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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Approval for The Related Group's Beachwalk project in Hallandale Beach pays off quickly for Hallandale Beach Comm. Anthony A. Sanders. Follow the money? Okay, here it is: $2,500 on page 4 of Sanders' most-recently filed Treasurer's Report is from individuals & entities supporting Beachwalk's approval, including, predictably, Greenberg Traurig; #HallandaleBeach, @SandersHB, @MayorCooper

Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall, February 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
Approval for The Related Group's Beachwalk project in Hallandale Beach pays off quickly for Hallandale Beach Comm. Anthony A. Sanders. Follow the money? Okay, here it is: $2,500 on page 4 of Sanders' most-recently filed Treasurer's Report is from individuals & entities supporting Beachwalk's approval, including, predictably, Greenberg Traurig; #HallandaleBeach, @SandersHB, @MayorCooper 

See Page 4 of those contributions, items # 17, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

Naturally, this being Hallandale Beach, where there's nothing that's predictable when it comes to bad behavior, also appearing were some predictable names who like the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew: Comm. Dotty Ross and former Congressman and former city lobbyist Larry Smith and... former HB Commissioner William "Bill" Julian.

Hmm-m... so why exactly is Julian giving money to one of his own opponents in this November's election? See page 3, item # 11.
That's a good question.
[But then that sort of questionable "logic" is precisely why Julian was thrown-off the commission by voters in 2010, and why this dreadfully incompetent man who for years has exhibited such terrible judgement in continually bringing disgrace to himself and to this town thru his clownish, boorish and illegal behavior -voting to triple his own pay at a City Commission meeting with no citizens or camera present, parking illegally in Handicapped Parking spaces and No Parking Zones all over town for many, many years- MUST be kept away from any position of power in this city. The crazy part now is that Julian acts like people aren't hip to his whole charade as the nice guy who means well. He ISN'T!
He's the guy with a sense of entitlement who consciously parked his own car in those spaces illegally with his Commissioner ID badge right on the dashboard for you, me and everyone else, including the police, could see, instead of following a very simple law. No, Bill Julian is indeed a thoroughly reprehensible and despicable individual who got away with his serial immoral and illegal behavior for years in this town because of his official position. IF he had lived 150 years ago or more in many parts of the Midwest and Plains, he would have rather quickly found himself run-out-of-town by the energized citizenry, angry at forever being made media laughingstocks by his silly prattle, buffoonish antics, tomfoolery and lack of attention to detail, his specialty!]
Okay, let's see if I have this correct.
On June 6th, at its Second Reading before the five-member Hallandale Beach City Commission, Comm. Anthony A. Sanders voted to approve the too-large and incompatible development project by The Related Group on the Intracoastal Waterway -with its octopus-like tentacles stretched over to the city's dirty and poorly-maintained North Beach Park- that I've written SO MUCH about this year on the blog.

And when Sanders spoke, which he doesn't do a lot of, and doesn't do particularly well despite his being a Pastor, he spent almost all of his time talking about jobs and job-training.
I wonder whom he thinks should be involved with THAT?
I think we all know who that would be.

In fact, in her opening remarks weeks earlier, The Related Group's attorney, Debbie Orshefsky, of Greenberg Traurig, actually wasted little time before pivoting from talking about the basics of the project in her Power Point presentation to an extended pitch aimed directly at Sanders, saying that the developers knew how important jobs and job-training were to him. LOL!

Just like that, Orshefsky went right to the heart of what everyone in the room who follows these things closely knew would be the one-and-only issue that mattered for Comm. Sanders
Jobs for... well, maybe for people like Jessica Sanders, eh?

This, despite the fact that all the commissioners under our city's At-Large system are supposed to represent ALL residents of this city equally, including the very people who live in the neighborhood where the Beachwalk project could be erected.

Wow, it was so patently obvious as to be completely over-the-top, even for Hallandale Beach.
Especially for an excellent attorney like Orshefsky, who is always extremely well-prepared -unlike, oh, Comm. Sanders himself- since regardless of whatever else I or my friends in Broward County might think of the relative merits of the projects that she's become the public face for here in Hallandale Beach, next-door Hollywood or before the Broward County Commission, she is always very well prepared and ready to pounce on a mistake.

Now, though, suddenly, a month later, Sanders has received $2,500 in 2012 campaign contributions from people and entities with an interest in The Beachwalk's  approval.
Approval given during the middle of the summer, when most of the residents who live near the project and who will be most adversely-affected by it, are actually out-of-town for the summer until Labor Day.

Tell me, what do you suppose Village of Gulfstream Park and Beachwalk lobbyist Suzanne Friedman, who wrote a campaign check to him, feels is Sanders' best trait as a commissioner?

Is it the fact that for almost four years in office now -47 months this week- Sanders has carefully and aggressively avoided directly interacting publicly with this community's most well-informed citizens? Hmm-m...

Could it be Sanders' continual refusal over so many months in 2009 to even meet in-person with HB residents living in the very NE neighborhood most adversely-affected by the proposed Diplomat project that both Friedman and Orshefsky worked for, making their jobs easier, knowing that Sanders wasn't going to even pretend to care what those residents thought?

Especially given his refusal to even return their phone calls or emails asking him as an elected representative of theirs to meet with them in the neighborhood itself, so that he could see, literally, their perspective on the matter?
Or the point-of-view they'd be losing if he voted yes, as he did!
Hmm-m... possibly.

Or, could it just be that what Friedman and other lobbyists like her most like about Sanders is that he not only doesn't ask good questions to speak of, but that even the bad ones he does ask, he always asks in such a halting and confusing fashion -like he just showed-up to the meeting and doesn't really quite know what he's doing there or what everyone is talking about- that it throws everyone else off?

Which certainly helps them, yes, given Sanders four-year track record of ALWAYS voting for every single development proposal that has come before him, no matter how poorly thought-out, no matter how unpopular with neighbors or the whole city it might be.

Yes, those feeble and circular questions of Sanders that are so painful to watch and hear in-person, that it's not at all uncommon for people in the commission chambers to get up while he's speaking and leave the room for a few minutes to gather themselves outside, and get a breath of fresh air, because the whole scene inside is too much for them to bear.
Been there, done that.


Miami Herald
Proposed hotel gets tentative approval in Hallandale Beach - Miami developer Jorge Pérez gained preliminary approval from the Hallandale Beach commission to build a more than $90 million project on the Intracoastal Waterway.
By Carli Teproff
June 7, 2012

Despite concerns over traffic and parking issues, the Hallandale Beach Commission gave its tentative approval for Miami developer Jorge Pérez to build a more than $90 million Beachwalk project on the city’s Intracoastal Waterway. 

The commission voted unanimously late Wednesday night to allow the Related Group to construct a 216-suite hotel and 84 residential units where the once-popular Manero’s restaurant stood. The project would also include improvements to a city park and a beachfront restaurant. 

If the commission gives it a final green light, the hotel would be the city’s first overlooking the waterway and within walking distance to the beach. 

“I think we are all in a consensus that we need a hotel in the city,” said Vice Mayor Anthony Sanders after the meeting. “But we have to achieve some sort of balance.” 

Many in the beachside community say that only having two hotels hampers its ability to compete with other neighboring beachside communities including Sunny Isles Beach and Hollywood. 

“It can only enhance our lives,” said Toula Amanna, the owner of Flashback Diner in Hallandale Beach. “It’s about time we start functioning as a vacation destination.” 

Some details still need to be worked out before any final approval. 

The developer is going to work with the city to address some concerns, including traffic on Diana Drive and creating more parking to fit the demand. 

“We are going to work on it,” said Debbie Orshefsky of Greenberg Traurig, the lawyer representing the Related Group following the four-hour meeting. 

Orshefsky said the proposed 31-story building on 1.68 acres at 2600 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., will bring something to the city it doesn’t have: a suite hotel and residential complex. “Mixed use projects make sense,” she said. 

But residents say they also bring traffic. 

Peter Ramirez, who lives on Diana Drive, said parking is already a problem along the residential street, which is lined with condominium buildings. 

“I think you are overlooking the impact it’s going to have on our little neighborhood,” he said. 

Hallandale Beach resident Rodger Reynolds said “there needs to be more thought given to what the city is giving up to the developers.” 

“There are other impacts the city is going to have to pay for because of this project,” Reynolds said. 

In order to build the project, the city will have to turn over the right of way for a portion of unused roadway. There will also be other concessions, including allowing the developer to build 451 parking spaces instead of 619, which is required by code. 

In exchange, the developer agreed to spend $2.5 million on renovation to the city’s North Beach Bark and add a beachfront restaurant — to be managed by the developer — that could generate revenue for the city. In addition, the developer would give the city $200,000 for park maintenance, $250,000 for public improvements and $300,000 for affordable housing improvements. 

Commissioner Keith London said in order for him to vote for the project on final reading, scheduled for June 20, he would want the developer to agree to make park improvements and build the restaurant before or at the same time as the hotel. 

He said the city’s leverage is the road. 

“Without our piece of property, their project cannot happen,” London said. 

Also on London’s lists of concerns: Diana Drive, parking and the amount of money the city would make from the restaurant. The developer has agreed to share profits from the restaurant. 

Commissioner Alexander Lewy shared some of the same concerns. 

“Our requests are not outrageous,” Lewy said. “We need to make sure they would have the least amount of impact on the neighborhood as possible.” 

While some recognize there would be more traffic, others say the city needs a financial boost and more places for people to work. 

“This is a very good thing from what I see,” said Hallandale Beach resident Anthony Lewis. 

“Our town needs these jobs.”


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hallandale considers 31-story hotel/condo
By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
6:27 p.m. EDT, June 7, 2012

City residents rooting for the jobs, beach improvements and infusion of money that would come with a proposed 31-story hotel/condo project outnumbered those bemoaning the accompanying parking woes and congestion at a Wednesday night City Commission meeting.

Beachwalk, with its 84 residential units and 216 hotel suites slated for the plot where Manero's Restaurant used to be, would be the city's biggest development project since the Gulfstream Village expansion in 2007.

"It's a bare lot that's not doing anything for any of us," city resident Joe Kessel told commissioners. "It makes sense to me when we take a property from $2.4 million to $90 million."

The $90-million project would include a small, light-fare restaurant and a five-story parking garage on Hallandale Beach Boulevard at the southwestern base of the Intracoastal drawbridge.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs," another resident, Anthony Lewis, said. "We need jobs. This is a very good thing from what I see."

In unanimous decisions, city commissioners tentatively agreed to let the developer, Related Group, design the project outside current zoning requirements. They also tentatively agreed to give the developer a half-acre sliver of land next to the site.

"It just amazes me you could even consider this kind of project," said Carol Nyren, who lives on nearby Diana Drive. "That is going to change the way everybody on this street lives."

The biggest issue is a shortage of parking spots and the overflow that could end up on Diana Drive. The plan for the project has about 167 fewer parking spaces than the city code requires.

Another concern is the number of people who will actually live and stay at the hotel.

The development would have 84 year-round residential units and 216 two-bedroom suites, which could be rented as 432 hotel units by dividing each suite into a one-bedroom suite with a kitchen and a separate one-bedroom unit.

Because the property is not zoned for residential property, the city would have to give a special approval to allow it.

Commissioners will vote on those specific issues later.

"This is just moving the ball down the field," Mayor Joy Cooper said of Wednesday's decisions.

"Codes are created on purpose, to protect people," resident Peter Ramirez said. "We're overlooking the impact that it's going to have on our little neighborhood."

Representing the developer, Debbie Orshefsky made the hard sell.

Among the advantages, she listed:

-- The city would reap nearly $4.6 million in annual revenue, including $531,000 in ad valorem taxes.

-- The developer would contribute $3.6 million to the city for traffic improvements, affordable housing and other uses.

-- The project would create 260 jobs: 150 in construction, 70 at the hotel and 40 at a beach club.

-- The developer would pour $2.5 million into the city's North Beach Park, making upgrades, building restrooms and an 180-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant. The city would get a minimum of $5,000 a month from restaurant sales.

-- The hotel would operate a free shuttle, open to the public, to the beach.

Murvin Wright liked the sound of it all: "It is a very needed stimulant for the entire community."

The developer is targeting South American investors, who would stay here during their winter, our summer.

"The economy in South America is very robust, and they want to invest in a place where they culturally feel very comfortable," Orshefsky said in an interview during a break from the meeting.

Commissioners listed their sticking points for city staff to hash out in negotiations with the developer, namely ensuring parking would not be a problem, making beach park improvements before building the hotel, and ensuring that jobs would primarily go to Hallandale residents.

Just to remind everyone reading this who may've forgotten, almost everyone in town was in favor of the hotel component, including me.
it's the completely un-needed condos and the give-away with the public park that rankled everyone.
That, plus the refusal by Mayor Cooper and City Manager Crichton to wait until September to bring the matter up after all these many years of that property sitting vacant.

The citizens of this city won't be forgetting that.
No, there's an election 100 days from today!

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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