I'm going to throw some emails at you this morning.
It begins with an email from an activist and ends with Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom jumping up in Hallandale Mayor Joy Cooper's grill. Obviously it's a convoluted tale, so let me start at the beginning (all the emails involved will be included in full at the end of the post).
It started when a resident named Csaba Kulin savaged Cooper in an email critical of an emergency meeting the mayor had called on April 30 to discuss the employment of embattled Hallandale City Manager Mike Good. Amazingly, Cooper didn't even show up for the meeting she had called and there was no quorum so it was a complete waste of time. Kulin told Cooper in an email that the fiasco was a "collective slap on our face," which seemed a fair assessment.
Kulin also made some references about a "shift" in the city people rising up at the polls to get rid of Cooper. The mayor apparently didn't like this. And though Kulin didn't mention anything about Cooper's failed attempt to push through a $500 million hotel and housing development on the Diplomat Golf Resort property, that was apparently on the mayor's mind as well. The city voted for a zoning change, but it was shot down in a vote by the county. Here's a bit of the email (it's exactly as she wrote it):
"The tone in your letter firstly is offense," the mayor typed. "This is not pre Civil War South nor Nazi
Germany. Our City Manager has worked extremely hard to make this city what it is today. ... As for a shift in the city, you may believe you have "won" something. I do hope and pray that the Diplomat does not close like other courses around the state and I am wrong. ... No development? Seems like a half full promise. The vote on the county had nothing to do with the merits of the project, simply the trading of votes in and election year. Rodstrom was angry at the unions for not supporting his candidacy and God only knows what Sue may have had on Diana. The county is not what you think it is."
I'm not sure that first sentence about "offense" is actually written in the English language. And I suppose it's predictable that the mayor would drag the Holocaust into this little dispute, but the Civil War too? Hath she no boundaries? Other than comparing an activist's perfectly fine email to genocide, Cooper is basically saying that Rodstrom opposed the development only because the Diplomat is owned by the Plumbers & Pipefitters National Pension Fund, a union. You may remember that the unions, especially the SIU, savaged Rodstrom during his last election.
The other implication is that Sue Gunzburger, who opposed the development, manipulated Diana Wasserman-Rubin into voting against it with some sort of underhanded leverage. (The only yes votes came from Stacy Ritter, Ilene Lieberman, and Al Jones.)
Cooper could be right about the hidden motives, but Rodstrom wasn't happy when he received a copy of Cooper's email. He wrote Cooper about it yesterday:
"I was quite taken aback by your comments regarding my ... opposition to the recent [Diplomat vote]," he wrote. "If I were to accept your reasoning as to why I voted as I did, I would have to assume that your vote was tainted because you received campaign contributions from Becker & Poliakoff who both represented the owners and contributed financially to your campaign for re-election. However, I would give you more credit than that. Obviously, you are not willing to do the same for me," Rodstrom wrote. "Just to set the record straight, this land use amendment had great opposition from your residents. Furthermore, a recommendation of denial was presented to the Board of County Commissioners by Planning Council staff."
That last part is true. Residents largely opposed the development -- and initially Cooper was a critic until she flip-flopped. Did the campaign contributions have anything to do with her about face? Who knows. In Broward, as Cooper basically said, nothing is what it seems.
Here are the full emails in all their glory.
From: Csaba Kulin
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 1:04 PM
To: Cooper, Joy; Julian, William; London, Keith; Ross, Dotty; Commissioner Anthony Sanders
Cc: Undisclosed Recipients
Subject: April 30 Special HB City Commission Meeting
Honorable Mayor, Vice Mayor and Members of the Commission,
The April 30, 2010 Special City Commission Meeting was very "special". It was a collective slap on our face. It was a total disrespect of the 45-50 residents who showed up at 10:30 in the morning. Had it not been of Comm. London's e-mail we would not even know about the meeting. We can not be expected to go to City Hall and look on the Board to see a tinny little notice every day. But let us talk about that later.
Wednesday morning, during the regular meeting of the City Commission, we the residents of Hallandale Beach deserve a complete explanation of that fiasco. We deserve to know who knew what and when? A lot of disinformation was floating around after the "meeting". We deserve to "have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".
Mayor, we need to know why you called a "special meeting" for not an emergency while you are out of town. The City Manager situation could have waited 5 more days.
We need to know why you did not make sure that you had a quorum? Why did let your Vice Mayor stand there "holding the bag"?
We need to know, why did Commissioner Ross refused to come down to Commission Chambers? We saw her car in the parking lot and I have been told by the Vice Mayor that she was upstairs.
Than of course the City Manager did not show up till way after the posted starting time of 10:30 AM. I can not blame him for being late if he taught it would a public hanging and he may be the star participant. Still, even if you do want to attend your own hanging, you must attend. It comes with the territory.
I realize that there is lot of pressure on you Mayor, Commissioners and the City Manager. The only thing I can say is what President Trumann said "if you can not stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". Lot of the damage is "self inflicted". If anyone thinks the pressure is too much, we have an election coming up in November. We have plenty of time to find replacement for anyone.
I made a statement in the past that certain issues divided our city. I was wrong. Certain issues united our residents against the way our City is governed. There has to be a new paradign at City Hall.
President, Fairways North, Inc.
VP, United Condominium Associations of Hallandale Beach
From: Cooper, Joy [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 6:00 PM
Cc: BECJULI@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Sanders, Anthony; email@example.com
Subject: RE: April 30 Special HB City Commission Meeting
The tone in your letter firstly is offense. This is not pre Civil War South nor Nazi Germany. Our City Manager has worked extremely hard to make this city what it is today. The special meeting was called in accordance to our rules of procedure. I requested the meeting to discuss the city managers employment. The city attorney contacted the commission and it was agreed to. The commission was aware that I would be in attendance by phone. Of course Commissioner London did not disclose to all he was going to be out of town. Out of courtesy we all make sure staff is aware where we are. We are commissioners. A special meeting is different from and emergency meeting. Also special meetings are also not public hearings. The meeting was not just posted on the elevator it was sent out by "notify me". This is the process. I am surprised you do not get these notifications?
As for Commissioner Ross you will need to ask her.
As for a shift in the city, you may believe you have "won" something. I do hope and pray that the Diplomat does not close like other courses around the state and I am wrong. Remember both Bill and London support more hotel units. No development? Seems like a half full promise. The vote on the county had nothing to do with the merits of the project, simply the trading of votes in and election year. Rodstrom was angry at the unions for not supporting his candidacy and God only knows what Sue may have had on Diana. The county is not what you think it is.
This is what happened; they were not worried about you, me, Keith or Hallandale Beach , only their campaigns.
I care for this city and will continue to work hard to insure it progresses and does not go backwards. We have done so much to make it better. Just remember Keith voted against the Village but was there for a photo op and free food, same with Sue. Isn't that a conflict in positions? Seems they are playing politics.
At least with me you know what you have. We may not agree, but I do not lie, take the easy way out or hide behind someone else.
Hallandale Beach has "Changed", real change in action not words or propaganda.
As for the topic there is a meeting on Wednesday. I requested an item on Monday and for Wednesday neither one was placed on the agenda.
Note there are recognitions with Arbor Day Awards going to the children. The times on the agenda are only meant as a guide I do not want to be accused wrongly again of setting up a meeting.
From: Rodstrom, John [mailto:JRODSTROM@broward.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 5:08 PM
Cc: 'Charlotte Greenbarg'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Subject: RE: Mayor Joy Cooper's remarks about you FYI
Dear Mayor Cooper - I was quite taken aback by your comments regarding my position in opposition to the recent Diplomat Land Use Amendment that came before the Board of County Commissioners on April 27. If I were to accept your reasoning as to why I voted as I did, I would have to assume that your vote was tainted because you received campaign contributions from Becker & Poliakoff who both represented the owners and contributed financially to your campaign for re-election. However, I would give you more credit than that. Obviously, you are not willing to do the same for me.
Just to set the record straight, this land use amendment had great opposition from your residents. Furthermore, a recommendation of denial was presented to the Board of County Commissioners by Planning Council staff.
Lastly, I would not call a 3-2 vote by your commission a ringing endorsement of this amendment.
You may contact me at my office should you want to discuss this further.
John E. Rodstrom, Jr.
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Broward County Commissioner, District 7
115 S Andrews Ave., Room 416
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301