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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Upcoming Broward and Miami-Dade Tri-Rail transportation workshops


Miami Herald
Tri-Rail moves along, but still on a rocky road
By Larry Lebowitz
September 22, 2008

The good: Tri-Rail smashed another ridership record last week. The South Florida Transportation Authority reported that 17,241 passengers boarded a Tri-Rail train on Thursday.

It was the second largest day in Tri-Rail's 20-year history, and all the more remarkable because it was just another Thursday in paradise and the record -- 18,452 -- was a once-in-a-lifetime event: the Miami Heat NBA Championship victory parade in June 2006.

Tri-Rail is consistently surpassing the 16,000 boardings-per-day mark -- more than double the 7,500 boardings a day the agency was recording just three years ago at the nadir of the double-tracking construction project from hell.

Public transportation numbers are up across the United States since gasoline prices spiked at $4 a gallon earlier this year. And in Tri-Rail's case, the numbers are continuing to rise even though gas prices have receded, ever-so-slightly back into the $3.70-to-$3.80 neighborhood.

With the 28 percent growth in year-to-year ridership, Tri-Rail ranks third, on a percentage basis, for ridership growth among commuter rail providers nationwide.

Now, the bad: It's still only 17,000 boardings a day in a car-crazed region of more than six million people and a gazillion tourists and snowbirds, and the local governments -- especially Broward and Palm Beach counties -- are making more noise about cutting Tri-Rail revenues next year.

They're already making it harder or more expensive for Tri-Rail passengers to get from the train to the bus to the office or home. Several of the critical connector routes that run from station to workplace and back are in danger.

Broward County Transit and PalmTran are starting to charge transfers that used to be free. Those connector routes are in danger.

Passengers will be digging deeper into their pockets just to get to and from work everyday.

It's still a bargain compared to gas and insurance and maintenance of a personal vehicle. But it's less of a bargain than it was a year ago.

If any of the three counties reduces its share of funding to the train, then it will set off a cascading series of events that will dramatically reduce the subsidies from the other two counties and 50 percent match from the state.

And now, the ugly: The commuter train's long-term future is as hazy as ever.

Tri-Rail has to start prepping for another year of dancing in the corridors of Tallahassee, hat in hand, begging the Legislature and the governor to finally adopt a dedicated local funding source. Rental car fees, license plate renewal fees, fees on fees. Everything is on the table, as it has been since 2003.

A series of Tri-Rail specific transportation summits are being set for each of the three counties between now and mid-November followed by a regional summit that will be set before the Legislature returns next year.

It might be a tougher sell in Miami-Dade, where the locals will already be suffering from DTSF -- Dueling Transpo-Summit Fatigue.

Miami-Dade will be inviting the community to gather and hear, once and for all, why the half-cent sales tax for transportation hasn't delivered many of the major promises of the 2002 campaign, why the money was diverted to other pressing needs, and then start to prioritize what's left.

South Beach photographer and agitator extraordinaire Bill Cooke took a potshot at Miami-Dade Transit in a recent not-so-private memo to Director Harpal Kapoor on his blog, "Random Pixels.''

Brandishing the 50-cent fare increase that goes into effect Oct. 1 like a barnacle-encrusted scabbard, Cooke riffed on an all-too-common complaint about Metrobus driver habits on his route, The South Beach Local:

"May I suggest that you use a fraction of that money to retrain your drivers. Specifically, you might want to refresh them with the rules that are posted on every bus and train in the county. You know, the ones that prohibit smoking, drinking or eating on buses.

"And you might want to start with the South Beach Local drivers since just this last week I saw no fewer than three drivers at different times eating while driving.

Transit's unionized drivers are supposed to have time in between runs for contractually mandated bathroom and food breaks. But when the routes run late, break time disappears.

''A side benefit of having drivers abide by the no-eating rule,'' Cooke notes, ``would be to cut down on the scores of cockroaches that now ride those buses for free!''

Streetwise thinks Cooke -- and Transit -- are missing an opportunity here. If the agency is so strapped for cash, why can't we charge the cockroaches fares?

Slightly less sarcastic side notes to the Transport Workers Union Local 291 and to Miami-Dade Transit: First, nobody should be riding any public transportation vehicle with vermin.

Second, this isn't an isolated rant from Metrobus passengers on Miami Beach. And it's not just about eating habits.

Do you have a commuting question or an idea for a future column? Contact Larry Lebowitz at streetwise@

MiamiHerald.com or call him at 305-376-3410 or 954-764-7026, ext. 3410.


The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority will host the first in a series of three county-specific transportation workshops Friday, September 26 on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton. The workshop, which is open to the public and free of charge, will be held at the Live Oak Pavilion from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration will be held from 12:45 to 1 p.m. Reservations may be made in advance by calling 954-788-7958.

The workshop will focus on discussions about future regional transportation needs, priorities and funding in Palm Beach County. Elected officials, transportation industry professionals, local government administrators, community activists and members of the general public who are concerned about sustainability and mobility within Palm Beach County are encouraged to attend.

Director James F. Murley, FAU’s Center for Urban & Environmental Solutions, will be the moderator. The agenda includes presentations by the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, South Florida Regional Planning Council, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Florida Department of Transportation, Palm Tran and the SFRTA. Additional topics to be discussed are the Florida East Coast Railroad Study, transit-oriented development and the proposed development for Tri-Rail’s Boca Raton Station.

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority
Palm Beach County Transportation Workshop
September 26, 2008

12:45 - 1:00 p.m. Registration

1:00 - 1:15 p.m. Welcome Remarks
- The Honorable Josephus Eggelletion, Jr., SFRTA Chair
- The Honorable Bill T. Smith, Jr., Esq., SFRTA Governor Appointee, Palm Beach County
Recognition of Elected Officials
- The Honorable Marie Horenburger, SFRTA Governing Board Member, Palm Beach County
Introduction of Moderator James F. Murley

1:15 - 2:10 p.m Regional Session
- Regional Overview - FAU CUES - presented by James F. Murley
- Southeast FL 2060 Vision Plan - presented by Carolyn Dekle
- TCRPC Strategic Regional Policy Plan - presented by Michael Busha
- SFRTA Strategic Regional Plan - presented by Joseph Quinty
- Q&A

2:10 - 3:20 p.m Palm Beach County - Session 1
- FDOT - represented by James Wolfe
- Palm Beach MPO - represented by Randy Whitfield
- Palm Tran - represented by Charles Cohen
- SFRTA - represented by Joseph Giulietti
- Q&A

3:20 - 4:15 p.m. Palm Beach County - Session 2
- Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) Study/Tri-Rail Jupiter Extension
presented by Scott Seeburger
- Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)/Station Area Planning - presented by
Kim Delaney
- Tri-Rail Boca Raton Station Proposed TOD - presented by
Tom Gustafson
- Q&A

4:15 - 4:30 p.m. Concluding Remarks - James F. Murley

Don't say you didn't know it was coming!

Details are finally coming together for the Miami-Dade and Broward transit workshops sponsored by Tri-Rail, SFRTA, which, I'm reliably told, will include a lot more real public input than usual, not just the agency and engineering/planning consultant types throwing jargon around.

The transportation workshop in Miami-Dade County will be on Friday November 14th at the Miami-Dade Expressway office located at 3790 N.W. 21st Street (across the street from Tri-Rail's Miami Airport Tri-Rail Station) and in Broward County on Wednesday November 19th at the International Game Fishing Association, located at 300 Gulf Stream Way (adjacent to Tri-Rail's Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Int'l. Airport Station at Dania Beach.)

You know, the non-airport "Airport" station!

Both workshops should begin at 8:30 a.m. and are slated to end around noon.

Special shout-out to Joseph J. Quinty, Transportation Planning Manager of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority for the very helpful information and feedback on some upcoming events that should foster some honest and healthy debate, something not always seen herebouts.

Now mark it on your calendar, toute-de-suite.

See also: http://www.tri-rail.com/announcements.htm

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HB Mayor Joy Cooper Freaks-out at City Comm. Mtg, -flees dais!

September 23rd, 2008 photo of Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting by South Beach Hoosier. Missing from photo -Mayor Joy Cooper.
If you look closely enough at the mounted TVs above the dais, they show the mayor's empty chair.

Wednesday night's Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting captured mayor Joy Cooper at her absolute brazen worst: by turns condescending, accusative, arrogant, sneering, abrasive and totally full of her bullying self, once again over-playing her hand.

Naturally, as this observer has seen on far too many occasions over ther past few years, the mayor, as is her established custom, tried to turn the events into one where she could try to play the 'victim card' as well.
"I take offense at..."

She never really quites pulls off the victim card, though, because more often than not, Cooper is the aggressive bully, upset that people are remaining independent and not bending to her will.

It was all so unseemly and un-necessary, yet it's representative of why Hallandale Beach needs fresh faces of reform come November to prevent the continuing sense of democratic decay under the older, sclerotic members, who are not only not friends of government reform, accountability, transparency and increased citizen participation in city business, but are, by their own recorded votes, their sworn enemy.

They are the very portrait of status quo for the well-connected and the well-heeled in this community, who like things done one way -their way!

The photo I took above captures the moments just after Cooper stormed off the dais, while Comm. Keith London, speaking via telephone, explained for the second time, his personal rationale for voting No on the city's proposed budget.

By late Thursday afternoon at Hallandale Beach Blog, you'll be able to find much more context and analysis on this mind-blowing meeting, this mini-Rorschach test, along with some well-chosen comments on some typically short-sighted and self-serving remarks by ethically-challenged Comm. William Julian, who once again showed his lack of character and class by his words and behavior.

I just wanted to let you know since you weren't there.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Sign of Hallandale Beach's Endemic Apathy is Staring Right at You -Get Even on Election Day!

Looking east from U.S-1 at the main construction site of what will be the retail component of The Village of Gulfstream, on what used to be the huge West parking lot of Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino.
September 17, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

I've got dozens of photos that I've taken over the past year of the construction all along U.S.-1, many of which I will be posting in coming weeks.

September 17, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

The sign above on U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from the Gulfstream Park Race Track
& Casino, lets you know that you're just feet away from the Hallandale Beach City Hall and the Hallandale Beach Police Department Headquarters.
But what should really be erected there is a warning sign complete with skull and crossbones: Beware all ye who enter forth...

In the time that I've lived here, it's continually shown itself to be a completely dysfunctional government, one that gives every impression of holding itself both apart and above the citizens and residents it's supposed to serve and protect, almost daring you at times to complain about its queer habits and erratic behavior by means of comparison to what's generally thought of as "normal" everywhere else.

The crazy thing is, they really DON'T seem to think they have to follow the laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the United States, whether of logic and reason, contracts, or, more to the point for this blog and the city's residents, simple things like the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records to name but one.
You see, they love nothing so much as, alternately, playing a game of "Pass the buck," or,
attempting to tie you up in knots of red tape and double-talk.

At times you'd swear they've perfected the legendary Abbott & Costello "Who's on First?" comedic routine, and adapted it to sub-tropical municipal government in trying to confuse you about who's really responsible for anything.
(Video of their routine at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M)
And good luck in trying to get an accurate and up-to-date City Hall organizational flow chart!

City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer reasonable questions posed to them bycitizens, and often even berate you for having the nerve to ask!
This has happened to me and many other residents I know enough times to be more than a sheer coincidence, even though I have a low threshold for tolerating govt. employee apathy or incompetency.
At some point, when you see the same behavior exhibited over and over again in just about every dept., you come to understand that it's just S.O.P. at Hallandale Beach City Hall.

One of the first things that any visitor here notices that both self-evident and quite shocking in its own backward way, is the blatant disregard by the HB Police Dept. and HB Fire Dept. for basic safety rules.
Common sense rules of behavior that are in place in every other American town, no matter how large or obscure.
City employees -and friends of theirs- routinely park "their cars" directly in front of the building's east entrance, often for hours at a time. That's right, I said for HOURS at a time.

While in every other town you'd find a clearly posted sign saying simply: "No Parking, Fire Zone, Cars Will be Towed," in Hallandale Beach, there are NO signs at all.
(Not even signs warning you that you are being monitored by security cameras when you are in the parking lot, as is standard procedure everywhere else. Par for the course!)

I've personally observed parked HB city vehicles parked there at the east entrance that have prevented HB Fire & Rescue vehicles from getting as close as possible to the building.
I've also personally spoken to individual members of HB Fire & Rescue after such incidents, and they were positively indignant that they are forced to put up with this sort of behavior in the Year 2008.

Oh, and one last thing.

The lights that are supposed to illuminate this sign in front of Hallandale Beach's City Hall HAVEN'T worked properly in over FOUR YEARS, either.
Just like their cousin down the block on U.S.-1/South Federal Highway, at the city border with the City of Aventura.

Since I've lived here, I've mentioned this simple fact to dozens of Hallandale Beach city officials, including Mayor Joy Cooper, City Manager Mike Good, his staff, the mendacious Police Chief...
None of them have done a thing, which is why, as of September 8th, 2008, the sign was STILL completely dark at night!

Around September 15th, an evening visit revealed that 1 of the 2 lights had finally started working within the previous few days.
But NOT both!

September 17, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Part of this light is from my camera flash.

September 17, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
In this photo you can clearly see what's what.

A Sign of Hallandale Beach's Endemic Apathy is Staring Right at You -Get Even on Election Day! Six weeks from today!

Video below shot on September 17, 2008 by South Beach Hoosier

A Sign of Hallandale Beach's Endemic Apathy is Staring Right at You -Get Even on Election Day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to Dark and Scary Hallandale Beach!

Monday September 22nd, 2008

U.S.-1/South Federal Highway
7:45 p.m.

You know that 'Welcome to Hallandale Beach' sign that's been out for over FOUR YEARS that I'm always complaining about?

Which one, there's two of them. The one in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall, or the one on the Broward County/Miami-Dade boundary with the City of Aventura, near the entrance to The Village at Gulfstream?
The latter.
What about it?
It's still out!

Now you can see for yourself what bad governance looks like.

It looks like this -years and years of continually making a bad first impression on visitors at night.

That's the City of Hallandale Beach, Florida in a nutshell in the Year 2008.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

re The Miami Herald and "off-shore drilling"

My comments per yesterday's Miami Herald article on oil drilling and a poll they commissioned were expressed in an email I sent to Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal, with a cc to sometime Herald ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos.

Drilling favored, Crist dips in new poll
High gas prices have more Floridians giving a thumbs-up to oil drilling, while Gov. Charlie Crist finds his luster fading, a new poll shows.
Sept. 20, 2008
By Lesley Clark and Jose Pagliery

Accompanying graphics for poll: http://media.miamiherald.com/smedia/2008/09/19/17/101908_flapoll.source.prod_affiliate.56.swf
Reader comments at:
September 20th, 2008

Dear Mr. Gyllenhall:

1.) Why is the Miami Herald continually unable to report on off-shore drilling intelligently?

2.) When are those much-discussed positive changes at the Herald going to start paying tangible dividends for readers?
I mentioned that I knew about the promise of some positive changes in my email to you of July 18th re the Herald's coverage of the Broward Charter Review Commission.
I ask because it doesn't seem like they're anywhere close to happening.

(Editor's note: please see my post of August 3rd, 2008 titled, A Letter to Anders Gyllenhaal of the Miami Herald on Local News Coverage. http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/letter-to-anders-gyllenhaal-of-miami.html)

As for the article I reference today, are Floridians polled for the story told that for the purposes of the poll, "off-shore drilling" means a facility at least 125 miles west of the state in the Gulf of Mexico, before responding?

Your pie graph on page one today gives the impression that they are, but then, as always in a Herald story on this subject, you quote someone in a story saying something that indicates they don't understand this.
That they don't favor drilling if it mars the view.
The view?
From what, 125 miles away?
There's no internal logic!

People can have the opinion they do, of course, but a poll where respondents are free to disregard the poll's basic predicate are of zero use to anyone.

"Supporters include Pinecrest attorney Nick Bohn, a Pinecrest lawyer, who said he believes drilling off the coast could relieve U.S. dependence on foreign oil. He said he's not worried about seeing oil rigs off the shoreline."
(Question: Is Nick Bohn a "Pinecrest attorney" or a "Pinecrest lawyer?" Most likely somebody who's sorry he agreed to be quoted by the Herald.)

In any case, you quote Nick Bohn as saying, "If it's because it's an eyesore, then put it out someplace they can't be seen,'' the Republican said. "You probably couldn't see them 10 miles off.''

Yes, that's true, but under current federal rules, they have to be 125 miles out at a minimum, i.e. 12.5 times farther out then the suggested ten miles.
The story makes Mr. Bohn seem like an idiot.

Honestly, IF someone can see the rigs that far, pay 'em the same as 'Noles coach Bobby Bowden and Gators coach Urban Meyer -combined- and get them to the Pentagon, pronto!

Florida has a large percentage of voters who are self-identified Independents, perhaps as large as 40%, if not more, in urban areas.

Everyone who follows politics here accepts as common knowledge the idea that those Independents are the voters who (largely) decide statewide elections.

But they are completely invisible in this story because it never quotes/interviews anyone ID'd as an actual Independent, only Republicans and Democrats. Why?

What do the large number of Independents in Florida think?
After reading this story, I still don't know.

Instead, the article states, "That number, however, reflects a partisan divide..."
Does it, really?
To me it reflects a poorly explained and executed poll.

Later, the article states, "The strongest opposition was in the Tampa Bay area."
So what exactly are those numbers for that part of the state, and why don't you wan tto share those numbers with your readers???
Is it 80-20%, 70-30%, 60-40%...?
It's very frustrating!

Reading this article was so painful that all I can do is repeat what I learned in the late '70's at North Miami Beach Senior High School, "Me duele la cabeza!"

Bewildered in Hallandale Beach

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tomorrow's News Today: Substitute "at The Biltmore Hotel" for "Beverly Hills"

So very predictable, tomorrow's Obama news today.
Just substitute "at The Biltmore Hotel" for "Beverly Hills."
Los Angeles Times
Barack Obama raises millions in Beverly Hills
Video: http://www.latimes.com/video/?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=2922248
TV crews are kept from two Beverly Hills fundraisers as John McCain mocks the Democrat's connection to celebrities.
By Dan Morain and Michael Finnegan,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
September 17, 2008

It was clear why Barack Obama's campaign barred television crews from a Beverly Hills mansion at twilight Tuesday as the Democratic presidential nominee mingled with movie stars on a giant terrace overlooking Los Angeles.

The cocktail reception was part of Obama's biggest night of Hollywood fundraising so far, an evening capped with a live performance by Barbra Streisand at the Regent Beverly Wilshire

The money paragraph is this one: Lest anyone be diverted by the Hollywood spectacle Tuesday evening, Obama's campaign denied TV crews access to the mansion and hotel events -- perhaps mindful of the political damage wrought by TV images of celebrities at Democratic nominee John F. Kerry's fundraisers in 2004.

See the rest of the column at: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/campaign08/newsletter/la-na-obamafund17-2008sep17,0,211476,full.story
Speaking of Obama, ethically-conflicted public officials and the power of lobbying money, in case you missed it 13 months ago, in the glamorous world of Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter and husband Russ Klenet of Russ Klenet & Associates.

On Aug. 25, Russ Klenet and his wife, Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, will host a $500-per-person breakfast at Cafe Bella Sera in Parkland. Klenet is a registered lobbyist in Tallahassee with a stable of clients that has included everyone from South Florida municipalities to Election Systems & Software, whose much criticized touch screen voting machines have drawn the ire of Democratic activists nationwide...

Klenet and Ritter are named on the invitation as event chairmen, but Klenet insisted his wife is the real draw. "We decided we'd be happy to welcome him to Broward County and that's it," he said. "I'm not making phone calls. I'm not raising money."

Klenet, a former legislative aide to now-state Sen. Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, is a longtime lobbyist with a client list that includes numerous cities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as well as the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers, Match.com and Tampa Electric Co

above from The St. Petersburg Times Politics, Obama follows fine line to stay clear of lobbyists
Co-host of a Broward event has state clients
, by Alex Leary, Times Staff Writer
August 16, 2007
With a big assist to their Politifact: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/32/

And be sure to read the comments below the article about what Oakland-area Obama supporter Zenophon Abraham -or someone purporting to be him- thinks of Floridian's concern about the corrupting influence of the intersection of politics and lobbying in Florida.

Speaking of a local official who gets too much attention, largely because of her money, connections, poor judgment and prenatural tendency to insert foot into mouth, see Bob Norman's recent Daily Pulp blog post at the about Ritter's recent appearance on CNN. titled Stacy Ritter Gets Her Mouth On. Norman also has the YouTube video of her appearance at: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2008/09/stacy_ritter_gets_her_mouth_on.php

See Norman's strong posts from last July and August on their antics and roles in our collective lives, 1.) Marital Law, Does Stacy Ritter's lobbyist husband swing her vote? at http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2007-07-26/news/marital-law/ ,

2.) The Stacy 'n' Russ Show Ritter & Klenet sounds like a lobbying firm at http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2007-08-02/news/the-stacy-n-russ-show/

3.) Reporter Accused of Stealing Notebook, at http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2007/07/reporter_accused_of_stealing_n.php

Another post of his about Klenet was this one from 2004, called Lobbyist- Lovin' Lori, How cash-fueled politics and a grudge could cause another election fiasco http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2004-07-01/news/lobbyist-lovin-lori/

And since we're still in hurricane season, might as well go back 13 months ago to the Herald's Glenn Garvin commenting on her big mouth: South Florida politics: Profiles in Hypocrisy, part 9,027 http://miamiherald.typepad.com/changing_channels/2007/08/south-florida-p.html

That came a month before yet another Herald story on Sept. 1st about their complicated intersecting personal and professional relationship and the voting machines the county would be purchasing. http://www.miamiherald.com/top_stories/story/222413.html
Miami Herald, Ritter's vote still raising eyebrows, By Dan Christensen

Just so there's no misunderstanding my point here, when Florida voters say they support, in theory, the concepts behind proposals like Lesley Blackner and Ross Burnaman's Hometown Democracy project -see http://southbeachhoosier.blogspot.com/2008/04/good-news-re-signature-petitions.html and http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&resnum=0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tab=wn&q=%22Florida+Hometown+Democracy%22&scoring=n - Comm. Ritter's husband is one of the persons who gets paid very handsomely to frustrate those citizens on behalf of very rich and self-interested groups like big government, Broward style.

Simply put, they don't want voters having an effective veto power over local officials' bad decisions involving planning and zoning over multi-million dollar projects thru an actual vote.

See his list of clients at http://olcrpublic.leg.state.fl.us/by_report.cfm?rpt_id=4387&CFID=3252&CFTOKEN=61690

As it says clearly on that website, he and his firm are the lead lobbyists in Tallahassee for the Broward League of Cities, which represents the interests of elected municipal officials, NOT the interests of the citizens whom those officials are supposed to represent.

When those interests conflict, guess who wins?

The evidence is all around you -elected officials, not citizens.

For instance, see these minutes of the January 18, 2001 meeting of the Broward County Charter Review Committeee: http://www.broward.org/charter/pdf/pii01174.pdf.

Mr. Weiss [ CRC member Richard Jay Weiss, Esq.] suggested that a member of the LOC attend every future CRC meeting and plan to inform the CRC of the League’s concerns regarding any agenda items. It was determined that all agendas and minutes of the CRC will be forwarded to Ms. Eileen Cudney, Executive Director of the LOC.

That's the same warped thinking that gives the (elected) hacks at the Broward League of Cities two prospective votes on the Ethics Board in the future if the measure is approved by Broward voters in November, even though their president at the time, HB mayor Joy Cooper, publicly questioned the need for the Ethics Board at the Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting held one week before the final public meeting of the most recent CRC in April.

(Like the CRC could really care what HB's City Commission thought, given that they were against so many of the very important ballot issues that the CRC members had been poring over for months! I guess I don't need to remind you that HB didn't have a single rep on the CRC.)

I know that because I was present for the entire length of both meetings and still have my contemporaneous notes. To quote something from my own blog:

"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."-New York Times, September 22, 1851

"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?" -Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission, on November 2008 ballot.

Six YEARS after the county's voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission has yet to live up to its responsibility.

That's why!


Monday, September 15, 2008

KHOU-TV anchor rips Entergy media rep for Houston power outage

Based on something I observed myself on the tube this morning, I sent this head's-up email earlier this afternoon to longtime South Beach Hoosier favorite Aaron Barnhart, TV critic of the Kansas City Star and the genius creator of the TV Barn website, http://blogs.kansascity.com/tvbarn/index.html one of the top TV sites in the country for the thoughtful and discerning TV viewer.
It doesn't really require much explanation to see where I'm coming from here.
September 15th, 2008

Dear Aaron:

Just a head's-up for something you'll likely be hearing about and maybe even seeing video of in the next few days.

Last night, thanks to DirecTV airing KHOU-TV 11 telecasts of Hurricane Ike coverage on Channel 361, discontinued as of today, I was able to watch something you rarely see any more on live TV: angry personal invective by a reporter/anchor who felt unencumbered by either common sense or ethics.

Naturally, this blow-up was completely misplaced and a real classic example of 'shooting the messenger,' something that you'd think someone in the TV news business would appreciate better than most folks.

Last night/early this morning, one of KHOU-TV's male anchors hosting their Hurricane Ike coverage from the studio really lit into the media rep for Entergy for the Houston area still largely being in the dark, his seeming to think it was a matter of simple incompetency, not pure logistics and manpower.

The rep said the company had aid agreements with other power companies and that people were coming in from 19 other states to help Texans get their power restored, had planes flying people around the state to get them in a position to do their job first thing Monday morning, were doing aerial surveys and had everyone in the company out in the field.

But he also admitted that it would likely be Monday or even Tuesday morning before they could add up all the disparate info and get a realistic idea of when power would be restored.

Obviously, here in South Florida, it's drilled into people that you have to be responsible for yourself and your own family for at least the first 72-96 hours after a disaster.
(Not that people are!)

There's no cavalry coming into town to knock on your door after a day or so to ask you if you want some grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup with your drums of drinking water, like a waiter. (After Hurricane Wilma in 2005, I was out of power for over 11 days.)

So, less than 48 hours after Ike hits, this anchor at Channel 11 is giving the Entergy guy enormous grief for everything not moving fast enough to suit him.

Finally after a few minutes of this, the Entergy media rep said that he'd had enough, that he wasn't going to put up with any more negative media reporting not based on the facts on the ground, when everybody in the company was doing their best under trying circumstances to get power restored. (Their homes are out, too!)

And the anchor just kept going on and on about what a poor job Entergy was doing...

It was pretty wild drama to stumble upon by accident, but made worse by my not being able to tape it right away, and the station not showing the name graphic of the anchor while he was on his tangent, which is why I can't tell you his name or the name of the female anchor at the studio desk with him. (Ed. Note: Or if they did, I was too stunned to notice it.)
Sorry about that!

The power rep explained that his company's customers were not all clustered in just a few easy-to-resolve urban areas like CenterPoint Energy Inc., but were instead spread out over a much larger geographical area, including most of the rural communities affected by Ike.

The anchor couldn't care less.

He repeated his claim that Centerpoint was clearly doing a much better job, and then it got even more heated.

Despite the fact that from the very beginning, and to their great credit, KHOU was posting nearly everything they broadcast onto videos you could see on their website, not surprisingly, this particular encounter is not yet on the station's website.
At least not yet, as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern

Your search - Entergy - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "Entergy".

Best video I've seen thus far is this one, which has a lot more than what is officially described here, including the dozens of oil barges in the Gulf waiting to get into port, who had to stay away from the area while the hurricane was on the way.
It starts repeating after about 18 minutes into the video, with VO descriptions of Blackhawk helicopters landing and President Bush coming Houston on Tuesday:

Raw video: Bolivar Peninsula devastated
September 14th, 2008, The communities of Crystal Beach, Bolivar and High Island suffered the worst damage we have seen from Hurricane Ike.

Below is a perfect example of what has everyone down there upset, with most of the coverage being too urban/Houston-based, even while there are towns and completely underwater or destroyed. Just like Katrina and media fascination with New Orleans!http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou080915_tnt_guardsmen_food.7a5e7c1f.html

See bayousinker's comments! I concur 100%.

Meanwhile, the best spot-on column of the weekend is this one in yesterday's Houston Chronicle by Lisa Falkenberg Maybe some live and never learn, along with the reader comments.

That could just as well describe people in South Florida and the Keys in particular, where alcoholics at Key West bars uttering their philosophical banalities during hurricane evacuations draw Miami TV cameras like flies -over and over and over!
It never ends!

By the way, my interest in this hurricane hitting Galveston and Houston is more than passing, since just before Christmas in 1855, my maternal ancestors arrived in America via Galveston by ship from Prussian-controlled Poland.
They put all their belongings in an ox-driven wagon and walked for days to get to the Texas Hill Country they'd heard about in Poland, becoming Texas Hill Country pioneers in the process.
My family has lived in the Cowboy Capital of Bandera ever since then.

Aaron, I hope that you can use your great industry connections to get and post the video of that KHOU reporter losing his cool to your great TV Barn site sometime soon.
As always, your website continues to rock!

If I get any info on that TV encounter from this morning, I'll post it here so you can see it for yourself.

By the way, two of my favorite financial reporters will be on Charlie Rose tonight talking about all the ramifications of the Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch stories, Charles Gasparino of Newsweek and Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times., who edits their great daily financial e-mail newsletter DealBook. His column archives are at: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/andrew_ross_sorkin/index.html

Watch it on Channel 17 at midnight, since you never really know when WPBT-2 is going to air it, despite their schedule, just one of the reason's it's the country's worst PBS station.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Johnny Depp shows up for ballgame, Dolphins don't!

Cardinals QB Kurt Warner and star WR Anquan Boldin, formerly of Pahokee High School and FSU, walk from the sidelines towards the field after a Dolphins punt leading into commercial break of Dolphins game Sunday afternoon. Boldin caught six passes for 3 TDs in the easy 31-10 Cardinals victory.

The Cardinals are now 2-0 for the first time since 1991, while the Dolphins didn't score in their opening drive for the 20th straight game.

Screenshot by South Beach Hoosier

Screenshot by South Beach Hoosier

Coming out of a commercial break with the Arizona Cardinals leading the Dolphins 14-0 with 28 seconds left in the first quarter, CBS-TV cameras caught former South Florida resident (Miramar) and film star Johnny Depp taking in the game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Ironically, I was taping the ballgame on a videotape that I'd used earlier this morning when I popped it into the VCR before going to sleep so I could catch some films on the Starz free weekend promotion. The last film on the tape was the last Pirates of the Carribean film starring... exactly.

With this loss the Dolphins have now lost their last 11 road games, going back to the Thanksgiving game at Detroit in 2006.
Conversely, the New York Giants have now won their last 11 games on the road, since the Dolphins home game last year against the Giants was in London.

You may recall that we all learned from multiple sources last year that agreeing to move the home game to London and deprive Dolphin fans of a rare Giants home game, was the high price that Dolphin owner Wayne Huizenga happily paid in order to get the NFL to award him another Super Bowl -before he sells the majority share of the team in 2010.

(There are plenty of rumors percolating in South Florida -and around NFL media circles- that the sale will actually happen sooner rather than later, now that Huizenga sees that the team is, yes, years, from being playoff caliber material.)

I've long been of the school of thought that argued that Huizenga should've sold the team years ago, the same way that he should've never listened to Jimmy Johnson and talked him out of resigning, and then agreed to that Faustian bargain of accepting Dave Wannstedt as Dolphins head coach-in-waiting, to help JJ with the coaching load.

You made your deals with the Devil -now he's collecting!
With interest!

Below the first mentions of Johnny Depp and Hallandale in local newspapers:

Miami Herald
By Joan McIver, Herald Staff Writer
March 14, 1985

When former Miramar resident Johnny Depp , 21, moved to California, he acted as though his life had turned into a nightmare. Depp, the son of Betty Sue Palmer and Hallandale public utilities director John Depp, became a movie star. He co-stars with Heather Langenkamp in "Nightmare on Elm Street," his first movie. Depp was back in town last week for a short visit with his parents.

"I play the part of Heather's boyfriend," he said." is not a complete work of art, but it's right." Since filming the horror flick, Depp has completed another movie, "Private Resort," also by director Wes Craven. Not bad for someone with no previous acting experience.

Depp moved to California in 1983 with a local band called The Kids, but found the going rough for musicians. "I was hanging out in Melrose, just looking for a job," Depp said. "I had a friend who was an actor. He took me to see his agent, and they signed me up for 'Elm Street.' Acting is real addicting."
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Debbie Blaylock, Staff Writer
February 4, 1987

In the spring of 1985 after filming Nightmare on Elm Street and Private Resort, actor Johnny Depp said he was ''ready for something with more substance than chasing girls and running down hallways.''

Today, the Miramar High School graduate is being watched by millions of movie-goers in the highly acclaimed movie Platoon.

Some critics describe Platoon as the first realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. Director and writer Oliver Stone drops Depp and the rest of the dirty, sweat-soaked platoon into a jungle heavy with the stench of death.

To describe it in one word: intense.

''For the first week or so, he didn't know if he would make it,'' said John Depp of Hallandale , Johnny's father. ''For two weeks before they started filming, they made Johnny and the others live in the jungle.

''It was 115 degrees by eight in the morning. It was just mud and swarms of ants. They slept in two-man foxholes and didn't get much sleep, and they ate out of cans.''

Johnny is currently filming a series for TV in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was unavailable for comment.

In 1983, Depp, the lead guitarist in The Kids rock band, left south Broward for Hollywood, Calif., looking for a record deal.

How Depp broke into acting sounds like a movie script itself. A woman who worked at a recording studio saw The Kids perform at some no-name bar. She convinced Depp to audition for a role in the television series Fame.

Depp was one of the final four auditioners before the producer showed him the door. He decided to pursue music instead of fame on the silver screen.

However, playing at out-of-the-way bars for $25 a night didn't pay the bills, so Depp sold T-shirts and worked at telephone solicitation.

Meanwhile, a friend, actor Nicolas Cage, introduced Depp to his agent and persuaded the musician to give acting another chance.

That's when Depp auditioned and earned a role in writer and director Wes Craven's thriller Nightmare on Elm Street.

Since then, Depp has worked on a now-defunct television series, Lady Blue, and starred in a Showtime-produced show and other programs. He will be seen tonight in Hotel at 10 on ABC.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meanwhile, back in Orlando, transit also stammers and stu-t-t-ers...

Meanwhile, back in Orlando, just as is the case in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, transit also stammers and stu-t-t-ers...

Received some very interesting info earlier yesterday afternoon in my daily email from the Central Florida Political Pulse blog, the Politics blog of the Orlando Sentinel, one of my daily must-reads, in the form of a post by the Sentinel's David Damron titled Orange Mayor Crotty Reveals Lynx Funding Plan.

But after reading it and absorbing the central points, I surprised myself and got to thinking about something else, or rather, some one else -Alex Sink.

Though it's been little commented on so far, don't think that people around the state, esp. those of us with an interest in transportation policy, aren't paying attention to CFO Alex Sink's role in the continuing transit mess in Central Florida -esp. commuter rail- even as she tries to morph her official role into that of a numbers-crunching, truth-telling combination of Agent Dana Scully and Agent Clarice Starling, saving the day right before it's too late.

Since I returned to South Florida from D.C. a few years ago, to the extent that I thought of Alex Sink at all -which I didn't- due largely to some positive words from friends back in D.C. and in Florida who were longtime Lawton Chiles supporters, I gave Sink the benefit of the doubt, even as I wondered why in the world she got so much attention.

(For instance, Florida Trend's May 2008 story, Sink Sees a Silver Lining in Florida's Slowdown
by Amy Keller
http://www.floridatrend.com/article.asp?aID=48843 )

But given that other than Gov. Charlie Crist, Sink has been the subject of more laudatory media coverage than anyone else in the state, where has she made a real difference in the lives of Florida citizens yet?

I've yet to hear Sink say anything either counter-intuitive or politically brave that would really cost her politically in the future, much less, take a principled stand that goes against the personal interests of her usual political/financial supporters. Where's the bold thinking?

Who knows, maybe something will happen in the not-too-distant future that'll give her the opportunity to show her true stripes and abilities, but thus far, given all the ink that's been used on her, color me unimpressed.

Can I really be the only person in South Florida who thinks this?

By the way, you may or may not be aware of the fact that in stark contrast to the popular approach that Gov. Sarah Palin took in Alaska with regard to getting rid of state aircraft, FL pols are much more averse to saying sayonara to their beloved "Wings of Man.'

Just over a year ago in a great Aug. 28th, 2007 post at the aforementioned CFPP, http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2007/08/just-plane-comm.html#more labeled, Just plane common sense, Aaron Deslatte wrote about the efforts to pare just one of the planes from the state's control.

Among the more interesting facts to emerge from that post was this one: Since June 1, state officials have racked up $258,962.50 in air fare on Florida's fleet, according to manifests for the three planes. Records show Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink flew the most in that period, with over $31,000 in air travel used through the summer.Crist came in second, with almost $24,000 in airfare around the state.

(Speaking of that, how funny would it be if somebody in a position to know, floated a rumor that the state airplanes had contained listening devices!? The sheer amount of lies and B.S. told on those planes would stupefy the electorate! And make great columns and newscasts!)

Based on what I've read and heard from across the state, and in myriad conversations/emails with folks much closer to the scene than me, including elected officials, for my money, Sink is THE most over-rated pol in the state, edging out Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, long a bête noire of mine, in case you've forgotten some past blog posts of mine where I've zeroed-in on her.

I really loathe DWS.

I've already written a pretty informative blog post about DWS that'll be coming out within the next week regarding her inclusion in the John Harwood and Jerry Seib book, Pennsylvania Avenue, which I think paints a very unflattering portrait of her personal scruples.

That's not my opinion alone, but rather one that's also shared by many folks around the country who've read the book, and commented to the authors.
In fact I even wrote someone recently and said that I wouldn't bring her up again in future emails because she's too much of a downer!

(The book was the NY Times Book Review's featured review three months ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/books/review/Widmer-t.html?partner=rssnyt )

By the way, per some of my earlier blog posts at HBB, and the August 1st post by Gabriel Lopez-Bernal at Transit Miami, http://www.transitmiami.com/2008/08/01/mary-peters-in-miami-today/
my formal request for info and docs about FDOT Sec. Kopelousos and her co-called "public" appearances in South Florida will be sent within the next few days, hopefully by next Monday.

I can hardly wait to read the predictable lame excuses, alibis and PR-spit-shined obfuscation that awaits me.

I will, of course, share it with you once it's in my hands.
Orlando Sentinel
Central Florida Political Pulse
Orange Mayor Crotty Reveals Lynx Funding Plan
posted by David Damron on Sep 9, 2008

Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty released a Lynx funding plan Tuesday that would create a long-sought dedicated funding source for the bus system, but would likely do little to head off an immediate budget crunch that could gut some routes and trim service.

Crotty's plan calls for the leaders of Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties to each pledge a certain level of property taxes to fund the system, and lock it into place by establishing a regional transit system between the three governments.
The effort would require voter approval.

It would also put more of the future funding burden on Oseola and Seminole counties, who now contribute roughly $5 million.
Under Crotty's plan, that number would rise significantly to almost double that amount.

"If this is truly a regional asset, like a university or an airport," Crotty said, "then we need to think regionally and pay for it regionally."

To see the rest of the post:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Finally! Some college football worth watching: U-M-Gators

Some college football worth watching!
I expect the Gators to roll by a margin in the low twenties, with tons of recruits on the sidelines at Florida Field.

I first saw Florida Field from the field in early July of 1979, back when beautiful U-F girl-next-door student Louann Fernald's fame as the June Playmate had made its way south from Gainesville but weeks before. http://www.playboy.com/girls/playmates/directory/197906.html
The sheer number of beautiful women there was sorta jaw-dropping, and I'm sure that's not changed in the years since.

[Ironically, a little over three years later, in December of 1982, Playboy had a Playmate centerfold named Charlotte Helmkamp whom I knew not just from IU, but who had actually lived in my dorm, Briscoe Quad A, just two floors above me.
Charlotte was a very sweet and thoughtful girl from Toledo, Ohio, and at the time, often expressed an interest in science, though I don't know if that had something to do with her major or was just a general interest of hers.
She was also as friendly as she was good-looking -beyond all possible description here.

As someone who spent some time around her, since we knew many people in common there at Briscoe, trust me when I tell you that any photos you've ever seen of her simply don't do her justice, since she was easily one of THE most beautiful women I've EVER met in person -jaw-dropping!

I sometimes ate meals with Charlotte in the dorm cafeteria, especially when she was with my wonderful friend Diane Frommeyer, a Hoosier-by-choice like me, from suburban Chicago
-Naperville, I think- who lived on Charlotte's floor.
It's not surprising that Diane was Charlotte's trusted friend, too, since Diane was a great dispenser of both common sense and good advice, which I happily took on many occasions when I was filled with doubt or had a difficult decision to make.
Diane proved herself a great friend more times than I can count.

I'll never forget the look Diane had on her face the day I ran into her and she said something along the lines of, "You want to know something really big that's going to be news soon..."
Naturally, I was intrigued!

She was still so dumbfounded and amazed by the news that Charlotte told her in advance of the issue's publication, that when she told me what was coming down the pike, she still looked like she could hardly believe it herself.

Like me, Diane was VERY involved in IU's Student Alumni Council, SAC, one of my favorite activities because of the wide variety of interesting and thoughtful people it allowed me to meet.]

I flew up to Gainesville on Air Florida from MIA to visit my very good friend Robert, who'd graduated from NMB nine weeks early, and who decided to get a head start and leave for Gainesville early and take summer classes.
It was great walking around the town and campus, and I can still recall how intoxicating it all seemed after being in NMB and South Florida.

One of the real highlights was walking around the empty stadium with Robert, who snapped one of the best photos ever taken of me, taken directly below the painted "This is Gator Country" area of the stadium, which is showcased numerous times during any football telecast.
I think I must've kept that photo in a frame on my desk for years in Hoosierville, along with photos of friends from NMB and scenes of South Florida places I spent lots of time at: the Orange Bowl, Haulover Beach, Miami Stadium, et al.

My Fourth of July week visit there was great, made all the better knowing that I'd soon be seeing the Midwestern version of that whole college scene in Bloomington for myself in less than two months.

I'm curious if Gator wideout Frankie Hammonds Jr out of Hallandale will get much playing time tonight. He was the subject of Joseph Goodman's dispatch for the Herald just about two weeks ago. (See below.)
If he was at IU with Kellen Lewis throwing the ball...

Gator head coach Urban Meyer quips to the ESPN crew this morning about 11:30 a.m., after I got out my football props.
There was immediate trash-talking between them, as they argued whether or not it's really a rivalry if you don't always play each other, like IU and Purdue.

South Beach Hoosier bought both for super-cheap bargain prices at the Bell Outlet store in Hallandale Beach on Hallandale Beach Blvd. and NE 10th Street, near the Bank of America branch that for years refused to trim the tree branches under their lights on the bank drive thru, much to my dismay and continual complaints.

(It would be pitch black and you couldn't see what you were doing, esp. during the Fall, opening yourself up to an easy walk-up robbery.)

Getting these two items was easily the best deal I've made since coming down here from D.C.!

An un-easy standoff before snacks arrive.
Even there they disagree!
Popcorn vs. chips?

The Gator mascot toy growls and moves.
If he were a Blue Devil mascot toy from Duke, he'd first let me know where he was from, then alternately pout, whine, condescend, mock and accuse, even if he was winning.
Well, at least the players will have their names on the back of the jersey this year so we'll know
which 'Canes WR dropped the ball near the sidelines, refused to come back to help a scrambling QB make a play, could not consistently get 'separation,' or gave up on a play entirely and stopped running his route.
Like every single game last year!

Naturally, Shannon fired the defencive coordinator.

According to some U-F grad friends of mine, this is sacrilege!
But it's how they both fit in the closet from February thru July when not out for display.
Before the game, I was over at the beach, not too far from the ubiquitous HB Water Tower, and read the NY Times and listened to the U-M radio pregame show on WQAM, curious how they will spin Randy Shannon getting out-coached once again -before the game even starts.
Due to pointlessly suspending redshirt freshman QB Robert Marve last week for the Charleston Southern game.

(Which I tried to watch on ESPN 360.com, but got frustrated with when it didn't start on time and after about thirty minutes, with constant interruptions of action, I gave up.)

Because sometimes even apparent moral victories are Pyrrhic ones, too, as I suspect that decision will be seen in retrospect, weeks from now, when questions are being asked about the season's slow start.

Kellen Lewis, IU's wiz of a QB from Jacksonville, both parents FAMU grads and athletes.
He'd have done wonders for the Hurricanes but they have a thing for skinny and/or blond out-of-state QBs, so...

Last week's game at the new and improved IU Memorial Stadium, now with a new field after this past summer's flooding ruined the old field and made a mess of downtown Bloomington.

Kellen Lewis is a man in motion!

What I'll be watching and taping later on the Big Ten Network's encore presentation on Monday at 2 p.m., though I'm checking on it in between commercials of the U-M game.

Kellen Lewis outruns some Western Kentucky Hilltopper defenders on his way to a TD
I had this in draft since early this year, so better late than never...
Frankie Hammonds, Jr. Woulda Made a Great Hoosier

First came across these articles on Frankie Hammonds, Jr. a few months back, and at the time, with the Hoosiers playing confidently and actually showing some offensive flair, couldn't help but wonder how much more firepower IU would have in the future if he was teamed up with Hoosier wide receiver James Hardy.
But now we know that was just a pipe dream, with Hardy now leaving IU a year early for the NFL draft, and speedy Hallandale High WR Frankie Hammonds, Jr. heading for Gainesville.
Growing up in North Miami Beach from 1968-79, but being one of those rare NMB families that didn't just limit its drives, trips and jaunts to within the Dade County lines, I recall thinking while I was JFK Junior High how odd it was that two high schools as physically close to one another as North Miami Beach Senior High School and Hallandale Senior High School, could, in those pre-
Dr. Krop High School days, both wind up with the same exact name for mascots: Chargers.
I graduated from NMB in 1979, and my sister followed in 1982, long before anyone we knew could conceive of the idea of some school, especially one named Krop dividing NMB's student population base and tradition, and cannibalizing Turnberry, Ojus, Madie Ives and Highland Oaks.
Nobody who graduated from 1247 N.E. 167th Street could conceive of such a thing, and as opposed to the Lightning Bolt you see with the NFL's San Diego Chargers, our mascot was that of a medieval jousting knight charging.
It would be one thing if it was that old standby, Wildcats, the most popular school mascot name in the country last I heard, and the most popular every year when the NCAA tourney comes around -Kentucky, Villanova, et al-but Chargers?
I could never find anyone in NMB or Broward who could explain that bit of odd logic to me.
Meanwhile, another bright and talented South Florida kid who would've looked good in the cream and crimson of IU, Hallandale High's Frankie Hammond, Jr. has crossed-up Rivals.com who thought he was headed to the U-M, and made an oral commitment to stay in-state and play for the Gators, who just re-load and plug in one super-talented kid after another in the "Urban Era."
Miami Herald
Wideout Hammond Jr. catching on with Gators
Wideout Frankie Hammond Jr. might not be a typical college football player, but he has amazed coaches nonetheless.
By Joseph Goodman
August 21, 2008

GAINESVILLE -- Preseason camp is over for the University of Florida football team. One of the biggest surprises out of two-a-days was the rapid development of freshman receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. of Hallandale.
In February, when Hammond signed with the Gators, the team's coaches assumed this skinny receiver from Broward County wouldn't be a contributor for at least two years.
But that has changed. Receivers coach Billy Gonzales has praised Hammond several times during the preseason and coach Urban Meyer also has recognized Hammond's surprising start to his college football career.
''[Hammond] was a guy that we thought we would put on the shelves for a couple of years,'' Meyer said. "But Coach Gonzales and Frankie have a good thing going. He's doing very well.''
According to senior receiver Louis Murphy, Hammond adapted to the Gators' complex playbook faster than any other freshman and played consistently well during preseason practice and two-a-days. Gonzales now believes Hammond might see some playing time this season.
''One thing about Frankie is that he's extremely smart,'' Gonzales said. ``Any time you come into a system with multiple sets you have to be a smart guy. He is an extremely fast learner and he will have the opportunity to make plays.''
Hammond's journey to Gainesville was anything but ordinary. Like his successful preseason camp for Florida, pretty much every facet about Hammond's development was atypical.
A track and field star -- Hammond won gold at the 2007 AAU Junior Olympics in the high jump (6 feet, 10 inches) -- he was an unknown high school football player when he received scholarship offers from Florida and Miami.
''A lot of people didn't like that I picked Florida over Miami,'' he said. ``Where I'm from, everyone expects you to go to Miami.''
Some high school football players spend their childhoods training constantly and playing year-round to increase their chances at receiving a scholarship. Not Hammond. He preferred hanging out the skating rink and dancing on skates.
''Skating made my legs strong and gave me balance and coordination,'' he said.
Some high school football players in South Florida transfer from school to school so they can play for a winner. Hammond was loyal to a loser. Hallandale didn't post a winning record until his senior season.
Some high school football players lift weights constantly and are physical specimens by their senior season. Hammond could barely bench press his own weight last year. He has gained 13 pounds of muscle since arriving in Gainesville at the beginning of the summer.
Hallandale is one of Broward County's magnet schools, and Hammond studied television broadcasting for four years. He hasn't taken a journalism or communications class yet at Florida, but he knows how to produce his own TV show. He graduated high school with a 3.7 grade-point average.
''I can be in front of the camera or behind the camera,'' Hammond said.
Some high school football players blossom early and college coaches know about them before the 11th grade. Hammond didn't even play football his sophomore season. His junior year, he only caught seven passes. Florida's coaches didn't learn about Hammond until midway through his senior season, when he mailed the Gators a highlight tape.
Some high school football players don't really know how to play the recruiting game properly. They enjoy the daily attention from Internet recruiting websites and wait until February to commit to a school.
One week after being visited by the Gators' coaching staff, Hammond called Meyer to commit. But Meyer, well known for his communication skills during a player's recruiting process, didn't answer the phone. Hammond left Meyer a message, declaring his commitment.
At that point, Meyer and his staff barely knew Hammond. Shrewdly, Hammond leaked the news of his commitment to South Florida newspapers. The system uses some players, but some players use the system to their advantage.
''Everyone starts off at the bottom and that's where I'm at,'' Hammond said. "I've just got to prove to them that I can play.''
Joseph Goodman is the Gator beat reporter for the Miami Herald and you can read his blog comments at http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gator_clause/
Miami Herald
Hallandale's Hammond picks Gators
By Bob Emanuel, Jr.
October 16, 2007
Hallandale receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. orally committed to the University of Florida on Monday night.
Hammond, who was recruited by associate head coach Doc Holliday and receivers coach Billy Gonzalez, chose the Gators over a number of other suitors, including the University of Miami.
''They received film, transcripts and stuff,'' Hallandale coach Dameon Jones said.
"I guess it was a no-brainer for them. I guess they saw what Miami saw.'
'Hammond, who has caught 25 passes for 504 yards and seven touchdowns through seven games this season, called Gators coach Urban Meyer on Monday night around 7:30 and left his decision on Meyer's voicemail.
The allure of playing in the Southeastern Conference put Florida over the top.
''It gives me an opportunity to showcase my ability on one of the biggest stages of them all,'' he said.
Hammond did not play football as a sophomore.
Instead, he focused on track, where he helped lead his school to the Class 3A state championship.
Hammond spent the past summer on the track, where he took first place in the high jump of the AAU National Junior Olympics in Tennessee. But football always has been Hammond's passion.
After his layoff, he returned to football as a junior, and he started receiving heavy interest from colleges over the past few months. He admitted the offers, which included Miami and Boston College, were surprising.
''My goal this year was just to go to college,'' he said. "I didn't think any major colleges would come my way. I was lucky enough.''
Hammond said he would ''most likely'' go out for Florida's track team, too.
Miami Herald
Hammonds brings speed, power to Hallandale
Senior Frankie Hammond Jr., a track star at Hallandale, is gaining success with his play at wide receiver.
By Bob Emanuel, Jr.
October 9, 2007
After taking a year off from football, senior Frankie Hammond Jr. said: 'I might as well keep playing football and open up my options.'
Speed and power are required in both sports of interest to Hallandale's Frankie Hammond Jr.
The strong leg muscles needed to propel him over the high jump bar and the body control needed to maintain his form carry over to football, where his speed and leaping ability make him one of Broward County's top receivers.
Hammond, an accomplished track athlete, is gaining notoriety on the football field as a senior. While the scholarship offers slowly trickle in, interest in Hammond continues to rise. The University of Miami, which is building a strong recruiting class centered on local talent, recently checked up on Hammond.
Much like Dillard sprinter Harry Adams, who committed to Auburn, the transition from track star to receiver could pay dividends with a scholarship to an elite program.
''I started out running track originally,'' Hammond said. "I took time off from football my sophomore year. That year is when I really got a good grasp on what I was doing as far as track was concerned. Last year, I was like I might as well keep playing football and open up my options. I took advantage of it, and coach [Dameon] Jones came around. Now, it looks like I've got both of them going hand in hand.''
Unlike many of the athletes in search of similar scholarship opportunities, Hammond did not attend football camps over the summer.
Instead, he traveled to Europe and various other venues to compete in track meets, including his first-place finish in the AAU National Junior Olympic Games in Tennessee.
The track success garnered Hammond attention, but the lack of camp exposure slowed the pace of scholarship offers. Undeterred, Hammond is taking a methodical approach to the process.
''I'm just waiting for my options to open up to see where I go,'' he said.
"I plan on playing football when I go to college.''
The constant switch from track star to football prospect is taxing, but Hammond finds it worthwhile.
''It's real difficult,'' he said. "Your mind-set is set on something as far as track. Your body goes through a certain change. You're putting your body through different types of things because now you're dealing with contact. It's difficult, but it's manageable. If you're talented enough and you're good at it and you're dedicated, it should come very easily.''
The dual-sport success is nothing new for Hallandale. Hammond, like many of his teammates, makes the same transition every season.
A bulk of the school's 2006 Class 3A state championship track team remains as seniors, many of whom play both sports.
Each athlete owns their individual preference, but Hammond's teammate and close friend Alex Bailey said Hammond's choice is simple.
''Football is his No. 1,'' said Bailey, the school's quarterback. "I don't want to speak for him, but track is just something he's good in. Football is what he likes.''
The solitary approach on the track carries over to Hammond's mannerism on the football field. Those around the Charger program describe Hammond as a quiet leader -- a player Bailey said "does it by example.
He's not that kind of emotional or rowdy kind of person.''
''He pushes me to be better,'' Bailey said.
"In gassers or anything we do, even though he's the receiver and I'm the quarterback, he's very competitive. That's why I am where I am. A couple of other people look up to him for that competition.''
What truly inspires Hammond on the football field is the camaraderie with his teammates. His father, Frank, played receiver and cornerback for Glades Central in the 1980s, and the love for team sports has been fostered over the years.
''I enjoy it more,'' Hammond said. "It's more of a friend thing. I have teammates around me. If I do good, they come give me a high five and show their love. When I'm on the track by myself, if I mess up or if I do good, the only person who can congratulate me is maybe my dad at that moment.''
Jones said he could put Hammond in any situation on the football field and knows he would deliver results.
''He's a great kid, a 3.7-GPA kid,'' Jones said. "He rarely talks. He's very quiet. The only time you see him talk is when he's around his buddies. When he's around adults and coaches, he doesn't say a word. He's a very coachable kid. He's just an athlete. You could put him in any sport, and he's going to be successful.''
Hammond uses his six-foot frame and his leaping ability, a high jump of 6-10 and a vertical leap of 39 inches, to post up his opponents.
Or, if he prefers, he could use his 4.4 speed to simply run by them.
''He's like a Randy Moss-type of receiver,'' Hallandale defensive lineman Gregory Smith said. "He runs all his routes hard. He catches the ball. He showboats just like him. He's good.''
The comparisons to Moss are evident because of Hammond's size and leaping ability.
Jones and Bailey are quick to point out another, unmeasurable strength to Hammond's success -- his soft hands.
''He has speed like Moss, but he has hands like Marvin Harrison,'' Jones said.
"He runs precision routes for a kid in high school. You don't see that at this level, a kid running those type of routes. At the next level? Yes. Here? No."
He uses all hands. He doesn't use his body, just pure hands. And, he uses his speed. For a kid to really only play high school football, this is probably just his second full year, for him to do the things he's doing is amazing.''

#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!✨ ������

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View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

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