Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
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. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 30, 2010

It can't be said better than this - Howard Troxler in 7/29/10 St. Pete Times: St. Petersburg's cynical plan to thwart Amendment 4 (redux)

I was up early Thursday morning for a reason I'll reveal in my next post, and after reading some of the early stories and columns that had made their way to my trusty Blogger Dashboard, I sent this excellent Howard Troxler column around as an email to the same couple of dozen well-read and concerned citizens throughout South Florida and the state that I'm always communicating with.

Some had already seen it, but it proved to be quite a healthy cold shower for those who'd thought that as ridiculous as some of the anti-
Amendment 4 rhetoric had gotten the past few months, there was no way that any of Florida's local governments would be stupid enough to try to mess with something as basic as listening to the will of the people as expressed thru a vote. Forgetting, of course, where we live.

Judging by the responses I got throughout the day via emails, I think it's safe to say that those few people have been completely dis-abused of this lazy thinking now, after digesting the true significance of this column.
I also wondered if perhaps the
Republican National Committee might not end up having some doubts about the logic of awarding the 2012 Republican National Convention to the Tampa Bay area after hearing about this kind of anti-democratic nonsense masquerading as public policy, which, frankly, is straight out of the Florida League of Cities playbook.


Well, in any activity affecting government and the public's rights in Florida, someone inevitably has to earn the sobriquet of "Most brazen."

Far too often, our mismanaged and unethical City Hall crew here in Hallandale Beach makes our city the unwitting winners in competitions where there are no real winners,
http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Hallandale_Beach,_Florida but for once, it looks like HB is going to have to simply watch from the stands as St. Petersburg makes a mockery out of democracy and voting.

I, for one, am happy to let them take the slings and arrows, though I'm sure that the City of Miami, given their track record of late,
per their recent CRA shenanigans -see below-
is working hard on 'halftime adjustments' so they can try to catch-up and then pass St. Pete in the waning days to win that dubious title.
If anyone can do it, it's the City of Miami.

Past columns of
St. Pete Times columnist Howard Troxler are at: http://www.tampabay.com/writers/howard-troxler
He's one of a number of their columnists and reporters that I link to on my blog also.
That's not by accident.


St. Petersburg Times

St. Petersburg's cynical plan to thwart Amendment 4 (redux)

By Howard Troxler, Times Columnist

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 06:19 PM
In Print: Thursday, July 29, 2010

With St. Petersburg's final decision not until September, let's take another look at that city's attempt to thwart Amendment 4.

Amendment 4 on this November's ballot is known as "Hometown Democracy." It says that voters of each Florida city and county should have direct say over certain growth decisions.

By "certain growth decisions," I mean changes to each city and county's "comprehensive plan," a huge, complicated document governed by state law. Every city and county in Florida has one.

Right off the bat let's suppose that Hometown Democracy is just a terrible idea. All those elections!

The issue here is what St. Petersburg proposes to do if the voters pass it anyway.

Here is St. Petersburg's idea:
The city is creating a decoy map, calling it the only "plan" covered by Amendment 4, and declaring that this simplistic, pretty-colored map is the only thing voters control.

Meanwhile, the city's real comprehensive plan — and the real decisions about where developers will build — would stay under the control of the City Council.

It is a trick that will surely be challenged in court.

Naturally, the City Council approved it by a 7-1 vote on its first reading.

The city bats its eyes sweetly and claims that it is just trying to make Amendment 4 "better."
(This reminds me of an off-color joke; e-mail me at htroxler@sptimes.com and I'll tell it to you.)

The city also claims that it would still hold an election for most big developments. I do not believe that for one nanosecond.


(1) The whole idea of Amendment 4 is to achieve voter control of comprehensive plans — REAL comprehensive plans. Creating a decoy plan does not make Amendment 4 "better." It guts it.

(2) The argument that Amendment 4 is a bad idea still cannot justify the city's end-run around the Constitution.

Amendment 4 might be a lousy idea. But if 60 percent of the voters of this state vote in November to put it in our Constitution anyway, then the city should obey it.

The mayor and members of the City Council took an oath to defend the Constitution, didn't they? Or did each one mutter under his or her breath, right hand in the air: "Except when I know better than the stupid voters"?

(3) If this trickery is allowed to stand by the courts, then the petition process in the Florida Constitution is meaningless.

This is the most important thing at stake. The Constitution is even more important than what the Sembler Co. is going to build next.

If the government in Florida can defy the voters by tricks and labels, then the Constitution does not matter. The voters can pass any change, and the government can just re-name the thing in question and go on with its business as usual.

In sum, this is a disingenuous attempt to dodge democracy.

It speaks poorly for the seven council members who voted for it. It speaks poorly for the mayor and his staff who are pushing it.
It is morally wrong.

How can the City Council do it? How can its members walk around in public, holding their heads high, proud of trying to beat down the ignorant riff-raff, proud of trying to block citizens from running their own democracy and their own Constitution, all so they can keep letting developers build what they want?


Miami Herald


2 Miami commissioners want CRA funds to pay staff
By Charles Rabin
Posted July 21, 2010

Two Miami commissioners want to transfer $105,000 from community redevelopment funds to their own offices, a move experts say could be illegal and skirts the intent of helping blighted communities.

The request, to be voted on Thursday, comes as commissioners grapple with a free-falling city budget -- and as they look for ways to shore up their own staff finances.

"They're over budget in their commission offices, big time,'' said Mayor Tomás Regalado, among those questioning the idea.

Legal experts say Community Redevelopment Agency money -- intended to spur redevelopment in blighted areas -- should not be shifted outside the impacted communities. If the vote passes Thursday, the CRA money would flow to City Hall in Coconut Grove, well outside the targeted districts.

Two commissioners head CRA districts, and both support the transfer: Richard P. Dunn II and Chairman Marc Sarnoff.

Commissioners, who make up the CRA boards, are being asked to take $52,500 from the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA and transfer that money to their district offices to cover "necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of duties.''

That CRA district is run by Dunn. The same total is being sought at the Omni CRA, headed by Sarnoff.

Dunn said top staffers in his office, such as chief aide Alexander Koteles, spend about 30 percent of their time dealing with CRA issues, visiting constituents to study their concerns. CRA money "goes to the commissioner's budget to cover for the person who spends time at the CRA,'' said Dunn.

Sarnoff echoed Dunn.

"You have all those obligations you never had before,'' said Sarnoff.

The two resolutions would grant the respective chairs $30,000, and each other commissioner $15,000.

Some observers question the wisdom -- and legality -- of such a move.

"It's a real gray area because you're not allowed to spend CRA money on city services,'' said Brad Knoeffler, a Park West developer. "They don't have any money in the general fund. They're looking for money.''

The state says property tax dollars accumulated in a CRA district must stay within that boundary. The statute also demands CRA money be spent on projects that have a chance of bringing economic vitality to an area.

In a letter to Dunn, CRA Executive Director James Villacorta, a former assistant city attorney, quoted a state statute that says a ``commissioner shall receive no compensation for services, but is entitled to the necessary expenses, including travel expenses, incurred in the discharge of duties.''

Frank Schnidman, director of the Center for Urban Redevelopment Education at Florida Atlantic University, disputed Villacorta's opinion.

Commissioners are ``basically providing a slush fund out of CRA money that is supposed to be used for slum and blight. It's an attitude that's pervasive in Miami,'' Schnidman said.

Replied Dunn: ``I disagree. A slush fund is when something is provided without services.''

Schnidman and Knoeffler believe the CRA money would be better spent on propping up local businesses in Park West, Overtown or the Omni area.

Dunn says he's in a tough spot. Commission budgets have been slashed to under $250,000.

That money comes from the city's general fund, or through property tax dollars. Office staff is paid through a commissioner's budget.

Sarnoff said a pair of audits show his office is over budget after being slashed in the cost-cutting move by the city, which is on the brink of financial collapse. But Sarnoff says he has enough unspent money from previous years he can roll over to balance his books.

"But yes, under both budgets, we'd be over budget,'' said Sarnoff.

Dunn, who admits his office is slightly over budget, denies using CRA money to balance his books.

"No I'm not,'' said Dunn. ``I mean it helps. It helps to stabilize my books.''

Reader comments at:

Not mentioned here on the press page for the City of Miami CRA when I checked Thursday afternoon, http://ci.miami.fl.us/cra/Press_Releases.htm, is the fact that the Miami City Commission fired multi-area CRA Director James Villacorta late last Thursday night.

Miami Commission fires head of Community Redevelopment Agencies http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/23/1743826/miami-commission-fires-head-of.html

This comes as no surprise to anyone with common sense who watched in dismay the way the City of Miami put logic on its head by intentionally changing the boundaries of the CRAs, without a public vote for affected voters, in order to scare up more public money for the poorly-located Marlins Stadium in Little Havana, on the site of the iconic Orange Bowl.
That karma is going to be a real bitch in a few years!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

City of Hallandale Beach 2011 Budget Workshops begin Wednesday afternoon at City Hall at 4 p.m.

Like many people in Hallandale Beach with an abiding interest in the future of this city, I received a copy of this email from Comm. Keith London on Monday regarding the city's public budget workshops that begin this afternoon at City Hall at 4 p.m.. As it happens, I happen to agree with what he says.

If anything, Comm. London is being charitable about what has been going on here, especially about the favored few getting their hands on taxpayer dollars too frequently without much -if any- genuine scrutiny, public accountability or transparency.

For a city with so many self-evident, longstanding problems that have merely been kicked down the road each and every year, without much if any serious attempt to address the root cause, there was far too much back-scratching with certain people the City Manager seemed determined to cultivate for reasons that still remain unclear.

That these people made out like bandits, even as the city commissioners and the public continually were forced to find out after-the-fact about tens of thousands of dollars going out the back door to people and groups that seemed to have undue influence already, only further raises the stakes now, and puts the the public skepticism of the City Manager and his employees' honesty and professionalism right on the table for discussion.

Having attended these workshops for the past few years, they offer the rare opportunity to ask tough questions of the city commissioners and staff -to literally kick the tires and check under the hood- I can tell you that they can often be eye-raising and troubling for all sorts of reasons.

Recently, the best questions were ones never asked by the City Commission because they were afraid to know the answer, since that would require a commensurate action take place that they were reluctant to take while Mike Good was City Manager -remind him that they were his boss, and that they were the elected policy-makers, not him.

If you come to this blog even fairly often, I'm sure this last point has been made crystal clear to you by now, as the number of times that four of the five commissioners have voted no on a proposal over the past year can be counted on one hand.

But how will the City Commission act at these budget workshops in the post-Good era, with two seats up in November and so much public anger and antagonism towards them for failing to be the proper custodians of the city's funds the public expected?

Well, t
hat's where the curiosity factor comes in...

See also: http://www.changehallandale.com/



Please plan on attending the City of Hallandale Beach Budget Workshops scheduled for this Wednesday, July 28, 2010 and Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 4:00 PM at city hall. The workshops will include a review of our millage rate and property taxes. This is your opportunity to voice your concerns.

For too long, the elected officials in Hallandale Beach have provided residents and business owners their “spin” on the city’s budget.

While calling themselves fiscal conservatives, our elected officials have allowed the city’s budget to increase by $46.6 million over the last five years, a 48% increase!

During the same time, vital services have been cut, while fees and assessments have increased. And our property taxes continue to increase. Last year alone, Hallandale’s millage rate increase, on a percentage basis, was the highest increase in Broward County.

In the past five years, the city’s property value has increased by $1 billion, but instead of seeing tax decreases, the residents and business owners have seen increases in their taxes and fees.

It is time to stop the unnecessary spending, and reduce the city’s inflated budget.

Tell your City Commissioner’s to stop wasting your tax dollars. As your commissioner, and as I have done in previous years, I will vote NO on the budget if I see continued waste in our budget.

Tell your City Commissioner’s not to raise the millage rate, and to realize that the taxpayer is not an endless stream of money to be wasted by them. I will vote NO if the millage rate is raised.

The following are just a few examples of waste and abuse of your tax dollars:

  • Charitable contributions should be made only to organizations providing essentials, like food and shelter. Strict accountability must be attached to every dollar so the taxpayers know their money is being used wisely.
  • Stop spending taxpayer’s money on needless visits to Washington DC and Tallahassee.
  • Stop buying band uniforms for charitable organizations.
  • With people struggling, and even some losing their homes, its time to reduce taxes and let taxpayers choose to whom they want to make charitable donations!
    • I will vote NO on charitable contributions if there are donations that go beyond the basic necessities.
  • Hallandale currently pays the Sun Times over $50,000 a year for advertising, FIVE times what the city spent with them just a few years ago. Who is benefiting from this unnecessary expenditure? And why was it never voted on by the city commission?
    • I will vote NO for the budget if there is money for the Sun Times.
  • Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) loans made with NO collateral in direct conflict with our policy and rules. Our city attorney did nothing to prevent our own rules from being broken. This breach of the public’s trust cost “our” city $75,000 last year.
    • This vote was 4:1 I was the only NO
  • Spending tax dollars to end a contract with former city manager Mike Good, despite him being “FIRED” for not coming to work. The city attorney and mayor signed this contract each year since 2003. Due to our city attorney’s failure to address severe contract deficiencies, and the Mayor’s refusal to address them, the taxpayers must now pay:
    • Nine months severance
    • Health insurance for him and his family for the next 19 years
    • All costs to earn a masters degree
    • This vote was 4:1 I was the only NO vote
  • This year, the city must spend $100,000 for the City Attorney’s pension plan
    • The City Attorney earns over $200,000 annually
    • The City Attorney outsourced over $350,000 to outside council in order to avoid political heat from the mayor
    • “Our” city attorney is more concerned with keeping his job than following the law.

Road-tripping across the U.K in an RV with a Swedish pop star is fun... Robyn - Hang With Me (Official Video); @robynkonichiwa

RobynVEVO: Robyn - Hang With Me. Uploaded July 28, 2010. http://youtu.be/-3a2qoyONVA

Road-tripping across the U.K in an RV with a Swedish pop star is fun...
Robyn - Hang With Me (Official Video)
Just wondrous!
The single comes out in the U.S. the first week of September.




Robyn, @robynkonichiwa https://twitter.com/robynkonichiwa

*Speaking of Robyns, if anyone out there in the blogosphere knows the whereabouts of the beautiful and beguiling Robyn Hunter, originally from Ft. Smith Arkansas, The Washington School of Ballet in Washington D.C., volunteered at Crisis Hotlines in suburban Maryland, who worked for Perseus at the Army-Navy Building in Washington, D.C., and who is possessed of an absolutely amazing voice and sense of humor, please let me know at the email address above.* I will be eternally grateful.

The last time I can remember a song this catchy that I liked that also featured a carnival ride in the video was the late Kirsty MacColl in "New England."


Last July I sent out this email to some friends around the country who'd known me for quite some time, and I thought since Kirsty's name popped into my head again, I'd include an excerpt here:

...after watching an old video of her singing "New England" that a friend sent a link to me of yesterday, completely out-of-the-blue. His reason for sending it?

Turns out that last week, he'd run into a former girlfriend of mine -with a fabulous voice- on a flight from D.C. back to Chicago, who used to sing/play that song all-the-time

And a few hours later, after that trip to the 1980's via the South Beach Hoosier Time Machine, when I first turned on my computer after watching Wimbledon, this awful story over at the beach just jumped off the Sun-Sentinel's website.

Divers hit by speeding boat off Hollywood Beach

BY JOSE PAGLIERY, The Miami Herald
2:51 PM EDT, July 5, 2009

A boat traveling dangerously close to the Hollywood Beach shore slammed into two divers Sunday morning before gunning its engines and disappearing.
A third diver was not injured....

Both victims, a father and son, were quickly transported to hospitals nearby, according to Hollywood Fire Rescue.

Someone needs to really make an example of these people on the boat who tried to mow down some innocent people today, and thought they could get away with it.

Lately, it seems like every other time I'm at the beach, especially in Hallandale Beach near the iconic Water Tower, whether reading the newspaper or doing some writing, esp. when the water is flat, I see some near-misses that make me anxious as people on the boats completely ignore the lifeguard's whistles, just taunting them.

One of these days...



Like you really need me to tell you that Mexico is NOT our friend!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weeks later, Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel & Miami TV newscasts STILL consciously ignoring Bob Norman's spot-on story re School Board's Jennifer Gottlieb

Weeks after Bob Norman perhaps fatally exposed Broward School Board Chair Jennifer Gottlieb's very poor judgment in devastating detail in his must-read Daily Pulp blog at the BrowardPalmBeach NewTimes, the reporters, columnists and editors of the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, as well as the various so-called "Business Journals" and TV news operations in Miami are STILL consciously ignoring that unflattering story about a powerful person because... well, they can.

BrowardPalmBeach NewTimes
Daily Pulp blog
Emails Reveal School Board Chairwoman Romanced Schools' Banker
By Bob Norman, Fri., Jul. 2 2010 @ 8:48AM -

She was a second-year elected school board member at a political conference in Tampa, getting quite literally wined and dined by high-rolling bankers at Citigroup, enjoying the "luxury" of a night out in a town that didn't know who she was.

He was one of those bankers, working the deals behind what has become $2 billion in Broward School Board debt. Both were married with young children.

And after meeting and flirting at an all-you-can-eat lobster and steak dinner put on by Citigroup for elected officials at The Palm restaurant in Tampa, romance blossomed between current Broward County School Board Chairwoman Jennifer Gottlieb and Citigroup finance manager Rick Patterson.

Read the rest of the post at: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2010/07/school_board_chairwoman_jennifer_gottlieb.php

That post from July 2nd currently has 499 comments as of 4 p.m. today, which shows that despite the local MSM's attempt to bury this story, people who actually pay attention to what's going on in the community, regardless of their opinion, are talking about it, anyway.

This foolish attempt to bury the story only makes the old traditional media in South Florida seem more irrelevant and ridiculous than ever, and it's not like they are that relevant anymore to begin with, since there are clearly many reporters on local Miami TV who ought to be in smaller TV markets, but are here, warts and all.
(That will be a topic of future posts.)

And seriously, when was the last time you read a lengthy and well-written story in the
Herald about the goings-on at local Miami TV news operations the way that once was fairly common in the 1970's and '80's?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and things are exactly what they seem, and in this case, there clearly seems to be a conspiracy of silence among the South Florida news media and chattering class about the personal and professional behavior of
Jennifer Gottlieb.

But then as we are constantly at pains to remind ourselves, this is South Florida, an outlier more often than not in the best of times when journalism is either hard-hitting or popular, and this is hardly the first time since my family moved here in 1968 that a perfectly valid and compelling news story was ignored by the then-extant
MSM on account of... well, whatever the popular excuse offered up at the time at One Herald Plaza or over at the old Channel 4 studio in downtown Miami was.

Usually, when pressed, the answer was always "lack of column inches" in the newspaper or available time on a newscast.

Try to imagine a current local TV anchor publicly going after a local pol like
Demetrio Perez Jr. the way that anchor/news director Ralph Renick does here in 1982?
It's inconceivable in the current era of sycophancy, and our great loss.


1982 Ralph Renick editorial on WTVJ on political efforts in Miami to prevent Scarface from being filmed in Miami due to concerns of negative portrayal of Miami and its Cuban-American population.

The local TV and print reporters whom we've grown accustomed to seeing report regularly on the latest education funding/scandal/crisis/antics involving School Board Superintendents Alberto Carvalho in Miami-Dade and James Notter in Broward, overwhelmingly female reporters, are quite simply, NOT doing their job by ignoring this story.

They've collectively taken a pass on mentioning something embarrassing about an elected official in Broward County that should be of great concern to every Broward County taxpayer, especially those with children in the public school system.


And is part of the reason that there is such great reluctance among South Florida's news media to face this issue head-on precisely because the person involved is female? As I've stated previously in writing about other neglected education issues, I personally think the answer is YES.

There is a palpable dis-connect and obvious sense of hypocrisy among South Florida's news media in how they report on the foibles and legal problems of male and female elected officials, so it should hardly be surprising that once again, they just swallow their hypocrisy whole because this case involves a female.

If this had involved a male School Board chair, though, we all know that this same story would've made the front page of the Miami Herald, albeit, with lots of quotes from supportive friends
and work colleagues.

My own experience in corporate life from working with large nationally-known law firms on big cases, as well as from being involved at a high level in presidential political campaigns, plus my own personal relationships with people in South Florida, Chicago and Washington, D.C., is that people who have particularly bad habits tend to have those traits throughout the day, regardless of whether they are at home or not.

There's no OFF switch they hit.

People who are consistently NOT punctual, NOT properly prepared and who are generally untrustworthy, who can't keep a confidential secret about a client from others, tend NOT to be able to do the exact opposite when they are away from the office.

I've personally gotten lots of very smart and talented people re-assigned or fired from firms or political campaigns because of the above issues, and I had no qualms in doing so because I've found that personal recklessness almost always reveals itself at the worst possible time.

Just like a film director,
I need to know that people around me on a project or campaign are on top of things and focused on the matter at hand, not worrying about extraneous matters, esp. involving romance.

If you see people consistently making poor decisions and exhibit carelessness in their job, are
you really supposed to believe that their judgment is any sounder and grounded when you don't see them?

That said, this personal issue Bob Norman writes about so thoroughly doesn't make Jennifer Gottlieb a bad person, just human.

But it does indicate to me that she should be somewhere else, and NOT making important decisions.


Because Jennifer Gottlieb is running for re-election as an At-Large Broward School Board candidate, every registered voter in Broward County can and should vote against her and give her the time she clearly needs to get her personal life together, however that shakes out.

Having said that, on Saturday afternoon at the Hallandale Beach Parks Master Plan meeting,
while I was setting up my camera tripod in the back of the A1A Community Center, I saw her husband Ken, the former State Rep. who's running for Circuit Court Judge.

I felt both sorry for him but also very uncomfortable, since he doesn't know whether or not people he runs into have read the story
Norman wrote, which in my opinion was extremely fair.

Two years ago, I voted for Tim Ryan for State Senate to succeed Steve Geller when Ryan, Gottlieb and Eleanor Sobel ran for the seat that Sobel eventually won after a VERY NASTY primary race that left a very bad taste in Southeast Broward voters mouths, due to the influence of secretive groups affiliated with Sobel that ran untruthful TV attack ads and mail that savaged both Gottlieb and Ryan.

(Ryan later took Sobel to court
about the groups' efforts, but after an initial flurry of stories about the trial, the press coverage completely disappeared. Shocker!
That's the current state of South Florida journalism in a nutshell: here one minute, gone another! Just like the summer rain!)

Unlike some people I know in the Broward political/citizen activist community who swear by the guy, I'm lukewarm to Ken Gottlieb, but I will acknowledge that he does seem like a genuinely earnest and hard-working guy who puts everything into his efforts, which makes him somewhat unusual in these parts, where coasting on the job and letting staff do all the work is the norm.

Personally, though, I'm just not crazy about the idea of enthusiastic activist pols becoming judges because I don't think people can fight that part of their nature.

I believe that the personal qualities that people clearly liked and admired about him in one job, State Rep., are not the same ones required to be a fair-minded judge that all parties can have full confidence in.

Frankly, if his wife Jennifer wasn't already on the Broward School Board, though I haven't put too much time into thinking this through to its logical conclusion, I'd much prefer him or Tim Ryan as Broward State's Attorney in two years against incumbent Michael Satz, who seems energy-deficient in the extreme.

Natural enthusiasm in a D.A. is much better than in a judge, especially in such a target-rich environment like corrupt Broward County.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

With 99 days 'til Election Day, POLITICO reports that cynical Obama Nation is sending flacks to FL to help bumbling Alex Sink make hay out of BP spill

Surprise! With 99 days 'til Election Day, The POLITICO is reporting Sunday that the cynical and craven Obama White House is sending flacks and hacks to FL to help bumbling, stumbling Alex Sink and her gubernatorial campaign make political hay out of BP oil spill.

Great, I'm sure that's exactly who respected and well-read Florida reporters and columnists like Steve Bousquet, Adam Smith, William March, Aaron Deslatte, Craig Pittman, Bill Cotterell, Jeremy Wallace and Dara Kam want to hear from about the Florida political campaigns: people who don't live here and who only know what's going on based on what they see and hear on TV, newspapers and blogs.

W.H. sends 2012 rescue team to Fla.
By: Carol E. Lee
July 25, 2010 07:02 AM EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The White House has quietly launched an effort to confront the political backlash along the Gulf Coast over its handling of the BP oil spill – giving special attention to Florida, the only state in the region President Barack Obama won in 2008 and one he will need again when he runs for re-election in 2012.

The White House dispatched political and communications aides to the Gulf Coast states on July 12, with Alabama and Mississippi each receiving one, sources familiar with the effort said. Some aides went to Louisiana. Florida received four. Read the rest of the article at: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40184.html This article also has this delicious pot-meets-kettle quote:

“It was just so off-target and out of touch with the reality of what’s going on over there,” Sink said in an interview at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee.
Actually, being off-target and out-of-touch is the common talking point among Florida voters, Democratic and Republican, in describing Alex Sink's dismal gubernatorial campaign to date.

Savvy but honest and well-informed Republicans I've talked to from around the state are almost as confounded -
but more delighted!- by her repeated failure to launch as the Democratic activist community, who, rather foolishly, have deluded themselves into imagining that that Sink would be a strong, poised and polished can-do candidate like Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running to be governor of California, and whom most of my friends in Cali are currently supporting.



And that's
Meg Whitman, by the way, NOT Mae Whitman, as some news articles with bad editing have written that Mae would be a great candidate! LOL!
is the very talented twenty-two year old American actress who has, literally, grown-up before our eyes in one good film or TV show after another, as the daughter of, among others, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Bill Pullman.

She's currently appearing in NBC's Parenthood, which as I've written here previously, is a TV show that started-off far too slowly for me, due to the need to establish all the character's story arcs -and there were SO many characters!

But after the first 6-8 slow-moving episodes, the show's finally picked-up some momentum and has gotten dramatically better, with some compelling story lines that seem realistic to me.
Especially the tension between high school cousins, Mae's 'wild child' character Amber and 'good girl' Haddie, played by Sarah Ramos, who was so tremendous as the youngest daughter in another fave of mine that got cancelled far too soon, American Dreams.I would watch either one of them in anything because there's never a false note when they're on the screen.

That seething hurtful anger on the surface that Haddie had towards Amber at the end of the first season was SO realistic, that when they finally had to reconcile, because they were always going to be connected, it was almost awkward to watch.It deeply resonated with me from my experience of being in the middle of watching female friends get into it with other female relatives about old slights, both real and imagined.

Result: Me driving us back home to D.C. area on the Sunday after Thanksgiving at her family's home, and hours-and-hours of quiet punctuated by bouts of crying over in the passenger seat. Talk about a no-win situation.

It also helps greatly that the show also stars another longtime personal favorite, Lauren Graham, as Mae's mother. Mama Mia!

Here's a short NBC video that features Lauren and Mae:


See also http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0926165/ and

Experience and the realities of the campaign have clearly proven that
Sink is anything but a Meg Whitman.

If anything, she's more like a
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, but without either the royal Kennedy magic and name recognition.

Whatever else the many faults and weaknesses of GOP candidates Rick Scott and State Attorney General Bill McCollum may be, and there are plenty of self-evident ones to choose from, Alex Sink has proven that she is Not Ready for Prime Time.

Sorry, when you are governor of the fourth-largest state in the country, you have to have gravitas, and even though Charlie Crist has proven to be such a colossal disappointment and waste of a vote, doesn't mean we have to accept such a low threshold.

(Gravitas, yet another reason why I will vote enthusiastically for Marco Rubio in November, despite disagreements on some policy issues.
I know with certainty he's loyal to the Framer's intentions, smart-as-a-whip, hard-working and really sweats the details, some traits that CAN'T honestly be said for the other three candidates hoping to go to D.C. this Fall.)

And when you think about it, how could it be otherwise for Sink, when even now, with less than four months to go until November 2nd, both the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald are STILL mentioning in the first few paragraphs of their news coverage of her campaign the fact that a large portion of Florida voters not only don't know who she is, but, even more tellingly about her failure to make herself known and give a logical rationale for her candidacy, DON'T even know that she is a SHE.
Let me repeat that: DON'T even know that she is a SHE.
Yes, that's a real identity problem that even wheelbarrows of money and TV campaign ads can't undo the damage of.

Frankly, if Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene was smart, he'd have actually run for governor, as he'd have carved-up Alex Sink even more methodically and brutally than Scott or McCollum plan to do, and would have a better chance of actually improving the state for the better, especially since the Dems in Tallahassee now may be among the dumbest and least-accomplished in generations.

And not that you asked, but since I last mentioned it, I have received more emails from folks throughout the state saying that they agree with the well-founded rumor that State Rep. Joe Gibbons, who is supposed to represent me and other HB residents, as well as those from here westward in Broward County towards Miramar, actually lives in Jacksonville with his family when he is not at work in Tallahassee, NOT South Florida.

Sort of like a less geographically-challenging version of the problem Steve Geller confronts now living apart from his family in Cooper City, and hanging his lawyer/lobbyist hat in Hollywood Beach at night in order to meet the legal residency requirements of his battle against incumbent District 6 Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Final Hallandale Beach Parks & Rec. Master Plan meeting with consultants at HB's A1A Community Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Above, September 2008 photo of Hallandale Beach Water Tower by South Beach Hoosier.

Above, July 12, 2010 photo of Hallandale Beach Water Tower and A1A Community Center by South Beach Hoosier.

The final Hallandale Beach Parks & Recreation Dept. Master Plan public meeting with the city's consultants, Bermello Ajamil Partners, Inc., is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the A1A Community Center under the iconic Hallandale Beach Water Tower on State Road A1A and East Hallandale Beach Boulevard. When your view looks like this one below the Water Tower, you're in the right place.That's The Beach Club condo towers on the left. July 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

As of now, it's my intention to record the meeting if there's any sort of formal presentation, though there may not be.

I've intentionally waited until this very last meeting with the consultants so that I would not have to go to it already disappointed or resigned to notions of mediocrity.

I spoke to the two principal consultants at the HB Parks & Rec. Advisory Board meeting in early June for just a bit under ten minutes out in the HB Cultural Center hallway, out of earshot of the Advisory Board that was still discussing something inside the room after the consultant's Q&A.

They seemed
genuinely open to suggestions and comments and at one point, after they told me about some past clients and a general idea of what they'd done for them, I told them that I'd been looking forward to their outreach for quite some time.

But I also told them that their firm had a lot more work ahead of them than they might've thought, since there are so many people in this city besides myself who have come to the inescapable conclusion that it's in the best interests of the city's taxpayers for the responsibility for the city's public beaches to be wrested away from HB DPW, and given to either Parks & Rec., or have it contracted out completely, so that the public beach can begin to approach the level of fun and aesthetics the community deserves and expects.

The sort of beach some in the community want will be sort of like a South Florida version of...
Above, Nikki DeLoach, Brooke Burns and Amanda Righetti from FOX-TV's fantastic and preposterous 2004-'05 program, North Shore.

But for other reasonable residents of this city, a clean, well-maintained beach that shows a little civic pride would be a good first start.

That's especially the case with people who have bought property nearby to really enjoy the beach, yet, paradoxically, are perpetually dumbstruck by how poorly maintained it is, coupled with the general neglect and apathy of the city's leaders to make better use of it as a resource, to say nothing of the Hallandale Beach Police avoiding patrolling the area, something that the local criminal class knows well and exploits.

Above, May 12, 2008 photo of obstructed genus sign at Hallandale Beach's South Beach by South Beach Hoosier. It's even worse now if you can believe it. This sort of apathetic approach to maintenance is a longstanding problem at the beach.Where's the HB version of the proactive steps that Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober is making regarding erosion on Hollywood Beach?

Have you seen how old and graffiti-scarred the South Beach life guard tower is?
They've been waiting for a replacement since...

How about a beach that's
thoroughly cleaned with the actual sand sifted like it was in Haulover Beach thirty years ago, when my friends and I were going there regularly on weekends and during the summer, and not simply leveled with a rusty pipe with claws that seems straight out of 1930's Russia?

It's a piece of low-tech equipment that is left right on the beach during the day instead of being stored somewhere nearby like would be normal anywhere else.

Here, though, it's all about doing what is easiest for the city employees, which is the situation with recycling bins on the beach also.

Which aren't on the actual beach!

Since the vast majority of the people seeing this post weren't at the last -ONLY!- meeting held at the "Community Center," the A1A Quadrant meeting, you really owe it to yourself to come by and check it out from the inside.

Without giving away too many secrets about my super-powers,
I think I can accurately predict what will happen if you do.
You will get angry all over again that it's only the second time the two-story building has been open to HB citizens in 35 months, though VIP friends of City Hall have used it many times before, of course, esp.
PAL and the Kessel Crew.

And 35 months later, the second floor
STILL isn't fixed and the elevator STILL doesn't work.

And most galling of all, as I've written here several times in the past, there's still nothing on the building saying what it is, when it's open or when a public forum will be held in the city where citizen taxpayers can tell the city's elected officials exactly what they want it to be.

What it shouldn't be is strictly a rental space, as seemed to be the preferred option of former HB City manager Mike Good, yet another reason for me and so many other concerned citizens of this community to be glad he's gone. It should be a positive and dynamic resource, not a storage closet on the beach! 

Now, though, as you can see in my photos below, it's just an airy storage room for stacked-up chairs, albeit in a room that just happens to be steps from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
Pathetic!Above, July 12, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier looking east from front door of HB A1A Community Center. The Palm trees you see thru the window are on the beach.

Above, July 12, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier looking north from window of HB A1A Community Center, opposite The Beach Club condo towers.

Above, July 12, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier looking west from window of HB A1A Community Center, reflecting the Palm trees behind me and the Atlantic Ocean less than 80 yards behind me. The color teal you see is the bottom of the Water Tower outside the front door.

Now that you have seen a small snapshot of this facility opposite the beach, you can better appreciate why this issue has been driving so many other concerned citizens of HB crazy for years, including me.

A two-story facility with an observation area on the roof that is but a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean, one that other towns and cities in South Florida would positively kill to have, which was given to Hallandale Beach for free, and yet under Mayor
Joy Cooper and former City Manager Mike Good, for 35 long months, it's been strictly off-limits to its rightful owners, the citizen taxpayers of Hallandale Beach.

A week from Tuesday, August 3rd, will mark exactly THREE YEARS that it has belonged to us.
And yet we are on the outside looking in.

If this was happening in Miami Beach or Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida news media would be crawling all over this story, because it is so easy to understand, but because it is here in Hallandale Beach, it is completely ignored, despite my best efforts to get reporters interested.


From COHB's website:http://www.hallandalebeachfl.gov/CurrentEvents.aspx?EID=2793

Title: Citywide Parks Master Plan Community Meeting - A1A/Beach Corridor
Date: July 24, 2010
Start Time: 1:00 PM
End Time: 2:00 PM
Description: The project consists of the development of a Citywide Park Master Plan, including a redesign to the City Parks sites, needs assessment and analysis, capital improvement plan and funding options, with a forward-thinking strategy to support the residents and Community’s needs and programs. The Consultant for this project is Bermello Ajamil Partners, Inc.
This will be the first of several meetings facilitated by Bermello Ajamil Partners, Inc. as part of the Parks Master Plan creation process. The Community is encouraged to participate and share their thoughts and ideas.
The Community’s input is essential. If you cannot attend one of the listed meetings please visit the City’s website where you can provide your feedback, suggestions and input at www.cohb.org under the Parks Department/Parks Evaluation.
Address: North Beach Municipal Building
2801 E. Hallandale Beach Boulevard
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Contact: (954) 457-1452
Link: Citywide Parks Master Plan Community Meetings

#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's yet another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

A post shared by Bebe Rexha (@beberexha) on