Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.
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Thursday, July 31, 2008
I followed-up late in the day with friendly Tania Valenzuela, Director, Regional Business Development, at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and she gave me the lowdown on what's what manana. http://www.miamichamber.com/
American Airlines and MIA are the official sponsors of the event.
I'm mentioning the event here, admittedly, on short notice, so that perhaps someone out there in the South Florida blogosphere might have the means, motive and opportunity to attend, and give us all
a play-by-play later.
(in Pathe News reader voice)
"Today, the Washington Beltway met the Banana Republic of South Florida amidst the tony splendor of the Miami Hilton..."
Think Raymond Burr doing his radio play-by-play from high atop a building in downtown Tokyo, as Godzilla approaches menacingly from Tokyo Bay, as a nation watches helplessly...
When federal public transit policy meets South Florida's notoriously fickle apathy, who wins?
Recent Washington Post stories on Sec. Peters:
It's interesting to me that DOT Sec. Mary Peters in Washington can manage to fit this area into her busy schedule, even while FDOT Sec. Stephanie Kopelousos remains MIA from the greater MIA/FTL.
You'll recall that in the past my chief criticism of Kopelousos
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Stephanie%20Kopelousos has been that, regardless of whatever else her particular strong suits may prove to be in the future, as it involves South Florida, she NEVER seems to actually be anywhere.
That is, except at functions full of either schmoozing politicians, engineers or industry people.
But NEVER anywhere that citizen taxpayers can ask herquestions, and make her accountable for the FDOT policies and process that she's responsible for giving direction to.
Meanwhile, if anything happens in Jacksonville:
I get the whole "de-centralized agency" mantra I'm always hearing FDOT folks spout on TV, I just want to see her actually down here once in a while, if it's not too much trouble.
I referenced this well-written Florida Trend profile of her last month here, and as I mentioned a few weeks back, I think I may've even spoken to her a few times when she was still working in Rep. Tillie Fowler's Capitol Hill office:
Profile: Stephanie Kopelousos
Hard Road Ahead for State Roads
By Cynthia Barnett
To quote Transit Miami's Gabriel Lopez-Bernal in a recent email responding to some comments of mine about Kopelousos having an event in Destin, of all places, http://www.wjhg.com/news/headlines/26001299.html even while continuing to avoid road trips here to give South Florida's taxpayers some answers, "It is interesting that Destin's terrible congestion issues take center stage..."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the news of getting people from Point A to Point B...
State contractors continue contributing to Gov. Blagojevich
Think Virginia is short on transportation money?http://hrblogs.typepad.com/the_shad_plank/2008/07/think-virginia.html
Morning Bell: Bringing Accountability Back to Transportation Funding
Posted July 29th, 2008 at 9.11am in Ongoing Priorities. http://blog.heritage.org/2008/07/29/morning-bell-bringing-accountability-back-to-transportation-funding/
A NEW TRANSPORTATION APPROACH FOR AMERICA
Featuring MARY E. PETERS
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
August 1, 2008 12-1:30 p.m. Hilton Miami Downtown
I. Welcome and Opening Remarks
Humberto P. Alonso, Jr.
Chair, Greater Miami Chamber Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
Vice President, PBS&J
Neisen O. Kasdin
Chair, Greater Miami Chamber New World Center Committee
Shareholder, Akerman Senterfitt
III. A New Transportation Approach in America
Mary E. Peters
Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation
IV. Q&A Session
Neisen O. Kasdin
V. Closing Remarks
Humberto P. Alonso, Jr.
Mary E. Peters was nominated by President George W. Bush on September 5, 2006, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 15th Secretary of Transportation on September 30, 2006, after spending more than two decades within the industry.
Secretary Peters brings a unique perspective to her role as the nation’s transportation chief, having spent her career working on transportation issues in the private and public sectors, including leading both federal and state transportation agencies. This hands-on experience allows her to understand and appreciate the real-life aspects of planning, building and operating transportation systems on local, regional and state levels.
As secretary of transportation, she is responsible for maintaining a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system, while leading an agency with almost 60,000 employees and a $70.3 billion budget that oversees air, maritime and surface transportation missions.
Prior to joining President Bush’s Cabinet, Peters worked in Phoenix, AZ, as the national director for transportation policy and consulting at HDR, Inc., a major engineering firm. She was responsible for building a management consulting practice and formulating public policy initiatives for the firm's transportation program.
In 2001, the President asked Peters to lead the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). As FHWA Administrator from 2001 to 2005, she placed special emphasis on finding new ways to invest in road and bridge construction, including innovative public-private partnerships that help build roads faster and at less expense. She also was a strong advocate for using new technology to reduce construction time, saving taxpayer money and resulting in safer, longer-lasting roads and highways.
From 1985 to 2001, she served in the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). A fourth-generation Arizonan and an avid motorcyclist, Secretary Peters holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix and attended Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for State and Local Government
Just wanted to give you a head's-up on this unusually unbiased essay in the LA Times on shifting definitions of "reporter" in a changing environment for purposes of a shield law, which I'm against.
The definition at the heart of the Scott Gantt essay is actually the same one that the Justice Dept. has been using for a while, since I've gotten emails to this effect from different people on different issues.
Also wanted to share some thoughts with you regarding the jerk who finally got his long overdue comeuppance (and arrested), Sen. Ted Stevens.
I suspect everyone outside of The Beltway who didn't know anything about him other than "The Bridge to Nowhere," are about to find out more than they ever wanted to know about this career pol with the five-finger di$count policy for Ala$ka.
To wit, now that he is walking the plank, and also faces a tough election, lots of people who've crossed paths with him in the past may finally have the moral backbone to tell anecdotes that explain why he is something I've known for quite some time: easily one of the five most detested pols in all of Washington.
(His Democratic opponent is popular Anchorage mayor, Mark Begich,
see http://www.muni.org/mayor/mayor.cfm and http://begich.com/
One of my uncles was a school teacher in Nome during the 1960's before returning to Bandera.)
Based on my own 15 years in DC, thousands and thousands of hours on the Hill, being friends with staffers who were both very conservative YAF-type Republicans and way-out Cali liberals, and based on actually seeing him in action, in person at hearings, as well as away from the Hill,
frequently lashing out at people where nobody could see, I'd say that Stevens is going to find that the people he went out of his way to be unkind to, to screw with, on a personal level, will relish the opportunity to see him squirm like a bug as DOJ goes for the career kill-shot.
In part, this is because just like a 'big-for-his-age' fourteen-year old, who's constantly "acting up," he's also got the knack down for always looking to provoke a fight with people, regardless of the issue or who they are. He just likes to have his anger fed.
That's just a part part of why he is so loathed, regardless of the phony photo ops he's staged with his colleagues. It's a facade!
If he hadn't been around when Alaska first became a state, it's hard to imagine someone with his personality getting elected, since he'd never have been able to sustain the normal equality-based relationships you need to move up to the U.S. Senate.
Instead, Stevens simply started at the top and stayed there by hook -or by crook!
People who deal with Sen. Thad Cochran might think he's a bit of an effete phony, or that former Sen. Connie Mack (and his staff) weren't exactly known for being the hardest workers in the world, but they don't necessarily think they're personally a jerk because of it.
Frankly, they just think it's Mississippi and Florida's problem!
They just are what they are, and if you want to be effective, you don't let his personality interfere with your becoming a co-sponsor of his bill if you actually support what it aims to do -or prevent.
The same can't be said of Ted Stevens.
Stevens was known by lots of people I knew in D.C. as a guy who, sadly, always seemed to be looking to screw with people who didn't do what he wanted, now or in the distant past.
To settle old scores or perceived slights.
You'd think that by the time someone has been in power as long as Stevens has been, that he'd have come to accept that on some issues, people are just going to vote their conscience, you know, no matter how effectively he wheedles, threatens or cajoles.
His 'good old days,' where he could put the screws to people, is about to turn upside down on Stevens.
When I first moved to the Washington, D.C. area twenty years ago, I became a big admirer of the late Sen. John Heinz III.
I got to know him and his staff pretty well because of the issues that I was working on at the time, which necessitated lots of time in and around the Senate Banking Committee and its various subcommittees.
(See http://www.library.cmu.edu/Research/Archives/Heinz/HJH_Bio.html and
Back when Donald Riegel of Michigan was the committee chairman, the Banking Committee's coed softball team nickname was The Bank Robbers, and Riegel would actually come to their games on The Mall, not just his own office's softball games.
People really notice little things like that, you know?
I know I certainly did.
(See http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=15869 and
The Sen. Heinz I saw and spent time with was personable, funny and thoughtful in a way that very few folks on the Hill were, esp. Members of the House or Senate.
In particular, I recall that he didn't like to see people taken advantage of, regardless of whether it was by Senate staffers, other Senators or agency bureaucrats defying people to call their bluff.
I could tell you a few stories about some things he did anonymously for people in real trouble,
including non-constituents, both because he cared and because he could.
Hard as it may be to believe, when I was actually around him and his staff, I'd often forget how absurdly rich he was, because his personality was, from my experiences, so selfless in ways that were just so damn admirable, almost like a throwback to an era that only exists in Frank Capra's great films, but which we want to believe really did once exist.
Though it sounds odd, I know, since he was like 25 years older than me, I sometimes thought to myself as I watched him, 'Boy, his parents really did a great job raising him.'
But it was true.
One of my first housemates in Arlington was a student protege of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone
when he'd been a prof at Carleton College, and used to talk about him quite a bit before Wellstone decided to run for the Senate as the ultimate underdog candidate in 1990, traveling around the state in his campaign's school bus.
He shocked everyone when he defeated multi-millionaire incumbent Rudy Boschwitz.
I mention this anecdote only because even more so than was the case with the Paul Wellstone aviation accident in 2002 -made all the worse because his wife and daughter also perished- the air accident that claimed Sen. Heinz in 1991 really hit people on the Hill very hard, me included, because he'd been around for so much longer.
I honestly thought that at some point in the future, he was probably going to be the first Republican I ever cast a presidential vote for. Instead, that was Bush 43 in 2004.
For most of the first five years I was up in DC, I always got my hair cut over in the Senate Barber Shop, in part for the great atmosphere and in part for the amazing level of gossip one could hear there when Members weren't around.
Then as now, it attracted not just Senate staffers, but also the sort of blue collar (for D.C.) folks who always felt some sense of class alienation when they were on The Hill, despite working there.
That included lots of employees from the huge Capitol Architect's office, the craftsmen and trade professionals, Capitol Police, et al, who make everything work smoothly at the Capitol and in the Senate buildings. In other words, the institutional memory of The Hill!
Despite his immense wealth, most of these guys felt Sen. Heinz was a 'regular guy,' just as they did our own Sen. Lawton Chiles.
(Sen. Chiles was a man I first met and campaigned with while walking door-to-door with in my hometown of North Miami Beach in 1976, his first re-election bid, trailed by a Channel 7 cameraman, just waiting for a great shot of some voter being shocked to open their door and See Sen. Chiles going door-to-door.
I'll have a lot to say about Sen. Chiles in future posts.)
Some people are just likable, even if they're politicians.
The opposite end of the emotional spectrum was where you'd find their feelings toward cocky and embittered Ted Stevens.
To me, Stevens always seemed like one of those stock character actors in a late '40's Western, who get themself killed about half-way thru a film, largely because they simply couldn't follow the rules or keep their nasty disposition in check.
So, they die a stupid or painful death because someone in charge decided they can't put up with it anymore, and need to "send a message" to everyone else on the trip west.
In the sad days and weeks after Sen. Heinz's death, more than a few well-informed folks I spoke to said, sotto voce, variations of the following:
"Why couldn't it have been that prick Stevens who died?"
I'll never forget that the first time this sentiment was expressed to me was over breakfast at a wonderful restaurant, Au Pied De Cochon in Georgetown, one of my favorite places to relax and unwind in D.C., esp, on Spring and Fall Sundays.
If you're ever up in Washington when the weather is nice, grab a seat halfway between the front door and the bar, you'll know exactly what I mean.
It's located at 1335 Wisconsin Avenue, and is open 24 hours a day, which is very handy when you have writer's block at 2 a.m., as has happened to yours truly a time or two.
(Also on the list of detested D.C. pols, esp. by their former staffers: Leon Panetta, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, who as everyone knows, married Sen Heinz's widow, Teresa.)
When you (finally) start hearing negative personal stories about Ted Stevens bubbling up thru the media, disregard your usual caution and remember this post of mine, and consider them almost 100% likely true.
The worm is definitely turning on Senator Ted Stevens.
Few deserve it more.
Mieux tard que jamais!
Los Angeles Times
Who's a journalist?
The proposed federal law to protect reporters and their sources draws a tenuous line between bloggers and professionals.
By Scott Gant
July 28, 2008
As the August recess for Congress fast approaches, supporters of a federal shield law for journalists are pressing for a vote on the Senate floor. A version of the bill, called the Free Flow of Information Act, passed in the House 398 to 21 in October, and now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take it up before lawmakers leave Washington for the rest of the summer.
Shield laws protect journalists from having to turn over certain information to courts -- such as the identity of a source, story notes or documents. Advocates contend that safeguarding journalists and their sources ensures that the public has access to the information it needs to watch over the government, powerful corporations and other important social institutions. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia protect some journalists through such laws or court rulings.
For the rest of the story, see
Scott Gant is a Partner in Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP's Washington office, whose practice includes constitutional law, wrote "We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age."
Also see http://www.bsfllp.com/lawyers/data/0055
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Five applicants remain in running for Marco Island police chief
By KELLY FARRELL
July 21, 2008
Making it to the final five is no fantasy for the remaining candidates vying for the position of Marco Island police chief.
A towering stack of nearly 250 resumes for the position has been narrowed down to the top five applicants by City Manager Steve Thompson. The position pays a maximum salary of $103,364 plus a fringe benefit allowance.
Two applicants are from within the Marco Island Police Department including acting Chief Thom Carr and Officer Ed Stenzel.
"I knew this position was desirable but you've got some heavy guns there competing ... I'm elated that the city manager put me in the group with them," Carr said.
While this will be Carr's first interview for a police chief position, two of the other candidates, Nicholas Kaiser of Troy, N.Y., and Thomas Magill of Hallandale Beach, have at least four years experience as police chiefs in their current departments.
Magill, 54 has been chief of the Hallandale Beach Police Department in Broward County since January 2004 and has worked for the department since 1974. He is the third generation of Magills in law enforcement, he said.
Magill was in meetings until 9 p.m., Monday, and first learned that he was among the top five contenders when contacted by the Eagle.
"I was smiling from ear to ear," he said, after he read the e-mail during a break in his meeting.
Although he was honored to be considered among five successful candidates, he said the decision to leave Hallandale isn't an easy one.
"I love Hallandale with all my heart ... (My leaving) is done out of love. I want all my friends to have the opportunity to succeed like I have succeeded," Magill said of his coworkers in Hallandale.
Magill said he sees himself as a police officer before a chief.
"I may be a police chief but I'm still a police officer. I wouldn't ask another police officer to do anything I wouldn't do myself," he said.
Magill plans to visit Marco Island prior to an interview in the next couple weeks to become further familiarized with the island, which he visits frequently. He recalls a photograph of his children sitting on the mermaid statue at the Marco Island Marriott from one of his first visits many years ago.Kaiser, 60, has a condominium in Port Charlotte purchased last year and has visited Southwest Florida but says he has few other state or local ties. He is the Troy, N.Y. police chief and the department is about four times the size of the Marco Island Police Department with 122 sworn officers and a $14 million budget.
The Marco Island Police Department has 32 sworn officers and a $3.9 million budget.
Kaiser said learning Florida laws will not be an "insurmountable challenge" and his priorities would include community policing and providing a high quality of life on Marco Island.
"I'd look at the crime problems ... Doesn't seem like you have many," he added.
Marco Island's violent crime rate is one-tenth of the national average and property crime rate one-third the national average, according to the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement.
Carr has been the acting chief since Roger Reinke became Naples' assistant city manager in May. Carr started his career in Indianapolis and is one of the original members of the Marco Island Police Department, formed nine years ago.
"I've been preparing for this since the department has been here," Carr said.
He added that he was not surprised to see Stenzel among the final five. Stenzel did not return phone calls to comment.
" ... (Stenzel) is very qualified and I encouraged him to apply," Carr said, adding that it would not be awkward if he became second in command to Stenzel upon completion of the interviews Aug. 1.
Stenzel, currently a patrolman, has 38 years of law enforcement experience including two years prior experience as assistant chief of police in Milwaukee, Wis.
He has nearly as many years experience in law enforcement as the youngest of the five candidates has in years of life.
The youngest, Edward Preston, 40 originally from Bradenton is currently the deputy chief of police for the New Bern Police Department in North Carolina. He described New Bern as an area similar to "Southwest Florida in the early '80s."
Preston added, "This is an opportunity to move back to where I'm from. I only applied for one job. This is it."
Preston, a Persian Gulf War veteran of the Marine Corps, said he is eager to learn the "vision" that citizens, department heads and the city manager has for the police department.
All five candidates will be interviewed Aug. 1 The interview panel will be made up of the city's five department directors and Chief Rob Petrovich from the City of Cape Coral, who Thompson said came highly recommended from other area city managers.
"I have as many questions for (the panel) as folks will probably have for me," Preston said.
Read Thomas A. Magill's resume (.pdf)
Feeling the very negative way that I do about Hallandale Beach Police Chief Thomas Magill, I genuinely hoped that Marco Island would've been foolish enough to hire him, so that he could get
out of Dodge as soon as possible.
Then, the residents of the City of Hallandale Beach could've finally had a long overdue public airing about what sorts of qualities they're looking for in a Police Chief, and the sorts of policies its residents want to see their new top cop pursue.
Maybe select someone who, unlike Magill, actually thinks that having a regular daily police presence along the public beach is a good idea, esp. on weekends, and beer-y obvious three-day holiday weekends in particular.
It not only would give peace of mind to HB residents and visitors enjoying themselves, but also
greatly relieve the strain and anxiety of the (contractor) lifeguards out there, who have long felt they're out-manned, and already have a tough job to do when its crowded.
Who knows, perhaps a police presence at the beach on a more regular basis might actively discourage people from using the mesh aluminum benches as grills -even to the point of placing charcoal on them- and thinking they'll get away with it -again.
(With obvious physical damage to the bench.)
Maybe a more consistent police presence at the beach would also discourage throngs of kids from Miramar High School from coming over after school during the school year, and, as happened a few months ago, choosing to settle some beef at school by coming over here and having a huge fight in the HB beach parking garage, with things being trashed left and right.
(Not that the Herald or Sun-Sentinel ever wrote about the incident.)
Perhaps a new HB Police Chief would think that actually having directional signs somewhere in the city indicating the physical location of the HB Police Dept. is a good idea, since as has been stated here before, there currently are NO such signs anywhere in the city. Really.
Who knows, maybe he'd even want to see a couple of directional signs at the city's busiest intersection -and the city's choke point- of U.S.-1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd., as is commonplace in most towns, large and small, in this country.
Honestly, why do you suppose that all the folks from Hollywood City Hall were so taken aback at the location confusion when they came down for the joint City Commission meeting a few weeks back? It's no big mystery. Lack of proper signage!(If you don't believe me, just ask them yourself. How do you suppose I know? They told me.)
Maybe HB can even hire a Police Chief who thinks it's a good idea for his Officers to take the initiative when they see long stretches of street lights out at night for more than a day or two, and collect that info somewhere when their shift ends, so that someone in the city will actually do something about it the next morning.
As opposed to the current reality of them either completely ignoring the public safety problem
for months at a time, as has been apparent for years, or, simply putting it in a "Quarterly Report" that practically nobody will ever read.
Who knows, maybe we can even get someone in charge who thinks that it'll be comforting to residents and taxpayers alike to have a regular police presence at that choke point of U.S.-1 and HBB, so that cars "in the block" actually get ticketed, as they would in Aventura, but never are in HB.
Maybe HB can even select a new Police Chief who takes the initiative to actually discourage crimes of opportunity from happening in the first place, by telling commercial property/strip mall owners that his Police Dept. and Officers really would prefer they fix their broken parking lot lights
-or have them actually come on/before sundown, instead of a few hours later- so that the customers are not in pitch black conditions when they leave a store or restaurant, for weeks or months at a time, as is currently both common and self-evident in areas all around town.
You'd think that the terrible things that have taken place at the Boca Mall -twice- would've gotten people's attention, but not property owners in HB, who just shrug their shoulders.
Taubco's property on U.S.-1 and HBB, where the very popular Argentine restaurant se llama The Knife is still located, has been a problem since at least last year.
(That area will be the focus of an upcoming post of mine, complete with photos to prove my points, called, quite simply, Thumbs Down on Hallandale Square.
I'll describe what I see as problems in that project, which Taubco got City Commission approval for in June, despite what I feel are several ominous portents in several areas.)
Supposedly, there's even a group of HB Police Officers who use bikes while patrolling -at least in the Fall or Winter- but I've personally NEVER seen them in the four-plus years I've lived here, which I think is pretty telling.
Especially given how much I get around town and the diversity of people I speak to about issues and conditions around the city.
How about a Police Chief that believes that everyone in the city should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and whose Dept. doesn't wink at city officials or staffers continually taking advantage of their position to enjoy benefits, resources or opportunities that are not open to everyone?
(Situations that I've been on top of for months, going back to last year, not only taking photographs, but also drafting letters about the incidents themself to the real law enforcement people in this state, just waiting for the right moment to simply press "Send" and "Post" on my computer.)
How about a Police Chief who has the good common sense to realize that he should NOT appear in paid political ads and literature?
Prior to coming across this Marco Eagle story last week, I'd planned on revisiting the Magill story on Monday, since it marked the sixth month anniversary of this devastating Jan. 28th article by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's John Holland.
South Florida Sun-SentinelHallandale to pay to settle one of two former police officers' lawsuitsBy John Holland
January 28, 2008
HALLANDALE BEACH - City commissioners have agreed to pay more than $100,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging Police Chief Thomas Magill falsified evidence, a city board held an illegal meeting and detectives persuaded a felon to lie under oath about a fellow officer.
Mayor Joe Cooper and attorney Alberto Milian, who represents former Hallandale Beach
Police Officer Talous Cirilo, confirmed the city's settlement with Cirilo but would not comment further, citing a confidentiality agreement. However, Cooper said the payment was more than $100,000, including attorney fees.
"I'd love to talk about this and tell people what happened, but unfortunately I can't," Cooper said.
Magill referred questions to City Attorney David Jove, who could not be reached for comment.
The settlement comes less than two months after Cirilo filed two lawsuits against the city, alleging wrongdoing in the department and City Hall. Hallandale officials fired Cirilo, alleging excessive use of force, even though a jury acquitted him on battery charges.
Cooper said the secrecy is warranted because a separate lawsuit, filed in federal court by former acting Police Sgt. Mary Hagopian, has not been settled. She promised to speak about the settlement at a later date "if I'm allowed to."
Magill and City Manager Mike Good fired the officers two years ago after prosecutors charged them with misdemeanor battery on prisoner Michael Brack. Early on April 1, 2005, Brack beat his brother as they fought in a moving car, then attacked officers who tried to intervene, according to arrest records and police reports.
Months after the arrest, a civilian employee said Cirilo choked and used a Taser device excessively on Brack.
More than a year later, the State Attorney's Office charged Cirilo with three misdemeanor battery counts. Hagopian was charged with a misdemeanor for using the stun gun on Brack as he struggled with officers in a jail holding area.
Defense lawyers said Magill orchestrated the charges as part of a vendetta against Hagopian and to show his bosses at City Hall he was a disciplinarian. Testimony at trial showed police employees mishandled two key pieces of evidence - a video surveillance tape and software from the Taser - distorting the confrontation between the officers and Brack, defense lawyers argued.
Prosecutors tried the officers separately, but jurors reached the same conclusion, acquitting them after about 15 minutes of deliberation.
After the acquittals, the officers tried to get their jobs back, but Magill and city officials refused.
In one of the lawsuits, Milian accused the city civil service board of holding an illegal meeting outside City Hall on Oct. 9, 2007, one week before a scheduled hearing on the reinstatement.
Florida law mandates that all meetings be advertised and prohibits public officials from meeting out of the public eye or discussing cases with each other. At least six board members met and discussed the meeting in a "knowing violation" of the law, according to the lawsuit.
Good, the city manager, could not be reached for comment.
Hagopian, a 15-year veteran, and Cirilo, on the force for five years, hired different lawyers and filed in different jurisdictions but made the same argument: Magill pressured his internal affairs officers and detectives to manipulate evidence and coerce false statements out of Brack so he could fire the officers and enhance his image as a reformer.
Magill used public money to have officers track down Brack on a Louisiana oil barge, where he ended up after leaving Broward County and forfeiting his bail, both lawsuits assert.
The State Attorney's office dropped all the assault charges against Brack, including the attack on his brother, then used him to testify against the officers.
The chief temporarily assigned several officers to internal affairs without any training, for the sole purpose of building a false case against the officers, Hagopian's lawyer Rhea Grossman said in court papers.
Magill sparked criminal charges against Hagopian "by preparing directly or at his direction police reports containing false or misleading information," Grossman wrote. Both lawsuits contend Magill elicited false testimony and compiled misleading evidence that he took directly to prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch tossed out four counts last month, saying they belong in state court. He refused to dismiss two others, including one alleging Magill presented false information to prosecutors so Hagopian would be arrested. Zloch also let stand a charge that the city had a policy of not training internal affairs officers that, Hagopian argued, "encourages fabricated evidence for the sole purpose of allowing the whims of its police chief to terminate employees."
Milian said last week that the jury's quick acquittals proved the charges were bogus.
"This case was an abomination from the very beginning, and good officers were hurt," Milian said. "It could ultimately have a chilling effect on officers who want to protect themselves and their colleagues but are afraid because they could get in the same type of situation."
John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or at 954-385-7909.__________________________________
Reader comments at:
Since it appeared in the Sun-Sentinel six months ago, the subject has never once appeared in the Miami Herald.
That's very curious wouldn'y you say?
Continuing with that particular theme, later today I'll finally be posting the entire contents of my letter to Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal, Herald Broward AME Patricia Andrews and the Herald's sometime ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, about their local news coverage. Portions of that were recently printed by Henry Gomez at his Herald Watch blog, http://heraldwatch.blogspot.com/
On Monday night, Magill took his name out of consideration for the Marco Island position.
See Marco police chief candidate withdraws leaving four applicants vying for position
By Kelly Farrell, Updated 08:16 p.m., July 28, 2008
Along the lines of what I've written above, consider the following, taking place in Memphis, the city where my family and I lived for three years before we came to South Florida in the summer of 1968:
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Police director sues for critical bloggers' names
Site popular with citizens, officers
By Amos Maki
July 22, 2008
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and the city of Memphis have filed a lawsuit to learn who operates a blog harshly critical of Godwin and his department.
The lawsuit asks AOL to produce all information related to the identity of an e-mail address linked to MPD Enforcer 2.0, a blog popular with police officers that has been extremely critical of police leadership at 201 Poplar.
To see the rest of the story, see:
Monday, July 28, 2008
Party vote: Bar scene used to get younger voters involved
By Daniel Chang
July 28, 2008
The Hollywood nightclub is dark and the music so loud that conversation means leaning into an ear and shouting.
But the drinks are free until midnight, and anyway most in the upstairs room of Passion nightclub are dancing, not talking.
Still, Chris Chiari, a Democratic candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, mingles in the crowd, drink in hand, campaigning.
He shouts, by way of conversation: "This is real political action.''
This, to be exact, is Party Politics Inc. -- the latest, but not the first or only effort to engage 20-somethings in politics by appealing to their inner party animal.
The idea is simple: host parties with a two-hour open bar about once a month at South Florida nightclubs. Post fliers at local colleges and send messages to friends on Facebook and MySpace.
The target audience: Generation Y, or Echo Boomers, or Millenials. Really, anyone born between 1980 and 1994.
Sometimes, partygoers are asked to register to vote, or to fill out an absentee ballot request form. But mostly they're left alone to mingle with each other or with elected officials and candidates working the room for votes and campaign volunteers.
''We don't have long, boring speeches,'' says Alexander Lewy, 27, of Hallandale Beach, who co-founded Party Politics in fall 2007 with Matthew Baratz and Anthony Joyce, two 22-year-olds from Pembroke Pines.
Though Party Politics is registered as a Florida corporation and not a political entity -- and despite the protestations of its founders that they're a nonpartisan group -- the Democratic leanings are obvious and deep:
Baratz, Joyce and Lewy are officers of the Broward Young Democrats, which helps sponsor some of their events.
Joyce, who made a failed but well-publicized run for Pembroke Pines mayor in 2004, is an assistant to State Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs). Lewy, a congressional aide to U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Miami), just launched his first run for public office, on the Hallandale Beach City Council.
Even the visual cues are Democratic: the Party Politics logo is a donkey -- ''It's actually a piñata . . . seriously,'' Lewy says -- and a flier for the recent nightclub party featured an image of the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, and a riff on his campaign slogan: "Yes We Can Party.''
Yet the group will organize events for candidates of any affiliation, Lewy insists. ''We don't force politics on anybody,'' he says.
Political affiliations aside, Party Politics's six events since November have drawn about 1,000 people, Lewy says. Baratz estimates those same events have led 150 people to register to vote or to fill out an absentee ballot request, says Baratz, an accountant and the only Party Politics founder not employed by an elected official. He also credits Party Politics for an estimated 20 percent increase in attendance at Broward Young Democrats' monthly meetings, which draw about 70 people.
Those are modest numbers, to be sure. And that's OK by Lewy. The idea isn't to just get voters psyched about the presidential election, he says, it's to motivate young Americans to engage in politics over the long term.
''It's not for the next four months,'' he says.
No matter whether Party Politics lives up to that test, the group is following a tried-and-true method for reaching young voters: personal, repeated contact, preferably in a friendly environment.
They're also doing it at a time when young voters are turning out to vote in larger numbers than in past elections.
Among voters 29 and younger, the Florida primaries in January drew 285,000, or 13 percent of the eligible population, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. The state's 2000 primaries drew 80,000 young voters, or 4 percent.
To be sure, a lot has happened since 2000 that would motivate voters of all ages to become more engaged in politics. But young voters are particularly aware of the times in which they've come of age.
''Eighteen- to 29-year-olds right now have grown up and were introduced to public life in a time when we had contested elections, ideological polarization, and terrorist attacks and wars,'' says Abby Kiesa, an outreach coordinator and researcher at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Add the spread of the 24-hour news cycle across TVs, computers and cellphones, and there's even more reason for young people to become politically engaged, Kiesa says.
Another development affecting young voters is that political campaigns are targeting them once again.
Elizabeth Matto, a political scientist who heads the Youth Political Participation Program for the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, says that for a time political campaigns assumed young voters just weren't interested.
''There was such a long period of decline in youth voter turnout that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy,'' Matto said. "So the less youth turned out, the less candidates would reach out to them.''
That attitude began to change after the 2000 election, Matto says, when only 42 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in America voted, compared to the high point of 55 percent in the 1972 presidential race.
Young voter apathy in 2000 also led to the emergence of groups such as Generation Engage, which brings political leaders to meet young voters in cafés, pool halls, and through video conferences; and Headcount, an effort to register young voters at rock concerts.
Perhaps the best known organization connecting youth interests and political activism is Rock the Vote, which was formed in 1990.
WILL IT LAST?
Even as these and other organizations work to engage young voters, though, no one assumes that 20-somethings will vote consistently in future elections or step up their political activism.
At the recent Party Politics event at Passion nightclub, Ruben Calixte, 25, of Lauderdale Lakes, said he was there more for the social networking than the politics.
It was Calixte's first time at a Party Politics event, but he said he intended to attend a meeting of the Broward Young Democrats and look into possibly joining.
He liked the idea of a political gathering in a nightclub and said the atmosphere did not dumb down the idea of activism.
''This is what people my age are doing,'' he said. "We like to go out to clubs. In order to get our attention, you have to go to where we are.''
A few days after the event, Baratz, one of the co-founders, reflected on the future political participation of the partygoers.
''Of course, yeah, on the one hand they're going for free booze,'' he says. "But on the other hand they're meeting new people and they know that, I would say, politics is in the air and it's just giving them an opportunity.''
Indeed, Chiari, the Democratic candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, sensed a recruitment opportunity in the crowd of more than 150.
''Even if 10 to 15 people become core activists, one person can knock on 100 doors a day,'' Chiari shouted above the noise. "There are people here tonight who will end up walking my precinct for me.''
Until then, they were just drinking and dancing. And maybe next time, they'll come back for more.
Reader comments at: http://pod01.prospero.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?msg=51894&nav=messages&webtag=kr-miamitm
You really have to see the somewhat bizarre photo accompanying the article on the Herald's URL, before the Herald moves it to archives in another six days, where the photos are never to be seen again. It looks like it could've been for a Girls Gone Wild Internet banner ad.
Someone pulling down their shirt to show off their cleavage.
Except it's a dude!
That cracked me up, though I don't know whether or not that was the intent.
For what a possible precursor of that group would've been like, in Washington, see http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=12957&utm_source=inform&utm_medium=lobox&utm_campaign=InformBox
What follows are a few comments on my own involvement in the early Nineties with some DC-area groups not totally dis-similar to the one described above.
Okay, they were completely different.After a couple of rather uneventful years as a member of the Texas State Society, owing to my having been born in San Antonio and my family having lived continuously in Texas since 1855, due largely to the 'much-older and married' vibe of the organization at the time, I looked around for greener social pastures, unsure of what I was looking for exactly.
The third group I got involved with was Democrats of a New Generation, in 1993, which was the Under-35 vanguard of the National Democratic Club, http://www.natdemclub.org/ , back when they had a very nice three-story building of their own on Ivy Street, S.E., just east of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) HQ, http://www.democrats.org/ at 430 S. Capitol St. S.E.
Back before the Gingrich Revolution came to fruition in November of 1994, which saw many of my friends lose their Capitol Hill jobs and move away for new jobs, careers or grad school -and which
led to literally dozens of gorgeous young college grads passing thru the doors of the Heritage Foundation on Capitol Hill, a rare bi-partisan success story!- the NDC was a very popular site for political fundraisers, as well as a gathering spot for Young Dems of liberal, conservative or, like me,
Oh, Democratic unity, thy elusive elixir of success!
Did I mention there was a bar???
Trivia wise, it's also where I was first offered the opportunity to be the congressional campaign manager for a popular northeast Dem mayor running in an open seat.
(As it happens, I've always liked Newt Gingrich personally, http://newt.org/ and have always found that his natural curiosity, love for history and zest for ideas a nice contrast with many well-known Dems I'd always admired from afar. http://www.americansolutions.com/default.aspx
That changed once I got to Washington and actually saw them for what they really were -all too human and too often, sadly, too hypocritical for words. In many cases, they were caricatures of themself, folks who, sadly, often seemed to only consult history books written between 1933 and 1963.
This open-minded attitude towards Newt has almost always put me at odds with almost everyone I knew within the party, save a few fellow DLC Dems like me, who could see why his early proposals had so much natural appeal, even as libs whined and fumed about Newt's personality or
tactics, caught up in their eternal blood feuds that always put personality over results for citizens.
Perhaps that's why over the past few years, I've looked for practical public policy solutions more from people with some connection to The New America Foundation than the Brookings Institution. Though I should hasten to add that I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for something from Brookings that isn't 'typical' Brookings work product, in the zillions of emails I get from them a month. See http://www.newamerica.net/ and http://www.brookings.edu/)
These activities were before the creation of a practical vehicle like the DC Society of Young Professionals website, http://www.dcyoungpro.com/index.cfm , which can tap into an always interested young adult market in DC thru the use of new technology and reach folks interested in volunteering and philanthropy that my groups could never have hoped to reach during the Bush 41
years and early days of Clinton.
Shortly before I joined DNG, I'd been on the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society's Washington D.C. Young Professionals organization, CIAO., which lasted a few years before everyone moved on as a result of career, age and family considerations.
Frankly, organizing events for our ACS group often proved frustrating, because compared to many similar-situated Young Professionals groups in the national capital area, esp. those of either an artistic or cultural bent, who already had a facility where they could host events, while we were trying to generate positive public awareness, new members and funds for the ACS, we also had to stay under very strict fundraising limits, which severely limited how much money we could spend on rent, food, invitations and incidentals for an event.
Back before everyone was emailing, texting, twittering and blogging like crazy, and printed invitations had to be done a certain way.
Not that we weren't already scrimping like crazy to begin with, because of our sense of purpose and dedication to making it successful, but our good intentions often ran head-first into local DC area caterers' confiscatory price structure, and their exclusive contracts at certain venues, which made them cost prohibitive even if we were given some slack on production costs, which we never were.
Because of my friendship and connections with some great folks over at the German Embassy on swanky Reservoir Road, one of my big pet projects was forever trying to organize a Breakfast with Wimbledon affair at the Embassy the morning of the Mens Finals, back when Boris Becker was always in the mix to win it. http://www.germany.info/relaunch/info/missions/embassy/embassy.html 4645 Reservoir Road NWThe NDC was the place where in the summer of 1988, along with hundreds of other politically active Dems, I watched the Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle Vice Presidential debate.
(Months earlier, in March of 1988, I'd predicted that Dukakis would pick Bentsen as his VP choice to some Bentsen LAs living in a very nice group house on Capitol Hill that I was very keen on moving into.
Naturally, none of them shared my level of confidence that he'd be chosen, despite the after-the-fact logic, but I had the last laugh, because I not only was proven right by his eventual selection, but also
found a great place ten times better over in Tenleytown, near American University, living next to the Japanese Ambassador's residence on Nebraska Avenue, N.W.
For obvious reasons, I was suddenly living along one of THE safest streets in all of the Greater Washington area.
In stark contrast to Capitol Hill and that townhouse I'd considered earlier, with its rampant street crime back then.
Many of my newly-made friends were victims of crime in that summer of '88, including a friend who'd gone to Austin and who had started a job over in Foggy Bottom at the State Dept.
He got robbed at gunpoint and beaten, not far from the front of Sen. and Mrs. Moynihan's then-home, which was across the street and down a few houses from me on E. Capitol Street, N.E., five blocks east of the U.S. Capitol.
The cops wanted him to come by the station because they were "too busy" to send an Officer.)
Because of my speed and my arm, just as had been the case in Little League and Pony League growing-up in North Miami Beach, I played centerfield for the DNG coed softball team in the Congressional softball league, which played twice a week for most of the summer.
We played all of our ballgames on the grassy areas of The Mall, mostly between the Air and Space Museum and the Washington Monument down on 15th Street, N.W., though more often than not we were near the well-known carousel near the Smithsonian Castle.
That often meant having to get used to the idea of un-suspecting tourists or locals walking or jogging in front of me or just behind me as I waited for the next pitch, esp. if I was playing deep, on the gravel pathways that connected the Capitol area with the Monument to the west.
Then it was sort of like playing traffic cop, and having to be concerned that somebody wasn't beaned by a fly ball as they strolled by.
My recollection is that the DNG team only played once, more-or-less directly near the Washington Monument, but it was something to remember for me, since centerfield actually sloped downward towards 15th Street and the tourists and Tour Mobiles.
Of all the many funny or ironic team nicknames I ever heard of while in D.C., the best was the Bank Robbers, the name of the Senate Banking Committee's softball team, back when their chairman was Sen. Donald Riegele of Michigan.
Due to my job responsibilities at the time, I rather quickly got to know many of the hard-working professional staffers there, not only from my frequent attendance at their myriad hearings, but over frequent chats in the hallways and down in the cafeteria over cold Cokes on sweltering mind-numbing days, conversations which were almost always about everything but work.
Yes, there were an awful lot of very smart and good-looking women working there, he said almost
Maybe not the kind of absurd Miami model 'good-looking' standard we're used to running into down here, from time to time, but the sort of bright, confident and attractive Midwestern girl-next-door good looks that never gets old for me, and for which I've always been a sucker for.
Instead, I'm just going to say it and leave it to a future post to pick up the conversation.
And then get some sleep.
After watching the series finale of the excellent ITV WWII series, Foyle's War, on PBS as part of their Masterpiece Mystery-about veteran Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle and his colleagues batting crimes and mysteries in the seaside town of Hastings during the war- roughly about 12:30 a.m., I flipped over to C-SPAN's Book TV to see who was on.
(See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/foyleswar/ , http://www.foyleswar.com/ and http://www.booktv.org/ )
The segment airing was After Words: Mahvish Rukhsana Khan author of "My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me" interviewed by Nancy Snow, senior research fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy which I'd seen parts of earlier in the day.
For purposes of information, while I was growing-up in the 1970's in North Miami Beach, I lived in a house next door to a wonderfully kind older Central European couple who loved gardening, both of whom were concentration camp survivors.
We had many, many conversations, the moral and philosophical points of which remain with me today.
Two of the undercurrents of the last episode of Foyle's War, "All Over," were the growing sense of anticipation that the war would be ending -V-E Day- and the growing anti-German sentiment and sense of revulsion following the news of the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp and what had transpired there.
So, half-asleep, I was not quite prepared to suddenly hear recent law school grad and newly minted author Mahvish Rukhsana Khan -whom you and I have never heard of for good reason- express her p.o.v. that, after roughly 30 visits to Cuba, she really thought the U.S. treated the Gitmo detainees just like the Nazis treated Jews.
Even more improbably, if possible, after admitting that -shocker!- she never met any of the high-risk detainees, she expressed her disappointment at finding out that a man she was to meet accused of being either an Al Qaeda/Taliban member/sympathizer(?), actually looked much more like a kindly old man, not one of the 9/11 hijackers.
As it turned out, the man apparently had been a pediatrician in Afghanistan after the Russians retreated, and Khan went on at some length to talk about how middle-class the doctor was in his personal views.
Yet Khan admitted that while she was in Gitmo, she really wanted, perhaps even secretly hoped for, was to see a detainee who more closely approximated the physical appearance of the popular image of what a 'terrorist" looked like, but she never did.
A few moments later, almost as if I'd written it for entirely comic purposes, like two ships passing in the night, moderator Nancy Snow, a Cal State-Fullerton prof, expressed the p.o.v. that the truth is always much more complicated than simple black and white.
Who could argue with that simple maxim?
Yet Snow said it in such a smug, condescending way that it was readily apparent to me that she intended the remark to stand as a chastisement to U.S. popular opinion.
As if we were all just rabble, rolling around like a marble in an old car's trunk, completely unaware of any of the the complexities of the matter that someone of Snow's station knew implicitly.
What made it funny from my perspective was the fact that it was author Khan, whom Snow had already been interviewing for over a half hour, who had expressed the un-sophisticated stereotypical B&W p.o.v. she'd criticized, not some imaginary straw man named USA or the viewers.
Snow was so insistent on playing the role of the moral scold that she didn't let the facts get in the way.
You almost have to admire her, even while you're glad you were never stuck in one of her classes, since it must be sheer torture.
One more general criticism before I hit the sack:
Can I be the only person in the country who's noticed the steady decline of Book TV's interviewers and moderators?
They seem to be putting just about anyone on C-SPAN 2 these days, and that's not to even get at how bad the Book TV website has gotten, with LESS complete information available on the books there than ever before.
Nancy Snow is a senior research fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. She is also an associate communications professor at California State University, Fullerton and adjunct communications professor at the University of Southern California. Ms. Snow is the author of three books, including "Information War: American Propaganda, Free Speech & Opinion Control Since 9/11 public
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