February, notices were sent to Galt Mile member associations for distribution to unit owners. The notices described the dilemma, listed our Congressional officeholders and requested help with conveying the critical need to shake loose the Federal malaise that holds the project hostage. Contact information was included and also posted on the Galt Mile website. Within weeks, scores of letters, phone calls, faxes and emails flooded the local and Washington D.C. offices of Congresswoman Lois Frankel (who represents Galt Mile residents on “The Hill”), Senator Bill Nelson and Senator Marco Rubio. Whatever else may have been included in those correspondences, their central message was a simple request, “Please urge the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that the biological opinion of the Segment II Beach Project is completed as soon as possible.”

Secretary of Commerce Penny Sue Pritzker
COMMERCE SECRETARY PENNY SUE PRITZKER
Congresswoman Frankel and Senators Nelson and Rubio have all since expressed an intention to help circumvent the Federal roadblock and salvage Broward's shrinking beaches. Will they? Not if they believe that we will resume our siesta and quietly nod off. If the correspondences abate, so will their incentive to ask Secretary of Commerce Penny Sue Pritzker (of the Hyatt Hotel "Pritzkers") for her cooperation. SO - if you want the beach fixed, contact Frankel, Nelson and Rubio and ask them to “Please urge the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that the biological opinion of the Segment II Beach Project is completed as soon as possible.” Their contact info is below! Of course, you can always directly urge the Secretary of Commerce to help our community. Call her at 202-482-2112; write her at Penny Pritzker, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. 20230; or send her an email at TheSec@doc.gov

Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Bill Nelson [D]
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274,
FAX: 202-228-2183
WEBSITE

BROWARD OFFICE:
3416 S. University Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33328
Phone: 954-693-4851
Fax: 954-693-4862
EMAIL PAGE

Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Marco Rubio [R]
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington D.C., 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041
Fax: 202-228-5171
WEBSITE

MIAMI OFFICE:
8669 N.W. 36 Street,
Suite 110
Doral, FL 33166
Phone: 305-418-8553
EMAIL PAGE
Congresswoman Lois Frankel
Cong. Lois Frankel [D]
District 22

1037 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-9890
WEBSITE

DISTRICT OFFICE:
2500 N. Military Trail
Suite 490
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Phone: 561-998-9045
EMAIL PAGE
   

LaMarca rounds out his March message with a reminder that certain District 4 voters should set aside time on March 11 to select their municipal leaders. If you live in Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Lighthouse Point, Sea Ranch Lakes or West Park; you should get ready to cast a ballot for your favorite City officials! Lauderdale Lakes residents must answer a ballot question. If you live on the Galt Mile, fire up your email program, get a pen or pick up the phone.

After reading Commissioner LaMarca's message below, please ask our Federal representatives to help quash this last obstacle to restoring the beach. Adding your voice to those of your neighbors will help frame the extent of our resolve - despite the frustrating decades of insupportable delays. For LaMarca’s March 2014 message, read on... – [editor]

 

March 2014 Update

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Last Month

District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
February was a very eventful month in District 4. From Pompano’s Unity in the Community, Lighthouse Point’s Keeper Days, Deerfield Beach’s Founders Weekend, to the many celebrations for Black History Month, it was a great month to be out and about in our community. While it was great to see so much civic involvement, an issue that continues to be the forefront of my agenda has been the renourishment of our beautiful beaches.

Hurricane Damage to Fort Lauderdale Beach
HURRICANE DAMAGE TO FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH
(Photo by Art Seitz - The Magic Eye)
Our economy relies heavily on the strength of our beaches and critical time passes each day that we do not have the necessary federal permits in hand. The good news is that we have all of our necessary permits and approvals from the State of Florida. Last year we received nearly TEN BILLION DOLLARS in our local economy from the 13 million visitors who came to Broward for our beautiful beaches. As it currently stands, we are awaiting the biological opinion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries). I traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to advocate for our beaches and returned with renewed hope that they understand the critical nature of our project and are motivated to issue our permit. Persistence is key to our success and I will not stop until I see the trucks hauling sand to our beach. We now need your help by contacting all of our federal elected officials in Washington, DC. Please contact each of their offices and respectfully urge our representatives to do the following:

“Please urge the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that the biological opinion of the Segment II Beach Project is completed as soon as possible.”

You can find your federal representative by visiting house.gov and clicking on Find Your Representative

Coming This Month

Click to Broward County Supervisor of Elections Web Page March is Election month for many of Broward’s municipalities. It is often said that the government closest to the people governs most effectively. For most Broward residents, your local government is comprised of your city and county elected officials that provide the majority of your essential services. This Tuesday is Election Day in many of Broward's municipalities. As a former city commissioner, I know all too well that voter turnout is the key to a successful election. Make your voice heard this Tuesday. Get out and vote for the best candidate to represent you and your family. Do you want to be heard? Will you vote?

If there is anything that we can do to assist you with your vision for a better Broward, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 954.357.7004 or by email at clamarca@broward.org. You can also stay up to date by viewing our website www.broward.org/district4, where you can sign up to receive email updates from our office.

As always, it is my honor to serve you.


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4


Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
Bus Pass for Vets; Fleet Week; CRA Projects

Port Everglades; Beach Renourishment; No Texting While Driving

Click to Broward Navy Days Fleet Week Web Page
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMM. CHIP LAMARCA AT NAVAL
AIR STATION MUSEUM FORT LAUDERDALE
January 30, 2014 - In his first Newsletter of 2014, Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca takes us on a 12-month jaunt through the challenges he faced in 2013. Given his personal predilection for the wellbeing of our Veterans, LaMarca opens by radiating satisfaction for having engineered a free Broward County Transit Bus Pass for low-income Vets and his involvement with many of last year’s Fleet Week events by Broward Navy Days - despite the Fleet’s conspicuous absence due to cost-cutting measures in the Military.

Click to Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Click to Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency LaMarca outlines his participation in municipal events across his District 4 domain - including a mid-Summer Resource Fair in Deerfield Beach, the redevelopment of Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach east of US 1 (and reversing the planned departure of its popular Beach Library from the Barrier Island), the evolution of a Culinary Arts District in Oakland Park, a “bridge to Pier” revitalization project along Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and the reclamation of storm-damaged A1A in Fort Lauderdale.

Click to 2013 Broward Legislative Program Web Page On January 8, 2013, to provide “legislative direction to the County’s staff and contract lobbying team for 2013 state legislative activities,” the Broward Board of County Commissioners approved a 2013 State Legislative Program proposed by the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Professional Standards (OIAPS). The 29-page legislative libretto featured a buffet of proposals with widely varying impacts, including an embarrassingly rich selection of “WTF” concessions to paper-thin local special interests (regulatory requirements for competitive eating contests, standardization of parasailing guidelines, etc.). This Chinese menu of options enabled Commissioners to pick and choose issues that yielded political capitol, including the need to cushion the public from the catastrophic consequences of hot dog eating marathons.

Click to Port Everglades Web Site LaMarca selected those issues with the greatest economic and “Quality of Life” impacts on his constituents, Beach Renourishment and the structural improvements required to guarantee Port Everglades’ future as a regional economic powerhouse. To advance these infrastructure build-outs in his District 4 back yard, LaMarca had to ping pong between Broward, Tallahassee and Washington D.C., where he helped locate and shake out scarce funding while eliciting federal and State regulatory approvals for Beach Renourishment and the competitive enhancements to Port Everglades.

Chip LaMarca Kicks Off Take 5 to Stay Alive Broward Campaign
LAMARCA KICKS OFF TAKE 5 TO STAY ALIVE CAMPAIGN
The 2013 State Legislative Program also contained a “secondary” list of general issues for Commissioner advocacy. Along with Early Voting Site Expansion - an effort to stimulate early voting by increasing the number of convenient local polling sites - LaMarca elected to support efforts to deter Texting While Driving - a fatal practice that claimed 3,331 lives in 2011 and sent another 387,000 victims to the hospital. While recalling County involvement with the nationwide Take 5 to Stay Alive campaign to dissuade drivers from texting while driving, LaMarca makes an enigmatic reference to the Governor signing some “bill into law”.

Senator Nancy Detert
SENATOR NANCY DETERT
Of three bills filed to curtail distracted driving during the 2013 Legislative Session, only one survived. Senate Bill 52 by Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice) made texting while driving a secondary non-criminal infraction, meaning motorists can be ticketed only if pulled over for some other reason. Violators could suffer a $30 fine – unless they were diddling the device to read a map, check the weather, locate a gas station, or perform other activities loopholed in the Statute.

Lobbyists for telecommunications industry juggernauts who successfully killed scores of similar bills over the past decade reversed course and supported Detert’s less than intimidating legislation. Industry support was forthcoming once the bill was amended with an outrageous provision that inexplicably disallows telephone billing records as evidence - unless a ticketed incident results in injury or death. While its feeble punitive deterrent is little more than a bad joke, LaMarca agrees with most law enforcement officials that the new law (Chapter No. 2013-58) is a step in the right direction. Read on for our Commissioner’s handle on 2013... – [editor]

 

2013 – The Year in Review

By Commissioner Chip LaMarca

A Look at Last Year

Veteran Enabled Transit Pass
District 4 Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca
BROWARD COMMISSIONER
CHIP LAMARCA
As your Broward County Commissioner, I was honored to present and pass the V.E.T. Pass, a six month pilot program to provide veterans in need with a free Broward County Transit Bus Pass. This is a project that I have been working on for nearly my entire time in office and I was pleased to pass this meaningful policy that gives back to those who gave so much to our country.

Pearl Harbor Survivors Edward Hammond and Abe Stein
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS EDWARD HAMMOND AND ABE STEIN
We continue to recognize those who have served our country through the time honored tradition of Fleet Week with Broward Navy Days. While there was no fleet to be revered, this year there were plenty of community events to attend. The Consul General of France presented the Legion of Honor Award to 11 United States Veterans of World War II who fought at Normandy. In addition to Fleet Week, we were honored to witness nearly 150 Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen enlist into our nation’s armed forces at an event sponsored by Our Community Salutes. Throughout the year we've recognized many contributions not only to our community, but to our country. This year we honored Pearl Harbor Survivors Edward Hammond and Abe Stein at the 72nd remembrance anniversary. Locally, we presented Lighthouse Point resident Vincent LaSorsa with a Key to the County for his continued work with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Click to Deerfield Beach Resource Fair Notice I was privileged to host a County Resource Fair at Westside Park in Deerfield Beach with representatives from a variety of county agencies and community resource organizations that provide residents with a vast array of services such as job assistance, health services, housing and assistance for veterans, children and the elderly. In a personal effort to make a positive impact in our community, I was delighted to team up with local leaders in Deerfield Beach to hand out meals to those in need during the holiday season.

Upgrades to Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach
UPGRADES TO ATLANTIC BOULEVARD IN POMPANO BEACH
It is important to invest in the future and revitalization of our community. Through Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) and local partnerships, the investment in the overall appearance and use of declining neighborhoods has drastically transformed the economy in many communities by creating jobs and increasing consumer traffic. The City of Pompano Beach took the lead with their East CRA projects along Atlantic Boulevard from US1 to the Atlantic Ocean. The beach projects are still underway, but the boulevard is home to a new look and many new businesses.

Click to Oakland Park Culinary Arts District Web Page The Oakland Park CRA created the Culinary Arts District which has started to come together with the grand opening of the Funky Buddha Brewery and the Urban Farm Park. From the brewery, to future shopping, art and restaurant venues, to kitchen supplies and fresh produce, the Culinary Arts District is becoming a destination.

Revitalization of Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
NEW PLAZA SCULPTURE IN
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA
Another example of a successful revitalization project was the investment from the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea to reface the boulevard from the bridge to the beach, giving a breath of fresh air into its struggling plazas and creating an expanded shopping and dining destination. These, and many more community redevelopment projects around the county, just give tangible reference to the successful economy blooming in Broward County.

Click to Take 5 and Stay Alive Broward Web Page Earlier this year we proclaimed the month of May as Take 5 to Stay Alive – Don’t Text and Drive Month in Broward County. With the Governor signing the bill into law, it further enforces the notion that texting and sending emails while behind the wheel is a deadly practice that is responsible for numerous deaths each day nationwide.

Port Everglades
PORT EVERGLADES
Working in Tallahassee, with the help of local support, we urged the State Legislature to approve a $14.7 million investment for Port Everglades in a parallel effort to make Florida competitive worldwide and to also create more Florida jobs. The Port Everglades expansion is expected to create over 7,000 direct jobs and more than 135,000 jobs around the state of Florida.

New 42-foot deep Steel A1A Sea Wall
NEW 42-FOOT DEEP STEEL SEA WALL
We had great success with the emergency beach re-nourishment after Super Storm Sandy on Fort Lauderdale Beach and Broward County has been able to compile some best practices to use in our overall beach restoration efforts. Through the completion of the emergency repairs, we now move into the long-term portions of the project - with the redesign of A1A. This project will be coordinated with the State of Florida, Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Click to Pompano's Beach Branch Library Proposal We are pleased that through working with city officials, we were able to keep the Pompano Beach Branch Library located on the barrier island. It is vital to have free and easy access to a wide range of library resources and experiences to keep our community engaged and learning. Residents can now access online databases, eBooks, and movies.

Click to Leadership Florida Class ProgramThis past year, I was privileged to be accepted to the 32nd Class of Leadership Florida on a full scholarship from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Program. Good governance begins with good leadership. As an elected official who is honored to have the public’s trust, I am always working to learn more, to do more in order to best serve the people I represent.

I look forward to a successful 2014 and making Broward County the best place to live, work and raise a family!

Best Regards,


Chip LaMarca
Broward County Commssioner
District 4

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