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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

re Lifeguard & public safety situation in Hallandale Beach: Still smarting from negative worldwide publicity following lifeguard Tomas Lopez's firing, Hallandale Beach to start a new safety effort at beach based on... well, what exactly? City's fake solutions as outlined in today's agenda DON'T solve real safety problems at public beach; #HallandaleBeach

 
July 31, 2012 photos by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved


re Lifeguard situation in Hallandale Beach: Still smarting from negative worldwide publicity following lifeguard Tomas Lopez's firing, Hallandale Beach to start a new safety effort at beach based on... well, what exactly? City's fake solutions as outlined in today's agenda DON'T solve real safety problems at public beach

I really can’t believe that on a day when I have a friend from overseas visiting the area, and when I ought to be doing something other than this, I’m back at my computer writing -yet again- about another completely avoidable situation the City of Hallandale Beach has gotten itself into for all of their usual reasons -lack of attention to detail, and lack of proper accountability by the city's elected officials and oversight of the city's top bureaucrats.

Today's important HB City Commission meetings at 1 and 7 p.m. regarding public safety on the city's public beaches, and the unsatisfactory solutions proposed, i.e the In-House Lifeguard Program (Item 11B)
could best be described thusly: the city's so-called "plan" is no plan at all.
At least not one you would want to bet your family's life on.

July 31, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved


What you see on the agenda in terms of info is very underwhelming and not a good sign of out-of-the-box thinking by new City Manager Renee Crichton.
Especially since in my opinion, the City Commission, and more specifically, the prior two City Managers and City Attorney bear most of the blame for the current situation because they were NOT payng attention to details when they needed to, but were, instead, just going thru the motions.

Originally, before I saw the posted agenda, I was just going to suggest that the commission members limit their comments during the meeting out of deference to to our new Estonian friend Mr. Samartsev’s recent desire to “shake the money tree” hereabouts in six months. 

But in actually reading the agenda, I noticed that they are, regrettably, once again prepared to rush into a dark tunnel without any knowledge of whether or not a a train is already inside the tunnel and coming right towards them, without any tangible plans, budgets or supporting documents, just a desire to DO something.
And to DO that right away. 

The very thought of that gives me shivers down my spine, and ought to do the same for you if you live anywhere around here.

Generally when you outsource a function that's usually been performed by city employees, it does NOT mean that you sign the contract and forget about it until the next time the contract comes up for renewal. 
The City Manager, along with appropriately-designated subordinates, needs to be on top of the outsourced function for signs of problems as well as to make constructive improvements when indicated.

You don't micro-manage the function, per se, but the city must ensure that the contract's terms are being properly adhered to, whether that's all their employees being properly licensed, or doing regular spot inspections to ensure that the work was performed to the specific standards the citizens of this city have a right to expect, considering they're paying for their own safety.

But even all these weeks later, I'm still hearing from various sources that this is NOT at all how things were done routinely under former City Attorney David Jove or the former City Managers, Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio, because there's so little evidence to the contrary.

And then again, there's the personal experience of actually having seeing them in-person for years and seeing with my own eyes how underwhelming their own performances were for city taxpayers and residents, so strong was their desire to keep the mayor happy.

July 31, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

And what about their highly-paid assistants?
The very people whom we all know will have had a large hand in crafting this completely unsatisfactory "plan" being offered up today, as if it was a serious effort.

My own belief is that at the time the contract was signed three years ago, the city didn't have all the pertinent information available that the Commission needed to properly evaluate the relative merits of this company, keeping in mind that they were only going to do or allow what the commission specified, nothing more.

This also makes me wonder now if besides a copy of the contract in a folder, whether the commissioners even have carefully reviewed copies of the actual monthly reports for the past three years.
Have they? 

No, their past performance the past few years does NOT exactly recommend them to us, and cause us to give them the benefit of the doubt.
In fact, their own laughable work ethic and lack of attention to detail causes just the opposite reaction in us and our friends.

Did they have a copy of Jeff Ellis and Associates' own updated procedures and work rules, as well as copies of the insurance policies to hold the City harmless, etc? 
The easiest thing in the world to do is to simply blame the concept of outsourcing and the particular company they hired to do the job, as I wrote here recently.

Rather than do that, the commissioners ought to take a hard look into the mirror and ask themselves a few questions, the most important of which was did the city just go thru the motions on these matters?
It sure seems that way to me and most of the other residents I speak to who have some familiarity with this matter.

Because the company resigned, the City Commission is being asked to allow City Manager Crichton to establish an 'In-House Lifeguard Program.' 
I'm sorry to say that the supporting documents I've seen on the city's website consists of what can charitably be called a list of cities with pools or ocean frontage, with no information on the extent of "Lifeguard Program” of other cities with similar needs. 

How many employees, police/fire rescue personnel full time/part time would be required on the beach? 
No information provided as to the budget of each town for beach patrol.

After all these weeks later, that's simply unacceptable, and no sound person would say the information provided is any basis upon which to make an intelligent and reasonable decision.

In fact, the information provided by city staff seems more like a reason to postpone making any FINAL decisions at todays two meetings until the commission had been provided enough information to make that educated and informed decision, which is the very least we can expect on an issue this important.

July 31, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

I've heard and read all the same comments on what happened that you all have, on who is at fault, etc., but one thing that is clear is that nobody blames the people hired by Jeff Ellis to patrol the beach.
That is, anyone who actually lives within an hour of here.

They were and are conscientious, efficient and responsible, more than the city had any reason to expect given that they were only being paid less than nine dollars an hour.
Their level of pay didn't prevent them from doing their best and to put the safety of all beach- goers first, whether HB residents or visitors.
Were that current city employees were as conscientious and consistent in the performance of their duties and responsibilities as these lifeguards have been.

In talking to my friend and fellow HB and Broward County activist -and HB City Commission candidate- Csaba Kulin a few days ago on the phone, he later piped in via email with these comments and questions for the commission:

The City Manager should have submitted a budget along with the Resolution as to the cost of her proposal. I know she budgeted $334,000 for the 2012-2013 fiscal years for Lifeguard Services (001-7230-572.34-55).  Is this program cost neutral? 

Does she have any idea of the cost of this venture? 
You do not know and do NOT vote on this until you have a full picture.

If they don't, Csaba and I and many well-informed citizens of this community are in agreement that this will be a replay of what the HB City Commission has agreed to do dozens of times in the past, where inevitably, they'll find out some bit of information too late, after the horse is out of the barn, and then we taxpayers will have to watch in stunned amazement as they try to reinvent the wheel once again, when it doesn't have to be that way.

Some people have even sent emails to me asking why in the name of regionalism and common sense the City of Hallandale Beach doesn't approach the City of Hollywood about using their well-respected lifeguards, at least as an interim solution?
Good question!

July 31, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

The numerous high-rise condos south of South Beach Park can't really imagine that after everything that has happened in this city the past month, that the rest of the city is going to pay for lifeguards -salary and pensions- for them, if HB residents can't readily use "their" beach, can they?
That's a complete non-starter!
And yet with Joy Cooper in charge...

I fear today's two meetings could well turn out to be real DISASTERS, both financially and policy-wise, which is to say, SNAFU, since the HB City Commission doesn't make good decisions when they have plenty of time, much less, when they are under the gun for good reason and know full-well that the entire city, region and South Florida press corps are paying close attention.

That isn't helped when they are given inadequate information and poor policy choices by the new City Manager and her staff.

They all need better choices and more time, otherwise, someone's life, maybe even someone we know, could be in danger sometime soon -and unnecessarily so.

July 31, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

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Hallandale Beach Blog/South Beach Hoosier's crimson-colored Indiana University cap. If you see someone at a South Florida govt. meeting or public policy discussion wearing this IU cap, scribbling notes furiously -and likely shaking his head in disbelief- don't be afraid to come over and say hello or pitch a prospective story idea. Photo by South Beach Hoosier. Move your mouse over the cap and you are sent to the IU Athletic Dept.'s YouTube Channel to see the latest on the Hoosiers.

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Paradise Lost? South Florida
TIME magazine of November 23, 1981: Paradise Lost? South Florida . Click photo to see original article.

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 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.
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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!

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

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