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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

re Broward Politics blog: Facebook debate; Wed. mtg. in Hollywood re Johnson Street

May 19th, 2009
1 p.m.

You might recall that the Miami Herald recently
ran a lengthy story about the topic of Facebook
which NEVER discussed the legal aspects of this
sort of social networking tools for public officials
and or govt. agencies.
I read the story closely three times just to make
sure I wasn't missing it.
Nope, the Herald never mentioned it, even while
I kept waiting for them to discuss the obvious reason
for concern in the next paragraph.

(Secret coded messages, for instance, to let
people/lobbyists know inside info, as I've
heard has already happened elsewhere in
the country.
The ol' hiding-in-plain sight angle!)

Par for the course at the Herald of late, sad to say,
that particular paragraph never ever appeared.

As of now, I plan on being at the workshop at
Hollywood City Hall Wednesday morning at
11 a.m. to discuss the future of the Johnson Street
area of the beach -now that Marriott took a powder-
which was long one of our family's hangouts after
we moved here 41 years ago, and a place my
two younger sisters and I knew like the back
of our hand when we were growing-up down
here, when they had trampolines there.

That's before the regular Hollywood City
Commission meeting at 1 p.m.

Later tonight, I'm going to try to post something
about that meeting here along with some links to
photographs of the Johnson Street area over the
past 40 years.
I may even try to swing by Johnson Street before
Comm. London's Resident Forum meeting at
the HB Cultural Center at 6 p.m. -his last one
until September- and snap some recent shots
of the bandshell.

Then I'll have a means of comparison, as well as
show the original renderings from the printed
presentation that Marriott and Zyscovich
put together from
over two years ago. which I immediately thought
was the best of the myriad hotel proposals
presented at the time, in large part because of
the public entertainment aspect to the plan.

Trust me, if NMB had had a bandshell/stage like
Hollywood's while I was growing-up down here
in the '70's, especially AT THE BEACH over
at Sunny Isles,

I absolutely guarantee you that my friends and
I would've figured out a way to mobilize and
convince the powers-that-be at NMB City Hall
to give us the go-ahead to make sure that high
school age kids in NMB got the opportunity
to play there for at least 2-4 hours a month on
Friday or Saturday nights, so that people could
get the valuable experience of performing LIVE,
whether as part of an organized school or church
effort, an actual musical group or as a solo act.

It would've been a big improvement over the
impromptu music that took place once in a while
over on the Intercoastal side of Haulover Beach
that I used to be witness to.
Located right near the water, while not exactly
California hip in ambiance, like it would be in
some TV show or film set in Santa Monica, Malibu
or Santa Barbara, it was better than nothing.

That is, until it started raining and everybody
ran into their cars like wet rats, and all the older
kids decided to split and go somewhere else in
their cars -without us!- like Greynolds Park
or the Hollywood Fashion Mall (back when
that was THE place if you were bored by the
usual suspects at the 163rd Street Shopping Center.
down the street from my house), leaving
9th-grade me and my friends stuck having
to wait and catch the H bus on A1A back to the
163rd Street Shopping Center.
Very, very un-cool and embarrassing!

In retrospect, given the resource they have
that nobody else around here has, it's pretty
clear that the City of Hollywood should've been
much smarter 25-30 years ago and and figured
out some logical way of better integrating
high school age kids into civic and social
activities than they did, and one way would've
been simple: music.

Have musical competitions or a battle of the
bands, say kids with bands from South Broward
High vs. Hollywood Hills, while integrating
individual singers or jazz or classical acoustic
musicians in-between acts, and maybe combine
the actual high school bands from different
schools for holiday shows or special occasions.

Maybe if they'd done that then, there'd actually
be extant photos of a young Johnny Depp from
Hallandale performing with his band, if they were
composed of Hollywood kids, at the bandshell,
and he'd be better known for his music than his

It's not too late for the City of Hollywood to see the
light and make up for all that lost time and give some
talented local kids in the city the chance to perform
live, and create a very positive dynamic there using
resources they already have.
And you use the spirit of competition to get the best
out of the kids.

If you didn't see this yesterday on Channel 4...
Hollywood Neighbors Get Grief From Squatters

Brittany Wallman's article from yesterday which
is the basis of this post is at
and the reader comments are at:


South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Broward Politics blog

Facebook debate, Take II: Property appraiser's office defends it

By Brittany Wallman
May 18, 2009


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Coral Springs plans to start gathering friends on Facebook

By LISA J. HURIASH, Sun Sentinel
May 10, 2009
There are still some technicalities to work out, but after getting the OK from the Florida Attorney General's Office, Coral Springs plans to debut on Facebook within months.

Mayor Scott Brook, who came up with the idea, said he envisions using the networking site to "talk" to young people the city has not been in touch with.

"It might wind up being the best way for us to communicate regularly, easily and efficiently," he said.

Coral Springs could be the first city in the state to have a Facebook page.

It is the first city to ask the state for a legal opinion about the social networking tool, said Sandi Copes, communications director for the attorney general.

The question is how to make the Facebook page comply with state law, said City Manager Michael Levinson.

The rest is easy: The state said commissioners can't talk to each other on Facebook because that would violate the Sunshine Law requirement that politicians discuss city business in the open. And comments posted to the city's page by its "friends" will be public, too.

Miami Herald

THE INTERNET: City leaders finding it sweet to 'tweet' -

Twitter's gone viral with townspeople using it to send community

news blasts and BOLOs.

By HOWARD COHEN, hcohen@MiamiHerald.com
May 5, 2009
Communication at the speed of send has hit city and county halls.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn regularly tweets. Cutler Bay Commissioner Ernie Sochin signed up on Twitter this month and immediately posted on the site, Does anyone who knows me think I can say anything in less than 140 characters? C'mon!!

This week, Alec Rosen declared his candidacy for city commissioner in South Miami -- via Twitter. It's a first for Miami politics, he says. "It allows us to communicate directly with people who find something in value in what it is you have to say -- in 140 characters or less," Rosen says. He'll compete for the seat against Rene Guim, who also plans to tweet during his campaign.

Miami Beach public information officer Nannette Rodriguez tweets, too. So does Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, under the name IRL.

Following their every tweet are a host of community activists in Miami-Dade County, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Coconut Grove, Doral and elsewhere with fast fingers on BlackBerries, iPhones and laptops. They've all mastered the art of the 140-character missive -- the limitation of Twitter messages.

"I heard this in a seminar once, that it's better to reach 500 people who want to receive your message than sending to 50,000 people who don't care," Rodriguez says.

That quote, by the way, would be too long by 10 characters or so in Tweetspeak.

"It's another tool," Flinn says of Twitter, a social networking site founded in 2006 that has more than 14 million followers who answer Twitter's prime directive: "What are you doing?"

On Twitter, you sign up to follow those you want.

"I'm excited about another medium that . . . encourages participation in our government," Flinn says. "It shrinks the world."

Indeed, Oprah Winfrey recently joined in. The talk show mogul already has 561,764 followers who read her latest revelation: no i'm not wearing a weave to which CNN's Larry King responded on his Twitter page, neither am I.


City officials are tapping their own inner Oprahs.

"Governments need to communicate with their customers -- their residents. What what we are doing for them is providing information on legislative actions or events in the community," says Hilda Fernandez, assistant city manager for Miami Beach.

The city of Miami Beach has had a Facebook and MySpace account for awhile, Fernandez says. "Twitter was the next logical step," she says.

The Beach Tweets are along the lines of the following:

Commission meeting ran late with many items continued til another meeting

Public hearing on New World Symphony agreement to be held on Wed at 2:30PM Details:
http://tinyurl.com/c9a7tw, and

TAG, you're it! Report graffiti here:

The Beach does not send out tweets on referendums or other major county decisions immediately, Rodriguez says. A city clerk reviews the information before making it public; Rodriguez types the tweet on her Blackberry or home computer.

The city also has worked with its police department to post information on criminal suspects through its Twitter page, MiamiBeachNews. Miami-Dade has attracted 112 followers for its new page, MiamiDadeCounty.

In Palmetto Bay, Flinn, who has 73 followers so far, has posted council meeting decisions as they happen.

Take this message, which arrived 45 minutes into a recent Palmetto Bay council meeting: Breaking news: PB council just approved new fire station at PBVC. Greater safety for residents. Details on web site tomorrow. Great News


"I want to be aggressive and maintain a personal contact and hope it's another venue for people to reach me on these personal events," Flinn says. "Everything is across the board with communication. There's no excuse for not accessing your local government."

Opponents such as Jim Araiza, who was defeated by Flinn for the mayor's seat in 2006, and Coconut Grove activist Tom Falco agree. They maintain Twitter pages of their own -- ionpalmettobay and GroveGrapevine, respectively.


"Every city has to have watchdogs, the media can't cover every event," says Grant Miller, publisher of a chain of community newspapers in South Florida.

Araiza wrote a political column for Miller's Palmetto Bay Community Newspaper until he ran for office in 2006. Now, he tweets.

"My attitude is I'm hoping we can improve people's lives by providing commentary on village news, taxpayer issues, to get more residents involved in community affairs," Araiza says.

After his South Miami PR firm won an award for a social networking marketing campaign for a client, Rosen realized the possibilities for his own run for office. "I didn't want to be the cobbler's kid with no shoes, I should do for myself what I do for my clients."

The drawback? One can swamp followers with too many messages -- the quickest way to lose an audience. Flinn, who has posted 55 updates, is mindful of that possibility.

"The hard part with Twitter," Flinn says, "is to make sure people aren't overwhelmed and that my messages don't get lost in the sheer volume of tweets they get."


Slightly off-target but still re Facebook, I found this article below by

the Herald's Andrea Torres quite interesting because it raised the

issue of graffiti taggers actually having the gall to use Facebook

to display their crimes, which after I read it, seemed completely

obvious, but hadn't occurred to me before.

I've been snapping shots of graffiti on road signs in HB and Hollywood

for the past few weeks ever since reading this piece, to see if I spot

a particular pattern.

I've noticed that U.S. Postal Sevice adhesive labels are esp. popular,

in that people can write on them at home, carry them with them discreetly

and then slap them on signs at night or very quickly during the day when

nobody is looking.

This is a REAL problem on Hallandale Beach Blvd. and is the reason

why those labels are NOT in the lobby of the Post Office on Layne Blvd.,

across from the Starbuck's I frequent and instead kept at the front

counter where the USPS employees can keep an eye on them.


Miami Herald

Graffiti writers vs. police: a game of cat and mouse

By ANDREA TORRES, atorres@MiamiHerald.com
April 12, 2009

Gang unit detectives and graffiti writers are constantly trying to outsmart each other, so secrecy and paranoia are the norm when it comes to the ways of graffiti.

Writers ride a fine line between making their tags famous and maintaining anonymity. Detectives must link the vandal to the tag.

"It has nothing to do with poverty anymore. It doesn't matter what gender, ethnicity, age or socioeconomic status," said Miami Gang Unit Detective Andres Valdes. "We have arrested kids from Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove."

To navigate Miami's world of graffiti, detectives and writers get in the habit of recognizing hundreds of short catchy names constantly appearing on property. Valdes sometimes rides the metro in civilian clothes to look for trends and patterns.

"You go around looking for tags that you can recognize," said Hialeah Gang Unit Detective Israel Perez. "When they are not in your area, you share that information with other departments."

Both detectives and writers take pictures of tags. Writers post them on the Web to brag. Detectives archive them to build or enhance evidence for prosecution.

"We have a Hialeah detective who takes pictures every morning, documents it and archives the information," Perez said.

As the hunt for intelligence increasingly moves from the streets to the Internet, some police departments are going undercover online to befriend vandals.

"That type of work requires an undercover computer that won't track back to a police department as the original server," said Perez, who said Hialeah has yet to provide their gang unit with that tool.

Writers are regularly sharing pictures and videos of their stunts on websites such as YouTube, Flickr, Blogger, deviantArt,
Facebook and MySpace.

"They do graffiti for notoriety, so they can't help it," Perez said.

Because most writers start young, detectives frequent schools to get acquainted with kids who may be tagging.

"You keep your eyes open for drawings on their shoes, backpacks, hats or their notebooks," Perez said. "Sometimes they give their tag away."

Valdes said training in schools is the most important part of his job.

"Teachers and counselors are at the front of the battle," Valdes said.

Police said an important part of the training is understanding that gang members and graffiti writers live in two different worlds.

Miami writers, who are generally not violent, belong to dozens of crews identifiable by acronyms with interchangeable meanings. Their only mission is to paint.

"They change the names of their crews like they change their underwear," Perez said. "They are generally very intelligent kids so they get creative with their names."

Graffiti crews are not territorial. They are usually born from friendships in neighborhoods and schools, and that does not define the areas they vandalize.

"A gang is there to make money and it is very organized. A crew is not as organized, they just want to put their name out. It can be artistic," Valdes said. "Gang graffiti marks territory and it is used to intimidate rival gangs. It's ugly."

In the courtroom, the purpose of the vandalism or its artistic value is irrelevant. A Florida statute calls graffiti a "blight" and defines it as criminal mischief.

Most writers who prefer to paint abandoned buildings, freight trains and visible public property believe they are beautifying spaces.

"You go out to paint not with the mind-set that you are going to attack people by hurting their property," said Skott Johnson, a former writer. "You go out to find visible spots for your art."

Some writers vandalize alone at night. Others go out in small groups. Usually while a few paint, a lookout stays alert.

"It's an addictive adrenaline rush," said former writer Jay Bellicchi. "You are a kid, so you move fast, try to stay invisible and hope to be able to outrun the cop."

An arrest can be made if an officer or a witness identifies a writer in the act. More than $1,000 in damage is considered a felony, anything less is a misdemeanor. Police officers estimate the damage.

"For a felony conviction, you need a witness. For a misdemeanor, you need an officer to witness it, and a little corroborating evidence," Perez said. "The witness has to be willing to testify in court."

Detectives sometimes persuade the alleged vandal to produce a written confession. A defense attorney can try to prove the confession was coerced.

"They are not bad kids, so sometimes they tell you everything and you wish you could reward them for their honesty, but that's not how it works," Perez said.

Evidence such as spray paint, different spray-paint caps, markers, books with sketches and pictures can also be admitted in court.

"Evidence gathered during undercover investigations may be subject to a motion to suppress in cases where the officers took shortcuts that violated the law," attorney Kristen Sowers said.

First-time offenders are usually mandated to participate in an early-intervention program that includes at least 100 hours of community service.

"If it's their first time, we sometimes call their parents and we let the kids paint over their own tags," Valdes said. "But it depends on their attitude. If they don't paint it, or we see they are repeat offenders, we arrest them."

Depending on the number of prior convictions, offenders could lose their driving rights and be required to pay fines starting at $250. Municipalities and counties are permitted to establish higher penalties.

"If the graffiti offender is a minor, which is often the case, that child's parent or legal guardian may be held responsible for the payment of these fines," Sowers said.

A vandal could be sentenced to a prison term of 60 days to five years depending on the cost of the damage.

According to the Florida Legislature, gangs and crews are the same in that they have as one of their primary activities the commission of criminal or delinquent acts.

"Misguided artists can be put in prison for years and that shouldn't be," former writer Seth Schere said. "They should have access to an appropriate educational program to help them see they can put their talents to use in other ways."

A graffiti writer can be prosecuted in Florida as a gang associate if the writer has a tattoo naming a crew, associates with one or more known crew members, or has authored any communication indicating responsibility for the commission of any crime by the crew.

"Most of these kids don't have evil in them like gang members do," Perez said. "They end up in jail or special schools with real criminals and get out worse than when they came in."

Police said very few vandals get prosecuted because of lack of evidence, and those who do get punished and return to the streets go back to graffiti with a vengeance.

"I remember arresting DUNCE of DYP and now he is popping up again all over the place. You think he would have learned his lesson," Perez said. "I can detain him again, but he could say that someone else is using his tag and we got nothing."

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#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's yet another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

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

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on