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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March odds & ends about Broward Schools: audits, personnel cuts and School Board lobbyists who are leaving -or are they?

Last week I asked whether anyone else had seen
Broward School Superintendent James Notter's
appearance on CNN.

Well, it looks like I struck-out and it was beamed
only to my home in a super-secret location near
stately Wayne Manor.

There's no video of the appearance but here's
a transcript of the March 10th appearance.

The Sun-Sentinel's Education Blog now has
a YouTube page that you may find worth
checking out.
which I joined as a subscriber early this A.M.
becoming, apparently, their first subscriber,
so if you have an interest in things ABC,
you might want to consider joining as well.

As I've previously mentioned thru emails and
here on my blog, I'm somewhat frustrated
and confused by the newspaper's use of
their FLIP camera(s).
Not to play TV News Director or newspaper
Editorial Director or anything, but... well, I am.

To me, the cameras seem to be used too much
on covering the doings up on Andrews Avenue,
a few blocks north of the County Govt HQ,
at Fort Lauderdale City Commission meetings
and anything involving mayor Jack Seiler,
since I've never seen the camera in use at any
of the many Broward Ethics Commission,
Broward Legislative Delegation or Planning
Council meetings I've attended (and recorded)
since last September.

Personally, you'd think there'd be more general
interest in those topics than the routine City
of Fort Lauderdale meetings, though at some
of the Ethics meetings, I was the only member
of the Broward public present for more than
an hour or so at a time, so my use of the word
"interest" is used advisedly.

Frankly, why doesn't the Sun-Sentinel send
an intern to those meetings, which they must
deem a Junior Varsity event if a regular
Sun-Sentinel reporter can't cover it.
The interns can set-up the camera on tripod,
play cameraman and take notes so that the
other reporters/columnists can benefit from
seeing what's what at a later time.

Plus, the best parts, such as they are,
can be edited and put uploaded to their own
YouTube page where they can attempt to
grow their online presence.
That's what I'd do if I had anything to do
with it, which I don't, of course.

See video of Notter and Broward School Board
Chair Jennifer Gottlieb -running for re-election-
speaking to the Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board;
video was posted on Feb. 23rd.

As of today, the Miami Herald still lacks an
Education blog and what I deem to be their
VERY mediocre politics blog, Naked Politics,
still has no online video component

In fact, they run stories about Lauren Book's possible
candidacy for Broward School Board there since they
have no blog:



That ticking you hear is the Herald's future winding-down...
if they don't get relevant and
hyper-local toute-de-suite.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Overpayments won’t be tolerated, Broward schools construction chief says

By Akilah Johnson, Sun Sentinel
March 18, 2010

After a blistering audit that detailed unauthorized work and overpayments to contractors, the Broward School District's interim construction chief said Thursday he has warned staffers such practices will not be tolerated.

"As long as we have a culture that doesn't hold these people accountable, you will continue to have audits like this one," said Tom Lindener, acting deputy superintendent of facilities and construction.

The 51-page report described a department that ignores or skirts policies, laws and contracts. It claimed overpayments cost taxpayers almost $1 million and that two employees earned $93,000 in overtime in the past two years without documenting when, where or what work they did.

The report went to the district's audit committee Thursday and goes before the School Board on April 20.

Lindener told the audit committee he has already demanded that Pavarini Construction Co. refund the district $290,683 paid for work done without a contract. He said he met with at least two other contractors identified as owing the district money.

And he now requires project managers to use picture IDs at schools to document when they arrive and leave.

His only disagreement with the audit centers on a recommendation to create new policies. The problem isn't that rules aren't there, he said, it's that they're not being followed.

"I will hold people accountable, and, in fact, have already started calling people into my office," Lindener said.

He said he has issued four oral reprimands and two letters of reprimand for mismanagement and personal accountability issues since taking over in January.

He noted that part of the culture change must involve a safety net for employees to do what's right or document that they were following the orders of a superior, including School Board members who "have reached down into middle management, project managers," without fear of retribution.

Superintendent James Notter said he intends to address this issue during the board's May workshop on ethics.

"I see a spirit of cooperation that we haven't seen before," said Henry W. "Hank" Mack, the committee's chairman emeritus. "What makes me feel particularly good is to get a response to an audit that is positive and not designed to make the auditor look like they don't know what they are talking about."

Chief Auditor Patrick Reilly said more construction audits are in the works.

Reader comments at:

Miami Herald
Audit finds Broward school building funds misspent
By Patricia Mazzei
March 19, 2010

A scathing internal audit has found that the Broward school district's construction department overpaid hundreds of thousands of dollars to contractors, allowed unauthorized projects to move forward and kept sloppy employee overtime, attendance and mileage records.

Among the most troubling items:

Paying more than $1 million for bleachers for a high school because a contractor was paid twice.

Paying nearly $400,000 for drawings of middle school classroom additions before the projects had been approved.

Paying employees overtime without specifying what extra work was done.

The report expands on problems with Broward's construction practices raised since the September arrest of former School Board member Beverly Gallagher, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as consultants for contractors.

But in a striking departure from thorny reports in the past, members of the district's watchdog audit group praised Broward's acting construction chief, on the job since January, for agreeing with the criticism -- in some cases, bringing forth problems himself -- and promising to turn his department around.

"The culture, I think, is changing,'' said Tom Lindner, who was appointed to head construction after the Dec. 31 retirement of department chief Michael Garretson.

He said his goal is to enforce rules already in place and reprimand employees who don't stick to them.

"As long as we have a culture that does not hold those people accountable, you will have audits like this one,'' he said.

Lindner said he has sent letters to the overpaid contractors to try to get money back. He has also met with two contractors to sort out what work they did and did not do.

The report says a project to build 2,500 bleachers at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale cost more than $1 million -- after being budgeted for about $500,000 -- because a subcontractor, Seating Constructors USA, was paid twice.

The district is referring the case to law enforcement to see if "criminal negligence or fraud'' took place.

Three contractors began doing the same work because the district mismanaged the project, the audit says. Seating was paid by both the district and the project's general contractor, Grace & Naeem Uddin, Inc. -- though the building permit was issued to a third firm, Florida Blacktop.

"Internal controls do exist and were ignored,'' Lindner wrote in his response to the audit's findings.

Grace & Naeem Uddin, Inc. has since sued Seating and the district over the project, the audit says.


In a separate instance, the district overpaid contractor Pavarini Construction $290,683 to design a classroom addition at Westglades Middle in Parkland that has been postponed indefinitely due to budget cuts.

Design work began without School Board approval and the district agreed to pay before the architect had turned in design drawings.

Lindner said the school system's attorney has gotten involved in the case.

The Westglades project was bid in April 2008 and work began in May of that year -- though funding was not set aside for the project until August 2008, and board members did not approve it until April of last year, according to the audit.

District records had previously shown facilities auditor Dave Rhodes refused to sign off on the project in January 2008 because the Parkland area didn't need the extra space.

According to this week's audit, the project moved forward ``based on informal approval'' from Garretson, the former construction chief, and his staff, even after a project manager had questioned whether the new classrooms were needed. Coral Springs Middle, two miles from Westglades, had 359 empty seats at the time, the report says.

With projections showing that Broward will have about 33,000 more seats than students by the 2013-14 school year, the state has ordered the district to stop building new classrooms.

In November, Garretson said he had urged his staff to get projects put to bid quickly knowing a state-imposed halt to construction was coming.

Separately in the audit, the district overpaid a third contractor, James A. Cummings Construction Inc., twice for design work: once $22,225.08 for a classroom addition at Seminole Middle in Plantation and a second time $79,025.08 for three classroom additions at Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and Sunrise middles.

Both times the board had not authorized work to begin on the projects. The overpayment happened because the original scope of the additions was reduced.

The audit also found that some employees did not complete daily attendance sheets, padded their mileage for reimbursement, left vacation and leave request forms unsigned and did not get approval for overtime or compensatory time.

In a particularly egregious example, two employees routinely received two hours of overtime a day starting in 2005. In the last two years, that amounted to $93,000 in extra pay for those employees.

Lindner said he put a stop to those overtime payments. Auditors had pointed to overtime problems elsewhere in the district in a June report that found Broward has been paying employees who have two jobs within the school system overtime for their higher-paying primary job -- even if the overtime work was done in the second, lesser-paying position.


Auditors plan to present a second part of their review of the construction department in May. In the meantime, Lindner said he has verbally reprimanded four employees and written letters of reprimand to two others.

"It certainly showed some material weaknesses,'' Superintendent Jim Notter said Thursday. "How does a division pay overtime and not necessarily document the hours that they were working? That's clearly not right.''

Still, members of the audit committee, which is made up of experts not employed by the district, were happy with Lindner's response.

"What makes me feel particularly good is to get a response to an audit that is positive and not designed to make the auditors [seem] like they don't know what they're talking about,'' said Henry Mack, the committee's chairman emeritus.

"And I see a spirit of cooperation . . . that we haven't seen before.''

Reader comments at:

Broward Beat
Another Browardbeat First: Key Lobbyists Drop School Board Registration
By Buddy Nevins

Two of the school system’s leading lobbyists, both connected to disgraced School Board member Bev Gallagher, are no longer registered to work at the school system.

It’s the end of an era.

Not able to represent clients at the School Board because they are not registered are Barbara Miller and Neil Sterling – who once were the go-to lobbyists at the school system.

Read the rest of the post at:


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

South Florida Schools blog
Parents lobby to save Broward elementary school specials
Posted by Kathy Bushouse
March 17, 2010 11:16 AM

Ever since news broke last week that the Broward School District is considering cutting elementary school specials, parents are writing letters, going to meetings and starting Facebook groups in hopes that they'll be able to save art, music, P.E. and media classes.

Read the rest of the post at:


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

South Florida Schools blog

Broward Schools Superintendent on facilities audit
Posted by Akilah Johnson
March 17, 2010 04:55 PM

Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter stopped by the Sun Sentinel to talk about an audit that says -- and I’m loosely quoting Hamlet here -- something’s rotten in the state of school construction.

Read the rest of the post at:

Here's something to consider, which explains
a lot of what passes for logic locally with the
Broward School system. The South Adminstrative
HQ that deals with schools in Hallandale Beach
and Hollywood is 14.6 miles from Hallandale
High School.

View Larger Map

But the distance from Hallandale High School
to the School system's Main Office in downtown
Fort Lauderdale, home of the School Board
600 S.E. Third Avenue, is 10.6 miles.
Yes, the South office is both north and farther
away from the school than the Main Office.

View Larger Map

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.
Unless otherwise indicated, all ORIGINAL photos appearing here were taken by myself. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The use or modification of original photos or original images appearing on this blog WITHOUT the written permission of the author is expressly prohibited. DO NOT modify or alter any original photo/image on this blog and use it in any other media, whether for commercial advertising, marketing purposes, political campaign advertising, or on any Social Media platform or digital media forum. Do NOT modify or alter the photos or use them in a confusing way that suggests sponsorship or endorsement, or in a way that seeks to confuse Hallandale Beach Blog with another blog. This includes but is not limited to sites such as Dipity, Facebook, flickr, MySpace, Pinterest, Posterous, Topsy, Twitter, YouTube or VIMEO. Original photos and images also can NOT be used as avatars or icons on website forums.
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.