My comments after the column exactly 20 years old this weekend, by Bill Braucher, the Miami Herald's Miami Dolphins beat columnist from the glory days of the early 1970's, and after some years in Cincinnati at the Post, a Broward County general columnist and editor for the Herald from the early 1980's-1991.
Now THERE was a guy who knew what he was talking about!
GROWTH'S SURPRISES ARE ONLY NATURAL
August 26, 1990
By Bill Braucher
Broward County is full of surprises.
Malls spring up where cattle grazed yesterday. Neighbors vanish overnight.
Construction detours keep motorists guessing, particularly commuting prisoners of the moonscape that is Interstate 95. Crawling in makeshift lanes under cranes and bulldozers, traffic hostages seem resigned to I-95 jackhammers grinding for their lifetimes.
In 11 years under the same Davie roof, qualifying me for pioneer status compared to the surrounding transition, I have had six sets of immediate neighbors and four dogs. I wake up to find them going or coming.
Even in the bedroom communities of West Broward, where families dominate, restlessness is evident. County records reflect homeowner changes involving about 25 percent of the population.
Once blessed by nominal taxes compared to assessments in Dade County, which many fled, Broward's relative newcomers face realities of rapid growth and the attendant need for government services. But they keep coming.
New home buyers in the sprawling community of Weston, where Broward meets the Everglades, got a big surprise this year. Their district taxes soared 600 percent, from $50 to about $300 on the average.
Poverty is no factor in Weston, an Arvida project of six- figure homes amid imported palms and well- trimmed greenery. Even the 7-Elevens look expensive.
Still, targets of the assessments were not amused. The increase had nothing to do with county or school or maintenance taxes inevitably rising with the population growth.
Rather, the Weston hike illustrated the free rein developers continue to enjoy, including pocketbook domination of Broward politics.
Weston's roads, sewers and lush ambience were products of the Indian Trace Community Development District, one of 14 county drainage districts operating like medieval fiefdoms with rules of their own and accountability to no government entity.
To accommodate developers draining the Everglades for communities like Weston, Indian Trace floated bonds.
When the bonds came due this year, homeowners were handed the tabs. They could hardly be blamed for resenting the costs hidden in their closing arrangements.
But they had no say in the matter, because members of drainage districts vote for board members by acres. Thus, Arvida cast 7,017 votes at last November's election for the undeveloped land the company still owns. Irwin Richmond, schoolteacher and Weston homeowner, came in with one vote for his acre.
Defenders of the environment are more concerned, not only with wetlands drainage but also with an overall county pattern of development at any cost. Broward is losing its natural surroundings.
The core of outnumbered environmental defenders is composed mostly of longtime residents who envision their surroundings in the rural perspective they once enjoyed, rather than urban sprawl the county has become -- 28 cities, road congestion that is apparently unmanageable during the winter tourist season, and a population spreading across the county's 1,211 square miles toward a 2 million count by the start of the next century. The projection seemed impossible only a dozen years ago.
From 1960 to 1970, Broward experienced an 85.7 percent growth rate. In the decade ending in 1980, the rate was 64.2 percent. About a third of those numbers were retirees, predominantly New Yorkers settling in condominiums that rose from the Atlantic shores to the Everglades in a building frenzy encouraged by tax-coveting politicians.
With the rates of growth came crime, the bulk of it related to the crack cocaine scourge and an overwhelmed criminal justice system.
The county recorded 115 slayings and 6,202 aggravated assaults last year. The jails are not large enough to hold the candidates, notably after Sheriff Nick Navarro conducts the periodic drug sweeps that have gained him national recognition. Navarro enjoys political clout rare for his office, perhaps unknown for a lawman since the Sheriff of Nottingham pursued Robin Hood.
Navarro's power is so visible that the Florida Legislature this year enacted a law enabling him to erect massive tents for his prisoner surplus.
He has appeared with Geraldo, and even made Ted Koppel's Nightline during a bizarre episode in June in which his deputies arrested two members of the rap band 2 Live Crew for expounding on below-the-belt lyrics at a Hollywood nightclub.
The Crew's output was deemed obscene, in an interpretation of a vague state statute that the defendants plan to continue contesting in the courts, presumably as long as the group's notoriety keeps selling records.
Navarro's action was abetted by an unprecedented judicial ruling that the band's efforts were indeed obscene. Sales of its album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, were banned in Broward. Record-shop violators faced arrests, to both the amusement and indignation of liberals.
While Navarro takes criticism, the sheriff knows that his well-publicized actions are popular with a large segment of a populace seeing his office as a force against a drug-related criminal element undermining traditional values and moral integrity. Navarro gets elected by landslides, which seem to be his bottom line.
No more conservative faction exists than in Fort Lauderdale, the county's largest and best-known city. Ironically, the city gained national repute by catering for years to a college spring-break crowd dedicated to reckless abandon and beer-drinking bouts on the spacious beachfront, featured in the forgettable film, Where the Boys Are.
It took city commissioners several years, but they succeeded in discouraging the collegians while making a pitch for tourist families seeking a more wholesome environment.
George Hanbury, the new city manager, plans to speed a long-delayed proposal to spend $150 million on beach redevelopment. The new face would include a cluster of hotels, townhouses, retail shops and restaurants on 33 acres where the boys once romped.
In line with upscale planning, a $7.4 million Riverwalk project nears completion in midtown, and the Downtown Development Authority keeps trying amid an anti-tax sentiment to get a $9 million bond referendum approved in the interests of further sophistication through high rises.
An opposite trend seems afoot in Hollywood, where Mayor Mara Giulianti's development ambitions were dashed in a startling upset that put the conservative Sal Oliveri in the mayor's office in March, backed by an old-Hollywood faction calling itself People Against Concrete.
The city's veterans prefer to keep the small-town ambience of Young Circle as is, interrupting U.S. 1 traffic flow and complete with a bandshell evoking visions of The Music Man among the homeless park drifters and empty storefronts aggravating the progressive element.
The same caution is evident in addressing the future of Hollywood's spectacular stretch of beaches, the largest expanse of undeveloped sand in South Florida, particularly South Beach. Its easy ambience and tacky shops have proved magnets for swimmers, strollers and Canadian winter visitors welcomed by the Maple Leaf in addition to the Stars and Stripes adorning motels and restaurants.
Farther south, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale functions in winters as a hub of tourist activity. The racetrack's success has relegated Hialeah Park, once the queen of America's tracks, to the verge of oblivion. Gulfstream's brisk business reflects both tourist destinations and the shift of a more prosperous permanent population north to Broward's greener pastures.
If the pastures are deceiving to some, with taxes rising and jobs scarcer and the state's Growth Management Act curbing development while causing home prices to rise, a stranger would not suspect it.
As steadily as the disenchanted move out, they are replaced and augmented with such consistency that the county's documented population of 1.2 million may well top 1.5 by the time 1990 census tabulations are completed.
How many times have I written here about the common knowledge in the year 2010 that as the physical, economic and political environment around you changes, you either have to adapt to them to remain relevant and compelling to consumers who have more choices than ever, or you fall by the wayside and become an embarrassing anachronism? Too many to count, right, especially in regard to South Florida?
Question: Who has done a worse job of keeping up with all the changes in Broward County than the Miami Herald, with David Landsberg as publisher, and South Florida local TV news operations that enjoy technology that makes their jobs easier than ever, but who can't be reliably counted-upon to show-up when real news is taking place?
Consider the following and add it to the equation.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Broward Politics blog
Change in media is altering the political game
By Anthony Man
August 27, 2010 09:45 AM
The dramatic changes in the news media are having an effect on the way politics is practiced.
It’s a profound change, said Jack Furnari of Boca Raton, a conservative activist who’s active in the Republican Party, serves as a political consultant for some candidates, and is a sometime-opinion journalist himself in the blogosphere.
“This [election] cycle is going to change the way a lot of campaigns are run,” Furnari said.
Read the rest of the post at: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2010/08/change_in_media_is_altering_th.html
The Ellyn Bogdanoff-Carl Domino fight for the Florida State Senate 25 GOP nomination cited above is a very good example of a much-neglected media story, but so is local Miami TV stations almost completely ignoring the District 8 and District 9 Broward County Commission primary election campaigns.
I never once saw District 8's Barbara Sharief or District 9's Dale Holness on TV Tuesday night after they won.
In fact, I never saw Holness on TV before the election, either!
I literally would not recognize his face or his voice if he walked up to me today.
So is that my fault or the South Florida news media's?
In any case, because of the demographics of this county, both candidates stand a great chance of being elected Broward County commissioners in nine weeks despite almost zero serious analysis or discussion of their professional qualifications or personal temperament, which is not exactly the way they taught civics in textbooks when I was growing up, to the extent it was taught at all.
But it is the current state of civics in South Florida.
Having been largely ignored by the South Florida news media and the Broward political flacks and operatives who roam around this county, especially the really condescending Queen Bees of these two groups, if they win, do you really imagine that there won't be consequences for those who were so over-the-top oblivious to what was going on right in front of them?
Yes, karma is a bitch that way, and revenge is a dish best served cold.
As was so ably articulated in one of the best episodes ever of Northern Exposure when Ed Chigliak was describing the ups-and-downs of success and the caste system in Hollywood:
"It's worse than dog eat dog. It's dog doesn't return other dog's phone calls."
There are a lot of you out there whose phone calls won't be returned in the future.
And you know who you are.
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.
- About Us - Hallandale Beach Blog
- Advertising at Hallandale Beach Blog
- To Contact Me/kontakta mig: HallandaleBeachBlog (at) gmail (dot) com
- Welcome to My World...
- Welcome to My World 2017, pre-July
- Sweden 2017
- Sweden 2016 - Tweets, news stories & videos re Sweden & Swedish people, places & things worth knowing about