By Ira Rather:
It wasn’t simply a victory for Walter Skip Campbell. It was a bloodbath for soon-to-be former Commissioner Tom Powers.
For months, Powers has taken to the campaign trail—and used his position to exploit city airwaves and other city resources—to garner support for a downtown development project that nobody really wanted. The problem he faced was that most Coral Springers didn’t want it, and he out and out lied to everyone by claiming we actually did:
In the second candidates’ forum, Powers even went so far as to claim that he had spoken to thousands of Coral Springers (yes, he said thousands), and just about every one of them supported the $28 million (at minimum) downtown development project. According to him, not one of these folks had a bad thing to say about it at all!
Now, one doesn’t have to be a college statistics major to realize this is impossible. If you ask 4,000 people whether they favor death by hanging for jaywalking, you’re going to get at least a few hundred folks who say, “Definitely!” A hundred and fifty will say they prefer the guillotine. And another hundred will ask, “What the hell is jaywalking?”
No large group…ever, ever, ever...totally agrees on anything, let alone do they all really understand the question.
So the claim that he spoke to thousands of people was in itself a big lie—it’s just not physically possible. And that all of them agreed that the new project is fantastic is a huge lie. It’s the kind of lie where your kid has marshmallow Peeps all over his face but denies getting into the Easter basket before he should. A childish lie. A stupid lie. An easily exposed lie.
His earlier lies claimed that the city went through extensive efforts to get citizen feedback on this new City Hall, except that this lie was quickly debunked once you looked at the “process” leading up to the go-ahead decision. About a hundred “regular” people provided input not on the big decision, but on what they wanted in a new City Hall. (But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say two hundred. Still, hardly a representative sample of Coral Springs’ 125,000 plus residents.) That’s a big difference:
Asking a few hundred people what they want to see in a new City Hall is not the same as asking them if they want a new City Hall in the first place.
So that lie led to another lie where he claimed it wasn’t really necessary to put the new City Hall up for a vote. And yet another lie where you have to call it a “Municipal Complex” and not “City Hall”—and boy, did Powers get mad if you made this mistake and accidentally called it “City Hall.” (It was like calling a black person “Negro,” or a Native American an “Indian!”)
He lied when he claimed to be against a big downtown development project when former Mayor Gold first proposed it. Why the switch, all of a sudden?
He lied when he said that if we don’t do this project now, we will never again have this opportunity. An incredibly absurd lie, incredibly self-serving, and incredibly stupid. Developers will always come where there is a buck to be made, so how can you lie and claim that you’re the only one on earth who can bring development to that corridor?
He lied when he said this new City Hall would spur positive economic development, when all studies show that City Halls don’t. (Who the hell wants to go near City Hall unless they have to?) He lied by not publicly revealing that this project involves a hotel and movie theater, until this had to be revealed during the final stages of the campaign! He lied about us needing a huge parking garage, when the city has done just fine without one.
One of his bigger lies is that the $75,000 spent for the “Everything Under The Sun” logo was money well spent, and that there were also pages and pages of important marketing data gleaned via the Nashville company contracted to do this. And he lied by omission, with zero defense of the Commission spending over a million bucks on a few stupid entrance signs! (How the hell can you spend over a million dollars on three signs, get reamed over it by everyone, and not have a single word to support your decision? Silence can also be lying.)
He lied when he said this is the most transparent Commission ever, when anyone who watches Commission meetings on a regular basis knows much better. And the fact that he voted down Larry Vignola’s proposal way back that all off-site Commissioner Workshops be recorded for the record is not exactly a stellar example of transparency!
He lied when he claimed that his opponent Skip Campbell was only “causing trouble” and “lying” to get elected, as if scoring valid political points in a political contest is a bad thing. He lied claiming Skip “sneaked” into the race because of Gold’s last-minute withdrawal, and lied when he insulted and insinuated that Campbell was just running “for laughs,” and that Campbell’s future state office ambitions disqualified him as Coral Springs Mayor.
How about the fact that our red light cameras haven’t saved any lives, but just earn money, yet he keeps lying that they’re there for safety? How come he lies that Coral Springs has never looked better, although anyone with decent vision or a good pair of glasses can see that it’s never looked worse? There are also his lies that say people criticizing his positions on the issues are just lying themselves to score political points! In other words, any critique against him and the Commission are all lies!
And he has also closed the last few Commission meetings with a lying speech “explaining” to everyone how everyone else is lying, and that only he tells the truth.
So bad were his lies that Campbell, who ran an incredibly minimalist campaign, destroyed him at the polls. But it wasn’t mainly Campbell’s qualities that propelled him to Mayor, it was Powers’ negatives—basically, all of his lies.
In the end, the people of Coral Springs got a chance to vote on that new slogan. To vote on those signs. And to vote on this new City Hall.
And they booted Powers to the curb.
Because they knew he was lying all along.
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