We take you now to Parkland, where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, all the children are above-average, and the politicians are clueless.
Mayor Bob Marks and his wife, Carolyn, sit at their kitchen table, planning their day. There's an atmosphere of crisis in the Marks household, as Bob, a member of the City Commission for 18 years and mayor for the past two, faces a bitterly contentious election March 14. Things haven't been going well. Bob's sticky connections with local developers have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement poking around. It seems the mayor's janitorial company had a cleaning contract in a building owned by WCI Communities, which, incidentally, could count on Bob's vote whenever a WCI project came before the city. Ouch. Now, the Markses worry that an indictment might come down before the election, knocking Bob off the ballot.
Bob: Can you imagine? A Parkland election without "Mr. Parkland" on the ballot? Like a day without sunshine.
Carolyn: Honey, it'll never happen.
Bob: Or maybe like... pork without applesauce?
Carolyn: I said, don't worry about it.
Bob: I know, I know. You're running too. Even if I'm indicted, the Markses are represented.
Carolyn: That's the beauty of it. No matter what, it's Marks for Mayor...
Bob: But it's... you.
Carolyn: ... and I'm not even through yet. We're gonna plaster this town with Markses.
Bob: It's you, not me.
Carolyn: Next, we get the boys involved.
Bob (lurching in surprise): Jonathan and Jeremy? Our sons?
Carolyn: You bet. They're going to run for mayor too. That ballot's gonna look like a Marks blizzard.
Bob: Why do I think we're playing into the hands of our enemies?
The Markses' decision to run for mayor in tandem has our leafy little suburb reeling in confusion. At a recent candidates forum, audience members scratched their heads and sighed in disbelief. One attendee told political consultant/blogster Ron Gunzberger: "It was the strangest thing you have ever seen... At first, she said she and her husband are 'kind of running as a team. I am fully supporting my husband.' Then she said 'Vote for Bob, but if he can't be on the ballot, then vote for me. But, if Bob is still on the ballot, then vote for him. But, he might not be on the ballot, so vote for me.' She went on like that three more times." Meanwhile, a nearby meanie, former Coral Springs City Commission candidate Howard Melmed, who runs a website dedicated to Coral Springs affairs, declared the politicians of Parkland "horses [sic] asses." He even ran a photo of Mr. Marks near a photo of a handsome equine identified as Carolyn Marks. There was a quick response on the site's message board from somebody identified as "marks." The message was: "If I see you on the street I would [sic] punch you in the face! Insulting my wife like that is not very becoming. I am a good mayor and deserve more respect then [sic] this."
In the kitchen, the Markses still smolder in mortification.
Bob: Like blintzes without sour cream?
Carolyn: We're going to get through this.
Bob: No Bob Marks...
Carolyn: We're confusing the opposition. Got them talking to themselves. That Tailpipe person called, and I told him: "I am running with Bob. He has my full support. He has my vote." I think he fell out of his chair. Ha ha.
Bob: Like chips without salsa...
We depart from our friendly village now. The birds are twittering, the breeze ruffles the seagrape leaves, and someone mutters plaintively: "Like Brad without Angelina... Like beer without pork rinds..."
Ever wonder what lubricates the powerful piston of Hollywood development? This sputtering old auto part often ruminates about the fine engineering of city deals, in connection with which he stumbled upon Alan Koslow. That would be Hollywood's former city attorney who has become one of South Florida's condo deal impresarios. Koslow could sell a high-rise to an earthworm with acrophobia.
"Alan Koslow is not a quitter," Koslow wrote in his September 1, 1993, letter of resignation from city government after admitting to a "mistake in judgment." As city attorney, Koslow had drafted a $50,000 settlement for former employee Ina Griesbeck after she alleged that she was sexually harassed by her boss, Al Rosen. But it turned out that oops! Koslow forgot to mention to the City Commission that he was having an affair with Griesbeck at the time he drafted her settlement agreement.
Koslow publicly apologized and told commissioners in his resignation letter: "Although I will no longer be serving the city as its city attorney, I will always make myself available to each of you and the city in any way that the City Commission deems appropriate, and I will continue to be actively involved in community, civic, and charitable causes."
Boy, has Koslow made himself available! Now a lawyer/lobbyist for the firm Becker & Poliakoff, Koslow is a big-time fundraiser for Mayor Mara Giulianti and the other crusty incumbents who never seem to lose elections in the Diamond of the Gold Coast. Because Koslow has so many good friends on the dais, he's become the most effective lobbyist in town.
Are you a developer looking for taxpayer grease in Hollywood?
Koslow is your man.
He's won millions of dollars in incentives for the developers erecting Radius and Young Circle Commons, among other condo projects in downtown Hollywood.
In fact, Koslow is so good at his job that he touts his specialty. In an advertisement for Becker & Poliakoff, printed in U.S. News & World Report this month, Koslow lists one of his areas of expertise as "redevelopment incentives."
Translation: sweetheart deals.
Indeed, it's tough to find a good attorney these days. But Koslow is an exception. Recently, he's delivered what he promises:
November 3, 2004: Koslow represented JPI before the Hollywood City Commission. After the company decided to do a condo conversion at the already publicly subsidized Jefferson at Young Circle apartments, Koslow negotiated a deal with the city to purchase the downtown land at 1919 Van Buren St. for the staggeringly low-balled price of $58,000. The land sale passed unanimously.
March 16, 2005: Koslow spoke for the developers of Marriott Ocean Village on a motion to allow his client to begin negotiations to lease the Hollywood Beach Casino site. The commission voted 5-2 to rank Koslow's client as the best applicant to take over the property, clearing Marriott Ocean Village to start contract negotiations with the city.
June 21, 2005: Koslow, representing the Tamara Peacock Co., pitched a motion to allow the city to begin eminent-domain proceedings to take over the Great Southern Hotel. Despite an outpouring of citizens wishing to preserve the historic Great Southern, the measure passed 5-2.
September 29, 2005: Koslow successfully negotiated a lease deal for those Marriott Ocean Village guys to take over the Hollywood Beach Casino site. The city agreed to sign an 89-year lease for $275,000 per year. That's roughly $23,000 per month for 5.5 acres of oceanfront land in the heart of Hollywood Beach.
Stay tuned on the Marriott deal, which still has some hoops to jump through. And if, down the road, developers want to buy the land under the place for a Coke and a cheese stick, Koslow will certainly be there to lubricate the deal. Good thing for condo-crazy Hollywood that Koslow is not a quitter.
If anyone knows about blowing smoke, it's this crusty monoxide breather, but a recent call to arms by the Marijuana Policy Project gave even the 'Pipe pause. Seems the MPP is advertising for a grassroots organizer position in six congressional districts: one each in Connecticut, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia and in Florida's 22nd, the district of 25-year House veteran Clay Shaw. The aim is to urge voters to lobby Shaw to vote for an amendment to forbid the feds from busting people who use medicinal marijuana in states where that's legal.
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Now, why would a pro-marijuana organization try to rally constituents of this particular representative? After all, Shaw's press secretary, Gail Gitcho, describes him as "extremely staunchly" opposed to drugs, and he did introduce the bill that became the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1988, requiring minimum sentences for crack users and creating the office of the "Drug Czar." Well, the guys at the MPP think Shaw is influential enough to sway other Republican votes, and they suspect that Shaw might have a weakness for honesty. He's recovering from lung cancer, for one, and might be sympathetic to chemo patients. Also, the MPP has a copy of a 1998 letter Shaw sent to a Fort Lauderdale constituent in which the right honorable gentleman wrote: "You may be interested to know that a close relative of mine, while suffering from a terminal disease, benefitted from the medicinal use of marijuana." He's also facing a tough race against State Sen. Ron Klein, and, God knows, the pot smokers are a force in the 22nd.
Says Aaron Houston of the MPP: "We've had our sights set on him since he wrote that. The fact that he committed that to paper seemed indicative that he might vote with us."
In a moment of radically shifting forces within the Republican Party, can a conservative Republican from Broward County be counted on to support medical doobies? Let's say it's not outside the realm of possibility.
As told to Edmund Newton