Hooray for Hollywood

Even with a housing bust and bad court verdicts, the show goes on.

Still, she's hard-pressed to cite instances of conflict between herself and Wasserstrom. "I used to joke that Keith was so high on development that he'd ask them to add more floors!" Giulianti writes. "I always said he made me look downright anti-development, because he didn't care, like I do, about historic preservation and/or adherence to some smart-growth principles."

By the same token, Giulianti calls Wasserstrom "a very moral religious person" and says that "we all hope Keith will be exonerated."

Commissioner Fran Russo had her doubts about the Schwing Bioset contract.
Commissioner Fran Russo had her doubts about the Schwing Bioset contract.
Peter Bober hopes to unseat the mayor.
Peter Bober hopes to unseat the mayor.

There are rumblings of political revolution in Hollywood. Commissioner Peter Bober launched his mayoral campaign in August, and at the current rate, his ubiquitous "Bober for Mayor" Segway will need new tires before the March 2008 election.

The first few months, Bober resisted the challenger's impulse to take shots at the incumbent. In recent weeks, he's abandoned that restraint.

"She is totally out of touch with how people feel," he says of Giulianti. He calls her "confrontational," a "bully," and says it's for these reasons that "a lot of employees in City Hall will be very happy when Mara's gone."

In her statement to New Times, Giulianti calls Bober "a say-no kind of guy." Where a few months ago Bober bridled at these accusations, he's now learned to embrace them.

"I take that as a compliment," Bober says, "because I vote against what I consider tricky projects. I have voted for some incentives, but I have voted against a ton of them. The fact is, [Giulianti] doesn't know when to say no. I do."

The knock on Bober is that he didn't say no louder — and earlier. A strong-willed naysayer might have been able to keep the city from some of its haphazard spending, critics contend.

Currently, 100 percent of tax increases from new development go to the CRA. Bober wants to study the possibility of reducing that percentage as a way of replenishing the general fund for long-overdue improvements to the city's infrastructure and, perhaps, as a way of giving tax cuts. The idea figures to have broad appeal.

"Every economic class in Hollywood is being pounded by taxes and high insurance," Bober says. "No one is not paying a heavy price."

Long before the mayoral election, there will be a special election to fill the commissioner's seat vacated by Wasserstrom, who was suspended by Gov. Jeb Bush pending his corruption case.

All of the candidates are preaching reform. "You have to have responsible leadership — I guess that's my theme," says David Mach, an Emerald Hills resident who declared his candidacy last month. "You have to have people up there who aren't lawyers and lobbyists and who are responsible." The others are former commissioner Richard Blattner and businessman Stephen Greenberger.

That spirit has taken hold among sitting commissioners too. Commissioners Cathy Anderson and Sal Oliveri have lately expressed an unwillingness to continue doling out developer incentives — in Oliveri's case, he doesn't seem interested in following through with those for which he's already voted.

The entire commission comes up for reelection in 2008, and by that time, they'll have to decide whether to stake their political careers on Giulianti's redevelopment vision or abandon it as a way to stay in office.

Bober has his own theory: "The rest of the City Commission is starting to get wise to the sophistry of the mayor's policies."

For her part, Giulianti is trying hard not to blink. If her redevelopment plan is ever going to be realized, she and her city must project an image that is calm, even in the face of chaos. Developers are watching, as are those affluent residents who would fill Giulianti's condos downtown and on the beach. "I think everyone on the commission but Peter is still very positive and optimistic," Giulianti writes. "The city has never looked better."

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