Above, looking south on U.S.-1/S. Federal Highway in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall. May 6, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
26 weeks from now, it's my fervent hope that when the people of Hallandale Beach wake up that Wednesday morning, we'll have some new faces in familiar places.
Like the place above, which has figured in so much of what has been written here the past five years.
New faces who intrinsically know the difference between right and wrong, foresight and myopia, and common sense and... well, what we've had on the Hallandale Beach City Commission for far too many years: sheer benign neglect, lack of oversight and diligence, and a self-evident lack of respect toward Hallandale Beach's beleaguered citizen taxpayers.
HALLANDALE ELECTION RESULTS REVEAL DEPTH OF DESPAIR OVER STATUS QUO
By GRIFF WITTE
March 15, 2001
A day after Hallandale Beach voters jettisoned the two most senior City Commission members, the numbers showed just how deeply residents were disaffected with the city's status quo .
Voters in all sections of Hallandale Beach were responsible for ousting longtime incumbents Arthur ``Sonny'' Rosenberg, 81, and Mayor Arnold Lanner, 79 - completing a commission make- over that began two years ago when two other incumbents, Hy Cohen and Gil Stein, were replaced by newcomers.
In a city famous for choosing elderly incumbents, Dorothy Ross, who won reelection Tuesday, is now both the longest serving commissioner (six years) and the only one older than 70 - she's 74.
In the northwest, a predominantly black area where Lanner got more votes than any other candidate in 1997, newcomers Bill Julian, 48, and Francine Schiller, 59, swamped the competition - winning 157 and 148 votes respectively.
Lanner managed only 15 votes, and Rosenberg had 16.
The challengers also were able to pry away an impressive number of east side votes. In areas like Three Islands, where Rosenberg and Lanner once held strong bases of support, Schiller and Julian doubled the incumbents' totals in one precinct.
``Nothing's been happening in this city for years, and residents of all parts wanted a change,'' Julian said Wednesday.
Schiller and Julian ran on a platform of easing the disparities that exist in this highly polarized city, and the struggling west side responded as expected.
``That's all they spoke about - taking care of the west,'' said the Rev. Josh Brown, president of the Community Civic Association, based in the Northwest. ``That's why they got a lot of votes here.''
The leadership that takes over on Tuesday remains untested. A commission that had nearly 50 years of combined experience in public office before the election now has just 10.
``They're green as grass,'' said Lanner minutes after his defeat was official. ``They don't know a thing about this city.''
But Vice Mayor Joy Cooper, 40, elected two years ago, said the new perspective and attitude of the commissioners far outweighs any lack of experience.
``The people want civility from the commission,'' said Cooper, who frequently battled with Rosenberg on the dais during the last two years. ``Enough was enough.''
On Tuesday, Rosenberg, wearing sunglasses and a loose-fitting collared shirt, was the picture of serenity as he sat on a bench Tuesday outside the Diplomat Mall.
But something was wrong. Rosenberg was smiling too much - going too far out of his way to talk with every potential voter who passed, said Cohen of his fellow octogenarian, who, despite a quarter-century in politics could never be described as a glad-hander.
``I've never seen him do this before,'' said Cohen, implying that Rosenberg knew he was in trouble. A few hours later, Rosenberg admitted as much, saying his defeat at the hands of political newcomers was ``to be expected'' given the city's demographic shift toward a much younger electorate.
Now, residents are likely to see a lot of changes in some basic ways the city does business, Cooper said.
Schiller and Julian championed the idea of shifting the city's morning meetings to the evenings so people who work during the day can attend.
Cooper said Wednesday she will support that shift, and also will ask that city advisory board meetings be held at night.
Other proposals that could move forward include creating an elected mayor, having commissioners elected by districts and redeveloping blighted roadways such as Foster Road, West Hallandale Beach Boulevard and North Federal Highway.
``We have the votes now to get some of these things moving,'' Cooper said.
So what happened???