NOVA: Manhunt - Boston Bombers, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern
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.
FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HB CRA
Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex on S. Federal Highway/U.S.-1, where attention to details and appearances has never been their strong suit in the nine years I've lived here, since returning to South Florida after 15 years in the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks to the city's incompetent, myopic and poorly-managed DPW, the spotlights seen above in 2011 on the city's monument sign, at the corner of U.S.-1 & S.E. 5th St., have NOT worked since June of 2012. Which is to say that they have NOT worked since City Manager Renee C. Miller has been in place. But attention to details and appearances really DO matter when you are a government, and the situation with the lights is but the tip of the iceberg. The city's log of Visitors & Lobbyists, which is required by law to be up-to-date, was TWO MONTHS old as of last Friday. Really. August 7, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights ReservedBROWARD INSPECTOR GENERAL FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HALLANDALE BEACH COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org The Broward County Auditor’s Office has begun looking into whether Hallandale Beach should be required to repay some of the millions in tax dollars allegedly misspent due to “gross mismanagement” by city officials.
A problematic model: Hallandale Beach CRA under city manager’s thumb j.mp/13xk92t— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 15, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about, By William Gjebre* BrowardBulldog.org. The Broward Inspector General’s final report on the “gross mismanagement” of millions in tax dollars by Hallandale Beach is sharply critical of city leaders it says have shown a “basic misunderstanding” of what’s gone wrong.
Broward Auditor looks at Hallandale Beach CRA with eye toward recovering misspent funds j.mp/11ysUve— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) May 13, 2013
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about browardbulldog.org/2013/04/browar…— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) April 23, 2013
Csaba Kulin re Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield's comments re ethics at City Hall
Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.
Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.
If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."- Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpted from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster: In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...
"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administrations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly. At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accommodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...
In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accommodated...
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."
-New York Times, September 22, 1851
"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
-Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 HB City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission, on November 2008 ballot.
Six YEARS after the county's voters had overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission had yet to live up to its legal responsibility. That's why!
Corruption Isn't Unique to South Florida, It's the Level of the Stupidity That Is
"[Chicago Mayor] William Hale Thompson was defeated Tuesday after a campaign which he alone made disgraceful. The election was an ejection, a dirty job, but Chicago has washed itself and put on clean clothes. Thompson recognized the [Chicago] Tribune as his chief enemy. The Tribune was glad to earn that opinion. It certainly tried to do so. It has taken the fight to him on every occasion during the long and depraved course of his administration. It is unpleasant business to eject a skunk, but someone has to do it. For Chicago, Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character. He’s out. He is not only out, but dishonored. He is deserted by his friends. He is permanently marked by the evidences of his character and conduct. His health is impaired by his ways of life and he leaves office and goes from the city the most discredited man who ever held place in it."
-Excerpts from April 1931 Chicago Tribune editorial following Republican "Big Bill" Thompson's loss to his Democratic rival Anton Cermak. A friend of organized crime during the Al Capone era, Thompson was the last Republican elected mayor of Chicago. But less than two years later, Mayor Cermak was shot while shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt at Miami's Bayfront Park. He died from gunshot wounds to his lungs three weeks later.
Looking NW towards Hollywood from the State Road 858/Intracoastal Bridge, Hallandale Beach, FL
Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test from David M. Singh Jr. Hallandale Beach Day to Night Time-Lapse Test by David M. Singh Jr., March 14, 2011 Looking northwest towards Hollywood from the Intracoastal Bridge/S.R. 858 in Hallandale Beach, FL, (left-to-right) Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. http://vimeo.com/21009538
Hallandale Beach in The Miami Herald over 25 years ago
"For years people living in and out of its condo-walled sector east of U.S. 1 have wondered what to do about the city of Hallandale. In the 19th Century the condo giants would have served as ideal fortresses. From top floors of the towers, enemy ships could be readily spotted and blown out of the Atlantic. Oceanfront dwellers could have been protected from the west by the Hallandale Beach Boulevard drawbridge and moat called the Intracoastal Waterway. But this is the 20th Century..."
-Miami Herald Broward Columnist Bill Braucher's first paragraph from July 24, 1983.
To which Hallandale Beach Blog can only say, Bulls-eye!