Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, government, public policy, sports scene and pop culture of Europe, Sweden, the U.S. & South Florida. 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 South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

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!

Earlier today I sent a version of the following email to some
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
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
legal mind.
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.

Broward Beat
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

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.

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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'dALREADY 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, theCity 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 forYEARS 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.
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New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

Paradise Lost? South Florida
TIME magazine of November 23, 1981: Paradise Lost? South Florida . Click photo to see original article.

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

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

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

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

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

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl


The welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport in January of 2013 was... ABBA. As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post. Click photo to see that post!

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)


Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.