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, April 5, 2010

As Diana Wasserman-Rubin goes buh-bye, will Angelo Castillo be the ethical White Knight to help slay Broward's corruption dragon?

The political shoe that's been floating out there in
the ether for months finally dropped today -with
a loud thud heard all throughout Broward

ith it, an opportunity to make Broward's civic
society and troublesome County government
accountable and transparent
to the beleaguered
taxpayers it purports to serve, will get the
chance it's been largely denied of late.

Since I've written about him here any number
of times before,
it's not exactly much of a secret
that I'm a fan of
Pembroke Pines Commissioner
Angelo Castillo, and have been hoping that,
regardless of what decision
DWR made this Spring
about her own political future,
he would endeavor
to throw his name into the ring and enter the
District 8 Commission race, a district which
includes a sliver of northwest Hallandale

Well, now that my hope has actually become
a reality,
in the coming days and weeks, I hope
to share with you here
some thoughts on which
of the many savvy, common sense ideas of his
I believe can
make a positive difference in
resolving Broward's very frayed social and
ethical nerves and short-sighted economic funk.

You can laugh if you like, but I think that
positive difference that one good man with
foresight, integrity
and conviction can make
at a time of great political crisis, will,
in the
long run, be proven out when Angelo Castillo

Herald posted the story below online after
midnight this morning, the
3:01 a.m.

Map of Broward County Commission District 8 is here:


Miami Herald


County commissioner opting out of run for reelection

By Amy Sherman

April 5, 2010

Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin will announce at the end of Tuesday's commission meeting that she will not seek reelection due to her struggle with Parkinson's disease -- and not because of the investigation by the Broward State Attorney's Office into her business dealings.

Wasserman-Rubin, 63, has been a trailblazer in Broward politics. She was the first Hispanic School Board member elected countywide and, later, the county's first Hispanic mayor. But the Southwest Ranches resident has been the subject of rumors for months that she would step down or not seek reelection due to her health or the investigation that appears to relate to her husband's grant-writing work.

By stepping aside, Wasserman-Rubin will leave her Southwest Broward commission district -- which includes portions of Pembroke Pines and Miramar -- the only one with an open election contest this fall. Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo, a Democrat, is expected to jump into the race and face Republican Christopher Max Ziadie, a Toys `R' Us manager from Pembroke Pines.

In January, Broward State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy revealed that his office was investigating ``the business dealings of Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin and that subpoenas have been issued.''

The subpoenas seek records over a 10-year period involving Richard Rubin, the commissioner's husband. Rubin has done planning or grant-writing work for several Broward cities, though he no longer does work in the county. In 2008, Wasserman-Rubin paid $15,000 civil penalty and restitution for violating state ethics laws after voting for a grant her husband wrote.

She has said she did not know he would earn extra income, and that she routinely supported such projects within her district.


The news about the current Wasserman-Rubin investigation coincided with renewed interest in Broward ethics reform after the September arrests of County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, School Board member Beverly Gallagher and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman -- all charged in separate federal corruption probes.

Eggelletion pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to more than two years in prison, Gallagher pleaded guilty last month and awaits sentencing in June, while Salesman's trial is underway.

Wasserman-Rubin said she had not spoken to prosecutors about their investigation and said her decision to not run for reelection to the $92,000-a-year job was unrelated to that case.

She said she was diagnosed with Parkinson's about six years ago. She shared the news with family members and friends but not publicly because she felt she could still perform her county job.

But Wasserman-Rubin said that as her symptoms became more obvious, she decided it was time to focus on her health. She said her doctor ``felt I would feel better if I didn't have the pressure I had with this particular job.''


She said she wants to become an advocate for Parkinson's treatment and research. The disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that typically progresses slowly, according to the National Parkinson Foundation.

"There is no advocacy for Parkinson's in Broward,'' said Wasserman-Rubin, who hopes to help establish a place where those with the disease or their caregivers can turn for support.

She said she would fully participate in her job until the November election.

Wasserman-Rubin, who was born in Havana and moved to Florida as a teenager, fell into politics.

When a seat opened up on the South Broward Hospital District board in 1984, then-Pembroke Pines Mayor Charles Flanagan wanted to appoint his lawyer, Jeff Wasserman. But when he heard then-Gov. Bob Graham wanted to appoint a woman, Flanagan asked Wasserman's wife at the time -- Diana -- to apply.

"My first reaction was, `What do I know about healthcare?' '' she told the Miami Herald in 1988. She applied -- and got the spot.

In 1988, Wasserman-Rubin was elected to the School Board. She won a spot on the County Commission in 2000 and was chosen by her peers to serve as the county's first mayor -- a largely ceremonial post -- in 2002. She remains the only Hispanic on the nine-member commission, which includes one other minority: Al Jones, who is black.


Wasserman-Rubin's announcement allows other potential candidates enough time to jump in before the official qualifying period in June. The news is expected to lead to a flurry of political activity to fill the seat in a district that leans heavily Democratic and is split among whites, blacks and Hispanics.

Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo is president of Broward House -- an agency that serves people with HIV and AIDS. Castillo has close relationships with the key voting bloc of Democratic retirees in his city, and was easily reelected in March.

Barbara Sharief, a black woman and owner of a home healthcare business who lost a race against Wasserman-Rubin in 2006 and was elected to the Miramar City Commission last year, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

County Commission District 8 includes portions of Weston, Southwest Ranches, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Pembroke Park, Hallandale Beach and West Park.


Broward Beat
Castillo Running For County Commission

By Buddy Nevins

Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo didn’t wait long – about seven hours to be precise.

Castillo filed to run for the seat being abandoned by Diana Wasserman-Rubin just before 2 p.m. on Monday.

Read the rest of the post at

See also:

Wasserman-Rubin Will Quit Commission; Castillo, Others Looking At Race
By Buddy Nevins
April 5, 2010


Mayo on the Side
Will Geller switch races to replace Wasserman-Rubin?
Posted by Michael Mayo
April 5, 2010


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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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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

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.