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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More on the Mary Ellen Klaas Syndrome and its negative effect on Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald readers: Fact-checking the Tallahassee bureau reporter, due to her sheer lack of curiosity and fairness about facts and context, is a full-time job; Her calling John Couriel a "sleeper" a month before FL Senate 35 race against Gwen Margolis is proof of how little attention she pays to what's going on, and her editors' sleepwalking ways

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More on the Mary Ellen Klaas Syndrome and its negative effect on Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald readers: Fact-checking the Tallahassee bureau reporter, due to her sheer lack of curiosity and fairness about facts and context, is a full-time job; Her calling John Couriel a "sleeper" a month before FL Senate 35 race against Gwen Margolis is proof of how little attention she pays to what's going on, and her editors' sleepwalking ways 

In a state that is, literally, drowning in them, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Mary Ellen Klaas is consistently one of the best (and therefore among the worst) examples of a print reporter who reveals so much more than they think about their own views and notions about public policy, simply by the patterns that emerge by the facts they choose NOT to include, by whom she chooses NOT to interview or quote, and by what she conveniently forgets to mention to readers or remind them of.

More often than should be the case in a state this large -the fourth largest in the country I remind you- and whose capital is so poorly misunderstood by the great majority of its own citizens, so many of whom have NEVER been to Tallahassee...
It's the closest thing we have in the Southeast United States to the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea.

Is there any state in the United States with a larger percentage of its full-time residents who have NEVER been to its state capital than Florida's?
Having grown-up in South Florida after being born in San Antonio and living for a few years in Memphis before my family moved here when I was seven, this odd-yet-true fact about the people who live in this state has always been my reality and one of the reasons I believe this state has always been so much less than what it ought to be.
Look at how it's laid out, like it's still 1845.

In the same way that all those years of my being at Indiana University in Bloomington showed me that Indianapolis was the most perfectly-centered state capital in the country, because it was almost impossible to ever find anyone who'd lived in the state for more than a year who not only hadn't been there, but who also knew where a lot of places were located, like good restaurants, good parks and good people-watching spots..
It's their particular reality like this dubious fact is ours and here's why I bring this up.

For those of you reading this far from South Florida who don't ever think about it, the Florida state capital is actually at roughly the same longitude as Cincinnati, Ohio and is actually farther west in the country than Detroit in the Midwest
I take it for granted but...

Well, getting back to Klaas, an example of the sort of thing I've written about in emails to friends, acquaintances and others "in the loop" in the past because her articles are so consistently and objectively ridiculous, both the first time you read them and in retrospect months or years later.

I would say that, conservatively, I have probably written about her in similar emails about 25 times in the past 5 years.
But I seldom mentioned them here.



Margolis is outraised by surprise newcomer in Senate race  
A Republican newcomer is hoping his moderate message will unseat venerable state Sen. Gwen Margolis in a newly drawn Miami district.
October 8, 2012

In what may be the sleeper legislative campaign of the season, Sen. Gwen Margolis, the veteran Democrat from Miami, is getting a run for her money — literally — from Miami Beach lawyer John Couriel in the newly drawn coastal district.
Margolis has loaned herself $160,000 to win re-election to Senate District 35, which stretches from Golden Beach to Homestead. But she is being out-raised and, thus far, outspent by Republican newcomer, John Couriel, a Miami Beach lawyer.
Couriel, 34, has collected $213,830 in campaign contributions to Margolis’ $174,093 and has won the endorsements of former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Couriel quit his job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami to run for the seat and vows to out-campaign Margolis, 78, a former state Senate president who was first elected to the state House in 1974.
“I’m hustling. I’ve never done this before but I’m not going to be out-worked,’’ Couriel said Monday during a break from walking door-to-door in Pinecrest.
Couriel has the trappings of broad Republican support, from the endorsements of party icons Rubio and Bush to a political committee running attack ads against his opponent. But there is one notable absence: his race is not among the must-watch contests receiving cash infusions from the Senate Majority, the political committees controlled by incoming Senate leader Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
At a meeting with reporters last week, Gaetz singled out the races that could produce upsets and Couriel v. Margolis wasn’t among them.
“Sen. Gaetz and I are friends,’’ Margolis said Monday, noting that the Niceville Republican lived for years in her Miami Shores district and supported her.
Couriel says he is undaunted that he’s not getting more attention from Senate leadership. “I am assuming I need to do this on my own,’’ he said.
He said he’s running because he believes voters want a change. “The purpose of public office is not to honor someone by electing them to office. We elect someone to work for us and I’m running because I think I could do a better job.”
The district trends Democratic, with nearly 60 percent voting for Obama in 2008 and Alex Sink in 2010. But Democrats do not comprise a majority of the district — 45 percent are registered Democrat, compared to 28 percent registered as no party affiliated and 27 percent registered Republican.
Couriel believes he can reach independents and crossover voters with his moderate Republican message. He ticks off the statistics in previous races to make his case.
"Rick Scott doesn’t do well here,’’ Couriel said, but Republican Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater barely lost the district in 2010 and Rubio beat Democrat Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate race. "That tells me that many Democrats are soft.’’
Margolis has been a fixture in Miami Dade politics for decades, and Couriel must not only introduce himself to voters but bring down Margolis’ image in the process, an expensive task in the long coastal district.
“To effectively run an aggressive campaign against Sen. Margolis is going to take a lot of money,’’ said Christian Ulvert, a Margolis advisor and Democratic consultant.
Here's the real kicker, which I described last Wednesday in yet another email to the same people who received a link to the first article above.
I swear, I'm not making this up. 
On Tuesday the Miami Herald endorsed a candidate for the Florida state Senate, John Couriel -a Miami native, Harvard Law School grad and currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney for Miami- whose first name they never mention -or anything else about him in their endorsement as it appears online!
So what the hell kind of endorsement is that?
John Couriel in FL Senate District 35 http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/15/3051440/state-senate-districts.html
More evidence of the very low state the Herald has fallen to before our eyes.
In this article from last week, the first time the Herald mentioned John Couriel since he  announced he was running, their reporter, rather ironically considering their poor coverage of local news and politics, chose to start the article thusly: "In what may be the sleeper legislative campaign of the season..."
Actually, it seems more like the reporter, Mary Ellen Klaas, is the one who is playing Rip Van Winklesince she reported last week that four weeks before the election, a first-time candidate has out-raised and out-spent a forty-year career politician with very high name recognition, and who was formerly the President of the Florida State Senate and after that, a Miami-Dade Commissioner.
(Margolis is someone whom I met a lot while growing-up in NMB and being very involved in county Dem politics and campaigns, including at functions in North Miami circa mid-1970's that my mother attended when I was Junior High age.
She's the very same woman who, while I was living and working for 15 years in Washington, D.C., before it was finally built decades after it was needed, strongly considering making the William Lehman Causeway Bridge, that connects Aventura to Sunny Isles, a toll bridge, unless she got her way on something involving tax revenues!
Imagine traffic on glacial U.S.-1/Biscayne Blvd. now next to Aventura Mall if there was a toll road next door -actually worse than it is now if possible, which IS very hard to imagine, given how many times I've felt like I was going to run out of gas (and patience) while creeping along one block at a time in the afternoonYou remember, don't you Aventura, Sunny Isles and Hallandale Beach? Imagine if she had had her way!)
The new district is so enormous and obtuse that on the north it goes from west of the Florida Turnpike in Hollywood, down to an area in Miami-Dade County where I lived in the early 1980's when back from IU for the summer, many miles south of downtown Miami, back before they were calling it PinecrestPlus, that district as currently drawn also includes Key Biscayne!
See for yourself: http://maps.flsenate.gov/de1/map.html?plan=fl2002_sen&district=35

Key Biscayne?That's f-ing preposterous!!!Hollywood to Key Biscayne? Why?
Why do you think -so that Hispanics can vote for Hispanics, Blacks can vote for blacks and Jews can... and some reporter somewhere in the future can opine about why it's hard to find someone with voter wide appeal in South Florida who is not a demagogue.
In South Florida politics, outside of municipal races, you don't need to be smart, savvy, hard-working, conciliatory or even have good ideas that can make it possible for you to get positive things done, you simply need to be one of three favored ethnic demographics -that's it!
So given Couriel's not-insignificant accomplishment, why did Klaas and the newspapers NEVER write anything about him and his efforts all year, before last week?

Like how he managed to accomplish all this?
Why the apathy and indifference?
That's the media landscape we live in in the year 2012 in South Florida.
It's forever the dog that doesn't bark!
Yeah, plus everyone's an expert after the fact!
Not a sheep dog or a watch dog but rather a lapdog! 

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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