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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why is Hallandale Beach City Hall allowing Peter Deutsch's REQUIRED Ben Gamla public meeting at a religious facility, instead of HB Cultural Center?

Peter Deutsch desperately wants to make the facility above another campus of his Ben Gamla Charter Hebrew School empire, for which he and his financial partners will be paid over $2 million a year by the Broward County School system if the HB City Comm. gives him the zoning variance he needs to build the K-12 project in that quiet single-family home neighborhood.
April 30, 2010 photos of Hallandale Jewish Center by South Beach Hoosier

Last Thursday, April 29th, I sent out an email around the area saying the following:
By 5 p.m. Friday, this community's citizens ought to demand an official explanation from HB City Manager Mike Good on why he has okayed a REQUIRED public information meeting on May 6th for Ben Gamla Charter School at the Hallandale Jewish Center, instead of at the much-larger city-run HB Cultural Center, like every other single developer or project has been required to do.
Why the special treatment for
former Congressman Peter Deutsch?

And why were they NOT required to run a public notice for their required information meeting in the Herald like the Diplomat was last year, below?
Again, why the special treatment?


This was published in the Miami Herald on 10/25/2009

These questions about special treatment afforded Peter Deutsch and the Ben Gamla Charter School proposal are not just ones that are percolating inside of my head, but also in the heads of many other concerned Hallandale Beach citizen taxpayers, who are not at all happy with the way this process has been handled, going back to last year.

It's an especially relevant question after what the community witnessed
by Deutsch and his associates last year.

First, their rather creepy self-evident behavior at the HJC, when after being greatly surprised at the number of people attending who were opposed to their project -for a VERY POORLY noticed public meeting that the City of Hallandale Beach all but winked at- the Ben Gamla people intentionally played around with the building's air conditioning in order to make it so hot and miserable that opponents would start leaving.
Talk about an unfair home advantage!


An eyewitness to this is a friend of mine and was standing right next to HB City Manager
Mike Good at the time and pointed it out to him.
I'm further told
that even Good seemed somewhat shocked they'd be so obvious about what they were trying to accomplish.

I don't believe this location decision on the information meeting is appropriate, and think it sets
a very bad precedent for all sorts of logical and legal reasons.

It seems that in Coral Gables, regardless of whatever other problems they
may have at City Hall, they seem to prefer required public information meetings on Charter schools actually be held on neutral city property, NOT religious property.
We should follow suit.

Miami Herald
April 28, 2010

POSTPONED: Charter school meeting moved to May 7

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/28/1602750/postponed-charter-school-meeting.html

The last time this Ben Gamla proposal was in the news was five months ago, in early December.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Ben Gamla Charter School proposed for Hallandale Beach
By Sergy Odiduro South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 6, 2009

A proposed charter school in Hallandale Beach is getting the cold shoulder from some residents.

Those opposed to the Ben Gamla Charter School are hoping that Peter Deutsch, the founder and former U.S. congressman, will seek an alternate site.

"We understand that Mr. Deutsch is very enthusiastic about his project, but we just don't think this is a good area," said Gerry Brady.

Brady joined a roomful of residents who voiced their disapproval during a recent meeting hosted by Commissioner Keith London at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Community Center.

London said one of the goals of the meeting was to provide answers to some of the community's questions.

"This was a unique opportunity to come face to face with the developer," he said.

The often-contentious exchange left some people calling out their complaints, including one woman who worried about all the noise it would cause.

"My bedroom window is just seven feet from where all this action is going to take place," she said.

Deutsch is hoping to move the school into the Hallandale Jewish Center at 416 NE Eighth Ave.

Ed Napolitano is convinced this is a ruse for taxpayers to foot the bill for a religious school using public funding.

"They're trying to use this charter school nonsense as a loophole," he said.

Others worried over the increased traffic they say would be brought to the area.

"This is a nice quiet neighborhood," said Etty Sims. "We already have the traffic coming in from the racetracks."

Deutsch countered by saying that he's revised plans submitted to the city in order to address residents' concerns.

"This is a plan that is in response to what the neighborhood wanted," he said. "I think that we have made pretty significant changes. We have decreased the number of students from [852] to 600. We're also going to put up a 6-foot solid wall plus landscaping to separate the property from the homes."

Traffic, he added, will be mitigated by the smaller number of students and by rotating dismissal times.

"Theoretically, there should never be cars waiting in the road to get into the school, he said.

He was emphatic in saying that it is not a religious school.

"This is not a Jewish school," he said. "This is a dual-language Hebrew English school. We cannot be a Jewish school. That would be illegal ... and if we did anything illegal, we would be shut down. Period."

This is not the first time Deutsch has had to answer questions about Ben Gamla.

In 2007, when he launched the first Ben Gamla charter school in Hollywood, he faced opposition, and school district officials temporarily suspended Hebrew lessons while they sent in experts to scrutinize the curriculum.

After several revisions, the board unanimously approved the lesson plans, paving the way for the school to flourish. Ben Gamla in Hollywood now has a waiting list to enroll.

Since then, Deutsch has seized the opportunity, announcing plans for additional locations in Miami-Dade and Broward.

Some Hallandale residents, however, were not convinced.

"It's like a David and Goliath type of issue here," said Jacqueline Crucet. "Peter Deutsch knows politics. We're all working-class, middle-class folks who have to get educated on the system and how it works and on the issue itself. We've made public statements at commission meetings. We've organized together. ... We want to at least go down fighting on it."

"If [a commissioner] votes for this, I am voting against them in the next election," Brady said. "That's not a threat. That's a promise."

-------
For the record, I note that it was not until the October 2009 HB Planning & Zoning meeting that the city definitively stated for the record that the RAC's eastern border north of HBB was the West side of N.E. 8th Avenue, and so did NOT include the area across the street, adjacent to the Hallandale Jewish Center.

As that critical meeting on Thursday draws near, I'd like to share some well-chosen words on the Ben Gamla project, as well as on the supercilious antics of bully-boy Peter Deutsch, who really took his large ego and sense of entitlement into hyper-drive last year at one of Comm. Keith London's monthly Resident Forum meetings.

Deutsch
publicly declared to the crowd that nobody-but-nobody in the city, county or state could stop him from getting what he wanted.

When an older gentleman at the meeting -where Deutsch spoke for about 80 minutes- asked Deutsch a question he didn't particularly care for, in front of a crowd of Hallandale Beach citizens he ought to have been trying to inform and charm, Deutsch responded by striking his classic bully posture, and actually had the nerve to mockingly ask the older HB resident just who he though he was to be asking him such a question.

Deutsch played the bombastic bully-card to the hilt, and, essentially dared HB residents to stop him, implying that it was already a 'done deal,' and actually saying that we were all powerless to stop him, as if Peter Deutsch and his investor pals were entitled to whatever they wanted in Hallandale Beach, while we get all the additional traffic -twice a day.

Sadly for us, this is
YET ANOTHER instance where completely invisible School Board member Ann Murray's complete betrayal of her pro-reform campaign promises has real negative consequences for the community, just as is the case with HAAS, since from what I have been told by several people, Murray is NOT at all interested in opposing bully-boy Deutsch publicly in any way, shape or form.

If there is a bigger disappointment to me in Broward than Murray, I don't know whom that could be.
She is a complete empty-suit, mind and body.


Speaking of that meeting where Deutsch threatened hell and brimstone for anyone publicly opposing him
, HB residents attending the meeting reacted VERY, VERY NEGATIVELY to Deutsch, as my cell phone and email inbox literally blew-up with more angry and outraged comments about that performance than any other single issue since I started my humble little blog.

In fact, a good friend's teenage daughter was so incredulous at what she'd seen, that days later, she actually felt the need to do an impression of Deutsch's tongue-lashing to that man to show how upset she was.

Seriously, how creepy do you have to be to get kids to immediately
turn on you and size you up as a first-class bully and jerk the first time they ever see you?
Well, I guess we have our answer, no?

Like I've said so many times, in emails, on the blog and in personal
conversations with some of you, when you really get right down to it, Peter Deutsch is really quite the insufferable bastard.

There's a reason that his reputation on Capitol Hill was what it was.
He is all about whatever is best for
Peter Deutsch and his friends.
Period.
To him, you are nobody.

And if he has to threaten or sue to get his 852 students into that single-family HB neighborhood -and their parents cars, twice a day- he will do just that. Deutsch publicly dares anyone to stop him, and it's pretty clear to me from all the available evidence that Mayor Cooper has already caved-in on this issue.

In all sorts of important ways, starting last year when she continually showed her lack of proper preparation by repeating her nonsensical and inaccurate remarks about what form the school would take, grade-wise, and more importantly, on the actual number of proposed students, she showed me that she doesn't want to publicly challenge or anger Peter Deutsch.

Whether that's done for her future political purposes or not is a judgment you'll have to make on your own, but I already have my suspicions.

Regarding the problem of the 852 kids and their parents' cars that Peter Deutsch and Co. want to bring into a residential HB single-family neighborhood, I'm told that a P&Z meeting
on
Ben Gamla will take place in June.

Everyone needs to know what
sort of self-righteous jerk we're really dealing with, and what's at stake for this community, where there are practically no White students attending the high school bearing this city's name.

There's a very good reason why
Peter Deutsch was among the least-liked FL elected officials in Washington while he and I were both living there.

Not just among my well-informed and opinionated friends who were also from Florida, and who worked on the Hill and throughout the federal agencies and interest groups, but among other FL reps, too.
People I'd regularly see at parties and functions pretty regularly.


In fact, he's the same guy who hired a Harvard college student to be his number one staffer in Washington, an AA, while the kid was still up at Cambridge.

That's how smug and condescending he is.

People on the Hill were aghast at that decision for many reasons,
but they also knew that his volatile personality was such that he would never earn loyalty and thus a party leadership post, or become an important committee member, and so that hiring decision was seen for what it was,
Deutsch
setting himself up for some other position on the political food chain.


Last spring, following an email that I sent around, I received a phone call about Ben Gamla's application in HB from Akilah Johnson, who wrote this blog post below, and most of the stuff on Ben Gamla the paper has written, ALL of which has been extremely positive, but without ever writing anything about ANY of our legitimate concerns in HB.

Since then, she has not returned any phone calls of mine, including the one
I made filling her in on Peter Deutsch's really outrageous threats at Comm. London's December meeting, that so freaked everyone out.
Just something to think about when you read her articles and blog posts.

By the way, nobody has commented on her blog post on their Ed blog
web page. You might want to consider doing that if you feel the urge.
Especially since
Mayor Cooper has never held a city-wide forum or meeting of the City Commission on the sad state of education in this city since I returned to South Florida in Oct. of 2003.
Why not?


The high school has received poor grades two years in a row;
is she waiting for three?
And lest you forget, the school also serves kids from Hollywood, whose parents surely must wonder what it takes for HB City Hall to get off their butt and get more involved in changing the mix of options for kids in the area.

From Sun-Sentinel's Education blog: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/educationblog/ http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/educationblog/2009/11/hallandale_to_school_board_don.html

Hallandale to School Board: don't close our schools
Posted by Akilah Johnson
November 20, 2009


As it specifically affects the beleagured residents of Hallandale Beach, where the local public schools are poor-mediocre, where the rampant White/Middle Class Flight to other schools is common knowledge, the idea of telling HB taxpayers, parents and students who want REAL options -not marketing-driven educational choices which don't DIRECTLY
address the needs of the majority of HB kids
- that Ben Gamla is an answer, is, in fact, an insult.

It's an insult to our fellow residents' ability to accurately see the unfortunate reality for what it is.

To me, the only thing that could be worse for HB's kids and taxpayers than Ben Gamla coming here, would be the creation of a Charter School directly run by the certified geniuses at HB City Hall, who prove their serial incompetency 24/7/365.

As opposed to the HB citizens who already live in the immediate area
under consideration for the Ben Gamla Charter School, who would be forced to deal with that huge increase in daily traffic in their quiet family neighborhood if this got approved -and who will surely move out as many have already told me in private- consider how this looks if you're someone who currently lives out-of-state, and considering relocating and investing your family's financial future into a condo here, for example, over at The Beach Club, how does this educational environment sound for your kids?

On top of the city's already very unsatisfactory performance in doing
the basics, I think I know what people from outside this area will think.

People who
are used to normally-performing city services and normally-performing albeit not-perfect public schools, who expect, at a minimum, some public accountability from elected officials and govt. employees whose salaries they pay for, and hope that it'll even be better than whatever it is they used to live.
For them, Ben Gamla
sounds like a deal-breaker.

Well, much as we might wish that it weren't so, that's our reality here
in Hallandale Beach, isn't it?

As my friend Catherine wrote yesterday: Let’s get all of our community members out at this meeting and let them know how we feel about their wanting to add an additional 900+ cars to Atlantic Shores and 8th Ave. Let’s not let Peter Deutsch & Gang dictate what they’re going to do in our neighborhood!

The meeting is Thursday at 6 p.m., 416 NE 8th Avenue



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Deutsch


Here's
Ben Gamla's Wiki page -guess who's name doesn't appear? Peter Deutsch
http://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Miami/the-national-ben-gamla-charter-school-foundation-3661040.aspx

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