Letters for May 9, 2002

Watching Norman's back

And fishing Horan from the drink:On April 25, New Times printed a letter from Mickey Baker chastizing columnist Bob Norman for a biased column and Mike Horan, the subject of Norman's column, for being a sore loser in a lawsuit. I am a 25-year resident of Pompano, a lawyer, and a 13-year civic activist. I follow Pompano politics, so I believe I am qualified to comment on both Norman's column and Baker's letter. I was also in touch with Horan during his lawsuit and with developer Jean Lacerte (still suing), so I write not with speculation but with knowledge.

Horan was not upset because there was real or potential boat noise. He was complaining because of a safety issue and because the city decided to donate a public roadway to the marina -- a roadway much used by the public. The owner wanted to quadruple the storage capacity of the marina, adjacent to a residential area, and use two residential lots (between the marina and Horan's home) as part of the marina. The substantial increase in inflammable fuel increases risk to adjacent residents. There is no buffer between the marina and the residential area, except for 50 feet of landscaping -- not much if there is a big petroleum-fueled fire. I have a serious problem with public officials giving our streets to developers.

They're still doing that, despite the fact that giving the street to the marina has worsened congestion in that area. Horan lost the lawsuit, but the judge did not declare the lawsuit "frivolous." Horan's suit withstood a motion to dismiss. He had facts, but they were not strong enough to stand up to a motion for summary judgment. Hence, Horan lost, but he didn't have to pay attorneys' fees.

Norman's column was accurate, considering its length. He could have written in greater detail, with more facts, but there were facts in Norman's column, and they were accurate.

Pompano has a history of pressing legal matters against those it considers to be "political enemies." Hence, you find the full weight of the city's treasury brought to bear against Ed Stanton (one of Norman's earlier columns), Mike Horan, and (don't be surprised) against me. Yes, I dared to circulate a petition to have Pompano's mayor elected by the people, and the city hired both a Fort Lauderdale law firm and an Orlando law firm to block me. With such impressive talent, the trial judge ruled against me. But the appeals court unanimously reversed. I have a bit more legal acumen than the city is accustomed to confronting. The case is now before the Florida Supreme Court, and I predict the city's appeal will be thrown out any week now.

So, Mickey Baker, I'm glad you're paying attention to what's going on around here, even though you live in Parkland; but either you are in error in your analysis of Norman's column or you are one of the Pompano political hacks who see nothing wrong with special interests running our city. I hope you are the former and not the latter, but either way, Norman did a good job writing the facts and his opinions.

M. Ross Shulmister
Pompano Beach

But hasn't he predicted before?Kudos! Chuck Strouse's succinct comments in April 18's Undercurrents regarding the arts park at Young Circle Park in Hollywood are a great intro to round three of the debate. The piece fairly encircles and draws a diagonal line through the sand of the issue. As usual, I find myself a critic of what I characterize as promises, promises!

The posited plans promise the funding agency that the 2004 results will fit the grant requirements, that citizens will realize some benefit, and that artists and patrons will be considered. Horsefeathers! All money will go toward the sizzle, and the eventual steak will be tough, mealy, tasteless, and, worst, rancid, by the time the taxpayers wake up and have their say, NostraDavid predicts!

I admit to an ongoing love/hate relationship with Downtown Hollywood's flirtation with using the arts to revitalize and gentrify the central eyesores. I love the potential, so I agree with the editor that Hollywood could be/is the coolest town in South Broward. But I hate the bastardization that always comes from the powers that be. They are working without tools to create a concept they do not understand. Someone, somewhere is going to have to learn enough about art to play the game. Where is my love?

If you take a map of the South Florida metropolitan area and fold it, the fold would fall along Hollywood Boulevard, so any plan utilizing art should appeal to that segment of the population that lives from Homestead to Palm Beach. What do I hate? People who complain I should shut up because I live a quarter mile west of Hollywood. My point is that there are powerful artsphobic, bibliophobic, and culturephobic controlling elements in the way of art, and those are the ABCs of it, not to mention Preparation H, as in homophobic constraints. Art and its beneficial results are bitter antagonists in downtown. Color me pessimistic about this current charade.

David Maxwell
Pembroke Pines

Don't Cast the First StoneAfter reading about Space Hippie's experience with the police in his April 18 letter, I think it is a shame that all people of the world don't remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.

I hope that someone cares enough to pass this on: Don't drink, drug, or smoke; save sex for marriage; be the sex you were born; turn in the guns and sharp weapons to the local authorities; be responsible and nice. If you can't stop, go to AA, NA, etc. Let's be good Americans and make our homes, streets, schools, and the world safe as it was before WWII. Let's all get honest and learn to respect, care, and help one another and live in harmony as humans should.

This should be passed on to our president and his wife, Laura.

Rita Duggan
Deerfield Beach

He's written before, and he'll write again:In reference to Chuck Strouse's April 11 column: I could have told you the "water taxi" was a rip-off of the poor Broward County taxpayer.... Before I retired, I worked for local governments as a city planner and city manager, and I've learned one thing: Government can "piss it away" faster than anyone could imagine!

Fred Bluestone
via the Internet

New Times Broward-Palm Beach cleaned up in the 52nd Annual Green Eyeshade Excellence in Journalism Awards, which were presented April 20 in Atlanta. The paper took five awards, including four first places in the weekly print category. The contest includes newspapers from 11 Southeastern states.

Columnist Bob Norman was the big winner, taking home two firsts and a third. His five-part series "Admitting Terror," which documented negligence at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, topped the non-deadline-reporting category. "Backyard Bloodbath," a two-parter on kids who hurt themselves while imitating professional wrestlers, was named best in the feature category.

Norman placed third in business reporting for a story about Delta Airlines' problems in dealing with a bomb threat. Staff writer Wyatt Olson won that category with his story about R. Donohue Peebles, which described the black developer's tendentious past.

Finally, New Times editor Chuck Strouse placed first in serious commentary for a column about anti-Cuban sentiment within the INS during the Elián Gonzalez dispute.

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