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Of Mice and Men…and Commissioner Larry Vignola Stranger than Strange

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November 2014 – Rev 2.1  There are many people that want to be Monday morning quarterbacks as to why I lost the election for Coral Springs city commissioner seat #4 last Tuesday, by only 104 votes.  To cheer me up,  several people weighed in and told me that almost half the people voted for me, and that the other two candidates, Skip Campbell and Joy Carter  won because I defined the issues for them to run and defeat the Status Quo. People that know me understand that I would have liked to have won, but I did enjoy campaigning and was able to lose 30 pounds and get a tan in the process.

To my amazement  I got a strange call  a few days after the election from Commissioner Larry Vignola. It is important to understand the context of my surprise and puzzlement before investigating the discussion and trying to understand any reason as to why I even received the call in the first place, if there really is a reason.

All during the past several months and while campaigning, I hammered away at the city commissioners, telling them that they need to bring the issue of the City Hall to a vote of the people, and that spending $28,000,000 on a Taj Mahal is not a smart career decision move. Looks like I was right. Vignola all the time opposed me during commission meetings. He called me a liar and   kept using the phrase I have said “ Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”.  He told all the citizens of our city  that the city hall is not going to cost $28,000,000 but rather $23,000,000 + a parking garage of $5,000,000. He was rude , and in keeping with the style of 3 others on the commission , Daley, Powers and Mayor Boccard, he  bullied  me and anyone else that has tried to speak the truth to them during the public comments portion of the meetings.  I even heard the hissing of tires coming from his seat every time I went up to the podium at every commission meeting to give my 2 cents, (more like 3 minutes) on issues before the commission.

After a commissioner meeting in May of this year,  Vignola approached me on the sidewalk just outside of city hall and confidently  told me that the surplus of $6M dollars which the city had at the end of  2013 was not really a surplus but   money left over since they spent less money than they took in. ( which is by definition a surplus) . I wrote about it on my Facebook site indicated what kind of stupid comment this was . Shortly after, at a Democratic Club meeting at the Coral Springs Country Club this year (why he was there no one knows since he is a Republican), he told me I was a liar, and that he never said what he said, and he had the tapes to prove it.

“Tapes?” I queried .

“Yes”, he said, “The city has security cameras everywhere that are video taping  all of us  and I accessed the tapes and I can prove you are a liar”  he said.

Wow.

I sent out a request for Public Records  disclosure regarding the tapes( click here to see a copy)  to the  city attorney to verify Vignola’s statement.  If Vignola was right the city is violating my and the rest of the citizens’ 4th Amendment rights guaranteed under the constitution. I also asked for a copy so I can hear and see for myself what I knew and  heard Vignola say. The city replied, “ The city does not have any such tapes or security procedures.  We are not video taping the citizens”.  I made sure to copy Vignola on the email since I wanted him to know that he lied about it, or at least bragged with the intention to bully me.  He does this a lot you know.

Vignola also bragged to me  ( and several other people ) that he has 65,000 email addresses and that he can blow me out of the election in a second. I lost the election, by 105 votes, certainly no blow out. Instead of course it was Vignola blow heartedly trying to show how he really was the powerful Oz of Coral Springs.

To be fair, Vignola was right in saying I said, “ Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”, but this was sarcasm, something obviously Vignola does not get.  I was referring to the fact that he thought my facts were wrong.  It is important to note that Vignola’s sidekick Commissioner  Dan Daley did the research on the phrase, and was able to tell me who actually came up with it. I was impressed , but not too since I knew that Dan is going to school hopefully to learn how to become a politician and he did have access to the internet.

So when Vignola showed up to the early voting poll at the library during the two weeks prior to the election date in support of his candidates Tom Powers, Laurette Homan and Lou Cimaglia , he kept telling me how I am going to win, and that Lou is no match for me.  He said that the  he is supporting Cimaglia  because they are friends and go to the same Catholic church.   He said that if  I would have played ball with them ( Gang)  he would have made sure that  I would be the only candidate running for seat #4. Instead they conned Lou Cimaglia,  someone reported with health issues, to run against me.  This prevailing thought of being part of their gang to insure my victory was also told to me by  ex-Mayor Vince Boccard who alluded to me being  the one  Jew sitting on the commission if  only I had come to them and stopped attacking them with this Gang label and played ball ( or matzah ball?) .

Vignola  said the same thing to me  on Election Day. He was wrong again of course at me winning,  but that may be because we do not know if he passed the statistics course he took in college or failed it.

So low and behold, Commissioner Larry Vignola on the road to trying to be a ‘Mensch’ calls me up a few days after the election. Here is the conversation that I am sure he taped 🙂

“Hi Larry”  I answered.  His name popped up on caller ID so it was easy to know who called me.  (I learned my lesson once,  and will make sure to pretend I am not home next time).

“Hi Howard. I want to tell you how  bad I feel about you losing, I never thought Lou would win, and  you would have made a great commissioner.” Larry blabbed.

“Thank you Larry that is very kind of you”  I humbly offered.

At this point a normal person  would simply say  something like ‘hope you run again’, or perhaps ‘you will win next time’, or ‘I just wanted you to know how I felt  and see you at the city commission meeting’.

I said normal person, but Vignola is strange to say the least. So instead, for the next hour (if it was less it did seem like an hour) Vignola proceeded to do what he does best. Bullshit.  I have also verified this opinion regarding his conversational skills  with other people he regularly talks to.  They listen of course since it is difficult to actually get him to pause while he is ranting.  People have tried their best as I have been told,  by  saying statements like  ‘got to go now’ or ‘the chicken is in the oven’, or ‘there is someone else calling me’ or ‘nuclear war has been declared by China’  code words that anyone would know you wanted to end the conversation. Vignola does not know the code.

He continued to tell me how he studied the numbers  at the precinct that had a missing ballot box found a day after the election from E027 precinct and that as a math expert he calculated that the box if full with ballots would not deviate from the standard deviation median bell curve from previous elections, statisitcally speaking of course. Duh?  There he goes again – BS’ing about being an ‘Expert’ in math –   Interesting since at McGill University in Montreal, the place where I obtained a Bachelors degree in civil engineering, I had to pass several math courses, including differential equations, applied differential equations, several levels of calculus, probability and statistics etc. etc. etc.  I acutally have my ‘shingle’ hanging in my office to remind me I went to university.  However, to be fair, Vignola must have taken at least one math course since his degree was in Communications, or so he has told everyone.

He then said that he really really really (not sure if he said it 2 times or 3 times, since I was putting my finger down my throat at the time indicating my lack of enthusiasm) …so he said he really really …(at least twice I am sure) wanted me to become city commissioner since  “ I am the person he could  party with when on those city paid  trips to conventions away from the family.”

What?

Now it is important to note that I wrote an article on wasteful spending by the city commissioners and even had a picture of a hamburger with money in it instead of meat.  I pointed out in the article that one of the areas where the commissioners blow money is at the so called information  conventions where more than one of them would attend at great cost to the taxpayers.   Now I understand.  They Party On!   I checked with the city and found that Vignola  and Dan Daley  signed up for all of the conventions this year and 2015. ….no doubt that Larry likes to party with Dan as well.

He continued with the BS’ing and told me that I was brilliant in coming up with the Taj Mahal name for the City Hall and that was one of the reasons why Skip Campbell and Joy Carter won the election.  Interrupting  Vignola  I mentioned that I was not the one that coined the phrase ‘ Taj Mahal’ for the city hall.

“You weren’t?“ he asked.

“No”. I replied

“Who was?”

In life there are those golden moments where you pause for a few seconds for effect, and as well to smile just before you deliver the punch line. The pause for effect only adds to the emphasis on the point you are about to make. Vignola should have known this since he is a Communications Major. He should have also had Dan Daley research this phrase in school since Taj Mahal is a building in India.  What a strange name for a city hall anyway.  I should perhaps check to see if Larry and Dan partied on at our expense at some convention in India.

“ You were the one that first said  Taj Mahal,” I said.

There was a long silent period where I actually thought that the call had dropped until I heard a ‘Wha?” sound.  So I continued, finally having the opportunity to get a sentence in edge wise.  I explained:

“In August or September of  2012, it was at a city commission meeting or workshop, where Mayor Roy Gold was trying to get the City Commissioners to move ahead on the city hall. You said ‘ We Don’t Need a Taj Mahal City Hall’ …that is where I heard it and though it was a brilliant political statement. ”

I think Vignola was between a rock and a hard place  ( Dan will research this I am sure as to where this expression came from ) at this moment since he really wanted to take credit for being brilliant, but at the same time did not want to take credit for losing the election for his ‘Team’.

I am quite sure I heard Vignola say ( I will check the tapes )   something to the effect that “I voted against it before I was for it” or something like ‘I did the math when Roy left and Boccard came in and came up with 1+1=3 a  month later, since I am a Math Major Expert’. I am sure Roy would like to know why when he was Mayor the city hall Taj Mahal was  not a good thing and when Boccard became Mayor, a month later,  all of sudden is was the best idea since slice bread.

Having heard all I needed to hear from Vignola , I was able to end the conversation by  telling him that my cell phone was running out of battery power, which all cell phones eventually due but BS’ers never seem to do.

I have been told that I am not the only one that Vignola calls with messages and strange  conversations.  He has mentioned to several people he has 65,000 or 75,000 email addresses  from residents in the city and he constantly calls people up ranting about something or another. I think the only difference between me and anyone else is the fact that I get to write about it and hope that this acts as a BS repellant.  At least I do not have to buy that stupid novelty spray can. ( I wonder if you got what I am talking about 🙂 ) .

I am quite sure that Vignola will deny all of his conversation with me and that he just said ‘sorry to see you go’.  Ask him to show you his cell phone bill and see the 1 hour charge to my number.  Of course  there are those that put Commissioner Vignola on a pedestal, sucking up to him at all instances especially if you are with the ‘in’ crowd or people that he Party’s   with. After all he is  very well liked in our community, and some even think he is a good city commissioner because he helps the sports and the youth in our city. All very important functions I am sure.

I just think that it is time that he stops these strange conversations. He needs to get rid of the ego complex, humble himself a little more and over the next 2 years be the best city commissioner he can be, especially if he wants to run for office again. He needs to stop partying at taxpayer’s expense. Dan too.

Someone has to tell him that  there is no more GANG to support him. The Status Quo ended when Skip and Joy were elected.

it is time to get down to business.   The Party is over.

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