Of Mice and Men…and Commissioner Larry Vignola

Stranger than Strange. An opinion piece by Howard Melamed.

Man-listening-by-Adam-Baron

By: Howard Melamed

There are many people that want to be Monday morning quarterbacks as to why I lost the election for Coral Springs city commissioner seat 4 last Tuesday by only 100 or votes.  To cheer me up, several of them weighed in and told me that almost half the people voted for me, and that the other two candidates, Skip Campbell and Joy Carter won because I defined the issues for them to run and defeat the status quo.

People that know me understand that I would have liked to have won. I did enjoy campaigning and was able to lose 30 pounds as well as got a tan in the process.

To my amazement a few days after the election, I got a strange call from Commissioner Larry Vignola. It is important to understand the context of my surprise and puzzlement. 

All during the past several months and while campaigning, I hammered away at the city commissioners, telling them that they need to bring the issue of the City Hall to a vote by the people, and that spending $28,000,000 on a Taj Mahal is not a smart career decision move.

Looks like I was right. Vignola opposed me every time during commission meetings. He called me a liar, and kept using the phrase that I have said “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story,” and told everyone that the city hall is not going to cost $28 million but rather $23 million plus a $5 million parking garage. He was rude, and in keeping with the style of three others on the commission: Daley, Powers and Mayor Boccard, tried to bully me and anyone else that has tried to speak the truth to them during the public comments portion of the meetings.

When he approached me after a commission meeting on the sidewalk outside of City Hall he tried to tell me that when I pointed out that we had a surplus of $6 million dollars in 2013, that this was not really a surplus. I asked him to explain and he said it was simply the money left over since they spent less money than they took in, which is by definition a surplus. I wrote about it on my Facebook site indicating what kind of stupid comment this was . Shortly after, at a Democratic Club meeting at the Coral Springs Country Club – why he was there no one knows since he is a Republican, he told me I was a liar, and that he never said what he said, and he had the tapes to prove it.

“Tapes?” I queried.

“Yes” he said. “The city has security cameras everywhere that are recording all of our conversations and I accessed the tapes and I can prove you are a liar,” he said.

Wow.

I sent out a request for public records disclosure regarding the tapes to the city, and to the city attorney indicating if the city realizes that if Vignola was right, then they are violating Fourth Amendment rights of myself and everyone in the city. I also asked for a copy so I can hear for myself what I heard Vignola say. The city replied, “ The city does not have any such tapes; security procedures.”

Vignola also bragged to me and several other people that he has 65,000 email addresses and that he can blow me out of the election in a second. I lost the election, by 105 votes, certainly no blow out.

To be fair, Vignola was right in saying that I said “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story,” but this was sarcasm, something obviously Vignola does not get.

All during the campaign, when Vignola showed up to the early voting poll at the library, he kept telling me how I am going to win, and that Lou is no match for me and that he is only supporting him because they are friends.  He said that all of this election stuff would have been unnecessary if I only hand not went against him as he would have made sure I would be the only candidate running for seat 4. Incidentally, Mayor Vince Boccard said the same thing to me, “If only I had come to them and stopped with this “Gang” label, they would have supported me. 

…So he said he really really wanted me to become city commissioner since “I am the person he could probably party with when on those city trips to conventions.”   

Larry went on to say that I will make a great commissioner. He did the same stuff on Election Day. Of course, he was wrong again at me winning, but that may be because we do not know if he passed the statistics course he took in college or failed it.

So low and behold, Commissioner Larry Vignola on the road to trying to be a ‘Mensch,’ calls me up a few days after the election.

“Hi Larry,” I answered. His name popped up on caller ID so it was easy to know who called me.

“Hi Howard. I want to tell you how bad I feel about you losing. I never thought Lou would win, and that you would have made a great commissioner.”

“Thank you Larry that is very kind of you.”

At this point a normal person would simply say something like hope you run again, or perhaps you will win again, or I just wanted you to know I’ll see you at the city commission meetings. I said normal person, but Vignola is strange, to say the least. Instead, for the next hour (if it was less, it seemed like an hour) Vignola proceeded to do what he does best. Bullshit you. I have also verified this with other people he regularly talks to. They listen, of course, since it is difficult to actually get him to pause while he is ranting so you can say ‘got to go now’ or ‘the chicken is in the oven,’ code words that anyone would know you wanted to end the conversation. Vignola does not know the code.

He continued to tell me how he looked at the precinct that had a missing ballot box found a day after the election from E027 precinct and that as a math expert he calculated that if the box was full of ballots, it would not deviate from the standard deviation from previous elections. 

Huh? There he goes again BSing about being an expert mathematician.  Interesting, since at McGill university in Montreal, the place where I obtained a Bachelors in Civil Engineering, I had to pass several math courses, including differential equations, applied differential equations, several levels of calculus, probability, statistics, etc. However, to be fair, Vignola must have taken a math course since his degree was in communications.

He then said that he really really really (not sure if he said it two or three times, since I was putting my finger down my throat at the time indicating my lack of enthusiasm) …so he said he really really …(at least twice I am sure) wanted me to become city commissioner since “I am the person he could probably party with when on those city trips to conventions.”   

What?

Now it is important to note that I wrote an article on wasteful spending by the city commissioners and even had a picture of a hamburger with money in it instead of meat. I pointed out in the article that one of the areas where the commissioners blow money is at the so-called information conventions where more than one of them would attend at great cost to the taxpayers.   

Now I understand: they party on!  I checked with the city and found that Vignola  and Dan Daley signed up for all of the conventions this year and 2015. ….no doubt that Larry likes to party with Dan as well.

He continued with the BSing and told me that I was brilliant in coming up with the Taj Mahal name for the City Hall and that was one of the reasons why Skip Campbell and Joy Carter won the election. Interrupting  Vignola, I mentioned that I was not the one that coined the phrase ‘ Taj Mahal’ for the city hall.

“You weren’t?”

“No”

“Who was?”

In life there are those golden moments where you pause for a few seconds for effect, and to smile just before you deliver the punch line. The pause for effect only adds to the emphasis on the point you are about to make. Vignola should have known this since he is a Communications Major.

“You were,” I said.

There was a long silent period where I actually thought that the call had dropped until I heard a ‘Wha?” sound.  So I continued, finally having the opportunity to get a sentence in edgewise.

“In August or September of 2012, at a city commission meeting or workshop, Mayor Roy Gold was trying to get the city commissioners to move ahead on the city hall. You said “We Don’t Need a Taj Mahal City Hall” .

I am quite sure I hear something to the effect that “I voted against it before I was for it” or something like, I did the math when Roy left and Boccard came in and it made more sense a month later. I am sure Roy would like to know why when he was Mayor it was not a good thing, and when Boccard became Mayor all of sudden is was the best idea since sliced bread.

Having heard all I needed to hear from Vignola, I was able to end the conversation by telling him that my cell phone was running out of battery power, which all cell phones eventually do.

I have been told that I am not the only one that Vignola calls with messages and strange  conversations. He has mentioned to several people he has 65,000 or 75,000 email addresses from residents in the city and he constantly calls people up ranting about something or another. I think the only difference between me and anyone else is that fact that I get to write about it and hope that this acts as a repellant.

I am quite sure that Vignola will deny all of this on his Facebook site and friends of his will no doubt hate me even more.  There are those that put Commissioner Vignola on a pedestal, sucking up to him at all instances especially if you are with the “in crowd” or people that he parties with. After all, he is very well liked in our community, and some even think he is a good city commissioner because he helps the sports and the youth in our city. All very important functions I am sure.

I just think that it is time that he stops these strange conversations. He needs to get rid of the ego complex, humble himself a little more and over the next two years and be the best city commissioner he can be, especially if he wants to run for office again.  There is no more gang to support him. The status quo ended when Skip and Joy were elected. 

Now that party is over, it is time to get down to business.

Coral Springs Talk welcome all views.  Send in yours to Coral Springs Talk

About Howard Melamed

avatar Howard Melamed is a long-time resident of Coral Springs. He is a civil engineer and CEO of CellAntenna Corporation which has been located in Coral Springs since 1992. He serves on the City of Coral Springs Economic Development Advisory Committee and is the editor of Coralsprings.com.

Connect

Follow on Twitter Connect on Facebook View all Posts Visit Website
  • Abunchofbullshit

    To quote my Grandkids favorite movie, Frozen, “LET IT GO……”! If you care about the City you don’t need to talk trash like this after an election and help us ‘heal’ and move forward!

    • Howard Melamed

      So who exactly are you ? Chicken to say your real name? Dan? Is that you?

  • Diane L. Yousefi

    I Supported you but negative campaIgn time is over.

    • Howard Melamed

      Now is the time for truth, since the campaign is over. You told me you are one of the people that Larry calls all the time, and you know everything I said in this article is true….and you know more than I do. Maybe he will stop now 🙂

  • Barb

    God help us if this man ever gets elected. What a mean spirited piece of crap “opinion” article. Sounds like someone is a sore loser. That’s all I see. Trying to keep yourself relevant?

    • Howard Melamed

      Hi Barb. Which one of Larry’s friends are you ? Just by you posting …you keep me relevant 🙂

      • Barb

        Never met him. Didn’t have to he wasn’t running. You were and I didn’t like what I saw.

  • Susan S.

    Sounds like sour grapes! I spoke to both him and Vignola at early voting. Vignola sounded sincere and like he cared. Melamed was acting like a fool. He even tried handing me this big sign to bring into voting. This man doesn’t take anything serious, and that’s why I didn’t vote for him. I understand he is upset about losing, but acting like this is why he did!

    • Howard Melamed

      Vignola? He was not even running. Lou was there. You should have spoken to him. Unless of course you actually thought Vignola was the candidate.

  • Kathy

    “I just think that it is time that he stops these strange conversations. He needs to get rid of the ego complex, humble himself a little more..” – YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE TO HEART. Stop your the negativity. This isn’t grade school.

    • Howard Melamed

      Why Kathy…….I actually made it past grade school and graduated college. Did Larry call you to write this 🙂 ?

  • CS RESIDENT

    Today marks two weeks since ED.. What is the point in writing an article like this? I just read this article waiting for a “Holy Shit” Larry really said that moment.. but there wasn’t one. It seems to me that Larry was calling to be nice or even if he was calling to rub it in, he still only said nice things. I was a Howard supporter and think that Lou is in way over his head, but writing stuff like this only makes you look stupid Howard. As the Beatles so eloquently stated “let it be.” If you have any hopes of running again or possibly effecting some change as a resident or maybe even a committee — this kind of stuff only hurts your cause. Larry is arrogant. Larry really is not smart. Larry most likely will not be re-elected. But let someone else say these things. The truth about what you are saying gets lost in the fact that you just lost an election that most people think you should have won (including me). Go take those vacations you said you were going to take, get back involved in running your successful company and come back when your head is clear/this is all behind you!

    • Howard Melamed

      Coralsprings.com. I have been writing for the past 14 years on Coralsprings.com. There is no cause here. I gather you are not going to like the article I wrote and will publish about Dan Daley either.

  • REAL CS Resident

    Wow… you people are rough… And I think most of you people missed the point of the article. Maybe it’s glossed over because Howard just lost the election, but the point of the story is the back room junk and waste in OUR city. I know neither of these men, but I find the article informative and worthy of looking into. Mr. Melamed is not the “Times”. The article is rife with opinion… however, it is an editorial piece, hence his right to make those statements. You folks should get over yourselves and find a hobby! I worry about this city in which I live, my kids go to school and my wife works. Anyone that is willing to spend their time trying to make it a better place deserves a voice!

    PS… I bet half of you were sent this link just for the purpose of negitivly commenting!

    • Kathy

      Mr. REAL CS Resident, I added my input on my own accord. No one put me up to it. We are all entitled to our opinions including Mr. Melamed. I happened to vote for Mr. Melamed BUT commentary and opinions of this nature confirms to me that should he ever run again, he won’t have my vote a second time.

      • Howard Melamed

        Don’t worry. I am never running again. And you were probably one of the 50.2 percent that voted against me.

        • Howard Melamed

          Interesting. I even have people writing for me ! Wow! Thank you guest.

      • Howard Melamed

        Will never happen again. Not to worry. The good thing is that we have freedom of speech in this country. That’s good enough for me .

      • Howard Melamed

        You actually were one of the 49.8% that voted for me? How do we know that for certain? I mean it is easy to say it….but we all know that the actual vote is hidden. So I think you did not vote for me at all, but want to add credibility to your comments. The facts are as I said them.

        • Howard Melamed

          Another great comment. GUEST keep them coming ! 🙂

    • Barb

      Well obviously with a piece written like this he is NOT trying to make it a better place that much is clear.

      • Guest

        So this is your comment #2? A better place means exactly what to you? To me it was quite simple. Less taxes, spend better, police at schools to protect the kids and no wasteful spending on partying at conventions. And your better place is …what exactly?

        • Barb

          More police at schools and less taxes seems like an oxymoron to me.

    • Howard Melamed

      Obviously Larry doesn’t call you. You are correct. I predicted that the Friends of Larry club will no doubt lash out. Amazing how few people commented.

  • What…EVER!!!

    Seriously?? I voted for you Howard but now I’m glad Lou won. I don’t like sore losers and all this does is come off as a bunch of BS.

    • Howard Melamed

      Lou ? Yep.

  • 30 year CS Resident

    THIS MELAMED GUY IS NUTS!!!! What a sore loser. I am a democrat and have met Mr. Vignola several times. He is a sincere man who genuinely cares about our city. This is nothing more than a slander piece written by someone who lost an election. What a loser. Maybe he needs a communication degree to learn how to get his thoughts out in a positive and coherent way. Speaking of arrogant, I wanted to throw up listening to him talk about his degree and his “superior” intelligence. No wonder he lost

    • Howard Melamed

      Hi Dan.

  • MikeatHT

    all of this from the same guy who cyber squats the name CORALSPRINGS.COM and wont give it to the city unless they pay handsomely? yeah, Mr. Malamed really cares about the city lol

    • Howard Melamed

      It’s Melamed… Had the site for 14 years. Been writing articles for 14 years as well. It was never for sale. MikeatHT, what is that anyway? Mik eat HT? or MI Keath T? Or you have problems spelling your last name too?

  • Howard Melamed

    It is interesting how few people actually came to Larry’s defense in the comments. I am sure he will get the word out and more people will not read the article but comment anyways. All of them except one hid their names. It is so easy to comment behind a mask 🙂

    • Barb

      I can’t speak for anyone else but I think your article speaks to what it is and should be taken as such. I actually understand, sometimes I pick up little things and just run with them and then a couple weeks later re-read what I wrote and realize I sounded like an idiot. That was my take on the article. Sort of like when you complained the auto transcriber misspelled your name during a commission meeting, didn’t you feel silly after that one? It actually does make you seem like a sore loser and am sure you think because you weren’t running against him it doesn’t matter, it does. Just like all your GANG articles, which you have done before with a previous commission. Same story new players

  • DonRSD

    Note to self – not voting for Vignola. Cant put the toothpaste back in the bottle ones its out.
    BTW – if Vignola is so supportive of Coral Springs, why did their family leave the Coral Springs Chargers youth football program and go to play for Coconut Creek Eagles when they “didn’t get their way”?
    Witnessed the entire thing 1st hand. Even coached the Chargers after he left 🙂

    • Barb

      I don’t know why he left, but lots of residents do for an abundance of reasons. Coaching issues, scheduling issues, parent issues, team issues. My nephews started in Coral Springs playing multiple sports and some sports they play in Creek and some in Margate and some here, parents tend to do what is best for their kids.

    • John Amodeo

      If Larry was so bad then why was he the one responsible for helping the league get their new football building and all new equipment for this year? Instead of sitting at home doing nothing but writing slanderous replies. Why not volunteer some time to help the youth programs. I know who you are!
      John Amodeo

  • nvlo

    As humans we all want validation. I can understand that if all that was written here is true, Mr. Melamed would want others to know what he was up against. I think the bigger picture is how nasty politics is. If this is how politicians at a local level treat each other, can you imagine what goes on in Washington?!

    • Howard Melamed

      well said. .

    • Barb

      Maybe tomorrow I will write an editorial about the discussion I had with my sister yesterday…you know for validation about whether you all think I was right.

      • nvlo

        By all means, do. You’ll have most saying you’re crazy, a couple who might be able to put themselves in your shoes, and one, who will go out of their way to somehow ‘diss’ the one who seemed to have any empathy towards you.

  • Howard Melamed

    Interesting…..Most of the negative comments were written by a couple of people under different tags. I wonder if they were able to vote the same way …. Vote Early Vote Often ?

  • Coral Springs Concerned Voter

    Does anyone know how to research arrest records, criminal records, and mug shots of our local public officials (if they exist)?