Lois Frankel is a Democrat, pro-choice, a feminist, and Jewish; she supports gay rights and affirmative action, questions the efficiency of the FCAT, has tenaciously fought the tobacco industry, speaks her mind, and frequently criticizes Gov. Jeb Bush -- the man she called a "thief" repeatedly on national television during the 2000 presidential election. It only makes sense (ideologically if not practically) that Frankel, the Minority leader of the Florida House of Representatives, would file as a candidate for the highest public seat in the state. So what if Janet Reno crushes her in notoriety and fundraising potential? So what if attorney Bill McBride is regarded as the moderate-to-conservative "safe" vote? So what if the current governor's brother is George W., an American president with higher approval ratings than anyone in history? Lois Frankel believes that she's the capable one. Well, as they say, more power to her. She's gonna need it.
Lois Frankel is a Democrat, pro-choice, a feminist, and Jewish; she supports gay rights and affirmative action, questions the efficiency of the FCAT, has tenaciously fought the tobacco industry, speaks her mind, and frequently criticizes Gov. Jeb Bush -- the man she called a "thief" repeatedly on national television during the 2000 presidential election. It only makes sense (ideologically if not practically) that Frankel, the Minority leader of the Florida House of Representatives, would file as a candidate for the highest public seat in the state. So what if Janet Reno crushes her in notoriety and fundraising potential? So what if attorney Bill McBride is regarded as the moderate-to-conservative "safe" vote? So what if the current governor's brother is George W., an American president with higher approval ratings than anyone in history? Lois Frankel believes that she's the capable one. Well, as they say, more power to her. She's gonna need it.
Progressive isn't a word often associated with South Florida, but the area certainly qualifies in one way: Wilton Manors is one of only two cities in the country to have an (openly) gay mayor and a gay-majority city council. (The other is West Hollywood, California.) And as far as anyone can tell, when Jim Stork succeeded John Fiore on March 12, he became the first gay mayor to assume office from another gay mayor -- ever. Chalk it up to the diminutive size of the "Island City" (about 13,000 in population) and the relatively high percentage of gays (about a third by some estimates). Can't we all just get along? Maybe here, we can. Better still, Stork promises to practice the politics of inclusiveness, reaching out not only to gays but to Haitians and other minority groups that call Wilton Manors home. Now let's just hope Stork delivers.
Progressive isn't a word often associated with South Florida, but the area certainly qualifies in one way: Wilton Manors is one of only two cities in the country to have an (openly) gay mayor and a gay-majority city council. (The other is West Hollywood, California.) And as far as anyone can tell, when Jim Stork succeeded John Fiore on March 12, he became the first gay mayor to assume office from another gay mayor -- ever. Chalk it up to the diminutive size of the "Island City" (about 13,000 in population) and the relatively high percentage of gays (about a third by some estimates). Can't we all just get along? Maybe here, we can. Better still, Stork promises to practice the politics of inclusiveness, reaching out not only to gays but to Haitians and other minority groups that call Wilton Manors home. Now let's just hope Stork delivers.
When it comes to longevity, Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman has beaten all the odds. Having served as the county's top dog for ten years, he's not only survived far longer than the average four- to five-year tenure of most county administrators but is one of the longest-serving county chiefs in the state, according to Ken Small, who tracks such things for the Florida League of Cities. Weisman, 50, owes his longevity to no one but himself. The key to the one-time utility chief's success may be that he never wanted the job in the first place. He accepted it in the wake of the nasty ouster of his predecessor only on the condition that he could return to his deputy administrator post if he didn't like the rarified air at the top. With the goal only of being a good administrator, he's been able to resist the seductive urge to become involved in the always-petty and always-dangerous world of politics. He gives his publicity-conscious bosses straight answers -- whether they want to hear them or not. Wearing his trademark short-sleeve dress shirts, he was a calm voice during last year's post 9/11 anthrax scare, during the 2000 election debacle that put Palm Beach County on the national map, and during courthouse construction snafus, budget cuts, and lesser crises that erupt regularly in the county governmental center. Never heard of him? Don't worry. Bob likes it that way.
When it comes to longevity, Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman has beaten all the odds. Having served as the county's top dog for ten years, he's not only survived far longer than the average four- to five-year tenure of most county administrators but is one of the longest-serving county chiefs in the state, according to Ken Small, who tracks such things for the Florida League of Cities. Weisman, 50, owes his longevity to no one but himself. The key to the one-time utility chief's success may be that he never wanted the job in the first place. He accepted it in the wake of the nasty ouster of his predecessor only on the condition that he could return to his deputy administrator post if he didn't like the rarified air at the top. With the goal only of being a good administrator, he's been able to resist the seductive urge to become involved in the always-petty and always-dangerous world of politics. He gives his publicity-conscious bosses straight answers -- whether they want to hear them or not. Wearing his trademark short-sleeve dress shirts, he was a calm voice during last year's post 9/11 anthrax scare, during the 2000 election debacle that put Palm Beach County on the national map, and during courthouse construction snafus, budget cuts, and lesser crises that erupt regularly in the county governmental center. Never heard of him? Don't worry. Bob likes it that way.
Greed is both America's driving force and its incurable sickness. One particularly egregious symptom: the obsession with property values. The lust for high-end real estate reinforces old prejudices, creates paranoiac provincialism, and often leads to a stifling conformity that strangles the imagination -- but hey, it fattens the wallet. (Yes, Weston, we're talking about you). All of these facts conspire to make the property appraiser's Website a most delectable pleasure of the guilty variety. The site feeds that unhealthy instinct Veblen called "pecuniary emulation." You usually can't find out your coworkers' salaries, but, on Bill Markham's database, you can damn well learn how much they paid for their houses. Look up your boss and confirm once and for all that the nincompoop is making way too much money. Look up politicians, pastors, friends, neighbors. Find out their square footage and what they pay in taxes. You know you want to know, so get down off your high horse and log on. On a more practical note, somebody told us it can also help gauge the value of a home you are buying or selling. Just remember to follow the instructions: last name-comma-no space-first name, like say, Rodstrom,John (who has a house assessed at more than $700,000 on Nurmi Drive in Fort Lauderdale, if you're curious).
Greed is both America's driving force and its incurable sickness. One particularly egregious symptom: the obsession with property values. The lust for high-end real estate reinforces old prejudices, creates paranoiac provincialism, and often leads to a stifling conformity that strangles the imagination -- but hey, it fattens the wallet. (Yes, Weston, we're talking about you). All of these facts conspire to make the property appraiser's Website a most delectable pleasure of the guilty variety. The site feeds that unhealthy instinct Veblen called "pecuniary emulation." You usually can't find out your coworkers' salaries, but, on Bill Markham's database, you can damn well learn how much they paid for their houses. Look up your boss and confirm once and for all that the nincompoop is making way too much money. Look up politicians, pastors, friends, neighbors. Find out their square footage and what they pay in taxes. You know you want to know, so get down off your high horse and log on. On a more practical note, somebody told us it can also help gauge the value of a home you are buying or selling. Just remember to follow the instructions: last name-comma-no space-first name, like say, Rodstrom,John (who has a house assessed at more than $700,000 on Nurmi Drive in Fort Lauderdale, if you're curious).
Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager Pete Witschen has been trying to get out of his job for a few years now. He has applied for most every open city manager position in the country -- and came very close to escaping South Florida a few times. But his dismal record in Fort Lauderdale haunted him and ultimately knocked Witschen out of contention again and again. There were the improper relationships with female underlings -- a city planner and a police officer -- that our unapologetically moralizing mayor, Jim Naugle, didn't approve of. Poor Pete was very mad when this newspaper broke that story and madder still when the Charlotte Observer cited our article while Witschen was trying to get a municipal job in North Carolina. And we can't forget those pesky city discrimination cases, which have exacerbated racial tensions and are going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Witschen, bluntly put, has been a piss-poor leader; city manager Floyd Johnson did the right thing to pay Witschen six months' salary and show him the door. Too bad the decision didn't come several years ago.
Fort Lauderdale Assistant City Manager Pete Witschen has been trying to get out of his job for a few years now. He has applied for most every open city manager position in the country -- and came very close to escaping South Florida a few times. But his dismal record in Fort Lauderdale haunted him and ultimately knocked Witschen out of contention again and again. There were the improper relationships with female underlings -- a city planner and a police officer -- that our unapologetically moralizing mayor, Jim Naugle, didn't approve of. Poor Pete was very mad when this newspaper broke that story and madder still when the Charlotte Observer cited our article while Witschen was trying to get a municipal job in North Carolina. And we can't forget those pesky city discrimination cases, which have exacerbated racial tensions and are going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Witschen, bluntly put, has been a piss-poor leader; city manager Floyd Johnson did the right thing to pay Witschen six months' salary and show him the door. Too bad the decision didn't come several years ago.

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