IT FINALLY HAPPENED
The racially tinged and violent rhetoric employed by some politicians, talk-show program hosts, bloggers and commentators has finally led to several people being killed and wounded. We don’t know all that was involved in Jared Loughner’s deranged decision to shoot and kill people, however; let this be a lesson to those individuals that their irresponsible rants can be viewed as marching orders to some. The massacre in Arizona left U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords clinging to life after a bullet went through her skull. It may be uncomfortable to admit it, but aggressive undercurrents deployed by certain politicians and groups after the election of President Barack Obama contributed to this sad incident.
Palm Beach County
HOT IN HERE
Former West Palm Beach Police Officer William McCray regularly speaks during the public comments portion at city commission meetings. McCray won a racial discrimination law suit against the city after years of court battles but has not been reinstated into his job. He blames Mayor Lois Frankel for some of his problems. Frankel abruptly adjourned Monday night’s meeting in the middle of McCray’s comments, because they were critical of certain citizens and city officials. McCray says he will be back at the next meeting.
MLK DAY CONTROVERSY
Palm Beach County Commissioner Karen Marcus declined an invitation from the predominantly black Riviera Beach City Council to be honored as grand marshal of this year’s MLK Day Parade. The decision came after handbills were circulated in black neighborhoods and churches criticizing her selection. One flyer said Marcus does not live within the city and questions her commitment to civil rights. But others insist the campaign against Marcus was motivated solely because she is white.
PALM BEACH ELECTION
Four people have qualified to succeed Lois Frankel as mayor in West Palm Beach in the March 8 election. They are City Commissioners Molly Douglas and Jeri Muoio, as well as Charles Bantel and Paula Ryan. There had been speculation that former Congressman Mark Foley would also seek the job but he decided against running.
Friends and supporters of disgraced former County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion met again this past week to map out plans for his return to political life. Eggelletion is serving time in a Georgia federal prison for money laundering and accepting bribes. He is expected to be released early to a halfway house in 2011 after cooperating with authorities. His supporters have raised the possibility of Eggelletion working as administrator for the Black Elected Officials of Broward organization or running for the Lauderdale Lakes City Commission.
Fred Stenger served 14 years with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. His wife Doris worked as a dispatcher for the same department until she suffered an on-the-job injury that required several surgeries. Since 1996, the board that oversees the city’s pension has denied her request for disability benefits and claims it misplaced her requests for appeals hearings. Numerous doctors have confirmed she suffers from several debilitating conditions and her health continues to deteriorate. Even though it acknowledges she is disabled, the pension board says her conditions don’t meet its “criteria” to receive benefits. Plan administrator David Desmond says he’s looking into it. The pension board comprises seven members, with only one, Dr. Robert Helmholdt, a dentist, having any medical expertise. The Stengers say they have tried contacting the mayor and city commissioners but their calls and e-mails have been ignored. Meanwhile, Doris Stenger is unable to breathe on her own and requires oxygen round-the-clock.
The qualifying period is over for municipal elections in Broward County this March and there are some interesting contests. In Miramar, Mayor Lori Moseley will face off against former Commissioner John L. Moore. In Plantation, Eric Hammond is running for the Group 1 seat and Jeptha Holness is trying to unseat incumbent Sharon M. Uria. Pompano Beach Commissioner Woodrow “Woody” Poitier will face former Commissioner Ed Phillips and Joseph Wells. Deerfield Beach will have a lively election in District 2, where incumbent Commissioner Sylvia Poitier will have to fend off former Commissioner Gloria Battle as well as two other challengers, Benjamin Preston and Annette S. Woods.
There are quiet rumblings about a push to get a Broward County strong mayor initiative on the ballot no later than the November 2012 elections. Officially, no one is talking but several lobbyists and unions are already courting potential candidates. They can court all they want. If Broward County should get the chance to vote for a mayor with executive powers, we may see a showdown between several Fort Lauderdale alumni. Former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore, former Mayor Jim Naugle and current Mayor Jack Seiler are some of the names that have surfaced.
TRANSIT IN TROUBLE
The Federal Transit Administration has already cut funding to the Miami-Dade Transit Authority and the federal agency is just wrapping up a critical audit that found numerous problems. They include wholesale mismanagement and worse. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez attempted to reassure residents about the $182 million in grants that were cut from the tumultuous MDTA but it is not working. It’s time to revamp the agency and address the issues.
Former Fort Lauderdale City Manager George Gretsas is the new city manager in Homestead. As he did in Lauderdale, Gretsas has begun to get rid of a number of managers prior to reorganizing city operations. Julio Brea, who had been working in the city manager’s office, was sent packing back to his Public Works and Engineering director’s position. Former City Manager Sergio Purrinos, who was demoted to director of Development Services prior to Gretsas’ being hired, resigned after being given an ultimatum to do so or be fired. Among other things, Purrinos is alleged to have attempted to block the release of his payroll to the Florida Department of Revenue which requested it to determine the amount of his child support payments.