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Saturday, February 27, 2010
Missing voices in Broward County's ethics debate are ignored by South Florida news media. It's our old media friend: Mr. Lack of Curiosity!
folks around South Florida and the rest of the Sunshine State
who make it their business to pay attention to what's going on
hereabouts in local government, especially as it applies to the
issue of ethics and political miscreants.
Per the Broward Beat and Broward Politics blog postings
I cite and link to for your perusal, it's worth mentioning that
State Senator Chris Smith and State Rep. Perry Thurston
both voted against Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff's common sense
ethics proposal at the Broward Legislative Delegation public
meeting that I attended three weeks ago at the FAU campus
in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
(Ellyn Bogdanoff, who I think is a very impressive person
and full of moxie and enthusiasm, is running for State Senate
District 25 this Fall, which is currently represented by
Jeff Atwater, who's running for Florida Chief Financial Officer.
See http://www.ellynbogdanoff.com/ and
That BLD meeting was scheduled to iron-out aspects of a bill
that would provide the proper legal framework for an IG
position to be created in ethics-starved Broward County.
Not surprisingly, this important meeting got ZERO coverage
on local Miami TV newscasts, so citizens here heard nothing
about the absurd histrionics and melodrama that took place,
with petty verbal tantrums thrown by Messrs Smith and
Thurston, with an assist to State Sen. Dan Gelber,
chiefly for his wasting so much time chasing-his-tail that
the public's ability to actually speak at the end of the meeting
was greatly compromised, as some people who wanted to
speak, were not able to, including myself.
But at least Gelber voted in favor of it, unlike the other two.
That is, after he lectured everyone in the room as he channeled
a Law prof schooling kids on the intricacies of property law,
when all they really wanted was to retrieve their errant ball
from his front yard.
Instead of dealing with it forthrightly, he chose to use it as a
pretext to share what he, apparently, believes to be his colossal
It would seem Gelber loves to get on a soap box, even when
it's not necessary.
Personally, I was already inclined to support another candidate
for State Attorney General this Fall, but I can tell you after
this particular first-hand experience, State Sen. Dan Gelber,
in person, makes a very poor case for the plausibility of
Dan Gelber the FL AG candidate.
He was every bit the caricature of a preening pol and left many
of the people who attended the meeting dumbfounded, if my
subsequent conversations and emails from fellow attendees
is any indication.
Some even volunteered that they'd actually been leaning towards
Gelber instead of State Sen. Dave Aronberg for AG, but now
were re-thinking that decision.
I guess I hardly need mention that people who'd be attending this
sort of meeting are more well-informed about what's really going on
here than the average voter and that their opinion, among friends,
neighbors and co-workers, is considerably more persuasive than
any paid ad.
In that sense, Gelber's performance that day was almost like an
in-kind political contribution to Aronberg.
On a more important note, to me, one of the most obvious but
least-discussed aspect of the current Broward County ethics
killing-zone is the almost complete absence of any African-American
or Hispanic individuals or groups speaking publicly for making
stronger ethics both a reality and a priority here, and not just an
abstract idea in a book or political campaign.
All the minority "Usual Suspects" who generally clamor to get
their spin out to the public and news media in order to be thought
of as serious players in this community's future, were and are
almost entirely MIA -Missing in Action!
I can name the exceptions, since I know who some of them are,
like Ted Mena, a former Coral Springs city commissioner and
business owner, whom I met in 2008 while he was on the county's
Charter Review Commission.
He has been a consistent voice for greater public accountability
and transparency in local government and stronger ethical standards.
In my opinion, he'd exactly the sort of person with integrity and
common sense that we need dozens of clones of in Broward County
and local government to flush-out the defective govt. and political
miscreants and ticking-time bombs.
He recently wrote something about the current ethics debacle,
which I've placed at the bottom of this post for you to consider.
But as is the case with so many other issues I could name,
along with you, the South Florida news media hasn't even noticed
this absence of diverse voices on this important issue, even though
we're constantly told -lectured!- by theses same newspapers
and TV stations how important diversity is.
The news media has been too preoccupied the past few weeks by...
well, now that you mention it, nothing in particular.
I plan on posting some things in the near future on the above topics
and what I observed first-hand, and will try to post some video
I shot up in Fort Lauderdale as well.
Commissioners Loving Ethics Reform To Death
By Buddy Nevins
In Tallahassee its called, “Loving It To Death”.
That is defined as loading up of a piece of legislation with so much unnecessary baggage that it is sure to fail.
Some Broward County Commissioners appear to be using that tactic to kill the ethics regulations that the public is clamoring for.
Read the rest of the story at:
Sun-Sentinel's Broward Politics blog
Gunzburger runs into trouble protecting proposed ethics code
By Scott Wyman
February 23, 2010
A move by Commissioner Suzanne Gunzburger to protect Broward’s fledgling ethics ordinance ran into trouble Tuesday. Gunzburger wanted to draw up a ballot issue to place the ethics rules in the county charter – meaning they could only be changed in the future by voters. As a task force wrapped up its work to write the code this month, concern grew that the commission could immediately gut or rescind it.
Read the rest of the story at: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2010/02/gunzburger_runs_into_trouble_p.html
Sun-Sentinel's Broward Politics blog
Bogdanoff sees passage of legislation to create anti-corruption office
By Anthony Man
February 22, 2010
State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said Monday she’s confident there’s enough momentum to win passage of legislation that could lead to creation of an inspector general to police corruption in Broward’s local governments.
Action on the legislation moves to Tallahassee next week when lawmakers gather for the annual legislative session. Bogdanoff said she expects lawmakers will soon put the finishing touches on the inspector general legislation.
The IG would be an independent office with authority to investigate the County Commission, the School Board, independent agencies such as the North Broward Hospital District, and all the cities, towns and villages in the county. The office would have the power to subpoena people and documents.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
ETHICS AND THE GOVERNMENT
January 20, 2010
By Ted Mena
Most municipalities in our country have a declaration of policy concerning ethics as it applies to municipal employees, which of course is what politicians are in most county and some city governments.
Most of these declarations state that municipal employees are there to work for the citizens of a city or county. These statements of policy also say that it is the responsibility of that person to "act in a manner that promotes trust and confidence in government with complete transparency and honesty in their services, and to avoid even the appearance and perception of impropriety."
It seems to me that some people in Broward County government and the School Board have not read, nor understand, this simple and straightforward statement of policy. Most of these policies are in most cases being ignored here in Broward.
Presently, there is a committee on ethics looking into this matter. They need input from the public as well as the media, who need to step up and publish what these politicians are up to and investigate them to see who else has "conflicts of interest." When I was a city commissioner in Coral Springs, where city commissioners do not get involved in any procurement process at all, I was appointed to the Broward County Charter Review. As a member for two years of this committee, the issue of ethics came up and was looked into. The present Ethics Commission is the result. I can tell you that many of the county commissioners serving in Broward did not want to have this committee on ethics.
One of the reasons that some county commissioners give for being involved in the procurement process is that they do not want county staff to provide them the "backup" on issues before them. They say that they don't have time to read it. But that's what they are paid to do!
(It must be because they are too busy hobnobbing with lobbyists to obtain money to be reelected at parties on yachts or hotel.)
Thanks to Eggelletion, Salesman, and Gallagher, we now have a strong reason to do something about it. Let's put some teeth in the ethic rules and some consequences to misbehavior. We need a watchdog group to make sure these ethic violations do not occur and that this group is independent of the commissioners. County commissioners should not be involved in any role in the procurement process since back in November 2008, the public voted to have the Ethics Commission created. Commissioner Angelo Castillo of Pembroke Pines wrote recently, "We are becoming a community of disbelievers in government to operate effectively..." Hopefully, we will get something done this time.
Ted Mena is a former Coral Springs city commissioner and a Broward County business owner.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Hardly Breaking News: Older women love the Winter Olympics but Hispanics and African-Americans are completely ignoring Vancouver's pride and joy
From her perch at the Forbes blog, The Biz Blog, -media, Hollywood and celebrity- Lacey first mentions that folks on Madison Avenue are very disappointed in the Olympics TV demos from an audience-reach p.o.v. because it's skewing way too older female, which makes a lot of their trendy ad buys nothing but wasted dollars down the drain.
Chicken or egg?
NBC Universal's on-air talent thinks nothing of talking incessantly about a female figure skater's dead mom and any resentment between U.S. Olympic ski team members Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, prior to and since the Olympics started, Vonn and Mancuso, the Best of Rivals http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/sports/olympics/17ski.html , but now you're surprised that guys are tuning-out your soft-focus, pastel coverage after days of hearing you talk about the same thing?
"Among viewers 55 and older, ratings are 82% higher than the national average, according to Nielsen."
While on an errand late this afternoon, I heard a very well-produced and critical perspective on PRI's The World via WLRN-FM, http://www.theworld.org/ by Carol Hills titled
More live coverage of Olympics outside US, criticizing NBC Universal's absurd policy of tape-delayed (and overly-chickified) coverage compared to what foreign TV broadcasters are beaming back to their eager audiences around the world: LIVE coverage of everything as it happens.
You know, the method preferred by genuine sports fans around the world?
Hear Hills' persuasive piece for yourself at:
In a related manner, the New York Times' Olympics Rings blog reports late this afternoon that Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl is asking many of the same reasonable questions that Carol Hills raises in her radio piece about consumer accessability:
Senator Asks NBC to Explain Internet Restrictions By Richard Sandomir
On the odd chance that you don't already know, Herb Kohl is the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and -yes- is part of the Kohl family for whom Kohl's department store is named.
(He was the company president for most of the Seventies.)
Not surprisingly, he is and has been the wealthiest person in the entire U.S. Congress since first getting elected to the Senate in 1988, where he succeeded Senator William Proxmire, a true original whom we could use dozens of clones of today to make things right.
Sen. Kohl is the Chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee where his Midwestern values and moderate notions are a real plus: Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.
Later in her blog posting, Lacey Rose drops the nugget which caused me to take a few minutes today to write about a subject that I've been talking about for years with my media friends up in the D.C. area, especially my African-American reporter friends, so many of whom used to go with me to Baltimore for Oriole games via the MARC Baseball Train from D.C.'s Union Station, which deposited us right next to Camden Yards.
While older women are watching the Winter Olympics in numbers that Madison Avenue doesn't quite know what to do with, "Viewership among both Hispanic and African-American populations is 74% below the national average."
See Lacey Rose's entire post here:
Olympic TV Ratings: Bigger? Yes. Better? Maybe Not.
February 25, 2010
I originally meant to post the informative daily video I receive straight from the Vancouver organizers from the very beginning of the Games but... miuex tard que jamais:
Live Olympic results are at: http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-schedule-results/
New York Times Olympics Rings blog, http://vancouver2010.blogs.nytimes.com/
Thursday, February 25, 2010
You don't hire Greenberg Traurig and Becker & Poliakoff because you want subtle, though I did hear someone out in the hall during a break joking that Bernie Freidman and Alan Koslow "were just hired to hold Debbie Orshefsky's purse."
I guess that's what passes for lawyer levity in Broward these days.
But on the positive side, since they didn't cover this story that cried out for some air-time for all sorts of reasons, there'll be time for them to run at least one news story tonight on one of the four English-speaking TV stations about some local Miami woman who claims she's losing weight by doing something other than actually getting control of her own life, giving up her lazy ways or getting off the sofa and getting some real exercise.
Cue CBS4's Lisa Petrillo, reporting LIVE from South Beach!
Yes, five-and-a-half hours after their meeting started -late, of course- in a rambling and poorly-run advisory meeting, the Broward Planning Council voted against the explicit recommendation of their own professional staff this afternoon to deny the Diplomat LAC and instead passed it by more than a 2-1 vote, with only a handful of votes against.
All the predictable pols on the Planning Council were for it as we knew going in -plus some I didn't expect to be for it- preferring to kick the can further down the road than stop it dead in the tracks.
Many of the Planning Council members sounded exactly like the Diplomat employees and union members who were bussed in to the event, mouthing the same bland and cliched banalities on the dais, ones that Hallandale Beach residents have been hearing for so many months out of local pals of HB City Hall like Hallandale Beach CRA loan recipient Joe Kessel, longtime Joy Cooper family friend Gerry Natelson and the terribly annoying HB Chamber of Commerce mouthpiece, Patricia Genetti, who has thoroughly proven herself over two years to be no friend of Hallandale Beach's citizen taxpayers.
Boy are they ever a smug and tiresome lot!
Today, with Joy Cooper and Anthony A. Sanders both out-of-town, with William Julian up on the Council dais, and Keith London in the audience with HB residents and speaking against its approval, Dotty Ross was the only HB Commission member with no real excuse for missing this key meeting. But miss it she did.
I'd tell you the actual final vote tally here but since the Chair of the Planning Council never actually said it... I'm not going to mention his name.
I guess somewhere along the line in my 15 years in and around Capitol Hill, I got so used to U.S. House and Senate Committee roll calls, where common sense procedures are used and the Committee clerk actually calls the roll and then announces the final result of the vote immediately afterwards, rather than someone on a dais with an open microphone just blurting out "it passed," as happened today, I got fooled into thinking that everyone knew how to manage a proper roll call.
Based on what I saw today, clearly they don't.
I was not real impressed with very much of what I witnessed today in downtown Fort Lauderdale, whether it was the self-impressed union bosses in suits constantly getting-up and annoying others by walking the aisles like they were House Whips on the Floor of the House, telling their Members what to do, the numerous annoying female professionals in the chambers who kept talking on their cell phones even while the public was speaking down at the lectern, or folks you've never heard of walking around like they were waiting for someone to recognize them.
Sorry, dude, I don't follow Cooper City or Coconut Creek politics or wherever it is you're from, so I have no idea who you are, so could you please stop standing in the aisle so obliviously, and getting in the sight-lines of all the people who actually came to watch the meeting and not you?
Wow, there were so many annoying people at this ponderous meeting!
Dear readers, you just have no idea!
And returning to the poor flow of the meeting in general, allowing Diplomat attorney Debbie Orshefsky to just go on-and-on to a fair-thee-well, congratulating her client over-and-over, and constantly repeating her pat phrases that I and many others have heard dozens of times by now -like something being "her favorite part"- in a meeting that didn't even get to the Diplomat LAC issue until 11:55 a.m., was downright brutal.
Trust me, being on the aisle seat on the last row in the chambers allowed me the opportunity to notice that this death-march of a meeting directly led to many people leaving the chambers for lunch -and never returning.
The fact that I had to continually move my camera tri-pod from beside my seat every time someone from my row got up to leave was the first tip-off.
In that sense, the Planning Council meeting was the exact opposite of the very well-run and very well-attended Citizen Budget Workshop I witnessed in Hollywood on Tuesday night, where, yes, there was a Steve Geller sighting in the lobby after I got in and had found a place to park -a block away- but I chose not to snap a photo.
And not that you asked, but if you didn't like Broward County Commissioner Stacey Ritter going into today's meeting, finding it embarrassing that someone as thoroughly mediocre, self-important and bereft of practical, original ideas as her could really have so much influence in this area, you left the meeting today shaking your head about this county's future, knowing that she will not leave the stage until she is dragged off.
Hollywood's brutally-honest financial meeting was as professional a meeting as any I've witnessed in my six years back here, and a real credit to City Manager Cameron Benson and his myriad Dept. heads.
It was a real model for how all cities in South Florida ought to run meetings.
In Hallandale Beach, though, it's but a distant dream.
More details on both of these meetings tomorrow, I've got some Olympics to catch up on.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
June 8, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Quick, can you think of a single developer
that Hallandale Beach Commissioner
Dotty Ross has said no to over the past
No, you can't, because there aren't any.
Over those six-plus years I've been watching,
Ross has been, alternately, either a human
softball, a cheerleader or out-and-out apologist
for every single project brought before the
City Commission, no matter how ugly,
ill-conceived or out-of-scale for the particular
neighborhood it was.
I don't call them the Rubber Stamp Crew
Whether it was her recent vote in December
with Joy Cooper and Anthony A. Sanders
for the completely incompatible and over-the-top
Diplomat LAC project that goes before the
Broward Planning Council Thursday morning,
or her vote a few years ago for the Steve Geller-
pitched and hideous DOMUS project on
U.S.-1/S. Federal Highway and S.E. 8th Street,
opposite Gulfstream Park and the retail
Village of Gulfstream Park shops,
where she and three of her colleagues voted
to give the developer a needed variance
-even though they completely failed to meet
the city's Planning Dept. minimum-size
standard for a variance- though if you've been
by there over the past two years, you know there's
been not a lick of work done there, and it's been
FOR SALE for over a year- Ross has shown
her fatally-flawed consistency: terrible judgment.
Above, from May 8, 2008, looking west on U.S.-1/South
Federal Highway and S.E. 8th Street, the rendering of the
Here's what the developer proposed: A 19-story mixed use retail,
office and parking garage facility.
Approximately 13,021 square feet of retail use, 160,446 sq. ft,
of office use, and 624 parking spaces. The building will include
ground floor retail, (9) nine floors of enclosed parking and (9) nine
floors of office use. Height of the building will be 264’ 8’’;
Owner: H Development Corp. LLC;
May 8, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier
So, in case you didn't know, S.E. 8th Street off
of U.S.-1 is the street that years later, still lacks
the yellow rectangular Street Hump signs parallel
to the humps, as is common in the rest of the city.
You know, like on Diplomat Parkway north
of Hallandale Beach Blvd.?
This, despite Planning Director Christy Dominguez
continually saying at the all-night public meeting
in 2007 on the DOMUS project, how terribly
concerned they all were at City Hall with road
conditions on that street and the surrounding area.
What a laugh!
In fact, I specifically mentioned it to Cooper and
Good when they came over to my seat in the
commission chambers that night during a break,
even mentioning how many times I've contacted
City Hall over the years trying to get it dealt with.
What's happened since then?
While it may seem like a small thing, it's perfectly
illustrative of the city's longtime inability to get things
done competently, efficiently and with courtesy.
That's why THOSE sort of HB bureaucratic things
have been such a longtime bête noire of mine.
Ross has also frequently shown her disconnectedness
towards the HB community -and to reality- by
frequently uttering the most bizarre comments
at the strangest times, as well as acting like she's
entitled to get away with things that no one else can.
And by no one else, I mean anyone not associated
with HB City Hall.
Below, for instance, is a photo I snapped of Ross
on October 21st, when I attended the opening
ceremony of the city's new park, Sunrise Park,
800 N.E. 5th Street.
October 21, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
If you can believe this, there, with microphone in hand,
and not for the first time publicly, after she called Comm.
Anthony A. Sanders to address the small crowd,
she referred to him as "John Sanders" instead of Anthony.
October 21, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
That's Comm. Ross to the left of the park sign.
In retrospect, if I'd known what she was going
to say, I'd have recorded it, but I couldn't stay
for long so...
It was a bit of a drive-by event for me.
Fourteen months after she approved him as
interim commissioner and actually voted for him,
after admitting on the dais that she didn't know
who he was or anything about him, this is the
Trust me, I was there and her puppet-masters
in the crowd were clearly squirming in their seats
as she flubbbed the simple hand-off.
Yes, the same Sanders that she voted to make
an interim HB commissioner in August of 2008
-thru the puppet-mastery of Joy Cooper and
Mike Good- despite publicly acknowledging
before she voted for him that she knew almost
nothing about him, and didn't even have any
paperwork in front of her detailing his particular
qualifications, if any.
You can see the video of Ross at the time on my
friend Michael Butler's popular fact-based website,
Change Hallandale Beach:
http://www.changehallandale.com/ or at
In case you forgot, that selection process involving
Sanders was completely contrary to the city's own
rules and past practices, but because Joy Cooper
and Mike Good wanted it, and most certainly didn't
want city residents to be able to speak about it
before they could rush the vote thru, once again,
Dotty Ross rolled-over, failed to perform her job
in a professional fashion and insulted HB residents
who knew the city's law.
Those comments by Ross raised all sorts of questions
at the time, the most obvious being that on the one hand
we're supposed to believe that lifelong Hallandale Beach
resident Sanders is a leading member of the community,
yet the woman who has been on the City Commission
longer than anyone else, and who was once mayor when
that was an appointed position, didn't really know who
Which is it?
Both can't be true.
For a Debbie Orshefsky-pitched project on U.S.-1
and N.E. 3rd Street that's since bombed, leaving
only some souvenir graffiti on a green tarp,
Ross commented in a completely Chance Gardner
fashion that -a propos of nothing- that U.S.
servicemen returning from deployments in Iraq
and Afghanistan could find reasonably-priced
housing there if the City Commission approved
People were giggling in their seats and covering
their mouths after she said that, me included.
Week-after-week for many months, Dotty Ross
was a solid and consistent anti-transparency
vote against Comm. Keith London's reasonable,
common sense motion to put both the the city's
own RAC plan and the Diplomat LAC docs
on the city's website, so citizens could examine
them long before they were subject to votes before
the city's Planning & Zoning Board and the City
Dotty Ross is a NO! NO! NO! to taxpayer
transparency and accountability, but a
loyal YES! YES! YES! lapdog for South
Dotty Ross personally, along with Mayor
Joy Cooper, and Commissioners William
Julian and Anthony A. Sanders, are the
four reasons why citizens of this city were
NOT able to see the Diplomat LAC documents
until 28 hours before the HB P&Z actually
voted on them one Tuesday afternoon in
December, itself, the day before the HB City
Commission was to vote on it.
That's the way Mayor Cooper and City
Manager Good wanted it -rushed thru!
Without time for HB citizen taxpayers
to study it and develop reasonable questions.
And what about apologists for the Diplomat,
like Patricia Genetti, the Executive Director
of the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce?
That's the half-assed joke of a group here that does
so very little for the community, compared to other
CoCs I've personally seen in action across the
country that make a positive social and civic difference
in their communities, relying on support from genuine
Mom and Pop store owners, NOT City Hall pals
Well, when you receive $50,000 a year from city
taxpayers like they do, much of which goes towards
her salary, you get the results you pay for, which in
Genetti's case, was her twice speaking on behalf
of the Diplomat's position at public meetings,
all without any public disclosure by her of those funds,
or a reminder that her office is now at City Hall.
She is as much of a hand-puppet in this city as you
In Hallandale Beach, people like Genetti get either
flustered or speechless when you bring-up these
sort of facts about the Commission's actual votes
against citizen taxpayer accountability because they
are so used to having the benefit of a stacked-deck
dealt to them by City Hall.
But then this is a city that nominates Good and
a Commissioner running for re-election, Ross,
for Florida League of Cities awards of excellence.
nominations never actually mentioned the
salient fact about the city nominating itself,
not them being selected by an independent
they all had to go up to Orlando last year for
the Florida League of Cities annual shindig,
with Hallandale Beach taxpayers footing the
bill for their fun.
getting to go because, after all, you were
nominated, and then getting someone else
to pay for your travel expenses?
Seriously, in this economy, how many cities
as small as Hallandale Beach, less than 5 square
miles, sent ALL of all its elected members to
that meeting in Orlando?
What do you think?
Just to show you how long Dotty Ross has been
pro-developer, since long before I returned to
South Florida six years ago from the D.C. area,
on this the eve of that important Broward Planning
Council vote up in Fort Lauderdale, here's a
nearly 12-year old story that tells the tale.
Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?
HALLANDALE'S STEIN SAYS HE WON'T RUN FOR REELECTION
After 10 years on the Hallandale City Commission and a stint as mayor, Gil Stein has announced he will not seek re-election in 1999, signaling an open door to new voices on the dais and possibly a new direction for the city.
Despite an unsuccessful bid in 1987 for a commission seat, Stein, 77, won his first term in 1989 and won all his bids for re-election.
It was in midst of a heated commission meeting Aug. 4 that a frustrated Stein, as he and other commissioners absorbed biting comments from residents, said he would not run for office again.
More than 100 condo unit owners had packed the commission chambers that day to protest a proposed increase of building heights and density. Stein and Mayor Dorothy Ross cast the two losing votes in favor of the proposal, raising the ire of the audience.
Stein insisted the crowd had nothing to do with his decision; that it was time to step aside and clear a path for new, younger candidates.
"The city deserves younger people, not people who have been around for 21, 22 years,'' said Stein, delivering a barb to his colleague and frequent adversary Commissioner Arthur "Sonny'' Rosenberg, who has served in office since 1977. "The city has changed. We have younger families coming in.''
Speculation swirls about Stein's successor, though any number of local activists may step up. In the past year, Joy Cooper, Rosenberg's neighbor in Golden Isles, has emerged as a vocal and solid voice. As president of the Golden Isles Safe Neighborhood District, she led the fight to prevent the city from expanding the boundaries of the district to include a nearby community.
Cooper could draw from the same voting block that has returned Rosenberg to City Hall for 21 years. She has not declared her candidacy and did not return calls from The Herald. "I've been hearing that Joy Cooper might run,'' said Arthur Eckman, a Hallandale resident and longtime political activist. "She lives in the right area and she's smart. She seems to have a handle on the issues.''
Perennial also-ran David I. Marmor may consider another candidacy. The 28-year Hallandale resident has lost four times -- 1987, 1989, 1991 and 1997 -- and usually employs a platform that criticizes commissioners for being too old and out of touch with residents.
Since moving to Hallandale from New York, Stein has compiled an impressive civic service resume that includes the chairmanship of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
As the top vote-getter in 1989, he earned a four-year term and was elected mayor by a unanimous commission vote. He was a leading voice in the construction of the Hallandale Cultural Community Center and, along with his wife, Lotte, helped form the Hallandale Symphonic Pops Orchestra.
The retired owner of a textiles business said he is eager to hand the mantle of leadership to someone else.
"Ten years is enough,'' Stein said. "I voted for term limits. I think other people should have a chance to serve the community like I did.''
Classic Chance Gardner insight:
President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President "Bobby": In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President "Bobby": Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time.
[Benjamin Rand applauds]
President "Bobby": I admire your good, solid sense. That's precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As predicted, the other shoe has dropped in the battle over the Diplomat LAC before the Broward Planning Council on Thursday
Well, as was quite predictable, the other shoe has
finally dropped in the battle over whether or not
and the high-powered and well-connected
attorney/lobbyist team for the Westin Diplomat
Resort & Spa and their owners, the Plumbers
& Pipe Fitters Union, will be able to cram
a large development project into a family
neighborhood in Hallandale Beach -that borders
and directly affects residents of Hollywood-
where their absurd and grandiose plans for multiple
27-story condo towers on secondary streets
are completely incompatible with the character
and nature of not only the neighborhood in question,
but directly contrary to the City of Hallandale
Beach's own adopted Master Plan of last year.
To wit, a completely calculated partial-retreat
in order to appear reasonable in their requests.
Below is the letter from Greenberg Traurig
attorney Debbie Orshefsky that was transmitted
to the Broward Planning Council yesterday
in advance of their Thursday morning meeting
to decide the Diplomat's application.
I believe you already know who most of the
Neighbors and residents of HB and Hollywood
have no problem with them ACTUALLY doing
what they are legally entitled to do NOW,
since nobody wants them to close the Diplomat
Country Club, but the Diplomat management
-Starwood- and owners has only to look in the
mirror to see who's actually responsible for them
being in the economic bind they are currently in:
they have a particular product few people
Their property is not just poorly-marketed, but,
for the current market, charging far-too-much
for such an undemanding and uninteresting
It's that simple.
Consumers with plenty of choices vote with their
feet and with their wallets everyday and this is
Currently, consumers are making themselves
heard, but the Diplomat and Company
is NOT listening to that evidence and customer
That's their problem to resolve, and not one
to be borne by neighbors and residents of HB
and Hollywood, who, after all, DON'T owe the
union a profit, no matter how much their
well-financed PR team has tried over the past
few months to paint a sky-is-falling scenario
if they don't get their way on this application.
This issue is truly an example of where the
more you know the true facts at hand,
as well as the historical context for those
particular facts, the more you realize how
truly flimsy the Diplomat's arguments are.
Meeting starts Thursday promptly at 10 a.m.
Below, some recent past paid ads opposed to
the Diplomat LAC.
Monday, February 22, 2010
as a reminder, but since I received this one
today, I'll run it instead:
City of Hollywood, Florida
Office of the City Manager
PUBLIC NOTICE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2010
Contact: Raelin Storey
Public Affairs and Marketing Director
Cell: 954.812.0975 Fax: 954.921.3314
City of Hollywood Hosting a Citizen's Budget Workshop
on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 from 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Hollywood, FL- The City of Hollywood is reminding residents that a Citizen's Budget Workshop will be held on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 1770 Monroe Street and US-1. This workshop will focus on the process of developing the fiscal year 2011 budget and will provide residents with an opportunity to ask questions or offer suggestions.
In the current fiscal year (2010), the operating budget for the City is $344.7 million, an increase of 3.3% over the prior year's operating budget. The operating budget includes funding for a total of 1,383 full-time employees and for various operations throughout the City including water/sewer services, streets and public facility maintenance, parks and recreation, parking services, and public safety operations.
For more information on the workshop, please contact the Office of Budget and Procurement Services at 954.921.3206 or visit the City's website www.HollywoodFL.org. For media inquiries, please contact Raelin Storey, Public Affairs Director, 954.921.3098
View Larger Map
See also: http://artandculturecenter.org/
Why do Kendrick Meek & Dan Gelber want support of someone like Mayor Joy Cooper, who refers to her political opponents as "Nazis" while at City Hall?
Monday February 22nd, 2010
Why do elected officials like Kendrick Meek,
Dan Gelber or others in the community want
the support of someone who is as reliably,
demonstrably and brazenly anti-democratic
and misanthropic as Hallandale Beach Mayor
Joy Cooper, who, last year, specifically
referred to political opponents of hers in this
city as "Nazis"?
While I was just a few feet away.
While she was on Hallandale Beach
City Hall property.
For a Hallandale Beach City
While talking to another Hallandale Beach
elected official, whom, as you'd expect,
their being a member of her Rubber Stamp
Crew, said absolutely nothing about Cooper
actually having the gall to say this,
and say it where she did.
That reference included yours truly, too,
as she was only too eager to make clear
to this other elected official by specifically
telling them, "including that person
in the room" when I was the only
member of the Hallandale Beach public
present in a large conference room
full of people drawing paychecks from
In the very same breath, having now
warmed to the occasion, Mayor Cooper
then referred to HB Commissioner
Keith London by name and said that
he was "a Hitler," the contempt literally
pouring out of her mouth.
Next Sunday, if you're interested,
you will learn further details and context
about this matter here on my blog, and
also learn the identity of the other HB
elected official, who didn't bat so much
as an eyelash at hearing the mayor
of the city refer to concerned citizens
like YOU and I as Nazis.
That's plenty of time for you to think
about these facts and fully digest them
before she hosts a fund-raising party
for Congressman Kendrick Meek's
U.S. Senate campaign at her home
on March 5th.
But just so there's no misunderstanding...
IF you're someone in the community
who has been on Joy Cooper's side
and who has always made excuses
for her or looked the other way in the
past for her erratic behavior, illegal
and unethical actions, and intemperate
and creepy words, then you are NOT
on the side of the accountability, reform
and transparency that this city and
county desperately wants and needs.
That's your choice, of course, but you
need to understand THAT train is leaving
the station without you, and choices and
votes will be made accordingly.
IF you're not on the reform train, you're
now definitely an opponent of mine and
the people I know and associate with in
Broward County and greater South Florida,
who don't just vote, but who also affect
the votes of others -the persuaders-
and they don't forget.
And neither do I.
Lines are being drawn...
Sunday, February 21, 2010
answer why this particular meeting will NOT
be televised on the Broward School Board's
own channel, BECON-TV, Channel 63.
Just like the last meeting I wrote about before
and after it took place.
Here's what's scheduled to run on BECON instead:
|6:00 pm||Historic Hotels of America : Jefferson, The|
|6:30 pm||Broward School Beat : Episode 45|
|7:00 pm||Celebrate South Florida! : Farewell Show|
|7:30 pm||Dateline Health Nsu : Dh#257 Emergency Medicine/M. Campbell & K. Nugent|
At some point, you have to wonder why they
even bother with the pretense of caring.
No, not just the BTU, James Notter, the
Broward School Board, their bureaucracy
and the Integrity Trio, but the local
reporters in South Florida as well, especially
TV reporters, who do stories on them that,
to varying degrees of clarity and professionalism,
don't so much illuminate as obfuscate the
larger issues here: integrity, or rather the
This is reflective of the great thinking that
led to the 1977 AMC Pacer, below.
How many of those do you see on the road
How many people rhapsodize about them?
Do you know of any museum that trumpets
their collection of Pacers?
No, instead, every time you see one featured
in a TV show or film, it's designed to serve as
comic relief about that era.
There's a very good reason for that, isn't there?
In my opinion, the current education system
in Broward County is a 1977 Pacer.
Earlier this week I wrote about the paid ad
the BTU, Broward Teachers Union,
ran in the Miami Herald and, apparently,
since I didn't see it that day, the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel as well.
An ad that was precipitated by a Wall Street
Journal article in early January about special
education funding and which specifically
mentioned what Broward Supt. James Notter
was doing with that money here.
The Wall Street Journal
JANUARY 6, 2010
Special-Ed Funds Redirected
School Districts Shift Millions of Dollars to General Needs After Getting Stimulus Cash
By ANNE MARIE CHAKER
Florida's Broward County Public Schools saved as many as 900 jobs this school year. Nevada's Clark County School District just added more math and tutoring programs. And in Connecticut's Bloomfield Public Schools, eight elementary- and middle-school teachers were spared from layoffs.
These cash-strapped districts covered the costs using a boost in funding intended for special education, drawing an outcry from parents and advocates of special-needs children.
Read the rest of the column at:
Reader comments at:
Let's be clear on one point: WSJ reporter
Anne Marie Chaker did a great job of bringing
this story to light.
She deserves to take a bow,
But nobody in South Florida's news media ever
bothered to pick up the ball and follow-up that
well-written and informative WSJ story with
the sort of necessary connect-the-dots story,
column or TV investigative piece that should've
appeared shortly afterwards
Except it is no surprise at all, is it?
It's what we've come to expect from our local
Since then, all manner of people have written
about the paid ad and some related matters,
but in my opinion, improbably, they have all
have managed to miss the forest for the trees.
They never wrote about
a.) special education and
b.) they never ask a very simple question:
Why is the BTU, having already repeatedly
failed over two years to do their not-so-clever
mass email as planned, continuing to repeat
their mistake, over-and-over?
Plain and simple, it doesn't work.
What don't they understand about that?
At some point, as an organization, when you
continually fail, you have to admit that your
particular strategy doesn't work and you
either need a new strategy or a new general
Broward teachers, superintendent escalate hostilities
February 17, 2010
Long-simmering tensions between the Broward Teachers Union and the school district's superintendent escalated publicly Wednesday in morning newspaper ads and an afternoon news conference.
The union bought half-page ads in local newspapers accusing Superintendent Jim Notter of misusing school district money.
The allegations touch on use of stimulus money intended for kids with disabilities; job perks for Notter; rehiring of retired administrators and unnecessary travel on the taxpayer's dime.
They're all accusations the union has made before, but for the first time, Notter responded. He was appaled, he said, about the photographs of children that were used in the ad.
''When in fact you look at a paid ad and what looks back at you are children who clearly do not know and understand the untruths that I just shared with you, I will tell you that is wrong,'' he said, calling the children ''exploited.'' The ad, which cost up to $1,000 to run in each paper, features a picture of seven angry-looking children posing with their hands on their hips. They are the children of union members, a BTU spokesman said.
If not for the picture of the children, Notter said he would have ''maintained what leaders maintain, and that's taking the high road.''
Later, union spokesman John Ristow countered: ''It's time for Superintendent Jim Notter to stop misleading taxpayers and playing the blame game or take the high road out of Broward County.''
Teachers are working without a contract this school year as the union and district continue negotiations. The union wants raises for teachers, while the district says it could only afford to cover increases in the cost of health insurance for members. Negotiations last school year hit an impasse.
BTU spokesman John Ristow said Wednesday's ad was unrelated to the ongoing talks, however.
''Some things rise above contract negotiations,'' he said.
Some of the claims in the ad allege that Notter:
• Wasted $32 million intended for special education students;
• Got free health insurance for his wife while dependent insurance for employees went up 45 percent;
• Receives gas money for his ''new Corvette;''
• Rehires ''administrator friends'' who earn large paychecks;
• Took a non-essential trip for himself and other officials to an award ceremony;
• Has expense accounts for top administrators that exceed the yearly take-home salaries of many support professionals.
In the news conference, Notter addressed each accusation.
• He said the $32 million in stimulus money was used to pay part of the cost for special education that the district had paid for from its general fund.
• As part of a $26,000 reduction in compensation, he pays for his wife's health insurance and for gas for his 2002 Corvette, which he bought used.
• Since he became superintendent, 10 previously retired administrators have been rehired, with five making less money than before and the largest increase being $4,000 a year.
(However as retirees they still collect a pension).
• He traveled at the expense of the Broad Foundation to accept a prize of scholarship money.
• No one but him has an expense account, which amounts to about $260 per pay period.
Wednesday's ad wasn't the first one taken out by the union. It was just the latest volley in a series that has included baseball-themed protests, press events featuring piglets and fax, phone and e-mail campaigns.
''The ad is only one method that employees are using to try and educate the public about what's happening in Broward schools,'' Ristow said. ''They want the public to know that while Superintendent Notter cries poverty every day, he is wasting tens of millions of their tax dollars.''
Reader comments at:
Above, the Hot Wheels representation of the
1969 General Motors Corvette
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Teachers union files suit against Broward School Board for blocking e-mails
By Akilah Johnson
February 18, 2010
The battle between the Broward Teachers Union and the Broward School District is heading to court for the fourth time in the last year. This latest round is focusing on Internet free speech and a mass email campaign.
The case involves an electronic campaign by teachers seeking a pay raise. The union urged teachers to email administrators and the School Board, but 1,860 messages sent via a union website in March 2009 were blocked.
District officials told the union it blocks "mass emails or volume spam…which flood or cripple the School District website or e-mail system."
According to the lawsuit filed in the Broward Circuit Court on Wednesday, that "violates the civil rights" of the teachers. The district has "intentionally engaged in a continuing pattern or practice that limits Plaintiff's speech on a matter of public concern," the suit says.
School District Spokesman Eddie Arnold declined to comment Thursday, saying "we don't discuss lawsuits at all."
The relationship between the district and union began to sour in 2008 during contract negotiations and have continued to deteriorate. The teachers are now working without a contract and demanding a 4 percent pay raise, which the district says it can't afford to pay.
The three other suits and injunctions involved rising insurance costs, access to public records and district layoffs. Two of those cases have been settled out of court while the other is still active, the union said.
Union President Pat Santeramo admits the frequent legal action "is rather extreme. We have not in the history of the BTU had to pursue any issue as vigorously as we've had to since Superintendent [ James] Notter is here."
The union says this latest court case has far-reaching implications that could affect the ability of the public-at-large to contact elected officials in this electronic age.
"If district officials within Broward schools can block e-mails of constituents to elected School Board members, what would prevent a staff member of a U.S. representative from doing the same thing or the staff of a governor from deciding ‘we don't want the governor reading this because they come in too quickly or there is too many of them,' "said union spokesman John Ristow.
Lawyers from the state and national union as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends digital rights, are helping with the latest lawsuit.
There's no dollar amount on how much this most recent legal battle will cost, but the tab is being paid by the dues of union members nationwide. If the union wins, it plans to ask the district to pay legal costs.
Reader comments at:
Teachers union's smear campaign misses target
By Fred Grimm
February 21, 2010
Just an ordinary news story: Young hackers penetrated Broward school district computers and altered grades. You've read so many variations of the Feb. 12 piece that such stories hardly register.
Until the sixth paragraph of the Sun Sentinel story. Up pops a startling bit of vitriol: ``Union officials said teachers and principals knew about the alleged grade tampering, but didn't report it for fear of retaliation by district officials.''
Apparently, educators privy to the computer-hacking scheme at the four affected Broward schools were so terrified of the potential wrath of Superintendent Jim Notter they shrank away from exposing a cheating conspiracy.
The statement, of course, carried as much credibility as a Scott Rothstein testimonial. But the Broward Teachers Union proudly posted the story on its website. No one at union headquarters seemed to notice the collateral damage caused by the union attack on Notter, smearing teachers and principals as cowards.
ANOTHER NOTTER ATTACK
Last week, the BTU went after Notter again. The union purchased half-page ads in The Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel charging Notter, among other sins, with ripping off special-education students and using school funds to gas up his ``new'' 2002 Corvette. The advertisement featured a goofy photo of Notter and the headline: ``Did Superintendent Jim Notter really take money from special education students?''
Well, not really. But Notter barely had time to respond to the accusations before the union slapped the district with a lawsuit in Broward District court. The union, citing criminal wiretap statutes, charged Notter and the district ``have intentionally engaged in a continuing pattern or practice that limits plaintiff's speech on a matter of public concern.''
The school district's server apparently intercepts mass e-mailings -- not an uncommon policy, designed to keep the e-mail system from crashing down. But last year, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday, the union's mass e-mails protesting the stalled salary negotiations failed to reach the School Board. As if board members, robbed of an e-mail basket stuffed with several thousand identical protestations, never knew teachers were upset.
The lawsuit claims a violation of free speech. (Leaving the door open, I suppose, for a spammer to claim a constitutional right to peddle natural Viagra across the district). But the suit is really about union frustration with contract negotiations that have been at an impasse since the fall of 2008.
LEGISLATURE TO BLAME
Teachers want a raise. Deserve a raise. But it was the budget-slashing Florida Legislature, falling property values and the state's erratic tax base that left per-pupil funding at less than $6,900 a year. With more cuts coming. The union, going after Notter, ignores the very politicians who have failed to sustain education funding. Instead of going after actual villains, the union suggests the superintendent wasted and misappropriated the mythical millions required to cover a four percent teacher raise.
This was the same union leadership that claimed racinos would save Florida schools. That hit the streets in 2006 to protest ``attacks on Sheriff Jenne'' a few months before Jenne was hauled off to federal prison.The union that vouched for Jenne now attacks Notter with all the dignity of a middle school grudge. The super might find solace in the absurdity of his enemies. Reader comments at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/02/20/1491665_teachers-unions-smear-campaign.html?commentSort=TimeStampAscending&pageNum=1
Above, taxpayers paying for the one on the left
and actually getting the one on the right instead.
The long and short of it is that Broward taxpayers
uniformly have buyer's remorse with education.
They know they've been had, but how badly have
they been conned, they're really not quite sure.
But they also know that a day of accounting is
It's a similar strain to the infuriating anger
felt in Hallandale Beach, where citizens feel
that the results of huge spending and incompetent
policy by the geniuses at HB City Hall to help their
friends and developers are NOT what they
That point is driven home -I couldn't resist!-
most clearly by Assistant City Manager
Mark Antonio, who actually tools around
town in a blue Corvette.
Taxpayers feel like they have generally paid
enough over the years, and that the Broward
education bureaucracy is sufficiently large
enough, that there ought to be Corvette
results more than once in a while.
But instead, as far as their eyes can see,
the results they see in exchange for their
taxes are almost uniformly AMC Pacers.
Pacers that aren't safe, aren't reliable
and which fare quite poorly when compared
to results in other parts of the country,
regardless of awards that the Broward
school system establishment and their
educrat acolytes crow about, even
throwing a party for themselves to celebrate.
And Pacers which are always in need of
repairs or construction.
But it never seems quite enough, does it?
We need both a new model, a new strategy
and new generals, because the current
system is broken with the current people
That day of accounting is fast approaching...