Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sister city having similar problems

The Editorial below is from a new kid on the block, “The Paddle” in Coconut Creek. Seems they are having similar problems to DFB.

April 2009 Edition of ThePaddle™.
ThePaddle@coconutcreekfl.org

Editorial
By James Freeman, Editor -
If one wants to run for office in Coconut Creek, a reality check on the machinations of how elections work in this town would be well advised. Otherwise one may as well just save the time, money and effort, and remain on the sidelines.

The recent City Commission elections confirm the continuation of what has been viewed as a tradition of dubious merit. Former Creek Commissioner now Florida State Representative Jim Waldman helped to write the playbook that remains so effective in our local democratic process. You may recall press coverage detailing how he changed his voter’s registration and driver’s license to support his claim that his primary residence is a spare bedroom in a Coconut Creek condo, not his nearly one million dollar home on four acres outside of his district. Or perhaps you’ve heard of Waldman’s longtime association with convicted Medicare scam artist Bradley Hertz.

But in spite of all that, the important lesson here is that in previous City and State elections, Waldman carried Wynmoor. When it comes to casting ballots in Coconut Creek, Wynmoor is the 800 pound gorilla.

This lesson is well heeded by Marilyn Gerber and her endorsees that make up four-fifths of the Coconut Creek City Commission. Pandering to Wynmoor voters wins elections because they turn out in numbers on Election Day that puts the rest of the City to shame.

Then there are those who keep the cogs of this political machine well lubricated. Dennis Mele, former Creek City Manager and lobbyist for law firm Ruden-McClosky, David Brown, campaign manager with Campaign Associates, Inc., who provides a conduit for campaign funding to political cronies, and Rivera, current Creek City Manager, whose taxpayer-based income exceeds that of a U.S. senator for his role in keeping the status quo.

Unlike Waldman, however, Mele, Brown, and Rivera freely admit they are not residents of Coconut Creek. This arrangement does insure that if a developer wants to do business in Coconut Creek, Ruden-McClosky are the go-to guys for the path of least resistance. Just don’t mess with Wynmoor.

But although Wynmoor voters may not share the same priorities as other Creek voters outside of their enclave, they are to be commended for their civic participation at the polls. While we cherish the involvement of our senior residents, we, by our own lack thereof, have relegated our electoral decision-making to them almost exclusively.

When I voted on March 10th, it took no more than 10 minutes of my day. For the vast majority of Creek residents, 10 minutes was too much to ask for a say-so in how our community is run. So if the machine starts chewing up your neighborhood, you can voice your opposition to Mayor Gerber and those marching in lockstep with her. But if they did not hear you on election day, your voices may fall on deaf ears.

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