Boca Raton Voter Red Alert

17

Voters Be Warned

The attempt to overturn the will of the voters in the City of Boca Raton has hit full throttle.  Following the overwhelming majority vote for preserving green space on our city owned Intracoastal waterfront properties for recreational purposes and boating access, available to all the citizens of Boca Raton, the special interests that favor commercializing these same properties, to benefit the minority, are attempting to strike back.  Don’t let this happen!

The successful YES vote during the November 8th election, passed with significant majorities in every single voting precinct within the city, and overall by a two-to-one margin.  That is a landslide!  This occurred in spite of formidable forces against it in the form of The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, PACs out of Tallahassee with meaningful dollars that produced a TV campaign and other support to vote “no”, an endorsement against it provided by the Sun-Sentinel, plus mammoth “Vote NO” signs on the properties owned by the largest private commercial land owner in the city, Investments Limited.

Immediately after the vote, these same forces claimed that the plainly written ballot measure was “confusing”.  The arrogant and condescending implication being that only the “no” votes could figure out what it meant while the “YES” votes didn’t have the intelligence to sort things out.  Unfortunately, the sour grapes did not end there.

The Chamber of Commerce Effect

ForBoca.Org, a Tallahassee based organization (PAC) whose front man is Mike (M.J.) Arts, the former President and CEO of The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, filed a lawsuit against the City of Boca on January 9, 2017 in an effort to overturn the referendum passed by the citizen vote.  Mr. Arts also served as a councilman until his defeat by former councilman Anthony Majhess.  This organization, with close Chamber of Commerce ties, has decided that the voice of the residents count for nothing.  It is the opinion of some legal experts that the lawsuit will most likely fail due to its lack of merit.  In the meantime, taxpayers will be saddled with the cost to defend and the resident’s use of certain waterfront properties will be delayed for an indeterminate amount of time.

The Chamber has not stopped there.  With the upcoming Municipal election to select City Council members, the Chamber has chosen to endorse Andy (Andrew) Thomson for City Council Seat B.  Mr. Thomson also favors going against the will of the resident vote and will no doubt carry the water of the Chamber and the development community if elected.  If the lawsuit drags on Mr. Thomson will be the “Ace in the Hole” for those behind the lawsuit.  A review of Mr. Thomson’s campaign finance reports verifies that claim.  He is heavily funded by Attorneys, Developers and landowners including the Batmasian family that owns Investments Limited.  No other candidate for Seat B has this type of financial support from those special interest groups.  Not even close.

View Campaign Reports for all candidates here:

http://www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us/pages/city-clerk/municipal-elections

The Weinroth Effect

As if this wasn’t enough to make you give pause, now comes sitting Councilman Robert Weinroth with an endorsement for Thomson on Facebook on January 20th.  Weinroth, who has been ushering Mr. Thomson around social and community circles for a number of months was, and continues to be, a vocal opponent to the voter initiative and is opposed to preserving city owned land as open/green space.  Mr. Weinroth has voted in favor of every major development to come before him.  A public records request, done in the past, reveals his disdain for residents who choose to exercise their rights to speak out on development issues by labeling them “naysayers” and “the usual suspects” in email exchanges with the development community.

       

Beware

Mr. Thomson’s appearance on the scene is an interesting situation.  In another era, the smooth talking, young attorney would be considered a “Carpetbagger” since he recently moved to Boca Raton about five to six months ago for the sole purpose of running for office in Boca.  He has never voted in a Boca Raton municipal election, nor has he served on any city boards.  Based on his campaign funding, recent endorsements, and most probably another endorsement to come from the Sun-Sentinel, Mr. Thomson’s path forward is clearly set following in the footsteps of his mentor, Councilmember Robert Weinroth.

If you have concerns about traffic, high density development or preservation of open/green space, or if you savor the quality of life that brought you to Boca Raton, this is not your candidate.  No matter what he and others may claim.

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Born and raised in Chicago and a graduate of Loyola University. I went on to study at Chicago Kent Law, part of Illinois Institute of Technology, but stopped short to serve in the US Army for 3 years. Moved to Boca Raton with my family 35 years ago and began a 32 year career with IBM as Sales Executive and Business Director Manager with the Manufacturing Technology Center - now the Don Estridge School. Volunteering is in my blood, I especially enjoy working to raise money for children with special needs at the Jewish Community Center and look back fondly on the years spent coaching soccer and supporting Boca Jets football. My two children attended Addison Mizner, St Andrew's, Boca High, and are both graduates of University of Florida. If I sound like a fighter I am, beat cancer three times and I support all survivors who face that same challenge.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article exposing the underbelly of Boca politics, and how developers will stop at nothing to get their way. It’s time to elect reform candidates who will change the way our city views development and quality of life.

  2. The Boca Raton Municipality should buy up all properties that come up for sale and turn them back to the people for parks ect.

  3. Sounds like the same process from the early 90s that turned the original Boca voter choice of the concept “sold” Mizner “world class” art and cultural park into a shopping plaza. Then, after the mall was mostly built and the Chamber and friends where trying to grab the last remaining “Art”parcels that had been designated for the Boca Art Buildings some citizens had to sue the city to push for another referendum on that issue and it won on the ballot and the art building is there today.

  4. The question on the November Ballot was VERY simple and correct and the citizens clearly understood it.
    What was confusing and deceptive were all the ‘VOTE NO” signs around town!

  5. The Wildflower property would be an exception to the green space initiative and should not have been included. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit outside looking at the water in a low key, family oriented “outdoor” style restaurant? There are not many opportunities to do that in Boca Raton.

    • I agree. I live in that neighborhood and a nice waterfront restaurant would be great there. Silver Palm park…150 feet away… is already way underutilized.

  6. I agree with Mr. Bill Grieco I always wonder where is all the Tax money is going in Boca ? Do we get our money worth from all of our taxes and water fees etc.. There seem to be a big white elephant in the political arena in our city. It is time that the citizens get accountability with the expenses and who is really benefiting. We should buy these real Estate property and get it off the market so that we don’t argue for their usability they belong to the citizens of Boca to enjoy. Get all the insiders out and vote in fresh blood and spend the city money sensibly.

  7. The same mentality that challenges the popular vote for President are the ones who want to bulldoze the green space. What can the majority do to keep the status quo.

  8. No it would NOT be nice to sit outside at the Wildflower Park at a Houston’s restaurant.

    But it will be nice to sit outside looking at the water in a beautiful and relaxing Public Park

    that is open to ALL without the cost to buy anything.

  9. I wonder if this lawsuit doesn’t really show the real intent of the developers. One waterfront restaurant wouldn’t seem to warrant such attention, expense and effort to overturn a referendum aimed at protecting waterfront property. The Ocean Strand property however would be a prime undeveloped piece of property worth 100’s of millions of dollars and has sat untouched for 23 years. Why?

  10. If you want to make changes in the way the city is run, do your research and due diligence. Follow the cash and support of the candidates, then ask yourself is this person going to be beholding to PACs and developers or to the citizens of Boca…..The choice is yours, cast your vote wisely.

  11. The Wildflower was a great restaurant. Did a busy businessmans lunch and after dinner, the nightclub hopped. It was one of the greatest places to go for food and dancing, without having to drive to Fort Lauderdale. The two stories made it an especially scenic place to eat on the Intracoastal with two story windows! Someone hing very similar would be a win win for Boca, especially with a dock for boaters.

    • BocaWatch is very much aware of the Wildflower storied history in Boca Raton. There is another part of its history that is seldom told. The original owners wanted out and sold to a restaurant group from Ft Lauderdale that owned The Down Under, Casa Vecchia, and Yesterday’s. That iteration failed and shut its doors. A third ownership group reopened under the Wildflower name and ultimately failed leaving the building and grounds to sit vacant until purchased by the City. While the notion of a restaurant failed overwhelmingly on the November 8th ballot, there are those that would still like to place the financial risk of restaurant operations on the backs of the taxpayers. BocaWatch aligns with the overwhelming majority and wants to turn the page on an attempt at a risky business venture and provide the amenity that voters have demanded resoundingly with their vote at the polls.

  12. Great article. The people knew exactly what they were voting for. It wasn’t just one piece of property for devolopment as it suggested (i.e.Wildflower). It was designed to open all vacant waterfront for development. They attempted to deceive and “the people” and slide one past us.

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