This story hasn’t received the attention it deserves, despite Bob Norman’s excellent presentation:
Dania Beach Mayor Pat Flury doesn’t like the humorous Cahoots newspaper — so she went after the publisher at a recent commission meeting.
Flury called it a “junky” newspaper, claimed all it did was insult her city, and told the Chamber of Commerce that if it didn’t expel Cahoots publisher Jeff Hanson, aka Cap Peterson, from its board she’d evict the chamber from city property.
Commissioner Anne Castro had her own words the satirical beach quarterly that highlights local businesses at the same time it occasionally pokes fun at local governments. She said the city should cut all funding from the chamber if it supports Cahoots, which is also distributed in Hollywood.
The Mayor is wrong on many levels. First of all, Cahoots doesn’t insult her city; and while it satirizes it, it also promotes it and its few remaining businesses. But one needs a sense of humor to appreciate the distinction, and the mayor and her avoirdupoidically blessed sidekick Ann Castro appear to be as challenged in that department as they are longitudinally.
She’s also wrong when she threatens the integrity and independence of the Chamber, an error exacerbated by the uncomfortable fact that there are First Amendment issues at stake here. Cahoots might be a rollicking, slapped-together joke which trades on questionable taste, but it’s unquestionably a newspaper, subject to the Constitutional protection afforded the press and media. Indirectly, at least, she’s stifling free expression. Granted, “stifling” is consistent with her and Dania Beach’s overall style, but that doesn’t excuse it.
Seems to me that Dania Beach ought to be proud of Cahoots. Politically, its elected officials could score some points if they embraced its humor and creativity, and cited it as evidence that they’re in touch with the trends, culture, and entertainment it uniquely presents.
It’s mind boggling to this Hollywood resident that Official Dania Beach would even pick this fight. The city’s so-called business section is a flyblown ghost town — even Grace Gallery has given up its struggle and will shut down forever this summer — where every third storefront on Federal Highway resembles a plywood showroom. The city’s idea of civic improvement consists of tearing down buildings and streamlining streets that encourage traffic to keep going, not stop, park, visit, and shop. It’s Urban Removal on steroids. Its main drag is a transvestite.
It would be amusing if she carries out her threat to evict the Chamber from its HQ. That would in effect make the Chamber of Commerce homeless, like much of the bedraggled population wandering the deserted downtown streets, peeing freely and shouting abuse. Chamber meetings could be convened in cardboard boxes and on bus benches, catered by sympathetic soup kitchens. How fitting. How sympatico.
I’ve never been able to understand why, given its seaside location, system of canals, and proximity to the highway and airport, Dania Beach has proven itself incapable of developing into a flourishing, even charming little city. It can’t be because of its leadership, can it?
Nah. Must be the bad press it gets.