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.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

re "Mapping Transportation Costs for Home Buyers"; transit run amuck

My comments follow the article.
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/12/AR2008041200150_pf.html

Mapping Transportation Costs for Home Buyers
By Elizabeth Razzi
April 13, 2008

When you're stuck in Beltway traffic burning $3-a-gallon gasoline to creep along at walking speed, it offers time to think. Would it be easier if I left home earlier? Would I be better off riding a train? How bad will my commute be in five years? Would life be easier and cheaper if I found a job in Pittsburgh or Nashville or some other place where the roads aren't as crowded and the homes aren't so expensive?

A new Web-based tool developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a Chicago-based urban development think tank, can help put facts behind those daydreams. The CNT developed a Web site, at http://htaindex.cnt.org, that takes into account household expenditures for transportation, along with home prices, to estimate whether a home is truly affordable for households with moderate incomes.

Academics at the CNT argue that a home isn't really affordable if its location forces a household to devote an excessive amount of the family budget to transportation. How much is excessive? They say 18 percent of the area's median pretax income is typical; lowering that to 15 percent would be better. That's on top of the 30 percent of pretax income that they estimate as an affordable budget for a home's mortgage principal and interest plus property taxes and homeowners' insurance, which lenders call PITI.

With gasoline prices nearing $3.50 per gallon and Metro fares that recently increased by the largest amount in the transit system's history, keeping Washington-area transportation costs below those thresholds is only going to become more difficult.

The Web site is a data fest even by wonk standards. It's a map-based tool offering information on housing and transportation costs for 52 metropolitan areas, including the Washington-Baltimore area. You can zoom in on individual neighborhoods and pull up U.S. Census information on the percentage of neighborhood residents who use mass transit, their average monthly spending on transportation, the number of wage-earners and cars per household, and other data. The Web site also displays nearby subway and commuter rail lines and stations.

The interactive maps are the type of thing urban planners will pick apart with gusto, but they're also an interesting tool for people pondering a move. It wouldn't be surprising if the information is eventually woven into real estate search tools, such as the local multiple-listing service or Zillow.com.

Other housing-affordability measures ignore the need to travel, CNT President Scott Bernstein said. Travel consists of more than your daily commute. "Only 20 percent of the trips we take in America are to work," Bernstein said. All those other little trips, runs to the grocery store, Little League games and the dry cleaner's, actually make up the bulk of our travel.

It's no surprise that most neighborhoods in the District score high on combined affordability. Despite a lack of grocery stores in too many neighborhoods, many have good access to bus and subway service, retail shops and places of worship that are within walking distance or a short drive away.

What is surprising is that pockets of combined home/transit affordability are scattered across the far-out suburbs that are usually assailed for their dependence on automobiles. This reflects the way development has been happening in some of these communities, where jobs, shopping and recreation are developed near each other, creating little urban-ish centers out in the 'burbs.

For example, the map shows splotches of affordability -- where housing and transportation costs combined consume less than 48 percent of the median income -- throughout the suburbs, including areas around Gaithersburg, Bowie, Chantilly (VA) and Dale City (VA).


But you also can find pockets of un-affordability in the farthest reaches of the Washington area. Combined housing/transportation costs exceed that 48 percent threshold in the Solomons Island area of Calvert County, according to the Web site.

The site has some major drawbacks. Although it was launched nationwide only last week, the database uses 2000 Census data, which are growing stale. Housing and transportation expenses have soared since the government collected that information. Even the recent decline in home prices has barely unwound the big run-up in values that occurred after 2000.
"The trend is sort of in the wrong direction," said Peter Haas, director of CNT's geography, research and information department, who acknowledged that housing and transportation costs are now greater than those reflected on the Web site.

The site also reports $57,291 as the median income for the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan statistical area. That's on the low side for Washington, where more recent Census Bureau


estimates pegged the median at $78,978. The lower figure is based on the Census Bureau definition of the Washington-Baltimore MSA as stretching from the Chesapeake Bay west into parts of West Virginia, where lower wages pull down the average.

The outdated numbers mean you can't simply pluck a dollar amount from the Web site and use it as the basis for your real-live, right-now budget. But you can still use the site to compare one neighborhood to another. Then you can develop your own price estimates to help gauge whether a home will truly be affordable once you add in the transportation expenses you will bear once living there.

Always do a trial commute during rush hour before you make an offer on a home. Time the ride and estimate your gas consumption. If you're thinking of taking Metro or commuter rail, price out the weekly expense.

As you size up neighborhoods, take the time to figure out where you will worship, buy groceries, go to the movies, enroll the kids in dance class or pick up an extra gallon of milk. Is bus or rail service available, even if only as a backup for days when your car is in the shop? Will your children be able to ride bicycles to the pool, or does a six-lane highway make that too dangerous?

It's easy to underestimate your total transportation budget when you house-hunt on a quiet Sunday afternoon. And misjudging your travel needs can seriously derail your after-purchase budget.
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Reader comments at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/12/AR2008041200150_Comments.html
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My favorite quote from article above:
"The Web site is a data fest even by wonk standards."

Naturally, this being a Washington Post story, i.e. with impact and reach far beyond the D.C. area, the reader comments within 12 hours of this story seeing the light of day included one from what I'm sure is an Obama-supporter blaming SUVs for the Fall of the Roman Empire, and yet another pitching real estate, witness:




1.) "To all the Americans who spend an hour or two commuting in a SUV, truck or other gas guzzling vehicles....you deserve the pain you are experiences in the pocketbook. It won't get any cheaper."



2.) "Buy now in South Arlington between Shirlington and Clarendon before it's too late. Summer 2010 will e stoo late."

Yes, the real estate sickness is as out-of-control in D.C. as here.
But at least the latter has the virtue of being correct.

South Arlington between the Shirlington area -near WETA-TV, where PBS' Jim Lehrer News Hour is produced- and Clarendon in central Arlington is a pretty good place, esp. now that the mass transit there is getting much improved, courtesy of a coming trolley and better access to the Pentagon Metro Station.

See http://www.piketransit.com/default_old.aspx and http://www.stationmasters.com/System_Map/PENTAGON/pentagon.html


I lived for three years not far from Fort Myer and the Clarendon Metro (and The American Spectator magazine, founded in Bloomington by conservative IU grad R. Emmett Tyrell )

See http://www.walkarlington.com/walkable/clarendon.html and
http://www.stationmasters.com/System_Map/CLARENDN/clarendn.html

That included two years (and one insane blizzard) with a great former housemate, who, as I've written before, is now the Kansas Senate Majority Leader, a former Editor of The Daily Kansan in Lawrence and a Georgetown Law grad, to boot. And someone with a great political future!

Trust me when I tell you, the coterie of South Miami/Gables young professionals along S. Dixie Hwy. only wish they had an area that's as convenient, fun, dynamic and easy to get around on foot, as the Clarendon and Court House Metro areas of Arlington, where there is a range of interesting retail, recreation and office space that I've yet to discover down here.
I mean there was an Apple Computer store there before there was one in D.C., capisce?

See http://www.commuterpage.com/art/villages/courthouse2.htm and
http://www.stationmasters.com/System_Map/COURTHSE/courthse.html

The AMC Courthouse Theatre there is where I probably saw about 75% of all the films I saw over a period of 15 years. And talk about close, from the top of the Metro escalator to the theatre box office is maybe 50 feet away. As is the entrance to the Arlington County Govt. Bldg.

For the last seven years I lived in Arlington County, I lived near the Ballston Metro Station, http://www.commuterpage.com/art/villages/ballston2.htm , which is exactly the kind of urban, transit-oriented area along what's W. Dixie Highway and First Avenue from a future Aventura train station around N.E. 203rd Street, north thru Hallandale Beach and continuing past Hollywood should be like.

It's embarrassing that for all the talk about taking advantage of future transit, the only thing remotely like it so far is Hollywood Station, http://www.hollywoodstation.com/

As I've mentioned to many other transit-oriented public policy people in both Broward and Miami-Dade, just the idea that the Broward County Commission would even consider thinking of building a new HQ for Broward County Govt. or a new County Courthouse in the future that was NOT within a short walking distance of either the Tri-Rail or a future train station along the FEC tracks, is preposterous, and certainly something I'd fight.

That sort of backward thinking is why a pro-transit voter like me was thumbs down on the proposed penny/transit tax two years ago.

Speaking of a myopic transit situation, see this great Orlando Sentinel story from Wednesday, Judge tosses thousands of citations, fumes at toll 'injustice' by Rene Stutzman, Sentinel Staff Writer, April 23, 2008 http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/seminole/orl-toll2308apr23,0,2167491.story

This story is interesting for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that 1.) it actually didn't happen in South Florida, and 2.) in a story about motor vehicles, the photo depicting the family featured in the story is of them on a plane. And you've got to read the reader comments, too, at: http://www.topix.net/forum/source/orlando-sentinel/THTFVV0K4DAGQSVD8

But, of course, as I have often lamented here and in South Beach Hoosier, when it comes to transportation and civic design that promotes and complements smart, planned growth, almost everyone in authority down here acts like they first have to re-invent the wheel.

But only after numerous payments to a series of consultants that will tell them in the end what common sense should've told 'em anyway.

I'll discuss this WaPo article in the future from a South Florida perspective, as well as show how even the Washington Metro that most Washingtonians find indispensible to their quality of life, like the Miami-Dade Metrorail, is not without its problems. http://www.wmata.com/

On the other hand, they never gave up and abandoned a station due to the homeless problem.

That painful lesson was brought home to me again on Wednesday by a post by blogger Cindy Cruciger of Computer Colonics, http://www.ferfelabat.com/ , which I first heard about that same day via South Florida Daily Blog, http://southfloridadailyblog.blogspot.com/ .

In an amusing but forthright essay titled Walking in Miami,
http://www.ferfelabat.com/?p=848 , she questioned the sanity of actually following in the literal footsteps of the Herald's Anna Menendez, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/columnists/ana_menendez/story/506010.html

I recall when I came down here from Arlington four years ago and was told that the county had thrown in the towel on that station, thinking someone was pulling my leg.
Nope!

My next post will tell of a recent outrage against a smarter transporation policy perpetrated on the citizens of Hallandale Beach by their elected City Commission and Mayor, acting out of an overabundance of stupidity and myopia, and a dearth of information and preparation.

For more transit oriented articles and stories, see: http://www.commuterpage.com/cnews/current.cfm#story11893

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dannielynn's Trust charged $415/hr. for 2nd Miami attorney to attend Anna Nicole's funeral

Jordana Mishory of the Daily Business Review is on the job!!!
I've enjoyed her cogent, fair-minded and fact-based stories ever since returning to South Florida from D.C., and her story Wednesday really got to me.


Maybe I'm missing something, having tuned out the Anna Nicole news around the time baby Dannielyn went to Louisville with her father Larry Birkhead after the funeral, to finally meet her grandparents, but, if the article below is true, and I know that it is, how did this news about the attorney billing patterns in this case of Richard Milstein at Akerman Senterfit -Florida's largest law firm- stay under the local radar for so long?
(Or was it just me?)

As if lawyers don't have bad enough P.R.?

I've highlighted below in red the most offensive excerpt of the Mishory piece.

While my own experiences working for some of America's largest law firms in Washington, D.C., in various capacities, made me congruent with the sometimes absurd billing numbers there, I have to admit, up 'till now, I'd always thought of Mr. Milstein as the one consistently good guy throughout most of that very sad story last year, but reading this story about the billing just gives me the creeps.
I'm glad the firm finally did the right thing.

(
Cinematic counterpoint to the below: Kirk Douglas paying out-of-work actors to be mourners at his father's funeral in Hollywood, in South Beach Hoosier's favorite all-time film, The Bad and the Beautiful. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044391/ To watch the great original film trailer go to: http://www.tcm.com/video/videoPlayer/?cid=24322&titleId=67941 )

The day the Anna Nicole news broke, I was over near the Hollywood City Hall, preparing some comments and questions I'd be making later at a Broward County Charter Review Commission subcommittee meeting.

When I went outside to get some air and have a Coke, I put on my Walkman, and within five minutes I heard the very first report that Anna Nicole had been rushed from The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to the hospital.
Logic dictated that they go to Memorial Regional Hospital, just down the road from where I was on Hollywood Blvd.
http://www.memorialregional.com/
(I was very much against their expansion plans last year and the Hollywood City Commission's foolish positive vote, but that's a whole 'nother post.)

It's a hospital I'm very familiar with because of all the many trips I took over there my first year back here, with my late and sickly step-mother in tow, before she passed away.

I changed my evening plans, made some quick phone calls and then headed immediately over to the hospital, where I got there well before most of the local reporters and he myriad entertainment "hosts" and talking heads showed up. http://www.nbc6.net/news/10966027/detail.html

As you can imagine, despite all the technology present, and the PIOs, it was like Rumor Central. Times ten!!!


And me, unfortunately, with just a disposable camera in my bag, otherwise I'd have had a ton of great shots I'd have downloaded here that very first night to illuminate or amuse you.

Having been a regular at the Marv Albert trial circus back in Arlington County, outside the Arlington County Courthouse -even getting interviewed about a half-dozen times, along with some friends, by NY-based TV and radio reporters for the obligatory, "What does it all mean?' question- I had a very clear idea what the Anna news would mean -and I wasn't disappointed.
http://www.courttv.com/archive/casefiles/marv/marvalbert.html


A 24/7 media feeding frenzy.

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Something I didn't know until today, not that it changes anything about the billing issue:

Miami Herald
RICHARD MILSTEIN:
Gay leader embraces a raft of charities
Prominent lawyer lends his time and influence to help the neediest -- people with AIDS, children and the elderly.
By Steve Rothaus
November 18, 2005
See http://www.aegis.com/news/mh/2005/MH051011.html

FYI, Herald news reporter Steve Rothaus was a classmate of mine in certain classes at North Miami Beach High School in the late '70's, probably including A.P. English, with former national teacher of the year Barbara Goleman, from whom I learned much my sophmore year; as I later did as well with my A.P. English teacher my last two years at NMB, the brilliant Henry Greenfield.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Goleman_High_School and http://www.ccsso.org/Projects/national_teacher_of_the_year/national_teachers/220.cfm

If you read her letter here, you'll get a sense of how fortunate I was to have her as a teacher, and why so many of her lessons are embedded in my brain: http://www.ccsso.org/Projects/national_teacher_of_the_year/voices_for_the_future/1065.cfm

[That junior year A.P. English class with Mr. Greenfield was perhaps my favorite non-French class. Among my classmates was Nathaniel "Nat" Singer, the brilliant math genius, NMB baseball captain, '79 NMB valedictorian, and future Princeton Tiger and finance whiz.
Nat was one of the world's greatest Chicago Black Hawks fans ever, a point this math genius emphasized in the mid-to-late '70's by his wearing of the classic red Black Hawks jersey more times than I can count, back before people wore sports jerseys as casually as they do now, and they were sold everywhere.

Almost a generation before the Florida Panthers came into formal existence, back when I subscribed to The Hockey News, Nat was alone among the non-Quebecois born students at NMB whom I could talk about hockey with fairly intelligently, since unlike them, he didn't think that ALL the best hockey players were from la Belle Province.
Nat was also the only other person I ever spoke to in those days who ever grasped the potential of this Gretzky kid. our age, playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

http://www.soogreyhounds.com/

Nat was not only one of the smartest persons I ever met in my life, he was also among the most unassuming, especially considering how truly pure his gift was: numbers.

Last I heard, Nat, formerly in charge of municipal derivatives at Bear, Stearns & Co., before shifting to the firm's asset management division, is a Partner and Managing Director at Swap Financial Group, the nation’s leading independent swap advisor.
I'm sure if you ask him to talk about CMS -constant maturity swaps- he's so bright and engaging that he can make it sound like poetry he's describing, not financial techniques.


Trust me when I tell you, if someone like Nat was involved in the ownership of the sad-sack Florida Marlins, that organization would be infinitely better run, structured and successful -on and off the field.

And they most assuredly wouldn't be extorting the South Florida community like Loria & Company, by holding a gun to their own head -and everyone else's wallet- but instead be a responsible and active community partner -not a parasite.
And because it made financial sense, they'd have solid and logical plan for a privately-built, state-of-the-art ballpark (near mass transit) that would be an architectural jewel that made South Florida proud every time a camera captured the scene.
_________________
Daily Business Review
Anna Nicole SmithParties settle fees for baby’s attorneyby Jordana Mishory
April 24, 2008

Miami attorney Richard Milstein agreed to settle his $200,000 bill for his guardianship role in the highly publicized court fight over Anna Nicole Smith’s body for less than half that amount, a source knowledgeable about the case said.

A settlement notice that did not specify the dollar amount was filed last week by Milstein, who at a judge’s direction determined where the former Playboy Playmate would be buried. The move effectively closes the Smith saga in Broward County...

Smith’s boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, and her daughter’s father, Larry Birkhead, initially contested the fee before agreeing to the undisclosed settlement. The details are not confidential, but attorneys in the case refused to release the amount, and the figure does not appear in court records...

In court documents, Milstein listed his rate at $475 an hour for his work at the hearing and a brief appeal. He also charged for time spent planning Smith’s funeral, overseeing the trust set up in Dannielynn’s name and responding to paternity issues. The $198,493 bill also included work done by his colleagues at Akerman Senterfitt, including shareholder Christopher Carver at $415 an hour, of counsel Mary Swayze at $360 an hour and associate Mia Martin at $250 an hour. Carver attended Smith’s funeral on assignment in the guardianship case.

“It is unconscionable for a trust established for a baby to be billed at a large firm hourly rate, which includes time not only for the guardian but also other attorneys in the firm,” Birkhead and Stern contended in a motion last October challenging Milstein’s bill.

Milstein declined to comment.

In court documents, he said he was required “to devote significantly all of his professional and personal time and attention to the interests of Dannielynn for a period in excess of two weeks to the exclusion of [his] normal and usual practice of law.”

Birkhead’s attorney, solo practitioner Susan Brown in Hollywood, said the parties never contested Milstein’s right to be paid — just the amount... But Birkhead and Stern contended last October that Milstein’s request would have sucked the child’s $200,000 trust dry...

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=48293

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good news re signature petitions, Florida Hometown Democracy

Just received some good news this morning from the Central Florida Political Pulse blog of the Orlando Sentinel about a subject I wrote about a while back: petition gathering and the effort by some in Tallahassee to make that even harder.

I later found similar stories in the Herald and Sun-Sentinel, but as usual, Aaron Deslatte had more context.

In the next few days, I'll be posting some thoughts and observations on that Broward County Charter Review Commission meeting I attended two weeks ago, especially on the MTA proposal, which I spoke in favor of, recounting some anecdotes about Broward transportation you really need to know about.

I'll also connect-the-dots on the City of Hallandale Beach's effort to prevent the proposal's adoption by the 19-member panel.

Trust me, it's more of the same classic "Only in Hallandale Beach" moments you've come to expect from the crowd at 400 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach 33009. _____________________________________________
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2008/04/hometown-democr.html
Hometown Democracy wins a court victory
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 23, 2008 10:56:29 AM

In the lingering legal fight between Hometown Democracy and the business lobby, the anti-sprawl Hometown crew finally notched a win Wednesday when the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that a signature-petition revocation law the Legislature passed last year was unconstitutional.

After the law passed, Associated Industries of Florida formed a group called Save Our Constitution that targeted thousands of voters who signed Hometown's slow-growth amendment with mailers, asking them to revoke their support with claims that it would destroy the state's "scenic beauty."...

Go to the URL above to see the entire story and the court ruling in a pdf. format.

Reader comments are at:
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2008/04/hometown-democr.html#comments
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http://www.miamiherald.com/775/story/506679.html
Miami Herald
State appeals court rules in favor of citizens group
April 23, 2008

An appeals court says it is unconstitutional to revoke signatures on petitions to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. The 1st District Court of Appeal decision Wednesday in Tallahassee reversed a lower court ruling. The higher court supported so-called Hometown Democracy proponents.

They seek voter approval for changes to plans laying out where new roads, homes, businesses and other development can be built. The decision rejects efforts by the Legislature and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who have backed several new laws in recent years making it more difficult to pass initiatives. They contend such moves could limit growth and the state's economy.
__________________________________
A week earlier, the Sun-Sentinel was reporting:
www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-flfxgr0416sbapr16,0,6475734.story

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Legislation limiting citizen initiatives advances in House
The Associated Press
April 16, 2008

TALLAHASSEE
A bill that could make it harder for citizens to change the Florida Constitution using petitions has won approval from a House panel.

The bill does that in part by reducing the time signatures are valid for — two years instead of four. Also, cards with the signatures would have to be turned in within 60 days after they are signed. Right now, there is no time limit.
Gov. Charlie Crist last year vetoed a bill that would have required signatures to be turned in 30 days.

Another provision would require criminal background checks for people who get paid to collect signatures.

The bill's opponents, including Common Cause, labor unions and the League of Women Voters, argue that background checks, which can cost up to $85, and other provisions are designed to prevent average citizens from having a voice in government.

Only the wealthy and powerful would be able to afford to sponsor a petition drive, they contended.

Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Adam Babbington said background checks would enhance public safety because "this is an industry that operates in the shadows by and large."

The Chamber supports making it harder to amend the constitution.

Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, was hoping for a rare sweet moment Tuesday in the largely bleak legislative session when she served Key lime pie at the Capitol.

"I hope it helps sweeten up the bitter session," said Bullard, who tasted one of the scores of pies available. "Let people feel good about something."

Across Capitol meeting rooms, firefighters, corrections officers and social workers were tracking down lawmakers in efforts to save jobs and health care for thousands of children.

Lawmakers are poring over budgets passed by the House and Senate and trying to come to agreements over cuts.

"We see all these people leave here feeling so out of sorts, hopeless, like nothing's going to happen," Bullard said.

"The Key lime, I thought, would be perfect to take their minds away from that for the moment."

Reader comments are at:
http://www.topix.net/forum/source/south-florida-sun-sentinel/TL9MA357DKHND42EC
__________________________________________________________________ Below are some excerpts from some older germane links about this subject.

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2008/04/senate-election.html
Senate elections panel tries to undo petition-gathering ruling
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 1, 2008 2:02:54 PM

A Florida Senate panel advanced a package of election-law changes Tuesday that critics said was an attempt to undermine a recent court ruling against the state regarding the way signature-petitions are gathered.

An administrative law judge in late February ruled the state Division of Elections had overstepped its authority when it tried to ban signature groups from "bundling" multiple signature-petitions together when they're presented to voters to sign.

A group called FairDistrictsFlorida.org, which is trying to make it harder for Florida lawmakers to gerrymander their legislative districts, had been circulating several petitions related to its drive to place the re-districting issue on the 2010 ballot...
_______________________________________________
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2008/04/booker-and-dorw.html
Bucher and Dorworth get a timeout
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 1, 2008 4:46:36 PM

In the middle of a hearing over his bill restricting the rights of felons to work as paid signature-gatherers, freshman Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, was getting a grilling by veteran Democratic Rep. Susan Bucher.

The bill, a priority for business groups this year, would also require paid signature-gathers be Florida residents and cleared a Senate panel earlier in the day. But Bucher, D-West Palm Beach, wanted to know how the Department of State was supposed to police thousands of signature-gatherers across the state, who would be required to register with the state under the bill.

Dorworth said he didn't know, then told the panel he was sick, had been curled up in a ball just before the House Economic Development and Infrastructure Council meeting had started, and had been heavily medicated.

"Forgive me if I pass out," he said...

This is the one from one of my other daily must-read's, the St. Petersburg Times' political blog, The Buzz.
Go to the URL to see the reader comments, as they're 100% spot-on!

http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2008/04/targeting-paid.html
April 01, 2008
Targeting paid petition-gatherers
Mindful of Florida Hometown Democracy's near-miss in its slow-growth ballot initiative, business groups and their legislative allies have a new idea.

They want to require all paid initiative petition signature gatherers to pay a fee, register with the state and be assigned a registration number to appear on petition forms (volunteers would not be affected)....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Will the Avenaim family finally get justice?

So, what's going on with Brian Bethell, the man who murdered Albert Avenaim of Aventura in Hallandale Beach -and two other innocent South Florida men- in 2006?
http://cbs4.com/video/?id=13909@wfor.dayport.com

The Brian Bethell who turned 43 recently.

You know, the man who brought two small kids with him and his girlfriend when they decided to go on a shopping spree with the dead men's credit cards at a Coral Springs Wal-Mart, as they had done before?

The man who was caught NOT due to anything in particular the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. had done, but rather because Mr. Avenaim's family had the good sense to take the initiative and put-up fliers at the store about the suspect, along with reward information.
This was why store employees recognized Bethell when he swung back by the store.

CBS-4's excellent reporter Ted Scouten did this report on the reward on March 3, 2006
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/wal-mart-employees-who-led-police-to-killer-get-reward/450206456

Yeah, the Hallandale Beach Police who were so concerned about the safety/conditions of the 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd./Millennium complex for employees and visitors, that they provided evening security -from the comfort of their squad cars- for a few weeks after the murder of Mr. Avenaim.

But who, when asked, specifically, refused to say whether or not they were off-duty while they were parked in their squad cars, and when asked about all the self-evident missing, broken or obscured parking lot lights near the crime scene, acted like they couldn't quite hear you, even though you were just inches away.

This being HB, the squad cars were up near the Hallandale Beach Blvd. entrance, rather than being near the actual Avenaim murder crime scene.

(Not that their superiors higher up the chain were any more forthcoming with information, as Chief Thomas Magill and Capt. Robert Rodgers both played dumb about that whole
situation after I specifically asked them about it last June.)

Yes, the Hallandale Beach Police whose concern for public safety was such that, according to Capt. Rodgers, they wouldn't specifically ask, encourage or nudge the owners of the complex towards fixing their longstanding safety/lighting problems.

As it happens, those self-evident problems are ones I've discussed at length over the past two years with a few print and TV reporters here in South Florida, and which were NOT addressed by the complex's owners until only 3-4 weeks ago.

Yes, the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. led by the still-serving Chief Thomas Magill, whom as I've chronicled here, is a man who tried to have two innocent Hallandale Beach Police officers criminally prosecuted -for something they didn't do. See http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/dial-m-for-magill-and-mendacity.html

According to a recent check of the rather poky Broward County Clerks Office website,
http://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/bccoc2/pubsearch/case_summary.asp?FMCE96017183=CIV&FMCE96017183=CIV&01017198CF10A=CRM&05116917TC30A=CRM&06006136MM10A=CRM&hidCaseNumber=06003321CF10A&06003321CF10A=CRM&06005634CF10A=CRM&06003572CF10A=CRM&06005168CF10A=CRM&CACE01010726=CIV&hidSendingPage=search_results&hidCourtType=CRM&hidGeneralType=CRM&hidS=party_public&SearchT=&mscssid=&user_type=&hidPageName=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.clerk-17th-flcourts.org%2Fbccoc2%2Fpubsearch%2Fpublic_search.asp%3F&btnSummary=View+Selected+Case

Brian Bethell will FINALLY go on trial on the 28th of April -a week from tomorrow.

Key Dates - Future Scheduled Events
04/28/2008 JURY TRIAL
Judge: PAUL L BACKMAN

You'd think that as the trial phase was getting closer, you'd see something about it in local media, but I've read nothing in the newspapers, seen nothing on TV, or, shocker, heard nothing about it on radio, in the South Florida of 2008 where a niche apparently exists for Mexican music but not an all-news radio station. Que pasa?

Over the next few days, if everything goes according to schedule, I'll be cobbling together all the things that I already know and have already written about the Millennium situation -and kept in the deep freeze Draft for months- which, along with some photographs I've taken over the years, will buttress my points.
I'll post them to both Hallandale Beach Blog and parent blog, South Beach Hoosier, too.
http://southbeachhoosier.blogspot.com/

You can then draw your own conclusions.
________________________________
Speaking of the curious lack of media curiosity down here with regards to the upcoming Bethell murder trial, below you'll find a series of emails and notes which I've put together, which, taken in toto, paints a very accurate but damning portrait of the local news media as they currently
choose to practice their craft.

It also includes a bad memory for yours truly on a summer that might've been spent so much better.

What will soon follow is an excerpted copy of an email that I sent on February 8, 2008 to about a half-dozen or so Local 10 TV reporters, including Roger Lohse.

In case you don't recall the specifics of the news story under discussion below, it was Lohse's Local 10 news report on February 7th concerning the curious circumstances of the July 2007
accidental death of Myron Kafka of Hollywood, in the lobby of Millennium's HQ at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd. http://www.local10.com/news/13750861/detail.html

Perhaps this might help jog your memory a bit:

excerpted from:
AROUND SOUTH FLORIDA
The Miami Herald
July 24, 2007
Miami Herald Staff Report

HALLANDALE BEACH BODY FOUND TRAPPED BETWEEN ELEVATOR, GATE


An employee at a Hallandale Beach medical office discovered the body of an 81-year-old man early Monday morning, police said. The man, identified as Myron Kafka of Hollywood, was trapped between an elevator and a metal gate. The incident happened inside the Millennium Building, 2500 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. The 5,000-square-foot structure houses several medical offices, authorities said. Police believe the slender man got caught between the gate and the elevator. He did not appear to be crushed, police said. "We don't know how he died or how long he has been there," said Andrew Casper, a Hallandale Beach police spokesman.
_____________________________________
A later report from AP:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wirestory?id=3412355

Man Dies Trapped Between Elevator, Gate
Elderly Man Dies After Becoming Trapped Between Elevator, Security Gate at Medical Building.
The Associated Press

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.
An elderly man died of a heart attack after he became trapped between an elevator and a security gate in a medical building, authorities said.


The death of Myron Kafka, 81, was considered accidental, Hallandale Beach spokesman Andrew Casper said.

Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said Tuesday that Kafka had been dead at least two days when staff from the building discovered his body on Monday.

Kafka was trapped in the 14-inch space between the elevator doors and a locked, illegally installed security gate, authorities said. Perper said Kafka may have been there since Friday afternoon, when he was last seen alive. According to the medical examiner's report, Kafka had been at his doctor's office, located in the building.

Officials ordered the gate removed and cited the property for installing it.
_________________________________
Long ignored public safety problems at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd.; HB Police ignore problem
Friday February 8th, 2008

I would like to speak with you soon -and possibly meet with you if possible- so we can talk about some other serious public safety problems I know about concerning the 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd./Millennium complex, the subject of Roger Lohse's Thursday night report on Local 10's 11 p.m.newscast.

They consist of some first-hand observations I initially noticed in the aftermath of the Feb. 10th, 2006 murder of Albert Avenaim of Aventura, outside of Padrino's Cuban Restaurant, in a particularly senseless death, even by South Florida's grisly standards.
www.local10.com/news/7000578/detail.html

http://www.websleuths.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-36379.html

This Sunday will mark exactly two years since Mr. Avenaim's untimely murder.

What do you suppose has changed about the Millennium complex, safety-wise, in those two intervening years? Nothing.

And if you count the responsible property owners STILL not doing the minimum to do right by the public, and I do, it's actually worse than nothing, it's negligence.

In the days after the murder, I saw some things that just didn't make any common sense, but which, to me, were self-evident signs of negligence -dare I say gross negligence?- by the property owners and management, abetted in part by the City of Hallandale Beach's own incompetence, which, typically, responded with a fig leaf, rather than employing a pro-active
approach that showed some common sense and foresight.

Frankly, I suspect most of what I know to be completely unknown to the various insurance companies that cover the myriad owners/investors of that particular property, since the insurance companies probably assume that there's no way their clients at Millennium would intentionally put people in harm's way, whether employees or patrons of the various business establishments renting space there.

Through photographs I've taken of the property since Mr. Avenaim's murder two years ago, I can show that is NOT the case.

If anything, a reasonable person might infer from the preponderance of evidence that their inaction fell far below the standard that one reasonably expects, and actually shows a callous disregard for public safety, since it's clear they haven't maintained the property in a safe
manner.

As you may already know, Millennium and their various partners have some rather lofty -I say grandiose- plans to transform that property into a huge office/condo complex showplace, complete with all sorts of amenities for their tenants and the public.

And who's leading that effort?

Well, none other than garrulous State Senator Steve Geller, the FL Senate Democratic leader, and someone I'm very open about regarding as a cancer on Broward County's political system and public policy arena, as my blogs make clear.
Yes, the Steve Geller that has his office located at the HB City Hall.

(Geller is one of the individuals I hold most personally responsible for the State of Florida moving its presidential primary from March to last week, despite the perfectly predicted
downside of losing all Democratic delegates to the Denver DNC this summer.)

How do I know that Geller represents Millennium?

I was one of the select few to attend a sparsely-attended public meeting that Millennium was forced to hold, in December of 2006, in HB's Cultural Center behind their City Hall.

I got there early, expecting some emotional fireworks because of the rather predictable concerns about exacerbating the already bad neighborhood traffic-flow on HBB, the completely out-of-proportion size of the plan, etc., and sat at the table next to Miami Herald reporter Jennifer Lebovich.

Once I got there and had grabbed a donut and some coffee, and returned to the table I had all to myself, my biggest thought while jotting down some thoughts in my legal pad was making sure to leave early enough so that I could get home and not miss a minute of a new episode of LOST.
Really. I'd forgotten to program my VCR.

But then, quite unexpectedly, to my great surprise, in walked Geller and his retinue with trademark showy boisterousness, with him not waiting even two beats before continuing on a rant/harangue disparaging then-Gov.-Elect Crist in tones that would've been loud enough for everyone in the room to hear if the room had been half-full -wishful thinking- say, 150-200 people.

As it was, counting his Millennium crew and the interested public, such as it was, there were no more than 25 people in that room, so his voice was bouncing off the walls.

To be so self-absorbed as to publicly belittle Crist in front of people -and a reporter- before he'd even taken the oath of office, showed me the side of Geller I'd often read and heard about, but never seen in person for myself.

But I recognized the type, since I'd had dealings with Rahm Emanuel in Washington before he was anybody of note, per se, and he already had that insufferable attitude and ego thing down pat.

Geller's whole shtick was so over-the-top as to be farcical, and I debated back and forth in my head at the time whether I ought to dispense with pleasantries and the subject at hand, and simply drop my knowledge of what hasn't transpired at 2500 HBB on Geller and Millennium, in front of reporter Lebovich, once the presentation was over and the Q&A began in earnest.

In the end, I just didn't trust the judgment of the crowd or Lebovich's ability to synthesize the narrative and connect all the dots in a way that would get all the pertinent facts out.

Given my interests and background, and the fact that I've been to dozens of these sorts of development meetings over the years in Northern Virginia and D.C., I thought I had a pretty good idea how the evening would go.

But listening to the sheer obfuscation and mis-direction coming out of Geller's mouth, his Pooh-poohing of the patently obvious worsening traffic problems on HBB if the project was approved, as if he could wave a magic wand over them, rendering them invisible, well, it was all I could do to not ask him straight out if he and his colleagues even recognized the name of Albert Avenaim -and then go on offense.

As to the seriousness of the safety issues, this isn't just a hunch or my opinion, but rather something which I've captured with photographs over the past two years, though to their great shame and discredit, the City of Hallandale Beach's response, nothing, is almost as criminally
negligent. (Even today, weeks after the Boca Mall murders!)

I've spoken with great specificity about it with a number of people, including serious newspaper reporters as well as the Hallandale Beach Police Dept., including Capt Robert Rodgers and Police Chief Thomas Magill.

The city and Police have done nothing, and the problems I know about remain much as they did two years ago: waiting for another innocent victim.

(You'll recall that Mr. Avenaim's murder was solved NOT as a result of anything the HB Police Dept. did specifically, or even BSO, but rather thru the efforts of the alert Wal-Mart employees, after the guilty party, Brian Bethell, tried to use the third of his his victim's credit cards at their Coral Springs location, his second visit there.
You'll also recall he felt so confident, he even brought along his girlfriend and two toddlers,
which, I think, tells you everything you need to know about him.

Unlike the situation with the individual who called police per the shooting of the BSO deputy in Hollywood late last year, after driving the suspect in his car to the Pawn Shop near 441, who received a monetary reward from Crime Stoppers, I believe Channel Ten reported that the Wal-Mart employees who thought something was fishy with Brian Bethell did not get any kind of reward from Crime Stoppers.)

I myself grew-up in North Miami Beach, but spent lots of time in both Hollywood Beach and Hallandale, so I recall what it was like physically before the final capitulation to the condo canyons.

When my family moved to South Florida in the summer of 1968, when I was seven, we stayed at the small hotel next to the iconic HB water tower for 2-3 weeks, until my parents found a suitable apt. in NMB they liked.

Because of that fact, and our regular visits there over the years, I distinctly recall the way the beach in Hallandale looked then, with actual dunes of some height, and whispering pines along them. It was so peaceful and relaxing late in the afternoon.

What's happened to that area of the public beach since then is a disgrace, with the city not even having the common sense to conduct a shadow study before approving The Beach Club project, which happened while I was still in the D.C. area.

In order to keep my sanity, though it's far from the scope I had initially envisioned or hoped for, largely because of time constraints, I actually had to start a blog once I saw how absurd, pathetic and illogical things were done at HB's City Hall, where both "rhyme" and "reason" are unknown quantities.

Honestly, I can't help think that fictional mid-'60's Sparta portrayed in In The Heat of the Night has nothing on Hallandale Beach now in the backwards department.

Though I've lived in lots of different kinds of towns of varying sizes and nature all over the country, I've never heard of a real city where city employees were and are more risk averse to doing their job properly, and management was less reluctant to see to it that they did.
Lax oversight hardly begins to describe it.

Just so you know, that's the bias I bring to this matter.

Not to laugh about it, but I literally saw another prime example just 48 hours ago, right on HBB, where you can see it within spitting distance of the HB Chamber of Commerce.
Hiding in plain sight.
Yes, the forest for the trees.

Please contact me directly when you have some time to talk about the situation.

Sincerely,
DBS
__________________________________________
To give you some better perspective on the above, here's an excerpt from an email I sent on February 21, 2008 and sent to some Local 10 News execs.

More proof that Channel 10 News isn't what it used to be: the latest sad example

To: "Peter Burke" pburke@ibsys.com, "Michelle Solomon" msolomon@ibsys.com

Some constructive criticism, on the chance that it may do some good... but I won't hold my breath.

Two weeks ago, after watching Roger Lohse's Local10 news report on Feb. 7th on Mr. Kafka's
death alongside the lobby elevator of Millennium LLC's HQ at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd., a property I'm very familiar with, I tried to alert him and some of your reporters to the fact that I was aware of information that could show that there was a continuing pattern of neglect surrounding the maintenance of the Millennium property, going back to at least the time of the Albert Avenaim murder at Padrino's Cuban Cuisine two years ago -in the very same retail/office complex.

(Why yes, the very same one that State Senator Steve Geller, the FL Senate Democratic leader represents and lobbies on behalf of. Not that your news reports ever mentioned it)

As it happens, February 10th was the second anniversary of Mr. Avenaim's murder.

Sadly for you two, none of the half-dozen news reporters I emailed at Channel 10 bothered to respond to my query, despite my making it very easy for them to reach me and get the information.

I have to tell you, Mr. Burke and Ms. Solomon, even by South Florida's often shallow-end-of-the-pool news standards, that sort of jaded and apathetic response among reporters still surprises.
But it is what it is.

Frankly, the sad truth is that other than Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg, there's no compelling reason to watch your oh-so-predictable newscasts.

Not that you asked, but I've since spoken to a number of other reporters in town, print and electronic, some of whom immediately saw the facts for what they were, and were able to
connect the dots -just as I described them.

They didn't need to be asked twice.

Having photographs to buttress my points surely went a long way towards assuaging any of their doubts, yet strangely, that didn't seem to cut much slack with your own reporters.

By the way, the last time I checked, Brian Bethell, the man who murdered Mr. Avenaim and two other South Florida men two years ago, on his Friday spree killings-cum-Wal-Mart shopping sprees, was scheduled to go on trial in the not-too-distant future at the Main Broward County Courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale, with Judge Paul Backman presiding.

You might want to have someone check that out if you could tear your reporters away from their steady diet of chick lit lite/yenta-oriented botox/diet/fashion/shopping/pseudo-celeb/Idol stories.

In any case, I'll probably be there in court at first to take the measure of the jury and the D.A. to see how it all plays out.

Also, before I close, since your particular company seems to place such a high value on "relevant and engaging content," you should know that the so-called related links on your website's story, below, are nothing but Walgreens cosmetics commercials -not news!
And that's been the case for at least two weeks.
So much for any sort of quality control.

Please don't bother responding to this email, your reporters' actions(!) already speak volumes!

DBS, Hallandale Beach, FL
www.SouthBeachHoosier.blogspot.com
www.HallandaleBeachBlog.blogspot.com

Lawsuit Filed After Bizarre Elevator Incident

Lawsuit Filed After Bizarre Elevator Incident. The family of an 81-year-old man whose body was found trapped between a security gate and elevator door at a medical building in Hallandale Beach last year...
Article: http://www.local10.com/news/15251505/detail.html
_________________________________________
Despite my specific admonition not to respond, what do you suppose I received on Feb. 21st?
Yes, an email from Michelle Solomon, someone I'd heretofore never heard of before sending an
email to her about my experiences with the apathetic and not-so-curious Channel 10 reporters.

Subject: RE: More proof that Channel 10 News isn't what it used to be: the latest sad example
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
From: "Solomon, Michelle" msolomon@ibsys.com

I have sent this to our news director and general manager.

Michelle Solomon Executive Producer Local 10 Interactive www.Local10.com WPLG WPLG-DT Miami-Fort Lauderdale 305-324-2604 Business msolomon@local10.com www.ibsys.com

_________________________________________
And who is Michelle Solomon?
Read this post from a Fort Myers-based blog and judge for yourself.
The title says it all.

Local10.com Miami Steals Blog Content
http://activerain.com/blogsview/292203/Local1-com-Miami-Steals
__________________________________________
Some other facts/bias you should know about in making up your mind about all this.

I also sent a bcc copy of all my correspondence to and from Channel 10 to the head news person for Post-Newsweek, who is at at the ABC O&O in Detroit, WXYZ.
I never heard back from her.

As for Channel 10 itself, I applied and was accepted to be an intern at Channel 10 after my sophomore year at IU, the summer of 1981.
But I got totally screwed out of the great gig by the IU Telecommunications Dept. Chairman.

As it happens, the Chair back then was actually someone who knew me and my personality, since I'd gotten nothing but A's in all my Telecom classes, and was a heavy contributor to debate, especially in classes he taught.

He couldn't quite believe that as a Junior-to-be, I'd already nabbed a sweet gig at the #1 TV news operation in the state of Florida, and a Post-Newsweek station at that.
(This was back when Channel 10 under the late Ann Bishop, regularly whipped every TV station in sight.)

I had some bright ideas about navigating that internship position into something better the following summer with the Post-Newsweek gang up in DC.

I even had some IU friends in the suburban D.C. area, also Telecom students, who said that if things worked out for me with Kate Graham's 15th Street Crew at the Washington Post or over at Newsweek, perhaps I could even live with them over the summer.

Being in D.C. then would've been heaven, plus I'd have been able to get a first-hand view of D.C. years earlier than I actually did, which might've allowed me to be much smarter about some things once I got there, instead of the way things actually went once I got there.

But instead of being happy for me or giving off Good Vibrations, the Chairman said that the dept. rules were that only students who had already completed their Junior year could get internships, or the credit that might go with it.

I was told that the Dept.'s reasoning was that such a rule would prevent younger students from beating Juniors in the Telecom Dept. to the punch and grabbing precious internships.

(Of course, the only other IU Telecom student I knew about in South Florida was Lisa Abrell, someone I spoke to fairly regularly in classes, and when I ran into her on campus.
She was the bright and friendly daughter of WTVJ/Channel 4's Joe Abrell, who had been the station's News Director, Director of Public Affairs and public policy show host (Montage), and still later, served as a Dolphins VP under the Robbie family, being instrumental in the building of Joe Robbie Stadium.
Certainly Lisa had opportunities I could only dream of, and while I understood how the Dept.s policy might make sense for the Indy or Louisville market, even Chicago, because of the sheer number of IU Telecom students, it made less sense when applied to someone like me, about a thousand miles away.)

The fact that the Channel 10 Personnel Director had had good results in the past with IU student interns at other stations she'd been at was a tremendous help to me, but the fact is, we
really hit it off, so she really, really wanted me to work there.

In fact, to show what she was willing to do, after I'd heard the bad news from the Chair, she had me come down to the station so she could call the Chair up on the phone and plead my case, because she could see that I'd be a great addition to 3990 Biscayne Blvd.

But despite the Personnel Director's powers of persuasion, it counted for nothing in the end.

Unfortunately, as was so often the case at IU, rigid adherence to silly and unwieldy rules often counted for more than actual ability and desire.

I could never look at that professor in quite the same way as I had previously, and made a point of telling other Telecom professors about what had happened to me, so they could warn younger students in the Dept. that the Telecom Dept. would NOT have their back.

No internship for
South Beach Hoosier at Channel 10 meant suddenly having to scramble at the last minute for summer jobs that would give me the means to pay three times what in-state Hoosiers were paying for classes.

Shocker! Herald even screws up Le Batard sabbatical story

What could possibly be more indicative of the longstanding dreadful Miami Herald website than their inability to break a story about one of their own well-known columnists?

When I do a Search for any item on/by Dan Le Batard, knowing that the Herald's awful Business section did a four-sentence note about his leaving the paper after May 15th on the bottom of Friday's newspaper, the website chooses the particular stories below (in that order) as the 12 they choose to show, or, that they don't mention the very one in the Business section AT ALL, even though that's the last time Le Batard's name was actually in the paper?

If the Miami Herald's website isn't THE worst newspaper website in the country, I don't even want to know who's worse than them, esp. for a paper of their circulation size.

(I know, I know, I'm repeating my train of thought from one of my South Beach Hoosier anchor comments, which remain at the top of the page to give people some bearings.)

As it happens, I went to Bob Norman's blog The Daily Pulp Thursday morning to see if there were any more reader comments about his recent post about Hallandale Beach and State Senator Steve Geller.

Quite by happenstance, I did so just a few minutes after he'd written a post on Dan Le Batard taking a break from the paper.

In fact, Norman's post is the one Romensko ran on Poynter Online
http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2008/04/heralds_le_batard_vacating_spo.php

Below, the basic information that appeared on April 19th at 11 p.m., minus color and graphics.
http://pd.miami.com/sp?aff=101&keywords=Dan+Le+Batard&sNum=11&pubDate=&author=

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________________________________________
Of course, if you have an infinite amount of time, you can always go to the Herald website and refuse to use the Search function and simply click Business you'll get this link The Work/Life Balancing Act

It reads as follows: My goal is to help you manage the balance between work and your family and personal lives. I'll focus on creative solutions to conflicting demands, new strategies for helping people juggle responsibilities, and new trends and developments.

In case the link to the Le Batard piece above is dead, it's at
http://worklifebalancingact.blogspot.com/2008/04/lucky-dan-goes-on-sabbatical.html

Also, here's a link to a story on Le Batard's talented artist brother, David, whom he's bored
radio listeners for years about, recounting his brother's general ignorance of sports.
http://www.miamiherald.com/tropical_life/story/482569.html

Yeah, I get it already. (Actually, I got it a few years ago.)
Two brothers with very different interests.
But what's so funny about that?


If you want to know why I think this move of Le Batard's is years overdue, consider the very embarrassing Q&A that he did with Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison, linked above.

Once again, despite having the opportunity to be something other than a poodle, Le Batard never brings up the subject of Arison's failure to come through on the public promises that he and The Heat made prior to the voter referendum, to City of Miami and Miami-Dade County public officials and the general public as well -i.e. taxpayers- about a bayside public park being constructed next to the American Airlines Arena, once that was built, largely on the backs -greenback$- of the public.

(It's the same area the Bay of Pigs vets want for their museum.
http://www.miamiherald.com/top_stories/story/494687.html
http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2008/04/bay_of_pigs_museum_kinda_moves.php
Obviously, I'm in favor of a green park on the bay with no buildings.)

For the entirety of the four years that I've been down here, only Hank Goldberg has EVER
dared to publicly ask questions about this egregious broken promise, made by one of the wealthiest men in the United States.


While I lived in Washington for 18 years, but especially pre-Pardon the Interruption,
Le Batard was a frequent guest on Washington Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser's
morning radio program on WTEM-AM -The Team- in all its various manifestations: stand-alone, as part of a very weird syndicate, and later as part of the ESPN Radio network.


I often taped Le Batard's appearances on my Sony radio/cassette recorder while at work, for play later in the day where I could really think about what he said without any distractions from clients, co-workers or whatever project I was working on.

Further, I usually bought the Herald 2-3 times a week at the newsstand next to the Farragut North Metro -just as I did the LA Times- usually on the days that Le Batard's columns appeared.

I usually enjoyed his radio appearances because of how often he brought up a South Florida sports topic, whether the U-M, Dolphins, Marlins and Heat, or speaking to the general South Florida belief that South Beach was a secret weapon for local teams, because of visiting teams' inherent immaturity.

But a funny thing happened once I was actually down here, reading all his columns and listening to his afternoon radio program on 790-AM, The Ticket from the very beginning.
Actually, it's not so funny.

I wondered where all the insight he'd previously shown had gone.

Upon closer examination, he became derivative and predictable, almost a caricature of a sports columnist.


I also began to wonder why I'd ever thought that someone who'd gone to the U-M but
NEVER really worked professionally more than 40 miles away from where he's gone to high school or college, could hope to have a real worthwhile national perspective.

Basically, Le Batard's shtick got old very quick.

Though I often ran hot and cold on Kornheiser's sports columns in the Post, on the radio, at least, his particular style became surprisingly comfortable for me, and he excelled in one area that Le Batard, in my opinion, never has mastered -not attempting to constantly upstage
a guest and get in the last word.

At least until after the commercial break and the next segment when he can be ripped.

Le Batard, whose radio show I stopped listening to last spring, after the umpteenth unfunny story about his brother the artist's not being very knowledgeable about sports, seems particularly tailor-made for a radio station that seemed full to the brim already with hosts with short fuses and specializing in passive aggressive chit-chat.

Sort of reminded me of a previous incarnation of 790, WNWS, when it was combative local politics all the time in the late '70's, with Neil Rogers, Al Rantel, Stan Major and a cast of callers that were always interesting to listen to.
Now that was radio worth listening to!

Some of you may recall that a few years ago, Le Batard insisted (for what seemed like an hour) that an upcoming interview he'd be doing with then-Marlin Miguel Cabrera would be done entirely in Spanish, just to prove, apparently, that American media and commerce was biased against Latin ballplayers by there not being more Spanish-language reporters or columnists in the locker rooms.

Insisting that Cabrera was really much more funny or smart or interesting in Spanish may've been something that a real friend of Cabrera's could attest to, but it seemed highly doubtful to me that someone with Le Batard's well-known baggage about race and nationality was the person to be running point on that proposition.
No sale!

(It was like a raised fist looking for the nearest face or wall to hit, and was a real low at a station that has had more than their share.
Last summer, a 790 sports host actually said on the air that the 2007 Yankees batting lineup was one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

A clever older caller -wish I knew who, so I could congratulate them- then called up and said with 100% accuracy that Connie Mack's immortal Philadelphia A's of 1928-1932 would've
toyed with the 2007 Yanks.
From what I recall, the 790 host acted like he'd never heard of the team, much less the players the caller threw out with glee, reciting their prodigious batting exploits.
http://www.philadelphiaathletics.org/index.html

I was laughing out loud so bad I was practically crying tears, because I knew that almost all of the players being named by the caller were eventual Hall of Famers or All-Stars of their era, even if the not-too-bright 20-somethings listening to the show in their car had never heard of them.
Naturally, after the caller got the better of the host, the caller got ripped by this New York partisan who'd been knocked on his butt.
And that was when I knew that 790 was dead to South Beach Hoosier.)

For other examples of Le Batard's oeuvre, see any of the following:
http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2008/04/08/espns-jay-bilas-and-dan-le-batard-get-into-it-over-race-in-bask/ , http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_8969122 or
http://www.fishstripes.com/2008/3/28/363371/radio%C2%A0radio

Awful Announcing blog chronicles the recent much-discussed Le Batard interview with ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas. http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/

The less said about The Ticket's huge (permanent) chip on its shoulder, once the Dolphins broadcasts rights went back to WQAM, the better.

Kornheiser's radio show always had on great regular guests with whom he developed a real rapport with, guests whom, even if I didn't personally care for, usually the golf writers, always held the possibility of being interesting, even if accidentally.

The result was that listeners often felt those guests were more forthcoming than perhaps was their original intent.

The various idiosyncracies of the individual reporters, columnists and coaches with whom Kornheiser spoke to regularly, started becoming as familiar to me as the very people I worked with or interacted with everyday: Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, Bob Klapisch of the Indy Star, Gary Williams at the University of Maryland, Seth Greenberg when he was at USF, Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, former coach Don DeVoe on the NCAA tourney brackets, et al.

Surprisingly, other than Michael Wilbon, other Washington Post reporters who appeared were absolutely dullsville, perhaps a result of their grasping just how popular Kornheiser's show really was in town, and not wanting to embarrass themself in such a way that they'd never hear the end of it.


I especially hated Rachel Nichols' appearances on 'Uncle Tony's' show, when she played the role of favorite fawned-over niece.

That was especially irritating for that long period of time when she was actually living up in New York while still supposedly being the Washington Capitals' beat reporter for the Post.

Her vapid reports on Wimbledon that seemed to be far too much on the Williams sisters and their awful fashion inclinations or their father's latest antics, were also regular low spots for his show.

I think she's very over-rated, and I usually grab the remote and put the TV on mute when I see her on ESPN these days.

One thing I can tell for sure, Le Batard could never have a scenario that Kornheiser once had in the '90's, when both David Halberstam and Dick Schaap came on the radio show to talk about their friend, Bobby Knight.

They spoke with some of the most penetrating insight into Coach Knight I've ever heard -and another of their pals, Ted Williams- and recounted some non-basketball conversations they had on their long walk with Coach Knight along the National Mall one night after IU had won an NCAA tourney game at the Verizon Center.

Even now, I could kick myself for not having had a blank tape in my Sony radio that March day,
then I'd have a record for posterity of their clever insight and anecdotes, which I'd surely have found a way to put on my South Beach Hoosier blog for all true IU fans to listen to.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Noticed while checking some NCAA lacrosse scores a few minutes ago on their website, that the Baltimore Sun's Ray Frager has weighed in on Le Batard announcement and future decreased workload:
http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/mediumwell/blog/2008/04/blog_at_your_own_risk.html

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