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Best Deposed Politician Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2001 - Lee Hillier

True story: Lee Hillier, then a Plantation city commissioner, is sitting at the bar at Grin's Pub, a pleasant dive, having a few beers. The gnarliest half-drunk patron in the place, a man with few teeth and a dirty gray beard, comes up to him and starts complaining about a house in Plantation that gets on his nerves. The house has a trailer on the property and violates half the codes in Plantation's book, the drunk says. Hillier listens for a while and -- bam! -- the commissioner remembers the house in question. Soon, he's telling the drunk how he tried in vain to have his city enforce codes there.

The story illustrates both the best and the worst about Hillier, who lost his reelection bid in March. He knew more about Plantation -- every cul-de-sac, intersection, zone, rule, and code -- than anyone else in the city. He also had one hell of a vision: He wanted to create an international marketplace on State Road 7, and thus revitalize the predominantly black area east of the Turnpike. He wanted to thwart the power of lawyer/lobbyist Emerson Allsworth (who happens to be a convicted drug money launderer) and Allsworth's partner, Bill Laystrom, who together represent developers and control the Plantation commission. Hillier fought to clean up the city, add sidewalks and lights, and increase access to public facilities for disabled citizens. The problem: He failed to build any consensus on those issues. The ingrained, aging, white conservative Plantation political machine, which has neglected the east side for decades, beat Hillier down at every turn. He was far too blunt for diplomacy and thus never managed to clean up the city, or even that run-down house, for that matter. In the end, he proved you can't even fight City Hall from within its walls -- at least not in tight-fisted, cowardly Plantation. But we salute him for trying.

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