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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two spot-on columns by Orlando Sentinel's Darryl E. Owens and Miami Herald's Jackie Bueno Sousa demand your attention

August 25, 1982 Ralph Renick editorial on WTVJ-4, Miami,
on the filming of Scarface in South Florida


It's neither here nor there, per se, but per this excellent column by the Orlando Sentinel's Darryl E. Owens that I spied on Saturday -the same day the Miami Hurricanes played like disinterested turkeys two days after Thanksgiving Day- I can distinctly recall as a kid growing-up in North Miami Beach in the 1970's that when a story like this would bubble up to the surface in South Florida, i.e. with lots of context, it would quickly become the main topic of discussion of AM Talk Radio, back before it was almost all nationally-syndicated fare.

Of course, back then, when the Dolphins were consistently good, the area also had an All-News Radio Station, something it now sadly lacks, with South Florida being much worse off for that, as I've often lamented here and at various websites.

Some subject would get under the skin of a columnist at the Miami Herald far enough in advance of some planned public event that a rather pointed column would soon appear, and either cooler heads would prevail, the best option, or, local politicians and govt. officials would be publicly embarrassed and hung out to dry.

If the issue reached a certain threshold of seriousness, local broadcasting powerhouse Ralph Renick at Channel 4, back when it was WTVJ, on N. Miami Avenue in downtown Miami, would make one of his devastating editorials on the six o'clock newscast and simply mop the floor with whomever was responsible for the problem by pointing out the simple facts.


toi, le déluge!

That was a measure of the power and influence throughout all aspects of life in South Florida that Ralph Renick had to wield.

Renick was THE most-respected man in South Florida other than perhaps Dolphins head coach Don Shula.

But now, in my opinion, other than the rare Herald column that takes us all completely by surprise, or Jackie Bueno Sousa's common sense columns that demand accountability and integrity from local elected officials or govt. agencies, there's just lots of dopey paint-by-numbers news stories about inconsequential fluff or shopping or diets.

http://www.miamiherald.com/columnists/jacqueline-bueno-sousa/ and my post from July 12, 2009
May the good news be yours: Ralph Renick's South Florida TV scene 18 years later; Where's the news in Broward? Or local investigative news anywhere?

Orlando Sentinel

City funded Amway party — but not a Parramore tradition
Darryl E. Owens COMMENTARY

12:46 a.m. EST, November 27, 2010

Good thing Charlie Brown doesn't call Orlando home.

In his world, his only worry is Lucy snatching away the football as he prepares to make the kick.
The City Beautiful might send cops to snatch the pigskin.

This isn't an anti-cop screed.

After all, the would-be footballers — all three of them — who were confronted by police on Thanksgiving Day at the John H. Jackson Community Center lacked a permit.

Instead, consider this a reflection on an embarrassing — and obvious — missed opportunity for Orlando.

Read the rest of the post at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/os-ed-darryl-owens-parramore-football20101126,0,5199263.column



Miami Herald
Real leaders in short supply in Miami

By Jackie Bueno Sousa
November 23, 2010

t's not that Miami lacks leadership. Rather, it lacks bold, transformational leaders.

You know, the kind of people who use their power and influence to bring about fundamental change in a community, even though doing so will make enemies of other people of power and influence.

And so it is that so many Miamians now are fascinated with Norman Braman. Beyond his battle to recall Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, he's filling a civic leadership vacuum long felt in this community.

Bold, transformational leaders aren't easy to find. That may be a good thing; too many of them could be more problematic than too few of them. But when they become scarce, as they are now, we flock to them and their causes, knowing that they represent a rare opportunity.

Such leadership requires a unique combination of attributes not found in ordinary, run-of-the-mill leaders. Nothing wrong with ordinary leaders; their generosity, in terms of both time and money, has brought many good and worthwhile programs for our community.

It's just that every once in a while we need something more. We need, for example, leaders who are passionately focused on a cause.


The late Jorge Mas Canosa had that passion and focus. The Cuban exile leader was vilified and chastised for his sometimes close-minded stance on Cuba policy. Yet no other person could so effectively spur large numbers of followers to take action, to show up at a rally, to lobby congressional representatives, to write letters to the editor. Who has filled that void in the Cuban exile community?

Such leadership also requires community-wide status and power. It helps to be the chairman of this or the president of that, but such titles aren't always necessary.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a simple journalist and writer, and yet she helped preserve the Everglades for future generations. She once wrote a pamphlet on behalf of creating a botanical garden that resulted in countless speaking invitations at local garden clubs and ultimately helped create Fairchild Gardens. Who is today's Marjory Stoneman Douglas?

Such leaders must back up their words and actions with money. The money can be their own -- as in the case of Braman's recall battle. Or it can come from the ability to access money, as was Alvah Chapman's gift. In the 1970s, Chapman led the creation of The Non-Group, an elite body of business and civic leaders who set an agenda for resolving the area's most pressing problems. Who in the business community is filling Alvah Chapman's void today?

We see contemporary glimpses of extraordinary civic leadership every so often. Former TotalBank chairman Adrienne Arsht gave $30 million to save the performing arts center. Banker Adolfo Henriques has the power to rally important business leaders. Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón is passionately focused on improving education in our region.


And we even see glimpses of bold leadership. Attorney Victor Diaz Jr., as the head of the Miami-Dade County Charter Review Task Force, a couple years ago proposed a series of fundamental changes that could have brought about important improvements in local government.

When the County Commission slapped down most of the suggestions, which civic and business leaders came forward to fight for the proposed changes?

And, so, the void remains.


Personally, I would have chosen different people, but her central premise is sound and echoes a sentiment that nearly everyone I know and respect in South Florida agrees with completely.

Which is why all the unethical behavior by elected officials in South Florida, from small-fry to County Commissioners, grates on people here in a way that is different than other parts of the country.

For those of you who don't live down here, there's a real brazenness and entitlement that's neither funny or amusing but simply venal and creepy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Even before 2018 & 2022 FIFA World Cup host cities are announced in Zurich, there's scheming & recriminations aplenty. Like Super Bowl host bids!

Looking Ahead to 2022 World Cup

Squawk Box Europe Airtime: Thurs. Oct. 28 2010 | 3:20 AM ET

Countries keen to host the 2022 World Cup flew into Zurich to meet with FIFA members Thursday. Ben Buckley, CEO of Football Federation Australia, spoke to CNBC about the tournament


Australia's FIFA World Cup Bid Video



Come Play! Australia 2018 - 2022 - Australia's FIFA World Cup Bid

Nicole Kidman explains why Australia is the best choice to host the World Cup.



Danielle Isdale of Ten News reports on Sunday night from Zurich on Australia's World Cup bid for 2018 or 2022




Official site of England's bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup:


A satirical look at why England should host the 2018 World Cup and not Russia.


The official England football channel from The FA


Channel 4 News: School sports spending cut row

Article at http://www.channel4.com/news/school-sport-funding-cut-row


sports nut: The stadium scene.
Who Will Host the 2018 World Cup?

The most secretive bidding process in sports

By Simon Kuper
Updated Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, at 8:14 AM ET

Three years ago, when the bidding to host the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 was just getting going, a lobbyist explained to me how the decisions would be made. Over lunch at the International Football Arena in Zurich—a cozy annual gathering of the game's power brokers—he led me on to the terrace for a quiet word. There, he emphasised that what "the world" thought about the various bidding countries wouldn't matter much. Instead, the only voters were "24 old men." He meant the members of Fifa's executive committee (Exco), who will choose the hosts for 2018 and 2022 in Zurich this Thursday. The lobbyist and his partner, he added, "know those 24 men better than anyone. We know their strengths, we know their weaknesses."

Read the rest of the story at:


Ten News
YouTube Channel -videos of the most recent news stories broadcast


Ten News
homepage: http://ten.com.au/



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Anna Poslavska, 2010 Miss Ukraine, has a doppelgänger who frequently hits the Panera in Hallandale Beach; Maria Sharapova in The Ukraine

Anna Poslavska - Miss Universe 2010 (performance)


Anna Poslavska, the 2010 Miss Ukraine, above, has a drop-dead gorgeous doppelgänger who frequently hits the Panera Bread in Hallandale Beach, the same one that I frequently patronize, hence my stealthy detective work here.

Actually, truth be told, it's hard NOT to see her when she's around.

Photos at http://www.missuniverse.com/members/profile/468746

Yes, in Hallandale Beach, scene of so much unspeakable undemocratic negativity at City Hall under the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew, we'll take our small victories where we find 'em!

November 26, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier of Panera Bread, Hallandale Beach, and one of the two condo towers of The Duo north of it.

As it is, with the the popular Russian restaurant/nightclub Tatiana across the street on Hallandale Beach Blvd., the Panera is already a very popular spot for Russians in northeast Miami-Dade and southeast Broward County, as any weekend afternoon trip there -like yesterday's, for example- proves when you hear the Russian words flying around on cell phones and among people who at least appear to be speaking via Skype with their headphones on. (Unless they're practicing with their Rosetta Stone language DVDs.)

There's also lots of cute and friendly Russian-speaking female employees there, though I suppose that some of them could actually be Ukrainian like
ñorita Poslavska.
It's sort of hard not to notice the good-looks and the Cyrillic letters flying all around you.

What sort of friend would I be if I didn't mention this fact to you?

I really have a great facility with languages, if you hadn't noticed, but I must admit that I can't tell the difference between someone speaking Russian and Ukrainian.


Now if only
Maria Sharapova would swing by there some afternoon or evening when I'm there with some friends.

You know, in the name of Pan-Slavic cooperation?

If you didn't know, right before she was born, Russian Sharapova's parents lived about 100 miles from the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in The Ukraine. They fled months after the 1986 explosion due to the deteriorating health conditions all around them while Maria's mother was pregnant with her, which is how Maria came to be born in western Siberia.

Yes, a photo with Maria is exactly what this blog needs!

Maria's forthcoming website is at http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Maria was the focus of a terrific mid-August segment on ABC News' Nightline that I've been waiting to post here on the blog when there was a good reason. Now there is.
It's the second of three segments and starts at 07:34
. I'd recommend going Fullscreen.

ABC News Nightline, August 17, 2010
Out of the Ashes: Maria Sharapova
Reporting: ESPN's Rachel Nichols


Perhaps even a photo taken with me and my friend Csaba, who for months I've strongly been hinting must start a good quality Hungarian restaurant and nightclub here in HB somewhere, so that good Eastern European food -and the platoon of Eastern European models down in South Beach who hunger for it- will have a place to call home where family and friends can go and relax over a good meal.

In the late 1970's, when I was at NMB High School, there was what was reputed to be a great Hungarian restaurant in North Miami on Biscayne Blvd. -near the Wax Museum- called something like Csarda's.
It always smelled intoxicating and delicious when my family drove past it.

I also remember it because the first time I ever went there, that very same week, my theater class at school got a brand new student with a Hungarian name, who rather instantly became one of the five most beautiful girls at NMB.

She had that whole friendly-yet-mesmerizing Eastern European good-looking thing going on from the very start, such a stark contrast to the girls at NMB.

Like, well, Czech-born model
Petra Němcová: very sweet, very genuine and instantly likable!

And, this new student with the very Hungarian name sat in the seat next to me in class, hence my recall for all things Hungarian!

In all my conversations with
Csaba, whether on the phone while he was up near Cleveland over the summer, when I filled him in on the latest behind-the-scenes antics at HB City Hall, or over a meal at Panera's since he got back, I've insisted that this new hotspot be called
Club Csaba.
Hmm-m-m... developing...

Panera Bread #4705
1729 East Hallandale Beach Boulevard,
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009-4621
Telephone: (954) 457-9310

Tatiana Russian Restaurant & Nightclub

1710 East Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Telephone: (954) 454-1222


Scary funny & just plain scary - a zealous fan named Jihyun has a lot on her mind to share with the objects of her affection, boy band 2 PM

[ENGSUBBED] (Full) 2PM's Biggest Fan At Synnara Fansigning (All Member)


In a word, "Wow!"

So, do you recall seeing on TV from time to time how crazy many Japanese fans of pop star
Michael Jackson were when he came to visit, and the sorts of worshipful antics they engaged in when they finally saw him in person?

Well, prepare to be amazed as members of South Korean boy band 2PM -a group you've heretofore never heard of- gets THAT sort of worshipful treatment at an autograph-signing session in Seoul from one particularly zealous and talkative female fan named Jihyun.

At times, because Jihyun is talking SO FAST, it actually sounds like she is barking like a dog.
At one point, one of the band members even thoughtfully asks if it hurts her throat.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that!

Jerry Seinfeld could have a field day with this little video, so all I can say now is prepare to be amazed.

This video is in Korean but has English subtitles to make it easier to follow, which is sometimes hard to do mainly because one second you're laughing, and the next you're cringing.

I've also posted a popular video of the band below so that you all can see them in action performing a song called I'll Be Back.

[M/V] 2PM "I'll Be Back" from Still 2:00pm


I 'discovered' this amazing video at the top of today's post courtesy of a head's up from someone in, yes, Sverige, who said that she couldn't stop watching it and telling people about it!

Once you see it, you'll completely understand why.

Sofie, tack så mycket!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Paramore performing "My Hero" by The Foo Fighters at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; "Playing God"; on VH1 next Sunday

- "My Hero" at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait


Speaking of Paramore as I just was in my last post, on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving Day, the band played for U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait.



Their cover of My Hero by The Foo Fighters is slated to air on VH1's "ON TV" Sunday December 5th.
Their newest hit, Playing God, already has close to 2.1 million hits on YouTube as of midnight Friday night.
This band is further proof that there's no substitute for talent, enthusiasm and hard work.

Paramore - Playing God


Paramore interviews and goodies at

official website:

How a video of Paramore in Stockholm & Razorlight in London proves the Miami Herald is too damn slow. Iceberg dead ahead!

Paramore -Misguided Ghosts, LIVE in Stockholm, acoustic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9OuNtlXiGA

How a video of Paramore in Stockholm and Razorlight at the Cuckoo Club, London proves the Miami Herald is moving too damn slow in its news coverage.
Iceberg dead ahead!

A number of months ago -I want to say it was mid-April-
when I wanted to prove a few Linkpoints about how poorly the Miami Herald was serving their increasingly smaller number of subscribers and readers -esp. the Sports Dept., led by their editor, Jorge Rojas- part of my grand plan was to run photos of what they ran in the newspaper on Saturday and compare that to what other East Coast newspapers ran that same day, since it's the same time zone.

The point, obviously, was to skewer the Herald once again
thru some easily-understood and
rather self-evident anecdotal evidence to demonstrate that their conscious decision to send copies of
the newspaper to next door Broward County where I live -in my case, right next to Aventura, only 14 miles due north of the newspaper's HQ on Biscayne Bay in Miami- which contained old news, lots of Wire stories and less local locally-written stories with important context, was only making their well-known problems MUCH WORSE

This is most easily demonstrated when you don't see complete sports
stories and scores the next day -or timely election result updates on the website.

Some examples of this from this past year:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Miami Herald's dismal Pony Express-style coverage of The World Series -compared to the New York Times- is a bad omen for readers

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Breaking: Miami Herald & sports editor Jorge Rojas already in mid-season form as they ignore BigTenNetwork's televised ballgames


Saturday, August 28, 2010
Miami Herald is channeling Pony Express in its reporting on Broward School Board elections from four days ago. But it's the year 2010!


Saturday, April 24, 2010
UCLA edges Sooners to win 2010 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championship at Gainesville; Coverage of Women's Sports in the Miami Herald


Monday, January 4, 2010

A TV program we can use more of over here: "Jag ska bli stjärna"; Girls sports in South Florida and the abysmal media coverage of it


As you can see from above, in the interim, I've run a few pieces here and there demonstrating that central uncontested fact about the Herald's declining quality to a fair-thee-well, using both the coverage of the second NCAA D1 Womens Basketball Semifinal game, and Game Two of the 2010 World Series, Texas Rangers at San Francisco Giants, the latter of which started before 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

At the time, the other part of my plan was to show that despite all
the technological innovations of the past 15 years that allow legacy media companies like McClatchy's Miami Herald, as well as bloggers like myself, to share and post information quickly, the Herald was "moving kinda slow" -like Uncle Joe in front of the Shady Rest Hotel in Petticoat Junction- to the absolute detriment of everyone concerned, most notably, news consumers.

One of the ways that I was going to do that was to post a great video
of Paramore performing in Stockholm late on a Friday night/early Saturday morning, that had been recorded and posted to YouTube, and which later in the early A.M., was sent to me by a friend in Stockholm who'd been at the concert, and was so wired that she literally couldn't immediately fall asleep.

Naturally, like millions of other people, unable to fall asleep, she promptly started checking her email and surfing the Web.

In her
version of the story, after reading my humble blog here for the first time in a few days, and sending me a note about some things she liked and some constructive suggestions, intent on going to sleep but wanting to check one last time, she typed in Paramore on YouTube, assuming that it was unlikely that anyone at the concert had uploaded something yet.

But she was wrong.
Somebody had!

At the top of this blog post is a better quality version of the original video that I saw, but you still get the point nonetheless.
Technology and social media allow news, ideas and information to flow freely from all sorts of places.
So why is the Herald so laggard at doing the basics, like timely reporting?

Why are they consciously turning their back on covering local government in South Florida and losing what precious remaining credibility they maintain?

When I woke up that Saturday morning in April, the newspaper lacked what I and many other news junkies or sports fans would consider some basic information, yet my email inbox was ALREADY full of interesting news, including that hours-old video that was still PIPING FRESH!

Since I didn't post that back then when I was of a mind to, I'll do it now,
and further buttress my point by posting here yet another video that proves the point.

Blogger extraordinaire Josefina Boston of AbsolutBoston blog fame,
and Escada's London HQ,
http://absolutboston.se/ shot some interesting video when she and her beautiful model pal Tess Montgomery went over to the Cuckoo Club in Mayfair.
That is, they did so after they and two other fashion-forward friends hit the opening
of the new Dior store on Bond Street, where the champagne was really flowing.

While there for the Cuckoo Club's second anniversary, Josefina filmed this performance by Razorlight from very close-up.

Razorlight playing LIVE at The Cuckoo Club, Mayfair, London


Josefina blogs for the very popular Spotlife blogging platform, http://spotlife.se/ as does the lovely Tess Montgomery, who, in my opinion, looks like a taller, sexier Julie Delpy.

Not that there's anything wrong with the regular-sized one!

blogs from
http://tessm.se/, where she has even more photos of Razorlight performing at http://tessm.se/cuckoo-club-2-ar/
as well as some photos of the Dior event at http://tessm.se/dior-event-pa-bond-street/
Bon Chic, Bon Genre!

even has some good sound advice that's especially practical at this time of the year when she says at one point in her post, "
Jag har nämligen som regel att aldrig blanda shopping och alkohol."
Which is to say that she's developed a rule about never mixing shopping with alcohol.

That's clearly a lesson that's yet to take hold of many area women, since I often see them over at the Aventura Mall around 6:30 p.m.or so, as they go straight from drinking with their gal pals to shopping, usually over at Nordstrom's.

I can't help but think that
Tess probably has a good story behind that rule, too, just like Jethro Gibbs of longtime Hallandale Beach Blog fave NCIS has for his rules.

So, getting back to the Herald, I know when I look at the Saturday newspaper tomorrow and it's ponderous website that is both too-busy and yet NOT full enough of legitimate news stories,
I will see so-called "news" that's largely been pre-chewed or eaten with all the turkey leftovers on Friday, on what is traditionally one of the worst weekends for news stories because the varsity news team is away on vacation.

When specifically is
Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg finally going to publicly share with
Herald readers what his actual plan is to rescue the newspaper, and make it relevant to readers and news consumers, which it increasingly is NOT by any stretch of the imagination?

It's getting kind of late in the voyage with Landsberg at the helm, and while I'm
no expert on icebergs, I can see with my own eyes that the known and unknown icebergs keep getting closer and closer to the Herald's bow as it steers into unchartered waters without a compass or, seemingly, a legitimate plan to get to its destination.

And like you all, I know with absolute certainty that most of an iceberg is unseen
-and below the surface.
Just like the Herald's myriad problems.
But some problems are too big to hide.


Paramore: Sweden Photoshoot


Paramore - Decode, Ulalume Festival

More Paramore interviews and goodies at

Paramore's official website: http://www.paramore.net/

See also: http://stureplan.se/bloggar

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BBC 6 Music to air Primal Scream's Screamadelica gig LIVE on Friday, 9 p.m. G.M.T./4 p.m. U.S. (Eastern)

Hadn't listened to BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast so much the past week, owing to some family health problems that have required me to spend lots of hours at Aventura Hospital ever since Nov. 14th, but early this morning, with nothing good on TV, I finally got back in the groove.

I first heard an an interesting discussion on class consciousness in modern-day Britain -subject of a forthcoming blog post involving Kate Middleton.

Moments later,
I heard a great-sounding promo for BBC Radio 6 Music to air Primal Scream's Screamadelica gig LIVE on Friday, 9 pm G.M.T./4 p.m. U.S. (Eastern)

BBC Press Release
on Friday's event:


Primal Scream - BBC Artist Page
Primal Scream - Official Site

There are loads of videos at http://www.theprimalscream.com/news/index.html

On Sunday the 21st, on 6 Mix, Andrew Weatherall played music which inspired him and Primal Scream to create Screamadelica.

You can hear the podcast at:

You can listen to 6 Music live via http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/bbc_6music

6 Music
homepage at http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/

I was over at Aventura Hospital on Sunday when this was first broadcast, so I'm glad it was up on the BBC website so quickly, something all the BBC channels do right, in stark contrast to how some things get done in perpetually sleepwalking South Florida media circles.

When the podcast first started playing, it instantly reminded me of being back at my favorite Indian restaurant in the whole Washington, D.C. area, Aditi, located in Georgetown actually.

On a cold snowy January night in 1994, Aditi, with its delicious food and great service, was the scene of one of the world's greatest-ever second dates, which, oddly enough, had started out earlier that afternoon in Northern Virginia, when my then-beloved was having laser surgery done on one of her eyes to minimize a really scary problem that had her and me worried.

At one point after he'd performed the surgery, with me holding "C's" hand the whole time, and she was was out of the room, the doctor asked me nonchalantly whether "C" and I were getting married that spring, or were we going to wait until the fall.

When I smailed and told him that we were actually just going to have our second date later that night, he laughed and thought I was joking.

I said no, actually, that was the case, even though she and I had more things in common than anyone I'd ever met before.

As I eventually discovered, with the exception of the better part of three years in the '80's when I was living in the Chicago, the early Dan Marino years, she and I had lived within an hour of one another for over twenty years.

That included time when we were both in Indiana, where she was from -Indy- and where she and I had both gone to college, me at IU and her at our arch-rival, Purdue, and then later in the D.C. area, but we'd never ever met, despite having so many common interests and similar personalities.
(I immediately thought, "So many years that could've been SO MUCH happier.")

The doctor then said something that I can still remember like it was yesterday, saying that "C" and I seemed more "in sync" than any two people he'd seen in quite some time.
"I hardly know you, Dave, but based on what I've seen, you two NEED to get married. This year. Really."

The doctor was right of course.
Oh for what might have been!
C'est la guerre!

But then dear reader you're doubtless thinking, "Well, Dave, if that had happened, there'd never have been a Hallandale Beach Blog to inform and entertain, right?

Sorry for the tangent, I was just feeling wistful.

Profile and recent articles about British Education Secretary Michael Gove:


3299 M Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20007
Phone: (202) 625-6825


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More true tales of Ed Marko, the School Board legal eagle who fights against the interests of Broward County taxpayers

This ad was published in Miami Herald on 11/21/2010

I draw your attention today to this sentence from the spot-on story by the Sun-Sentinel's Megan O'Matz below about more of the low-lights at the dysfunction junction that is the Broward County School system.

"Instead of immediately pressing AshBritt to return the money, the district hired the Miami accounting firm, Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant, to review the auditors' findings. A year later, the firm has yet to issue a report."

I'm afraid I'm going to have to give
Ed Marko & Co. another big "F" for failure to perform his duties in an appropriate and timely fashion. You hired a firm who couldn't do the job within a year?

$150 for a Mop Bucket?

And Marko's the genius the School Board wants to have hang around to educate a new School Board general counsel? What, as an example of what NOT to do?

Ed Marko
is to Broward County school kids' education what a screwdriver is to a successful Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner: completely un-necessary.

In case you forgot, in 2009 the Broward County Commission approved an initial payment of $13.6 million to pay the architectural firm Spillis Candela & Partners to design the new courthouse tower.

Pompano's Beach-based AshBritt, Inc., see past articles on them in the BrowardPalmBeach NewTimes at
http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2010/11/suggested_headline_not_all_spr.html and http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/search/index?keywords=AshBritt&x=18&y=10 in particular, this one from August of 2009.

BrowardPalmbeach NewTimes

$150 for a Mop Bucket?
AshBritt Accused of Overcharging County Too

By Bob Norman,
Mon., Aug. 31 2009 @ 1:25PM

You know that AshBritt audit that showed the Broward County School Distrist was overcharged some $765,000 after Hurricane Wilma?

You know, the one that Supt. Jim Notter and the board members were outraged about because it told the truth about what was happening?

Well, a very similar circumstance with AshBritt and its now-defunct subcontractor C&B Services -- both of whom were represented by megalobbyist Ron Book -- occurred in the halls of Broward County government.

One of the more glaring examples, according to a county document was AshBritt's charging the county $149 for a... mop bucket.

See the rest of the post at:



South Florida Sun-Sentinel

AshBritt sues over Broward schools' claim the firm should refund $765,000

Megan O'Matz, Sun Sentinel

4:41 PM EST, November 22, 2010

A Pompano Beach company, pummeled in an audit for allegedly cheating the Broward School District out of more than $765,000 for Hurricane Wilma repair work, has asked a judge to rule the firm was entitled to every cent it charged taxpayers.

In a suit filed in Broward Circuit Court on Election Day, AshBritt Inc. is calling on the court to referee its 17-month battle with the School District over nearly $2.2 million paid for cleanup from the 2005 storm.

Though the debris-removal company has not been formally asked to return any money, AshBritt CEO Randal Perkins said he wants the court to restore AshBritt's reputation by declaring it "was entitled to receive the amounts charged."

It also wants the school district to pay its court costs and as well as any other money the judge "deems just, equitable and proper."

The suit comes only weeks after the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in a separate audit, found the school system could not justify nearly $15 million in federal reimbursements for hurricane cleanup and repairs. No companies were named in that review.

AshBritt's legal filing is the latest volley in a war provoked by district auditors who issued a report in June 2009 claiming that AshBritt "grossly overcharged" the school system. The review found "clear signs of coercion and falsified documents" by district administrators and staff, as well as "overbilling and double billing" by the company.

Perkins told the Sun Sentinel last week that: "This has dragged on long enough."

"We did nothing wrong," he said. "We did not overbill. We did not overcharge."

Broward School District Assistant General Counsel Tom Cooney declined comment on the AshBritt suit and referred questions to the district's general counsel, Ed Marko, who did not respond to two messages left by the Sun Sentinel.

Instead of immediately pressing AshBritt to return the money, the district hired the Miami accounting firm, Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant, to review the auditors' findings. A year later, the firm has yet to issue a report.

The district's Audit Committee, an advisory group, has repeatedly asked for an accounting of how much the district has paid Berkowitz but has been rebuffed.

"I have not received a specific bill for the services rendered," Marko told the committee at its Oct. 25th meeting.

He said he preferred not to receive a bill because it would reveal aspects of the district's legal strategy and would be subject to disclosure under Florida's public records law.

"We didn't want anything in writing that would indicate I did X number of things, talked specifically to X or to Y, etc…" Marko said.

The district did not respond to a records request made more than a week ago by the Sun Sentinel for the amount paid to Berkowitz.

AshBritt contracts with local, state and federal agencies to clean up debris after disasters. It dove in to help in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina and is assisting in removing rubble after the earthquake in Haiti.

The controversy involving the school district stretches back to October 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit Broward County
, damaging many portable classrooms.

On Nov. 2, 2005, the district's head of construction, Michael Garretson, who has since died, held a meeting with staff, representatives of C&B Services of Texas, and Ron Book, a politically connected Broward lobbyist, according to auditors.

Garretson directed staff to issue C&B a purchase order of up to $1 million to repair portable classrooms. The work was not competitively bid because of the emergency.

Weeks later, a district cost estimator, Thomas Myers, alerted administrators that invoices from C&B were "two times the industry standard rates for the work documented," according to the audit.

In mid-January 2006, Myers further warned that C&B was not a licensed Florida contractor and was not insured or registered to do business in the state.

The district refused to pay the bills until getting legal advice from Marko's office.

Months later, auditors learned AshBritt was "being identified as the prime contractor for all work that was provided by C&B Services."

Though the district originally set a $1 million limit on C&B's work, C&B billed for $2 million, including the replacement of roofs that were not authorized and had no documented damage, the audit found.

The audit contends C&B's invoices were not paid until AshBritt was selected by the district to process the invoices with a mark up.

Auditors wrote that AshBritt overbilled the district $237,580 in increased overhead, profit, mark up and per diem labor rates for portable roof repairs, as well as $528,028 for interior work "which was either not performed at all or was double-billed."

The audit accuses the district's construction department of creating a "fraudulent documentation trail to justify payment," to AshBritt.

CEO Perkins declined to talk to the Sun Sentinel about specifics of the audit or AshBritt's relationship to C&B.

Garretson, the district's chief of construction at the time, said the report was full of "accusations and innuendo" that amounted to "slander."

In a July 16, 2009, memo to the auditors, Garretson denied the district was overcharged, saying the work was necessary and verified and consistent with market prices at the time.

More than a year ago, he was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury investigating corruption in the school system. He was instructed to bring along all records related to AshBritt.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami last week declined to confirm the existence of an investigation, much less the status of it.

Reader Comments at: http://discussions.sun-sentinel.com/20/soflanews/fl-ashbritt-broward-schools-20101122/10

#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 atop Mount Corcovado 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 in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

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

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A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

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