Last week's land deal wasn't the first time Fort Lauderdale has shown kindness to the Henrys. For years, the newspaper was housed in a city-owned building at virtually no cost. In return, the newspaper was supposed to train black youth in the printing business.
One of the chief city backers of the Gazette is Commissioner Carlton Moore, who has had a long friendship with Bobby Henry. Mayor Jim Naugle, who's had a long-standing feud with Moore, tells me he's suspicious of Moore's influence on the city's ads running in the Gazette. "I asked questions about the circulation figures, but I got stonewalled by [city staff]," Naugle says. "The question I would ask: 'Is somebody twisting staff's arm to keep advertising in that newspaper?'"
Bobby Henry and his wife (following image), Bertha
Moore doesn't deny that he's friends with Bobby Henry or that he's urged city staff to advertise in minority newspapers, but he says he's never told city staff to do business specifically with the Gazette. He says he has only one goal: to revitalize the Sistrunk corridor and better the quality of life for his constituents.
The Gazette has also supported the revitalization, specifically the narrowing of the east-west corridor from four lanes to two a move that would dramatically increase the value of Henry's property on the road. But the newspaper hasn't disclosed to readers its own financial stake. One can only hope that's not the kind of standards the $1.5 million Black Journalism Institute will teach.