Peter Deutsch let it slip out this afternoon at the Hallandale Beach Education Advisory Committee monthly meeting that most of the students at his proposed Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School in Hallandale Beach in 2011 will be Senior High and Jr. High kids, NOT les enfants!
This would seem to cast some serious doubts on their already-submitted traffic and parking studies since, presumably, few of the Elementary School kids would be driving themselves to school.
Not that you can see the plans now on the city's website, since the city refuses to post these public documents there until two days before the HB Planning & Zoning Board meeting, now scheduled for the 27th at 1:30 p.m.
I also heard that the attorney with Deutsch was a real hit with the education advisory board with his very sarcastic put-downs of Hallandale Beach and the schools located here, like we have anything to do with that.
I'm told by someone who was also there that this pompous jerk is Ben Gamla's "parent of the year," so presumably he'll be at the Community meeting tomorrow night and perhaps I will snap his mug for posterity -and the blog.
Speaking of the meeting... the city-required public community meeting on Ben Gamla, hosted by Deutsch, is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center, located behind HB City Hall.
Personally, I'm a longtime supporter of the idea and principle of Charter Schools but I recognize that in this area, the Broward School Board members that represent us, Ann Murray and Jennifer Gottlieb, are NOT going to publicly say anything against them, esp. when someone like Peter Deutsch is connected to them.
For them, that's a loser and a fight they don't need to get into.
As a well-informed friend with a sense of historical perspective reminded me over the weekend:
"The School Board doesn't have much say over charter schools. If they deny the application, the charter school operators go to the state to appeal and usually win. They can speak about the inappropriate placement of a school."My concern as far as the School Board members go has always been more on their attendance at education-related happenings here in their district from the p.o.v. of their obligations to their own constituency, but even if they show up, and I doubt they will tomorrow night, I'm not expecting Murray or Gottlieb to be anything more than a "potted plant" in the room, to use that Oliver North congressional hearing-generated metaphor.
In my opinion, as far as Murray goes, that would be a nice start after more than two years in her current position -completely invisible in Hallandale Beach.
Towards that end, my friend, Hallandale Beach civic activist Csaba Kulin has sent Murray an email -below- that's much more to the point about HB residents' feelings about her heretofore invisible presence here having been duly noted, and letting her know that part of the reason some people want her to be present is so that she can see how completely one-sided this Peter Deutsch-led meeting will be on Tuesday night.
Just like last year's cringe-worthy fiasco.
There's hearing second-hand that something is one-sided, and then there's actually seeing it for yourself.
Like reporters coming to HB City Hall for the first time and seeing what the mayor is really like at a public meeting with their own eyes.
All of a sudden, everything clicks and they see that if anything, what they've read or heard previously hardly begins to describe the absurdity of the situation.
Csaba also asks specific questions about the number of students planned for the size of the property and asks Murray to simply consider how lacking in common sense some of Ben Gamla's plans are.
Kids being forced to eat outside for meals, then what do you do when it rains or there's a strong thunderstorm, bring all the kids in and cancel classes?
Which is it?
There's their great plan to save money, and then there's their plan actually running head-on into a very predictable reality, since there's nothing more predictable in South Florida than thunderstorms.
But Peter Deutsch doesn't care about any of that, he just cares about the general idea of himself being the White Knight for many Jewish parents throughout the region who are currently dis-satisfied with public schools, for whatever the particular reason, reasonable or otherwise, and the profit he and his partners can make from their discomfort, which is millions.
Deutsch doesn't see why he should care what the neighborhood, city or community thinks because he knows that having gone thru this process before, and gotten his share of bruises, no elected official is going to lift a finger to call him out on his plan's self-evident lack of common sense in shoehorning a school of that size into that small an area in a single-family residential neighborhood.
He's NOT suddenly going to negotiate against himself if he can get everything he wants by playing hardball.
Not that anyone seems to remember, but my biggest problem with Deutsch has always been the central fact that he NEVER approached the HB community and asked what IT wanted to see in this city in the way of educational alternatives. He only offered one flavor.
Oh right, plus his giant sense of entitlement, a holdover from his days in Congress.
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper has only exacerbated the problem by NEVER having a single forum on education, even though that's clearly one of the key considerations that families moving here think about.
Just ask Broward realtors!
But the mayor acts like that predictable conversation NEVER takes place, and she sees no upside to her challenging someone with influence and powerful friends like Deutsch, so she just acts like there's nothing she can do, unlike the approach taken by people in Coral Gables with regard to charter schools.
Peter Deutsch is merely a saleman trying to peddle his product, and he only wants to sell that one flavor in Hallandale Beach.
He's merely a 7/11 owner, NOT an education trail-blazer.
And if you believe Ben Gamla's own numbers and projections, 10% or less of the students going there would actually be from Hallandale Beach.
I don't know about you, but that DOESN'T sound to me like my idea of a community school, or
a common sense prescription for what ails this area's educational problems, one of which clearly is "educational White Flight."
I meant what I wrote the other day about the need to push back, and push back HARD at Murray to shake her from her sleepwalking stupor, and, if need be, to make a public example out of her and her completely unacceptable serial apathy and neglect of the HB community, despite her being our elected representative to the Broward County School Board.
If Murray chooses not to attend, despite adequate notice and plenty of first-hand knowledge that there's more than enough reasons for her to be in attendance, I will make sure that there is an empty chair at Tuesday's meeting with her name on it, and, possibly, At-Large member Jennifer Gottlieb's name as well.
They both work for you and me, and they need to actually show up at public meetings in this city about education issues of interest to everyone.
Without having to be reminded over-and-over
IF they choose not to attend Tuesday night, trust me, it will NOT be a secret throughout Broward County or among the South Florida news media down here that really matter.
Meanwhile, up in Arlington County (VA) where I used to live until returning to South Florida, just like HB, life is far from perfect... as The Arlington Yuppette reports
Archive of Bob Norman's Daily Pulp columns on Ann Murray:
The email below was sent to Broward School Board member Ann Murray on Saturday October 9th at 10:52 a.m.
As of 8:30 p.m. on Monday October 11th, there had been NO REPLY.
Dear Ms. Murray,
Dear Ms. Murray,
You are our representative on the Broward County School Board and as such you must make every effort to appear and speak about the detrimental effect charter schools have on our regular public schools. We in Hallandale Beach are in danger of closing some our public schools if the Broward Board of Education allows students and money to be syphoned off to pseudo public schools like charter schools.
On a more personal note, we the voters would like to see our elected officials personally appear among us more often than at election time.
On October 12, 2010 at 6:00 PM, at the Hallandale Beach cultural center there will be a community meeting about the Ben Gamla charter school. They would like to convince the residents why it would be beneficial to them, a single family residential neighborhood, to have 600 K to 12 students attend school there coming from all over Broward County.
White the current meeting is about a Hallandale Beach "conditional use permit", we need you to come and explain to our residents the requirements of a 600 student school should have as to cafeteria, recreational area, class room sizes and other amenities concerned. How 1.9 acres of land compares to other similar size school's land area? We are concerned about forcing a 600 student campus into 1.9 acres of land. I am very familiar with what a 600 student school should look like. Football field, tennis courts, outside assembly area just to mention a few, and sufficient separation from the surronding residents to avoid noise and light concerns. That location fails on all of these points.
You need to explain to us why there were no other alternate sites considered for this school? We in Hallandale Beach have a school on the North West side closed. Would that be a better location for Ben Gamla?
So, please before you try to find an excuse to not to appear, recognize that facing the public is a necessary part of public service and accept our invitation.
President, Fairways North, Inc.
Vice President, United Condominium Associations of Hallandale Beach