A Taste for Trouble

When Ed Resnick agreed to help negotiate the Portofino Agreement, he never figured he'd become South Beach's public enemy #1

City commissioners also expressed their puzzlement over Resnick's tilting at this particular windmill. At a meeting earlier this year Martin Shapiro asked Resnick if he considered himself the "bathroom police."

"Yes, I am!" Resnick bellowed.
His one-man crusade on the potty issue now appears dead. Last month the county's Board of Rules and Appeals referred the matter back to the commission, ruling that Resnick's reading of the South Florida Building Code was wrong.

These days Resnick spends most of his time on issues more directly related to ADA compliance. His nonprofit group Access Now, formed in April, has filed nearly 120 federal ADA lawsuits against hotels, restaurants, and hospitals throughout South Florida. In most cases, Resnick says, he and his attorneys are able to negotiate with alleged violators and guide them into compliance.

Critics have, of course, derided him for picking on small businesses through Access Now. But Resnick points to his efforts to get the city and big hospitals into full compliance with ADA as well. "How is that trying to put the little guy out of business?" Resnick asks. Even in the case of small properties, he says, "It's not our intent, nor will we allow anyone to go out of business."

He's well aware of how his latest crusades have further solidified his reputation, spawned during the Portofino mess, as that cranky old guy in the wheelchair. "I continue to live with this, even today," he says with a sigh. "Last week we were on Lincoln Road -- my wife, my daughter, my grandchildren. As we're heading up the street, some guy points his finger at me and says, 'Are there enough toilets for you?' He starts hassling us, telling me that I'm a mean, bitter man to have started this business about toilets.

"It's like there's no such thing as a difference of opinion," he muses. "It's always, 'You got paid off, you sold out.' It's something that constantly bothers me, this demonizing of someone who doesn't agree with you.

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