The Incredible Mr. Rand

Categories: Politics
There is no bigger believer in the power of activists in Broward County than the Pulp. When watchdogs in the media fail (which happens more frequently than you can imagine), their hard work and perseverance have helped to bring one scandal after another to light. 

randplatt.jpg
Russell Rand speaks at a recent county commission meeting (that's lobbyist George Platt behind him)
​Activists and their less-influential and often more superfluous cousins, gadflies, spend the time at the meetings, pull the public records, and hold our elected officials' feet to the fire. They are often insulted by elected officials who are adverse to the scrutiny. 

Many of them are true heroes of democracy. 

But when does a gadfly go too far? 

Right now, the Broward County Commission's chief gadfly is a former county employee named Russell Rand, who was fired from his job in 2003. He goes to every meeting and speaks at each one of them. 

And speaks. And speaks. And speaks.

He has several doomsday scenarios that he brings up with regularity, and often the speeches circle back to his firing, which he claims was due to his whistleblowing. County commissioners, too often, are up to their eyeballs in all things Rand rather than getting the county business done, and they are now trying to figure out what to do to get the guy to shut up.

Just to give you an idea, Rand's name comes up in the transcript of Tuesday's commission meeting 51 times. For comparison, Commissioner John Rodstrom's name gets 47 hits. The recently AWOL Ilene Lieberman, who has been extremely passive but sparked up a bit more at Tuesday's meeting, gets just 37 mentions. 

Here's a part of the transcript where Rand pulled agenda items that he wanted to talk about:

Mayor Gunzburger: From the audience we have Mr. Rand. Which item do you want? Which item? 
Rand: 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 20 --
Gunzburger: Just a minute. 
Rand: 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 20, 23, 25 [inaudible]. 
Gunzburger: Excuse me, 20, 24,wait, I'll listen to that in a minute. Let me get all the numbers. I was up to 23, 24. What else? 
Rand: 3 -- 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 20, 23, 25.  
Gunzburger: Wait, I can't go that fast. 
Rand: I know. 28. Then 31 and 32 combined kind of. 33 and 34 is on the public right? 
Gunzburger: OK, I have them all. 

That was just the beginning of the Rand sideshow. Some of the commissioners began talking about how Rand was taking over the meetings and wondered how to get all his comments out of the way so he wouldn't be gumming up the works throughout. Rodstrom got it started. 

"You've got a person who is dominating the 
meetings, and you know, there's no problem with that," Rodstrom said, clearly indicating that he indeed had a problem with that. "But I think in order to give his due, what we should do is those items that he is addressing, we should let him speak on all those items at one time and take those items at one time and see how it goes." 

The idea was that the commission would give Rand the floor for three minutes per agenda item he pulled -- which for 14 items adds up to 42 minutes (three minutes per item). Assistant County Attorney Drew Meyers said that it would be permissible for the items that Rand alone had pulled to discuss. That's when Commissioner Kristin Jacobs balked: 

"In a perfect world, that might make sense, but I think that we are setting a dangerous precedent to do that," she said. "You could have multiple people come up, pull the same shenanigans, and the County Commission meeting would shut down... So I would go back to our original rules and hopefully Mr. Rand understands that there is important business here at the county and that while we encourage public participation... I would ask that the mayor be very -- I hate to use the word forceful -- but very strict in assuring that the speaker's language is direct to the item." 

Then, as so often happens at these meetings, there was a period of chaos where no one seemed to know what to do. "Madam Mayor, I would suggest that we've wasted as much time suggesting what we ought to do than we are doing it and we ought to move forward with the regular agenda." 

The board then let Rand address some of his issues in bulk beginning with the Port Everglades master plan. 

"Obviously the topic is free speech, and that is what people are dying for," Rand began. "You know, this is a participatory democracy, not a dictatorship... I represent a lot of people that want to speak." 

Then he started talking about the danger of a hurricane sweeping the oil ships onto shore.

"The ship will go right through your office here on the second floor," he said. "That's what's going to happen... Forget the BP oil spill. When that Category 3 or 4 comes in and, again, that master plan, you should be memorizing this. Again, it should be on the front page of the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald. This is brilliant stuff. I waited 37 years. I already figured it out, but the common people need to know that oil is going to rise up. It's black gold, Texas tea. It's going to spread through Weston, Plantation Acres, Tamarac, you name it. It'll be the high-water mark in your house, see, that petroleum, and you'll be swimming in it. That's my point again, because I saw it 55 years ago. As always, thank you. I'm in on time."

Then it was onto the public art issue. And more. The amazing Mr. Rand would not be stopped. Next came a discussion on the nomination of Dania Beach Vice Mayor to the county's Climate Change Task Force. Rand began by saying that he would stick to the point and that he thought Castro would be a good addition to the board, a "pistol," as he put it. Then he continued: 

"I've known about climate change for 50 years or so, and it's been going on for billions of years and significantly here in within the last 11,000 years or so from the end of the Ice Age, and that's why we have civilization. And at the height of the Ice Age, the sea level was like 550 feet lower than it is. Ann Castro, as vice mayor of Dania, which, you know, look at that map again. It's the oldest city in the county for a reason. It's sitting on a ledge. It's on the Miami Ridge as it's called and east of U.S. 1 and all. It steeps off quick, and there's houses right there, and across the street is the mangrove. So there's no barriers and that. So Dania will be among the first cities impacted by climate change, and coincidentally because it's so high sitting on the ridge, it will be among the last also. But again, it's a slow process. Nobody has an exact answer. Some people think that it's fuzzy science and all, or fuzzy math or whatever, but five to 12 inches per hundreds years, so it's going to take several hundred years to actually significantly start wearing away some of the properties in Broward County... Commissioner Ritter's descendants will still be above water hopefully in the future or whatever, but this will become clearly oceanfront property in Coral Springs and all. It will be right on the ocean." 

Gunzburger interrupted at this point. 

"It's supposed to just be speaking to the nomination of Anne Castro," she said. 

"I support, and I'm speaking to it," said Rand. 

"We don't want to hear all the other stuff," said a perturbed Rodstrom. 

"I'm talking about Dania and all," Rand returned. 

"Stick to the topic," Rodstrom demanded. 

"Thank you," said Gunzburger. "We all have places to go, and we've got things to do here. We have three workshops -- " 

"You're holding us from doing our job," said Rodstrom. 

"This is your job," said Rand. 

"No, I don't get paid enough to have to listen to everything you say." 

"I don't get paid; you took my money, half a million dollars," said Rand, referring to his firing. 

"And that's the point I'm really troubled about," said Rodstrom. "There's a lot of animosity." 

"Motion to move," interjected Commissioner Dale Holness. 

"When are we getting our metal detectors?" asked Rodstrom.

"I'm unarmed except for the [inaudible]," said Rand. 

Then it was immediately onto the next item. 

"It's you again, Mr. Rand," said Gunzburger. 

This was about Rodstrom's idea to delay red lights for two seconds. 

"Red lights? OK, two seconds, it's a separate thing," Rand began. "It's a separate matter. It's physics again. Increase the duration of all red cameras or lights or whatever by two seconds, it's physics again and, you know..." 

And on and on he went.

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36 comments
ItsyBitsy
ItsyBitsy

Heard Beth is turning herself in today

Lori
Lori

It sounds like Mr. Rand needs therapy. I'm not joking. He does not sound like an activist; he sounds like a nuisance. Perhaps he's harboring a lot of hatred and resentment toward the county. It might help him to work with a therapist who could help him let go of those feelings so that he can move on with his life. And maybe he has a narcissistic personality -- a need for attention. I don't know. I'm ALL for letting the public speak, and I agree that elected officials are frequently dismissive of what citizens have to say. That is true. However, in this case, the transcript excerpts show that this man is not speaking as an advocate for change; he's rambling and ranting. His statements are nonsensical, and he does not stick to the topic. I feel sorry for him. He needs professional help.

Sophia Green
Sophia Green

Hi cutie, Could you hit me up on--- RichFlirts.C'om---A dating club for successful, beautiful people.I am a smart&pretty gal. seeking a sweet man.pls Check out my username myshine,serious...

Guest
Guest

I've said this before...If you want to deliver a message , you need the right salesman. This man, as valid as his points may be, has become a nuisance, a joke to them and a waste of the commission's valuable time.. He should only be allowed to address one point per meeting and with a time limit, otherwise his message will be meaningless and not be taken seiously or get the attention it might deserve. Think about that Mr. Rand!

Miss Marple
Miss Marple

I have known Russell Rand for over 20 years on a social basis. He has never made a lot of sense and I'm not sure why someone thinks he is a really smart man - that wouldn't be my description of him. I doubt that he is bringing anything of substance to the table at the commission meetings but honestly, I haven't a clue as to what they should do with him.

Detective Anyone
Detective Anyone

Bob, could you reach out to your counterpart with the sunsentinel and have her do a story about Sheriff Al Lamberti blocking the sunsentinel.com on our computers. What the Sheriff doesn't understand is that we investigators read the crime stories published in the local newpapers in order to compare with in our jurisdictions to identify crime trends. Often enough, "Willie the crack head robber" may rob and shoot someone in Palm Beach/Miami-Dade or even in cities were don't patrol and when we have a similar crime "Modus Operandi" we can compare notes with the other jurisdiction. Now I know he is mad about all the bad press on his corrupt administration, but lets be real here!

Christy
Christy

I give him credit, Mr. Rand is persistent.

He has a John Travolta Saturday Night fever look about him.

Do you think he can dance?

Nucky Thompson
Nucky Thompson

Gadfly, he looks more like a fruit fly with that jacket. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

BumFarto
BumFarto

It is called the "Atlantic Coastal Ridge," not the "Miami Ridge." To set the record straight.

unowho
unowho

IFrom what I heard the first thing you do when you become a Gadfly is change your wimpy name from Timothy to "Chaz ".........appropriately from Mr .Rand to Mr. Rant!!!

nanook5
nanook5

how do you get a transcript of the city commission meetings?

In the know
In the know

Rand cannot string one coherent statement together, let alone stay on the topic. He gives environmental advocates a bad name. He is trying to disrupt the system until he receives what he thinks is coming to him. However, and Mr Rand knows this himself better than anyone, there was plenty of good reasons for him to be let go besides those the County provided upon his firing.

Ed Foley
Ed Foley

This county needs more Rands.

Rude People
Rude People

The weird thing is, Mr. Rand is a really smart man and I actually think at times he makes sense. What I don't understand is what the hell happened to him at the county? He makes reference, but never gets his story across. No one ever inquires either. I agree that he gets off point and sometimes he gets downright scary angry. But I would rather put up with his interruption, than restrict the public's right to be heard. That commission doesn't care what the public has to say. You should see how rudely they treat people. If someone is speaking about an issue, they're doing everything but listening. Pulp you know this to be true. I've spoken before them and one left the room, another was staring at one of three computers in front of him, others were reading. They couldn't listen for three minutes--the time they they give to the public and then they talk ad naseum on and on and on about nothing without time restrictions. Quite frankly, that's more annoying and interferes more with thier so called "business" than Rand. Am I right?

unowho
unowho

Did Mr Rand read one of Timmys (C_ _z) books on How To Be An Annoyinging Abnoxious Boring Gadfly??? Well thats one way of getting rid of the corrupt commissioners boring them to death, till they cant handle it no more and they resign!!!

City activist Robert Walsh
City activist Robert Walsh

People (Commission) let Mr.rand speaks if he pulls every item, then he pulls every item. You have to give everyone including him 3 minutes. He what he is doing being fired and all is getting back. There is nothing you can do about it. As far as rodstrom's comments although w/ merit you just give him more fuel to the fire so to speak because Rand knows he is getting to you. So he got to speak what a 1/2 hr. big deal. But if you compromise his Civil Rights or his participation in County Gov;t he could file suit and win. Give him the 3 minutes and move on. Now if you what to play his game get some of your supporters (residents) to come forward do a delegation and express there irration w/ Mr.Rand. To have a hissy fit up there at the Dais makes the Commission look like they are some Dictaorship or royality and how dare they be subject to this(mr,Rand). Let him talk, but Mr.rand come on now you pulled what 40 items its was very transparent that you like hearing yourself talk also so keep things fair sir.

ontheequator
ontheequator

It is a meeting held in the public; it is not a public meeting.

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

"A white sports coat and a pink carnationI'm all dressed up for the dance".

AnthonyDavis
AnthonyDavis

I'll be damed BOB, have you seen the new story on SFLTIMES.COMAnd your the guy giving the Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti a pass on his integrity.

Local_Lawyer
Local_Lawyer

Whatever you may think of him, his jackets are incredible. I wish I could get one before Saturday night.

Pineystride
Pineystride

The county attorney should advise the commission that Mr. Rand has no right to speak at commission meetings unless such meeting are public hearings (not all public meetings are public hearings). Whether the commission then allows him speak as a matter of policy is then their choice.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Don't know this Rand fellow at all, though you certainly do paint a picture of a rather cloying, if not disassociated, character.

My point, though, is that the difference between "activist" and "gadfly" can sometimes be a fine line, or a matter of interpretation. Frequently, it's been my experience that the pols use the term gadfly - to be derogatory - towards activists who are doing the good works you described. Classic case in point was John Coleman (RIP), who tried to hold the Hollywood Commission to task and was the bane of Mayor Mara. She christened him "gadfly". In the eyes of the electeds, all activists are gadflies.

unowho
unowho

Does that count as an ARREST ???Ya ba da ba dooooooooo!!!

Dinosauerdung
Dinosauerdung

Actually it was all the porn that you guys were getting on line. And Stop trying to solve shit from your desks, GOYAKOD. Listen, I spent more time in a squad room then you ever will, after the three hour conversation about were we eating lunch, two hour lunch and then I gotta leave early for my kids _____________(soccer/softball/baseball/karate class/scout meeting)., and holy crap, sarge your killin' me, giving me another case when I haven't solved the one you gave me last week! And before you you come back and spew, been there,done that and left with 3% cola,HIS and never contributed a dime, as me and all the other dinosaurs like to say, sucks to be you!

Guest
Guest

I thought I was the only one experiencing the block out problem. I am an average everyman reading of the paper on line. Why is this happening? I thought it was because they want us to purchase the hard copy paper. It doesn't happen at work, only on my home computer. Why?

dr_augusta
dr_augusta

All he needs now is a Glitter Ball....

Guest
Guest

Good one Nucky! Very funny

dr_augusta
dr_augusta

Nucky, As you mature you will realize that what someone wears or what they look like is less important than who they are as a person.. But don't worry, you'll get there.

BumFarto
BumFarto

Is that why they started calling me "Bum?"

Joseph Farto

Rude People
Rude People

Agree with you. Why don't they set a clock and give each long winded blow hard commission member ONLY three minutes to speak. The meeting would fly by.

Pineystride
Pineystride

Actually, pursuant to FS 286, it IS a public meeting. However, as stated above, not all public meetings are public hearings.

Christy
Christy

With his glasses off he is probably hot.

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