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Monday, September 12, 2011

On the eve of Hollywood's referendum on city pensions, everyone thinks they're entitled to their own facts, esp. the city's Union employees

On the eve of Hollywood's referendum on city employee pensions, contrary to what former diplomat, Harvard professor and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, everyone around here really DOES think that they're entitled to their own facts, and that's no more so the case then with the City of Hollywood's many embittered Police and Fire employees.

Yes, the very same folks who've nursed a variety of petty grudges for years and who firmly believe that Hollywood's beleaguered taxpayers DON'T properly understand them or appreciate them enough -or pay them enough.

And if you didn't already know it, not only are many of them high-maintenance, but a sizable percentage of them have a grand sense of entitlement, or, alternatively, live in a warped version of reality that borders on over-the-top.

Sorry, you're NOT Pullman train porters getting the shaft from the big-wigs!

Speaking of over-the-top, to say nothing of creepy, one policewoman in particular, Hollywood Police Detective Stephanie Szeto, shows very clear signs of suffering a persecution complex.
That is, if we can believe what SHE SAYS HERSELF.

But not every taxpayer in this part of southeast Broward County is rolling-over for the Hollywood cops and firemen and their tales of financial woe.
Some people can STILL distinguish fact and fiction.

That is, if this excerpt of a communication I had with an upset Hollywood resident and blog reader a week ago is any guide.
As if speaking to these very same City of Hollywood employees, he stated,

"My wife and I don't go to work in the morning so that Hollywood city employees like you can retire before you're age 50, and leave us on the hook for another 30 years. Sorry, we're just not.
You're going to have to work longer and harder before you buy that second home in North Carolina. Or, start making better investments..."

A few weeks ago in one of her articles on the upcoming referendum -actually, to be factual, I believe it was written before it was a definite thing- the Miami Herald's Carli Teproff made what I thought at the time was a real blunder, the sort of blunder that is not uncommon after reporters take over new beats, and want to give the impression they are up to to speed on what's going on, and sometimes, that includes their repeating what they have heard elsewhere, assuming it's true.
Teproff took over the City of Hollywood beat after largely but not exclusively covering K-12 education.

(Teproff previously covered North Miami Beach -NMB- the city my two younger sisters and I largely grew-up in. As I've written here previously, she wrote some pretty devastating pieces on the rampant corruption and ethical minefield there on N.E. 19th Avenue/Victory Park, a place I lived just south of in 1969, age eight, when that part of NMB was very different then now. That was one year pre-Don Shula for those of you who need a better time approximation.)

In that article, without citing any specifics or sources, she stated that because the percentage of voters participating was likely to be low -which is true- Hollywood city employees living in the city could very well tip the final vote.
But she did so in a way that seemed to imply that Hollywood actually has more city employees living there than the average South Florida city does, even while providing no hard numbers or percentages.

It was stated as if it was just common knowledge, but among people I know and trust in Hollywood, who know the city's political history and context better than me, they also found that an odd thing to say without any support.

But is Hollywood really the home of city employees to a larger extent than other Broward cities, save perhaps Ft. Lauderdale, the largest city?
I think not.

For your edification on the employee pension issue being decided Tuesday, I'd like you to compare and contrast the difference in tone between two recent Hollywood-based blog postings I've read. It's rather instructive.
Some, like me, would even say "Night-and-Day" as Hoosier-native Cole Porter might as well -and did.

The first blog post, at Balance Sheet Blog, http://balancesheetblog.wordpress.com/, written and edited by Sara Case and Laurie Schecter, gets the benefit of the doubt from most well-informed people in the community -including myself- because it's been observing the goings-on at Hollywood City Hall in-person for years, writing about what's going on there -good and bad- appropriately critiquing/complaining long-and-loud when it was necessary, and doing so with great specificity and a reliance on facts about bad public policy, insular thinking, questionable votes, et al.

Last Monday, they posted this:

Balance Sheet Online
Pension Referendum – Sept. 13
September 5, 2011, 9:24 PM

HOLLYWOOD SPECIAL ELECTION – IMPORTANT – SAVE JOBS!

WHAT: Pension Referendum
WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
This is no time for voter apathy. Our city has a budget crisis that could lead to bankruptcy. As a partial solution, the referendum proposes reducing future pension benefits for members of each of the three unions in city government: General Employees, Police, and Firefighters. These reductions would save the City some $8.5 million and set the City on a more sustainable course for the future.

Note: the referendum would not touch any pension benefits employees
have earned to date; only future benefits would be subject to new
rules if the referendum passes.

The second post on Tuesday's referendum appeared Monday morning at a newer blog that never existed until last month called City of Hollywood Whistle Blower, subtitled, "Drawing a line in the sand."
I have no idea who or what is behind it because they never identify themselves.

I draw your attention to the fact that many of the reader comments are directed against the one elected official in the city who was sounding an alarm many years ago for city taxpayers about Police and Fire pensions eating up a disproportionate share of city spending, spending that would only increase unless modified: Hollywood Comm. Beam Furr, a high school teacher.

It's hardly a secret that the Hollywood Police and Fire unions -i.e Jeff Marano and Daniel Martinez respectively- have had it out for Comm. Furr for many years, seemingly, since I moved back to South Florida from the D.C. area in 2003.

This animus by the Police and Fire unions against Furr is so well-known that, well, yes, even the Miami Herald has been forced to publicly mention the subject time-after-time on the front page of their awful State & Local section, including mentioning the unions' attempts to embarrass school teacher Furr on the issue of ethics.

If I recall correctly, and I could be slightly off, they were upset that Furr used one of his school sick days or vacation days on an Election Day campaigning.
Yeah, not exactly scintillating, hard-boiled film noir material.

As IF no union employee in Hollywood had ever taken advantage of his or her accrued days for a reason like going to a Miami Heat playoff game or Miami Dolphin Monday Night Football game or a day-trip to The Bahamas.
Please!

Yes, this call for an investigation came from the same union crews that have long defended and tolerated the tactics and hot-headed behavior of some of the worst rogue cops in all of Florida, whose nefarious and mendacious exploits the people in Hollywood and South Florida have all seen and read about in the newspaper and on TV newscasts after they were finally arrested.

Or, in case you forgot, tried to frame an innocent woman for something that was actually the fault of one of their fellow officers.
Oh, you thought I forgot that?
Hardly.

http://cohblwr.blogspot.com/2011/09/we-would-like-to-thank-our-residents.html#comments

In particular, I draw your attention to the absurd comments of Stephanie Szeto, a Hollywood Police detective -a fact not mentioned in her comments but easily discovered- who manges to show what an insensitive dumb-ass she is by comparing herself to a victim of physical abuse.
This, despite our forever hearing and reading about and being lectured by the news media on the dangers of fanciful exaggerations diminishing the real meaning of certain words and phrases.

(You know, like Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper foolishly saying that she felt like her privacy was "raped" because someone -my friend Michael Butler of Change Hallandale- did a public records request on her email records, which was the story behind this November 2009 column by the Sun-Sentinel's Michael Mayo.)

For your consideration, from the upside-down mind of Hollywood Police Detective Stephanie Szeto:
I am sorry that we residents have had to accept this outright intimidation from these people. They have met the criminal definitions of thieves and blackmailers. I hate to ask what is next. Sadly I have to take the cuts as an employee and the tax hikes as a resident.

I feel like a victim in a violent and abusive relationship...
Then, as if she realizes that her example is as over-the-line as it sounds on its face, Szeto allows as how "I've investigated many domestic violence cases."

Oh, then I guess it's okay for you to equate your status as a city employee in the year 2011 to a woman who has been beaten black-and-blue in a criminal act.

Hey, Keystone Kop Szeto, didn't you understand the part where you could always just quit your job?
Do whatever the hell you wanted?
Quit without being hunted down?

Note to self: if Szeto is fired as a result of this referendum going down, make sure that the City of Hallandale Beach Police Dept. does NOT hire her.
They already have more than enough morale and management problems of their own -and how!- without adding someone with a persecution complex.

And I end this blog post of mine with more sheer nonsense from Szesto, who concluded her dalliance in public therapy-cum-political theater in that blog today:
I think I must begin to find a way out of this abusive relationship and
seek shelter and a way to end this relationship for my own health and well being.

To which I simply say, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out the door!

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#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

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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 way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

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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.