By: Ira Rather
As a guest contributor to Coral Springs Talk, it’s my job to do the dirty jobs so that you don’t have to. Attending last night’s forum of the candidates for Coral Springs Mayor and City Commissioners was one such job, held at St. Andrew’s Church and moderated by the League of Women Voters.
With about 200 people in attendance, and 100 of those part of the candidates’ personal, intimate entourages (they were wearing their candidate’s tee-shirts!), the evening wasn’t exactly a shining example of voter participation or enthusiasm. In fact, I think the candidates would have reached more voters simply by driving around town shouting with their windows rolled down. Be that as it may, let us not disparage this noble attempt at small town democracy.
Also in attendance in the audience were Mayor Vince Boccard, as well as Commissioners Larry Vignola and Dan Daley, who attended because…they attended because…well, I still can’t figure out why they attended. Yes, they wanted to assure that their chosen sycophants received their “much needed” support, but gratefully, thanks to the League of Women Voters, they couldn’t speak and had to shut up for the entire night!
It was a beautiful thing to see. And to not hear.
And a note to Dan Daley:
When you learned who I was and you glared at me from across the hall, did you see me giving you the finger? If not, I’m giving it to you again now.
There were some surprises and some non-surprises regarding my preconceived notions of the candidates coming into this forum. Fortunately, or not so fortunately depending on the candidate you support, this election hinges on three issues.
- The new $28 million City Hall
- The drop in the city’s bond rating
- Economic development.
Here’s how I analyze the forum, and remember that these were not actual debates.
For Mayor: Commissioner Tom Powers versus Former State Senator Skip Campbell
It’s pretty easy to look at Tom Powers’ recent record, but it’s not such a pretty thing to see. As a proponent of the new $28 million City Hall, Powers insists on calling it a “Municipal Complex” instead. Not only does he claim that citizens actually want this thing—without ever actually asking them if they do or not—he attempts to use the theme (use it poorly, I might add), that this City Hall (okay, complex) will move Coral Springs forward. No, he never actually explains how building a huge complex for city employees helps the city, but let’s remember that this guy spent his entire career busting 16-year-olds for pot.
Campbell ripped him a new one on this, and it wasn’t even a contest. Luxurious City Hall or Municipal Complex not wanted or needed here. Everyone not wearing a “Powers For Mayor” tee-shirt cheered Campbell.
Next big issue was the city’s decline in Moody’s Bond rating. Powers explained that this was due to ongoing negotiations on fire and police pensions. Campbell told the audience the truth, that pension negotiations were only one of several reasons Moody’s made the downgrade. The main reason for the downgrade was the firm’s losing confidence in overall revenue versus expenditure projections. Powers lied, thought he could slip a fast one through, and failed.
Campbell went on to explain the idiocy of spending $70,000 with a Nashville firm to come up with the horrible “Everything Under The Sun” slogan, and for spending more than a million bucks on two “Everything Under The Sun” signs as you enter the city. Powers had no answer to this, and simply sucked his thumb and rocked back and forth as his opponent ate him up.
Campbell for Mayor if you know what’s good for you and your property values!
Commission Seat 4: Howard Melamed versus Lou Cimaglia
Pretty much of a no-brainer:
Cimaglia supports everything Powers has done and everything he wants to do. Cimaglia is ”Current City Commission Part Two,” and he’s basically campaigning on exactly that premise.
“Nothing new here, everything is perfect, give me the job.”
Melamed, on the other hand, has been ringing the alarm of wasteful and ignorant spending for years. Melamed has done his homework, and he gets mad when he sees stupidity in municipal government. (Don’t you?) Melamed is right in line with Campbell against a Taj Mahal City Hall, and doesn’t understand why city surpluses never make it back to the taxpayers, but instead, just get wasted on new and irrelevant projects. (Like those ridiculous signs.)
Big surprise is that Cimaglia seems like one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, unless he’s just a fantastic actor. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and also remember that Jimmy Carter was lovable too. So?
So nice and cute don’t matter in effective government. His attempts at folksiness in no way match Melamed’s business experience and grasp of the issues. He didn’t have answers—he had jokes, most not audible or funny. His answers to the moderator’s questions were incomplete, inconsistent, and inadequate, by all standards. He came prepared for amateur hour, and at this forum, that didn’t cut it.
Melamed for Seat 4, unless you’re going to die in a year and don’t care what happens to this city!
Commission Seat 5: Joy Carter versus Andy Holz versus Laurette Homan
Yes, it seems kind of ridiculous that we have three candidates vying for Seat 5, two candidates vying for Seat 4, and Dan Daley retains his seat unopposed because no one filed for it. Current Commissioners might explain it as “That’s just the way it is,” but that isn’t the way it should be:
These three candidates chose to file for Seat 5 as opposed to Daley’s seat because they thought it would be “easier” this way. And instead of changing the Charter so that no Commissioner should run unopposed if there are viable, registered candidates running for a Commissioner spot, they decide to keep it like it is.
Because keeping it like it is lets them keep their jobs more easily! (Oh, there’s so much more to tell about this, but Coral Springs Talk can’t handle the bandwidth!) As a result, we’re stuck with Dan Daley for two more years.
But back to Seat 5:
This is a tough one to call. In fact, almost an impossible one. (Except for Homan. More on her below, and I swear—it’s hysterical!)
Carter and Holz hold similar positions on the new City Hall. (They’re against it! A ridiculous waste of money! They have brains.) They both have great ideas that will actually work for positive economic development. They both show fiscal conservatism, social compassion, an in-depth knowledge of the city, and common sense.
When questioned about the new City Hall, and Powers’ insistence that the people “wanted it,” Carter responded, and I’m paraphrasing, “What people? They had 100 people show up in a room, the same 100 people that show up to everything, questioned them, and that represents the views of the majority of our citizens? Sorry, it doesn’t.”
But Andy Holz wins the gold medal for the best line of the night:
“This Commission spent over a million bucks on two signs as you enter Coral Springs, and the only way people can see these signs is to leave Coral Springs.”
(Come on—how can you not love this guy?)
Carter and Holz both belong on the Commission, and they deserve your vote. Whichever one wins, the other should definitely be back in two years for the spot he or she is obviously qualified for. Carter “appears’ to be favored, but please—get to know Holz. He’s the real deal too.
And remember Laurette Homan? The third candidate for this seat?
Here are some quotes from her, because I don’t think my own words can explain how stupid, obnoxious, or self-centered she is:
“No one knows this city better than I do.”
“I bring a mom’s perspective.”
“Seniors don’t want to be called seniors, and they want more movies in the park.”
“My heart and soul are in this city.”
“People don’t care how much you know once they know how much you care.”
‘Coral Springs is competing globally.”
‘It doesn’t matter how much the new City Hall costs. Why not [build it]!?”
“Even if it is a $28 million Taj Mahal, who cares we’re Coral Springs!”
The next forum will be held at the Coral Springs Charter School Auditorium, Tuesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. Chances are that the new City Hall and past spending boondoggles will dominate this event as well, but it will be interesting to hear the new lines of attack, and new arguments of defense, that the candidates are probably working on right now.
I urge you attend, so you can make the most informed votes possible.