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, Europe 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.

Monday, August 1, 2011

While you were sleeping: Comm. Alexander Lewy's budget chicanery & Liberal Guilt just cost you another $200,000-plus. For what and for whom, exactly?

Above, Hallandale Beach City Commission on dais at some of the mundane FY2011-12 budget hearing workshops I caught a few hours of at City Hall. Little did I know what would happen hours later... July 19, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

The subject header for this blog is the draft title I came up with eleven days ago, only a few hours after finding out about the dubious post-1 a.m. financial hijinks of Hallandale Beach Comm. Alexander Lewy that my friend and fellow HB civic activist Csaba Kulin caught on TV and first alerted me to in a short to-the-point post-2 a.m. email.

I'm going to fill you in on some of the details but I'd much prefer that you take advantage of Csaba's eye for detail and research below, and simply watch a bit of the city's recorded webcast for yourself -and take notes.

See for yourself what happens in this city when hardly any citizens are around after midnight to call them out publicly for their completely inappropriate and insulting behavior on the dais.

It strains credulity to believe that Lewy forgot the TV cameras were STILL on, or is it that he simply didn't care?
It's hardly a surprise that I suspect the latter.

Does he honestly think we can't figure out what he's doing and why he's doing it?

In my opinion, he could hardly be more obvious in his various attempts the past nine months to ingratiate himself, using our tax dollars to do it.
Even in a down economy, $200,000-plus is still real money!

Lewy did it at least in part because he knew Mayor Cooper would eagerly support any effort that showers taxpayer largess on northwest HB a year before she runs for re-election, with Comm. Keith London likely opposing her next November.

When was the last time the taxpayers of this city ever saw an objective, quantifiable measurement of the effectiveness of anything that was funded thru a taxpayer-funded grant or a loan?
Something you could read and touch, or, at least see on the city's website?

Without an accurate after-the-fact audit or analysis, how do we know whether what's being funded is actually effective, flawed, or simply a waste of taxpayer dollars?

But in seven-plus years of living here, I have yet to see even one, much less, the ones involving so-called 'job training' we've already been paying for involving Eagles Wings and Jessica Sanders, Comm. Sanders' wife, or strongly encouraged in the city's deals with Magna, Gulfstream Park and Forest City that may've also involved her.

What's the down-side of finding out, once-and-for-all, whether they actually had any positive effect at all, and IF they did, how many measurable jobs were placed that wouldn't have otherwise?
And if they don't do what they claim, adios!

Personally, I have never seen any such numbers either offered or demanded, yet an after-the-fact analysis should be a required part of every loan or grant, in order to see what common factors and characteristics help create a successful outcome.

Instead, we continue to fund bad ideas without objective data or bench marks, when there are legitimate small businesses in this town that could use a small push if they met certain criteria.

IF the city is going to spend $200,000, and I don't think they should, I'd much rather see $2,000 given in grants to 100 qualified HB shops/stores/restaurants that need the money to pay for overdue improvements or repairs to stay in business, rather than see it be given as a gift to Eagles Wings, an entity that does NOT exactly go out of its way to be transparent or publicly accountable with where its funding comes from or goes.

In fact, in the year 2011, despite all the money that the city's taxpayers have poured into it over the years -taxpayers like Y-O-U- plus all the free rent and use of your govt. facilities it has taken advantage of, would you believe that Eagles Wings still DOESN'T have a website of their own that explains what they actually do and who the people are behind it.

It's true.

One well-informed person I know has suggested to me that one of the principal reasons that residents of NW Hallandale Beach are SO thoroughly unhappy with Comm. Anthony Sanders' performance in office -and his wife Jessica- a theory I've heard expounded from dozens of people the past six months, is precisely because of these kinds of nonsensical deals where city funds are mysteriously allocated to the NW community, but, somehow, for reasons that they can never really quite explain, the funds don't filter down to the actual members of that community in a way that's productive or satisfactory for HB taxpayers.

Yes, just more of the chronic lack of accountability at HB City Hall that Csaba Kulin, Mike Butler, Judy & Bob Selz, Etty Sims, myself and many others here have been decrying for years, where public transparency is the VERY LAST THING the City of Hallandale Beach wants.

Later this week, thru a Public Records Request, I'm requesting the Draft Minutes from the city of that portion of the July 19th budget workshop involving Lewy's $200,000 early-morning surprise, even though I already know it will be on the vague side.

I will also ask for any docs relating to Eagles Wings, job training and Jessica Sanders since the election last November, a copy of Eagles Wings IRS Form 990, and a list of the professional qualifications of the employees of that entity, as well as any city report or professional audit measuring their effectiveness.

Whatever I receive will certainly make for very interesting reading, and once I have secured it and read it, I will post it to the blog.

Is it time for Broward's Inspector General to look at Hallandale Beach's funding of Eagles Wings, and where all the money is really going?

When I eventually left, with the workshops still going strong, I had no idea what was to come later.
July 19, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

From: Csaba Kulin
Date: Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 1:46 AM
Subject: Last Night's Budget Meeting


I am sorry, but after playing golf in 85 degree heat, I got a bit tired and dozed off.
Around 1:06 AM I heard the loud voices of our Mayor. It was about Eagles Wings.

There were only 3 Commissioners on the dais, London and Sanders were in the back room.
During the following 9 minutes the Mayor and Lewy practically forced Ross to stay on the dais.
The Mayor ignored Ross's motion to adjourn, remember it was past 1 AM and needed "super majority" which she did not have.

Lewy made a motion to give Eagles Wings an additional, I think, $203,000.00 for job placement of people.
Then, instead of naming Eagles Wings, the motion was to give it to an "existing organization in HB already doing this kind of work". Ross was badgered until she gave in and voted for it.
As soon as the vote Ross walked off the dais, Keith London returned, the budget was passed, 2-1 I think and the meeting was adjourned.
You need to get the details tomorrow.
Maybe the HBCC meeting will start with that.
What a mess. I am sorry, but I am too tired to clean this e-mail up. It is almost 2 AM.


I responded to this news by sending the following email out later that morning to concerned residents, other area elected officials and certain members of the South Florida news media who actually pay attention to local government:

Date: Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 3:16 AM
Subject: FYI: After 1 a.m. at the Hallandale Beach budget meeting, $203,000 of your tax dollars walk out the door...

In case you forgot where we live and how corrupt things really are here:
And when taxpayer dollars go to Eagles Wings, whose family is it really going to?

This is a classic example of how Joy Cooper tries to buy another term in office -with your tax dollars.

On top of what she did on Friday in demanding that the city commission give $50k
to someone that none of us have ever heard of and who the city staff thought only
deserved $10k, if that.
Someone the mayor actually INVITED to apply.

Lampkin’s Creative Arts 4 All
222 S. Dixie Highway, Hallandale Beach

I defy you to find any useful information on the Internet about the people
behind this group.

And on the Eagles Wing vote, give credit where credit is due and give the 'assist'
to career politician-in-training Alexander Lewy, proving that he is EXACTLY
who I said he was on my blog.

Csaba is 100% right.
Perhaps the case of this curious $203k appropriation will come up again Wednesday
night at 6 p.m.

Perhaps someone really will publicly take Alexander Lewy to task and ask him to
publicly explain to the city's taxpayers why he decided that giving EVEN MORE taxpayer dollars to this group that already gets plenty from us, after 1 a.m., without actually naming them, is consistent with any semblance of govt. transparency and accountability.

Last Saturday, July 23rd, while working on some other things, I received the following helpful information from Csaba

Date: Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 10:30 AM
Subject: Web cast


I will make it easier for you to view the replay.
Click on the link, click on play and forward to the desired place on the tape.
At 8 hour 07 minutes starts the CRA, 8.34 Sanders starts his comments, 8.50 Cooper starts her spiel and ends at 9.14.



Yet again, thru his actions & deception, Alexander Lewy is proving that he is EXACTLY who we always thought he was, "a career politician in training" to quote myself from last year and 2008.

Residents of Hallandale Beach, especially African-American residents of HB, don't need a White Liberal, Guilt-ridden Lewy to patronizingly look after NW, they simply need and want MORE competent people on the HB City Comm. demanding accountability, efficiency and results -like everyone else in the city!
Regardless of skin color!

Judging by how things have played-out and what he has actually said and done since being elected to the HB City Commission in November, ousting William "Bill" Julian by coming in second to Keith London in a three-way race for two seats, the ego-driven chimera in Comm. Alexander Lewy's head is him as the hero who rides to the rescue.

As if we could forget everything that happened before the election, or, even what happened that very day.

You know, like Dr. Deborah Brown's completely inexplicable, inexcusable and juvenile behavior on Election Day?
Oh, you didn't hear about that?

Brown, sister of Josh Brown and a past recipient herself of HB City Hall largess -$25,000 that I know about, money that was NEVER voted upon by the HB City Commission, plus there may be more money I don't know anything about- showed her lack of class and scruples by actually having the temerity to publicly chastise two African-American teenagers who were working the arriving crowds in a parking lot outside of a polling station like other campaign's workers were.

Their 'crime' in Deborah Brown's eyes?

Well, given how things have been at HB City Hall with crony capitalism since Joy Cooper has been mayor, where some people in this community think they have a birthright to your taxpayer dollars, no matter how petty, preposterous or self-indulgent the reason, take a guess?

The answer is that these two kids were guilty of being Black kids wearing yellow Keith London campaign t-shirts in NW Hallandale Beach.
She asked them what they thought they were doing supporting London, and told them to take the shirts off.
Sort of makes you wonder who the hell this woman thinks she is, no?

If I am being far too subtle for some of you out there in the blogosphere to follow, as it happens, Deborah Brown and Comm. Anthony Sanders plus the two teenagers Brown sharply rebuked are African-American, Comm. Keith London is what is officially referred to in South Florida journalism circles as Non-Hispanic White.

(Like me, the winner of the 1979 North Miami Beach High School Black History Month Contest, where I got all the answers right. Not to brag or anything...
Won a few tickets and a limo ride to see Earth, Wind & Fire, but the concert at the Hollywood Sportatorium was canceled due to a riot in Miami.)

Debra Brown and her crony capitalism ilk are part of the problem in Hallandale Beach, NOT part of the solution, no matter how much officials at HB City Hall -or the faux newspaper Sun-Times that gets lots of taxpayer funds, too- kiss her ass.
People who are, themselves, part of the larger problem here involving lack of appropriate accountability and transparency in government with your tax dollars.

The stone cold reality of the behavior described above ought to dispel any fairy tale spun now or in the future by Alexander Lewy.
Lewy is like the bank insider who occasionally robs from the bank containing HB taxpayer's money, but then has the gall to act like he's Robin Hood.
It's already insulting enough, but then Lewy wants to act like we are none-the- wiser.

He fools us not a whit!


Earth Wind & Fire - That's the Way of the World (1981)

Earth Wind & Fire - Reasons (Live Version)

Not only great songs, great songs to sing to in a car with your friends at night on long cross-country drives, watching America roll past your window at 65 m.p.h.!
Like Bloomington, IN to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break, back when Fort Lauderdale was actually worth visiting.

1 comment:

  1. The above is very sad, but true. I hope all of you can spare a half hour of your time to watch the “on demand” replay of Tuesday night’s Budget Workshop taking place about 1 A.M. in the morning. I wonder how many residents were in attendance or still watching after midnight. I wonder if the most controversial issues always come up late at night by design. I invite all of the readers to comment here and to the main participants in the drama.
    Csaba Kulin


Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change in public policy and goivernment engagement. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.

Paradise Lost? South Florida

Paradise Lost? South Florida
TIME magazine of November 23, 1981: Paradise Lost? South Florida . Click photo to see original article.
Unless otherwise indicated, all ORIGINAL photos appearing here were taken by myself. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The use or modification of original photos or original images appearing on this blog WITHOUT the written permission of the author is expressly prohibited. DO NOT modify or alter any original photo/image on this blog and use it in any other media, whether for commercial advertising, marketing purposes, political campaign advertising, or on any Social Media platform or digital media forum. Do NOT modify or alter the photos or use them in a confusing way that suggests sponsorship or endorsement, or in a way that seeks to confuse Hallandale Beach Blog with another blog. This includes but is not limited to sites such as Dipity, Facebook, flickr, MySpace, Pinterest, Posterous, Topsy, Twitter, YouTube or VIMEO. Original photos and images also can NOT be used as avatars or icons on website forums.

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.


The welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport in January of 2013 was... ABBA. As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post. Click photo to see that post!


Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

Let's end the 29-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 29-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display seen on Ringvägen, in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Here's snapshot of the poster featuring the ubiquitous St. Erik, whose crowned head is the City of Stockholm's coat of arms. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Which European country has the most attractive citizens?

As seen in my July 31st, 2013 blog post titled, "Which European country has the most attractive citizens?" Sweden won in a landslide with almost four times as many votes as second-place France, with Spain third and Norway fourth. Yes, seeing is believing!; Norwegian.com's non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Oslo start in 4 months! :) http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/boredpandacom-poll-of-europeans-asked.html