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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thoughts on the Diplomat LAC proposal, now scheduled for April 27, and the economic threats the Westin Diplomat is now making. How low can they go?

From: Diplomat Properties, LP
Sent: Mon, Mar 29, 2010 11:24 am
Subject: Diplomat Returns to Broward County Commission for Final Vote on April 27

Diplomat Banner
The Diplomat LAC will return to the Broward County Commission for a final vote in the next few weeks. This follows a 4-4 tie vote at the public hearing on March 23, with one Commissioner not present.
Throughout the public review process, plans have continued to evolve in response to community and public officials' comments. Most recently, the residential buildings planned for parcel B have been reduced to 5 stories.
As a supporter, you understand how crucial the residential component is to preserving the golf course. Please help us get this message out. There will be no new hotel without a residential community within the project and there may be no golf course without the LAC.
We hope that you will e-mail or call the county commissioners whose no vote indicates that they don't yet appreciate this crucial linkage. Ask that they vote Yes to allow this important project to move forward. (Commissioners Jacobs, Wexler, Gunzburger and Keechl voted no; Commissioner Lieberman was not present.)
We appreciate everyone's support and will let you know the new County Commission meeting date as soon as it is confirmed.


I've told you all in previous emails and blog
posts here that the the union that owns the
Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, as well
as the Golf Course, the Plumbers and Pipe
, as well as hospitality management
company Starwood and the high-paid
lawyers, lobbyists and myriad consultants
they've retained, would engage in serial lies
and misrepresentation in order to get their
way, and they have.
Now, you can see it for yourself, above.

"There will be no new hotel without a
residential community within the project
and there may be no golf course without
the LAC.

Yes, they'll huff and they'll puff and they'll blow
the Diplomat's golf course up if they don't
get their way.
Cue the the Three Pigs!

The next vote on the Diplomat LAC will take
place before the Broward County Commission
on April 27th at 2 p.m., not the 13th as was
stated here earlier

So when is the South Florida news media
going to cover this story in a way that equates
to its actual importance to the community's

That's a good question.

After a number of conversations with people
in the area and around the county, I'll have
some thoughts to share in the next two weeks

on how we all think the Diplomat LAC proposal
-which you'll recall that Hallandale Beach
City Hall placed on the city's dreadful
for citizens to read
28 hours before the first
vote in mid-Decembe
- may affect interim
Broward Commissioner Albert C. Jones'
political future, as he seeks to get elected
to a position he was appointed to by
Gov. Charlie Crist


was one of the four votes for the
last Tuesday, yet curiously,
as of this afternoon, his
name still does
not appear on the posted candidates list
of the SOE.


So am I the only one who wonders why
are there no news stories about Comm.
Diana Waseerman-Rubin
, whose District
actually includes a small part of NW Hallandale
Beach, and how she barely(!) understands
what she is voting on with respect to this
matter, and why is she making no effort
to come to the actual area to see what's
at stake for local residents?

Is it because she thinks Hallandale Beach
City Comm.
Anthony Sanders has magical
powers that will ensure a huge turnout for her,
assuming her name is even on the ballot?

I'm sure that
Sanders political and campaign
support came up when she met Sanders
(and City Manager Good?) in person at the
city's Hepburn Center two weeks ago today,
but, days later, actually turned-down an
invitation from residents in the affected HB
neighborhood to see it from their ground-level

She had no problem in driving east to Hallandale
Beach to meet with Comm. Sanders, but actual
HB residents, well, she made them come to her
office in West Park, one week ago today.

I guess she was afraid that if she really saw
what the residents were up against, it would
make it much harder for her to vote for the
Diplomat and against them, huh?

Better to keep their legitimate concerns as
an abstract idea, instead of real homes where
real people live.

Why isn't that curious choice of her's a
news story that serves as an entree into
the larger Diplomat story?

That's another good question.

Or what about Hallandale Beach mayor Joy Cooper
actually telephoning Diana Wasserman-Rubin
and telling her NOT to listen to the HB residents,
saying that they were naysaying "mavericks."


No, just citizens of a city where the domineering,
thin-skinned mayor brooks no dissent, actively
engaging in participatory democracy despite
her disapproval.

That participatory democracy thing is something

she is, herself, deadly afraid of, which is why
she's okay with a City Hall-paid spy attending
meetings throughout the community for $2-3,000
a month, and reporting back to HB City Hall.

Wow, Joy Cooper speaking poorly about
HB residents behind their back, go figure?

But then if she's willing to call political opponents
of hers "Nazis" on City Hall property, inc. me,
and calling HB Comm. Keith London "a Hitler"
just moments later, it's really not so surprising.

That's how Joy Cooper rolls, as I've only been
saying here for years...

I spent some time over the weekend editing
all the
photos and hours of video I shot of the
Broward Planning Council meeting of
February, and last Tuesday's Broward County
, so that I can post them online
here and my under-utilized YouTube page
over the next few days,
so that not only the Hallandale Beach and
Hollywood communities can see what they
missed out on, but greater South Florida as well.

Perhaps they'll even pick-up on the general tenor

of the meetings, as well as the often mis-leading
information offered-up by many of our opponents.

That's especially the case with many local folks,
some of whom claim to have a connection to the
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who said
they were SO concerned about the economic
health of HB, but most of whom you and I have
NEVER seen before, not even at Hollywood
City Commission or CRA meetings, which I
frequently attend.

I don't really mind the people supporting the
Diplomat so much as their rather transparent
attempts to buffalo us in this process in such a
very condescending way, while acting like
they were the ones looking at "the big picture."

Yes, "
the big picture" that you might otherwise
recognize as your family's daily existence
hereabouts and their future.

No, actually, we were the ones doing that "big
" scenario, they were the local opportunists
and butt-kissers looking at self-enrichment,
which is one of the reason that I found it so easy
to take some verbal shots at some of them during
my public comments, specifically referring to them
as "water carriers" for HB CIty Hall and the

That's what they were,
Ann Taylor pantsuits
or not.

It was their smug attempts to seem intellectually
elevated that I found grating, especially since
you know they'd never tolerate multiple 25-30
story condo towers next to their own home in
a single family residential area.

Guess what?
A new idea is close to coming to fruition
with regard to this particular underdog effort.
After some preliminary conversations with
some well-informed citizens and civic activists
from both HB, Hollywood and beyond, who,
frankly, have grown tired of these artificial
of HB's economy speaking on
behalf of their personal greed, wallets and
purses, I've agreed to create a handy roster
here on this humble blog that will allow those
of you following this effort from the comfort
of your own home to know whom some
of the players are.

I'm going to create a list of the local people
who have spoken on behalf of the Diplomat
at government meetings and ridiculed the
legitimate concerns of the affected
neighborhood's citizens.

That list will likely include their name as well
as the name and location of their business,
if any.

If they have a business located in Hollywood,
Hallandale Beach or Aventura, I will endeavor
to take a photograph of that business so that
you all will be able to recognize it and associate
that particular business in your mind with
someone who's
perfectly content for your area's
Quality-of-Life to go
down the tubes.

In fact, felt so strongly about it that they said so
publicly. That's their choice.

Of course, some of these folks work in enterprises
where they are heavily-dependent on taxpayer
for funding.
They sure don't act like it though.

Such an example is the Hallandale Beach Chamber
of Commerce, which last year got a brand new
office at taxpayer-built HB City Hall.
It's that room next to the HB City Commission
Chambers in the breezeway at City Hall.

The group's head
Patricia Genetti, whose
organization receives $50,000
of taxpayers
funds this year, much of it going towards
salary, has been an outspoken proponent of
the Diplomat's case.

Unlike the case in many parts of the country,
where these sorts of govt. financial relationships

require public disclosure whenever compensated
individuals speak before govt. agencies,
Patricia Genetti
has chosen to keep quiet about
that $50k of taxpayer loot, as she has spoken
in favor
of the Diplomat LAC before the
HB Planning
& Zoning meeting in mid-December,
the HB
City Commission meeting the very next day,
the Broward County Planning Council meeting in
late Febraury, plus last week's important Broward
Commission meeting that resulted in a
4-4 tie vote.

That's four separate meetings that I can think of
just off the top of my head, plus Genetti also
at length at the so-called informational
public meeting
the Diplomat was required to
hold at the
HB Cultural Center last year, where
she also
decided to keep mum about the taxpayer
she gets while speaking against the
of the majority of HB's citizen taxpayers.

Some people will find this information valuable

and some will not, just as some may choose
tell friends and family about it and decide
that they
want to boycott those particular
businesses while for others, it has no practical
effect whatsoever.

It's your choice, of course, but now you'll have
information you need to decide whether
you want to
patronize those businesses or
boycott them.

You're welcome

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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'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.
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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.