Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Haitian refugee drama makes HB's moment in national news bitter and futile

I woke up last Tuesday morning at my sister's place in Pembroke Pines, where I was staying for a few days, expecting to finally catch Channel 10's Megan Glaros guest-hosting the weather duties that week on ABC News' Good Morning America, having missed her on Monday.

Apparently she'd done that before, but I'd read a nugget in the Herald saying that she'd be doing it and I wanted to see how she interacted with the rest of the ABC crew.

(Megan is from Dyer, Indiana, a.k.a 'The Region," the nickname all IU students use to refer to that part of NW Indiana that's part of the Chicago market, and therefore the part of the state that actually changes its clocks twice a year.

As I understand it, after initially attending T.C.U. in Fort Worth -much like my IU friend Colleen Cole from Elmhurst, IL, who'd earlier been a Horned Frog-turned-Hooosier- Megan , eventually made the right decision to go to IU, where she could dance like crazy!

Have never been able to find out if she was a Red Stepper like my friends Gail Amster and Terri Kearns, who were ridiculously talented dancers.)

Ironically, Megan interned with Tom Skilling at WGN-TV in Chicago and at WRTV in Indy, while I was supposed to intern at Channel 10 down here in the summer of 1981.

That is, until Prof. Don Agostino, a Telecom prof I'd always enjoyed and possibly the then-Dept. Chair, pulled the plug on me.

He told the station's personnel director that though it was a big coup for me to snag a position at the best TV news station in the state -and a Post-Newsweek station at that, which opened up great possibilities for doing something in Washington the following summer- the fact that I was going to be a junior rather than already one, meant that IU wouldn't allow me to accept the internship position,.
Despite her trying to reason with him, since she'd enjoyed success with other IU students in the past at other stations she worked at, and she and I seemed very simpatico, Prof. Agostino said no.
I was devastated.

Megan's photo from the Local10.com website. Trust me, it's not PhotoShop, it's just that Megan's an especially good-looking Hoosier!

And then reality interrupted in the form of a small boat with enormous hopes and aspirations, and this area became caught up in a drama that's never really been resolved to anyone's complete satisfaction, certainly not South Florida's frustrated Haitian exile community, which began to grow to large numbers while I was growing up down here in the 1970's in North Miami Beach.

(My fifth-grade home room teacher at Fulford Elementary in North Miami Beach was Anthony Simon, a wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging first-generation Haitian-American, who was always one of the most popular teachers in school, despite the fact that he taught science, not always every eleven-year old's favorite subject.)

It did prove yet another opportunity for local Miami TV stations to show their chops while ad libbing, always a dicey proposition in the best of times.

Given my longstanding preference for Local10 anyway, because of Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg's consistently top-notch professional performances, and the so-so performance of their news competitors at other stations in not only covering the story, but putting this in perspective in a way that was different from the connect-the-dots interviews with "the usual suspects," I think Channel 10 once again did by far the most complete job for the entire day.

At 6:30 p.m., ABC Evening News with Charlie Gibson even picked up on Michael's slightly incredulous query about where exactly was DHS in all this, in this case, the U.S. Coast Guard's seemingly obliviousness to the approaching craft.
Miami Herald
March 29th, 2007
Desperate trip was a journey to futility
By Fred Grimm

The numbers don't calculate: 102 people stuffed into a wooden sloop the size of a Biscayne Bay day cruiser, sailing for 22 days and 800 miles through the Windward Passage.
So many. So far. It makes no sense. Until a key element is added to the formula.
Desperation was what sent these boat people on a round-trip journey to futility. Desperation explains why they made a mad run aboard a Haitian sloop built in another century to haul freight from one island port to another. It was never meant to carry human cargo. Never meant to sail far from Haiti. Its single mast was a rough-hewn tree trunk, slightly crooked, rigged with hemp ropes and tattered sails and desperate hopes.
The boat listed in the sand Wednesday on Hallandale Beach, testament to a reckless rage to reach Florida. And if anyone needed proof of the risk involved in such an adventure, the body of a passenger had washed ashore 300 yards south of the boat.
The drowned man was covered in a maroon blanket and strapped to a rescue board. Six Hallandale Beach firemen, like pallbearers in a wretched funeral, carried the body away. The dead man may be the only passenger allowed to stay.

The surviving 101 were herded into the beach fire station, under the city's famed beach-ball water tower. Later, most of them were led out of the fire station in the most forlorn perp walk ever, before a gauntlet of cops and immigration officers and law-enforcement firepower out of proportion to the weary, dejected refugees filing meekly into the waiting buses.
They wrapped themselves in sheets. Some, inexplicably, had been provided blankets with the colors and sports logos of Florida State or North Carolina State universities. And they were off on the second leg of their unhappy journey. After a brief stay in a federal lockup, they will almost certainly be sent back to Haiti. Moments after they arrived, their official designation became deportees. All that misery? All for nothing.
The buses pulled away, leaving their sloop beached in the sand, still smelling of overloaded humanity. Anyone staring down from the condo towers or strolling along the shore was forced to contemplate the 800-mile distance between the brain and the heart when it comes to U.S. immigration policy.
It's one thing to accept that the U.S. can't simply throw open its doors to unfettered immigration (though some might argue that's an apt description of current policy).
But the notion of deporting the desperate refugees who survived a three-week journey on that rotting boat just hurts the soul.

Any such landing on Florida's shores brings attention to the stark unfairness of the wet-foot, dry-foot preference lent to Cuban refugees. Though in today's anti-immigration climate, Washington's notion of fairness might mean deportation for Cubans, rather than leniency for Haitians.
Wednesday's landing came 25 years after another Haitian sailboat, the La Nativite, floundered in the waters off Broward County and 31 bodies washed ashore on Hillsboro Beach. Two were pregnant women so far along in their third trimester that the Broward medical examiner changed the official death toll to 33. It was the catastrophe that brought on the policy of interdicting would-be Haitian refugees at sea.
Interdiction staunched an exodus that had been bringing 1,500 refugees a month to Florida, many of them on primitive sailboats through dangerous waters.
In 1980, at the height of the exodus, lyrics to a popular song in Haiti proclaimed "the teeth of the shark are sweeter than Duvalier's hell.
"Duvalier's long gone, but the old sloop on Hallandale Beach tells how little life has changed on the island. The teeth of the shark, and the likelihood of deportation, even if you survive an 800-mile voyage, still seem sweeter than Haiti's hell.
Miami Herald
March 29, 2007
HALLANDALE BEACH: A desperate landing, a plea for compassion - More than 100 Haitians came ashore in Hallandale Beach, prompting activists to protest the treatment of Haitian migrants
By Trenton Daniel and Kathleen McGrory

On Day 10, they ran out of food.
The 102 Haitians -- many bruised and scraped from the crowded conditions aboard their flimsy 40-foot sailboat -- endured their perilous journey for 12 more days with toothpaste and saltwater, all anyone had.
The famished migrants, 12 children among them, spotted the pre-dawn glint of Hallandale Beach's high-rise condos on Wednesday. As the boat lurched closer to land, some jumped off, sloshing through waves and staggering ashore.
'They were afraid, trembling and crying, 'Are they going to send me back?' " said Marie Erlande Steril, a North Miami councilwoman who said she helped interview migrants at a nearby fire station after they made it to shore. "They were complaining about how much they risked their lives."
Indeed, one man didn't make it, washing up dead on the sand. Paramedics pried a second loose from a shipboard rope and carried him to the beach on a stretcher.
The migrants told authorities they had spent 22 days aboard the vessel. Their landing spurred local Haitian leaders to protest what they say is unfair treatment of Haitian migrants, who typically are returned to their impoverished homeland.
The boat, with a tiny dinghy attached, left the northern coast of Haiti more than three weeks ago -- possibly from Port-de-Paix but most likely the island of La Tortue, officials said.
It landed around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday near Hallandale Beach Boulevard, behind a row of high-rise condos and hotels including the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, which dominates the shoreline in nearby Hollywood.
A crowd of hotel guests and condo dwellers quickly gathered. Wielding binoculars, some stared down from balconies.
News choppers hovered overhead, broadcasting the scene into living rooms in a live reminder of 2002, when 220 Haitians splashed onto Miami's Rickenbacker Causeway.

Unlike some other immigrants, Haitians are not eligible for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, which temporarily suspends deportations and enables recipients to get work permits.
Haitian community activists from Pembroke Pines to Miami on Wednesday renewed their demand that the Bush administration grant undocumented Haitian migrants temporary immigration status so they can avoid deportation.
In Little Haiti, about a dozen Haitian leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to decry the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, which requires most migrants picked up at sea to be repatriated, But the policy allows Cubans who make it to land apply for residency. Others often are sent back.
"It's unsafe and unfair to send any Haitians back to their country," said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami. "There is no rule of law to speak of.
"No decision has been made on where Wednesday's migrants will be detained, said Barbara Gonzalez, a Miami spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She noted they could be housed anywhere in the country.
U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek wrote letters to Julie Myers, the head of ICE, and to Michael Rozos, the agency's field office director in Florida, asking that the migrants not be sent to detention centers outside South Florida.

Early Wednesday's scene was one of desperation and drama.
The boat was run-down, with its sail tattered and its blue and white paint chipped.
"The vessel was obviously unseaworthy and grossly overloaded," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson. "Nobody should have embarked on a voyage of that length on a vessel like that."
Before the sailboat reached land, a few passengers jumped into the water and swam several hundred yards to shore. A local lifeguard waded in to help.
Those who remained onboard crowded the deck and watched -- until the sailboat ran aground about half an hour later. That unleashed a mad scramble through waist-deep water.
At that point, police, fire rescue and Coast Guard personnel arrived. Ambulances rushed in.
"It was intense," said Hugo Paez, who ran down to the beach with his camera. "You could tell they really wanted to come to this country."
All told, Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue ushered 101 migrants to a firehouse at Hallandale Beach Boulevard and State Road A1A; the man who died was covered with a maroon blanket and taken away on a stretcher. The survivors were given food and water, said Andrew Casper, a police spokesman.
Dozens of migrants, many draped in white blankets, a few in camouflage, crowded into the firetruck bay.


"Some of them looked very, very bad," said Kenol Obnis, a Diplomat hotel waiter who rushed to the firehouse after he saw the boat from a fourth-floor window. Bruises marked the backs of some, he said.
Steril, the North Miami councilwoman and a native of Haiti, also pitched in at the firehouse after seeing the dramatic landing at home on TV.
Steril's cellphone enabled migrant Jean Monestime to call his half-brother Ricardo Francois, a Hollywood delivery driver. The brothers had not seen each other since Francois made a 2001 trip to Port-de-Paix.
"He told me he's here, he didn't die," Francois, 43, said outside the firehouse, waiting to catch a glimpse of his sibling. "I don't know what they're going to do to him."
Seven men and four women were taken to the hospital, with three listed in serious condition. Others were dehydrated and weak from hunger, police said.
Police and paramedics later escorted the remaining migrants onto large passenger buses, some bearing U.S. Department of Homeland Security insignias. The migrants were taken to the Border Patrol facility in Pembroke Pines.
Not all boarded the bus.
Police officers were seen isolating one man, taking him to an underground parking garage.
"Sa ou gen?!" Obnis yelled in Creole, meaning, "What's the matter?!"
The man didn't respond and vanished into the garage.
Onlookers suspected the man may have been singled out as the ship's captain, but a Border Patrol spokesman said authorities had not found that person.
"I do not believe the captain has been positively identified," said Victor Colón, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

HB Practices Violating Water Restrictions -just the tip of the iceberg

An email I sent earlier this afternoon to the Broward rep for the South Florida Water Management District,
http://www.sfwmd.gov/site/index.php?id=1 explaining who she's dealing with in HB: The Joy Cooper/Mike Good Gang That Can't Shoot Straight.
http://www.sfwmd.gov/newsr/3_newsrel.html#shortages for info on the water restrictions.

Subject: Water violations already in Hallandale Beach -just the tip of the iceberg
To: "Miya Burt Stewart" mburt@sfwmd.gov
CC: "Tammy Moore" tmoore@sfwmd.gov

Tuesday March 20th, 2007

Dear Ms. Burt-Stewart:

I'm writing this letter to you in your capacity as the Broward representative on the South Florida Water Management District, and more specifically, their imposition of Mandatory Water Use Restrictions Imposed for Lake Okeechobee, Lower East Coast and Upper East Coast.

I don't know how familiar you are with how things are done in the City of Hallandale Beach, but a quick look at you bio on the SFWMD website tells me that you have lived in Hollywood over the years, and thus probably know by either personal experience or thru second-hand horror stories, how incompetent and inefficient, not to say negligent, the officials here can be, not to mention, their minions at the various departments, who can't seem to handle even the simplest easy to resolve problem.

(Whether it's ensuring the functioning of sinks in the Mens restrooms at the HB beach -2 of 4 have been out since Thanksgiving, only one works now, or fixing the light bulbs on their own city signs on US-1. Nope, it's beyond their ability, as evidenced by the fact that the lights facing HB's municipal complex on US-1 have now been out for two long years, or, even more remarkable, how the street light above it, right in front of HB city hall and the police dept. HQ, which HB is responsible for, has now been out for over 5 weeks.)

I mention this to you and your staff as a bit of warning, because days after watching on TV and reading the news about the agency's actions last week, almost as if I could've predicted it, this past Sunday, at approx. 7 pm. -when it was still warm and about 80 minutes before sundown- while riding my bike along Hallandale Beach Blvd., I saw water sprinklers watering the median strip on HBB west of NE 8th Street.
No telling how long they'd been on!!!

This is, by the way, not more than 100 feet from where when construction work was being done on HBB over the past two years, road safety barricades were piled next to, around and on fire hydrants.
Yes, that's how the City of Hallandale Beach supervises projects, and that lack of attention to detail is readily apparent all around the city.
This time, I caught them early on, though they will likely try to blame FDOT, their default position for everything.

Over the past 2-3 years, I was told numerous times by people in the Broward County Traffic & Engineering Dept., as well as vendors and contractors actually doing projects for the City of HB, that, with the exception of the City of Fort Lauderdale, no municipality in Broward has a worse reputation for NOT abiding by the law when it comes to their proscribed duties, and that they constantly fingerpoint to try to weasel out of their own liability.
Conversations I later had with MasTech contractors doing work for the City of HB only served to confirm those earlier BCTE conversations.
Just so you know who you're dealing with.

Please have your staff bcc me on any future communication the agency has with the City of Hallandale Beach so that I can keep my friends and blog readers properly apprised.
I'm sure this won't be the first time your hear about violations in HB, take my word for it.

Thanks in advance!

Hallandale Beach, FL


Monday, March 12, 2007

Connecting some dots on Miami-based The Related Group & Jorge Perez

Wanted to share with you a connection that I made today that I doubt you've heard or read anywhere else -yet.

Today's USA Today has a largely flattering profile on the front page of its Money section (by David J. Lynch) on Jorge Perez, CEO of Miami's own The Related Group -complete with a Tom Wolfe-style "Master of the Universe" photo of Perez towering above a scale model of his Icon Brickell project. http://www.iconbrickell.com/
Titled "Executive Suite — Today's Entrepreneur: Miami magnate gives city a makeover," it's the latest in USAT's continuing Executive Suite series.
See this link or the copy of the article I made at the bottom of this posting.

And just so you know, Mr. Perez isn't just any 'billionaire developer" of properties "in what was once a desolate downtown landscape." Heavens, no!
You see, Mr. Perez has bigger dreams; he wants to be one of Hillary Clinton's future ambassadors. "If the New York senator goes all the way to the White House, he muses, an ambassadorial post would be a nice career capstone."
Lest you think Mr. Perez doesn't have true artistic aims for his condos, "The entryway to Icon Brickell, the triple-towered 2,000-unit condo and hotel project, will be adorned with a series of enormous heads modeled on the statues of Easter Island." http://www.iconbrickell.com/

(Personal note: My mother was a secretary for the principal general contractor that built One Biscayne Tower on Flagler Street & Biscayne Blvd. in the early '70's, when it became THE largest skyscraper south of Atlanta.
She still has photos of various phases of the project as it grew, and when you see them, it really gives you a remarkable sense of how small -or should I say short- the downtown Miami area really was. And I say that as someone who has seen almost all of the photos of old Miami in books and myriad local museums.
Obviously, this was before Brickell was home to million-dollar condo complexes with iconic holes in them, made famous by the opening credits of Miami Vice.
While 1BT was going up, her firm had their offices across the street on the north side of Flagler in a building that no longer exists, and one of the perks of that was that familes of the firm could watch the annual Orange Bowl Parade pass by from an immense second-story balcony overlooking Flagler that looked like, well, something out of a large-budget antebellum flick starring Elizabeth Taylor. Or Cleopatra! It was great!!!)

The USAT story is replete with the usual South Florida touches: overblown ego, lots of hype masquerading as fact or philosophy, and a general glossing over of inconvenient facts, with revisionist history thrown in for good measure.
And, of course, because he lives in South Florida, lots of nuggets are dangled about the CO$T of things:
"Perched in a corner office that offers a sweeping bay view, Perez exudes a spend-what-it-takes ethos. There's enough modern art, much of it from Latin America, to outfit a first-class gallery. He sports a purple-checked shirt, purple tie and matching cufflinks. His driver ferries him between development sites in a gleaming silver Mercedes S550, which carries a list base price around $86,000."
In short, it's what South Florida has come to accept as the norm down here everytime an 'outside' publication has tried to tell part of the confounding story of South Florida and the people who make it so unique or bizarre over the past 40 years.
(Read the excerpt from Joan Didion's "Miami" on this blog or my other one, http://www.southbeachhoosier.blogspot.com/ for a good example of that unreality.)

Even during the 15 years I lived in DC, and would habitually pick up a newspaper or magazine at a great-but-tiny new stand next to the Farragut North Metro station -just a few feet away from the WSJ's Washington HQ- I could smell those crazy half-baked assumptions, agenda-driven, slice-of-life stories on Miami or one of its myriad 'personalities' from a mile away.
But for whatever reason, the country has never tired of hearing about South Florida's quirky, dysfunctional nature, and why it was the way it is, even if the people down here were actually suffering under an acute civic leadership shortage while Miami Vice was suddenly making this area seem sexy and wild instead of backward and dowdy, esp. over on South Beach when Lincoln Road was like a crypt.

What's really missing from the USAT story though is the current condo conflict that today's Daily Business Review cover story captures perfectly in a three-page spread by their Oscar Pedro Musibay, who ties together the reality that you and I have seen or heard about for months, no matter where we go: Has the market for expensive or over-the-top condos hit a plateau?
It's a story which should be required reading for everyone in South Florida with a brain and a long-term interest in the area, esp. local TV station news directors, who seem to shy away from giving this kind of story the amount of time it deserves, perhaps for fear of alienating potential advertisers: "Escape Act: In Down Market, Condo Buyers Need Houdini Skills To Break Contracts, Avoid Costly Purchases"

And guess which company the DBR story mentions that seems to be taking the most adversarial p.o.v., and fighting buyers the hardest to get out of contracts when costs, esp. monthly ones, are 100% higher than buyres were told? That's right, The Related Group.
It recounts a particularly typical deal which, when the buyer tried to flip it due to the additional costs, the sticker shock, "Related made it clear the Miami-based developer would fight him."
"They tell us, 'We are not accepting cancellations." If you want to get out, you are going to have to fight them, and in the end you will not win." "They bring you into this trap, and then you are done."
The story gives lots of evidence to the current state of murky FL law that some legislators, inc. usual consumer-friendly local favorites like Sen. Gwen Margolis, are trying to clarify in favor of, yes, developers, though it does say that some efforts are underway to require "developers to prepare budgets using "good-faith estimates" and "keep a record of how the numbers were

The odds of something the developers hate actually passing in Tallahassee are oh, what, a thousand-to-one? About what the Marlins chances of ever getting a stadium in South Florida as long as their current brain trust of Jeffrey Loria and David Samson is running things.

[Giving credit where credit is due, I only first became aware of Mr. Perez and his role in things down here a few weeks ago, when he headlined the Miami SunPost's list of "Super Developers."

Super Developers
What better way to honor some of the pillars of the real estate industry than by having a special section dedicated to them in our Super Bowl issue?
Below are some of the individuals who are now actively reshaping Miami-Dade County with brand-new residential, commercial and mixed-use projects. We say “some” because there are so many more than just the few we have listed below. South Florida still remains one of the most desirable places to live. As such, the demand for new projects is ever present and ever growing.
However, we feel we have compiled a fairly diverse and accurate list of some of the influential and potent players in South Florida real estate development. So for the tens of thousands of Super Bowl visitors, as well as our loyal local readers, we give you the Super Developers.

Jorge Perez
For the Related Group of Florida, there is no such thing as a real estate market slowdown. Even now, the Related Group is actively forging partnerships throughout South Florida and beyond. Among its latest projects: 300 Grove Bay Residence, three condominium towers, the tallest 410 feet high, that will be constructed beside Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove. The 300 condos will go on the market for between $3 million and $15 million, according to a recent Miami Herald article.
Founded in 1979 by Chairman and CEO Jorge Perez, the Related Group has constructed more than 55,000 condos and apartment buildings all over Florida. Last year, Related racked up sales of more than $3.2 billion while its real estate portfolio assets grew to more than $10.7 billion. Perez has been hailed by his peers as being on the cutting edge of South Florida’s urban growth. Some of his better known projects are Portofino Tower, Murano at Portofino, Murano Grande in Miami Beach and CityPlace in West Palm Beach. In Sunny Isles Beach, Perez partnered with Michael and Gil Dezer and Donald Trump to develop the ultra-luxurious Trump Towers.
A collector of Latin American art, Perez is on the board of directors of the Miami Art Museum and is part of the fundraising campaign for the construction of Museum Park in Bicentennial Park. Perez is also vice chair of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, director of the Miami Film Festival, a member of the board of the Downtown Development Authority and a member of the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees. UM’s Architecture Center has been named after Perez, while the Miami Wellness Center has been named after Perez and his wife, Darlene.]

One of Mr. Perez's 11 projects that I'm particularly peeved about is The Beach Club, right on AIA and Hallandale Beach Blvd. http://www.beachclubstyle.com/
It's a triple-tower project like Icon Brickell, and is a property that the incompetent HB mayor and city council approved a few years ago without requiring a 'shadow study' on a once popular family-friendly beach.
When my family moved down here in 1968 when I was seven years old, from Memphis, it had beautiful Australian Pines and actually had some height to the shore, which made it very unusual, and the iconic HB Water Tower was a greenish color very different from its current beach ball colors.
For this blog site, I've been watching it closely as it continues to pollute the public beach next to it, North Beach, with garbage and debris from the site regularly winding up on the beach or even greeting you as soon as you walk up to the sidewalk. Things that people going to the beach would not be bringing along, like crumpled up boxes that had once contained kitchen, living room and bedroom decorations and supplies, as well as large chunks of Styrofoam.
Last Friday, I found large chunks of insulation material wafting along the beach, and made a point of getting some new photos to add sometime soon to the blog.
Believe me, seeing is believing, and it's all right there in the open.

Last year, I made a point of going into the sales office of The Beach Club underneath the HB Water Tower, and told them in very direct terms that they had a real problem with garbage and debris from their property getting onto the public beach, and that it needed to be solved pronto.
While the City of Hallandale Beach seemed to just wink at the problem and act like it wasn't happening, the residents and citizens of the city had noticed.
In the intervening months, they've made little tangible effort to prevent it from happening over and over on a daily basis, since their large dumpsters on the north side don't even have regular lids or makeshift ones to contain their loads.
Practically every day, you can find material from their construction activities on the beach or on the access road that connects to the HB Fire Station and The Beachside Cafe.
The Beach Club really should've listened to the warning I gave them last year.
Now, like HB's own incompetent and apathetic city govt., they'll see that actions have real consequences

Check out the DBR story where you can, for instance, at the public library branches in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood and see for yourself, and then let me know what you think.
Executive Suite — Today's Entrepreneur: Miami magnate gives city a makeover
By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

MIAMI — If you stand in just the right spot on the Brickell Avenue Bridge, it's possible to think that every new building in this rapidly evolving city — every single glass-walled pillar of aspiration and ambition — belongs to one man: Jorge Perez.
Of course, that's not the case. Even an urban developer as ubiquitous as Perez can't be everywhere. But visible from the modest concrete span over sparkling Biscayne Bay are the three towers of the $1.5 billion Icon Brickell hotel and condominium project, the multihued facade of another condo building called 500 Brickell and the eye-catching Loft 2, distinguished by a public transit system that passes through an opening in its midsection.

NEWS, PROFILES, TIPS: Executive Suite index

The three projects are among 11 freshly minted buildings that Perez, chief executive of closely held The Related Group, has under construction in what was once a desolate downtown landscape. Coupled with earlier projects already completed, the distinctive cluster puts Miami on track to have a people-friendly downtown worthy of a city that bills itself as the unofficial capital of South America. And it's cementing the Cuban-American entrepreneur's standing as one of the nation's most prominent Hispanic businessmen.
"We're going to finally have a center!" Perez enthuses. "This is going to be the epicenter right here!"
Yet, even as the contours of Miami's years-long downtown renaissance materialize, Perez, 57, is shifting focus. After a decade-long run, South Florida's real estate wave — like housing markets across the USA — has crested and turned down. So, the developer is turning his attention to foreign turf, seeking to export the dealmaking savvy and creative vision that transformed a one-time municipal planner into a billionaire who hobnobs with A-list celebrities from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.
"There's a lot of capital in the world," says the man Forbes magazine ranks No. 197 on its list of richest Americans.
A recent day spent touring his premier South Florida projects provided a glimpse of the Perez style: hands-on, jocular, cost-conscious but intensely focused on the artistic element. His developments are intended to be distinctive, inside and out. Example: The entryway to Icon Brickell, the triple-towered 2,000-unit condo and hotel project, will be adorned with a series of enormous heads modeled on the statues of Easter Island.
A born salesman
Perched in a corner office that offers a sweeping bay view, Perez exudes a spend-what-it-takes ethos. There's enough modern art, much of it from Latin America, to outfit a first-class gallery. He sports a purple-checked shirt, purple tie and matching cufflinks. His driver ferries him between development sites in a gleaming silver Mercedes S550, which carries a list base price around $86,000.
At each development, Perez indulges in the superlatives of a born salesman. Icon Brickell's spa is "like nothing you've ever seen." The French architect Philippe Starck is "the most creative mind I've ever met." 50 Biscayne is "an amazing building." Striding through the morning's fourth lobby, he suddenly pivots: "The mailroom! Let me show you the mailroom!"
And as mailrooms go, this one is a winner, shimmering with mirrored metal, bathed in light from a gleaming chandelier.
But Perez isn't blinded by self-regard. After crawling through northbound traffic on I-95, he reaches Ocean 4, the last in a quartet of condo towers he's erected along Miami's Sunny Isles Beach.
On this day, residents are moving in, although the building still isn't 100% done. As Perez steps into an elevator, he's accosted by Oscar Torres, who's upset that he has to wait while workers use the elevators.
"I'm an owner, and I'm not too happy with the way things are going," he tells Perez. The developer offers sympathetic noises, hands him his business card and tells him to e-mail if the situation doesn't improve. Torres seems mollified.
Later, inspecting a commons room with a sweeping view of the ocean, Perez instantly sizes up deficiencies in the Spartan decor. Comfortable chairs are needed, here, here and here, he gestures. "Have them come back," he orders the building manager, referring to the designer.
"That one is definitely, definitely not finished," Perez says as he climbs into the back seat of the Benz.
Miami's real estate market peaked almost three years ago, and last year's sales of 137,000 units represented a 34% decline from 2004, according to Michael Cannon, managing director of Integra Realty Resources. Perez acknowledges that new sales of his condo units have slowed, but he seems to be insulated from the full brunt of the downturn thanks to heavy pre-sales. A full 100% of the 633 units in the 500 Brickell development, for example, already have been sold.
But Cannon says an unknown number of buyers who've signed contracts to purchase condos may walk away from their down payments. "The real losses haven't arrived yet. We'll see in '08 and '09," he says.
Perez already has begun targeting other domestic markets, such as Atlanta, as well as underserved foreign markets, where his skills will face less competition. He also has minimized his financial exposure to any market plunge, Cannon says. "That's what's smart about Jorge. It's other people's money and his expertise," he says.
Leaving Cuba for good
Perez was born in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires to Cuban parents. His father was an executive with drugmaker Eli Lilly, his mother, a pro-Castro intellectual. The family returned to Cuba six months before the 1959 revolution to retrieve an inheritance only to see their ancestral wealth nationalized, spurring a decision to leave for good. As they flew out of Cuba for the last time, Perez says, "I remember clearly leaving the airport and the people taking the jewelry away from my mother as we were getting into the plane."
Perez grew up in Colombia before studying urban planning at the University of Michigan. After graduation, a year spent touring Europe — through London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Istanbul — launched his life-long romance with the world's great cities.
He worked as a planner for the city of Miami before bureaucratic torpor drove him into the private sector and a successful vocation as an entrepreneur. In 1979, he established The Related Group, which concentrated initially on affordable housing and garden apartment rentals.
The work married his father's gift for sales with his mother's sympathy for the downtrodden. But Perez chafed at the creative limitations involved in affordable housing, ("You had to build boxes") and turned in the mid-1990s to luxury condominiums instead.
As other developers pushed west with new suburban communities, Perez zeroed in on the city. His affinity for authentic urban cores, where people could walk, eat, shop and be entertained, thus made it an easy sell when Miami Mayor Manny Diaz sought his help in revitalizing the city's nondescript downtown.
Among the first residential projects that jump-started the long-overdue redevelopment was a pair of condo towers called One Miami that Perez erected at the mouth of the Miami River. "Developers don't like to be pioneers," Diaz says. But, "Once somebody with the reputation of The Related Group or Jorge is present there, everybody else says 'he must see something.' Lots of people followed."
Today, Related Group says it has built and managed more than 55,000 condo and apartment units in Florida. Revenue grew from $683 million in 2002 to more than $3 billion in 2005 before slumping to $1.4 billion last year. The company blames the drop-off on a decline in the number of projects completed. "This market was insane. It was on fire. We had to exploit that. … We felt we exploited it well," Perez says with a quiet chuckle.
Seeking international buyers
There's long been an international dimension to the company's business. Roughly 50% of the condo units sold in Miami are purchased by foreign buyers, according to Cannon. Many are Latin American business executives, but as the dollar sagged against the euro in recent years, Europeans likewise have poured into the market.
To attract Latin American executives who have frequent business in Miami, Perez is offering a number of furnished floors in Park Suites at 50 Biscayne, slated to open later this year.
As the South Florida market crested a couple of years ago, Perez began scouting for opportunities outside the USA. He ruled out Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, because the main language is Portuguese, not Spanish. Likewise, Venezuelan officials who have sought to lure him into their oil-fueled market, have gone away empty-handed.
To Perez, two Latin markets hold great potential for his Icon brand: Mexico and his native Argentina. For Americans seeking a retirement or vacation home, a familiar name from back home provides comfort. For an affluent Mexican or Argentinean, it promises cachet. "There's a large premium paid in these countries for what I would call branded product," Perez says.
Last month, Perez announced plans to invest $1 billion in Mexican projects over the next two years. First up: Icon Vallarta, an upscale oceanfront condo where units will be marketed at between $200,000 and $1 million. Opportunities in Argentina, which has rebounded from defaulting on its sovereign debt in 2001, he likens to South Florida "10 or 15 years ago."
Yet even as he readies his international foray, Perez, a father of four who married for the second time in 2001, is looking beyond business. A Democratic stalwart who displays prominently in his office a golfing photo of himself with former president Bill Clinton, Perez blasts President Bush for "killing young men for absolutely no reason" in Iraq.
In recent months, several Democratic candidates have come courting, seeking his support. ("I'm a pretty good fundraiser," he says. "I know how to squeeze.") Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have been to his home. But the developer is a Hillary Clinton fan who happily recalls during the Clinton administration when the president would tap his knowledge of Latin America.
Now, Hillary Clinton's status as the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic nomination allows Perez to indulge himself in speculation about his own possible foray into public service. If the New York senator goes all the way to the White House, he muses, an ambassadorial post would be a nice career capstone.
"The money's been made. More money or less will not change my life. Now, the important thing is legacy," he says.

Election Day picks; Julie Hamlin's campaign tactics

On election day this Tuesday, I'm planning on voting for two candidates for HB's City Commission whom I first voted for two years ago, because they seem to share at least some of the same civil outrage and sense of purpose that I have in abundance: Arturo O'Neill and Keith London.

I spoke to London's mother about a month ago ago, telling her about our mutual concerns, as well as all the egregious incompetency ensnaring this town -for probably close to a half-hour!- while she was doing a lit drop for Keith in my father's neighborhood.

Arturo's sister-in-law left a message for him on my voice mail earlier this week.
He has a website but I can't seem to find an email address.

Any fair-minded person could see that this town definitely needs a Hispanic presence on the City Comm., to not only reflect the changing demographics and break the condo hold on the city, but for some more fresh ideas.
Just some of the many reasons I voted for him two years ago.
Could the other candidates, other than London, not be more oblivious to that need?

Yesterday, following up on previous reports I made, I discovered EVEN MORE garbage from The Beach Club condos going onto the beach and nearby access roads, including large chunks of asbestos and insulation.
Yes, I took photos with my trusty Canon camera!

I also followed-up my prior visits and found that now all three of the main sinks in the North Beach Men's restroom are broken.

From Thanksgiving 'til ten days ago, two of the four there were broken.

SHOCKER: Now it's three, with only the one in the handicapped stall working.

Three months!!

That's your HB government in action.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg!!!

Yes, another Joy Cooper/Mike Good/Bill Julian success story!

I'm really mad at myself for not having placed the mountains of information I've accumulated on the blogs in time for Tuesday's election, but "Que sera, sera" as noted political analyst Doris Day once put it.

By the way, yesterday afternoon at the Golden Isles branch of the U.S. Post Office, while I was there to follow-up a complaint about the safety of the parking lots in the HB branches -esp. the one on US-1, a longstanding bete-noir of mine!- I saw and heard HB City Comm. candidate Julie Hamlin -dressed in a green fringed Hamlin t-shirt- and some gal pal of hers -dressed in a white t-shirt and red shorts- campaign and I'm a very political person, having been involved in both national, state and local races here in Florida as well as Iowa, Indiana and Virginia, but nobody I know would ever consciously think it was, well, kosher, to campaign and ask people stuck in line at the Post Office, a govt. bldg., to vote for a candidate.

Yes, the rules are different here, as that old Miami tourism advertising campaign accurately put it!

#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

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