District II Political Debate

    For those who like political debates, the Central Beach political debate at the B Hotel last Monday night was a doozy!

It was the second debate for candidates for the open seat of District II in Fort Lauderdale. District II is an odd political district, rich and poor, starting at the beach, up through the Las Olas Isles, through Victoria Park, and west to some troubled neighborhoods.

     I represented this district and labeled it the Bermuda Triangle of political districts - most politicians flew in, crashed, and were never heard of again ( I broke that trend .


     The debate started as they usually do. The moderator, beach President John Weaver, thanked the crowd and went over the ground rules. Each candidate would have two minutes for an opening statement, then there would be some "uncomfortable" questions for each candidate to start off the evening.

     The crowd was intrigued!

     Former Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom was asked to start off with her two minute opening statement. She offered the expected, I was your Commissioner, I was successful at it, I want to finish the term I had to leave to run at the County level ..... and then -

     ...... "and there is another meeting down the road about the beach erosion, so I'll have to leave now" ........


     ..... and out she went !


     There was an air of disbelief in the room. The remaining candidates spread out and gave themselves some more elbow room on the dais, and candidate Dean Trantalis asked the moderator if it would be alright to remove the Rodstrom name-tag from the dais. There was muffled laughter.

     The three remaining candiates gave their usual opening statements and then the first question came from the moderator.

     "The first question is for Charlotte Rodstrom, and she just left, but I'm going to ask the question regardless - "Ms. Rodstrom, you resigned your City Commission job just weeks after winning to run for the County Commission post. That move will cost the City $250,000 for this special election - how do you respond?"

     The moderator then said - "Ms. Rodstrom is not here to answer that question, but the rules call for a one minute rebuttal from any of the challengers, would any of you like to rebut?" ....
     Rebut they did!

     Each of the other candidates had tough questions prepared for them also....

 They asked Trantalis why they should elect him to a seat that he only served one term on, and resigned citing personal conflicts with that same job...

     Trantalis said he had decided not to run for re-election then as his father was dying and he thinks he made the right decision.... He continued that he was the only candidate that could hit the ground running, said District II had immediate needs and that he could best tackle them.

 They asked Chuck Black how he thought he could be competitive when no one seemed to know him. Black humorously quipped, "look at this face, I'm an everyday guy" (inferring that everyone knew him). He went on to promote his military service, world experience,  and his ability to commit to a tough job.

 They asked  Lester Zalewski about him being removed from their very own Board. Zalewski countered that there were members of the Board whom he had conflicts with, but that the residents in the area felt a different way about him.
     Zalewski went on to point to his extensive record in business and entrepreneurialism. He said he was a rebel, but that's what City Hall needed. 

     They finished with their concluding comments, all except for Rodstrom!

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  • 12/12/2012 12:21 PM fred carlson wrote:
    You wrote
    "...and out she went !
    There was an air of disbelief in the room."
    No Tim, not disbelief, outrage at the insult. Pure Charlotte to the end, disrespect of the people in her district.
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 12:35 PM John Weaver wrote:
    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the recap, although I hope the night was interesting for a little more than the on incident.

    There's just one thing I want to clarify. I told the audience that there was a question for Charlotte, and it was up to them if they wanted to hear it. It was fairly obvious that they wanted to. Had they not wanted to, the queston would not have been read and there would have been no rebuttals.

    John Weaver
    CBA President
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 12:48 PM beach bum wrote:
    Whatever few votes Rodstrom had left on the beach washed out with the tide after she abruptly left the stage. How rude and arrogant of her. Either she is supremely overconfident or as Dean Trantalis said that night, "She ran away; she's given up."
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 1:08 PM Mary Pat Rhodes wrote:
    That exist spoke volumns!
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 1:18 PM No Short Hitters wrote:
    Chuck Black got to be his neighborhood's president by default, no one wanted to run. He never completed an office in that association. Ask Chuck what he did for his community? Ask him how he contributed to the neighborhood? He quit to run for the district 2 commission seat that was left by another self-serving, opportunist candidate. What makes Chuck different than Charlotte? Nothing!
    Dean completed his term and did not seek re-election. Lester sticks to his projects.
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 1:54 PM Every Vote Counts wrote:
    Suscinct and unbiased Tim. Well done as always.

    Although one vote will not force a 'sea change'on the dais (excuse lame pun)as 3-2 gets it done,ironic that district 2 under seige and under water and NO representation on dais.
    Alot can happen in next 2 years, for better or worse. This is not the same city (or county) as 5 and 10 years ago. All of us need to turn out and vote. If not a landslide, then we get the run off. Thank you to candidates and CBA for being inclusive regardless of personal opinions.
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 2:37 PM CBA board member wrote:
    Actually, the funniest part of the evening was watching Lester Zalewski's campaign manager and treasurer Chris Beck sleeping in the front row throughout most of the debate. I wonder if he had any good tips for his guy?
    Reply to this
    1. 12/12/2012 4:48 PM Lester Zalewski wrote:
      Sir. Mr. Beck is not engaged in my campaign. He is a experienced advertising executive who was recording the meeting for his own use. Anyone would benefit from his experience.

      PS Tim it was a long night.
      I did not state I am a rebel. I did state "if you are tired of the status quo I am your candidate".
      Reply to this
      1. 12/12/2012 8:33 PM Tim Smith wrote:
        Lester ..... I had written down "rebel" in my notes ... sorry if I got it wrong.... but to let you know ...I've often considered myself a rebel ! ... Tim
        Reply to this
        1. 12/12/2012 9:06 PM Lester Zalewski wrote:
          Tim you have full literary license. I enjoy reading your blog.
          Please, Rebel like the founding fathers not so much like the 50s movie with Brando or maybe a bit.

          Lester Zalewski
          Reply to this
          1. 12/12/2012 11:30 PM just the facts wrote:
            tim don't compromise your credibility
            "rebel" or "artistic license" via your EARS -
            what did they say? where 's the quotes? can you objectively report???

            lets get honest about task at hand
            by all in district 2

            More of the same ? great? cityide we all carry the load

            NO EDITING please
            report the facts or you are no better then S-S hirees
            Reply to this
  • 12/12/2012 4:35 PM Steve Glassman wrote:
    Last night I had the pleasure of serving on the host committee for a Dean Trantalis meet and greet at my condo building. We had an extraordinary number of RSVP's (102!) and almost every one of them showed up in addition to many who showed up without an RSVP. The number one topic of discussion throughout the room was Charlotte Rodstrom abruptly leaving the CBA debate the night before without ever giving the courtesy of an advance heads-up to the CBA Board or president. The second most discussed topic was the cost of this election and how unnecessary it was if Charlotte had only conducted herself in the best interests of her constituents (not running this past January for City re-election and simply running for the County). The third topic was how engaging the CBA debate was and that the attendance of about 65 was not bad considering the City held the A1A meeting on the same date and exact time.
    Reply to this
  • 12/13/2012 4:30 PM Oh that Dean wrote:
    Interesting line below from Dean, I wonder if that could be said about the abused kids that were removed from the CEO Dean's board put in place after Angelo Castillo when either they were or should have been aware their new CEO had foster kids in his custody removed for allegations of child abuse.

    Dean Trantalis said that night, "She ran away; she's given up."

    Tim, you may find this distasteful, but in all honesty over the years Dean always seems to be around siutation where people get hurt and the public needs to be reminded. How many people lost their life savings on the Waves building?
    Reply to this
  • 12/13/2012 4:53 PM Bring back Robert wrote:
    I was hoping to see Robert Walsh at the debate as well. I was looking forward to meeting him.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/13/2012 6:49 PM Bebe Rebozo wrote:
      Walsh is a convicted felon who never had his voting rights restored and has voted improperly for several years. Guess he gave up and never qualified to run. You can meet him at almost any Commission meeting - he likes to make presentations.
      Reply to this
      1. 12/13/2012 7:43 PM interesting wrote:
        I thought that Charlotte was representing her district by attending the beach erosion issue...its pretty important to me and my family. I thought Dean was well spoken but I dont buy his excuse for quitting...I think a quitter is a quitter...I like chuck black too nice guy and lester zewiski seems to be a little angry but not dumb....over all i think she thought the concern for the future of the beach was more important then impressing the like of Fred carlsbad and company and i applaud that
        Reply to this
        1. 12/14/2012 12:31 AM Danielle wrote:
          Most of the beach residents agree with Charlette since we had over 300 residents compared to 65 who decided a political debate was more important to them. Beach erosion is the main issue of the beach during this time since our road is literally being eaten up by the ocean. Charlotte was where she needed to be. Why did the other 3 candidates think a political debate was more important than dealing with an emergency meeting? Only they can answer that question. Charlotte has her priorities right.....emergencies over political meetings.
          Reply to this
        2. 12/14/2012 7:46 AM really wrote:
          She can't be representing our district because she resigned from office. More importantly, she and the other Commissioners and Mayor thought it wasn't important for our District to have any representation on the dais and over the objections of many, they decided to leave the seat open (and not make an interim appointment)until the election settles it - maybe four months without representation. So, don't talk about how concerned Rodstrom is with us being represented. She's costing us an unnecessary $250,000 for this election!
          Reply to this
        3. 12/14/2012 9:50 AM Define Quit wrote:
          Dean did not quit during his term. He finished his term and then decided NOT to re-run for the seat. His reasons for not re-running were personal and it was good for the residents of district II. We would have been served by a commissioner that had distractions of his personal life. He did District II a favorite.
          Charlotte and Chuck; both quit. Charlotte quit 2 weeks after winning the election. Chuck had to quit being president of his neighborhood association to run for the seat Charlotte abandoned for greener pastures. There is a $ HUGE $ difference!
          Reply to this
  • 12/13/2012 4:55 PM bad attitude wrote:
    Perfect caption for the second photo and the Queen's entitled attitude:
    "You can all kiss my ass."
    Reply to this
  • 12/13/2012 7:49 PM Danielle wrote:
    I was at the beach erosion meeting and Charlotte was well received. She was the only one who showed up. All this other talk about how people at parties were talking about every other subject other than our eroding beach is sad. Charlotte will win hands down. Did beach erosion even come up at the debate?
    Reply to this
    1. 12/13/2012 11:43 PM Anonymous wrote:
      Weren't the current commissioners there and hasn't Charlotte been on the commission for over six years? what has she done about beach erosion in all that time?
      Reply to this
      1. 12/14/2012 8:54 AM STOP THE INSANITY wrote:
        She served six solid years and nothing towards the beach erosion. Tough on crime, hardly! When did she get down and dirty with the citizens of district 2? Only at election time! Charlotte knew that showing her face at both events would make her face seen. She is a self-serving opportunistic politician, not a representative of the people.
        Think back people, last January there were 3 running on the ballot in the District 2 Commissioner seat; Char, Mike Ferber and Lester Zalewski. Was Ferber a pawn or a jester for Char? Very suspicious, how Mike Ferber had to resign from the volunteer P & Z board to run for the seat, but immediately after Char’s win, he was reappointed … by Char. Then 2 weeks later she decided the county commissioner seat was her new target since her hubby was term limiting out. The city attorney scrambled to find the legal aspects of this and found that she must resign. The new election is costing $250,000. Oh yeah, District 2 has unpaved streets. Thanks Char!
        Look back to her and her husband trying so hard to overturn term limits. Why? Self-Serving! Self-serving for them; the Rodstroms and their clique of cronies. Were the citizens represented here?
        Let us not forget the fight to attempt to get the republican votes in the past primary. Who did that serve? The Rodstroms and their cronies!
        Then there is the ignoring of citizens at city hall. Remember Tim wrote about Snubbing Steve? A hand full of people that have crossed Char are ignored by the mayor, city manager and the other commissioners. Oh, and a few are ignored by the Chief of Police and the officers too. If these people call, send messages or voice concerns they are ignored. Is this representation of the citizens? This is Char's method of dealing with opposition. She will throw her temper tantrums to get her way. Watch how she manipulates the other on the dais. Sunshine law, anyone?
        And as far as the scheduling of the Beach meeting and the debate; I think Char was still in the throne when the debate was scheduled. It appears that city hall neglected to or dropped the ball planning here. Yes the beach is important, but so is the future representation of the citizens of District 2.
        The former commissioner needs to stay a former commissioner. The mayor needs to pull up his boot straps and start representing us the citizens. The governor or lt. governor's position needs a leader. Don't let the little Queen; her King and her court jesters intimidate you. STOP IGNORING! Time to let the citizens' voices be heard.
        Reply to this
  • 12/14/2012 7:41 AM get your facts straight wrote:
    To Interesting and Danielle above: You are missing a very important point. When Rodstrom was the Commissioner, on November 9 she received the CBA's announcement of the debate to be held on December 10. She should have calendered that date for the City and the City should have had the respect for the neighborhood to schedule the public meeting on ANY other night (after all, the hotel was booked, arrangements were made and 5,500 letters were mailed to Disrict II beach residents). The City meeting was filled with mostly District I beach residents from the Galt Ocean Mile and Trantalis and Black DID attend the December 7 meeting with the neighborhood most impacted by the damage, Birch Finger Streets. And to Danielle - Charlotte was not well received at the A1A meeting - most did not even know she was there.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/15/2012 10:01 PM Danielle wrote:
      5,500 letters sent out and 65 attended? That's not a good turnout.
      Reply to this
      1. 12/16/2012 9:10 AM why the alias wrote:
        To Danielle - that's a clever combination of a name for Dan Lewis - the campaign manager and dirty trickster for Charlotte Rodstrom. By the way, your neighborhood of Victoria Park sends out more than than for each meeting and how many people show up? 20? 30? Maybe 40? You know that CBA always gets more than any other neighborhood association. If there was no conflict that night, there would have been 100 or so. That's not bad.
        Reply to this
  • 12/14/2012 12:41 PM Rational 1 wrote:
    For a public servant to simply up and walk out of a civic meeting to which she is responsible for creating in the first place is the epitome of cowardice and disrespect.

    Walking out to the tune of a quarter-million dollars is all but criminal—and if it isn’t, it should be.

    Fight or flight is the first stage of general adaptation syndrome (GAS: see gasbag). And flee she did, to a better party out on the beach where the questions would be tossed out as soft balls and the grandstanding applauded as effective policy.

    The ambulance chaser. Par for the course. Murphy’s Law. Fill in the blank with your own tired cliché. The only real erosion in district II is that of public trust.

    To the commenter who described “zewiski” (Zalewski) as a “a little angry but not dumb,” what I saw in him was more outrage than anger. Anyone in that room with a pulse had to be outraged—to be treated like dummies.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/14/2012 2:27 PM Not fooled wrote:
      Hi Rational,

      Did you know you write a lot like Chris Beck, the person who is not working on zalwski's campaign.
      Reply to this
      1. 12/14/2012 4:50 PM Rational 1 wrote:
        Does this mean you think I wrote it in my sleep?

        Your spelling notwithstanding.
        Reply to this
        1. 12/14/2012 6:42 PM Rational 1 wrote:
          If your deride is to say I write in complete sentences, as Chris Beck, or whoever cares enough to articulate the ineffectual political workings of D2 , then your are correct, madam.
          Reply to this
  • 12/15/2012 8:27 AM Rodstrom is a phony wrote:
    If Rodsrom truly cared about her constituents, she would have been a leader and have been out front in making sure that both of these events were at different times. Residents should not have been made to choose which to attend. Shame on her and shame on the City. And, yes, where were these "leaders" all these years when NOTHING has been done to renourish our beach?
    Reply to this
  • 12/15/2012 7:04 PM City Activist Robert walsh wrote:
    First too funny Char-. Thank you for thinking of me there 'Bring back Robert". I wish i could have been there. I missed both meetings my car broke down. To "Bebe" I never voted improplerly. Ok. Ok. To your other commnet 'convicted felon" thats all you got. Debate me on issues,taxes revunue(generate).I petioned for Clemency in 2003. I filled out the paper-work w/ my Probate Off. Thats it-they (Goober Scott) lost it, misplaced it< got my name mixed up w/ another Robert Walsh(common)-toooo bad. I will take care of this cus the former probate off. will back me up. Enough.. Tim, keep up the good coverage on this Election. I think this could be wrapped up in Jan if certain canidates play it right. Good luck to all.....
    Reply to this
  • 12/15/2012 7:48 PM Looking In wrote:
    I don't usually have much to say on this blog, though I do read it and enjoy it., I bet there are many others who read it and don't comment, but as I read through some of the comments, I thgouht , what the hell, tell them how you think. So, I don't live in this District, but I volunteer for City events, so I guess i am entitled to "opine" if I see fit. So here goes. I think we could have better representation. Where are the business leaders and the educators? You have a choice between two candidates that have already been there, and two that don't seem right. So that's it. I would vote against any more Rodstrom. I think they have had their day.
    Reply to this
  • 12/19/2012 1:44 PM Danielle wrote:
    The winner of the debate is..........Charlotte Rodstrom. . She showed up and displayed grace and poise for the limited time she was there. She has already done so much for the beach that it doesn't need to be spoken. I predict she will win reecection handily and eventually become Mayor Rodstrom.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/19/2012 7:34 PM come on wrote:
      First - you weren't even there so stop it. Second - what has she done for the beach?
      Third - if she has done so much for the beach, then why have all of her former (and ardent) supporters now working for Dean Trantalis? Ones that come to mind are her appointments on the Beach Redevelopment Advisory Board - Scher and Rubinstein.
      Reply to this
    2. 12/20/2012 9:57 AM get a dictionary wrote:
      "Grace and Poise" - too funny. Those are two words that are the farthest from ever describing Queen Charlotte. Dan Lewis, you are really earning your pay!
      Reply to this
  • 12/20/2012 11:02 AM Danielle wrote:
    Actually Charlotte is a role model for all the female residents of the city. She stands up to the good old boy network and always fights for the little people...like Mother Teresa or Elenor Roosevelt did. Maybe" respected and dignified" might have been a better choice of words to describe Charlotte.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/20/2012 4:09 PM Rational 1 wrote:
      Mother Teresa didn't believe in penicillin. Eleanor Roosevelt is spinning in her grave.
      Reply to this
  • 12/20/2012 1:38 PM Jackie Butzen wrote:
    I have known Lester Zalewski for 33 years, and worked with him for 32 of those years.
    His devotion to his ideals are outstanding in their tenacity.
    Lester's motto, during negotiations with municipal park district's, including the City of Chicago, was "Never accept NO for an answer. Preserve in the negotiation process until an amenable solution is arrived at for all parties". The results of this perseverance were three (3) park district contracts, where NO was the initial reaction from those municipalities. Those contracts were one of the facets of our million dollar business.
    Another facet, is Lester's pursuit of excellence which garnered several industry awards including "Dealer of the Year," for the products we carried.
    Lester, also, became a father figure to some of the young people we employed. They appreciate the education and work ethic received under Lester's tutelage so much that they remain in contact to this day.
    Lester is a teacher, administrator, and businessman with a determination towards excellence, who loves your beach and community. He will serve it, and you, well.
    Reply to this
    1. 12/22/2012 8:55 PM BS wrote:
      Is any of this even real? If Lester was such an exemplary human being in his past life, why has he been such a failure in Fort Lauderdale? Look at what happened in his own condo - the Illini - talk to people. Look what happened with him and his own neighborhood association. Talk to people. There is plenty of truth to find out. Everyone else can't be wrong.
      Reply to this
      1. 12/23/2012 11:27 AM Lester Zalewski wrote:
        Please explain for the record what you think happened and post your name so the readers can have a reference as to the authenticity of your commence.

        Lester Zalewski
        lesterz.com just updated
        Reply to this
        1. 12/24/2012 7:30 AM have you a diploma wrote:
          I want a commissioner who can write and spell correctly.
          Reply to this
  • 12/20/2012 2:17 PM Anonymous wrote:
    do we really want a third attorney on the commission?
    when dean was on comm he was the only attorney on dais.
    Reply to this
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