The good senator strikes back: I am aware of the famous admonition "never get into a spitting match with anyone who buys ink by the barrel," but I was sufficiently outraged by Bob Norman's article ("Geller's Giveaway") about me in the January 13 edition that I felt the need to respond. The piece is inaccurate and misleading.
It begins by complaining about the deal that JPI struck with the City of Hollywood to purchase land downtown. JPI took a huge risk in being the first developer to attempt to build luxury units in downtown Hollywood. Even with some incentives from the city, the company lost money on the deal. When JPI determined to sell the project, it followed the city code exactly and obtained three estimates from a list of city-approved appraisers. JPI paid the price of the highest appraisal. In fact, the city determined that by permitting JPI to sell this property, it gained in excess of $25 million, including a large increase in the city's tax base.
Mr. Norman also advised me repeatedly that I was not the focus of the article but merely a short sidebar to it. He can't count any better than he can write. By my count, roughly 17.5 column inches were devoted to the JPI deal, and approximately 42 column inches were devoted to me.
Mr. Norman claims that my "top priority" was to give cities more control over land use. As I advised Mr. Norman, I took action because I was the chairman of the Broward County Delegation. I agreed to work on this issue only after I received a written request from the Broward League of Cities. I also never advised Mr. Norman that the majority of my clients are in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
But my top legislative priorities have always been trying to reform our state's insurance problems, dealing with seniors' and veterans' issues, and other issues important to my constituents.
I have never stated that Broward's beaches should be all tall buildings, although once you determine the density of a building, it is better for the buildings to be tall and thin than short and squat. This improves view corridors, air circulation, water recharge, landscaping, etc.
I am an "AV" rated attorney, meaning that my peers in the legal community have rated me as having the highest legal abilities and ethics. As Mr. Norman admitted, members of any profession will have potential conflicts in the legislature.
I have always been careful not to come even close to any ethical boundaries. Mr. Norman confirmed to me in our interviews that he did not think I had done anything unethical. Most reporters investigate a case and then determine whether there is a problem. Mr. Norman determined there was a problem first. When you begin with a mission to find problems, you will find them and ignore any evidence that disagrees with your belief.
Steven A. Geller
State Senator, District 31
Bob Norman responds: Sen. Geller here uses the old trick of calling something inaccurate and then not mentioning a single inaccuracy. Then he misleads the reader about the JPI deal. The firm made millions of dollars on the Jefferson apartments, and the city lost millions. And I never told the senator that he had done nothing "unethical." In fact, I repeatedly told him that I thought his practice of lobbying for developers in Hollywood and other cities while serving in the legislature is wrong. I did tell him that I didn't think he had done anything "illegal." I'm sure Geller knows the difference.
Piercing Holes in the Piece
A bloody mess: I am writing to correct one misstatement in Rick Kennedy's January 6 article, "Pierce and Play." I put a needle in the artery so that the blood I paint with comes from the heart! Overall, it was a very informative and well-written piece.
Perhaps you may be interested in seeing my collected works: more than 25 blood paintings, all done at performances.
Keep it ARTKOR!
North Miami Beach
An adrenaline-driven salvo: This letter is in response to the front-page article on Joe Amato, "Pierce and Play" (Rick Kennedy, January 6). I am the production manager for the company H2Ocean, which produced the Adrenaline Expo at the Hard Rock. The article implies that Mr. Amato himself was responsible for producing and creating the event. This implication is false. Also, a band mentioned in the story was not even at the event.
H2Ocean owns the trademark for the Adrenaline Expo. Mr. Amato was working out of our corporate office and stated that he would like to attempt to pierce someone more than 1,000 times. At first, he suggested that it could be done at the tattoo studio where he worked. The partners at H2Ocean said, "Hold on, let's think about this," then came up with the concept for the event. They even helped Mr. Amato with the filing process with Guinness.
H2Ocean is a Deerfield Beach-based company that created and manufactures a line of natural aftercare products for piercing and tattooing. The concept for the Adrenaline Expo was to be able to educate and promote the H2Ocean product line to people in the industry and consumers. We also hoped to produce a unique event. Months were spent in coordinating this event at the sole expense of H2Ocean. Mr. Kolos, who is president of H2Ocean, contacted all the bands and tattoo artists. He arranged all the seminars and booked and paid for all the travel and expenses, along with the promotions, sponsors, and marketing for the event.
Without H2Ocean, the Adrenaline Expo, where Mr. Amato broke the Guinness record, would never have taken place. I feel that proper recognition for the people responsible is in order. This letter has nothing to do with Mr. Amato personally or professionally -- just the Adrenaline Expo.
Via the Internet