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. 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.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tomas Lopez story results in predictably anemic response by Hallandale Beach City Hall as growing public outrage re harsh treatment of lifeguard Lopez by his company, Jeff Ellis & Associates -an unpersuasive form letter- shows City Hall's longstanding myopia remains. Story has touched a nerve all over the world about moral imperatives and importance of doing the right thing despite strong possible negative consequences. We desperately need to change the culture and personnel at City Hall ASAP!

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
ABC News video: Correspondent Matt Gutman on Fla. Contractor That Fired Lifeguard For Saving Man Outside Zone Reconsidering. July 5, 2012.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/fired-fla-lifeguard-reinstated/story?id=16716225
Tomas Lopez story results in predictably anemic response by Hallandale Beach City Hall as growing public outrage re harsh treatment of lifeguard Lopez by his company, Jeff Ellis & Associates -an unpersuasive form letter- shows City Hall's longstanding myopia remains. Story has touched a nerve all over the world about moral imperatives and importance of doing the right thing despite strong possible negative consequences. We desperately need to change the culture and personnel at City Hall ASAP!
In short, in the official City of Hallandale Beach response thus far about the incident I discussed here yesterday, that was originally reported by Ihosvani Rodriguez of the South Florida sun-Sentinel, and which blew-up over the Fourth of July holiday to become international news, to the surprise of no one, the city says absolutely nothing about their own longstanding neglect, incompetency and culpability regarding the public beach areas, including the news that I shared with you that the two lifeguard stations on the beach are NOT grounded for lightning strikes, as they are supposed to be.


Lifeguard Tomas Lopez helps save the day at the city's public beach but get's fired for his trouble. Meanwhile, Hallandale Beach City Hall continues to act neglectful and NOT do what it's legally supposed to do around the beach areas, and nothing happens. Nobody is fired. Just more mindless bureaucratic apathy and incompetency from the same old crew!

By the way, if you didn't already know, the lifeguards are supposed to call their own company first in order to dispatch Fire/Rescue to the scene of trouble, despite the fact that HB Fire/Rescue is right next to the iconic Hallandale Beach Water Tower on State Road A1A and Hallandale Beach Blvd., on the border separating HB and Hollywood.  

Hallandale Beach Fire Station 60 is located in the building north of the city's iconic Water Tower on State Road A1A, just south of the Hollywood cityline. May 30, 2012 photos by South Beach Hoosier© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved


When that was done, a lot of the life guards told me at the time that based on their past experience, this policy would inevitably cause casualties.

And I didn't even mention in my email and blog post of yesterday that, as I've noted here previously, for a very long time, the lifeguards lacked a motorized device that would allow the guards to actually respond to people caught in dangerous high wave/strong undertow situations far from shore, which greatly frustrated them and created a lot of anxiety on those sorts of days.
And lest you forget, we had an unusually high number of such days early last year, which was even more troubling when you know the lifeguards lacked the tools they desperately needed.
You'd think the city would've had a back-up plan after the one device they had -to share among the two lifeguard stands- broke.
You'd think that, but you'd be wrong -there was no back-up plan!

Is having Jeff Ellis and Associates' dispatchers calling 911 instead of the lifeguards on the scene part of what should be publicly discussed and re-examined while everyone is looking at what took place at the beach on Monday?
Should help for victims really be delayed from being dispatched solely because of company policy?

In my opinion, this whole topic ought to be the subject of a public meeting held at the city's Cultural Center, say, on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m., AFTER Labor Day when everyone is back in town, so that everyone who is interested can attend and hear what's what from Jeff Ellis, the city and any other people who have some knowledge to share, as well as HB residents?

Earlier today, Hallandale Beach civic activist Etty Sims, always a strong voice for common sense, financial accountability and the entire community's best long-term interests, sent the following email to HB City Hall and its denizens.

Along with her comments were links to just some of the dozen and dozens of news sites around the world that have reported on this troubling incident via a Google Alert on HB, a tool which I also receive and have encouraged you all to get as well if you live here, or one for your own community if you're anywhere else in the world.

Among the hundreds of news organizations and websites that have delved into this story are the BBC and ABC News, the latter of which did a three-minute story on it last night with reporter Matt Gutman during ABC Evening News, which was re-run this morning, the video of which I've posted at the top.

Here's Etty Sims' email:

Good morning city commissioners, mayor and city manager,

So Hallandale Beach is in the news all over the country and not for a good reason.
I am sure that you all heard about the incident on the beach.
If you read the comments to the stories on the different news media sites you will see that not only the private company that you, the commission hired to protect our beach goers , BUT the entire city's reputation is beefing affected negatively.

Please let us know what are you going to do about this issue.

if we want to improve our beaches, it is very important that beach goers  not only feel safe on our beach but are actually being protected by someone that cares about people's life and not the bottom line.
Since the lifeguard company's contract is coming  up for renewal, it is a perfect time to look into the different options available.
It is time to bring back the Beach in Hallandale Beach. Please make it a priority and transform the beach to a place that people want to go to. There are too many other options very close by such as Hollywood Beach Broadwalk.

Have a great summer 

Etty Sims


-----
Meanwhile... I continue to receive email from everywhere, including some thoughtful nuanced email from Las Vegas that gets right to the heart of the matter of what happened on Monday

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: City Manager <CityManager@hallandalebeachfl.gov>
Date: Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: Lifeguard Tomas Lopez helps save the day at the city's public beach but get's fired for his trouble. Meanwhile, Hallandale Beach City Hall continues to act neglectful and NOT do what it's legally supposed to do around the beach areas...



Thank you for contacting the City of Hallandale Beach regarding the beach incident that occurred on July 2, 2012.  I am in close contact with Jeff Ellis of Jeff Ellis Management who has started a full investigation into the termination of their lifeguard.  The lifeguard is not a City employee, but was employed by Jeff Ellis Management, a private company contracted to provide lifeguard services for two city-owned beaches and the Municipal pool.  Jeff Ellis Management has committed to the City that if the lifeguard was terminated in haste, the company would move expeditiously to reinstate his employment.

It has always been the City’s policy that if there is an actual emergency inside or outside of the protected area, the lifeguard must respond. We do however have to ensure that certain safety protocols are followed to ensure the safety of all visitors to the City of Hallandale Beach.  At this time, the City is awaiting the facts of the termination and the results of our internal inquiry and the Ellis Management investigation.  Once the City has the results of the investigation, we can make an informed determination on the future of the relationship with this management company.

The City Hallandale Beach truly values your concerns and comments on this issue. The safety of our Beach patrons and the manner in which this service is provided is paramount to the City.  We are moving swiftly to address the situation.

Renee C. Crichton
City Manager
City of Hallandale Beach
400 S. Federal Highway
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
954-457-1300 Phone

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