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, Europe 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.
Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I amd many other residents feel has been sorely lacking in local media for many years. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura, but we keep our eyes and ears open about other places, too, thanks to many well-informed "sources."

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic gridlock, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, local government and its bureaucrats couldn't be farther from the sort of results-oriented, strong work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. Yet seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood, right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency, indifference and cronyism under Mayor Joy Cooper are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, Hallandale Beach is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of City Hall's myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and its well-educated populace, the majority of whom long for it to be the kind of quality city it ought to be now, but clearly isn't. Its citizens have become almost numb to HB City Hall's frequent ethics and performance outrages and screw-ups as a result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of basic foresight and oversight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners of this city wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

Before I started this blog in 2007, I used to ask myself, and NOT always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters in South Florida who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to finally start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to demand.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change in public policy and goivernment engagement. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last minute thoughts on HB Budget Workshop on Wednesday

Well, as you know, tomorrow at 10 a.m., the
powers-that-be at Hallandale Beach City Hall have
decreed that despite the over-riding public interest
of many HB citizens in attending and participating
in the city's public budget workshop at a convenient
time and place, they voted 4-1 against Comm.
Keith London'sperfectly
reasonable motion to
move the public workshop from a smallish second-floor
City Hall room -that's considerably smaller and less
convenient than the Commission Chambers that just
underwent repairs that YOU paid for
- and keep
it in a place where they can better tamp down
attendance and keep citizens under control.

They also voted 4-1 against moving the city budget
workshop to the evening, where more Hallandale
Beach citizen taxpayers and residents could attend
and express their opinions, ask for pertinent facts
and figures, or even demand some long-overdue
explanations from the city commission and mayor,
the all-too-often-absent city manager and his
overpaid staff.

The latter includes the various Dept. directors,
some of whom pay so little attention to matters
around them, that two months after taking over
their Dept., they don't even know that their name,
phone number and email address are STILL
not on the city's terrible website so that citizen
taxpayers can actually contact them.
You know, the people who pay their salaries?

Speaking for myself, it's hard not to see this 4-1
vote as yet another in the never-ending efforts by
Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike
Good
to orchestrate a public meeting like a
puppet show.
One guess who the puppets are?

They are deathly afraid of the kind of unscripted
and spontaneous meeting that could emerge when
a room full of well-informed citizens are present
precisely because it would mean going off in directions
that City Hall doesn't like, and for good reason.
Even they know they can't explain the
unexplainable,
and what is HB City Hall
if not unexplainable?


And how do you explain away the fact nobody ever
is held responsible and accountable and punished?

Last week, I asked an unelected city official in a
position to know whether or not the city ever even
considered moving the budget workshop to the HB
Cultural Center, since there's so much more room.

Then I decided to check if there were some time
conflicts in that building that'd prevent it from moving
there.

Answer: The city never explored it and there
are no
conflicts tomorrow that'd prevent it from
being held there.


Again, Joy Cooper and Mike Good want the
meeting in a small room because it discourages the
public from attending -and staying!

Strangely enough, back in June when the Planning
& Zoning
meeting was moved to the Cultural Center,
there were only three non-city employees in the entire
room, of whom I was but one.
But that didn't seem to bother anyone.

Cooper and Good don't want to have a scenario
where well-informed ordinary citizens ask why the
city continues to spend money in amounts and scale
(and accrue debt) that seems completely inappropriate
for a city of Hallandale Beach's size, even while simple
and self-evident problems are never properly resolved.

Problems that we see everyday that last for weeks
and months and years, like simply having appropriate
signage or ensuring public safety on city property,
including directly in front of Hallandale Beach
City Hall
.

Where are the much-needed cuts coming from and
what are the policy or procedure modifications that
will be necessary?

They'd rather talk about how much of your money
they plan on giving to cronies of theirs or waste on
the HB City of Commerce, that does zero but which
last year received $50,000.

If you doubt what I'm saying about puppet shows,
just consider how terribly botched the recent Master
Transportation Plan meeting was handled, years
late and over-budget.
The meeting that Comm. Anthony Sanders was
AWOL at, with no explanation then or since.

Despite its importance, there were no helpful handouts
of any kind for the public to peruse, and the Power Point
presentation was full of numbers and columns that were
FAR TOO SMALL to make any sense of, which
meant that citizens couldn't ask informed questions,
but instead had to generalize and got little specificity
in return.

The City Manager's office could've easily posted all
the pertinent info on the city's terrible website in
advance of the meeting, even the Friday afternoon
before the meeting, so that citizens could look at it
over the weekend and take notes.
But they didn't do that, did they?
Instead, who had the copies?
Not you, but you're the ones left to pay the bill.

Those of you who have spoken to me in the past
about what you said was your anger or seething
disgust with the longstanding unethical hijinks,
gross incompetency and low-caliber management
at Hallandale Beach City Hall, will have your
opportunity to finally stand-up and be counted,
even if it's less than the optimum situation.

Will you take advantage of it, or will you let it
slip away like so many other opportunities,
and let the Rubber Stamp Crew under Joy Cooper
once again have the last laugh at your EXPEN$E?

By the way, in case you forgot, the room that the
workshop will be held in is the same exact room
where Hallandale Beach City Manager Mike Good,
Police Chief Thomas Magill and Fire Chief
Daniel Sullivan all quit their jobs since December
-and then were magically rehired, with new
contracts
.

It's also the same exact room where the vote took
place to buy the property of Comm. Anthony Sanders
and his wife for more than it was appraised at.

And what do you know, coincidence of coincidences,
in none of these cases did the city ever comply with
the state's Sunshine Laws and make that agenda
information public beforehand as required.
Not once.

Not on the city's website and not on the printed agendas.

Hm-m-m... the city manager, police chief and fire chief
all being re-hired without any input from Hallandale
Beach citizens?

Yes, because the mayor and city manger wanted it done
that way, and City Attorney David Jove just winked at
that insult to Hallandale Beach citizens like he has so many
times before over the years.

This essay below by Sara Case is what the Balance Sheet
Online
wrote about Hollywood's budget situation back on
June 26th.
--------------
http://www.balancesheetonline.com/money.htm

Hollywood Budget: A Stone Unturned

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

SPECIAL MEETING (Supporting Docs)

CITY COMMISSION, CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH

CITY HALL, ROOM 257

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2009 10:00 AM

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. ROLL CALL

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

4. OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSED FY 2009-2010 BUDGET

5. CITY COMMISSION REVIEW OF THE PROPOSED FY 2009-2010 BUDGET

A. MAJOR EXPENDITURES BY CATEGORY

1. CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (See Capital Improvement Tab)

2. GENERAL FUND (See Expenditures Tab)

3. TRANSPORTATION FUND

4. SANITATION FUND

5. CEMETERY FUND

6. WATER FUND

7. STORMWATER FUND

8. SEWER FUND

9. OVERVIEW OF LANDSCAPING PROJECTS, VEHICLE REPLACEMENT REQUESTS, AND COMPUTERIZATION REQUESTS

B. REVENUES

1. REVENUE PROPOSALS & NEW REVENUES (See Revenue Facts Tab)

C. GOLDEN ISLES SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT (See Expenditures Tab)

(Including Revenues) (See Revenue Detail Tab)

TO BE HEARD IN CONJUNCTION WITH GOLDEN ISLES SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING ITEM #3.A.

D. THREE ISLANDS SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT (See Expenditures Tab)

(Including Revenues) (See Revenue Detail Tab)

TO BE HEARD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THREE ISLANDS SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING ITEM #3.A.

E. COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY (See Expenditures Tab)

(Including Revenues) (See Revenue Detail Tab)

TO BE HEARD IN CONJUNCTION WITH HALLANDALE COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING ITEM #3.A.

F. BUDGET NOTES (See Budget Notes Tab)

6. REAPPROPRIATIONS OF FY 2008-2009 FUNDS (See Reappropriations Tab)

7. BUDGET AGENDA

A. Discussion of Sanitation Division (Staff: Director, Public Works) (See Backup) (Staff Report)

B. Discussion of the Property and Grounds Maintenance Division (Staff: Director, Public Works) (See Backup) (Staff Report)

C. Discussion of City Web Streaming (Staff: Director, Information Technology) (See Backup) (Staff Report)

D. Discussion of Aquatics Division (Staff: Director, Parks and Recreation) (See Backup) (Staff Report)

E. Discussion of Group Medical and Dental Coverage for FY 2009-2010 (Staff: Director, Personnel)(See Backup) (Staff Report)

F. Discussion of City Programs (City Manager) (See Backup) (Staff Report)

G. Discussion of the City Commission Summer Meeting Schedule(City Manager)(See Backup) (Staff Report)

8. PUBLIC HEARINGS

A. An Ordinance of the City of Hallandale Beach, Florida Pertaining to Public Health and Safety; Amending Chapter 14 "Minimum Property Maintenance and Occupancy Code" by Creating Article IV, "Lot Maintenance and Clean Up" in Order to Require the Clean-up of Property Under Certain Conditions; Providing the Purpose and Intent of the Revision Providing Definitions; Declaring Certain Conditions on Lots, Parcels, and Tracts Within the City Boundaries to be a Nuisance; Prohibiting the Accumulation of Trash, Junk, or Debris, Living and Nonliving Plant Material, and Stagnant Water; Prohibiting the Excessive Growth of Grass, Weeds, Brush, and Other Overgrowth; Prohibiting the Keeping of Fill on Property that Results in Certain Conditions; Prohibiting Certain Conditions that Constitute an Imminent Threat to Public Health; Authorizing the City to Undertake Immediate Abatement and Remedy of Imminent Public-Health Threats; Providing for Enforcement of Violations; Requiring Notices to Owners and, if Applicable, Agents, Custodians, Lessees, and Occupants of Property in Violation of this Article; Providing for Appeals of Violation Notices; Authorizing the Imposition and Levy of Special Assessments if Costs are Incurred by the City and not Reimbursed by the Property Owner and, if Applicable, the Property Agent, Custodian, Lessee, or Occupant; Requiring Notices of Assessment; Creating Assessments for the Cost of Lot Clean-up; Establishing the City as a Special Assessment District; Authorizing the Levy of Non-Ad Valorem Assessment in Connection with Violations of this Article; Providing for Collection of Non-Ad Valorem Assessments; Authorizing an Agreement with the Broward County Property Appraiser and Tax Collector; Authorizing and Requiring the Adoption of a Resolution Regarding the City's Use of the Uniform Method of Collecting Non-Ad Valorem Assessments; Providing for Annual Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Rolls; Providing Transition Provisions and Ratifying Assessments to Recover Costs Incurred by the City to Remedy Violations Prior to the Ordinance's Enactment; Repealing all Ordinances Inconsistent with this Ordinance; Providing for Severability; Providing and Effective Date. (First Reading) (Staff: Director, Development Services) (See Backup) (Staff Report, Supporting Docs)

9. DISCUSSION OF DONATIONS TO CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS

A. Discussion of Donations to Charitable Organizations (Staff Report, Supporting Docs)

10. PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF EMPLOYEES HIRED BY THE CITY COMMISSION

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