Former Broward Mayor Ken Keechl blasted County Commissioner Chip LaMarca over his decision to give millions of public tax dollars to the Florida Panthers hockey club. Keechl’s remarks came during Tuesday’s commission debate in Oakland Park. Keechl is seeking to reclaim the District 4 commission seat from LaMarca. Keechl slammed LaMarca for repeatedly ignoring the advice of County Auditor Evan Lukic who warned commissioners over the bad deal with the Panthers.
Keechl was responding to an audience question about damage to Fort Lauderdale beach. Yesterday, RED BROWARD reported this question was planted with a pro-LaMarca audience member. The audience member was identified as LaMarca’s personal foreclosure attorney Steven Stoll. When he realizes Keechl is scoring major points on LaMarca, Stoll attempts to interrupt his train of thought. Much to the delight of the smirking LaMarca.
Keechl said he was, “Very disappointed watching [LaMarca]…Basically it’s almost like he’s in love with the Panther millionaires.” Keechl told the audience LaMarca ignored the County Auditor when he voted to give the Panthers a $7.7 million dollar loan to build an exclusive club level at the BB&T Center. In 2013, LaMarca supported the purchase a new scoreboard costing more than 4 million dollars.
At the time of the vote, LaMarca said the new scoreboard would help promote Broward County tourism. He claimed a new scoreboard would guarantee events such as the NHL draft and a Jehovah’s Witness conference. In this picture snapped at this week’s Florida Panthers preseason game, you can see what the county taxpayers received for their $4.2 million dollar investment. If you ignore all the empty seats, the red arrow points to the teeny tiny Broward County logo on the very top of the scoreboard. When the scoreboard is retracted for concerts, the logo is not visible at all.
The Florida Panthers are currently seeking another bailout from county taxpayers. Once again, Lukic opposes the giveaway.
Even though LaMarca claims to support beach renourishment, Keechl says LaMarca “took his eye off the ball.”