Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic, a Democrat, was already having a bad night to begin with at Wednesday night’s council Meeting, as the Mayor was on the losing end of 4 issues which the Council voted against her wishes. In most cases, since the Mayor has been in office these wishes are more like “demands” to the council In fact, since being elected, the Mayor has only pushed thru one issue, a “tax” increase”, but she needed all the help she could garner.
Wednesday night was no different. To start off with, the Mayor wanted a developer to pay $450,000 dollars for a pumping station and a generator for new construction. On its own it doesn’t sound unreasonable, but the Mayor’s Office told the developer after all the agreements were in place. The applicant, represented by Bill Laystrom objected to the cost, and threw themselves on the Council’s mercy to help out. The Mayor stood her ground, along with City Attorney Don Lunny. The applicant advised they would agree to pay for the pumping station, but not the $100,000 generator, which is not even required in Plantation’s current Code. A very similar situation to the “fire truck” episode a few months back. Council voted 3-2 to accept this. Councilman Tingom and Councilman Jacobs voted against the item. Council 1….Mayor 0
The next item was the Mayors “Storm Water Fee”, or tax, as most people who spoke on this issue called it. The City Engineer explained how badly the funds were needed, and so did the Mayor. In fact, the Mayor told a city resident I’d like to help you, but “we don’t have the money” The council went back and forth, residents, including this writer spoke on bad economic times, and the effect on local businesses. The Mayor was adamant about the need. Councilman Jacobs, who ran his campaign of not raising taxes for two (2) years, actually made the motion to raise this fee, or tax. This is the second time his pledge of not raising taxes on the people has been violated. Councilman Jacobs voted for our tax increase at the prior council meeting. Of course, Councilman Tingom seconded the motion. The vote of the council was 3-2 against a NEW Storm Water fee. The Mayor was visibly upset. Council 2…Mayor 0
The third issue came to the Mayor in the form of a resident who works with our beautiful Equestrian Center. This unnamed resident had visited earlier with the Mayor to discuss why the Non-Profit she works with at the Horse arena was being charged a “new fee”. To cut to the chase, after the council discussed the issue, they agreed to Not Charge the extra New Fee, not only upsetting the Mayor, but Parks & Recreation Director Jim Romano. Council 3..Mayor 0
We’re getting close to the Mayor Bendekovic “implosion”, but I felt I needed to give you the background on what a bad “Political Night” the Mayor was having prior to ‘Losing it” (verbally abusing) with a sitting Council Member. The 4th and final straw was when Loretta Kenna, the Plantation Acres H.O.A. President came before council, and at approximately 11:45p, after the Mayor was already 0 for 3, Loretta was explaining that her association was upset that all H.O.A’s would now have to pay $200 per year (or $20.00 per meeting) to use Volunteer Park, or (Any City facility) for their monthly meeting. They have been meeting at Volunteer Park forever. This H.O.A. has donated well over $15,000 to the city for trees and Park upgrades. The council listened, and even this writer spoke as to let the non-profits who contribute to the city in excess of the $200 fee, be able to use these facilities for Free. This exemption is the right thing to do. I stated that the Woman’s Club, has donated $100,000’s of thousands of dollars over the years, and to charge them would be an insult. The Mayor said to Loretta, in a condescending way, ” Then Spend Less on Trees” ( The Trees were Donated to the City!!!) This was not only an insult to the H.O.A., but to Loretta, a resident who has served this community on Plantation’s Volunteer Boards! The council agreed and the Mayor sunk a little lower in her seat Council 4..Mayor 0
Now the final, final straw. Can you sense the tension, and how this “Strong” Mayor is feeling now? I know this is a “Strong Mayor” form of government, but at this point the Mayor appeared “tired, weak, and beaten”. Under Council Members comments, Councilwoman Stoner was questioning why the city was still hiring employees, and asked, should there be a “Hiring Freeze”? These are legitimate questions that any councilmember can bring up, but the Mayor had had enough and unloaded on the freshman Councilwoman, shouting: (See Video at the City’s web site www.plantation.org (click on Council and then Council Agenda) at Time Point 4:09 to almost 4:11)!!!!!
Those of you “Plantation Journal Political Junkies” know that the former Mayor and I are not on each others Christmas card list. I understand her positions. The one thing that separates Mayor Armstrong from Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic is that she never let on, in public, anything that would diminish her position as “Strong Mayor”.
The video shows the built up anger and frustration much better than I can write it. The fury from repeated losses against this council, in less than a year in office is beginning to show. I know the Mayor said “this is a Strong Mayor form of government”, but to many who saw and heard what she said, they believed she wanted to say ” I am the Mayor”, Well at least she held that back.. Relax Mayor Bendekovic, you still have 3+ years left….
Remember the song?… Oh what a Night… Late October in 2011…