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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lights Out -AGAIN!- at HB City Hall; Anger at City of Hollywood!

Good grief!!!
It was "Lights Out" -AGAIN!- at the Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex Wednesday night.

I'll have more to say about this later on Thursday, as part of a look at the continuing pattern of supervisory neglect at Hallandale Beach City Hall, via an open letter to Hallandale Beach DPW Director William M. Brant, PA, who, to my mind, has a lot to account for these days.

As I've stated here previously, Brant is clearly a very smart man, an opinion I first shared with a
microphone in my hand at a public day-long citywide meeting last spring.
He may well be THE smartest person in all of City Hall, per se, but that will count for very little with me and many other HB residents, especially come Election Day, unless he gets a MUCH better handle soon on his Dept.

Specifically, matters that don't involve water, reverse osmosis, rainwater barrels and the like, because quite frankly, the city is an absolute mess and looks like an eyesore and Brant's DPW is in the middle of it all.
How does he NOT see it?

I'm talking about massive amounts of broken parking lot lights on city properties that linger for months or years without remediation, broken or missing city signage for equal periods of time, city-owned barricades that are left to rust and rot on city streets, sidewalks -and in bushes along main drags- for months and years at a time.
Trust me, Hallandale Beach Blvd. from I-95 to A1A is full of them, as my photos will make clear.

Just compare the different sides of the intersection of Pembroke Road and S. 21st Avenue on the city's border and compare the sides of curbs in Hollywood and the mess in Hallandale Beach, as I did yesterday while waiting at a red light.
All in plain sight.

And perhaps most troubling for him due to the unfortunate metaphors, city street lights in front of and around City Hall that have been out for weeks and which always seem to go out right before elections, causing me and many other people interested in reform to vote against incumbents who can't keep the light's on, the bare minimum to expect in a city.
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I arrived at Wednesday night's Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting around 6:45 p.m., with the meeting already well underway, having been scheduled to start at 5 p.m.


I arrived straight from the important City Commission meeting up at Hollywood City Hall, where I spent the entire afternoon listening and participating in the discussion of the future of the Beach One Resort project designed by Carlos Ott, which I'd vocally supported as the last public participant to speak on the matter.

Once in the HB Chambers, I watched in anger and amazement for about two hours and fifteen minutes as Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike Good proceeded to describe an afternoon in a parallel universe that was very different from the one we'd all been at earlier.

Their parallel universe was one where, in their words, the city of Hollywood "didn't show [them]
professional courtesy" and allow them to do what they wanted and intended.
My universe had been the one at a packed Hollywood Chambers, the one where Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober bent over backwards to be fair and civil to folks from the City of Hallandale Beach, even giving them slightly more time to speak than they deserved, given that they were so very unconvincing in their arguments, perhaps, because it was so transparently untrue.

Mine was one where, as usual, Comm. Keith London was honest and spoke his mind, this time as a HB citizen who'd done his homework, having attended the first hearing two weeks ago on the first. (I know that because he sat in the same exact row as me on October 1st.)

In fact, London was the ONLY Hallandale Beach commissioner who was motivated enough to make the ten-minute drive up and see for himself what was going on with the important project, something that, for whatever reason, Dotty Ross, William Julian and Anthony Sanders had no interest in or time for.

Have I mentioned here lately that I really, really hate laziness in a public official?
Almost more than lack of ethical scruples.

Have you noticed, that seems to be a recurring theme with those three particular commissioners: a real lack of energy, curiosity or willingness to make the slightest effort to be better informed.

It's no wonder they open wide and swallow whole the answers they get spoon-fed from the City Manager's staff, without ever asking a hard or even slightly probing question that would elecit more information for the public.

In the end, London was neither for or against the project, instead counseling the Hollywood Commission to simply use their best judgment, which is only fair, since it's NOT as if Hallandale Beach's City Hall cared one whit about the ripple effects of The Mardi Gras, The Village of Gulfstream or The Beach Club towers on Hollywood.
Nope, they sure didn't, which made former Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti understandably angry at the time.

This time, though, the shoe was on the other foot, which is why Cooper and Good seemed to be almost hysterical at times in spinning tales about what had happened.
(I saw former Mayor Mara enter the Commission Chambers around 4:25 p.m., the first hearing I've personally attended where I saw her since her re-election defeat by Peter Bober.)


It was hard to figure out what made the Hallandale Beach City Hall Crew angrier:

a.) Mayor Bober's basic fairness and unwillingness to break his own city's rules and create a bad precedent, just to make HB happy when they showed up en masse at the last minute.
b.) Bober not allowing the city to become an intervenor at the last minute like they wanted, since they didn't follow the proper Hollywood procedures, usually a couple of days advance warning; Hallandale Beach itself requires three days warning.
c.) Bober not allowing the HB City Hall team to just swoop in and make their points via a lengthy Power Point presentation to be led by Richard Cannone, the HB Development Director, whom I've generally cut slack to in the past -until recently- because he's clearly a smart guy in a sea of dummies and droids at city hall, which has got to be enormously frustrating.
I've been there!

I'll discuss the whole Beach One Resort matter soon in a separate blog post, along with the photos and facts I've previously promised, plus some info you won't find anywhere else.


I got so frustrated by what I heard said early on in HB, and Ross, Julian and Sanders seemingly hypnotized reaction to these fantastical stories of Cooper and Good, that I signed up with the City Clerk to make some comments during "Public Participation."
I should've known better.
When that still hadn't happened by 8:55 p.m., hours after the meeting started, I'd had enough, and left to go home and catch the last presidential debate between McCain and Obama.

And that's when things really got interesting!

I left the Commission Chambers with Arturo O'Neill, one of the two HB City Commission candidates I'm supporting on November 4th, and a fellow North Miami Beach Senior High grad.

Once outside, I promptly walked him around the City Hall Municipal Complex, reiterating the obvious from my recent posts about the lack of public safety and accompanying lack of accountability by either DPW or the HB Police Dept.

It only made more stark to him the city's chronic inability to provide basic public safety competency even around their own headquarters.
He wants to change that culture and hold people accountable, even if others on the commission won't, no matter what happens.

Just as was true on Sunday night and Monday night, every single city public parking lot light in the complex was completely out, on both the U.S.-1/South Federal Highway side and the S.E. 5th Street side.

Which is to say, where anyone attending the Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting we'd been at, anyone needing to get to the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. would park, and walk thru a pitch black parking lot.
Something I'd have definitely mentioned if I'd ever gotten the chance, with Mr. Brant in the Green Room.

Public safety?
No, despite all the rhetoric that was uttered up in Hollywood for public consumption as justification for HB's concern, it's clear thru the preponderance of the evidence that the HB City Hall Crew prefers public safety as a 'talking point,' an idea, NOT a reality.

I'll connect the dots on that topic later Thursday and it won't be pretty for some of the people responsible, since there will be more eyes than usual seeing my post from now on.




October 15, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Arturo O'Neill under the eastside city security camera, right near the city parking lot light that's been out since at least February -before the camera was installed.

You'd think the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. would want the best possible video feed, oui?
But then over a year after they were first approved, City Manager Mike Good still doesn't have an operational policy for the security cameras to show the public or the City Commission to allay their legitimate concerns.


October 15, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
A pitch black parking lot is not an inviting prospect at any time, especially after a HB City Commission meeting that was long on hot air and short on, yes -wait for it- ILLUMINATION.

October 15, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
"And the flag was still there..."
That black parking lot behind Arturo is the one closest to the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. HQ.

How would you like to have to go there to report something upsetting, and have to worry about your safety in the Police parking lot?
That's the reality!

October 15, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Here, Arturo stands next to the HB Sign that with the exception of a handful of days two weeks ago, has been out for over four-and-a-half years.
Really.

Who could make this stuff up?

October 15, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Notice how Arturo's portfolio writing pad blends into the background?
All the photos above were taken with a flash, otherwise, you'd never have seen anything.

video

Special thanks to Arturo O'Neill for being a good sport and agreeing to be in these photos that I really think speak volumes about how poorly the City of Hallandale Beach is managed and maintained.

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