by Howard Melamed

Section 4.09. Limitation on terms of office for commission members.All persons elected to service on the city commission on and after March, 1996, shall be limited to eight (8) consecutive years in service on the city commission.
A. In the case of a two-year office holder, that individual may be elected to no more than four (4) consecutive two-year terms in office.
B. For the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of this provision, the time serving other than a regular term of elected office, shall be excluded from the limitation herein. An individual appointed or elected to the city commission to serve an unexpired term, shall not have such time counted in the limitation hereby established.
C. For the purpose of defining years of consecutive service, an individual who has completed eight (8) years of service on the city commission of the City of Coral Springs must remain out of office for a two-year period before being eligible to serve again on the city commission. After the two-year period of time out of office, the individual may again serve on the city commission and the limitations set forth herein limiting such service to eight (8) consecutive years on the city commission shall begin to be calculated again.

The Fix is in.  It is almost certain that the two city commissioners and the mayor will win the upcoming 2002 city election even though  Commissioners Calhoun and Stradling along with Mayor Sommerer are all ineligible to run for re-election. In effect, they are becoming ‘Commissioners for Life” . According to the referendum that became Section 4.09 of the city charter in 1994, no person electected to the city commission can serve more than 8 consecutive years in office. 

Last year, knowing that they might have a problem, the commissioners voted themselves exempt from section 4.09  thereby making themselves eligible again for office in March 2002. The question is that if they were ineligible to continue to hold office at the time they voted on the exemption, how could they have voted themselves the extended stay? Confused? They hope your are. In fact, they know that most incumbents are elected. They also know how not to make a big deal about it and hide this election from the public.


Giuliani Serves only 8 Years

commissioner Year First Elected Consecutive Years Served at election time (March 2002)
bill stradling 1990 12
rhonda calhoun 1994 8
mayor john sommerer 1994 8

Stradling, Calhoun and Sommerer  will be serving more than 8 years if re-elected.  Think about it. The President of the United States has a term limit of 8 consecutive years. Mayor Giuliani has a term limit of 8 consecutive years.  Why is this different for our commissioners? Because they are selfishly thinking that they are doing us all a favor by hanging on. What they are doing is insuring that no new people serve the citizens. If they were able to, they would have voted themselves in office for life. A sort of Supreme Court position. 

They would tell you that they and only they are good for us. After all why should we want anyone else after the great job they are doing. The problem with that argument is that most dictators including Castro, Kaddaffi tell the people the same thing. ‘I am good for you therefore there is no need for any change’. Democracy doesn’t work like that. The people voted for term limits in 1994. They should be gracious enough to respect the wishes of the people. Obviously, there is no “Giuliani’ amongst our commissoners.


Silent Conspiracy

Certain employees of the city are involved in the ‘Fix’ as well. The commissioners have made certain not to  encourage these employees to do anything ambitious. The people in charge of directing the city government website and newspaper are part of this silent conspiracy. In fact, if you ask some of the city employees in private they will tell you that they want the current commissioners to keep their office.  They have done very well with the current slate and any change of commissioners might jeopardize their positions or funding.  

Other Commissioners Violating Law up for re-election 2004
Commissioner Year First Elected Consecutive Years Served   (March 2002)
maureen berk 1992 10
alan polin 1991 10

There are several points that indicate the silent conspiracy is alive and well. If you look at  you will see no  reference to the elections. Isn’t it strange that they can put on their website useless pieces of information like how to clean the mildew off your roof, but neglect to tell anyone that there is an election coming up. How can anyone trust any information coming from these sources?  The ‘Handbook’ for potential candidates is not readily available. There is no where on the site that they tell you this. Instead, if you knew to ask, you can go view it at the City Clerk’s office.

How about the mere fact that any potential candidate has until January 16 to hand in their forms for declaring themselves as a candidate.  They have conveniently not advertised these facts to make sure that fewer people run against them. Remember, this is a city that prides themselves in ‘communicating’ with the citizens.


What can we do about it?

Simple. Vote them out of office. The bottom line is the citizens have the power to remove them from office.  The problem is many people do not  know that they could become candidates for office, and not many want to go against an incumbent. Very few Coral Springs residents turn out to vote. Last election fewer than 7000 actually came out. The incumbents know this. 9 times out of 10 the incumbent wins. Even if it is by less than 10% of our population voting. That is why most of these guys sitting in office never ran against anyone.  They were given the position by default.

Calhoun, Stradling and Sommerer  have not yet thought about how much more impressive  they would have been if they would have stepped aside and encouraged other citizens to run for commissioner. Two years later, they would have been able to come back and run again for a position in the city. The problem is that these selfish individuals are holding on to the only thing that makes them feel important. They want to be ‘King’. They want to be Commissioner of Coral Springs, and they don’t want anyone else in their club. It is a Patriotic American that places the democracy before their self interests. One thing is certain: There are no ‘Mayor Giulani’s’ sitting as commissioners in Coral Springs.

We have checks and balances in every part of our democracy. Let’s check and balance them. Boot them out of office and show them that they can’t simply ignore laws and change them for their own purposes. I only hope that there are people out there willing to step forward and run against these autocrats.


Author: HelpMeHoward