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. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cause and effect or just coincidence? Whatever the case, Saturday's Herald Editorial puts Hallandale Beach City Hall on the grill and fillets them


A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government  in Broward County, FL
Above, the Heart of Darkness in Hallandale Beach: Hallandale Beach City Hall.


Looks like Monday might indeed be a night to remember for Hallandale Beach's
long beleaguered citizen taxpayers, so please try to be there in person at 6 p.m.
if at all possible so you can see the spectacle yourself.


Everyday in Hallandale Beach this summer, we are seeing more and more proof
of the sorts of unhealthy and unacceptable qualities that we do NOT want in
either elected officials nor in a new city manger.


The outcry and controversy over the absurd proposal to give a $15,ooo bonus
to someone for simply doing their job - and, in my opinion, an unsatisfactory
job at that in acting City Manager Mark Antonio's case
- almost obscures
one of the most appalling aspects of daily life in this small ocean-side city with
the current Cooper Crew in charge, one that I have yet to hear anyone else
remark upon publicly, so I'll go ahead and say it now so that others may consider
it.


It's actually in the form of a a question.

How thoroughly perverse and contemptible is it that the only time anything
in this entire city can be done quickly by HB City Hall is when THEY attempt
to ramrod something truly appalling thru the City Commission without telling
the taxpayers of this city about it, to allow a reasonable amount of time for
public discussion?


Under Mayor Joy Cooper, we have continually seen this brand of creepy
anti-democratic and unethical behavior -nothing less than a power-play
to thwart the public's will
- over-and-over, esp. up in Room 257.

Her continual, self-serving brazenness has almost lost its power to shock us.
Almost.

Since City Commission meetings were not scheduled for the month of August,
why couldn't this matter wait until the first scheduled meeting in September,
when many HB residents will
have returned?
You know why and so do I.

In contrast to the rapidity and pace they take when there's something for
them, consider yet again that THREE YEARS after the city took title
to
the so-called A1A Community Center from The Beach Club,
just steps
from the ocean, it's only been open to the public TWICE,
and the bldg.
elevator is STILL broken and the second floor STILL
isn't finished.

Why are the city's repairs(!) taking longer than it originally
took
to construct the entire building?

Now there's a question for the ages that I'd like to hear each and every
member of the City Commission answer individually, without
anyone
whispering in their ears.



Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy  Cooper and City Manager Mike Good

Above, March 3rd, 2009 photo I shot from A1A/ South Ocean Drive
that's been anchored on my blog the past 17 months.



August 6, 2010 photo by
South Beach Hoosier.
The view of the off-limits Community Center from the beach.


August 6, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Do you have some office chairs you'd like to store in a room
with a beach view?


In the last few weeks, someone in the city seems to have illegally removed
Broward County's official warning sticker placed a long time ago near the
building front door advising the public that the elevator is, in fact, broken.


It was completely missing Friday afternoon when I was there, and the elevator
is
STILL NOT working, as there is still an artificially-created wooden wall
placed between the first floor and the area adjacent to the elevator, near what
appears to be an un-opened box of supplies that actually read "
May 2010."

August 6, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Yes, the elevator to nowhere.

That County sticker had literally faded under the sun's rays, but that
doesn't
mean the city can legally remove it and not have it replaced
or at least put up
a similar notice.

Typical!

In that case, I guess the County sticker was guilty of being a "naysayer,"
to use Comm.
Dotty Ross' favorite frequent word to describe HB's concerned
citizens when they speak the truth at City Commission
meetings, to her
continuing dismay and consternation.


On Monday, I'll be posting to my blog some damning photos and video
of
the
A1A Community Center, as it is now, for you to see for yourselves.

I'll also have some other photos of items of interest that ought to be
brought
up publicly Monday night to
remind the City Commission that contrary to
the mayor's PR spin,
Mark Antonio bears a lot of personal responsibility
for why things in this city are as half-assed and poorly-run
as they are.

All they have to do is open their eyes, since the evidence is all around us,
but they greatly prefer the world of fantasy to reality, because in that
world,
they are entitled to whatever they want, no matter how outrageous
or absurd.

Consider that when the FL League of Cities has their 2010 convention over
at the
Westin Diplomat from Aug. 19th-21st, do you really think that
Joy Cooper or the HB City Commissioners would publicly admit that for all
of their waste of taxpayer dollars on things that she and three-fourths
of them
agreed to over the past few years, items that were opposed by
the overwhelming
majority of HB taxpayers actually paying attention,
there STILL isn't even
ONE directional sign in the entire city indicating where HB City Hall or the
HB Police Dept. HQ is located?

Not one.

http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/

http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/Events.aspx?CNID=3164

"This year’s conference will continue our focus on learning,
networking and idea-sharing."
But apparently, NOT listening to taxpayers.

Mark Antonio
is also the person who seems perfectly content to allow a
very dangerous mindset to remain intact at HB City Hall, one that so many
of us have been seeing for years, to our utter disgust.


That is the mindset where far too many city employees, including Dept. heads
and Managers, as well as individuals in the City Manager's office itself, like
Jennifer Frastai, seem to believe that there is no punishment for their
NOT doing their job competently and professionally.

Why do you suppose that is?


Perhaps because there is currently zero personal and professional accountability
over there,
which is one of the reasons why I started my blog in the first place
a few years ago, after dutifully going thru the proper channels over there and
seeing nothing happen.


I knew from my conversations with people I met in the area that I wasn't the
only person who saw it and was outraged at the oblivious attitudes there,
especially on public safety matters, where i received nothing but lip service.


This lack of accountability has been particularly notable over at DPW in the
18 months that John Chidsey has been busy mismanaging it, as one project

after another languishes.

For instance, to name but one very obvious example, the water fountain directly
in front of the A1A Community Center has been broken and without water
since LAST August.
One entire year!

In other cities, if they don't have the part they need, it might be ten days or so,
but here, over a year!.


August 6, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier
The empty water fountain looking towards A1A/South Ocean Drive
that nobody at HB City Hall ever notices.


August 6, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Looking at the fountain towards the HB Fire/Rescue Station
next door to the
off-limits Community Center.

And speaking of city employees who don't do their jobs and Dept. heads who
could care less, let's not forget that recycling comes under DPW, where Chidsey
has been especially ineffective.


There are dozens of examples I could cite here -many of you know them
by heart, I know
- but here's a new one.


On Friday, over the entire North Beach area there was but one blue recycling
bin visible.
And it wasn't really on the beach where it could be used by beach
visitors, but between the sidewalk and one of the showers.

Why ONE for at least five acres and not near the visitors?
That's the way the city employees want it.

Because the DPW employees don't care about recycling or doing their job,
just what's easiest for them, and for them, hiding the recycling bins or making
them impractical to use is their answer for making less work.


Below
is a photo I snapped in the city's parking garage on Friday after parking
the car.

Three bins stacked on one another near the entrance.

But this is actually an improvement.

Two weeks ago, the day of the city's Parks Master Plan meeting at the Community
Center, there were three bins stacked on top of one another VERTICALLY.

That wasn't by accident, it's the way they fixed them to make sure
that nobody used them.

And by nobody, I mean the HB taxpayers who already paid for them

It's just another example of HB city employees cheating taxpayers of
an honest day's work, but then that's hardly unusual when the people
at the top are among the worst offenders.

In case you didn't see it last week, the excellent Jackie Bueno Sousa
column
in the Herald that compelled me to invite her to Monday's meeting, complete
with reader comments is at:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/03/1760023/if-government-cries-poverty-take.html?commentSort=TimeStampAscending&pageNum=1



Here's the editorial that appeared in Saturday's
Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/07/1765501/local-perspectives.html
Miami Herald
Editorial
August 7, 2010

Local perspectives

HALLANDALE BEACH

IS MONEY NO OBJECT HERE?

You would think city commissioners and Mayor Joy Cooper would know better by now. In 2007 the commission and Mayor Cooper gave themselves a whopping $55,000 pay raise without bothering to notify the public first.

As a result, a hailstorm of outrage from local residents rained down on City Hall, and the chastised officials rescinded the raises.

But now city officials are up to the same old game: Hastily and secretly spending taxpayers' money like it grows on trees. First, they were so desperate to get rid of former City Manager Mike Good that they agreed to pay him an overly generous severance package worth $366,653 in total.

Now, the mayor and commission majority want to reward interim City Manager Mark Antonio with a $15,000 bonus on top of his $145,000 annual salary. And, if it hadn't been for Commissioner Keith London, they would have signed the bonus check without benefit of public notice or input.

The talk of a bonus for Mr. Antonio came at the end of long budget workshop session that lasted past midnight last week. Residents had left, and while a video camera was recording the session, the broadcast of the meeting had gone off the air.

The commission turned to an evaluation of Mr. Antonio and generally praised his work. That prompted the interim manager to ask for a $25,000 bonus. Mayor Cooper countered with an offer of $10,000. Eventually the $15,000 figure was negotiated.

That's when Mr. London blew the whistle for a timeout, saying a vote on the award of the bonus should happen in a public meeting for residents to observe and comment on. So, eager for some reason to ensure that Mr. Antonio gets his bonus sooner rather than later, the commission set a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall for the bonus vote. Mysteriously, they just couldn't wait for the next scheduled commission meeting.

Commissioners and Mayor Cooper had better be prepared to justify why Mr. Antonio deserves a bonus simply for doing what he was hired to do. And to explain why they're so willing to be fast and loose with taxpayers' dollars.




Reader comments at:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/07/1765501/local-perspectives.html?commentSort=TimeStampAscending&pageNum=1


Date: Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:17 PM
Subject: I'm inviting you to see a City Commission that doesn't believe your Wed. column -they're giving a $15,000 bonus to an Interim City Manager for doing nothing

To: Jackie Bueno Sousa

Cc: "Gyllenhaal, Anders", "Schumacher-Matos, Edward",

Thursday August 5th, 2010 4:15 p.m.

Thursday August 5th, 2010
4:15 p.m.

Dear Ms. Sousa:

I'm writing to you today after having considered doing so many times in the
recent past after reading one of your telling, spot-on columns.

The specific reason I'm writing now, though, is your column of yesterday,
If government cries poverty, take a close look

It might surprise you to know that despite the lip service given by many
South Florida public officials to matters of tightening belts and other
budget cliches, there are, in fact, still many more cities in South Florida
that are largely in denial about both the current economy and their
own fiscal responsibilities in that new era requiring tougher choices,
and actually having to say NO occasionally.

In short, the need to spend taxpayer's money wisely in a logical and
responsible fashion with a modicum of oversight, is still a rumor to them,
as they much prefer to remain in 'laisssez les bon temps rouler' mode.

I know this because I live in one of those cities in denial:
Hallandale Beach.

On Monday night, the HB City Commission is preparing to give a
$15,000 bonus to the interim City Manager, Mark Antonio,
who has been a placeholder for barely two months, a few WEEKS
of which he was actually away on vacation, apparently, out-of-the-
country, so I'm told.
Antonio's salary and benefits already total just under $200,000
as an Ass't. City Manager
for a city that's 4.2 square miles.

The last CM, Mike Good, an incompetent and unprofessional person
who was living proof of the Peter Principle, was fired by the City
Commission many years after he SHOULD'VE BEEN, on account of,
well, he simply wasn't showing up for work.
At all.

And when Good showed up, he was often late for meetings that
couldn't start until he was present, and I'm not talking about showing up
late as a negotiating tactic with a union.

No, for years he was often completely unavailable by phone to both
the City Commission and his own staff -completely incommunicado.
His wife often claimed not to know where Good was when she was
finally reached.

In fact, as Comm. Keith London noted at the time, Good was even late
for the special City Commission meeting that HE requested to discuss his
over-the-top golden parachute that was larded with things that nobody
in South Florida could get, and that for a city of HB's size, were shameful.
But the City Commission caved-in

Again, in the opinion of myself and many other pro-reform citizens
in HB that want genuine accountability and transparency at City Hall
instead of the stealthy and unethical behavior that's been the M.O.
for years, Good should've been fired for cause years ago, but
Mayor Joy Cooper
ignored his longstanding problems because
Good
allowed her to do whatever she wanted to, with nary a discouraging
word about her misguided policies or her routinely violating the state's
Sunshine Laws up in Room 247, away from the view of TV cameras.

This unethical and unprofessional behavior was going on for years at
HB City Hall, not that the Herald ever felt the need to see it or share
the news with your readers, since there has only been a Herald reporter
present at an HB City Commission meeting only once since June of 2008,
a complaint of mine and other HB residents that I've discussed frequently
in the past with Mr. Gyllenhaal.

(That reporter was Breanne Gilpatrick and she was only there
because it was a joint City Commission meeting with Hollywood,
her beat at the time.)

It might interest you to know that at the time that Good was fired, the
collective HB City Manager's office salaries were more than that of
next-door Hollywood, despite Hollywood being more than three times
as large in size physically, and three times as large in population.
Really.
And what do we have to show for it?

Giving that much extra money -for what exactly?- to the same person
who just a few months ago, illegally orchestrated an effort to prevent
me from accessing a public city meeting in Room 247 at City Hall,
and then canceled it while I tried to make my way upstairs to be the
only citizen present, is a non-starter.

If anything, Monday night should be an opportunity for HB residents to
finally purge themselves of all the angst and anger they've been having
to carry around all this time, and to describe in detail, in front of the entire
community, ALL the longstanding problems that have STILL NOT been
fixed or resolved to anyone's satisfaction by the City Manager's office
over the past few years, despite plenty of notice.

(Ones that are thoroughly examined in detail on my blog, complete
with photos.)

And since you're not in a position to know, it's a City Manager's
office that has included Mark Antonio ALL that time.

I'm contacting you to formally invite you to come up here on Monday night
for a 'fact-finding trip,' so you can see for herself what really happens with
taxpayer's dollars.
You will see that more than is true in most places, in HB, seeing
REALLY is believing.

Then, you can compare HB's version of "pain" to what you wrote about
in your column yesterday.

I'd be happy to talk or meet with you in the days prior to the meeting if
it's your intent on attending, and even have some other pro-reform folks
available to speak to you if you wish, since it's likely to be quite a scene
on Monday night.
This meeting is the proverbial 'last straw."

----------------------
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Keith London

Date: Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM
Subject:
Special City Commission Meeting Agenda for the$15,000 bonus for Interim City Manager and a Charter Change August 9, 2010 at 6:00 PM
To: "Commissioner, Hallandale Beach - Keith London" <klondon@hallandalebeachfl.gov
>

Everyone,

Please note there is a special City Commission meeting scheduled for Monday, August 9, 2010 at 6:00 PM in city commission chambers.

Attached please find a copy of the Agenda as well as the back-up information.

The first agenda item is a fifteen thousand ($15,000) bonus to Interim City Manager Mark Antonio. This was approved on a 4:1 vote after midnight on Friday, July 30, 2010 during the city's budget workshop. The item was discussed after the Channel 78 broadcast of the meeting had ended.

I suggested to my fellow City Commissioners that this item be discussed only with proper public notice. They unanimously agreed and the issue will now be discussed at this meeting.

The second item for discussion is the hiring of an INTERNAL AUDITOR. There will be a discussion and decision regarding amending the City of Hallandale Beach Charter to allow the City Commission to hire an additional employee. This individual will report directly to the City Commission, just like the City Manager and City Attorney do now.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me on my cell phone or by email.

Thank you,

Keith

Keith S. London

City Commissioner

Hallandale Beach

954-457-1320 Office

954-494-3182 Cellular

http://www.keithlondon.com/




Special Meeting August 9 2010.pdf



As I'm finishing this post it's less than 36 hours before this "Special" HB City Commission meeting is to start Monday night at 6 p.m.
Guess what?
Surprise!


The city's third-rate website, which city taxpayers have been paying thousands of
dollars for every month,
STILL doesn't have the public agenda for this meeting
available nor the staff document.
http://www.hallandalebeachfl.gov/
But I have it for you above, thanks to Comm. London.

What better current example could I come up with for why Hallandale Beach needs
big changes?


Be sure to also see my friend Michael Butler's comments over at Change Hallandale Beach at http://web.me.com/mike.butler/Change_Hallandale/Welcome.html

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