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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Speaking of diversity and backsliding on ethics, Broward County School Board becoming an all-female enclave is NOT good news for concerned taxpayers & parents: expect even more micro-managing and time wasted on trivial matters made melodramatic because these particular people, literally, can't help but pander; Broward Schools Supt. Runcie in Hollywood on Thursday night at the Boulevard Heights Community Center

Speaking of diversity, as a result of last Tuesday's election results, the Broward County School Board will now be an all-female enclave: expect even more micro-managing and time wasted on trivial matters made melodramatic because these particular people, literally, can't help but pander; Broward Schools Supt. Robert W. Runcie to be in Hollywood on Thursday night at  Boulevard Heights Community Center
I was going to post this collection of news and tidbits last Friday afternoon but thought better of it since I thought few would see it then, and as you'll see, I'm glad I waited, since in the time since I first typed some of these words last Friday morning, I've already seen others in the community and in the press writing about the composition of the new School Board who, in my opinion, lack appreciation for why having an all-female School Board is not exactly reason for taxpayers or students to celebrate.

Based on my own observations and what others who are much closer to all things education in Broward County have shared with me about some of the people elected, I think Broward taxpayers and parents have good reason to be concerned about backsliding on ethics.

While I could always turn out to be wrong, my overall sense of things is that this new crew might not only be more spiteful than professional at times, and attempt to make far too many issues that come before them personal, but also indulge a bit too much in creating straw men for them to attack when the Board is being properly chastised by the public or the news media, or otherwise held to account for inaction or bad judgment or lack of fidelity to rules and procedures.

I also suspect that there will be more instances than perhaps need be when after talking for hours, Supt. Robert W. Runcie will say that it's time to stop the talking and time for voting and actions.
This particular crew seems destined to try to talk everything to death, as if that wasn't already enough of a problem with the current crew of characters.

As most of you already know by now, here's what happened last Tuesday:
District 4: Abby Freedman defeated Shelly Solomon
District 5: Rosalind Osgood defeated Torey Alston
At-Large District 8: Donna Korn defeated Franklin Sands
At-Large District 9: Robin Bartleman defeated Barbara Houston Wilson

Over the past 2-3 months of observing political campaigning all throughout Hallandale Beach -and Hollywood- such as it was, given that there were never any chance there'd be actual bona fide candidate debates of the sort that everyone here desperately wanted, owing largely to Mayor Joy Cooper, Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and former Comm. Bill Julian desperately NOT wanting to be a part of any event in the city that they could not control, where they'd be forced to answer pointed questions from well-informed citizens, I only once saw a re-elect Robin Bartleman yard sign in a HB resident's front yard.

As it happens, it was located in a front yard in Southwest HB of someone who also had one for do-nothing Comm. Sanders, so you can well imagine what I thought every time I drove past it,
just off of S.W. Third Street -it's not exactly the sort of illustrious company you'd necessarily choose to be associated with.

While I was certainly glad that Bartleman attended the educational forum in HB in June of 2011 on what was REALLY going on at Hallandale High School with respect to what the School Board was doing to remedy longstanding problems that led to a lawsuit that the School Board lost, a forum that my friend, Catherine Kim Owens hosted and superbly moderated, THE first such serious meeting on education in this city during the eight years that I'd lived here up to that point, despite how crucial that subject is in this community for reasons I've previously mentioned here -and yes, Ann Murray was a no-show at that meeting in HB (again) just like Jennifer Gottlieb was!- considering what I'd seen and read about Barteleman's involvement and performance during the disturbing Douglas High School cheerleading coach saga, I'm not sure if her winning was really such a great thing for Broward taxpayers and parents long term.

See my post on that subject from October 8th, titled,
Dynamite! Bob Norman adroitly uses facts and context to lower-the-boom on the Broward School Board for their abysmal handling of the purported Douglas H.S. cheerleader coach 'scandal" -and drops School Board member Katie Leach squarely on her head; One month before the election, docs show Donn Korn opponent Franklin Sands funds his race with lots of money from his stepson’s lobbying firm -shocker!; @mattgutmanABC

Last Wednesday I received the following message from the City of Hollywood with the subject header: Meet and Greet Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie
City of Hollywood residents and members of the community are invited to meet Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at the Boulevard Heights Community Center, 6770 Garfield St. in Hollywood. Mr. Runcie will be available to answer questions from the public about local public schools and other education issues. Members of the public who are interested in attending and asking Mr. Runcie a question are encouraged to arrive early to fill out a question card. 
Light refreshments will be provided. 
For more information, contact Donna Green at hollyed1@aol.com.
I've now seen and heard Broward Schools Supt. Robert W. Runcie three times in person since he was hired by the Broward School Board -twice in Hollywood and once in Hallandale Beach.

(Surprise! Not present at that meeting in HB was School Board Chair Ann Murray, who is this area's representative on the Board, but whom as I've mentioned here so many times, has assiduously avoided showing her face in public in Hallandale Beach for well over a year.)

I've personally videotaped Runcie all three times -and have taken plenty of photos, too- though I've chosen not to post them here or on my YouTube Channel.

At this point, I feel fairly confident that I can tell what direction he's going to take a discussion based upon what the question posed to him is.
That's actually part of the problem -how the questions have so often been posed to him.

I don't know who first told told Mr. Runcie that the idea of having Broward taxpayers and parents write questions via index cards -read by someone else- was a great idea, but it's not.
I see it as both patronizing and condescending and it's precisely the sort of awkward attempt at (mis)communication that the Broward Schools needs to get away from -quick.

Mr. Runcie is very articulate and an agile conversationalist who can talk about a host of issues for long period of time if he wanted to.
He does not need -nor do taxpayers want to see- someone there as a handler, largely to translate what are almost always very understandable questions.

If I'm going to show up for something like this, I think I can also pretty well frame a relevant question for him in the hours and days leading up to the meeting. 
Maybe several, and having attended three of these before, I also know what NOT to ask.

For those folks who show up and can't ask a question in the form of a question, it's not my problem.
Everyone there can either laugh at them or ignore it, but I have to say that this notion that so many School employees are necessary to be present at these get-togethers, to form a phalanx of protection, is getting more preposterous with each passing meeting.
One person will do, nicely, thanks!

If you ask me, that same person could/should also pop a videocamera onto a tripod and point and then get out of the way.
That there hasn't been at least one person within the school system who had the common sense to tape the remarks he's made at any of the dozens of places he's been and put them online on a School system website or a YouTube Channel for taxpayers and parents to see, is ridiculous.
Not tape every meeting but at least one of them?

I seem to personally have more of them on DVDs near my computer than the entire Broward School system does.
What gives with all the continued indifference and half-assed effort?
Where are the signs of those positive changes we were promised? 

Some content originally contained in this post has been moved to: 
More business-as-usual at Broward School Board is NOT good news for students, parents or taxpayers; Why the need by Broward Schools officials to impose omertà on school volunteers in Broward?; the very curious Hallandale High School roof situation reveals much about School Board's culture; Why is South Florida news media largely ignoring Broward Schools Diversity Comm. and their Audit Comm.?

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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.
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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.