Posted: 12:57 pm Monday, March 14th, 2011

CityWatch leader blasts commission candidate Cantone, calls her ‘beautiful empty suit’ 

By Andrew Abramson

Len Fintzy’s late night e-mail to CityWatch board members on election night wasn’t exactly a glowing endorsement of Keith James’ for the March 22 commission runoff. But Fintzy trashed Diane Cantone, the candidate who performed best in the western communities, begging board members to support James.

CityWatch, the only western organization that endorses candidates in the mayoral and commission races, chose not to endorse a candidate in the initial race between James, Cantone and John Cohen. But once Cohen was eliminated, a nervous Fintzy sent this to the board:

Folks:

I just came back from Jeri’s victory party. What an amazing event. I never thought she would win without a runoff. Everyone there acknowledged that the western vote delivered the victory.

I was equally amazed that Diane Cantone edged out John Cohen for the Commissioner runoff. In view of the fact that our screening showed that Diane is a beautiful woman with absolutely no knowledge of the City or government politics and operations or budgeting, I am proposing that CityWatch endorse Keith James. I know he has financial problems but since our choice is an experienced and knowledgeable man vs a beautiful empty suit, I strongly urge you to vote by IMMEDIATE email Reply to endorse Keith and to send him a check for $500. Since the runoff is in two weeks, we really don’t have the time for a meeting. If we are going to have the same impact on the Commission race that we had on the Mayoral race, I must have your response by Thursday please.

Thanks,

Save a life today – become CERT-ified,

Len

Fintzy’s Thursday deadline has come and gone. Reached today, Fintzy said he hasn’t gotten word back from his organization to officially endorse James. Fintzy, who helped run the failed petition drive last summer to get Mayor Lois Frankel a third term in office, wouldn’t comment on the letter. But Fintzy said he believes the west will come out strong in the runoff.

Cantone dominated out west, winning 55 percent of the vote in five of the city’s major gated communities. In the two largest communities, Riverwalk (where Cantone lives) and Ibis, Cantone scored 61 percent of the vote. James only finished ahead of Cantone in Andros Isles, narrowly edging her out 104 votes to 95.

It was another story in the east, where James finished ahead of Cantone in every precinct. Cohen got the most votes in several downtown districts, but otherwise it was a James sweep.

James’ best turnout was in precinct #7054, a neighborhood off Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard not far from US-1, where James received 431 votes to Cantone’s 47, winning 81 percent of the vote. Cohen had 55 votes there.

James, a registered Democrat, won the most votes overall last week, finishing with 40 percent. Cantone, a registered Republican, received 36 percent. The commission race is non-partisan.

James’ “financial problems” that Fintzy alluded to is nearly $90,000 in federal tax liens. James said he is working with the IRS to pay it off, and said the money woes occurred during a divorce. He said it wouldn’t affect his job as a commissioner.

Cantone, meanwhile, was a surprise entry into the commission race and a relative unknown in West Palm Beach. She said she is still learning about the city, and has read off prepared notes in forums and debates during the election.