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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meanwhile, back in my former home, Arlington County (VA), Extravagant Local Govt. Spending Central, similarities to So. Florida abound

Oh dear!
Somebody is using someone else's wallet, purse, debit and credit cards to do some early Christmas Shopping for all kinds of un-necessary things, and one of the suspects is a member of the Usual Suspects in Northern Virgina.

That person's name is
Chris Zimmerman, the
very self-involved Arlington County Board and WMATA Board member who went ballistic when average citizens -and Boy Scouts- wanted to start post-9/11 Arlington County Commission meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance.

It's all-too-true: One of the main reasons that people leave Arlington County, VA is Comm. Chris Zimmerman, a condescending, know-it-all liberal bureaucrat with a tin ear and yen for raising taxes for pet projects.


Arlington Yupette
, the sensible, dependable and common sense blog friend of all well-informed and discerning citizen taxpayers in Arlington County (VA) -where your faithful blogger Dave lived from 1989 to 2003- along with her observant, hyper-vigilant but still severely put-upon readers, are literally breathing fire after the latest examples of illogical upside-down, run-amok government spending priorities among Zimmerman and the Arlington County government and the Arlington School Board, the twin pillars that compose Arlington's sprawling Extravagant Govt. Spending Central colossus.

http://arlingtonyupette.blogspot.com/

That refrain sounds familiar, can you hum a few bars?
I can definitely name that song in two notes!

And it definitely smells familiar, too.

The only difference from Broward County is the absence -
so far- of photos of FBI agents arresting Arlington elected officials.
Christmas in October continues this evening at the County Board meeting. Items on the agenda include gifts for the Artisphere, the Washington Golf and Country Club, and an $82 million pot of gold from establishing a special tax district encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yards for the County's Board's pet vanity projects (Fisette's Aquatic Center, Zimmerman's light rail, etc).

The Arlington Sun Gazette slammed both Sally Baird and the Arlington School System today, providing a laundry list of serious problems and failures ranging from extravagant unnecessary spending to a drop-out rate that's a "barely-concealed scandal".

The current mendacious shell games up there in Arlington, especially with the special taxing districts, Business Improvements Districts, (BIDs), which have been so successful in Washington, D.C. after some early problems, recalls the 'funny business' I've written about here in the past per Charles Rabin's excellent coverage in the Miami Herald of the the multiple CRAs in the City of Miami, which have former White Knight Marc Sarnoff's fingerprints all over them.

'Funny business'
that is, if by 'funny business,' you mean barely-concealed personal agendas being played-out with taxpayer/business money.

I do!

My July 30th post on this subject was:
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)
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/it-cant-be-said-better-than-this-howard.html

Comm. Sarnoff's
fairly rapid descent into meddling mediocrity and curious, not-to-say questionable policy/ethical choices and words, has led many Miami-area civic activists and reporters and columnists I know and trust, who once regarded him as a breath of fresh air, to privately admit that Sarnoff is the latest South Florida pol to "go over to the Dark Side."


Just like Broward County Comm.
Kristen Jacobs up here, which I wrote about the day before the August primary election.
That August 23rd post was
Broward political insider wisely intones the truth: "Kristin Jacobs has gone over to the Dark Side."
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/broward-political-insider-wisely.html

For more on Chris Zimmerman, see
this,
http://arlingtonyupette.blogspot.com/2010/06/please-help-chris-zimmerman.html
and then David Alpert's excellent piece from last Sept. 29th,
Innovation resistance at Metro, part 1: The value of "bottom-up"
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=3655


His piece appears on his excellent public policy blog GreaterGreaterWashington, which lacks a mirror site of similar scope and quality in South Florida, though to be 100% honest, his site often fails to take into account the role of the average DC-area taxpayer, who doesn't want to keep paying for transportation experiments that benefit a very small number of people.
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/

You can be very pro-transit like me, but also accept the fact that some transportation or public policy projects pushed for funding are either turkeys or white elephants to be.
Being pro-transit doesn't mean having to also be intellectually dishonest, though that sometimes was the case in Arlington, just as it is here in South Florida.

Like I need to tell you, dear readers.

Another couple of things on Chris Zimmerman from an email I sent to Transit Miami founder Gabriel Lopez-Bernal in 2008. http://www.transitmiami.com/


The Washington Post
Hired Riders to Assess Metro
Critics See Waste, Say There's No Mystery to Poor Service
By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 25, 2008; B01

The Metro board yesterday approved spending as much as $1 million over five years to hire professional "mystery riders" to assess the quality of service on trains and buses.
But some rider advocates questioned the expense and said the transit agency could get equally valuable information from its riders, who already bombard Metro with more than 3,000 complaints a month.

Much like the mystery shoppers of retail, the undercover Metro riders would take trips on Metrorail and Metrobus. Armed with a checklist of criteria that includes cleanliness and on-time performance, the mystery riders would travel on nearly all routes, evaluate the service from a customer's perspective and provide feedback to Metro, officials said. The information would be used to help Metro identify and correct problems.

"We want to know what works and doesn't work, and what can be made better," said Metro board Chairman Chris Zimmerman,
who represents Arlington County and pushed for the program as part of Metro's goal to improve service.

Metro already hears from many customers about what does not work. The agency receives between 3,000 and 4,000 complaints a month, according to agency reports. The most common complaints are late buses, rude and discourteous behavior, and a lack of reliability for MetroAccess, the paratransit service. More than 1.2 million trips are taken systemwide on an average weekday.

Zimmerman
said the mystery-rider program is needed because "we can't afford to wait until there's a complaint" to improve service.

The board authorized the agency to hire a company to assess 95 percent of Metrorail and Metrobus service, according to Donna Murray, Metro's manager of consumer research. Metro would pay $175,000 for the first year's work, according to the board resolution. The $1 million budget covers three years, plus two one-year options to renew the deal. The program could begin by late August, she said.

Murray said she could not provide an estimate of how many mystery riders would be deployed.

Metro had a similar program several years ago that used trained volunteers. Maryland board member Peter Benjamin
asked why the agency needed to spend money to hire professionals.
The earlier program produced unreliable results skewed by riders' subjectivity, said Sara Wilson, Metro's assistant general manager for corporate strategy. "We'd only get the results of the person who rode the X2 every day."

The new proposal drew a mixed reaction from rider groups.

Nancy Iacomini, who chairs the Metro-appointed Riders' Advisory Council, said it was a "great idea" to have "people deployed in an organized fashion to every bus line and train line at different times of the day." Relying on customer complaints as feedback provides only part of the picture, she said.

But Jack Corbett, of MetroRiders. org, urged the agency to "listen to its own riders with its own staff and use the million dollars for something that would benefit the riders."
He added, "You don't need a professional to determine that lights aren't lit, or that the air conditioning isn't working, or that the trains are 30 minutes late."

The larger issue, he said, is that the amount of feedback Metro receives -- whether from real riders or hired ones -- is irrelevant if the agency does not use it. The agency is making critical decisions about rail and bus service as it drafts next year's budget, but riders' opinions are not being taken into consideration, Corbett said.

Reader comments are at:

____________________________________________________
Saturday April 26th, 2008

Dear Gabriel:

Given what I know about some of your upcoming career choices, from your emails, I thought
you'd find Richard Florida's appearance on C-SPAN's Book TV this weekend of some value.
He's a really interesting guy to listen to.

Florida's book was "Who's Your City: How the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life"

As for my own thoughts about this WaPo transit story, which I found amusing
because of my own heavy daily use of the Metro for 15 years, plus the occasional bus ride during heavy snow, here's a couple of things to consider as you ponder whether or not it makes sense to use the
$1 Million towards professional surveying/inspection vs. simply relying on rider comments
and complaints, assuming those actually made it to their rightful
place in the food chain:

The Chris Zimmerman referenced above was already an
Arlington County Commissioner while I lived there, and is/was a first-rate JERK!

(Just as is the case in the City of Hallandale Beach, where I live, an incumbent like Zimmerman b
enefits from the fact that though it's a very liberal place, all members of the Arlington County Board are elected at-large, and there are no term limits.)

While he was Chairman of the County Board, he tried to actively prevent the Board from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before the meetings started, even after 9/11.

Things came to a crescendo in March of 2002, before a packed room
and TV cameras present from every Washington-area TV station, he was made an object of ridicule by the entire area, after numerous Washington Post editorials and attacks on him during prior Board resident's comment periods.

That happened when a vocal critic of the Board's refusal to say the Pledge
stood up
in the Board auditorium and started reciting it before the meeting, and, like energized marionettes, the County Board jumped up and followed suit with the recitation, which the public was already doing.

Now usually I really wouldn't care about that sort of issue, but sometimes small issues highlight a much larger perception problem an elected official has, a blind spot if you will.
Such was the case here with Chris Zimmerman.

I
f they stumble over something so small due to sheer petty ego and personal pique, how can you really trust their judgment on something important?

Zimmerman
made such a point of saying that it shouldn't be necessary for County Board members to say the Pledge at the beginning of their own meetings, that it proved terribly embarrassing later -and showed him for the creepy hypocrite I always thought he was- when he was on various appointed boards and commissions, like with METRO, the Northern Virgina Transportation Comm. and VIRGINIA RAILWAY EXPRESS, and what's the first thing they do at every single meeting?
Exactly!

(If you can believe it, the NVTC's website is www.thinkoutsidethecar.org )

So, Zimmerman had no problem reciting the Pledge publicly while on a Board that he
was appointed to, he just had his personal/political/philosophical reservations about doing the same thing for a Board that he was actually elected to by Arlington County voters.

It was a hard slap in the face to Arlington's residents and a valuable lesson I'll never forgot
in judging elected officials' behavior and hypocrisy.

And this is the great genius behind the $1 million decision in Washington.

Honestly, in all my myriad experiences in Washington, over 15 years, even when I disagreed with people on an issue, I always tried my best to keep things civil
-and classy!

Frankly, I actually enjoyed the company of some people who disagreed with me on public
policy issues more than some who agreed, esp. if they liked sports or film, not surprisingly.
But, that being said, Zimmerman was the closest thing to a 1930's Stalinist government
goon/henchman as I ever met.
Really.

That he was smart and should've known better only made it worse, not unlike the situation with State Sen. Steve Geller, who chooses to use his talents and abilities to help Steve Geller, not to help under-served segments of society who could use his help and influence to get a fair shake and see their causes given a seat at the table, like older Foster Kids who'll soon be on their own, Haitian-American social services
groups, et al.

That's one of the principal reasons I so detest Geller.

He's so damn self-serving, almost as if it's very transparency made it funny or amusing.
It's not.

Zimmerman
acted like he could do pretty much whatever he liked and residents
just had to lump it, because the board was all Democrats and they couldn't deny him.

Well, I was a (moderate) Democrat, too, like most of the County, but I wanted diversity of ideas on the County Board, too, to generate outside-the-box thinking about the problems where I lived, not a choir singing songs pre-approved by Zimmerman.

(Photos and info on my old neighborhood in Arlington:

Did you ever see my old South beach Hoosier blog post where I mentioned that my old townhouse was where
President Ford's daughter Susan lived, while he was President?
When I left, it still had the old Secret Service-installed communications system throughout.)
Frankly, as I later explained it to some people, Zimmerman sometimes acted like Arlington County taxpayers were merely guinea pigs in some Pol. Sci. experiment he needed to do in order to earn his PhD. dissertation at U-W in Madison.

His creepy and diabolical personality were such that I knew quite a few folks who were deeply involved in the Arlington community -people I wish we had dozens of clones of, down here!- who were popular and well-respected, but who made no secret to me of their hate for him.

If current blog technology had existed back then, Zimmerman would have been my Arlington-based blog's favorite political
pinata!

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#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang w/Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

What a night we had! #HollywoodFL based photographer/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 ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016

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