Letters June 3-9, 2004

Once a commission candidate, always a critic:

 Once a commission candidate, always a critic: Bob Norman's June 20 column, "Justice Revised," reveals how Hollywood taxpayers are represented and at what cost. The piece does not compliment Mayor Mara Giulianti, Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, or the way public business has been conducted regarding a contract for the removal of sludge from the wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor Giulianti states: "The guy who wrote the articles is a third-rate reporter for a third-rate paper" and "what smells worse than the sewer sludge are some political opponents who are continuing to use dirty pre-election tactics." By that, I assume she means that there are still troublemakers out there and that no one but her and her subordinate officials are telling the truth. For the record, the reporter who wrote the exposé, Bob Norman, has won numerous awards for excellent investigative reporting.

All this stink has attracted a lot of attention. Other newspapers have called for an explanation. Four cities -- Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hallandale Beach, and Dania Beach -- and parts of unincorporated Broward have their sewer service contracts with Hollywood. They want to know how commissioners arrived at their decision. First-rate companies have sent letters of protest, stating they have been shut out of the bidding process because of inappropriate, restrictive, and unrealistic bidding terms.

On November 26, 2003, a committee of experts recommended Florida-N-Viro for the sludge removal contract. However, the City of Hollywood did not act on this recommendation. A vote on the issue was delayed till March 23, 2004, well after the elections, when the Hollywood City Commission awarded the contract to Schwing Bioset. Now, after delaying the vote for 118 days, "time is of the essence," says Public Utilities Director Whit Van Cott; the job has to be done in 120 days. What is known of events at this point is enough information to file for a court injunction. Next should come criminal charges for bid-rigging, unlawful compensation, and corruption.

Mayor Giulianti's defensive and indignant article is a sorry attempt to cover up what went down here. Her explanations and finger-pointing just won't cut it. This is not the time for indignation or finger-pointing, mayor. An investigation by a state-appointed, impartial investigator with subpoena powers should be called for. Since the mayor has consistently advocated telling the truth, she now has an opportunity to solidify that belief by asking the commission to instruct the city attorney to get the investigation started. Time is of the essence.

Pete Brewer

Hollywood

Ugly free weekly: As a former member of the Fort Lauderdale Historic Preservation Board, I would like to clarify some points in the May 20 Tailpipe column that appeared under the heading "Sailboat Bent." The case has been appealed to the City Commission.

1. We are not demolishing two historic homes. They are being relocated within the site and restored at great expense. Today, they are somewhat rundown rental properties. As a matter of fact, these two historic homes will be given the most prominent exposure on the redeveloped site. A third, nonhistoric apartment will be demolished.

2. This is not a "condo" project. It will consist of seven new, two-story, Florida-vernacular-style townhouses plus the two restored homes, which will be enlarged.

3. I am not the developer. I am acting as the owner's agent and architect.

4. We did not "promise" the neighborhood a good job; we did a great job. Since September of last year, we have been working on this project, met with civic association members, and even presented a preliminary submission to the Historic Preservation Board. We took very seriously their suggestions to the point of obtaining unanimous support from the Sailboat Bend Civic Association. That in itself is a feat, since they take their neighborhood very seriously and are a very educated group.

5. Veronica Sazera never participated in any discussion that we held with the association, nor did she make a telephone call to us. She even spoke of building 16 units when in fact only nine are proposed. It is sad when someone speaks with such anger about something that he or she has not seen in full detail.

6. The zoning is and has been multiple-family in that area for many years, 25 units per acre. There are two-story rental apartments directly across the street from Sazera's home on SW 11th Avenue; there are also apartments behind this development and shotgun apartments directly east. We are proposing 15 units to the acre, or 60 percent of what's allowed. All the major trees, except for an oak tree that will be relocated, will be left surrounding the perimeter, all garages will be hidden from view, and units all have front porches and verandas facing the streets. There are many other features that will be an asset to the community.

Gus Carbonell

Fort Lauderdale

Tailpipe responds: Carbonell's first two points are correct, though the errors mentioned are minor. He applied to demolish only one structure, not two (though one of two historic homes is being "partially demolished," according to documents). And the proposal is for townhomes, not condos. As to the third point, developer is not a technical term, so that is not an error, though we appreciate the clarification. As to the other points in his letter, they don't represent errors, only subjective points. But hey, that's nothing to spit black smoke at.

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