Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, government, public policy, sports scene and pop culture of Europe, Sweden, the U.S. & South Florida. 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 South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

S.O.S.! Newspaper hits iceberg! What's going on at the Tribune Co.'s sinking South Florida Sun-Sentinel? Their continued poor judgment, even as the newspaper -and its shrinking base of advertisers- are becoming increasingly irrelevant to news consumers in Broward County who want their news free of bias, taint AND mustiness, not facts and context, has real consequences

S.O.S.! Newspaper hits iceberg! What's going on at the Tribune Co.'s sinking South Florida Sun-Sentinel? 
Their continued poor judgment, even as the newspaper -and its shrinking base of advertisers- are becoming increasingly irrelevant to news consumers in Broward County who want their news free of bias, taint AND mustiness, not facts and context, has real consequences.
Its pay wall is like a parasite that's killing off the host, and making its formerly-popular Broward Politics blog now nothing more than an afterthought because it counts now as an article in monthly totals, not as a blog post. A newspaper website that needs SERIOUS rethinking and redesign.

You call that news coverage? 

1.) As of today, November 19th, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's education blog, South Florida Schools, has posted exactly one item in the past 6 weeks. Way to keep your nose to the grindstone! http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/educationblog/

Yes, even while all sorts of things, good and bad, have been going on in that subject area the past six weeks, that newspaper blog has been silent.
It's one thing for a personal blog to go quiet for awhile for reasons that we can all well imagine, but really, a newspaper blog that posts one thing in six weeks, wrapped around an election?

Good luck finding that sort of situation existing at a normal, well-run newspaper unless the person/team behind it are either gravely ill, been transferred to other beats or the blog itself is being phased out.
Which is it for South Florida Schools?

I don't know the particulars of it, but I do know that it sure doesn't look good.
Especially for customers who want to read more serious and in-depth coverage of the subject, just as they would expect to find more in-depth coverage in a sports team-related blog, not just read PR releases.

Does a Broward School Board employee trying to choke an autistic child on a Broward School bus count as news these days?
Is that a subject that would greatly benefit from the infinite amount of space a blog gives a reporter to provide a lot more context than a print newspaper article affords, and even allow some degree of reader interaction?
We'd all agree that the answer to both is yes, so why is there NOTHING like that at the one place that you should be able to count on finding it on the Sun-Sentinel's website?
Now there's a question!

Not only are there no video interviews on that blog with any of the newly-elected Broward School Board members who won 13 days ago, candidates who were all elected to some degree based upon on what they said they hoped to do to change the still-extant culture of corruption there, and make the system more accountable to taxpayers, parents and students, but there's not even a single written blog post about that subject.

And since there's NOT even that, the bare minimum one should reasonably expect if it were being run professionally and with any common sense, of course there's NOT anything there about why those particular new members may or may not succeed in their desirable goal, based on their own backgrounds and professional experiences.
Nice job!

2.) On Friday Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resident lapdog at the newspaper, Anthony Man, posted his most recent entirely-predictable, not-really-news re DWS that he wrote in all of about five seconds at the Sun-Sentinel's Broward Politics blog.
No, actually it was just the intro to a video of her.

Yes, another in a long line of DWS-related posts by Man that the Sun-Sentinel runs that fall squarely into the dog-bites-man category.
Yet another piece on her NOT showing party independence or actually going out on a limb or even showing some perspective or original insight that you never considered before.

Hey, guess what?
DWS supports Israel -STILL.

And speaking of not surprising, Man doesn't even publicly mention in his intro that the video he chooses to run is actually from her office. Typical.

Wasserman Schultz condemns Hamas rocket attacks on Israel

Notice anything else about that blog post now?
Correct, the Broword Politics blog has recently been moved to behind the Sun-Sentinel's (unsuccessful) pay wall.

Which means that for many people throughout South Florida, including civic activists, concerned citizens and bloggers I know and trust, as well as other members of the South Florida press corps, that blog has largely become even more irrelevant than before, and is now an actual afterthought.

As if the Broward Politics blog's lack of freshness, topicality and outside-the-box thinking on any subject involving county or municipal government, or the pols who inhabit it, weren't already hindrance enough the past few years.

If the Sun-Sentinel's management were really going to make a mistake like that and move a popular feature like that blog behind a pay wall, one of the few features that people I know actually read fairly consistently, couldn't the Sun-Sentinel's management team at least have had the good sense to bring in some new people -with fresh eyes- at the beginning of this year?

In my opinion, having entirely new reporters there, people who'd actually ADD something new to the rather static and staid view of this county that that blog has promoted for so many years, where, typically, almost as soon as someone's name comes up in a piece, you already know what's going to come -and you're almost always right- would end.

How great would it be for readers to actually have the sense that the newspaper was amping-up their reporting and resources towards the election, perhaps starting this year off with some blistering expose or analysis of something that doesn't appear in the print edition?
An actual online exclusive, just like what other media companies do to drive eyeballs?

Something that showed readers some much-needed energy and freshness there, and an implicit warning that that the predictable habits that we've all observed there for far too long, will soon be disappearing -quick!

Yes, as I've watched the Sun-Sentinel increasingly become disconnected from reality and even unaware of many local news stories that they ought to be owning but aren't, it's become
increasingly apparent to me that the very people who are running that newspaper (into the ground) often appear, publicly at least, to have very little real idea of how other newspapers, even smaller ones, actually make their own blogs more interesting and compelling to readers, visually and content-wise.

I know they are aware of it, so why isn't that knowledge and understanding filtering down and actually showing up in print and online with better-written blogs and better and more original content at the Sun-Sentinel?

It's not exactly Breaking News that there are many well-written and compelling non-political blogs that I subscribe to or bookmark which are part of the New York Times and The Washingon Post, and that's largely because when I lived in the Washington area from 1988-2003, I used to religiously read both newspapers daily from cover-to-cover.

And once both newspapers had online presences, I read content there, too, so I remember the blogs they created that didn't quite work out as planned, as well as the ones that have remained steadfast and only grown in popularity over the years, like the very popular technology blog written by David Pogue, which has changed titles a few times, and now even comes with videos. http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/
I continue reading both newspapers and 5-10 of their blogs every day, and buy the Times in print about 3-4 times a week.

New York Times video: 60 Seconds With Pogue: Fitness Bands
But in the context of my blog post today, there's one blog in particular that I'd like to mention because it's an excellent example of the sort of focus and scope that I and many of my friends would greatly prefer the Sun-Sentinel to emulate -the State of NoVA blog, written by Tom Jackman. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-

This recent post is exactly the sort of thing you'd never see at the Broward Politics blog

In my opinion, a newspaper that refuses to properly maintain and improve the depth and quality of writing and frequency of its own blogs, and which has added no new original content in-print or online, is seriously mismanaged and deluded if they think that news consumers with an almost infinite amount of choices, will now suddenly pay for the same-old-thing.
That same tired old thing that they really weren't so crazy about in the first place.

That perhaps is the worst sin of all among the Tribune Company's executives who felt that they no longer had a choice about waiting to erect a paywall for the Sun-Sentinel so many months after they did that at their Los Angles Times property -it was all so damn predictable!

Why, knowing all that they did about how these paywall introductions usually go across the country -esp. in more serious newspaper towns- did they make no serious effort to improve the print version first, to endear themselves to existing readers?
Then, after existing readers could see that a serious effort was being made to improve the paper, make the online experience better by making both more compelling and original content?
The sort that would make people actually willing to pay?

To me, the only plus for the Tribune Company and the Sun-Sentinel's executives throughout this whole mess has been that the state of serious journalism in South Florida has fallen so badly that it never seems to have occurred to the news directors at Channels 4, 6, 7 & 10 to actually do a series of stories on how badly the Sun-Sentinel has bungled things, and now has a knife at its throat after going this route, and the very people holding the knife are -yes- themselves.
There's always that!

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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 and Hollywood.
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.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its 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 lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they 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.
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 that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, 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. 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 here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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.
Some older elements and building blocks formerly seen at Hallandale Beach Blog, such as photos, graphics and videos have been moved into cold storage. Visit them again or see what you've missed at: http://hallandale-beach-blog.blogspot.com/

New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

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.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

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 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-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


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!

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)


Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

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

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!

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.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. 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.