Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Someone needs to watch the politicians -it won't be the Miami Herald

My comments follow the column

-----------------

Miami Herald

Someone needs to watch the politicians

By Beth Reinhard
March 14, 2009

In an eerily prescient plot line in Carl Hiaasen's 2002 novel Basket Case, an intrepid reporter whose stories have sent three politicians to jail leaves the newspaper for another job and isn't replaced.
Another reporter is told to keep an eye on the local government, but he covers a city council that also meets Tuesday nights, forcing him to alternate his attendance between the two municipalities.
The politicians time their misdeeds accordingly: Property taxes and garbage fees go up, a tire dump and a warehouse park are built in residential neighborhoods, and everybody gets a pay raise.

The weary reporter quits, so the newspaper dumps his job on somebody else -who also covers city council meetings on Tuesday nights.

"For the corrupt politicians in our circulation area, it was a dream come true," writes Hiaasen, a Miami Herald columnist who says newspapers regularly inform his fiction. "The unsuspecting citizens of three communities . . . were being semi-regularly reamed and ripped off by their elected representatives, all because the newspaper could no longer afford to show up."

Imagine this scenario playing out in city after city, and you have a pretty good idea of the political fallout of a newspaper industry on the wane. This is the best thing that ever happened to crooked pols since manila envelopes.

This week, The Miami Herald announced its third round of layoffs in a year. Just another day in an industry where a number of media companies are struggling to survive.

This column is not a self-serving sob story about people losing their jobs, because that is happening to everyone except foreclosure auctioneers and bankruptcy lawyers. The public's interest is at stake here, as newspapers have long been the meanest and best government watchdogs around.

When the scrappy, Pulitzer Prize-winning Rocky Mountain News shut down on Feb. 27, it posted a poignant video on its website in which reporters and readers talk about the vital role of the Fourth Estate. Editor John Temple says readers frequently refer to the paper not as "the Rocky," but as "my Rocky," reflecting their feeling of communal ownership in the newsgathering enterprise.

This is personal.

In Florida, a robust and competitive network of daily newspapers has thrived in a sort of journalism hothouse, where strong public records laws and weak-kneed politicians laid fertile ground for muckraking. But every paper has been forced to reduce its coverage or give up entire communities in recent years. The Tallahassee press corps has shrunk dramatically, and in Washington the owners of the Tampa Tribune and the Palm Beach Post plan to shutter their bureaus.

Sure, the explosive growth of blogs and other online outlets is helping fill the void. Some of the best scoops of the 2008 campaign first appeared outside the mainstream press. Local gadflies, out-of-work reporters and other rabbler rousers are posting great stuff.

But the best journalism is frequently labor-intensive and expensive. Someone drawing a paycheck has to take the time to sit through the city council meeting, scour the annual budget or truth-squad a campaign ad.

The Herald and other papers are partnering with former competitors in an effort to fill the gaps. Big-mouthed readers have always helped us stay in the loop, and we need you more than ever to be our eyes and ears on the ground.

Somebody has got to get to that Tuesday night city council meeting.

Beth Reinhard is the political writer for The Miami Herald.

Reader comments at:

Abandoned Miami Herald vending machine next to FEC
Raiload tracks, Biscayne Boulevard & N.E. 187th Street,
Aventura, FL
April 21, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier

The Miami Herald has not had a reporter at a
Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting since early
June of 2008, when Breanne Gilpatrick attended the
joint meeting with the City of Hollywood at the Hallandale
Beach Cultural Center.

She was only there because like the situation cited above,
both cities have their meetings on Wednesdays.
But she was clearly there for Hollywood, as Hallandale
Beach was simply the side dish.

That meeting was noteworthy for two things: that there
were many Hollywood City Hall officials who confided
to me that they could not find the building because
there were -and are not now- any directional signs
on U.S.-1 indicating where it was located, and also
for the fact that HB Mayor Joy Cooper tried to
persuade the City of Hollywood -unsuccessfully-
to adopt her strategy of threatening to sue the
State of Florida so they didn't have to comply with
the state's deadlines and requirements
regarding ocean outfall pollution.

This coming Wednesday, the date of the first City
Commission meeting in May, that will mark precisely
eleven months since the Herald deigned to show up.

Woody Allen famously said that "Ninety percent
of life is just showing up"
So what lessons should we draw from never
showing-up?

Over those same eleven months, as one shocking
thing after another has transpired here, I've directly
and indirectly contacted Beth Reinhard numerous
times to make her and her colleagues aware of matters
of public interest here fully deserving a level of scrutiny,
as well as Herald Broward section editor Patricia
Andrews, Herald Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal
and Herald Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos.

(The latter really ought to have a weekly column,
not a once-in-a-while schedule the Herald gives
him, which only serves to make anything he writes
about seem dated by the time you read it,
an arrangement he himself can not be happy with.
Seriously, why no Herald blog for him?)

Whatever my serious disagreements with them about
the quality or volume of product churned out, Messrs
Gyllenhall and Scumacher-Matos have taken the
time to write back a few times with their thoughts and
concerns after such correspondence, but Reinhard
and Andrews, nary a peep.

Welcome to the State of South Florida Journalism
2009.
---------------
Draw near and consider:

Much has been said, written and analyzed, and yet this
overwhelming mass of facts has heretofore furnished no
evidence to the unconscious Miami Herald and its
journalistic kindred, from which to pluck a belief that the
acts of the crowd at Hallandale Beach City Hall and
their dutiful cronies were unethical forays, and that there
really has existed and continues to exist at 400 South
Federal Highway a most unethical and malodorous stench.

A putrid stench that clearly marks behavior most foul
that serves as daily impediment to the full and faithful
discharge of public duty.

The Millenium Building, 2500 East Hallandale Beach Blvd.,
Hallandale Beach, FL
April 25, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier

But comes one blogger, me, and one website writer,
Change Hallandale, unafraid of the behind-the-scenes
machinations and armed with facts to fill many a
cupboard, after the Herald long avoided taking notice
of what transpires there, and makes a statement to
the public and continually shows it online, and, presto,
the veil is rent; light succeeds to darkness,
and credit to defamation.
With such a recantation avaunt!
We do not want it; we can do best without it.

We have taken the measure of the Herald lo these
many months and found without exception that it
was lacking in seriousness of purpose and moral
clarity when such qualities were ideal prescriptions
for what has long ailed this town hard by the sea.

And so we persevere, ourselves, in the task once
commenced, for if not us and our allies, who will
carry the torch and ask reasonable questions that
make autocrats angry and seethe, demand a degree
of accountability, from people who clearly delight
in the Herald's apathy, a fact which is but common
knowledge hereabouts?

And what of the political friends and benefactors
of the very Rubber Stamp Crew that has made
this town simultaneously, a mockery, a punchline,
a laughingstock of the worst sort?
Those who are by practice but blind to what lies
directly before their immediate gaze and scurry
like the ostrich, eager to find that comfortable
hole that their empty heads hath grown so
accustomed to?

Patience dear friend, patience!
Do not despair.

The bosom friends of the powers-that-be of
this town are well known to me and others,
and their deeds and names have been entered
into a list that will one day delight and amuse
you, as you read about their offers of aid and
support, knowing that they, too, have become
ensnared in the web of their friends' daily
falsehoods and calumnies.

Trust me, friends, you will come to know these
names too, I promise.
Sooner than they know!

The idylls of summer swelter are near at hand.
When they be over, you at One Herald Plaza
will unsay your present tale, but it will be too late.
The sands of Time will have further turned your
remaining power into idle boasts that prove pitiable,
proving once again that the common curse of
South Florida journalism be not just folly and
ignorance, but vanity and apathy.

If our health is spared and a summer hurricane
passes not by our fair shores, we shall give to
the people of this town, as well as to the state
lawgivers legally assembled, who seek truth,
a brief history of our revelations, and in the
name of reform, accountability and democracy,
all so long in exile from this community,
but with the word of truth, appeal to their justice.

And rest assured, friends, there WILL BE
a public accounting, for who knew what, when,
and who did nothing but join in the mockery
at the public's expense.

That future public accounting animates my daily
travails, as it does so many others in this community,
so sure are we that each day is but one day closer
to that fateful day of public reckoning.
People who long for something better than what
they have heretofore known, and who while longing
for sheer civic normalcy, have instead found gross
deceit and self-dealing, shenanigans of every size
and shape, and false words repeatedly spoken
with no intent of follow-through and resolution.



The tape that may soon bedeck the halls of Hallandale
Beach City Hall and environs?

For those in power in South Florida who are but
dear friends of the Rubber Stamp Crew that
is currently in power, let them say no longer that
they did not know what transpired here under the
guise of governance, and who were the guilty
parties at the very heart of every embarrassing
scandal and debacle, forever plotting, scheming
and attempting to obfuscate the truth,
so that their anti-democratic plans would be
rendered invisible to the citizens they purport
to represent.

For those of us who cared to look, it was there
all the time, but some consciously chose not
to see.
The Miami Herald is but the most obvious enabler
on that long list, but they were not the only ones.

For we who have followed the facts as we found
them, and connected dots not seen by others,
know well the names of the others, too, as
surely as we know our own names.
How can we not?

And you will come to learn them here in
this place, too.

Hallandale Beach Blog
South Beach Hoosier

No comments:

Post a Comment

#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang w/Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

What a night we had! #HollywoodFL based photographer/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 ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016

Cityline on A1A and the beach

Cityline on A1A and the beach
Where Hollywood meets Hallandale Beach on State Road A1A, Hyde Beach Resort & Residences meets the iconic beach ball-colored Water Tower. © 2017 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Miami Dolphins classic logo

Miami Dolphins classic logo
What I grew up with in South Florida in the 1970's - not just an expectation for winning, but for excellence and 100% effort!

North Miami Beach High school alumni

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.