Letters for April 21-27, 2005

From a Mayor Who Accomplished Things

And didn't just sit on his tush: I am writing to congratulate Trevor Aaronson on his April 7 article, "Curious George Sails the River of Red." It is the best overview I've seen of what has happened to city finances during the past several years. This is not to say that I fully agree with his apportionment of the blame, but there is certainly enough to go around. Also, I question whether the figures the mayor uses to claim Fort Lauderdale is the highest-taxed city in the state provide a fair comparison.

I served as mayor for two terms, through 1985, and when I left, the city was in great financial shape, with substantial financial reserves. Our focus was on planning for the future: There was the 1986 bond issue, which funded the beach redevelopment, Riverwalk, neighborhood improvement, etc. I credit City Manager Connie Hoffman and her excellent staff for much of what was accomplished. She never let us spend a penny more than was in the budget.

City elections will occur in less than one year, and I hope that candidates will come forward to address these issues. Also, I hope that George Gretsas will be given a fair opportunity to do what he can do. He seems like a bright and well-intentioned person who has to work with a mess not of his making.

Robert A. Dressler

Via the Internet Pay de cops! Regarding "Curious George Sails the River of Red": I can't believe how cities are run. Don't the commission and other top people care about the City of Fort Lauderdale or its people? Maybe they should take pay cuts; it seems to me they are overpaid. I was born in Fort Lauderdale, and it makes me ill that the people who run the city messed up and don't seem to care about anyone but themselves. I don't blame the police for not wanting pay cuts. They -- rather than the officials -- deserve more pay.

Kathy Eisenberg

Margate

Not Cowed

Save the rich! Bob Norman's "Cash Cow" article (March 24) was wonderful. I'm so happy someone told the truth about our town. A couple of years ago, I also asked Mr. Canada to explain his salary. He didn't answer me -- he just looked at the mayor, who advised that he didn't have to explain. And his salary kept growing.

Now that Norman has brought this out in the open, please tell us what we can do. Most of the people he mentioned didn't have the approval of the townspeople. Can anything be done now to correct this mess and save our town?

Ruth Corbett

Southwest Ranches

Senator Sincere

Replies to scurrilous allegations: In regard to Bob Norman's March 24 column, "Slots King": Aren't there any other legislators besides myself whom he can pick on?

First fact correction. Norman talks about the $2,428 in travel expenses and speaking fees that I received to speak at a conference. The correct amount is $1,428. The $2,428 was a typographical mistake. Appropriate forms to correct this were filed months ago. More important, Norman is aware that I have never received speaking fees for any event. I receive my transportation and hotel -- nothing else. The accommodations are typically for one night. This is no junket.

Norman makes an additional mistake when he states that I have been "a champion of racinos, cruise ships to nowhere... video gambling, the Florida Lottery, jai alai, dog tracks, slots, poker, horseracing, and craps." I have not taken positions on many of those issues. Collectively, pari-mutuels generate 75,000 to 100,000 in private-sector jobs here. They help the state preserve its green space and are an important agribusiness component in Florida's economy. But I oppose Internet gambling, I have opposed slot machines at convenience stores and bars, and I have never taken any position on casino gambling in general.

I am the long-time president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, which allows airing of all sides of gambling issues. I do attend two meetings per year of this group. Other states, governmental bodies, and the private sector regularly contact me with questions or to ask me to speak. I decline most of these.

Norman points out that the annual dues to NCLGS from the State of Florida Legislature are $5,000 per year. He makes it appear, however, that those dues are for me. In fact, at the last NCLGS meeting. there were five legislators plus the Senate Regulated Industry staff director.

Finally, Norman writes that I was a supporter of slot machines at pari-mutuels. Again, no dispute there. The point is not whether we will have slot machines in South Florida. Florida's pari-mutuel industry needs slot machines to compete.

Bob, go write about somebody else for a change.

Steven A. Geller

State Senator, District 31

Coming Home

Jon Voight doesn't know the half of it: Eric Alan Barton's March 17 article, "Urban Removal," has answered several questions that I have been asking for weeks now after a recent trip home to West Palm Beach. I grew up on Ninth Street and Rosemary Avenue and graduated from Twin Lakes High. I had a paper route from 15th Street to 23rd Street in Pleasant City. My drive through Pleasant City was unreal. It looked like Bosnia! This article forced me to learn what the term "eminent domain" means. I now understand why the city is giving my parents such a hard time with remodeling their home. I suppose I'll be on the front lines of a new battle in months to come.

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