Poitier Hurls Race Card at Mango Meeting

Poitier giving Ganz the evil eye at last night's special meeting.
Poitier giving Ganz the evil eye at last night's special meeting.

The special meeting to deal with Deerfield Beach's Mango mess got ugly, judging by the liveblog by Chaz Stevens and the pictures he posted later Monday night.

Of course, this past weekend's Mango Festival was ruined Saturday after organizers failed to secure money for the musical performances. After a nearly musicless day Saturday, the event was canceled Sunday.

I couldn't attend last night's meeting, but I just got off the phone with Commissioner Bill Ganz, who called the festival a "fiasco," triggering Sylvia Poitier's notorious temper, which is in display in the photo above.

Ganz's action-packed recap, along with a video photo album of last night's meeting, after the jump.

Poitier, who served on the Mango committee, had met earlier Monday with city officials in which she accused them of interfering with the festival and blamed them for its failure. Then at last night's meeting, Poitier asked for the city to atone for that sin by giving the Mango Festival another chance to be staged in the next month.

Ganz didn't go for that. He led the opposition to Poitier's motion, which failed.

"She must think we're absolute idiots to think we'd go along with that," he said in a conversation with Juice this morning. "The audacity to request another day after it's clear now that she was writing checks she couldn't cash."

Ganz was speaking figuratively there, but he could just as well have been speaking literally, considering how a bounced check by promoters led to the sound company's leaving the Mango Festival on Saturday.

Ganz was also bothered by Poitier's daughter selling Mango Festival tickets out of the family's dry-cleaning business. Minutes from the meeting that Poitier had with city officials earlier Monday, says Ganz, showed that Poitier claimed to have collected $5,000 in cash from those ticket sales.

It remains to be seen whether purchasers from that location will get their money back.

After the failure of Poitier's effort to get a do-over festival, she lashed out at the city on racial grounds, alleging that the city canceled the festival to deprive Deerfield's black community of its favorite annual event.

Yep, the race card. And at this point, it seems the meeting began to resemble a circus, or at least the Benny Hill Show, whose score was borrowed for the slideshow below.

Almost feels like you're there, doesn't it?

I asked Mayor Peggy Noland about Poitier's claim that the city canceled the event and that it's motive was race.

"I find that very sad that an elected official in this city would accuse four commissioners who have supported the Mango Festival of doing something like that," says Noland. "In these economic times, our city should be pulling itself closer together. I'm just very disturbed."

So is Ganz. "If color does come into it, then it's all green," he says, calling Poitier "a desperate woman who will do anything to keep feeding at the public trough."

The two commissioners have clashed over the past several months, but never as explosively as they have over the Mango Festival. Ganz is incensed that Poitier would blame the city for her own failings and those of other festival organizers.

"She's an embarrassment to the city and to the commission, and she's demonstrated to me that she would throw anyone -- including city staff -- under the bus just to save face," says Ganz. "I'm tired of it. And I don't think her residents are falling for it."

Noland says that she visited the festival grounds around 10 Saturday morning, a few hours before the event was to begin. All the city staff had taken care of their responsibilities -- the trash cans, the fences, and other services. But the organizers were supposed to have assembled a group of volunteers to put up signs and cordon off parking. None of that had been done. "It was all on the promoters," says Noland. "The city did absolutely nothing wrong."

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