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.

Post Halloween Calm, Pre Election Annoyance

Getting up before the dawn at what I’ve heard someone call “Insane O’Clock” with the dog, I headed out of the house for the morning mile.

A hint to those who have a dog who is out of control or a nuisance barker – your dog is bored.  Take the dog for three long walks a day.  If you can’t see your toes, your waistline will appreciate that.  I have a Border Collie, the number one breed in boomerang dogs – dogs who end up at the shelter for a second or more time because people don’t know how to live with such an intelligent animal.   Almost every dog will benefit from more exercise.  Living in these days, almost every human being would benefit from having a dog that requires three walks of a mile a day each.   So go take your dog for a walk, leave this posting up and finish reading when you get back.

There, wasn’t that pleasant?

My first walk this day had me out of the house well before 6AM.  I had my headphones on and was listening to an audio book and taking note of what went on after the four day celebration of Halloween here in Wilton Manors. 

For the most part, the central business district was markedly cleaner than I would have expected.  The last four days were slammed with people walking up and down Wilton Drive at some time or another.  Saturday Night seemed to be the peak of it with cars littering front lawns, parked in other people’s driveways illegally, and people walking from their cars to the festivities on Wilton Drive. 

I have seen similar celebrations in other cities.  Places that were more conventional tended to have an almost Post-Apocalyptic look about them.  In other cities, I could find bits of the celebration for months after they happened in corners and alleys if I just looked.  Things may have been picked up but they weren’t cleaned up for the residents, and for the most part things were only set right after the nearest home owner or business owner went out and “Flea Dipped” their property. 

Wilton Manors doesn’t seem to have that problem.  I certainly attribute it to the demographics of the area.  There were no fights that I saw.  People didn’t go out of their way to be rude.  There was a festival atmosphere but there’s a spirit of camaraderie that didn’t have that edge I had seen in some places. 

It was carried through to the way the city looked this morning.  While we played host to some thousands of people, it was an orderly crowd.  Yes, they were there to party but there were no broken shrubs, no upset palm trees, and no street furniture uprooted and placed on top of cars. 

It was a success, although it could certainly have been better.  Next year, halloween will come.   Wilton Manors will have another influx of people.  Expect it.  Wilton Manors is the place to be for a party on most weekends, and Halloween is an amazing time here.   It has been that way for years, and it will continue as long as we have a City Government that will plan for the future Flash Mobs that will show.  With Wilton Manors Main Street assisting the bars to pick up the ball that was dropped by the original planners, we all made the best of a bad situation.  Wilton Drive could not be closed because the Drive is a State Road.  A State Road closure requires permitting that takes some significant amount of time and the deadlines were passed.  There are some significant fees that are required to be paid as well, and that would require some planning so that nobody is left holding the bag for that sort of expense as well as making sure the Police get paid, the liquor is paid for and people are compensated fairly for their efforts, time, and inconvenience.

Keeping the Drive open was a requirement due to all of the above and more.  It wasn’t the best situation but it was managed exceedingly well by a coalition of business owners and civic organizations.  

The only situation that I had heard that was unfortunate was that a woman passed out on Wilton Drive.  Perhaps it was too much partying, but she passed out.  The story I was told about the situation was that she went down in front of Current Mayor Gary Resnick and his partner Eric, and Candidate Joe Angelo for Mayor and his friends.   I was told that Resnick and his partner “ran away” and Joe Angelo and his friends made sure that this woman made it into a bar to sit and revive herself.

Thank you Joe Angelo, the City of Wilton Manors should be grateful that good people like you are here to help others in their time of need.

Walking through the drive and turning down the back streets, I noticed that they were generally clean and cared for.  The neighborhood changed from Commercial and High Density Residential to Low Density Residential fairly quickly.  It took the usual South Florida view of tidy yards and plantings within a block of The Drive. 

This being election season there were yard signs in front of people’s homes supporting one candidate or another, as I have written before.   I made it down to one particular lot that had been mowed last week and someone had obtained permission to place some election signs there.  It’s on a fairly major thoroughfare and people do cross through daily on their way to and from the Drive.

That plot of land eventually collected signs from almost every politician in the county and every one in the City who is running for office.  When the management company came through and mowed it, they picked up all the yard signs and piled them neatly together in one spot.  The next day, someone came through and sorted out three specific signs and placed them in the ground to see.  That morning they were thrown down.  Someone then picked them up again and by the next morning, they were down again.  This has been going on for around a week now.  I’m looking forward to seeing who keeps tossing the signs down because if I do, I’ll make it a point to let the candidates know so they can file a complaint with the police. 

They have left mine alone for the last two days. 

So as clean as the drive has been, the neighborhood is being trashed by overzealous supporters of one or more particular candidates who don’t think that their candidate has a good enough message to send by trashing a third party’s yard.  This is decidedly not in the tolerant spirit that drew me to this City in the first place.

Thankfully Wednesday November 3 is coming soon and we can all go back to living our lives without having to watch for trespassers.

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.