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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Hipper-than-thou Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein finds the U.S. Constitution musty and uncool. It's so 1776!



http://www.eyeblast.tv/public/checker.aspx?v=hd6UkU6UaG

Article: Which Part of the Constitution is ‘Confusing’ Ezra?
Posted by Larry O'Connor Dec 30th 2010 at 11:31 am at

http://bigjournalism.com/sright/2010/12/30/which-part-of-the-constitution-is-confusing-ezra/


Sometimes, when you least expect it, say at the end of the year when you have a million things on your mind, something falls into your lap.

And when that something tends to re-confirm your own seasoned intuition about why the American mainstream media - le MSM- has lost SO much credibility, respect and just plan eyeballs/readers the past 10-15 years, it makes you wonder if in the year 2010, reasonably smart print reporters STILL don't understand that when the red light is on, the TV camera is
actually ON and that you are being broadcast for everyone to see; and some people record that for posterity.


Such is the case today with this curious video featuring
Ezra Klein, which I first discovered on Andrew Breitbart's popular MSM-skewering journalism website, Big Journalism, http://www.breitbhttp://bigjournalism.com/, itself, a spin-of of its very popular parent website, Breitnat.com, http://www.breitbart.com/

After reading the accompanying article by
Larry O'Connor and re-watching the video, I'm inclined to think that it's very likely that there will be a forthcoming new feature in this space in the new year titled,
"Children's letters to liberal WaPo blogger Ezra Klein."

Yes, hipper-than-thou Uncle Ezra, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/ will ruminate on all matter of imponderables, but first, back to this video above.

If you believe anything over 100 years old can't be properly understood, why do we
STILL love Shakespeare?

Why do some people -thou not me!- still pay big bucks to hear classical music or opera in concert halls that they've already heard hundreds of times?

Surely it must be more than the exposed cleavage everywhere, right?

Surely cable TV can do 'Better Than Ezra' as an eyewitness to history, but then that's why they're
MSNBC, right?

Oddly enough, the U.S. Constitution proscribes the oath of office that the newly-elected President of the United States must utter under oath, and yet the person we were told two years ago was a brilliant constitutional law expert,
Barack Obama, had no problem whatsoever understanding what those words meant -and neither did anyone else.
So why is Uncle Ezra so confused?

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html
http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

Klein seems to have no problem understanding the original part of our Constitution we call the Bill of Rights, and in particular, the First Amendment guaranteeing "freedom of speech"

But then that's part of the current MSM's problem isn't it?

Its very disconnectedness with the majority of the American electorate makes it a poor source to judge anything of note, and when something happens they don't expect, esp. with blue-collar or Southern appeal, they always cast it in negative and even sinister tones, out of habit.

It makes you wonder w
hat would this crop of overly self-impressed reporters and columnists have made of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams?
And God forbid if Jefferson had been from Georgia, forget about it!


So many current print and TV reporters
are forever opining the merits of compromise for others in their columns, blogs and public/TV appearances -that's when you give in and let them have their way, in case you forgot- or trying to make heroes of pols who are unprincipled go-along types.
But when push comes to shove, reality has shown us that despite their talk, they aren't really the compromising type themselves
.

Reality has shown us that what they like to do is pick-and-choose from American history and its institutions, as if it were a Chinese takeout menu, and are very protective of their own rights.
But yours?
Well, YOURS are up for debate.

This continually shows itself thru their very opinionated screeds and squeamishness about the parts that they personally disagree with, like American's right under the Bill of Rights to bear arms, for example, which they want to do away with.
But you couldn't have one right without the other.


So much of today's MSM don't understand this fact -or want to understand- which
is one of the reasons why so many Americans are genuinely repelled by certain of them when they appear on TV chat shows, because while the citizens know their history and what real compromises were made in order for the Constitution to be passed in Philadelphia 234 years ago, many young-ish reporters are clueless, and many of the worst offenders are currently toiling in South Florida.
Ernie Pyle is dead and he isn't coming back.

http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/erniepyle/

------

Update of January 2, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
On The Drudge Report this afternoon, http://www.drudgereport.com/ Matt has this Klein story featured with the headline
: WASH POST STAFFER: Constitution Impossible to Understand Because It's Over 100 Years Old...

Delicious!!!

-----



Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough on History

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A4Kti0iw3M


See also:
American Revolution "1776" - David McCullough
http://www.c-span.org/Events/American-Revolution-1776--David-McCullough/19609-1/

-----

Below are some prospective issues that may appear in upcoming letters to 'Ezra the Elder':


Can you name the 7 'extra' U.S. states that Obama refers to when he says that there are 57 states? (Is one of them the State of South Florida?)

If Tallahassee isn't the most corrupt state capital in the United States -and it isn't Albany, either- what is?


How do you solve a problem like JenJen?
(Jennifer Gottlieb)

Can you explain how airplanes don't fall from the sky?

What's the point of two Carolinas and two Dakotas?

Will the curse on the Baltimore Orioles only end upon the death of Peter Angelos, or will it have staying power like the curse of the billy goat on the Chicago Cubs?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Billy_Goat

What's the reason there's no WMATA pedestrian tunnel connecting the north and south-bound Farragut North train station and the east-west-bound Farragut West Metro train station in Washington, D.C. when they are less than a city block apart, and would obviously make everyone's life easier?


Why are all the press hangouts near the Washington Post so very lame?

How will it all end for Daniel Snyder
and the Washington Redskins, with his wife inheriting the team and running it after he sticks his foot in his mouth one time too many and suffocates, or with him selling the team to be rid of the headache and universal criticism of him and his grating personality, and the new team owner raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy within three years?

The extra-hard sports imponderable:
The sports teams I root for most fervently have had the following people associated with them over the past few years since I returned to South Florida from the Washington, D.C. area:

Dave Wannstedt
(Dolphins football coach),
Mike Davis
(IU basketball coach),
Randy Shannon
(University of Miami Hurricanes),
Tony Sparano
(Dolphins football coach),
Peter Angelos
(Orioles owner),
Stephen Ross
(Dolphins owner).


Hoosier head basketball Tom Crean seems to have gone a long way in solving IU's personnel problem, but the pious Dolphins and Hurricanes seem almost oblivious to the longstanding problems that have bedeviled them for years, despite the self-evident nature of those problems.
Why?



Big Ten Network's Mary-Rachel Dick is in Bloomington for the announcement of Indiana's new head basketball coach Tom Crean.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szn0VqSa61Q





Timeout during 2007 IU Basketball game against Kentucky at Assebly Hall, Bloomington, (IN), featuring the "William Tell Overture" and "Indiana Our Indiana" - the Indiana University Pep Band and IU Cheerleaders

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3_eozGUays

See also:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVpstk3WBk4

http://www.youtube.com/user/breitbart

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jeremy Hunt discusses the next phase of the U.K.'s ambitious superfast broadband plan and why it's necessary



Jeremy Hunt announces next phase of superfast broadband
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdXkPPi5GU

-------




Ambitious new plans for Britain's broadband
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoXO-ph5tQg

Earlier this month, British Culture, Media and Sport Minister Jeremy Hunt,
the former shadow Home Secretary, followed-up his earlier statements this summer on U.K. super broadband policy by announcing more specifics about what the British government plans on doing to increase not only the speed of Internet connections, but to greatly increase Internet usage in Britain, as currently, up to nine million Britons have NEVER used the Internet.
Out of a population of over 62 million.

The aim is to have
every community in the U.K., no matter how small, to have "access" to superfast broadband by the end of 2015. As you might've guessed, they're particularly keen to close the gap with many other Western nations -Ye Olde Digital Divide!


DCMS Press release:
Next phase of superfast broadband plans announced
http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/media_releases/7619.aspx-


Britain's Superfast Broadband Future
http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/b/10-1320-britains-superfast-broadband-future




BT and the MIT Media Lab
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuLczb_nS74

-----

For more information, see:

http://www.innovation.bt.com/financialservices/

BT Global Banking & Financial Services YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/btgbfm

DCMS
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/dcms

http://www.youtube.com/user/mrsite

Sweet justice! paidContent.org: Court To Agence France-Presse: Pics Aren’t Free Just Because They’re On Twitter

My Blogger Dashboard brought me this bit of good news about thirty minutes after it was first posted online at must-read paidContent.org.

-----

paid Content

http://paidcontent.org/

By Joe Mullin
twitter @joemullin
Dec 29, 2010 8:08 PM ET


Agence France-Presse stunned the Twitter-sphere last month when the wire service defended itself against a copyright claim brought by Daniel Morel, a photographer who captured iconic images of the Haiti earthquake, by saying that the photos were essentially free for the taking because they’d been shared over Twitter and TwitPic. Tweeting photographers can rest easy, because now a court has ruled that AFP isn’t off the hook, and will have to answer for its unauthorized use of Morel’s images.


Read the rest of the post at:

http://paidcontent.org/article/419-court-to-afp-pics-arent-free-just-because-theyre-on-twitter/

See also:

http://twitter.com/photomorel

http://newsweek.tumblr.com/post/332342634/scenes-from-haiti

http://www.afp.com/afpcom/en/

Must-read reader responses to fiscal questions re the Hollywood-based Holocaust Documentation and Education Center and its desire for MORE public $$$

This is the latest information that Sara Case & Co. have posted at their Hollywood-based website, Balance Sheet Online, http://www.balancesheetonline.com/ as a candid response to the long-overdue questions that were first raised here about the Hollywood-based Holocaust Documentation and Education Center.
http://www.balancesheetonline.com/money.htm

I urge you to read it and become familiar with the information and the public policy that's at stake:
the public treasury is NOT an all-you-can-eat trough for feel-good or pet projects that lack BOTH public accountability and common sense.
Even in South Florida!

----- Original Message -----


Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 2:57 PM
Subject: Balance Sheet Update - Reader Responses

We received a number of interesting responses to our recent article about the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center. We have posted some of them and they can be viewed at the link below.

http://www.balancesheetonline.com/hdec_response.htm

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remembrance of things present & past: Avi Buffalo - What's In It For?; Herman's Hermits -No Milk Today


Avi Buffalo - What's In It For?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evu_MqAZpC0

The Long Beach, California band that you'll be hearing a lot about in the future, unlike those semi-melodic bands that for years MTV seemed to want to will to popularity by playing their music on their reality shows -to death!


When I listen to this, I hear 1968, a seven-year old kid at a children's daycare facility in Memphis, Tennessee, where the teenage son of the owner plays British Invasion and Stax tunes,
esp. Merseybeat songs, on an old boxy institutional record player in order to get thru the day working there, and bored silly, and not at all interested in taking a nap like all the other kids my age, I pay close attention to what I hear -and it imprints on me.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_music
As a result of that, I take the
Ferry Cross the Mersey with my eyes closed, by osmosis.


Because of all that, this song by this band, Avi Buffalo, seems instantly familiar to me.




NME Introducing - Avi Buffalo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdsI_7oXYAA

Named to NME's COOL LIST 2010

http://www.nme.com/list/cool-list-2010/194775/page/1
http://www.nme.com/artists/avi-buffalo

Now, I'll
end this post with a song that I seem to have been singing for as long as I can recall... No Milk Today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Milk_Today
When I was at school at IU, circa 1980, I'd often play my many
record albums featuring bands from the 1960's British Invasion era, including Herman's Hermits and assorted compilation albums, and make a point of leaving my dorm room door open a bit or tilt one of my stereo speakers out the window towards the intersection of 17th Street & Fee Lane, as well as the IU outdoor swimming pool. http://www.britishinvasionbands.com/
You wouldn't believe the number of people -especially female students I'd never met before!- who made a point of finding my dorm room at Briscoe Quad Building A up on the fourth-floor, Room 427 to commiserate, and tell me that they too had grown-up loving them and singing them, usually because of their parents.

And, of course, hadn't heard some of the songs in many, many years.
There's nothing like a melody with a hook!



Herman's Hermits -No Milk Today
https://youtu.be/DMkFY-6tT-I

The use of bells in this song -like a door bell- used to knock me out for its ingenuity, presaging my appreciation for ABBA.

I not only knew all the lyrics to Herman's Hermits songs, but have also seen all the films that Peter Noone and the rest of the band appeared in, which is how and why I happen to know that the famous "Mrs. Brown" from the song Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter was really a greyhound.

Watch this film trailer from that eponymous film:http://www.tcm.com/video/videoPlayer/?cid=81814&titleId=2811

Monday, December 27, 2010

Is Mike Haridopolos' ethical case the exception or the rule in corrupt Tallahassee?; Joe Gibbons continues to skate on ethical black ice re residency



Last Sunday's editorial in the Scripps-owned Treasure Coast & Palm Beach newspaper on ethics in the Florida state legislature in Tallahassee -or rather the lack of same amongst some so-called leaders- could hardly be improved upon.

I had meant to reference it here sooner as it is that rare newspaper editorial that is hammer squarely hitting nail with both precision and a minimum of fuss. And while it was ostensibly about the efforts of Mike Haridopolos to evade the law, it is, of course, apocryphal for all the other members and the culture of corruption that flourishes in that town hard by the Georgia state line.

The longstanding lack of leadership on ethical and clean government issues by the vast majority of Florida state senators and representatives, Democrat and Republican, save an Ellyn Bogdanoff or Ari Porth, is really a leading indicator of the rather pedestrian character and sub-standard quality of the lawmakers in Florida, the country's fourth-largest state.

My seven years back here in Florida, after 15 spent in the Washington, D.C. area, has informed me that, not surprisingly, with size comes not more quality as we might hope, but rather more of the middling mediocrities, male and female, with parochial self-interest as their number one goal, running from hopelessly gerrymandered districts.

Where never is heard a discouraging word.

Who better to be the poster boy for that sorry lot of self-involved, under-achieving ethically-challenged ne'er do-wells than my very own Florida state representative, Joe Gibbons, the former do-nothing Hallandale Beach City Commissioner?


I seriously toyed with the notion of penning an ode to Gibbons in this space on Christmas Day, wondering where-oh-where he was spending the holiday with his wife and kids: where they live and she works, in Jacksonville, or where he, supposedly, lives, Hallandale Beach.

In case you'd forgotten about Joe Gibbons...
April 18, 2010
In case you'd forgotten what sort of person Joe Gibbons was, here's a quick reminder: Y-O-U are at the bottom of his pyramid
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-case-youd-forgotten-what-sort-of.html

November 15, 2010

Do you recall me telling you months ago that FL State Rep. Joe Gibbons no longer lived in HB? Bob Norman hammers some more nails in that coffin!
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/do-you-recall-me-telling-you-months-ago.html

November 15, 2010

Bob Norman in The Daily Pulp blog
House Pro Tem Investigated for Homestead Fraud
http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2010/11/joe_gibbons_investigated_homestead_fraud.php


But as indignant as I was, given the facts we already know with certainty,
I didn't want to be cross in the blog on Christmas Day, and waste precious time and energy on someone whom I have so very little regard for, and who in another time and place would already be receiving calls from leaders in this community to either come clean on whether Gibbons actually lived where he claimed to live on his formal candidacy papers, as required by state law, or resign.

Instead, Gibbons continues to skate on thin black ice and the South Florida news media, save Bob Norman, continue to avert their eyes from what is right in front of them.


Why is everyone down here so deathly afraid of not only real competitive general elections, where issues matter, but in calling out politicians who have the gall and effrontery to actually fail the very low threshold that the state currently requires?

That quorum of mediocrity is why those FL state amendments that passed muster with the public in November, which made creating gerrymandered districts harder to draw in the future by these same ethically-conflicted legislators, a very important victory indeed.

Success that needs to be built upon in future elections and replicated at the local level.


Given the rather brazen and egregious acts and forms of self-dealing that seem to routinely go on in Tallahassee, often drawing nothing but blank stares, it's no wonder really that the vast majority of Sunshine State citizens regard every state legislator and staffer in Tallahassee as someone potentially on the make, with his or her hand extended waiting for a 'sweetener,' the only question being the amount.

This is made worse by their ridiculous high self-regard, and the outrageous sense of entitlement they possess, as if they were our betters, which they are not.

Sadly, this same unethical and anti-democratic sentiment is mirrored in most of the state's 67 county commissions, and many of their cities.

As if this was not enough of a burden for this state's citizenry to bear, it's made worse when some pols who were formerly thought to be on the right side of this ethical line-in-the-sand, begin to make noises and whine quite loudly amongst their friends in the chattering class and news media about the indignities they must bear when they are forbidden from so much as even taking a Mentos from a friend.
More on her and her new suffering soon.

-----
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/dec/19/editorial-haridopolos-financial-disclosure-case/
Editorial
Haridopolos' financial disclosure case illustrates need to reform flawed system
Editorial board
December 19, 2010


The coziness of it all makes the conscientious person want to scream.


Sadly, no one in the halls of power — in this case, the Florida Legislature — appears to be listening.


To wit, the complaint against Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, was heard recently by the state Commission on Ethics.

Haridopolos had stated in an October news release: "I acknowledge mistakes made on my financial disclosure form from past years. None of these were intentional and once pointed out, I corrected the mistakes. I have filed amended disclosure forms with the necessary corrections."


These omissions amounted to tens of thousands of dollars in income and personal property Haridopolos failed to report on financial disclosure forms from 2004 to 2008.


The ethics commission heard the complaint but took no action other than to refer the complaint to the Senate Rules Committee — this, in large part, because the commission has no authority to impose penalties. This can only be done by lawmakers. But guess what. The Senate Rules Committee is chaired by Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonsville — a Haridopolos appointee!

So which of the committee's options — do nothing, or recommend to the full Senate that Haridopolos be reprimanded or fined — do you think is forthcoming?

One thing is clear: The system currently in place to require financial disclosure by public officials, and to investigate and penalize alleged violations, is a joke.

What needs to change?


• Require public officials to type the information on their financial disclosure forms.
Some forms completed by candidates and elected officials are handwritten and barely legible. The public shouldn't be left to guess at the meaning behind letters and words that are difficult, even impossible, to decipher.

• Provide basic instructions and guidelines for completing the forms properly. Explain to lawmakers what assets and liabilities are.
For example, Haridopolos, who listed a $325,000 home as both an asset and a liability on his financial disclosure forms two years in a row, should know the outstanding mortgage on the home — not the home itself — is the liability. A simple explainer on the form might help.

• Require public officials to post all financial disclosure forms online.
Now, to obtain a copy of a public official's financial disclosure form, the public must e-mail a request to the Florida Commission on Ethics (disclosure@leg.state.fl.us). The public deserves immediate, online access to these forms. Haridiopolos has championed putting the state budget online. The Legislature should do the same with financial disclosure statements. Even better, create a Web-based form that lawmakers have to fill out online. This would give them fewer excuses when they make errors.

• Give the ethics commission authority to impose penalties.
Deferring this step to the Legislature makes a mockery of such investigations.

• Eliminate inconsistencies in Florida's financial disclosure laws. For example, state law contains the following catch-all provision: "A person may amend his or her full and public disclosure of financial interests to add to or modify the information reported on the form as originally filed at any time after filing the disclosure form." There is no accountability when a statute allows a public official to amend a filing "at any time."

• Make it a crime for a public official to knowingly fail to disclose a financial interest in legislation he or she votes for.
While this isn't the case in the Haridopolos complaint, it remains an issue that merits prompt legislative action. Not surprisingly, a bill that would have made it a crime for lawmakers to knowingly fail to disclose a financial interest in legislation they vote for was rejected by the 2010 Legislature.

The solutions needed to reform Florida's feeble financial disclosure system are transparent. However, fixing the problem requires honest evaluation and self-scrutiny by the Legislature — and these qualities are in short supply in Tallahassee.

----

More TCPalm opinon pieces at:
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/opinion/

------


A few days earlier, The Florida Times-Union, based out of Jacksonville, published this spot-on editorial
on the same subject.

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2010-12-12/story/legislature-shoring-ethics

Legislature: Shoring up ethics
December 12, 2010 - 12:00am

NICE DEAL ... FOR THEM


- In most situations involving ethics violations in state and local government, the state ethics commission investigates and makes recommendations on penalties. The governor decides on the penalties.


- In the case of violations by state lawmakers, however, the ethics commission investigates, but it is ultimately state lawmakers who decide the penalties of their colleagues. The ethics commission is not allowed to even recommend penalties unless lawmakers ask them to do it.


Our take:
The Legislature shouldn't be deciding ethics penalties for its own members after commission investigations. Those conflicts and others could be avoided if penalties for lawmakers were up to the governor or a combination of the governor and state Cabinet.


The ethics case involving Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos exposes a flaw in the ethics system that lawmakers should fix.


The fox's friends are guarding the henhouse.


It surfaced after Haridopolos admitted he failed to fully note details about property owned and business ties he was supposed to list on his required financial disclosure form, which applies to elected local and state officials at all levels of Florida government.

The disclosures are important because they can help the public spot potential conflicts of interest.

They are safeguards against corruption that help enhance public confidence - provided officials share the details as required.


A Vero Beach man filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging Haridopolos didn't comply. The omissions included a $400,000 investment home in Mount Dora and the names of two clients who paid him more than $120,000 over a five-year-period.


Haridopolos acknowledged the mistakes to commission investigators and then filed amended disclosures.


The ethics commission accepted the investigation findings but has no legal ability to recommend a penalty to the state Legislature unless lawmakers ask.

So, by law, the matter went to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

It could do nothing or recommend a fine or reprimand to the full Senate for action.
And that spotlights a big defect in the system.

As Senate president, Haridopolos is the guy who appoints the committees and their chairmen.

The henhouse effect


In this case, the committee chairman is Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, most recently the head of the Republican Party of Florida and a key Haridopolos ally and friend.

But the ally part would be true of just about anybody Haridopolos would appoint to the committee.


Plus, the committee is now asked to weigh in on an ethics case involving someone who can - at whim - kill any future piece of legislation the members might offer.

In other words, going against the boss in this case is yanking hard on Superman's cape.


Haridopolos' attorney argues that embarrassment is enough of a penalty for his client, especially since Haridopolos admitted the mistakes and moved quickly to correct them.


But that misses the broader point.

A conflict of interest should not be built into the system, but that is the case in the Legislature.


An ethics enforcement system needs the ability to enforce independently and should be beyond the direct influence of anyone who is subject to a decision, whether it be the Senate president or a newly elected state lawmaker who has yet to find the restroom.


In fact, that's the way it works in most cases in state government.

For instance, the governor gets details from the ethics commission about problems with a sheriff and then decides, within the options outlined by law, what will happen - not a committee appointed by the sheriff.

Distance equals credibility
If the complaint came in against the governor and the governor was in clear violation, the attorney general would ultimately decide what would happen, not some group the governor appointed that he could leverage or that depended on him for future success.

The governor would make the call on ethics penalties in most cases for the agriculture commissioner, attorney general or chief financial officer.

But state lawmakers get the privilege of deciding what will happen to their own - if anything at all.

Where's the impartiality?

It's like exempting themselves from full application of Florida's Government in the Sunshine Law.


Worse yet, the ethics commission - unlike with complaints against state and local constitutional officers - is barred by law from even recommending ethics penalties to lawmakers involving state lawmaker violations, unless state lawmakers request it.


In other words, the ethics commission is told, if lawmakers want your suggestions on penalties, they'll ask for them.

Adjustments needed


It's rare, though not impossible, for there to be an ethics finding by the commission against a Senate president or other legislative leader.

But infrequency is no reason to avoid upgrading the system.


The ethics commission should be able to recommend penalties about lawmaker violations like they can for everyone else.

But they should be directed to the governor or the state Cabinet for penalty consideration, not lawmakers themselves.


Should lawmakers be able to legally change that process by themselves, they should do it.


If, for some reason, it should require a state constitutional amendment, lawmakers should propose one.


If they won't, shame on them.


Then various citizens groups that advocate for strong ethics and more transparency in government should band together and seek a constitutional amendment as part of a broader move to strengthen the state ethics commission in general.


Having the foxes guard the henhouse never worked on the farm, and it isn't good for state government, either.

-----


Because I have the
Florida Commission on Ethics as a daily Google Alert, I not only saw these editorials the day they came out, but also caught an excellent Dec. 17, 2010 Letter to the Editor of Florida Today, the Gannett-owned newspaper in Melbourne, FL, i.e. the Daytona Beach area for those of you reading this from out-of-state, on the sort of character of the attorney hired by incoming Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos when the evidence was overwhelmingly against him.
A petty one!

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20101217/OPINION/101216030/1004/

Attorney’s comments were unprofessional

Attorney Pete Dunbar, who represented state Sen. Mike Haridopolos in a hearing earlier this month before the Florida Commission on Ethics, made inappropriate and caustic comments against Eugene Benson, a citizen who first noted Haridopolos had failed to report key financial information for the past five years.

Dunbar’s remarks leaves a sad mark on the legal profession.


Even though Haridopolos quickly admitted guilt, somehow Dunbar felt the only way to represent his client was to imply that Benson was the problem by stating, among other things, “Basically, what you’ve got here is a harassing complaint.”

Several other negative comments were also made by Dunbar.


Is this what our legal profession has sunk to, that even if your client admits guilt, someone else should be blamed?


Alan Zoellner

Merritt Island

See, people really are paying attention to what is going on in the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile. days earlier...

Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/12/04/1956721/senate-chiefs-mistakes-remain.html

Senate chief's mistakes remain an issue
By Marc Caputo Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos admitted he made an "embarrassing'' mistake when he repeatedly failed to properly fill out financial disclosure forms.


On Friday, the Florida Commission on Ethics accepted Haridopolos' formal admission that he violated the state Constitution by neglecting to detail his investments, a $400,000 home and a consulting job that earned him $120,000 from 2004 through 2008.


But Haridopolos wasn't fined Friday. The commission can't do that under constitutional rules.
That job is up to Haridopolos' fellow senators. And they might not fine him at all.


Haridopolos' attorney, Pete Dunbar, said they shouldn't make him pay any more because the errors were minimal, unintentional and were corrected as soon as Haridopolos learned of them.


"
He has paid enough. This is deeply embarrassing,'' Dunbar said Friday after the commission approved Haridopolos' acknowledgement of guilt. "This was a clerical error.''

But it's not going away.


Regardless of what penalty -- if any -- Haridopolos' Senate levies against its boss, the issue is sure to haunt him on the campaign trail.


POSSIBLE RUN


Haridopolos is already putting out feelers for a possible 2012 run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson, putting the Merritt Island Republican on a crash course with fellow Republican U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. LeMieux's deputy staff chief, Vivian Myrtetus, sent out an electronic Twitter message Friday that linked to a blog with the headline, "Haridopolos guilty in ethics violation.''


Democrats also pounced. Shortly after the commission approved Haridopolos' settlement agreement, the Florida Democratic Party sent out a press release with the headline "Haridopolos Kicks Off 2012 Senate Campaign By Pleading Guilty To Breaking Ethics Laws.''


The ethics case against Haridopolos was brought by a sharp-eyed retiree, Vero Beach resident Eugene H. "Bucky'' Benson, who noticed that Haridopolos failed to write the addresses of his employers, the Legislature and the University of Florida. Benson also spotted discrepancies in the way Haridopolos reported income through MJH Consulting Company, which performed work for a public-relations firm called Syntax Communication and the marketing arm of an appliance company, Appliance Direct.


'BIGGEST FARCE'


In an e-mail to reporters, Benson groused that the ethics commission was "the biggest farce in the world. . . . The Florida Legislature snookered Florida taxpayers into thinking that it governs `in the sunshine' and the Ethics Commission is the taxpayer's watchdog.''

But Haridopolos said he's committed to transparency and open government, which he said is what mortified him about his mistakes. Also, he noted to ethics investigators, he's a college teacher and should've filled out the annual financial disclosure forms properly. He said that after he improperly filled out the forms in a matter of minutes the first time, he repeated his errors year after year.

"
I thought I did it correctly,'' he told reporters last month. "I turned in the paper. No one turned it back with a red mark on it saying you did this wrong. And so for 10 years, I thought I did this right. My wife's not happy with me. My newspaper's not happy with me. And I'm not happy with me. It was a mistake.''

Other Florida stories at:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/index.html

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Nordiska Kompaniet Dept. Store in downtown Stockholm has a surprise guest in its Christmas window display: a small squatter!


Råttan mitt bland NK:s mjukisdjur
http://www.aftonbladet.se/webbtv/nyheter/inrikes/article8291800.ab

NK is
Nordiska Kompaniet, the larger-than-life Swedish department store company with hugely popular locations in downtown Stockholm and Göteborg, that is, in ways that are hard to fathom for many Western consumers under the age of forty who never knew that era, both a mythical and magical name in the world of consumer retailing, and an aspirational lifestyle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordiska_Kompaniet

In Swedish:
http://www.nk.se/
In English: http://www.nk.se/en/nk-stockholm/


NK Vintersaga - 2010.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4r7gvi96kU

Much more
than almost any other current department store I can think of, NK is like the old-fashioned dept. stores that, in the United States, used to populate large northern cities, as well as Atlanta, large cities in California and a handful of other larger cities, where the promotional activities within the store as well as the print/TV/radio advertising campaigns were a staple of both everyday amusement and general conversation among the local citizenry.

Personal evaluations were made not only on the quality and service of the stores, but also of their ad campaigns, not unlike frank discussions of sports teams or favorite players, whether in a hot-streak or in a slump, and if the latter, what would be needed to change the dynamic?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianmontone/4338039892/

My sense of things from reading about that era and talking to people very involved in top-tier advertising agencies from the 1950's thru the late '80's, is that people then had a much stronger sense of loyalty to some dept. stores and an equally strong animus or aversion towards patronizing others, often built over personal slights years before, or in some cases, longstanding racial prejudice not easily forgotten.

Now, it's largely about the cost of an item and where you can it cheapest, NOT the retail experience, and I'm as guilty as anyone else, even though I wish it weren't so.

Until the mid-1960's, when the upwardly mobile suburbs and their growing affluence beckoned them, especially in the growing Sunbelt states -until the notion of a large downtown department store without a large nearby parking garage seemed patently absurd on its face- they often played a larger role in a city's commerce and business image than you might think because of the variety of professionals who worked there and who were available to pitch-in and lend their expertise to community groups like the Junior League, United Way, et al.
These professionals were the key to the dept. stores protecting and preserving their upscale image.


For most of the 1970's, I lived four blocks south of the 163rd Street Shopping Center in North Miami Beach, when it was an open-air mall, long before it had a fabric roof erected over it as part of a massive renovation in 1979.

Everyday for years, I walked thru it twice a day on my way to and from JFK Jr, High and NMBHS, so I knew every single inch of it, as did my friends, especially the Burdine's,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burdines where I worked part-time while in high school and while back from
IU in the summer a few years later.

http://mall-hall-of-fame.blogspot.com/2009_12_01_archive.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mall_at_163rd_Street
http://www.pbase.com/donboyd/memories_shopping

See this amazing JFK speech -delivered at 163rd Street!- on, of all things, Castro's Cuba
http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/JFK+Pre-Pres/1960/002PREPRES12SPEECHES_60OCT18a.htm

http://www.labelscar.com/



Katie Couric, circa 1984, reporting from the former 163rd Street Shopping Center in North Miami Beach on the subject of shopping mall crime.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbpHgMvM918


The sorts of dept. stores that I'm thinking of, and which applies to NK's now, are the sort of place that would have been the go-to store for not only visiting tourists, but the local smart-set as well, especially twenty-somethings finally coming into some money and eager to spend a little of it on themselves for an emotional pick me-up, a suit for a man an evening dress for a woman.
Or a new electronic device that promised to change your life, like a VCR.

That sort of dept. store, regardless of where it was located, were also where many of our common sense notions of contemporary consumer behavior first came into play, and in the case of women's fashion, were often deliberately reversed just to catch the attention of influential young would-be fashionistas of the time, whose word-of-mouth was golden in that pre-cell phone and Internet era.

Quite sensibly, some upscale dept. stores created a group of female teen 'insiders,' a talkative and opinionated bunch whose minds and imaginations they plumbed and mined for insight into teen tastes and aspirations, as a sort of in-house focus group.

For instance, the
Burdines Teen Board, which when I was still at NMB, had some of my friends on it.

If only those girls had blogs back then, they'd be mini-media moguls!


http://absolutboston.se/
http://www.labelscar.com/
http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/

FYI, circa 2007, the Top 100 Fashion Blogs may've looked like this:
http://www.customizedgirl.com/blog/?p=9


A newer perspective on the most popular fashion blogs, especially those in Europe, can be found at the updated list at popular blogging network Bloglovin.
http://www.bloglovin.com/

There's some pretty amazing things there by some very creative and perceptive people.

There have been so many movies and TV shows made about the inter-relationships of people working at dept. stores that even if you lived in a small town in the '50's that was bereft of that sort of upscale and sophisticated operation, you knew what it was like by cinema osmosis,
so you knew EXACTLY what you were missing out on.

Which is part of why you wanted to leave Dodge, pronto!

For me, growing-up in South Florida, far from a traditional hotbed of holiday window displays like what you saw in films or TV, the closest to anything like it that I had any first-hand experience came with the Marshall Field's stores in Chicagoland in the mid-'80's, when I lived in Evanston and Wilmette.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Field%27s

On a slightly smaller scale compared to the huge flagship State Street store in downtown Chicago, the Loop, where my talented fashion-forward friend Madeleine Moulton worked, that included the Marshall Field's in Evanston that was located not far from where I lived.

In 1986, that was where I first bought a favorite red Lacoste sweater before catching an early holiday flight to Miami -a sweater that populated many Christmas photos for years- in order to be down here when my nephew Mario was born a week before Christmas.

That was not unlike an earlier red one I bought at the-then
L.S. Ayres at the College Mall in Bloomington, that populated many photos of me and various friends at IU and several memorable dates from 1979-'84.

You might want to read my May 26, 2007 post at South Beach Hoosier titled
South Florida's epidemic apathy shows itself once again.

It was about the Macy's store -the old Burdines store- in downtown Miami on Flagler Street, and the shabby conditions of downtown Miami, and Macy's purchase of Marshall Field's and its effect on Chicago area consumers.
That was a follow-up on something that Transit Miami founder Gabriel Lopez-Bernal had written on the subject on his popular blog.

http://southbeachhoosier.blogspot.com/2007/05/while-marshall-fields-loyalists-fight.html

http://www.transitmiami.com/

http://bobmiami.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/bob-prediction-macys-downtown-will-get-revamped/


http://www.skyscrapercity.com/forumdisplay.php?s=1f53638a57498918e3b9f1e1ca54bdd5&f=513


------
http://www.aftonbladet.se/webbtv/

http://www.youtube.com/user/NordiskaKompanietTV


Sorry this reads so blah but my original post here on NK's and the role of department stores vanished when my computer crashed this morning, so I will try to re-post it later if I can.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Variation on a theme: All I Want for Christmas is You -and attention



BBC Radio 5 live's resident songsmith Dave Henson celebrates Christmas, with his take on the Mariah Carey classic

-----

Olivia Olson - All I Want for Christmas is You (from "Love Actually").avi


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb8Ze0-A1OA

http://www.youtube.com/user/OliviaOlson


-----

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You, with scenes from "Love Actually"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azcimpWgCT0


-----



iJUSTINE -
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq86oMh6v-M


-----

Though Love Actually is one of my favorite films of the past 15 years, and not just because the Prime Minister is named David -Hugh Grant- the original trailer,
with so many cliched songs running through it, nearly scared me off the first few times I saw it months before the film came out. http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi362021145/

Fortunately, the great cast and the talented people behind the film -writer and director Richard Curtis, who'd written Four Weddings and a Funeral nine years earlier- had done work I loved, so despite the fact that it might well be one of the worst film trailers ever made for a very good movie
, I've seen it about a dozen times, though it's too bad that USA Cable has to edit out some of the best dialogue of the film.
http://www.universalstudiosentertainment.com/love-actually/


-----

iJustine video from JD Lasica on Vimeo

Justine Ezarik, better known as iJustine, interviewed after first meeting of the Intel Insiders at Intel headquarters in San Jose, Calif., 2008

iJustine from http://vimeo.com/jdlasica

JD Lasica on http://vimeo.com/

http://vimeo.com/1298582

Surprising observation: That by now, given the technology revolution and the sorts of ambitious and attractive women who are forever being attracted to South Florida, South Florida would have actually have an iJustine-like personality all its own, someone well-known for her efforts and promotions, i.e. making lots of amusing videos in locations throughout the region, yet there isn't one.
Why do you suppose that is?

http://ijustine.com/


http://www.youtube.com/user/ijustine

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Miami Dolphins classic logo

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