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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Year-after-year, a developer's best friend: Commissioner Dotty Ross

Where the damage is done!: Hallandale Beach City Hall.
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
six years?
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.
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
DOMUS building.
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.

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
logical consequence.

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
he was?

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,
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
it? WTF?

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
Commission itself.

Dotty Ross is a NO! NO! NO! to taxpayer
transparency and accountability, but a
loyal YES! YES! YES! lapdog for South
Florida developers.

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
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,
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
and cronies.

Well, when you receive $50,000 a year from
taxpayers like they do, much of which goes
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
can be.

In Hallandale Beach, people like Genetti get either
flustered or speechless when you bring-up
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,
for Florida League of Cities awards of excellence.

Curiously, the story the Herald ran on those
nominations never actually mentioned
salient fact about the city nominating itself,
not them being selected by an independent
or blue-ribbon

And naturally, because they were nominated,
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.

That's a pretty neat trick, isn't it?
Nominating yourself for an award and then
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
vote up in Fort Lauderdale, here's a
nearly 12-year old story that tells the tale.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?


Miami Herald

By Corey Dade, Herald Staff Writer
August 20, 1998

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?
[Long pause]

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.

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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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Some older elements and building blocks formerly seen at Hallandale Beach Blog, such as photos, graphics and videos have been moved into cold storage. Visit them again or see what you've missed at: http://hallandale-beach-blog.blogspot.com/

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.