We recently introduced you to Chris Brennan, the Water Taxi employee who was fired after he made a YouTube video defending the six-story-tall, nearly 100-year-old rain tree -- which will be moved if developer Asi Cymbal is permitted to build the Marina Lofts development in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Cymbal is the Water Taxi's landlord.
- Water Taxi Employee Fired for Video Defending Rain Tree
Brennan says he attended last week's meeting of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission but was not allowed to speak because commission rules limit debate to items on the agenda -- and the rain tree was not an agenda item. He says the meeting was fruitful anyway because he got permission to give a presentation during the upcoming committee meeting on April 2.
Since his firing, Brennan has been bartending and says bar traffic has doubled since he's been featured in the news. He says he has turned down job offers "so I can focus on beating Asi Cymbal -- until his name can't build in Fort Lauderdale ever again. His tactics are rotten, and I don't believe he has the city's best interests at heart."
For his part, Cymbal has complained about "erroneous reports" and said he is doing everything in his power to see that the tree is protected. He has hired renowned tree experts to consult with him on how the tree can be moved.
He could not be reached late Monday, but in a blog post he wrote last year titled "I Admit It; I'm a Tree Hugger," he wrote that he "redesigned the Marina Lofts development plan several times to accommodate the tree and [has] created the Rain Tree Park, a permanent home for the tree where it will thrive with the most sunlight and maintain its north-south and east-west orientation."
Brennan, however, seems determined in his mission to defeat Cymbal's project. He said he was at Bahia Cabana this past weekend when he met some bagpipers who recognized him from recent news stories. He woke up Sunday with the idea of hosting a parade in defense of the rain tree. He has started planning the event for April 14. Now media-savvy, he says, "I think referring to it as a parade is better than a protest" and "I want to get it in the news again right before the [city] planning and zoning meeting on the 17th. If we can get a huge turnout of people there, then the tree stays."
He thinks the parade will travel a block and a half. He hadn't yet thought to check with the city about parade permits but believed that if the city tried to prevent a peaceful gathering, "the parade would quickly turn into a demonstration."
"Once I get the bagpipers onboard, it'll be at a whole nother level," Brennan says. "I could have just been a guy who made a video. Cymbal wanted a fight. I'll accommodate him."