The fifth meeting of a series on Ft. Lauderdale issues and candidates.

Fort Lauderdale: A New Direction?

During the Forum panels and candidate programs, almost all the speakers cited
a lack of a shared vision for the future of our City. 

How can we achieve that goal? The March meeting will be a discussion of
"visioning" procedures  and proposals.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The fifth meeting of a series on Fort Lauderdale
elections and issues

The March 25, 2009, meeting of The Fort Lauderdale Forum was called to order by the Moderator, Rob Dressler, at 7:45am.

He gave a brief history of The Forum and recognized the founder, Jack Latona, who was present.

Mr. Dressler discussed the new Forum Sponsorship program and thanked the Sponsors to date and welcomed any new Sponsors. He also recognized and thanked Mark Budwig for setting up The Forum's new web site at <>

Self Introductions were made. Approximately 50 people were in attendance.

The Moderator also recognized three former candidates who were present. No elected Commissioners were present, but there may have been concern about the application of the "Sunshine Law" to a group like The Forum, which is that several Commissioners could attend as long as none of them speak, or alternatively, one Commissioner can speak if no others are present.

Discussion about Future Meetings

Moderator Dressler asked the group about their thoughts as to devoting the April and May programs to the City budget and tax issues. There was considerable discussion about the amount of information which would be available by the April 22 meeting, but the consensus seemed to be try to obtain whatever information was available from the City at by time, and to ask the Mayor and City Manager to speak. The May 27 meeting could review updated budget information and major budget issues.

Discussion of "Visioning"

Moderator Dressler discussed the origin of discussions for a visioning process as a result of the Forum Panel meetings in the Fall, which indicated a widespread feeling of a lack of consensus and vision for Fort Lauderdale. He contacted a variety of community leaders, organizations, and business leaders, and former officials to act as an "Ad-Hoc Visioning Planning Group", to gather visioning information and suggestions for Fort Lauderdale.

He discussed the general Concept Proposal, which summarizes information about a potential community-oriented visioning process for Fort Lauderdale.

Tony Abbate and Connie Hoffmann discussed their review of other visioning processes and the "Outline of a Possible Strategic Planning Process for Fort Lauderdale", a broad-scale visioning process which they prepared.

Both documents are viewable at

Tim Smith then talked about the "American Assembly" of 1994 and his suggestion of a weekend visioning event.

There followed considerable discussion, with differing opinions being reflected on a few issues, as follows:

1. Timing. Everyone agreed that the process needed to start as soon as possible. The differences were whether a one-shot workshop would be effective, or whether successful visioning would require a more extended process to lead to achievable goals. There was also discussion of combining the two approaches by having a week-end Visioning "kick off" Workshop, with discussions of how the process could evolve beyond the one-day event to a results-oriented process.

2. Structure of Visioning Process Committee. There was considerable discussion as to how a visioning process (either short or long) could be carried out. The American Assembly was organized by FAU and the Institute of Government, but the general discussion was that no individual educational or community organization could realistically take on a visioning process for Fort Lauderdale at this time.

3. Relationship with Mayor, Commission, Manager and City Staff. There was also considerable discussion regarding a relationship of a citizen-based visioning process to the Mayor, Commissioners and City government. There was general agreement that the impetus towards a visioning process has to come from the Mayor and Commission. However, there was a division of opinion as to whether a visioning process can best be implemented as a governmental process (with Commission appointments, "Sunshine Law" procedures, public hearings, etc.) or through a non-governmental community-based organization to manage the process (or combination of organizations such as the universities, business organizations, community and civic organizations, neighborhood organizations, etc.)

The ultimate consensus was that the content of the Forum discussions should be made available to the Mayor and Commissioners for their information and decision as to whether they want to implement a visioning process and how they would want to achieve it.


The Moderator thanked Phyllis Bebko of FAU for helping coordinate the arrangements, Charlotte Walker for handling the emails and Reid Morgan for getting up early to obtain the coffee and bagels.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50am.

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