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.