Undercurrents

Warning the homeless

Mara, Mara, Mara.

We have grown increasingly concerned about the mayor of Hollywood and her grasp of reality. Or at the very least her ability to read a newspaper and a calendar.

Writers from this paper have called Mara Giulianti regarding stories, and she rarely deigns to return phone calls. The mayor outright refuses to talk to certain reporters. Mara didn't respond when we called for comment about an Undercurrents item on Julie Kay getting taken off the Hollywood beat by Miami Herald editors, supposedly because of Mara's complaints about unfavorable press (a favorite topic). Hollywood residents claimed they heard the mayor during a July 6 meeting gloating over Kay's apparent demotion.

But Mara certainly called us after publication and claimed our story "had no basis in fact," that we were "100 percent wrong" about her comments at the meeting, and what's more, she had proof : tapes of the meeting!

Now, all newspapers make mistakes on occasion, so we took her accusation seriously, even though we'd given her a chance to set the record straight before publication. After all, she is the mayor of Hollywood.

So we checked again with the citizens who heard Mara's derogatory comments about Kay, including Hollywood resident Cami Ceritelli, who was at the meeting July 6. Cami stuck to her version. Hmmm. Somebody has to be wrong. Guess who it is? It turns out Mara hadn't looked too closely at our story or her calendar. There was no tape of that July 6 meeting where she dissed Kay. Mara had the tape of the regular city council meeting of July 7. Poor Mara had to listen to hours of a meeting that she ran for no reason at all and had to suffer through all that acrimony and posturing again.

Oh, yeah, we formally decline to make a correction. And yes, we're gloating.

Adds Ceritelli, "I know what I heard, and it was unprofessional of Mara to be saying it. It was pretty rotten." Boy howdy.


The ongoing struggle between Fort Lauderdale's finest and Broward's homeless took an unusual turn last week. A source claims that the police were given a directive by the city commission to clear out the homeless around Tallent Liquors on West Broward, one of the few remaining places in the city where the homeless can safely stay. But before the rousting commenced, Fort Lauderdale cops did an unlikely thing: They called ahead.

According to homeless advocates, this is the first time that the police have warned them beforehand of an impending sweep. Apparently the cops wanted to give local do-gooders a chance to put the indigent up for the night before moving in for the kill. For their part, the kinder, gentler Fort Lauderdale police insist with a straight face that this is how they've always done business. And, of course, pressure from politicians didn't initiate the sweep. They deny that the order came from the commission; it was just time to herd the homeless out of the area.

Despite the mixed messages, Sean Cononie, head of the COSAC Foundation, appreciates the heads-up. "They played fair by us," he says of his new pals at the PD. Are we entering a new era of good feelings? Not likely. Of the paltry four people Cononie convinced to come with him, none decided to stay at his shelter. So they headed back to the streets, where they face more harassment. Old habits die hard. Unfortunately the same may go for the police and how they treat the homeless.

Got a tip? Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbpb.com.

 
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