For those who question whether Fort Lauderdale has the visionary leadership to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, consider the results when the city's finest minds, its boldest thinkers, gathered to discuss the future of Fort Lauderdale beach.
In November the city convened a "Vision Workshop" where 130 "invited visionaries" sat around tables at the Sheraton Yankee Trader pondering State Road A1A and its environs in the year 2020. Now comes the official workshop report, overflowing with the brilliance of a beach sunrise.
Some visionaries were consistent. Table 2, which included City Manager George L. Hanbury, whom some consider a growth guru, looked into the future and reported, "We envision increased size of hotels."
Among other visionaries there was contention. Table 8, which included City Commissioner Tim Smith, tourism leader Ina Lee, and developer Jack Loos, wanted Fort Lauderdale beach to be "known throughout the world as a safe and friendly destination 24 hours per day all day long."
But over at Table 5 they were partying down. Those visionaries, who included Chris Wren, the city's planning and zoning manager, and Bruce Larkin, administrative services director, declared of the beach: "It is a good place to be BAD!"
How did the visionaries resolve the really big issues, like balancing high-rise development with residents' quality of life?
"Our 20/20 vision," Table 4 began, "is that visitors and local citizens alike will come to Fort Lauderdale beach and know that it is unlike any place in the world because of the integration of the ocean, subtropical climate, clean beach, tropical vegetation, quality commercial and residential development, and the flow of a beautiful Intracoastal."
But what do we do about all those high-rise plans? Table 4 boldly concluded: "Our 20/20 vision is to let the market drive the development...."
And what becomes of all this insight? Chuck Adams, the city's manager of development programs, after analyzing the visionaries' collected wisdom, reached this startling conclusion: "It should be apparent that the key issues of traffic, parking, and zoning are on a timetable for study and evaluation."
Now that's world-class analysis.
In the trust-in-media department, country radio station WCLB-FM (95.5) seems to have a South Florida kind of respect for its audience.
A couple of weeks ago, the station invited listeners to call in and vote on a format change: To air Howard Stern in the morning and rock and roll all day, or to drop Stern and go to country music 24 hours a day.
To the surprise of WCLB management, a number of listeners actually called in to vote for rock and roll, Program Manager John Spangler admits. He won't say what the final tally was, but it didn't really matter: The listener "vote" was just a gimmick -- the station was going to ax Stern and go all-country anyway.
Under the new format, WCLB may play a lot of "Your Cheatin' Heart."
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