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Jack Tobin: A Newspaper Retrospective

​Margate political powerhouse and consummate deal maker Jack Tobin died Tuesday at age 69 and will be laid to rest Friday.

Tobin was a former mayor of Margate and a 16-year Florida House member, but foremost, he was a lobbyist. 

Inside, read excerpts from newspaper articles that tell Tobin's amazing story. 

Below are passages from stories written about Tobin through the years.  

October 24, 1982, Miami Herald

The two candidates in this race share many views -- stronger support for education and crime prevention, handgun control, better services for the elderly. We recommend Republican Jeanne Faiks because of her independence and straightforward approach to the issues. Faiks, 64, favors requiring all property owners to pay at least some tax and supports a state lottery to finance education.

Her opponent is Democrat

​May 29, 1989, Miami Herald

He's no Wall Street wizard, but state Rep. Jack Tobin knows why an investment banking firm hired him:

He's a legislator. He knows influential people, including city  and county commissioners who decide which companies receive bond business.

That's business as usual in Florida's part-time Legislature, where public office provides a perfectly legal calling card to private employment. It raises an old question, too: whether legislators should be allowed to use their elected positions to enrich themselves.

"Are they going to hire an unknown? Are they going to hire Joe Blow? No," said Tobin, 47, a Margate Democrat. "They're going to hire somebody that's well-known. People like to do business with who they know."

Tobin, who lost his job with a troubled savings and loan company early this year, formed his own lobbying and public relations firm in March. Soon, he had his first client: Southeastern Municipal Bonds, a regional investment banking firm with offices in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Southeastern was subsequently chosen by the Broward County Commission and School Board to manage bond issues. Both county boards had begun reviewing bond firms' applications by the time Tobin was hired.

Tobin contacted one county commissioner, Scott Cowan, and several school board members on Southeastern's behalf. But the board members said Tobin's connection and contacts did not influence their decision. What matters, they said, is a company's track record and its presentation.

Southeastern pays Tobin $4,000 a month plus commissions to represent them.

... "There's no question Southeastern hired me because I'm

October 9, 2009, Margate News 

Known for being too cozy with lobbyists, Tobin resigned from his state seat in 1998, surfacing two years later as a lobbyist himself and eventually jockeying the City of Margate as a client. 

Since, Tobin has provided campaign backing for many a Margate City Commissioner - commissioners who Tobin parades private clients before in search of incentives which, if granted, become profitable ventures for Tobin and his company, Jack Tobin and Associates.   

Margate City Attorney, Eugene Steinfeld, recently stated that Tobin's contract was amended in 2005 to provide for such conflict of interest. Conflict of interest in that Tobin is paid by Margate taxpayers to lobby for the well-being of the City before state lawmakers in Tallahassee, while at the same time profiting from Margate taxpayers through persuading City Commissioners (both directly and indirectly ) to favor his client's private interests. 

Case in point - Tobin recently got city officials to completely rezone the old Aztec mobile home park on State Road 7 to accommodate his client, Aztec RV Resort Inc., a group of Canadian investors with plans to construct over 600 Class A luxury RV sites on the 102-acre parcel. 

Tobin, a Class A luxury RV owner himself, must have been paid handsomely by Aztec RV Resort Inc. to close the $40 million deal. Maybe a luxury RV lot soon to be valued at $100,000 or more. Then of course there are the four of five city commissioners who hastily approved the project on behalf of Margate taxpayers with no financial guarantee that the Canadian investors actually had the capital to move the project forward or properly market the project to ensure viability. 

Keep in mind Tobin is the same lobbyist who facilitated the displacement of hundreds of Margate residents from their homes two years ago when he came before Margate Commissioners on behalf of UniProp Manufactured Homes, owners of the Aztec Mobile Home Park and a company with profitable plans for a 700-plus unit townhome project which Margate commissioners approved. The project fell through and hundreds of Margate residents were carelessly evicted from their homes - residents who counted on elected officials to support them, not expedite their eviction.

To this day, Tobin threatens would-be candidates for Margate City Commission with 'black-balling' and name calling. He's just short of being disrespectful to commissioners in chambers and is most certainly disrespectful to residents who disagree with his point of view. Behavior unfitting of a lobbyist paid by taxpayers to represent their best interest. 

One Margate City Commissioner said that the reason Tobin's contact was amended and renewed in 2005 was because Jack needed clients, not because he was doing the city any good. Might I add that the 40K a year Tobin is paid by taxpayers might better serve Parks & Rec initiatives in the City.

Lobbyists like Tobin are bad news for Margatonians -- and we have only ourselves to blame.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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