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. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Come for the HB Pay Raise Grab, but Stay for the Fireworks!
Despite his carefully thought out and choreographed plans to have about 2-3 dozen photos here before tomorrow's city commission meeting, all neatly organized by topic in order to buttress and illuminate points of contention I've been hammering home here for a few months about the City of Hallandale Beach's pathetic and ineffective management style, as well as the laissez-faire work ethic among its bureaucracy, I've come up short due to some unexpected computer and photo problems. C'est la vie!
However, I can promise you with 100% certainty that they will be up for your perusal long before the September city commission meeting, which, if anything, I can promise will be even more eventful than the one scheduled for Wednesday, for reaons that I'll detail as that meeting approaches.
Until then, here's a hint of what's to come, though the specifics are quite well-known to me and many other people in the community, including other elected officials and media members, both print and TV:
At that meeting, Hallandale Beach's city clerk, E. Dent McGough, police chief Thomas Magill, and city attorney David Jove, will all see what happens when they violate both the spirit and letter of Florida's invaluable Sunshine laws.
The city attorney's office in particular has a lot to be worried about over the next few weeks, as Mr. Jove and his staff will see what happens when they ignore aspects of signed contracts for years, which have the very self-evident ripple effect of directly threatening the public safety and welfare of Hallandale Beach's residents and visitors.
Frankly, they seem to have taken it for granted that they could continue their chronic pattern of neglect indefinitely with respect to this particular matter, but they will have strongly underestimated someone with lots of knowledge and resolve: HallandaleBeachBlog.
The power of one person with a blog and plenty of readers who also know well the difference between right and wrong, and who know when something isn't, to use a cliche, kosher.
(What's particularly galling about this to HBB is that the evidence in this particular case is both overwhelming and all around you as you make your way around the City of Hallandale Beach, if you just know where to look -it's the classic tree-for-the-forest syndrome!
Yes, it's a classic case of HB bureaucratic myopia, wherein city employees don't see things that would call into question their fitness for their job, so they pretend not to see what's right in front of their face. Fortunately, HBB still retains his 20/15 vision.)
Yes, you can definitely count on being able to read here my very public indictment of their inexcusable behavior and shameful actions, with pointed and incident-specific copies of my letter to the appropriate state and legal authorities, as well as local and regional news media.
You will for yourself that there REALLY are still towns in the state of Florida that continually fail to live up to their legal and civic responsibilities under the state constitution, seemingly winking at existing laws and daring anyone to call their collective bluff.
Well, HallandaleBeachBlog and parent blog SouthBeachHoosier will be calling their bluff for all to see, and will force them to answer for their crimes of commission -and omission.
Hallandale official, rebuffed in bid for $55,000 raise, says he'll ask for smaller one By Thomas Monnay
May 8, 2007
HALLANDALE BEACH · Vice Mayor Bill Julian conceded Monday that the $55,000 pay raise the City Commission passed then quickly rescinded last week was "way too much money" but said he plans to bring up the matter again.
"I'm not going to back down, but [the proposed increase] wouldn't be nearly as much," said Julian, 54, who claims he can't make ends meet on his $20,500 annual salary.
Mayor Joy Cooper, who mobilized grass-roots opposition to the "outrageous" raise that was passed without public notice, was unsympathetic.
"I believe we have a reasonable salary for a part-time job," said Cooper, who is working on a proposal to ensure commissioners' raises are capped and approved only during public hearings.
Julian, a retired horse trainer and Hallandale Beach resident for 51 years, came under a barrage of criticism last week after he and Commissioners Dorothy Ross and Fran Schiller voted to more than triple their salaries to $75,000 a year. They voted while having lunch Wednesday during a planning meeting.
Cooper and Commissioner Keith London rejected the raise, which triggered a furor because it wasn't advertised and the public didn't get an opportunity to comment on it.
Some voiced concern that the vote came as state legislators were considering major property tax reductions, which could cut millions from city budgets.
At Julian's request, commissioners repealed the raise Friday during a special meeting on development issues in Hallandale Beach.
"We've all learned from this experience, and our residents should be assured this would never, ever happen again," said City Manager Mike Good.
Ross said of residents' opposition, "If there is something I've learned from this, it's the wakeup call."
Schiller declined to comment.
Commissioners are responsible for adopting city budgets, setting policies and ordinances and responding to residents' complaints, among other duties. They receive an annual cost-of-living increase, Good said.
In Oakland Park, a comparably sized city, the mayor earns $10,400 a year and commissioners $9,000. In Davie, a larger municipality, council members are paid $7,200 a year.
Julian said the demanding nature of the position makes it difficult to work at another job and therefore commissioners should get more pay.
"I know I cannot continue to live on this salary unless I get another job or some kind of raise. ... In a matter of time, my savings will be depleted," said Julian, who was first elected in 2001.
"The mistake I made was that I asked for way too much money," he added.
Julian said he knew the salary when he ran for office, but commissioners have more work to do because a lot has been happening recently in Hallandale Beach, including casinos at the racetracks and new development.
Julian said he would bring the pay issue back for discussion during a budget workshop in the next few months. He said the city, with about $40 million in reserves, wouldn't be affected by tax cuts as much as other cities. Still, he said, any decision would be made only after public input.
Good said Julian would agree that the large, unannounced raise was "poor judgment."
Thomas Monnay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-385-7924.
Copyright © 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Commissioners in throes of gambling fever
By FRED GRIMM fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com
May 6, 2007
Experts warned that this could happen.
A quiet seaside town like Hallandale Beach becomes a gambling Mecca, with a casino om the north side of town, another on the south. Suddenly once solid, sober are driven crazy by the scent of easy money. Until even the folks down at City Hall catch the fever.
That's the only plausible explanation for what happened in Hallandale Beach last week. Three city commissioners were obviously consumed by a momentary gambling frenzy. They bet that no one would notice that they had voted themselves the kind of jackpot that would set off bells and sirens at the Mardi Gras's casino.
It is a notorious symptom of gambling fever that the infected no longer grasp the value of a paycheck. Little Vegas Vice Mayor William Julian and Commissioners Dorothy Ross and Francine Schiller voted to up their annual pay from $21,196 to $75,000 as if they were talkin' chump change.
WHEELING OVER LUNCH
They hedged their bets by putting the issue on their luncheon agenda, the only portion of the commission meeting not recorded. As if they hoped no one would notice. As if they assumed what happened in City Hall, stayed in City Hall.
Lunch was a little like an all-you-can-eat casino buffet. Salad, sandwiches, crab cakes, chicken wings, pasta and, for dessert, $53,804 drizzled in chocolate.
Another symptom of gambling fever renders addicts utterly impervious to the warnings of looming catastrophe from relatives, friends, associates. ''I begged them to reconsider,'' Mayor Joy Cooper told me. They dismissed her as Mayor Kill Joy.
Even modest raises have been bad bets in South Florida. Last year, voters in Parkland, where the mayor and commissioners make $2,400 annually, voted down raises. Same thing in Coral Springs. Voters in Miami-Dade County, where the $6,000-a-year county commissioners haven't had a raise since 1957, said no to pay increases.
Commissioners in Cooper City caught so much hell trying after voting to raise their piddling salaries from $6,000 to $15,000, they decided to use most of the extra money on a landscaping project.
The Hallandale Beach caper was even riskier. There was the usual voter reluctance to pad elected officials' salaries. And they voted to raise their salaries even as the state legislature, which will reconvene in June, threatens to whack away at the city's property tax base. ''We could lose 40 percent of our budget,'' Mayor Cooper said.
LIKE HIGH ROLLERS
But there's no reasoning with the fever. Mayor Cooper and Commissioner Keith London warned them, but those three commissioners thought they were on a roll. They were hot. They blew on the dice, tripled their salary and figured to walk out of city hall like a high roller after a good night at Gulfstream Park.
Oh my, what a bad bet. They voted for fat raises on Wednesday. Word got around town on Thursday. By Friday, their folly was splashed across the Miami Herald.
And all hell broke loose. Constituents went berserk. State legislators, after hearing so many complaints from city politicians that budgets were tight, wanted to know how it was that Hallandale Beach was tossing money around like a drunken tourist at the Hard Rock.
The fever subsided. On Friday the repentant gamblers slunk into a commission workshop meeting and voted to rescind their winnings.
They had learned a hard, humbling lesson: If you're going to gamble in Little Vegas, stick to the slots.
Hallandale Beach commissioners triple pay
By Aliza Applebaum and Jennifer Lebovich
May 4, 2007
Over a taxpayer-funded lunch of steak and chicken sandwiches on Wednesday, Hallandale Beach commissioners raised their annual pay by nearly $55,000 and catapulted themselves into the salary stratosphere for part-time public servants.
Starting immediately, commissioners will earn $75,000 a year.
In a tight budget year when the Legislature nixed raises for state employees, commissioners in the city of 35,000 voted 3-2 to more than triple their current salary of $21,196.
Discussion of the raise, and the vote, came during the luncheon portion of the city's regular meeting -- the only part that is not recorded. It will be reflected generally in the city's minutes, which had not yet been prepared on Thursday.
''I thought it was outrageous and completely out of line for an elected public official whose work is part time,'' said Mayor Joy Cooper, who asked commissioners to defer voting on the raise until the city's next budget meeting.
The raise means commissioners will make substantially more than the elected leaders in some of Broward's biggest cities.
Commissioners in Pembroke Pines -- a city of nearly 150,000 residents -- make $23,708, and the mayor gets $46,485.
And commissioners in Fort Lauderdale earn $30,000 a year, while the mayor gets $35,000.
Broward County commissioners bring in $91,996 a year to oversee an airport, a seaport, parks and libraries for a county of about 1.8 million.
''I'd like to get that kind of pay raise,'' said Ben Wilcox, the executive director of Common Cause Florida, a government watchdog group. ``If they feel like they're worth that. I guess the final decision will be up to the voters the next time they come up for reelection, if they feel like that's too big a pay raise.''
Cooper pointed out that the city could face significant revenue cuts in the coming year, depending on what form of property tax relief is passed by the state Legislature, which plans a special session in June.
''This is the absolute worst commission decision ever made in this city's history,'' said Cooper, who said she won't accept the increase.
Vice Mayor William Julian proposed the raise during the lunch planning meeting in a conference room in City Hall. The issue was not on any publicized agenda.
''If I was in their shoes I would bend over backward to make sure there was full notice and an opportunity for public discussion,'' said Wilcox.
"After all, this is the public's money and they should have, I would think, the opportunity to weigh in on whether they feel the commissioners deserve that increase.''
Voting in favor were Julian and commissioners Dorothy Ross and Francine Schiller. Cooper and Commissioner Keith London voted against it.
Julian said he had planned to propose an even higher increase. He likened the city to a corporation, and said the pay should be commensurate. He also praised the commission for lowering the tax rate and maintaining a healthy reserve fund.
''Other people in this position in the corporate world would be making much more money than we are,'' Julian said. "It is a steep jump, but it just shows how little we received before. I don't think it's out of line at all.''
At the meeting, London suggested doing a comparison of salaries of elected officials in other cities before settling on a number.
''I wanted more information and the opportunity to do more research,'' he said in an interview. "We didn't have enough information at that time to make a decision.''
Ross -- who has been on the commission since 1995 -- defended the raise Thursday, saying it's a job that calls for full-time hours. ''I'm experienced, I'm qualified, I'm trained and I'm worth it,'' she said.
Schiller declined to comment.
''I think that's an insane amount of money for a commission in a city our size,'' said Julie Hamlin, a Hallandale Beach resident who lost a bid for a commission seat during the last election.
''It's not responsible at a time when we have a property tax and insurance crisis in the state that is bound to impact our city tax structure,'' she said. ``It's totally crazy.''
When former Hallandale Beach Mayor Arthur ''Sonny'' Rosenberg got wind of the raise, he thought he had heard wrong.
''It's tough to comment on it because it's beyond belief,'' said Rosenberg, who served on the commission for more than two decades and said he made about $9,000 in 2000.
"I think they made a mockery out of public service, and I think Hallandale Beach is going to be the laughingstock of South Florida.''
Miami Herald staff writer Roberto Santiago contributed to this report.
Such a proud record of cutting edge legislation!
It's no wonder they (chiefly Bill Julian) think they're corporate executives due a pay raise!
Look below at just some of the things they've done over the past 18 months.
The fact that you can so easily find at least 15-20 shopping carts within a three-block area on Hallandale Beach Blvd. , the main east-west commercial drag, for days on end just hours after this was passed, shows how truly toothless the city government is and how poorly the city
govt. manages their workers, who shirk from responsibility the way a cat shirks from water: visibly!
By Diana Moskovitz
March 26, 2006
Shopping cart theft crackdown
City officials have decided they need to crack down on shopping cart thefts
Shopping carts may be handy for more than just shopping, but Hallandale Beach commissioners don't want them littering the city anymore.
Commissioners said they are tired of seeing shopping carts strewn across the city, from the street curb to the interiors of towering condominiums.
The carts are used for everything from carrying groceries home to moving equipment around.
Removing carts from a store's property is illegal, according to state law, although the law is randomly enforced.
Commissioners took the first step toward beefing up their anti-shopping cart theft ordinance last week, approving a new version by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Francine Schiller was absent.
A second vote, scheduled for April 3, would make the changes final.
The code would replace the laws commissioners adopted about six years ago that required businesses to come up with a ``cart retrieval plan.''
But not every business came up with its own proposal, Mayor Joy Cooper said. And some of the plans weren't working. Shopping carts could still be found across the city.
She called the displaced carts a ``blight on the community.''
''We've enabled everybody to ignore the situation and it's back again,'' Cooper said.
The old ordinance was little more than one page long. The new regulations take up nearly eight pages.
The new rules specify what the businesses' cart retrieval plans should include. They must outline how many employees are assigned to retrieve carts, how many hours a week are spent retrieving carts, and how much training employees receive in cart recovery.
Signs would be required on carts warning that taking a cart outside the business area is illegal.
Safeguards such as chains around business entrances or electronic devices that lock the wheels beyond a certain point in the parking lot also are part of the new rules, listed as acceptable theft preventers.
Representatives from nearby Publix, Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart stores attended the meeting Tuesday to voice their support.
Shopping cart thieves or business owners who don't submit plans could face stiff penalties.
Businesses would have 60 days after the rules become final to submit their theft prevention plans.
Commissioner Joe Gibbons suggested a cart amnesty week where people who have taken shopping carts could turn them in without penalty before the new rules kick in.
But what about the elderly who use shopping carts to get their groceries home?
City Manager Mike Good said the new regulations are not meant to punish anyone's grandmother. ''I would never put a 70-year-old woman in jail for taking a shopping cart,'' Good said.
Here are some more snippets of the area...
CODE ENFORCEMENT OVERHAULED
BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ
March 12, 2006
Instead of a board of seven, one person will now decide code enforcement issues in Hallandale Beach. City officials say the change will speed up the code enforcement process. Critics say the measure could result in other problems being overlooked in the system. Commissioners last week voted to hire a special magistrate to rule on code violation cases. The Code Enforcement Board will now become the Code Enforcement Advisory Committee and perform duties such as community outreach...
OFFICIAL AWAITS ETHICS RULING
BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ
March 9, 2006
Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian may not be able to vote on one of the city's largest development project in decades. The Village at Gulfstream Park is a plan for adding condos, stores and offices to 66 acres owned by the racetrack's parent company. Julian has been a backup steward for the racetrack, overseeing horses and races to make sure everything is fair... Julian doesn't have a contract but is paid for his work by the day, he said...
So why has the city allowed The Beachside Cafe to put garbage on the beach ever since they moved into their new location, not fix the huge dumpsters that don't have lids or fencing around them? Why do they allow The Beachside Cafe to maintain feral cats by providing water and food on the beach for them rather than call Animal Control?
PLANTINGS AIM TO PROTECT BEACH
By DIANA MOSKOVITZ
February 12, 2006
Hoping to protect the beachfront it has left, the Hallandale Beach wants to replace the vegetation its shoreline lost decades ago to development. City commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday to pay for a beach revegetation project. The program focuses on planting sea oats and sea grapes to provide an anchor for the sand and keep it from washing away. The project will cost $402,540. The city is paying for it with a combination of city dollars and money from developers...
NEEDED; TOWN CRIER FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
BY DIANA MOSKOVITZ
February 8, 2006
Hallandale Beach leaders are looking for ways to provide residents with more notice about developments proposed near their homes. Last month, people near a planned 29-story tower complained they never heard about the project until before the City Commission's final vote. On Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to have City Manager Mike Good look at ways to notify more residents. Good will bring the list back to commissioners in about a month. Suggestions included...
Topflight Photography view of Hollywood, Hallandale Beach at Ocean Drive/A1A
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