Community activist Mae Smith has started the ball rolling on another campaign for a seat on the Lauderhill City Commission. She is challenging Commissioner Margaret Bates for a third time. In 2010 Smith received 17% of the vote in a three-way race against Bates. Four years later Bates defeated her 61%-39%.
Smith served at President of the St. George Civic Association for many years, including the time when the neighborhood was annexed by the city in 2005. She supported annexation, which passed with 75% of the vote. Less than a year prior to that, voters in St. George rejected becoming part of Lauderdale Lakes by a large margin.
Ms. Smith recently attempted to form a Democratic club in Lauderhill., the largest city in Broward County without such a group. The County Democratic Party snubbed that effort, telling her that club did not have enough dues-paying members.
This Thursday the City of Lauderhill will be holding a financial fair to kick off a new program to increase access to banking.
Bank On Lauderhill is a partnership between financial institution and non-profits. Mayor Richard Kaplan has been working to get it off of the ground for the past several months. The program seeks to address the problem of residents who either don’t have bank accounts or don’t use their accounts. According to Kaplan, the rate of households in Lauderhill without bank accounts is over twice the national average. This can take a huge toll on low income families who have to pay high fees to cash checks and pay bills.
The program partners with banks and credit unions to make it easier for residents to open accounts. Banks will offer lower or no-fee accounts and be more flexible with minimum account balances.
The Financial Fair is from 6:30 to 9:00 at Lauderhill 6-12 School. There will be free food, and over $5000 in prize givaways of items such as tickets to Universal Studios and Visa gift cards.
For more information on the program, go to www.bankonlauderhill.com
The Lauderhill City Commission spent about an hour last night considering the request of a strip club, Vegas Cabaret, to serve alcohol for an additional two hours each day. City law prohibits adult establishments from serving alcohol after 2:00 AM.
Vegas Cabaret’s manager made a presentation where he hyped his credentials as an expert in strip club management. Under his leadership, the establishment has thrived, making it one of the most successful adult clubs in South Florida. He explained that a professional choreographer had been hired, and employees are given assistance with earning their GED’s.
The manager stated that he was willing to abide by the numerous recommendations made by city staff, such as building a wall between the back of the club and houses in Inverrary. He also talked about the steps that were being taken with security, such as scanning ID’s and hiring armed security guards.
He also offered to “meet the city half-way.” Adult clubs are allowed by city law to stay open 24 hours a day. Vegas Cabaret would agree to close at 4:00 AM if the city would allow them to serve alcohol between 2:00 and 4:00.
Commissioners were skeptical. Apparently Vegas Cabaret receives quite a few police calls. There is an average of ten police calls per month. Some of the incidents were minor, such as loitering or disorderly conduct. Other incidents were far more serious, including stabbings and shootings. In one such episode, a security guard employed by the club fired a warning shot into the air outside the club.
The club manager tried to explain the incidents as a combination of Lauderhill’s high crime rate and the success of the club. Commissioners were not pleased and noted that the crime rate in Lauderhill has been falling.
Seeing that the Commission was going to turn down the request, the club’s attorney asked that the matter be tabled for six months so that they can have time to clean up their act. Commissioners declined and unanimously voted down the proposal.
The next election for Lauderhill City Commissioners may be about a year away, but that hasn’t stopped one incumbent from putting some serious money toward his reelection campaign.
Howard Berger recently dropped $50,000 into his campaign account. That’s an an impressive amount, considering Hayward Benson’s campaign only spent about $30,000 in a relatively competitive race last year. So far, no one is running against Berger. The $50,000 is actually a loan, so if no one runs against him, the campaign can pay Berger back.
In 2012 three candidates challenged Commissioner Benson and he was reelected with over 40% of the vote. Time will tell if Berger’s bank account scares away challengers this time.
Tonight’s Lauderhill City Commission should be interesting. On the agenda is an item which would allow Vegas Cabaret, a strip club on North University Drive, a special exemption so that they may serve alcohol longer hours than is normally permitted at adult entertainment establishments. Last call is usually at 2:00 AM, and city staff is recommending against the proposal which would let the drinks flow an additional two hours.
Why would the Commission consider this?
There is another strip club just down the road in Sunrise which is open until 4:00 AM. People who aren’t ready to call it a night can just go to the other club and spend their money there, and those tax dollars won’t go to Lauderhill.