Frank Veltri, the longtime Plantation mayor, died yesterday at 94. This was a man who first ran for office at 57 years-old and managed to become a political institution in South Florida. Hell, for decades, Veltri was Plantation. He was strong and tough as a bull. I saw him at 90 in the Plantation parade on Broward Boulevard walking the route, sweating like a horse, his face bright red from the terrible heat and his own fiery determination.
I didn't agree with a lot of things Veltri did. I didn't like that he neglected the east side of the city. I didn't like the way he let University get overdeveloped. I didn't like the fact that one of his best friends was a convicted drug money launderer and, worse, a lobbyist (that would be Emerson Allsworth, who got the lead quote in the Sun-Sentinel obit on today's front page). He never talked to me again after I wrote a story critical of his stewardship.
But dammit, you had to respect the man. And I did.
After the jump: Reinhard On Crist
Beth Reinhard sums up governor-elect Charlie Crist quite wonderfully in her Saturday political column. Or not sums up, really, because you can't sum up a void. You can practically feel her frustration at trying to figure out this enigma of a man.
Candidate Charlie, now Gov.-elect Crist, hasn't changed a bit. Asked during an interview Friday whether he still felt like he was campaigning, he said: ''I'm in people mode. That's very important to me.''
What does that mean? Everything and nothing, hollow and true. Responsive to the people, but telling them little.
I find myself wanting to put up the entire column here because Reinhard peppered it with so many funny -- and frustrating -- quotes from Crist, like "I'm in people mode. That's very important to me," and, to the question of who would his top education advisors would be, "''Anyone who wants to be.'' Instead of repeating all of them, I'll advise you to just hit the link.