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 29, 2012

re South Florida Sun-Sentinel:When are Broward County residents FINALLY going to get the "whole truth" from the Tribune Company's South Florida Sun-Sentinel and some public explanation for their continued reluctance to report it and useful context in Broward County news? Their problems with facts & bias are getting worse by the month; Joy Cooper's red-light camera friends and supporters; Sun-Sentinel's pro-Debbie Wasserman-Schultz bias is a continuing insult to readers; @MayorCooper

I sent the following email on Friday to some of the known members of what for lack of a better word I'm calling the "Central Editorial and Management Brain" of The Tribune Company's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, though it is, admittedly, somewhat incomplete since the Sun-Sentinel does not currently list it's own top management executives and Dept. heads on its own website. Oh, well.
You work with what you have.

You can well imagine why they choose to keep readers in the dark about who is responsible for the final product, much less, their contact information.
No, you're right.
They're not so big on transparency when it comes to themselves as when they rail against others.

I should think that at this point, regular readers of the blog hardly need me repeat here and now why it was sent, as the email is pretty self-explanatory -and long overdue.
And the fun is just beginning...

I've deleted the email addresses below.

Subject: When are Broward readers going to get the entire truth from you? re South Florida Sun-Sentinel's continued reluctance to report the truth and useful context in Broward County
To: Dana Banker, Rosemary Goudreau, Gary Stein, Douglas Lyons
Cc: Michael Mayo, Brittany Wallman, Brittany, 
And to the following management executives from the Miami Herald: Aminda Marques, Rick Hirsch

October 26, 2012

Dear Messrs Banker, Goudreau, Stein & Lyons:

I'll be honest.
I'm writing today to get you to admit the truth, because the truth has been sadly absent or elusive from far too many stories, columns and editorials over the past year in the Sun-Sentinel, and curiosity has been M.I.A.
Frankly, the truth seems to have become a much lower priority for Sun-Sentinel the past few months in its news accounts of local government and politics.

Since I still have a lot of errands to run this afternoon, I'll mention just two here out of the many that I'm already personally aware of.

#! 1 - Before the Sun-Sentinel printed Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's Op-Ed on July 22, 2012, supporting both the idea of and the expansion of red-light cameras throughout South Florida, 
did anyone from your Editorial Board or senior management think to ask her whether or not she had received or expected to receive campaign contributions from any company associated with that particular issue?

I ask because shortly after you provided Cooper with that giant platform to sing the praises of something that has NOT worked in this city -despite her aggressive manhandling efforts to cram it down the collective throats of Hallandale Beach residents, something proven by a report issued by the city weeks ago that  showed there actually was an increase in accidents 
Mayor Cooper received several thousands of dollars from Arizona-based ATSAmerican Traffic Solutions, the very company that installed their equipment here in Hallandale Beach.

Was Cooper ever asked whether or not ATS had ever paid for any meal or given her any gift while she was the elected President of the Florida League of Cities, or whether they gave the League any money before or while she was President and had the cameras installed in Hallandale Beach, when they were desperately scouring the state looking for pliable Florida pols to initiate it in their communities as a money-maker for them and the city, even while
arguing that it would decrease accidents?

If not, why not?
Why has your newspaper refused to mention these easily-verified facts in the three months since that her words appeared in-print and online?

2. For months, your newspaper has refused to make mention of a negative story involving Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that has appeared in newspapers large and small throughout the United States.

The story concerned the-then new e-book written by the POLITICO's Glenn Thrush on the 2012 presidential campaign. 
The short version of the story is that among employees at Obama HQ in Chicago, DWS was by far their least-favorite Obama surrogate.
Not earth-shattering news, of course, but still news, especially for your newspaper given where it is distributed.
In fact, it's actually much more newsy than most of the pieces you run on DWS, of which there are too many in my opinion, as opposed to the almost complete lack of anything mentioning Frederica Wilson, who for another 11 days represents me and tens of thousands of your readers.

(You were certainly late to catching onto the fact that she had among the ten worst attendance records in the entire U.S. Congress in 2011, even before her surgery. 
And what bills has Wilson sponsored in two years that have moved anywhere?

It's quite noticeable that your newspaper, the local newspaper for her purposes, has, on too many occasions, gone out of its way to avoid printing it, mentioning the Thrush e-book or even alluding to it in articles, columns, essays, blogs or Letters to the Editor.
I know because I have actively looked for any signs of it -to no avail- even after checking your archives.
I checked hoping I was wrong and just missed it -nope, I was correct.
You never mentioned it.

It's almost like there's an invisible shield around the newspaper, or more accurately, a choke-collar around editors' collective throats, that interferes from treating this particular elected official like any other.

But an arm's-length relationship with her seems to be something that your newspaper seems incapable of achieving because it acts like it wants so very much more.

Frankly, that sort of continual submissiveness in a newspaper does nothing for its current and longstanding reputation among readers of not just being a lapdog for all things DWS, but practically being a member of her Inner Circle, a Golden Lapdog or whatever she calls people or groups she plays for fools.

Yes, there are many, many intelligent and well-informed people in South Florida who believe that she has you right where she wants you -on a short-leash.
The central problem is that you think it's out of affection, while she no doubt sees it as neutralizing the one newspaper that is most likely to print her foibles and problems and have them broadcast far beyond her congressional district.

(Though you may not think so, or like the comparison, among people who ARE paying attention in HB and Hollywood with respect to your coverage of DWS, your newspaper is viewed no differently than the taxpayer-subsidized faux newspaper in HB, the South Florida Sun-Times, in its fawning coverage of Mayor Joy Cooper, who, along with her husband, previously threatened to run the owners out of business many years ago after they printed something that was just slightly critical of her.)

(I didn't have that article handy when I sent Friday's email but have since found it.
It was a guest column that appeared on December 4, 2003, written by then-Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Anthony "Tony" Musto, and it was titled, appropriately enough, "Is there really a magic act going on in Hallandale Beach?"
In it's next-to-last paragraph re the state's Sunshine Laws and the city's very strange and un-democratic reading of it under Mayor Joy Cooper and the City Commission, which included Bill Julian, it concludes with this line that rings as true today as it did almost nine years ago. 
"The mayor, however, has fostered a closed-door mentality that minimizes the dissemination of information and citizen involvement.)

Frankly, in my opinion, the remaining shreds of your journalistic objectivity disintegrate completely when people in a responsible position at your newspaper decide to allow Anthony Man to engage in his over-the-top coverage of DWS's every single movement at various times throughout the year, even while he neglects to mention the time of day to give readers any sense of perspective.
It's so unseemly, not to mention, so uninformative and boosterish, that I've had to throw the paper in the garbage bin rather than in the recycling bin to prevent the stink from it fouling up my kitchen.

I have written on this subject many times and the truth is that the Miami Herald is no better on this subject, having never mentioned the DWS/Thrush story either.
But then it's common knowledge among Broward residents who pay attention that their management and editorial team don't really consider Broward County to be a real place, full of living, breathing people/consumers/voters, just a place marked terra incognita on their maps, a fact that is proven when they go 6-7 months without anything anyone or anything re Broward County govt., politics, personalities or current events, much less, public policy, even appearing in their predictable four-page Sunday Op-Ed section.
The very same section where they can't go two weeks without mentioning Cuba or Haiti on their four pages, but something on where a good chunk of their readership lives, NADA.

Their consistently terrible coverage of local news and govt. in Broward County and unwillingness to have a Broward-centric columnist is their problem to solve, but it's no excuse for your newspaper and its its employees consistently ignoring what is in plain sight, even while it's now become par for the course for both of you.

But you at least have the advantage of geography, so what's your excuse for always being so slow on the uptick and always late to the news? 
Or not even present?
Or consciously NOT printing news that's not favorable to powerful or influential people with whom you deign to stay on good terms with?

It's all very curious and does not at all encourage either respect or future support. 

DBS, Nine-year resident of Hallandale Beach

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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.
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