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.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In case you'd forgotten what sort of person Joe Gibbons was, here's a quick reminder: Y-O-U are at the bottom of his pyramid

My comments about State Rep. Joe Gibbons follow
this excellent article by Julie Patel.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Legislation to reform PSC would rule out consumer-oriented regulator
By Julie Patel, Sun Sentinel
April 16, 2010

If you dropped out of college, you're still qualified to be a Florida governor, leading the nation's fourth largest state.

Or a state senator, deciding how to spend billions in tax dollars.

Or the state's chief financial officer, responsible for the accounting and auditing of the state's books.

But without a college degree, some legislators say you're not qualified to help set utility rates paid by millions of Floridians.

These regulators "have serious responsibilities to understand complicated rate cases," said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach. "Someone with a college degree has the ability to learn and the discipline required to receive it."

He is one of 34 lawmakers who has voted for a bill that would require those appointed to the state Public Services Commission to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. The provision, one of many to reorganize the agency that regulates the state's utilities, is in a bill that could be put to a full House vote this week.

Some observers see another reason for the college-degree provision: oust commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano.

"She is fighting for consumers, and the utilities don't like it," said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "Utilities are among the largest contributors to the Legislature, so it is no surprise that they are doing the utilities' bidding."

The five-member Public Service Commission has been at the center of a political firestorm over the past year after the state's largest utility, Florida Power & Light, proposed its largest rate increase ever. Contentious hearings erupted over allegations of cozy relationships between regulators and utility staffers.

Some commission officials resigned or were put on temporary leave. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed two regulatory newcomers to the commission, and the new commission rejected all but 6 percent of FPL's rate increase.

All of which put the Public Service Commission in the public eye.

Three House committees have approved the bill to reorganize the commission. Gibbons said the bill "has nothing to do with any one individual."

Five legislators who voted for it don't have bachelor's degrees, including Matt Hudson, a Republican who represents parts of Broward and Collier counties.

Hudson said he supports the requirement for commissioners because they're paid more than $130,000 a year and deal with "extraordinarily technical matters." Legislators are paid about $30,000 for their part-time work.

"Certainly these are people that are expected to know a great deal, and I think it's appropriate that we put criterion, just like you would put criterion for any executive position," he said.

Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul supports the requirement.

A college requirement is important because "PSC members are not elected," Jill Chamberlin, the speaker's spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail. "They are supposed to make decisions as judges do."

In the FPL rate case, Chamberlin said the PSC considered 176 complex issues ranging from accounting to the cost of capital. The commission has a staff of engineers, economists, accountants, finance experts and lawyers to review these issues, "but the staff does not make the decisions," she wrote.

As for comparisons to elected officials, "The Governor, the Legislature are elected," she said. "It's up to the voters to determine standards for knowledge and background."

Argenziano, a vocal critic of utilities' influence on policy and regulation, dropped out of pre-veterinary college to raise her son. She worked on weekends washing cars and painting apartments and has worked as a veterinary technician specialist, a real estate agent and part owner of an emergency animal hospital. She spent 10 years as a Republican legislator from Crystal River before being named to the commission by Crist.

"I could not get what many people my age had the good fortune to get, a formal education. But I can tell you I learned through the school of hard knocks, hard work and experience," she said.

"While I never claim to be a genius, I do know I was born with intelligence."

Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, the state's utility customer advocate, said all the commissioners he's dealt with the past few years have been "learned."

"I might not like their decisions but I could not sit there and tell you they weren't competent," he said.

College degrees aren't required for many top governments posts, but some require advanced degrees. For example, the Attorney General must be a member of the Florida Bar, which means he or she must have a law degree. Only licensed physicians can be appointed to the state Board of Medicine.

Jan Beecher is director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University, a utility regulation research center. She has looked at the demographics and qualifications of utility commissioners nationwide.

She knows of no state that requires utility commissioners have a college degree but a study she completed last month found that most do. Only 32 of 233 commissioners nationwide said they had completed "associate, some college, or not specified."

A few states require specific experience, Beecher said. For example, Nebraska's municipal utility regulation board has designated spots for an attorney, an engineer, an accountant and two laypeople.

"You want to be very careful not to exclude someone because your hands are tied by statutory requirements," she said. "But I certainly think education is important in our field."

She recommends that states give commissioners the opportunity to learn more about utility regulation. In most states, agency staff provides technical expertise, she pointed out.

Floridians have elected seven governors who didn't have college degrees, according to Gary Mormino, a history professor at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

"I am leery to suggest that a college degree makes one smart or better suited to govern," he said. "Character matters more than brains or a college pedigree."

See also: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-psc-college-laws-box-20100416,0,6549111.story

Reader comments at:

So, State Rep.
Joe Gibbons, who stands by and pretends
doesn't know anything about the self-evident corruption
and anti-democratic
sentiments that have been emanating
from the bunker at Hallandale Beach
City Hall for YEARS,
much of which took place with him squarely in the
of it all -
the same guy who had said and did what,
exactly, about the Village at Gulfstream
project completely exporting their Section 8
Housing, as the Diplomat is now trying to do
under their incompatible LAC proposal?
the guy who
won't say word one about what side he
on the Diplomat LAC issue affecting his District,
is very concerned
about making sure that... someone
who is pro-consumer at the Florida Public Service
has to go buh-bye?

Gibbons that was the ranking Democrat on the
House Transportation and Economic
Development Appropriations
but who has
never ever attended any of the many
regional Transportation summits
and workshops
that I've attended since he was elected, which have
people from all over the state and from U.S.
DOT regional HQ in Atlanta, and even from Canada?
Yes, that Joe Gibbons!



is such a nothing representative, it's distressing
that in the year
2010, his great luck is to represent one
of the most apathetic FL House
Districts in the entire state.

If this Julie Patel article is an accurate indication of
how he's going to put
his representation for his corporate
clients at
Akerman Senterfitt -where Gibbons is a
- ahead of our interests, things are definitely
going to get a whole lot bumpier for him over the next few

On that you can depend.
See http://www.akerman.com/public/attorneys/aBiography.asp?id=1186&name=Gibbons-Joseph-A.

Did you notice that the office they show him
attached to is NOT in Fort lauderdale or Miami,
but the one in Tallahassee

You might be interested in knowing that just this year,
I have been approached about five times at myriad events
throughout Broward, all by different but clearly
well-informed people
, each specifically asking me
variations of the same question:
Did I know that Gibbons and his family really
live in/near Jacksonville, and NO LONGER live
in his FL House District?

I didn't.
Who does he think he is, Steve Geller?

Just in case you never saw it, last June I wrote an email
subsequent blog post on June 4th that gets to the
heart of the
problem as it involves the state's transportation
issues and
Joe Gibbons' somnolence here in his own

It concerns an important Transportation meeting held
up at the
Broward Convention Center when the
Legislature was
NOT meeting, while Gibbons was,
, with his family near Duval County.

I include this series of excerpts here, along with
some pertinent
facts to better connect-the-dots.
They are from:

Nothing quite says lip service like folks acting all concerned

with transportation policy and Quality of Life issues when

being interviewed by reporters, but then skipping the chance

to appear at an informative Saturday morning event where

actual concerned South Florida citizens are present and

accounted for.

Plus there was a great speaker like Gordon Price of

Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, the noted

Smart Growth expert, who made a truly fantastic

presentation that had most attendees wistful as they

watched it, and even more angry than they expected

at seeing once again how much worse this area is than

it ought to be compared to other places.

(See http://www.sfu.ca/city/bioGordon.htm and

http://www.pricetags.ca/presentations.html )

Mr. Price flew across North America from beautiful

Vancouver to deliver a powerful message in Fort

Lauderdale, and I made time to make the relatively

short trip up to the Broward County Convention

Center to hear him - and was very glad I did,

as many other attendees told me as well.

Based on her pathetic track record and apparent fear

of actually interacting with knowledgeable taxpayer

citizens, instead of the govt. officials and trade groups

she clearly prefers to interact with, which I've written

about here before, I completely expected FDOT

Sec. Stephanie Kopelousos to be a no-show.

She didn't disappoint, so her non-appearance was

NOT exactly Breaking News.

But where was my own State Rep., Joe Gibbons?

Or my State Senator, Eleanor Sobel?

Gibbons, the former Hallandale Beach City Commissioner

who now acts oblivious to all the self-evident unethical and

incompetent activity taking place here in HB, happens to be

the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation

and Economic Development Appropriations

Committee, and yet was a no-show that morning, as were

South Florida Senators Alex Diaz de la Portilla and

Chris Smith, both of the Senate Committee on

Transportation and Economic Development


Nice going!

Way to represent!

Because of my longtime interest in transportation issues,
I have been
to every SFECC meeting held in Gibbons'
district since he was elected,
in Hallandale Beach as well
as in next door Hollywood and Aventura.

I've also been to every major public transportation meeting
held in
South Florida, whether the Regional meeting I
reference above, the
one held in Dania last Fall on funding
sources for Tri-Rail and commuter
rail in the state or the
one thrown by Broward County three years ago
at the
Broward County Convention Center, which had hundreds

I was even at the impromptou meeting held over a year
ago at Hollywood
City Hall hosted by Rep. Elaine
and Sen. Eleanor Sobel on dedicated
Tri-Rail funding.

That doesn't make me an expert, just concerned.

So why is it that
Joe Gibbons is never seen, not even at
the ones not held
during the regular legislative session?

At some point, it's fair to say that he's a
no-show on this
issue in his own

How come
Gibbons and his Committee have never held
a field hearing
down here since he was elected?

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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.