It’s time for Fort Lauderdale to cancel Marina Lofts

It’s been nearly two weeks since Asi Cymbal backed out of an opportunity to face Chris Brennan. By now you know the story- Rain Tree, Florida Fidelity video, Water Taxi, a marine job threatened and lost- it’s been broadcast far and wide and has gained national attention, and rightly so.

Our own Sun-Sentinel has even covered it a few times, first in a rambling, incoherent angle discussing what may or may not be considered ‘protected speech,’ which was then bent out of context to fit nicely into their Money section and sit atop an article about how formerly unoccupied developments are slowly attracting tenants in West Palm Beach, which in and of itself raises questions about who is pulling strings.

That article ran in several versions with two different bylines, Jim Saunders and  Brittney Wallman, leaving anyone who read it wondering, “what are they talking about?’ and ‘what does this have to do with a rain tree and over-development in Fort Lauderdale?”

Precisely. Whomever wrote the article, it’s clear they missed the point entirely and instead gave what seemed a very long term paper report full of speculative legal-speak punctuated with mere bits of the real issue and really made no valid points or reported anything at all. Michael Mayo of the Sentinel did a much better job capturing the essence of this issue and highlighting Brennan’s integrity regarding an issue he believes in and the dangers of speaking out.

In any case, the Slantinel, was just one media source to cover it and since then it’s lit up like wildfire around the globe and the heat is intensifying.

What you maybe didn’t know, however, is that on March 7th, a mere 12 days ago, there was a Marina Advisory Committee meeting during which a presentation was scheduled to be given by one Mr. Asi Cymbal to thump his Marina Lofts project to the board whose mission is:

‘…. dedicated to create and maintain a safe and enjoyable recreational boating environment in Broward County for all residents and visitors. Additionally, the Marine Advisory Committee is committed to providing the Broward County Board of County Commissioners with the best possible information, recommendations and advice relating to all marine- and recreational boating-related matters in Broward County.’

Cymbal cancelled at the last minute, which Brennan and several colleagues were dismayed to discover; it would have been a fine opportunity to hear his proposal and gauge his intent for the city and its’ potential impact on the marine industry that sits in the heart of his proposed development, having already cost it one maritime job.

What are we to think of this last-minute no-show? Is Cymbal rethinking his approach due to all the media attention? Does he think the Marina Advisory meeting is just a formality and thus unnecessary? Is it a blatant disregard for the entity that is committed to preserving the marine integrity in Fort Lauderdale? Is he withdrawing his project?  Was he worried that he would be called out on the sorry state of disrepair that the marine cites he has been landlord of for several years now and that he would have to answer for his negligence of quality marine safety and standards thus far? Or did he catch wind that Brennan would be in attendance and feared a face-to-face confrontation with the man he forced into unemployment?

Cymbal has put out a desperate spin to save face in the media claiming he was unaware that the Water Taxi would fire Brennan over the video but he did admit to making the call to Brennan’s employers, his own tenants, and giving them the directive “Deal with it.”

Now we’ve all seen enough goon movies to know that when a person in a position of authority who wields some power over a subject, as is the case here with Cymbal, the landlord, holding the power to disrupt or cause to relocate the entire Water Taxi fleet (unspoken, perhaps, but true), that when words such as ‘Deal with it‘ hang in the air, a certain ominousness surrounds them, and is a clear verbal flex of muscle; perhaps a veiled threat, but a threat nonetheless. If not “Fire Brennan or else,”  what was Cymbal’s exact intent when he dropped his ‘deal with it’ line on the Water Taxi officials? His spin doctors failed to say.

But is raises the question what consequences, besides firing Brennan, could Cymbal reasonably believe  the Water Taxi could mete out to an otherwise unblemished, long-term employee? A bribe? Brennan wouldn’t take it and he wouldn’t back down. Brennan’s video didn’t do anything to directly effect the Water Taxi in any way and the Water Taxi owner knew it the first time they defended Brennan’s right to his personal views at Cymbal’s first contact.

The effect was indirect and would come after. The only way the video could effect the Water Taxi at all {besides, of course the positive impact of free advertising that Brennan brings via Tim Dorsey’s mention of him} is if they didn’t heed the directive to ‘deal with it’ their landlord handed down and thus would feel some unspoken consequence. Either Cymbal meant ‘fire him’ or he meant something worse.

And who is Asi Cymbal, anyway? What is Cymbal Development, for that matter? What have they actually done in other cities? In our own? Well, nothing, really. He’s a real-estate ‘packager’, a concepts dealer with no real credits other than duping cities into thinking these projects will be beneficial to their communities with a website full of accolades of Cymbal’s alleged concern for the communities he builds in, laced with flagrant pandering to his ‘investors’ and the millions he claims to have made them. Here is what his projects look like in real life:

How does this empty lot benefit Fort Lauderdale?

How does this empty lot benefit Fort Lauderdale?

cymbal empty lot 1

Or this one?

Asi Cymbal may be the face of this Marina Lofts project but his company is really just the public puppet. Cymbal’s office sits atop a Noodles Panini; a boutique, a mere consultant who masks the real businesses behind the curtain. He’s the Number Two guy. So who does Number Two work for? Where does the money come from?

Why do lots Cymbal owns still sit empty, untouched, withering?

These questions and more are ones you have a chance to ask the Mayor tonight. This commission meeting is a chance to speak out.

Save the Tree! Support the integrity of free speech! Attend and let your voice be heard! Fort Lauderdale will not let dirty developers bully us, our citizens or our natural preserves!

Save the Tree! Support the integrity of free speech! Attend and let your voice be heard! Fort Lauderdale will not let dirty developers bully us, our citizens or our natural preserves!

The very viral nature of Brennan’s message seems to have Cymbal running scared, as his pack of supporters spreads far and wide. Did you know the Pakistani news picked it up?  And yes, Mr. Cymbal, the folks who comprise this massive (and sexy) entourage are people with a real sense of community who’d like to see it preserved, and not encircled in chain link fencing to rot like an empty corpse, or worse, plow down a national treasure to be sky-scraped and sit unoccupied like the thousands of other concrete holes in Fort Lauderdale, yet another blight on the city where once there was beauty.

Worse for you, Cymbal, these are the same people who are rankled by the tactics you’ve employed to silence an individual with an opinion contrary to your design and the sham it seems your business really is. These are not people who take kindly to being lied to or mislead and once your sham and true intent are revealed, much like the worst kind of virus, these same people of good moral fiber will band together in common cause to chase you and your empty stores out of our city, returning again and again to burn you in the same place and spread without warning, and it seems you, Mr. Cymbal have not given them one common cause, but two. Can you feel that tingle? That’s a media virus and you’ve caught it.

This whole thing stinks, and I believe Asi Cymbal has been trying to play us all for fools and only cares about churning big money for his select investors. Now we’re onto him and the truth is coming out. Not everyone wants your Marina Lofts project, Mr. Cymbal, now that we see what you’re about and not even before. You play dirty, mislead our commissions with your smoke and mirrors and fancy artful renderings. Fort Lauderdale doesn’t want you, doesn’t want what you bring and certainly does not support your lack of ethic and moral fiber.

I believe Asi Cymbal’s Marina Lofts project is crumbling around him and Chris Brennan’s momentum has him running scared. I believe Cymbal  should pull up stakes and head out of this town, that the rain tree should be saved and that freedom of speech should be championed by the citizens of Fort Lauderdale, for Chris Brennan’s sake and our own, and that it should come above all, but who cares what I think? Tell the Mayor what you think tonight.

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