Undercurrents

For more than a year, Broward developer Michael Swerdlow has been itching to buy and suburbanize a hundred-acre land parcel on the western fringe of Hollywood. What a headache it has been: Byzantine permit applications and squawking from NIMBY types who hate Swerdlow's plan to turn the semiwetland into a traffic magnet replete with 600 dwellings. There's even a pesky Indian mound to gum up the works.

Most recently, on August 28, one of Swerdlow's minions sent an application to the South Florida Water Management District, seeking yet another permit for the proposed Oakridge West development. A bureaucrat sent it back, asking for a complete listing of all owners, not just one.

The other landowners: Carl Gambino, Joseph Gambino, Thomas Gambino, and Phyllis Sinatra.

What? Could this be the long-sought link between dead crooner Frank Sinatra and New York Mob boss Carlo Gambino? And proof that Swerdlow is indeed the anti-Christ, as opponents of sprawl have long suspected?

Not at all, according to Hollywood attorney David Mankuta, who represents the sellers. "I know for a fact that she's not related to Frank Sinatra," he says of Phyllis Sinatra. "I think her husband's a physician. In terms of the Gambinos, I know plenty of Gambinos that are not related to the notorious Gambino."

Lawyer Barbara Hall, who has appeared as Swerdlow's agent at several public meetings, claims no one was trying to keep the eyebrow-raising names out of the limelight. "It was certainly not an effort to hide anything," Hall says. "Sometimes journalists see goblins where there aren't any."

Imagine this: You're a nudist, working on a full-body tan on clothing-optional Haulover Beach, when you see a huddled mass of suits moving across the sand, surveying the flesh-filled landscape. On October 11, up to 200 lawyers are expected to tour both Haulover and South Beach as part of "Non Sexual Nudity: Threat or Benign," a legal symposium sponsored by the Naturist Education Foundation and South Florida Free Beaches. So, will the attorneys don birthday suits or pinstripes?

"I'm not encouraging them to do anything," says Shirley Mason, a director with the NEF and chair of the SFFB's Legal Defense Fund. "We're having a tour of the beach so they can see for themselves that the world doesn't fall apart when there's... nude sunbathing."

The Arizona-based National Family Legal Foundation disagrees. The radical-right group has been pushing boilerplate ordinances on local governments that affect not only the strip clubs they're ostensibly aimed at, but nudists, entertainers, and others, says Mason. Imagine: no more community-theater productions of Hair; or thong swimsuits on the beach; or exiting the shower at home without a towel (just in case your two-year-old is looking).

The symposium will feature 30 speakers, including State Rep. Barry Silver, who helped throw out a Palm Beach County antinudity ordinance in a case involving a thong-wearing hot dog vendor.

Mason's already received a "nasty-gram" from one lawyer responding to an ad for the symposium. "He was offended," she says. "He said, 'non sexual nudity' was an oxymoron."

Her response?
"I told him to get his mind out of the gutter."

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbroward.com.

 
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