Goodbye My Friend, Diane Cline


When you move to a new city, there are people who immediately grab your attention.  Some of these fall by the wayside, and you could never say that Diane Cline would fall away.

Some of my most powerful memories were of her in City Commission meetings in the City of Wilton Manors, Florida.  She was once on the City Council, back when it was called that.

Back In The Day when Wilton Manors was on the decline, she worked tirelessly to help slow that progress.   There was a time when Wilton Manors was a war zone.  You could fire a cannon down Wilton Drive at rush hour and not hit a soul.

She and some others were there trying to help bring people back.  It was a place that nobody knew its name.  You would call it East Ft Lauderdale if you were trying to sell the house. 

Then the bar opened, and some life started to flicker back into the place.   Diane was there all the while, and you can easily say that she was directly responsible for the way the City looks today.  She would be at almost every Commission meeting giving suggestions to those who would listen, and letting those know who wronged her or her beloved Wilton Manors what they are doing wrong.  Some were told in no uncertain terms where they should go and where the boundaries of the City were so they could find themselves on the other side of that line, permanently, preferably.

At some point, Diane was given a sign.  I believe that it was made up by someone in one of the City Departments, but I can’t be sure.   It is a street sign, looks quite official, and says “Diane’s Way”.  She said that they were talking about changing Wilton Drive or NE 26th Street to that, with a twinkle in her eye.  The Drive’s name has never been changed but the sign should go on the wall in the Mayor’s Office facing the Mayor to remind him of the progress that has been made since those bad old days of ineffective government and war zone avoidance.

The picture itself comes from one of the last days of the Old City Hall.  Diane met me at what was the Police Locker Room and Gym that morning to help sell off the contents of the building that had been moved to that room.   It was all to benefit the Wilton Manors Historical Society, another one of her many Good Works.  She and I spent the day rattling around the building, me taking pictures and helping to sell off some things, she was doing the same and giving the history behind some of the artifacts assembled while telling jokes.

One of the most important aspects of that knowledge came out with the Two Lane Initiative that was spearheaded by the Wilton Manors Development Alliance and Wilton Manors Main Street.  Diane came up with the germ of that idea that gradually picked up steam.   It is the Next Step in the re-creation of Wilton Manors, to take the City one step closer to being a true walkable city and an Urban Oasis.  With help, this plan will continue and finally take place now that the debts are being paid off and parking funds are finally being directed with some semblance of sanity to the work at hand.  Politics simply could not be separated from Diane, it was too much of what she was.  The Two Lane Initiative was something she was absolutely committed to, and its progress is absolutely an indication of the current relative capacity and competence of the City.

Diane was known for the best assortment of groaners and dirty jokes of anyone I could think of.  You could always be sure that if Diane was there, she’d have a joke to tell, and it always had a message behind it directed at something pertinent.  You would leave the conversation with the light bulb over your head flickering on and realize just who got the brunt of that zinger.

She was the conscience of this city in many ways, and will be sorely missed.   She was a friend, a confidant, and an amazing source of information.  If you didn’t know Diane Cline, you probably didn’t really know what was going on in Wilton Manors.

Diane, you will be missed by me and by all.

Commission Meeting November 9, 2010 Highlights

Last night’s commission meeting was a short one.  After the swearing in of the elected officials and some light refreshments preceding the event, there was the selection of Tom Green as the Vice Mayor for the City. 

Congratulations, Tom and best of luck.

The meeting was a short agenda but there were some highlights.

During the comments from the Commissioners there was a call from Commissioner Scott Newton for the City to “Invest in the closure of the drive for next year’s” halloween party.  This is an excellent idea, since it will enhance the event and increase safety.  It fell through last year because of the collapse of the original event’s sponsors and by the time that Wilton Manors Main Street was able to pick up the event, it was too late to close the Drive.  The timing was just not right.  With Commissioner Newton’s backing, an early closure of the Drive may be assured regardless of which group handles the event.  Since Wilton Drive is in fact a four lane State Highway, Florida DOT is required to be notified and there are costs with closure.  With the Drive closed for an event everyone wins.  According to Commissioner Newton, during the four days of  Wicked Weekend there were only two related police calls with no arrests.  Events here tend to be a very safe affair.

Vice Mayor Tom Green voiced an interest in the City holding a St Patricks day festivity for next year.  Hopefully they will be able to pull something significant together for this as it is already getting late for any plans on a large scale event to fall in place.  Most likely it will be a small community based event instead of a large festival.  Having watched multiple festivals being planned and realizing that a large one with closing of the drive, parades, booths and other public space events would be difficult, I wish them well and would offer my assistance in any way reasonable.  I don’t expect that they have much time before they run against logistics problems.

Vice Mayor Tom Green also reiterated his desire for traffic cameras on Wilton Drive.   I see some problems with this.  Washington DC had tried these cameras and began removing them.  The reason is that people would spot the signs at the intersection, jam their brakes on and cause more accidents than would have happened without the cameras.  It would be more effective to enforce existing laws such as speeding and aggressive driving and get the word out that Wilton Manors is not a place to drive through, but a place to drive to.  If you stand on Wilton Drive and watch the intersections for any length of time, you realize that speeding is the real problem and not people running lights or trying to get through on a “Stale Yellow Light”.

The real solution to speeding on Wilton Drive is to narrow the drive down to two lanes and proceed with the two lane initiative as discussed by many people and championed by Wilton Manors Main Street.  It is very difficult to speed when you have only one lane, there is parking everywhere, and the speed limit is 25MPH.  It is easy and the norm now with four lanes of traffic plus a turn lane at all intersections.

With the proposed Beer Garden going in on NE 6th Ave just above Wilton Drive planning on using valet parking, the idea of adding parking on the Drive with striping in the first phase is needed.  The idea that there is anywhere to park a vehicle for a new bar is questionable, and it should be a requirement that they provide adequate parking sufficient for peak periods.  A beer garden would be a fun change from the usual noisy bar scene, but if you add to the nightmare of parking in the city, you’re going to have problems keeping the business going.  I share Vice Mayor Green’s concern that the plan for valet parking for the Beer Garden parking at the Dairy Queen, 1/2 mile away, is prohibitive from the practicality standpoint.

What Next Wilton Manors

Now that we’re set, and the votes have been counted, what is next?

I have sat in the Commission Chambers for the vast majority of the City Commission meetings for the last four years.   I have seen Mayor Scott Newton become Commissioner.  I watched Commissioner Gary Resnick become Mayor and now reelected. 

I could sit here and say I was wrong because it was a two to one majority to put Resnick back. 

I won’t.

I’ve noticed a polarization of people’s opinions in this city.  In my opinion, the problems of questionable journalistic practices of the Island City News as well as the alienation of just about every person in the city are somethings that a cohesive city Commission would be able to counteract with ease. 

I moved here at the beginning of the Republican Induced Great Recession.  People were asking each other what is going to happen and there was the beginning of a climate of concern making people grumble more.  Grumbling turned into annoyance.  When you have people questioning what is going on and nothing is getting better in their eyes, annoyance can quickly become outright hostility.

That causes Polarization and Evangelism within the groups.  Basic Sociology is all I’ve stated here.  Sociology can be boiled down to one major concept and how it works within groups – cohesion.   Cohesion is how closely people bond with each other.  Sure, there are more scientific ways of describing it, but this fits for now.

Sitting in the Commission Chambers, listening to how the two mayors worked with the people I noticed some very strong differences  in style.  Scott Newton was a coalition builder.  He worked with the people on the City, on the Commission, and the volunteer community.  He was able to listen to all, build a consensus and work through some of the problems of the day.  He had some help with then Commissioner Joe Angelo, Current Commissioner Ted Galatis, City Manager Joe Gallegos and many others to name a few.

Now that Scott is a Commissioner, he is able to effect policy more directly.  The reason is that we have a “weak Mayoral” system.  This means that the Mayor has the power to define agenda and has a vote on the decisions at hand, but can’t actively suggest that resolutions are placed before the commission for the vote.  It means that Commissioner is a stronger position than that of Mayor.

The Mayor is expected to be a Manager.  The Mayor has his own opinion but must seek the approval of the rest of the Commission.  The Mayor isn’t silenced and can voice his opinion in session while hoping that someone else will make a motion to enter some new business.

Now we have entered Resnick’s second term.   I have noticed that through the first term, once he got past the honeymoon period, Gary was becoming less democratic and more autocratic.  There used to be two opportunities for public comment in each Commission Meeting, Mr Resnick immediately did away with the last comment session.   With meetings running over two hours normally, points made early would be forgotten.   People would speak their peace then leave and not see what happens because it was either not interesting to them or having said their word, they were happy.   It all serves to minimize the impact of the people of the city of Wilton Manors and insulate the people from their elected officials.  

Autocracy feeds into itself.  Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The way I understand that phrase, the more power one gets,  the less responsive to the needs of those who gave it to the one in power one will be.

I have noticed a disturbing autocratic turn of events in the run up to the elections.  There has been outright hostility on the part of the Mayor toward the volunteer community.  Sometimes it would be echoed in the other commissioners depending on the individual, but for the most part it came from the Mayor.

This is a small city, population around 12,800 in 2000 census.  Roughly.  To get done “half” of the things we do here in Wilton Manors, we rely on a strong volunteer community.  Many hours of work in planning and zoning, budget, recreation and other boards as well as affiliated boards such as historic and civic associations are donated free of charge.  Hostility toward a volunteer group is a foolish undertaking.  It only serves to evangelize them, to make them more vocal.  If the volunteer group is not funded by the city, I wonder how much input the city has a right to put into the volunteer’s efforts. 

Basically, you get what you pay for, and this is a gift.   Sitting on high and pre-judging someone’s effort in gift giving is frankly questionable morally.  Guidance may be necessary, but pre-judgement is uncalled for.

I’m quite afraid that we’re going to have another two years of that.  Little progress happened in the City over the last two years.   We’ve had a down economy and that will slow things down some.  On the other hand, policies put into effect now will effect where the city will go in the future.   Slowing down the economy should not stop policies.  The last two years were marked by a lack of leadership, a spirit of divisiveness, and an imperial attitude.   I fear that the next two will be worse.

Again, all of this is just my opinion.  If you don’t like it, my suggestion is simple, get involved.  Sit through the entire meeting.  Sometimes the most important part of what is said is said in the last 15 minutes of the meeting.  I realize it will be hard to sit through more of what now current, then interim Commissioner Julie Carson says with her apparent circular logic but for the most part if you want to be involved, that is how you do it.  You actually have to participate.  Someone else will pick up the slack but you will just have to deal with what they decide to do with it.

What was the Local Election 2010 About Anyway

The people who won in Wilton Manors municipal elections won basically because they were able to leverage their messages most effectively.  Say what you will about Gary Resnick and Julie Carson and their behavior before the election, they were effective at leveraging the bird cage liner of a new paper that is called the Island City News.   The ICN has this habit of printing long winded articles that make Gary Resnick look like the Second Coming that will “even slice dice and make Julienne fries”.  I doubt that Mr Resnick knows how to make fries, although he may be quite good in the kitchen.  I doubt that the Island City News has printed an accurate article about any of the issues that have happened in Wilton Manors other than perhaps that a meeting happened in the Commission Chambers on a certain night.   Usually after getting that paper it is more like the “Lies in the City News” than anything else because what I read there usually has me wondering what meeting the reporter was writing about.

When you have a someone using the “bully pulpit” on a regular basis, and that is the only message that you hear, you begin to believe it.   Propaganda is a great weapon and if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth.  Whether the bully is the publisher of that particular paper or the article writer, I will leave to you to find your own opinion.  I have my own.  This being a blog posting, it is completely unpaid opinion and it is up to you to decide whether to believe me or not.

The Island City News is NOT an official publication of the Wilton Manors City Government in any way shape or form.  They may have pretensions of becoming one, and you can ask them yourself whether that is in the publishers plans, I for one do not believe anything printed in the paper.  When you have a paper that has a questionable grip on reality making the only political recommendations, you end up with people like Gary Resnick and Julie Carson having a significant advantage.

The other issue at hand is the “Phone it In” mentality that some people have with participation in their own City government.  This is where people who never show for a single Commission Meeting will pick up a paper or surf a web site for an “expert” opinion and then use it exclusively.   Generally it is better to ask your neighbors who they’re going to vote for and get a reason why than depend on any one given organization. 

No matter where it comes from, an opinion is by definition biased.  If you surf the Democratic Party’s website you will get a list of Democratic candidates.   The Republicans will do the same.  The Dolphin Democrats will only recommend a straight candidate if they do not compete with a gay candidate.  Everyone has their own bias.  The people who tend to read one blog or web site will have a common mindset – Birds of a Feather will vote together.  The exception are the League of Women’s Voters sites and similar.  Trying to come to an objective conclusion without having ever spoken to a local candidate is next to impossible.   If you have never been to a commission meeting or a political rally, you really do need to.  Getting up off the couch is important.  Unfortunately, those same people who are not researching their votes are the majority and they are the ones who will win the election.

It is the job of the candidate to get out and counter the bias for an incumbent by knocking on doors.  Walking down the streets on Recycling Day you see people walk to the mailbox and drop the political flyers directly into the recycling bin without a glance.  It is much more difficult to put a candidate into the recycling bin.  The candidate needs to concentrate outside of the core group, and if you are an outsider you need to spend time on those people who are most likely not going to vote. 

In this system, it all depends on marketing and getting your message out.  “Putting a spin on things” is so common that I can use that phrase and have it be universally understood.  Unfortunately that also reflects on the dumbing down of the entire process.  We are all busy but there are some things that are important and if you hand away your decision making power to a representative, you need to do so with care and not to a biased “News” source.   On the other hand, Fox News makes a lot of money being a shill for the right so it must work.

Polls are Open, Go Vote

Don’t disappoint Joe Angelo, Steve Zollo, as well as Celeste Ellich, Scott Newton, and Ted Galatis.

Go and vote for Progressive Candidates of every party.
If you don’t everyone here will frown.

Being involved in the Volunteer effort here in Wilton Manors, I have heard many horror stories.  There is one particular throwaway paper here called the Island City News.   I have yet to read a story in there that I personally would consider unbiased, and that is of course my own opinion.  But the outright slanted stories and the lack of any sort of journalistic ethics (again, my own opinion) in that rag have not been missed by the Legitimate Media.
If you would like to see some of the back story yourself, this article was posted on the Broward New Times Website and it begins to tell the story why so many people want to see Gary Resnick out of office and Steve Kelley’s so called newspaper does not belong in our city.
The Article is linked here.  From what I have seen, they are telling the basic story fairly well, and you can only imagine how much worse that paper is.  Its best use is lining my Parrot’s Cage, but unfortunately it scares him so I just recycle it.
Again, it’s only my opinion, and because we’re talking about Resnick and Kelley I feel compelled to state the following:
This is my own personal opinion, I have not been paid by any political candidate.  I have not been paid for any writing on this blog to date.

Your Mileage May Vary.

Kendrick Meek in Wilton Manors

Yesterday I attended a Get Out The Vote rally at City Hall in Wilton Manors.

I was able to see Kendrick Meek speak on MSNBC and all the local TV stations, and I think he said pretty much exactly what he should have said.

Debbie Wasserman-Shultz on the other hand proved that she doesn’t understand Wilton Manors and if she’s going to inject herself in local politics she should study who she’s supporting…

This was the second Get Out The Vote rally that was held in the early voting season here.   I’m glad that we’re finished with Early Voting because from what I’ve heard around 1/2 of the people who are expected to vote have already done so.  It also means that we won’t have any more spectacles like these rallies.

Why I’m calling it a spectacle is that if you watch how it has been called, and who has been called to the rally – it is strictly a partisan event.  It was called by the desperate current Mayor, in order to rally the troops.  

The actuality is that even in a partisan rally, once again Gary Resnick is Unsuitable and showed it in how he seeks reelection.  The first Get Out The Vote Rally was billed as a non partisan affair.  This being South Florida and Wilton Manors, it was almost exclusively a Democratic affair as well as being partially hosted by the Dolphin Democrats, a group that seems to have a purpose of getting gay candidates elected – even if the candidate is not as good a candidate as a straight one who is an ally.  It seems to me that that is skewed, and the Dolphin Dems are doing some very good straight candidates a strong disservice by not supporting them.

I got to see State Senator Chris Smith mishandle the election by supporting the Clueless Gary Resnick in such a rude and diffident manner that I won’t be voting for this person in any future elections.  The Imperious manner he brushed off questions of his support proves that he does not care about local elections, and the people who he support left me question his capability to lead.

Had the Tea Party been there, it would have been a more appropriate time than it was yesterday. 

I had arrived to the rally about 15 minutes early to speak with Candidate for the City Commission, Steve Zollo and Current Commissioner Ted Galatis and both people are a pleasure to speak with.  Fascinating individuals, if you ever get a chance to speak with them by all means do.

Up comes the fringe radicals the Tea Party and they start to surround Steve Zollo and myself with their bizarre signs and claims.  These signs were questioning all sorts of things from the legitimacy of the current federal government to what Stephanie Miller would call Shaking Their Puny Fists In Anger At The Sky – undirected anger at everyone and everything.  When one of them tried to set themselves up with a sign behind me, I merely looked down at them and they backed off.  It seems that lunatics don’t like being stared at.  Steve Zollo was audibly and visibly disturbed and I said, Loudly, “Don’t worry Steve, it won’t be the first time I had to work Security at an event!”.  At that point the Lunatic Fringe redeployed further away from me and Steve.

Steve decided to go talk to Ted under the tree near where the legitimate candidates set up and called to me to come over.  Saying that I had lived long enough in South Florida to appreciate the shelter of a good shade tree, I relocated next to Mr Zollo and Galatis and continued an engaging conversation as the rest of the people gathered.

The rally got started with Kendrick Meek arriving to one clown with a bullhorn chanting his name, OK, Fine it’s a Political Rally but it’s a small area, decidedly overkill.  They tried to get Mr Meek and the crowd excited, but the reality was that this being a small town, there really weren’t that many people there.  Press outnumbered the locals at least 3 to 1, and the locals that were there were all involved in the elections or like me – volunteers.

None of that dissuaded the affable Kendrick Meek, and the questions started with the inevitable one about whether he should withdraw from the US Senate Race.

If I had seen Kendrick Meek before I had voted, I would have immediately been convinced to vote for Meek.  Assuming that what he had said was completely true, Charlie Crist had called him three times over the last two days to try to convince Meek to remove himself from the race.   The Rumored call from ex President Bill Clinton had not come to try as well.  When Crist finally got to talk to Meek, the conversation was basically Crist saying “If you drop out, I win”.   Charlie Crist, that was a call that should have happened before Early Voting had started… at this point not only has the horse already left the barn, but has run a race and won the Kentucky Derby.  

Timing, Mr Crist is everything and you certainly blew that one.

One thing that stuck in my mind said by Kendrick Meek was that Charlie Crist was a Republican for many years, chose not to fight the Ultra Right Leaning Marco Rubio  and declared himself a convenient Independent.  Kendrick Meek declared himself a “True Democrat” and would fight for “Democratic Values” and then said “What exactly does Charlie Crist Stand For?”.   After hearing that I was wondering myself.

As disastrous as a Senator Marco Rubio would be for the rights of Floridians with his near Fascist leanings with stated policies of his working to reverse “Roe v. Wade”, the other choice would be the moral quicksand that a Charlie Crist would present.   What does he stand for indeed?

After Meek Left, the publicity hound, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz took stage and asked for her own support.  She said basically nothing of what she stood for, put up a wall of sound, muttered some support for Gary Resnick and then left.   I got more of what she stood for after the cameras were off when she offered Kendrick Meek some of her sandwich.  That showed a more endearing side than her public persona.  Debbie, go with it, the warmth will win you more than supporting an unfit Gary Resnick.

After Debbie left the little area, the cameras left, and Gary Resnick was left alone to speak to his shoes and the locals and even the Tea Party radicals left spouting more of their agenda which included homophobia, xenophobia (round up all THOSE people and send them home), and a circle the wagon mentality that left me wondering if I could borrow a flack jacket from the Wilton Manors PD.

Once again, Gary Resnick was left alone as his supporters were nowhere to be seen.  There were more people there supporting the candidates that pledged to co-operate as the weak support that Resnick had melted away like an empty table at a Business Association meeting.  If Mr Resnick gave a speach, it was ineffective with a weak delivery.  I can’t honestly say what he had said, as people simply decided to get out of the bright sunlight and move away.

Once finished, true to form, Gary Resnick headed away very quickly with a couple mumbled slams at his competition, Joe Angelo.  The Passive-Aggressive approach does not win friends and is never completely effective, and I’ve seen this approach from Mr Resnick before, personally. 

Two years ago, I was standing at a door at Wilton Manors Elementary School auditorium where the debates had just finished.   It was a chance to meet the candidates of that day, and this was when Mr Resnick was running for Mayor the last time.   I was holding the door waiting for my partner to arrive so we could leave and he said as he walked past  “I’m surprised you don’t support me” and kept moving.  It was a throwaway comment from a throwaway politician.  He hasn’t changed from that day.  Hopefully he’ll be back to being a private citizen on November 3, we just can’t afford to have him reelected – there is just too much work that needs to be done with this ineffective man at the helm.

Halloween Spooktacular

Celeste was right.  She knows what I’ll enjoy.

In this case I was with the Wilton Manors Rec Volunteers helping out at this year’s Halloween Spooktacular.

This was an event that was primarily for the kids.  In some cases, the kids were well into their 50s and 60s but that didn’t matter.  

I got to watch the City Wilton Manors Leisure Services Director, Patrick Cann in a Pirate Outfit act as an Emcee for the Halloween costume contest.  I will say that he looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself, without an “Arrrr!” in sight!  There were costume classes for different age groups from the Adults down to the Kids and everyone did seem to be having a good time.

Celeste introduced me to the rest of the Rec Volunteer board and we sat about displaying the prizes for the later Cake Walk… a contest that takes a fair amount of description on it’s own.  The prizes for the Cake Walk were on the order of 86 boxes of cakes, cookies, pies, fudge and other assorted sweet gifts.  This being the main event, the wares were on display for the entire evening until the Cake Walk begun.

Since I arrived at 7pm, and the Cake Walk was not scheduled to begin until 8:30pm, I had some time to explore the grounds at Wilton Manors Elementary School.   I had forgotten just how big the place was since usually I’m driving past it on the way to or from somewhere.   It fills a city block and the athletic grounds were a large enough size that I had a feeling that is a rare one in Urbanized South Florida – I felt exposed.  Usually there are so many trees, plantings and homes when you’re in any given town here that everything feels close and intimate.   The grounds were our own little version of Montana Big Sky country where you were away from the trees, away from the buildings and you could see the thunderstorms off in the distance west of I-95 that night.  

The grounds themselves were covered with two Bounce Houses, an inflatable slide, some small bleachers and the basketball court but they didn’t give the impression of being crowded.   Add to it the four large orange parking cones to square off the Cake Walk grounds and you have the scene.

For a little bit more than two hours, I enjoyed the hospitality of Celeste Ellich and the ladies of the Rec Volunteers, as well as running into my friends on the Wilton Manors City Commission and some of the electoral hopefuls.  Knowing all of them I had no problem finding something to do or someone to talk to. 

Rounding out the group was the Taste of the Island sponsored snack stand where grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs as well as some bags of chips and soda could be had.  No dogs were grilled to make the hot dogs.

As time went on, people would buy a ticket for a chance at the Cake Walk and stop over to eye the prizes.  I caught myself eying the perfect little white cakes with a single rose or the yellow iced round layer cakes.  So did a lot of people, and the kids weren’t shy about wanting one.   There was one particular lady that wanted the German Chocolate Cake and asked us to pray for her to win the cake.  Divine intervention was not to be found because someone else eventually got the cake in the first round of the Cake Walk.

The rules of the Cake Walk were simple, but logistically complex.  The grounds were covered with hundreds of hopefuls.  Everyone was lined up on that big square and they had their tickets.   Each ticket you bought was worth one try at a prize.  The music would play and everyone would shuffle around the square and when the music stopped so did you.   A number and a direction was called and then the officials would count the number of people from the cone you stood in the proper direction.   Left 10 meant the person on this leg of the square that was left of the cone that was 10 people away would get a Winner’s ticket and get to choose a prize.   If you had bought another ticket you could get back in line.   Each time the music stopped, four more people got to choose a prize.

Simple right?   Not completely.  Americans being an independent lot tended to bend the rules somewhat, one particular woman didn’t show for her prize immediately.  she walked up to the prizes, gave it a look and wandered back into the line.   We didn’t know what she was up to so I went to ask – she wanted her kid to look.  While she dawdled waiting for the kid, 200 or more people were left scratching their heads.   I managed to get her back to the prizes and she dawdled some more.  Thanks to some diplomacy from the Treasurer of the Rec Volunteers, she got motivated so we could go back to giving more prizes.

Thankfully that one person didn’t win again, but others did win more than once.   The Divine Intervention prize went to a woman dressed as a Nun who won a prize for the costume plus an early cake.   She got selected a third time and came back for some cookies.  

I spotted one very large and tall man with a stack of tickets who must have had the whole block in line – and as such, he ended up winning at least six of the prize treats because at the end of the evening he was walking out with a stack of boxes held up and wedged under his chin.  He didn’t drop any but I had to wonder if he made it to the car.

That was at the end of the night, and the field was deserted in another 15 minutes.   I didn’t spot too many toddlers who were overwhelmed, although there are one or two in every crowd.  According to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, the kids under 3 have a problem discriminating between real and make believe so the sight of so many scary monsters and spooky people could have overwhelmed them.  Get past 3 years old and all is well and the wonders of a child’s imagination takes hold.

Go Big Red!

All in all, it was a fun and diverse crowd, lots of people in costume, lots of fun and food.  Great night out!

An Open Letter to Gary Resnick

As Mayor of Wilton Manors, in 2010, you are engaged in a difficult battle for your seat.  You have a core group of very strong and fervent supporters.  That core group would be typical to any political campaign but it seems as if some of them have decided to step over the line into illegal activities.

For the last three consecutive nights, I have awoken to my Yard Signs having been disturbed. 

This is Friday Morning.

Wednesday Morning, the signs for Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Joe Angelo for Mayor – your competition were pulled from the ground.  I spotted this when I got up to walk the dog and thought that someone just had a little too much fun at karaoke at Boom.  It is Wilton Manors, I am very close to the Shoppes and the Bars.  I thought that perhaps it was just someone annoyed at not having “Gotten Lucky” and took it out on Joe and Celeste’s Signs.

Thursday Morning, it happened again.  Celeste Ellich For Commissioner and Joe Angelo for Mayor’s yard signs were pulled up.  This time I found their two signs tossed in the garden under the window in front of the house.   This I think you agree would be suspicious.  Gary, your supporters are perhaps a bit strident and trespassing is a serious crime. 

Thursday Evening, someone had replaced three signs in a row for Joe Angelo for Mayor, Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Steve Zollo for Commissioner on a lot on NE 21 CT.  The lot had just been mowed and there was a pile of all the yard signs that had been collected.  That was obviously part of mowing the property.  On Friday Morning, all three signs were still there but had been stomped flat.

Friday Morning, today I woke up and stepped outside of the house to find Joe Angelo for Mayor and Celeste Ellich for Commissioner signs next to my porch.  Specifically someone had pulled those two signs, walked up onto the front yard, past the cars, onto my porch and wedged the signs between my hedge and the iron railing on the edge of the Cement that makes the porch. 

They were directly in front of my front door.

Why I think this is a supporter of yours, Mr Resnick is that the sign for Scott Newton for Commissioner has been undisturbed every time.  I only have to readjust it for the wind in the mornings.

I find it difficult to believe that you personally would engage in this kind of activity.  I do not believe that you are that kind of person.  It simply does not seem to be your personality to perform this sort of harassment. I prefer to believe that you have an out of control person with a wild hair supporting you going to my house, specifically, and trespassing while doing this sort of mischief.

Hopefully tomorrow morning when I go to walk my dog, I won’t have to go crawling through gardens in the predawn light.  This is truly getting annoying.

Thank you Gary for your time.

I shall return to my usual pictures and writings about my dog soon, I promise.   November 3rd is coming.

Commission Meeting and Wicked Weekend 2010

I attended the last Commission Meeting of the current Commission before the elections are finalized and we have some changes in the seats.  This was my view from the front row.   As such, this is my opinion.  This is not paid for by any political campaign.   This is not to be construed as a political announcement. 

Last night’s commission meeting was an interesting piece of political theater. It underlined why Gary Resnick is Unsuitable for Public Office.

It started as soon as last night’s commission meeting had begun. A parade of people who having insufficient knowledge of the backgrounds of the Wicked Weekend event have decided to take the Tea Party route and merely condemn without offering an appropriate solution. This proceeded through the Mayor’s comments where Wilton Manors Main Street was thrown under the bus so to speak by his decidedly warped view of history. I was particularly amused by the one commenter that said that since we have people in “The Recovery Community” that we should consider having liquor companies supporting the event wrong. I suspect that this person’s high moral ground extends to Professional Sports and as such he refuses to watch anything with liquor or beer advertising.

I didn’t think so either.

The Mayor seems to feel that the City of Wilton Manors is going to be able to merely put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) and we will have people wearing a groove in Wilton Drive to present their plans to make Wilton Drive home to another festival.

The reality of this shows just how Clueless Gary Resnick is.

Firstly, the event appears to have its own critical mass. People will show whether or not the Mayor wants them. It is drawing people from out of town. People have commented online in chatrooms that they are coming to Wilton Manors for this event as well as Stonewall and other events. Wicked Weekend and Stonewall both are taking on the characteristics of a “Flash Mob”. The City Manager recognized it in the statement he used as well as those of Commissioner Scott Newton and Ted Galatis when they all said to the effect of People Are Coming.

Secondly, there is the Bar Factor. The bars are one of the largest industry in this city. South Florida loves a party, and the bars on Wilton Drive have figured out how to capitalize on this. The City could unilaterally decide that they will do their own thing pending an RFP but the bars will still be there. Should the bars be cut out of the planning of the event, the bars will merely open their doors and fuel the party making their own profit. Should the City decide to go into business itself and try to staff the Drive with stand alone liquor sales booths, I would expect that the bar owners would not lend any help to this event. Whether or not you like having bars on the Drive, they are there for now, and we don’t see them moving off for any time to come. The City putting itself in direct competition with an established business or businesses leaves the City open to all sorts of liabilities and may find itself slapped with a lawsuit for any number of things.

Conflict of Interest, anyone?

Thirdly, consider that there have been festivals in the past that have not been able to make this work. Wilton Drive is a thoroughfare in the middle of an urban area. There are intersecting streets, back alleys, back doors, and other entry points. I personally would be entertained simply by watching the City try to close off the Drive with all those leaky entry points especially with them having to maintain traffic through the core of a party that is currently expected to have 30,000 people! Since there is no practical way to close off the Drive with gates in order to charge festival goers for entry, how would the City expect any other entity to do so. After all, it is a public, state road and if someone wants to cross the road in a chicken costume, how can you justifiably charge them for the privilege?

I would welcome this effort. I am sure that the chaos that would ensue would put another nail in the incompetent Mayor’s political coffin. The list of people that came out to speak against Wilton Manors Main Street with little idea of what actually went on to produce the festivals that are held here was not very long, and for the most part political contributors to the Mayor’s own personal campaign. Hopefully the money that they contributed will be a waste. Gary Resnick is bad for the City of Wilton Manors and the political theater and the mind games that have been displayed in the run up to the election have been many. I for one am looking forward to Mr Resnick having a retirement party on November 3, 2010 as he is voted out of office once and for all. At that point maybe we will have a city government that is committed to work together on the future of Wilton Manors instead of blatantly pulling it apart for their own purposes.

Fundraisers are fun when Naomi is the host

Thank you Naomi Parker.

Yesterday I was at the fundraiser for Joe Angelo for Mayor , Celeste Ellich for Commissioner and Steve Zollo for Commissioner – all for the City of Wilton Manors.

At least I think it was officially for those three…

But I am getting ahead of myself. 

Every neighborhood has its share of Characters.  Interesting people that make life better by their being there.  I hadn’t had the distinct PLEASURE (Get that?  I can’t stress it enough!) of meeting Naomi Parker before.  She lives within walking distance of me, I’ve walked Mrs Dog past her house thinking that she’s done nice work on her property, but I never knew that the beauty on the outside was outshone by the beauty of this warm woman’s love and hospitality. 

Naomi is one of those people that when you say you hadn’t met her you hear “You mean you haven’t Met NAOMI?” in tones of awe of the experience you will have as you get to know this gem of a person.  Naomi is a warm and giving person who seems to be the “Earth Mother” of that side of the Central Neighborhood.  One of those people who seems to know everyone and lives her life by making them feel cared for, Naomi opened her house to me and mine, and the political people last night. 

Oh did I say she made some of the best Barbecue I’ve had and I’m making it my own personal quest to find some of the best.  You know you’re in for some good food when you spot that smoke from a block away and sniff that tang of a barbecue grill on the air.  This thing was easily 10 feet long of grilling potential.  Forget your Weber’s folks, Naomi doesn’t mess around!

The warmth of Naomi and her friends was apparent as people in the neighborhood floated past the house all evening.  She started us off with the food and she’d introduce us to the neighbors, offer them some of her specialties, and set us on the right track.

That was a perfect analogy to the evening.  Warmth and Inclusiveness.

For the entire time I was there, the yard was filled with friends and family.  Everyone welcome, everyone enjoying themselves.  I’m skipping a breakfast that I don’t need because she had so much on the table that was so wonderful.

As the group grew to its peak, I was asked what I would write about in this posting.  I looked around at the crowd and pointed out that I was looking at a group of people who are competitors in the current elections, at no point did the number of electoral hopefuls fall below 4 out of 7 for the municipal election.  Every one of them were chatting like they were old friends.

As a Project Manager, I was looking at it from the “Team Building” angle.   I realized if I were their boss, I would have had no work building the team.  These people were all able to work together, talk, and not compete.  It was an interesting view, as I pointed it out to the people gathered.  Celeste Ellich had said that “that was the way we wanted it.”  For the most part, the City Commission does work together, fairly well.  With some notable exceptions, the people on the Dais every two weeks are there to co-operate and not play schoolyard games.

I would say that the fundraiser was a success.  It started at 4pm, and I left after 7pm which was it’s official ending time.  Despite being turned into a pincushion by hungry mosquitoes (this is South Florida after all), I didn’t want to leave.  There were good friends, good food and good times.  I can’t say enough good about the time. 

The bottom line is that if you haven’t voted, I can easily say that any of the people that were there last night were deserving of your vote.  

The list would be as follows:

For Mayor – Joe Angelo
For the 4 Year Commission Seats – Pick 2 of 3
Ted Galatis, Scott Newton, and Steve Zollo
For the 2 Year Commission Seat – Celeste Ellich

Thank you again Naomi!