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Seiler Wants to Revive Light Rail Plan

It looks like Fort Lauderdale Mayor Elect Jack Seiler is enjoying his honeymoon. Five days after routing three other candidates in the municipal elections, he paid a Sunday morning visit to This Week in South Florida on WPLG Local 10. An unpugnacious and downright avuncular Michael Putney asked Seiler about reviving the city's West Side, the police department, City Manager George Gretsas, and a mass transit system between downtown and the beach. (No video, but don't worry! I was scribbling notes.)

"We desperately need a light rail proposal downtown," said Seiler. The idea has been treated as a luxury item, however, and shelved while the city addressed more basic services. "If we can get the federal dollars we can get this project moving." Those may come in the form of the stimulus package that President Obama is likely to sign into law today. Seiler would work on lining up state and county funding to go along with the city's expense. Any light rail proposal, he added, would have to environment friendly and efficient.

The new mayor attributed poverty and crime on the city's West Side between Broward and Sunrise boulevards to that neighborhood's having been neglected by city resources in recent years. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department has to take a leading role in that endeavor -- and Seiler thinks it already has. "I'm extremely pleased with the new chief, Frank Adderly," he said. "He created a new task force that has been pooling their efforts to concentrate on drugs and prostitution -- the kinds of crimes that are so offensive to a neighborhood."

On Gretsas, Seiler continued a refrain he used on the campaign trail. "I'm a fan of his substance. I'm not a fan of his style. I don't think the city manager can afford to not work well with everyone."

Seiler's itching to implement another campaign catchphrase, "zero-based budgeting." He wants to start from zero, then dole out the first city dollars to what he deems city necessities and weed out wasteful programs. "It will give us the chance to reorganize and re-prioritize."

Putney asked whether Seiler could mend the fences with the gay community and work with the Broward County Commission. He said his background as the former of Wilton Manors will help with the first and that his experience representing the city in the state legislature gave him the chance to build relationships with county commissioners.

It was a friendly chat, but Putney closed by warning Seiler that the next time they sat down it might be a "more adversarial interview." Uh oh!

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Thomas Francis

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