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.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gov. Crist wisely vetoes SB 1706; Go Shayla!

Just before 10 pm Wednesday night, Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel posted to their Central Florida Political Pulse blog the good news that Gov. Charlie Crist had wisely vetoed SB 1706, an ill-conceived bill that had previously passed both houses in Tallahassee unanimously.

It was the Gwen Margolis bill -gift on a silver platter to developers- that would have resulted in an unfair burden on taxpayers while the "build out" dates for large-scale development projects were
extended to three years.

My previous comment on this topic was on June 15th, Crist urged to veto developer-friendly Margolis bill/SB 1706 that'd weaken growth mgmt. reforms

Deslatte's post also includes the governor's rationale for his veto.

Orlando Sentinel

Central Florida Political Pulse blog
Crist vetoes development-friendly bio-tech bill
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Jun 25, 2008 9:56:18 PM

Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill Wednesday that critics claimed would have set the clock back on Florida's recent growth management reforms.
The bill, SB 1706, would have broadened a 2007 law that delayed the "build out" deadlines for large-scale development projects like airports, shopping centers and planned communities for three years. The aim of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis, was to give developers who've already got state and local approval for their projects more time before they have to complete them -- and help pay for the extra traffic they put on surrounding roads.
But the governor said he was blocking the bill because...

To read the rest of the article, see:

After checking the URL to see if there were any more reader comments before I went to sleep, I went to their front page and saw something the likes of which the Herald wouldn't do in a million years, since it involves well-displayed color photos on their website, one of their most glaring weak spots compared to Tribune newspapers like the Sentinel, the Sun-Sentinel or the Baltimore Sun, the latter of which I still read online every day to keep up on all things Mid-Atlantic and Orioles-related.

Since there were so many awful stories overnight there:
a.) the very suspicious death of prominent Orlando-area developer Steve Walsh,
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orange/orl-bk-steve-walsh-dead-062508,0,1308559.story and
b.) the news that the 17-year old son of Orange County mayor Rich Crotty was involved in a serious car accident yesterday afternoon that's left a nine-year old girl seriously injured,

I was happy to see something of a positive nature, and that was a great photo gallery the Sentinel
assembled of U.S. gymnast Shayla Worley, late of Orlando Boone High School, who was on last year's world championship team.
She seems to have a good shot at making the Olympic team if she continues her weekend Trials performances at Camp Karolyi -my new favorite phrase. (Except her fall from the uneven bars, of course.)
See her website at: http://www.shaylaworley.com/index2.html

If Shayla and Jana Bieger of Coconut Creek both made the Olympic squad, it'd be great to have Florida so well-represented in Beijing in such a high-profile TV sport, though that'll likely come at the expense of seeing more about some other American athletes in less popular spectator sports, like archery, since Gena Davis won't be on the team.

But why do I have a feeling that Shayla might wind up in Athens as a GymDog?
Because genuine talent always seeks out the best competition, which is one of the reasons why the GymDogs have won four NCAA titles in a row, including last month's in Athens.

Wish the Dolphins had their attitude and hustle and weren't so soft.

Meanwhile, Tuesday over at The White House:

Shayla Worley photo gallery from the Orlando Sentinel, all 55 photos worth, is at:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

re 'Zyscovich Plan' and Crist going GREEN in Miami this week

Yours truly stayed up 'til 2:15 Monday morning so I could be sure of successfully taping Fellini's ROMA on Turner Classic Movies, http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=196970 which I haven't seen since the early-to-mid '90's, when I saw it at the National Gallery of Art film series.

One of the biggest things I still desperately miss about being down here and not up in Washington is getting big doses of culture like that during the summer -for free!- in an auditorium that has an A/C that can really crank out cool air.
(And then meltas soon as I take one step outside afterwards into the summer swelter.)

I watched the Olympic Trials for gymnastics on NBC Saturday and Sunday night, and was pleased to see that Coconut Creek's Jana Bieger was solid as a rock in all of her events, since she looks like a good bet to qualify for the trip to Beijing, if things go okay at Camp Karolyi in Texas.
See http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/olympics_blog/2008/06/lonely-jana-bie.html and http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/other/sfl-flspolyrdp23sbjun23,0,94678.story

I'll have a post pretty soon over at South Beach Hoosier with my thoughts and observations on the Women's trials in Philadelphia, and my pleasure at finally deciding to download the software to watch the Men's trials live on Universal Sports, via the internet.

Never having watched a live sporting event on my own computer before, it was fantastic to not only be able to watch live, but the picture quality and perspective were truly amazing.
I was literally dumbfounded!

I'll share the download info in that future post so you can try it yourself, as it'll prove invaluable once the Beijing Games start in 44 days. http://en.beijing2008.cn/
Well, we might have a second-rate, Third World transportation system down here in South Florida, but you can't deny we can throw meetings together like nobody's business!

See a veritable wonk soup of acronyms and descriptions from the FDOT Planning webpage, which I found over the weekend while looking for something else entirely.


Noticed that Gov. Crist will be back down here on Wed. & Thurs. for a green conference at the Miami InterContinental Eyesore, once they get rid of those pesky mayors and their retinues of flacks and hangers-on:
2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change

Be there or be square -or simply watch the webcast.

They seem to have invited nearly everyone who could figure out a coherent way of getting the words "climate" and "strategy" into a company or organizational name.
Why didn't I think of that?
Recommend you peruse this example of a fair-minded guest Op Ed, in this case, on the contentious issue of Alligator Alley privatization:
Since I have to play the role of the scold on both of my blogs more often that I wish were necessary, reminding government employees or pols what their moral and fiduciary duties and responsibilities are to the taxpayer, I didn't want to let something positive pass by without my sharing it with you all, insignificant though it may be to the whole scheme of things.

I had something happen to me while driving last week which, while not as historic as Paul Revere's Ride, was historical hereabouts, and almost in the category of epiphany.
Or, this being South Florida, the gateway to Latin America, magic realism.

Last Wednesday night I was at the joint Bernard Zyscovich/Hollywood CRA joint meeting at Hollywood City Hall to hear what's come to become known in shorthand as "the Zyscovich Plan," as well as the expansion of the Downtown CRA and Zyscovich's ideas for implementing a coordinated plan in Hollywood that is both logical and attractive for business and residents, yet avoids the parochial sort of us. vs. them fights that will be inevitable without design regs that everyone agrees on beforehand.
See http://www.zyscovich.com/search.cfm?p=1&term=Hollywood

As previously mentioned, I'd been to the previous forum on this subject, where my hand was at pains to keep up and jot down all the interesting things Bernard Zyscovich was saying throughout his Power Point presentation and in the Q&A afterwards.

Because this more formal meeting drew a larger turnout than the prior one among the usual suspects of Hollywood's public policy and punditry world, the meeting was moved from its original location in Room 219 to the Commission Chambers.
As someone who was originally standing in the hall outside Room 219 before it started, I was glad to see such common sense so rapidly deployed.

Among the folks there, of course, was Mr. Warner from WSG Development, the man who seems to be rapidly gaining the reputation for being the most honest and reasonable developer in the Hollywood area. http://www.wsgdevelopment.net/

I also finally got the opportunity to formally introduce myself to Sara Case, the editor of the Balance Sheet Online, and a member of the new Hollywood Charter Review Committee, which is no doubt swimming in about 1,001 good suggestions.

I really admire her hard work and dedication to an area that she so clearly loves, and only wish that there were more folks with her aptitude and enthusiasm liberally sprinkled throughout South Florida, not least of all, here in Hallandale Beach.

Prior to meeting her, I had dropped her a public policy or head's-up email every now and then, since first starting my own efforts early last year.
Frankly, given how much time I spend in Hollywood, and the memories I have of it starting in 1968, I just wanted her to finally be able to connect a face in the crowd to the public policy emails she's been on the receiving end of.

As I describe her website on my HBB blog roll: http://www.balancesheetonline.com/
Blog -Balance Sheet Online: A Hollywood (FL)-based public interest, community affairs blog on south Broward County and environs, led by Editor Sara Case. My kind of blog: Identifies areas of concerns and proposes solutions, but takes no prisoners among elected officials or the chattering class!

After the meeting was over, I had to wait for the traffic light south of City Hall to change in order to get out of the parking lot, but once out, driving east on Hollywood Blvd., I was quite amazed to find myself catching every single green light, the exact opposite of my experience earlier getting to the meeting in the rain via S. 1st Avenue, the street parallel to W. Dixie Highway.

Continuing east approaching Young Circle, the area that's been the subject of so much genuine enthusiasm and anger, I then caught the green light at the bottom of Young Circle -which has never happened in four years.

I then continued home south on U.S.-1 and by the time I'd passed Hollywood Central Elementary, I was pinching myself, because this feat of catching nothing but green lights had, so I'd been told by griots, never been accomplished by anyone who had lived to tell the tale.

Well, I made it all the way home south of Hallandale Beach Blvd., 3.1 miles, with nary a red light but the first one.

Naturally, once I stepped thru the door and sat down on the couch, I couldn't help but wonder, "Was it all a dream?" (Like Bobby Ewing's season-long shower on Dallas?)
No, it really happened to me in the Traffic year of 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Outsider's views on Gulfstream Park's myriad problems; a new JOA?

Just had some odds and ends I wanted to share with you today that you might find of interest regarding the slumping South Florida gaming scene, as seen through the prism of another blogger I'd heretofore never heard of, and a thought or two about what's transpiring with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and whether it'll take the Herald repeating history for it to be a factor in the future.

First, what follows is an excerpt from a blog by Richard Marcus called Poker Cheating and Casino Cheating Blog: American Roulette, subtitled, Professional poker cheat and casino cheater's thoughts on poker, casinos, gambling and updates from casinos around the world and online gambling websites:

Scam #3 Florida . Sun Sentinel

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating an alleged slot-machine theft ring by employees at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. This is the first potential scandal for the fledgling industry, which is both heavily regulated and heavily taxed by the state. And I'm the one bringing you the news for one reason: The largest newspaper in Broward County, the Sun-Sentinel, had the story first but got cold feet and decided not to publish it.
Before we examine the Sun-Sentinel's apparent cowardice, let's look at the emerging scandal at Gulfstream, one of the county's four pari-mutuels and the first to unveil voter approved, Las Vegas-style slot machines last year. FDLE spokeswoman Paige Patterson-Hughes confirmed that her agency, which has a regulatory office on Gulfstream grounds in Hallandale Beach, is criminally investigating the casino, although she declined to provide any details. The investigation is centered on promotional cards used to generate interest in the slot machines, according to sources in the gambling industry and in Tallahassee.

Read the rest of the post at:

The informed post above on Gulfstream Park's problems speaks for itself, and sounds like a lot of what I heard Dan Atkins of the Mardi Gras say at the joint Hollywood and HB City Commission meeting almost two weeks ago.
Mr. Atkins made a very strong case that night for trying to rectify the various inequities -as he and many other see it- so that the industry can actually get out of the red, turn a profit and hire more employees.
I'll be writing about that joint meeting as well as Mr. Atkins' comments soon in a separate post

Personally, I have about zero interest in gambling, per se, but since it's here, I wish that all of the places down here were wide-open -and well-policed- with big entertainment shows, offering whatever types of gambling the market -as opposed to the legislature in Tallahassee- wants to see.

Frankly, as a big football fan, I'd love to go somewhere nice on a Sunday afternoon where I could watch ALL the NFL games in one place, like I would in Arlington every Sunday when the Dolphins wasn't being televised in Washington, rather than the places down here that advertise that they carry all the NFL games, but in reality, due largely to the particular demographics of the area, always show the same teams: Jets, Giants, Patriots, Eagles and Steelers.

Oh, and lest I forget, I also wish that there were some classy casinos on South Beach, of course!

The year I graduated from North Miami Beach Senior High School, 1979, we had our graduation ceremonies over at the Miami Beach Convention Center, where I'd often watched the ABA Floridians in the early 1970's.
After the ceremony, my family and some friends and I celebrated at a great Greek restaurant on Lincoln Road that was a particular favorite of my mother, who worked for a Miami Beach law firm back then.

Her office was in the HQ of Washington Federal Savings & Loan of Miami Beach, whose co-founder was the late FL State Senator Jack Gordon.
Gordon was a great and principled man that many of my friends and their family knew quite well and worked with in many capacities while I was growing-up down here.
He was also the one person cited by so many people I trusted and respected as THE most honest person they knew. http://www.fiu.edu/~ippcs/jdg.html
It was always either him or Lawton Chiles, whom I'll also be writing about in the near future.

Gordon was the personal barometer I use in gauging someone's effectiveness in local and state politics and how they wield their power.
Does he use it for people who are relatively powerless, who'd otherwise not get a seat at the table or be listened to when TV cameras aren't around?
Like high school kids under state care, who've been given the shaft by too many people to count?

To me, Jack Gordon was the anti-Geller.

I still recall that all the taxis trolling along Collins, Washington and Meridian for fares back then still bore their bumper stickers urging people to vote YES on casino gambling on Miami Beach, which was a county-wide referendum held eight months prior that lost, in no small part, due to the direct actions of Florida's news media.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,916392,00.html Funny how just about everyone down here but me seems to have gotten hysterical amnesia about that last point.

But the casino proponents, who included some very smart and savvy people I knew through local and national politics, had, in my humble opinion, a perfectly dreadful strategy and PR campaign.
It failed to take into account the number one fundamental law of the political universe: you have to know your universe of voters.

Some people are always going to be against you, and you just have to accept that, so dedicate your resources on your known supporters and the open-minded, but don't waste time, energy and funds trying to argue your case with every last person who'd already made up their mind they were against you.

If you eventually peel them off, great, but otherwise you're just going to be chasing your tail forever.

After all, though everyone pretends they know the true significance of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln lost the Senate election. http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/debates.htm

Don't know if many of you have ever met Earl Maucker, the Sun-Sentinel's executive editor, but since I've moved down here from D.C. four years ago, one of the things that's really jumped out at me, news-wise, are the apparent discrepancies between what he says publicly in a newspaper column, and what he says to media trade mags or at journalism conclaves, where he tries to position himself as a beloved Sigma Delta Chi poster boy.

But if the things I've read in various places are even half-true, and I'm not even talking about what Bob Norman of the Broward Palm Beach New Times has said about Sun-Sentinel says in his blog,The Daily Pulp, http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/ Maucker's own Sun-Sentinel employees are the best proof that he doesn't practice what he preaches.

Maucker being a hypocrite isn't so surprising, of course, given his relatively influential job in a place like South Florida, where, without the requisite population of highly-educated corporate manufacturing execs with self/community interests, who can afford to push back in a major way,
collectively or individually, someone like him is given a LOT of deference in a service-oriented economy.

In that sense, it fits the paradigm/mentality that I've observed down here since I was a kid, which
always reminded me a lot of my favorite novel, Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.

(Best film adaption is 1978 version with Steve McQueen as Dr. Stockmann and Charles Durning as his brother the mayor who wants him to keep quiet, lest the tourists not come back! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075993/ )

In that novel, when confronted with a moral question that directly affects the future commerce and reputation of their town, though the town's leading lights know what the right thing to do is, all but one brave man resist doing so, because they place a higher priority on good PR for their town and its important service economy -in Ibsen's novel, the town's baths- than the truth.

Only one person, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, stands up and tells the truth, facing the consequences of both his words and actions, saying exactly what needs to be said.

(Sounds a lot like Richard Dreyfuss's character in Jaws, right?)

It's been my favorite novel since I was at JFK Jr. High and first started reading Strindberg and Ibsen, barely edging out The Great Gatsby.

Trust me, if I can notice the discrepancies between what Maucker says and does, anyone in the industry could, and it certainly explains a lot about the state of the Sun-Sentinel these days.

Speaking of the Sun-Sentinel, I also wanted to call your attention to an interesting post from last Wednesday on a blog called Reflections of a Newsosaur by Alan D. Mutter, cleverly subtitled, Musings (and occasional urgent warnings) of a veteran media executive, who fears our news-gathering companies are stumbling to extinction

His post, titled, The case for a JOA in Miami
http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/2008/06/case-for-joa-in-miami.html makes the case for the Herald repeating history with regard to the use of a joint-operating-agreement, in order to stop their red ink and the Sun-Sentinel's.

In that respect, it's like taking a trip back in time on the South Beach Hoosier Time Machine, when the JOA was a fact of life for my favorite paper, the Miami News when I was growing up here in the 1970's.
I not only read the Miami News every day it came out, but wrote lots of Letters to the Editor that got published when I was at JFK Junior High and later at NMBHS.
And spent lots of time there, as I'll describe in a future post.

Based on what I've read of Mutter's blog since first discovering it in March, he and I seem to see eye-to-eye on many issues, but I think he makes the mistake of many former industry types in always thinking that smart people will eventually figure out a way to solve things.
Not always.

In my opinion, it's those supposed smart people, the management at the Herald, who are ruining the paper.
(Though many of the editors aren't doing readers any favors, either!)
The ones whose Knight-Ridder predecessors ran to San Jose for the '90's Digital Gold Rush, when they thought that was the answer to everything.

Since I know that 99% of you have probably never taken a peek yet at my other blog, South Beach Hoosier, where I have a ton of posts to add in the next week, given my largely negative opinions about local media in general and the Miami Herald in particular, I'm going to exercise a point of personal privilege and repeat something I've had posted on that blog since starting it early last year.
Perhaps after reading it, something you've read here in the past will now suddenly make more sense, given this new added context.

Dave's Intentions for South Beach Hoosier
South Beach Hoosier will offer commentary on popular culture, public policy and national politics -largely from a Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) p.o.v., with some policy differences-advertising & marketing news and innovations; the business side of Show Biz, especially the film industry; as well as insight on international trade, financial services and U.S. foreign policy, where from 1988-2003, I had a front-row seat for these and many other contentious and implacable issues on Capitol Hill, and their resultant fallout at DC-area think tanks and policy groups.

Fortunately for me, besides being blessed with a great memory for details, I also took copious contemporaneous notes of what I observed first-hand at Capitol Hill hearings -inc. important Congressional mark-ups- as well as at myriad events with policy makers, journalists and news makers at Brookings, SAIS, AEI, the Wilson Center, the Goethe Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the IMF and The World Bank -BEST wine!-the Economic Strategy Institute, et al.

Stories that, for whatever reason, NEVER saw the light of day in the pages of the New York Times, the WSJ or the Washington Post. Which naturally had the entirely predictable ripple effect of insuring that these stories and issues NEVER made the airwaves of the TV networks, cablenets or, even NPR.

South Beach Hoosier will also examine the latest amusing or not-so-amusing scandals, cover-ups, controversies, contretemps and mis-adventures bedeviling South Florida, something I became used to while growing up in North Miami Beach in the late 1960's and the 70's.
Fortunately, because of my news-junkie DNA and myriad magazine subscriptions, and long-standing relationships with media types in Miami, I was able to keep up pretty well with the South Florida area while living in Bloomington, Chicago, Evanston, Wilmette and Washington, D.C./Arlington, VA. Communities where sensible civic activism and high standards of journalism were the norm and not the exception.

Due to my own personal/business/political interests and experiences in those cities, as well as my good fortune to have a large number of well-informed and well-connected friends and former housemates while living there, many but not all of whom are or were reporters, columnists, editors, TV/film producers, along with a few who are now well-placed in Statehouses and legal circles across the country, I'll have a deep bench of facts, opinions, point-of-views and fact-checkers to work with. That's the goal for South Beach Hoosier.

It's my hope that this'll help me offer up pinpoint criticism, whether of national and South Florida pols, media organizations and sports or show biz personalities, that have heretofore evaded public scrutiny, transparency or accountability -as well as well-aimed brickbats.
To examine the proverbial case of the latest dog that doesn't bark, or analyze why the latest case of media conventional wisdom has -again- been proven wrong, and why.

This is especially true of The Miami Herald, the morning newspaper I grew-up with and have suffered with since first leaving North Miami Beach for Bloomington in the fall of '79, as its most talented people jumped ship and the paper become evermore a shell of what it once was: an excellent newspaper with talented and respected reporters and editors telling compelling and intriguing stories of intrinsic value to its readers throughout polyglot and transient South Florida.

Television news-wise, when I'd return to South Florida from school or work in Bloomington, Evanston, and DC, whether for Christmas vacation, Baltimore Oriole spring training games or visits for weddings, I could still see that Miami had the kind of scrappy and innately curious reporters who make a tangible difference in a community.

The sorts of enterprising reporters that so many of my friends at Ernie Pyle at IU, and Medill at Northwestern were already well on their way to becoming. http://www.idsnews.com/ ,
http://journalism.indiana.edu/news/erniepyle/ , http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/

Reporters who might have the talent and ability to convey to the waves of newcomers and visitors to the area, a nuanced sense of South Florida's decidedly mixed historical past, by writing with the proper amount of factual research, balanced perspective and sense of disbelief, to describe the events unfolding around them.
Then, ending the piece by dropping the hammer on whichever local corrupt/incompetent miscreant, pol or agency hack was the target of their ire, for attempting to perpetrate yet another in a long of of dubious acts against the people of South Florida.

Sadly for the people of South Florida, things have gotten so bad now that The Herald's numerous flaws are as much for what they don't publish, as much as for the self-evident mediocre quality of its writing and reporting, lack of thorough fact-checking, and inadequate search for conflicts of interest.

For all the talk of improving the paper by the new McClatchy management, it shows no tangible signs of changing for the better any time soon, a great disappointment to its readers.

It's common knowledge within the industry that The Herald's website is a joke compared to the efforts of many smaller circulation newspapers. www.miamiherald.com

Frankly, the website itself remains a constant source of embarrassment for Herald reporters and columnists, who are constantly besieged by readers and told yet another horror story about not being able to find recent Herald stories that should be on the paper's website but aren't.
The reporters can do little more than shrug their shoulders in response.

Even in the year 2008, The Herald still DOESN'T have a permanent Public Ombudsman to represent the interests of both its readers and basic fairness, like many newspapers with much smaller circulation numbers!

Meanwhile, with much more to fear and lose, The New York Times has an independent Public Editor, currently Clark Hoyt, who weekly takes the Times' policy, owners, editors, reporters and columnists to task publicly, even providing links back to the original story or column in question, unlike the once-in-a-while effort at the Herald. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/thepubliceditor/index.html?8qa

The Herald's Sunday attempt at high-minded opinion-shaping and public policy, Issues & Ideas, is so embarrassing and muddled on so many different levels that it's all one can do to not laugh from crying, so feeble is its effort, so low is its aim, so puny the actual result.

Yet rather than seeking the creative input of bright and knowledgable new faces who familiar with the real problems of South Florida, The Herald still regularly farms-out the Guest Op-Ed space in the paper to people living outside of the area, more than any other newspaper in America I've ever read.

They continually run long excerpts in their editorial space from parochial interest groups whose political sentiments echo that of the the Herald's own Editorial Board. Even worse, if possible, in many cases these particular guest editorial tangents have already appeared in other forums or publications!
And speaking of the Herald's Editorial Board, who's on that exactly, anyway?

It's a great mystery that nobody seems able to fully explain away, yet The New York Times, under the guidance of Andy Rosenthal, has an entire webpage specifically devoted to detailing the background and credentials of its Editorial Board. http://www.nytimes.com/ref/opinion/editorial-board.html
Hmmm... call me old-fashioned, but South Beach Hoosier prefers transparency!

With more news coming out of South Florida than once ever seemed possible, and with the area's annual dance with hurricanes always fraught with danger, this area desperately needs an All-News radio station more than ever before, yet there's NO sign of one on the horizon to replicate the crucial role once served by CBS Radio affiliate, WINZ-AM 940.

Even worse, if possible, there's no LOCAL 24 hour cable news channel to replicate the important role played by a NewsChannel 8 in Washington, D.C., http://www.news8.net/which gives a depth of coverage to D.C. and the VA/MD suburbs that people in South Florida can only dream about with envy: LIVE call-in TV programs with tough reporters who weekly or monthly grill the DC Mayor, Virginia and Maryland governors, as well as the VA and MD County Managers or Supervisors, the REAL powers in the area.

But then it's not like COMCAST is stepping up to the plate, either!

If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials.

South Beach Hoosier aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of investigation and follow-up public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual "Perfect Storm." In other words, a catalyst for positive change.

"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."
-Preacher Purl encouraging the Hickory basketball team before the title game against South Bend Central in Hoosiers, 1986 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/

Friday, June 20, 2008

Talking globally, polluting locally in Hallandale Beach. Another galling example of hypocrisy that exposes what elected officials and bureaucrats at South Florida City Halls say -and what they actually DO!

Talking globally, polluting locally in Hallandale Beach. Another galling example of hypocrisy that exposes what elected officials and bureaucrats at South Florida City Halls say -and what they actually DO!

Hallandale Beach City Hall, second floor conference room
May 13, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

The bottle creates a simulated image, as the inner back of the bottle features a depiction of a beach scene, with the city's Water Tower and logo framing the image on the front.
June 20, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

A close-up view of the front of the plastic Hallandale Beach water bottle.
June 20, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

The first photograph above was taken by South Beach Hoosier in mid-May at Hallandale Beach City Hall, during a lunch break of a public meeting among the City Commission, the City Manager and his staff and Dept. directors discussing preliminary plans and projections for the city's budget, which will be finalized in August.
There were periods during each agenda item for residents to ask questions, and I twice took advantage of this opportunity, the subjects of which will be discussed in future posts here.

Upon entering the second floor conference room, which was actually two smaller rooms with a room divider pushed to the side, one encountered a table full of coffee, bagels, some spreads and packs of eight-ounce plastic water bottles -featuring the iconic Hallandale Beach Water Tower on them.
They were provided by the city for members of the City Commission, the City manager and his staff and the public, since the meeting was slated to be an all day affair. (And it was.)
The first photo, one of several that I snapped of those plastic bottles in a Hallandale Beach City Hall garbage bin, was taken for the simple reason that there were no plastic or cardboard recycling bins in the room.

This was ironic given that earlier, your faithful blogger had asked a series of simple yet relevant questions of the City Commission, City Manager Mike Good about his staff about the self-evident problem over at the beach that everyone ignores.
How, despite their great lip service over the past few years about taking better care of the city's resources, which would have to start with the beach itself, among many other problems, there was a complete absence of ANY recycling bins at the beach, stretching back several years.

You can literally find plastic bottles and aluminum cans everywhere on the beach, whether rusting and mixed-in with the protected plants like sea oats and sea grapes, or overflowing the garbage cans, especially on three day weekends, with the predictable increase in refuse.
You'd think this would all be easy to predict, but then you have to remember where you are...

That leads to an ancillary problem, since unlike the City of Hollywood's general practice on their beaches, Hallandale Beach uses garbage receptacles on the beach without lids.
So, the conscious decision to place garbage cans without lids at the windiest place in the city leads to entirely predictable results, since it doesn't take much for items to simply pop out or blow out of the bins, with the city's lifeguards, who are contractors from Jeff Ellis and Associates, forced to clean-up, too, rather than concentrate solely on their number one job of public safety.

I'll have separate posts soon on the garbage and recycling problems at Hallandale Beach, replete with photos that illuminate the nature of this easily-solved but longstanding bureaucratic problem, which is the logical result of a continued lack of common sense, proper governance and oversight in the city of city employees at 400 S. Federal Highway.

The problem in that conference room is duplicated whenever the city hosts public meetings or events next door at the Hallandale Beach Community Cultural Center, as they did last Wednesday for a Joint Meeting of the City of Hollywood and HB City Commissions, to discuss items of mutual interest, or the previous week for the Hurricane Forum.

Personally, to the great consternation of some friends, I've always recycled, going back to my fifteen years of living in Arlington County, VA, where it was mandatory, but where a large numbers of brightly colored bins were provides to city residents.

Arlington County also had a large and well-thought out recycling facility less than a mile from my home, just a block or two away from The Ballston Mall, and a block south of the Ballston Metro Station and the headquarters of the National Science Foundation.
It could hardly have been better organized, better run or well lit at night, as there were huge tractor trailers with slots that segregated each of the many recycled items they accepted there.


These factors not only removed the usual alibis people make for not participating, since it was on the way to lots of places people were already in the habit of visiting, but also tended to make it rather self-policing, since it was always very obvious when someone else was putting the wrong material into a trailer bin.
And unlike this area, all Arlington County fire stations are equipped with buckets or bins near their entrances or parking lots where residents could turn in household batteries, which weren't supposed to be put in with regular garbage.

Frankly, over the years, I've even grown accustomed to re-using my own plastic water bottles over and over, or filling a 20-oz Coke bottle with Brita-filtered water if I'm going to be outside for a while.
Since they fit snug in the small tote bag I take with me everywhere, it's often proved a lifesaver on those days when I find myself having walked farther than I planned, or stuck somewhere when I need to fight off a coughing fit -like at a public meeting.

But, obviously, I'm not typical of this area in terms of my ingrained recycling habits, since I've got a relative down here who not only doesn't recycle -anything- but who loves taunting me when I'm over at their home before they toss something into their kitchen garbage bin, knowing full well that it's something that I'd be recycling if I were at my home.


Miami Herald
Anti-bottled water campaign enlists mayors to causeBy Taylor Barnes
June 20th, 2008

An aisle at the Publix on Seventh Street in downtown Miami gleams with shelf upon shelf of bottled water that boasts of originating from the French Alps to Fiji.
But those bottles of water are increasingly coming under attack from environmental activists, who maintain tap water is better and bottled water is economically unsound and environmentally harmful, a position the bottling industry disputes.
The city of Miami has joined the fray, ordering officials in March to stop spending city money on bottled water in under two-liter containers.
Miami's Mayor Manny Diaz is among more than a dozen mayors calling on municipal governments to phase out bottled-water purchases in a resolution to be presented at the U.S. Mayors Conference, which begins Friday in Miami.
The bottles aren't just out at City Hall. Pacific Time and Fratelli Lyon, neighboring restaurants in Miami's Design District, have stopped selling bottled water and only serve tap. Sales of bottled water at Pacific Time used to bring in $80,000 in annual revenues from sales of about 12,000 bottles, the restaurant's chef and owner Jonathan Eismann said Thursday at an event to promote tap usage.
Eismann said that not selling bottles reduces waste and is a way to "encourage more sustainable eating habits.''

But bottled water remains ubiquitous with many consumers, like Ariadna Barrantens of Miami, who shun tap water and exclusively drink bottled.
While picking up a few gallons at Publix this week, she said she uses bottled water even to make coffee because she does not trust the quality of what comes out of her faucet. She added, though, that she sometimes wonders whether bottled water is much better.
The belief that tap water is less healthy and less pure than bottled water has city officials and activists worried.
Deborah Lapidus, who represents the Think Outside the Bottle campaign that organized Thursday's event, blames ''tricky marketing and clever labels'' used by companies selling bottled water for the perception their products are better than tap.
Bottling industry officials contend bottled water is purified more than tap water. Allegations by anti-bottle activists are simply ''green-washing,'' said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. He said bottled water is convenient and is useful during emergencies such as hurricanes.
Lapidus' group argues that the popularity of bottled water reduces the political will to maintain and improve infrastructure to ensure quality municipal water. Still, she encourages people to switch to tap water and praised Miami for having some of the highest-quality tap water in the nation.
Diaz supports the cause, saying that Miami has great water and it's cheaper.
City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who pushed for the City Hall ban -- which he says could save the city as much as $200,000 a year -- joined the tap movement because of concerns about litter. He said 85 percent of bottles are not recycled, and contribute to clogging in Miami's sewer systems.
He attributed current flooding in Brickell and the Venetian Islands to sewer systems stuffed with the plastic containers. He also pointed out that it takes petroleum to make the bottles, holding up a plastic bottle filled with dark liquid. He said almost a quarter of the liquid represented the oil needed to produce and transport the bottle.
The pro-tap movement has yet to make a dent in sales of bottled water, which continued to grow in 2007, according to John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest magazine. He said the sales growth had slowed slightly from 2006 to 2007. He attributed that to the economic downturn and said it was ''too early to tell'' if the movement against bottled water was affecting the industry.
The trend is taking hold in some quarters. On a recent film shoot in South Beach, the producers of the new comedy Farlanders, starring John Krasinski and Maggie Gyllenhaal, banned coolers of water bottles from the set.
Instead, cast and crew were given washable aluminum bottles that they filled from large water jugs, said city of Miami Beach film coordinator Graham Winick. Cups for cold drinks like punch and soda were made from corn, as were the trash bags. Coffee cups were biodegradable, too, Winick said.
'It is the first almost fully `green' shoot we've had,'' Winick said in an e-mail.

Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.
Also read this amusing article

New York Times
Water, Water Everywhere, but Guilt by the Bottleful
By Alex Williams
August 12, 2007

On a recent family vacation in Cape Cod, Jenny Pollack, 40, a novelist and public relations associate from Brooklyn, did something she knew she would come to regret. She did it on the spur of the moment. She did it because she felt desperate.

Besides, the giant illuminated Dasani vending machine was just standing there, like a beacon.
So, with her reusable plastic Nalgene bottles dry and her son Charlie working up a thirst in an indoor playground, she broke down and bought a bottle of water. To most people it would be a simple act of self-refreshment, but to Ms. Pollack it was also a minor offense against the planet — think of all the oil used to package, transport and refrigerate that water.

Read the rest of the story at:

South Florida Banana Republic take note: The Economics of Bananas

Hosting the Annual Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors or not, you residents know who you are...

Visiting mayors, please ignore all the graffiti you see on U.S.-1 between downtown Miami and Coconut Grove, home of one of the most insightful and influential bloggers in the area, Coconut Grove Grapevine, http://coconutgrovegrapevine.blogspot.com/

(It was hard not to notice it all -on just about every third street sign for miles- last month on my drive down to Coral Gables, where I attended a U-M Ring Ceremony for my nephew at the Bank United Center.)

"That's just amateur local performance art."

As it happens, when South Beach Hoosier/Hallandale Beach Blog was growing-up in his house on NE 159th Street and NE 14th Avenue in North Miami Beach in the 1970's, just a few blocks south of the 163rd Street Shopping Center and Wolfie's -the latter being home of the definitive version of the Black & White cookie, which I bought 2-3 times a week on my morning walks to school to J.F.K. Jr. High and NMBHS- his family had a backyard with a number of orange and lime trees and one banana tree.
Which, naturally, younger kids tried to help themself to after school on their way home, until I pointed out the error of their ways and reminded them that I knew their older brothers and sisters by name.

New York Times
The Economics of Bananas
By Stephen J. Dubner
June 19, 2008

The papers yesterday were full of news about bananas.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Chiquita Brands International, “the Cincinnati-based banana distributor” (I love that phrase; it evokes Lardner, or at least Runyon), was expected to report a third-quarter loss due to higher fuel costs and bad weather in banana-growing countries. Chiquita stock fell sharply on the news.
The second article was far more interesting, and answered a question I’ve long wondered about: why are bananas so cheap relative to other fruit, especially since a lot of the fruit we consume in the U.S. is grown here while bananas are not?

Read the rest of the story at:

See the Chiquita official website: http://www.chiquita.com/ , the story of Miss Chiquita Banana at http://www.tvacres.com/admascots_misschiquita.htm , and the Wiki version of the company's history, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiquita_Brands_International , the WTO Chiquita Banana Case, http://www.speakeasy.org/~peterc/wtow/wto-case.htm along with this insightful article.

New York Times
Yes, We Will Have No Bananas
By Dan Koppel
June 18, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

FDOT's Kopelousos gets hammered again by critics

Since I last wrote about FDOT and its director Stephanie Kopelousos on May 31st, http://southbeachhoosier.blogspot.com/2008/05/south-florida-transit-issues-and-govt.html , I added her to my list of Google Alerts and that move finally paid dividends recently in a way that I'd hope it would.
Monday's Naples News had an editorial that spoke volumes and that seemed to be reading my mind for the past two years.

Naples News
Editorial: FDOT bumbles again with privatization meeting site
By Staff Reports
Monday, June 16, 2008

Florida Department of Transportation officials concede they have some public relations fence-mending to do on the Alligator Alley privatization project.

They tell our editorial board that both timing and location of an April meeting for a would-be contractors to collect tolls were off target. Florida DOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos says there should have been more than a week of advance notice, and the meeting should have been held in Southwest or South Florida rather than Orlando, which she says was chosen for the convenience of businesspeople.

Yet, look where the next big meeting, on Friday, to review those applications from eight firms is to be held: Tallahassee.

How convenient for FDOT officials.

Vocal, watchdog citizens who want to see and hear everything for themselves — and give FDOT a piece of their mind — are out of luck, unless they are up for a long, expensive drive or very expensive plane ride.

The FDOT is not helping itself win friends and influence citizens when saying one thing and doing another.
See also:
SPECIAL REPORT: Alligator Alley could fall into international hands
By Leslie Williams
June 14, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Crist urged to veto developer-friendly Margolis bill/SB 1706 that'd weaken growth mgmt. reforms

This interesting item was up on the Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Political Pulse website on Saturday, yet surprisingly, considering how much traffic there usually is to the site once the Sunday morning TV chat shows start up, there were still no comments on it by 11:45 a.m. today, Sunday.

Upon reading the bill, I also better undertood the transit component as well.

In case the link below for Comm. Teresa Jacobs' letter on behalf of the Florida
Association of Counties
within the post doesn't work, try

Bill history and votes of SB 1706: Relating to Developments of Regional
Impact [RPCC]

The bill passed House 115-0 on April 30th, passed Senate 37-0 on April 25th.

Orlando Sentinel
Central Florida Political Pulse blog
Commissioner Jacobs asks Crist to veto developer-friendly bill
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Jun 13, 2008 4:33:47 PM

Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs, in her capacity as president of the Florida Association of Counties, asked Gov. Charlie Crist Friday to veto a developer-friendly bill she argues would weaken past growth management reforms.

The bill, SB 1706, extends the "build out" dates for large-scale development projects like airports, shopping centers and planned communities for three years. The aim of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis, was to give developers who've already got state and local approval for their projects more time before they have to complete them -- and help pay for the extra traffic they put on surrounding roads.

But granting a blanket, three-year pass to developers means locals could have to find other ways to pay for the traffic growth that occurs around those projects.

To see the rest of the post, please see:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dude, Where's Julian's Car?

The warning signs in evidence outside of the Aventura Target., just a few blocks south of the Hallandale Beach City Hall.
Who would've ever guessed this was the gold standard?
June 13, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

I actually posted some of this last night but pulled the photos later in the evening so that I could make the story complete.
Before I left the house yesterday for the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center for the Special Joint Meeting of the City of Hollywood & City of Hallandale Beach City Commissions there, I was of a mind to make a prediction to all of you.

It's one that I could've made months ago or even last week, and been all but certain of being proven correct about.

I say this only because it's hard not to notice a curious situational behavior that occurs week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year....

And when the person engaging in this odd and noticeable behavior is someone who's always quick to lecture or harangue others about matters of ethics, or even the appearance of impropriety, well, you could say that it really rankles those of us who've been paying close attention for a while.

People like South Beach Hoosier, the one-man band at Hallandale Beach Blog.

Makes you wonder how everyone else in the city could see the same thing and just wink at it,
like it's nothing to take note of, or that nothing can be done.

But that's hard for SBH to do, especially given the particular track record of the person involved
with regard to ethics, appearances and propriety of the person at fault.

The person in question is Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor William Julian, who continually uses
the city-operated security camera system as if it were designed and created for his exclusive use when it comes to the matter of where he parks his car.

Yes, the William Julian who was the instigator of the pay raise grab last year in which he tried to triple the pay of commissioners while away from the public's view.
See my July 31, 2007 post Come for the HB Pay Raise Grab, but Stay for the Fireworks!

That not only violated the spirit and meaning of Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, but made Hallandale Beach a state and national laughingstock, and the butt of jokes for months afterwards in South Florida about it's lackadaisical stance towards governance and the rule of law.

(Which, as noted here many times, continued with the odd behavior of Police Chief Thomas Magill trying to railroad two of his own officers, and the other questionable and substandard police policies and procedures which he is largely but not solely responsible for.

That the city's Police Dept. was "Accredited" last year, despite what we now know about its many shortcomings, only speaks to the lackluster levels of investigation that go into determining a police dept.'s level of professionalism.
It takes more than a sticker on a police car to make the Police Dept. professional.

For more on that, see my April 14th post, "Dial M for Magill" -and mendacity! and my January 19th post Hallandale Beach Blog Time Machine: August 2006 and http://www.topix.com/content/trb/2008/01/hallandale-beach-to-pay-to-settle-one-of-two-former-police-officers-lawsuits )

The first few photos below were taken by South Beach Hoosier on February 29th, 2008 at the all-day City Commission/CRA meeting at the HB Cultural Center, but they could have just as easily been taken at many other meetings and activities held there.

Those include the recent city Hurricane Forum, which, not surprisingly, given the very poor job of promotion the city did, was much smaller than expected, which even the eternally-optimistic South Florida Sun-Times felt at pains to point out, and which Channel Ten's Rob Schmidt said in his report that night.

In each and every one of these situations, rather than using good judgement AND the reserved parking space that he and the other members of the commission have, in his case, right next to Mayor Joy Cooper's spot on the south side of the City Hall, near the sidewalk which connects to the Post Office, Julian consciously chooses to park his car so that it is directly beneath the city's security camera.

There's plenty of parking available and he has a reserved spot, but it's not good enough for him.

Clearly there are special rules in the city for William Julian.

As I've mentioned in this space before, those particular security cameras, like their cousins in the general City Hall area, like the public parking lot to the east of City Hall near his reserved parking space, DON'T have a single warning sign anywhere near them saying something simple like "Security Cameras In Use."

That's the simple but clear warning written on the signs near the cameras in the nearby Aventura Target parking lot, once they were erected.

It's been months since those security cameras were erected on HB city property and yet you'd never spot a single sign, as is common sense and practice in the rest of the country.

And even worse, in a City Hall where so little attention to detail is paid, as I've stated here months ago, the parking lot light closest to the security camera nearest the east-side entrance of City Hall, has been out since before the camera was installed.

So much for follow-through and common sense.

If you're going to put up cameras, how about you actually making sure they get the best possible picture, instead of having them be in the dark?

The view of William Julian's car as you exit via the sidewalk entrance to the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center, taken prior to the lunch break of that day-long meeting.

Front view of Julian car taken during the lunch break.

Here, still on that lunch break, you can more clearly see that Julian's car is parked directly below the city's security camera, which is mounted on the white street light pole.

Is Julian afraid of parking his car in the city parking lot that has dozens of Hallandale Beach Police cars just feet away?

If so, then how should regular Hallandale Beach residents feel about the possibility of crime?

On another day, all the stars are aligned in this photo.

June 5, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
The reserved parking spaces here clearly say Mayor and Vice Mayor.
Across the street is the U.S. Post Office.
So why the confusion?

June 5th, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
On my way over to the public library next door, I see that, as usual, it's just another day of parking in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall for as long as you want, without a care in the world.
Or a worry that a Hallandale Beach policeman might actually give you a warning or a ticket.

But if the city intentionally doesn't put up a sign saying "Tow Away Zone, Emergency Vehicles Only," as would be the case in any other normal city or town, even in South Florida, then everyone gets to pretend that the Fire Trucks and ambulances can just fly or hover over these cars.
And that they won't really be in the way of emergency vehicles.

I've often seen cars parked like this for 3-4 hours even with plenty of parking nearby.

June 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
After mailing something next door at the Post Office, on my over to the Joint City of Hollywood and City of Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting, I notice that some people can park where their assigned spots actually are.

June 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
After the joint city meeting was over and I was walking out...
Guess what I spotted?
June 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
So long 'till next time!

For more, see William Julian

As they say, this is but the tip of the iceberg of the craziness that masquerades as normalcy in Hallandale Beach.
FYI: The only known public punishment for Messers Julian, Dorothy Ross and Fran Schiller for violating the law was this being posted.
Dorothy Ross is running for re-election to the commission.

For Immediate Release-
Hallandale Beach Commissioner Raise Revoked

Hallandale Beach, FL-In a publicly noticed Special Meeting of the Hallandale Beach City Commission on Community Redevelopment, Housing, and Growth Management held Friday afternoon, Vice Mayor Bill Julian made a motion to revoke the salary increase approved by the Commission earlier in the week. Commissioner Dorothy Ross seconded the motion and the vote carried 5-0.
Julian, who has been a commissioner since 2001 and a resident since 1955 says, “Working for the public of Hallandale Beach is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. Growing up here and being part of evolving process of the city is extremely rewarding. Monetary compensation, although important, is not the primary objective.”
Currently, Commissioners make $20,500 for the year. “I made the decision to increase the commission’s pay based upon the tremendous increase in the Commission’s workload due to the rapid growth of the City. I have spent the majority of my life in the City of Hallandale Beach. In addition to my service as a Commissioner, I have devoted countless hours to this Community as a Board member of the Broward County Historical Commission, the Broward Trust for Historical Preservation, as an advisor to the Hallandale Historic Preservation Board and as well as many other civic service organizations. I truly did not anticipate the reaction of my Community and would never have proposed this action if I had. I would never do anything to harm this City or Community and therefore I felt compelled to ask the Commission today to revoke our prior action.” Vice Mayor William Julian. Julian’s dedication and service to the residents is well known throughout the community. His past record shows extensive service to the military as well with three honorable discharges from the U.S. Air Force.
Mayor Joy Cooper who has commented openly about the raise notes, “I commend my fellow Commissioners and am extremely pleased that through their own introspection they have determined that an increase in Commissioners’ salaries would not be in the best interest of the City or the Community at this time.”

“I would never do anything to harm this City or Community and therefore I felt compelled to ask the Commission today to revoke our prior action”, concludes Vice Mayor William Julian.

#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 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 looks like, up close, here's yet another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

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

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

A post shared by Bebe Rexha (@beberexha) on