Family Ties

Broward Commission, lobbyists ooze coziness

Platt has a history of hiring commissioners' relatives — he also put Commissioner Suzanne Gunzburger's son, lawyer Ron Gunzburger, on his payroll for a couple of years. But Platt wasn't linked with Gunzburger on McClendon's list, just two other commissioners: Ritter (who was also linked with Klenet) and Kristin Jacobs.

Jacobs is known to socialize with Platt, who has contributed to her campaigns and raised money for her. When she vacations in North Carolina with her family, she dines at the Platt house, which sits on a high mountain.

Yeah, it's cozy at the top.

"North Carolina is a beautiful place, and he said when you're out, come to our house, and we did," Jacobs says. "I'm not really close to George Platt, but I do like him. I think he's one of the cleaner guys out there."

The URS lobbyist who seems to have had the least amount of luck is Bernie Friedman, the combed-over top gun for the powerhouse legal and lobbying firm of Becker & Poliakoff. His name was scribbled next to those of commissioners Gunz­burger and Lois Wexler.

Friedman has longstanding relationships with both commissioners, mostly due to his work in Hollywood, where Gunz­burger began her political career. Neither woman, however, has proven to be a loyal supporter of URS. In fact, Gunzburger is one of the company's most vocal critics.

The biggest lobbyist of them all, likely, is Ron Book. His name came up next to only one commissioner, Ilene Lieberman. They too are known to socialize. Just this past February, Lieberman, who didn't respond to my questions for this column, was mentioned in a Miami Herald gossip column as having attended an "engagement bash" for Book's daughter at Hawk's Landing in Plantation.

And then, finally, there's Ken Keechl, the only commissioner who also happens to be a political novice. Next to his name is... a blank space. That doesn't mean he didn't get the URS treatment, though. McClendon noted in his journal that he was scheduled to meet with Keechl on the balcony of Stork's Bakery on Las Olas Boulevard. And McClendon's notes indicate he considered Keechl an ally of his company.

But it's encouraging news that Keechl hasn't developed a strong bond with the big-name lobbyists.

Just give him time, though. It's Broward County, after all.

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