Taxpayers Expense: $30,000 To Pretty Up Senator's Office

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel is renting an office from the City of Hollywood. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that the city is planning to spend $30,000 to renovate the office for Sobel and the lobbyists and suckers -- oops, I mean constituents -- who visit her.

I could rant about this myself, but Hollywood activist Sara Case did a fine job of it in a recent letter to commissioners. Case wrote:

Dear Mayor and Commissioners,

What is the budgetary justification for the city to spend $30,000 to renovate an office for Senator Sobel, while the city will be charging her rent of only $12,600 per year ($1050 per month)?  While one can certainly make the case that it serves Hollywood residents for the Senator to have an office in Hollywood -- and I support that rationale -- it does not follow that the city should pay for her office renovations.  Even President Obama is paying for White House renovations from his own funds, in the belief that the severest economic recession in decades is not the time to use taxpayer dollars for this purpose.

Why shouldn't we expect a state-level public official -- in this case one who managed to inspire donations of some $2 million from private sources in support of her election -- to pay for her own office renovations? It does not make sense for the city to assume this burden  when layoffs, service cuts, and increased fees are now considered necessities to balance the city budget. 

I believe the item should be removed from your agenda and an arrangement made with the Senator to fund whatever renovations are required from private sources.  

Against such logic, the commission can only echo David Byrne: Stop making sense, Ms. Case.

Commissioners talk of how great it will be to have a real-life senator so close to them. Jokers, you're always close -- it's a called a phone. This is political back-scratching at its finest and the commission, of course, approved the renovation.

Also, someone recently told me a story about the firing of Sun-Sentinel columnist Ralph De La Cruz that is sticking in my craw. I was told that Earl Maucker personally made his way to the Palm Beach bureau to break the news to De La Cruz. But that's about as far as the courtesy went.

When called to speak with Maucker, De La Cruz left his wallet and cell phone behind on his desk. After Maucker let him know he was getting the ax due to budget cuts, he told De La Cruz he had to leave the premises immediately. Ralph said sure and started for his desk to get his wallet and phone. Maucker stopped him and told him that he wasn't allowed to go back into the building. De La Cruz, after giving almost eight years of his life to the company, then had to wait for security to bring him out his personal items.

This may be standard corporate procedure, but it's also a slap in the face. And an unnecessary one at that. Note to Earl: I know you're a company man and all, but don't forget that you're a human being too. 

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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